Category Archives: World of Warcraft

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So Much for Tuning

I’ve been stating for a while that based on the limited number of Hunter changes in the last several builds, the big mechanical modifications are done. This was true until millions of voice suddenly cried out in terror over the state of Hunters in the beta.

Here is a sampling of what various folks have been saying about Hunters, and it has not been positive.

Celestalon took the forums this week and announced a series of upcoming changes for Hunters.

 Celestalon on WoD Hunters

Now then… Yes, the Marksmanship and Survival rotations are simpler than they were before. The goal is to have a simpler baseline rotation, and have meaningful choices that allow you to layer more depth onto that in talents, if you choose.

Hunters have a ton of talents which grant rotational or short CD abilities, to support this design. However, they were lacking in rotational depth. The gameplay of most of them boiled down to “use on cooldown”. No need to think about preparing for when you’re going to use it, or how it interacts with your rotation, etc. So, we’re going to make some tweaks to try to add some rotational depth to several of the talent choices.

Before I dive into the specific changes, let’s review where Hunters stood going into Warlords of Draenor.

On the good side all three spec were extremely balanced. Yes we treated Marksmanship like the brother we never had and the one we never wanted, but damage wise it was pretty darn close to Beast Mastery and Survival.

The downside to Marksmanship was there was no reason to play it over the other specs. It’s single target DPS was lower, and it’s AoE fell well below the other two specs.

When you combine that with one of the other big issues, which was all specs felt the same, there were very few arguments to made as to why any Hunter should play Marksmanship.

Choosing it because you like it and think it’s fun could be an argument, but this is World of Warcraft. Who plays to have fun?

The main reason that all of the specs felt the same is that there was tremendous overlap in abilities used by each one. All of these abilities were used by each spec, and were part of each spec’s core rotation.

    • Serpent Sting
    • Arcane Shot
    • Kill Shot
    • Stampede
    • Rapid Fire
    • Glaive Toss / Barrage
    • Steady/Cobra Shot

Those were the key issues going into Warlords of Draenor that needed to be addressed. What wasn’t broken were Beast Mastery and Survival’s Lock and Load.

Even Marksmanship’s core mechanics weren’t broken, per se. The big gripes were AoE and some people did not like the Steady Focus mechanic because it emphasized prioritizing a weaker shot in order to maintain the Haste buff.

So how did Blizzard go about addressing things?

Beast Mastery they got just right. They removed the right amount of clutter in Serpent Sting and Rapid Fire. It was given a great level 100 talent in Adaptation, and it was given an agonizing choice in the level 75 tier, having to choose between Blink Strikes and Stampede. From a DPS perspective it looks like Blinks Strikes is the winner, but who doesn’t like Stampede?

For Survival they took away Kill Shot, and did not give them any kind of burst ability. They also completely changed how Lock and Load worked, which I can only describe as a solution without a problem.

Now with Marksmanship I really don’t know what to say. It’s as if Blizzard accepted that it was the red-headed step child of Hunter specs, and as such they dragged into into a bathroom stall, turned it up on its head and gave it the mother of all swirlies.

Okay, okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it had its core mechanics stripped away. Steady Focus, Master Marksman, and Piercing Shots all gone. It’s AoE was not improved.

It was also given Sniper Training which requires the Marksman to stand still for a period of three seconds to get a damage buff. If the Hunter has to move they have a three second window to complete the journey without losing the buff.

Marksmanship did get the awesome Careful Aim and Rapid Fire combination, and Chimaera shot was made more Chimaera-ry.

Because all of this is new there’s been a lot of confusion whether Chiemaera Shot is worth using during Careful Aim. Some say yes and some say no. The intention is that Chimaera Shot should always be worth hitting on cooldown regardless of the circumstance. We’ll see if that holds true once the tuning is done.

So that’s where we are now, and people aren’t too happy about it. So what is Blizzard doing to fix it? They’re making big changes to some of the Hunter talents.

  • Barrage now has a 20sec CD (down from 30sec), costs 60 Focus (up from 30 Focus), and deals 100% additional damage.

I’ve always liked Barrage and this change should make it very competitive with Glaive toss as a main option for any rotation. Because it benefits from Rapid Fire it might work slightly better with Marksmanship over the other specs.

It seems intended to help with Marksmanship AoE, although the other specs benefit as well.

  • A Murder of Crows – Duration, cost, and cooldown have been reduced by 50%. It no longer has a shorter cooldown when used on low health targets. Instead, its cooldown is reset if the target dies.

This  change is interesting and makes the level 75 talent row the most intriguing. A Murder of Crows, Blink Strikes and Stampede all compete with one another.

Survival is missing an execute ability and this could be a partial solution, albeit an awkward one. It would also come at the expense of Stampede which Survival likely needs for burst.

The mechanic favors AoE situations where there are many low health mobs for you to take advantage of the cooldown reset. It could help with Marksmanship’s AoE deficiencies.

Beast Mastery may very well be locked into Blink Strikes for that tier so taking Crows or Stampede as BM would be very situational.

  • Fervor – It’s been removed and replaced with Steady Focus.
  • Stead Focus – Using Cobra Shot or Steady Shot twice in a row, or using Focusing Shot, increases your Focus Regeneration by 50% for 10 sec.

Again this is another change targeted at Marksmanship and Survival. I like Focusing Shot, and the fact that firing it once will trigger Steady Focus is nice, and well, necessary given the amount of Focus gained from that shot alone.

The downside for Marksmanship is that it competes with Thrill of the Hunt which seems essential for that spec. We’ll have to see how the two compare.

This may end up being a better option for Survival which was having Focus issues. I say was because Lock and Load is getting reverted back to what it was earlier in the beta.

 Lock and Load Changes

It’s changing to… 20% chance on Black Arrow tick (not multistrikes, and guaranteed to get at least 1 proc per Black Arrow cast). Effect is to reset ExS’s cooldown, and cause the next two ExSs to cost no focus and trigger no cooldown.

I thought this was a nice version of Lock and Load as it combined the live mechanic with a touch of the Unblinking Vigil four piece bonus. This is a change I think many will be happy to see.

So where does that leave Hunters now? All fixed? Probably not, but certainly in a better place than before.

Beast Mastery looks to be the most solid of the three right now. It will likely continue to put out solid single target and AoE numbers. It feels locked into using Dire Beast, Blink Strikes and Adaptation as talents.

Survival has been improved by the upcoming iteration of Lock and Load. I don’t know how it will perform without a solid burst ability or execute, and I suspect Stampede will be the mandatory choice to fill the burst need. Exotic ammo looks like a good choice of talent flavor wise, but Focusing Shot should not be counted out.

Marksmanship will need more testing. These announced changes, which haven’t been implemented yet, seem very much aimed at that spec. There are options for AoE, as well as generating heaps of Focus. The spec itself is lacking in synergy and other than Rapid Fire, Careful Aim and Aimed Shot there isn’t much going on.

Chimaera Shot is a little sexier but it still remains a button you press on cooldown because it’s there.

It doesn’t look like Sniper Training will be modified, so the skill required to manage that will be quite high. A lot will depend on what percentage of up-time the spec is tuned around. Hopefully it’s not 100% as that will be impossible to maintain.

These changes don’t solve everything, but they do plug a few holes. The decision of what spec I raid with will be contingent on the theorycrafting. I suspect Beast Mastery will still be top, and that’s likely what I’ll play outside of raiding as well.

My hierarchy is shaping up to be BM > SV > MM.

No matter what results of the tuning will be, make no mistake, I will be playing my Hunter throughout Warlords of Draenor.

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So You Want to Change Your UI

If you’re using the default UI to raid, PvP, quest, or to just even vendor those grey items you’re doing it horribly and terribly wrong. That’s not understating things either. The default UI is and old and clunky relic of a day gone by.

Even the folks at BioWare took the time to poke fun at it with their pre-set “Retro” UI option, when they introduced a fully customizable UI to SWTOR.

swtor_retro
Retro, also known as the Dark Side of UI’s

Thankfully we have all sorts of options at our disposal to make it all go away.

The big thing to consider when you create a UI is what you want to get out of it. The basic funtion of a UI of course in input and output, but it’s more complex than that.

You want to be able to easily perform actions. You also want access to information so that you can take the right action at the right time.

The UI is in part a dashboard (think car) that should be feeding you critical information in an easy to find and timely fashion.

Knowing that the boss has 10% health and will be dead in five seconds should be enough information to let you know that casting Heroism is a bad idea and a waste. That never happens right?

With these basic concepts in mind, I set out to redo my UI this past weekend. First a little background on my history with UIs.

I more or less used the default UI throughout all of Vanilla and Burning Crusade. Yes, I used addons but I didn’t use any toolbar or unit frame addons. It wasn’t until Wrath of the Lich King that I decided to break out the sledgehammer and star tearing down the walls of the default UI. A liberating moment to be sure.

Here’s a look at one of my earliest creations. How I managed top derps with this monstrosity is beyond me.

firstwrathui
We’re #1! We’re #1!

As that expansion wore on my Frankensteined creation continued to evolve, ultimately looking like this.

I've gone and made a mess is right.
I’ve gone and made a mess is right.

In Cataclysm I went through at least three UI variations. This was my final one. Some steps forward and a few back.

Our Heroic Deathwing kill came around ten days prior to MoP’s release. That’s why you see some of the Mists’ spells.

MoP releases in a few days. *Phew*
MoP releases in a few days. *Phew*

The search for the perfect UI is never ending, and in MoP I decided to take a different approach and that was to find a pre-built package that I could work with. I found that in Kripparian’s UI.

It wasn’t that different from what I had been trying to do, but it was cleaner and more organized, and it was built a by a Hunter for use as a Hunter.

firstmopui
Why yes. I AM that Darkbrew… Unless you’re looking for gold.

This UI served me well for almost two years, but in the end I found it lacking in several places.

It’s very cluttered. It relies heavily on textual information. The target cast bar was hard to locate in the midst of the action, and there were times I needed to interrupt things and this was a hindrance.

The boss mod messages were also hard to notice in the heat of the battle.

There was a lot I liked about it, but ultimately I wanted to try for better. This has led me to my current incarnation.

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. Better, Faster, Stronger.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. Better, Faster, Stronger.

Now when it comes to building a UI there are three basic options. One is to build it entirely from scratch which is what I did in Wrath and Cata.

Second is to find a pre-assembled package, install it and go. This is what I did for Mists.

The third option is to find a pre-assembled package, install it, and then rip out its heart and soul with your own bastardized modifications. This is what I’ve done with my latest UI.

My new UI is a modified version of one created by Jademcian. You can read all about it and download it from here.

Some of you might remember Jade from this guest article he wrote for Eyes of the Beast.

Jade has created a very clean and great looking UI. I love the font, the placement of the BigWigs timers, the party and raid frames, and the use of the scrolling combat text.

jademui

Now about those scrolling bars in the bottom center. It’s an addon called EventHorizon. It’s actually pretty slick as it uses a common time scale to display the cooldowns of your rotational abilities in relation to one another.

Notice that Jade doesn’t have any visible toolbars or buttons on his UI. He manages everything through the EventHorizon addon. There isn’t even a visible player castbar.

I gave it a whirl and couldn’t adjust to it. That said, there were many things I liked about Jade’s UI over my current one, so I opted to heavily modify it to suit my needs.

The biggest change was removing EventHorizon and adding visual toolbars and a castbar to track ability CDs.

I’ll do another post on specific addons I use and for what purposes,  but for today, I’m focusing on some of the considerations you should take when creating a UI.

There are pros and cons to each approach. There is no right or wrong, or good and bad. It’s all a matter of taking the approach that suits you best. Let’s look at all three in detail.

Self Made

The big advantage of building your own UI from scratch is that in theory, you should know every detail about how it works, and what it does. After all you built it.

The downside is that it is a very time consuming process. You need to find the addons and then configure each and every one.

Then there’s that whole form follows function thing. Even if you get the functionality you want, you still have to spend time trying to get it to look nice.

It’s a lot of work, but in the in end you should have a UI that’s 100% tailored to your needs.

Out of the Box

If you can find a pre-built UI that meets 100% of your needs then you’ve won the big prize.

All you need to do is download it, and then follow the instructions to install it. Most packages use a profile management addon called Reflux. It may not work will all of the addons in the package, so some manual configuration may still be necessary.

If you go with an out-of-the-box solution you should absolutely backup your WTF and Interface folders. This is your only salvation if you wish to rollback.

Be prepared to lose keybinds and character specific macros as well. Additionally I’ve run into UI scall issues with installing a pre-packaged UI.

Since you didn’t build this UI, you really ought to take a look at each addOn and its settings. It’s important to understand how it works if you ever want to tweak it.

If you’re looking for a new Hunter UI, here are two additional UI’s (Jades’ being the first) that I can recommend.

  • Kripparrian

krippUIa

At one time Kripparrian was know for pulling top DPS parses for Hunters. I believe he’s done with WoW, but his UI is still available for download and use.

I’ve run with this UI for all of MoP and there were many, many things I liked about it.

If you’re interested in giving it a try you can find it here.

  • RogerBrown

rogerbrownui

As many of you know, RogerBrown is a top Hunter in the guild Method. I gave his UI a try midway through Mists.

I really wanted this to work for me because Roger is an awesome Hunter and a really great guy.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. It’s to busy and too visual. I couldn’t keep track of everything.

I complained about Kripp’s UI being too textual, so clearly for me I need a good mix of both.

If you’re interested in trying RogerBrown’s UI, you can find it here.

Chances of an out-of-the-box solution working 100% for you is rare. A UI is a very personal thing. Even if an author makes their’s available to the general public the fact remains that the UI was ultimately built by that individual for their own use.

Every timer, every addon, the placement of each bar and unit frame, all done to help them play the game; not you. You may have to customize.

Buy and Customize

This is the approach I took. Install a pre-buitl UI and then destroy it. Mwahaha.

Be forewarned this can be almost as time consuming as building a UI from scratch.

You may find yourself adding addons that were not part of the original package and then trying to squeeze them in.

You could spend a lot of time trying to track down a behavior you wish to change because you’re not sure which addon it’s coming from or how it’s set.

If the UI author happens to be technically savvy you might find that they’ve gone into the LUA code and modified some of the addons.

I spent the better part of this weekend working on my UI, and I don’t know that I’m finished, and It’s still somewhat untested.

Whatever approach you take, here are dos and don’ts to follow when changing your UI.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do familiarize yourself with every option and setting for every addon you have.
  • Don’t change your UI on raid night.
  • Do take it for a spin in LFR.
  • Don’t run LFR. Ever!
  • Do take a video of your new UI in action.
  • Do review that video and take note of alerts, notifications, things you might have missed when your cat jumped up on your desk and decide to take out the boss himself.
  • Don’t give up on it too soon. Your new UI will take some getting used.
  • Do completely back up your WTF and Interface folders. You’ll need them if you want to rollback.
  • Don’t be surprised if your UI scale needs to be adjusted.
  • Don’t be surprised if you lose your keybinds or character specific macros.
  • Don’t modify your UI while the server are under a DDoS attack and you get disconnected every five minutes.

Building a UI can be a time consuming, but rewarding experience. When you’re playing the game without noticing it’s there, then you’ll know you’ve done it right.

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Not Done Yet

I get that many people have checked out and are biding their time waiting for patch 6.0 to be released. I, on the other hand, have been actively running Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar week in and week out, and my makeshift group is working on Thok.

This week Greatfather Winter made a guest appearance in SoO and handed me a bag of goodies that will have me scrambling to get valor capped for a solid month. I mean just look at this haul.

That’s not all though. Sitting in my bags in need of upgrade I also have one Haromm’s Talisman and several off-set pieces consisting of two pairs of gloves and boots. Probably not going to upgrade any of those, although those boots are real nice. I have warforged.

As you can see that’s five weeks of valor capping assuming I don’t get any other drops.

Now you’re probably wondering why I, one, rolled need on the Sigil of Rampage, and two, am planning to spend 1000 valor to upgrade it.

In patch 6.0 Assurance of Consequence is getting nerfed so hard, that it will wish it had only been nerfed to the ground.

My header image says it all. I mean just look at that. Those are level 90 stats folks. Ability cooldown reduction of 2.01%? That’s for the Mythic version. Your results may vary, and probably for the worse.

There are wet noodles jumping for joy right now because from here on out people will say it hits like a Warlords of Draenor Assurance of Consequence, when referring to something as weak.

aoc_wod

If I’m lucky I’ll have a heroic Ticking Ebon Detonator by the time patch 6.0 rolls out. If not,  I’ll seriously consider making Haromm’s and Sigil my trinkets of choice.

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Thirty Five Years Ago*

The Warlords of Draenor cinematic opened with a banner that read “35 Years Ago.” That was cool, but it should have had an asterisk and a footnote with Bashiok’s explanation below.

 It’s a Multiverse

Multiverse. The moment Garrosh went back an alternative timeline skewed off. Nothing in this alternate Draenor affects our timeline, except that Garrosh has opened a portal back to our universe to bring the Iron Horde through and murder us.

Is this still actually a confusion point?

 

To answer Bashiok’s question, yes there is still some confusion about when and where in time we’ll be adventuring in Warlords of Draenor. Other than the Blizzcon panels there hasn’t been much discussion from Blizzard on what type of time travel adventure we’re about to undertake, and it’s important to understand because it affects how you view the characters and story of Warlords of Draenor.

The featured image came from this post on Reddit, and I think it does a bang up job illustrating space time continuum for this expansion.

Warlords of Draenor is a time travel expansion, but not necessarily in the way you might think. When it comes to time travel there are a couple of ways you can go about it. There is the Back to the Future scenario in which you travel backward in time and try to change future events.

In this type of adventure the goal is to alter the course of history, and prevent things from ever happening, or force new events to happen, usually for your benefit. This type of story has the risk of introducing a temporal paradox whereby your actions in the past would prohibit you’re being able to travel to the past in the first place (e.g., you go back in time and murder your mother’s father before she’s born).

Then there is the alternate timeline scenario. This is where going back in time spawns a new branch in time. The original timeline still exists unaltered, but the new timeline moves forward carving out a brand new history for itself. A good example of this is what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek.

It’s this second scenario that will play out in Warlords of Draenor. The Draenor that we’ll visit is an alternate version of what we’re familiar with in Outland. So when it comes to Outland, opening the Dark Portal, the orcs drinking Mannoroth’s blood, the original Horde, the Scourge and the Forsaken, all of that remains unchanged. As Daniel Farrady said in Lost, “Whatever happened, happened.”

Now unlike Abrams’ Star Trek there is a bit of a twist here. In Star Trek, Spock and the Romulans travel back in time creating an alternate timeline in which they are trapped. Spock is unable to return to his original timeline. In Warlords of Draenor, we will still be connected to the Azeroth of our current timeline and will travel back and forth between our Azeroth and the alternate Draenor.

This naturally begs the question then is there an alternate Azeroth that exists in the timeline of this Draenor? Presumably yes, but once this new branch is created any connection with alternate Draenor and that Azeroth is lost. The Dark Portal that we see in the alternate Draenor is now connected to our Azeroth’s present. Our past remains unchanged, but our future may have just taken a dangerous turn for the worse.

The danger is that Kil’Jaeden and other members of the Burning Legion now have a second chance to invade our Azeroth. They may not know about their alternate past, but their current plans remain, and pose an imminent threat. Imagine if the original crew of the Enterprise (i.e., Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, and William Shatner’s Kirk) were the protagonists of Into Darkness and now had to face their greatest enemies one more time.

The return of the Burning Legion is not the subject of Warlords of Draenor, but may very well be the subject for the expansion that follows.

I don’t often get wrapped up in Warcraft lore, but the stories of the Burning Legion and Lich King are ones I enjoy reading about and experiencing in the game. Warlords of Draenor and the expansion that follows may be two of the most story rich expansions that Blizzard has ever done.

To the Blasted Lands people, we have a new world to explore and an old one to save!


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The Big Event

I was out of pocket most of yesterday so I wasn’t able to catch all of the livestream events as they happened. I’m caught up now, and boy did we get a lot of great information, of which the launch date was only one item.

The Launch Date

Warlords of Draenor will launch on November 13th, 2014. I don’t think this is any real surprise. I pretty much predicted this time frame here. The only thing that surprised me was the Thursday launch and not the following Tuesday.

I’ll actually be out of town opening weekend, so a Tuesday launch would have been better for me, but at least we know it’s finally coming.

Hunters and Beta

In that same post I also said that Hunters were in the numbers tuning phase, and this is indeed the case.

All of the major abilities, synergy, rotation work is done. It’s just a matter of seeing how Beast Mastery, Marksmanship and Survival balance out, and if there will be a dominant PvE spec that we’ll all flock to in November. Right now Beast Mastery has the edge.

All of the class changes will go live in 6.0 which will be on the PTR soon.

Patch 6.0

If you’re not in the beta the PTR will be a great way to see many of the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor. You won’t get to go to Draenor and see the new zones or level. You will get to test the Hunter changes, minus the level 100 talents. This includes item squish, and new pets and buffs.

You’ll also get to test Siege of Orgrimmar with new abilities and the Mythic raid size.

Mythic SoO

No release date was announced for 6.0, but I’m guessing September 30th. This is important to know, because as I said the raid changes will go into affect and apply to Siege of Orgrimmar.

This mean that Mythic (formerly known as Heroic) will require 20 players.

I’m currently in a 10-man group that’s progressing through the content. We’re 10/14 and ready to work on Thok. That gives us around seven weeks to make additional progress.

Once 6.0 hits I imagine our group will stop and I’ll have to hit OpenRaid to progress further. That may not be the worst option though.

Cinematic and Lords of War

The Warlords cinematic was terrific. I think it’s my favorite thus far. It’s hard to say because they’re all good, and this is the newest, so it’s easy to say I like it best. If I had to rank them, I’d put them in this order.

    1. Warlords of Draenor
    2. Wrath of the Lich King
    3. Mists of Pandaria
    4. Cataclysm
    5. Original
    6. The Burning Crusade

That’s my rank order, but again, they’re all quite good.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Cinematic

Watch this video on YouTube.

The Lords of War was an unexpected surprise. I was kind of hoping that it would be terrible so I could write things like “Lords of War? More like Lords of Snore!”, or “Lords of Bore”. It was very entertaining and I can’t wait to see more of these.

My only issue is that in order to get the whole story of what is happening you have to play through the story of Mists of Pandaria, focusing on the Alliance, Horde and Garrosh.

You really should read War Crimes as it picks up on the events after Siege of Orgrimmar. You need to watch the cinematic, and read the Gul’dan comic to fill in some other gaps on the formation of the Iron Horde and ultimately lead up to the pre-expansion questline and the Tanaan Jungle intro.

I think Blizzard is telling a good story here, but I feel like it’s spread out, and can be confusing if you don’t get all the pieces.

Final Thoughts

Yesterday was an exciting day for World of Warcraft. We got quality information and there’s a lot to look forward to.

Yes three months is still a long time to wait for the expansion, but we’ll get 6.0 in a little over a month, and you can always experience it on the PTR which should be here soon.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not an oncoming train. The wait is almost over.

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Ten Years, Ten Questions, Ten Answers

If you haven’t heard the Alt:ernative Chat blog has created a project titled Ten Years :: Ten Questions. In honor of World of Warcraft’s ten year anniversary she is asking players to submit their answers to ten questions about World of Warcraft. This is open to all players. You do not need to blog, podcast, or stream to participate. You just need to play or have played World of Warcraft. I highly encourage you to participate.

Without further ado here are my ten answers.

1. Why did you start playing World of Warcraft?

I started play WoW based on the recommendation of a friend. I wrote about that here. In October 2004, my friend e-mailed me to tell me about this new game he was beta testing.

He and a co-work of his were going to play at launch and thought it would be fun for the three of us to play together.

I purchased the game and on November 23, 2004 I began my legendary journey.

2. What is the first character you ever rolled?

The first character I even rolled was a Tauren Hunter named Bacala. I deleted him early on, as my friends and I were playing on the Mal’ganis realm and it performed horribly at launch. By the end of the first week we decided to change realms and factions.

The second character I rolled was also a Hunter named Phlox. He still lives on Stormscale and is level 20. I mention this because I’m know for playing Hunters. Although I started out with Hunters, I abandoned them early on.

My first meaningful character was a Paladin name Bacala. He too lives on Stormscale and is level 52. My first true main character was also a Paladin named Pasquale. He was my first level 60, and played him in Burning Crusade. He is still level 70 and now lives a lonely life on Drenden.

3. What factors determined your faction choice in game?

I definitely consider myself “For the Alliance”, but in the beginning I did not have any really allegiance to Horde or Alliance.

When the game launched I was playing with friends so I based my decisions on what they wanted to do. We started out as Horde and then switched to Alliance.

Once I began to level and spend time on the Alliance side I stuck with them in part because I bonded with them, and also because I became familiar with the quests and zones. Also, other than Tauren I really don’t care for the Horde races.

In Mists of Pandaria I finally leveled a couple of Horde toons, and while I’m not changing factions, I will level them in Warlords so I can experience the whole story.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

After playing for ten years it’s impossible for me to choose a single moment that stands out above all others. I’m going to cheat and list several here for you.

      • Logging into the game on November 23, 2004 (launch day). I was blown away by the game.
      • My first level 60, A paladin name Pasquale. I hit 60 killing Furlbolgs in Felwood.
      • My first Southshore vs. Tarren Mill PvP battle in December 2004.
      • That Sunday where I spent the entire day running Eye of the Storm to complete the What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been achievement.
      • Killing Heroic Deathwing towards the end of Cataclysm.
      • Completing the Karazhan attunement.
      • Completing the epic mount quest on my Paladin.
      • Starting my first guild in Burning Crusade.
      • Leaving the guild I started to join a raiding guild in Wrath of the Lich King.
      • Meeting BigRedKitty in-game. We both played on Drenden.
      • Starting this blog and the Hunting Party Podcast.
      • Meeting fellow podcast hosts Frostheim and Euripides in person.
      • Deciding to be a Hunter.
      • Taming all four Spirit Beasts in Wrath of the Lich King.
      • Getting into the Cataclysm beta.
      • Accidentally vendoring Deathbringer’s Will.
      • Darkbrew Lager, the best “unofficial” item name after a player.

I could go on and on and on, but there are more questions to answer.

5.  What is your favorite aspect of the game and has that always been the case?

My favorite aspect of the game is raiding. I love the group dynamics, and challenge of working together to overcome mechanics and defeat a boss.

I didn’t discover raiding until Wrath of the Lich King. Prior to that I truly enjoyed leveling and questing. That aspect of the game has changed quite a bit, and outside of the new leveling content, I don’t overly enjoy starting a new character and leveling through Azeroth, Outland and the older zones.

Raiding is my passion now.

6. Do you have an area in the game you always return to?

I don’t really have a go to location that I return to, but Un’Goro Crater has always been one of my favorite zones. It’s filled with dinosaurs, and I love the Land of the Lost pop-culture references. I was big fan of that show as a kid.

I also like to ride the Deep Run Tram and do the /train emote.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

Okay, my current /played on all of my characters totals 400 days. That’s over year of my life spent playing World of Warcraft.

I’ve spent 259 days playing Darkbrew; by far the most active of any of my toons.

Even spread out over ten years that still more than one month a year dedicated to playing World of Warcraft.

I often wonder what other activities in my life I’ve spent more time doing than WoW.

To answer the second part of this question, it has not been continuous. I started playing on launch day, but effectively quit the game in August 2005. I like to do the six month subscriptions, so my account was active until January 2006 when I did not renew.

In March 2006, I decided to come back and haven’t looked back. I have lulls every now and then, but August 2005 – January 2006 was the only time when I wasn’t playing WoW.

8. Admit it, do you read the quest text or not?

Sometimes. If I’m in an expansion beta I do read the text in part to test, and in part so I don’t have to when it goes live.

I remember when the game launched and the default was for the quest text to slowly paint it’s way on the screen. In fact, I should add disabling that to my list of memorable moments.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Yes. At the end of Burning Crusade I felt like there was a lot of content that I did not get to see. Mostly it was all of the raids, but in addition, I didn’t feel like I got the most out of that expansion on any one toon.

I had three level 70s, a Paladin, Shaman and Hunter. I spent nearly equal time playing each one and the experience felt incomplete.

I also regret abandoning my early Hunters and not sticking with them right from the start. I’m a big quality of life person, and having to buy ammo and sacrifice a bag slot was a big turn off for me.

I changed my approach to the game for Wrath of the Lich King and have few regrets since that time.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside of gaming?

Outside the game I’ve been inspired to blog and podcast. I’ve made many friends. I was married two year before the game was released, and I’m still married to the same person today.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult at times. I remember committing to raid the night before leaving on vacation. That did not sit well with my wife, and I now respectfully decline invitations right before I leave for vacation.

Flying to Minnesota to do a live podcast with Frostheim and Euripides was truly a highlight of my WoW career.

Doing a podcast in general was an amazing experience. I love talking about WoW and getting to do it with some of the greatest players and personalities in the game was truly a pleasure.

Final Thoughts

I would like to thank the Alt:ernative Chat blog for starting this amazing project. It was privilege to partake in it.

Happy anniversary World of Warcraft! Here’s to the next ten years!

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Pesky Perks

The big change for Hunters in this latest beta build is perks. Blizzard has made some major modifications to them this go around.

In an effort to weed out the less interesting perks Blizzard removed many of them, either by incorporating them into the abilities they affected, or by just plain removing them.

Each Hunter spec now has four perks and you will get one every other level instead of every level.

Beast Mastery

Here are the four perks for Beast Mastery

    • Enhanced Camouflage: You heal 3% of your maximum health every second while Camouflage is active.
    • Improved Focus Fire: Focus Fire now also grants 2% increase to attack power per Frenzy stack consumed.
    • Improved Beast Cleave: Your pet’s attacks strike nearby enemy targets for an additional 25% of damage done while Beast Cleave is active.
    • Enhanced Basic Attacks: Your pet’s basic attacks have a 20% chance to reset the basic attack cooldown and make the next basic attack free.

The following perks have been assimilated by the abilities they affect.

    • Improved Kill Command: Increases the damage done by Kill Command by 20%.
    • Improved Arcane Shot: Increases the damage done by Arcane Shot by 20%.
    • Improved Cobra Shot: Increases the damage done by Cobra Shot by 20%.

The following perks are gone and they will be missed.

    • Enhanced Kill Shot: Kill Shot can now be used on targets with 35% or less health.
    • Empowered Pets: Increases all damage done by your combat pets by 20%.

Survival

Here are the four perks for Survival.

The following perks have been assimilated by the abilities they affect.

    • Improved Serpent Sting: Increases Serpent Sting damage by 20%.
    • Improved Arcane Shot: Increases damage done by Arcane Shot by 20%.
    • Improved Cobra Shot: Increases damage done by Cobra Shot by 20%.
    • Improved Black Arrow: Increases damage done by Black Arrow by 20%.

The following perk is gone and has been replaced by Hunter tears; the sad kind.

    • Improved Camouflage: Camouflage no longer breaks from dealing or taking damage.

Marksmanship

Here are the four perks for Marksmanship.

The following perks have been assimilated by the abilities they affect.

    • Enhanced Chimera Shot: Reduce focus cost of Chimera Shot by 10.
    • Improved Aimed Shot: Increase damage done by Aimed Shot by 20%.
    • Improved Steady Shot: Increase damage done by Steady Shot by 20%.
    • Improved Multi-Shot: Increases the damage of Multi-Shot by 20% and reduces the Focus cost by 5.
    • Improved Chimaera Shot: Increases the damage of Chimaera Shot by 20%.

It should be noted that Multi-shot only had it’s focus cost reduced. Its damage was not increased.

Final Thoughts

I really didn’t have any issue with the original system, and I enjoyed getting a perk every level even it was just a basic damage boost to an ability. That was something you noticed and felt good about. I guess now we’ll just be strong from the start, and that’s fine too.

I certainly understand the desire to weed out boring perks, but I feel like Blizzard cut some of the most interesting ones originally planned for Hunters.

Enhanced Kill Shot for Beast Mastery was great while leveling. Things die so fast that you hardly ever have a chance to get a Kill Shot off. Having it available sooner really made it feel useful. It wasn’t too shabby on high health mobs either.

The removal of Improved Camouflage is really a Tauren sized kick to the groin. Sure, most of saw it coming, but it hurts nonetheless.

One perk that was modified a couple of builds back was the increased range for Marksmanship. This is baked into Sniper Training, but now comes with the limitations posed by this ability.

The perks are definitely nice but I feel like we lost a couple that were great examples of the fun and creativity Blizzard was putting into them.

One final thought is that this is still in beta, and just because certain abilities or perks are gone doesn’t mean there won’t be compensation when the tuning begins.

Alright, off to the Tanann Jungle… again.

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All About the Numbers Now

There was another Warlords of Draenor beta build last night, and like the two previous builds there wasn’t much in it for Hunters. If you’re expecting major changes to talents, abilities, and rotations I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s all about numbers tuning now.

Beast Mastery has been in a good place since almost the start, and Celestalon has more or less stated that Marksmanship and Surivival are done too.

Cloak and Quiver host Solar agrees with this sentiment as well.

There may be lots of work left in order to get Warlords ready for launch, but it looks like Hunters are down to tuning now.

Speaking of launch, Blizzard announced a special livestream event for Thursday August 14th, where they will unveil the Warlords of Draenor cinematic, and reveal the launch date for the expansion.

I’m betting it will go live right after Blizzcon. At this point it makes the most sense, but you never know. One thing I hope is that they also announce a release date for the 6.0 pre-patch, assuming they’re planning a pre-expansion release.

That is as important date as any. When 6.0 drop Siege of Orgimmar will be updated with the new raid changes. That means 20-man Mythic. Any 10-man raid teams will need to find 10 more people or plan to halt progress get ready for Warlords.

Based on the September 30th cut-off date to receive the Horde Chopper, that seems like as good a date as any for the pre-patch.

Each beta build is cleaner than that last and there are definite signs of progress. Even though there were no major changes for Hunters, there were a number of new tameable pets added in this build.

Bendak has been on a tear feretting them all out. I can’t wait to get a first hand look myself.

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Grats Team Hunter!

Congratulations to Team Hunter, who over the weekend, managed to defeat nearly every boss in Siege of Orgrimmar Flex.

Norushen was the only boss that was too much for them to overcome. They defeated everything else, including Garrosh, with relative ease.

Now that Garrosh has been defeated, what’s next for Team Hunter you ask? ArtemisHowl tweeted Team Hunter’s future plans.

To learn more about Team Hunter check out Bendak’s inteview with the team’s organizer ArtemisHowl, and you can also listen ArtemisHowl and Shoot on episode 11 of Cloak and Quiver.

Well done Team Hunter!

Cloak and Quiver – Episode 11: The Three Amigos

Watch this video on YouTube.
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Gara the Spirit Beast? The Game is Afoot!

All credit for this post goes to Miacoda and Bendak for bringing this information to light. For the two of you who don’t read Eyes of the Beast, you should, and you’re welcome. This is for you.

While running around in Shadwomoon Valley, Miacoda happened upon Gara the Spirit Wolf. I’m guessing that Mia must be a dog whisperer because she’s the only beta tester who decided to speak to Gara, and that’s when the magic happened.

So is this the new Spirit Beast for Warlords of Draenor? Let’s piece together what we know so far. Early on in the beta the Void Wolves in the Tanaan Jungle were tameable. Here is was Muffinus had to say about that.

Then, just last week we got confirmation of sorts that Void Wolves would be part of the Spirit Beast family.

I’m hoping that this is the start of a cool quest chain. Without giving away too much story, perhaps that orcs are turning spirit wolves into aberrations. You scratch her behind the ear, and then several orcs come out of nowhere and capture poor Gara. You track her down and rescue her before she becomes a full blown aberration.

Another possibility is that you scratch her behind the ear and are whisked away to Sholazar Basin in alternate Azeroth where you must endlessly camp one of seven spawn points in hopes of claiming your prize. Unless you’re me of course,  I’m sure Gara would be patiently waiting when I arrive.

The interesting thing to note is that Gara is not a Void Wolf. I think she’ll become one, but I’m sure there are folks who will be disappointed if they can’t tame her in her current form. I personally prefer the glowing purple of the Void Wolf, but not everyone may like that.

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Whatever the outcome, it does make one wonder though what the current philosophy is towards Spirit Beasts. The first four were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. Each were hard to get based on demand and long spawn timers.  If you happened to be in the right place when lightning struck you had yourself an easy tame, if not you were in for long and boring wait.

In Cataclysm, Blizzard added five more Spirit Beasts. The first two were modeled after the Wrath Spirit Beasts; simple tames with long spawn timers. The last three had long spawn timers, but they were part of a new breed of pets that were taming challenges; each had a trick you needed to figure out before you to tame them.

Cataclysm is also where Spirit Beasts’ ooh and ahh factor started to diminish. In Wrath they were arguably the most unique and coolest looking pets you could find. With stable slots limited to five you were truly dedicated if you opted to fill four of them with Spirit Beasts. Especially since Beast Mastery did such terrible DPS that there were few places in the game where you opted to play that spec.

Starting in Cataclysm Blizzard began introducing rare pets that were arguably as cool looking as Spirit Beats. Skarr, Terrorpene and Sambas are three that come to mind. Taming one of those felt every bit as awesome as taming a Spirit Beast.

In Mists of Pandaria it felt like Spirit Beasts had run their course. Three were introduced and they were all spectral porcupines. They had very short spawn timers making them readily available if you wanted to tame one. They each had a unique taming challenge, which I thought were excellent. They just didn’t feel that special though.

Which brings me back to Warlords. If taming the void wolf is going to be a quest and taming challenge, will it also be rare?

I’m going to guess no. It looks like this is setting up to be a fun event for all Hunters to experience if/when they choose. That doesn’t mean the tame will be easy, but just always available.

I’m okay with this. We have fifty stable slots, and Warlords is introducing more than enough pets to make us beg for more.

Factor in that raid sizes are going to be larger and we should have more freedom to raid with whatever pet we choose, because buffs/debuffs will likely be covered.

Blizzard doesn’t have to go out of their way to make Gara rare. Gara will be rare because she won’t be everybody’s favorite companion. She’ll be cool, every Hunter will tame her, but not every Hunter will use her because the options that we have for pets are utterly astounding.