shadow priest

Initial thoughts on the Warcraft Legion alpha

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Why hello there. And yes, that IS a gnome hunter you see before you. A slightly confused survival hunter, mind you, but a gnome hunter all the same. And her trusty mechanical pet, Sparky. 

Creating this gnome hunter was my first activity upon installing the Legion alpha. I thought it would be a good way to warm up before jumping into the expansion, given how many hunter alts I've levelled as of late. But it was actually a pretty strange experience due to survival being the only spec available to you. And survival being all about being a melee hunter. 

Now, melee hunter is not an altogether new concept for me. I do recall being in Scholomance in vanilla WoW and having a melee hunter, who kept dying, as part of the dungeon group we'd assembled. But I honestly hadn't given it another thought until we'd heard about the spec overhaul at Blizzcon this year. Luckily, my experience with the all new melee hunter spec did not involve lots of dying. The hatchet throw works well for pulling a mob away from an area that a patrol might walk too close to, and the harpoon shot is an efficient way to get you to melee range of your target. Right now, however, the leveling experience is a bit off. At level three you get a quest reward gun that you can't use at all. In fact, you are using auto shot and your pet to slowly kill your mobs, thanks to your bare action bars. After a few levels of this minimalism, I was ready to check out the shadow priesting.

Continue reading "Initial thoughts on the Warcraft Legion alpha" »


One Shadow Priest's Thoughts on Legion

Anexxia, shadow priest in residence at Bible of Dreams, not in shadow form for once.

I can't speak for any other shadow priests, but as I watched the Warcraft Legion systems panel, I started to get nervous when I saw shadow priests as the third bullet on the Immersion slide. I'm already quite immersed with playing my shadow priests, thank you very much! And I haven't forgotten just how recently Blizzard wanted to "improve" our gameplay by taking away our Devouring Plague, a spell that many Forsaken shadow priests such as myself consider to be a cornerstone of our repertoire and story. 

That said, I kept an open mind as we heard their initial comments on the class changes for Legion:

  • Shadow priests in Legion will no longer be the "poor cousin of the affliction warlock".
  • We gain our powers by tapping into the power of the void.
  • The void is controlled by the old gods, and we all know that spending too much time with the Old Gods drives one to insanity
  • Thus, the new resource for shadow priests= insanity. No more mana or shadow orbs. 
  • As your insanity increases, your shadow form gets darker. You grow tentacles out of your body. And you ultimately end up in void form.
  • "Ultimate but fleeting power" because no one can harness insanity forever.

All of the above sounds interesting in theory, right up until I sprout tentacles and end up in a void form. That's where I start to worry. Worry that this will feel like I'm watching the terrible Blade 1 CGI animations come to life. Only happening to my beloved shadow priest. And then there's the maturity level of my fellow players. I still remember the incredibly crass and insensitive Big Wigs raid warnings that went out in AQ that some teenage boy somewhere thought was amusing. Am I going to get that every time I tentacle out in an LFR? Blech.

Today, Blizzard released more information on the priest class changes, including a narrative around our new insanity affinity. Here's their intro to our class story:

The Light in which many priests bathe is brilliant and effervescent, granting them immense divine power. But the brightest light casts the darkest shadow—and from within this blackness, a rival power dwells. Shadow priests fully embrace this opposing polarity, their faith equally resolute as their holy counterparts—but focused on shadowy magics and mental manipulation. Like all priests, they dedicate much of their lives to worship—but they derive their power from the Void, straying dangerously close to the domain of the Old Gods. To truly understand such ancient, corruptive influence is to be driven mad. This is the state in which these dark priests thrive, embracing insanity and feeding off of the minds of their opponents to reach terrifying new limits.

The blog post goes on to discuss how our key talents will generate insanity, with one notable spell missing from the line-up: Devouring Plague. Was this an oversight? Or is this another run at removing it from our spellbook? Only time will tell. Another interesting decision is removing our healing spells, which makes sense, and giving us a dark mending (which sounds a lot like how we used to be able to use our Cascade to heal), and keeping our Power Word: Shield. But despite the emphasis on making each spec unique, they're also giving Discipline Prests the Dark Mending too. I should also note we'll now have a significant, powerful cooldown: oblivion. Every 2 minutes we can trigger it to gain 100 insanity. 

I'm hoping to get my hands on a BETA invite so I can do some significant poking around with the shadow priest changes and provide feedback. I think the vision Blizzard has presented sounds like it has some great potential. But I'm also concerned it may not really work for me. And as someone who has had a shadow priest main since the end of Burning Crusade, that's a real concern. For now, I'm cautiously optimistic. Stay tuned.

 


What's on your pre-WoD Bucket List?

Anexxia getting her black wings of legendary doom from the Black Prince (a.k.a. legendary cloak quest line complete).

Now that we have the Warlords of Draenor expansion's release date in hand (it's November 13, 2014 if you hadn't heard), it's time to make that last pass at a bucket list for the Mist of Pandaria expansion.

At the top of the page, those black wings you see are my beloved Forsaken shadow priest getting her black wings of doom from the Black Prince, in exchange for finally finishing off the legendary cloak questline. I'd stalled out and not done the PvP portion of the chain after it taking forever to get my tokens in LFRs. So there's one item checked off my list.

A shadowy Xu-Fu battle pet with Anexxia

I've been doing a serious amount of pet collecting as well, with the 4 Celestials pets at the top of my want list. I've gotten my first one, Xu-Fu, seen here in shadowform with me, and am on my way to the other 3, and should have them in hand before WoD drops.

 I'm also working on getting my first-ever paladin to 90 (she's at 77), and got my first level 90 hunter Alliance side a couple of months back. Which means of course I had to go and start a horde hunter this weekend...

But that's the easy part-- the what I'll be able to accomplish. It's what won't be done that always weighs heaviest. For me, it's the Challenge Mode dungeons. I had high hopes of getting a regular group together to run these, but it never seemed to happen. So I'm actually going to end the expansion without having done even one. Which is a bummer.

So how about you? What's on your bucket list for the next 3 months?


What to Wear: A Shadow Priest's Guide to the Siege of Orgrimmar

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Now that I've been making some headway into the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, both in 10 regular and flex, I figured it was time to put together one of my perennial What to Wear Guides. But once I got started with it, I saw my usual simple guide format of days gone by just wasn't going to cut it with this many bosses and so many gear options per slot. Thus, instead, I put together a handy matrix in Excel:

Siege-of-Orgrimmar-Shadow-Priest-Gear-Matrix

Download a printable PDF, or save a copy of the matrix in spreadsheet form from google drive.

Know your priorities

Per Icy Veins, stat priority changed up a little bit with Patch 5.4:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Hit Rating or Spirit
  3. Haste Rating (until reaching the soft cap)
  4. Critical Strike Rating and Mastery Rating (NOTE if you do not have the 2-pc tier 16 bonus, crit still better than mastery)
  5. Haste Rating (past the soft cap)

Gem Appropriately

If you do not have both a max raid buffed spellpower of 30k and ilvl 505, use these gems:
Once you have both a max raid buffed spellpower of 30k and ilvl 505, use these gems:

Maximize Your Enchants

It can be difficult to keep up with maximizing all the changes in stats as you gain new gear. I highly recommend using the Reforge Lite add-on or maximizing your gear via Ask Mr Robot.


Iron Circle: A New Home for my Forsaken Shadow Priest

Can't we all just get along? This means YOU, Lady Jaina Proudmore.

I am happy to report that as of a few days ago, my Forsaken shadow priest has officially found a new home, on LLane, in Iron Circle. Huzzah!

As those of you who follow me on twitter know, it's been a real challenge for me Horde guild-wise since mid-Cataclysm. When our friend-led raiding guild server transferred off Bronzebeard in the dark of night, leaving us guildless, I mostly stopped playing this lady, despite her being my all time favorite character.

When Wrenz and I returned from our time away from WoW (a.k.a. our flirtation w/SWTOR), I had hoped to find that things had livened up on Bronzebeard, but I really didn't ID a guild that would be a good fit for my interests and raiding timeframes (I'm PST and can not get online prior to 6 PT weeknights.)

I had been a little stubborn about considering other realms, in large part because almost all of my playtime on Anexxia had been on Bronzebeard. But at a certain point, you have to know when to let go of the past and move on.

For me, the turning pointwas my getting restless with not raiding. Even tho my gnomey shadow priest was quickly geared up via LFR, I was not able to find her a raiding team. And although I love doing the retro raids with friends, the inability to form a cross-realm raid group meant she was pretty much stuck with LFR as her only raiding outlet. Now don't get me wrong-- that is better than not raiding at all. But in my heart, it's the comraderie and sense of achievement from raiding that keeps me most interested in the game.

And thus, I shipped off this lady, and a passel of alts, to app to Iron Circle last month, at the urging of a number of twitter WoW peeps, with @glyneth being the prime inspiration/instigator for my application.

I've been thrilled to get to do a few of the recent tier raids in the team 2 10man group, and the weekly current tier raid LFR with almost a full guild raid. I've got my WoW mojo flowing again. I am filled with the urge to compile best-in-slot gear lists. And write posts on optimizing your raid DPS. i.e. things are back to normal again.

Now, I can't promise to be better about posting in the blog mind you as I am still super busy with the new job. But I can promise that when I do, it will be back to the raiding shadow priest topics of yore.

And just in time to get prepared to put that jerk Hellscream in his place...

Wish me luck!

P.S. Vol'jin for Warchief!


Is that a Sha in Your Pocket...?

Are you TALKING TO ME!?!? Gnome shadow priest with scary Sha helm

...My gnomey shadow priest's looking more than a little Sha-touched these days. Between her strangely frightening visage, as you can see above, and the Shafiend that keeps following her around, even on her farm (see below), she's gotten a little bit more evil as the season has worn on.

I completely blame/credit LFR. While it certainly can never take the place of the feeling of exhileration that comes from being part of a successful collaborative raid team that's kicking booty, it has been a great way to keep a toe in raiding on my favorite class, despite not having a schedule that could accommodate regular raiding with a guild.

I'm crossing my fingers, however, that we'll be able to do some 10-mans with Friend or Foe soon. I had the pleasure of finally completing Terrace of Endless Spring last night, thanks to two FoF tanks (/waves at Manglehaft), and can tell it would be a great experience to casually raid with those folks.

I haven't made much progress on the alts, other than getting the shaman to 90 a few weeks ago. I mean to be leveling my boomkin, but I mostly want to play my shadow priest. No, my Alliance shadow priest. Not, you-know-who. She's still hoveringaround at 85, trying to figure out if there's anyone left to play with on Bronzebeard...

me and my Shafiend


I Have a Confession to Make...

Nothing like a team meeting to bring out some confessions...

I have a confession to make: I've been running around Pandaria, listening in on your deepest secrets. No -- really. You see, in the midst of my inscription research one day, I made a glyph of confession. And I couldn't resist the temptation of learning it myself instead of just making a few and selling them for profit.

The first player I targeted and cast the spell of confession upon told me: "I go into dungeons not to make Azeroth a better place, but just for loot."

Just as I'd expected! My fellow adventurers weren't really in it just for the thrill of adventure. I KNEW IT!

Inspired to learn more secrets, I targeted more adventurers standing around int he tavern. That mage in the flashy dress nursing a beer? They said: "I really wasn't prepared. Who knew?"

Ha! You probably mooched a ton of fish feasts off those of us who *were* prepared, missy!

That other shadow priest though, they were the one I really wanted to find out more about. Casually, I shifted out of shadow form for a moment and stopped to talk to the bartender. Then, when I was sure they weren't paying any attention to little gnomey me, I cast the spell and learned: "I have stood in the fire."

Woah. Really? You just..stood there? For shame! You could have at least dispersed! Bah!

I stood there pondering this for a moment, when out of nowhere I saw myself saying "I never use the lightwell."

Quickly glancing around, I looked for that sneaky shadowpriest. And sure enough, he was targeting me. Beaten at my own game by a fellow shadow priest! Oh, the humanity!


This post inspired by the most recent Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.


What to Wear: the Shadow Priest's Guide to Mists of Pandaria Heroic Gear

Note: to jump in to the Heroic difficulty Mists of Pandaria max level dungeons at level 90, you will need a minimum ilvl of 435. If you don't quite meet that minimum, check out my guide to pre-heroic gear.

Know your priorities

First things first, get to know your stat priority:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Spell Hit (obtained with Hit or Spirit) will enable your spells to not miss on bosses
  3. Haste (aiming for 19.03% to earn 2 extra ticks of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague)
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery

Gem Appropriately

Maximize Your Enchants

 Heroic Dungeon Gear

You may obtain ilvl 463 gear (and a few epic pieces) from the following max level Heroic dungeons:

Note that I am not leavng out items with mastery despite it being our least effective stat.  I've called out hit and spirit on pieces, and the few epics. Here's what you can take home from these dungeons if the RNG is in your favor:


What to Wear: the Shadow Priest's Guide to Pre-Heroic Mists of Pandaria Dungeon Gear

To jump in to the Heroic difficulty Mists of Pandaria max level dungeons at level 90, you will need a minimum ilvl of 435. I've compiled your sources for getting the gear you need to beat or exceed that minimum.

Know your priorities

First things first, get to know your stat priority:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Spell Hit (obtained with Hit or Spirit) will enable your spells to not miss on bosses
  3. Haste (aiming for 19.03% to earn 2 extra ticks of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague)
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery

Gem Appropriately

Maximize Your Enchants

 And now, onto the Gear!

The following ilvl 450 gear can be obtained from the later leveling instances, Mogu'shan Palace (MP) and ilevel 435 gear from Shado-Pan Monastery (SPM) so be sure to queue up as you go!

 

 


My Shadow Priests' Patch 5.0 Talents and Changes in Playstyle

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Now that I have my glyph choices squared away, I thought it was time to share the direction I'm heading with talents for my shadow priests* since we're about to have Patch 5.0 land upon all of us, bringing us into this new talent world order.

It quite honestly feels odd, after years of playing, to have so few talents to choose from. Luckily, that marries well to the limited amount of time I've had to screw around in the BETA to see which ones I'd most like to have in the live game.

Tier 1, Level 15

Despite how tempting it would be to have a tentacle monster forest at my beck and call to root down my enemies (i.e. Void Tendrils), I went with the Psyfiend here. It's fabulous fun to have a shrieking little friend causing my enemies to flee in terror. What's not to love?

Tier 2, Level 30

Since this is my leveling build, I've gone with Phantasm. It allows you to remove damaging effects and disencumber yourself by hitting fade. The other real possibility in this tree, Angelic Feather, will go in my second build, to be invoked if I have a raid situation that needs the extra speed for allies.

Tier 3, Level 45

Given how much I love my shadowfiend, turning her into an exquisitely evil and more frequently deployable mana regen machine by choosing Mindbender was a no brainer for me.It will be interesting to see if Shadow Word: Insanity ends up being more DPS or not (that all being relative depending upon one's ability to watch DoTs and CDs and react accordingly).


Tier 4, Level 60

This tier is all about self-preservation. Since I am tired of having way too many rarely-used "oh shit" spells crowding up my bars, I went with Angelic Bulwark which will passively try to save me from anything terrible I stumble into by shielding me and regenning health.

Tier 5, Level 75

My first look at Twist of Fate was initially due to it being an old friend name and icon-wise. But it stayed in my talent tree due to it being a nice passive DPS boost on low health targets. I'll pop Power Infusion into my second shadow build, which is intended to be more suitable for raiding, as the increased haste and mana regen on demand could definitely come in handy.

Tier 6, Level 90

Since I haven't gotten to 90 in the BETA (and frankly, I don't want to ruin all the surprises or get burnt out playing at max level before Live launches), I haven't yet gotten a chance to play with these talents yet. But they seem to be pretty interchangeable from their descriptions and what I've read from other BETA-goers. I thnk I'll go with Divine Star on my leveling build and Cascade (with its higher mana cost) to my raiding build.

Changes to Shadow Priest Playstyle Along with the Patch

Give up any latent thoughts you may have of trying to keep your old rotation in the new frontier of 5.0 and beyond. It simply won't be possible. Here's why:

  • Mind Flay no longer refreshes Shadow Word: Pain. You have to manually keep an eye on it and refresh as needed.
  • Devouring Plague now requires shadow orbs instead of mana. Ideally, you'll want to wait for all 3 orbs to be present to get the most plague for your buck.
  • You build up shadow orbs through damaging targets with Mind Blast or Shadow Word: Death. The latter can generate 2 orbs if it is the killing blow on your target.

What this means for your rotation is you'll now need to keep a closer eye on your Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word Pain (my favorite DoT timer for helping with that in the past has been Need to Know) and refresh them at the last possible moment. You'll want to use Mind Blast every time it is off cooldown, Devouring Plague every time you have 3 orbs available, and fill in with Mind Flay when nothing else is up. And don't forget to deploy your Mindbender/Shadowfiend early and often. When dealing with a group of 4 or fewer mobs, you'll want to DoT with VT and SW:P and DPS down the main target, using plain old Mind Sear instead of DoTs for groups of 4 or more.

I have long loved using my Devouring Plague and being a DoT machine. But I am OK with the changes in my rotation that are coming with this patch. I'll blame that easy going stance on having been a long-time boomkin as well. Adapting to all of their changes over the years, and feeling in a way I can't quite put my finger on that this new shadow priest playstyle is more cosmicly linked to boomkininess, is giving me a purple calmness. I'm looking forward to trying out the new talents and abilities in the next few weeks on my shadow priest ladies.

See you in game!

* That's not a typo. I have a gnome and a Forsaken shdow priest at max level tyvm.


Mists of Pandaria Shadow Priest Glyphs

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Believe it or not, Mists of Pandaria finally delivers upon the promise of making minor glyphs...fun! That's right, no more removing a reagent or adding some other utility function -- you now get to pick your minor glyphs based upon what looks fun to you, not what makes the most sense for your pocketbook and bag space. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here.

First of all, there are no more Prime glyph slots. Just a total of 6 glyphs, split between major and minor. For major glyphs, shadowpriests can choose from these spec-specific glyphs:

  • Glyph of Mind Spike -- 50% reduction in cast time of your next Mind Blast for 6 sec (stacks up to 2x)
  • Glyph of Mind Blast -- 4 sec stun on target when Mindflay critically hits
  • Glyph of Dark Binding -- can cast Prayer of Mending, Renew and Leap of Faith without leaving shadowform
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death -- can cast SW:D at any time, but only does 25% damage on targets above 20% health, and casting SW:D now damages you for the amount it would for damaging a target above 20% health
  • Glyph of Psychic Horror -- reduces cooldown by 10 sec
  • Glyph of Mind Flay -- no longer slows target; instead every time it does damage your movement speed is increased 15%, stacking up to 3x
  • Glyph of Vampiric Embrace -- converts an additional 50% of the damage you do into healing but reduces the duration by 5 sec

For leveling, I've chosen to go with Glyph of Dark Binding, Glyph of Mind Flay and Glyph of Mind Blast. I have to say I am not super enamored with the Mind Flay so if I find need for dispersion at 90, I may swap to that instead. I will also swap out the dark binding for Mind Spike at 90. If none of the above shadow specific glyphs appeal to you, you can choose from a glyph that buffs one of your utility spells. See Wowhead's full list of Priest Glyphs for details.

Minor glyphs of interest include:

I will give you one guess as to which glyph I will equip first...Of course I have always wanted little shadowy friends! And then there's the shadow ravens! How many times did I remark here and on twitter how shadow priests needed shadow ravens? TOO MANY TIMES! It's like playtime for Anexxia with those two combined. Though I should not that the shadow ravens do not have as much visible time as I would like. And some of my noncombat pets are not as awesome in shadowform as regular form. Hmmmph. So, I am most likely looking at Glyph of Confession, Glyph of Shadow Ravens and glyph of dark archangel, with bouts of Glyph oh Shadowy friends.

What's interesting to me, is none of these feel yet like "must take" glyphs, unlike previous go rounds with glyphs. It will be interesting to see if that is born out once the game hits live.


Why Hello There, Shadow Priesty Lady...

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I wasn't expecting to be posting a screenshot of my shadow priest exploring in the new Pandaren lands. But here we are. All thanks to my twitter buddies Psynister, who was helping me think of a way in, and Krizhek (tytyty!)who was so kind as to give me a BETA key.

Welcome back, Anexxia, I really missed you.

And stay tuned to hear about all the shadow priest changes, pet battles, Pandaren Cooking and more.

xoxo


A Sort of Homecoming in Brill

Anexxia at her new office desk, thinking...

Anexxia had been at loose ends for a few weeks now, ever since walking out on her raiding team. They continued on with their never-ending fight against evil monsters, leaving Anexxia puttering about in Orgrimmar, restless.

One hot Sunday afternoon, she packed a small bag with her herbalism scissors and her sewing kit, and hopped upon the zeppelin for Tirisfal Glades. It was an easy decision to leave the dust and bustle of the City-- she'd never felt welcome there. It was merely the most convenient point from which to set out with the raiding party. With those days behind her, she was free to return to the only place that had ever felt like home -- The Dark Lady's kingdom.

Even from the zeppelin tower, it was clear that things had changed in the years since she left on her crusade for justice. Brill had grown up. No longer a hastily slapped together burg, it was now a respectable place to call one's home.

Anexxia kept her eyes peeled for for rent signs. The office was the easier find. But it took poking about in a number of unsatisfactory rooming halls before she found the studio. She'd nearly decided not to head up the stairs to look at the place after her encounter with the landlady. She was quite possibly one of the most dim-witted shadow priests Anexxia had ever met. Standing about with her flapping outdated bat-wing staff, not having been in shadow form in aeons. But her feet were getting tired, so Anexxia trudged up the stairs, and found the absolutely perfect place.

Nice rock hard bed, candles everywhere, cobwebs in every corner. Yes, this will do, she thought to herself. "I'll take it!" she yelled down the stairs at the landlady, who chirped back something about being just thrilled to have another shadow priest in the house.

Taking off her dusty boots, and lying down upon the bed, Anexxia still didn't know what she was going to do with herself. But at least she was finally home. And thus, she rested.

shadow priest at rest.



Friday Five: Five Ways That Gnomes Bring the Sexay

Sorry, Thrall honey, but I'm taken.

  1. We have the sexiest dance moves, both male and female side.
  2. We tell geeky jokes, and there's no humor sexier than geek humor, amirite?
  3. We can sneak up on you from out of nowhere, and drop the sexay bomb, and then run off, leaving you wanting more.
  4. We're the original ponytail rockers. 
  5. Once you go gnome, there's no going back. I mean, you've seen a male gnome doing a dance haven't you?

GO GNOME OR GO HOME!

Happy Friday.

xoxo Anexxia


Meeting my Cataclysm Goals: Sandstone Drake, Check!

Whose a cute fuzzy wuzzy shadowy dragon? ME that's who!

Each expansion, I've had a goal in mind. For WotLK, it was to save Bolvar Fordragon. This expansion, from the moment I saw the Sandstone Drake, it was to be able to shift into a shadowy dragon. And as of this weekend, that goal is complete.

I didn't want to get the Vial of the Sands for Anexxia, since she already has an awesome mount for shadowform-- the Blazing Hippogryph. Thus, my Alliance shadow priest being the lucky recipient.

I'd burnt out on trying for the Vial on my alchemist after the fourth canopic jar full of nothing more than mummified remains. Thus, I'd started searching for the Vial on the AH every time I logged in, to get a sense of how much it was going for, so I could save up accordingly.

Just last week, I'd seen it up for 75k which was way too rich for my blood. But then something funny happened over the long weekend. Suddenly there was a price war, and we had three of them up with buyouts under 49k, and bids for 44k. Still a ton of cash, but then again, it cost me a lot of cash to make my motorcycle back in the day as well.

For those wondering just how I happened to have so much cash on hand, well that's a direct result of being used to supporting raiding costs on two characters, but not doing any raiding, on the whole, for months. Instead of using up all my consumables and materials on myself, I've been selling stuff as I accumulate it. And continuing with my usual crafting. But not having anything to spend the cash on meant it piled up on the bank alt.

And thus, I've met my one Cataclysm goal to date. It's great timing too -- I'm about to be even more busy IRL due to a promotion at work. So even if I don't play seriously for a few months, I'll still be able to feel I've gone out in a blaze of glory, so to speak. And no, I'm not quitting WoW and I'm not stopping the blog, but I am a bit preoccupied with life outside of Azeroth at the moment. Catch you on the flipside.


Friday Five: Five Things I Look for in a Raiding Guild

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  1. You have set times to raid.
    Specifically, you raid at 6 p.m. pacific or a little bit after. This does not change based upon whimsy. Or enough people being on earlier. Or your raid leader not liking someone who can't get online until 6 Pacific and thus trying to get things started before they log on. 
  2. You confirm your raid slots in advance.
    No, not 30min in advance; a day or two in advance. Or better yet, you have a set raiding roster, and I'm on it. No one, including me, want to rush home form work to warm the bench.
  3. Your loot policies are clear, and not subject to change.
    Loot isn't handed out based on their personal relationships with the raid leader/guild leader. RL/GL don't get "dibs" on all the loot. Officers don't get special consideration for special drops. There aren't special requirements you've never heard about previously when a mount or a legendary drops.
  4. You have people on in your non-raid times.
    If your guild is a hot bed of activity during raid hours and a dead zone thereafter, that says to me there isn't much camaraderie or community other than your raiding. And even if that's very successful raiding, you're not gong to be a good fit for me.
  5. Your guild leader/raid leader/officers are experienced and well respected.
    I am sure that there are many children under the age of 18 and people who've only been playing 6 months who are excellent guild and raid leaders. but so far, I haven't encountered them. I'm a cranky 5 1/2 year veteran of WoW, and enjoy playing with people who are pretty experienced, mature, and with whom I have things in common in addition to playing this game.

What are the things you look for when shopping for a raiding guild?

 


What to Wear: a Shadow Priest's Guide to Zul'aman and Zul'gurub Heroic Dungeon Gear

Patch 4.1 brings us 5-man heroic dungeon versions of a couple of classic raids: Zul'aman (ZA) and Zul'gurub (ZG), with an opportunity to deck yourself out in ilvl 353 epics, which should help ease more folks into being raid-ready from a geaer perspective.

Thankfully, the loot tables will additionally help fill in some gaps for some of the harder to source items (i.e. wands and bracers.) Personally, I can't wait for my new and improved Will of Arlokk. That was always my favorite staff...

Once the item databases provide more details, I'll subdivide the list by instance.

Note that there is also a trinket, usuable by everyone, that calls forth your own posse of voodoo gnomes: Miniature Voodoo Mask.


How Not to Make a Good Impression in Your First Raid

shadow priest Anexxia stares down Cho'gall

On a recent raid night, we somehow ended up one DPS short of a full raid (hold the jokes, please ;p). Thus, we ended up taking with us a member who had just joined the prior evening.

As it turns out, the officer who had invited this person, must not have known them very well, if at all. I say this because if they had, they wouldn't have suggested bringing him in so far into the instance. Why do I say this? Because I'm pretty sure it was his first ever raid instance.

This player kept asking what color dot he needed to follow on the mini map and was clearly perplexed when asked to just visually look at his screen to see where folks were standing and moving towards. After partially wiping the raid group by running fire in the opposite edition (he literally ran me down), over Vent he asked repeatedly why the instance wouldn't let him back in. And when he finally was in and we were about to go for what was his third attempt, he asked us to wait when the ready check popped up, and proceeded to ask why we didn't all just spread out instead of moving around on the fight.

I believe we gave him three attempts before we cut him loose. And I don't foresee our taking him with us ever again. Why? A few key reasons:

  • He didn't say he was new to raiding before accepting the invitation
  • He demonstrated an inability to follow instructions
  • He talked over vent almost non-stop through the attempts, distracting the entire team from doing their jobs
  • Despite having no idea what he was doing, tried to tell the raid leader and team what we should be doing differently, on a boss we'd previously killed a number of times.

Start with Baby Steps

Now, I do understand why someone without any raiding experience would want to join a raiding  guild. And why they would be excited to be invited to a raid. And we do al have to start somewhere. But if you have no experience with grouping for raids, unless you are a WOW savant, a difficult boss towards the end of an instance is not the place to do that. You really need to start with an easier fight, and to have prepared for it.

Your best bet for getting your raiding feet wet is Baradin Hold. A slight bit of trash, only one boss, and a likelihood your guild can carry you through the content makes this a good starting point. You'll be able to start to get familiar with the dynamics of coordinating 10 or 25 players to achieve a common goal. And gain an understanding of the tasks your class and role may be asked to perform in a raid.

Once you start to feel like you are keeping up with the group, you can start thinking about hitting some of the entry level raid bosses. But you'll want to make sure you go watch a video of the encounter and read a description of what your role does in that fight, so that you are coming into the raid armed with enough knowledge to give it a good try. Be sure that your raid leader knows you are new to the instance, and ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of what you personally are being asked to do.

I understand it can seem scary to admit to being a newbie, but we were all newbies at one point or another. And a good team of folks will appreciate your 'fessing up, versus not understanding why you are having trouble with executing on something they consider to be on farm mode.

Further reading:


Friday Five: Five Keys to Raiding Success

shadow priest uses gnomish powers to narrowly escape the dreaded elevator boss

It's Friday, and we've got five keys to raiding success:

  1. Raid leaders must remember their raid members are not mind readers.
    If you need someone to do something, tell them -- in advance of pulling the boss. Yelling at someone for not doing something you didn't ask them to do, on a boss they've not seen, is not cool, and not effective.
  2. Select and confirm your raiding teams a few days in advance.
    If you have more people who want to raid than you have slots, this is imperative. It's no fun to log on, revved up to raid, then get kicked to the curb. Many of your raiders are fitting raiding into already very busy lives. If they aren't seated for a raid, and know that in advance, that gives them the opportunity to go do something else offline; it's a lot harder to pull plans together last minute, after not getting in.
  3. Let your raiders know your instance plan for the week.
    THis allows them to watch videos the day of working on a new boss, prep their action bars with any macros, or go out and poke around blogs for tips on how to maximize their performance on that boss your team inevitably struggles with.
  4. Make every attempt a serious attempt.
    Don't pull a boss while someone is AFK. Or before everyone is buffed and ready. Ask folks to get their food buff on and be running some sort of flask or elixir. Hand out -- and use -- healthstones if you are lucky enough to have a warlock on the team.
  5. Keep finger pointing and backseat driving to a minimum during the fight.
    Keep Vent clear! The raid doesn't need to know that the spatially unaware ranged DPS died unless they have a specific task that needs to be assigned to someone else. The know-it-all tank doesn't actually know that it was the melee's fault for whatever minor hiccup (that you just recovered from) happened. Mid-fight, when people start in with this stuff, or worse yet, rambling on about things completely non-related to the fight, it distracts the other raiders from doing their jobs, and can cause a wipe. Do your postmortem AFTER the fight, not as a play-by-play while the raid team is still working on it.

As always, YMMV, these opinions are solely mine and do not reflect those of any specific raiding team, and no fluffy animals or raiders were harmed in the making of this Friday Five. What are some of YOUR tips for raiding success?


Can Progression Raiding and Alts Productively Coexist?

Don't mind me Atramedes, I'm just sightseeing, said the shadow priest as she crept closer...

We're at a point in this tier of content wherein serious raiding guilds are well on their way into defeating the heroic modes, but many more casual raiding guilds are finding themselves stuck at 9/12 or 10/12 on regular mode. So you know what that means -- folks are starting to want to bring their alts. Worse yet, the people who want to bring their alts are typically the folks who've geared themselves out thanks to having attended all or most of the runs (yes, I'm looking at you MT/Raid Leader/Core Raid team members.)

A guild leader's first impulse is probably to say "OK..." when their raid leader comes to them and says "I don't want to bring my geared out toon to raids any more; I really want to play Character X." But there are a number of reasons you should think twice before sealing that deal:

  1. Often this is not the first-- or the last-- time this player has pulled the old switcheroo. Are you prepared for them gearing up this character then cycling in their next alt?
  2. You've just set a precedent. Now that you've let them swap out to their alt, why can't player X do the same?
  3. So, player Z who has stayed on their main and lost a lot of loot to the swapping player, and is now losing more gear to their alt is starting to hate them.
  4. A raid team wants to feel like a team, not a loot delivery system for the raid leader. It can be hard to respect a leader who is continually fine tuning a situation to their advantage-- raid synergy be damned.
  5. Typically, no matter how much we love our alts, they will not perform nearly as well, or have the same utility as our mains on whom we've spent months raiding.

In my raiding history, once the alts started coming in, progression ground to a stand-still. Tempers flared. And frequently, good players left my raid teams.In many of the cases, this behavior was tolerated because it was done by the raid leader-- and everyone was afraid of losing the raid leader to the extent that no one spoke up about it. But there was a lot of discussion going on in the background amongst the raiders it affected. And none of it sunshine and kittens related.

To be clear, I'm not saying a raid leader shouldn't grab someone's healer alt if a raid won't go without that happening. But allowing players, at their request, to swap characters at this stage in the game, after gearing themselves up? That has a real possibility of derailing your progression momentum.

So, What Can You Do to Avoid a Blowout?

If this issue comes up in your guild, you can't just ignore it. It won't go away. But there are a few ways you can diffuse the situation.

  • Start up an alt raid.
    You probably have enough experienced raiders with moderately geared up alts who want to raid on them. Put them all together, and let them start re-clearing the raids. Bonus points for this approach making folks work for it, versus coasting off mains' hard work.
  • Put it to a vote.
    If someone is truly adamant about wanting to make a switch, put up an anonymous vote on your forums and let the raid team decide. And do the same for if EP/DKP is allowed to roll over or if there will be a penalty spend or freeze for a specific timeframe to discourage the loot and run syndrome.

How has your guild dealt with these situations?


When is the Right Time to Change up Your Raid Strat?

If the shadow priest's gear is broken, it's probably time to change the strat.

This weekend, on twitter, @slowpoker said something that resonated with many of us:

STOP CHANGING THE MOTHERFUCKING STRAT. CAN'T PRACTICE WHEN YOU CHANGE IT EVERY FIVE ATTEMPTS

Amen.

When someone posts on twitter in all caps, and curses, you know it's serious business. So raid leaders, please stop and reflect for a moment, before the the next time you utter the phrase "Let's try a new strat..." and answer these questions honestly:

  1. Did you succinctly explain the strat?
    No, I am not asking if you droned on for 5 minutes about all of the boss abilities. I don't care about the boss abilities. I want to know what I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it, and where I should be. If you want an example of some well-written strategy descriptions, go check out Jaded Alt's blog.
  2. Did all of your raid members know their personal special role to be fulfilled, if any?
    "OK, someone needs to kite the adds, and I need two of you to click the chains" does not fulfill the above. Why? Because it doesn't assign a specific person to a specific task. Thus, no personal accountability. "Someone else will do it...." all your raiders think quietly to themselves. And then, no one actually does it.
  3. Did your raid team actually execute the strat?
    Now this is where things can get heated. But answer this honestly: did folks actually play out their roles as requested? Or did they do something sorta similar, but not quite the same? If the latter, then the strat hasn't actually been tried out and deemed unworkable for your team. I saw a lot of this in ICC. FOlks claiming we needed a new strat for Rotface and Festergut when in fact, multiple folks were not even coming close to executing the decided upon and communicated strat.
  4. Have you spent some time using the strat, and not gotten close?
    OK you're executing the strat perfectly, but you're not getting closer than 35% on the boss, ever. That's when it's time to take 5 and evaluate what your issue is. Are your healers overtaxed? Is someone standing in the fire? Is there a sub-10k DPSer in the raid? Is someone talking on the phone while raiding? Try to isolate the failure points. And NOW, you're ready to change up the strat. If you're getting down to less than 10% each time, however, you need to work on your close, not change up the strat.

 In my five+ years of playing this game, and coming up on my five-year anniversary of the first time I set foot in Molten Core, I've found that the most important factor in raiding success has been practice. Having the same folks playing the same role, over time, is what makes raids go more smoothly and efficiently. The more practiced we become in our roles, the better we get at them. What once felt like a chaotic fight eventually feels like a well-orchestrated ballet, with every raid member playing her part.

So the next time you get the itch to change up the strat for a fight your team is just learning, please just pause for a moment and determine if that's really necessary, or if you are just unnecessarily stressing out your raiding team.

Resources

For my Alliance guild, I compiled a list of Jaded Alt's posts on Cataclysm Raid strats, because they really are that good. Here it is for your reference:

BoT


BWD


Throne of the Four Winds


Friday Five: Twitter Edition

Just a typical day in the life of a Shadow Priest: a solitary path, down a long corridor, into a dark room.

Twitter, how do I love thee? Let me Friday Five the ways...

  1. I love twitter for getting to know guildies.
    I'm the first to admit this is a double-edged sword. Sometimes you learn that your guildie is a two-faced, passive-aggressive, card carrying member of the opposite political party with whom you'd really prefer to have nothing to do with ever again. But that's usually the exception, not the rule. (of course, if you find that *is* the rule with your guild, maybe you can find a new, better guild.) Seriously though, creating a twitter list of your guildies and checking in on it throughout the day can be a great window into the daily lives of the folks with whom you like to slay Internet dragons.
  2. I love twitter for enticing new guildies.
    You know that list of awesome guildies on twitter? When other folks see the camaraderie and good conversation amongst your guildies, it sometimes has the effect of enticing them to roll yet another alt (or better yet to server transfer over a max level toon) to play with your peeps.
  3. I love twitter for helping me find new places to play.
    I recently rolled a goblin toon, and needed a new server on which to roll. How'd I choose? I asked around on twitter, of course, and found some tweeps I already enjoy chatting with who were willing to take in a slow leveling baby goblin. And when I wanted to start playing my Alliance toons again last year, it was twitter that connected me with my beloved AF peeps.
  4. I love twitter for the conversation.
    A casual aside or snarky comment can often turn into a lengthy, in-depth discussion about a WoW topic. Or it can crack you up so that you are laughing out loud in real life making everyone wonder what's so much more awesome on your smart phone than theirs. And when I'm feeling bummed out about one thing or another, it's amazing how quickly a twitter check-in can act as a pick-me-up.
  5. I love twitter for giving me more bright ideas than I could ever have time to pursue.
    Every time I have a crackpot idea or hair brained scheme, I tweet about it. I love to see how other folks build on the idea and improve it. Even if none of us actually do anything about it, the joy in that moment of having the back-and-forth and ideation is worth it by itself.

Are you on twitter?

If so, follow me on @Anexxia and check out my WoW Bloggers list and and Citizens of Azeroth lists to find more folks to follow. And to find out who the active WoW tweeps are on your server, check out Psynister's big list of twitter folks.


If DPS is "So Easy" Why Are Folks Still Struggling?

Shadow priest basking in warmth from two-headed beast Chimaeron, recently slain

DPS is so easy. I know this because people tell me this, often.

Healing is so hard. And Tanking is so much more difficult. But DPS? DPS is so easy.

Bollocks I say!

If DPS were so easy, then everyone I know would be 12/12. I would never be in a fail 5-man PUG that couldn't get past Baron Ashbury in SFK. And this game would be so incredibly boring as I stood in one place and used a macro for my rotation.

The truth is, I am still in heroics with people who are doing 6k DPS. I've recently been in a 25-man with someone in my same spec, with better gear than me, with my same assignment, who did 50% of my damage. And on any given raid night, I see wide fluctuations in my own DPS, depending upon my assigned job in the raid.

That's right-- we DPS don't just stand around in one place and look pretty as we hurl shadowy death at mobs. We also stare at the middle of our screen waiting for the DBM warning to come up about the nastiness we need to offensively dispel off a boss, while also staying at range from everyone else, or stacking up, or running out of the group so as not to explode you.

DPS kite adds while folks focus on the boss. They click on vehicles to engage random mechanics at very specific times in your raids. DPS endure all means of crackpot schemes dreamt up by frustrated (or perhaps even just plain crazy) raid leaders. And most of all, DPS take being told, day after day, raid after raid, you are replaceable, interchangeable with any other DPS.

A good raid leader, however, knows the value of their best DPS. They understand that a raid is a team effort. The weight of the raid is not all on the shoulders of the healer, or the tank. It's on *everyone's shoulders*.

Success hinges upon the team working together seamlessly, one action flowing into another. Healers anticipating damage, as DPS damage the boss and execute their assigned tasks, and tanks maintain threat. A successful boss kill is a thing of beauty and it takes all of us, playing our best, to make it happen.

So the next time someone says "DPS has it so easy..." please consider telling them to knock it off. We're all in this together, folks.


Shadow Priest FAQs V.2

Big DPS comes in small shadowy packages.

Q: Which is better, spirit or crit? And should I choose haste over mastery?

A: I go with the stat weightings provided by Shadowpriest.com:

  • Int = 1.00 (always normalized to 1)
  • SP = 0.79
  • Haste = 0.50
  • Crit = 0.42
  • Mastery = 0.42
  • Hit = 0.00* (see notes on hit)
  • Spi = 0.00* (see notes on spirit/hit)

Hit and spirit are given a 0 because after you hit your hit cap, it is entirely worthless to have additional hit. Your hands down most valuable stat is Intellect. Crit is still tasty, and Mastery has been improved, but haste is still the primary stat you will be looking for after Intellect.

Q: How much hit should I have?

A: That depends on your comfort level. The previous wisdom was you wanted to be hit capped, at 17%, for raid bosses. But since 4.0 dropped, hit cap has seemed a lot less important for shadow priests than our other stats. I personally run with 12.5-13.5% hit.

Q: What should I be reforging? Should I aim towards straight hit or spirit that gives mana regen and hit? Is there a plus to just doing hit?

A: My two most reforged stats are hit and mastery. I will also reforge off spirit when I feel I have enough hit. Whenever it is an option to do so, I reforge an undesirable stat into haste. My gear is a mix of hit pieces and spirit pieces. The only value to picking hit pieces of spirit pieces is to not have pouty PUG healer harangue you about "stealing" a spirit piece from them when you can't possibly use spirit (when in fact you both have equal claim to it.)

Q: What is our best rotation?

A: If you are running in on a boss such as on Magmaw, you'll want to toss out your instant casts on your way in, then hit your Vampiric Touch, and start on your mind flays. If you are stationary, start with the Vampiric touch then put up your other DoTs, then Mindflay. After Mindflay activates your archangel, pop it, then mindflay again twice to get your 5 stacks of Dark Evangelism which then buffs your periodic damage spells. Mindblast whenever it is up (in my experience I always have an orb or two up), and Shadow Word: Death only when your target is under 25% or when you start to get low on mana. And use that shadowfiend whenever he's available.

Q: What about Mind Sear?

A: It's horribly low DPS currently, but will be doubled in damage after patch 4.1 at which point we'll see if it beats tagging adds with VT and single targeting them down.

Q: What are the must-have addons for raiding and heroics?

A: I keep it simple: Quartz Castbar to see when I should start queuing up my next spell, and Need to Know which allows me to track my DoTs. Omen and DBM for raiding. There are some shadow priest specific mods out there, but I've never used them.

Send in more questions via the comments and we'll get to a V.3 yet!