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September 2010

Shadow Priest DPS on the PTR

image from

The above is from the PTR today, self-buffed, no special food or elixirs/flasks, no mods to help me keep an eye on things like latency or procs. Just me on the heroic dummy.

Overall the DPS is OK. I do notice a few differences from PTR versus live:

1) Mind Flay's damage is showing up as a DoT. However, the crit % was within 1% on live versus PTR, so it seems comparable in that way.  The average live tick, however, was a smidge over 3k. Could have just been lucky procs.

2) Vampiric Touch had 3% fewer crits on the PTR. versus live, however, its average tick was for 300 more.

3) In live, I consistently do more overall damage with devouring plague than with shadow word: pain (13.1% vs 11.3%). On PTR this has consistently been flipped, with SW:P on top (13.3 vs 11.1).

4) SW:P has gone from 1983 a tick on average on live to 2313 a tick on PTR. That seems like a small uptick, but since you keep your SW:P up all the time with your mindflays, it adds up.

5) I kept up the mind blasts in both places to keep the replenishment flowing, but the new talents etc. caused the DPS from it to be twice as high on the PTR (12.4k average versus 6k average.)

6) It is really weird for me to see the shadowfiend's melee swings outpacing the improved devouring plague, but it's true. The talents/glyphs I am using on the PTR give me a shadowfiend cooldown a minute which I took advantage of every time it was available. I should mention the damage from each of its strikes has also increased by 1k.)

Due to all the changes to mana regen, I'd been concerned about maximizing replenishment uptime. And the last time I'd been on the PTR I'd had to disperse a few times over the course of my 12min trial. But today, although I had to do that in live, I didn't ever even dip below about 28k/32k mana. So I am waiting for the nerf bat to strike. One thing I could not really test is how much damage shadowy apparitions add to your arsenal. They're not showing up on the logs yet as they are doing 0 damage. So they are just a pretty proc to look at for now.

Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about what shadow priest DPS will bring for Cataclysm. For theorycrafting on BETA shadow priest DPS and spells, head to

Friday Five: Five Considerations for Cataclysm Raiding


Despite recurring lack of interest across servers in WotLK raiding, I'm starting to see folks in guild forums and elsewhere starting to get ants in their Cataclysm pants about making decisions now about raiding teams in Cataclysm. If you're tempted to start drafting up your raiding policies now, you may want to stop drop and roll, and think about these key considerations prior to making sweeping changes:

  1. Mains today are not going to be mains in Cata.
    Don't assume your raid team is going to pick itself up and go into the expansion as status quo. There are going to be a whole slew of main changes. If you started playing in Wrath, or didn't raid prior to Wrath, you haven't lived through watching people who adored their class have nerd rage meltdowns regarding changed class proficiencies and game mechanics, and cycle through their alts until they land on one that feels right. So you'll just have to trust me -- THIS WILL HAPPEN A LOT. Until you have your first 10 folks ready and willing to raid, you can't start parsing out the groups. Will you have too many tanks? Not enough healers? All druids? It's really way too early to know. Or to start fighting about who gets what person on their team.
  2. Your star raiders may not be your star levelers.
    The first folks to make it to 85 are not necessarily going to be your best raiders. Or even be people with interest in raiding. Yes, hardcore guilds often give short timelines for leveling a character to get their raiding going as quickly as possible. But in a casual raiding situation, you may have folks level several toons to 85 prior to deciding whom they want to raid with, or even being ready to give up that alt leveling time in exchange for raiding. I know at least 1 person who has said outright that he intends to spend months leveling his alts prior to being ready to step into a raid.
  3. Heroics will be your first step as a fresh 85, not raids.
    That's right-- it's not intended for a fresh 85 to immediately ding then head into the raid instance. When these expansions unfurl, there is an expectation that folks will farm their way through regular instances and heroics to gear up and get ready (and to learn how to play their class at level cap in a team.) I've heard a number of incredulous newer players complaining about how the heroics are being implemented in Cata as a "C*** block. Newsflash: you just got spoiled by the Wrath heroics on a whole being easy. BC heroics were REALLY DARN HARD at the turn of the expansion.
  4. Guild churn is not over.
    As guilds that focused on 25-mans pare down to 10s, and as folks who have a small core group of friends they play with realize that 10-man raids are a viable pursuit as a focus in Cataclysm, there will continue to be guild churn. You'll also have some of the players who haven't played in over a year who come back, swear they live for raiding, come to a couple then drop out. This is all perfectly normal. Take all such declarations with a grain of salt, and see how things look at the end of December when the dust settles.
  5. Ideal raid makeups are still an unknown.
    Blizzard is still making significant tweaks to the classes. Until they lock and load, and we can see true group synergy in raids, with proper glyphs and itemized gear, it's a crapshoot. We know what has worked in the past, but what's worked for ideal group composition has changed over time, through each expansion, and with some raid instances. See also why my BC druid main never finished ZA, yet my mage alt went through there countless numbers of times (see also: cc makes a Cataclysm comeback.)

This list spurred from having gone through all the prior expansion's raiding "ZOMG we need to change everything up nao" bubbles, plus a great chat AF had a few weeks back to set raiders' expectations. If your guild is starting to have these discussions, it may behoove you to get out in front of it and have a chat about guild expectations in regards to expansion raiding.

Safe travels and Happy Friday!

Make a WoW Wish Come True

Spread some cheer by making a WoW card

When I saw the story about this little guy who is 9 years old and undergoing his 4th heart surgery, and saw that he really wanted cards for the wall of his recovery room, AND he was a WoW fan, I had to spread the word. And get out the glue stick.

I made him a postcard featuring the screenie you see here. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some imagination. And I know you guys have plenty of both. And you could always buy a card at the story if you're out of art supplies.


Send your cards to:

Ethan Millerick
c/o Ronald McDonald House
520 Sand Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304

xo Anexxia

P.S. a big *moonkinhug* to those of you who have been spreading the word on twitter and via your WoW blogs. This warms my heart.

Friday Five: 5 WoW Things That Have Recently Made Me Happy


  1. I got my druid her classic raider achievement. Her vanilla WoW guild fell apart right about C'thun, and I never went back to do it until now. AS a bonus, there was some moonkin dancing. RAWR.
  2. It's starting to feel like Cataclysm is really on the horizon, now that Patch 4.0.1 is on the PTRs. And for the first time in ages, I got the PTR to download and work properly. Huzzah!
  3. My Alliance shadow priest dinged 80 a bit over a week ago. I've been hitting up the randoms with her, and gotten a whole slew of achievements, and some reasonably good gear. Hooray!
  4. Warcraft Pets has the scoop on some new pets for Cataclysm, including, an armadillo! WANT!
  5. I logged some time on the PTR's heroic dummies on Anexxia, and found that PTR shadow priest DPS is on par with Live. i.e. They haven't broken anything. And that's without the logs picking up any of the alleged damage from my shadowy apparitions. I do have one QQ tho -- why is it that some of my shadowy apparitions are not shadowy? I deman Truth in advertising! Needs more shadow!

What's made you happy in WoW recently?

Are You Checking Out Patch 4.0.1 on the PTR?

my PTR baby druid

Thanks to our easily exciteable kittens, I was up bright and early Sunday morning, and decided to give the PTRs a spin. They just went live this weekend with the 4.0.1 build that introduces the many UI and talent changes they've been working on for Cataclysm.

I uploaded a request to copy over a couple of my characters to the PTRs, but since the estimated wait was 4 days, rolled myself this baby druid to check things out.

The first thing I was struck with, other than the proliferation of little white tiger cats running around, was that I came into the world with Wrath on my bar, and had enough mana to use it like crazy. I admit I pinched myself to see if I'd fallen asleep and entered dreamland. But no, Blizz is actually making it possible for those of us who like to level our characters up as casters to be able to do so without a bottomleess bag full of beverages.


I should note that I chose to go in while I was just ad the "available" stage of my PTR download, which means it had a ways to go before being completed. Overall, in the lowbie area, this had little affect on my playing, though I could tell at least once when I was getting a just in time download. The opening cinematic started with a long black screen and stuttered midway through, presumably also due to my choosing to play before the download was complete. Pretty minor issues though, which makes me hopeful they've found a good way for breaking up the patch files so the least-likely to encounter data files are the last to download, and thus speeding up the patching process for everyone.

It was moderately annoying, however, that after crashing out on the PTR, and relaunching, I was confronted with needing several additional hours of downloading before being able to play again. That was a bummer and put a crimp in my leveling explorations.

Trainer Upcoming Spells Available to You

Some of the best UI changes are around the management of spells. The above window shows my druid trainer's menu clearly showing my next trainable spell and its cost. No more clicking on a spell name in a long list to see when it will be available. Including its icon is a nice touch for those of us who are visual learners.

Similarly, I will never hustle myself back to the trainer to train some spell I couldn't care less about -- when you advance a level, you get both a tell and a big splash across your screen that tells you that a new spell is now available to you:

At level five, I ran myself up to Dolanaar and checked my mail to retrieve my BOA pets (only two of whom showed up-- eeep!)  Which brings me to the many changes with the talent and spellbook interfaces.


When playing a new class, such as me playing my baby warlock, you can feel clueless as to when some of your signature abilities are trainable. Well no longer -- your spellbook can tell you. Your spellbook used to be a rarely visited place, sought out when pulling out a rarely used spell for a boss mechanic. But now, it shows you all the spells you have to look forward to training -- and notes at wht level you attain them.

You'll notice a few more tabs on your spellbook now -- companions and pets are no longer a part of the character interface -- they are subtabs of your spellbook, and have also gotten an overhaul.


No more peering at page after page of 12 tiny icons and trying to remember which speckled egg summons which companion pet. Now your pet UI clearly states the pet name next to its icon and pops up a picture of it in action if you select it from the menu. Necessary change on Blizzard's part? Certainly not. But does it make me happy with my 100+ pets on two toons? You bet it does!

 Last night, I was able to get on and briefly play around with my shadow priest and my boomkin, and respec them. I think I actually giggled when my eclipse proc made my nature spell buttons sparkly. It felt really weird to be confronted with the new talent UI though. I was not prepared.


I'm a cuddly and adorable Forsaken shadow priest! Who're you calling a sinister shadow magic user? *cough*



It was weird to start at this screen then be shown only one tree until I'd met my 31-point quota. I spent those points, then moved over to the discipline tree, easily filling in my remaining 5 talents. It didn't really feel like I made many choices, mind you. Mainly "Silence, y/n/murloc", and "less dmg to self? y/n" The boomkin tree was more problematic, and made me feel as though I sometimes was forced to choose talents I didn't really care 
to get down the tree to the stuff I wanted.

Overall though, no great dramas with the new talents. I can't wait to try things out on more than just target dummies.

I leave you with this beautiful scene, of a Darnassus without water, where boats float in mid air. Saefe travels!

Harvest Festival Bakeoff: Dalaran 7-Layer Brownies

I had to make a submission for the Harvest Festival Bakeoff, given how much baking I do IRL.

Dalaran 7-Layer Brownies

These are truly the most fabulous 7 Layer Brownies I've had, and so simple to make.

1.    Melt 1 stick of butter in 9"x13" pan, then add the following layers:
2.    1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3.    1 cup of grated coconut
4.    3/4 of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
5.    3/4 of a 12 oz bag of butterscotch chips
6.    1 cup chopped nuts (Carolyn, who taught me this recipe, used pecans. I prefer almonds or pistachios)
7.    Pour 1 can of yeti milk (sweetened condensed milk) over the top

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for nugget style brownies.

Pirate's Day, Harvest Festival, and Brewfest -- Oh My!

BrewFest Mounts 2009 ScreenShot_100409_131042

For most of us, September is devoid of holidays other than Labor Day (a day upon which many of us labor.) But not so in Azeroth-- it's the kickoff of the prime holiday season:

It's nice to have them all bunched together in the midst of the pre-expansion doldrums. Inevitably, the holidays bring the recently MIA back online and provide great opportunities to get the guild together to do something that all can participate in regardless of level and gear.

Harvest Festival

Not just an excuse to sit down at the enemy's table and eat their pie, this holiday is the single best way to power level an alt's neglected cooking skills. The bountiful tables outside the major citites make a good place to hold a guild party, especially if you are PvP inclined. Tons of achievements are attainable, including one of my favorites, wherein you get the Turkinator buff and run around like mad, shooting turkeys. Mwahahaha. *cough* But I digress.

No, wait, as Moober reminded me this really is a holiday just about sitting down at a table and eating strange conjured foods. Oh well. We still have Pilgrim's Bounty to look forward to for the above. Need moar coffee.

Pirate's Day

Last yer, my horde guild had a small dance party on top of the Booty Bay inn, to hang with the pirates, yo. I think my favorite part of the event is the long-duration pirate outfit it gives you. Last year, this was basically an ahicevement in search of a holiday. Too soon to know if Blizz has anything up their sleeve, given the Cataclysmic changes incoming.


Who doesn't love a holiday that features pink elekks and tossing pints of ale at Dark Iron dwarves? And a chance at the sexy mounts you see in the above screenshot? It should be easier than ever this year to get your shots at Coren Direbrew, thanks to the holiday bosses being in LFD. And it also means you won't have that same stingy guildie taking everything that drops, unlike two years ago *i'mlookingatyouyoungpaladin*.

What did your guild do last year? And what are you planning to do for the holidays this year? I'd love to swap ideas. And expect to see some more on these holidays here as we get closer to them.

Friday Five: Five Blog Posts You Should be Reading This Week


In no particular order, here are five blogs I read each week (or however often they update) that you should have on your blog roll too:

  • An Interesting Thing Happened in the UC Sewers
    Tessy over at Reflections from the Pond did Wrathgate again recently, and had a run in with a perfect stranger who jumped down her throat for not assisting Varian with his assault on the Undercity. And yes a big motivator for linking this post was 1) I want more frequent posts from Tessy! and 2) the video link is a must watch. Mwahaha.
  • The Walls of Wintergrasp and Terrain Exploits
    It's been a while since I've seen Cyn this worked up, or writing this much on a hot PvP topic. A must read. After all it kept him from our ZA fun run, so you know he was consumed with writerly inspiration.
  • Why the BETA will be Better Than the Release
    Larisa at Pink Pigtail Inn makes a good case for why playing the BETA might in fact be more personally rewarding for some players than playing the live release.
  • Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: A Call to Blizzard for a Better UI
    I liked Jaded Alt's article (at her new digs!) on her UI wishlist. Given the many changes to UI that Blizz has implemented over the past  5 years, we just may see some of them eventually.
  • Mages Making Money
    Mana Obscura's post got me motivated to clean out my banks and work on acquiring some more Gs in my bank to fund the inevitable expansion gold sinks.
  • Sticks and Orcs and Mary Sues
    I've really been enjoying Oddcraft's warchief election posts. Here's the latest -- Thrall vs. Basic Campfire vs. Richard Knaak.

This week was too much work and too little warcraft and reading these posts on my BBerry as I traveled too and from work gave me a nice Warcraft fix. And for that, bloggers, I thank you.


Three Reasons Why Guilds That Raid Need Class Officers

If only these guys had had class leader mentors, perhaps things would have turned out differently for them...

 In my vanilla WoW raiding days, our 40-man raids had specific numbers of raid spots designated for specific classes fulfilling specific roles. The class raid leaders (who were not always the same as the class officers) managed their invitee and standby lists, and kept tabs on how everyone was performing. My druids and I sat in our own Vent channel (only raid officers and the RL could talk to each other and over the whole raid), and had our own chat channel. We built comraderie while also having a solid sounding board for trouble shooting how our class and role should be handling any given encounter.

Fast Forward to Burning Crusade with its smaller raids. All of a sudden, many guilds, including mine, decided there really wasn't a need for class officers any more, since raid sizes were so much smaller, and we didn't always have multiples of each class/role. The emphasis moved to having raid leaders and then folks in charge of each functional area (tanking, healing, DPS) at the most. And thus, for many guilds, the class officer died out comleteely.

Given that Cataclysm may well sound the death knell for many guilds running 25-man raids, I can see how a call for a return to class officers may sound like craziness. But hear me out. There are some very solid reasons to consider having them -- even if they aren't max rank officers.

  1. No one is an expert on every class and role.
    That's right, mister hotshot raid leader, I am talking to you. It's infuriating when you are told to do something your class shouldn't (or worse yet can not) do. Or to watch the RL keep handing the dispells/decurses to the same class over and over again, while two or three more who could do it, stand by, not saying a peep. Class leaders know what their folks can (and should) be doing, and can feed the RL that information discretely. In a free-for-all situation, the raid leader doesn't always know whose advice to follow.
  2. Sometimes, players need tips on how to improve.
    I'm the type of person who goes out and finds great resources on the classes I'm playing and tries to maximize what I do and how I do it. Not everyone does this. And further, you can't expect them to. But you can ask your Officers to provide coaching and feedback in these cases. And feedback comes across as a lot more genune and useful when it's coming from someone who also excels in their class and role. No offense, but if a melee player starts telling me how to play my spellcasters, if they are lucky, I tune them out. If I've had it already, they'll get an earful.
  3. No one wants unsolicited advice.
    That's right, no one. Yeah, maybe you've gotten a helpful hint or two from someone that you didn't ask for that really helped, but most of the time, it's annoying. The unsolicited advice typically comes across as someone 1) thinking you suck and 2) trying to tell you they know better than you as to how to play. Having class leader officers tells the guild: these are our experts, and they are your go to resource for help, and are expected to know how to maximize their class in raids. This takes a lot of the sting out of the advice. 

If you are pursuing 25-man raids, and have several dozen active players, why not ask them if they'd like to have class leads or class officers? Those who are nominated by their peers will feel appreciated for being called out for excellence, and your quieter members of the guild will feel empowered to approach them for advice. Even if implemented in a more honorary than powerful role, class leaders have the ability to build a sense of community amongst players, while recognizing some of your best players for doing a great job, which may even help with guild retention.