31 March 2008

2.4 hangover

While I should be out discovering Quel'Danas and mopping up the gold from a flood of new dailies, I am instead pulling my hair at the damage that 2.4 reaped to my set up. Firstly, the patch update went askew and I had to reset WoW to a previous version. This wiped all my local settings (including, most annoyingly, every macro from all of my 9 characters). Now I am left struggling to restore my UI and get my addons back up and running. The two addons I use the most, recount and omen, are completely dead, but I don't know enough about addons to figure out the problem, let alone try and fix it.

All of this at least means I've found myself standing around in UC a lot, with enough time to scrutinise the auction house and spam trade for goods and services. The upshot is two very nice improvements to my gear.

Firstly, I bit the bullet and forked out 400g for two nether vortexes, giving me the mats for a belt of blasting and ending my dithering over which belt to plump for. The vortexes have only been tradable for a few days, so I probably paid over the odds, but 200g is still better than the 600g people were demanding before the patch so it feels like a reasonable price. The tailor charged me 100g for crafting and now it's all mine!

Secondly, with only a week to go until the darkmoon faire hits Mulgore, I was getting desperate to complete my blessings deck. I picked up my last card, the six of blessings, for 250g; not a very nice price but probably the going rate. So come Monday, I will be sporting the mouthwatering darkmoon card: crusade. I'm desperate for a decent trinket and this will do nicely.

The upshot of this spending spree is that I am now broke. So broke, in fact, I can't afford the gems for my belt. I will have to stick a couple of green spell damage gems in there till I can grind enough gold for the better ones. Once I've fixed my addons, it shouldn't take too long to grind the gold for them. Meanwhile, I've got to look around for a new project. Maybe lower city rep for that gavel of unearthed secrets...

25 March 2008

Kara progress

Look, that's me, all shimmery and hauty...

finally, some proper Kara action. Ok, so I know going four bosses in Kara is not exactly hard-core raiding, but it's modest progress for me.

Attumen went down like a priest's nickers first time and obligingly coughed up the handwraps of flowing thought, a small but reliable upgrade to my tempest's touch. Notice the extra spell hit? I now have spell hit coming out of my ears and need to consider dropping one or two points from shadow focus. More on that another time.

We moved on to Moroes, who proved easier than I was expecting. And can you believe he dropped another nice cloth piece? This time is was a belt, the nethershard girdle. Again, it was a nice upgrade for me, but not as good as the belts I am saving up for. So I passed.

On to Maiden. Some of our group had been there before, but for others (like me) this was a new experience. It took us a long time to figure out the fight, even with the more experienced players explaining things. After four wipes, we were nearly ready to give up, but luckily we went in that fifth time and cracked it. Amazingly, she dropped the bands of nefarious deeds.

By this point I am feeling a bit giddy. Three bosses, three cloth drops, no dps competition for the gear. That never happens. I could have taken the bracers, but like the belt, I have my eye on better stuff and didn't want to ruin my loot karma.

So onwards and upwards. We hit the opera event and rolled Romulo and Julianne. I think we were lucky in this. From what I've read of the other fights, there's a little more to them than simple tank and spank. We burned these two down easy, and one of our hunters got a nice shoulder upgrade for his efforts.

And that, as they say, is that. It was late and I had an early start in the morning, so we called it quits. Next time, we'll be looking to curator and nightbane. Fingers crossed...

17 March 2008

Give your tank a hand

"A good tank is the single most decisive contribution to the success of most encounters," said Allison Robert in an epic post on Wow Insider about the viability of hybrid tanks (i.e. prot paladins and feral druids). Allison's post is part of a wider debate about the future of the tanking classes. Warriors feel threatened by paladins and bears (the 'hybrid' tanks), hybrids feel overlooked by Blizzard, and all tanks feel a certain lack of love when it comes to end-game pve content.

That quote could only ever have been written by a tank. Substitute tank for quarterback and encounters for games and you see how this argument is not without its share of ego and hot air. But there are good points to the argument too. On the one hand, paladins and, to a lesser extent druids, really are much better equipped for multi-mob tanking, making warriors the third choice for heroics. On the other hand, both druids and paladins have reasonable cause for concern at the severe shortage of hybrid tanking gear in end game, on top of the fact that very high-end content in 25 man raids seems poorly designed for hybrid tanks.

Without a high-end tanking character, I'm hardly one to comment. My only concern is that tanks are encouraged, not discouraged, because we need more of them not less. Anything which makes druids and paladins feel they need to respec to keep a raid spot or forces warriors out of pve and into the arean is a Bad Thing.

Now maybe Blizzard is aware of the problem and working on it. Death Knights will be capable of tanking, so we are told, and a new style of play may encourage more people to take up the tanking role. Or it could just cause further animosity among a player base already feeling un loved and under pressure.

This is a long term problem which we can only hope Blizzard is working on for the expansion. In the mean time, throw your tank some love every now and them, just make sure it doesn't go to their head.

13 March 2008

Help with the rep grind

If I'm ever gonna get my hands on that gavel of unearthed secrets, I need to hit exalted with lower city. I'm not good with numbers so anything which helps me grind that rep is fine by me. This nifty calculator does just that. It takes all your Outland reputations and works out what you need to do to hit the next level.

I'm currently honoured with lower city and need 6942 rep to exalted. I see from the calculator that I need to clear shadow labyrinth 3.5 times to get there. I'd have to clear sethekk halls nearly six times for the equivalent rep, and auchenai crypts over nine which is a pitty, because I loathe lab.

The calculator rather usefully tells you how much rep is available from quests, and in which zones, although it can't tell you how many of those quests you have completed. And for factions with repeatable turn-in quests or with rep-per-kill, it shows how many turn ins or kill to the next level. (I noted rather grimly that I would have to kill about 1900 ogres to get mag'har exalted on my hunter, although I can turn in warbeads too once I've finished the grind with consortium).

One thing it doesn't do is go beyond the next rep level, which is a small shame. It just means I have to go back again after those lab/halls/crypts runs. But otherwise, a very use tool to have. Worth a side bar link even, I think.

12 March 2008

Death to Quagmirran and a nice offhand upgrade

I cleared Heroic Slave Pens last night in the hope of grabbing Quagmirran's Eye from the eponymous fungal giant. Sadly, it wasn't to be. My search for a decent trinket continues.

As a consolation, the five badges of justice I looted (including two as a reward for the daily quest) gave me enough for the orb of the soul eater, a nice upgrade from my saga of terokk. Once again, I find myself trading stats for damage. I can barely afford to loose that 23 intellect from the saga, but I am comforted by the fact that the orb is listed on shadowpriest.com as the best offhand in the game for shadow priests.

This takes me over 900 shadow damage, not bad for someone who has barely stepped foot in Karazhan. That's a sore point which I'll moan about another time.

11 March 2008

Belt up

The break from grinding primals was nice while it lasted but the holiday is most definitely over. I need a new belt, and the cost is a fat load of primal fire. Quite how many depends on which belt I eventually plump for. It's between the girdle of ruination and the belt of blasting, both beauties of the tailoring profession and juicy-looking for any shadow priest. To be honest, I'm in a bit of a quandry. Let's take a look at them one at a time:

Girdle of ruination (Look! We have Wowhead links!)
This is a very well-balanced caster belt — stamina, intellect, two sockets and a good helping of spell crit and damage. Obviously, I'm not drooling over the crit but it doesn't hurt. The mats hurt though. 10 shadowcloth and 16 primal fire will not come cheap. Even if, like me, you're a shadowcloth specialist tailor, you will still need to grind 21 primal fire and that is equivalent to a life sentence in solitary. The recipe itself is a world drop, so you may be lucky enough to find it yourself or pick it up on the AH, but expect to pay about 1000 gold for it. The cheaper option is to find someone with the pattern and a spare primal. You can expect to pay about 100g to get it crafted with your mats. If you were to try and buy the belt ready made, it could cost you somewhere around 1200g.

Belt of blasting
What, no stats at all!? Are you as outraged as I am? I admit to being a little disturbed by the total lack of stamina and intellect on this belt. But oh, sweet sunstrider, look at what you get in return. Two sockets, a whopping 23 spell hit, 30 crit (that's 1.4%) and an obscene 50 spell damage. I'm spellcapped already, but the spell hit would enable me to switch a trinket, replace a few gems, or even move a talent point or two out of shadow focus and of course, the damage is amazing. This is the second highest damage belt in the game, which automatically puts it pretty close to the top of any raiding shadow priest's shopping list. And what a cheap baby this would be — one less primal fire than the girdle and only four bolts of imbued netherweave. The mats, were you to buy them in their entirety, would cost about half as much as the girdle. If there's a catch, it's this: the belt requires two nether vortexes, which are BoP drops from 25-man raids, as is the pattern itself. So there will be far fewer people on your server ready and willing to craft it. How that affects the cost when you come to trade with them I can't say, but I doubt it will add up to more than the cost of the shadowcloth required for the girdle. If you are planning on buying this beauty ready-made, expect to fork out upwards of 2000g.

So which way should I jump? The belt of blasting, clearly, is the better item for a raiding shadow priest. But I really am worried about the lack of stats. I'm already very squishy and quick to loose mana. And as good as this belt is, I'm just starting Kara so do I really need the extra kick it will provide? I think I'll try a while to find a crafter for the belt, but if one fails to turn up or the price proves too rich for my budget, I won't be too upset to plump for the girdle. for now, at least.

Edit: Since patch 2.4, nether vortexes have been free to trade. On my server, they started in the auction house at about 200g a piece. That makes the mats required for the belt of blasting considerably cheaper than those for the girdle and may help make up your mind which way to go; it certainly did me.