Monday, April 27, 2009

the surprising fun of achievements

I had a funny day today. I was busy with a lot of work but took some time at lunch to do the fishing and cooking dailies. That's when I got bunny-eared.

"What's all this?" I thought, and after some research, had discovered the Noblegarden festival. Well I'm a sucker for a title (having only Sergeant until today) and I went for it.

Collecting eggs is a pleasantly mind-neutral experience, easily done during a conference call and with a four-year-old playing along. Actually, my son had heaps of fun helping daddy collect easter eggs! I wonder if there are any nonviolent dailies out there that we could make a regular activity of? But I digress.

The best part was definitely the stalking of females of various races for Shake Your Bunny Maker. I simply sat at the Dalaran fountain levelling my fishing, and waited for a female of the appropriate race to turn up. Most of them were pretty easy to find except (in increasing order of painfulness): Orc, Tauren and Dwarf. Orc females are pretty rare. Tauren females look exactly like male ones and I blew 2 cooldowns on males before I found one outside of her armour. And female dwarves - I swear there's only one on the Nagrand server. I got lucky.

The surprising part was the amount of fun I had stalking the orc and tauren. It came down to a tense wait, with my thumb poised over my flower button hotkey, for the existing bunny ears on my chosen target to despawn and... POUNCE!

So now Cat is Catheryna the Noble. Was it worth the time? Hell yeah. Would I have done it if the Naxx25 run had gone ahead (the third in 4 days to fall through undersubscribed)? No way. Hey, I've got my priorities...

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Drake-Mounted Crossbow.

Woot. Best in slot until Naxx25.


Conventional wisdom seems to be that Mutilate rogues should be taking Glyph of Mutilate, Glyph of Hunger for Blood and Glyph of Rupture. The first two are no brainers, but I'm not so sure about the last - what about Glyph of Tricks of the Trade, Glyph of Cloak of Shadows or Glyph of Feint (given Feint's nice new AoE benefit). What do you think?

The first is a direct DPS buff - 5% rather than 3% if you keep Tricks up - and the second have the potential to ease the load on your healers in progression content, particularly Feint as AoE is something you can't avoid as melee DPS. 50% reduction in AoE damage 60% of the time equals 30% less AoE damage over an AoE-heavy fight. 20 energy every 10 sec is a lot to give up, but 10 energy every 10 sec is a lot better.

I'm going to try TotT for awhile, maybe swap in Feint if we're butting up against content due to AoE healing load.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Naxx... not

Naxx10 fell through. Damn.

So, H Gundrak and H HoS. Guess what? The Fleshshaper (now with added Mongoose), Hemorrhaging Circle and Gorloc Muddy Footwraps.

So not a bad night after all! Also, Monk and I have started a new tradition. When we replace epics we had grown fond of, we toss them into the Dalaran fountain. That way we know where they are, and console ourselves that just maybe some new 70 will fish them up.

So what should PvE rogues do when they hit 80?

Understandably, I've been asking myself that over the past couple of days. The simple answer is, of course, "get out there and raid". Ah, if only it were that simple...

To raid, even in a very tolerant guild, one needs gear. To get Naxx-suitable gear, one needs to do heroics. One also needs enchants and gems to maximise the value from the gear. That means gold. We will get to all of this, but first: stats.

You've probably heard a lot about the Hit Cap and Expertise Cap. There is a lot of very comprehensive info out there on these topics, but comprehensive often equals long. So here it is in a nutshell.

  • You need 99+ hit rating (the Yellow Hit Cap) or your special attacks might not hit. Gear for this first. Unless you're a complete wally and have been stacking druid gear, you're probably at this point. Don't ever let it go.
  • You need 26 Expertise/214 Expertise Rating (the Expertise Cap) or bosses might dodge you. Gear for this next. Don't ever let it go once you've got it. Any more is wasted, so don't go nuts.
  • With that sorted, start stacking more +hit. For guild raiding, you want 210-237. For pugs and heroics, you might need closer to 315. This is the Poison Hit Cap, which ensures that your poisons always hit. If you want more details, it's out there. Just trust me.
  • Now you can stack Attack Power, Crit and Haste.
So now you know what stats to go for. Where do you get them? Heroics and gems, my stabby friend. Shadowpanther (armour and weapons) and guides such as Encrypted Text are your friend here.

My key criteria for grinding gear is: "how long will I keep this item?" Given that the aim is to get into Naxx and move on to Ulduar, spending ages grinding Exalted rep for an epic item that will be replaced in one's first Naxx25 run seems a waste to me when there are other more easily accessible items of suitable, if not equal, quality. Go for "bang for buck", where the "buck" is your time.

There is some rep that is worth grinding though: Knights of the Ebon Blade revered for the Arcanum of Torment head enchant, and Sons of Hodir exalted for the Greater Inscription of the Axe (unless you're a 450 Scribe). Both of these are best in slot enchants that will be used over and over as you upgrade gear in those slots. Grinding those dailies will get you gold as well. The Ebon Blade rep can also be brought up by wearing their tabard on your heroic runs.

Enchant everything, even placeholders. Get what you can afford. Use the recommendations from, checked against Shadowpanther. Weapon enchants are a sticky one, as you certainly want good ones on your longer term weapons. I quite like Greater Potency on placeholders. The mats are cheap and it's about half of the MAEP of a Mongoose for a tenth of the price. If you've got the gold, go for Berserking on everything. I don't, but I've got a couple of Mongoose scrolls in my bag for when those really nice raid daggers drop. Again the diminishing returns: Mongoose is 80% of the MAEP of Berserking, for about 1/3 the cost on my server.

Gem around your hit and expertise caps. Once you've got a pool of swapsie gear, you might for example trade some excess hit for some haste etc. Spreadsheets are your friend.

On gear swapping, I have a golden rule about gear retention. I won't vendor any gear if:
  • It is similar in quality to an equipped item, but with different stats, and/or
  • I really like it.
So yes, I still have my Hanzo Sword and Ebon Mask. Sue me. If I ever get a figureprint, they will come in handy.

The point of the golden rule is this: let's say you have 2 chest pieces: 1 with +hit and 1 with +expertise. You're at the EC, so you wear the first to get closer to the PHC. Now some awesome head piece drops, with so much +hit it's just crazy. Problem is, your existing head piece has +expertise, and you're now below the EC. If you had vendored the chest with +expertise, you're stuffed. Because you're following the golden rule, you simply swap chests and party like it's 1985.

Finally on Emblems: there are some very good items to spend your EOH on. I'm going for the Mirror of Truth first, then the Pendant of the Outcast Hero. Of course, if something better drops in the meantime, I'll happily spend them elsewhere.

So here are my final tips:
  • If says you're not yet at the Naxx stage, do all the above until you are. Focus on the YHC and EC with easily obtainable gear, gems and enchants.
  • If you're ready for Naxx, do Naxx. Meanwhile, keep the gold and select rep coming in. Don't worry too much about grinding for gear, do the daily Heroic and store up those Emblems. You'll get the gear in Naxx.
And read up on Naxx! Good luck.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

and there it is

Dinged 80 at about 1am in a specially organised Nexus and Azjol-Nerub run. Thanks to all the Pinnacle folks who helped me out, I am truly overwhelmed with the generosity.

Followed it up with a Heroic Nexus run, and lo and behold both the Spaulders of the Careless Thief and the Sphere of Red Dragon's Blood dropped for me. I'm speechless.

Can't say I enjoyed the levelling, but I enjoyed dinging 80 and I'm keen as mustard for Naxx10 on Friday. I say woo to you, sir.

So I'm now rocking new shoulders with a Greater Inscription of Vengeance I had left over, an Ice Striker's Cloak and Chain Gang Legguards with Nerubian Leg Armour from the GB, and dual Librarian's Paper Cutters with Greater Potency.

Now, the game begins. I need Expertise.

Monday, April 20, 2009

not quite...

7/20 bubbles to 80. Still over a million XP to go.


79 in Storm Peaks after a looong session in Zul whatever. The final stretch - 1.6 million XP to go.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


78 in Zul whatever. Yay, only about 3.5 million xp to 80.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

realm still down

... so I've had a look at my talent build. Here's what I think - cookie cutter Mut/HfB with Vigor:

I won't go dual spec yet as I'm saving the cash for my raid enchants. When I eventually do, I'll probably take a quite difference PvP spec, maybe a Shadow Dance spec or something.

The other option, that Monk is running with, is to run a HaT build as secondary for when the raid is stacked with crit-heavy toons. Something like this:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Triple Shiv Opener

I've been playing around with a little spreadsheet of my own devising, which I'm using to optimise my boss opening in 3.1. It seems a little weird at first, but hear me out:

Shiv > SnD > Shiv > Rupture > HfB > Shiv > Envenom

Allowing for GCD, helmet fire and a wee bit of lag (essentially mandating 1.5 sec between button presses) that puts me 10 seconds into the fight. SnD (my most valuable ability) has been up for 8.5 of those 10 seconds, and has another 21 sec to run (maximum refresh from Envenom). HfB has been up for 4 sec already, with 60 seconds to run. I've also got a 1-dot Rupture up with another couple of seconds to run. I'm running at my maximum white damage (with SnD and HfB up), low threat (no big bursts) and I've made maximum use of my combos (none left) and energy (5 left). It's also non-positional.

Opening Ambush from stealth is an alternative, but it loses me white/poison time on target (my maximum DPS abilities) unless I can start behind the boss in stealth. It also puts 2 combos into the initial SnD (wasted with the usual intent of refreshing with Envenom), uses twice the energy of Shiv (making other abilities harder to access) and generates a lot of threat. On shorter fights that might be worthwhile (maximising the damage with CB/TotT), but I'm talking about long tank'n'spanks here.

Open Mutilate? Possible, but again 2 combos get wasted into the initial SnD, it doesn't get the benefit of the "poisoned" buff from Deadly (which a Shiv opening guarantees for later Mutilates) and it uses even more energy than Ambush.

With my opening, I've got my high-value abilities up in absolute minimum time, and am pooling energy for say a CB/TotT double Mutilate to 4- or 5-dot Rupture, with 21 sec breathing room before I need to worry about another Envenom. Throw some Tea in there and I get another couple of seconds' grace.


getting back in the "swing" haha

Have just checked out my WWS from a recent DTK run. Couple of notes:

  • Stealthing for an opener is costing me a lot of time on target.
  • I shouldn't be using Eviscerate (a hangover from grinding)
  • SnD shouldn't be dropping (once)
  • Rupture! Better get used to it, it'll be essential for HfB in 3.1
On rotations, it is a really complex balance. I need to keep 3 abilities up:
  • Most importantly: SnD - refreshes with an Envenom after initial activation. Should never drop.
  • Rupture - harder to keep up as requires specific refresh, and is useful in 3.1 for HfB.
  • HfB every 60 seconds, requires a bleed (like Rupture) to come up (but not to stay up).
SnD is clearly the priority as it is a 40% boost to white and instant poison damage, which together represents about 55% of my damage. Fast daggers and SnD = high DPS. Combos should be used on Envenom to refresh SnD to full if there's any chance of it falling off before combos are available again.

So long as that is up, HfB is next. As it expires every 60 sec, I just need to keep one eye on it, as it may need a Rupture in advance to enable it. Luckily it doesn't use combos.

Rupture is nice to have up, but without a lot of combo procs, might be hard. Reserve for a) quick bleed when necessary for HfB, and b) when I have 5 combos and everything else is peachy.

If those are cooking along, then Mutilate. Ideally with a 120 energy pool for 2 quick Muts, and on the tail end of a CB/TotT for guaranteed crit and threat handoff, and a 5-dot Envenom for added instant poison procs. Bit of a PITA selecting the focus for TotT, will have to work out a macro.

Problem comes in with that rotation that Mutilate is the only combo builder. It's 60 Energy (55 glyphed), so if something is about to drop and energy is low, Shiv is the answer. It can't crit (in 3.1) but it gives a combo and applies Deadly Poison automatically and only costs 35 energy. Emergency use only, but definitely useful. (Note: see above post about the Triple Shiv opener).

Another problem: what if there's no warrior doing Sunder/Revenge/Devastate (or Feral Drood), Expose Armor needs to be in the mix, and done at 5CP for best effect. In raids this shouldn't be a problem, but in heroics it definitely is. This is one area where the rogue must sacrifice individual DPS for the good of the party DPS. Technically speaking, depending on the number of physical DPS dealers, it even needs to be ahead of SnD. It's only every 30 sec, but still needs to be factored in.

Another consideration is Attack Power. Most rogues will have a +AP trinket or two. When's the best time to use them? Well, seeing as both Rupture and Envenom scale with AP, ideally just before a 5-cp Envenom or Rupture refresh.

One final point: trading tricks. If the tank is doing well on threat and there's another rogue in the raid, trading TotT with them will give an average 3% DPS boost to both. The threat handoff is negated if both rogues swap tricks with each other, and both get the benefit of 15% increased damage for 6 seconds on a 30 sec cooldown. Requires some coordination as ideally you'd want to call for tricks just as you're about to unload a CB double mutilate or whatever your grandaddy burst is with other specs.

And all those people say that Rogues just mash 2. Pah.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I don't want another expansion

Talk has already begun about the next expansion. I may make myself a pariah here, but it's my blog so I'll say what I want.

I don't want another expansion.

Am I mad? Well, possibly, but that's beside the point. The simple fact is that I can't stand another 10 levels of "fedex and kill-x". It is pointless - a meaningless grind that simply forms a speed hump between the release of the expansion and the things I want to do. I mean sure, occasionally one comes across an entertaining quest, but seriously, how much can we really be expected to enjoy meandering around new zones leaving a trail of bodies in our wake in exactly the same way as we meandered around the new zones in the previous expansion?

How much effort goes into creating these quests that we simply accept without reading, blow through, hand in and vendor the reward with barely a thought? What is, to be brutally honest, the freaking point?

Why not leave the level cap at 80 and release new content patches? Kara, ZA, BT, Sunwell, they were all content patches and kept a great deal of people happy without forcing them to meaninglessly butcher thousands of random mobs to do it. Ulduar will be great. Why not just keep doing that? More Hero classes, more interesting questlines for rep or tokens, more dungeons and raids, more content at the current level cap.

Surely it makes sense from a casual point of view too. How many casuals never set foot inside Kara, because they didn't gear up in enough time before it was rendered irrelevant in WotLK? Surely by extending the life of the level cap, casuals (who make up the bulk of the player base) will get better use out of the content?

How intimidating is it now when considering levelling an alt? You're facing 80 levels of the same boring shite that you've done on your main. Now imagine that after another couple of expansions. 100 levels of grind if you feel like trying out something different. Whoopee.

Levelling is a pain in the arse, let's stop pretending it's not. Less frequent expansions, more focus on content patches at the current level cap. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


77 just now in Sholazar Basin. Thanks to Ponendus (my brother) who dinged 77 2 mins before I did :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

gear upgrades

So Cat is 76. She's still in T4/5 raid gear, which is holding up nicely. However, she's starting to see some blue gear drop that may well be an upgrade.


I've deperately resisted the clownsuit in Northrend, but there will soon come a time where my old gear will be holding me back. I don't expect that to be a big issue until I start doing heroics and raids, at which point I'm going to have to simply suck it up and send in the clowns.

It's complicated by my gems and enchants, which where almost all best-in-slot at 70. Do I abandon a 103dps dagger with Mongoose for a slightly better and/or faster blue that I won't be enchanting? I guess only a spreadsheet can tell me.

So, my plan is:

- No greens. I draw the line at greens.
- Inconspicuous blues (i.e. those that aren't in highly visible slots like rings, trinkets, bracers etc) will be equipped if they're an upgrade according to the spreadsheet.
- Conspicuous blues will be equipped if they are a significant upgrade according to the spreadsheet. If they're major clowny capers, I reserve the right to vendor or bank them. I mean, I worked hard for my Swiftstrike Shoulders and the Grim'grin Facegard looks completely badass, I'm not giving them up for some random quest drop.

So I think that's fair. When I'm raiding, I'll be a little bit more mercenary, but until then I'm not hurting anyone.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


76 just now in Grizzly Hills. Fark I hate levelling.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Ran Gundrak with a few folks from my brother's guild < Have Kids Will AFK >. Good people to run with.

Was pretty easy as there were some 80's along. Still held up well on the DPS, pulling about 50% of the top DPS (Azarul, lv80 Balance Drood in full epics). I think that's probably OK given 5 levels difference, and I'm still rocking my lv70 raid gear!

Others were Nianii (80 Prot Pally), Ponendus (75 Prot Pally, my brother) and Catraa (75 Holy Pally).

Great run. Picked up my Manual: Heavy Frostweave Bandage and 3 blobs of XP as well. Neato.


75 last night in the Grizzly Hills. Christ I hate levelling.