Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finally! Level 70!

Well, I finally hit 70 last night, and I have already spent a bit of time on Northrend. I picked the Borean Tundra rather than Howling Fjord to start off with, but I have not done a lot there yet. I did enjoy driving the tank, though, as well as the ejection. I had one unplanned ejection in a rather difficult spot, but it all worked out. I simply mounted, rode back and got another tank.
I've gotten lots of skins, but no mining yet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Level 66

Once again, I have been blazing along...and now I am in Terrokar at Level 66. Well, actually, I am in Thunder Bluff having just picked up KILL COMMAND!
This got added straight to my Steady Shot spamming macro, which looks like this now:

#showtooltip Steady Shot
/stop macro [no combat]
/script UIErrorsFrame:UnregisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
/cast !Auto Shot
/cast Kill Command
/castsequence reset=3 Serpent Sting, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot

I actually had one more Steady Shot in there since it about equaled the time the Serpent Sting takes to wear out, but I don't mind refreshing it a little more often since it helps regenerate Mana while using Aspect of the Viper.

I haven't tried it with Kill Command yet, as I am waiting for my Hearth cooldown so I can get back to leveling, but I anticipate no trouble. I will change the macro here if it turns out that there is an error.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Level 62

I have spent the last two days in Hellfire, and just got 62 while grinding outside of Spinebreaker Post. The only reason I did any grinding was because I did not feel like doing another quest, but I did not want to go to bed before I got my level, and I only had about 7k to go. I know it hardly matters, but it's always satisfying to get a level. Plus I am trying to catch up to a friend. :)

Any, this weekend I plan to catch up on some posts instead. I have to finish what I started about the Pet Talent Trees, plus I want to get started on some Hunter Macros.

Lastly, I want to reiterate my request for ideas about what kind of Add-on to write. Again, I am looking for ideas specifically related to Hunters, but it is not absolutely required.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Level 60!

Well, I made it; I did not need to finish most of the quests in Eastern Plaguelands, possibly because I got ahead of the guide by resting or grinding more than was called for. There are even whole chunks already removed from the leveling guide now that Blizzard made it easier.
Anyway, now I need to get my mining up to 300 before I head to the Outlands, as I want to level out there as well. So, of to Tanaris for a few circuits, and then maybe to Burning Steppes (once I can mine Thorium).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Level 57

It has been a while since I posted anything about my progress on my latest Main...I ma not at level 57, less than 2 bars from 58. I have started questing in Western Plaguelands.

Unlike many of my friends who play World of Warcraft, I do not go to the Outlands until I am level 60. Yes, I know you can go there at 58, but I feel it is a great disadvantage to do so.

First, you can use up the easy quests that would otherwise get you to level 70, leaving you no option but to grind your way on the last level or two. Second, the initial quests go a low slower because you are comparatively underpowered. I prefer to be as strong as possible when I do my quests, and I suspect I can more than make up the extra time spent in Azeroth by burning through the Outlands quests faster.

In fact, I plan on doing all the quests outlined in the Horde leveling guide that I use, even if it takes me to 61 before going to the Outlands!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hunter Pets and the Ferocity Tree

If you pick a pet for its damage potential, it makes sense to pick talents that will increase its DPS. So if your pet has the Ferocity Tree, which talents should you choose?

First, you need to ask yourself how many Talent Points will your pet have? Your pet gets one Talent Point at level 20 (regardless of whether you leveled the pet to 20 or not), and one Talent Point every 4 levels afterwards (again regardless of whether you leveled the pet to its current level). At level 80, that means 16 Talent Points.

But wait! There's more! Hunters who spec Beast Mastery are able to get the Beast Mastery talent for themselves, adding another 4 Talent Points for their pet (all of your pets get this).
The Talent Tree is split into 5 Tiers. In order to pick a Talent from any given Tier you must have picked 3 Talents for every level below it. So you need 3 Talent points in Tier 1 before you can pick any Talents from Tier 2; you need 6 Talent Points in Tier 1 and Tier 2 combined before you can pick from Tier 3, etc.

Talents have from 1 to 3 ranks, each rank requiring one Talent Point. The entire tree would cost 32 Talent points, but as 20 is the maximum you need to decide which Talents are not worth picking up.

In Tier One you have the following Talents:
  1. Cobra Reflexes, 2 Ranks. This Talent increases the attack speed by 15% and then 30%, but reduces the damage of each hit. The overall effect is to increase damage, but I am not sure what the effect of lower hit value is on threat. I do not pick up these Talents. -- Note: Rick in China (see comments below) has pointed out that the Pet's threat is actually increased with this Talent, so this is actually a good Talent for BM Hunters to give their Pets. In addition, the faster hits means that the stacking effect of Rabid (see Tier 5) happens much faster and more frequently.
  2. Dash or Dive (depending on pet type), 1 rank. Increases the pet's speed by 80% for 16 seconds. This will help in surprising ways. Not only does the pet get to the mob faster, it can get back to you faster if you have taken on multiple mobs at once and you are getting attacked. This has saved my bacon more than once, and I always pick this one up.
  3. Great Stamina, 3 Ranks. Increases pet's stamina by 4%, 8% and 12%. Since you need to pick 3 Talents in Tier 1, this may well be where you pick up the other two points, at least to start off with. The choice is between this Talent, which increases the total amount of Health your pet has, and choosing the next Talent, which increases the Armor and therefore reduces the amount of damage that your pet takes. -- Note: with the correction that I got about Cobra, I no longer bother with this, until I have nothing else good to pick in later levels.
  4. Natural Armor, 2 Ranks. Increases your pet's armor by 5%, then 10%. Since later Talents will increase some of the healing abilities of your pet, Great Stamina might be a better choice. You can fill in some extra Talent points here in later levels if you choose. -- Note: Again, Cobra appears to be the better choice, along with Dash/Dive.
In Tier 2 we have the following Talents:
  1. Bloodthirsty, 2 Ranks. Pet's attacks have a 5%/10% chance to to increase happiness by 5% and health by 10%. This is huge; I have only one point in this Talent so far and I rarely have to feed my pet anymore. The reasons this is so effective are a) your pet's happiness does not suddenly drop in the middle of battle, which would reduce damage by about a third; and b) your pet has a much lower chance of dying, and the mana cost of healing is reduced. This is one case where a non-DPS Talent radically affects DPS in a positive way. Plus, having points in this Talent helps later on with other higher Tier Talents.
  2. Boar's Speed, 1 Rank. Increases Pet's speed by 30%. This is of limited value in my opinion.
  3. Improved Cower, 2 Ranks. Decreases damage to pet by 10%/20% over the next 10 seconds. Bloodthirsty already benefits total Health, and I am not sure if Cower reduces threat, so I am not a huge fan of this Talent.
  4. Spiked Collar, 3 Ranks. Increase damage done by pet by 3%/6%/9%. Extra damage is good, so you will probably end up making on this.
Tier 3:
  1. Avoidance, 3 Ranks. Reduces damage to pet by AoE effect by 25%/50%/75%. I can see having this Talent for pets to be used in specific raids. Other than that I am not crazy about this.
  2. Charge or Swoop (depending on pet type), 1 Rank. Pet charges or swoops an enemy, immobilizing it for 1 second, plus increases pet's melee attack power by 25 % on the next attack. The benefits of this are limited, I think, but consider this when using up extra Talent points.
  3. Lionhearted, 2 Ranks. Reduces duration of Stun and Fear effects by 15%/30%. This can be useful in certain situations; less time out of action means more damage by the pet, and less damage to the Hunter.
Tier 4:
  1. Great Resistance, 3 Ranks. Reduces damage to pet by Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow Magic by 3%/6%/9%. This is a small amount of damage reduction to be spending Talent Points on.
  2. Heart of the Phoenix, 1 Rank. Requires 2 Talent points in Bloodthirsty (Tier 2). When pet dies, it respawns immediately with full health (10 minute cool down). This is pure gold. I don't know how many times this would have saved my bacon in raids. This is equivalent to a 100% heal plus a total reduction in threat, which in a raid is fantastic. Even in PvP or PvE it will come in handy. Make sure you get this.
  3. Spider's Bite, 3 Ranks. Increases chance of Critical Strike by pet by 3%/6%/9%. Since Critical strikes are approximately double a normal hit, it is almost the same thing as an increase in base damage. But the higher your critical hit chance to start with, the lower the percentage effect this would be. However, it does increase the frequency that buffs and other procs will occur that depend on Critical Hits. Definitely consider getting at least one or two of these, if not all 3.
Tier 5:
  1. Call of the Wild, 1 Rank. Requires 3 points in Spider's Bite. Pet's roar increase party's melee and ranged attack by 10%, with a 40 yard effect, for 20 seconds. In a large group, this can be a large amount of damage increase, vastly exceeding what the pet could do alone. for raiding, this is a great Talent to pick.
  2. Lick Your Wounds, 1 Rank. Requires 1 Point in Heart of the Phoenix. Pet heals itself for 100% of its health over 5 seconds. This requires channeling, during which overall damage is reduced. With other Talents and Skills you should have enough to heal your pet without too much problem, plus Heart of Phoenix is a good insurance policy. No need for this one.
  3. Rabid, 1 Rank. Requires 3 Points in Avoidance. Pet goes into a frenzy, Increasing Attack Power by 5%. Successful attacks have a 50% chance of increasing Attack Power by an additional 5%, which stacks up to 5 times. Lasts 20 seconds. With a potential overall increase of 25%, this might sound good, but to me it is a small benefit that can be used only every 45 seconds (cool down). Think about this only if you are running out of other good options.
Again, the important thing is to choose Talents that a) increase damage directly; b) reduce the amount of "down time" for the pet, thereby increasing damage indirectly; c) increase the chance of Critical Hits and other short term, high benefit events.

This Talent Tree works well with Hunters who have the Beast Master spec. The Hunter's damage will not be enough to overcome the threat generated by the pet, and the Hunter's talents will drastically increase the damage and other benefits provided by the pet. Hunters who have the Marksman spec may find themselves stealing aggro from their pet; but on the other hand they can do a tremendous amount of damage as well. In raids with a good tank the aggro will not matter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Hunter AddOn

When not hanging around in Azeroth or the Outlands, I work as a computer programmer. It's not as glamorous as slaying dragons, and I don't get to ride griffins to work, but it pays the bills.
However, it does give me some background knowledge that I can use in WoW, specifically in creating Add-ons for WoW. I have purchased a big fat book that will teach me all the technology that I need to learn, so I now ask you to tell me what features you would most like to see in a new Add-on.
These features can be aimed at use for Hunters, or for all players -- I want to hear it all! If I get a lot of different features I might break them out into different add-ons; but everyone who gives me a suggestion will be given an opportunity to try the out before they are published to the general public.
One feature that I thought of was comparing items for the same slot and determining which is "best" for Hunters. There is a calculation process that looks at Agility, Hit Rating, Crit Rating, Attack Points, etc. It would be nice to have a feature that says "this item is 100 Hunter Points, and this one is 105." Or something to that effect.
Any other ideas?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Level 51 in Tanaris

I forgot to post yesterday, but I am now at Level 51. I am currently resting at the Inn in Gadgetzan, and will be finishing off a few quests there tonight before moving on to Azshara again.
At this rate I will be in the Outlands by Christmas for sure, but probably not Northrend. 19 Levels in 17 days? Hardly leaves time for shopping, I think.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Level 48 in Azshara

I did a couple of small quests in Azshara to get my level 48, but now I am working on my Mining. My leveling has gone so quickly that I have found myself in areas where all the mining nodes are way above me.
I was unable to mine anything above Silver this morning, but I made a trip to Thousand Needles and I was able to pick up quite a bit of Tin and Copper, as well as a few Silver. The Tin and Silver mining got a me a few levels, and I was then able to mine Iron.
My circuit for Thousand Needles is a sort of long figure 8, where I go along the north edge of the map, then back along the south edge, and then back along the road. After that, I do the reverse. Sometimes I will go into the caves, but only if my tracking indicates that there is something that will possibly get me a level.
As there is not much Iron in Thousand Needles I decided to go to Arathi. There is lots of Iron there, especially on the west edge of the map. By making a few circuits around the edge of the entire map I was able to get myself to 168 before taking a break. By the end of the day I will be able to mine Mithril, which is my goal for now. This will at least mean that I can mine a few nodes while I am questing.
Plus, I have an extra 200 gold or so worth of bars, gems and stone in the Auction House...not bad for a morning's work!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pet Talents

One of the changes in Patch 3.0 is the way Pet Talents work. Most "talents" are already known to your pet and do not need to be taught or leveled. These are actually "skills" rather than "talents".
However, much like a character's Talent tree, you can choose the special talents that your pet possesses. in upcoming posts I will describe the three major families of Talent tree, but in this post I will mention just the basics.
Starting at level 20, your pet will earn one talent point every 4 levels. Also, each pet type uses only one of the three Talent trees: Cunning, Ferocity or Tenacity. This is unlike a player's Specs, where they can choose among talents across three different trees (such as Marksman, Beast Master and Survival for Hunters).
Lastly, when you "buy" a talent with your pet's talent points, you can add that talent you your pet's action bar, and toggle the auto-cast on or off as you see fit.
I should also point out that these changes apply to you and your pet regardless of whether you bought the Wrath of the Lich King expansion pack or not.

Level 45 in Dustwallow

After lots of dragon slaying, I was able to reach Level 45 while questing in Dustwallow. Next stop: Tanaris!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Level 44 in Stranglethorn

Not much to say except that I got it while turning in a bunch of quests in Booty Bay. Also, I finished off the last of the Nesingwary quests by killing Bangalash.
Tomorrow, it is off to Dustwallow again!

What Kind of Pet to Choose

In the end, what kind of pet to choose is a very personal choice. Aside from the obvious issues of style and looks and cute names ("Hello Kitty"), you need to take into account the type of playing that you will be doing.
Another thing to decide on is how many different pets you want to keep. Remembering that they all take time to level, you don't want to have to spend a bunch of time leveling a pet that you will use infrequently anyway. You can buy space for up to five pets.
Lastly, you will want a pet or pets that match your Talent Specs. The pet you choose can be affected by the talents you choose, so you want to match the two as much as possible.
There are three main classes of pets, based on the "Talent Tree" that they possess: Ferocity, Tenacity and Cunning. Ferocity pets will have higher DPS, and their talents will also increase yours. Tenacity pets have higher Stamina and keep aggro better than other pets. Finally Cunning pets balance the best of both, and are flexible enough to work in most or all situations.
The best approach to picking a pet is to compare your own Talent Tree to that of the pets' trees, and decide what combination will work best in the type of scenario you will be working in. For instance, if you are Marksman spec, the you will be dealing fairly high damage compared to someone with Beast Master spec. You will also be creating a lot of Threat, and you run the risk of stealing aggro from your pet. This means that a Tenacity pet will help keep the mobs off you.
However, if you will be doing more raiding than questing or grinding, keeping aggro will be the job of the Tank, not your pet, so a Ferocity pet is called for in this case.
On the other hand, those with Beast Master spec don't have the threat that Marksman Hunters do, and can use a Ferocity pet without much fear of stealing aggro.
Cunning pets are decent for Battleground situations where conditions might change at a moment's notice. They don't have all the DPS of a Ferocity pet, nor all the Armor and Stamina of a Tenacity pet, but they are well balanced and have some other options that can help a Hunter stay alive in a PvP situation.
All that being said, it bears (ha!) mentioning that pets are a lot better than they were before the WotLK update. Almost any pet will be playable under nearly any condition, and usually all you will need to do to succeed is to change your strategy a bit based on whatever strengths your pet has. These various strengths will be explained in future posts...just check under the "pets" category.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Amish Paradise Warcraft Video

Another video to show you: This time it's Weird Al's "Amish Paradise" with some in game WoW footage.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Aspect of the Viper

I am not sure how useful Aspect of the Viper was before the Wrath of the Lich King came out, but I sure find it useful now. It used to be that in the middle of a prolonged fight or series of fights, I would run out of Mana, and would have to rely on potions to restore it. Of course, that meant that a healing potion would be unavailable to me for a while, and that is not a safe thing to have happen. So I would end up leaving my Mana at low or zero, and then I would be unable to trap, or Mend Pet, or do any other useful stuff.
By switching to Aspect of the Viper I actually let my attacks generate Mana for me, as the Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot, as well as a few others, will actually increase Mana instead of use it up. In fact, if I keep this aspect on then my Mana simply stays at or near full and I can use spell after spell without fear of running out. The downside is that total damage is reduced by 50%. But if the pet is doing a lot of the damage in the first place, and if you are not running out of Mana, then this is a decent trade off.
I like to use this in long grinding situation, especially if I am taking on no more than one or two mobs; in other words, when it really does not matter how long the kills take. I end up more than making up the difference in the fact that I don't have to pause to drink or to mend the pet after Mana regenerates.
In bigger fights I might switch back to Aspect of the Hawk in order to take down lots of mobs fast, especially a boss, but afterwards switching again to Viper can help regenerate badly needed Mana in order to finish the fight. The last thing you need to have happen is to not be able to cast a Mend Pet when your pet is tanking the last three mobs for you.
I have also found that Aspect of the Viper reduces my aggro in relation to my pet's aggro. I am not sure if this is true or not, but I have found that my pet will hold aggro a lot more than when I am using the Aspect of the Hawk. Since my total damage drops, and my pet's does not, this make sense; but again I have not been able to get verification on this.
Lastly, if you have a bit if a run between spots, switching to Viper can help you generate your Mana, as you will get 4% of your total Mana regenerated every three seconds. That's 75 seconds for a full regeneration, so you can spend the time running instead of drinking. I do this only in situations where Aspect of the Cheetah or Pack is not safe.