Saturday, August 30, 2008

Serpentshrine Cavern!

The offline friend who I play with has joined and become a member of the core team in another raid guild, and on Friday night I put in an application, with his name as a reference. I got in, and last night we went to SSC!

Before anyone else says it, I know; my gear is nowhere near up to it. However, not all members of their core 25 man group showed up, and apparently the guild has a policy of taking lower geared people, as long as they're members of the guild, before pugging.

Here I am, just before we got to Maugrim Tidewalker. We didn't end up being able to kill him, but we did kill The Lurker Below, so I got a badge out of that at least. I respecced back to 0/28/33; but I think I need to put a bit more thought into that. I asked the guild what spec they wanted me to use, and they told me to spec what I enjoy. I've been very lucky in this regard; the forums have always had me expecting that guild officers would try and force me to spec a certain way, but the few guilds I've been in never have.

Apparently the guild has only just switched to a DKP system for loot allocation. I'm not going to worry about politics or the actual drops in the instances at all; if I can get badges for the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes, and maybe even a few badges for some tier armour, I will be more than happy with that.

One thing I actually am having to try and learn is not to allow this experience to be stressful. I was exceptionally nervous last night, and truthfully I think I still am now, as we have another SSC run in around three and a half hours from when I'm writing this. Wish me luck. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Clever Traps is gone in WoTLK

I'm trying to understand why, but Blizzard have apparently removed Clever Traps from Survival in the current Wrath of the Lich King beta tree.

This essentially destroys Survival as a levelling tree, more or less entirely. It's been replaced with a 15% chance for a 2 second stun. They've also given us inane things like Lock and Load. The DPS bots are predictably drooling over this talent, but to me all it really means is becoming a threat magnet.

Lock and Load, and Explosive Shot, in addition to the removal of Clever Traps, have more or less completely destroyed Survival's existing mechanics for anything other than end-game use. The old tree, the defensive tree, has had its' guts ripped out.

You've made a lot of bad changes to this game, Blizzard; and the rest I've been able to tolerate. Even the Charge nerf, eventually. This, however, cuts to the bone.

I'm literally stunned. :(

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A temporary cease fire

While doing dailies last night, I found myself reverting briefly to my own Care Bear roots in terms of my dealings with the Alliance.

There was a Gnome Rogue who was in danger of being killed by three Dawnblade Blood Elves in Dawnstar Village at one point; I helped kill them, /waved, (without targetting the gnome, lest accidents happen) and got a /hug in return. Later, during the Dawnblade Reinforcements quest, a Night Elf Druid was similarly in danger of being killed when I saved him, getting a /cheer in response.

The interesting thing was, on both occasions, I'd started to do it even before I'd actually thought about it, and didn't think about it until afterwards. Normally I don't do such things where the Alliance are concerned; opting instead to simply avoid them if they do not attack me. I can only remember perhaps one other occasion where I've actually tried to help one of them.

I think what that proved to me was that Rilgon was right when he said he couldn't see me as primarily PvP. I had to roll on a PvP server initially because my offline friends were there, and later had to adapt to PvP out of necessity. My first character, a Mage, was designed for pure PvE; until they began to consistently attack me, I hadn't had any plans to attack Alliance players myself at all.

Although I do enjoy the battlegrounds, my reasons for attempting to adapt to the Arena are purely gear based; s3 Arena gear is the apparent equivalent of t6, certainly in terms of armour pen at least, if nothing else, and given that my chances of progressing to the Black Temple in raid terms are basically non-existent, if I want to move forward in the game at all, it's pretty much the Arena or bust.

Hence, while I enjoy the battlegrounds recreationally, and the Arena is basically a gear grind, in terms of the non-instanced game world, truthfully I'd much rather have peace with the opposite faction. It means I can do what I need to, and they can do the same; it's a much more certain means for us to both ultimately get what we need, than is fighting each other.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Got the S3 Axe

So I was going to get +35 Agility to my Sonic Spear today, but then realised I had enough Arena points for the Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe. It turns out this weapon has +hit as well, which is good, though not as much as the Spear. With my old green trinket equipped though I'm still hit capped currently anyway.

My Armory profile is at last becoming something which isn't a source of complete embarassment, I think. Although my Arena ratings are still beyond horrible, my RAP with Hawk and TSA is 1800 now, which is a major improvement; I'm a little over 28% crit as well.

The downside, of course, is what this has done to my base Agility. It's down 130 odd points, to 577. I want to try and get back above 600 base if I can, but it eats into my Stamina too much if I try and go higher than that. If I can get back to 600 base though, that will put me close to 670 after LR, and probably fairly close to 34% crit if I go back to deep Survival. I'm going to go back to 25+ point Surv at some point; probably fairly soon if I start doing some instance soloing again.

It's very much a balancing act, I'm finding.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Timecard replaced

I bought another one, and am renewed until October, which is apparently when WoTLK is due out.

I've managed to get my chestpiece enchanted with the Exceptional Stats (+6 to all) enchant. I've also got the mats for the +15 Agility enchant to the s2 hands, but nobody who could do that enchant seemed to be on Thaurissan this morning, so I will have to try later. My health is currently 9.5k unbuffed with Survivalist and around 10.3k with Survivalist and Blessing of Kings.

When I've got full s2, my goals are to get back to 700 Agility unbuffed (which will become 800 after LR) and 12k health with Survivalist. The latter should happen more or less automatically once I've got the boots and belt, or close to. The Agility will be a little harder; I'm going to have to move some things around a bit.

Complicating things is the fact that for PvP, I also need around 69 hit as Rilgon has pointed out. The reason why this will be hard is because although my current boots are bad in other respects, they do have hit on them, and the S2 ones won't. Although I also have the Sonic Spear but still need to get the +35 Agility enchant on it, I'm reluctant to do so, because although the Spear will give me +hit, it has lower Agility than my Quill.

I'm thinking I need to be sensible about not trading everything else I need for pure Ag, as I was in the past. I'm going to aim for 700 before LR as my goal, but if I don't quite make that because of needing the Spear or other things, I'm going to try not to be too upset about it.

All stuff to figure out, anywayz.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thinking of taking a break

My current timecard expires on Monday. At the moment, I'm undecided as to whether or not I'm going to be getting another one, immediately.

I've been spending far too much time, not necessarily even in the game, but on the forums, and I need to get some other things done. I need more exercise, and I've also been wanting to put in a container vegetable garden in time for Spring, which starts in only a few days now.

If I do get another timecard, I need to figure out how to control the forum addiction so that I can get other things done as well; that I think will be difficult. It's also hard because I've rediscovered my alt Paladin just recently as well, and I've been having more fun with that character than I have in the game in a while. So maybe a better idea would be to get another card, but simply work at better controlling myself on the forums. ;-)

We will see. :)

EDIT:- I'm going to stay, but I think I will focus on playing the Paladin more for a while. I need a change. I also do need to somehow figure out a way to better manage my time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Arena woes

It's plain for anyone who cares to look; my Arena ratings are terrible.

I'm thinking my group comp might have had something to do with it, though. I'm usually in 2s, and the RL friend who plays with me is generally either using a Mage or a Rogue. He now has his brother's Shaman at 70 as well, but we really don't do so well when I'm sole DPS, especially considering that I will often get targetted first by the enemy team.

The RL friend knows a few more people on the server than I do, so he has talked about being able to make a 5s team next week. He wants to get his brother playing his Shaman, which I think will really help, and I also can remember reading that 5s were somewhat better for Hunters, because with more other targets to choose from, there's less chance that the other team will simply zerg us.

I've been experimenting with different specs to see if that will help, as well. BM really hasn't worked out for me; it helps me against Rogues, but given that my gear was initially based almost solely around Agility, my burst with it just isn't high enough. With Marks my burst is ok, but without BW I die because of Crippling Poison.

I intend to probably wait until after the expansion comes out before I go back to full Survival; the way things are now, my AP is around 300 more with Marks, which I need. I am however having to run a bit of a weird Marks spec in order to get the lower hit cap from Surefooted, which I'm also finding I need as well.

If anyone can offer me some non-trollish advice though, I'd appreciate it. I know my gear still needs work. I need to get replace my current boots, but that will mean getting 40 Eye of the Storm marks, and the Horde in my battlegroup lose there pretty much every game, so I'm really not looking forward to that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rilgon's back

Just read Rilgon's last few posts. It seems he's back in the game, which is great. Welcome back, Rilgon. :)

Doing better against Rogues

I've found that my luck against Rogues has been changing for the better in battlegrounds over the last few nights. I killed one Rogue in particular probably five times in a single Warsong Gulch match. There was also a Marks Hunter in the battleground who messaged me about having difficulty with them; once I told him about my method, he messaged me back and said he'd actually managed to kill one.

From what I've been able to learn, the main things Rogues have (at least that they use against me) are Cheap Shot, Kidney Shot, Crippling Poison, and their vanishing tricks.

You will still need probably at least 9k hitpoints to be able to do this, but the initial thing I do is tank the stuns until I see the text come up for Kidney Shot, and trinket then and only then. Once I've trinketed, I then drop Snake Trap, immediately feign, jump forward, apply Serpent Sting and Concussive Shot, and begin kiting. I'd also drink a health potion after you're able to start kiting as well, to make it more certain. A determined Rogue will probably still get a few hits in after you've dropped Snake Trap, even though what they primarily have to focus on then is getting away from the snakes.

The above doesn't work all the time. It won't work when my trinket is on cooldown, of course, and it also won't work against a good Subtlety Rogue who knows to use Shadowstep and their other means of re-entering stealth, mainly because I can't keep them targetted. It would also likely only work in the Arena if I was in a scenario where I wasn't being hit by more than one person at a time, and that virtually never happens.

For people who wonder how I can try to hand out PvP advice when my Arena ratings are so bad, I can only say that it's because truthfully, the Arena is extremely difficult; I have a lot of trouble there. People also seem to kill me as a Hunter before my other teammates, more or less consistently. It isn't impossible; I've been in a couple of good winning matches...but it is very hard.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Some clarification

My last post might have seemed a bit negative again, but I was actually trying to make the end of it somewhat inspiring.

The mood in the Hunter forum is pretty gloomy these days. I wanted to try and remind people of what I feel the worth of our class is, when a lot of people seem to have difficulty remembering it, because I think we can still be very valuable.

I'm noticing also that people who were reading me are pretty quiet lately. I'm hoping some of you are still there; according to Feedburner, I'm still getting around 80 subscribers. I know a few people have moved on, but I hope most haven't. :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Why do people hate Hunters?

This was a question I just saw asked by a new Hunter in the forum.

"Okay so I finaly made a hunter and just recently got to 60 (YAY!!!! GO ME) and the whole way up lvling things went well 5-mans and all that jazz good fun generally little dying but never any complaints. I have good knowleged of CC, DPS, "Save the healer", and "take a death" : (. But at this point is seems that populairty for hunters has gone down.

My pet dies often in instances (prolly cuz my gear sucks right now) but still have to admit the scaling isn't the greatest right now anyway...

Group chemistry sucks @** i get blamed for nearly every CC break we have whether that's my job on the pull or not... "it was the huntard..." : (

What's up with that? I lay my life down to save ppls and get called a huntard? to hell with that!!!

What else.....idk that's just a few things anyone else got anything? answers? other issues?"

(Emphasis mine)

Aside from DPS, The Hunter, Survival in particular, is the proverbial Dark Knight role. Sure, you might die while selflessly protecting healers all the time, and prevent wipes; but unlike the tanking classes, a lot of the time we do it in a very transparent and low key way, so you'll never ever be given credit for it. You will do things that will enable a group to finish an instance where they probably would not have otherwise, yet that will not be recognised, and you will still be reviled and shat on as a "huntard," while people call us easy mode and continue to scream for the deletion of our class.

In The Dark Knight, we get probably the single most rationalistic depiction of Batman we've ever seen. Under the cape, this is a very human individual; he gets mauled by dogs and is shown stitching himself up. He also experiences massive self doubt and regret at times.

In WoW, there's something similar. A Hunter can be the Paladin in much more rationalist/realistic terms; without the Superman element. We don't have the bubble or plate armour; we can't heal, we can't cleanse, and we don't have the blessings. We're very, very mortal. So when we save a group, we do it in the dark. When we use CC to allow our team to win an Arena match, we're still not doing what people logically think is the right thing.

No cheering. No Light spells. No glory, other than what we feel ourselves.

If you see the film again at some point soon, watch for the scene in particular where Batman uses the Tumbler to shield the truck Harvey Dent is in, from a rocket being fired by the Joker, and remember how, as a Hunter, you've probably had to do something similar countless times for a Priest in an instance, only to have nobody pay it any mind whatsoever. Also try listening to the tracks, "I'm Not A Hero," "Like a Dog Chasing Cars," and "A Dark Knight," from the DK soundtrack sometime while playing your Hunter in a Heroic.

"See, to them, you're just a freak..."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The politics of world PvP

Although it's been quiet for the last few days, while I was attempting to do dailies earlier tonight, the Alliance on my server was apparently feeling above itself once again. The first sign was that the floor of the central room of questgivers was literally covered in bones.

Then a little while later, their usual style of many on one, hit and run ganking commenced to the point where Horde players were unable to quest at all, on the Greengill Coast in particular. After being a target on a couple of occasions while simply trying to quest, given that I'm also currently in one of my temporary BM respecs, Bestial Wrath procced on both sides of the keyboard, and I felt the urge to dispense summary justice. ;-)

I went on a rampage, slaughtering every Alliance character I could find.

There were, as I think I've mentioned, some recent transfers to Thaurissan from PvE servers, which Blizzard allowed in order to correct a faction imbalance. Previous to that, the Alliance on Thaurissan had been completely and thoroughly domesticated, to the point where the faction had become critically endangered. Now, however, due to the transfers, there are new Alliance players present, and diplomatic customs (governing such mutually used areas as the island, for example) have not yet been established.

I don't mind world PvP happening in other areas, but as far as I'm concerned, the island is off limits. I'm there to quest, get my money, and go so that I can do other things, not to be subjected to pre-adolescent provocateurs. My philosophy on world PvP happening on the island is thus summed up by a quote from Daniel Howling Coyote, a character from one of the Shadowrun novels:-

"Come in peace, stay in peace. Otherwise leave in pieces." ;-)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A more positive post

I can be pretty negative here at times. On the forums as well...yuck. Some of you probably wouldn't want to keep reading me here if you'd seen how I am there at times.

So I want to try and inject a little light, right now; even if it does end up only being for the next post or two before I go back to being more vicious.

During an Alterac Valley game the other day, I saw a member of the Alliance, a female human Paladin, who was trapped against the side of a hill, who was trying to ride away, but couldn't because the curve was too steep. I impulsively started firing, but then stopped, and looked at her situation. Someone else started shooting her, but I didn't resume. She was not trying to fight us, but merely escape, and I felt sorry for her.

I know Rilgon has written about how people who play PvP don't think about how the target's character being killed affects the target; usually it doesn't affect me all that much when someone kills me, but it has before, and I know Alliance players can get very upset and angry when it happens to them as well.

To answer Rilgon's earlier statement that he couldn't see me as a PvP player; as I said to him in the comments, I had to learn. I would have rolled on an RP server ideally by my own choice, but all of my offline friends at the time had rolled on an Oceanic PvP server, Jubei'Thos. Initially, I wanted to be very peaceful. Although I had played Ultima Online, I never went into the PvP area, Felucca, in that game at all, and I actually disliked the idea of killing other players' characters, or them doing it to me.

The Alliance on Jubei'Thos however, were a particularly savage group of bullies. My first character there, a Mage, was killed so many times while questing in contested areas that in the end I wasn't able to quest outside of an instance at all. It made me angry, and in so doing, encouraged me to create this Hunter and shed some of my more pacifist inclinations in the process; it became something I needed to do on that server in order to survive. There was one particular time when I was attacked on the Shimmering Flats while levelling this Hunter that I will never forget; an Alliance player killed me 3-4 times; I think I managed to get her once, but then she was angry and /sighed at a guy who actually came to help me.

That I think is the other reason why I've tended to play with Survival, even though I've learned to enjoy PvP. As I've written, I feel Surv is a lot more about me being able to walk away from something than it is killing the other person, which is also why, for battlegrounds, I've actually had to respec to something more actively offensive.

I'm able to do dailies again on Thaurissan now though, which is good. Although the Alliance were causing a lot of trouble there when they first transferred in, they've apparently been largely beaten into submission, now. They generally don't attack us while doing dailies at all, and of those who do, they're generally in pure PvE gear; so even though I've only got a little over 100 Resilience myself, I don't normally find it too difficult to beat them off. They generally only need to be killed once or twice to get the message, as well. We had a Rogue on the Greengill Coast the other night though with the Warglaives of Azzinoth who was causing a major disturbance. Very poorly skilled player in PvP terms, but with a Priest and gear like that, it hardly mattered. ;-)

So, yeah; I ended up becoming PvP oriented for the same reason that, in the various Trek series, despite being primarily for exploration, the Enterprise still had phasers and photon torpedoes. I try to mainly be peaceful in game myself, but if someone else starts something, I need to be able to finish it. ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Finally some gear upgrades

I know it's been more than a week since I've posted, but that's because I've actually been playing the game. *gasp* ;-)

The offline friend who I've mentioned has been coming over close to every night recently, and with the PvP we've done, I've also finally managed to snag two gear upgrades; the Merciless Gladiator's Crossbow of the Phoenix, and the Merciless Gladiator's Chain Armor. My next planned gear upgrade is probably the Veteran's Chain Sabatons.

I admit; I've also respecced. I'm currently 0/42/19. The reason is twofold; I've found that, at least in my current gear, as much as I hate to admit it, with 30+ point Surv, the level of damage I want just isn't there. I'm now a hair under 1800 RAP with Marks, and although my crit chance has gone down a bit, it's only 5%, to 27%. It's also going back up, as every PvP piece I get means almost 1% worth of CR.

The second reason is that from what Bandet has written, as long as I've got at least Clever Traps and Survivalist, more than 30 points in Surv won't help me for PvP as much as deep Marks will anywayz. I've been experiencing this in-game; I still very much need and rely on Clever Traps, and wouldn't trade it for anything, but basically what I've traded is for EW's 200 RAP to be constant with TSA and the other Marks talents, rather than on proc. The consistency is really helping me.

I'm not dying to Rogues now anywhere near as much as I was, either. The single main reason is because I've remembered Snake Trap, whereas for a while I'd favoured Freezing. Now I drop Snake Trap and Feign, so the Rogue can't retarget me, then jump out to range and either joust/kite, or simply focus on running away until I can find someone else to help me. ;-)

I think, as I've said before, that PvP is definitely turning out to be more my niche within the game. The offline friend has got into a new raid guild, and he mentioned me to them, but they responded with the usual line about not wanting more Hunters, and I should go fill out the app form on the website, blah, blah, blah.

I'm not going to bother. Doing battlegrounds and the Arena means I can still progress gear wise, but I get to make my own decisions in terms of spec, (I'm still definitely going to be Surv for soloing/instancing/Heroics; especially for places like Slabs which really need a lot of CC) and it means I don't have to put up with elitism or the usual other crap, either. Plus, I'm simply finding I enjoy PvP as well. In the 5 mans I've done at least, when I'm not trapping or soloing, I've honestly become drowsy. I find pure, stand and fire pew pew to be very, very boring for the most part.

I found a levelling guild from an ad on Trade earlier, and when I messaged the person, was given an invite on the spot. The guild has close to 300 people in it; it seems to be the proverbial Mystery Men of Thaurissan. Ret Paladins, Boomkin Druids, Hunters; that sort of thing. ;-) Irony of ironies, there was also a tanking Warrior there who was lamenting that no pugs would let him tank non-Heroic Slabs because they apparently wanted him to have at least 15k health.

I offered to run Slabs with the tank at some point this week, and to show him just how well Survival and Protection can synergise with each other in an instance as add heavy as Slabs is.

If I ever do end up raiding, this will be the type of group it will be with. Not the 5% club, the best and the brightest, the Beautiful People; but with, as William H. Macy says in Mystery Men, "the other guys. The ones nobody bets on." The Marks or Survival Hunters and moonkin Druids, both with Engineering, the Ret Paladins, the Fury Warriors, and the Destruction Warlocks.

We have been hounded, persecuted, and derided as freaks, yet offspecs all, I salute you. Survival, and these other specs as well, aren't about being glamorous in an immediate sense. They're about taking something which you know to be unusual and making it surpass the expectations of those who condemn you for doing so.