When in Doubt, Raid!

We had to cancel our Hard Mode Wednesday and Thursday raids this week. Again. It’s now something like the fourth week in a row. It’s none of our raiders’ faults- a good twenty of us have been online, prepared, and ready to go every week. However, due to insane holy paladin initiates (rage quit because he was a loot whore/general douchebaggery), bad warrior/death knight dps initiates (told they were not up to par with raiding with us), and good mage/warlock initiates (who happened to be friends of said bad warrior/dk who took the stunning revelation of “3k dps isn’t enough for ToGC as a personal insult), we’re just down a lot of pixelated bodies. Come Thursday night, morale was getting a little low (even for me, which is strange- I’m pretty much perpetually happy. It’s a condition.) So, our fearless femme fatale of a guild leader, stuck 20 minutes away from home while we were trying to get our group together, gave our officers an order: “Run something. Anything.” And we did. And it was the start of an awesome weekend of raiding for me.

Back in March, after I begged and whined and followed Ell around Orgrimmar like a sick dog, Surreality welcomed me back into their humble abode. (The story of my leaving the first time is one for another time- in a nut shell, peer pressure is bad. Unless I’m the one pressuring. In that case, listen to me.) They had pretty recently downed 25Sarth+3 for the first time, while my experiences had me at 10+1, a few sloppy Malygos 10 kills, and attempts at Undying that ended on Heigan. Thus, I was elated when they let me back in (and as enhance! ^_^. I was resto when I hit 80. Gross.) I was even more elated the week I planned to skip class to down Sarth+3 with them- I’d get my Twilight Vanquisher title pre 3.1, have some fun with my new guild, and feel like I actually got to experience some progression content. …that was the week 3.1 decided to land. I skipped class anyway in hopes of getting in on our first Ulduar pull, but my campus internet was at 2k, I was an initiate (and not trusted, at that), and the lag monster that is post-patch raiding reared it’s ugly head. I was pretty majorly bummed.

It was pretty awesome, then, when one of the officers let us in on the game plan Thursday night- Besting the Black Dragonflight, Twilight Zone style. With a full raid of twenty-two whole members, we ran in and engaged the fatty dragon like pros. the other 21 members of the raid (who had at least experienced whiping on 3drakes) were pretty used to the layout. I was stuck in the pug mentality of BIG DRAGON GO IN CENTER, (I’d done 2drakes once before, but not enough to be familiar) and promptly died to a void zone while trying to run away from a lava wave at the last second. 😡 I ahnked to be a badass…and then got hit by a random fireball. Buff reincarnation hps imo. Two lives down, and starting to feel like I was in a SNES game, our Marksman-Hunter-Turned-Resto-Druid battle rezzed me, and I proceeded to hold tightly to my bottom of the meter status. (Hey, even with my time spent dead, and no buffs, I outdamaged the tanks and hit 4ishk. I’m not -that- bad! :P)

Yes, it's seven months too late. Yes, I love it anyway. And yes, I am wearing the title. It's cute on me. :x
Yes, it’s seven months too late. Yes, I love it anyway. And yes, I am wearing the title. It’s cute on me. 😡

Our Thursday night raiding didn’t stop there. While the brunt of our raiders left- some mages left to pee vee pee on their tree drood alts, some warlocks left to benchpress skyscrapers, and some tree druids I might name were busy getting an education rather than raiding, we managed to scramble together 12 raiders for a 25 man instance. A 25 man instance we had never seen before. A 25 man instance known as the Sunwell. (Sunwell Plateau if you want it to sound less epic.)

We didn’t technically wipe on the first boss. We happened to dps him rlyrlyrly hard, and he hit 0 before we realized the point of the encounter is killing the demon in the portal first. We then spent the next 10 minutes leveling weapon skills on a banished boss, hoping he would enrage and kill us all. He didn’t, our weapons dinged 400, and we proceeded to hearth out and reassemble. We pulled ourselves together, smacked a bitch dragon up, and proceeded to Brutallus…where our bear tank forgot he was in kitty gear and got murdered when it was his turn to taunt. We had no further issues, I topped dps on Brut and was happy, and I nabbed some sweet t6 token. We then wiped on Felmyst. It took us four tries to properly avoid the mind control fog. It was especially fun on the attempt we actually downed the dragon because dots made her hit 0 HP in midair- only one of us had to survive to win. All 12 made it through that time, though, and we moved on to Eredar Twins.

This is the point of the night where we stopped listening to our elemental shaman explain boss strategies, and we developed strategies of our own- pop bloodlust, hit buttons, and kill it before it kills you. Somehow, this strategy brought us through Eredar twins, Mu’ru, and Kil’Jaeden. I was rewarded for my efforts hitting my bloodlust key rly hard with some sweet lolArmor Pen gauntlets, and our main tank was rewarded…with a legendary.

The Sunwell- 1,000Xmore powerful than a lightwell?
The Sunwell- 1,000Xmore powerful than a lightwell?

Yes, that is our main tank being a meanie and taking the bow over a hunter. However, he was nice and gave it back later. 😛 And I know, lolLevel70 content and lol70 weapon…but honestly. It’s orange lettered. It’s golden gilded. And it fucking SHOOTS LIGHTNING arrows. It’s awesome. ❤

That was not the end of my Thursday night, oddly enough. Somehow, I managed to scrounge up our New Zealandish Tree, fresh back from school, and 6 other friends from our ex-guild and put together a “The Dedicated Few” Naxx10 run. (Actually, that’s a small lie- the tree’s mage brother kept DCing and left, and I kicked a bad pug ret paladin. What started as a naxx10 turned into naxx8 by Gluth.) I think I might go more into detail about this in another post, but for now I’ll mention this: Paladin healing is fun. 1.75 second holy lights on KT frost blocks are fucking intense. However, I’m not about to rehash stuff that has already been said, and I want to sleep, so I’ll say this: I’m writing this rather than sleeping right now because tomorrow is maintenance day. So, in my mind, either A) You’re bored at home with no wow and only blogs to read, or B) You’re bored at work with no wow and only blogs to read. Either way, if you want the full story of Ent and Evangelist, head on over to Tank N’ Tree and check out this entry, which includes a treatise on why I’m the biggest douchebag in the world.

This was it for my Thursday night of raiding. It was a very fun, laid back, low stress night- the exact opposite of the raid we did on Saturday night(also an amazing one), which I’ll blog about tomorrow. It was also a great call by our leadership to have us raid old-but-fun content, at least imho. We’re considering farming Sarth+3 for drakes and trinkets weekly, now. So, I’m interested to know- feel free to comment, to e-mail Elamtheshaman@live.com, or to link to a blog about it- what awesome raid nights have you haad in the past? Any in particular that stand out for a reason other than “Omw we killed progression boss X” or “I got BiS item Y?”

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On an entirely different note, I’ve become addicted to alts and alt specs over the weekend. First off, after a disasterous attempt at tanking ToC10, and due to my utter hatred for tanking, Grazeless went back to being blood dps. However, I hate blood dps (even though 13k death strike crits are pretty), and due to a generous rogue friend, a boe holiday drop, and my realizing I was a champion of Thunder Bluff on my zombiefemcow, I was able to spec DW Threat of Tharassian, the dps talent spec my DK had been wishing for in her cold little heart the entire expansion. I happen to have an insane love of DW which predates WoW, and might even predate Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (best console game in history). And no, it doesn’t stem from a love for Drizzt Do’Urden- for all I care, while this may offend some, R.A. Salvatore can be crushed by a gigantic flaming pile of Star Wars novels for what he did to Chewbacca. And Drizzt/Co. lack any form of character development or personality. I’m happy now, with my pretty little zombie cow, and glad she finally can drink her problems away while beating them senseless with the mug.

I like her 2pc t7, 2pc t8, 1pct9. Gogo mismatched tier gear!
I like her 2pc t7, 2pc t8, 1pct9. Gogo mismatched tier gear!

Notelam hit 80 with the intention of one thing- going Retribution. Like Grazeless, she started as a He. unlike Grazeless, she started as a filthy human on Uldum. I could not stand for this, and 45 minutes after faction changes were announced, Idrawaggro the male human paladin from Uldum was Notelam, the female belf from Black Dragonflight. Much like her gender/spec/race, I was a bit confused with my plans for Notelam- I leveled her while I was on a melee kick (which I’m still on), where I wanted one of every melee class at level 80. However, paladins are super freaking boring with their SHINYLIGHTATTACKONE and SHINYLIGHTATTACK2 and YOUGETTHEIDEA attacks. Couple my boredom with religious light effects (my parents are both Presbyterian pastors- I don’t need more shiny lightside stuff in my life), and the fact that I leveled a lot in Alterac Valley where low level heals are infinitely more useful than low level dps, and we have a recipe for healing success. That said, she only has like five heroics under her belt, and it was a big stretch for Naithin and Co. to allow her 1600spellpower self into Naxx10. (He insisted I did well, I call bollocks.) Nevertheless, I found healing to be pretty fun, and I’m pretty comfortable keeping her that way, especially now that she sits just shy of 2k spellpower.

SHINYLIGHTATTACK42
SHINYLIGHTATTACK42

Elam is not an Alt. Elam is a main. He is enhance mainspec/resto offspec a good deal of the time, but has spent some time as enhance offspec. What Elam had never done, however, was spec Elemental- at least not this expansion. The last time I dpsed anything as elemental was early last October, where I rocked 1k dps on Caverns of Time: Durnholde trash through Chain Lightning/Lightning Overload awesomeness. I had not tried Elemental since Lava Burst/Wrath of the Lich King hit…and I’ve been missing out. Lava Burst crits for 10k on target dummies is awesome. Lava burst/Chain Lightning burst in battlegrounds is intense (though I admit to dying a lot- part of that is the staff, anyway.) Thunderstorming people off the Arathi Basin Lumber Mill cliff is hilarious. In all, Elemental is just a really, really -fun- spec, and I’d like to keep it my offspec. (This isn’t possible, as I’ve had my already-precarious spot in guild ten mans taken away if I keep it as my offspec- it seems being able to go ranged on ranged-friendly fights is not as useful as being a bad healer on healing intense fights. xD.) I’m not really upset about this decision, though- it makes sense from a guild point of view, even though I don’t like it. However, until I’m called upon to change it, I’m rocking my Elemental offspec and tearing up battlegrounds/alt and heroic runs.

I’ve got that BOOM BOOM POW.
I've got that BOOM BOOM POW.

How about everyone else? Do you have a new alt you’ve fallen in love with? Or tried a new spec you hadn’t used before and found yourself enjoying it way more than you might want to? I’d love to hear!

Please remember that I have gone self hosted. I’m no longer resizing screenshots for this blog, writing with the intent of posting on it, etc. If you’re interested in reading more, head over to shamanonramen.com to check stuff out.

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Enhance Your Game-Sim it!

“Enhance Your Game” is my attempt at a weekly (or bi-weekly) blog column. In it, I’ll be covering integral programs/addons that I feel benefit my playstyle, the melee playstyle, and playing an Enhancement Shaman. This is my first attempt at an actual stable column (small, clouded in mystery aside- this might not be my only column starting in the near future. :o), so bear with me! This week’s “Enhance Your Game” will be covering one of the most integral addons of Enhancement Raiding- the Enhancement Damage Simulator.

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Beating the Beasts.

By this point in the patch, the majority of us have probably taken our firsts steps into Heroic Northrend Beasts, be it on 10 or 25 man. This means that a large number of you probably know the basics of the fight: It’s a DPS race, as the bosses are released on a timer. There are no drastically different additions are changes to the fight, other than the scaling up of boss damage/hit points and the fact that Icehowl no longer gives you a sprint buff when he charges. Rather than talk about the general fight, here are some of the specifics of the fight itself as it pertains to Enhancement Shaman, as well as my perspectives and tips on not dissappointing your fellow raiders like they’re Taylor Swift and you’re Kanye West.

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Azjol-Nerub was merely a Setback!

Tuesday night, we fought valiantly and killed the meanest oversized ugly beatle in the world- and no, I don’t mean Ringo Starr.*

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On using “On Use.”

I just found out that Talon King Ikiss from Sethekk Halls in BC did not enrage if you used an on-use trinket. I was told on my first run there that he did, and had subsequently spent an entire expansion of heroics AND leveled like 4 characters through outlands thinking I could not use trinkets on him without wiping the group. I’m pretty amazing.

Now, with that awkward vignette out of the way, you shoud click below this shiny line to read my ramblings about why On Use trinkets are underrated additions to your enhance arsenal. (Also, that sentance ending was LIKE assonance, but not. >:()

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The Art of War/Maelstrom Weapon Cage Match. No, it isn’t pretty.

Hilary Duff style, I need to come clean. I’ve been leveling a paladin. I’ve been leveling a RETRIBUTION paladin. Moreover, my fatty cow, wanna-be leprechauns, and desperately-needing-dentist brethren, I’ve been leveling an ALLIANCE RETRIBUTION PALADIN. Dun dun dun. (This is the part where the shaman community revolts and flays the skin from my bones with their sharp fist thingies and wolves of doom.)

No, this is not to reroll. No, it’s not because I’ve “grown disillusioned by the utter crap that is the shaman class” like the thousand other people who have yet to realize that they’re not nearly as amazing as they think they are. Actually, what it is for is to gank my guildmates and friends since it is on my home server is a few reasons. A)I’ve only played tauren melee dps at 80, and a small part of me worries that the gigantic cow in the front of my screen is affecting my performance in some way, mainly dpsing from behind on human sized mobs that I can barely see past my fatty self. If it does seem to be better on the small side, I might consider race-changing Failam to orc when it’s released. (No, the OP racials have nothing to do with it- they’re jsut a nice benefit.) B) I’m leveling the ret to learn.

Ideally, I’d like to have every melee dps at level 80 within the next few months- ret paladin (who is pretty close) rogue, feral, and warrior are all that are left for me, I believe. I’m of the opinion that focusing on one character is a bad idea- first off, you become overly aware of that one classes problems, and take for granted their benefits. I feel playing a single character restrains a large number of people from seeing WoW as a whole, and rather they focus entirely on what makes them better without regard to class balance. (I swear, if I see another person post “It’s Our turn to be OP,” I’m going American History X and curb stomping them. Srsly.) Second, I just find it useful to understand how other classes gear /work/dps, and learning different ways, as this game is constantly changing, and class A mechanics you may have a handle on today might be entirely overhauled in Patch x.y to be more akin to class B, etc. Oh, and, Outland is fun. This post, however, is no longer about my qt baby retadin, even though she’s fabulous.

I’m not sure if it’s in the water or something, but I’ve been reading a lot of whining from a large number of people who have no idea what they’re talking about (Also known as the shaman forums) in regards to the Retribtion talent The Art of War. (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=53488) For those of you who don’t know about this talent, it’s the Retribution answer to Maelstrom Weapn- a chance on melee critical strike for them to be able to cast an instant flash of light or exorcism. To hear it said by quite a few players, it’s ridiculous- they don’t have to stack their instant cast, and it only requires a two talent point investment to reach. So, I’d like to spam purge on some of this QQ and provide a nice, neat, comparison between the two talents.

1) Maelstrom Weapon lightning bolts are our single hardest hitting on command ability. (Windfury can hit harder, but we have no control over it.) We prioritize MW5 Lightning Bolts over sex while raiding, both because it hits hard and because each second gone by not hitting it means we’re missing more potential MW procs. By comparison, instant excorcisms are a Paladins LAST priority- where we would refresh shields/totems, they’re hitting exorcism. Even consecration is more highly valued on Ret Priority than exorcism.

2) Exorcism has a 15 second cooldown. MW doesn’t have a cooldown. This means that while we might be firing off an instant lightning bolt every 5 seconds, Retribution Paladins who don’t need the instant flash of light are letting their Art of War just sit there for 10-12 seconds at a time waiting for that exorcism to be up again. I know that when I’m dpsing, I tend to have a near 100% uptime on art of war, since it does proc quite frequently- but most of that uptime is spent waiting for the cooldown  to be up, and then, when the cooldown IS up, making sure there is nothing else on my priority list that needs to be done before using it.

3) Maelstrom Weapon provides more versatility. Single target dps fight? That’s cool, I’ll use lightning bolt. Mimiron Phase 4? Chain Lightning and I are bffs. Learning Hardmode XT Deconstructor for the first time? Sure, I’ll use some instant chain heals on the melee during tantrums. OH SHIT I’M DYING? Instant Healing Wave ftw! Wait, what? Trash exists somewhere that needs to be CCed and is currently eating our wild-growth spam sapling’s face? W/e man, he’s now a frog. Instantly.

Switch to my qt femret. Single target dps fight? That’s cool, I’ll use exorcism. Mimiron phase 4? Still here, still hitting exorcism. Learning Hardmode XT for the first time? Oh shit son, I just flash of lighted myself for 3k. Pity that rogue next to me died though. These healers need to lrn2play. OH SHIT I’M DYING. Nice, instant flash of light. That almost brings me out of killsho–you cannot do that while dead? Wait, what? Trash exists somewhere that needs to be CCed and is currently eating our wild-growth spam sapling’s face? Fuck excorcism. /cast Divine Storm!

4) Maelstrom Weapon has a chance to proc off melee hits. The Art of War has a chance to proc off melee critical hits. On any target that is standing still but has a lot of resilience in pvp (not done very much, I know), you’d have a better chance of proccing MW than the Art of War.

5) That said, the Art of War does not need to stack, so you can fire off instant underwhelming abilities fairly often in pvp, while the shaman needs to stick on top of something to try and fire off a more powerful attack.

6) The Art of War provides a base damage increase to a few abilities, which is a nice benefit to taking the talent.

7) The Art of War is only a two talent point investmentm, while MW is five.

The last three, in my mind, are beneficial for The Art of War’s cause, but not enough to counteract the amazingness of Maelstrom Weapon. For Ret, the Art of War is a nice free damage bonus, much like our lava lash. For Enhance, Maelstrom Weapon is spec-defining in it’s glory. There is absolutely no reason to QQ about TAoW.

No, Blizzard Doesn’t Suck at Enhance- You Do.

Since it appeared last month on the Public Test Realms, Totem of Quaking Earth (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47667) has been underwhelming shaman across the forums, inciting nerd rage and massive amounts of qq whereever it goes. It’s not that it’s a bad totem, per se- it’s a direct uprade from the Gladiator’s totems of indomitability (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42608), albeit with a few differences: Gladiator’s is a ten second buff duration, but is guaranteed to proc every lava lash; Totem of Quaking Earth is an 18 second buff, but only an 80% chance to proc on an ability with a 6 second cooldown. I’m not an expert on probability, but when you have three 80% chances happening during the time the buff is up, the chance of it proccing again and keeping a relatively high uptime seems pretty high. (If anyone could show me how to calculate this, I’d love them forever.) So, we’ve got a totem with a near-100% uptime that provides 200 attack power- not amazing (especially considering the Death Knight/Ret Paladin relics each give 200 Strength, a stat with a much higher ep that scales with buffs. 200 agility would be much more desirable, but the point is moot.), but seemingly worthwhile. Until, that is, you see the “Elemental Totem.”

Totem of the Electrifying Wind (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47666) is somewhat comparable to quaking earth in that A) It provides a 200 pt bonus to one stat. B) Assuming 60 PPM (I sim at 61 due to gemming haste with the t8 4pc. Other people’s PPMs might be lower, but I assumed 60 for ease, because it means one proc per second, and for the purpose of napkin math I’m saying this is one static proc per second- no more, no less), you should be firing off an instant lightning bolt every 5-6 seconds, comparable to the 6 second cooldown on lava lash.  C) It has a high proc chance, albeit slightly less than Quaking Earth’s- 70%. It also has a shorter buff duration- 12 seconds, to Quaking Earth’s 18.

The difference with Electrifying Wind is that it has a 6 Second Internal Cooldown, which means assuming a lightning bolt every five-six seconds will result in your first lightning bolt not being able to renew the buff. This leaves you with one lightning bolt that CAN renew the buff before it falls off, at a 70% chance to proc. Your next chance to proc the buff would be at 15 seconds, also at a 70% chance to proc. Because it has such a high proc chance, my best guess is that you’d rarely go anymore than three-eight seconds without a proc, and at times would keep the buff up consistently. (Once again, this is assuming you had a static proc per second of maelstrom weapon- you will be seeing more and less than that at different times.)

However, this slight drop off in buff uptime can be counteracted by the fact that the buff is 200 haste, rather than 200 attack power. Assuming Unleashed Rage/Aboms Might/trueshot aura being up 100% of the time, the maximum EP you’re going to get over a 36 (Least Common Denominator FTW) second period for Quaking Earth is a static 220. I’ve seen Haste EPs of between 1.7-2.3- I’m going to assume 2 for simplicity. This means that if you get super lucky with your 2nd lightning bolt always renewing the buff, you’re going to see 400 EP from Electrifying Wind. If you get somewhat unlucky and you miss out on renewing the buff before it falls off and instead proc it at 15 seconds every time, you’re going to see an EP of 400X30(12 seconds + 3w/o + 12 seconds +3 w/o +6 seconds to the end of test uptime)/36(test length)= 333.33 EP. Still, 113.33 more than Quaking Earth. Assuming RNG hates your guts and you only proc it on your fourth lightning bolt every time, you’re still going to see an EP of 400X24 (12 sec + 8 w/o +12 sec +4 w/o)/36=266.66 EP. Even with the RNG Gods hating you (and I don’t think there’s much of a chance of you going longer than 8 seconds without seeing a proc refresh), you’re looking at a totem that packs a serious punch. (Note: On fights with a lot of AOE where you’ll be using chain lightning most of the time, Quaking Earth may be a better choice.)

Now, the irony about me writing an as-of-right-now 660+ word post about these totems is that you can read the front page of the shaman forums and see Enhancement Shaman being told to grab the Totem of Electrifying Wind. It’s easily accessible information. What is also accessible, however, is the rampant trash talking that has gone on about blizzard since this information has gone live. And, honestly, it both shocks and appalls me. I’ve heard everything from “Blizzard is lazy” to “Blizzard has no idea about how enhancement shaman work” (this one always gets me- they can make sure that pve dps for nearly every class is where they want it to be, but they don’t understand how the classes work? Dear stupids, stop saying stuff like this. <3) to “Blizzard is intentionally trying to nerf enhancement by giving it a subpar totem.

And honestly, the best thing I can say to this is “stop and think.” Please, for the sake of the mental health of everyone around you, stop being a turd and ask yourself a few questions. What is the chance of Blizzard not realizing that haste is an incredibly desired stat for enhancement, a spec that uses lightning bolt as it’s single hardest hitting ability? I’d say slim to none. Despite the fact that lightning bolt is in the elemental tree and lava lash is enhancement, and the fact that the totems respective spells on wowhead’s database say “t9 enhancement or elemental relic,” is there anything about these totems that say “limited to enhancement or elemental shaman only?”  The answer to that one is “nothing.”

Last question: In a game where half the player base is already complaining that content is “too easy,” why do we want our gear choices to be easy to choose and dictated by the fact that it “looks” like it belongs to our spec? Personally, I find that “I-don’t-want-to-have-to-think-about-my-gear-choices” mindset is pretty lame, as might be evident by this blog post. To me, the fact that Blizzard was able to design a totem that is highly desirable by both enhancement and elemental, made it ottainable through emblems rather than a competitive random raid drop, and then gave us another totem that screamed “enhancement” to fake out the shaman who don’t want to do the work to remain on top makes me applaud them. I applaud them a lot. /applaud!

Also, go go nearly-1100 word blog posts. I should be an English Maj–oh wait.