Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Kam vs The Lich King

Although last Tuesday was my last attempt at the Lich King, the guild organized one last try on Monday night, so we could try to stick it to the sod Arthas just before Cataclysm was launched. So while most people were crowding around the portals in Orgrimmar, Kam and 9 other guildies were once again atop the frozen throne, being killed by defiles and bloody val'kyr.

Unfortunately the attempts were not going well, due to a mixture of dying and I think people being unfamiliar with the roles their alts were meant to play in the fight. At 10pm we swapped a fair number of alts out for mains and continued to wipe a bit. By 10:36 it was announced we would have 2 more attempts, but them people needed to get ready for Cataclysm, those who had the digital copy were headed into the new zones at 11pm.

Two more tries I think, then it will all be over. Over it was. We somehow managed to transition into phase 2.5 (endless winter number 2), popped Bloodlust to take down the spirits and despite losing a tank, some dps and 1 healer in phase 3, phase 3 went smoothly. Without those Val'kyr to complicate defile, it seemed very easy to deal with, there was no pressure to DPS hard and we chipped away at LK bit by bit. The people who went into Shadowmourne knew what to do, and before you know it The Lich King is at 10% and boom, I get to see the video I've sneakily peeked at in Dalaran.

As is traditional, Kam donned his title immediately and I took a few screenies for posterity. Kam vs LK, Kam 1 - LK about 60. We killed him at 22:49, with 11 minutes to go before Cataclysm made it all irrelevant.

So what next for Kam? For the Cataclysm expansion I plan on trying my hand at tanking, which unfortunately a Shaman is not best-equipped for. Therefore I have switched mains to my Druid and will be barely holding aggro in instances and raids (see what I did there).

I do have plans to re-purpose Kam to a fine Jewelcrafter and given the crazily short leveling times in Cata, may well take him out for some pwnage once again. But for now, a bit of mining and JC is all that is in his future.

So if you do want to read about Enhancement Shaman, I can recommend Shaman on Ramen and Windfury, and of course Wow Insider.

"But I really like reading your rambling posts Rakhman" you might say. "I really want to hear about your half-assed instance runs and casual raiding on some Druid and maybe some silly Death Knight stuff as well". Rather than pollute this Shaman class blog with such posts, I have two other blogs which will contain my further misadventures in the shattered azeroth; Way Of The Druid for erm Druid stuff, and Shadow and Blade for the DK.

I may also post achievements stuff here, as was its original dual purpose, as and when I find any interesting ones. Until then, farewell and Lok'tar ogar!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cataclysm PvE survivors guide

The Cataclysm expansion is upon us on December 7th, and I have been trying to figure out what will be going on when we are all rushing through the new content. I thought I would post it up here to help out any fellow confused players :)

New Zones
This map has all the details of where to go to level. Your starter zones are a choice between Vash'jir and Mount Hyjal. Then you have The Maelstrom and Deepholm, followed by Uldum and finally the Twilight Highlands. There should be feeder quests in the capital cities for all of these new zones.

Professions
Professions are all bumped up to level 525 at the maximum and will need training by a professions master to get access to the maximum level. Trainers in the capital cities should be able to oblige.

Archeology
Archeology is the new secondary profession is only available with the Cataclysm expansion, but anyone and everyone can do it, cos it's a secondary profession see. The trainer is Belloc Brightblade in Orgrimmar, or our old friend Harrison Jones in Stormwind. Check out Kaliope's Crafting Blog for more information.

Flying
We can fly in Cataclysm, but first you must hand over 250 gold to Maztha in Orgrimmar or Bralla Cloudwing in Stormwind for a Flight Master's License.

Discovering Dungeons
In order to queue for an instance using the Dungeon Finder, you must first discover the entrances to the instances. Luckily Pwnwear has a post with the location of all the instance entrances. Alternatively, Project CWAL has a post with the locations.

Enchants
The new enchanting materials in Cataclysm are Hypnotic Dust and Celestial Essence, disenchanted from uncommon weapons and armour. Heavenly Shard is disenchanted from rare items, and Maelstrom Crystals is from sharding epics. As usual there are a load of high level enchants you will be wanting for your gear, using all of the above.

Primals... Eternals... Volatiles
The new Eternals are Volatiles. Volatile Earth are mined from Cataclysm nodes and dead elementals, or they drop from some elementals as loots. Interestingly Blizzard seem to have done away with crystallized/motes and primals/eternals and we just have one sort of drop.
Volatile Earth can also be found inside a Strange Bloated Stomach which is skinned from various beasts. This can also contain Volatile Air, Fire and Water, thus giving skinners a chance at getting volatiles too.
Volatile Fire is also mined from Cata nodes, and drops from killing fire elemental mobs. It can also be fished up from lava in Twilight Highlands, see El's Extreme Anglin' for more information. Finally it can be inside a Bloated Stomach.
Volatile Life is gathered while herbalising plants and can be gathered from the corpses of some mobs. It does not appear inside Bloated Stomachs, thus tieing it entirely to herb gathering.
Volatile Air is also mined from Cataclysm nodes and dropped by air elementals, as well as being inside a Bloated Stomach. Engineers can make an Electrostatic Condenser which allows engineers to collect Air while mining, herbalising or skinning, but this means your engineer must have a gathering profession to use this, unlike the old mote extractor.
Volatile Water can be mined according to Wowhead, drops from water elementals and predictably can be fished in Deepholm and Twilight Highlands. It also drops in Bloated Stomachs.

Bags
The Embersilk Bag is a 22 slot bag, made with 15 Hypnotic Dust and 75 Embersilk Cloth. This is the basic bag I expect to snag 5 of as soon as I can.

Then for a bigger bag, there is the Illusionary Bag at 24 slots which is made with 8 Dreamcloth. Each Dreamcloth is transmuted by a Tailor using 40 Embercloth and 30 Volatile somethings, on a 1 week cooldown. Luckily a Tailor can do 5 transmutes a week, using 30 of Volatile Water, Earth, Life, Fire and Air, plus another transmute using 5 Chaos Orbs, the Frozen Orb equivalent. That is a total of 6 Dreamcloths a Tailor could make per week, still the cloths are likely to be expensive, so the Illusionary Bag is likely to be expensive.

Flasks
The usual set of flasks are back for Cataclysm, increasing Spirit, Stamina, Strength, Agility or Intellect by 300 for 1 hour. All of the flasks in Cataclysm seem to use 6 Volatile Life along with other herbs to make, so there is no Frost Lotus equivalent in Cataclysm. Given that Volatile Life is only gathered while herb gathering at the moment, I suspect Volatile Life will be valuable.

Fish Feasts
Seafood Magnifique Feast is the new fish feast, giving 90 stamina and 90 of a "useful stat" for 1 hour. This only needs 12 fish, there doesn't seem to be a Northern Spices equivalent this time round. There are also buff food recipes for 90 something for one hour you can take personally.

Bandages
We have Embersilk Bandage from First Aid level 425, then Heavy Embersilk Bandage at 475. Wowhead lists a spell for Dense Embersilk Bandage at First Aid 525, which handily uses the heavy bandages.

Gems
Much the same as in Wrath, there are gems and meta gems. Your meta gems are all cut from a Shadowspirit Diamond, but there is no other apparent meta gem, unlike in Wrath.
Inferno Ruby, Amberjewel and Ocean Sapphire are the red, yellow and blue gems, whereas your multi-coloured gems are Demonseye (purple), Dream Emerald (green) and Ember Topaz (orange).
The gems are prospected, and there are alchemy transmutes which turns 3 of the uncommon versions of the gem and 3 herbs into a single rare gem. Jewelcrafters can make a Fire Prism from a load of uncommon gems, which can contain some rare gems. Most are mined from nodes, but the Dream Emerald and Inferno Ruby are not listed on Wowhead as being mined from nodes, hopefully this is just an oversight.

Factions
What factions are available to grind for?Each faction vendor sells a variety of gear useful for gearing up for heroics or tier 11 raids. The Therazane are the new Sons of Ohdear, with a shoulder inscription. They are an improvement over Hodir, as you can champion them in Cataclysm heroics. Hurrah!

Heroics
There are Heroics of course at level 85. Blizzard have said they tuned them for characters wearing an average of item level 333 items, as shown on the character sheet. This means some crafted items or drops from normal instances will be needed before trying heroics. Only heroics award championing reputation this time, so wearing a faction tabard in a normal level 80 instance will not get any rep.

Crafted Epics and Rares
There are the usual crafted epics and rare items from the various professions. This Wowhead filter lists crafted items above or equal to item level 333, usable by Shamans. Oddly there are no epic weapons listed this time, perhaps they are yet to be added or this time around its epic armour only.

Conclusion
So the names may be changing, but most concepts are being carried over into Cataclysm.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

How to make an expansion reputation rewards post

Last time in Wrath of the Lich King, I made Wrath reputation rewards post. However this time I shall get all meta on you and instead write a Post About Writing Reputations Post!

To write a reputations rewards post for your chosen class now, perform the following steps:

  • Navigate to the beta version of your favourite WoW database site, such as Cata.wowhead.com.
  • Select the link to show Factions for the new expansion, in the case of Wowhead Database -> Factions -> Cataclysm.
  • For each faction presented:

    • Write a link to the faction overview page, along with some introductory text.
      Hellscream's Reach
      The Horde faction fighting for control of Tol Barad.

    • Determine if it is a faction-specific faction, ie Horde or Alliance only. If so, describe your favourite faction (For The Horde!) and begrudgingly provide a link to the opposite faction.
      See Baradin's Wardens for Alliance sympathisers. For The Horde!

    • Find a list of items available from the faction. In the case of Wowhead, the Items tab provides this.
    • For each item in the list of items available from said faction:

      • If relevant to your class and perhaps spec, write a link to the item description, the item name and optionally some text describing your impressions of said item. Try not to drool too much over the obviously inflated stats said item has, compared to your currently equipped items. It is an expansion after all.

        Ravening Slicer
        . 2.6 speed axe, with agility, haste and mastery. 400 weapon dps too, are you kidding me? It is not unique either, I'll be having two tyvm.

      • Be sure to mention the faction level required!
        Umm, its available at Revered.


    • [Optional] Provide a list of daily quests and describe if the faction has a tabard. Describe if there are normal quests which award faction reputation as you are levelling to max level.
      In other words, provide a good idea of how one might rep up with said faction, and how painful it might be (Damn you Sons of Hodir!).
      So the Tol Barad factions, according to Wowhead, fight for control over the zone like Wintergrasp. Whoever controls the zone gets access to 12 daily quests, but they rotate in some way so you can only do 3 at once. When a quest is complete you get a 350 reputation. They do not have a championing tabard. In technical terms, grinding this one will be a right sod.

    • [Optional] Give an impression of what the maximum reputation level you would want to get is.
      Probably exalted for the trinket but I'd settle for revered for the axes.

    • [Optional] If the faction has to be unlocked in any way (Knights of the Ebon Blade), provide information as to how the reader can unlock the faction, starting quests, etc.
      Your faction would need control of Tol Barad, which might involve fighting for it and thus some PvP. Given how bad Horde on Aszune is at Wintergrasp, this could be... troublesome. I would recommend doing the dailies whenever you spot your faction has control.



There you have it. So what are you waiting for? :)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cataclysm reputation rewards video

Check out TotalBiscuit's video which shows all the reputation items in Cataclysm. You can also see a factions list on Wowhead and check out their individual rewards from there.

The good news is there are entry level dungeon items, heroic dungeon level items and entry level raid items available from the vendors for various slots. The bad news is there is also a Sons of Hodir style faction with your shoulder inscriptions, but they have a tabard so they can be championed. I am quite confident you can gear up using a combination of rep items, craftables and maybe some dungeon drops to be able to start on heroics. Hopefully the end-level zone quests will also reward some heroic dungeon level items, I've not checked those out yet.

Tol Barad seems to be the place where PvE weaponry can be obtained, so the dailies for them suddenly look a whole lot more attractive than just for earning gold.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The 4.0.1 PTR post

I have finally logged onto the PTR to take a preview at the new stuff coming our way really soon now. First of all, that picture does not joke, mana is down from 18k to 6k. Hopefully these new mana saving talents will help a lot.

Shaman stuff


You've probably seen the new talent UI, anyway here it is. Much less things to put points into, I went for the build pictured by randomly putting points in things which sounded interesting and ignoring anything that sounded like PvP talents. I should probably have taken Improved Shields instead of going over to the Elemental tree, but hey this is the PTR and will all get wiped anyway.

Here is the new glyph UI. What is of interest, and something I didn't think through, is that we get 3 prime, 3 major and 3 minor glyphs, that being 9. At the moment I have 6 of course, which leaves a gap of 3 glyphs when I opened the UI. I ended up with 3 prime glyphs of Windfury, Feral Spirit and Stormstrike, but 3 open Major glyph slots.

Some of the current major glyphs don't turn into prime glyphs, so the Glyph of Lightning Shield looks very handy and is a major glyph, so if I had it, I could use it as well as WF, FS and SS. Similarly, the Glyph of Chain Lightning is also a major, so I can use that as well. I put Glyph of Chain Heal in a major slot because I just didn't gave enough glyphs to fill them with.

I've been on the AH on live and bought glyphs of LS and CL, because of course once 4.0.1 hits and everyone else on the server realizes they have 3 new empty glyph slots, the prices are going to get a bit high. Not to mention that the UI shows you all the glyphs you don't have and so completeness freaks will be buying as well.

A visit to the trainer will be in order, here we see the new Mail Specialization skill and how the spell book shows you spells you need to go learn. 5% extra primary stat? Yes please. Remember to go train it though, Blizzard are mean and won't give it to you for free, the trainer is also mean and will ask for more gold for it.

Elemental crowd control! You'll be needing it too, if TotalBiscuit's videos are anything to go by. I've even put Hex back onto my action bars. Must buy glyph of Hex...

Not-so-Shaman stuff


Because Kam did the crazy Long, Strange Trip achievement, he gets Master Riding which I assume gives 310% speed on all mounts. I hope this is free and not just some cunning Blizzard advert to get me to part with 5k gold. I really like this spell because I can finally fly my favourite mount the Red Drake but at crazy fast speeds. All you engineers can get back into your ROFLCopters too.

Now here is the big question for the alts, do I try to do Children's Week (school of hard knocks specifically) or just pony up the 5k gold for the Master Riding and forget about it? There are better looking mounts out there than the Violet Proto-drake for my money, and being forced to do Player Vs Developer (PvD) by behaving stupidly in some battlegrounds really annoys me. Or maybe its PvPvP where the first Player is you, the second player is the Alliance/Horde and the third players are your teammates, because what that achievement gets you to do certainly isn't helping anyone in the battleground who wants to actually do PvP. Sigh.

I'd like to save 5k really I would, but I can see myself standing in front of the flying trainer, finger hovering over the Buy button, casting my mind back to when I did School of Hard Knocks... CLICK! I'd have bought it already if the Master Flying skill was on live. What price do you put on your sanity?

Erm, anyway here is the new professions UI which is all shiny looking yet taunting me with the Archeology I can't pick up until Cataclysm launches.

Another cool feature is that the new Pets and Mounts UI lists the actual name of the items, and sorts them alphabetically, so instead of rummaging around looking for the icon for your Red Drake, you can like, just go to the Rs and click the icon next to "Red Drake".

This is not so much a new feature, more of a fix to something which was horribly un-useable before.

This works really well on my pet book which is choc-full of 80-odd pets and I can never find the one I want. Oh, they also moved the Pet and Mount tabs to the spellbook for some reason.

Gathering and multiple tracking


One of the most exciting changes is that now, instead of picking one thing to track like Herbs OR Minerals, each trackable item has a check box and you can track more than one thing at once. I have a really great screenshot of Kam tracking Herbs and Mineral nodes and seeing both a Herb and a Mineral node on his minimap at the same time. Unfortunately I left it on my other PC. Fail.

Really, just totally random stuff



This "emphasise my spell effects" setting intrigues me. I haven't got to try it out yet but it sounds good.

Whereas blocking all those guild invites people insist on sending my AH alt is awesome. Just awesome. One to click as soon as 4.0.1 goes live methinks.

Here is a shot of the new raid UI config panel. Having used the new raid UI it looks ok, just about as good as the CT Raid Assist frames but no where as good as something like Shadowed Unit Frames that I use, or any of the other major unit frames.

Where's the pwnage?


So I queued in the Random Dungeon Finder to try out all these crazy new talents and spells. After a 5 minute wait I got the cold, clammy sweats as the Halls of Reflection loading screen came up. When I said random I didn't really mean really random, just like something easy to run with the other people who are queuing. Not bloody HoR! In any case, the tank couldn't get in due to some bug and the group fell apart.

I hope to be back on the PTR soon, queueing in the RDF for something a bit easier to try out the new spells and talents. Something like Utgarde Keep maybe. Or Violet Hold, that will do nicely.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ouch! 600 Triumph for some blue gloves?

MMO Champion have the Justice and Valor points cost of some new items, and although we can indeed farm Triumph now to get a nice Justice point stockpile come 4.0.1, the cost of the dungeon blues you will be able to buy for Justice come Cataclysm is sobering.

From the MMOC screen shot, item level 346 gloves seem to cost 1650 Justice and the chest items cost 2200. Given the 2.75 exchange rate for Triumph and Frost, that is 600 Triumph/Frost for gloves, or 800 for a chest.

Your 4000 capped Justice points will then get you one chest piece and some gloves, maybe some other item instead of the gloves. Or if you converted the 1454 Triumph to Conquest before patch 4.0.1, 8000 gold.

I'll be taking the gold in any case. This does raise the question of how much Justice is awarded for a heroic boss kill. If the current 50 Triumph for something like Nobundo's Chestguard of Triumph is a reasonable number, then if bosses dropped 2200/50 = 44 Justice points we would have a similar grind in Cataclysm heroics as we do now. Apart from them being much harder.

Update: Consider This has posted you get 75 Justice per heroic boss at the moment, so that's an improvement over the current rates.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How to get into the WoW Beta

Having failed to get myself into the Cataclysm beta, despite some half-hearted attempts, I thought it would be fun to make a list of how you might want to go about it for the next beta. None of these are warrantied and indeed may fail.

Go to Blizzcon or the Worldwide Invitational
For the last 2 Blizzcons and in the last Paris WWI, attendees have been given a beta code card which gets them into a Blizzard beta of their choice. Some of my friends attended the Paris WWI and one used their code for the Wrath beta. The other friend kept their code and could have used it to get into Cataclysm or Starcraft 2.

Will this trend continue? There is no reason to suspect Blizzard will stop handing out these code cards, so attending Blizzcon/WWI seems like a safe bet to get some beta action.

Be on a fansite
Now we have all seen how WoW Insider becomes flooded with beta news the second the Alpha ends, many of the staffers seem to get beta invites. Now quite how they get these remains to be seen, certainly Blizzard will hand them out to "press" to ensure they generate a fair amount of hype, although personal contacts from Blizzcon and the like may also play a part here.

I know of some WoW Insider writers who do not have Beta access, so this tactic may not always work. Still, I would hope those on an "official" WoW fansite (the ones in the Blizzard program) would get Beta access.

Write a blog / EJ posts / Blizzard forum posts
So if Blizzard are selecting people to participate, they will in theory want some well informed players. Several of those in the WoW community who are renounded for being knowledgeable are in the Beta, it only stands to reason Blizz will want the likes of Rouncer and BigRedKitty to feedback on how their classes are playing. These people are well known because they might post on EJ and be an authority, or the official forums, or run well known blogs.

For us less well known people who might not have particular expertise but just post things, I am not so sure. It isn't like the vast number of blogs I read have suddenly all got into the beta, I suspect most invites are a result of the random selection process Blizzard do.

So if you are well known in the community I reckon you increase your chances. If not, they are probably the same as anyone else who checks the Cataclysm opt-in.

Know someone in Blizzard
Now the way to get into the Friends and Family Alpha, apart from being BigRedKitty, is to actually be a friend or family member of someone at Blizzard. From the GMs to Ghostcrawler, knowing any of these people will likely get you access to the F&F Alpha, because Blizzard staff can add their friends and family to a list of battle net accounts to be admitted into the Alpha.

From what I know of it, anyone in the Alpha gets access to the Beta. So get chummy with those Blizzard employees at Blizzcon!

Apply via battle net
The second least likely way to get in (apart from not applying of course), you can just check the opt-in on battle net. No further discussion needed really.

Write a (non-trivial) mod and post it on Wowinterface.com
Finally the route I might try for the next beta. If you have a WoW mod hosted on Wowinterface.com, and it is non-trivial in such that it is not "hello world" or something like that, you can now apply to get beta access for the purposes of testing and recoding your mod to work. You can also upload the mod to a special Cataclysm section where other beta people can try it.

Wowinterface also did this offer for the Wrath beta, although you didn't get in right at the start of the beta, and Blizz didn't enable 3rd party mods until fairly late in the Cataclysm beta. Still this is pretty much a guaranteed way to get in for some beta action.

My own guide for Tourguide was not sufficiently "complex" enough to qualify me for entry to the beta, so I think you need to code a stand alone mod for something or another, most likely not a mod which relies on another one to do its work and not a plug-in for another mod. Still there is plenty of time until the next expansion, and I have a few ideas about mods I could write to make my WoW life a little easier.

But I didn't get in!
So you didn't get into the Cataclysm beta, despite coding 4 mods, being a writer for WoW.com and knowing Greg Street's cat personally. Well, that's ok. While others have been playing around in the beta, I've taken the time to level and gear some alts, continue to raid and instance and try my hand at some gold making using my professions. I am now in a good position to start the expansion, a far better position than if I had been using all my play time in the Cataclysm beta. I suggest anyone who didn't get in also takes the opportunity to get their Wrath house in order before the world is sundered. As it were.
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