Free Wintergrasp Epics

I didn’t really pay much attention to patch notes, so I was kinda surprised to hear that they added new stuff to Wintergrasp. I popped over on my pally to check them out… and my jaw dropped.

Wintergrasp is an obscene source of amazing epics now. Previously, I always made sure to get 55 marks on all my alts while levelling so that they could easily pick up an epic helm and boots at 80. They come in different flavours, including Dominance which gives an amazing amount of hit rating. The helm also comes with a meta slot, which normal quest blues don’t give.

With 3.1, new epic ilevel 213 chestpieces and belts have also been added, in the same flavours of hit rating or haste rating. The chestpieces can be had for 40 Wintergrasp marks, and the belts for only 15 marks. Even with the wasted stats on resilience, they completely blow all heroic blues out of the water and are comparable to naxx-10 epics. It also helps that chestpieces tend to be harder to find in my experience, with the crafted pieces being more expensive.

But the real killers… are the trinkets. Here is a list of the new trinkets available for 25 marks each:
95 Hit rating
95 Haste rating
111 Spell Power OMG
95 Crit rating
190 Attack Power WTF

The on-use ability is the same as the PvP trinkets, on a 2 minute cooldown. They are not fantastic for PvE, but can come in useful, e.g. escaping Prince Keleseth’s Ice Tomb, or King Ymiron’s stun ability, Web-wrap from the Watchers in AN. But the on-equip bonuses are so amazingly high for a single slot that I can well imagine them beating out all other heroic trinkets in dps. For comparison, a spellpower trinket that gives 346 spellpower for 20 secs every 2 minutes would only work out to be 20/120 * 346 = 58 spellpower, just half of what the spellpower trinket provides.

There are other trinkets for 25 marks also with on-equip resilience and on-use dps stats as well, but I don’t think they are as good in PvE:
Attack power
Spell power
Haste rating

A lot of people may not like to do Wintergrasp, especially on PvE servers. But with rewards like these, it really seems a shame not to pick up the free epics. Every Wintergrasp rewards between 1-3 Marks depending on your rank, and you can rank up to the max rank by killing fast respawning NPCs. You don’t even need honor, just Marks. You don’t even need to know what Wintergrasp is about, just go in, kill NPCs or follow the zerg around until you get max rank, then pray your side wins so you get 3 Marks.

We heard there were free epics here...

We heard there were free epics here...

(She Says) Random Ramblings Regarding Rethreth

rethreth lvl 80I’ve been playing my warlock exclusively since Pockie is not around to play with me. She is my little wander lust character. Randomly exploring, getting lost, doing quests when I feel like it, joining pugs.

I can finally understand why people enjoy playing dps. The goal is clear – to do as much damage as possible. The performance is easily measurable – use a dps meter. Granted there is such a thing as not killing the right things but the pressure is much less as there are many dps to spread your burden. Due to the way healers are assigned, you may end up being solely responsible for one person and getting distracted for a split second could sometimes mean that the tank dies and the raid wipes. For dps, every piece of upgrade directly impacts your damage output; for a healer, getting an additional 20 healing may not mean anything if you are consistently overhealing more than that.

I’ve been level 80 for a week now and has been very lucky with drops in the instances  went to. I got Staff of Restraint in my first heroic Obsidium Sanctum, Azure Cloth Bindings from my first heroic dungeon. Of course, I’ve also bought/crafted some BOE epics like Ebonweave Gloves, Titanium Spellshock Ring and Chain of Latent Energies. But even before I got all those, I went to a heroic VOA and was doing 2k+ dps. I outdpsed all the mages in the group, some of whom I know are at least Naxx geared.

While I’m proud that little Rethreth can do respectable dps from the outstart, I’m not silly enough to think it’s because of my leet skills.  In fact, I’m more amazed by what people are unable to achieve. If I can do it, with my odd levelling spec which I still have yet to spec out of, I don’t see why others can’t. Age, internet connection, gear — these are all excuses that people use so that they don’t have to say ” Hey, I’m really bad at this. How can I improve?” It’s not the poor players that we scorn, those can improve if they have the right attitude.  We’ve seen in our previous guild, people who’ve done just that. Even when they did poor dps, I still take kindly to them because you can tell that they try harder than anyone else.

Most people in the game however would rather just kick someone out of raid than spend time to train them up. This is the reality of an anonymous virtual reality – an even greater disconnect with others. Sometimes, I feel like my characters are treated more like a statistic or a bot than an avatar of someone sitting behind the screen.

In TBC, there was a lot of bad blood from those who are better at some encounters like Teron Gorefied and all they could contribute to the rest of the raid are insults. Maybe it’s a female thing to dislike conflict but I’d rather work on improving the situation than just telling people off which does nothing except create discontent. Raiding was honestly starting to feel like work, which is why we stopped during wotlk.

Anyway, I’ll continue with my adventures with Rethreth, continuing to mull on how we could have met so many people who weren’t even able to do 1k dp, half of what this little warlock did on turning 80, in quested gear.

P.S: Also got Heroes Plagueheart Robe and Deadly Gladiator’s Felweave Trousers today. In contrast, my shaman went to so many pugs but never came away with more than badges… think my warlock is going to outgear my shaman and in less than a week too…

Hit and expertise caps

There was some interesting discussion in guild chat the other day (we have left our raiding guild and joined another more casual Singaporean guild since we weren’t doing much raiding anyway). A friend who was playing his 80 death knight was asking about dual wielding for dps/tanking, and asking for advice. Amidst the discussion I brought up the problem of the miss rate of dual wielding along with the necessity of capping expertise.

To my surprise I realised that many people still are very confused about this and have no idea how it works. To be frank, while I knew the mechanics I had also not really paid much attention to the difference in ratings at level 80 since I wasn’t raiding. So I figured I might as well compile something here for my own reference as well.

Hit
Hit rating has been consolidated for both melee and spells. Hit basically affects your chance to see that dreaded “Miss” or “Resist” floating on top of a mob’s head. For melee classes, there is an additional complication that there is a different chance to miss depending on if you are dual wielding or not.

Melee hit : 32.79 rating = 1%
Spell hit: 26.23 rating = 1%

Melee
The base chance to miss varies depending on the level of the target (assuming that you have maxed out weapon skill for melee… levelling up skills in instances = veriterribad). Dual wielding also imposes an additional 19% miss rate. The following are the ratings you need to never miss for melee:

Target level Single weapon Dual wield Cap for
80 5% = 164 rating 24% = 787 rating PvP
82 6% = 197 rating 25% = 820 rating Heroics
83 8% = 263 rating 27% = 886 rating Raids

The hit rating required for dual wield classes looks astoundingly huge, but it’s not as important to reach the cap for them. All special attacks have at most a 8% miss rate so most dual wielding classes can aim for that as a minimum, all the rest only helps auto-attack damage.

Note that this may not be accurate for hunters, but hunters are boring so I don’t care >.<

Spell
Thankfully, spells are much simpler and don’t have any funky variations.

Target level Hit required Cap for
80 4% = 105 rating PvP
82 6% = 158 rating Heroics
83 17% = 446 rating Raids

Unfortunately, you might have noticed that casters get shafted when fighting mobs higher level than them. There is a whopping 17% chance to miss for mobs 3 levels higher, which is what raid bosses are. However, for heroic mobs which are 82, you only need 6%. This is why most people are dead wrong when they claim that the abysmal dps put out by their pugmates is because they don’t have hit rating on their gear. 6% miss doesn’t result in 1000 dps… or rather, it means they would do 1064 dps if they were hit capped, which isn’t much better.

Expertise

Expertise is a new statistic Blizzard came up with during the latter part of TBC to replace weapon skill on gear. It basically reduces the chance for your enemy to dodge and parry your attacks. It is both a tanking and physical dps statistic. Guess this is how they are balanced vs the hit rating needed by spellcasters.

Expertise : 32.79 rating = -1% dodge and -1% parry

Most sources cite bosses having 6.5% dodge and 15% parry. Since mobs can’t parry attacks that come from behind, this means there are different caps for tanks and (non-retarded) dps, since dps attacks from behind and only needs to worry about the dodge portion.

Tanks 60 expertise = 492 rating Parries eliminated
DPS 26 expertise = 214 rating Dodge eliminated

Expertise for dps is almost exactly like hit, except it works on dodge instead of miss. It’s good to have, but in the end it is simply a dps-increasing stat similar to attack power, crit, and hit.

Expertise for tanks, however, is both a threat (dps) and survivability stat. Because parrying an attack causes the next attack to be hasted by roughly 40%, a hard-hitting boss parrying can result in a string of quick hits that catch healers unprepared.

This isn’t usually a problem for most tanks since one or two hasted hits isn’t a big deal and as such I would also consider expertise as a secondary tanking stat… unless you’re a dual-wielding death knight. Since DW DKs have so many fast auto-attacks and specials, not being expertise capped can result in the boss effectively being permanently “enraged” since there are many many opportunities for him to parry the numerous small attacks.

So the moral of the story for our DK guildie? Unless you have great gear, go 2H 🙂 It’s much simpler and you don’t have a spend a huge amount of your item budget on hit rating and expertise rating to dps or tank respectively. Factor in the -50% damage penalty on the off-hand weapon (which I don’t think DK’s have any way of negating) and the difference between 2H and 1H becomes even smaller.

Bear pre-raid tanking gear and strat

I was originally thinking of putting in a list of pre-raid gear pieces for tanking druids, but since I can’t access wowhead at work and I’m too busy playing at home… I kept putting it off. Well today is Tuesday and its extended maintenance so…

Altosis has put up a list of pre-raid feral gear which is pretty good, but it seems to have a few key omissions and quirks because he apparently filtered for items that have strictly no defense. I’ll try to put together a few good options here from a variety of sources like Kalon’s but without the raid drops and with some easy quest options.

Head
Weakness Spectralizers are good if you’re an Engineer (will be added in 3.08)
Mask of the Watcher from Heroic Oculus
Headguard of Retaliation from a quest in Utgarde Pinnacle Vengeance Be Mine!

Neck
Titanium Earthguard Chain from Jewelcrafting is good, but quite expensive
Chained Military Gorget is available for 40 Emblems of Heroism, about equivalent to the Titanium Earthguard
Amulet of Wills from normal Halls of Stone

Shoulders
Trollwoven Spaulders from Leatherworking, easy to get and one of the best
Shoulderpads of Fleshwerks from a quest in Icecrown The Flesh Giant Champion

Back
Durable Nerubhide Cape from Leatherworking, recommended
Cloak of the Gushing Wound from Heroic Violet Hold
Cloak of Holy Extermination from Honored Argent Crusade
Bloodbane Cloak from quest in Icecrown The Fate of Bloodbane

Chest
Exotic Leather Tunic from a quest in Utgarde Pinnacle Junk in My Trunk
Polar Vest Leatherworking Frost Resist set
T7 chest 80 Emblems of Heroism or normal Archavon

Wrist
Bindings of the Tunneler from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Njorndar Furywraps from a quest in Icecrown Not-so-Honorable Combat
Eviscerator’s Bindings from leatherworking, it’s one of the cheapest pieces to make so you might be able to pick them up at a discount from leatherworkers notching up

Gloves
Handwraps of Preserved History best tanking gloves in game, but going to be nerfed. From a quest in CoT Strat A Royal Escort
Eviscerator’s Gauntlets from leatherworking, pretty cheap
Rough Climber’s Grips quest in Storm Peaks The Reckoning

Belt
Trollwoven Girdle from Leatherworking, recommended
Sharp-Barbed Leather Belt from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Glitterscale Wrap from revered Oracles

Legs
Gored Hide Legguards from Heroic Gundrak
Mind-Expanding Leggings from revered Kirin Tor
Chain Gang Legguards BoE drop from Violet Hold, quite common
Tattooed Deerskin Leggings from a quest in Violet Hold Containment

Feet
Polar Boots from Leatherworking Frost Resist set
Boots of the Neverending Path Exalted Argent Crusade
Rhino Hide Kneeboots from quest in Gundrak One of a Kind

Rings
Keystone Great-Ring from Heroic Draktharon, best ring in game
Titanium Earthguard Ring from Jewelcrafting, crazily expensive
Ring of the Kirin Tor tanking Dalaran hearth-ring to be added in 3.08, even more crazily expensive
Hemorrhaging Circle from Heroic Gundrak, have to fight all melee dps for it
Ring of Earthen Might from Jewelcrafting
Iceforged Battle Ring from quest in Storm Peaks The Brothers Bronzebeard

Trinkets
Essence of Gossamer from Heroic Azjol-Nerub. Please kick and /spit on any idiot non-tanks that try to roll on this “for PvP”
Valor Medal of the First War for 40 Emblems of Heroism, basically super-upgraded version of Moroes’ Lucky Pocket Watch and best use of first Emblems given the lack of other choices
Monarch Crab if you are a Jewelcrafter, basically the only JC BoP trinket that doesn’t suck
Sonic Booster if you are an engineer
Commendation of Kael’thas is actually still pretty good, I’ve been trying to farm this from Heroic Magister’s Terrace with Yannie. Gotten 1 of each of the other trinkets so far, but no tanking trinket…

Idol
Idol of Terror is currently the only choice. You can solo farm badges in Outland Heroics or if really desperate get the sucky version from a quest in Borean Tundra Get Me Outa Here!

Weapon
Enraged Feral Staff from Heroic Utgarde Keep
Staff of Trickery from Heroic Violet Hold
Stave of Shrouded Mysteries from Revered Kirin Tor

Gear Overview

Feral druid gear is kinda strange right now. I originally decided on a bear as my tank because it was easier to gear up with the Heavy Clefthoof LW set giving huge defense. Now… it’s also relatively “easy” to gear up, but for a different reason. Feral druids basically don’t need anything except armor, stamina and agility (roughly in that order for a starter set). We do not need defense at all since we are uncrittable even if naked due to Survival of the Fittest. We don’t use parry or shield block. There are no longer any items with extra armor, so basically any leather piece with high stamina and agi will work.

The biggest problem starting heroics is survivability, not threat. With the bear form multiplier, armor and stamina will be the highest priority. Agility provides a tiny bit of armor, dodge and crit, but my opinion is that until you reach a certain amount of health dodge should be a lower priority than stamina. You need to avoid getting insta-gibbed by hard hitting bosses, and dodge is merely a chance to avoid that. Without a high-enough health pool, there will always be a chance that you will die to a unlucky burst before your healer can do anything. After you reach a comfortable level, you can start stacking agi to get pure avoidance to reduce the strain on your healer’s mana.

Any other stats will merely be extras since they only add to threat (AP, crit, haste) and frankly as a starting bear, you will have infinite rage on every pull because you get hit like tofu and shouldn’t have threat problems. Expertise is the only other “extra” stat that helps survivability by reducing parries, but I wouldn’t gimp the main stats just to get it.

Some pieces of the Polar frost resist set from LW are actually a pretty good investment if you’re intending to do Naxx eventually (since your guild may ask you to get them anyway for Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad) and there are quite a few fights in dungeons with frost damage. They have crazy high stamina, high armor due to item level, and best of all they are socketed. E.g. you could put 3x 16 agi gems into the Polar chest and end up with a chest with 48 agi and 169 stamina with high armor and 115 frost resist as well. Pretty decent, with even more stamina if you get the socket bonus. They are also good if there are relatively few options for that slot (chest and feet).

Summary: Wear the highest ilevel item (highest armor) which has high stamina. If you are into PvP, the Savage Gladiator’s Sanctuary set does pretty well also since it has high stamina and sockets. You’ll be doing Heroic Utgarde Keep a lot, and the first rep should be Kirin Tor (for weapon and legs) followed by Argent Crusade (boots, back and head enchant).

Tanking overview

I’ve seen many articles which claim that bears have problems, are the least desired tanks etc etc. All I can say is “Wtf?” I’m seriously at a loss to understand this, unless it’s just the usual “everyone is OP except us” kind of thinking that every moron has. Tanking as a bear is really drop dead easy in every heroic I’ve run so far, provided the group isn’t completely moronic (dumbkin in Strat…)

The biggest problem we will face is the pull. If you don’t get all the mobs focused on you at the start, a simple pull can become really bad. If there are mobs running all over the place at the start, it’s hard for a bear to gather them all up and get them back without blowing a challenging roar because they are not grouped up enough for swipe to hit everything and there isn’t enough rage to spam swipe everywhere because not everything is hitting you (vicious cycle).

So, if you need to pull back, tell your group members so they don’t start nuking mobs before they even get to you. Pull with faerie fire (does huge threat), and demo roar as the pack comes. Why demo roar? Demo roar is a circle all around you, unlike swipe (admittedly swipe radius is huge, it’s more a half-circle than a cone). This helps if for some reason someone in the group generates >1 threat during the pull, which means the other mobs will head for him and might actually get behind you causing swipe to miss. Demo roar is only 10 rage meaning you will definitely be able to do it just after turning bear and immediately on pressing enrage. It also helps reduce incoming damage so your healer doesn’t have to immediately heal you for huge amounts and pull more aggro.

Once you have them targetting you, spam maul (with glyph of maul) and swipe. It’s impossible to run out of rage and you don’t even really need to switch targets, unless dps is being silly and unloaded on a different target than your original (best to mark it with skull, which I hotkeyed). If the pull consists of only 3 mobs but they are very dangerous, remember to pop Berserk and go crazy spamming mangle + maul to dps them down fast. Even if they pull aggro, growl is ranged and has a really short cooldown. Feral faerie fire is a ghetto growl that also works great. For example, an add is summoned mid-combat that heads for your healer, just hit it with feral faerie fire instead of wasting growl.

On a single target, priority is mangle -> lacerate to 5 -> swipe -> lacerate to keep the stack up, hitting maul all the way as long as there is spare rage. Remember to keep faerie fire on the boss and demo roar if he melees hard. Again, threat should really not be an issue and most heroic bosses are tauntable. I literally just spam 1,2,3 (mangle, maul, swipe) brainlessly and press lacerate once in a while and never ever come close to losing aggro.

Bears can easily do 1200 dps in average blue gear in heroic instances so we rarely have any trouble in those fights which require us to kill something (rifts, voidspawns, other group members…).

Again, most of the time any difficulties in heroics are not due to the tank’s gear, but rather some other mistakes by the group that make an otherwise easy pull difficult (trinket + pyroblasting a mob that only has 1 swipe on it…). When I started doing heroics I had 17k hp and 22k armor… which was really pathetic. But we had a good group of players which made even voidwalker + ethereal boss in Heroic Violet Hold very doable. So it just goes to show that +int to player head > +gear to tank.

(She Says) Pre-Raid Resto Shaman Gear (Part II of II)

shaman_iconContinuing with Part I

11. Rings
Band of Enchanted Growth – Heroic Oculus (Urom)
Titanium Spellshock Ring – JC BOE. The price is shocking all right.
Signet of the Kirin Tor – Sold by vendor in Dalaran. 8500g before discount. Also serves as a second hearth.
Signet of Hopeful Light – Argent Crusade Exalted
Band of Guile – Heroic Strat
Annhylde’s Ring – Heroic Utgarde Keep (Ingvar)
Newt Eye Ring – Icecrown group quest

12. Trinkets
Spark of Life – Heroic Halls of Stone
The Egg of Mortal Essence – 40 Badge of Heroism. The grown up version of Scarab of Infinite Cycle
Soul Preserver – Normal Strat

13. Weapon
Titansteel Guardian – Blacksmithing BOE
War Mace of Unrequited Love – Heroic Nexus
Gavel of the Brewing Storm – Wrymrest Revered

14. Shield/ Offhand
Zom’s Crackling Bulwark – BOE World Drop
Frostridge Orb – BOE World Drop
Facade Shield of Glyphs – Heroic Azjol Nerub (Krikthir)

15. Relic
Totem of the Bay – 30 Venture coins. Easy to get.
Totem of Forest Growth – 15 Emblem of Heroism. Useful only if you are having mana problems.

For the badge of heroisms, I would probably saving them for the t7 chest, Heroes’ Earthshatter Tunic, since there are few replacements.

(She Says) Pre-Raid Resto Shaman Gear (Part I)

shaman_iconThough my shaman has levelled as Elemental to level 80. The intention was always to go healing as a complement to his druid tank. For easy reference, I’m going to put down my shopping list here. Loot Rank has a fairly comprehensive list as well but it takes a while for the page to load.

1. Head:
Helm of Lightning Halls – BOE World Drop.
Helm of the Majestic Stag – Kirin’Tor Honored.

While the rep item is cheaper, it is inferior to Helm of Lightning Halls. Just check the AH once in a while and pick up Lightning Halls for a reasonable price.

2. Neck

Amulet of Dazzling Light – Heroic Nexus (Anomalus)
Titanium Spellshock Necklace – Jewelcrafting BOE. Crazy expensive mats…
Amulet of the Crusade Group quest in Icecrown. Questline starts here

3. Shoulders
Epaulets of Market Row – BOE World Drop. Dirt cheap on my server. Most other dungeon shoulders have haste rating. So this is probably already the easiest option.

4. Back
Wispcloak – Tailoring BOE. A tad expensive.
Shroud of Resurrection – Normal Utgarde Pinnacle (Gortok Palehoof).
Bloodbane Shroud – Icecrown group quest

5. Chest
Dalronn’s Jerkin – Heroic Utgarde Keep (Skarvald)
Revenant’s Breastplate – LW BOE. Pretty expensive and it’s haste compared to MP5.

6. Wrist
Bands of Channeled Energy – Heroic Nexus (Telestra)
Stormhide Wristguards – LW BOE.

7. Gloves
Grips of Fierce Pronoucements – Wrymrest Exalted.
Lightning Charged Gloves – Heroic Halls of Stone (Maiden of Grief)
Stormhide Grips – LW BOE

8. Belt
Mail Girdle of the Audient Earth – Heroic Halls of Lightning (Loken)
Slad’ran’s Coild Cord – Heroic Gundrak (Sladran)
Belt of Dark Mending – Ebon Blade Exalted
Ghostflicker Waistband – Kirin’tor Exalted

9. Legs
Kilt of Dark Mercy – Ebon Blade Exalted
Frozen Forest Kilt – Heroic Nexus (Ormorok)

10. Feet
Sandals of Crimson Fury – Wrymrest Exalted
Revenant’s Treads – LW BOW. Expensive
Darkspeaker’s Sabatons Icecrown group quest
Stormhide Stompers – LW BOE

Part 2 continued here…