Friday, November 28, 2008

Another milestone

In other Ahn'kahet guild run last night, I managed to hit 3000 AP with Expose Weakness when both group and self buffed. I am not entirely sure whether or not that is still lagging behind most people, but it felt good for me. ;-)

This is the spec which I am currently planning to initially test with instancing/raiding at 80. An offline friend wants me to go straight Marksmanship, although for me that would probably translate to something like this. With lesser gear at least, I'm aware the latter spec would probably do a lot more for me, but really being able to see what a combo TSA/EW spec could also do is something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm also aware that deep Marks is probably going to give me better mana efficiency than a hybrid, even with 3/3 ToTH, so we will have to see.

Also, Rilgon; as far as the Cobalt Slicer argument is concerned, while I may not be aware of the particulars of the argument, my own experience would lead me to suspect that from his own perspective at least, BRK is right.

The modification to the Agility/AP ratio in TBC (1 Ag = 1 AP, rather than the old rule of 1 Ag = 2 AP, as well as the fact that in itemisation terms, it often ended up being closer to 1 Ag = 2-2.5 AP) introduced a tradeoff effect between Agility and pure AP. With the PvP gear in particular, this was even more the case; the S3 Axe has no base Agility at all. Hence, if you tried to itemise primarily for Agility, you would end up with extremely low AP, comparitively speaking.

It may also not be true in WoTLK, but in TBC anyway, Blizzard overwhelmingly itemised for Beast Mastery (pure AP) rather than the other two trees, (just as they tended to balance us around BM in PvP as well) especially in terms of the PvP gear, as mentioned. It remains to be seen whether or not Blizzard's focus on Hunters will continue to be primarily BM-centric in WoTLK, but the amount of base Agility which I'm already starting to see on new gear gives me cause for optimism.

As I've said before, the TBC Beast Mastery monoculture has not been in anyone's best interests, and it is my earnest hope that as we move into WoTLK, it will start to gradually dissipate. It certainly doesn't serve users of the other two trees, and it doesn't even really benefit the minority of genuine, skilled natives of Beast Mastery either, such as Pike or BRK, because the tree's social reputation is tarnished when it is used by flavour of the month types, or as a crutch by novice players.

To illustrate the above mentioned tradeoff, though, I had 800 base Ag pre-Kara, but was struggling to maintain 1500 base AP, and the tradeoff was never really resolved before T6 gear, which, admittedly, I myself never got. (Although I was still able to observe that by looking at various numbers) Nearly everyone I saw with 2k+ AP during TBC (pre-T6, anywayz) had south of 700 base Ag, including Surv.

To some extent this tradeoff has been alleviated for Survival in WoTLK with the addition of Hunter VS Wild, but because Beast Mastery has nothing like this, the tradeoff is still going to apply until they start to get gear where the numbers of Agility and AP become close to equal, which, if the historical pattern holds true, will not happen until the very end of this expansion.

Thus, although they are still going to need a minimum of 7-800 base Ag (primarily for crit actually, more than anything else; but also to give them a decent base for scaling with raid buffs) I am estimating that before T8-T9 gear at least, once they get past that minimum Agility requirement, pure AP will be much more important for Beast Mastery.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom

In a new guild, (which, it turns out, is actually the old guild in terms of people; I transferred off Thaurissan last week to Saurfang, a Normal server) and just went to this instance for the first time.

Nothing good dropped, but it was still fun; did several bosses etc. Here's a shot of me and the other four people from the group at the end of the run.

You know, people on the forum keep telling me that Survival can't generate decent damage. We're lucky to have the forum, where we can learn such things...because if they hadn't told me that, I wouldn't have known. ;-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's been nearly a week again

I apologise, but unfortunately I really don't have all that much to say right now. I'm still levelling, probably far more slowly than I should be, although I'm up to the Wrathgate sequence, now; just got to finish up a group of quests I'm doing with some goblins.

I tried to do Azjol-Nerub two days ago, which should have warranted a blog posting, except I guess it really wasn't all that interesting. I had a lot of difficulty getting a group, and then we wiped repeatedly on only the first few pulls, which was embarassing. The place seems harder than just about anything else I've ever done before, though.

Has anyone else here found Azjol difficult?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pike shows more and more that we are of like mind

Pike has a post up at the moment about how she hasn't dinged 72 yet, so in being slow myself, I feel as though I'm in considerably better company now, I will admit.

It is interesting, that although she is a native of Beast Mastery, the more I read about Pike's own playstyle in the game, the more I realise that she and I actually have in common.

I could, at this point, digress into a long, deeply geriatric rant about the virtues of conservatism, patience, delayed gratification, and being a kindred spirit of Treebeard ("Now, now, don't be hasty, young master Mariadoc!") more or less in general, but I already did that probably only two posts ago. ;-)

I therefore will not belabour the point, other than to link to two pages, one about Echidna, an animal totem who I feel that I (and perhaps Pike) resonate rather strongly with, and which I feel is relevant here, and another which I feel is even more relevant; Snail.

I will also quote the last line from Aesop's fable, the Tortoise and the Hare.

"Do not brag about your lightning pace, for slow and steady won the race!"

New blog added to my blogroll

I just discovered the blog of Thracyyus, a brother Survivalist who is also levelling through Northrend currently. He's apparently just hit 74, so he's moving at a somewhat faster clip than myself.

He has apparently only started on the seventh of this month, so I would humbly request that some of you possibly go and give him some encouragement.

I've hit 100 subscribers

Another subscriber milestone has been reached. I first hit the 100 subscriber mark last Monday, but according to Feedburner, just hit it again on Friday as well.

I thank Mania of Mania's Arcania in particular; her link to my levelling guide has been a huge boost to my readership, sometimes accounting for close to 50% of my traffic. With her help, I have gone close, once before, to having 100 subs and 100 visitors in a single day. Although I do not really like champagne, and also cannot drink alcohol any more for the sake of my health either, I think when I actually do pass that mark, some type of champagne equivalent will be in order. I don't mind non-alcoholic fizzy dark grape maybe some of that.

I thank the rest of you as well, for your continued visits to the humble Lair. ;-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ding 73

I'm one bubble into level 73 now, almost exactly.

I'd probably be halfway to 74 by now, but I did a Molten Core run this morning as well because one came up in the LFG channel and I still want the Ancient Petrified Leaf. From what I've read about it, this quest chain qualifies as a genuine Rite of Initiation for a Hunter, and I still haven't done it yet.

So my levelling is progressing slowly but steadily. I will reach 80 in due time; probably in about another week at this rate, as I am trying to average one level per day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My pulling sequence at the moment

As mentioned in my last post, I'm back with Explosive Shot at the moment. What I outline here is purely for use against mobs; I got schooled in a duel with a Shadow Priest last night. This spec and method is not for PvP at all.

I know it will sound as though my rotation is changing a lot right now. That is true, and I will admit that it is slowing my levelling down somewhat. However, I have felt a need to do a lot of experimentation with Explosive Shot and various traps, in order to figure out how it and my traps can work together.

Although the below methods are also going to seem extremely slow and overly complicated for some people, I find they give me the following advantages.
  • Mana use is around 5% per kill, with 2-5% health per kill at times as well, due to mobs possibly getting the odd stray hit. With Resourcefulness, ToTH, Lock and Load, and 3/5 Hunting Party, the only mana I spend is for marking, Serpent, traps, and the very occasional Mend Pet. This means that for single mob pulls, I can continue pulling indefinitely, with no down time. Multi mob pulling might cause me to need to eat and drink a bit, but I generally don't go below 45% health.

    Aside from eliminating downtime, the secondary advantage to mana efficiency is a greater chance of surviving against unanticipated numbers of adds. As mentioned previously, I die far more often indirectly because of being out of mana, than I do from scenarios where I still have sufficient mana but simply run out of health.

    Survival is the Ebenezer Scrooge tree for a few different reasons, and this is one of them:- If I can use as little mana as possible against mobs which I do anticipate, that in turn means that I will have as much as possible for mobs which I don't.

  • This is the single most secure method I know of for dealing with unplanned numbers of adds. At 10k health, I can generally handle 4-6 non-elites with my cat and survive; I anticipate that with a Gorilla using the below chain-trapping method in addition to Volley, I could easily survive twice that number.

  • I'm not going to lie to you. If the below seems somewhat slow, that's because it is. Another element of Survival's Saturnine/Scroogelike nature is the fact that, to really enjoy its' characteristics, being slow can at times be as much of an advantage as being fast, especially if it means being deliberate and avoiding mistakes. It's a conscious exchange; I trade speed and offensive damage output for control, robustness, and endurance. The philosophy is that even if I'm a bit slower on per-mob kills because of that, my overall time spent is still a lot less than if I try and hurry, and end up corpse running. The proverb of, "more haste, less speed," applies.

    My individual mob kills are based primarily around my trap duration, which means 15-20 seconds each. When fighting multiple mobs, after one kill, sometimes I will stop for the last five seconds of a trap cooldown as well, to let my cat build some additional threat on the second mob before dropping the next trap and engaging it.
Because of the extra damage which ES gives me, although I'm still trapping every pull, I don't use Immolation Trap most of the time right now. Instead, I've found it good to focus on a trap which inhibits the movement of a mob as much as possible, and I've found that that is easiest with Snake Trap.

Although there are still times when I will use it, Frost Trap just doesn't work as well for me, for a couple of different reasons.
  • The snakes have their own aggro table, so if I drop Snake and feign, a mob is going to spend time killing the snakes first.

  • Frost Trap works very poorly on slopes, and if you fight on a slope, you're only going to get a small left to right portion of the slick to work with.

  • Snakes can apply crippling poison, which slows mobs by 70%. Frost Trap only slows mobs by 60%, and Wing Clip by 50%. I find that when having to fight more than two mobs in sequence, this extra 10-20% speed difference translates directly into me saving an extra 10-20% health, and in scenarios where the adds sometimes just keep coming, in densely populated areas, that is the difference between being able to continue questing/farming, or having to make a corpse run.
So my rotation at the moment is:-
  1. Drop a Snake Trap at 20 yards from the mob. I'm able to use the RangeDisplay addon to figure out how far that is.

  2. Walk backwards to 35-40 yards. As I'm about to hit the 40 yard point, I fire Serpent Sting, and because auto shot won't fire while I'm moving, I also quickly press another key to turn auto shot off. This is so that I don't get a 1k autoshot crit, and front load more threat than the pet can initially get past with Growl. Serpent Sting as an initial shot builds threat over time, so Growl and my pet's specials have more of a chance to keep up.

  3. When the mob hits my Snake Trap, I press another key that is bound to a macro which both applies Hunter's Mark, and sends my cat to attack the mob. Dash means that the mob won't stay at exactly the same spot as the trap, like Charge would have, but that is ok, because when the mob and cat walk forward a bit before fighting, I can simply backpedal.

  4. When Lock and Load procs from my Snake Trap, I use the rotation Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, Explosive Shot. Sometimes if it's a more difficult mob, or if I've got an add and so need to get the first one down more quickly, (say against the two part horse and rider mobs at New Hearthglen) my rotation will be Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, Multi Shot, Explosive Shot. The second rotation however uses quite a bit more mana, so I don't use it unless I really need to.

  5. After using the non-Multi rotation, the mob will usually be alive for another 1-2 seconds, which is fine. I can either fire another autoshot to finish, or keep backpedalling while my pet and the snakes finish up. I find that I can generally time it so that the snakes and the mob both die at exactly the same time, which means my kills take 15 seconds precisely, and with Resourcefulness, my trap cooldown usually finishes 1-2 seconds later as well.
If I know that I can expect to have adds ahead of time, my procedure is a little different, but not much.
  1. First, I chain trap. Chain trapping for me means putting down my first trap before I pull, and waiting until the trap cooldown has only 5 seconds left before pulling. This is slow, so you won't want to do it every pull; only for ones where you're expecting adds.

    Pike (and some other people) might like chaining Freeze Traps, and that's fine, but I actually like putting down a Frost Trap first, and then using a Snake Trap for each individual mob. The reason why I do this is because, if you use Freezing Trap, it will only stop one mob. Frost Trap gives me a 60% speed reduction against however many mobs walk onto the slick, even if it's another four or so. Snake Trap against individual mobs then also gives me the additional 10%, which means that while I might still have to move around a bit, I am at least able to distribute a marginal amount of CC to all of them. I can also Feign Death and apply Growl to each of them, while of course keeping Mend Pet up.

  2. Next, when I send the pet, I put Mend Pet up, I Growl at the first mob, attack said first mob with the pet until around halfway through the Growl cooldown, and then retarget the second mob and Growl at it.

  3. I then redirect the pet back to attacking the first mob, drop Snake Trap, and kill it in the usual way. People might say to simply use Volley, but if I do that without a Gorilla, I pull threat very quickly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

72, pets, and spec schizophrenia

It's 7:57 am here, and I just dinged level 72 a few minutes ago. I started somewhere between 12:30 and 1 am this morning, and I wasn't very far into level 71 at the time, which means going from 71 and 72 has taken me probably close to nine hours in total, although there was a trip to Dalaran to restock ammunition, and back to Orgrimmar to respec and train Kill Shot.

I don't like Dalaran as much as I liked Shattrath, I've decided. Stormwind is probably my least favourite city in this game, and my distaste for Dalaran exists for more or less the same reasons. Both cities feel extremely small, cramped, and inorganic. I ended up very fond of Shattrath, by comparison, and the reason why is because it was exactly the opposite.

Good urban design in my own mind calls for both intelligent use of the z axis, and a lot of plants, and any city which is all stone or concrete and no greenery at all, generally isn't one that I'm going to be very happy in. It probably goes without saying that Thunder Bluff is a place that I very much enjoy spending time in, although Blizz could possibly improve it with a bit more shrubbery here and there.

As for the other half of this post's title, it's due to me having gone back to 0/10/51, although that's now 0/11/52 considering that I've leveled twice. Given the amount of abuse I've hurled at this spec, you'd be entirely justified in wondering why I would do that.

I will still be using the hybrid for battleground pvp, but for levelling or farming, the main thing is, I realised that Furnurgler was right. I went with the hybrid spec because I thought it would be more DPS, (which it is, marginally) and I was also putting pressure on myself for a while to level up faster, in order to proverbially keep up with the Joneses.

I'm realising now that that was stupid. As long as I trap in place, trapping is actually faster for levelling for the simple reason that trapping means I actually want to play the game at all; with a more dps oriented spec, per-kill levelling might have been faster, but it was boring me and affecting my level of motivation. Now instead of finding killing mobs boring, it's actually partially addictive for me.

I'm not sure I will ever stop wrestling with this entirely, but the one thing I need to learn more than anything else, is to ignore the expectations and preconceptions of other people, and simply follow my own instincts. Once I do that, I enjoy the game. When I stop doing it and cave in to the pressure temporarily, I again find it difficult to stay motivated about playing, because I'm not being true to myself.

For another thing, the difference in DPS between 0/10/51 and 0/30/31 is around 40, (550 while trapping, as opposed to 590ish with a 1:1.5 rotation with Aimed and Serpent with 0/30/31, although by the time I finished this morning, Recount was showing me having peaked at around 640) and the other thing is, I have vastly better mana efficiency and endurance.

With the hybrid spec I have to drink probably every four mobs, and given how densely packed most mobs are in Northrend, I can get half a dozen adds almost without thinking about it. If I'm going to survive that, I need all the mana efficiency I can get. I was dying a few times with the hybrid whereas I don't now, simply because I'd go oom and not be able to finish off all of the adds I was getting because of it.

I know the answer to this from most people will be to get a Gorilla and spam Volley, however there are two reasons why I haven't (and most likely won't) ended up doing that.

The first reason is that simply spamming a single spell (or close to) isn't a playstyle that I enjoy, and was the main reason why I found the 1:1 rotation so unbearable during TBC. If I'm going to avoid getting bored to the point where it is literally physically painful, I need to be able to think about things a bit more than that.

The second reason is that the Gorilla is nerf bait. As much as I hate to say it, I have a very powerful hunch that a Thunderstomp nerf is soon going to be coming to a Gorilla near you. Every time the community has previously decided that there is One Pet To Rule Them All, Blizz have nerfed it, presumably to enforce a greater degree of diversity among chosen pets.

The first victim of the nerf bat was Lightning Breath, after it was found to scale so well. Then came the discovery and subsequent nerfing of both Scorpid Poison, and my own dearly beloved Boar Charge.

These are three powerful precedents, and given how upset I was with the Charge nerf, I've decided I don't want to become attached to and dependent on Thunderstomp, only to have Blizzard take that away from me as well.

As much as Hortus swore until he was blue in the face that Charge's threat generation was bugged, I never believed him. My experience has proven me right; a boar with full Tenacity spec now has nowhere near the aggro holding capacity of a cat, and Ferocity is not a tanking tree.

Boars had (and still have) a 10% penalty to damage, to balance their +10% bonus to health. Given that, unless their means of threat generation is genuinely astronomical, they have no chance of being able to cope whatsoever.

I sincerely hope that I'm wrong about this, because I know there are a lot of Hunters who love their Gorilla, but I have an uncomfortable and persistent feeling that I won't be. The scenario with Thunderstomp is too similar to the previous ones.

The other major point about Explosive Shot is that I quite simply didn't previously know how to use it. ES's primary hit damage (of under 300) is not the point. The point is the additional DoT, which stacks with both Serpent Sting and Immolation Trap.

In that sense, Survival is like the Shaman, whose damage doesn't come from a single source, but comes from totems, the enhancement weapon enchant, shocks/lightning, and melee damage. In Surv's own case, it's Serpent Sting, Immolation Trap, Arcane, Explosive, Kill Shot, and Autoshot, with the occasional raptor strike/wing clip combo while kiting.

Survival's damage is only really primarily crit based inside an instance, where I have a human tank in front of me who has vastly more ability at re-acquiring threat than my pet does if I screw up.

When I'm soloing, however, particularly against groups, critting high gets me killed, because it pulls all of the mobs onto me, and keeps them within melee range, so I can't get them off me, and I can't do enough damage to kill them before they kill me. I want crits, yes; but I primarily want them for proccing things. In damage terms during solo PvE, that is what my dots are for.

So my new rotation is, drop a frost trap and jump back from it slightly, use either Serpent Sting or a dagger for pulling, (the dagger is for very low threat pulls, where I'm worried about adds) and send my cat when the mob hits the trap. I then turn and jump out to 20-25 yards, turn back, apply Serpent if I haven't already, and then use Explosive, Arcane, Explosive due to the Lock and Load proc. The reason why I allow an Arcane in between Explosives is to give the DoT time to do its' work before re-applying it.

I haven't encountered a non-elite mob of my own level yet, that won't be dead by that point. Multiple mobs are a bit harder, but not much. I simply have my cat Growl at each one before opening fire, kite around the edge of the frost slick, and also try and time using my Lock and Load procs for just before Feign Death is back up.

It's a very kinetic, acrobatic playstyle, (almost as much as the Mage, but not quite) and with the addition of Lock and Load, I find that quite aside from being slow, I actually have to move fairly quickly in order to take advantage of, and string together, my various procs. Although I'm still primarily ranged, I'm also finding that I'm a more or less equal partner in tanking with the pet, and have been going through more food than water. Aspect of the Dragonhawk is going to be a real Godsend for me.

The benefit, however, is that I can tank close to half a dozen adds if need be, maintain sufficient mana to deal with all of them, and also, if I'm careful with my threat, survive situations which I am initially sure will kill me. I hardly ever have to drink, either, so my downtime is minimal, although as mentioned, I can spend a fair amount of time eating after a reasonably big pull.

I also know, however, that I don't have the money to keep respeccing, so this is the spec I'm going to stick with, at least until 80. Given how much fun I had this morning though, I don't think that is going to be an issue.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A confession

I'm not entirely sure when I'm going to hit 80. I'm not 72 yet, and as I said to Kordwar in my comments, I honestly don't know why, but I'm possibly the slowest leveller on the face of the Earth. Maybe I genuinely do just suck; it upsets me at times.

Although I will say one thing; I'm enjoying myself. The Howling Fjord quests I did this morning were an absolute blast, and although they weren't quite as much fun, the Borean Tundra quests before that were good, too.

I heard about some people destroying everything within three days, and I had mixed feelings. To begin with, I'll admit it; I'm jealous, and feel woefully inadequate, comparitively speaking. I also don't understand why I'm so slow, and other people can be so fast. I try to have as little epeen as possible, but what very little I have got, feels like it got run over by a truck. ;-)

On the other hand, I read an analogy for what Nihilum did which I thought fit perfectly. A Rogue philosopher on the forums compared it with, "being given a delicious chocolate fudge cake, but having it pumped directly into your stomach with a tube."

I agree with the above analogy, because, when I first arrived at Warsong Hold, there was a mixture of awe and curiosity. I ran around it looking at things, and was also doing that in the quarry and the other environments as well. The Fjord quests, as I said, are also awesome; I'm enjoying them immensely as well.

I think that's my real problem, in terms of why I'm so slow with WoW's content. To keep using the food analogy, raiders might want to tear through to the dessert phase, but I unavoidably enjoy Blizzard's main course that much that I tend to go back for a fifth (or more) serve of that.

It does make me consider, though; I largely missed dessert at the TBC party. If I can make it to the dessert end of the buffet table before the end of the WoTLK one, maybe I'll actually try and grab some ice cream this time. ;-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Spec confirmation

Just in case there was any lingering doubt, I can confirm that 0/10/51 is not a good DPS spec. I had read some praise of it on Brig's forums, and so decided, in a disastrous move, to test it for levelling around halfway to 71.

The real problem with it is simply the setup, and in that respect, trapping has of course always been slow. If I'm farming in a scenario where I don't care how much time I spend, that's fine; and especially considering that in Outland after I got to 70, pulling threat was also a real issue. Although it's true that once the trap goes off, mobs will die with that spec faster than they do with 0/31/30, as mentioned, it's the setup that's the killer.

I recommended trapping (and I still do) against heavy armor, when you don't have a lot of armor pen. However at the moment, a) I'm sitting on around 3% armor pen, b) the early mobs in Northrend don't have much armor, and c) because armor isn't an issue, I can kill mobs before they cross the 40 yards to reach me even if I pull threat, and so being able to start shooting as soon as I send my pet is more important to me.

It is also true that mana efficiency is much better with 0/10/51 than with my DPS spec as well. However, even though with my DPS spec I'm having to drink every four mobs, I find that trapping is that much slower that even with having to do that, I still save time. I will probably be going to bed in less than two hours from when I write this, but with a bit of luck I might get to 71 before I do.

Two new additions to my blogroll

Just got two new sites for the blogroll.

Maevet's blog, and Mania's Arcania.

You probably know about both of these by now. Maevet is a BM Hunter who's been reading (and commenting!) me, Rilgon, and Pike for a while now. Mania's Arcania is a big pet site apparently written by one of the same people who writes for Petopia, which is another really useful site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Northrend, and war

We had been fools, I realised ruefully.

I stood on the north coast of Durotar, near the zeppelin tower, looking out to sea; perhaps ten feet from the waterline. One of my hands played with the boar's mane thoughtfully, as a few other strands of it moved back and forth in the sea breeze.

We thought we could maintain the status quo indefinitely.

If not true peace with the Humans, then at least a state of cold war, on a few, isolated fronts, while we continued to strengthen our position on Kalimdor, and hopefully, gradually improve diplomatic relations with Stormwind. We thought the Forsaken had set themselves a fool's quest, and that we would not have to worry about them recreating the Plague, because surely it was impossible.

We were wrong on both counts.

I shook my head, as I realised the folly of it. Grom Hellscream would never have approved of that. Peace was not the way of our people; truthfully it had never been, even before the Blood. Varian Wrynn might have been driven mad himself by hate, but he was right about that, at least.

My own admiration for the Warchief was second only to that which I felt for Hellscream himself, but although my fists clenched when I thought of Garrosh raising a hand against Thrall, I had to grudgingly acknowledge that in one respect, he had been right.

Peace had not been good for us. Guilt had softened us. Made us fat, lazy, and complacent. In seeking to preserve us, and keep us from extinction, Thrall had threatened to change the very nature of our people, and in a way, that would have been extinction as well.

To be sure, there had been the Legion campaign to keep us busy, but in truth, the demons had never been as big a threat as we had once feared. It was only their sheer numbers which really made them dangerous, and for a clever general, there are ways around numerical advantage. Once we had taken their measure, it had simply been a gruelling test of our endurance, and the main form of war that I had learned to fight was a seige.

The Legion's other major weakness was that it had a clear chain of command, which, once we discovered, we were able to eliminate the major elements of. The rest of the demons, due to this, had now largely been reduced to a mindless, wandering state.

And Illidan? Ha! The Betrayer, one of the princes of the Kel'dorei, in the end reduced to nothing, as I had anticipated he would be. Even with the Skull of Gul'dan, he was still a Night Elf; a member of the most contemptible race that had ever set foot on either of the two worlds. Although, I reflected, smiling fondly as I thought not only of Nariyya, but of one other fellow Hunter I knew, and the former head of our order, some few of them had proven themselves.

I realised that I had hungered for peace myself, without even knowing it. I was gradually moving past fighting age, and as one becomes an old Orc, and the call of the grandfathers slowly grows louder, the fire in our blood burns down to embers. Then we seek peace, for ourselves at least, and a secure place of solitude, where we can sit and dream of past victories, until the time of our rejoining with the earth comes.

This thought made me think again, with worry, of Varian Wrynn, the resurgent king of the Humans. He was still young, and impulsive, and sought war with us for no sound reason other than his own hatred.

Ordinarily the thought of resumed conflict with the Alliance, if distasteful to me, would not have been considered a dire matter. However, with the resurgence of the Lich King as a threat, having to fight a war on two fronts would not go well for us.

Wrynn did not have to be a huge problem. Most of the desire for war among the Alliance came from the king himself, and if he could be assassinated, and even more, if it could appear that we were not responsible for it, the Alliance could still be led to peace. In war with us, the Alliance would be in a similar position, fighting on two fronts, which I knew they would not enjoy.

For all their triumphalism and bravado, the Humans were a weak race. During the First and Second Wars, Blackrock Spire itself was really the first time they had presented us with any significant challenge. Before then, we had simply been chasing a stampede of terrified cattle; we might have been driven mad by the Blood, but they were driven equally mad with fear.

It was no war. It was a massacre, and that, in truth, was the real reason why many of us felt guilt for it. There is no honour in fighting an opponent who is too weak and pathetic to be able to defend themselves, and up until Blackrock Spire, that is what the Humans were.

And now, that the Legion campaign had been carried, as much as by anyone else, on the Orcish back, in our weakened state, when Orgrimmar had also been shattered by the Lich King's initial assault, like a true Human, the cowardly upstart Wrynn had seen his chance to strike.

Although the Warchief might have slain him, I always felt that Aedelas Blackmoore embodied the true spirit of the Alliance; a woman beater, a traitor, and a drunk, who even while committing his sins, insisted that he was a child of the Light. I saw that spirit alive and well in Varian Wrynn.

So we would go to Northrend. I relished the thought of uncovering new ground, and stalking new prey, but at the thought of the Lich King, in truth, my slowly aging bones ached.

When you have seen enough battles, you eventually get a sense of which will be fast, and effortless, and which will not. I could already sense that the Northrend campaign would be long and arduous. Arthas, I felt, would prove a maniacal, but still dogged opponent, and then we had his spiritual brother, Wrynn, to deal with as well. It would not be easy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More updates

Just added a rough Surv levelling guide for 3.0. It includes a spec guide, and a basic, pre-raid gear guide for getting to 70. It is still under construction, and probably doesn't have everything that need to be there, yet...but for anyone who's wondering how to spec Surv from level 10, it will probably give you a decent start.

Enough writing for now, though; I need to get back in and actually play the game! ;-)

Rough Survival Levelling Guide for 3.0

What follows is a rough Survival levelling guide incorporating the new talents for 3.0. I still need to do some more testing, primarily of the effects of some of the newer talents on lower level play, but I'm fairly confident in publishing this for the time being.

There also may not be absolutely everything you need to know here, but you will hopefully find it a good start.

This was originally sent via Gmail to someone who asked for a Hunter guide for his own site, and as such, the active HTML links have been lost. Nevertheless, all of the weapons mentioned below in the equipment guide can be accessed from

It is true that of the options that are available for levelling, Survival is certainly not the most rapid path. However, the advantage is that levelling with the tree will allow you to develop a much greater level of understanding of the Hunter as a class than you perhaps otherwise would. For a new Hunter, then, it should be given serious consideration.


The single first thing is addons; I find that when I'm starting a new Hunter, it's good to have a few specific things loaded straight away, and keep them running for the entire time I'm playing. All of these addons are either available from, and I don't run entire compiled UI replacements personally, as I tried a few of those, and found they took up way too much RAM, as well as causing problems with my video card. So instead, I get single addons, and try and focus on things which are minimal in terms of memory/processor usage.

I don't use any bar replacements, either. I was using Bongos3 before the patch, but it no longer works, and the author of that isn't updating it any more, either.

I generally don't run map addons, either, although I do use TomTom, which is a co-ordinate display that is consistent with my own desire for minimalism. There are some good ones around (Metamap and Cartographer are the main two that come to mind) but I find that they actually provide more functions than I really need. Some people might want them though.

Some of these are situational, and I don't keep them running all the time. I only run QuestHelper if I'm questing, Deadly Boss Mods if I'm raiding, or Battleground General if I'm in a battleground.

I also use a macro for both applying Hunter's Mark and sending my pet. I used to use quite a lot of macros, but patch 3.0 has broken the functionality of most of them. Before the patch I would have done a fairly extensive section on macros, but it's sadly fairly pointless now. This macro is:-

/assist (Only when you're in a raid or 5 man instance; delete this line the rest of the time)
/cast Hunter's Mark

The one other macro I would use in 5 man instances is for trapping. Once you've dropped a trap, use a seperate keybind to set the trap target as your focus, which is an additional stored target that you are allowed. Then use this macro to pull it to the trap.

/cast [target=focus] Distracting Shot
/assist (tankname)

I also use a Logitech G15 USB keyboard with six G macro keys, and recommend either that or, ideally, the ZBoard Merc Keyboard if you can get it. Note however that the G15 at least, (and probably the ZBoard) because they are USB, may not work as well with Linux or Mac OSX as they do with Windows.

The primary macro I use with the G15 is one for very low-threat pulling, with lowest level available version of the Rogue's throwing knives, after having learned the Thrown weapon class. I have the keys alt-X bound to equipping the knives, shift-X bound to throwing them, and X bound to re-equpping my bow, and then I have a macro set up for the G15, so with one key, I can use alt-X, shift-X, and X in sequence. This is also not technically against the TOS, as Palehoof on the forum has said that use of the macro keys for relatively simple actions (such as this) while at the keyboard is allowed; what constitutes botting is running long automated scripts unattended.

My addons are:-
  • ArkInventory. (Best inventory addon I've ever found; this mod is a little bloated, but it's worth it)

  • Battleground General (BGs; unload otherwise)

  • DeadlyBossMods (For raiding; unload it otherwise)

  • DurabilityStatus

  • Kharthus' Hunter Timers

  • Mobinfo (Optional; this one takes up a lot of system resources and while useful, isn't crucial)

  • OmniCC

  • Omen3

  • OPie (

  • Proximo (For Arena; unload otherwise)

  • QuestHelper (Only if you're doing quests. Unload it the rest of the time, because it puts a heavy load on the system)

  • RangeDisplay

  • Recount

  • RedRange (from

  • TomTom (from, not Curse; my preferred co-ordinate mod)

  • XLoot (My only purely aesthetic mod, but I like it)

  • X-Perl UnitFrames


So you've just started a brand new Hunter, and probably been given the first quest to go and kill ten boars, or ten mana wraiths, or ten cats, or whatever. Fine and good.

You will find that the abilities you are given build up slowly, and allow you time to integrate each of them into your overall arsenal, and, if you experiment with them, become familiar with their use.

I also don't for one moment recommend taking what I write here as the sole gospel truth, either. Experiment with every ability you get, and find uses for it if you can.

Also consider reading the Hunter forum, as well. It might be something of a social cess pool, but like in real life sewers, occasionally you will find a rare and exceptionally valuable treasure, in amongst all the fecal matter.

Although many possibly don't know this, the first 20 or so levels (particularly the first 10) are actually a crucial time for a new Hunter. The single reason why is because you don't get your pet until level 10, which means that you have the best opportunity you'll get to learn our single most important skill; kiting.

The ability to kite is one of the primary things that allows us to solo instances which some other classes can't. It's also one reason why we can dominate battlegrounds, but our inability to do it there is one of the main reasons why we're so poor in the Arena. In other words, it's a very important skill to have.

While I won't give you instructions as to specific quests, what I will give you is sets of tactics, that will incorporate each new ability, as you get them. The single most important consideration in my view, when soloing with a pet, is careful management of your threat, which can be monitored with the Omen3 addon mentioned above. You do not want your level of threat with an individual mob to exceed that of the pet, because if it does, the mob will switch from attacking the pet, and will then target you, forcing you to either kite, or use our largely vestigial melee abilities.

Some basic instruction on how to kill the very first mobs here, although it's pretty straightforward. These ones don't need kiting.
  • Move to maximum range from the target. Both RangeDisplay and RedRange will help with this. Before you put three points in Hawk Eye, that will be 30 yards.

  • Fire exactly three arrows at the target.

  • By that point, the target will be almost within melee range, but not quite. Press the 2 key to queue Raptor Strike. If you time it correctly, you can sometimes get the swing off and kill the mob without it having hit you once.

Once you've done the first quest, and got yourself to level 2-3 or so, you might find that the mobs you come up against do a bit more damage; more than you'd actually be comfortable with if you had to fight a group of them. This is where kiting starts to come in.

Artanis has put together a video in which he demonstrates kiting, and I recommend it.
  • Again, move to maximum range from the target. This is even more important when kiting, than when you aren't. You need as much room and distance from the target as you can get.

  • Fire one, maybe two arrows at the target if you're daring. If you've got it, (I think you get it at level 6) make the first shot Serpent Sting, as that will keep doing damage to the target while you're moving.

  • Turn, jump 3-4 times forward, and then turn back and fire once, again. You most likely won't be able to get more than one shot off before the target would reach you, but that is fine.

  • Repeat until the target is dead, re-applying Serpent Sting as necessary. Once you get Concussive Shot, you can also use that, when a mob has almost caught up to you, to slow the mob's movement, and get some additional distance from it.

The above two sequences are what you will be using until level 10, when you get your first pet.

I recommend a Boar as the first pet type. They're capable tanks for the early game, with +10% health, and they eat pretty much anything you'll find, so you won't have to spend time looking for rare food for them while you're levelling. You will, however, want to get a Gorilla as soon as they become available, which I believe should be at around level 35 from Stranglethorn Vale.

If you go to your pet trainer, they will tell you where to go at level 10, to get the quests you need for pet training.

At level 10, you will also start to get talent points. The talent specialization I will recommend for levelling is Survival. Pike already has information for levelling with Beast Mastery, so if you want that, her own guide would be the document to see.

The first three points to put in Survival for me are Hawk Eye. This is in keeping with the real-world military proverb that range is life. The more distance you have from a target, the easier it is for you to kite, and if you always start a pull from maximum range, it will normally ensure that even if you do pull threat from your pet, the mob will still be dead before it can reach melee range. A Survival Hunter with this talent also has greater range than any other class in the game, and it is for this reason that Hawk Eye is the one Survival talent generally taken by fellow Hunters, who otherwise put the rest of their points in a different tree.

So at level 20, your spec would be as follows.

The first three points, as mentioned, are in Hawk Eye, with the next five going into Improved Tracking. The next two are in Survival Instincts, and the last one is in Survivalist. Your main priority at this point is to get to Hunter VS Wild, which you will reach at level 34. This will give start to boost your damage, especially considering that gear which specifically boosts Stamina is in greater supply while levelling than in the later game. Later gear usually treats Stamina as just one stat among many.

Note also, however, that the above spec is intended for a Normal or RP server. For PvP servers, putting points in Surefooted instead (the below spec) is advised, since this will offer you a substantial advantage against Rogues in particular while levelling.

At level 30:-
At level 40:-
At level 50:-
At level 60:-
At level 70:-

At level 70 there is the option of going with the above linked spec, or respeccing to the following:-

Although the first of those two 70 specs is still decent, with Resourcefulness and Noxious Stings, it is more oriented towards levelling and farming, whereas the second linked 70 spec is much more burst oriented and will do better in instances, while still being capable enough for levelling. The choice is up to the individual.

Level 80 (deeper Survival):-
Level 80 (hybrid Marksmanship):-

Going back to when you first have your pet at level 10, my standard tactics for single mobs (before Immolation Trap) are as follows:-

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

You do not generally want to use Arcane or Multi Shot until much later in the game. Even in instances, before probably Zul'Farrak, using Arcane or Multi will generally cause more harm than good for a tank where threat is concerned, so it will be a good idea to simply use Serpent Sting, Auto, and an Immolation Trap, as if you have a good quality bow, and use these well, you will find that they can still enable you to come top in damage in the earlier instances, while keeping your threat low enough that the other players in the group will not hate you. You will have Immolation Trap by level 16, so one level before the Wailing Caverns.

Once you get Immolation Trap at level 16, outside an instance, my usual sequence for killing mobs changes slightly.

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

The above sequence for killing single targets is my staple as a Hunter, and barring unique circumstances, will generally serve you well while levelling or farming for the remainder of the game. The one element in which the above sequence changes, is in the use of Steady, Auto rather than pure Auto to kill mobs, once you get Steady at level 50. While it may be true that the recent patch allows for Steady to be fired constantly rather than needing a Steady, Auto rotation, I still recommend doing that rotation for the purposes of minimising both threat and mana use.

This concludes the section primarily related to levelling, although I will be talking about a few specific instances later as well. The last thing I will mention here, is that you gain Feign Death at level 30, and Misdirection at level 70. These two abilities are probably our two most important as a Hunter, after kiting. In order to know when to use Feign Death, you need to keep a close eye on your threat meter, Omen3 as mentioned above. Misdirection onto the pet, properly used, will allow you to perform many pulls and thus solo many situations successfully, which other classes could not.


We now come to a discussion of five man instances. I want to emphasise the importance of doing these, if a person wishes to become genuinely competent as a Hunter. There are far too many people who simply rush to 70 or 80 as quickly as possible, and then when they get there and are confronted by truly challenging content, panic and are reviled by the other members of the group they are in, because they discover that they have no real skill or familiarity with the class.

The Hunter is arguably the single most complex and versatile class in this game; Hunters often complain about having a greater number of spells and keybinds than most. We have less margin for error than other classes, and given the nature of some of our abilities, can potentially cause far more dangerous consequences to a group if said abilities are misused. Because of this, if you wish to do well in groups, it is essential to obtain as much experience doing them as possible. Do not, above all, wait for raids to be the first instances you walk into. Your progression can and should start with the two instances I mention here; the Deadmines and the Wailing Caverns.

The first thing I will do is make mention of some specific items which a new Hunter will want to obtain from both the Deadmines instance in Westfall, and the Wailing Caverns in the Barrens, as these items are of very good quality for the level, and will make levelling accordingly faster. Given the relatively few damage bonuses early on, Survival as a tree is exceptionally gear dependent, and being able to identify relevant items is thus very important. Because of this, it helps if the Hunter you are levelling is actually an alt, and you already have a high level main which can then be used to finance the Hunter.

I'm not going to go through and do this for every instance in the game, however, the point here is to show you the kinds of stats that you're going to want to look for as a Hunter. Those are Stamina and Agility primarily for Survival, with Attack Power, Crit Rating, and Intellect all taking secondary (but still important) priority. Do not get Spellpower, Strength, or Defense Rating, as those are for other classes and do nothing whatsoever for us.

The weapon classes we want to use (aside from the ranged weapons, of course) are primarily Polearms, with the occasional two handed Axe, and a pair of Daggers for rare, situational use. In my backpack I generally carry both a Polearm or two handed Axe, which is my primary melee weapon and generally worn for the stats while I am shooting, and a pair of Daggers. Daggers are, as mentioned, to be used much more rarely; for sporadic, fast AoE work where you cannot use Volley due to pulling threat anyway, and for offtanking when running lower level characters through much lower level instances. You also do not generally want Daggers slower than 1.6 seconds if you can avoid it, since melee for a Hunter is almost a form of kiting, and you need to be able to jump and move around a lot.

Melee, however, does cause considerable risk for a Hunter, as well as radically reducing our damage output, (particularly against high armor) and should therefore only be used minimally and as a last resort. The Daggers are, however, nice to have, and can occasionally allow for getting rid of a melee urge in rare situations if you know you're not in any real danger. ;-)

Given that the below items are blue, the drop rate can be low, so you might have to run both instances a few times to get them all. That will not hurt you, as it will provide you with valuable experience.

In order to find which items from other instances are good for Hunters, you can use exactly the same method I used here. Go to, and search for the instance in question. It will then show you a loot table.

In the Deadmines:-
The Blackened Defias Armor from Edwin Van Cleef. +4 Strength, +3 Agility, +11 Stamina. Ordinarily we do not want Strength at all as a Hunter; it is the other two stats which are of interest. The amount of Agility is small, but the Stam is good, and it will keep you going for a few levels at least.

The Cape of the Brotherhood from Edwin Van Cleef. +6 Agility, +3 Stamina.

The Buzzer Blade from Sneed or Sneed's Shredder. Although there are no other base stats, the stat of interest here is +5 crit rating, which is exceptional for this early in the game. Hunters can learn to dual wield at level 20, so if you run the Deadmines repeatedly and get two of these, if you have a wealthy main, a suggestion would be to then get both of them enchanted with +15 Agility. This will give you more Agility (30 overall) and crit chance (10 overall) than you can get from just about any other weapon at this level, and they should last you well into the 40s.

The Impaling Harpoon from Captain Greenskin. +12 Agility. If you don't want to go with the above path, this will still serve you well. We do not primarily fight in melee as a Hunter at all, and you primarily want to avoid melee combat if you can, but melee weapons with the relevant stats are still important, and melee is at rare times unavoidable as well.

From the Wailing Caverns:-

The Belt of the Fang. +5 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Footpads of the Fang. +6 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Glowing Lizardscale Cloak. +6 Agility, +2 Stamina.

The Leggings of the Fang. +5 Strength, +9 Agility, +4 Stamina.

The Serpent's Shoulders. + 9 Agility.

Venomstrike. A greatly prized bow among 10-19 Warsong Gulch twinks, it will help you level as well.

The above equipment will give you a good set that should last you probably into the mid 30s, and will hopefully give you a beginning idea of what stats to ideally look for. Another place which is a wonderful source of gear for levelling is the entrance to the Warsong Gulch battleground for your faction. You will find the Horde entrance at the Mor'shan Base Camp at the edge of Ashenvale Forest, and the Alliance Entrance in Ashenvale itself. Speak to the quartermaster there, and you will be shown a range of daggers, bows, cloaks, and a few other items, most of which you can get a new version of (with higher stats) around every ten levels or so.

Other standout items to look for while levelling are:-
Julie's Dagger. Among the fastest weapons in the game. Look for these on the Auction House, where they can go for between 60-100g each. Get two of these at level 55 and put a +20 agility enchant on them.

The Ice Barbed Spear at level 51. Enchant this with +35 Agility and it will last you until the Survivalist's Pike, after which you can then get Terokk's Quill. The Quill is the best pre-WoTLK weapon for Survival outside raiding.

The High Warlord's Street Sweeper at level 60. Slap a Stabilized Eternium Scope on this and it will last you until the Gunblade at 65. Then there's Valanos' Longbow from the AH at 70.

Another very important point, is soloing instances. As well as being enjoyable, this is a very good way to stay in practice, and hone various skills and awareness of different elements of our class.

The Scarlet Monastery Cathedral and Zul'Farrak are probably the two best training grounds in the game for Hunters to solo, along with the Scholomance. The Cathedral is where you can first learn about freeze trapping with Multi-Shot, and the importance of pulling mobs gradually an in order, to avoid being overrun. Scholo will teach you about situational awareness, more about correct execution order, and to a small extent, developing your own tactics as the situation demands it.

You can begin soloing the Cathedral at level around level 45 as Survival, and Zul'Farrak at 60, although you will need to be very careful in both at first. The Scholomance should probably not be attempted before 70. Rattlegore in particular is fairly easy at 70, but can be dangerous before T5/S2 gear.

The Leavitt Family added to my blogroll

Hey everyone,
I admit that I've got a non-WoW related addition to the blogroll this time, but it's one that made me smile.

I discovered through my incoming links from Feedburner that the Leavitt Family are linking to me, and on going to have a look, discovered a number of photos of their children from Halloween, a visit to a petting zoo, the Pumpkin Patch, and even a trip to Disneyland.

It's been a long time since I've known what it is like to be part of a nuclear family; nearly ten years, and even what I had back then was generally traumatic. As time moves forward, and I grow older, parenthood (and possibly even another relationship) also becomes an increasingly unlikely proposition. So I can see this blog at times being a very welcome ray of light.

It is, truthfully, extremely comforting to know that, despite appearances being generally to the contrary, the nuclear family still exists, and that at least hopefully, for some of us, it is a positive and gratifying experience.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

/hug added to my blogroll

Many of you possibly already know about this one, but when looking at Kestrel's Aerie, I came across /hug, an interesting blog put together by Aurik of Bloodhoof-EU. The two linked screenshots which he pulled out of his archive were good examples of in-game scenic photography in WoW; he seems to know a fair few other people in the game's community as well.

If you haven't already been to his site, I recommend checking it out.

My First Onyxia run

On seeing "LFM Onyxia," on the way to the island to do my dailies earlier, I messaged the person who posted the message, and asked if I could join. We went in, and it was probably the single fastest instance run I've done in quite some time, if not ever. We had 10-13 people, all 70. The best part, though, was this.

1,115 DPS. By most standards, I know that's probably nothing special, but for me, it's a new record. Although mana efficiency is a bit of a problem, in damage terms, the current hybrid spec is doing good things for me.

If I can figure out what would be sufficiently decent gear for it, I'm going to solo Onyxia at some point as well. I'm nowhere near ready yet, but apparently it is already known to be possible for Hunters. Any idea of what I'd need, in terms of the level of gear?

Gargolmar downed

I wasn't going to write about this until I'd managed to do the entire instance, but I finally managed to kill Gargolmar solo, the first boss of the Hellfire Ramparts. I was interrupted by real life before I could finish the rest. I will go back and try and do it again, though, and I need to do BF as well, now.

Some analysis from the Ramparts runs, though:-

The single main thing I noticed was how poorly my boar still performed on threat generation, in comparison with a Ghost Saber. The difference was so great that the cat was able to help me down Gargolmar, while I wasn't able to do it with the boar, and on trash I had to pull out virtually every threat management trick in the book to get it to re-draw aggro as well. In Disphoria's Hunter vs World videos, where she uses a boar, I can only assume that it was before the Charge nerf, since now, they are sadly close to useless. It makes me think that if I'd had a cat pre-patch, I probably still would have been able to do it then as well.

The second thing is that I was wrong to ever be critical of Lock and Load. In addition to getting probably 500 AP from my current spec, I now feel that Lock and Load while chain trapping is the single biggest boost that Survival has had while soloing. While I do not advocate getting Explosive Shot, Arcane Shot with points now does more damage than Aimed Shot. Feign Death, however, does need to be used immediately after a Lock and Load proc.

On another topic, I was very sorry in the comments of my Obama post, to see Tamuka go. He didn't offer any real reasons as to why he was leaving, but I get the feeling that I know why. I guess I need to remember that this blog is for talking about World of Warcraft, and nothing else.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I've updated the 3.0 spec page somewhat, primarily with a comparison of the new TSA and Expose Weakness. I know most people would probably think that the answer is so obvious as to not need an explanation, but as you'll see, it isn't quite that simple.

I've also added a 5 man utility spec which includes Hunting Party. It's true that its' actual damage output is fairly low, but mana efficiency both for the Hunter and the group is exceptional, (due to ToTH as well) and Hunter VS Wild means that damage isn't lacking quite as much as some might think.

An Obama Victory

Yes, I understand this is usually a WoW blog; we will go back to that after this.

In an outcome which, despite his own claims of it being unlikely, I had begun to view as inevitable, Obama has won the American Presidential election.

Truthfully, I am still inclined to believe that the Republic is largely dead, and that the entire electoral process is now a rigged sham, but even if (or perhaps, especially if) that is true, it makes sense as to why this happened.

For the last two elections, it was possible, however lacking in credibility, to rig Republican victories and still enable them to look narrowly (if only just) legitimate and possible.

In this case, it would not have been, and a Republican victory in this case would have, I suspect, led to widespread domestic rioting, as well as the complete collapse of any residual respect which America might have still had internationally. It was time, for the men in the shadows, to ever so slightly step aside, and give even a hollow impression, that the will of the people had finally been allowed to assert itself.

I read quite a lot of channelled material on a regular basis, and the more recent of it that I have read, has referred to Obama as a saviour, and has been effusive in its' praise of him. I do not share that view.

In asking myself what my reaction to Obama's victory was, I found myself remembering the last scenes of the introductory film for the game Command and Conquer: Red Alert. An old Russian man sitting in a chair, pulls out a pocketwatch, examines it thoughtfully, and says to himself, "Time will tell. Sooner or later, time will tell."

Obama's acceptance speech is filled with attractive words. He emphasises being a family man, and describes how, "Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington — it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to this cause." However, only the other day I reading something else which referred to him as being a millionaire, so I know this quote is at the very least an exaggeration.

The point is, Senator, the world (and yes, I say the world, not merely domestic America itself) needs much more from you than mere words. It needs deeds. There are a number of things which I am going to need to see from this government, if I am to believe Obama's claim that the democratic process in his country is still functional.

  • A new, totally impartial, non-governmental inquiry into the demolition of the World Trade Centre, with the power to cut through the coverup, subpoena whoever is necessary, whether it be government employees, the intelligence community, or whoever else, and the ability to submit and review whatever documentation is relevant, whether it is classified or not.

    The world needs to definitively know what happened, and has a right to, and I say the world because, if it does truly come to light that the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan were not responsible, then whatever reparations that can be made to those countries, must be made. Domestically speaking however, it is surely even more important for the families of the victims to know, as well.

  • A firm timetable for the American military's departure from Iraq, to occur as rapidly as possible, and for the Iraqi people to claim whatever form of self-determination they can. I suspect that the inevitable result would be that the country would re-merge with, and become a client state of Iran. Nevertheless, that is probably unavoidable at this point, and it should not be used as an excuse to maintain the occupation in my own mind.

  • A formal, unequivocal declaration of the end of the criminal farce that has been the Global War on Terror, and a followed through commitment to refrain from embarking on any further wars of imperialist, interventionist foreign aggression.

  • The termination of the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the unconditional release of any inmates who are not charged with specific offenses.

  • The total reinstatement of the domestic laws of Posse Comitatus and Habeus Corpus, the repeal of the Patriot Act, and a formal, national reminder given to the police force, the judicial branch, and the intelligence community of the country that their behaviour is now, once again, to be constrained within the parameters of a genuinely democratic society, rather than the fascist nightmare which George W. Bush was moving it towards.

  • The immediate arrest and detainment of George Walker Bush, Richard Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, pending both domestic trial for high treason and gross violation of the Presidential oath to protect the Constitution, and trial for war crimes against numerous countries and individuals before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

  • A formal, humble, and heartfelt apology before the United Nations, to the rest of humanity, for the eight year criminal travesty which was the Presidency of George Walker Bush, and a firm undertaking that such criminals will never be allowed to hijack the American Presidency ever again.