Jun 19, 2009

Mimiron Down + Tier 8

So last night, after a week of waiting, I got to participate in a Mimiron kill. After a few weeks of banging our heads against the wall, two weeks ago, the Gold Team took him down. Unfortunately, I was not raiding that night, so I missed the fun. Last week, due to a freak power outage, we didn't get a shot at the "Tier 8" bosses. Well, last night, we got our revenge on Mimiron again. After a couple stupid wipes, we got him down and I was lucky enough to receive my second piece of tier 8. After defeating Mimiron, we headed back to Vezax. When you unlock the first door leading to him, you get a really cool hallway to stare down...

After killing some annoying trash, you're standing face to face with the Faceless one and he is quite an imposing sight:

We only had time for two attempts last night, but I made the most of them, maximizing my DPS (and mana) in the second attempt to hit 4200 DPS. I think with a few more attempts, we could have gotten a lot further. I think he will be a challenge for us in the weeks to come.

But, back to my Tier 8, my new helm and gloves make me look pretty intimidating. Especially with the tabard to match.

Welcome to 3.2 - Warcraft gets (more) Casual?

Last night, the patch notes for patch 3.2 were released and it appears that it should go up on the PTR some time next week. The patch will bring a new raid instance with 10 man and 25 man versions, and of course, new badges, Emblems of Triumph. In both 10 and 25 man versions, all bosses will drop Emblems of Triumph, which seems fine to me (no differentiation between "normal" and "heroic" modes - though Blizzard is also dropping the terms "normal" and "heroic" to denote 10 and 25 man raids).

However, the change that gets me the most is they will be eliminating Emblems of Heroism and Valor. Instead, wherever you would get a Heroism or Valor badge, you'll now get Emblems of Conquest. So those of us toiling away in 25 man Ulduar for 58 badges to buy a Tier 8.5 piece can now run a couple heroic 5 man dungeons to get the same badges. Or we can do a speed clear or Naxxramas and pick up quite a bit that way. Why let those of us who have spent countless hours in Ulduar 25 to earn the badges be the only ones to get great gear with them? Just give the Emblems of Conquest to everyone and everyone can have free, awesome upgrades!

Now, I somewhat understand why Blizzard is doing this. They basically brought this upon themselves by having so many different badges floating around in Northrend. With each new patch, they need to add new badges. With each new badge, you need new badge vendors. With each new badge, you need some way to incentivize people to run the older instances. This does it. However, it takes it a bit too far. Now if you were to eliminate heroism badges and replace them with Valor, I could see the logic in that. But eliminating both Heroism and Valor and replacing them with Conquest? That just makes it too easy to earn those badges.

Plus, you say you want Triumph badges, but don't have the time to raid? No problem, just do the daily normal and heroic 5 man quests. They'll reward you 2 and 1 badge respectively. Why even bother to raid any more? Let's just run 5-mans! We can get equivalent gear to people who put time and effort into raiding 25 man instances with little bother. Hell, I can run Violet Hold in 20 or 30 minutes. I'll take some Emblems of Triumph for that.

I heard rumors last night that the reason they have to make these drastic changes is to be more prepared for the patch after 3.2 - be it 3.3 or 4.0. Maybe that's true, but I think they've just taken it a bit too far. Why give Triumph for daily 5 man dungeons? Why give Conquest for running a 10 man speed Naxx run? It just dumbs everything down further and gives everyone who hasn't put the time or effort into running the bigger instances a chance at amazing gear. So here I sit, working my butt off for little gear pixels when all I have to do is take a 1 or 2 month break from raiding and I can come back, run some insanely easy 5 mans or Naxx runs and I'll be right back on par with those who ran 25 man Ulduar every week since the patch. It completely trivializes everything we're doing right now. Which is fine if that's what Blizzard really wants to do. But I have the feeling they don't, but they were just backed into a situation with so many badges and emblems that something drastic had to be done. Maybe a bit more forethought would have fixed this problem before it became a problem.

Oh yeah, don't forget this other change:
# The existing achievements to collect 1, 25, 50, etc. Emblems of Heroism, Valor, and Conquest have been converted to Feats of Strength since Heroism and Valor Emblems are no longer attainable.
# New achievements have been added to collect various amounts of any combination of emblems.

This appears to be the first time ever that Blizzard is removing achievement points. Just last night I received 250 Emblems of Valor and I'm just a few emblems short of 500 Emblems of Heroism (I'll be sure to get it before the patch). But that's 110 achievement points that will be gone *poof* into thin air. Sure I'll get some worthless feats of strength for them, but it sets a dangerous precedent to start taking away achievements from people who have earned them.

They state that new achievements will be added for the new emblems, but at some point they have to go away too - right? Just like Heroism and Valor got assimilated, won't Conquest and Triumph give way to more powerful badges? Or do they not plan on adding any more badges before the next expansion? If they don't plan on adding any more badges, then you can leave the achievements in and force us to run countless heroic 5 mans to get the 1,000 Emblems of Conquest achievement. But if you plan on taking that away from us, let us know now so we don't work towards it, only to have our points taken away.

Edit: I guess I read it wrong, the new achievements will allow you to get ANY combination of emblems. So it'll just be "1000 Emblems" - it won't matter if they're Conquest, Triumph, or Emblems of Extreme Greatness from the next expansion. Either way, getting 1,000 combined emblems won't be too difficult, so maybe they'll go to 5,000 or 10,000. Who knows?

Jun 18, 2009

Two Pieces of Tier 8 = New Spec

So, tonight I was lucky enough to roll the highest on my new helm, the Valorous Kirin Tor Hood (which of course means I got Mimiron down - our team did it without me 2 weeks ago). Combined with the Valorous Kirin Tor Gauntlets sitting in my bags, I realized that the only way I could equip them would be to switch talent specs. The Frostfire spec is nice, but I don't need Precision when my hit rating is 428 (420 is what I need with a draenei, but I can't get it any lower).

So with this switch, like I said, I'm at 428 hit rating, and that is after I "downgraded" my weapon from Firesoul to Life and Death. Even though Life and Death has 26 less damage, it has 42 more crit and 3 more haste (the 34 hit rating is ignored because I'm over the hit cap). With this switch I also had to re-gem quite a few items, switching from Potent Monarch Topazes to Reckless Monarch Topazes. I also broke a few gem bonuses, for example, I didn't need the +4 hit on my Kirin Tor Gauntlets, so I threw a Runed Scarlet Ruby in for extra spellpower.

Now I just need to figure out how to get Rawr to work perfectly so I can figure out how I can get back to the Firesoul with the T8 chest...

Jun 17, 2009

And It Is Done...

Finally...I managed to complete Rapid Defense. That completes the "Quests" sub-section of achievements. I have 4 left in general, 2 left in exploration (never going to happen - find and kill all the rare mobs in Outlands and Northrend), 3 left in professions (Ironjaw, Sea Turtle, and 500 bandages), 8 left in reputation, and just 15 left in world events (5 to be completed this Sunday with the Midsummer Fire Festival and the other 10 from Brewfest), and then it's on to PvP...

Oh PvP...just 42/149. So sad. I took part in an Arathi Basin battle tonight and we almost won, but I've still got a long way to go in so many of the battlegrounds. Luckily, I do need the marks for the mounts, so I'll be doing more battlegrounds in the coming days, but I just don't know how I'll get more of these PvP related achievements...

More New 3.2 Changes

As the PTR gets closer and closer to coming online, more and more details are leaking out about 3.2. In addition to the new mounts and pet, there will be epic gems in the next patch. They will be prospected from titanium by jewelcrafters, purchased with honor, or, here's the best part, purchased with emblems of heroism. I've got more of these emblems saved up than I care to count. So it will be nice to finally get rid of these.

I'd imagine they will set the prices high, but not too high. When you think about it, we all have 6-12 gems to replace, so I'd think they'll set the prices around 30 to 40 emblems each. This gives people incentives to go back and run heroics, but also makes them a little more difficult to purchase than just running 2 heroics and getting a gem. I might be way off, and hopefully, the prices will be lower, but expect jewelcrafters to be charging the crap out of people when 3.2 hits.

With these epic gems, blacksmiths, by default, will receive an upgrade to their gear. Since they are able to add sockets and can now add epic gems to the sockets, Blizzard has to buff all the other professions. They say that lightweave will be buffed accordingly, but it's already a very impressive bonus for us tailors. According to Elitist Jerks theorycrafting, it provides a 150 dps gain, whereas the other professions give a 38-39 dps gain. So hopefully lightweave will be buffed, but I would imagine it could be nerfed and come back into line with the other professions (which would be perfect since I just leveled it up to gain lightweave embroidery).

Jun 16, 2009

The Updated UI

(click to enlarge)

Building upon my last UI upgrade, I made some changes and moved some items around and have cleaned my UI up a little bit.

First off, I changed all bar textures from "Blizzard" to "Flat" - it just looks cleaner and information is easier to see. Next, I redid the "center" of my UI by rearranging some items.

This is my old "center" UI setup:

From top to bottom, you have Scorchio, Decursive, Quartz Casting Bars, Pitbull Unit Frames, and Bartender bars (under my unit frame).

This is the new "center" UI setup:

From top to bottom, you have Scorchio, Decursive, a Quartz casting bar ON TOP of a Bartender bar, and then Pitbull unit frames.

Firstly, you'll notice the cast bar. Underneath, you'll see icons. I've set it up so my casting bar is directly on top of a bartender bar that holds icons for all of my spells and items that are on cooldowns. I did this because I am usually watching my cast bar to chain spells together and this way I can see directly underneath it which spells are ready to go.

You can also see I moved the cast bar timer up above the bar and the spell name below the bar - a theme I followed throughout the new setup. Looking at my unit frame, you'll notice it's now centered and shows me a little more information. In the old unit frame, it said 80 Mage Gnome. Well, I already know that. So I got rid of it and can clearly see my mana. On the target unit frame, I have moved the name of the enemy I'm targeting up above the unit frame (Here: Dark Rune Guardian). I ran into issues a lot of times because I couldn't see the enemy's full name that I was targeting. In my old shot, all I could see was "Kel'Thuz..." There used to be no way for me to tell the difference between a Dark Rune Guardian or a Dark Rune Watcher without manually targeting the unit. Now I can tab target through a pack and pick the one I want.

Additionally, in my old unit frames, you cna see the "Frostbolt" that Kel'Thuzad was casting. In my current setup, you still can, I just didn't screenshot it. The new casting bar overlays the "Dark Rune Guardian" text and shows the cast time on the far right of the cast bar. Works perfectly and saves space.

Again, you see Decursive and Scorchio right there in the middle of everything as I love using these addons. They provide pertinent information right where I need it.

Another major change I've made is I've switched from the Blizzard provided raid frames to Grid. I used Grid back in the day and recently reinstalled it to minimize screen usage for the party/raid. I don't need to know much about what everyone else in the raid is doing, just if they're in range, and if they're alive. I can see diseases and other stuff I don't really care about, but it's funny to see everyone's life drop as Kolo wipes us out.

Those are the main changes. I removed some other action bars I don't need and next to my Grid you can see an extra chat box I use when master looting our 25 man raids. It just tracks raid warnings and whispers. As it stands now, I really like my main "center" screen. I'd like to move Omen down to mirror grid, but when I have focuses, they show up next to my target, and above them, I get my focus' target to show up.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Midsummer Fire Festival

This Sunday, the fire festival returns to Azeroth. Last year, I spent a whole day visiting every elder and collecting all the coins I could. Well, apparently I missed an elder. Somehow I missed the elder in Ashenvale for the Flame Warden of Kalimdor achievement. So I just have to visit the one elder in order to achieve The Fires of Azeroth. Additionally, I will then have to dance around a pole wearing the set that I purchased during last year's event. After that, I have to juggle a torch for a mere 40 seconds and I will be the Flame Warden!

After that, all that will be left is to kill Ahune a few dozen times in order to get my
Scorched Stone.

New at the Argent Tournament

Blizzard today announced quite a few welcome changes to the Argent Tournament. Firstly, two new mounts for everyone! Woohoo. Granted, I still have a ways to go on my mount collection as the pets come first, but still, more mounts to get me closer to 100. Also a new pet at exalted with the Silver Covenant. Yay!

Also, new dailies for those of us who have earned the Crusader title, a tabard that will port you to the tournament grounds (which will free up my hearthstone once again), and an upgraded squire. You will be able to summon him just once every 8 hours, but he will be able to give you access to your bank, your mailbox, or a vendor. I'll really enjoy the vendor portion of it as I'll be able to go farming for rep grinds and such and be able to vendor items without leaving the grind.

Of course, everything is going to cost a lot of seals, so luckily there will be more dailies and therefore, more seals. I still need to get the five mounts at 100 seals each, the gryphon at 150 seals, and then I can work on getting the new squire for another 150 seals, and of course the new pet for (probably) another 40 seals.

It's been a while since 3.1 came out, but I have yet to miss a day of dailies. My seals are stacking up and I'm almost done with the horde pet trading, but I have a lot of seals to go. Oh, and curse you Marcia for not giving me a strand crawler. I've done your fishing daily EVERY day you've offered it and you still shut me out. Why??

Jun 15, 2009

Quick Raid Recap

We entered into Ulduar last week with our ten man group ready to tear things up in preparation for our Thursday run. We quickly cleared Flame Leviathan with one tower up, XT-002, Kolo, and Auriaya within our two hour time limit and had a couple of attempts on Thorim. We were ready on Thursday to head back in when a freak electrical outage meant the loss of our main tank and a healer, so the run was called. Hopefully this week we'll get through those four and have time to work on Vezax and Yogg.

Friday, our twenty five man team formed up and made our way through Kologarn again and up to Auriaya who had given us issues the week before. This week, it took us just two tries to get her down. We had little time left, but moved on to Thorim, and he again gave us issues (though for most people it was their first time there). This week, I think we can do it.

The strange thing is, on this run, I picked up Constructor's Handwraps, quickly enchanted them on the go and used them for the rest of the run. They replaced my TIER 8 gloves...

The problem I'm facing right now as a Frostfire mage is too much hit rating. Maybe I need to give Fireball a chance since the extra hit will allow me to drop Precision and hopefully do more DPS. But as it stands, I'll be using the handwraps over the gauntlets as they add 6 spellpower, 58 crit, some stamina and spirit at the cost of 44 haste and a socket. Perhaps some more theorycrafting needs to be done on specs and gear...

Two Rep Grinds Down

This weekend, I was able to strike two more rep grinds off of my list. First, on Saturday morning, a few of my guildmates and I decided it was time to cross Keepers of Time off of my list. A couple of them needed to get attuned, so we quickly ran normal and heroic Durnholde and then moved on to normal and heroic Black Morass, with the last run capping me out at 999/1000 Exalted. A shame there's no Keepers of Time reputation achievement, but it was my 35th, so I got 35 Exalted Reputations.

Later that day, with little to do, I decided against running battlegrounds and decided to head out to Desolace to work on my Gelkis Clan rep by slaughtering the Magram Centaurs. After an hour or two, I was done. Sitting at 11,999/12,000 honored. With no way to get revered. Oh well. At least the Gelkis know I am truly their friend.