Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PUG's and FPUG's

I don't mind PUG's, but boy do I hate FPUG's.

Confused? Good, mission accomplished. Let's decode what I mean.

There is a subtle difference between a PUG and a FPUG on paper, but they are worlds apart in practice.

The abbreviation "PUG" refers to a "pick-up group," or a party/raid that is formed amongst several people that are unfamiliar with each other at the onset of the task. A PUG could be a 5-man party where 1 of the 5 was fished out of trade chat to fill a role, or it could be 5 people who met through the LFG channel and decided to trek into an instance together. As long as the group is not formed completely of people from the same guild, or it's not a pre-arranged meeting between the people involved, it can be considered a PUG.

A "FPUG," or "f!@$ing pick-up group," is the same thing, with one caveat. Not only do those involved not know each other, but in addition, they have no idea what they're doing. The term FPUG speaks to the ability of those involved as well as their knowledge of the encounters they're about to face. For example, a PUG setting up to battle Patchwerk would sound like this:

Raid Leader: Which tank is taking hatefuls?
Tank 1: I'll do it.
Healer 1: I'll watch the hateful tank
Raid Leader: All right, get your buffs up, pulling in 10 seconds.
But a FPUG would sound like this:
Raid Leader: H'okay, so what does this guy do?
Tank 1: Not sure, I think he might hit hard.
Healer 1: Should I use big heals or flashes for this?
DPS 1: Isn't there an enrage timer on this guy?
Tank 2: My shield wall isn't up yet, give me a few minutes for the cooldown?
Raid Leader: Let me go read the strat on this, one sec.
Me: Great, we're so screwed... oh wait, was that out loud?
See the difference?

In the first situation, everyone knows how it works. People just need to be assigned any encounter-specific tasks and then they're ready to roll. In the second situation, people roll up to a boss and then go "crap, what do we do? Let's have everyone babble over Ventrilo until we hammer out a solid-sounding strategy and pull 30 minutes later."

... okay, so I'm a little bitter. Over the weekend I tried to PUG 25-man Naxx and ended up in a FPUG that took over an hour just to clear to Instructor Raszuvious, and then the raid leaders were looking up Wowwiki strats when we got to him, taking another hour to hammer out the working strategy and wipe a few times to give the priests some work with mind-controlling. The icing on the cake is that I was one of the first dead every attempt, even on the kill. Why? Because the priests didn't do smooth mind-control transitions. I ended up tops on Instructor's aggro during the gaps in the tank rotation, leading to my quick and painful demise.

Such is the life of the top-DPS'er in a FPUG. You get very intimate with the floor of an instance.

2 hours, 1 Emblem of Valor, and a lost loot roll. I shoulda just farmed honor. Friggen fail-pile FPUG's...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bird Is The Word

Off-topic I know, but I can't contain myself.

Did anyone else notice that nearly every bird-themed football franchise made the playoffs this year? If the Seahawks weren't so miserably bad (sorry Seattle, this just ain't your year...), we might have seen all of them make it. The Cardinals, Eagles, Falcons, and Ravens all made the playoffs, and every one of them is an amazing/improbable story. The Cards riding Kurt Warner with no running game into the post-season; the Eagles surviving a terrible mid-season and outlasting the Cowboys, getting a helping hand from a few other teams stumbling; the Falcons and Ravens going from piss-poor to playoffs behind rookie QB's and rookie coaches.

This is going to be a fun-filled football post-season.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Love To Share

Jim Caple of ESPN.com just wrote a funny piece recapping this year in sports for Page 2. His nerd-fu is unquestioned after this gem -

"Jan. 12: ... Bill Belichick's New England storm troopers rout Jack Del
Rio's "pitiable little band" of Jaguars.
Feb. 3: The New York Giants rally to win Super Bowl XLII on a last-minute
drive when quarterback Eli Manning listens to Obi-Wan, turns off his targeting
device and successfully fires a pair of proton torpedoes into New England's
thermal exhaust port while Patriots coach Bill Belichick careens off into

Ahhhh, football and Star Wars references... two things I love.

I Need Some 25-Man Lovin'

Emblems of Heroism can only get you so far. I need to start puggin' for some 25-mans and get some ilvl 213 gear, otherwise I might be wearing these blues and my t6 bracers forever. I feel undergeared.

I don't want to be expected to show up for a raid every week though. I don't want to commit 12-18 hours of my time every week to the game for months of the forseeable future - I like being able to say "I'm not logging in tonight, I've got other things I'd like to do." Like last night - instead of logging in and doing Sons of Hodir dailies or drummin' up some heroic runs, I watched a few episodes of "Burn Notice" on Hulu. I had just finished watching a bunch of "House" reruns on USA, and their constant plugging of "Burn Notice" had seeped into my subconscious. I found myself needing to watch the show, especially since a friend of mine had highly recommended it. So I spent a good hour or two glued to Hulu instead of being used as a dragon chew toy or fighting the Lich King's minion's in Icecrown.

So, in short, LF 25-man casual raid that doesn't suck on Malfurion, PST...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season 5 Arena Impressions

Last reset I teamed up with a death knight buddy and played some 2v2 matches in the arena. He was specced unholy/blood (I think he was 20/0/51 or 21/0/50), and I was specced 0/20/51 ret/prot. We were both full or nearly full PvE DPS gear, and after 40-50 games we settled around the high 1600's, mostly due to me being a noob. Here are some of my post-game reflections:

  • Death knights are ridiculous. I've said it before and I'll say it again, they have a veritable metric ton of tools at their disposal to either mete out immense quantities of pain, keep themselves alive, or just be a gorram annoyance.
  • I need some resilience, bad. Even with my plate armor and nearly 20k HP, I was taken from full health to half by a rogue in the blink of an eye - literally. I was having to Divine Shield within the first 20 seconds of every match.
  • The Divine Shield change that will cut damage by 50% while under Divine Shield is going to hurt me pretty bad. I spend half or more of my life span in an arena match under the effects of the bubble.
  • Burst by all classes is ri-god-damn-diculous. It doesn't matter if you're a mage or a warlock, in bear form or tree form, or frost presence or beserker stance, anyone can kill you, and fast.
  • My macros aren't set well for PvP use. I need a self-cleanse button to mash, and a self-cast Flash of Light button to mash, and some sort of large flashing angry notification whenever I get an Art of War proc so I know to mash the FoL button. Right now I have a mouseover macro for Cleanse and a Clique setting for shift + left click to cast Flash of Light. It's making my movement herky-jerky when I try to pursue someone and cleanse/heal on the run.
  • How the hell did paladins go from dregs of the arena to present on every gorram team? Seriously, I'm tired of having to kill people twice. Stupid bubble.
  • Yes, I am aware of the irony of the previous bullet.
  • Decent holy paladins really throw a monkey wrench in the works against DK/ret. Cleanse, Sacred Shield, and Holy Shock spam while running around makes a DK go craaaaaaaazy.
  • I can't tell if I enjoy the arena. I love winning matches, but cannot stand losing them, and have no desire to improve my play to the point where I don't lose. And it's great that it's not scripted like most PvE encounters, but it's frustrating that it's not scripted like most PvE encounters. Ya know? I think you get what I'm sayin'.
  • When are dual specs coming? I blew 100g just speccing for 2v2, because I messed up the spec the first time. And will glyphs swap with dual-spec swaps? I know I heard that they'd try to change action bars over, but I can't remember if glyphs would change too.
  • Didn't I swear not to arena after constant disappointment and failure (not reaching 2k) last season? I really should stick to PvE.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crusader Strike and Divine Storm Vs. Single Mobs

I've been seeing unsettling and, frankly, incorrect statements popping up on the comments of my 3.0 FAQ in regards to prioritizing Divine Storm over Crusader Strike. One commenter claiming that Divine Storm is better because it procs seals, and others saying that cooldowns dictate that you should do one thing first rather than another, and others still saying that librams and such make it so that Divine Storm is top priority...

I'm here to set the record straight regarding Crusader Strike and Divine Storm. Let's break it down:

Crusader Strike

  • 6 second cooldown
  • 8% base mana
  • 110% weapon damage before gear modifications
  • hits 1 target
  • procs seals
Divine Storm
  • 10 second cooldown
  • 12% base mana
  • 100% weapon damage before gear modifications
  • hits up to 4 targets
  • heals the paladin and 3 friends for 25% of damage caused
  • procs seals
Take a look at the pretty lists. Notice that Crusader Strike is a shorter cooldown, more damage, and less mana. Both strikes can proc seals. The only things that Divine Storm does which Crusader Strike doesn't are a) heal you, and b) hit multiple targets.

If you have the Venture Co. libram, Divine Storm will give you 73 crit rating for 8 seconds every time you use the strike. For those playing the home game, that's 1.6% crit at 80 with a 2 second gap in the up-time if you Divine Storm every cooldown. If you delay using Divine Storm for an extra second to make sure you squeeze a Crusader Strike in, not having that percentage and a half of crit is not going to lower your DPS so much that it's worth sacrificing the extra weapon damage you're getting from the lovely extra Crusader Strike or two you've manufactured over the course of the fight. Plus, as your gear gets better, your weapon gets bigger, and your base crit rating gets higher, the up-time on that libram gets less and less significant.

Let me put it in a sentence for y'all -

If you have the choice between Crusader Strike and Divine Storm against a single opponent, use Crusader Strike. I'm not sure how much more plainly I can put it.

Ghost Hit and the Hit Cap

A lot of paladins 'round Azeroth have been reporting weird phenomena regarding their miss rates and their hit rating. With hit rates as low as 5%, some ret paladins are reporting zero misses against raid-level bosses.

Now, the theoretical "hit cap" for a 2-handed weapon wielder is 9%, or ~295 hit rating. How is it that DPS'ers sporting as low as 5% hit are recording zero misses? Some theorize that anyone who had the Precision talent pre-3.0 retained the 3% hit boost it granted, despite the disappearance of the talent.

How does this alter your approach? Well, it means that when you're gearing up, you can aim for a total hit boost of ~197 from gear and still not worry about misses. If you frequently party-up with a Draenei, then you can drop it even lower to ~164 hit. That's really really ridiculously lower than the actual cap! And just another reason why you should aim for strength in gems/enchants rather than hit.

Us paranoid people, though, are preparing for the moment when Blizzard discovers this little snag in the coding and elminates this "ghost hit" that some paladins are benefiting from. If you're rollin' in gold and don't care about the possibility of re-gemming or re-enchanting your gear if/when the ghost hit disappears, then by all means gear for 197. However, it'd be in your best interest to be ready with some backup gear/enchants to get up to 295.

I'll likely be switching some of my hit stuff over to expertise since I'm really light in the expertise department, but beware fair reader, this ghost hit might not last. I anticipate Blizzard ninja-editing it via hotfix or patch sometime in the next few months.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Mumblings of a Manic Marauder

The Giants have a way of giving me a heart attack, reviving me, sending me into shock, destroying my shreds of hope, and then renewing my faith in the football gods, all in the course of a single game. I need to sleep more.

Blizzard's use of phasing in Icecrown is awesome. I helped the Argent Crusade move through The Breach and retake Crusader's Pinnacle yesterday. I love being able to see change effected in the world around my character.

The Sons of Hodir can take a gorram long walk off a short pier. I don't care if I've said it before, I hate rep grinding.

I just learned that the Spiked Titansteel Helm is getting neutered. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Divine Storm should not be prioritized over Crusader Strike, even if you use the Venture Co. libram. Seriously people, you're talking about an extra second of ~2% crit per cycle in exchange for fewer overall instant strikes. Crusader Strike is higher DPS, higher DPM - use it over Divine Storm. I don't care if holy whirlwind is sexy.

I hate the t3/t7 graphics. Give me my Lightbringer back.

Death Knight/Ret Paladin 2v2 is overpowered. Hell, Death Knight/anything is overpowered. Did you know that death knights can negate just about any sort of attack? Here's a list of why I'm envious:

  1. They can heal themselves with Rune Tap, Mark of Blood, Blood Aura, or by sacrificing their ghoul. Or probably other ways too.
  2. They have high armor and as much dodge/parry as a rogue, negating a lot of physical damage.
  3. They have anti-magic shell and anti-magic shield, which can drastically reduce magic damage.
  4. They have Icebound Fortitude, which is Divine Protection on crack with no shared-ability lockout.
  5. They can silence enemies from a distance with Strangulate.
  6. They can Death Grip enemies to close the distance between a caster/ranged and themselves.
  7. They have pets to use for constant pushback on casters.
  8. They have ways of dispelling HoT's.
  9. They have multiple DoT's that not a lot of people can get rid of.
  10. They do a fair amount of damage.
  11. Their gargoyles can rip things to shreds.
  12. They can raise fallen allies as ghouls for a short period.

Seriously, they're ridiculous. I watched my partner 1v2 several very good 2v2 arena teams after I got nuked to holy hell (go go 0 resilience and 17k HP).

I'm almost to the point where I can make the fun engineering stuff. I'm having trouble resisting the urge to just buy tons of metal off the AH and power my engy skill higher.

I need to PUG some 25-man stuff and get Emblems of Valor. There are some pieces of armor available from the vendor that I just plain want.

Maybe if I just don't wear shoulder armor I'd be happier.

Good grief, the new arenas are silly. Flame walls? Moving platforms? Sewage water that blocks LoS? No mounts in the sewer meaning I have to run 20 yards without speed boosts or cover and get plinked and plunked by arrows, shadow magic, and hot hot heat as I close the distance? Puh-lease.

For the last time, people, the Ashbringer is not going to be equippable. Tirion Fordring has it, and unless they kill him off (dear lord, NOOOOOO!!!), I can't see any possible scenario in which he'd fork it over to some random raider. Frostmourne, maybe... but probably not.

I want some Ulduar armor graphic previews.

Is the Judgement bug fixed yet?

Seriously, is it fixed yet? I'm tired of hearing the whining.

Speaking of whining, boo-hoo there are ads on the official forums. Get over it, Blizzard is a commercial entity.

I'm hungry, screw this I'm going to get me some lunch. I wonder what's in the company cafeteria today...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Miss Them All Ready

I got my wish - I slapped together a Naxx-10 run on Tuesday and the t7 shoulder token dropped for me.

Now I get to live with the cold, hard, ugly reality of my fortune.

When does Ulduar get released? These things are fugly. I want my Lightbringer back, this will wear on me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Bracing Discovery

In my research for my upcoming gear list/recommendation post, I was checking out options for plate DPS bracers. What I found was that there is one set of blue-quality bracers from the first boss of heroic Azjol-Nerub, and that's it for non-raid plate DPS bracer instance drops. Guh? Only one option?

I'll have to double check my facts, but I think I might have missed something. There's got to be more than one choice for bracers from 5-mans... right? The worse part is those bracers from heroic Azjol-Nerub probably don't outpace the Lightbringer bracers with consideration to the haste, expertise, and socket on the Lightbringer ones.

Ah well, once I finalize my list I'll know.

The Ret Commandments, Version 3.0

Unlike the Bible, I do update my commandments with the times. Here's a link to my original list.

  1. Thou shalt not die.
  2. Thou shalt not do anything that causes raidmates to die.
  3. Thou shalt maximize thine time on target.
  4. Thou shalt Crusader Strike every cooldown.
  5. Thou shalt Judge every cooldown, so long as it does not interfere with Crusader Strike.
  6. Thou shalt Divine Storm every cooldown, so long as it does not interfere with Judgement or Crusader Strike.
  7. Thou shalt ensure 100% seal up-time.
  8. Thou shalt use Divine Plea as often as possible.
  9. Thou shalt use Consecration, Exorcism, and Holy Wrath as often as mana allows.
  10. Thou shalt use thine Avenging Wrath early and often.
Engrave these upon a stone tablet and place them by your monitor. These are your rules to live by in raids.
EDIT: Swapped Crusader Strike and Judgement in rules 4 & 5 to reflect the Patch 3.1 changes

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Repentance and Instance Groups

A new-found ability of ret paladins in 3.0 is a little something the community likes to call crowd control. Repentance, the 31-point ret talent, got a bit more than a spit shine when the devs were polishing the talent trees for Wrath's release.

Previously, Repentance was only usable against humanoid enemies, and was a fairly short 4-second incapacitate with a minute-long cooldown. With all those restrictions, I saw it as a PvP tool to interrupt casts at range and slow someone down in order to close the distance. Unless you were in a humanoid-rich instance environment, it wasn't even a valid ability in PvE. Bosses are immune to it as well, of course.

Now, however, Repentance has an expanded eligible target list and more uses. It still has a 1-minute cooldown, but against PvE enemies, it lasts for a full minute duration (unless broken by damage), and can be used against demons, dragonkin, giants, humanoids, and undead. Go over that list and think about it - what do you encounter besides those? Beasts, yes... but not much else. It's instant cast, can be used at range (20 yards), can be used in combat (unlike a rogue's Sap ability), and can be chained against a target, since the cooldown matches the duration.

So when your instance group is having trouble with massive pulls, thin the ranks out a bit - pick something the tank is targeting specifically, repent it, and have the mob of enemies moved away from the repented target so it avoids being hit with splash damage. If you keep an eye on the repented target, either via focus targeting or just splitting your attention, it shouldn't bother anybody.

Want a way to do it all with one button? Well, I can offer a combo of buttons - here's the mage "Polymorph" macro, adapted for use with Repentance:

#showtooltip [target=focus,harm] [] Repentance
/clearfocus [modifier:shift][target=focus,dead][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Repentance
To use, here's what you do - target something, hit the macro. It'll repent it and put it on focus. Any subsequent presses will attempt to repent the focused target (but it won't be eligible for another minute, since that's the length of Repentance's cooldown). If you want to repent something else while your original target is alive, target the new baddie, hold shift and slam the macro. Voila! The new baddie is repent'ed and now considered your focus. Easy, no?

And now you know why everyone loves running instances with mages. Well, aside from the food and drink conjuring...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleep is for the Weak

Instead of doing the smart thing and going to bed at a decent hour, I decided to run instances and do quests into the wee hours of the morning all weekend. I have a cold and several revered reputations to show for my efforts.

No, WoW was not the only thing I did all weekend, but it was a damn large portion of my time.

Anyway, some random ramblings:

  • Naxx-10 is fun. I missed out on running Naxx-40 at level 60, so I was pumped to see all the stuff I missed. Suprisingly, I did not fail at Heigan. In fact, I was alive for most of the instance... until Sapphiron. Ugh. Between me failing at avoiding the blizzard and me getting myself cleaved on one attempt, that was just a mess.
  • Kel'Thuzad is not melee-friendly. We had a ton of melee in the raid (me, a rogue, a death knight, and 2 tanks), so that ice-freeze thingamabob kicked our ass 'cuz we were clumped up. Oh, and if you do KT anytime soon, don't pull threat on the banshees in phase 1 while in melee range. Yea, I failed hard.
  • Replenishment is friggen awesome. The healers were noticeably better off when I was alive in Naxx.
  • Forming pick-up groups for Sartharion-10 (no drakes up for kill) and Archavon-10 were relatively simple. Thank the Light that most of the upper-tier raid guilds don't care about the 10-man progression, I was able to ninja a few people for Sartharion. I did end up picking some people out of trade chat for it though... and the DPS from the pick-ups was terrible. I also turned away a ret paladin who was wearing mostly s4 gear and wasn't even close to hit cap (probably sub-90 hit?). If you're going to offer yourself up for a raid, be ready for it.
  • I've almost replaced all my t6 gear. There's a shiny new claymore in my hands, I'm probably a bunch of quests and a few instance runs away from exalted with the Ebon Blade for some new boots, and then I just need to find some bracers, a necklace, and some shoulders. I'm hoping for another Naxx-10 run and some lucky drops with t7 tokens.
  • I'm very interested to do Malygos-10.
  • I didn't do anything regarding the gear list this weekend, 'cuz I decided I wanted to play instead. The result is no gear list, 16 hours of sleep over 3 days this weekend, and me slumped at my desk this morning.
  • Random side-note: I found time between my WoW'ing and sleeping to see Quantum of Solace. Not sure I liked it. Was much more impressed with Casino Royale of the "new" Bond flicks.
  • This bullet is here to say that bulleted lists are fairly blasé, but that's what you get today. I don't have to take your crap, read it and like it! Don't give me that look.
  • I don't miss 25-man raiding that much, but I do miss the camraderie with the fellow raiders and the gear. I'm such a gear whore.
  • I tanked a bunch of instances on Sunday. Prot is looking good, no complaints. I love bubble-wall, and finally being able to smack someone with my shield was a riot.
  • The Sons of Hodir quest-line is long, but the payoff at the end as far as item rewards and quest resolutions looks to be promising. Hate grinding, but love rewards...

And that, my friends, is what I call a WoW addiction.

I think I should take it a bit easier this week... but I'll probably find myself in Naxx-10 again before the week's over.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Light of the Bulb

I'm working on a gear list - it will most likely be posted next week, assuming I don't chain-run instances all weekend and have some time to scour Wowhead and polish the post a bit. When will it be out exactly? To quote the Blizz blues, "Soon."

On to more important matters! How many paladins does it take to screw in a light bulb?

1) 1 holy paladin
But if you ask him to do anything else while changing the light bulb, you're kidding yourself.

2) 1 ret paladin
Who will hammer the bulb into place until shines. Or breaks.

3) 1 prot paladin
Because they don't need no stinkin' help.

4) 2 holy paladins
Who will keep the task going on perpetually until one of them gets bored and leaves.

5) 2 ret paladins
One to screw in the light bulb, and the other to keep the death knights, moonkins, shadow priests, and survival hunters from taking their job.

6) 1 holy, 1 prot, and 1 ret paladin
But their friends still won't get Blessing of Kings.

7) 2, Zebra and Honors
Who better blog about it when they're done.

As for Cathmor? He probably wouldn't change the bulb at all, 'cuz he spends more time in Icecrown than he does in that dingy old room.

Thanks to Megs for the fun times post.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Yes, I Can Duo Heroics

Late last night I was seeking a jewelcrafter to cut a [Relentless Earthsiege Diamond] for me, so I could shove it into the meta socket of my newly-minted [Spiked Titansteel Helm]. None of the JC's in my guild had that meta cut, and I wasn't getting much of a response from trade chat, so I scoured my friends list for potential prospects.

My salvation came in a hunter friend, whom I know loves to keep on top of the jewelcrafting market. When I whispered him, he informed me that he did in fact have that meta cut. Joy! But, I'd have to wait, because he was in heroic Sethekk Halls trying to get the raven mount. What I didn't realize was that he was trying to duo Anzu with a death knight buddy, and failing. He had a level 70 druid summon Anzu and then leave.

He and his death knight friend could not manage to beat Anzu down, and then the death knight left. Being the benevolent paladin that I am, I offered to come help, despite the fact that seconds earlier I found a gem-cutter and plopped down a decent tip for his services. He accepted, so I returned to Outland for the first time since I had landed on the shores of Northrend.

The hunter had solo'ed his way to Anzu using his gorilla pet, bosses and all. The room was clear, just him, the gorilla, and the big bad bird. I buffed the hunter and myself with Blessing of Might, and his gorilla with Blessing of Kings. I let the gorilla tank. With the help of Mend Pet, Judgement of Light, and Art of War-Flash of Light heals, the gorilla tanked fairly decently, dying only once. I blew my Lay on Hands, a mana potion, Divine Plea twice, Divine Shield, Blessing of Protection (on the hunter), AND my Avenging Wrath cooldown, but Anzu went down. Hard.

No raven mount, though.

We killed Ikiss for good measure and left. Boy that dude is easy at 80, even on heroic.

So yes, some level 70 heroics are solo-able. I may be able to finish that Outland-heroic dungeon achievement if I want without a group! But feh, I'd rather spend my time bopping swarms of skeletons on the head or cutting down swaths of Horde in Wintergrasp.

How Fail is Josh?

Josh is so fail, that when he was randomly jumping around in The Nexus while waiting for party members to return from various AFK's, he heroicly leapt sideways, as if avoiding an imaginary attacker! ... and fell off the bridge upon which he was jumping to his deep, dark doom.

Josh's excuse?

"I thought there was an invisible wall there!"

... you may commence with your mocking and laughter.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Fall and Reemergence of Kel'Thuzad

Since I was wondering how Blizzard decided to reintroduce Naxxramas into the game, I did a little research yesterday. Fair warning, there are quest spoilers ahead. If you haven't fully cleared out Dragonblight (specifically the Wintergarde Keep quests), I would recommend not reading below the line.


Still here? Okay, let's backtrack. Before the Burning Crusade and the re-opening of the Dark Portal, Kel'Thuzad posed the most imminent threat to Azeroth. From his floating citadel above the Eastern Plaguelands, the Lich King's lieutenant commanded the Scourge's forward forces in the Eastern Kingdoms, and was protected from attack by a cadre of the finest Scourge creations (or a freak show of Scourge abominations, depending on your viewpoint). When KT launched a full-scale invasion of Azeroth, sending necropoli to the major Alliance and Horde cities, the Argent Dawn said enough is enough. They teamed up with the Scarlet Crusade, formed the Brotherhood of the Light, and sent squadrons of the most elite combatants (read: player-controlled raiders) directly to Naxxramas, KT's headquarters above the burning streets of Stratholme.

After clearing out Naxx, defeating KT's pet frost wyrm Sapphiron, and then ultimately besting KT himself, a single raider amongst the victorious could take KT's phylactery and present it to the Brotherhood of the Light for disposal. Father Inigo Montoy of the Brotherhood happily accepts the phylactery, promising to deliver it to the Argent Dawn for proper handling.

That's the last you hear of Kel'Thuzad. Until now.

Upon fighting your way off the frozen shores of Borean Tundra and moving into the Dragonblight, you happen upon Star's Rest. It is in the surrounding area that you find something of great interest to a Kirin Tor commander at Star's Rest - at which point you are whisked on the fastest hippogryph they have to Wintergarde Keep, clear across the Dragonblight, to consult with the commander there. The 7th Legion, an elite fighting force comprised of veterans of all Azerothian wars from ages past, is in direct conflict with the Scourge here, desperately clinging to their stronghold around the main keep. Over the scourged farmlands, an eerily familiar necropolis hovers...

After assessing the situation at Wintergarde and speaking with the 7th Legion commander, you are sent on a series of quests to thwart the lich Thel'zan the Duskbringer, who commands the Scourge ground forces at Wintergarde. The culmination of these quests is a confrontation with Thel'zan himself. With a group of 7th Legion Elite at your back, you summon forth the lich - at which point he paralyzes you all in fear and starts talking trash. But, salvation comes in the form of Bolvar Fordragon, who rallies you and the Legion, and utters Thel'zan's true name - Father Inigo Montoy. The man whom accepted Kel'Thuzad's phylactery was a double agent for the Scourge, or at least was confronted and turned by the Lich King after accepting the phylactery. It's pretty safe to assume that the phylactery never made it into Argent Dawn hands.

This, my friends, explains a lot. It accounts for how Kel'Thuzad returned and brought Naxxramas to bear in the Dragonblight. It also partially explains why Highlord Fordring took time to hand-select each and every member of the Argent Crusade. To this point, I viewed the former as a plot hole in the Scourge storyline. I'm glad to see that Blizzard sewed that hole up with a bit of a twist.

I bet Father Montoy was originally a Scarlet Crusader. No right-minded member of the Dawn would fall to Arthas's corruption while clinging to life... would they?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Firstly, the new championing system for reputation is great. I can run any instance I want, wear the tabard associated with the reputation I want to grind, and voila! Free-form rep grinding.

Once I'm done grinding out my Wyrmrest, Kirin Tor, Ebon Blade, and Argent Crusade reputations, however, I'll need to pick a tabard to be my "main" tabard. Ever since I grabbed the [Tabard of the Argent Dawn] during the 40-man Naxx release event, and later on the [Tabard of the Protector] from the Burning Crusade release event, that tabard graphic has been displayed proudly across my chest.

But in Wrath of the Lich King, the Order of the Silver Hand and the Argent Dawn came together to form the aforementioned Argent Crusade. Lead by Tirion Fordring and being the chic new faction in the lawful, paladin-y genre, I feel the need to consider the switch.

I put a poll to the right about which tabard graphic I should wear - the Argent Dawn's white sun on black field, the Argent Crusade's more colorful update, or another tabard entirely? Your comments may decide what tabard my character wears!


It's respec, as in re-specialize. Not respect. I've seen countless people say that they need to go respect, and hearth to town to change their talents. To that I ask, when you go respect, do you salute the class trainer? Address them with a bevy of "sir, yes, sir" statements? Bow or kneel before the trainer?

When you change your talents, you respec. In verb form, you are respeccing. It's short for re-specializing. You have a talent spec. That is because your talent investment determines what your character's speciality is. For a paladin, if a heal-y paladin wants to start tanking, he is respeccing from holy to prot, because he is changing his talent specialty from healing-focused to tanking-focused.

Have I beaten this point to death yet? When you change your talents, you respec. There's no "t." Stop spelling it "respect."

What set me off? I saw the venerable BRK write it respect this morning, and if his readership catches onto that and the misinformation spreads through the WoW community, I might have an epic meltdown.

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, I feel a little better. Next task - trying to explain why "Scattered" by Green Day has been in my head for the past 3 days.

What's This Doing Here?

If you check my blog feeds at right, you'll notice a new addition. I was recently made aware of a fine enhancement shaman resource, Windfury Crits, written by Rich. Rich plays Stoneybaby, a Draenei enhancement shaman, and has been blogging about his shaman since before I established E4AE.

Windfury Crits has the same modus operandi as E4AE - provide answers, tips, and good ol' fashioned advice to enhancement shamans of all skill levels. I figured I'd give some link-love to our hybrid melee brothas from anotha motha. Plus, he's a New Yorker, and what's not to love about that? (For the uninformed, I live in New York too. Jeez, do I have to spell everything out for you guys?)

Anyway, if you have an interest in how enhancement shamans operate, give Rich's blog a read.

On a related note, Stop the Warrior not only stopped blogging 4 months ago, but he apparently deleted his blog too. Guess I'll need to find a new blog to keep up on the latest DPS warrior whisperings.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Retribution and Mana

I addressed this briefly in my 3.0 Ret FAQ, but the problem persists across the Warcraft universe. The issue came up briefly on Maintankadin, with notable MTadin moderator Lore weighing in with his experiences. Here's the exchange, from this thread:

Rasmfrackn: Picking up int is improving your dps. It has to be because Ret is apparently intended to be resource limited and making choices about what to spend its mana on. If the int comes cheaply enough, it's an improvement.
Lore: I've been mentioning this a lot lately: I spam consecrate on every fight. Exorcism too where I can. I push 3200 DPS raid buffed. I have only come close to running out of mana once or twice, and I have never come remotely close to running out of mana after popping a runic mana pot.
People, people, people. Please understand: if you're running out of mana, you're doing it wrong. What Lore said is the truth: there is no need to gear for Intellect! Here's a checklist of things to do to make sure you have enough mana to keep chugging along:
  • Bring mana potions.
  • Use Divine Please once you hit 70-75% mana and then every cooldown there-after.
  • Prioritize Judgement to make sure you get the JotW mana kick-back every chance you can.
  • Use Avenging Wrath every time the cooldown is up.
  • Gear yourself correctly so as to maximize your damage output (do enough damage and you'll hurt yourself more with SoB/SotM, get more mana from heals - get strength, hit, expertise, and crit. This is why you want to use wings every cooldown as well).
  • If you're desperate, bring Dark Runes or Demonic Runes.
If you do all that, you should be able to spam your abilities with reckless abandon. I want to see YouTube videos and WWS/Recount reports of people who do all that and can't sustain their rotation for a boss that doesn't have funky healing. I'm getting pretty darn tired of people anecdotally claiming that they can't keep their mana going without providing some materials to support their claim. The burden of proof is on you, disbelievers!

Wintergrasp is Concentrated Awesome

I haven't participated in a full one yet, but there are several things I like about it:

1. It encourages intra-realm PvP.
It's always a thrill to see a name you know in a battleground, but as Megan noted, Wintergrasp takes this to a whole new (old) level. One of my guildmates mentioned that so far on Tuesdays, a lot of the top raiding guilds on each faction rally their troops and head to Wintergrasp to seize control. When this happens, real rivalries develop. It's putting the world back in world PvP.
2. It means something.
If your faction controls Wintergrasp, it has a noticeable affect on the world. Your faction gets Stone Keeper Shards in instances, people gain more experience from kills, and you have the option to raid the Vault of Archavon. The first two are Northrend-wide effects. As far as previous "world PvP" iterations, they were local zone buffs. As for the Archavon-accessibility, the dude is a single boss encounter that drops t7 quality epics. Take that in - run Naxx for a few hours and get t7... pop into Archavon for 15 minutes and get t7... I'll take it!
3. It's not yo mama's PvP.
Destructable walls! Siege engines and gunners! And, lo and behold, occasionally organized strategy. In WSG, EotS, and AB, you couldn't really change the world around you at all. It was all "kill them other fools who be tryin' to do da bad ting!", but for the most part, it was just flag-tag. AV had a different slant with capturable strategic objectives, but at the heart of it, it was flag-tag with a PvE tank-and-spank boss encounter at the end. Wintergrasp though is an entirely different matter. Change is good.
4. Strategery beats superior numbers.
Yes I meant to spell it strategery. No I don't care if the real word is strategy. It isn't perfectly balanced yet, but because of the tenacity buff, one side can't (always) simply zerg with more people to win. There are tactical points on the map that really matter if you're holding, and there are choke-points, and foot soldiers protecting valuable siege engines... glorious!

The one thing I dislike? The end is just a frenzied zerg in the courtyard. I was literally standing there, Consecrating and Divine Storm'ing in a sea of names, hoping I killed things.

I'd definitely go back, though. Once I accomplish a few of my PvE goals, I'll be keeping an eye on the Wintergrasp timer and participating in a full one to get the "real" experience.


I hit 80 during the day on Sunday. I didn't even realize it at first. I was fully engrossed in some quest in Zul'Drak, working as a double agent under a Scourge guise for the Ebon Blade. I turned in a quest and an achievement flashed across my screen. At first I disregarded it... but then I was like, wait a tick, that quest wasn't anything of... HEY I'M 80!

I proceeded to do all of the following:

  • Run around and grab the tabards for Wyrmrest, Argent Crusade, and the Kirin Tor
  • Get in groups for 2 heroics and 2 other normal 80 instances
  • Do some more quests in Zul'Drak
  • Join in at a battle for Wintergrasp
  • Form a pick-up group for 10-man Archavon
  • Wipe due to terrible tanking at Archavon for a bit
  • Kill Archavon
I realized that either tier 6 was awesomely itemized or that I haven't hit the big show as far as quests yet, 'cuz I still haven't upgraded most of my gear. I've replaced one ring, one trinket, and my weapon (with a bloody terrible looking polearm, I might add). Things on my to-do list:
  • Put together a pre-raid gear wish-list
  • Quest in Storm Peaks and Icecrown once I've finished out Zul'Drak
  • Open up the Ebon Blade quartermaster
  • Run more heroics
  • Run Naxx-10
Now the real game begins. Hooray for reputation and gear grinding!
/rolls eyes

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wrath 3.0 - Ret Meta Gems Recalculated

At the behest of a comment by Saltycracker, I'm running the numbers again for the meta gems I compared yesterday. This time, I'm going to substitute the AP/stamina version of the purple gem instead of using the currently unavailable strength/stamina gem, and I'm also going to include Divine Strength in my calculations.

I'll also correct arithmetic mistakes I made when I re-run the numbers here, but since I don't want to go back and re-do my math on my previous post, your evidence that Josh can't do simple multiplication and addition at 11:30 at night after a 14 hour day will be preserved for all eternity. Or, at least, until the internet dies.

Here goes nothin' -

RED + 1 red + 1 orange + 1 purple
Base stats (boosted with Divine Strength and Kings) -> converted to melee ratings
24 strength (30.36) -> 60.72 attack power
21 agility (23.1) -> 20.4 crit rating
12 stamina (13.2)
16 attack power (16)
8 crit rating (8)

RED gem combination aggregate stats:
76.72 attack power
28.4 crit rating
13.2 stamina

CSD + 1 red + 2 purple
Base stats (boosted with Divine Strength and Kings) -> converted to melee ratings
16 strength (20.24) -> 40.48 attack power
24 stamina (26.4)
24 attack power
21 crit rating

CSD gem combination aggregate stats:
64.48 attack power
21 crit rating
26.4 stamina

Gains/losses from using RED over CSD as a meta, with associated gem requirements included:
+12.24 attack power
+7.4 crit rating
-13.2 stamina

So, kids, always remember. Josh is right. Josh is always right. And even when Josh is wrong, he's usually more right than he thought.

EDIT: Remember, though, if you're a jewelcrafter, all this analysis goes out the window. You can use prismatic "bold" gems to cover the CSD requirement, pushing the CSD ahead of the RED for jewelcrafters only.

Friday Mutterings

Consecration should do additional damage to undead/demons.

I want a charge-like ability where I either close the distance and bash something with my shield (if equipped), or lower my shoulder into a mob and knock it down/back.

Seal of the Martyr should have been named Seal of Sacrifice. It functions just like the Diablo 2 ability "Sacrifice."

I feel very conflicted about gearing/raiding. I'm an "all or nothing" sort of person, and the thought of entering raid-level instances without the ultimate goal of achieving the pinnacle of the raid game (defeating the hardest boss and maxing out my gear) seems... well, wrong (for me).

I'm not 80 yet, but all the same I'm very nervous about screwing up the Heigan dance when I do eventually step into Naxx. I never did it at 60, and never saw past the first boss in that wing at 70, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect or how to do it. I'm predicting I die on the first attempt.

I made salsa chicken Wednesday night. Chicken cutlet, baked for 40 minutes on 350 heat covered in pineapple salsa, served with white rice and sweet corn. It was good. I need to learn how to cook more than that and baked ziti/pasta dishes.

Questlines in Northrend are much more engaging than Outland. I think it's because every quest is dripping in Azerothian lore.

The Vrykul are creepy.

I'm getting some people saying that they can't find tanks for groups, and others saying there's a glut of tanks. Which is it? I can't tell if there's too many or not enough!

Dual-specs can't come soon enough.

I saw a forum post on Maintankadin entitled "Sometimes I wish I were unemployed..." There are times I wish the same, so I could play a little more. It was a struggle this week to find 2 hours to play. Damn my so-called "real life!"

Holiday gift giving is rushing up to hit me in the face like a brick wall. You realize there's 3 weeks until Christmas (and for us tribesmen out there, less than 3 weeks until Chanukah)? Holy crap, I need to jump on that.

Repentance with a 60-second duration in PvE is friggen' awesome.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wrath 3.0 - Ret Meta Gems

Several people have questioned my suggestion of the [Relentless Earthsiege Diamond] being the meta of choice for retribution, citing the [Chaotic Skyflare Diamond] as patently better.

Time for some napkin math. Hold on to your hats.

Assuming that the test subject is not a jewelcrafter and therefore does not have access to JC-only gems, let's take a look at the gem selection I will be using for this test.
[Bold Scarlet Ruby]
[Inscribed Monarch Topaz]
[Sovereign Twilight Opal]

Note that all gems in question are of the same item level, all have strength, and all are red-ish (red, orange, or purple). Please observe that at no time do my hands separate from my wrists, I have nothing up my sleeves, and there are no mirrors involved in the following mathematics. In addition, we need to know that ~46 crit rating = 1% crit, and ~52 agility = 1% crit.

To satisfy the RED's meta requirements, you will need at least 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 blue gem. To do that, we will be using 1 of each of the above non-meta gems and the RED, getting an aggregate stat allocation of:
32 strength
21 agility
8 crit rating
12 stamina

Boost the stats with Blessing of Kings and then convert the agility to crit rating, and you get a consolidated stat aggregation from RED + required gems of:
35.2 strength
28.5 crit rating (23.2 agility = ~.446% crit = ~20.5 crit rating)
14.2 stamina

Now, consider the Chaotic Skyflare and the same amount of gems. You need 2 purples to fulfill the "2 blue" requirement of CSD, so we'll take a sample of 1 red and 2 purple:
32 strength
21 crit rating
24 stamina

Boost it with Blessing of Kings, and you get:
35.2 strength
21 crit rating
26.4 stamina

So, the advantage of the RED is about 7.5 crit rating at the expense of stamina. The gap widens slightly with epic gems instead of rare gems, but I feel like I've performed enough mathematical magic for one evening.

For the jewelcrafters among us, the preceding math does not apply, as they can use a prismatic gem to fulfill one of the blue requirements, and therefore get more strength than either scenario, making jewelcrafting, as the kids would say, "total hax."

Until next time, this has been another episode of "Ret Math Revealed," with your host, Josh. Now if you'll excuse me, I've squandered a good half hour of my leveling time tonight doing arithmetic and algebraic calculations, I'm going to go grab my mace and smash some face.

Zebra, I know you beat me to this topic in the comments of the FAQ, but nyah, I'm posting this anyway.

The Wrath 3.0 Level 80 Pre-Raid Ret FAQ

I'm not kidding when I say there are people out there who still don't quite understand what the flux they're doing when it comes to retribution. So, here's a ret primer in FAQ format. Feel free to submit additional commonly asked questions in the comments, I'll add them and the answers as I deem fit.

Also, the title of this impossibly long, so in the future I'm referring to it as my "3.0 Ret FAQ." Hope none of you mind.

Talents and Skills
Q: How should I spec?
A: For PvE, 0/10/61. For PvP, 0/20/51 or something like that. See my level 80 spec guide for more "advanced" options. Take note - I'm not a PvP expert, so the PvP suggestion is my admittedly novice opinion.

Q: What seal should I use?
A: For PvE in raids, Seal of the Martyr or Seal of Blood, depending on your faction. Seal of Command is reserved for times when the kickback damage would kill you. For Burning Crusade veterans, an example would be Prince Malchezaar in Karazhan. For Wrath newbies, if you see your HP dropping dangerously low more than once or twice in an encounter, switch to Command and play it safe. Dead players do zero DPS.

For PvE solo or PvP, Seal of Command is your choice.

Q: What's my skill rotation?
A: Retribution doesn't have a set rotation like a rogue or a mage might. Retribution normal functioning is more akin to a shadow priest's priority skill system, keeping everything on cooldown as much as possible. Here's your priorities, with conditionals in parentheses:

Judgement > (Hammer of Wrath) > Crusader Strike > Divine Storm > Consecration > (Exorcism) > (Holy Wrath)

Hammer of Wrath is the most DPS after Judgement, hit it as soon as it comes up and keep doing so whenever possible, providing it doesn't interfere with Judgement. Judgement is a ton of damage and returns mana, keeping your resources flowing. Crusader Strike is more damage for less mana than Divine Storm, hence why it is ahead of Divine Storm. For AoE situations, this priority ranking changes, the above is for single target DPS. For multi-target, emphasize Divine Storm and Consecration.

Q: What blessings do I want?
A: Might > Kings > Wisdom > Sanctuary

Gear, Enchants, and Glyphs
Q: How should I gear?
A: Strength first and foremost. Strength increases all of your DPS abilities and scales the best out of all stats for ret paladins. Stack as much as you can. For raiding, you want to aim to stack hit as well, to about 262 rating (which will yield 8% hit, the most needed for hitting a raid-level boss), and expertise to 26 skill to eliminate dodges. Past that, crit is great, and then haste and armor penetration can come as they may. In list format:

  1. Strength
  2. Hit (to 8%, or ~262 rating)
  3. Expertise (to 6.5%, or ~214 rating before racials - get to 26 expertise skill)
  4. Crit (or equal amounts of Agility)
  5. Haste
  6. Armor Penetration
Go forth and gear up.

Q: What major glyphs should I use?
A: Glyph of Judgement and Glyph of Consecration for sure. For the 3rd major glyph spot, take your pick of Glyph of Avenging Wrath, Glyph of Hammer of Wrath, and Glyph of Crusader Strike. For further discussion on glyphs, see my post on examining retribution glyph options.

Q: What minor glyphs should I use?
A: As long as you include Glyph of Sense Undead as one of them, it doesn't matter. I recommend using Glyph of Lay on Hands in one of your other minor slots.

Q: What enchants should I get?
A: Enchant for AP. Certain enchants, like Icewalker to boots, are exceptions, but for the most part, spring for AP. AP to bracers and gloves, Arcanum of Torment, Icescale Leg Armor, etc.

Q: What about my weapon, how should I enchant that?
A: If you've got the cash, Berserking. If not, Massacre or Greater Savagery, depending on how much you're looking to spend.

Q: How should I socket my gear?
A: Meta = Relentless Earthsiege Diamond. Past that, fulfill the meta requirements with orange/purple gems that contain strength, and then stack strength. If you don't have a bunch of bold red gems, you did it wrong. As of the latest version of this FAQ, the best gems you can use are the above meta, one Sovereign Twilight Opal for the blue requirement, one Inscribed Monarch Topaz for the yellow requirement, and as many Bold Scarlet Ruby as money can buy.
If you have an Enchanted Tear, you may use the RED, Tear, and socket Bold Scarlet Ruby in the rest of your slots.
*Please note* - the meta gem recommendation above does not apply to Jewelcrafters. Their prismatic gems allow them to use a different meta to greater effect. For further discussion, see my post on meta gems.

Q: Should I stack spell power/intellect/(insert caster stat here)?
A: No. Stick to the melee DPS plate. On occasion, you can branch out into the hunter mail or the rogue leather. Don't you dare put on that elemental shaman mail. I will find you and beat the sense back into you.

Q: Should I use weapon A or weapon B?
A: Whichever one has the higher DPS, unless there is a huge difference in damage range. If the DPS is the same, pick the one with the higher top damage. For example, The Jawbone has the same DPS and a higher top damage than Death's Bite, therefore pick The Jawbone if you're choosing between the two (discounting their other stats).

Miscellaneous Questions
Q: I'm running out of mana, what should I do?
A: First step is make sure you're using Divine Plea on every cooldown. Second step is to ensure that your Judgements are not missing by having a good amount of +hit. Third step is use a mana potion. Fourth step is to cut back on Consecration if you're spamming it. Past that, if you're still running low on mana, you're doing something wrong. Parse your damage on an encounter with Recount (I recommend Patchwerk in Naxx as a good test subject), screenshot the skill split, and seek professional help.

Q: What consumables should I use for raiding?
A: Dragonfin Filet, Flask of Endless Rage. Runic Mana Potion if you are worried about mana, Potion of Speed if you are not.

Q: Is sword/board retribution viable?
A: Not if you want to keep up with the rogues. Get a two-hander and smash something with it.

Q: Are there tools out there to help me make gear choices?
A: There sure are. Rawr and Redcape's Ret DPS Spreadsheet are here to help. You can find both in the EJ Wrath Ret Thread.

Q: How'd you get so smart, Josh?
A: By frequenting forums and think-tanks like Elitist Jerks, Maintankadin, and Retpaladin.com.

Change log:

  • Edited the section on skill rotation, moving Consecration up in the cycle.
  • Updated the gearing section to reflect the correct and most up-to-date information regarding the hit and expertise caps.
  • Added Greater Savagery to the gearing section as a budget enchant recommendation.
  • Added additional commentary on meta gems and general gemming to the gearing section.


  • Edited the gear section, changing the recommendations for enchants from strength to AP (since there are no WotLK strength enchants - thanks Fedaykin98 for the heads-up!).


  • Edited the glyphs section, swapping the prioritization of Glyph of Consecration with Glyph of Crusader Strike. Major glyphs for ret should be Glyph of Judgement, Glyph of Consecration, and then either Glyph of Hammer of Wrath, Glyph of Crusader Strike, or Glyph of Avenging Wrath.


  • Edited the gems section to account for the inclusion of Inscribed Monarch Topaz and Sovereign Twilight Opal in the game.


  • Edited the weapon enchant section to account for the update to Berserking (now 5% armor reduction instead of 25%).
  • Added Enchanted Tear to the gems section.
  • Added additional clarification for glyphs.
  • Added additional clarification for weapon choices.


  • Clarified language regarding Hammer of Wrath prioritization.
  • Made changes to the gem section to account for Enchanted Tear's prismatic nature.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hump Day Mutterings

Axes are unrefined. I've never equipped a one-handed axe, and I actively avoid two-handed axes, even if they're slight upgrades in spite of my sword/mace expertise racials.

Blizzard needs to vary paladin vocabulary. Sacred, Divine, Crusader, Vengeance, and Righteous are appropriate, but too small of a word pool.

Sometimes I wish WoW had collision mechanics.

If I had to pick one class of weapon to use for-ever more, it'd be maces.

I like the Lightbringer armor skin. Possibly even more than I liked the Judgement armor skin.

If I ever get the name Baelor back for my character, I might jump for joy. The confusion being sown on forums is noticeable.

I hope that the Ashbringer and Frostmourne never become lootable items. Same goes for Uther's hammer (if it is ever located) and most other major lore-heavy items. On a related note, I want my Sulfuras to be usable, gorramit! I worked hard for that thing and now there are one-handed weapons with nearly double its DPS.

Knight Cathmor, or Cathmor the Argent Champion? I'm probably sticking with Knight.

I am not looking forward to engaging in the level 80 gear grind.

Is GRRM ever going to publish A Dance with Dragons? I've been waiting forever. Maybe I should read the Hedge Knight - Dunk & Egg stories to tide me over. I need more tales of knights and sword fights and medieval political intrigue.

I haven't tried out the barbershop in WoW yet. I like my paladin's haircut - do I dare test it out?

Are any of the engineering armor attachments worth making and using over regular enchants for raiding? Or is it all just novelty stuff with situational or limited application?

What libram do I want to use for retribution at 80?

Will I be able to find 5-man heroic groups at 80 as ret, or will I need to keep my tank/healer gear on stand-by at all times?

Do I want to engage in arenas at 80 aside from acquiring useful gear for PvE? I've never been a great arena player, and I only occasionally engage in battlegrounds.

I want to kill the Horde factional leaders. I wonder how much effort a city raid would be to organize.

Do I care about achievements at all? I have absolutely no motivation to complete most of them other than to say "hey look at me I have proof I did stuff."

Does this blog accomplish anything other than giving me an outlet to ramble for pages upon pages about Warcraft?

Is this a good place to end this post?

The Mailbag - Ret Stats

Andrew writes:

Been following your blog for a little while. Levelled to 70 mostly as retri but then raided as holy, have now switched back to retri. My understanding from your blogs was that I needed to try and get +hit and + AP, during last month prior to expansion picked up a few pieces as offspec drops and from badges.

Now slowly levelling in Northrend. Slightly confused by which items to take. Very few have +hit. Strength/AP comparisons are easy. But lots of items have either +crit, +expertise, +armour penetration. I have just started using RAWR to do item comparison but its not ideal, as trying to find the item you are looking at on the list can take lots of scanning, sometimes not there. How do you compare, +strength/AP/hit/crit/expertise/armour penetration? I used to have a basic formula in holy comparing intellect/Mp5/SP, do you have one for retri stats? +10strenght=+19AP=+3hit=+6crit for example?
Unfortunately, I have not found an exact equation for ret stat comparison yet. The only precise numberrs I have for people are the basics on strength and AP. For the hell of it, here's the comparison:
+10 strength, after Divine Strength and Blessing of Kings, will become 12.65 strength. That converts to 25.3 AP.
So, for the purposes of gearing, 10 STR = 25.3 AP with BoKings (23 AP without BoKings).

For leveling, ignore your hit. Most mobs you face will be at-level, which means you'll just have the 5% miss-rate and mostly short encounters to deal with. For raid zones at 80, hit becomes a bit more valuable, but it has not conclusively been said by theorycrafters over at EJ just yet that hit to cap is top priority. Some spreadsheets and evaluation methods are claiming that strength scales damage quicker than hit at all times, even when un-capped.

What is absolutely sure, however, is that missing with a Judgement is bad times. You want to aim for hit cap if only to make sure you always land Judgement, as hitting with that ability ensures the mana refund from Judgements of the Wise and keeps the resources flowing.

So, in conclusion, here's what I think you should be aiming for -
Strength and Crit while leveling
Hit to cap for raids
Once hit capped, Strength > Crit > Expertise to dodge-cap > Armor Pen/Haste

It's not fool-proof, and it probably isn't exactly what everyone thinks the priorities should be, but it's a sound way to go about it that no one will call you an idiot for.

This is all assuming you aim to play in a raid environment. If your goal is heroics, things shift around a little.

My plan is probably going to end up being as follows: "When in doubt, wear the higher iLvl gear!" I'll download the latest Rawr eventually to figure out what's really best, the projections of that program are usually top notch.

6 Ways WoW is Worse Than Real Life

I came across an article on Cracked with the title "6 Ways World of Warcraft is Worse Than Real Life." Fair warning, the content covered is not always safe for work, so read at your own risk. The article is very negative but very funny. It also linked this animated guild application, which was and still is a feat of awesome.

One of my favorite quotes from the article was this, on how WoW is like job-hunting:

You know how during your first month in prison you want to find a gang to join, so somebody's got your back in case you get shanked in the yard? Well in World of Warcraft those gangs are called guilds.
Yea, they went there.

It's not ret-related, but it's still a good laugh.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Talents Make the Man

And if that's true, then when dual-spec options become active, I'm going to be one confused calamity of talent choices.

The results of my informal poll last week on how to use my "off-spec":
47% of voters felt I should spec PvE Prot
31% of voters felt I should spec PvE Holy
18% of voters felt I should spec PvP Ret
2% of voters felt I should use my 2nd spec in a different fashion all-together.

For the curious and the judgmental, here are my intended off-spec choices in talent-tree format:
PvE Prot
PvE Holy
PvP Ret

This is all in addition to my level 80 ret spec, which will either be 0/10/61 or 0/6/65, depending on whether I'm feeling giving or greedy.

I'm not level 80 yet, though, and dual-specs aren't live, so all of this is purely thought exercise.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Glyph, Gaffe, Goof

For posterity, my preferred major glyph set up for raiding for all three paladin specs:

[Glyph of Judgement]
[Glyph of Seal of Command]
[Glyph of Crusader Strike]

[Glyph of Judgement]
[Glyph of Seal of Vengeance]
[Glyph of Righteous Defense]

[Glyph of Judgement]
[Glyph of Seal of Light]
[Glyph of Holy Light]

This is for PvE raiding, not PvP or solo'ing. For the ret choices, I have a hang-up. I didn't want to take the Seal of Command glyph, as I'll likely use Seal of the Martyr in a raid situation, however, I love using Seal of Command. Okay, let me rephrase. I've grown attached to Seal of Command. The idea of hurting myself every time I swing or Judge seems silly, which makes SotM a turn-off.

Plus, there aren't a ton of glyphs out there that are immediately useful to retribution. [Glyph of Turn Evil]? Very situational. [Glyph of Avenging Wrath]? Hammer of Wrath is fairly awesome, I guess that'd be a decent choice... [Glyph of Seal of Blood]? Going from 10 to 11% mana return on Spiritual Attunement isn't all that exciting.

I dunno, I guess I'll eventually wrench my SoComm glyph out of there if I start raiding regularly and replace with that AW-HoW glyph. That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

It Feels Like I Cheated Somehow

I'm halfway through level 76, and I have only quested in Borean Tundra, Howling Fjord, and Dragonblight.

Okay, so I did instance-quests in Zul'Drak. And I did do about 5-10 instance runs combined in Utgarde Keep, The Nexus, and the spider instances in Dragonblight.

But still - almost have my flying mount back, and I've got the majority of Northrend left to explore! I haven't done much of anything in Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin, Zul'Drak, Crystalsong Forest, Icecrown, or The Storm Peaks. That's a lot of content left to explore! Plus heroics, and Naxx-10... man, I've got a long road ahead. Hopefully having my gyrocopter won't spoil the exploration fun factor.

I should be level 77 by the end of the week, at which point I'll have all the DPS-increasing talents all finished up on my talent tree (1 more point into the haste-increase to ret aura to go!). I know tons of people have dinged 80, I'm slow. I'll get there.

My one gripe to this point: the lack of exciting new skills for retribution. I'm not talking about talents - all three specs got a shiny new 51-pointer that they can add to their hotbars somewhere. I'm talking about skills. You know, like Avenging Wrath and such. Holy will get Sacred Shield at 80, which I know can be used by everyone, but it's more of a damage prevention thing, not an offensive or utility thing. Protection gets Shield of Righteousness, which is purely a tanking thing. Retribution gets zilch, nada, nothing. New ranks of Blessing of Might and Retribution Aura, that's really it.

And don't come at with me with the "oh but ret paladins have a new lease on life! Totally reworked talent tree and new Judgement system and..." bla bla bla SHUT IT. Everything that Blizzard did to redesign the talent trees and combat system for paladins was more along the lines of bug fixing. They had a flawed process and they reengineered it. Fixing something is not the same as enhancing something. The other paladin paradigms - healer and tank - got new tools beyond their new talents. I guess I feel ret was left out on that front.

Okay, done ranting. Hope everyone is having fun swinging mace and smashing face!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dual-Spec Indecision

The votes have been tallied from the last poll - 60% of you think that ret is a-ok how it is, and another 25% think that ret is underpowered. Interesting. On to the next topic!

Free talent swaps between two preordained talent specs are not yet available. That doesn't stop me from wondering what I'd be better off doing for my off-spec.

So far in Northrend I'm having a jolly good time going up to things and going Crusader Strike, Judgement, DIVINE STORM!, dead mob. I'm fairly unstoppable. The new Repentance is awesome, Art of War and Sheath of Light are amazing, and I can't wait to get some more talents so that I can grab Divine Purpose and be pretty much unstunnable too. Prot paladin AoE my eye, Divine Storm with wings works pretty well too!

But every time I end up instancing (Utgarde and Nexus, so far), guild or PuG, the group needs a tank. So I sigh inwardly, hearth to a bank, slap on my tanking gear, and then trudge back out to the instance zone. In several instances runs, I haven't once DPS'ed a run. DPS is a dime a dozen.

On the flip side, there's not a ton of healers available for runs either. For one Nexus run, the group had to wrench a priest's arm to heal it instead of questing.

So I've been rethinking my initial impression for dual-speccing. At first I was like "sweet! PvE main, PvP off, bing bang boom!" But now... if I want to PuG instances and do 5-mans, I might have to focus on building my tanking and/or healing set. Which one should I focus on, though? After I shore up my ret set, should I turn to my protection set, or my holy set?

What's everyone's feel out there for group needs? Do groups consistently lack a tank, or is finding a healer more of a problem? I always want to smash stuff first, but I'm ambivalent as to healing or tanking, since I haven't tried out the new holy talents like Bacon Beacon of Light and Judgements of the Pure. Nor have I had a chance to play around with Holy Shield Slam Shield of Righteousness.

Off-spec PvP ret, PvE prot, or PvE holy?

Friday, November 21, 2008

D'oh, Divine Plea

So I logged in last night to do a bit of questing in Dragonblight (ding 73!). I did all of the following...

  • Killed a giant crab
  • Battled to the death underwater with an enormous shark
  • Went cliff-diving at the command of Lurker-type being
  • Had an out-of-body experience
  • Spoke to a large slab of rock
  • Slaughtered hordes of Nerubians and cultists
  • Thwarted the efforts of the Blue Dragonflight
  • Met Alexstrasza and her "consort" (which, to me, is another word for love slave)
  • Aided the Red Dragonflight in putting their dead to rest
  • Reported for duty at Fordragon Hold
  • Saw the Wrath Gate
  • Solo'ed a level 74 elite with 3 other level 72 mobs beating on me (which I did because, well, I can.)

Through all of this, however, I actually had to drink once or twice because I was trying to do too much at once.

But wait! I forgot about one little joy of an ability... Divine Plea. Instead of stopping to drink, I should have been popping Divine Plea every minute or so to replenish my mana.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Yea, About End Game...

... I'm not going to get there for a while. My leveling process is going to be gruelingly, painfully, excruciatingly slow. In fact, I haven't even looked up what hit rating/expertise goal a ret paladin should aim for in a raid setting.

What I can tell you is this: I will keep you up to date on where to look for this information (EJ is a great place to start), and I will bring my own special retributive slant to the table once I catch up.

For the time being, though, you're going to get sarcastic commentary, gushing reviews of undead slaughtering, and mindless babbling about engineering toys while my paladin does strategic questing strikes in Northrend from his new home base of Dalaran. Apologies ahead of time for not being able to be your numero uno for raiding in WotLK!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why I Like Kerry Collins

Okay, so the guy threw 4 interceptions in the 2001 Super Bowl to kill the Giants. His on-field decision-making has been suspect. His off-field choices have been historically terrible.

But, as Rick Reilly notes, he always owns up to it. The man deserves our respect and admiration.

He's leading the Tennessee Titans to glory this year, and I can't think of another QB in the league who is more deserving of an undefeated record thus far.

How does this relate to paladins? Glad you asked. I want all of your honest opinions. Just like Kerry stood at the podium after the '01 Super Bowl and told the world that he plain sucked that game, I want all of you to own up to the current paladin state. Are ret paladins overpowered? Are ret paladins underpowered?

This is not where I state a case on the official forums, imploring Ghostcrawler to re-tool the paladin class because of X Y and Z factors pointing to paladins sucking and needing help. Nor is it where I use those reasons to debunk a "NERF PALADINZ" call from Joe Six-Alt or Jane the Shaman. Nor still is it when I bemoan the OP-ness of the class and tell the devs that they clearly don't know how to design balanced classes.

This is where I want the true, honest, and open opinion of paladins of all gear levels to fess up and tell me - where are we at? I've got my own opinion, the public has an opinion. The devs' opinion is a leaf on the wind.

There's a poll to be found along the right side of this blog. Let me know how you feel. Leave some lovin' in the comments if you'd like to elaborate.

Why Wasn't I Informed?

Ferraro recently was added to the front-page blog team of Slayton's Retpaladin.com. Ferraro has been blogging about paladins in general since at least mid-2007, and has pretty good insight into the paladin class on the whole.

I just wanted to give you all the heads-up that I added it to my blogroll. You can also find exclusive content from her interspersed with Slayton and Megaphone on the Retpaladin.com front page.

Her content is mostly opinion and commentary with a healthy dash of sarcasm and humor. If you're looking for another paladin perspective, check 'er out.

My question is why wasn't I reading her blog previously...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Guild Leading and Raiding

This is meant as an open letter to Honorshammer in response to his recent guild indecision.

Starting a guild from scratch is no small thing. Even if your aim is to do 5 and 10 mans on a casual basis, it still requires time, commitment, dedication, patience, goal-setting, calendar management, and a whole host of other issues to be considered. If you ratchet up the aim, the requirements in terms of intensity go up in orders of magnitude.

What I'm trying to say is that for any raiding guild, no matter the bond type between the members, will require huge commitment from the guild master (GM). It becomes a full time job, and may turn things once enjoyed into a chore. Unless the guild is run in a council-type fashion, everything falls to the GM for final resolution. Recruiting is a non-stop function that will initially be entirely on the GM. Raid leading (especially from a main tank spot, take note Honors and all you protection/feral/DK tanks) is stressful and requires discipline, tactical thinking, ability to recognize successful and failsauce strategy from limited data, and most of all, determination. Managing a loot system is tedious and causes friction - it is always a point of contention in any guild. A night off for the GM is almost as a rare as a night off for the main tank. Most of all, raid times for the GM get extended an hour in both directions - Auzara, Sydera/Matticus and many other guild leaders can tell you that there are always questions, concerns, and issues to be resolved/addressed before and after the raid.

The decision to start a guild from scratch should not be taken lightly. I bumbled into it myself and it burnt me out. Recruiting was a constant thorn - people are reluctant to transfer unless the guild has a proven track record, and there are a lot of people out there who plain suck at their class. There was dissention about the loot system. Members took shots at other members regarding their raiding ability. Personal complaints all came to me. Website and Ventrilo server issues were all brought to my attention. Deciding who raided and who didn't each night, whether I made the decision or not, brought the consequences to my doorstep. It was a non-stop barrage of questions, concerns, complaints, officer conferences, and the occasional compliment.

Unless you start with an infrastructure in place (designated raid leader, officers for recruitment, officer for loot tracking, website admin, etc.), the process of building that infrastructure in the course of building the guild is an even more daunting task. The identification, selection, and in some cases, coercion of appropriate people to take on these roles is an important step in building an efficient, effective guild/raid squad, and it requires time and patience for the right people to come along (or the cultivation of talent, which requires the GM to have the talent to impart the right skills/tools).

Going back to the raid leading point: guiding a raid from a melee position is incredibly more difficult than from a ranged position. Melee tend to see an up-close view of a boss's crotch/ass and do not get a good overview of the encounter. For tanks especially, there is so much attention to personal space, personal positioning, cooldowns, and upcoming boss abilities that cause peril/impending doom, that it takes an incredibly savvy tank to be able to pay close attention to all of those and what the raid as a whole is doing/should be doing. Delegating the raid leader position to someone else also colors the guild in unintended ways - the raid leader's demeanor can draw people or turn people away from your guild that may otherwise have had a different opinion, no matter what the charter says. The raid leader gives the raid and by proxy the guild a definable character.

Summing it up
Unless you feel you can handle a full-time job on top of whatever you do during the day, and have an unwavering commitment to seeing a vision through despite tons of trials and tribulations, unforseen hardships, recruiting issues, guild defections, drama, and inevitable loot system problems, guild leading is not a good thing to take on. However, it is incredibly rewarding if you can move the planets, get the stars to align, and make it work. The highs are high, but the lows can make you want to cut your losses and /gdisband. Of course, this could be me being all emo about it, but boy, I do not wish the burden of guild leadership upon my closest friends.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Shakespeare, "Henry IV," Act II

Aside to Honors - if you do make your own guild, buddy, don't be the raid leader and the main tank. Delegate the raid leading to a trusted individual. Believe me, doing both is folly. I can elaborate if you like.

EDIT: An addendum to the above. To all those who wish there was a guild out there that cultivates the sort of environment they are seeking - there usually is. Building a guild should be done only if your aim is to build a guild, not to be in the right sort of raid environment. There are a ton of guilds out there that have established charters, stable membership, track records, and infrastructure in place. If you aren't averse to transferring, they can be found on an assortment of WoW-related websites, notably the official forums recruiting section.

TL;DR - If you establish a guild, do it for the right reasons. Do it because you want to establish a guild and lead a group, not because you want to find that ideal environment. It's much less effort to troll the recruiting forums/sites than it is to build a guild from the ground up, and the end result is less responsibility and more fun for the rank-and-file raider in the former situation.

The Battle for Wintergarde

I want to join the ranks of the 7th Legion. I loved the quests at Wintergarde Keep. I really felt like the battle for Wintergarde was tense and developed. There was quest variety, vehicle usage, recognizable NPC's from quests/locations past, and best of all, tons of undead to slaughter.

I don't know why, but I was entranced by the constantly respawning mindless mobs of zombies that rose up from the ground to the south of Wintergarde, I think in the Dawn's Reach area. At one point I held my mace high as I waded into the thick of things, Divine Storm'ing and whacking each zombie until I ran out of mana. They just kept coming!

I hate leveling, but I love doing quests that call for the thwarting of the Scourge. This expansion is paladin heaven so far.

What has your experience been to date? Love it? Hate it? Wish to marry it? Hope it burns in the fiery pits of hell?

I'm (I think) about a quarter to a third done with Dragonblight. I did just about all of Borean Tundra, and I'm debating whether to do the Howling Fjord after I do some more Dragonblight, or to move on to whatever is supposed to come after Dragonblight. Most of all, though, I wish I had more time to play. There are level 80's out there, and I'm about 5% short of 73 right now...

Damn this whole "real life" thing. Damn it to heck.

EDIT: Yea, I know my last post said I was taking it slow. But that was just my justification to fake myself into thinking it was cool to take my time. I really want to go faster and still soak in the lore at the same time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Come From the Land of Ice and Snow

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!
-Led Zepplin, "Immigrant Song"
Northrend doesn't stand a chance.

I'm taking it slow in the frozen north, trying to pace myself so I
a) don't fail out of my master's program
b) don't give myself Carpal Tunnel
c) actually soak up the lore leading up to max level; and
d) let the crazy people get ahead of me and I can quest in peace.

I've been time-sharing my paladin and my death knight. So far my paladin is about 60% of the way to 71 and has completed a good portion of Borean Tundra (I think a good portion? I can't tell how many quests there are to be done). I just stumbled upon the D.E.H.T.A quest hub, and I'm supposed to go to Amber Ledge and Fizzcrank's Airstrip next.

On the flip side, I started a death knight - a red-haired pale Dwarf named Tytos. Yes, I stole the name Tytos from GRRM's ASoIaF series. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look back at any post where I ramble about naming my characters, you'll get it. None of the names I wanted for him were available, so I resorted to a cool-sounding one. Plus, the GM's wouldn't let me steal Baelor back from whatever good-for-nothing Horde is holding it on a bank character, so I couldn't rename my paladin and then just use Cathmor for my DK. Phooey.

The death knight starting experience thus far is pretty cool. Seeing a lot of the Naxx bosses milling around as interactable characters is great, as are the first few quests. So far, my DK hasn't leveled, but he has his charger, a PvP trinket, a few talent points (which I invested in the blood tree, because life leech is awesome. Second choice would be unholy), and is enjoying slaughtering Havenshire. The playstyle is sort of button-mashy - it plays like a quick-fire arcade fighter like Street Fighter. You need to think one move ahead constantly and plan out your attack sequence, and the next attack needs to come quick. Might change down the road as I get more abilities/talents, but that's my initial impression.

My paladin is quite overpowered in the early Northrend experience. He is 2 or 3-shotting just about everything, doesn't run out of mana if I take things one or two mobs at a time, and absolutely wrecks level 72 elites by himself. I probably could have solo'ed the culmination of the quest line in En'kilah if I wanted to (it's marked as a 3-man group quest). Of course, he is in tier 6+ gear, so his stats are probably the equivalent of a level 76 paladin at this point. Can't wait to advance further in the quest lore and see the Wrath gate cinematic!

And if I hadn't mentioned it before, the holy trinity of Art of War, Sheath of Light, and Judgements of the Wise is f*ckin win.

Lastly, the new engineering stuff is drool-worthy. I don't care if it isn't powerful in the end-game, I want it. Has anyone seen the [Gnomish Army Knife]? Or the [Flexweave Underlay]? Or the belt-clipped spynoculars, which give you the effects of goggles without having to wear goggles? Or the nitro-boosts for boots? I'm especially psyched about the army knife. I'll be able to ditch my half a bag's worth of engineering tools and just carry that! Must have the precious...

Anyway, that's where I'm at. How's your Wrath experience going? Smashing face and taking names? Getting pwned by queue's and quest cluster-f*cks? Rerollin' DK? Quit for Warhammer? Eating pie?

This weekend is sure to be filled with quests and kills. Check back next week for another episode of Adventures in Azeroth: The Travels of Cathmor!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cue Fanboy-ism

I've known about this for a while, but it hasn't been officially announced by other sources, so I kept my feelings/girlish screams of joy to myself.

HBO has ordered a pilot for George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series.

If you've listened to anything I've said regarding my character naming scheme, you might have an idea as to how much I like the series. And to wit, I'm not an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader.

I once sat with a friend and brainstormed what a cast for a major feature about the series would look like. We had a listing of actors/actresses we would love to see play some of the prominent characters.

I've frequently wandered into book stores to check and see if they had heard anything about the release of the next book in the series. The next book is the one and only new book I want to read for pleasure at the moment.

I've been contemplating re-reading all 5,000 pages or so of the series to date, just to make sure it stays fresh.

Needless to say, I am going to be watching this development intently.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Regret and Wanderlust

With names for a death knight alt bouncing in my head all day, my biggest regret in Warcraft has come rushing back.

I wish my paladin were still named Baelor. I have half a mind to contact a GM about getting this done. I'm pretty sure the last time I checked, Baelor was the name of a lowbie inactive Horde character on Malfurion.

There's also the possibility of transferring to a PvP server and reclaiming the name that way, along with a little more open world PvP. I don't know if I can endure another server migration though. I've established myself (again, after becoming a stalwart member of the Runetotem community) on Malfurion. People know me. People I don't know wave to me. I get random tells asking me to come to instances because people know of my ability. I'm on good terms with most everyone on the Alliance-side in raiding guilds. And despite my not being able to raid regularly, I'm a member of a great guild filled with members who a) care about each other, b) are fairly skilled, c) like me, and d) would welcome me with open arms into any instance quest group.

The thought of transferring elsewhere doesn't have a lot of pluses, but it persists nonetheless. It was accentuated today by the realization that I will never run into a few of the people I converse with on a variety of forums because they are on different battlegroups and servers. This happened after a (staged) heated exchange between myself and Splug, of Illidan server. It was silly, but I really wished I could log in and meet him in one on one combat, just for kicks.

Why do I feel the need to explore another server?

What's In A Name?

I totally forgot to reserve a name for my inevitable death knight alt on Cathmor's server. Problem #1 - I take forever to pick names, since they need to both fit the character and be something I like, otherwise I loathe playing the character. Problem #2 - A lot of the names I gravitate toward (names lifted out of George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series) have been used all ready.

So, first thing's first. This death knight will be an Alliance slave for Cathmor, being an herbalist/skinner so that I have all 3 gathering professions covered. Screw crafting, the gear is usually equal to drops anyway. BUT, what race should I pick? The character will be male, I don't gender bend.

Choice #1: Draenei, Dwarf, Gnome, Human, or Night Elf?

Secondly, the name. My first thought was to choose the name Beric, for Beric Dondarrion, a character in Martin's books who has died and been revived several times. Alternately, I could name the character Dondarrion.

Next thought would be Coldhands, another character from Martin's book. Presumed to be the resurrected body of a former ranger, here's the first description of the character from the book (from A Storm of Swords, page 536):

"Brother!" The shout cut through the night, though the shrieks of a thousand ravens. Beneath the trees, a man muggled head to heels in mottled blacks and grays sat astride an elk. "Here," the rider called. A hood shadowed his face.

...The rider wore no glove. His hand was black and cold, with fingers as hard as stone.
Another descriptor, from the same book (page 635):
He wore blacks, like a brother of the Watch, but he was pale as a wight, with hands so cold that at first I was afraid.
That, to me, is a good image of a dead man risen and roaming the world.

Of course, my theme of name also needs to be refined. Do I go with a name of a character that could be construed as a living being, a given name? Or do I pick a name that is more descriptive, like Coldhands?

Choice #2: Given name, or descriptive name?

And, once that is decided, I need to delve further and actually pick a name that is not totally unfitting of the chosen race. Beric would fit for a human or dwarf, but not for a night elf. It might work for a draenei or gnome. Coldhands would fit for any of them.

And, the ultimate problem, I don't know what's still available on my server.

Does anyone have thoughts on how I should proceed? What race do I pick? What type of name do I choose? Yar, too many choices...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Add-on Spotlight: Quartz

Quartz is a lovely little bundle of joy originating from the Ace2 suite of mods. For me, Quartz has two major functions that I make full use of.

First, Quartz will replace the Blizzard base UI for casting bars. The Quartz replacements can be moved around the screen and placed where you like them, and your personal casting bar even has a latency estimation built in. If you're looking to chain cast, starting a cast once you've entered the "latency" portion of your cast will give you that extra bit of throughput. Verra nize, no?

Second, Quartz supplies a swing timer. Swing timers are important. In PvP, keeping an eye on your swing timer will allow you to deliver maximum burst. Laying into someone with your cooldowns just before and right after an auto-attack (centering your skill usage around your next auto-attack, so to speak) gives the opponent the least amount of time to react, as Megs so dubiously pointed out yesterday. Speaking of that, Megs stop giving away trade secrets!

Quartz also has several other goodies in its bag of tricks, like debuff timers for yourself and your target that can be moved around the screen. It's also fairly lightweight for an add-on. I give Quartz the E4AE Seal of Approval!

Please note: no seals were clubbed in the making of this blog post.