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.

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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.

Touching down in Northrend

 

Maruk in BRD

Maruk in BRD

Ah its been a long time since I updated Maruk’s adventures, so here’s a quick recap:

Level 40. A big jump since I last posted and honestly the quick leveling surprised me.  After my Haitus from playing WoW, Maruk was one of the more comforting characters to play.  At the lower levels there was no pressure to top dps charts or embarrassment of failing at your class in a raid.  40 was also a landmark as you could train up to Expert 100% speed ground mount riding.

Level 54. Its a bit like hitting a wall getting to 54.  I remembered it being the same way in Vanilla WoW although thanks to the nerfed xp needed it didn’t last as long.  The main problem is how spread out the quests were and how little dungeon variety there was until reaching lvl 60 dungeons.  The dungeons get longer and Black Rock Depths feels like the only dungeon popping up for several levels.

Level 58. Heading into Outland was another milestone.  Flying!  Nice how cheap flying has become.  It makes all those quest alot easier and its great to mount up and fly to safety if you are surrounded.  Gear got a huge bump in dps and stamina.  So rather than relying purely on the dungeon finder, which worked great, I did some of the early quests in Hellfire to gain quick upgrades.

Level 63. After some decent upgrades from Hellfire Ramparts, I started getting some of the good stuff from the dungeons.  I am surprised at how zergable the instances are at this point.  I remember having to CC pulls in Slave Pens and now we are zerging two packs at once.  As fun as it is being overpowered, the game loses some of its charm when you don’ really see the mechanics of the boss fights and it gives players a bad template to build on when they eventually start doing endgame instances.  A nice trick

Level 68. I admit it it was a quick grind to 68, I was looking forward to WOTLK again but from a Horde prespective.  I was impressed with Warsong Hold and its impressive visuals.  I loved the epic feel of docking in the structure and the forge area with the lava heated walls.  Sadly the queue times at the borderline 68-70 range is long with 15 min waits not uncommon so I am doing quests to fill the tme.  In a nice change, the quest npcs for the dungeons now appear in the dungeon offering the quest so you don’t have to hunt them down.  Unfortunatety you still have to return the quest at the original locations.

Another welcome surprise was the reduction in price of dual specs to 100g from 1000g.  It means that you can more easily experiment with other specs or if you are a tank of healer learn a good dps spec for leveling and yet keep the other spec for dungeons.  Sepaking about costs.  The cost of cold weather flying was halved as well to 500g and you can now purchase it directly at 68 rather than requiring a higher lvl 80 alt to purchase it for you.  Unfortunately Artisan flying (280%) is still 4k and out of my reach.

Maruk – Glyphing for Growing Arms Warriors

I had a sudden thought as I logged out on Maruk last night, what about glyphs.  Its been some time since I had to re-glyph a character and I had completely forgotten to do so for Maruk.  So I made a mental note and the first thing I did today was to log on to Maruk and buy some glyphs.  You get your first glyph slots (one major and one minor) at level 15 so I had really dropped the ball going twelve level without glyphs, a major oversight, kind of like not assigning talent points whenever you level.  Choices and decisons I made after the break.

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Maruk – Re-Armed

So after the experiences in the last post, I took a good hard look at how I was going to level Maruk.  While my initial plan was to put points in both Arms, taking Improved Heroic Strike and Shield Specialization, so i could tank instances, I realized that without the support of par level gear supplied by a main it would be tough going.

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Maruk – Hiting the Big One-Five

Ragefire_Chasm

I got to play with my new warrior a little more today and lvled him a few lvls to 15.  Fifteen is a big step as you can now use the Looking for Dungeon tool to pug random dungeons.  Never having used this tool at such a low level I was interested to see how the experience was like.  Ouch in short I really shouldn’t have used it.  Details after the break.

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Maruk- A New Warrior Rises

Maruk Warrior

Of my 10 regular classes I play, the last one to hit 80, my priest Candrix, did so early this year and it was quick leveling her from 70-80 especially with the help of heirloom items and cold weather flying from the minute she stepped into Northrend.  So feeling out of touch with the leveling experience and with no slots left on my primary server, I decided to try leveling a brand new character without any help from a “Main” character.  That meant no money, and no equipment.  To Make the experience even fresher, I decided to do it playing Horde.  A big change as all my characters are Alliance and I have never got a Horde character past level 10.  Thus Maruk, tauren warrior of Kaz’goroth, was born.  How far am I going to take it?  I have no idea, at the moment it’s a character I play when I need a break from the heroic daily and raiding on my regular toons.  I’ll keep you updated as to how it goes.

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The Blues – Cataclysm Class Information Coming!

The Blues is a column with personal commentry on the “blue” posts from the World of Warcraft official forums.

Can you feel the electricity in the air?  Class previews are on the way starting with Shamans tomorrow!  Pray to the titans for buffs not nerfs and start speculating on new skills!  The full post and schedule are after the break.

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The Blues – Rage Normalization in Cataclysm

The Blues is a column with personal commentary on the “blue” posts from the World of Warcraft official forums.

Cataclysm approaches!  As predicted on MMO-Champion.com the Cataclysm beta approaches with a sudden outpouring of information today; its almost like its my birthday.  First up a description of rage mechanic changes in store.  They want to normalize rage again, just like they did in the Burning Crusade.  I’ll wait a moment as like Obi-wan, you feel the tide of horror washing over you from the thousands of warriors that lived through the first “normalization” experiment.  But it will be different! So sayth the crustacean.  Full post and commentary after the break.

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