Tuesday, June 30, 2009

roguecraft spreadsheet

Just going through updating Cat's details in the spreadsheet, thought I'd note things as I went. It's a lovely piece of work. However, I've noted a few things just in case Vulajin is reading (yeah right!):

  • Glyphs of Mutilate and Hunger for Blood aren't included
  • There is no way to add a scope to a ranged weapon (not that it affects DPS)
  • Few Ulduar items
About here I gave up. Meh.

However shortly afterwards I found Mavanas's DPS Simulation sheet and it has the bonus of being user-modifyable, including adding missing gear items. It's not entirely intuitive (especially on gems and slot bonuses) but it's the goods for now.

So I discovered a few things:
  • With my current stats (close to the PHC at 302 hit, and expertise capped) choice of food makes no real difference. Fish Feast still works out slightly (0.5%) ahead. However, the sheet has no facility for +40 crit food, which I'd be interested in trying out.
  • Talent swaps: 2/2 Murder = 6044. 2/2 Quick Recovery = 5818. Sticking with Murder.
  • Talent swaps: 3/3 Master Poisoner = 6044. 3/3 Turn The Tables = 6012. Sticking with MP.
  • Grinding Hodir rep to upgrade my shoulder enchant is a net DPS increase of about 30 DPS. Not exactly a huge priority, given the amount of effort required.
Next I'll try swapping in +agi gems in place of the current +AP/+Stams and see what happens. Rumour is that +agi is the shizzle. I also want to see if I have some swapsie gear that I can use to reduce my expertise, currently at 36, and what effect this will have.

looking to the stars

I want star ratings on my achievements.

Allow me to explain.

At my level - i.e. an Ulduar- and Naxx-geared endgame PvE 80 - there are certain achievements that are at my level, certain ones that are just below, and some that are trivial. Much of the QQ from the hardcore comes from the fact that post-nerf, muppets can get the same achievement as them and there's no way for them to lord it over the plebs other than with the date of the achievement, which depends on everyone knowing that a certain fight was nerfed on a certain date.

My solution (as you might now have guessed): star ratings.

If I get an achievement in current content (i.e. currently, content introduced in 3.1) it gets rated 3 stars. So Ulduar on any mode and Emalon, but not Naxx or Archavon. I achieved it before it was deprecated somewhat by new content. 3 stars.

If I get it after a certain point, say a major content patch (n.n level) it's 2 stars. So it's still legitimately difficult content, but you weren't in that top end that did it when it was fresh. Heroics, Naxx, etc. Maybe toons 70-79 could stil get 2-stars for non-heroic 5 mans.

If I get it after it became trivial, 1 star. Non-heroic 5-mans (for toons at 80), Classic and BC achievements, etc.

Now 3.2 comes out, and suddenly Ulduar achievements drop to 2-star with Naxx and the rest. Coliseum acheivements are the only 3-stars available, and they will only be 3-star until patch 3.3.

Of course there are always issues. A normal WotLK 5-man is challenging for 5 toons 70-79. It's trivial with 4 80s and a single 70. How should that be handled? I suggest that Blizz looks at the maximum star rating that would have been awarded if no party/raid members had already achieved it. So if you bring a single 80 into that non-heroic 5-man, everyone who doesn't already have the achievement gets a 1-star, not a 2-star. Of course that's not perfect, but it's a start.

Do you think that will address some of the legitimate recognition issues that the really hardworking players have? Amaze me with your boundless ability to find QQ.

Monday, June 29, 2009


... down in 25 man after 14 attempts.



OK it's the next morning now and I'm reflecting on last night's guild first drop of Thorim. It's an infuriating fight as it can be so dependent on individuals. Neither WoWWiki nor Encrypted Text offer much in the way of useful strategic advice either, so I will try to explain things from the rogue perspective. (please note: I do generally find Chase Christian's Encrypted Text very useful, and I have a great deal of respect for his knowledge and contribution to the rogue community, but I just don't find that Rogue in Ulduar series very useful. Feel free to disagree with me.)

In the first part of the fight, you run in en masse and take out 6 mobs in the arena while Thorim watches. This is dead easy. Target the healer, then the big worm, then AoE the others. Don't pull aggro, DPS, done.

The next part is arguably the hardest. The raid will split in two - one group heading off down the tunnel to get to Thorim, and the remainder staying in the arena to take down the spectators who jump into the fight. Rogues will generally remain in the arena and not be part of the tunnel group, due to the extreme usefulness of Dismantle and Kick for the Dark Rune Champions and Dark Rune Evokers.

As a rogue, your priorities are the Champions, then the Evokers. One of each will run into the group about every 25 seconds (on 25 man). That means that with two rogues you can Dismantle two in every three Champions, and with three rogues every Champion can be Dismantled. You need to do this because the Champion's Whirlwind is a healer-killer (and the healers can't stand back due to the charged orbs - everyone is in the middle). The Champions usually start their Whirlwind about 3-5 seconds after engaging in melee, so the 3 second mark is the right time to Dismantle them.

I found that Dismantle does not trigger if someone has already used theirs on that mob, so don't stress too much about setting up a rotation (we did it with 3 rogues). If they do get off a non-Dismantled Whirlwind, try Kick. I had mixed success with Kick - sometimes it seemed to work and others it didn't. Same with Feint - sometimes it seems to reduce damage from the Whirlwind and others not. Burn down the Champions as fast as possible, ideally within the 10 second window of Dismantle, but as each has 300k HP that's not an easy task. A combat rogue specced for Throwing Specialization is invaluable here, and I would say almost a necessity for the FoK interrupts on the Evokers.

Aggro is a big issue in the arena. There are lots of mobs streaming in and it is very busy for the tanks. Help out where you can by tricking the Champions onto your designated Champion tank but be very careful when tricks is on cooldown. If you cop a Mortal Strike, you'll die. If you're like me, you'll cop one very early in what turned out to be a near miss attempt, and realise that if you hadn't died, your DPS would have been the difference between a 4% wipe and a win. Not a nice thought.

So you've got the Champions figured out. Whenever possible, you need to help with interrupts on the Evokers. Both Runic Lightning and Runic Mending need to be suppressed wherever possible.

I find /target macros very useful in this fight as there are a LOT of mobs and picking out the Evokers and Champions can be hard. Some suggest using an /assist macro, but I think that the tanks are going to be switching targets too often for this to be a viable strategy. I have one /target macro for each type, and simply keep an eye on the edge of the arena waiting for one to run in, face it, and hit the macro to target. Don't just spam it, because you will target Champions and Evokers in the bleachers who haven't joined the fight yet.

Mutilate rogues may find that they are way down the meters on this phase. It seems to be a particular mechanic, with waves of tough trash, that the fights are too long for our nice opening burst to make too much difference, but too short to be able to reliably keep SnD and HfB up. Combat rogues own Thorim's arena.

So you do the arena for some time while the other group fights their way to Thorim. If you lose anyone in the arena, it will start to overwhelm you and you won't last long enough for the other group to bring Thorim down. Stay alive, take care of the Champions and Evokers, and clean the last of the adds down when Thorim jumps down. Then it's time for the final phase.

Aggro shouldn't be a problem in the final phase, but use Vanish offensively anyway. Depending on your raid makeup, you should consider trading tricks with another rogue to maximise DPS to beat the enrage timer; however if you find that DPS with no threat wipe ability (e.g. Shadow Priests) are having to back off, give your tank a hand.

Two of Thorim's abilities will kill you very quickly. Lightning Charge is relatively easy to see and avoid - one of the orbs will start to zap Thorim with lightning, and you need to stay out of a 60 degree cone around the lightning stream. Or you will die. It can be cloaked if you get caught.

The other is Chain Lightning, which chains up to 8 times. If my math is correct, the 50% increased damage on each chain means that if you're 8th in the chain, you'll take between 79k and 92k damage. One shot much? You don't want to be more than fourth in that chain or it's crispy rogue for Thorim's post-wipe snack. So how do you avoid it? You don't, but you can minimise it same as you did on KT. Put lucky charms on two melee DPS, and have them at 4 o'clock and 8'oclock with the tank at 12 o'clock. Split the melee stacking on those two marked melee. Stay out of range (set DBM /range to 11 yards) of the other stack and the tank, and you shouldn't have more than 4 within range of an arc. If your group is very melee heavy, you're in trouble. The 5th arc is 23-27k.

Of course it will be chaos during the regular Lightning Charges, when you have to abandon your lovely 12-4-8 triangle and avoid the lightning cone. But as soon as that's done, go back to your stack. It's tough on melee. Real tough. And someone else's positioning mistake can and will cost you your life.

Good luck my roguely friends.

Monday, June 22, 2009

the top 1%?

Interesting observation tonight: WoWRanked has Cat as rank 102,928 for gear in the world.

If there are 12 million accounts, and each has on average just one toon over level 10, that's well into the top 1% for gear.

In the world.

That kinda made me feel good. Then I looked at my brother-in-law's rogue. Ranked 7,455. In the world.

Bubble: burst.


But then we dropped Hodir again, and Freya 25 for the first time tonight (25/6). And what did Hodir give up? The Conqueror's Terrorblade Breastplate. Which catapulted me to 13th on the guild DPS roster (the 3rd highest rogue) and 77,668 on WoWRanked.

In the world.

Oh and did I mention my spot on the Hodir meter? #1 for the first time ever in a guild progression raid. 6k DPS baby.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hodir down

25 man Hodir down in an epic 4-wipe attempt. We lost to the enrage timer twice and had 2 quick wipes but he went down with about 10 seconds to spare on the final attempt.

I love that fight.

Even better: I was crushing the meters tonight. I mean crushing. I don't for a minute believe that pure DPS is the only measure of a rogue, but it is certainly high on the list. I was on the ball, wasn't dying, and everything was going in slow motion. I was spotting who was going to get iceblocked on Hodir while scouting for a sunbeam and shooting and standing on the snow pile; I only got iceblocked once due to a late knockback from a cave-in hidden under a bunch of spell effects; I was swapping my tricks to the highest DPS that had a safe margin on Omen; I was just on the ball tonight. I love it when that happens.

A look at gear post 3.2 from the grinder's POV

A quick look at the best PvE gear available in 3.2 from EoC/V/H plus crafted and Argent Tournament rewards (i.e. totally available from 5 mans and grinding, with no 10-man or 25-man or arena rating required) from a rogue perspective:

- ilvl 213 helm
- ilvl 226 3rd best in slot neck (3rd only to items available on Freya and Vezax hard modes)
- T7.5 ilvl 213 shoulders
- 2nd best in slot ilvl 226 chest, 2nd only to item from Thorium hard mode
- 2nd best in slot ilvl 226 belt, 2nd only to item from Yoggy hard mode
- 4th best in slot ilvl 226 legs, next to items from Uld25
- best in slot ilvl 226 boots from leatherworking, or ilvl 213 boots from emblems
- ilvl 213 bracers
- ilvl 226 gloves
- ilvl 213/200 rings
- ilvl 200 trinkets
- ilvl 213 cloak
- ilvl 200 thrown weapon
- ilvl 200 weapons for pretty much every major spec

So it is possible, without even considering what gear might be available in 3.2 or for EoT, to completely deck out a rogue in ilvl 200 or better PvE epics without ever doing 10 man, 25 man or arena - completely from grinding "heroic" 5 mans, gold and tournament dailies. Some of those items are 3rd, 2nd or best currently in slot. I suspect other classes are the same.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

3.2 QQ

Well, what a stink. The 3.2 PTR patch notes have put the cat amongst the pigeons with regard to the new Tier 9 of PvE gear, the associated Emblems of Triumph and the changes to 5-mans which mean that you can now get the new top-end emblems from running daily 5-mans.

OK raiders, cease foaming at the mouth now. Take a deep breath.

I'm all for casuals. Hell, I'm a casual by most definitions - I have 1-2 largely uninterrupted approved WoW nights a week (which I use for raiding) and otherwise it's on a no-commitment, as-available basis. And yes, WoW is a game dominated by casuals.

But - and it's a big but - I don't believe participation trophies should be the same size as the winner's trophy. I believe in the beauty of Zipf's Law which is, essentially, that the glory of being #1 is exponentially bigger than the glory of being #2, and so on down the chain. Life is competitive, and competition is healthy. WoW reflects life in that only the most talented and dedicated people who persistently attempt the most challenging content (should) get the best rewards.

I am not #1 in WoW. Nor do I have the time or dedication to be so (though I like to think I have the skill, or at least the ability to develop the skill). However, I believe that my gear accurately reflects my circumstances - when someone sees my T7.5 shoulders, they know I've been doing Nax25. When someone sees my dual Mongoose, they know I'm serious about my spec but don't have the time to get the money for dual Berserking. When they see my neck piece, they know without doubt that I have dropped 19 bosses in Ulduar25, and/or know my way around Emalon pretty well.

Blizzard, in their increasing desperation to retain their flattening user base, are resorting to participationism. There's a back door to the grand finals, if you're prepared to play enough little league. But as most people know, you may get to the grand final that way, but when you start to play it doesn't matter how shiny your uniform is. You're going to die in the fire. And when you stand on the podium to collect your runner-up trophy, you'll have a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach and you'll feel like a fraud.

Apparently the idea is that a) people will go back into heroics, and b) more people can see the endgame content. Well let's see.

The first is probably accurate, but it will be at the expense of Ulduar. In half an hour with four other people, you can faceroll 5 EoC and 2 EoT from H Nexus if it's the daily. Follow up with H VH and H CoS and it's EoC city within another hour. Why would you get 24 other people and spend twice the time getting past Iron Council for 5 EoC and no EoT? The only people that will be running Ulduar are the hardcore raiders, for item drops that they can't buy with welfare emblems, to gear up for Coliseum. Blizz are actively encouraging grinding rather than attempting hard content. How disappointing.

The second: an unskilled raiding group will still fail on every fight in Nax, even in T9 welfare epics. Never mind (presumably) the Coliseum. Gear is only one part of the equation, and I suspect it won't affect the numbers of people dropping KT at all.

Any guild that relies on pugs to make up a 25 man (such as, often, ours) is going to have a nightmare time with the abundance of notionally geared folks in LFG. Expect more achievement linking, more assessment, less trust. Guilds that use pugs must establish a whitelist of known good pugs to raid with and find a way to integrate them into their loot system, or they will ruin raid nights with trial and error pugging. If you're a habitual pug, you'd better establish a rep with a number of guilds, because nobody's going to trust your gear anymore.

That said, gear is definitely one factor that can prevent an otherwise decent raider from seeing the content they crave, and the new system will help alts.

I'm not going to say that it's necessarily bad, because there will be pros and cons. I guess the meritocrat in me dislikes grind-based backdoors. I'm going to think some more and try to be a bit more Zen about the whole thing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Ignis the Furnace Master. 5027.7 DPS.


Downed up to Kolo tonight in Uld25 and followed up with H VoA. The very tasty Proto-hide Leggings and Deadly Gladiator's Leather Tunic dropped for me. Also bought the Broach of the Wailing Night with vadges. 16th ranked guild DPS now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

more lewts

25 man Nax clear (I almost typed Kara there...): Murder for my PvP offhand, Valorous Bonescythe Helmet to upgrade my T7, and Belt of the Tortured which was a nice upgrade. Stats were OK. Not happy at all with my deaths on Heigan and Patchwerk (opened too early with a mis-hit TotT and copped a Hateful Strike), but it was otherwise smooth; one-shotting everything (except one wipe on Gothik as the dead side was undermanned) in 4 hours.

I was actually pleasantly surprised at the benefits of some PvP practice for raiding. During the Gothik wipe, as we were getting overwhelmed on the dead side, I was running about with tricked fans trying to pull adds off the healers. At one point I must have done a fan too many, and ended up 1v1 with a big DK. Now with evasion and vanish already on CD (as I say, we were struggling undermanned), normally I would have been a bloody mess by now, but my PvP training kicked in and I twitch-hit Dismantle and Blinded another that was running loose. Not any great achievement, but they were reflexes that had degraded over a long time of hardly needing them in raids, and all it took was a bit of PvP to sharpen them again.

Current plan is to get everything over ilvl 213: that means Nax25, EoE10/25, OS10, OS25+2 and Ulduar. All that remains at ilvl 200 are my neck, chest, one ring, one trinket and cloak. Also working on Heirloom shoulders for Merry and PvP set by grinding Wintergrasp. Alarm set!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


4 new bosses (for me) in Ulduar 25 last night: Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Crazy Cat Lady and Hodir (who we called after 3 attempts).

Iron Council was a bit of a poop as I died in the fire. I was doing my best to run out of the big circle, but forgot to cloak and paid the price. Nuts.

Kologarn finally went smooth as butter for me. The only other time I've seen him was in 10 man and we had a wipefest, so it was a nice relief to one-shot him, especially as I pulled 4.3k DPS and didn't run myself off the edge. Sexah.

Auriaya was... confusing. I had read up on Encrypted Text, but soon found that it didn't really cover the sort of detail that one really needs on the first attempt. It was basically a mess of "stand in front" and "DPS the add" over vent, and at some point I died. That said, after a brez I still managed to punch out a useful, if not overly respectable, 3k. I'm going to need to review the logs and the detailed fight notes to figure that one out.

Hodir is my new favourite fight. for those of you who haven't done it, it is MENTAL. 8 minutes of crazy running about and trying to not die. You really have to have your head on a swivel - people getting iceblocked that need to be freed, icicles to stay away from, big icicles to initially stay out of then go into, buffs to go into, roots, AoE... it has it all. I was actually really happy with my performance on Hodir - 4.6k averaged over the 3 attempts, and a 3rd on the meter 4.9k on the final attempt. By my reckoning the raid needs 68kdps total to beat the enrage, which is about 4k each assuming 17 DPS toons. In the end the enrage timer beat us, though we had him to about 5%. Tonight, big guy... tonight...

My gloves and boots have hitherto been impossible to replace, being my last two blues. Guess what - Gloves of the Stonereaper dropped for me on cat lady and I understand I'm to be ticketed the Runed Ironhide Boots from Iron Council. How bout that - now my two best items, upgrading blues. And both from fights that I died on. Must be something in that... I say to you: woot.

I also finally got around to clearing VoA25. No loot though, which is a shame as I'm keen for my PvP gear to drop now.

*Edit* I got the boots thanks to Talendos's generosity. Nice one mate, I owe you an EPGP priority. I'm now up to 21 on the guild's DPS list (29th overall) which, with alts and inactive raiders, means I'll rarely be unable to get into the 25 mans. Tick!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

frost mages

Bah. Damn their eyes. I found some good ones in Strand of the Ancients today, and 1v1 they always leave me a chilly blob on the ground.

My rogue instincts say that this is not because they are good, but because I am bad. A rogue can beat anything. So: introspection (note: written from the 41/5/25 Mutilate/Prep perspective).

What happens? I was opening Cheap Shot, but it seems they would simply Blink, Frost Nova/Cone of Cold and pew pew until I died. Not fun. Of course, the correct opener on a mage is Garrote for the silence effect. A proper rogue/mage fight starts at the 3 second mark, with the mage the victim of a couple of mutilates, 5 combo points up, Crippling Poison on and 15 sec of DoT remaining. A nice place to start, but then what?

At this point the mage can do a few things. Ice Block clears off the DoT and poison and buys them some time. They can throw down Frost Nova or Cone of Cold to root you, probably in concert with a Blink to get some range on you. Either way they'll get their Elemental out for 45 sec, which gives him another 2 abilities independent of your CC: Freeze and Waterbolt. They'll also be spamming Ice Barrier to limit incoming DPS.

Now I'm not going to get into "if they do this, do this" because I definitely won't remember and I doubt 90% of rogues will. But understanding what's up the mage's copious and effeminate sleeves is half the battle. The rest of their abilities fall into 2 camps: pew pew and a PvP trinket. The roots are their biggest weapons, and after the Ice Block you've got 30 seconds to kill him or you're at a serious cooldown disadvantage. Against the roots, you've got a trinket (or EMFH), CoS and Vanish. He also can't cast if he's incapacitated, and for that you've got CS and KS, plus Blind, Sprint and Deadly Throw to let you close the gap. Plus there's Preparation to make all the goodness come once more.


the return of PvP Cat

Here's me saying that PvP is boring and all I'm interested in is raiding, and in the space of 2 days I've gone and bought dual-specs, have started experimenting with 41/5/25 Mut/Prep, have bought me some Hateful Gladiator gloves and started an arena 2v2 with my brother's ret monkey.

I'm under no illusions about the likelihood of doing well in T7 raid gear with a rogue/retadin combo, but it's just for fun and practice really. When another brother finishes levelling, we might try rogue/retadin/huntard in 3v3 and really tear up the DPS.

I love my PvP spec, it destroys everything. I'm even remembering all those things that have been sitting unused on my action bars, like Dismantle, Eviscerate and Deadly Throw, and have started getting used to when to use or not to use Preparation. All my recent PvP experience has been in Wintergrasp though, which is nothing like arena, so I'll update ye all on the progress of Unresilient as we go.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

alternate MMOs

There are two MMOs that have a chance of having me swap off WoW. Star Wars: The Old Republic will tap into a deep-seated part of my medulla oblongata that has been fantasising about being a Jedi since the original Episode IV came out. I will definitely try it, and as I probably only have room in my life for 1 MMO, it will be an interesting time to see what happens.

But even more exciting is the prospect of an MMO based on the Warhammer 40,000 IP. I played the original 40k way back in the Rogue Trader days, and over the years have amassed many armies of miniatures. Sadly, when we moved home from the UK, I ebayed it all but I have lately been considering getting back into the tabletop as a result of reading some of the incredibly rich and well-written WH40K fiction. Make no mistake - if a quality 40K MMO is released in 2012 as rumoured, I will not only quit playing WoW/SWTOR but I will also probably quit my job and mutate into a half-man, half-chair gaming automaton, existing purely on cheezels, Dr Pepper and forty-first millennium pure WIN. Please, THQ, I beg you: make it full of win. It is an epic franchise that absolutely must not be sullied with an inferior product.

Although 2012 is a long time to wait, THQ will have ample time to learn from the SWTOR MMO and apply those lessons. There are a few things that interest me greatly about how it might be implemented:

  • Presumably Humans would be one of the initial races, as would Orks. This immediately lends itself to a "faction" system similar to WoW. But what about Eldar, Tau, Necrons, Chaos etc? Nobody really fights on the same side as anyone else. It's almost going to have to be everyone versus everyone, possibly with server-wide or even zone-wide temporary alliances between certain races? Even then, can you imagine Eldar and Slaanesh Marines being allied for any reason? Not me...
  • Taking Humans first: there's a hierarchy in the various arms. The Astartes report really to nobody except the Emperor, though they have some respect for the Inquisition. Would anyone want to play an Imperial Guard toon when there was absolutely no way they could be as powerful as a Space Marine toon? the only way to even it would be to have the MMO less "individual toon" based and more "warband" based - so a level-cap marine may have a squad of marine "combat pets" but a max level Guard commander may have a whole platoon plus heavy weapons, etc? Then it's almost a fair fight. Balance is going to be a hard thing to achieve, but it would be awesome to have a bunch of NPC combat pets doing your shooty bidding.
  • There are degrees of "freedom" in the various denizens of the 40k milieu. Marines for instance are loyal only to their Chapter and the Emperor. They do what they're told - simple instruments of war, with little thought to personal advancement. How does that work for levelling/gearing up? Is a rank and file marine or Guardsman even an appropriate toon, or would it be too restrictive? Will it need to focus on the more "individual" characters in the milieu - Inquisitors, Harlequins (Solitaires?), Rogue Traders, Fallen Angels (aaaawwwweeeesome), etc.
  • "Quests" - it would be great to have these race-specific. So for example for a marine toon, the missions would be handed down by the chapter in a level-appropriate way, possibly for a zone-wide PvE "instance" - so you could solo it as a skirmish, or group up with others from the chapter or allied factions to tackle a larger 5- or 10-man instanced zone quest. For Ork toons, maybe you're a small cog in a Waaaaagh, following your Warboss from world to world and occasionally encountering PvP resistance from opposing factions. Then the level-cap zones would be the epicentre of the fighting - where the Waaaaghs meet the Crusades, the Hive Fleets, the Craftworlds etc and all fight against each other.
Holy cow I wish I was working on this project. THQ, if you need a project manager, I could not be more motivated to see this MMO kick ass.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

podcast review

Adam of The Noisy Rogue gives us his first scathing WoW podcast review. His first target: The WoW Insider Show. Enlightening and entertaining reading :)