Ding! :Spending Valor in MoP

Having stayed a way from the Beta for the last few weeks, I finally patched up and finished leveling Nemain, my fury warrior up to 90.  While I had read about the changes to Justice and Valor point gear in various fansites, I was not prepared for the shock of not finding a Valor vendor in the Alliance shrine in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.  Valor points can be redeemed on reputation vendors for ilvl 489 epics, requiring Revered reputation to purchase.

The pieces that offered by faction are as follows:

Golden Lotus: Shoulder, Chest, Finger
Shado-Pan: Head, Back, Trinket
Klaxxi: Neck, Legs, Waist
The August Celestials: Wrist, Hands, Feet

What this means is that hitting 90 doesn’t mean switching from quests to dungeon grinding immediately.  Instead you will want to balance out dungeon runs with daily quests from the faction of your choice and also work on finishing any quest lines with those factions which give you rep.  For example, Completing the entire Kalaxxi quest line (which is basically the entire Dread Wastes zone) will take you well through honored and just a few days of dailies away from Revered.

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Nemain – Hitting 85!

It has been a week since Cataclysm launched and what an awesome week it has been.  I started out leveling my Warrior, Nemain as I had mentioned in the last post and leveling with my Rogue friend hit 85 in four days.  We didn’t rush much and took time to read all the quests text going through.  However, in the chaotic frenzy of the first few days, having a small group to work on kill quests and save your ass with the insane respawn rate made leveling a lot quicker.

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

I really liked how the leveling through questing experience has really been refined this expansion.  The flow from quest to quest is consistent.  There are numerous scripted cutscenes that show rather than tell us how the story progresses and there are a liberal amount of “blue” item rewards peppered throughout the quest chains.  The instant quest complete window that shows when you finish some tasks help to reduce the time needed to go back to the quest giver to turn in the quests.  For some quests like the new Crucible of Carnage chain, the Cataclysm version of Ring of Blood, it prevents a lot of the anguish of not completing the quest before the next round begins.

There is also a nice ramp up in normal creature difficulty which builds a foundation for dungeon grouping.  From the start at 80, the health pools of the creatures triple from the 10.6k health from Icecrown mobs to about 30k.  This truly lets you work more of a rotation in before they fall over.  By the end gear levels in WOTLK, even heroic dungeon mobs were dropping like flies, giving the game an almost Diablo 2 zerg mentality.  By the time you hit Deepholm at 82-83 mobs start using abilities that were previously exclusive to dungeon bosses.  you’ll see mobs that use void zones, spells that should be interrupted, and spells that can be avoided by moving.  All important for the dungeons.

Naga Visions Chain

Naga Visions Chain

Speaking of dungeons, they are now much harder.  No more watching the Daily Show on the second monitor while you faceroll heroics.  Forget heroics, even the new dungeons are challenging.  All of the creatures have deadly abilities to be aware of.  The general rule of thumb is this; If your class can use crowd control, you need to know what it can be used on and have them on your action bar in a easy to use spot or if you can find the place for it, keybinded.  If there is a spell with a long cast time (more than 2 secs) that can be interrupted, interrupt it if you can.  In most cases, the longer the cast time, the worse its going to be when it gets off.  Finally, if you see pools of stuff on the floor don’t let the mobs stand on it and if its on fire, you should get off it too.

In what must be training for raiding, dungeon bosses are more complicated than ever and in lieu of voice communication requires everyone to know the fight mechanics and some planning.  A sure sign of a bad group is one in which the tank just charges into the boss without a ready check and the dps charges pass him after the first taunt on the boss.  Most bosses use modified mechanics from WOTLK raid bosses, so veteran raiders will have an advantage.  For example, General Umbriss from Grim Batol uses Blitz, an attack similar to Icehowl’s charge attack from the Argent Tournament.  They also use new unusual mechanics like needing to position yourself up wind of Altairus the new dragon boss in Vortex Pinnacle.  The key to learning the dungeons is to read up on them on other websites and also to check your combat log when you die to figure out what killed you.  If WOTLK was defined by the mantra, “stay out of the fire”, Cataclysm is going to be the expansion of “stay out of the fire that follows you.”

Ragnaros Awaits...

Ragnaros Awaits...

So finally at 85 what is there left to do?  Lots!  There is a great sense of elation upon hitting 85.  But its also like climbing to the top of a long flight of stairs to see a huge chasm with another flight of stairs beyond it.  Unlike what many experienced in Wrath, hitting the terminal level does not mean its time to start doing heroics, rather, you’ll need to gear up in regular dungeons to get your gear up to snuff before doing heroics.  As a consequence of the new stat system, it has never been clearer how much better or worse an item is.  Items of the same level with have identical primary stats.  So if you are a warrior like I am, any blue level quality 333 ilevel chest will have the same amount of strength and stamina.  The only variation will be which two secondary stats are included from the list of critical strike rating, hit rating, expertise rating, haste rating and the new boy in town, mastery rating.  You’ll notice your health climbing rapidly as you replace your precious purples from WOTLK.

Level 80 gear will match ilvl 251 gear for stats if you have epic gems and enchants.  Once you get to level 82 greens, they will completely overshadow 2264 gear from ICC 25.  They only reason to keep those would be for an awesome 2-piece set bonus.  By level 83 greens you’ll want to switch, mainly for the raw increase in primary stats. you’ll start having 50-60k of health by this point and it only goes up.  A fresh 80 in quest greens and blues will have about 80-90k health and when you are ready for heroics, 100k and more.  This applies for dps and healer classes too, not just tanks.  Even with this massive stat and corresponding health increase, you will notice your dps drop as you level.  This is painfully true for Fury Warriors.  The stat formula changes each time you level, requiring larger and larger amounts of the secondary stats like hit, crit and haste to give the same percentage increase in accuracy, critical hit chance and speed they once provided.  As a fury warrior it amounts to about 5-6% hit lost per level if you do not increase your hit rating.  It is a noticeable lost of rage generation.  Basically with upgrades, you will hit harder, but hit and crit far less often.  If you use a dps meter, it means your dps stays mostly the same or for warriors, slighty lower than what you were doing at 80.

So sitting at level 85 now, I am slowing down slighty, taking time to level my professions, do the dailies for reputation and finish questing in Twilight Highlands.

PS.  The picture above comes from standing in the fire in Twilight Highlands for the Deathwing achievement.

PSS.  Amusingly I hit 85 doing the uncovering the conspiracy quest in Stormwind as part of the chain for the call to arms to Twilight Highlands.

Cataclysm is Here!

Cataclysm is finally here.  Its also my 100th post on this blog.  When the changes go live, my plan is to log in and start working on Nemain again as my main character for Cataclysm.  She’s logged out at Ebonhold and will start off by turning in the 22 daily quests I have saved for a bit of an xp boost and then learn all my new profession levels.  Finally I’ll hearth back to Stormwind to learn Azeroth flying and then discover the Blackrock Caverns entrance so I can queue for it in the LFD Tool.  Then its a quick decision of whether to start off in Vashj’ir or Mount Hyjal.  I am leaning towards Vashj’ir as it seems everyone on my server is going to Mount Hyjal.

Macro Workbench – Fury Warrior Macros for 4.03a

The Macro Workbench is a column on building and using macros to improve or add utility to your WoW playing experience.

With all the talent changes in the new patch, many of the spell names and functions were changed as well, breaking most of them.  There has never been a better time to revisit your macros after a fresh respec.  Today, we’re going to take a quick look at macos for fury warriors.    While recently nerfed in 4.03a, Victory Rush now restores 20% of your maximum health when used on a mob that yields experience or honor.  This is an essential skill to use whenever possible when leveling in Cataclysm to reduce downtime.

The staple rage dumps Heroic Strike and Cleave are no longer on next swing attacks, but instant attacks that do not trigger the global cooldown.  With these changes I decided that I would make a new macro combining these two abilities as they share the same cooldown.  At the same time its an ability that gets spammed pretty often, so it was a good place to use Victory Rush as well, saving 2 action buttons.  With the macro you don’t have to think about when to use Victory Rush as it will be used whenever you use Heroic Strike.  Here’s the macro I eventually came up with:

#showtooltip
/cast [nomod] Heroic Strike; [mod] Cleave;
/cast Victory Rush
/startattack

Another change is how Battle Shout and Commanding Shout now work like Horm of Winter for Death Knights, generating rather than costing rage.  With that in mind I modified my usual “starting sequence” macro to take this into account.

#showtooltip
/castsequence [nomod,nocombat]reset=15 Battle Shout, Enrage, Intercept
/cast [nomod,combat] Execute; [mod] Intercept
/startattack

I love this macro because it saves a lot of action bar space and gives you plenty of control.  The ideal way to enter battle for fury warriors atm is to use both Battle Shout and Enrage so you have enough rage to hit both Heroic Strike and Rage Blow (with the enrage effect) for strong inital burst damage.  Then while in combat, it functions as Execute and Intercept when shift is held.

Try out the macros and let me know what you think.

What’s New?

So I have been working on the blog over the last few days and added some new items.  A few new blog entries and revamped and added pages for all my primary characters I play on the Kargath server.  With all this updating, I have taken a little break from leveling Maruk and he is still, 21.  In the game I have been trying to catch a few more ICC runs but PUGs never seem to get past the first wing, regardless of how geared they are.  I was also really disappointed when the new guild I had joined on my main character Nemain was told there was no raiding spot available for a Fury Warrior as I didn’t bring any utility, and only alts that heal or tank get to go on the second raid nights.  I don’t think they understand that my Shadow Priest is really my alt and in fact the last one to hit 80.  It just seems hard to raid as a melee.  Just stay in the back with the animals and other disposable pets I guess.  Considering leaving the guild on my warrior and trying to find another guild that wants to do progression and has a regular raid spot for a Fury Warrior.  No easy feat this late in an expansion.

I have added links to the wow armory for my alts and am in the process of adding pictures.  More to come soon.