Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Being true to yourself isn't always simple

There's been some debate in the comments in an earlier post of mine, about BRK migrating to Survival.

Some say they think he is being true to himself; others say he isn't. While I will say that the decision, ultimately, is nobody's but his own to make, I will offer some observations.

For as long as I have read his writing, BRK has emphasised a consistent belief that the Hunter, first, last, and everything in between, is a DPS class. BRK has stated that he feels that our class's only real role in a group is to provide as much raw damage as possible, and up until the last patch, for several years, Beast Mastery as a tree was certainly the most effective means for him to practically implement this belief.

So on the surface, it could appear as though, now that Survival generates more raw damage, in switching to it, BRK is following his convictions about providing his groups or raids with as much damage as he can.

However, in a recent post of his, "Locked and Loaded," where he relates a conversation with himself, he offers a very important clue about his current, true internal state.

"Are you going to keep using 'we' even though your pet is a sad, pathetic thing compared to Beastmastery-spec?"

"We are. For in our heart, we remain BM." (Emphasis mine)

As I said at the top of this post, BRK, like all of us, has to do what he has to do. Ultimately the only person any of us must satisfy is the one we see when we look into a mirror.

However, I will say this.

In the near three years that I've been Survival, I haven't raided all that much. I have some, and yeah, occasionally it's even been fun, in a superficial, transitory kind of way.

I don't have a readership the size of BRK's, either. I'm not diplomatic enough, for that. I've said a lot of things which have offended a lot of people, and BRK himself is one of them. I know he won't read this post.

I have my 100. I know many of you by name, or at least the character names which you are willing to share with me on here. You're good people; many of you restore my faith in my species on a daily basis. If I go into the forums, or the game itself, or even into the offline world, there are times when I really need that.

The point is, that being true to myself hasn't got me accolades. It sure as hell doesn't get me raid slots, a lot of the time. It doesn't get my name in lights, or me in the global top 5/10/whatever guilds.

Pike, you've gone back to being BM. That is the choice you've made, and for you, it's been the right one.

However, because of that, you're about to enter my world in another way as well. You won't get into a lot of Heroics. You probably won't get into a lot of raids, either.

There will probably be days when a lot of the other people you used to know, who used to be BM, have jumped on the "new Survival" bandwagon, and looking in the Guild window, you'll see that they're all in Naxx, while you're maybe in the Borean Tundra, Zul'Drak, or somewhere else, farming.


Here's another quote for you.

"I didn't know that freedom is not a reward or a decoration that is celebrated with Champagne. Nor yet a gift, a box of dainties designed to make you lick your chops.

Oh, no! It's a choice, on the contrary and a long-distance race, quite solitary and very exhausting.

No Champagne. No friends raising their glasses as they look at you affectionately. Alone in a forbidding room, alone in the prisoner's box before the judges, and alone to decide in face of oneself or in the face of others' judgment.

At the end of all, freedom is a court sentence; that's why freedom is too heavy to bear, especially when you're down with a fever, or are distressed, or love nobody.

-- Albert Camus

If being true to yourself, then, is so terrible, why would anyone do it? If seemingly all of the possible rewards are for compromising, for selling out, for going with the crowd, for being transitory...what is the point?

The point is simply this. If your outer surroundings are a barren desert, and you are true to yourself, you will know greater joy than if your external surroundings were the most opulent palace you could imagine, while you were not.

You could be in the top rated guild on the planet. You could play WoW for a living. You could be a billionaire. You could lead the most charmed life, in corporeal terms, that you can think of. Yet lie to yourself, and it will all be worth nothing. Surround yourself with money, and in total silence, you will hear yourself weep.

BRK, I know you won't read this post, so it almost certainly doesn't really matter. If you were going to read it hypothetically, however, I'd invite you to listen to a particular song by Michael Jackson; "Man in the Mirror."

Then go and find a mirror. Stand in front of it, and without thinking about what will get you into raids or satisfy anyone else, ask the guy looking back at you...really ask him...what spec he wants to be.

You might still make the same decision.

You might not.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lost One

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus; from the Statue of Liberty.

I was riding through northeastern Zul'Drak, in the early evening. It should rightfully have been considered a horrible place, with savage, biting cold, the mad remnants of the Drakkari, and the ever-present threat of being overrun with Scourge. Still, I found that somehow, I was able to like it.

I'd come here hunting the local raptors; their skins were more highly prized at the bazaar in Dalaran than most, and I was sorely in need of extra money, of late. However, as I was about to look for another raptor, I noticed a Tauren male who had already begun fighting one, only 30 yards or so in front of me.

He was a young bull. I could immediately tell from the speed of his movements and the lack of scars on his arms. It reminded me of old Tarukhe, and what he must have been like, at that age.

The Hunt was a thing of great wonder for the young, and they threw themselves into it with all the extra energy that came with their youth. It was, therefore, the most dangerous part of any Hunter's career, I realised ruefully, chuckling. Hunters who survived the taking of their first few beasts, generally slowed down and learned more respect for their prey.

This young one's fight began to go badly. Although he fired the rapid succession of smaller, lighter arrows that were a signature of the Beast school, for reasons that he could not understand, it was to no avail. The shots were deflected by the raptor's tough hide, and it continued its' attack.

The raptor had let much blood out of both him and his wolf, and as they panted with exhaustion, closed in for the kill. No doubt the creature thought he would be eating royally tonight, and that this prey would be the envy of the rest of his pack.

I rapidly drew one of the new black powder tipped arrows that we had recently learned to make, lit the fuse with a stone I carried for the purpose, and fired it at the raptor's feet, blowing a hole in the stone of the ruins. The beast was stunned momentarily, turned, looked at me, kicked both the Tauren and his wolf to the ground, and then ran off.

After a moment, the Tauren pulled himself up into a sitting position, but then simply sat for a long while. There was a look of confusion, shock, and great pain on his face, and as I watched, his dark eyes slowly filled with tears, and he began weeping, bellowing out his agony to the stars.

I understood, and averted my eyes, allowing him his dignity. This was not caused by the slashes which the raptor's claws had opened on his arms. This was from something far deeper.

The Hunters of Azeroth and Draenor had, over the course of many ages, discovered and refined three unique forms in which we could fight and hunt.

These were the way of the Beast, which allowed greater communion with animals, and which had traditionally been the first path of our young, as this Tauren was. They had grown to be called the Beast Masters. These had been the most numerous of the three, and their leader within the Hunters' Guild on Azeroth was a fierce and hot tempered, yet very wise and aged Dwarf, with an enormous red beard. His name was Briac.

There was also the way of the Bow, which my Draenei friend Romochka followed; they were called the Marksmen, due to their greater skill with the bow than the rest of us. The Marksmen were still great in number, but despite this, they had little formal representation within the Hunters' Guild. As such, Romochka had come to be recognised as master among them, although reluctantly, and he did not like it when others mentioned this.

Finally, there was the third path, of which I myself had been a native for many years. This was for those of us who embraced both of the above, but who, in addition, had developed a greater ability and will to avoid death. Because of this, we came to be called the Survivalists, and we had traditionally been the rarest of the three. The greatest of our elders, Arland, had simply walked away into the wilderness one day, never to be heard from again.

Followers of all three forms had various abilities which, not only kept us alive and allowed us to fight, but also literally defined who we were, and our sense of identity. When these abilities suddenly ceased to be reliable, we either died, or we experienced the kind of torment which the young Tauren before me was now. Our relationship with our animals, our prey, and the very land itself came into question.

I knew that the young Tauren's confusion and pain were due to this. He had been taught to fight in a particular way, and that if he did so, he would be successful. This had ceased to be true, and as a result, he doubted himself terribly. He had not learned anything else, but now, due to the strange curse which had recently befallen the Beast Masters, he would need to embrace another way.

As I considered what I was about to do, I was reminded of something else. I remembered the pain I had experienced, when in a meeting of the Hunters' Guild, I had finally been cast out. I remembered the Beast Masters' constant taunting and jeering of those of my form, about how we were inferior and always would be. I knew that this was partly why Arland had walked away, and another of our elders, Rakan, had gone back to his home in Desolace, to resume his life as a mystic. I also remembered how savagely yet another of us, Mekhilosio, had been attacked, when he described how he had been able to help others.

I knew that I could respond to this young Tauren now, as many of those of his form had often responded to me and mine, for years without stopping; with laughter, mockery, and insults. The time had come when I could repay cruelty for cruelty, and gloating for gloating. I could kick him when he was down, and in his current state, break his spirit such that he would no longer want to live at all. I had felt much anger towards many of his form before, and for a time, at least, I possibly could have deluded myself that to do that would have been an act of justice.

I also knew, however, that such was not the Survival way, but in fact, the direct opposite of it. That of everything else we might have known, there was ultimately nothing more important in the preservation of our own lives, and that of others, than compassion.

To be a true Survivalist was to be an outcast. It had always been that way. The Beast Masters and Marksmen carried some legitimacy, both in the eyes of each other, and in the rest of Azeroth and Draenor; but us, never. We were the dreamers, the insane; ridiculed, kicked, and spat on.

More than anything else, our path had required broad shoulders, thick skin, and a realisation that to be Survival was to be alone; but it was also to follow your conscience and your own identity. It wasn't something that was done because it was easy, or painless, or beautiful, because it was none of these. It was, however, something that was done for the love of it, despite all of the abuse we received.

And so, taking a deep breath, and closing my own eyes for a few seconds, I gathered together all of the pain that they had ever caused me...and let it go.

When the young Tauren had regained his composure, his vision was suddenly partly obscured by an open green hand. He took it, and I hauled him to his feet.

"What is your name, son of the Horde?" I asked him.

"Caurmahe," he answered. "I do not understand why it is now so much harder for me to kill my prey. They used to fall easily, but now they go from my wolf to me, and it is all we can do to avoid being eaten by them."

I offered him my shoulder, and his wolf began to limp along next to my cat as well, in the direction of the nearest settlement. The Argent Crusaders there would no doubt have a healer among them, who could take care of him for a few days.

"Well, Caurmahe," I replied, as we walked. "Did any of those who you spoke to, mention that we have traps which can produce fire, as well as frost and ice?"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The sickness within World of Warcraft

I just read Kruger's comments on my last post, and was depressed by what he described having happened to him.

"Well the inevitable happened to me today.

Was in LFG looking for a 'roic CoT:Strat group and a group was looking for dps, so I whisper "I'll come dps" and then I get what I'm going to be seeing alot of "If your BM we dont want you"......*expletive*

About 10 mins later I got another group "LF DPS", I whisper "I'll come, 80 hunter" and I get "What's your spec?" I of course being BM tell them and I get back "Oh you dont do enough dps"

So if this trend continues I guess I'll be running less and less and having to find stuff to do solo.

Anyways good post, I enjoy reading the SV side of things."

The above attitude, that these people expressed towards Kruger, is based on nothing objective or logical, whatsoever. It is pure, elitist bile. Pike mentioned being able to generate at least 1.7k DPS unbuffed with Beast Mastery, which is perfectly fine for a Heroic.

The necessary minimum to avoid a wipe with Patchwerk is 2k DPS, and the necessary minimum for Heroics is 1.5. Anyone who refuses to take a member of a class and spec which is capable of hitting those numbers is not acting from a position of anything other than vindictive, entirely subjective elitism. They are taking advantage both of the fact that online anonymity allows them to be casually hateful and avoid the usual consequences of doing so, and of the game's (and this planet's) currently overpopulated state, in order to have the attitude that anyone who does not match their preferences can simply be summarily replaced.

This attitude is dehumanising. It is unnecessary. It is utterly sociopathic, and devoid of empathy. Most of all, it is wrong. If for no other reason, it is wrong because the person doing the rejecting refuses to empathise with the person being rejected. Elitists rely on the idea that they will always be in a position of rejecting others; they do not try to imagine how it would feel if they were in a position where others were rejecting them.

This goes to the very heart of the reason why, for the most part, I refuse to raid. I refuse to raid because I refuse to be a party and an accessory to a moral crime which is committed against thousands, probably millions, of individuals within this game on a daily basis. As Martin Luther King said, passive acceptance towards evil is the same, on a moral level, as active participation.

I do not advocate people raiding if they are unable to reach, in purely mathematical terms, the DPS prerequisites to avoid wipes in raids. However, I will now also give you a demonstration of what I consider to be objective.

According to WoWWiki, Patchwerk has a total in a 10 man raid of 4,320,000 hit points. WoWWiki does not mention how long his Enrage timer is, but does mention that the total raid DPS necessary to kill him before he Enrages is 12,000. Dividing 4,320,000 by 12,000 gives us 360 seconds, or 6 minutes.

The minimum requirement for killing Patchwerk before his Enrage, and thus avoiding a group wipe, is for the 6 DPS classes in a 10 man raid (2 tanks, 2 healers) to maintain 2,000 DPS each (12,000 / 6) over that period of 6 minutes. This coefficient remains the same for the 25 man version, as well.

There is no DPS class or spec within this game, pure or hybrid, which is not capable of this goal, given sufficient gear. There is also no justifiable reason for excluding any individual from a raid, if they are capable of meeting this goal.

Survival was capable of it, pre-patch. I refuse to believe that Beast Mastery has been rendered incapable of it now. Marksmanship has always been capable of it. I am capable of it, unbuffed, in my current gear. It is not an excessively unreachable goal.

The reality is, I've come to realise, that a large number of the people who play World of Warcraft are fairly simply, emotionally and spiritually dead. There is a Chinese proverb which states that if you wish to learn the true nature of a person, to put them in an evironment where there are no constraints whatsoever on their behaviour, and then watch how they act.

People playing this game want to be exclusionary, and they will accept virtually any excuse or justification for it that they can find, whatsoever. The desire for elitism and exclusivity doesn't have anything to do with what is objectively or legitimately needed to progress at all. 2k DPS is not a difficult goal to reach.

Because of this, guilds and individuals who crave elitism actually raise the bar to a subjective, and entirely unnecessary level. Suddenly they're claiming that the needed minimum is 3k. That isn't the needed minimum for actually killing Patchwerk; it's the needed minimum for an individual to be accepted by them.

My own sense of moral outrage is triggered on a daily basis by the relentlessly hateful, genuinely inhuman attitudes of many of the people who play this game. Gundersson, writing to me through Gmail, only the other night asked me what had happened, for humanity as a species to get to the point that we routinely observe in World of Warcraft.

My answer is a deeper, more genuinely serious analysis of John Gabriel's "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory." As the above-quoted Chinese proverb states, what Gabriel fails to take into account is that the "fuckwad," transformation only occurs online because that level of ugliness is, in fact, the true internal state of the majority of human beings. It is therefore not so much a true transformation, as it is a simple unmasking of the genuine nature of the person in question.

For an example of the opposite (positive, friendly, inclusive) type of behavior on a consistent basis, look at Pike. She is, to quote Gabriel, a normal person, with both anonymity and an audience. Yet, for her, the transformation to the fuckwad state never occurs. The reason is because that is not who Pike truly is, internally.

It isn't always safe to be a fuckwad offline. Doing so can have a wide variety of consequences, from being afflicted with physical violence, to being arrested, depending on the severity of the aberrant behaviour in question.

Online, however, there are far less restrictions. Sure, WoW might have guidelines about acceptable behaviour, but these get violated literally on a minute by minute basis. Even when they are enforced, the most serious potential consequence to an offender will be that they need to buy another WoW account.

Thus, offline, people are forced to act with restraint, but online, where the consequences of their actions are minimal to non-existent, the mask falls away, and the true, hideous nature of most members of our species reveals itself. Raid and Heroic elitism and exclusion are only one way for this nature to express itself, and it is one of the most common in this game, because it is seen as the most justifiable, through the use of superficial, and flawed logic.

I'm not claiming to be anywhere near perfect, myself. I've alienated a lot of people associated with this game; some of them permanently. I also was once exposed as having said some truly terrible things on MSN, when speaking in anger. And even though my highest ideal when playing WoW is to try and have a positive effect on those I interact with, my volatile nature means that I fail to reach that objective probably more than 90% of the time.

The one thing I'm not going to do, however, is exclude anyone from a group I'm in, if in mathematical terms, they truly are able to perform sufficiently well that we can get through an encounter. Even if they aren't, human beings are not disposable. The appropriate response is to assist them in improving, in a manner which allows them to maintain their own dignity; and you generally find that that process causes you to improve as well.

I know; you want to progress, to see all the content, to get gear, and to have your epeen stroked. If you're any sort of conscious, feeling human being at all, however, ask yourself this:-

Is that really what's most important?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Suggestions for Pike

Got some suggestions for Pike, since in amongst random Orcish rages, trolling, and being deeply inappopriate and offensive, I occasionally like to try and help people if I can. ;-)

This Survival spec comes straight from the forums. According to WWS, it managed 6.7k DPS against Patchwerk. It wouldn't end up being my spec of choice full time, since I'm fond of Resourcefulness for farming, even with the LnL CD, but if I ever decide that I can be bothered going into Naxx again, I'd probably use it there.

As for rotation, the ex-BM crowd will tell you to use pure Steady as the only other thing with Explosive, but unless you are haste capped, I actually won't. I know my gear is universally considered garbage, but in Heroics last night with no group buffs and no consumables either, (I'm poor at the moment) I hit 2.1k; which by the standards of probably any other server in the known universe, would probably still get me shot, but by the standards of Saurfang, is generally enough to top meters in both Naxx raids and 5 mans...and would still actually be enough to ensure that a group I was in didn't wipe on Patchwerk, even though it'd probably still get me a /gkick afterwards. ;-)

The rotation I'm using though is actually a somewhat tighter (in terms of more Steadies) version of the old 1:1.5. Serpent, Steady, ES, Steady, Multi, Steady, Steady. (repeat; usually with Serpent as well, since it will often need it by then)

The only way my rotation changes for Lock and Load is to do Steady, Explosive, Steady, Explosive, Steady, Explosive, and then generally Steady, Multi again immediately after that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Should I respec to Survival?"

After the recent patch, this is probably a question which is going through a lot of Hunters' minds, so I'd like to address it.

First, I want to again emphasise, how strongly I support the concept of individuality within this game. This is something which min/maxers on the forum have showered me with abuse for, time and time again, but I still firmly believe that if you are not playing this game for the right reasons, which are your own personal reasons, then you should not be playing it at all.

This is a game; it is an entirely voluntary form of recreation, and you are paying to play it. Nobody is paying you. The point here is, that if with the talent spec you're using, you know the content you're playing, and you know you can generate the damage you need to beat it, that in itself should be enough for you to be able to continue to use it.

The second point to consider, in overall terms, is to carefully evaluate why you do what you do in this game. Ask yourself seriously; is raiding really worth it? What's your motivation? Is it fun, or is it ego-based? Understand that with the amount of control guild leaders tend to want to have of your life, you need to be extremely sure that for you, the payoff is going to be worth it. For me it isn't. Nowhere near it, in fact; which is why I refuse to do it.

The third point to recognise is, if gear is your priority, you don't actually need to raid, at least at the moment. Badge stuff is still good, crafted epics are available, and you can now get T7 purely from farming Heroics.

In terms of what I've read of the guild management philosophy of Matticus in particular, I honestly feel that if he wants to run a guild in the manner he describes, he should be paying his members. The difference between guilds and corporations or military units is that people in both of the latter two organisations are getting a guaranteed form of payment in exchange for their service. Guild members are unpaid volunteers; and sometimes, depending on guild politics, won't even be paid in game terms for their time, let alone in any other way.

If you join a raiding guild, you're basically signing up for a chance that a particular piece of loot that you want will eventually drop. Even if the piece you want drops, you're then running the risk that it will go to someone else, (possibly even a class for whom it is not as relevant as your own) because of guild politics. I read about guilds who did Kara and various other TBC raids for months, and Hunters within them either never saw the drops they wanted, or if they did, said drops got handed to Rogues instead, even while multiple Hunters were present in many cases.

"But I raid to have fun/experience the content!"

Yeah, right. Maybe that's true in the case of the few raiders I'm still willing to speak to online, (Rilgon, Pike, et, al.) but the fact that they have an unusual amount of intelligence and maturity is the reason why I'm willing to associate with them in the first place. For most of the population that I've seen, however, this argument is quite simply BS. The motivation is epeen. Loot is a secondary priority which ultimately falls back to serving the first.

So, with all of that said, Survival. It's been buffed this patch; all the cool kids on the forum are respeccing, and no doubt you're wondering if you should, too.

First of all, recognise that it is unlikely that Surv will stay in its' currently buffed state, long term. Apparently there are already calls for Explosive Shot to be nerfed again. So if you switch to Survival, it will still likely be only temporary. If ES is nerfed again, you will eventually need to respec back, if damage is your sole motivation for choice of spec.

Secondly, for Beast Masters, understand that Survival and BM are only really similar playstyles inside an instance, and even then they aren't entirely, due to more complex rotations.

For soloing, the difference becomes much more pronounced. Beast Mastery is largely stationary. You can stand in one place, send your pet, shoot, and for the most part, not have to move, due not only to Intimidation but increase baseline pet threat generation as well, due to higher pet damage. Against single targets anyway, it's much faster and simpler. Send pet, open fire, Feign or Intimidate if necessary, throw Viper up between mobs, and move on.

Survival on the other hand, is a lot more mobile and kinetic, especially for multiple targets. You put a Frost Trap down and then kite things around with Serpent, Lock and Load, and ES/Multi. Rather than simply letting your pet take all of a mob's focus, you occasionally need to pull threat from the pet in order to allow it to survive as well, depending on the situation. Your pet also doesn't hold threat anywhere near as well as with Beast Mastery, so you have to rely on Entrapment, TNT, Wing Clip, Snake/Frost Trap, and your greater degree of range to keep mobs away from you.

It is also true that Beast Mastery is, as the name implies, much more about enhancing the pet. Survival has literally no talents devoted to pet enhancement at all, which seems to be one of the main reasons why some Beast Masters don't like it. About the only pet buff we might get is Survivalist, and even that is secondary, via the Hunter. If you prefer a scenario where you've got a strong pet, rather than it being more about you, you will definitely be happier with BM.

The fourth point is mana efficiency. Both trees can be mana efficient, but Survival solves this problem in a different way. With Beast Mastery, you either put Viper up at the end of a fight, or if the mobs you're fighting are sufficiently weak, you can actually just leave Viper up all the time.

Survival on the other hand has two talents that reduce mana costs. Resourcefulness, which reduces the mana cost of both melee abilities and traps by 60%, and Thrill of the Hunt, which reduces the cost of any mana shot that crits by 45%. Finally, Survival also has Hunting Party, which procs on crit, and works like Viper to passively restore mana while we fight, or for a few seconds after.

A fifth point is our different areas of specialty in PvP terms. Beast Mastery is primarily anti-caster, with Bestial Wrath being able to chew through low armor targets, and also grant immunity to such things as Fear, Frost Nova/frost effects, and Psychic Scream. A Paladin on the other hand, can probably tank Bestial Wrath, and then one or two shot the pet.

Survival is much more anti-melee, being better suited to dealing with Rogues, Warriors, and to a lesser extent Paladins. This is because with Serpent Sting, Explosive Shot, and Immolation Trap, we have a lot of periodic damage which, while being reduced by Resilience, is still somewhat capable of bypassing heavy armor. On the flip side, we do as poorly against casters as BM can against melee, since without Bestial Wrath, we are vulnerable to Fear, frost, roots etc. Surefooted helps a bit, but not that much.

If the only thing you care about is the amount of damage you're going to do, you're probably going to want to temporarily respec to Surv, in order to enjoy the ES buff while it lasts. If, however, you play for other reasons as well, you may or may not want to stay with BM or Marksmanship.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Taking suggestions

Is there anything here that anyone would like to see me write about? I'm a little starved for ideas right now, I admit. Anyone have any suggestions? :)

Explosive Shot added to my blogroll

As Arde just requested, I have added a link to his blog, Explosive Shot. The blog is apparently brand new; he only just made it from what he said, so please go and give him some encouragement.

Thoughts on 3.0.8.

Haven't played too much since the patch hit yet, so can't comment too much, though did do a CoS pug earlier.

So far, ES feels about the same for me, though early WWS logs suggest a rise of close to 2k DPS since pre-patch, among Naxx Hunters.

If the 30 second Lock and Load CD is there, it's silent. I also didn't notice it on single targets, since I generally take around 30 seconds per kill on single mobs anyway. There is no visible icon when it goes off, if it does, either.

I'm still here, and will be going back into the game after writing this to do some Heroics. There is hysteria among BM Hunters on the forum at the moment, although that is predictable.

I can't give Santyn those ArkInv rules I owe him yet, either; because AI has apparently been messed up by the patch. It's maintenance was shaky before 3.0.8 as it was, so I hope someone will come forward to pick it up.

I am staying.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My plans for the Auction House

I've spent the last few days levelling some alts, and professions, and generally trying to assemble necessary infrastructure, towards my goal of learning how to (hopefully) generate truly obscene amounts of gold via the Auction House...or at least enough to pay for some crafted purplez and an epic flying mount. ;-)

I have seen advertisements of people offering books and guides as to how they were able to generate hundreds of thousands of gold through the AH, but the precise means as to how they were able to do it has always eluded me.

On thinking about a recent YouTube video that I had seen from another such individual, though, I think I realised something. Every person who is selling on of those guides, nearly always does an introductory video. At first glance, this introductory video is entirely innocent; they're not revealing any of their secrets at all here, other than proving to you that their gold is real.

However, in the process of showing you that their gold is real, they also always do something else which, up to this point I'd overlooked, but which is very important. They show you what the content of their inventory and bank vault looks like. Said inventory and bank vault were inevitably filled with stacks of commodities of all kinds.

This, I came to realise, was a clue, and further reading and consideration led me to believe that it was an extremely important one; possibly the single most important one.

You see, previously I hadn't considered the idea of building up a large repository of mats and other salable items; I had thought that the idea was simply to either flip, or put freshly farmed items on the AH more or less immediately, and keep things moving continually. This document showed me just how incorrect I had been on this score.

I came to realise that a much more appropriate course of action, was to attempt to identify the most highly sought after commodities on my server, at least during a given period of time, and then attempt to fill my bank vault with a broad range of them. (Either from farming, which is the preferred and lower risk method, or buying from the AH during observed low-price points for the given commodity)

The plan is to then place no more than probably one or two stacks at a time of a given commodity on the Auction House, when my monitoring of long term price trends tells me that I am observing high tide for that particular commodity on Saurfang, my server.

Diversification, of course, gives me alternative options, which allows me to generate a consistent stream of income more or less continually. I have observed that Saurfang is currently experiencing a boom in the number of totally new players to the game, and as such, low level materials are actually much more in demand right now than some of the higher level items from Northrend.

Thus, if for example I observe that Borean Leather is moving sluggishly on a given day, (which is actually fairly likely on Saurfang, at least lately) I can either farm for or lean on my supply of Thick Leather instead, and make nearly as much per stack (7-10g, depending on what the market's doing) as the average price of a stack of Borean. (10g)

Some may consider it usurious to the point of cruelty to be charging new players 10g per stack of Thick Leather, but from what I have observed, simple economics dictates that if they weren't able to pay that, they wouldn't. In charging 7-10g, I'm generally making sure I undercut as well, and I also will often break a stack of 20 units up into 10 batches of 2 units each, and post those with a Multi-Auction addon I have, which can also make the price a little more attainable for the truly economically disadvantaged.

As well as making sure that I always undercut, the other thing to consider ethically here is that where commodities are concerned, the Auction House serves as a convenience only.

If a given player is unable to afford 10g per stack of Thick Leather, it does not mean that said player has no other way of obtaining a stack. All it means is that they will need to train Skinning, and then fly out to Tanaris in order to get it themselves, which is exactly what I have to do in order to sell it.

My peak sale time, from what I've been reading, is going to be the weekend. Friday night to Sunday night, server time, is when I'm planning to primarily sell. My time during the week will be spent filling my vault in preparation for the weekend.

This weekend will be my first attempt at doing this, so I am looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blog Neglect

I apologise to my readers; it has been nearly a week again and I haven't updated the blog. I have, however, become a lot more active on Twitter recently, so if you're missing being offended by what I write here, add me to that if you use it, and you'll hear from me a lot more regularly. ;-)

I've been conducting an in-depth study of the Auction House, recently. I not only want to get enough money to get my epic flying mount, but truthfully I'd like to learn how to master WoW's economy more or less in general. I get the feeling that that is going to be my next major project in the game.

Along similar lines, I'm also tinkering with the ArkInventory addon at the moment, and the associated Ace library, PeriodicTable. Once I've got them cleaned up and straightened out, I'm possibly considering releasing my own set of ArkInventory rules, for inventory organisation.

They're fairly simple to write; but ironically, one of the most difficult things I've ever discovered, is actually keeping things simple. My greatest problem tends to be bogging things down with a lot of needless complexity.

It is my hope that they could be of use to someone, though; it certainly would have been of enormous use to me to have an ArkInv ruleset already written and waiting for me when I first started using the addon myself. It is the single most powerful inventory addon that I've ever come across; but therein lies the problem. If you can do absolutely anything, it generally becomes much more difficult to figure out what you should do.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why I'm not looking forward to the patch

This post was originally intended as a reply to Requisition on Twitter.

Given that this is a post which will likely be severely misinterpreted by some, I offer the following disclaimer. I have no issue whatsoever with people who consider themselves, "min-maxers," on the basis of character stats; Agility, Stamina, crit, AP, etc, as this is, of course, entirely legitimate. My issue is with a specific group of people who utilise unforeseen and unintended exploits in game mechanics.

Santyn, you're also, of course, more than welcome to skip this particular post if you want to; it's possible that you won't like it very much. ;-)

I am not looking forward to 3.08, for the most part.

People might well wonder why. After all, if Survival's damage output gets boosted, that will mean I will have increased credibility in raids or Heroics, right?

Unfortunately, that is not all it's going to mean.

There is a certain demographic of players using the Hunter class, who care about absolutely nothing other than the maximisation of their damage in a raid or Heroic scenario. That by itself wouldn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. However, it very often is, for a couple of different reasons.

The first is that these individuals do not attempt to choose one of the three trees on the basis of that which is most compatible with their particular psychology and background. Many of them are entirely willing to force themselves to use a tree which they openly admit that they hate using, if only because it will give them more damage.

These are people who do not play this game for what, in my own mind anyway, are legitimate reasons. Their sole three priorities are their place on damage meters, the state of their Armory profiles, and most importantly, the opportunities for ego gratification which derive from the other two.

The second issue is what is causing the actual nerfs that Blizzard are making to our class.

a) Blizzard are trying to combat monoculture among players of all classes, including the Hunter. They do not want a scenario where a single talent tree or pet type is declared as the only one which is, "viable," and 99%+ of the player population then uses only that pet/tree combination, to the total exclusion of the others.

Tied in with the above is an extremely unhealthy and dehumanising attitude towards individual players; there is an enormous amount of pressure applied to players by guild or raid leaders to reach arbitrarily declared DPS minimums, and players are told that if they do not reach these, they will be summarily replaced.

Understand what I mean by this. 2,000 DPS per DPS class might be the genuine, mathematically derived minimum needed for successfully killing Patchwerk. It is not however needed for successfully completing Heroics. I have had the leader of a 5 man pug tell me that my gear was unsatisfactory for the Heroic mode Nexus, when I know from direct experience that it is not. Anyone who demands anything more than 1.5k DPS as a minimum for the successful completion of a Heroic is simply idiotic.

Blizzard want a scenario where players are not excluded from groups for arbitrary, subjective, irrational, elitist reasons. If a Marksmanship spec Hunter can generate sufficient damage to successfully clear the content in question, said Marksmanship Hunter should not be excluded from a group, as was described occurring here.

b) Blizzard also understandably do not want a scenario where raiders consistently try to exploit previously unforeseen (and unintended) effects or game mechanics in order to inappropriately increase their damage output. By this I am referring to both Call of the Wild stacking and Readiness/BW use in PvE by Beast Mastery, when it was intended for them as an Arena change, and the ability to force an excessive number of Lock and Load procs by people using Survival.

Unfortunately, what Blizzard do not seem to understand is that these two issues are social problems, not technical ones. Removing the ability to stack Call of the Wild is ultimately a futile gesture, because the types of individuals who want these sorts of exploits will simply immediately begin looking for the next one.

That is why the issue with Lock and Load developed with Survival, leading to the necessity of the cooldown. This was an indication that the exploit-based demographic have moved from BM to Survival, at least on the PTR.

Blizzard will continue to try and combat their use of exploits by applying technical nerfs, and collateral damage will continue to happen to both Survival as a tree, (in the sense that LnL has now lost effectiveness for levelling/soloing/PvP as well) and the Hunter class in general. (In the sense that when Steady Shot was nerfed to attempt to reduce the output of Beast Mastery, Marksmanship's damage output was reduced as well)

Hence, the min-maxing exploit crowd moving to Survival, is ultimately not going to accomplish anything positive. These individuals will not ultimately be thwarted by the nerfing of Beast Mastery. They will move to Survival and attempt to find any unforeseen exploit for maximising damage output that they can, and once all of said exploits present within Survival have been removed by Blizzard, they will then migrate to Marksmanship and repeat the pattern there.

The end result will ultimately be that all three of our talent trees are utterly trashed; Blizzard will nerf them to a degree that even legitimate use of them becomes virtually impossible.

This, in case anyone is wondering, is the entire reason why I have always been so passionately opposed to the exploiting min-maxing demographic; because I have been able to see where, long term, their attitude will lead.

A tip for leather farming

If any of you who read this are skinners, I've got a tip for you that you may or may not know about, depending.

There is a cave at 46,55 in the Storm Peaks, containing both Jormungar and Cavedweller Worgs. The Worgs in particular are on an exceptionally fast respawn timer. You can literally kill and skin without stopping.

These mobs are also sufficiently high level that, unlike many others in the game, they exclusively drop Borean Leather, and not the scraps. I got six stacks in a bit over an hour.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Naxx bores me

The last couple of nights, my guild either hasn't been raiding, or I haven't been able to log in until after the start of it, so I've been focused on levelling my professions and playing the Auction House instead.

As embarassing as it might be to admit, I honestly find that a lot more enjoyable. After the initial, "Wow, I'm in Naxx!" factor wore off, (about the first half hour or so) the instance truthfully became boring.

About the only fight in there that has really stood out as being enjoyable so far, is Noth. Some of the voiceover theatrics with the Four Horsemen was also fun, but the rest of it has been a sleepwalk, pretty much. Some people might also consider Heigan's novelty to be entertaining, but truthfully I just considered him a pain in the neck.

I think one of the main things which has always motivated me where the idea of raiding is concerned, has truthfully been to try and get more credibility with forum trolls, if I'm really honest...and it's not like that is ever going to happen, anywayz.

Getting a nether drake, (yes, I still want one of those rather than the red ones if I can get it) maxing Engineering when I have the money, and maybe eventually buying a mammoth; these are things I can feel motivated about, as well as eventually still getting the Conqueror title.

I want to get a lot of money in this game, eventually; that is something I can really feel excited about.

Raiding on the other hand? It feels way too much like something which other people expect me to do.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Instance farming in WoTLK, Part 1

Although I don't necessarily think that Part 2 is going to immediately follow after this post, I'm calling this Part 1 because I will almost certainly write more about this at a later point.

I am still in the process of assessing which instance is going to be most lucrative for farming. At the moment, I'm leaning towards the Hellfire Ramparts. There are a couple of reasons for this.
  • Ramps has more boss fights, and correspondingly a greater number of blue drops, (and thus a higher gold yield) than the Blood Furnace.

  • It is a relatively small instance, and can thus be cleared comparitively quickly. With Beast Mastery and Viper up at all times, (even while fighting) I can do a single run in around 30 minutes. I have no idea about other people, but for me, that is extremely fast.

  • Given the close proximity of Thrallmar, it is also the closest instance I know of to a mailbox, and repair/resupply facilities. This means that if I do not mind using lower rank ammunition and water, I can do repeated clears without having to hearth back to Dalaran to resupply.

  • Although per-run yield is about the same as Scholo, (100g, give or take) there is one very important difference. In the case of Ramparts, that 100g comes entirely from material that can be directly sold to vendors. In the case of the Scholomance, a lot of it was dependent on the Auction House, and whether or not Kali was feeling kind where the RNG was concerned, in terms of Dark Rune drops.

Hence, while 200g/hour may seem exceptionally low, (especially compared to the profit that can be made from skinning/Mining) the upside is that it is 200g immediately in the hand. No fighting people for ore nodes, no time lag waiting for people to buy from the Auction House, and no worry about whether you're pricing AH stuff too high.

I do, however, still need to level Mining, and intend to do so at some point.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bikutanda added to my blogroll

Just found a link to me on Technorati from "Liming" in WoW, the blog of Bikutanda of Nazgrel, so I thought I'd share the love. ;-)

He seems to have quite a lot of stuff on how to level a Hunter and such; lots of guides. Go look, and give him traffic. ;)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Alterac Volley added to my blogroll

Rilgon's already added Alterac Volley to his blogroll, but considering that I like trying to help new bloggers get some traffic when I can, I thought I'd add it as well.

The site is also interesting; its' author seems fairly thoughtful, and also has spoken about doing some video stuff soon as well, which could be good. Go and have a look. ;)

Addicted to WoW?

I just saw a post in the Customer Service Forum where someone was essentially asking to be banned from the game because he couldn't trust himself to stop playing, and he needed to study for school.

If I'd been able to reply, I would have asked him; what are you really addicted to?

I ended up leaving my Naxx guild last night, because my old GM invited me to his new guild. That guild is just starting up, though; so we may not be doing Naxx for a while, again.

So instead of raiding, I went and ran a level 25 Hunter through Gnomeregan. After that, I went to HFP, and was about to do some instance farming when I was whispered by a level 63 Hunter who wanted to run Ramps for a particular drop. I ended up running both Ramparts and BF with him.

With both of these two individuals, I ended up having two of the most stimulating conversations I've had in this game for a long time. They also expressed a lot of gratitude for the run through, which was nice.

So what am I addicted to, in terms of this game? I'm addicted to experiences like that. I'm addicted to the fact that even though I'm still not really, this game is one of very few things which I've been able to feel as though I have a vague degree of competence with.

I'm addicted to the fact that although a lot of the time I truly am an utter, abrasive jerk, with few friends offline, I can go into the game, get together with one or two other people, and in a no risk scenario, let them see my positive side.

I can be altruistic, I can be empathetic, and I can prove to someone that although maybe 95%+ (notice I didn't say 100%, so do not fear ;)) of the people that I've seen playing this game are sociopathic @#$^&*(s who don't care about anyone, that at times, at least, I'm not like that. That really feels good.

I know I've mentioned this before in Pike's case, and maybe I go on about it too much, but I do really love Pike, Rilgon, Lienna, and Kordwar, as well; the four of you have managed to continue to accept me when a number of other people haven't, and have been alienated by me. I also know that there are a lot of others who are still reading who I haven't (and in some cases, can't, because I don't know names ;)) mentioned; but you know who you are. :)

I hope Mama Druid is still here sometimes, as well. I also really appreciate Santyn having given me a second chance, also. To him, I say that the assessment of whether or not I am genuinely redeemable is something I must leave to others, but it is my hope that, as he apparently has already, he can find something of value here.

It might seem like I go on about that excessively, but there are few people in my life who do exert a genuinely positive influence; so when I come across some who do, I now consider it very important to make sure, that such people know that I appreciate them.

Blood Furnace on LOL mode

The two first HFP instances are almost embarassingly easy for me to solo with Beast Mastery now, although I'm assuming they probably won't be all that much more difficult with Survival, as I managed to get Gargolmar down with Surv almost immediately after 3.0.

So if anyone wants to use either Ramps or BF for farming, take your pick. BF is much simpler, (less bosses, and less complicated trash pulls) but Ramps has a correspondingly larger potential gold yield.

Except for the last few pulls, though, I sleepwalked through with Viper up. The only part of it which comes close to being difficult is the four wave Orc endurance test before Broggok, and as long as you keep Viper up, keep the mobs on your pet, and kite a bit if you pull, you'll be fine. Broggok himself however no longer needs to be kited, either; he's now pure tank and spank.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 2 of Naxxramas

I first entered Naxx two days ago.

We have cleared the Arachnid Quarter and Noth the Plaguebringer, and have started trying to learn Heigan the Unclean, which is proving to be a somewhat difficult encounter.

I haven't had any drops yet, although I'm not overly bothered by that, as my primary focus is going to be on T7 badges, when we get up to those. I've primarily seen either Druid or Paladin gear drop so far.

Per my earlier post about reaching 80, where I talked about doing what was necessary in raid terms, I also used 50/21/0 for the second time here as well. At the end of the night, here was the result:-

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gearing up

I had someone on the forum yesterday suggest that as a Hunter at 80 with less than 1,000 base Agility, I suck. Since, truthfully, I was actually inclined to agree with that opinion, I decided today to do something about it.

I don't customarily read BRK with fanatical regularity, but I did happen to notice this post of his, and found it of great value as a gear guide.

My first move was to snag an Ice Striker's Cloak from the Auction House, and in the process kissed goodbye any even remote chance I might have had of getting epic flying in the foreseeable future. Still, I have basic Cold Weather flying, and now that I'm not questing so much anywayz, having to trundle back and forth across Icecrown (or other, similarly giant zones) in slow motion is no longer so much of an issue. (Although it was a pain for the Signet of Bridenbrad quest chain) I also, truthfully, consider gear a lot more important.

Although the Ice Striker's Cloak's base Agility is only as high as my old Cloak of the Craft had before I got the Agility enchant, another 80 AP is a major upgrade, and the Stamina gives me another 22 AP as well, thanks to the wonderful Hunter VS Wild.

Then taking BRK's advice, although I ended up needing to do a boatload of pre-requisite quests, I eventually got hold of the Signet of Bridenbrad, a ring with the unusual characteristic of having a socket. I filled that socket with a Delicate Scarlet Ruby.

A rummage through my bank reminded me of my Necklace of the Deep, which I brought up to date with two more Delicate Scarlet Rubies.

I made the mistake of prematurely selling my Belt of Deep Shadow in favour of my current green belt. With two Delicate Scarlet Rubies, it would only have four points more Agility than the green belt, and the green's 42 Intellect is a help to me, as well.

Still, purple text on an Armory profile is wonderful forum troll deterrent, although I find they all gravitate immediately to my Fuselighter. "Ooo-OOOH! Spellpower on a Hunter! Scrub! SCRUUU-UUUB! This trinket means that you are WORTHLESS, do you understand? You are NOTHING; you have NO WORTH as a human being in general terms because of it, both in WoW, and outside it. You fail at life, and your only acceptable option is immediate suicide, after first having mailed me all your stuff." ;-)

Lest I get trolled even here on the blog, my rationale for getting it was that at the time, due to crit scaling on the way to 80, my crit rate had fallen below 22%. Natives of the other two trees might be able to tolerate that, but as Survival, anything south of 25% crit has been known to send me into random panic attacks at times.

Thus, even an extra 10 crit rating was seen as a worthwhile upgrade, and I figured that at that point in the game I didn't need another AP proc trinket, especially considering that as an Orc, I have Blood Fury, which at times has a chance to randomly proc on both sides of the keyboard. ;-)

I also, a couple of days earlier while doing the Wolvar Pup daily in Moa'ki Harbour, had the presence of mind to grab a Cuttlefish Scale Breastplate. I remember that for the first few days after I initially discovered the Tuskarr, I was struggling to get the Prodigy's song, "Voodoo People," out of my head, wherein the word, "voodoo," had been substituted with, "walrus."

The other upside to following BRK's guide was also getting an almost complete Swiftarrow set, which means I now have an entry level Resilience set for PvP as well; so I can get back to working towards my Conqueror title, which is still my primary long term goal where WoW is concerned.

So although the Armory hasn't updated yet, I'm at 1030 base Agility with Terokk's Quill, and a bit over 3100 RAP with Dragonhawk. I was using the S3 Axe, but found that with the addition of RAP that I get from Stamina now, the difference is very small in that regard.