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January 2010

Weekend Reading List

I actually did an OK job of keeping up with blogs on my blogroll this week, and wanted to share some of the favorite things I've recently read:

  • Practical Advice for Brand New Hunters. I want to point all the baby hunters out there to visit Pike's blog early and often, and to start with this post. tyvm.
  • How to be a Good Raiding Hunter. Lots of great practical advice from Marks-365.
  • The Warlock Way. Part pep talk for discouraged lowbie warlock, part PvP training schematic, Cynwise's latest post is a good primer on how to dominate your opponent as a warlock.
  • Ice Crown Social: Saurfang. An  I Like Bubbles post, complete with drawing, to show how to set up your group for Saurafang, and providing an easy to digest explanation of the strategy.
  • Raiding Shadow Priest Guide Part 2. Yes, I gave a shout out to Lucky Lurky's blog on Friday, but wanted to link to this specifically as it's a good overview of how to shadow priest post-3.3.
  • Prot paladin AOE Grinding Guide. Yet another great leveling guide from Psynister, complete with glyph recommendations and talent choices as you level up.
  • Gearing Your Sapling. Tree Burglar's guide for gear new level 80 restoration druids should stalk.
  • ICC Plagueworks: How Not to Die a Poisonous Death. This World of Matticus post is primarily a guide for healers in this wing of ICC, also has some good tips for all of us to remember when dealing with the deadly trash.
  • Improving the Quality of Conversation. This HoTs and DoTs post gives some good ideas for getting the conversation flowing when you're in a group of folks you don't know very well -- be they your new guild or your latest PUG.
  • Leadership from Three Angles. Some thoughts from Kiss my Alas regarding leadership as seen from the top down, bottom up, and being inbetween.
  • MIA Pets: Where Are They? Warcraft Pets reminds us of recently datamined or otherwise discovered pets that haven't made their way into our hot little pet collectors hands.

Friday Five: 5 Things That Made Me Smile This Week


  1. Yes, being named an officer in my guild was totally the highlight of my week. I am incredibly excited about being empowered to help shape our future, and keep our raiding momentum going, along with the help of fellow new officers Moober and Ox, the latter of whom joins the fabulous miss Sawyer as the 25-man RL team! I am confident we will collaborate to do great things together.
  2. Related to that, it's been awesome to get tells cheering me on for that promotion, including from a lot of folks whom  haven't really talked to a lot in game. I had a few old timers chat me up too which was cool. I know I am a new kid on the block when you're talking about a 5-year-old guild, but I promise I'll do my best to do right by them and myself. And thank you for such a warm reception.
  3. I found a cool shadow priest blog to add to my reading list: Lucky Lurky. Go check it out. They have a couple of recent posts on how to shadow priest that may be of interest to folks.
  4. I suckered yet another, guildie...into joining twitter. whoohoo! One.of. us.
  5. We're hopefully going back into Ulduar tonight to try to get that last achievement out of the way so we can go and slap Algalon around. Thank you guys for pulling this together.

BONUS: Despite a rough week wherein we had two of our core raiding team members (who also scheduled our 10-mans) leave, plus our 25-man schedulers (who were also core raiders), go on hiatus, we dusted ourselves off as a guild and kept marching in the same direction. The week's raids all got scheduled. All the same old bosses got killed. And we had a good time doing it. No, we didn't take down anyone new yet, but we did hold it together, and that means a lot.

Happy Friday.

P.S. Today's screenie is my Boomkin, doing a Scarlet Onslaught quest wherein you play dress-up as an Onslaught Raven Priest. Apparently they are very easily deceived...

What's Easier to Overcome -- a DPS Check or Complex Execution?

The answer, of course, depends on your raiding team.

The DPS Check

If you take a look around (via WoW Heroes for instance) and the bulk of your raiding team shows that they can still grab upgrades from ToC 10 and ToC 25 and you are knocking your heads against ICC 25, then spending some time on gearing up in those instances, while regularly doing the weekly raid quest and daily RDH for Frost Emblems may be all you need to get over the DPS hump.

On the other hand, if all your team's upgrades are to be had in ICC, and you're having healing and DPS troubles, your answer may not be so simple. There may need to be some fine tuning of specs and rotations to get you past the Upper Spire bosses. Or the issue may be strategy execution more than it is the DPS per se.

Complex Execution

Alas, complex execution can't be purchased from a vendor. It is 100% dependent upon the time and effort your team is willing to put in.

There may need to be some dry runs of tricky strategies to work out good positioning, and allow folks to practice what they should do when they get marked with a spore for instance. (Hint: standing still where you are is not the right response.)There definitely needs to be no watching or talking on the phone while practicing. And to get the most bang for your buck, everyone needs to run back and rebuff and get ready to go for the next attempt quickly. This means no random AFKs, and being aware of what you need to do (buff the team, eat your food, renew a flask) before hitting YES on your ready check button.

Raiders need to keep your Vent channel clear and pay attention to the strategy and their role in it. If your raid leader asks you to do (or not do) something, you must be willing to act on it, not second guess it or worse yet, flat out do whatever you want instead without telling them. Basically, we're talking about trust here. The raid team needs to trust in their leaders and made a great team effort every time. This doesn't mean not speaking up if you have an idea for how to improve, but it does mean executing a strategy before deciding it doesn't work.

Working it Out

Trying to treat the illness before diagnosing the patient can only lead to frayed nerves and team tensions. It is on everyone on the team to understand their role, what's happening in the attempts, and if they die early, why.

  • What's My Role? If you don't quite understand what it is you are being asked to do, it is always a good thing to ask clarifying questions. This is definitely a case of there are no dumb questions.
  • What Strategy are We Using? Your group is going to be on the left -- does that mean the left as you run in or the left of the boss after he is spun around? Where are the healers standing exactly? Having a strategy that's spelled out (in words/pictures on your forums and read before the raid is preferable) can help decrease strategy execution mixups.
  • Why'd I die? Sometimes it's a whoops! (uh-oh DPSer taunted a tank and died) -- own that and your team mates will respect you for it. Other times it takes some discussion to figure things out (Oh, the tank's healer got a spore and we didn't notice and pick up the slack on healing the tank -- whoops!)
The thing to remember is whether it's a DPS hurdle or a complex execution, it's always a team effort to make a go of it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your teammates. Answer that raid leader when they ask "OK, what went wrong there?" And answer it honestly. And that will put you on the road to progression.

Spoiled Alts Update


Baby Warlock Hit 35!

  • Engineeering maxed out at 300; next skill up opportunity available at 50.
  • Felhunter procured after much running around in Azeroth.
  • Need to go to Gadget and visit Jordy Lapforge to learn the recipe for my gadgetzan transporter.
  • Enjoying pulling out my sexy Arcanite Dragonling, especially when standing around in Dalaran on important business.
  • Not yet hitting that mid-30s "OMGIAMTIREDOFQUESTING" slump, but I've only spent an hour or two in STV so there is still time.
  • Overall just really having fun dinking around on her, even with her being in the bank alt guild and not a real guild. It probably causes me to be more immersed in what I am doing to never have more than 3 folks online at a time.
  • Must mail her the mana return trinket that I have pretty much stopped using on the druid in favor of the blue trinkets she's procured.
  • Enjoying the things that feel similar in playstyle to my shadow priest, but noting there is enough variety and difference that I don't understand when people say they are the same. No sir, they certainly are not. They just have a dark affinity is all.
  • Have not yet random dungeoned on her but will start it soon so I can work on my pet choice and management.

Baby Druid crept up to 74

  • Managed to eek out exactly 1 level on the druid this weekend.
  • Spent rest of weekend thinking about how I didn't feel like playing the druid.
  • Dragonblight's primary non-group quests completed, and thus onward to Grizzly Hills next time.
  • Had horrifying realization I have done some of these quests...6 or 7 times now, in the past 12 months. More if you count helping friends do them. Bleh!
  • Had a Nexus run last weekend where she did 1600 DPS on a boss fight; in light of that, boggle at level 80 rogues in randoms not breaking 1k DPS. Why? Why?
  • Recalling how painful the gear grind was on my druid when WotLK was shiny and new a year ago.
  • Wondering if the druid will be shelved alongside the mage once she dings 80, rotting away save for a daily or weekly quest at a time.
  • Resolved to keep slowly at her leveling, playing when it feels right to do so, not worried about the slowness of speed. 80 will still be there in a month. Or two.
  • Will try to stomach the impatient chain pulling random instance tanks in order to get questing and XP done in a less repetitive manner.

After these two hit 80, no new alts! My Alliance shadow priest and mage still linger in the 70s so they'll be the last alt projects. Until Cataclysm strikes and I have to make new toons to see the new starting areas, that is.


Happy Alting!

Friday Five: 5 Raiding Lessons to Remember in ICC

  1. If a mob does a knockback, keep your back to a wall.
  2. If you forgot a mob does a knockback and you ass pull another group of mobs, let everyone know on vent immediately. Most importantly, don't keep quiet about it, and don't keep ass pulling.
  3. Don't stand in the red/green crap on the ground. If you can't see the crap on the ground, turn up your spell detail settings. 
  4. If you lag too much to do your job when your settings are high enough to show you the crap on the ground, consider not signing up for 25-mans until you can optimize your computer to do so. First try turning off add-ons or background applications while you raid (including the wireless connection on your XBox.)
  5. When a role or raid leader says everyone needs to focus on target X, this means you. I don't care who you think you are, mister hot shot DPS. You do realize recount shows us when you don't change to the Beasts o Saurfang, right? Or when you spent all your time DPSing Lady Deathwhisper? And when the raid that always 1-shots a boss wipes due to adds staying up too long thanks to a couple DPS who felt like they were too good to switch targets, folks will know why. Don't make me pull my THIS MEANS YOU %t  macro back out....

BONUS: No one wants to hear that you wiped the raid because you didn't see the 20-ft tall mob standing behind you. If you have spatial awareness issues, and this happens for you on a recurring basis, try putting your camera settings to max range to make it easier for you to survey your playing field and find yourself a safe spot:

/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 4

/script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",30)

Today's screenshot is courtesy of our Saurfang buddy system. Last night I was Amber's Dark side, and she was my light. And we both had sleepy tree pets...

Countering a Misconception

On our Festergut 25 attempt this past Monday, I was blessed with being placed in the melee group. This meant I didn't get the barfs and could stand still and DPS the boss except when I was gifted with a spore I had to run to a ranged team. My DPS increased by 1300-1500 thanks to this placement And as expected, there was at least one public case of ruffled feathers over this placement.

Why did a shadow priest get this coveted placement over another DPS? Aren't shadow priests the class least affected by the having to run to and fro for Festergut? Alas, no, which should have been clear to the person asking me these questions if they had reviewed our raid logs. It takes a while for shadow priest DPS to ramp up. First, you have to get your 5 stacks of shadow weaving up. Next, you have to keep on refreshing that SW:P that you put up after those 5 stacks and during the use proc of your trinket, careful not to let it drop off. And finally, you want to keep your other DoTs up, without clipping them unnecessarily.

Yes, Devouring Plague is an instant cast. But Vampiric Touch isn't -- it has a cast time so I can't cast it on the run. Ditto for Mind Blast. And Mind Flay is a channeled spell. And my Muradin's Spyglass rocks as long as I keep up my10 stacks at all times. So, not sure how one would come to think that the running in and out for spores would somehow not affect my DPS. I'm not just going to fling out DP until I am out of mana to try to keep the DPS flowing. And since you asked, no, in a fight with the entire raid taking damage, I'm not inclined to Shadow Word: Death myself either.

Being put on the spot, by someone I don't really know, who was jonesing for the special placement I'd gotten (which had netted me our #2 damage done slot overall for the fight, #4 on DPS) made me pretty uncomfortable. Personally, I wouldn't have brought it up in guild chat, or proceeded to whisper a guildie, asking them to justify why they deserved the spot. I stood in the middle because that's what my raid leader asked me to do, just as the prior week I'd stood at range, gotten the pukes just about every go, and done significantly less DPS.

This brings up a larger issue for me though which is not presuming to tell others how to play their class. Telling a guildie who excels at their class that they should do XYZ instead of what they are doing is out of line. Period. Firstly, it's not your business; if they want suggestions from the team they'll ask. And secondly, you don't top the damage charts by doing it wrong. You really don't. I promise. Facerolling OPd class du jour excepted, of course.

When in doubt, keep your opinions to yourself. When my guildie confessed he was jealous of my placement, after the harangue about my playing, I said "yeah." Because that much was apparent already, or we wouldn't have been having the conversation. A conversation that, to be totally honest, really turned me off. So next time you get the urge to offer some unsolicited advice to someone, considering keeping it to yourself. Or go tweet your thought or write a blog post. Your raid will be the better for it.

New Armory is Full of Fun Toys

Like this imbeddable 3-D representation of your character. What's not to love about this? I can blow kisses on my shadow priest all day long. Alas, I can't figure out how to shrink this enough to cram it into a sidebar here on the site, or else I would.


This was the most immediately visible of the changes they released to the armory this past week. One  of the other fun toys that I may try to incorporate here is a customizable RSS feed of up to five of your characters' recent activities. You can show their recent achievements, boss kills, and gear upgrades. The gear upgrades and achievements allow you some fine tuning so you can show only epic gear obtained for instance, and show only specific categories of achievements.

The activity feed keeps a running tally of how many times you've killed each raid boss, or heroic final boss, and adds it to your daily activity stream each time you kill them again. But what I really like is how it shows you if a person is wearing that shiny new piece of gear they obtained or not, thanks to the handy [equipped] notation that follows the items they are actually using.

Yes, we all bank gear from time-to-time, especially if we are juggling hit, but it's always nice when you have a nagging feeling someone has already looted that item before to be able to check. I had one former guildie who had "accidentally DEd" an item then felt entitled to taking the item again the next time it dropped (raid said um, no.) And the guildie who would forget they already had the same item in the bank, the guy who won the BOE bracers in MC (that he already was wearing and felt entitled to have a second pair to sell, under his own name, in the AH.) I could go on and on but I think the utility speaks for itself.


The new feature that got a lot of folks in my guild excited, however, was the calendar feed you can import into the calendaring tool of your choice (i.e. Google calendar, Outlook, iCalendar or whatever it is that you use to keep yourself on time.) As with the other feeds, you can choose to show data from up to five of your characters. Back when I was actively raiding on two characters on two different servers, it would have been awesome to see their schedules together.

During the twitter developer chat last night, I added in a few questions regarding some future enhancements I would love to see. They didn't answer them, but I am posting them here, because I bet you have some similar things you'd like to see too:

  • Will we see recipes learned added to the armory pre-Cataclysm?
  • Will we see more professions tracking improvements, such as recipes we have not yet learned, come to the UI?
  • Any chance you will partner with blog platforms like typepad on creating modules that pull from armory feeds?

I know that if I were able to sneak a project onto the armory development team's to do list it would definitely be adding professions tracking data to my character feed. Being able to see, at a glance, while offline, everything I can make and what recipes I am missing (and how to obtain them) would make me a happy camper. I used CraftList2 in game to help me with the not-buying-multiples-of-the-same-recipes portion of that equation, but it was still not as scannable as something web-based could be.

How about you? What would you like to see in future armory releases? And what do you think of these new toys?

Friday Five: 5 Things I'd Like to Accomplish Over This Long MLK Weekend


  1. Determine which -- if any -- of the shiny new armory feeds I want to add to my blog template. 3-D SP model would be nice, yes?
  2. Get baby lock (currently 27) to 35. Lofty goal but with 2 levels of rested XP + 2 BOAs, it could happen. Why 35? To train up engineering again, of course.
  3. Find some nice quiet time to write some posts for the blog. The last week or so has been way too busy and my "to write" idea list is getting pretty long.
  4. Do a few hours more of random dungeons on my shaman, to enable her to acquire her second piece of T9.
  5. Continue to push along the druid, as she edges towards 80. She's now 71 and needs to do her Coldarra quests and get in a Nexus run.
Whata re your plans for the weekend?

On Shimmering Druid Wings


My baby horde druid is now in Northrend, and having attained level 71, has her pretty epic flight form. This shot, however, is from right after she got her plain old regular flight form, at level 60, in Hellfire Peninsula, but I love this Christmas Eve shot for the gorgeous sky.

I'm no fan of HFP due to many bitter memories of quests that took hours and respawns that randomly went from taking forever to all popping at once on top of you back in the early days of BC.

But I am a huge fan of flying, especially on my druids (baby druid being my first horde druid, but my former Alliance main is a level 80 druid.) My first druid got a significant portion of levels 68-70 from flying around exploring the rest of Outlands. The only reason I didn't do the same on this one is I have been leveling her with a friend so I couldn't get ahead in XP like that. Ditto for why I have yet to do the druid swift flight form chain, which I thought was incredibly well-done, but I will go back and do it at 80.

But there is something incredibly peaceful about gliding around on druid wings. I pan around to see the sights, and enjoy the traveling to and fro. While on other characters I might still hop a flight path and AFK, even though they also have epic flight, on my druids I always want to take the me-directed route there.

She's a skinner, not an herber or a miner, so the epic speed flight won't really help her gather. But it does give her the independence to make her own path, and show off doing loop-de-loops with /mountspecial. And sometimes, it's those little things that matter, at least to me.

Happy Tuesday!

How Patch 3.3 Helped me Get my Mojo Back


I was surprised that so many folks gave a big "Meh!" when 3.3 hit. Because it honestly gave me my mojo back in game. I went from being a wee bit bored to having more stuff I wanted to do than I could conceivably find time to complete.

Suddenly, I had reasons to run heroics on my shadow priest. 100 random peeps grouped with later and I took home an adorable PUG puppy plus a few achievements and a smattering of frost emblems to boot. We had a new raid instance to hack at, new screenshots to take and new patterns to look forward to.

And then there is the lore aspect. I LOVE how the three new dungeons have a storyline that carries you through them. It's awesome to once again be fighting by the Dark Lady's side. And I am driven to emote every time I enter the ICC raid instance for the first time each week...but I won't say what I always say to keep the spoilers at bay. But the fact that I enter the raid each week with a purpose makes me smile.

Leveling the druid got even easier. She went oom less frequently than before. She could turn in the heavy borean leather for arctic furs and quickly leveled to 440 leatherworking, a day or so after hitting 65, thanks to all the leathers I'd banked from the last alt's leveling as a skinner/herbalist.

I have renewed hope the shaman has a chance in hell of gearing herself up respectably, if I can find the time to do some random dungeons with her. Of course, given our current guild situation of more folks who want to raid than we have spots for, and a policy of rotating folks in and out to ensure everyone gets a chance at content, things will slow down soon. In fact I was sat tonight from ICC 10, while they work on a new boss, so they can ensure everyone gets a crack at seeing the new content.

But instead of logging on to tackle any of the above to dos, or to level the baby warlock, I'm sipping a glass of wine, writing in the blog. And that feels great as well. I have a backlog of stuff I want to write about here, just like my in game to do list grows longer every day.

It's nice to be re-engaged with WoW. I hope you are as well.

ICC Lower Spire Cleared!

Tonight, our first night ever taking a look at Saurfang, and we downed him our third try. We had 101k raid DPS which is one of the best I've seen from our team. A nice quick raid giving me plenty of time to keep nursing the flu and go to bed early. I believe we are the 6th horde guild on our server (per WoW Progress and our realm forums) to clear this wing.

Congratulations Pirates! And a whole new wing awaits us this week!

What to Wear: Frost Emblem Gear for Shadow Priests

Patch 3.3 brought with it a new top-end emblem (Emblem of Frost), and a nice assortment of gear to fill in some lingering holes or help with the never-ending hit-swap dance. Personally, for now, I am hanging on to my badges to see how my luck fares in our ICC 10 runs, and how our progress goes in ICC 25. I'm not at all tempted to purchase my first few pieces of tier gear. Overall, other than the shoulders, it's looking like it's not worth wearing until you have the 4-piece bonus, or have been able to upgrade pieces via the marks that drop off each wing's final boss. So, after giving it a couple more weeks, I'll decide if I want to take the plunge and upgrade my less than 245 iLvl pieces, or wait until I have the 300-something badges for 4 pieces of tier gear.

Tier Set

Non-Tier Gear

  • Volde's Cloak of the Night Sky (50 emblems). If you are not doing 25-man content, and do not have a heroic ToC cloak, this will be your best option for this slot. You will not want to purchase the other badge cloak, Drape of the Violet Tower (50 emblems), as its MP5 is not useful for damage dealing.
  • Meteor Chaser's Raiment (95 emblems). This is your third-best chest, bested only by a heroic chest and the max-upgraded tier chest. The other non-tier badge chest, Ermine Coronation Robes (95 emblems), is itemized a little better for healers.
  • Gloves of False Gestures (60 emblems). If you have all your hit taken care of in other slots, these are considered to be your second best gloves. The other emblem gloves, Gloves of Ambivalence (60 emblems), are better itemized for healers.
  • Circle of Ossus (60 emblems). If you are not doing ICC 25 or heroic ICC 10, this will be your BiS belt.
  • Belt of Omission (60 emblems). If you are looking for hit in this slot, this will be your best option.
  • Maghia's Misguided Quill (60 emblems). If you have been using the Ulduar hit trinket you may want to spend the badges to upgrade to this even larger dose of hit (thus freeing up other slots for non-hit gear.)

If you purchased all 5 of your tier items, you would be looking at an emblem spend of 405.