Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Raiding / A Little Questing

I've continued to make good progress over the last week on my various alts and managed to get in a little raiding over the weekend - and on my warlock rather than my healer no less!

I did a guild run on Friday night and we managed to get past the first wing. For many of you, I know that's like saying I managed to put all my clothes on right side out today. But for my guild, we almost never get past Saurfang. So Friday was a pretty huge accomplishment. We then lost one of our tanks after one wipe on Festergut, so it was pretty much over from there, but it was still a huge accomplishment.

My dps was decent, which I was happy with given that I'm not yet quite fully geared in Joar. I did manage to pick up the Ashen Verdict ring, a Frost Emblem belt and a nice honor trinket. Also picked up the off-hand from Heroic Halls of Reflection the next day, so good old Joar is doing pretty well.

On the leveling front, I spent a lot of time working on the rogue. My big plan for last weekend, besides raiding, was to get the rogue out of Azeroth once and for all. And I finally managed to get there early Sunday morning. So the last of my remaining four toons is now off to Outland, and I was back to the Shadow Priest.

I continue to be very pleased with how solid the Shadow Priest performs for leveling. I managed to hit level 66 on him yesterday, and he's now about a level and a half from being the first of the "final four" to hit Northrend. We'll see if I'm able to push him over the line into Warsong Hold. Because of all of the health restoration and mana regen features of the shadow build, I have almost no downtime at all. I can pull quite a few mobs with ease, dot them all up, and then just wait for them to die. I always have the bubble available if things get a little dicey and get hit Dispersion if mana starts to get a little low.

So, he's working his way through Nagrand now. I'm pretty sure he'll hit 68 somewhere in Nagrand and then be off to Northrend. I'll be picking up the mage after a couple more days on the priest and will be working on getting her to 68 and Northrend as well. She's not far behind the priest, sitting at 64 and being almost done with Zangarmash.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giving Elemental A Whirl

So, I've been playing my shaman for the last few days, and have done a good sized chunk of the Zangarmash quests and gotten him from 62 to 64. After a day or two of watching him flail away at things with his maces and axes and pushing a steady series of buttons while waiting for Maelstrom Weapon to proc, I decided it was time to do something different with the Shaman.

So, after hitting 64 and turning in a few additional quests, I marched back to Orgrimmar and paid up to respec to Elemental. Maybe I'm just getting a little tired of melee, maybe the rotation is too complicated, or maybe I've just become too lazy to run all the way over to that caster mob plinking his little fireballs at me.

In any case, I decided to go ahead and pick up elemental and give it a try for a few levels. The other method to my madness is that I will likely start running a few normal dungeons once I hit 70 and Northrend just to get the daily emblems. My preference is to do that as a healer, so was thinking it would be more efficient to just dual spec and use the same gear for an elemental and resto set. I know at end game those would be very different, but for leveling purposes, the differences are minor.

The only down side to this approach is that I'm trading my attack power mail heirloom chest piece for a cloth spellpower heirloom piece. So I'm now a cow in a dress. I'm not sure it's worth it to me to spend the emblems on a mail spellpower heirloom piece for the few levels that I have left on the Shaman. I could do a quick racial change to troll, since they seem to look better in dresses, but not sure that's worth it either.

I've also discovered a new addon that I've been using while leveling - Pawn. It helps evaluating gear selection based on your class and spec. It's prepopulated with the Wowhead stat ranks, but those tend to be focused more on end-game, and not necessarily identical to what you would want for leveling. So I'll probably be trolling a bit to find some good leveling Pawn values for different classes. For most classes, it tends to basically revolve around toning down the emphasis on hit just a little bit and adding a little emphasis on stamina, then making sure you're giving enough emphasis to the key damage dealing stat - spellpower, attack power, strength, agility, intellect - those types of things. In any case, I've found it be very helpful in terms of providing solid in-game guidance - no more alt-tabbing out to LootRank or to Kaliban lists.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Frost is the New Black!

I'm still constantly amazed by how absolutely unstoppable my frost mage is when it comes to leveling. Especially with the water elemental glyphed to make it permanent. Not only is the frost spec very mana efficient, but the slowing and freezing effects of the frostbolts make it so that about 70% of the time, the mobs are dead before they get anywhere near me, and for the ones that do get anywhere near me, my Ice Barrier makes me pretty much impregnable and I'll have two instant casts available to take them the rest of the way down in Fire Blast and Cone of Cold. More than enough to take them out.

I did pick up Arcane Barrage at level 64 and tried it out on a few mobs to see how it would do. Obviously I'm not spec'd into Arcane, so it's not at its full potential, but it seemed to be a lot less mana efficient, and wasn't doing noticeably more damage than my Frostbolt crits.

So now I'm putting the mage back on the shelf for a little while and will be going back to my enhancement shaman. I've still been thinking about switching from enhancement to elemental now that I'm higher level. I'm just a bit more of a caster at heart, but we'll see. It's still fun unleashing the ghost wolves on everyone and watching them create mass chaos.

So, the Frost Mage is currently sitting at 64, and the shammy got to 63 last night. Still targeting late August to have these last four toons to 80!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Leveling

So I managed to get the Shadow Priest to level 65, and all the way to Terrokar Forest. I'll be switching over to the mage for the next few days, so we'll see if we can get her caught up. It looks like the shadow priest could be the first of the toons to hit Northrend. Dispersion has been an enormous benefit while leveling cutting down very substantially on the time that I need to take to stop and drink and also making it easier to use all my dots on mobs, making them go down faster.

I'm also working on running the daily heroic on a few of my level 80's - particularly the druid and warlock. I'm still a little frustrated with the dps that my warlock does, but not enough to switch over to dps'ing on my death knight or hunter or anything extreme like that!

Gearing up the paladin for tanking continues to go fairly well and he's now got his first piece of T9 gear and is well on his way to his second piece.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Am A Shadow Fart!

So, in case you can't tell, I'm loving Dispersion on my Shadow Priest. Something about dissolving every two minutes into a dark shadowy fart cloud and having all of my mana restored in the process is just more fun than I can stand.

I have made a lot more progress on leveling over the last week. I managed to get the rogue from 45 to 50, so he's getting even closer to Outland. I then picked up the shadow priest and got him all they way to 63. He's now starting all of the Zangarmash quests, the first of my remaining toons to get that far.

I've continued to work a little bit on gearing both my resto druid and my prot pally. I've got about 12 more frost emblems to go on the druid in order to get the Purified Lunar Dust trinket I've been wanting, and from there I guess I'll be saving for T10.

On the paladin, he's still pretty dramatically undergeared, but doesn't seem to have any trouble tanking any heroic thrown his way. Note that I haven't done any of the ICC 5 mans yet. I did manage to get my first piece of T9 on him next, but will probably go for the iLvL 245 Triumph shoulders next rather than the next piece of T9. The set bonuses for prot pallies seem to be somewhat uninspiring, and the shoulders are a much bigger upgrade since I'm currently rocking the Tempered Saronite!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top Arena Classes and Spec's

It's always somewhat interesting to me the ebb and flow of classes that do well or don't do well in arena in any given season. Let me start off by noting that I don't tend to do much arena myself as I'm more of a battleground guy, and success in arenas does not necessarily translate into success on the battleground.

It does however provide some insight into what classes are currently performing well in PvP and which are not.

So if you look at the current worldwide player rankings for the current season, here are effectively the top 7 classes and specs represented in the Top 100. I'm listing 7 here because there are three classes and spec's that are tied for fifth.

Discipline priests - 15
Affliction warlocks - 11
Holy paladins - 11
Elemental shaman - 8
Resto shaman - 6
Resto druid - 6
Marksmanship hunter - 6

The other thing on the total list that interests me is that rogues are very underrepresented with only 4 in the top 100, and 3 of those were subtlety spec instead of the normal mutilate / prep build.

There is also only one death knight in the top 100, which is a long way from a couple of season ago which was dominated by death knights and holy paladins.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Finally, A Tank to Call Home!

So it must have just been an issue with me not understanding the mechanics of either bear or death knight tanking, because I've now gone to the trouble of gearing up my paladin a little bit for tanking (and when I say a little bit, yes he is defense capped with a 544 defense skill and unbuffed health of about 32.4K), and the whole tanking thing seems to be making a lot more sense on the paladin than it did on any of the other toons that I've tried.

I did have one rather rough Azjol-Nerub run, but I'm not entirely sure that was all my fault as the dps in the group didn't seem to have a grasp of the aggro reset feature of those lovely Skirmishers.

We can tank if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't tank and if they don't tank
Well they're no friends of mine.
I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can tank.


My sincere apologies to Men Without Hats.

So, I may spend some time working on getting some additional gear for this toon, which will obviously further delay my leveling plans. But lets face it, with the beta version of Cataclysm still not released, and an expectation of Cataclysm being under beta for around four months, I've really got more than enough time to finish leveling these last four toons.

Once I have this tank fully badge geared, I will then have essentially one character from each role more or less fully geared - healer, ranged dps, melee dps and tank. My death knight / melee dps isn't as fully geared as he could be, so that might be a project for after I finish leveling, but he can still roll about 3K dps in a heroic, so it doesn't really seem to matter much in his case.

Leveling has been going well with all of that. I've been rolling along really well on the mage and have her settled in Outland. The Shaman has continued to progress and is now at level 62.

I've spent enough time in instances on all three of these toons now to be able to confirm without a doubt that leveling is much faster questing through Outland than it is running dungeons. The only potential exception is knocking out one Ramps run at level 58 which will get you almost all the way to 59 in one run.

I'll be picking up the rogue for a chunk of this week. He's the farthest behind at this point, having gotten skipped in the leveling rotation once or twice because of real life conflicts, so he's sitting at only level 45 with a long way to go until Outland. We'll see how much progress we can make during this scheduled leveling time between now and Thursday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can't....Stop....Leveling

So I really tried to stop leveling all of my alts and focus on Loremaster for a while, but as it turns out, the pull of my various alts is just too strong. I did manage to spend a couple of weeks working on Loremaster and knocked off 300 or so quests, which is good, but I guess I'll pick it back up once I'm done with everything else!

So I've now managed to get my second toon of the final four into Outland - my Shadow Priest. I went ahead and dual-spec'd him as Discipline and figured I'd try my hand at healing a few 5 mans - particularly Hellfire Ramparts. I originally tried Holy, but found it was just way too mana-inefficient in todays environment where no one in these 5 man pugs bothers to listen to your pleas for mana.

So, I changed up to Discipline and that seemed to work much better. So he's now sitting at level 58, and almost to 59. One lesson learned on healing in Outlands is that if you get a group with all Death Knights, it's probably worth it to just drop and wait out the debuff. Nothing good is likely to happen in that scenario.

I'm going to be working on the mage next, with the goal of getting her to Outland within the next day or so. She's currently working through Un'Goro Crater at level 55.

So, with the delay in leveling from my stint with Loremaster, my stats for May don't look very good. I finished the month gaining 20 levels in 31 days, or about 0.6 levels per day. It's brought my average for the year down to 1.13, and the current forecast to have these last four toons to 80 is for August 28th, so a significant slip from last month. Still, should be well in advance of the Cataclysm release at this rate.

It continues to bother me that I don't have a geared tank amongst my toons, so I may go ahead and dig into my piles of gold (you accumulate tons of cash leveling all these toons) and gear up a nice little pally tank to try out. We'll see how that goes.

Here's where we stand on the four remaining toons:

Joarbek - Enhancement Shaman - level 60 (will pick him up again in a couple of days and may dual spec Resto / Elemental and see about healing my way to 80)
Joarvyk - Shadow / Discipline Priest - level 58
Joara - Frost Mage - level 55
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 45