Monday, December 24, 2012

The End of an Era...Kind of.

Guys, I've done something drastic. I'm officially stepped down from raiding, at least for the moment.

I don't think this fact has truly set in for me yet. Raiding for me has been that thing I've always done, it's what has been the consumer of the bulk of my in-game time since I began playing "seriously" back in the Burning Crusade. While I do enjoy a good reputation grind, the hunt for those elusive rares, and playing dress up with my latest alt, raiding has always been where I've sent the vast majority of my energy. Why on Azeroth would I remove myself from something I love so wholeheartedly, even temporarily?

The answer to this question is rather complex, but the TL; DR version is simply: Burnout.

I've been raiding full tilt for a bit over a year now, much longer if you add in my prior years of raiding. I came back into the raiding scene shortly after the initial nerf to Firelands after a lengthy forced break and haven't had a whole lot of down time since. Mists of Pandaria, while fantastic on so many levels, has proven to be an incredibly overwhelming experience for me. Between the rush to level 90 - which was great fun and one rush that I'm unlikely to repeat - and the reputation grinds and the mad hurry to get geared up, get through this raid, loot dramas, fight this boss, show up every night, oh crap we need to recruit, do up the videos, write some posts, run this, organize that, solo all the things, raid raid raidsmashfaceonkeyboardginger shamanistic has kind of all piled up on me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that I'm somewhat masochistic when it comes to this game and all of my projects. I'm everywhere at once, and I have a tendency to take everything upon myself. Is it necessary that I be the keeper of combat logs, maker of pixelated kill videos, manager of the guild's website, and the one who is first to jump up and say "I'll do it!" whenever the guild needs recruitment forum posts? Absolutely not, but I've always enjoyed doing all that because some of those things need to be done anyways, and I like to make it so that my guild may have nice things. There's also absolutely no reason why I should be the only person to have a hand in the Twitterland Raiding site, but I have that terrible habit of taking it all on by myself. Making guides on this blog or videos for Youtube isn't mandatory for enjoyable game play, but I do it anyways because I know that there are a few select folks who enjoy seeing that sort of thing. The things mentioned in this paragraph are all things I highly enjoy. I do not believe that my issues lay within all of my projects, but rather in one aspect of my favorite pastime.

For the past several months, logging on to raid has felt like more of a chore than something I looked forward to. Instead of thinking to myself "Yes! It's raid night!" my thought processes were more along the lines of "Fuck, I have to raid tonight." This shift in the way I thought about my evening activities were brought on by a number of things, things I shan't go into detail at this point in time, but let's just say I'm not very happy with this change.

Needless to say, my negative way of thinking has impacted me on several levels. Where I was hyper aware of what was going on in the raid, I tend to find myself on auto-pilot, even on new encounters where such a thing can be incredibly hazardous to a boss kill. Where I was once able to easily joke and bullshit with my raid mates, I'm finding myself to be grumpy and resentful. Where I was once relaxed, I'm finding myself feeling anxious and often end up with stomach aches and massive tension headaches. Raiding, for as much as I love the thrill of seeing a new boss fall, love pushing myself to perform on the next level, love getting that new weapon just, it doesn't feel right anymore. It feels bad. I don't enjoy having something that I adore so much feel so wrong.

Change is absolutely needed, so it is with a heavy heart and an "aw crap, this sucks" look on my face, I am removing myself from the raiding scene for now. I'm unsure if this will be a permanent change, but it is most certainly one that shall remain for the time being. Whether I'll return with a renewed vengeance in a few weeks, a few months, a few tiers, or a few years, you can bet your butt that I'll come out swinging harder than ever.

So, what now? Why am I bothering to write this post at all? Well for starters, this post is me working through a massive knot that's been building in my belly for quite some time. My thoughts about stepping down have stricken me with quite a bit of internal conflict, and in a way I just needed to get it down in writing. Like most bloggers, I have that need to just get crap off my chest, and I prefer to do it in my own little realm of the internet. This post is also in part to inform my readers that, despite me removing myself from one of my main activities, I do plan on remaining quite active in the game. Saz will not be laying down her weapons anytime soon, but she will definitely be taking a bit of time to hit up the spa and relax her weary muscles.

What can you expect of me in the future? A lot, I hope. It is my deepest wish to get back into the loop with the lovely blogging community, as it feels like I have been neglecting you all for ages. I also hope to start doing more content videos, be it guides, soloing, or random crap I happen to be doing. I have plans that will hopefully breathe new life into the Twitterland Raiding project, and goals for both in game and out of game growth on a personal and social level. As per usual, I plan to take on a crapload of projects. Without raiding on the schedule though, I hope to bring these projects to you all, and the greater WoW community, both more efficiently and with better quality.

As you can see, I have a lot of hopes, a lot of plans. In this apparently post-apocalyptic world I shall be making a point to begin anew. Perhaps not so much anew as bringing about a massive turning point that should hopefully bring about more happiness for at least myself, if not those around me as well. That's the ultimate goal: to create something(s) that not only make me happier, but to also bring some happiness to my fellow internet friends. After all, happiness breeds happiness, and negativity is always sure to be a continuous downward spiral.

Let's all keep on swingin'. Here's to new leaves being turned over, new projects, new horizons, and a soon to be new year.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How To Enhance: Combat Openers and the Cooldown Toolkit

Whatever it is you do, be it raiding, PvP, brawling, or soloing, knowing how and when to use your DPS burst capabilities - regardless of your class - can often mean the difference between a win and a corpse run.

Once upon a time, enhancement was known for its turtle-like damage. Slow, steady, always statically dependable. It didn't have that fancy thing called "burst" and often suffered on certain gimmick fights *coughspinecough* because of this. Those days are no more though. We shaman are now the kings and queens of mean burst, and how to get the most out of this bursting capability is what I'd like to talk about today.

First, let's cover which abilities actually give us our high burst.

Ascendance - Our big "lolol I WIN" button. This is pretty much our biggest source of burst these days, and the best part is that it can be used at range. Super handy for certain situations, like say for the air phase on Onyxia or the head on Mimiron.
Heroism/Bloodlust - Tasty, tasty haste! Generally this is considered a raid cooldown, but for soloing it can be either an "I WIN" button or can be saved as a panic button.
Stormlash Totem - Oh Stormlash Totem, allow me to sing you a song of my love! While this is a very potent raid cooldown, it is also a humungous personal cooldown, given how it weaves together with Windfury, our special attacks, and our auto attacks.
Fire Elemental Totem - Big Red is now a viable DPS cooldown for us! He slices, he dices! Oh He just burns all the things. He'll happily apply Searing Flames stacks for you, making your Lava Lash hit harder, plus he can do okayish AoE, provided he has something to actually hit (he's kind of completely useless on Lei Shi's Hide phase). This guy is a pretty nice bursty CD, so use him often! You can have him out even more often if you have him glyphed, but it's not recommended to do this unless you're a Troll. Even if you're a Troll, you only may want to do this if you're elemental, or maybe even a restoration shaman regardless of race. Maybe.
Feral Spirit - Our beloved pups, how silly you two are! These guys aren't the hardest hitting DPS cooldown in our arsenal, but they are one none the less. They give you some pretty potent passive healing, especially if they're glyphed, so definitely use these guys often.

Elemental Mastery - This isn't a talent that's typically taken by enhancement shaman, though certainly has some uses in certain situations. I recommend this talent for certain encounters where you need very focused burst, or for those solos that require you to kill the bad thing before your cooldowns run out and it kills you. Times up nicely with your wolves, and if you're an engineer like I am, your Synapse Springs, for those longer boss fights.
Synapse Springs - The glove enhancement for engineers, which may be applied in addition to our usual glove enchant. Synapse Springs are on a 1 minute cooldown, so I personally macro them to my wolves, which are on a 2 minute cooldown. So long as you use your springs as soon as they come off of cooldown, these two things should always line up nicely for you. They may not always be as ideal as a static stat boost, such as an enchanter's ring enchants, but they are awfully nice for kicking out extra burst.
Berserking - This be da Troll's racial, mon! It's a nice little haste buff that can be timed up very well with Ascendance. If you're a Troll, use this. Love this. Own this!
On Use Trinkets - Use trinkets are thus far not as prevalent in MoP through PvE content, though they still do exist. Most of the use trinkets will provide more of a boost as far as burst is concerned in general, and more than likely will be more powerful than your Synapse Springs (assuming you're an engineer). Keep in mind that trinkets and springs do trigger a 20 second cooldown when one or the other is used, so you will not be able to stack them. My advice is to tie in the stronger of the two options in with whatever DPS cooldown lines up the best with that trinket's on-use cooldown, then simply use the other once that 20 seconds of lockout time is up for the other item.

In addition to what is listed above, pre-potting is also a highly encouraged option (not always applicable, depending on the start of a fight). Being able to use two pots within a single encounter is an easy way to get the biggest bang out of your damage.

I'd also mention gear swapping here, but as of the last patch (5.1) Blizzard has officially broken the ability to swap a gear set and keep the buff it a given set provides. The biggest example being: it was a pretty nice DPS increase for both enhancement and elemental shaman to equip the tier 13 restoration 4 piece set, activate Spiritwalker's Grace for the haste bonus it gave (30%), and then to swap back to their normal gear just before a pull. Now when you switch back to your normal gear, you lose the Spiritwalker's Grace haste buff, making the gear swap completely pointless. You may now safely vendor your old restoration set, unless you want it for transmog, and remove your gear swap macros from your macro book.

Alright, now that you know the toolkit, let's put it into practice. Your opener, regardless if you're soloing or simply raiding with your buds, can often mean the difference between beating that enrage timer or going splat. It requires a certain finesse. You often want to put out the highest damage possible off the bat, but if you're in a raiding environment, you want to do so without pulling threat off of your tank(s) as well. You'll have to learn how many seconds you need to count before you can open up on a boss (less if you have a strong, geared tank and/or 2+ misdirects from rogues and hunters going out, more if you are missing these things) on your own; each group is a bit different and each gearing plateau is a beast of its own. Right, so a standard opener for raiding looks something like this:

- 5 seconds before pull: Use Spirit Walk, if you need a gap closer between yourself and a boss.
- 3 seconds before pull: Use potion
- 2 seconds before pull: Pop your Fire Elemental totem.
- 1 second before pull: Pop wolves (this would be your Synapse Springs + Feral Spirit macro, if you're an engineer)
- Give the tank a tick or two to hit the boss, doing his/her aggro thang.
- Unleash Elements as you close in on the boss.
- Flame Shock if you're not quite there yet.
- Stormstrike
- Ascendance + Heroism/Lust + Stormlash Totem (Hero/Lust assuming your raid wishes to have it at the beginning)
Stormblast (aka Super Stormstrike)
- Lava Lash (you should most certainly have 5 searing stacks up by now; if you don't, check the pulse of your fire elemental)
- Swing into your usual rotation of using SS/LL/UE on CD, weaving in your Flame Shock and Earth Shock in as normal, plus using Lightning Bolt (or Chain Lightning in cleave situations) with 4-5 Maelstrom Stacks up. Use Fire Nova only after you've used Lava Lash to cleave your Flame Shock to multiple targets, and only if you need to spellcleave.

If you're a Troll and/or if you're specced into Elemental Mastery for a given encounter, it may be best to stagger your haste CDs some, especially at higher gear levels, simply because you'll hit that ceiling where your haste is just, well, a waste! If you're not using Hero/Lust off the bat, you can burn these two cooldowns right off the get go, then simply continue to use them with their paired DPS cooldowns later on (wolves with EM, Berserking with Ascendance/Glyphed Fire Elemental Totem). If you ARE Heroing/Lusting off the bat, the use of these other haste CDs can get a little funky. Apply them to the best of your abilities and where they make the most sense for the given encounter. For soloing, especially those shortish fights that are to short for using your cooldowns a second time, but long enough to outlast Hero/Lust, simply pop your secondary haste abilities once Hero/Lust wears off.

Now, the above advice is by no means perfect, but I've been finding that it works very well for me. It puts out some pretty incredibly high opening numbers, while at the same time it *usually* keeps my threat under that of my tanks. If it doesn't, the panicked Wind Sear gets thrown out there, and on occasion I do find myself toggling off my auto attack in a mad hurry. For the most part though, the above has been serving me incredibly well with both raiding and soloing.

H'okay so, we've covered the opening. What about your burst later on in the encounter? Well, this completely depends on the encounter. On a standard Patchwerk like fight, which are quite rare these days, you'd simply use your cooldowns again as they came up. With many encounters, this theory still works fine, but on others you may find that you can't - or shouldn't - always use them all willy nilly. There will be times when you may want to hold off on popping a cooldown lest you get gimped by a boss mechanic, effectively wasting your cooldown (I find that Amber Shaper is great for this; I've learned to hold off on Ascendance especially if Reshape Life is about to go out since he just LOVES to cast it on me if I've just popped Ascendance). Timing is absolutely everything. Until I can get around to dissecting each encounter and get around to writing a guide for them all, I'm afraid you're all on your own with figuring out how you should pop your cooldowns on a given fight. I'm not terribly worried though, you're all smart cookies and are more than capable. I mean, you all chose to play enhancement after all!

As always, if you have any questions about the topic covered here, or any aspect of enhancement for that matter, please do not hesitate to drop a comment here or to contact me through either Twitter or my email (listed under 'Contact' on this blog). I'm always happy to answer questions. I promise I don't bite too hard!

Until next time, keep swinging!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Art of Soloing - Where To Begin

Greetings young Grasshoppers. So you've come seeking wisdom on how to solo raid bosses, eh?

Whether you're after some sweet transmog gear, chasing a new rare raid drop pet, looking for a mount that supposedly exists, or just in the market for a few luls, I am here to happily give you a few pointers on how anyone of any class (and *most* specs) may do any of the things mentioned above.

Pull up a chair and let's get down to my top 5 tips on soloing old content.

1. Throw your old raiding habits out the window

For DPS: You know those old time rules that are practically beat into the head of any raider ever? That silly thing called "watching your threat" and "not standing in front of the big baddy"? Guess what, both of those ideas need to go. No more hiding behind the skirts of some tank. YOU are now the tank. You need to THINK like a tank, move like a tank, DODGE ALL THE THINGS like a tank. You know how you'd maybe only hit those personal defensive cooldowns when the raid damage got kind of ouchie? Yeah, you'll have to learn where you'll actually need to preemptively hit those for certain fights during times you may not be used to. Those security of life blankets we know as healers? GONE. You, my dear little one, are now your own healer. You'll have to learn how to time your personal healing cooldowns to keep yourself from becoming a crispy corpse on the floor.

For Tanks: You dudes and dudettes pretty much do what your usually do, but now it's with a bit of a twist. You'll now be up against possible enrage timers that you'll have to play the role of DPS to get past (though, you buggers with your Vengeances, for the most part damage dealing shouldn't be much of a problem). Like the DPS though, you know longer have your healers at your back. You'll have to absolutely know when to use your mitigation cooldowns to prevent your health from dropping in the first place, and you'll have to know how to heal your own hide in the event that it does dip in percentage.

For Healers: First of all if you're soloing things as a healer, you are A) bloody insane and B) a badass if you're actually pulling it off. In general, with the exception of perhaps Discipline Priests and maaaaaaybe Restoration Druids specced into Heart of the Wild, most healers these days don't have a whole pile of consistent hurt to put out there. Likewise, the majority of healers lack enough personal defense cooldowns to rotate through a given fight. Some do, some don't; the mileage may vary. What I'm getting at is that soloing as someone in a healing specialization may not necessarily get the best results due to either enrage timers or hard hitting mechanics. I shall not deter you from your goals though. If you wish to solo content as a healing type, you go out there and get on with your fancy self.

2. Be aware of EVERYTHING

To semi-contradict the title of the previous point I made, not all raiding habits should be thrown out of the window. Certain things such as getting out of the fire as quickly as possible and watching your timers? Great habits to hold on to. While yes, there are many encounters where the mechanics can now pretty much be ignored, there are still plenty of situations where you'll want to avoid the bad, damage x component of y boss at z time, take down adds so that they don't nuke you, burn down that boss before he can push you six feet under, heal at this time, move when that happens, etc. This goes double for you if you're going for achievements, since many of those are "Don't get hit by this!" or "Kill x of that!" You'll need to watch your feet, your health, the boss' positioning, buffs/debuffs, possibly dispells, interrupts...all the things that you'd usually have 9 or 24 other brains and sets of hands helping you take care of, all by yourself.

It's as if your raid awareness suddenly needs to be hopped up on coffee. The special kind.

3. Know thine utility

Unless you're a high(er) end PvP type, or on the cutting edge of PvE content, changes are pretty good that you may only be aware of a small fraction of the toolkit available to you. It personally took me many years to learn fully understand how important it was to use Shamanistic Rage as a defense cooldown (heck, for a while in ICC it was a DPS cooldown of all things...). With the added utility that has been added into Mists of Pandaria, I'll even admit that there are times when I forget to use certain totems in certain situations (Capacitor Totem is notoriously forgotten by many shaman, yours truly included sometimes). Soloing content will often force you to think outside the box as far as your cooldowns and bag of tricks are concerned. Dismiss nothing in your toolkit. Become familiar with how certain cooldowns may interact with each other, if you're not already. Test out which utility spells help you out in which situation. Push your limits, your knowledge, and if you seem to be falling short, start digging to learn more. Never stop playing mad scientist.

4. Know the fight

Yes, this might be a /facepalm tip but it really does pay to know the mechanics of a fight, even if most of those mechanics no longer necessarily apply. If you cannot kill something within your "zerg" window, you may find yourself having to play nice with mechanics. You may have to roll defensive CDs to mitigate Patchwerks Hateful Strikes. You're going to have to be aware that all three body parts of Mimiron will need to die within a certain time frame from each other in the final phase or things on him will gain health back. And of course, if you're an achievement chaser, you absolutely will need to know how both the achievement works and the mechanics of the boss. A little knowledge can go a long way in preventing frustrations and achievement failure.

5. Know your limits

Soloing is part character level, part gear, part skill, and sometimes even part luck. Some raids are easier to solo once you hit x level plateau. Some boss mechanics are impossible to deal with until you manage to hit y gearing threshold. Many fights have RNG aspects to them that may frustrate you. All of these aspects can affect you to varying degrees depending on your skill level on any given character; some encounters may be neigh on impossible for you until another aspect of the presented equation shifts. It is my firm belief that if you want to solo something, give it a couple of shots. Try anything once, if only for the laughs. If you manage to down it, great! If not, know when it's time to leave it be until you manage to get your mits on better gear or you familiarize yourself with your chosen class/spec further. Not all classes or specs can solo all of the things at the same time. A Blood DK can solo certain content much sooner than an Enhancement Shaman. An Enhancer can solo a lot more currently than say, a Holy Priest. Test the limits of your chosen role, but don't push yourself to the point where you hate what you're doing. Know your personal limits and the limits of your class.

Overall, taking on old content by one's own self is a bit like spinning plates. You need to be aware of a lot of things at once, and if you muck up the balance on one of the plates, everything may come tumbling down. It's all on you and you alone. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but I think that's the beauty of it, personally. There's no blaming Cindy for missing her taunt, can't complain to Bob for not getting his heal off in time, and Jackie can't be yelled at for not DPSing hard enough. It's all you.

Soloing is a testament to your skill, patience, and I personally think that it shows a certain sort of dedication to your chosen character. It's not always easy, nor is it always pretty. It may come more naturally to some than it does to others, and that's perfectly okay. When you're soloing, you're not on anyone's schedule. No one but you can get frustrated at your mistakes or get huffy when you want to AFK for 30 minutes to grab a bite to eat or get the kids to bed. No one will ever breathe down your neck for not making enough progress in your allotted window. You take everything on in your own time, at your own pace.

One final tip I can give and cannot stress enough is this: Have fun with it. Try to view soloing not as some chore that needs to be done for x item, but as an opportunity to learn a few things about yourself as a player. You may find that you have certain strengths and weaknesses that you weren't aware of before. Soloing is an excellent time to work out some kinks in your playstyle, not to mention to have a little bit of in game *you* time. Again, have fun with it and roll with the punches. Now get out there and do your thang.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Giving of Appreciation

We've once again arrived to that time of year where many of us American types stuff our faces with turkey and give thanks for the things we are fortunate enough to have. Friends, family, luck and love. The things needn't be big, for it's often the small things in life that mean the most. Regardless of what it is that we have been fortunate enough to receive, now is the time of year when we reground ourselves and shine a light on all of the things we should be thankful for.

I am, by and large, a pretty awkward person when it comes to receiving anything. It matters not if these "things" are actually items, nor does it matter if it's a non-material item. While a simple "thank you" may escape from my lips, I often feel that it's inadequate. More than likely that in my excitement to be given anything, big or small, I'm too busy in my complete joy to ever properly thank someone for their time, effort, or thoughtfulness.

While this post will remain broad, the thoughts are true and I hope that each and every one of you is able to identify yourself within these words.

For those of you who have ever participated with the Twitterland Raiding project: Whether you were one of the folks who showed up to every run possible or attended only one, led raids or simply showed up, or if you sat on the sidelines while supporting us in whatever way you could, from the bottom of my heart I thank you. TLR became a guild away from our guilds, was truly an unforgettable experience, and couldn't have been pulled off without the help of everyone. I look forward to the day when we can all go rock some old raids together once again! (We will be back once things calm down in a few months. Please don't take my use of past tense as a meaning that TLR is done, far from it!)

To those of you in the Twitter community who interact with me on a regular basis or simply follow me: Thank you for your kindness and support! The Twitter WoW community is truly unlike any other. You all make it a fantastic place to hang out and babble. Don't go changin', you all are fabulous!

Blog Azeroth Thanksgiving Event 2012
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To the blogging community: Thanks for always being an inspiration and for prompting this post. You all were what got me writing in the first place, and while I don't comment as much as I used to (not that I've ever been a regular commentator...sorry!) I still do poke my head in from time to time and take in what you all have to say. Keep doing what you do, so long as it's where your heart belongs.

To my guild: While there's a slim chance that any of the guys would ever read this, I must give my thanks to them as well. Much like any dysfunctional family, they often irritate the shit out of me and make me rage. At the same time though, they help me do what I like to do (raid) and more often than not give me a few laughs while doing so. While there are a lot of pretty heavy wrinkles to iron out with how we operate (personal opinion), I don't think I could have ever found a better home on Aggramar. Y'all are a bunch of peckerheads, but I adore each and every one of you. Except for that one guy. Who is that anyways?

To the people that have been in my life, past and present: Thank you for whatever times we've had, good or bad. Each of you has given me a different perspective on life, another way at looking at the world, a lesson in humanity. You've all taught me, given to me, shared memorable moments with me. While I may no longer speak to some of you, or only converse with some of you sparsely, keep in mind that I still think back on the old times. My memory is pretty poor when it comes to "Hey, I haven't spoken with so-and-so in a while, I should get together with them" but I DO manage to remember a lot of the past. You are not forgotten. Thank you for the memories of the past, thank you for your love, support, thoughts, and whatever else you give now. My words will never, ever encompass my true thanks for it all, but please know that it is all greatly appreciated, no matter the size of the gesture.

Finally, to my readers: First, I must apologize for neglecting to write as often as I used to. My creative dry spells and distractions have been pretty rampant for quite some time now. Thank you for your patience and for always coming back when something new finally comes up. For those of you who are just starting to read my babblings, welcome and thank you for stopping by! I thank each and every one of you for your support, whether you just swing by to check a specific reference post or are an avid reader. Half of the fun of blogging is the interaction. While the interaction here on WoS is usually pretty low key, I do love and appreciate seeing links popping in from other sites. That traffic proves that I'm doing something right for you guys, even if it's on a small scale. Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the support you give me, regardless of how you go about it. As always, please never hesitate to ask questions, as answering your questions is one of the few ways I feel like I can properly give back to you all for digging my work.

From the bottom of my heart, you all have my love, adoration, and admiration. While I may often be overly quiet and sometimes act a bit too elusive, please keep in mind that each and everyone of you, and the things you do, are in my thoughts.

Alright, I think I'm through with being all mushy for now. I hope you all have a great rest of this holiday weekend (or for those of you non-American folks, a great weekend in general) and I shall catch you all on the next post.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Art of Soloing - What's Soloable By Enhancement, The Raid Edition

If you're any sort of forum goer, you may have noticed that there's one topic that comes up on a semi-regular basis: What content is currently soloable by my spec/class?

As of the end of Cataclysm, I have really gotten into the "let's see what I can solo as enhancement!" thing. I love pushing myself in a familiar environment while having to rely 100% on my own skill to down something. Plus, you know, mounts. I know that there are similar souls out there, similar souls that may have not yet taken the time to go out and solo those dragons but are still curious as to what bosses are doable by oneself in what gear.

The following list will be updated as I tackle more content, thus is currently incomplete. Keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, this list assumes that you're level 90 with at least some gear on you. Due to the stat squash in WoD and the new level cap of level 100, all content below MoP level is soloable by most classes. Certain classes will struggle with some of the Cataclysm 25H encounters without the aid of at least some raid gear. I'll do my best to get this list up to date sometime in the near future.

- Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20): Soloable
- Molten Core: Soloable
- Blackwing Lair: Soloable, though Razorgore is a pain
- Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40): Soloable

Burning Crusade
- Karazhan: Soloable
- Magtheridon's Lair: Soloable
- Gruul's Lair: Soloable
- Serpentshrine Cavern: Soloable
- The Battle for Mount Hyjal: Soloable, trash before Kaz'rogal is buggy
- Tempest Keep: Soloable (Kael'thas Guide)
- The Black Temple: Soloable
- Sunwell Plateau: Soloable (exception: Kalecgos for now, he's easily skippable)

Wrath of the Lich King 10
- Vault of Archavon: Soloable
- The Obsidian Sanctum: 3D Soloable
- Eye of Eternity: Soloable
- Naxxramas: Soloable
- Ulduar: Soloable, though Thorim takes Engineering tricks to beat. The Siege, The Antechamber, The Keepers, The Decent Into Madness + Algalon
- Trial of the Crusader: normal Soloable, heroic Unknown
- Onyxia's Lair: Soloable (at 85, assuming you have Dragon Soul gear)
- Icecrown Citadel: Soloable, heroic Soloable
- Ruby Sanctum: normal Soloable/heroic Unknown (should be Soloable)

Wrath of the Lich King 25
- Vault of Archavon:  Soloable
- The Obsidian Sanctum: 3D Soloable
- Eye of Eternity: Soloable
- Naxxramas: Soloable
- Ulduar: Soloable
- Trial of the Crusader: normal/heroic Soloable
- Onyxia's Lair: Soloable
- Icecrown Citadel: normal/heroic Soloable (Heroic LK Video)
- Ruby Sanctum: normal/heroic Unknown (should be Soloable)

Cataclysm 10
- Blackwing Descent: normal Soloable, heroic Soloable
- Throne of the Four Winds: normal Soloable, heroic (Unknown but should be Soloable)
- Bastion of Twilight: normal Soloable, heroic Unknown (should be Soloable now, unless Blackout still 1-shots on Twin Dragons)
- Firelands: normal Solable (Alysrazor normal), heroic Soloable
- Dragon Soul: normal Soloable/heroic Soloable

Cataclysm 25
- Blackwing Descent: normal/heroic Soloable
- Throne of the Four Winds: normal/heroic Soloable
- Bastion of Twilight: normal/heroic Soloable
- Firelands: normal/heroic Soloable
- Dragon Soul: normal/heroic Unknown but should be Soloable

Mists of Pandaria 10
Mogu'shan Vaults: normal (soloable up to Spirit Kings)/heroic Unknown
Heart of Fear: normal/heroic Unknown/Unsoloable (first boss MC issues)
Terrace of Endless Spring: normal/heroic Unknown
Throne of Thunder: normal (Soloable up to Durumu)/heroic Unknown
Dragon Soul: normal/heroic Unknown

Mists of Pandaria 25
Mogu'shan Vaults: normal/heroic Unknown
Heart of Fear: normal/heroic Unknown
Terrace of Endless Spring: normal/heroic Unknown
Throne of Thunder: normal (soloable up to Durumu)/heroic Unknown
Dragon Soul: normal/heroic Unknown

Pandaria World Bosses
Sha of Anger: Unsoloable (MC issues)
Galleon: Unknown (possibly soloable)
Oondasta: Unknown
Nalak: Soloable

The links found on this list will direct you to the videos I've taken whilst soloing these instances, if you'd care to see how I bumbled through it. 

In the future I do plan on writing up making "How To" video guides on the raids that I solo (or just have a videos showing me pulling off the act), which will also be linked back to this list. Until that time comes though, I definitely encourage each and every one of you to go out and try to solo some of these raids. If not for the mounts/pets/transmog gear, then do it for the thrill of a challenge!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MoP Enhancement Shaman - Need To Know Guide (90)

Yes, this is a nearly identical post from the original Need To Know guide that I did shortly after 5.0.4 dropped. I have however tweaked a few things so now it reflects what you need to know as a level 90 Enhancement Shaman. This guide has been updated to reflect changes that have taken place in patch 5.4.

What's Changed
- Hit and expertise caps are no longer what they were. You need 7.5% hit and  7.5% expertise, respectively. 7.5% = 2550, or 2210 for those of you who have racial bonuses that grant hit or expertise.
- Haste is no longer completely garbage. At level 90 mastery, haste, and crit are all roughly equal; the stat that is strongest will depend on your personal gear. Haste will increase RPPM procs (legendary cloak, legendary meta gem, certain trinkets) and is the preferred stat when using the talent Primal Elementalist. Haste will also increase the number of ticks done by our healing totems, depending on how much haste one has.
- Mastery in 5.4 is generally the preferred secondary stat, but it may depend on your gear set up. Mastery increases all of the fire, nature, and frost damage we do (which is to say a large majority of our spells) and becomes very strong with AoE situations.
- Critical Strike becomes less of a focus for Enhancement once we've surpassed roughly 20% crit. Once we're around that percentage point, Flurry uptime becomes adequate (making haste worth our time) and everything beyond that is just bonus. Crit, along with excess hit and expertise, tends to be our reforge stat.

 - Searing Flames (x5) no longer build up on a target; instead they stack on us, making target switching less of a pain.
- Buff totems have become auras, thus our clunky totem bar is gone. What totems you have left are now cooldown-type deals, save for the Searing and Magma totems.
- Our Fire Elemental has had his CD reduced to 5 minutes and should reset once an encounter is either completed or a wipe has occured. He now gives us Searing Flames, which makes him not only a viable totem to use, but a rather powerful CD.
- Our Earth Elemental can now be considered to be a minor DPS CD. He should no longer taunt off of someone who is rocking a tank specialization, but he may still try to taunt little adds that haven't been picked up by a tank yet. Keep an eye on him.
- Feral Spirits have lost their control bar. Because of this change, we no longer have their stun ability. The ability they used to grant, called Spirit Walk, is now a separate ability that has a relatively short CD, especially when glyphed.
- Pets such as our Feral Spirits and our Fire/Earth Elemental totems will no longer "snap shot" stats and will adjust to your current procs and stats as they roll out. No more double-dipping on Heroism for your puppies, but no more sitting around for the proc-gods to line up either.

Our rotation varies slightly depending upon the talent choices we make. For more information on this, please read the rotation portion of the complete Enhancement guide over on Totemspot.

For the most part, you'll be adjusting your spec on a per-fight basis. I'm going to suggest talents that you'd use depending on encounter. Please note that specs are no longer of a "set it and forget it" mindset; adjust to your needs accordingly!

Tier 1: Stone Bulwark Totem or Astral Shift
- SBT is a great general use talent. This ability has decent uptime with a relatively short cooldown, so feel free to use it liberally.
- AS is for those moments when you need a large damage reduction cooldown, but only for a very short window of time.

Tier 2: Earthgrab Totem or Windwalk Totem - Both of these talents have utility uses. These are abilities that are often forgot about, but they can be incredibly handy in a large variety of raiding and soloing scenarios.

Tier 3: Call of Elements or Totemic Persistence or Totemic Projection
-  CoE will allow you to use your Capacitor Totem, Earthbind Totem /Earthgrab Totem, Grounding Totem, Healing Stream Totem, Stone Bulwark Totem, Tremor Totem, and Windwalk Totem more often. Great for encounters that require you to use your utility totems more often.
- Totemic Persistence allows you to have up to two totems of the same school up at the same time. This does not include fire totems. Having your Earth Elemental out and still being able to pop a Tremor Totem or Stone Bulwark totem at the same time without despawning your Earth Elemental is a wonderful thing.
- Totemic Projection does have some uses, though as a general rule we don't often need to move a totem to any place besides our feet.

Tier 4: All three talents at level 90 pretty much on par with each other. Each has its use, depending on your situation.
- Elemental Mastery is for situations where you need higher, concentrated burst in a pinch. Also a nice talent for single target encounters where you may have down time in between where you can hit something.
- Ancestral Swiftness is preferred for single target static fights.
- Echo of Elements is great for AoE/cleave encounters, as well as for leveling and soloing

Tier 5:  Ancestral Guidance or Rushing Streams
- Ancestral Guidance is a very strong healing cooldown, so long as you're able to hit something while it is active. This talent can produce some pretty ridiculous healing numbers when tied in with Ascendance, however it's not always possible to have both of these abilities rolling at the same time. AG is the perfect talent for when burst hybrid healing is necessary.
- Rushing Streams causes our Healing Stream Totem to heal for an increased amount of 15% and to hit two targets (instead of just one). This is a very solid choice for general static healing, especially for those still running with haste builds.

Tier 6: All three talents are fairly close to each other, even with the various combinations from tier 4. What you choose to use will rely on a combination of gear, the encounter, and your comfort zone.
- Unleash Fury With mastery back in action in Siege of Orgrimmar, UF has once again become an appealing choice. This ability will buff your personal damage (not that of your Elementals or wolves, sadly), and becomes a very solid choice with the t16 2 set bonus.
- Primal Elementalist is an amazing burst cooldown choice, even though it prefers haste builds over mastery. Even when using a mastery build, PE still can treat you well, depending on the encounter.
- Elemental Blast is a strong talent choice, though it does complicate the Enhancement rotation some. If you're unfamiliar with the Enhancement priority rotation, or are working on a fight that has a lot of high movement, this may not be the best choice. Complications aside, it is very viable, as it will buff your pets and all of your abilities for a short amount of time.

Major Glyphs
- Flame Shock causes this ability to heal for 50% of the damage it does.
- Healing Storm increases any of your direct healing done. This is to say that it makes Healing Surge and Chain Heal stronger by 20% for each stack of Maelstrom Weapon you have. Fairly potent and pretty much a necessity for soloing.
- Feral Spirits increases the healing done to you by your wolves or raptors (if you have the Spirit Raptors cosmetic glyph) by 40%. Excellent for extra passive healing when they're up, also very helpful for leveling/soloing.
- Lightning Shield is a glyph that has some niche uses. The major downside to this glyph is that it is reactive, instead of proactive. If you're not receiving hits within a rapid succession (which in a raiding environment it's pretty rare that you will be) the proc of this glyph is pretty much a waste, as it has a rather short duration for the 10% reduced damage. I've found that this glyph is absolutely fantastic though for soloing.
- Fire Elemental Totem can be used in certain situations, though its use often results in a DPS loss. Times to use this glyph include short windows of increased damage where this glyph will allow said windows to line up with your Fire Elemental cooldown, or fights that last a certain duration and allow you to stack other cooldowns with your Fire Elemental.

Minor Glyphs
- There is only one minor glyph that has a non-cosmetic function: Lava Lash. This glyph is necessary in those situations where you don't want to break CC via spreading your Flame Shocks around, or if a boss fight requires you to control your cleave. It's just a "per basis" sort of glyph, like many of the majors.
- All other minor glyphs are purely for fun. However, I find that Spirit Wolf can be pretty handy to have around.

Utility Totems
- Stormlash Totem is a wicked little thing that buffs the raid for 10 seconds, causing them to pump out some extra nature damage. Naturally (har har) this gets slightly buffed through our own mastery. Sadly it's on a five minute cooldown and isn't reset through Call of Elements. Also, does not stack with other Stormlash Totems.
- Healing Steam Totem no longer works like the old, static HST. This one is a single target SMART heal, which will always try to choose the target with the lowest health. Can have its timer reset by the talent Call of Elements. May also be improved through the talent Rushing Streams.
- Healing Tide Totem is no longer a talent, but a cooldown that is baseline for shaman of all specializations. Great AoE healing utility.
- Capacitor Totem, Earthbind Totem /Earthgrab Totem, Grounding Totem, Healing Stream Totem, Stone Bulwark Totem, Tremor Totem, and Windwalk Totem are all great minor utility totems. Remember them, use them, love them.

If you wish to read more in detail about each of the spells, glyphs, and various other Enhancement-related MoPish things, please take a look at the Enhancement Guide for Mists of Pandaria, which can be found over on TotemSpot. If you're looking for some macro tips, check out my Enhancement Macro post, and for all things totems, there's my Pandaria Totem guide at your service.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saz Lives! And Updates.

Hey guys, just swinging by the blog to let you all know that I have NOT completely fallen off of the face of the Earth. Mists of Pandaria is keeping be extremely busy, between the mounds of dailies and raiding, so it might be a bit before I return to make any sort of content for this particular space or my fanfiction blog.

Here's a heads up on the projects I have been working on/plan to get to in the near future:

1) Mists of Pandaria Enhancement Raiding Guide - This guide has been a collaborative effort, with me writing pretty much all of the fluff stuff while Purge took care of the theorycrafty/gearing stuff and Platform did up all of the rotational stuff. This guide should in theory be cross-posted to the general forums, MMO-Champ, and possibly even EJ soonish, but I have no eta on that. Keep in mind that there will be adjustments made to the guide within the next few weeks, once the theorycrafting boys get a free moment. For now though, enjoy and I hope it helps!

2) Raiding Videos - Yes, I've been at it again with the PoV videos. I haven't been doing any fancy editing with the most recent kill videos (you get to hear us scream and swear, what fun!), but I do plan on eventually getting around to doing some how-to guides here on WoS when I get a moment. I need to get a solid grip on the encounters myself before I feel even remotely capable of passing on any "tips" to my readers after all! Until then, you can watch me derp around on Youtube.

3) UI Walk Through - This is a project that I hope to record by sometime this coming weekend. I've had several people on Twitter, Youtube itself, and even an email about my UI, plus I always have guild mates bugging me about how I set up this or that. Since the UI portion of my blog needs an update anyways, I'll be killing many birds with one stone. If such a thing interests you, keep your eyes peeled! It should be coming soon.

4) General Blog Updates - Several aspects of WoS are kind of completely outdated, especially the guide links. Fixes coming as soon as I get a moment!

5) Twitterland Raiding - Currently suspended until further notice! Well, the site is still very much there for everyone to use, but I still personally will not be raid leading anything until the dust settles with t14 raid progression, which may be a while yet with how the time tables are laid out for raid releases. I do plan on raid leading a few Firelands achievement runs, as all as a few DS runs. More Ulduar and ICC is also in the plans, and we'll more than likely also do a few more Herald runs for those who missed out.

6) Twitterland Raiding on Steam - This is kind of old news by now and I'm sure I've mentioned it, but Twitterland Raiding is also on Steam! If you want to hook up with your Twitter buddies on the Steam community, there's the place to do it. You all can thank Binkenstein for that one. I think it's pretty neat anyways, even if I don't have much time for Steam goodness.

7) Other projects - Yes, I know. I need more projects like I need holes in my head. I'm hoping to at some point work on a solo Podcasty-type project. However, I have yet to find the time to properly research all of the aspects to cover my butt (bandwidth to monetary requirement ratios, as my budget is still very much at zero; things of the legal nature, if there are any; etc) so I don't have a ton of information on that for the moment. I will however be bugging you all at some point for opinions/participation in that project, if I give it a go!

Since I'm pretty slack at posting these days, if you have any interest on my latest projects/internet postings, you can always find me linking things over on my WoW-based Facebook account or on Twitter. I'm always babbling on Twitter, so beware of that, but Facebook is generally only used for project linking and the occasional screen shot. I've also been trying (and failing quite well) to use my Tumblr account more often. The plan was to do a whole series of pictures involving my ginger mug and my bandana collection, mainly because I know you're all just dying to see both. I'll get back to it eventually, but for now MoP has gotten in the way. It's in the "eh, I'll get to it eventually" pile.

Anyways, a lot of things on my crazy plate, as per usual. I will return to everything at some point. I will get all of my things accomplished, it's just a lot of waiting while I muddle through it all. One thing at a time, eh?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Enhancement Shaman Gearlist - Mogu'shan Vaults

Here's a list of the gear that will be available from Mogu'shan Vaults. This is by no means a Best in Slot (BiS) list, just a place to start when looking for potential upgrades.

Helm: None
Neck: Amulet of the Hidden Kings, The Spirit Kings LFR/Normal/Heroic
Shoulder: None
Cloak: Arrow Breaking Windcloak, Feng the Accursed & The Spirit Kings LFR/Normal/Heroic
Chest: Stonefang Chestguard, Stone Guardians LFR/Normal/Heroic
Waist: Fetters of Death, Gara'jal the Spiritbinder LFR/Normal/Heroic
Legs: Subetai's Pillaging Leggings, The Spirit Kings LFR/Normal/Heroic
Feet: Wildfire Worldwalkers, Feng the Accursed LFR/Normal/Heroic
Wrist: Stonemaw Armguards, Stone Guardians LFR/Normal/Heroic
Hands: Grips of Terra Cotta, Jan-xi LFR/Normal/Heroic

Ring: Feng's Seal of Binding, Feng the Accursed LFR/Normal/Heroic (Link MIA for the moment)

Trinket: Bottle of Infinite Stars, Elegon LFR/Normal/Heroic

Weapon: Gara'kal, Fist of the Spiritbinder LFR/Normal/Heroic

At the time of the making of this list, Wowhead does not have listed where each piece of tier drops. I will however include the list of tier 14 here.

Head: Firebird's Helmet LFR/Normal/Heroic
Shoulders: Firebird's Spaulders LFR/Normal/Heroic
Chest: Firebird's Cuirass LFR/Normal/Heroic
Legs: Firebird's Legguards LFR/Normal/Heroic
Hands: Firebird's Grips LFR/Normal/Heroic

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Enhancement Shaman 5.0.4 - Need To Know Guide

I know, I know, 5.0 launched a week ago and I'm kind of late to this guide party. You know what though? I'm going to do up a quick little guide anyways, for those of you who don't care to wade through every little detail..

What's Changed
- Hit and expertise caps are no longer what they were. You need 7.5% hit and  7.5% expertise, respectively. 7.5% = 768, or 666 for those of you who have racial bonuses that grant hit or expertise.
- Haste is no longer completely garbage. Currently at level 85 mastery, haste, and crit are all roughly equal, with mastery and haste been a smidge above crit. Depending on your level of gear, haste or mastery may pull ahead as the prime stat. Honestly, with only a little over two weeks until MoP's release (at the time of me writing this post), those of you who have been mastery stacking can continue to do so. Feel free to pick up the Starcatcher Compass now though if you happen to come across it, as it'll no longer break my heart if you use it ; )

 - Searing Flames (x5) no longer build up on a target; instead they stack on us, making target switching less of a pain.
- Buff totems have become auras, thus our clunky totem bar is gone. What totems you have left are now cooldown-type deals, save for the Searing and Magma totems.
- Our Fire Elemental has had his CD reduced to 5 minutes and should reset once an encounter is either completed or a wipe has occured. He now gives us Searing Flames, which makes him not only a viable totem to use, but a rather powerful CD.
- Feral Spirits have lost their control bar. Because of this change, we no longer have their stun ability. However, Spirit Walk is now a separate ability that has a relatively short CD, especially when glyphed.
- Pets such as our Feral Spirits and our Fire/Earth Elemental totems will no longer "snap shot" stats and will adjust to your current procs and stats as they roll out. No more double-dipping on Heroism for your puppies, but no more sitting around for the proc-gods to line up either.

- Stormstrike and Lightning Bolt have moved up on the priority order some. Otherwise, our rotation is nearly the same as it has been.

For the most part, you'll be adjusting your spec on a per-fight basis. I'm going to suggest talents that you'd generally use on say a Patchwerk-type encounter. Please note that specs are no longer of a "set it and forget it" mindset; adjust to your needs accordingly!

Tier 1: Stone Bulwark Totem or Astral Shift - SBT = for those times that you need a bit longer duration of protection. AS = for those moments when you need 40% damage reduction, but only for a short moment of time (think soaking on H-Ultraxion).

Tier 2: Earthgrab Totem or Windwalk Totem - Both of these have minor utility uses, but will probably be rarely needed in a PvE environment.

Tier 3: Call of Elements or Totemic Restoration. CoE will allow you to use your Healing Stream Totem more often (which your healers will love you for). Totemic Restoration has some niche uses, such as possibly being able to use your Fire Elemental totem for a quick burst phase (think Spine tendons), and then pulling him back early so that he's up sooner. Needs some toying with to see if it'll work for you on an given encounter. Totemic Projection *might* have some incredibly niche uses, but it's fairly rare that an enhancer needs to toss a totem anywhere but at their feet.

Tier 4: All three talents at level 90 are nearly on par with each other. However, at 85 Echo of Elements is probably one of our stronger general use talents, while Elemental Mastery is great for more bursty situations (again, think Spine tendons).

Tier 5: From the latest numbers I've been seeing over at TotemSpot, it's looking like Ancestral Guidance is beating out Healing Tide Totem as far as potential healing output is concerned.

Tier 6: N/A at 85, but here's the skinny for when you hit 90. All three talents are pretty darn close to each other, even with the various combinations from tier 4. As it stands currently though, Unleash Fury is the top performing talent on a stationary fight. The other two talents my prove themselves more useful for other types of encounters.

- There is only one major glyph that is required: Flame Shock. All other glyphs are utility and should be used according to the encounter you are facing.
- There is only one minor glyph that has a non-cosmetic function: Lava Lash. This glyph is necessary in those situations where you don't want to break CC via spreading your Flame Shocks around, or if a boss fight requires you to control your cleaving (think achivement runs; those of you who have run with me on things like ToGC through TLR and remember me saying "don't use FS!", yeah this fixes that). It's just a "per basis" sort of glyph, like many of the majors.

Utility Totems
- Stormlash Totem is a wicked little thing that buffs the raid for 10 seconds, causing them to pump out some extra nature damage. Naturally (har har) this gets slightly buffed through our own mastery. Sadly it's on a five minute cooldown and isn't reset through Call of Elements. Also, does not stack with other Stormlash Totems.
- Healing Steam Totem no longer works like the old, static HST. This one is a single target SMART heal, which will always try to choose the target with the lowest health. Can have its timer reset by the talent Call of Elements.

Alright, this post has already become more extensive than I intended it to be. If you wish to read more in detail about each of the spells, glyphs, and various other enhancement-related MoPish things, please take a look at Purge's Enhancement Primer over on TotemSpot.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

TNB - Come Here Me Babble Live!

That's right ladies and gents, I will once again have the honor of hanging out with the Twisted Nether Blogcast Crew TONIGHT. It's short notice, I know I know.

What should you expect? Well, it'll be a Patch 5.0.4 roundtable! This roundtable will have the likes of Cymre from Bubbles of Mischief, Jed from Jed’s Corner of WoW Shenanigans, Stop from The Stoppable Force, and of course myself. Should be a good, chatty time!

 If you have questions that you wish to be asked on the show, send those in to with a quickness!

I hope to see you in the chat room!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Shaman & Feral/Guardian Resource Dump

I have been running across many class guides as of late that contain solid information on the 5.0.4 class changes. I personally have had no real time to put together any sort of guide myself, so here, have some links! Yes, I am including links for all three shaman specs as I have been playing with all three as of late, and I will be including feral/guardian guides as well since they pertain to my interests with my druid, who is my favorite and most used alt. This post is just as much for me as it is for you!

Be warned, some of the info found in some of these guides may potentially be out of date, thus making the information in them somewhat incorrect. Much of the information in these guides are subject to change as Blizz continues to balance the classes. As always, please check and double check on the information you read about! Cross-referencing information is the only way to be sure that you're getting the correct information.

Totemspot - This site is run by the wonderful Mr. Binkenstein. If you can't find solid shaman theorycrafting, look no further. While the site is heavily elemental-focused, it does have some very solid enhancement shaman working behind the scenes (namely Purge, who is a beast with the numbers), and tries overall not to neglect the other specs. Still trying to wrangle in a few more restos to the site ; )

Purge's Enhancement Primer for 5.0.4 - Found over on Totemspot. Purge has also done an excellent post on haste for enhancement shaman, which can be found here.
EJ's Enhancement Guide - For those of you who prefer walls of text and in-depth info ; )
Totem Talk: What to expect when you're enhancing - A great little blog post by the one and only Elam over on WowInsider.

Binkenstein's Elemental Primer for 5.0.4 - This article is found over on Totemspot. I highly recommend digging around on there for all of Binks' ele-related posts.
5.0.4 Elemental Changes - This article is found on the blog called Elemental Entropy. Looks like there's a good chunk of info in there, so definitely give it a look see!
Totem Talk: Surviving playing elemental in 5.0.4 - Another great blog post by Elam over on WowInsider.

Life in Group 5's 5.0 Guide - An excellent over view of the changes between the recent patches. If you're a resto shaman who doesn't follow that blog yet, I definitely recommend doing so!
EJ's Resto Guide - A very in depth look at restoration. Great stuff within!
Healiocentric's Resto Guide - A new blogger on the block, but definitely has some good in depth break downs of the new heal information. Also be sure to dig around on that blog for healing information on other classes as well.
Totem Talk: Surviving patch 5.04 as a restoration shaman -  A blog post by Mr. Lodur over on WowInsider; a definite must-read.
Resto Shaman 5.0 Guide - A very nicely put together resto guide over at Spiritwalker's Grace.

The Fluid Druid - Your one stop shop for all of your druid needs. Alaron has been the cat to go to for quite some time as far as feral is concerned, but the man has been busy with dabbling in the other three specs as well. If you're into monks, you should check out his other project called World of Monkcraft.

Alaron's 5.0 Feral DPS Guide - This was Alaron's post on the official forums. Good stuff there!

Guardian Patch 5.0.4 Survival Guide - This is the ever so excellent guide that can be found over at the Inconspicuous Bear. Extremely in depth, incredibly well done. The Inc Bear mostly covers the tanking aspect for druids, but also do some cat stuff! Definitely check out their forums when you get a chance.

Edit: I've been continually tweaking this list. I have removed some guides from the line-up due to inaccurate information, while others have been added as I trust them to be trust worthy sources.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Enhancement Pre-Raid Gearlist for MoP

This post is a bit of a work in progress. I'm simply going to list all of the reputation, crafted, and dungeon gear here. Later on I'll hopefully get around to a "pre-raid" BiS list of sorts. If I have missed anything, please point it out to me and I'll happily add it.

The Kaxxi
Golden Lotus
The August Celestials

Valor Points
Helm - Hawkmaster's Headguard (Shadow-Pan - Revered)
Neck - Choker of the Klaxxi'va (Klaxxi - Revered)
Shoulder - Windwalker Spaulders (Golden Lotus - Revered)
Cloak - Blackguard Cape (Shado-Pan - Revered)
Chest - Breastplate of the Golden Pagoda (Golden Lotus - Revered)
Bracers - Tiger-Striped Wristguards (August Celestials - Revered)
Hands - Sentinel Commander's Gauntlets (August Celestials - Revered)
Belt - Klaxxi Lash of the Winnower (Klaxxi - Revered)
Pants - Locus Swarm Legguards (Klaxxi - Revered)
Boots - Steps of the War Serpent (August Celestials - Revered)

Ring 1 - Anji's Keepsake (Golden Lotus - Revered)
Ring 2 - None

Trinket 1 - Hawkmaster's Talon (Shadow-Pan - Revered)
Trinket 2 - None

Weapons - None

Items Per Faction
Shadow-Pan: 3
The Klaxxi: 3
The August Celestials: 3
Golden Lotus: 3

Justic Points
Helm - None
Neck - Amulet of Swirling Mists (Golden Lotus - Honored)
Shoulder - None
Cloak - Bladesong Cloak (August Celestials - Honored)
Chest - Undergrowth Stalker Chestpiece (August Celestials - Honored)
Bracers - Entombed Traitor's Wristguards (Klaxxi - Honored)
Hands - Brushcutter's Gloves (Shadow-Pan - Honored)
Belt - None
Pants - Leggings of Twisted Vines (Golden Lotus - Honored)
Boots - None

Ring 1 - Mark of the Dancing Crane (Shadow-Pan - Honored)
Ring 2 - None

Trinket 1 - Shado-Pan Dragon Gun (Shadow-Pan - Honored) - Maybe, if it scales with our mastery bonuses.
Trinket 2 - None

Weapons - None

Items Per Faction
Shadow-Pan: 2-3
Golden Lotus: 2
The August Celestials: 2
The Klaxxi: 1

Helm - Deadly Retinal Armor - Engineering (600) Epic *
Neck - Golembreaker Amulet - Jewelcrafting (575) Rare
Chest - Raiment of Blood and Bone - Leatherworking (600) Epic
Chest - Chestguard of Earthen Harmony - Leatherworking (600) Epic
Gloves - Raven Lord's Gloves - Leatherworking (600) Epic
Gloves - Gloves of Earthen Harmony - Leatherworking (600) Epic

Ring - Roguestone Shadowband - Jewelcrafting (575) Rare
Trinket - Ghost Iron Dragonling - Engineering (550) Rare
Trinket - Quilen Statuette - Archaeology (??) Rare
Trinket - Zen Alchemist Stone - Alchemy, Quest (500) Rare *

*Requires you to be proficient in the profession to equip.

Darkmoon Faire
Trinket - Relic of Xuen

Gate of the Setting Sun
Ring - Pulled Grenade Pin - Saboteur Kip'tilak
Belt - Impaler's Girdle - Striker Ga'dok
Helm - Swarmcall Helm - Commander Ri'mok
Boots - Treads of Fixation - Raigonn

Mogu'shan Palace
Helm - Crest of the Clan Lords - Kuai the Brute
Weapon - Claws of Gekken - Gekken
Bracers - Groundshaker Bracers - Xin the Weaponmaster

Scarlet Halls
Houndmaster Braun - Nothing
Shoulder - Harlan's Shoulders - Armsmaster Harlan
Belt - Bindburner Belt - Flameweaver Koegler
Neck - Scorched Scarlet Key - Flameweaver Koegler

Scarlet Monestary
Legs - Legguards of the Crimson Magus - Thalnos the Soulrender
Brother Korloff - Nothing
Trinket - Flashing Steel Talisman - High Inquisitor Whitemane

Instructor Chillheart - Nothing
Jandice Barov - Nothing
Boots - Bone Golem Boots - Rattlegore
Lilian Voss - Nothing
Trinket - Searing Words - Darkmaster Gandling

Shado-Pan Monastery
Chest - Azure Serpent Chestguard - Gu Cloudstrike
Master Snowdrift - Nothing
Bracers - Bladed Smoke Bracers - Sha of Violence
Weapon - Crescent of Ichor - Sha of Violence
Weapon - Ke'eng, Breath of the Shadow - Taran Zhu
Ring - Seal of Hateful Meditation - Taran Zhu
Shoulders - Shadowspine Shoulderguards - Taran Zhu

Siege of Niuzao Temple
Neck - Engraved Amber Pendant - Vizier Jin'bak
Gloves - Archer's Precision Grips - Commander Vol'jak
Cloak - Aerial Bombardment Cloak - General Pa'valak
Chest - Galedodger Chestguard - Wing Leader Ner'onok
Weapon - Ner'onok's Razor Kater - Wing Leader Ner'onok

Stormstout Brewery
Ook-Ook - Nothing
Pants - Hopping Mad Leggings - Hoptallus
Weapon - Gao's Key Tapper - Yan-Zhu the Uncasked

Temple of the Jade Serpent
Cloak - Wind-Soaked Drape - Wise Mari
Trinket - Windswept Pages - Lorewalker Stonestep
Ring - Signet of Dancing Jade - Liu Flameheart
Hands - Hopecrusher Gauntlets - Sha of Doubt

A slightly different version of this list will be showing up over on Totem Spot. For you resto/elemental types, Binkenstein has already completed a list for you, which can be found here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How To Enhance: Heroic Spine of Deathwing & Heroic Madness of Deathwing

We are now in our eighth month in being saddled with Dragon Soul. The 30% buff has been presented to us, allowing some of us to burn even faster through this long-lived raid, and giving others a chance to finally take down what is undoubtedly the two most painful and unsatisfactory end game boss encounters.

Let me be incredibly blunt: the heroic modes of Spine of Deathwing and Madness of Deathwing are NOT the most friendly boss encounters for an enhancement shaman. With the nerfs Spine has become a little more forgiving for us, but the fast paced theme (for a DPSer anyways) of Madness leaves our numbers...well, it's been leaving me rather disappointed personally.

Heroic Spine of Deathwing

As I've said, Spine is not really a fight for enhancement. Our ability to pump out high burst damage on command is dismal. The DPS trinket recommended to use for this fight, the Kiroptyric Sigil, has a base stat of haste (which is complete and utter garbage until MoP). Oh, and good ol' Derpy McDerp Searing Totem would much rather wail away at anything BUT the exposed tendons. His preference target seems to almost always be the Corruptions.

Yeah, not an ideal fight for us.

Now the video above is from a restoration shaman's point of view in the fight. Why? Because of one major thing: the group that I run with has a less than ideal raid composition. There are essentially two basic builds you can go with this fight: A) 1 tank, 2 heal or B) 2 tank, 3 heal. To run set up A your group's tendon burst damage needs to be deliciously high. This means that you have yourself at least one, if not two, sub rogues (in a 10 man), and an arcane mage. Other classes such as warriors and feral kitties are also capable of some pretty fantastic burst tendon damage. We don't have this with my group. Adding myself and an offspec dps warrior unfortunately does not burn the extra 30-40% of the health left on the tendon of our usual burn phases, thus we are stuck with the harried B strategy.

Yeah, Spine is still the one fight that I'm stuck swing healing on. Healing with an agility flask and food buff ftw.

There's not a lot we can do to up our performance with our spec's current dismal performance on a burst fight like this, but there are a few things that can help maximize our potential - not to mention survivability - on this incredibly frustrating encounter.

Spec Changes:
None necessary

Glyph Changes:
Keep your standard Prime Glyphs. (Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Windfury)
Keep your semi-standard Major Glyphs (Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Stoneclaw) If no one is putting out a fire resist aura of sorts, swap out Ghost Wolf for the Healing Stream glyph.

Totem Changes:
None, but you'll definitely want to be twisting in Stoneclaw totem throughout this fight.

1) Get yourself a Kiroptyric Sigil if you haven't already. Reforge the haste into mastery. You shouldn't be needing to reforge that haste into anything else if you're using the other, much more beneficial trinkets.

2) Macro the Sigil in with your puppies. I'm no macro queen, but the following is incredibly simple and works just fine.

/use Kiroptyric Sigil
/cast Feral Spirit

To get really fancy, you can also add in a target + pet attack command in there:

/tar Burning Tendon
/use Kiroptyric Sigil
/cast Feral Spirit
/petattack [target=playertarget]

Again, I'm no macro queen, so if you have suggestions on how to clean up a macro such as this, I'm all ears.

3) If you're an engineer like I am, and have a tenancy to macro your gloves to your wolves, be sure to not use that macro for the tendons. Why? The Sigil trinket and your gloves will set each other on a short cooldown. The Sigil's agility bonus is much greater than the one our gloves give us. For this fight, tie the trinket to your wolves and use your gloves as soon as they're off cd, assuming the tendon is still up. Otherwise you can save your gloves for doing a bit of damage on the amalgamation or while you're taking care of bloods.

4) Get yourself some decent weapons. This is the one fight where a pair of heroic Morningstar of Heroic Wills would possibly be better than regular version of a pair of No'Kaleds. Why would they be better? Well, you have a gem socket for more agility, plus the heroic Morningstars have more raw weapon damage than the regular NKs, plus you can also pick one of the rather crappy secondary stats on the Morningstar (probably the extra expertise) and reforge it into more mastery. The proc rates on the NKs, while delicious for any other encounter, become an unreliable factor for this fight; better to go with consistent raw damage than to rely on a proc.

Heroic Morningstar *might* also be a touch better than heroic No'Kaleds for this fight just because, again, you can net yourself a little more agility through the gem sockets plus you can still reforge into a bit more mastery. However, you do lose out on some raw weapon damage. It's kind of a tight call and I unfortunately do not have raw SIM data in front of me to confirm which would be better for this fight. Personally I'd just stick with my heroic NKs simply because I don't want to gem/enchant my heroic Morningstars. Yes, I'm that lazy/cheap. No I don't think I'll get any legitimate use out of the Morningstars anytime soon. /hangs head

5) As with the choice of going with the consistent damage of a pair of Morningstars as weapons, you want to try and avoid proc-based trinkets for this fight. If you have, say, either a combination of Wrath of Unchaining and either Vial of Shadows (if you're so lucky!) or a Matrix Restabilizer, you'll want to trade out either the Vial or Matrix for your Sigil trinket. Stacking trinkets such as WoU have an incredibly fast ramp up time, so you shouldn't need to worry about anything there. Take out the RNG trinkets, give yourself a little more control over your damage.

There are a few difficult moments that your healers must deal with on this encounter.

1) Super Heated Nucleus; happens just before Nuclear Blast
2) Rolls
3) Searing Plasma + any damage you may be taking

My suggestion is to use a glyphed Stoneclaw totem for the amalgamation pulses that happen just before the Nuclear Blast. Use Shamanistic Rage during the rolls. Use any racial survivability/healing cooldowns you may have if your health is getting sketchy while you have the Searing Plasma debuff. If you feel the need to use your survival cooldowns elsewhere, go for it. Use them liberally. If you're dpsing in a 2 tank, 3 heal composition, your healers will thank you for whatever little help you can give them in the damage reduction department. Even with gear and with this being incredibly nerfed, Spine can be a healing intensive fight towards the end of the third plate, especially if you're having to do double lifts (aka exposing the tendon twice) on each plate.

Wrath of Unchaining - One of our two best in slot trinkets. Get this asap! (May your roll hacks be with you, if you run with a crapton of agility users like I do.)

Overall, this is an incredibly repetitive and boring fight. There is a ton of waiting around, then a mad rush to maximize dps the exposed tendon in a short span of time, then a ton of more waiting. Bring your sharpest weapons, a load of patience, and for the love of all things cuddly, teach your dogs not to randomly dive after a corruption. If you can do those things, you'll be well on your way to experiencing Deathwing's Madness.

Heroic Madness of Deathwing

Ahhhh madness, how frustrating you are. Once you manage to sweat and swear your way through his spine, you now get to deal with what is one of the most anticlimactic encounters you will ever face. Much like Spine, Madness is one of those fights that takes you 10 minutes of waiting around before the real hard parts of the encounter begins. Seriously, this fight is a cake walk until you hit the fourth platform. The forth platform and the head phase are the only really difficult parts of this fight, so you must do what you can to survive until those parts.

Kiss your sanity goodbye, my shaman friends.

Alright, this fight isn't all doom and gloom. Madness is by and large easier on us than Spine is, but it's still a fight that can leave you wanting to pull your hair out at the end of the day. Let's go through a few things that can help to ease yourself away from premature balding from scalpel abuse, shall we?

Spec Changes:
None necessary

Glyph Changes:
Keep your standard Prime Glyphs. (Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Windfury)
Keep your semi-standard Major Glyphs (Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Stoneclaw) If no one is putting out a fire resist aura of sorts, swap out Ghost Wolf for the Healing Stream glyph.

Totem Changes:
Swapping to Magma totem on this fight may be beneficial if you can get it down just before the bloods spawn. If they've already spawned, don't bother wasting the extra GCD. If you see the ground doing it's bubbly thing and you can get over to it before the bloods become target-able, drop a Magma totem on their heads!

Twisting in Stoneclaw totem during heavy moments of damage is definitely recommended.

If your group's composition is a bit light on slows (hunter's ice patch traps, boomkin's mushrooms, DK's chilblains, etc) you'll want to be twisting in Earthbind totem to slow the bloods during the head phase of this encounter.

The Encounter
The  differences between normal and heroic mode are few, but the few differences that are there can be rather deadly. Most groups now 1 tank, 2 heal this fight, which means that a dps must soak impales so that the tank may have his or her cooldowns up at key points, and that healing during certain situations can get rather tight.

If you watch the video closely, I'm often running away from the big bad floppy tentacly thing that spawns soon after the raid engages each new claw/wing tentacle. Why am I running? Because as an enhancement shaman I cannot eat an impale and survive, even with Shamanistic Rage and Stoneclaw totem up. No way, no how, I'm gonna die if I eat that impale. With my raid, we have a hunter soak the first impale of platforms 1-3, and then we have other dps help soak both impales of platform 3. During this time all melee must vacate the melee range of the Mutated Corruption; this tentacle will focus the impale on the person in melee range with the highest threat. Guess what, because of Misdirect a hunter will probably have much less threat than any melee. The same theory applies if you're using a shadow priest to soak. Having a rogue soak an impale is kind of a toss up, but because of Tricks of the Trade, chances are again that they will have less threat than you do as an enhancement shaman.

General rule of thumb: if a dps is soaking the impale, GTFO.

Another difference on heroic is that a random player will be chosen to get a Corrupting Parasite, which will explode when it drops off of the person (it doesn't hurt the person it's on when it drops off). The general rule with this little ball of squiggly death is to drop it in the Time Zone (while you still have it), near the arm/wing tentacle, but not in the tentacle. On the green platform, you can just leave it be and Dream through the damage. If you drop one off of yourself on any other platform though, it is imperative that it gets damaged to at least 30% health. The rule we run with is that if you drop it and you're not a healer, you help damage it (I kind of forgot to on one of my parasites in the video...whoops), otherwise ranged should be able to simply take care of it.

Bolt is another thing that the melee in our group rarely take care of, but I find often that I must run out of melee range of the Mutated Corruption anyways, since the second impale of any platform and the bolt are often timed pretty close together. More often than not I hang around and take out the bolt, unless we're able to quickly kill off the MC so we can completely negate the second impale from going off all together.

Regenerative Bloods and Spellweave procs = the money dps increasers of this fight. Funny enough, not only do the bloods bloat the dps meters, but the Spellweave procs are a vital component to this fight. Ideally the bloods should be brought over to the wing/claw and/or the parasite so that the spell cleaves can do their work. With Spellweave, all of the things should die incredibly quickly. Unfortunately for us enhancers, quickly is not our thing. Our window of time to get out our AoE is incredibly slim, especially with the 30% nerfs in place. Your best bet is to watch your timers, run over to the spawn point of the bloods, drop Magma Totem, Flame Shock the first blood that shows its ugly bubbly head, then Lava Lash + Fire Nova as soon as there's more than four of them out. Unless your raid's AoE is really slow, chances are you probably won't have time to get an Unleash Elements off before a Fire Nova (aka creating a 'Super Nova' for yourself), but if you can manage to squeeze in another GCD before everything dies, go for it.

Head phase: if you've gotten this far and the raid hasn't had to use any battle rezzes yet, you're doing great! Or even if you have, and you've made it this far, you're still doing pretty damn well. /highfive!

This final "phase" is yet another hurry up and wait type deal. You will go from waiting around for certain adds to spawn, to dpsing a bunch of bloods down as quickly as you can mash your buttons, to quite possibly waiting around again to push Deathwing down another 5% health.

Alright, so here's the deal with Deathwing's noggin.

Elementium Fragments will pop out of the ground, just like on LFR/reg mode. If you can Flame Shock cleave them + Fire Nova them, go for it! So long as you won't end up spell cleaving DW too much that is. You don't want to accidentally push him down past 15%/10%/5% before your group is ready to handle the bloods. These fragments will occasionally cast Shrapnel on a random person. If that person is you, simply hit the big green Dream button that pops up. Have another Shrapnel cast on you, but your Dream button is on cooldown? Shamanistic Rage + Stoneclaw totem, plus give your healers a heads up so they can top you off before you get smashed in the face. If you don't do these things, chances are pretty good that you'll end up being dragon soup.

Shortly after the Fragments spawn, two big dudes called Elementium Terrors will pop up, just like they do in LFR and regular modes. Like everything else, these guys can be spellweaved. However, ideally your raid will want to keep one of these guys up, despite their stacking debuff on the tank. Why? Because when the bloods DO spawn, the tank can move the Terror from the Time Zone (where they should be tanked) over to the bloods. You cleave off of the Terror into the bloods, which is much more ideal than getting a Flame Shock on a blood, only to die stupidly quickly from the AoE, and you missing out on hitting a Lava Lash, thus missing out on Nova AoE. Chances are pretty good though that your Terrors will just die very quickly, like they do in my run, and you'll have to suck it up and somehow deal with less than ideal AoE situations.

/grumbles about enhancement AoE on nerfed content

This is what I generally do when bloods spawn. See the bubbling on the ground, Ghost Wolf on over as quickly as possible, drop a Magma totem. You'd also drop an Earthbind totem here, or on another designated spot if your group is short on traps/slows. I *try* to Stormstrike the first one out, just to get some damage rolling, but most often I find myself scrambling to get a Flame Shock on a middle blood (these suckers go down FAST if your group is on the ball with AoE, as they should be) and spreading as soon as that global cooldown swings around. Nova, Chain Lightning, and Stormstrike as they come up.

My raid tends to do a bit push between 10% and 5%, with spawning the blood packs back to back. This is when I use my wolves and Heroism (Bloodlust for you Horde folk) gets popped. The extra Chain Lightnings from our tier 13 four piece bonus is kinda handy here. Our wolves with hero rolling pop Maelstrom procs like it's their job. Utilize that as much as possible when you're unable to Nova.

This fight is all about rinsing, repeating, and being aware of health percentages on Deathwing's various extremities. It's all about control and being on the ball with your AoE. If you and your raid team can master that, this fight is an easy-ish win in the bag.

No'Kaled - Hands down, our best in slot weapons for the expansion. Combat rogues will want one of these bad boys for their main hand for some fights, but these are pretty much custom tailored to suit an enhancement shaman. If a rogue tries to take one of these over you, BITE THEM. Same goes for DKs. Tell them to bugger off, because these things are not only super sexy base stat and raw weapon damage wise, but two of their three procs scale off our mastery, and these buggers proc often. So very, very sexy for us.

So there you have it ladies and gents. Apologies about not getting all of the segments of this guide out in a timely fashion, but I certainly hope that it helps at least a few of you out. As always, if you feel that I need to make a correction, or you have a question/comment/concern, please do not hesitate to leave a message as a response to this post, or to contact me directly through either my email address listed on this site or Twitter.

Good luck guys and may the RNG gods be with you!