Departing the Mists


When Mists of Pandaria was announced at Blizzcon 2011, it was like this Planet of the Apes moment. I remember seeing the fat panda drop from the sky and thinking, “You finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up!” Suffice it to say I was not impressed with Pandas. Given that Cataclysm was not a great follow-up to Wrath of the Lich King, I was not too optimistic for World of Warcraft’s future. Boy was I wrong.

Despite the fact that Mists of Pandaria ended up being the longest expansion on record clocking in at an incredible 777 days, and despite the fact that Siege of Orgrimmar consumed a whopping 396 of those days, I still think it was some of Blizzard’s finest work. A quick side note here, just like I did in this post, I’m calculating days based on the release of the x.0 patch for each expansion. No matter how you choose to slice it, this was the longest expansion in the game’s history.

Even though it lasted many months longer that it needed, and even though I took a long pause in the middle patches, I think this was WoW’s second best expansion ranking just behind Wrath of the Lich King. In fact, here’s how I rank the four expansions.

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. Mists of Pandaria
  3. The Burning Crusade
  4. Cataclysm

Yes, I thought Mists was that good, but that doesn’t mean I liked everything about it.

The deluge of dailies that washed over us as soon as we hit level 90 was a bit overwhelming, and led to a lot of burnout. The goal was to give us variety and stuff that we could pick and choose. The problem was we chose to do everything on everyday. The dailies were tied to reputation progression, were a source of elder charms and valor. My week often ended with me shouting, “Yay! I’m valor capped. And Boo! I’m valor capped.” By the time patch 5.1 came out, I’d had my fill of dailies and found it difficult to marshal myself to do all of the new dailies.

Blizzard had the good sense to course correct, and when the Timeless Isle was introduced we had stuff to do everyday, but they weren’t dailies per se. The end-game hubs like the Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle were things I really liked. I think the Timeless Isle offered a nice variety of things to do, and I expect to see more of that format in Warlords. I know it’s hard to say good things about the Timeless Isle since we’ve had it for more than a year, but I thought it was quite good.

The story of Mists of Pandaria was excellent and exceeded my expectations. It flowed nicely from Cataclysm and segues perfectly into Warlords. It was much darker than I expected given the light hearted nature of the Pandaren. The story played out in almost all aspects of the expansion from the leveling zones, quest hubs and raids.

Raiding, which is my primary focus was a real mixed bag this time around. This had more to with the fact that my initial raid team was somewhat dysfunctional, and raid nights were not always fun. We limped our way through the first tier and then imploded in Throne of Thunder. This is where I partially blame Blizzard for making a ridiculously hard boss in Horridon as the second boss of the instance; something that was not repeated in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Siege of Orgrimmar was great. I know it lasted way to long, but people ran it right up until the end. The Garrosh Herilooms were a wonderful perk leading into Warlords. I also got to run a fair bit of this in heroic (now Mythic). My only regret is that I didn’t clear the Tier in Mythic, stopping my progression on Thok.

The Legendary quest line was another outstanding feature that I really enjoyed. I liked the fact that anyone who was willing to put in the time could get a legendary cloak. You didn’t have to be in a high-end guild, clear heroic raids, or have elite friends. The hardest part was the PvP (if you hate PvP), and having to suffer through the LFR runs.

Speaking of LFR, I hated it with a passion. I hated it so much that I refused to use it to gear up alts and pursue additional cloaks. For my alts., I chose to grind out Burdens of Eternity on the Timeless Isle and then run flex or normal raids to further gear up.

Flex by the way, was probably my favorite feature of this expansion, and I think it will change the way we approach raiding in Warlords of Draenor, and for the better. The amount of organizational and social angst that this gets rid of cannot be understated.

The last thing I want comment on is that I loved the zones, and was ecstatic that we were back in a new continent away from the rest of Azeroth. The zones were all beautiful, and other than the fact they destroyed the Vale, I liked them all. By the way, I think the zones in Warlords are even better. Well maybe not quite as nice as the Jade Forest, but pretty darn close.

I thought Mists was a great expansion and a vast improvement over Cataclysm. I don’t know if any expansion will better than Wrath, but I have special feelings towards Wrath, not because of it’s content, but it because of my overall experience both in and out of the game during that period.

Goodbye Pandaria and see you in Draenor.

MoP – Shortest or Longest XPAC?

There’s a lot of discussion going on regarding the length of Mists of Pandaria and the amount of time it takes Blizzard to deliver new content. MMO-Champion posted a couple of charts comparing the patch duration for each expansion in World of Warcraft. Alt:ernative Chat discusses the topic in this post.

Believe it or not, thus far, Mists of Pandaria is the shortest running expansion that Blizzard has put together, and patch 5.4 currently has the shortest duration of any expansion’s final patch. The meter is still ticking, and when patch 6.0 does arrive, MoP may end up being one of the longest running expansions, and patch 5.4 the longest final patch.

Before I dive into this, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here regarding numbers.

  • I’m only looking that the four expansions and not Vanilla.
  • Duration is based on the initial release date of each patch. I’m looking at patches and sub-patches as a whole.
  • Release dates are coming from Wowpedia. They may not be 100% accurate, but they’re dates so it’s pretty darn close.
  • For x.0 patches I’m using the release date of the pre-patch, and not the release of the expansion.
  • I did not factor in Beta releases as I do not consider that new content.
  • I drafted this on March 22, 2014, so predictive dates in this post are based on that starting date.

Let’s look at some numbers. Here are the release dates for each expansion’s patch and the total duration of each expansion in days.


Now, here’s a look at the number of days each content patch lasted for each expansion. Patch 3.3 is the longest running patch at a whopping 308 days. Patch 5.4 is the shortest running final patch, but again, the meter is still running, and I’m willing to bet it will surpass 3.3.


What should jump out at you is just how short lived patches 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 were compared to the others. If Blizzard is wondering why were clamoring for content, it’s because they conditioned us to shorter, faster patches, and to their credit they were able to deliver that until now.

Here’s another look that shows the percentage of each expansion that each patch consumed.


One takeaway here is that Blizzard released patch 5.1 much sooner than it needed to be. Patch 5.0’s percentage duration is much shorter than any of it’s predecessors. They could’ve stretched this one out longer. The same could be said for patch 5.2.

The fact that each final patch consumed a greater percentage of content time than other patches should come as no surprise. As of right now patch 5.4 doesn’t seem too out of line, but the expansion is not over and this is just a snapshot of where we are today. Where might we end up?

Let’s assume that 6.0 is released on 8/26/2014. That’s a Tuesday and it’s very close to when 5.0 went live. If we fast forward to that day. This is how the number shake out.

20140322075408Mists of Pandaria’s total duration equals that of Wrath of the Lich King at 728 days. It’s now tied for the longest running expansion in WoW.

Here’s how the percentage durations look.


Patch 5.4 ends up consuming 48% of Mists’ content time and becomes the longest running content patch at 350 days, exceeding 3.3 by 42 days.


For Mists of Pandaria Blizzard wanted to give us new content sooner. Throughout the expansion they were able to deliver on that promise. Where they’ve fallen short is in the transition from Mists to Warlords.

Then end result is that we’ve consumed most of the content in 5.4, and might be faced with the longest wait between the end of one expansion and the start of another.

So as of right now MoP is the shortest expansion on record, however I think it will end up being the longest.

What say you on this?

Decisions, Decisions

I know I’ve reached the end of an expansion when spreadsheets don’t revolve around rotations and DPS, but rather center on options for using my level 90 boost. The bonus to auto-leveling two professions to 600 has me leaning towards using the boost on a high level character. I hit up Twitter to find out what two professions I should take.

Many of you responded and the recommendations were essentially all of them. A few of you highly recommended Engineering. I have Engineering on Darkbrew, and my goal is to have two max level professions that I don’t have elsewhere.

I don’t have Blacksmithing or Inscription on any toon, so this is the logical choice to make. The caveat is that I don’t feel like leveling anything else right now. I have an 85 Druid with Enchanting and Tailoring. They’re almost to Cataclysm max, so I would need to level him and the professions. I also have an 85 Hunter with Skinning and Leatherworking, so same thing there.

I’m also thinking about using the boost on my Shaman, which means if I took say Tailoring and Enchanting I’d be duplicating what exists elsewhere.

I’ll probably boost the Shammy with Blacksmithing and Inscription and then just level up the other two toons.

This should put in me pretty good shape for the expansion. Three level 90 Alliance Hunters, a Druid and Shaman, and all the professions maxed out. I need to make some gold in WoD. I’m tired of being poor.

Stopcasting! Stopcasting!


One of the tenets of doing great dps is the ABC rule; Always be casting. There are times, though, when it is to your benefit to stop casting.

I’m not talking about halting what you’re doing to move out of the stupid. I’m referring to clearing the way so that you can do important things like casting interrupts without your other abilities getting in the way.

I’m part of an interrupt rotation on Embodied Gloom on heroic protectors. If Gloom gets off a Corruption Shock it’s bad news for your raid. Letting one get through won’t wipe you, but there’s no reason you can’t get them all.

In order to guarantee that I get my interrupt off when I need it, I use the following stopcasting macro.

#showtooltip Counter Shot
/cast Counter Shot

This macro stops whatever I’m doing and ensures that I’ll fire Counter Shot without delay. Why the two stopcasting lines? One is to cancel any spell in progress such as Cobra Shot, and the other is to stop my auto shot that might be going off.

Use this and you’ll never again be a victim to your own over activity.

Shot of the Week: Beast Lore

sotw_725Each week we’ll look at the history and utility of some of the greatest abilities in the Hunter’s arsenal

This week I’m digging deep into the spell book and presenting you with our unique ability, Beast Lore. That’s right, Beast Lore. I know it’s not a DPS ability, and I get that it’s not something you use often, if at all.

If there’s a time when you want to break this one out and have it handy it’s for the Warlords of Draenor beta. Petopia is an awesome resource, but Blizzard doesn’t just send them the data. The list of tameable pets is the work of players like you who go into the beta, wander around and cast Beast Lore on everything.

Beast Lore allows you to collect information on any beast that you run across. When you cast Beast Lore it puts a debuff on the target that lasts for 30 seconds. If you pull up the target’s tool tip you’ll get information such as if it’s tameable, its diet, and any tamed abilities it has.


Notice that the Ancient Spineclaws on the Timeless Isle are indeed tameable, and once Warlords of Draenor arrives and you hit level 91, you can go back and get one.

If you’re lucky enough to get into the beta, be sure to spend some time finding out which new pets we can add to our stables.

How’m I Doin’?


Where it all began five years ago.

On March 17th the Brew Hall will turn five. I can’t believe I’ve been at this for five years now, but then again, World of Warcraft is about to turn ten. Who could’ve thunk that? The time has flown by so fast, that in many ways, I feel more like rookie than a veteran of WoW blogging.

The Brew Hall was born while I was on vacation in St. Thomas. I’m once again on vacation in St. Thomas and, in between Margaritas, I’m doing a little reminiscing, and some thinking about the way forward.

Former New York mayor, Ed Koch was famous for standing on street corners and asking passersby, “How’m I doin’?”

So today, I stand before you on this virtual street corner and I ask you, How’m I doin’?

The Brew Hall is and will always be Hunter blog, and I believe you’ve come to appreciate that. I don’t plan on changing that, but are there Hunter topics you would like me to cover? One thing I will say is that I’m not a theorycrafter. I love the work that theorycrafters do, and I’m happy to talk about their work, but it’s just not my arena.

Aside from theorycrafting, are there other areas of WoW that you would like to read about here? Perhaps opinions on Garrisons, the level 90 boost, and so forth?

Do you like the tone of the posts? Am I too nice, too mean, too neutral? In real life I tend to be very non-confrontational, so if my posts read like I’m not trying to piss anybody off, that’s why. But again I ask, would you like me to stir the pot a little?

Are the posts too long, or too short? Do phrases intended to make you laugh, make you laugh? Would you like me to try and be more funny or less funny?

Do you want more images in posts, or do you not care? Are you dying to see a picture of my hairy wrists? Do you want to see more Internet memes, or do you find that they’re overused and you’re sick of them?

Is the site easy to use? Do you have trouble commenting on posts due to captcha? Do you find the posts worth commenting on at all? Perhaps you don’t like to comment on any blog? Do you subscribe to the RSS feed and just read the posts in your reader and avoid coming here at all?

I track a lot of blogs via RSS, and I love hit, however, it also prevents me from going to those sites and commenting.

I don’t need comments, but the goal here it to engage you in discussion, and to get you thinking. So I ask again, what types of posts get your juices flowing and your gears turning?

I started this because I love my Hunter. The goal was to teach, to learn, and to discuss. I still want to do that, so I ask you, how’m I doin’?

The gates are open!

Shot of the Week: Binding Shot

sotw_725Each week we’ll look at the history and utility of some of the greatest abilities in the Hunter’s arsenal

This week I’m covering another of our talents, Biding Shot. It’s a tier 2 talent that you can get a level 30. It’s purpose is utility and not DPS, and I use it all the time in PvE. Here’s what it does.

“You fire a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 5 yards of the landing arrow for (11 sec – 1) sec.

If targets move 5 yards from the arrow they are stunned for 5 sec (3 sec PvP) and will be immune to the effects of Binding Shot for 10 sec.”

Essentially it’s an AoE stun that can be used on unlimited targets. When you think of stuns and roots PvP first comes to mind, but there are many applications for this ability in PvE. In Siege of Orgrimmar I use it on the blobs in Heroic Immerseus. It’s perfect the for the green oozes in the Dark Shaman encounter. It will stun the bloods in Paragon’s of the Klaxxi. It can also be used on the small add in Sha of Pride.

Basically, if you find yourself in a situation in which there are adds running around that you want to control then Binding Shot is the perfect tool for the job. It was one of the better additions in Mists of Pandaria.

How are you using Binding Shot? PvP comments just as welcome as PvE.

Happy Hunting!

Do You Raid in Control?

Raid encounters are fast-paced, hectic and chaotic. We do our best to mitigate the madness with alerts and warnings. We carefully plan our strategy, and communicate using Ventrilo and Mumble. When the boss is pulled, the bolts start flying, and things begin to go South, are you in control?

Does your adrenaline start rushing as victory is in site? Do your actions and demeanor change when the health bars of your comrades start moving in the negative direction? Do you fight Garrosh with the same aplomb as you do the target dummy?

Do you stay in control, carefully executing your rotation, or do your react as if your hands suddenly doubled in size as you fumble to press the right buttons?

Is vent a calm place or a picture of anarchy? Do you hit push-to-talk and in a soothing voice say, “attention healers, deterrence and cookies are on CD, we have no way to mitigate this next empowered whirlwind. Assistance needed.”, or do you send cats running from room by yelling, “HEAL ME, HEAL ME NAO!”

I think back to the “Miracle on the Hudson” and the actions of Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger and air traffic controller Patrick Harten. The calm and composure they displayed in the face of this dire situation is nothing short of remarkable.

When you listen to the cockpit recording (see below), what you hear is training and professionalism executed to perfection. You’d think that commercial planes ditching into bodies of water was something that happens several times a day.

As NTSB board member Kitty Higgins said, “These people knew what they were supposed to do and they did it and as a result, no lives were lost.”

Was there luck involved in here? Absolutely, but because these people stayed focus and didn’t panic when hundreds of lives were in the balance, they gave themselves the opportunity needed for a positive outcome to occur.

I think it’s safe to say that screaming, panic, hesitation and uncertainty would’ve meant certain doom for the passengers and crew of flight 1549. 

Garrosh is a great example of a fight that requires everyone to stay alert and focused right up until the end. On normal mode any team can easily wipe at one percent or under. There are specific tasks that need to be executed that don’t involve DPS’ing the boss and everyone needs to communicate. If there was ever a phase that rewarded keeping one’s composure, this is it.

I would argue that most wipes in this phase occur because folks are flustered, trying to react too quickly, playing with tunnel vision, and not focused on key mechanics. They simply are not raiding with the control and precision needed to win.

I can honestly say that I’m mixed. If I had a copper for every time I thought I was hitting deterrence only to then see myself fly backwards across the room because I hit Disengage, I’d be a rich dwarf. I’ve tried to fire abilities that were on CD, abilities where I didn’t have enough focus, and I’ve hit Kill Command a split second before I hit Bestial Wrath. All because I was in a hurry, and felt rushed. All because I was wrapped up in the moment. All because I immersed myself into the perceived dangers of the fight and the need to win as quickly as possible.

I’m in no way saying that raiding is as important or even remotely comparable to handling an emergency flight situation, but I believe there are lessons that can be applied here.

If people can learn to stay in control when hundreds of real lives are on the line shouldn’t we be able to keep calm in the face of few Internet dragons?

The Margaritaville Diaries: Tumbelweed

Hey everyone, Darkbrew here, blogging live from Margaritaville. I’m not drinking Margaritas though; not yet anway. No sir, the drink of the day is the Pain Killer. For those wanting to drink along, here’s how you fix one up.

#showtooltip Coconut Cup
2-4 oz. of Pusser's Rum
4 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. orange juice
Grated fresh nutmeg

One thing that’s missing from the recipe is that it’s important to stir the drink with your finger. Especially if you’re making one for someone else. Deeeelicious. I don’t know how many are recommended for one sitting, but if it’s less than four, we could be in for an interesting ride here today.

It’s Monday and back home my compadres are heading into Siege of Orgimmar to punch heroic Immerseus in the face, or is it the other way around? I forget. He kind of reminds me of a big ‘ole barracuda I saw swimming today. In addition to being a hit song by Heart, Barracudas are sleek, shiny and scary as hell. I’m pretty sure I can’t out swim a barracuda, but I know I can out swim my wife, and that’s really all the matters in those kinds of situations. Thankfully it didn’t come to that as I’ve mastered the art of swimming casually. You know keeping your distance, but not looking like you’re keeping your distance? Works every time.

But back to my friends and their endeavor to down Heroic Immerseus. Last week we went in there and it was wipe, after wipe, after wipe. I couldn’t wait to get hell out of there, but now, for some odd reason, I miss them, and I feel bad for not being there.

Last week, I was ready reach into my bank and grab and old wood-cutting axe, a relic from the days Hunters used melee weapons, and use it on our Resto Tree, who I was certain was responsible for 99.999% of the wipes that night. It was his birthday and he had been “celebrating”.

He kept dying, which led to a chain reaction of the rest of us dying. I kept wanting to yell at him and say, “I get that you’re a tree, but you know you’re not rooted to the ground like an actual tree? Right?”

Then I wen to Warcraft Logs and watched a replay of our fights, and saw that he wasn’t rooted like a tree, but rather he jumping around like a tumbleweed in the wind. His movement patterns so seemingly random. He was prancing about like a figure skater trying to draw a Jackson Pollock masterpiece on the ice. Only the end result wasn’t a priceless masterpiece, it was death; nothing but gold sucking death.

That’s how I felt that night, but right now, I don’t feel that way at all. For some reason I feel guilty. I’m ashamed with myself for wishing I had brought my Mastiff pet so he could run over to Tumbleweed and greet him with a hearty leg raise to the trunk.

As I sit here gulping my fifth Pain Killer, I’m suddenly appreciative of the fact that his magical healing branches allow me take four and five stacks of Swelling Corruption, and live to tell about it. He is the reason I don’t have to lose precious DPS time popping deterrence to avoid Swirl. He’s the reason why I can finish that Cobra Shot cast while standing in the puddle.

I don’t hate Mystic. I love you man. I love my whole raid team. I love my whole guild. I love my readers, and all of the Hunters. Even the Hunter that killed King Krush while I was mid-tame. That’s right dude, this sixth Pain Killer is for you. IT’S FOR ALL OF YOU!

Silver Medal Required for 5-Man Heroics

There’s a lot of information beginning to circulate about Warlords of Draenor. A French site Judge Hype posted an interview with Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas in which it was revealed that players will be required to earn a silver medal in the Crucible to queue for Heroic 5-man dungeons. For those that don’t know the Crucible is the updated version of the Proving Grounds introduced in Mists of Pandaria.

Watcher chimed in with some clarifications on the requirements (full post here).

  • We will have Normal and Heroic versions of our max-level dungeons. (Note that we did not have Normal level 90 dungeons in Mists.)
  • There will be no special requirement other than basic level/ilvl requirements on queuing for Normal dungeons or LFR.
  • Level-up quest gear will get you into Normal dungeons/scenarios, and Normal dungeon/scenario gear will get you into LFR.
  • Heroic dungeons will be more challenging than the Normal version (not brutally difficult, mind you — just somewhat more demanding).
  • You will need a Silver Proving Grounds medal in a given role in order to queue for random matchmaking for a Heroic Warlords dungeon. If you form a premade group, you can zone in regardless and no such requirement applies.

How do I feel about this requirement in Warlords of Draenor? Simply put, I approve this message. It’s a step up from the whole ilevel requirement that we have now. It does force players to do content they might otherwise choose to skip, and it requires them to do it pretty early on.

That’s not something I would consider a hardship or problematic in any way. In the current Proving Grounds, a silver medal in your role is not difficult to obtain. I personally didn’t have that much difficulty achieving gold, and as we know, a skilled Hunter can even achieve Gold in the tanking role.

The big question is can the Proving Grounds be an accurate test of skill? Proving Grounds are solo content, not group. If the Proving Grounds aren’t updated to reflect some of the challenges we’ll face in heroic dungeons then this will be akin to the SAT. Passing gets you in the door, but the exam doesn’t really prepare you for what lies ahead. A point not lost on Ion when he said, “we realize that by formally using Proving Grounds as a qualification, it will be incumbent upon us to further refine their balance and mechanics. We’ll be updating them for Warlords, and we’re confident that we can make them a fair test of baseline ability within a given role.”

Let’s assume that Blizzard gets it right and Proving Grounds become an accurate test for Heroic dungeons, will they change the pug experience? Will it prevent a group from forming with, as Ion put it, “a tank who may literally have never tanked before”? Will players pay attention? Will they read the dungeon journal or watch a video before entering the dungeon for first time? If a boss needs to be interrupted will the group communicate and determine who will be responsible for that? Will players take it upon themselves to assume that duty?

Proving Grounds as test is a great concept, but if it doesn’t weed out the bad, if it doesn’t improve the dungeon experience, then the benefit is lost. I’m dubious that it will have a real impact on the quality of LFD runs.

If Warlords plays out like Mists did, then it won’t be long before players out gear the dungeons, and the difficulty becomes trivial. In other words, this Proving Grounds requirement only applies to the first tier of the expansion, and mostly only the first few weeks of it’s life. The long-term benefits will diminish as the expansion pushes forward.

What’s curious here is that it does not apply to LFR. Now maybe that while 5-man Heroic dungeon difficulty is going up, LFR difficulty will go down? Unlikely, and nothing to that effect has been stated, other than the gear requirements to run LFR (i.e., normal dungeon gear) seem rather low.

If the ilevel to get into LFR mandated that you have gear from Heroic dungeons, then by default everyone who runs LFR has met the qualifications to run Heroic dungeons, ergo, they have achieved Silver Medal in the Crucible for their role. Makes sense on paper anyway. That’s not the case though, and LFR is excluded from this requirement.

I find this odd, because it seems to go against the philosophy they’re trying to establish, as Watcher said, “In the past, challenging content and random matchmaking have often not gone so well together… Everyone has to learn somewhere, but we’d rather not have that learning come at other players’ expense.”

Obviously Blizzard does not consider LFR to be challenging content or they would tack on the Silver Medal requirement. Scrambling an egg is not challenging. I put some butter in a pan, crack the egg, scramble it around, put it on a plate, and then eat. I know how to scramble an egg. Now if instead of cooking it on a stove I chose to go outside in the noon day sun and hold a magnifying glass over the pan, I might not get the same results. Therein lies the problem. LFR done by the book is not challenging, but it is seldom done by the book, and players have an aptitude to make their own hard modes.

This is why if it were up to me, I’d make some form of Proving Grounds medal a requirement for all PvE matchmaking content. Scenarios, normal dungeons, LFR and the like. If the difficulty and challenge were solely dictated by the content this would be fine, but unfortunately players often have a way of making content harder than it should be, regardless of the design.

Where do you stand on this change? Do you like the idea of Proving Grounds used to actually prove yourself? Should the requirement be lowered to Bronze or raised to Gold? Should it apply to more than just Heroic 5-man dungeons?

Let’s get this party started!

Hunter Durendil  getting tanking gold.

Durendil – You're doing it really wrong (Gold Tank)

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