:O

Almost a year has passed and all has changed in The House of Anj. Principally, Anj went Marksmanship to support a guild’s running of Trial of the Grand Crusader. Stuck with Beast Mastery until the bitter end but the question had to be asked: “Which do I love the most, the class or the spec?”. Incidentally, totally enjoying Marksmanship.

Winterstar fell a little from the rotation and switched to Balance, firstly because her tanking just wasn’t good enough for the demands of the new LFG tool random parties (“Pull moar ffs!”, *sad panda*), and secondly because Girlpants the enhancement shaman migrated across from the old PvP realm, became Bluesonja, got to level 80 and took up healing, and healing is FUN. Granted, both can get stressy when the poop hits the fan but the added bonus of healing over tanking is, when everything goes crazy, she can stay stood in roughly the same spot.

Bank warlock Cherrytea even got to 80 and has been running daily randoms for the Frosties to sell for nice money. The sort of money that, say, bought Anj a Battered Hilt because she was tired of either not seeing it drop or seeing it drop and someone else winning the roll, and… paying for Anj to switch Herbalism for Engineering and levelling it across two days to enjoy the fun of haste-boosted gloves, not having to rely on others to make Iceblade Arrows, parachute cloaks and ROCKET BOOTS! She had, of course, always been a little distrustful of engineering thanks to her Night Elf roots but could never deny that what she saw with the bio-domes in Netherstorm a few years ago made her realise just how well nature and technology could work together. Plus she can feel smug about finally being able to feign death and ressurect someone. Yay!

Cherry kindly agreed to drop her vague tailoring interest to take up herbalism to keep the flow of plants coming in. What a trooper.

So there you go, the little update. Many raid bosses have perished, guilds have changed (twice, and fellow-hunter guildies have been lectured long and hard about the follies of having their pet stood by their side while kicking bottoms), professions have changed, play-styles have changed. And it’s not long before it all changes again. These are indeed exciting times.

Take THAT, the 28th of February 2009! Ha!

With Naxx25 cleared over Wednesday and Thursday and plans for Malygos and Sartharion-plus-three-drakes in place for the weekend, that pretty much left a light ‘n’ easy, stretch-your-legs run through Naxx10 as Friday’s excursion. Anj was there, remarking to herself on how comparatively quiet the TeamSpeak channel was and hey, wow, what’s this?! Double-figure framerate? Cool!

We’d taken down Grobbulus, had a little break and a talk-through tactics before heading down the slimepipe towards Gluth. Anj was assigned to Zombie Chow kiting duty along with a couple of other ranged DPS, and there was much rejoicing.

As soon as the fight started, it was clear there was a problem.

Um… I’m not firing.

Arcane Shot, Steady Shot, Auto Shot… nothing.

Back in the Burning Crusade days, every so often, I mean it was pretty rare, I would become the unwilling victim of some kind of a bug where my Auto Shot would stop working, I’d have to relog to get it back again, but this was different. No shots were working at all! What? What?!

Panicking, checking various possibilities commenced while zombies were making their way ever closer to Gluth. Then in my character window I saw a strange red border around the icon for the crossbow. Checking the tooltip was not pretty.

Durability 0 / 90

Oh noes! How did this happen?! Seriously? Okay, so I was summoned to the raid without time for repairs but no big wipes were planned and DurabilityFu showed an average of 55% for all gear! All, it seems, except the one weapon any hunter simply cannot exist without. And it chose the one encounter where it was needed more than anything else to present itself.

So…

So I…

Elune, forgive me…

I had to run up to Gluth and use (jarring chord) a melee weapon, up to this point largely uncontaminated by the blood of various baddies! Oh, the deliciously-inconceivable shame! That included clicking Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite from the spellbook when the cooldowns were up because, to be honest, I just don’t have them on my action bar! Why the hell would I? There’s a Wing Clip Plus Raptor Strike macro, that’s about it, it was only about a week ago that I discovered Mongoose Bite didn’t need a dodge to be usable any more.

Of course I still did my bit by breaking away every so often to set down a Frost Trap, but still. My name is Anj, and I’m a Melee Hunter. Hi.

I can only thank my guild for being a kindly, forgiving bunch and laughing it off while clearing trash as I hearthed back to Dalaran, got repairs and flew back in time for Thaddius.

It will make a great story for the grand-kids some day… :\

As far as level-cap footwear has gone, there’s only been one type I’ve liked but hardly ever worn, those being the sleek, hug-the-calves type, regularly seen in leather but rarely in mail, that seemed to have always taken second place in drop and stat popularity to the somehow wrong -looking fold-over-top ones.

But tonight’s Malygos25 bagged Anj a pair of Boots of the Renewed Flight and they look gorgeous. Big, stompy, chunky, goth boots that look like they Mean Business! Kick-down-the-door-and-drink-dwarves-under-the-table business, f’reals!

I’m really enjoying my newly-discovered love for raiding which I never really felt in Burning Crusade, perhaps mainly because when everything was brand new and people could fill a Karazhan group in a matter of seconds, I hadn’t even reached level 10. Yeah, I did Kara enough to get to exalted with Violet Eye but it was still always more stress than fun, and that stress caused me to decline a lot of offers for groups that I could have easily have accepted. I never got the imba bow, the tier armour set or the number of Badges that would allow me to buy decent alternatives, but this time round I’m in there from the beginning and it feels amazing.

There’s also the fact that I’m in a guild that is geared enough to have Naxxramas on farm status and I am, with my friends, for the most part, being carried while I slowly creep up the DPS charts, even though topping the meters is no longer my priority over plain, basic Having Fun and enjoying my role and contribution to the group.

Not that it’s all been easy! Sartharion plus two drakes was a trial and there’s still the same plus three drakes to come before Patch 3.1 and Ulduar when the guild playing field levels a little bit. Not to mention the bosses that you can be as geared as you like for but still require a lot of co-ordination, I haven’t lived through Heigan yet but felt a true sense of pride when I finally got Thaddius (yes, I’m slow). There’s still the stress but it’s stress without the sense of hopelessness which makes a big difference. Here’s to the future, I honestly can’t wait.

Does anyone else get Malygos mixed up with Fleet Foxes’ Mykonos? Just me? Okay.

The Undeath Carrier! *glee!*

Dropped from Heigan The Unclean, a fight in which I was the only one to die. Pretty early on too. A kindly druid had to battle-rez me and I ruined everyone’s chance at The Safety Dance. *shame!*

So, you know, as beautiful a staff as it is, ’twill forever be tinged with tragedy. I’ll get over it. Tomorrow is another day!

Oh, and Torn Web Wrapping too, once again I find myself way over the hit cap.

After two nights and countless wipes (including one magically life-affirming 1% epic-flavoured fail), it finally happened. Sartharion fell over and there was nothing his two extra drakes could do about it.

Between Misdirecting to various tanks, Tranq-shotting enraged fire elementals, avoiding void zones and fire-walls, leaping through portals and then back out again as well as keeping a suddenly-suicidal kitty alive all under 10fps, it counts as probably the most stressful WoW experience I’ve had so far but, after it all, looking back, the most blissfully satisfying. Especially considering that on the last attempt, the one that mattered basically, I managed to stay alive through it all, uncredited on the raid leader’s add-on that lists Those That See A Blue Circle Or Wall Of Fire And Say “Ooh pretty!”.

“Next week,” quoth the raid leader once all the loot had been distributed, “We do it with three drakes!”. /feint.

A few weeks ago I was going to write a post on how I wasn’t too bothered about raiding and am always happy to fall back on questing with just my kitty by my side but it’s amazing how much being in a guild that sets raids and actually goes and does them has changed all that.

Already, so early on within the development of the Lich King storyline, Anj is more accomplished with progression than she ever was over more than forty days of level 70 life in Burning Crusade. I can say things to myself like “Arrowsong! The Undeath Carrier! Tier 7! These are the things that will be mine!” safe in the knowledge that they could well be, rather than some peppy pipe dream.

Huzzah!

Still no sign of the Truesilver Shafted Arrow, not part of the meta-achievement but I would like it anyway. By contrast, having now had three Lovely Black Dresses, the luck suggested in that achievement is vastly overestimated.

Anj spent eighty Emblems on Heroes’ Cryptstalker Tunic, her first ever piece of Tier armour pushing her unbuffed mana up to 11111. That’s pretty snazzy. Only 38 Emblems needed now for the gloves…

A hit rating of 7.99% required a minor gem-replacement adventure though. How cruel to tease a poor Love Fool with 0.01%! That’s even without points in Focused Aim and Sphere of Red Dragon’s Blood equipped, mind you. Throw them in as well and she would be in very real danger of aggroing a boss from the next expansion.

(extra: gaze ye upon the segment of guild chat and wonder what on earth the conversation was about. also: the damage meters. BM ftw!).

Listed in the small changes of Patch 3.0.9:

Changed the colour of the fissure in the Obsidian Sanctum to be more visually distinct.

Ummm… Do you fancy doing the same for Kill Shot? Is it just me or does that ability seem to require something a little bit more impressive? Most of the time I’m wondering if it has actually been cast at all, having to rely on checking whether the cooldown has been triggered because a high-speed, lower-case “o” just doesn’t cut it for me. How about making it like Arcane Shot but red? That would be nice.

As it stands, a brand-new scratching post for kitty to sharpen her claws on is as much as you can ask from a small stop-gap patch, so who can complain?

In preparation for Patch 3.1 and the removal of consumable ammo, Anj joined in an overpowered Zul’Aman raid purely for the quest “Promises, Promises…” and its 20-slot bag reward. That’s safely in the bank, unlike the Ancient Amani Longbow which was held for a bit, admired for a bit longer, used on a few of Northrend’s creatures just for the fun of it and then exchanged for 10g at a vendor. Anj’s bank already has enough sentimental items, I really don’t think there needs to be another. ;)

They (the “They”) say that the British love a good queue. They will walk across burning coals to get to one, regardless of what is offered at the end of it, just for the chance to stand in line for something, all civilised.

Now, I’m technically British. I’m not sure how much weight that carries for it was, after all, the sheer chance of birth location and I have no love for the concept of patriotism, but being as how I hang around with a lot of other British people I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has said “A queue?! Where! Get me to the queue!”. Queues are annoying, but I think it is true that your British people will join them begrudgingly and silently seethe to themselves whereas your Americans will just flip out and splash Uzis around semi-colon, close bracket.

But look! Look!

naxx25queue

Naxx25, after the Four Horsemen encounter and instead of everybody jostling to the front and clicking like mad on the chest (as happened countless times in Karazhan), almost without any instruction whatsoever everybody formed an orderly line. There’s me and Bups at the back there on the top picture, dancing and talking amongst ourselves as we filed gently to the front. So civilised! As queues go, it was a joy to be in it.

So, yeah, Naxx25. In with a group that could officially label me as “Being Carried”, I found out a few things:

  1. I am saving up for a new compuper but I am sure that this one cannot do twenty-five player raids. My framerate was below ten for most of the fights. For all I said about The Macro a few posts back, it was only the fact that I was spamming one button that got me from 16th (a few fights in) to 13th (at the end) on the damage meters. Sorry, The Macro, you have your place.
  2. Turning Spell Detail right down to the minimum is all well and good, but I honestly think that I’d be doing okay for FPS if there was another option to turn everybody else’s spell casting effects off! It wouldn’t be ideal but, hey, my poor elderly compuper. :(
  3. All video effects down to a minimum and 1024×768 :O By comparison it had the look of a cute 8-bit game bringing back lovely memories of my happy Amstrad CPC6128 days, which was okay I suppose. Maybe next time I’ll try 800×600 and keep living on pasta so maybe I can get a new machine next month.
  4. We didn’t do the Plague Quarter so I didn’t see if Arrowsong dropped, although I did get some new boots. However, having decided I needed to replace my boots to drop some haste, I managed to collect a replacement pair with even more haste. I have too much haste! WHY IS IT SO HARD TO AVOID HASTE?! My Steady Shot cast time is just over a second! :p More apologies and defense for The Macro, at least spamming that keeps my rotation in check without going mad.
  5. Finally, Naxx25 is really easy! When…  you’re in with a group that downs a boss under two minutes. :\

Welcome to the “I’ve Slapped Kel’Thuzad, Big Style” Club. Thanks, ooh a card too? Marvellous! :D

Patch 3.1 looms with its crazy changes, extra bag space and Beast Mastery given a full and frank apology abounds. Exciting future-visions aside, here in the hinterlands there’s not much going on except for the usual heroine antics with the possibility of “Hey, look what gear I got!” posts.

Okay, well, Wraith Spear if you must know, enchanted up to the nines with Massacre (850g spent on a single enchant, a new personal best), to replace the Icier Barbed Spear from Amphitheatre of Anguish back at level seventy-faaahve. I’ve also moved into a guild that has Naxx25 on farm and they’re going to run me and my friends through it quite soon, to which all I can say is: OMG! Arrowsong!

Talent-wise, I shifted a point out of Mortal Shots to put back in Beast Mastery because, although people say that you can still get as much DPS from sixteen pet talent points as you can from twenty, the increased survivability of kitty from the extra points should not be underestimated. Still no exotic pet, I mean if I was around in the area and Loque’nahak showed up, I’d make an effort to tame him but I certainly ain’t going out of my way.

Besides, I’m glad I did, an extra tier of pet talents sounds pretty nice. I am, of course, assuming that this extra tier will only available to members of the BM51 Club… ;)

And that’s it really. Not much else going on. Thank you for your patience. Your call is important to us.

(photograph by architekt2 and shared under a Creative Commons license)

Happily popping arrows into Archavon the Stone Watcher, he got to 20% health with just five seconds of cooldown left to go on both Sphere of Red Dragon’s Blood and Bestial Wrath. Mmm, I’m going to save the Kill Shot a few seconds.

Popped them both, giggled maniacally and teased my finger over the button for Kill Shot…

Press!

MISS!

Oh. Em. Gee! That was the one shot that missed! A bitter lesson learned the Hard Way once again. Hit rating, anything less than the cap just isn’t worth risking.

some time later…

I played with this idea today, touching on subjects as to why a random number generator would miss the one shot that was going to be so effed up and linking it to why, when peeling an orange, if a squirt of tart citrus juice is going to squirt out it is more or less guaranteed to hit you RIGHT IN THE EYE and where this places the notion of fate, predeterminism and the idea of a non-existent god. I came to conclusion that it was all just mindlessly keeping my mind busy to shield me from a dull day at work and that it doesn’t mean anything. The fact that a random number generator will sell your whole family into slavery at a moment’s notice and an orange being malevolent enough to want to blind you is only because these outcomes are infinitely more memorable than the millions of other times they do pretty much what you want or expect them to them to do. Plus it wasn’t the only shot that missed, there was one other but it was an auto shot which probably wouldn’t have crit so that put a stop to that. Yay Teh Godless Universe!

Since I’m staying BM, it’s obvious that the current, or should I say “previous”, spec needs some tweaking. I’m going to give this, which I am calling “50/14/7“, a go:

BM, 50/14/7

Sacrifices, sacrifices. Talent points don’t grow on tress, believe me I’ve tried. I went a whole month using only 70 points and planted the one remaining in some fertile soil in the Cenarion Enclave, tending to it regularly with Moonwell water. Nothing.

2 points from Cobra Strikes.

1 point from Beast Mastery. Gusp!

1 point from Go for the Throat, and

3 points from Improved Arcane Shot.

Generous contributions which all get to go into Improved Tracking and Survival Instincts. An extra 5% damage on tracked targets with an extra 4% critical strike chance on Arcane and Steady Shot is hardly going to equalise it with Survival but it’s a start and at least allows me and Anj to continue life with a sense of enjoyment.

Add on the +2% from Focused Fire and 3% from Ferocious Inspiration and that’s an extra 10% damage across the board! Got to be worth a go, hasn’t it? You know? You try. You do what you can.

Training dummies testing, meh. I want to take this to an instance and see what happens.

We’ll survive the DPS crunch, we’ve weathered worse storms than this before! Chin up!

At the start it didn’t look so bad but a disastrously high fall from DPS grace in a couple of heroics had me thinking, hmmm, maybe I’ll try this Survival spec gubbins and see what all the fuss is about.

Yeah, I tried it. 50g spent on a respec and, some Training Dummy time later, another 50g spent to spec the hell right back to Beast Mastery again. What went wrong?

One. Using Immolation Trap to proc Lock and Load is all well and good, and fine for some people, but I wasn’t going for it. Throw Sniper Training in as well with it’s snazzy damage rewards for greater distance and suddenly I’m running for miles! When Anj first picked up a bow with a view to learning how to use it, she pretty much signed a waiver saying that pointless running back and forth wasn’t for her.

Two. Well, *splutter*, it’s Beast Mastery! Obviously different people have different play-styles and it’s great that we’re all catered for but, personally, I quite like the synergy betwixt hunter and pet, up to the point where I even feel uncomfortable with the word “Mastery”. We’re a team, me and kitty, we love each other and couldn’t live without each other. Sure, occasionally I’ll roll with my gorilla for questing, but that’s only because I’m giving kitty a well-earned break because she works very hard! Survival? Pet might as well not be there. Am I getting too emotionally invested in something to think that switching from my “Me And My Buddy” spec is in some way betraying KittenHeels? Hmm, maybe. But ah dun care!

So I’m sticking with Beast Mastery. On the training dummies with SV I was (it seems like a heavy-handed word to be using but I’m going to use it because it’s true) effortlessly doing more DPS than I was with BM. Well, it had to be effortless, it was a whole new way of playing and I had no idea what I was doing for the most part but there was still the same number of buttons to press, it’s not like I went from hotkeys to a command line system. Effortless. That’s including even missing out the DPS time spent on running to melee range to drop a trap and then Disengaging back, moving a bit more back to get to the optimum range and then going back to the weaving.

So I find myself torn between two thoughts, either the mass exodus from Beast Mastery to Survival cookie-cutter specs is something akin to a person shifting support to a different football team when their own starts losing a few games (which is a totally bad analogy for me because I don’t even like sport) or…

(whispering) Well, you know, is it a big unspoken protest, given Ghostcrawler’s comments about fixing BM if everyone shifts to Survival? (/whispering) OMG, am I being a scab?! Let’s face it, the DPS classes want to do as much damage as possible because, well, it’s their job but the blogs and forums I’ve read show that Beast Mastery wing of The Hunter Academy is emptying out, with the last person to leave being instructed to simply toss a ball of tumbleweed into the hall before they switch out the lights.

Either way, I’m not going to spend my time gathering a bunch of new gear for a different spec only to have to throw it out again when Teh Blizz see the error of their ways. I, and I expect many others, don’t want to be the automatic top of the damage meters, we just want to be invited to raids or heroics and have a chance at barely competing and maybe even be spared from the gallery of morons who hear the word “nerf” and their ears start bleeding.

Blizzard haven’t solved the problem of one spec being more popular than the others, they’ve just moved it somewhere else. Perhaps the only way they’re going to even begin to sort it out is by, more or less, equalising the damage output of each talent tree but maintaining the diversity of ways in which it is achieved, obviously with differing results to widen the gap depending on the effort that goes in. Insight or naivety? You decide! ;)

Choice. It’s not much to ask!

(picture by Reverse_Thinking and shared under a Creative Commons License).

I’m not so easily confused that throwing one extra shot into my rotation is likely to trip me up, but a slight shift-around of the action bar in order to make my four mainly-used abilities a little closer together is causing some problems, nothing that won’t take a little getting used to though.

anj_308actionbarThe cooldown of Arcane Shot allows for three Steady Shots, and two rounds of Arcane, Steady, Steady, Steady fits nicely into the duration of a glyphed Serpent Sting. OMG WTF LULZ this is too much, I need a macro!

Winters has macros, and she loves them. There’s one for a Mangle followed by two Lacerates, another for Mangle with two swipes and a third one for an onmouseover Lacerate, they work very well. The thing is, while tanking there’s target switching, looking out for escaped mobs and generally ensuring that all the monsters are primarily concerned with her, plenty to be keeping an eye on. Even though most of the time it’s spamming one of three buttons, there’s still a sense of involvement.

For ranged DPS though, the next logical step to a shot-rotation macro is to bind it to every key on the numeric keypad and I can just repeatedly mash it with my palm, proud of the fact that I’m providing flawless DPS (for the most part, not counting a number of variables that can and will make any such macro fall flat on its face) but slightly troubled by the fact that I might as well not even be there!

Pretty soon all hunters will be wearing the same outfit, using the same weapons with the same pet and the same talent spec and that is when you know the end is nigh.

There will be no rotation macros for me because I can manage pressing buttons and still find time to give a knowing wink to the healer when an escaped mob trips a timely-placed Freezing Trap and disaster is averted. “Macros”, psh! BRK should be ashamed of himself, delete his character immediately and roll a warlock.

I’ll reserve the domain http://www.bigbluedemon.com right now…

:P

Remember Darkmavis? She was my Death Knight-in-waiting while all the tasty new Hunter and Druid things were chomped on after the release of Lich King. Well, after getting through the start area quests and as far as Shattrath City, she had to be deleted. Wha’? Why?!

Firstly, I was largely confused about her abilities for the first three levels, wasn’t really sure what was going on, specced for Frost without really knowing why and the final quests before going to Stormwind had me going “Huh? What exactly just happened there?”. (a very big thanks to the bloody dwarf that kept spamming party invites and duels while I was trying to listen to the damn dialogue, for Elune’s sake go and stick your head in a pig!)

Secondly, the death knight phone book has more names beginning with “Dark” than any Scottish directory’s chunky “Mc” section, and then it only moves onto an even thicker ream of pages for names beginning with “Death”. I tend to get put off by that kind of hideously populist thinking, so it had to change.

Instead, now there’s Grrlpants. She used to be a shaman, you know. It’s a tragic tale.

So, together with Bluesonja The Other Hunter, there’s four profession slots that need filling with a yearning to learn. The shamanic Girlpants did Mining and Jewelcrafting, and continues to do that as a death knight.

Bluesonja was pencilled in for Engineering from the start but there ain’t no way I’m doing Mining twice, as gathering professions go it’s such a pain in the bum I’m begrudgingly doing it again for (I think) the third time only because I need to. Hey, how about Enchanting? That should be a good one to level from square one, disenchanting quest rewards and replaced items as she travels through the world, shouldn’t it? Obviously there’s the slight problem of being perpetually penniless but, really, who needs wealth when you have rich sisters? ;)

So it’s all going very well. Grrlpants is still at 58 but travelling the world mining to feed two professions (up to mithril at the moment) while Sonja got up to level five to able to at least train professions, then quickly to level ten since a chunk of copper bars got her through the first 75 points of Engineering in about five minutes, and then (omg) to twenty to advance her studies further.

A big “WOOT!” to today’s Patch 3.0.8 discovery, no more need to keep tapping at an ore node until it fades, now you get the full yield in the first go! Yay! That actually makes mining a little more bearable.

So now, throughout all my characters, the only profession that isn’t being touched is Blacksmithing. Meh, I don’t need to blacksmith. Maybe one day.

We-e-e-ell, there it goes, server shutdown to apply Patch 3.0.8. In the morning, Anj will emerge from the inn, start the day off with a hot morning ale and a little target practice only to find, when she pulls back her bow-string for the first of many times that day, a sharp pain in her right shoulder. “Ow!”. Better rub some liniment on that.

I’m pleased because Elixir of Water Walking is going to become discoverable through the Northrend Alchemy Research which is going to save a lot of time returning to Terokkar Forest for the fishing dailies to keep supplies stocked up. Yays!

Glyph of Serpent Sting is listed in the undocumented changes as having it’s effect increased from three to six seconds, looking like some heady competition for GoArcane Shot there given that my experience with the regular-length Serpent Sting seems to fall short of lasting the full duration of a heroic mob’s rapidly diminishing life. Rather than reapply it for what might only amount to one tick, a simple Kill Shot before moving on to prep the next mob with a Hunter’s Mark, pet attack and fresh Sting gets around that problem well enough. An Arcane glyph awaits in the bank ready for testing.

So. A very happy Nerfday to all hunters, and a heartfelt apology to all other classes* sniggering behind your hands like you think we can’t see you, you’re still not as good. I know. I know. Sorry. You can still loudly accuse any that you meet as being overpowered and no-one can ever take that away from you, just try to misspell every single word while you’re doing it to really lend weight to your argument. /pat.

;)

*edit, 23/01/09: With respect to Winters, this excludes druids. They still rock. All of them.
April 2014
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