Looking For Reality

I know what you’re thinking and it just isn’t true. I haven’t abandoned my blog. I just haven’t had much free time for the past 2 months. Between work and the holidays it just hasn’t been possible. If you’ve been following my newest endeavor, the Shattered Soulstone, you’ll be at least somewhat privy to the hellacious hours I’ve been working and given the density of said hours it takes me two’sh days to recover. Sure the paychecks have been more than nice, but it’s almost not worth the toll that has been taken upon my sanity. But it’s a new year, all new promises to hope for … let’s put twenty-eleven behind us.

When I have had enough time to do something other than work I have managed to sneak in a little bit of time for podcasting, spending time with my family and WoW. Prior to patch 4.3 I felt like I would never achieve  the same level of gear with my rogue as I did in WotLK but I don’t think I was prepared to feel like I had surpassed it. Enter the Raid Finder, the single greatest addition to WoW since the Dungeon Finder.

Wait. Wait. Did you just call the Raid Finder the greatest addition to the game since the Dungeon Finder?!?

Yes, that’s right. I did, deal with it.

Oh right, you’re one of those “casuals” that Blizzard is catering to nowadays. Have fun with your Pandas and PokeWoW.

What’s with the hostility? Is there something inherently wrong with allowing a much larger portion of the player base an opportunity to SEE the content that the developers worked hard on creating? I certainly don’t think so. If more players are doing raid content, regardless of what difficulty level, then more time and resources will likely be allocated to creating raid content. Imagine what the Molten Front could have been with the Raid Finder in place.

Anyhoo, I’m straying from the focus that I intended with this entry. It’s not supposed to be an elitist v casual debate; rather I intended to share my experiences with raiding the Dragon Soul with the raid finder.

For the first time in my WoW career I have seen an entire tier of raid content while it is still relevant. In fact my rogue has been involved with the slaying of the World Breaker three times. Could have been four, but let’s not bring up my double-fail of sprinting off of Alexstraza’s platform and then releasing the other night. So far my experiences with the raid finder have been mixed, but mostly very positive. Sure things can get dicey when half of the DPS in the raid clearly shouldn’t be there and are pulling less than 15k dps on Ultraxion (was in one the other night with TWO mages barely managing 11k dps) but so far these occurrences don’t seem to be the norm … at least not yet.

Oh don’t worry, there are tons of terribads out there that will make fail-boating a far greater occurrence. Just you wait. 

Again with the hostility? Does the raid finder really irritate you that much? Can you not handle the “terribads” getting gear? Everyone should be afforded the same opportunity to enjoy the game to the fullest, even if they aren’t of the same caliber as an elite/hardcore raider. Do I really need to bring up the fact that us “casuals” also help keep this game going?

Yah, let that soak in for a moment. Blizzard has never been only about the 1%, they care about making fun games for everyone. Was it not Jay Wilson that stated that their goal was to bring the casual gamer into the fold and transform them into a hardcore gamer? By giving more players accessible raid content Blizzard is hoping that more of those players will then venture into raiding normal modes and maybe even heroic content. Is there something wrong with that?

But Jay Wilson isn’t even on the WoW development team! And I don’t want terribads taking MY raid slot!

Let’s just move on shall we. Clearly someone is intimidated by more players seeing their content.

As I stated earlier the raid finder is, in my opinion, a huge boon to the game. From here on out I will always be able to see all the content that Blizzard puts into WoW and that excites me greatly. I can not wait until Mists of Pandaria. How awesome is it that I’ll be in the mix and get to see the Sha in a raid setting? That if I want to wear tier gear, I’ll be able to? I only hope that rogue tier 14 isn’t hideous ^^;

Now to get my mage geared enough for the raid finder …

Hey There Twenty-Eleven …

*Blink* Ohhh… Hi there! Should I? Nah, no need to apologize. We all know the drill: yadda yadda blog hiatus this, reason that … I will however attempt to catch everyone up on where I’ve been for the past month and what I’ve been up to. Now, where to begin …

A lot has transpired since my last pre-Cataclysm update, maybe not so much on the WoW front but I did manage to get my rogue to 85 by the 12th. I could have gotten him to 85 sooner, like on the 10th but somewhere around 84 and a half I decided that I didn’t need to rush to 85. What would rushing to 85 get me? I’m not a raider, never will be, and there was a lot more I could be enjoying without working my melee dps’ng arse off to get geared for heroics. Heroics that I’d be running ad nauseam

I was also feeling an increasing sense of altoholism, but that’s not what really kicked my desire to push to 85. Nope, it was the realization that I would be taking a step back from WoW and go even more casual with the birth of my son.

Wait! Birth?!?

Yup, once again I am a father of a newborn and having a newborn again means my ability to focus will be difficult to nail down. So for the time being blog posts might be a bit sparse as I adjust to a drastic increase in sleep deprivation and still manage to go into work. I’ll try to get posts out a little more frequently than I have been, but no promises … my son takes up a lot of my free time ^^;

Okay, but what about the details of your son’s birth? I want de-tails!

My son Nolan Trent was born on December 13th at 11:07 PM PST weighing in at 8 pounds, 1.6 ounces and measuring 20 inches in length. He ended up being 4 days late, (expected due date of the 9th) and only because my wife’s doctor suggested that we induce labor while at our appointment earlier that day. Considering my daughter put my wife through nearly 24 hours of labor (23 hours and 47 minutes, but who’s counting?) I was expecting a lengthy stay in the hospital, but surprisingly things went so fast (well for an induction) we barely made the “window” for an epidural.

Alright, that explains SOME of your hiatus … what else have you been up to?

I’m glad you asked, other than diaper changes and middle-of-the-night feedings I have been up to one other thing: The OverLores.

Wait, what is The OverLores?

The OverLores is a project headed up by my good buddy Rilandune from Heroically Random. Ril got this crazy idea of rounding up four other bloggers and creating worgen to explore the lore in the post-Cataclysm Azeroth. You could say that the idea was Inceptioned from Project Lore‘s vidcasts (RIP Project Lore ;_;) and Bind on Equip‘s podcast segment: Rocks the Horde. So Rilandune rounded up myself, Nibuca from Mystic Chicanery, Tarinae from A Healadin’s Tear, and Psynister from Psynister’s Notebook to help him out on this ambitious endeavor.

We recorded our first episode last week, so with any luck you can expect to see The OverLores on iTunes in the very near future. I’m excited as all get-out over it. All five of us had a fantastic time with our first episode and I’m anxious to record the next one. So keep an eye out for it, but you could always follow The OverLores on twitter and take the guess work out of looking for it.

Now to maybe hop into WoW for a little bit … after changing a diaper ^^;

South Sea Island Adventure

While my death knight was out running (painful) circuits around Tanaris to supply my rogue with mithril, I decided to take a detour out to the fabled South Sea Islands before they’re wiped off the map in the Cataclysm.  I only wish I was actually heading there for the Ahn’Qiraj scepter quest, but regardless I wanted to take in the sights while I still could.

I don’t really have anything interesting to add to the screenshots that I took, so I’ll let them do the talking …

So why was my death knight farming mithril? Well being the indecisive profession picker that my rogue is, he decided to drop leatherworking for engineering. Why go the route of engineer? The toys of course! He also decided that he wanted another active ability to hit while in assassination. It gets awfully boring doing mut, mut, envenom … mut, mut, envenom.

For the sake of my sanity, I hope that this is the last time I ever mess with the professions on my main. He’s now an enchanter / engineer … for good, this time. I mean it. ^^;

215 Bottles of Dwarven Ale …

I try my best, but it seems even with a focused topic to blog about I’m still vulnerable to the gaps in posts that has always plagued my blog. Yadda, yadda, ya between work, miscellaneous projects and having a youngin’ that has started her academic career in Kindergarten, I haven’t quite had a balanced sense of energy to devote to each direction my fickle interests take me in.

Blame it on the “jack of all trades, master if none” trait of my astrological sign, or just the fact that I’ve been getting a little too much into roleplaying a dwarf outside of the game to remember to set aside some time to jot down some words for you to read. Sorry about that. At least here I am, sitting and typing words for ye. So let’s get on with it …

I remember when I first envisioned this grandiose plan to record my experiences with leveling two rogues of varying spec that I would do so with a decent amount of balance. As you might recall in my last entry my troll rogue was trailing behind and I had planned on ditching questing with him and focus on chain-running dungeons with the LFD tool. Yah, that was the plan but somehow when I logged in to the game, instinctually I’d hop on my dwarf.

Naturally my interest was higher in playing the dwarf as I’ve only ever quested through the Alliance quests once before with my draenei mage so everything still felt new to me. Fair enough you would think so as long as I didn’t complete neglect my troll right? Well that was back when the disparity between the two was only eight levels, now it is sixteen. Yikes! Once I left Redridge for Duskwood I was done for.

Despite many of the quests in Duskwood had me traversing the landscape over and over and over and … er, well you get the idea … I couldn’t stop myself from spending all of my time completing quests for the folks in Darkshire. It also helped tremendously that I had gotten over the rogue hump and had access to almost all of the abilities I’ve come to love and rely on. I was decimating stuff even running around with daggers, an ambush here, a rupture there and with vanish at my disposal I had everything I needed to stop dying.

You see, there’s this funny thing called godliness when you pull shit off that you shouldn’t otherwise be able to. It’s quite addictive and when you get a taste for it, it’s hard to stop craving it. Mind you that neither of my rogues are decked out in heirloom gear, though an occasional run through an instance to obtain blue quality gear does help. I almost was able to solo Gath’Ilzogg (level 26 elite) and his pet Singe (level 24 elite) at level 24 with every trick I had. Had my rogue had access to the heirloom daggers with crusader I would have surely been able to …

Anyhoo, like I said it’s hard for me to stop myself when I’m on a roll and this little boulder of a dwarf was a’rolling. There was no way I was going to stand in front of it in some vain attempt to stop it. No, I would have been squished … metaphorically you could say. No, I was aboard the USS Nevïk and the only way I was going to be able to get off was to wait for it come to a stop. Fortunately near the end of Duskwood things did slow down and as you might surmise, things have stopped at least temporarily as I work on catching up with herbalism after dropping mining.

HERBALISM?!?

Yes, really. Herbalism. It’s something that I initially overlooked since I’m so familiar with mining and for some reason thought that mining was the better way to go for income. I don’t know how I didn’t think of herbalism to begin with as it is also quite a money-maker and has the added benefit of Lifeblood, a heal-over-time ability which covers an inherit weakness in the early rogue leveling career. I can only reflect on what could have been when attempting to solo Gath’Ilzogg had my dwarf been able to lifeblood …

Okay, well with that it’s time for me to put my little one in bed and call it a wrap for this update. And oh yah, my dwarf is now level 32, running around Westfall … picking flowers. Good times.

Troggs, Troggs, Troggs

If there’s one word to describe my questing experience in Loch Modan it would be: troggs. They were everywhere and everyone needed them to be exterminated and by the end of it all, I really hoped I’d get some quests to scavenge through boar poop instead of being sent out to kill more troggs.

As you can see troggs are exceptionally ugly. Ugly enough that I’m sure their own mothers wouldn’t love them. But worse than just being ugly, they’re damned scaredy uggs and flee when they sense their end is nigh. This wouldn’t be such a hassle in of itself, but troggs like to congregate en masse, so unless you’re able to kill them quickly after they bolt you get to deal with their friends.

At the end of an exceptionally painful string of trogg-killing quests at the southern end of Loch Modan, I was tasked to deal with 3 named troggs: Brawler, Gnasher and Grawmug. “No problem” I thought until I realized that the trio happened to be +2/3 levels higher than my poor dwarf rogue was. Undeterred he strode in to the cave, managed to get a sap off and was able to down Brawler before being overwhelmed by not only the other two, but a wandering skullthumper who happened to be in the right place at the right time.

A quick trip back from the spirit healer and Gnasher and Grawmug got to share in their brethren’s admiration of the rocky cave floor. Success! After the ensuing trip back to the bunker my dwarf was sporting some stylish pants and headed eastward to deal with another problem at an excavation site; more troggs. Oids!

After regaining my composure after some choice words in troggish, (after being among them for so long, you tend to pick up on their slang) I remembered that there was an elvish structure further east that would hopefully offer oodles of quests to fill my dwarf’s sparsely-filled quest log. Unfortunately it appeared that the inhabitants of this inn provided little in the way of work and once again my dwarf set off in hopes of tasks he was well-suited to fulfill.

I did come across a gnome-pilot that had crashed near the lake’s edge and he tasked my dwarf with finding his missing belongings that, you guessed it, fell into TROGG camps on the northern island. Seriously Blizzard?! More troggs? Seriously? Of course this gnome’s tools fell onto an island teaming with troggs with the dead-set precision to be in the middle of four different trogg camps.

Seriously Blizzard?!

Fortunately for my sanity, the troggs on this island were either lower leveled, or even with my dwarf after slaughtering so many troggs. What are a few dozen more? Despite my growing hatred towards all troggs everywhere, I did enjoy the ease at which my rogue was systematically dismembering the troggs within the camps. But once I was done with that, I had run out of enough quests to keep trudging along in Loch Modan no longer worthwhile.

That’s when the idea struck me.

I had forgotten that after hitting level 15, I could queue for a random dungeon and earn a satchel of useful goods! Eureka! So I placed my dwarf into the queue and toddled off back to Ironforge since he had a couple of breadcrumb quests leading him to Stormwind via the tram of debauchery. Tell me, do my fingers look infected to you?

Following a lengthy sterilizing of everything, I was just barely able to make it to “The Shiv” before being prompted to join a dungeon group. “Finally I’ll get to see the Stockades” I thought. Nope, DENIED. Boringfire Chasm. Ragefire Chasm is a weird little jaunt where the “final” boss is the first you meet and therefore NO ONE ever bothers to finish the rest of the instance.

Oh well, better than killing more troggs … I suppose.

Anyhoo, my first experience with an Alliance pug went well enough that I decided to jump into the queue once more as I painstakingly ran across Elwynn Forest on my way to the Redridge Mountains. Sure enough I got another prompt and as if Blizzard was mocking me, once again it happened to be RFC.

/facedesk

After back-to-back RFC runs you’d think I’d stay away from the dungeon finder tool, and I did … until I got to Lakeshire. That itch needed to be scratched and I wanted to see the Stockades so badly that I compulsively queued up again. I picked up a few quests and unexpectedly I was prompted to join another dungeon, this time … Wailing Labyrinth.

If you’ve never run Wailing Caverns before it is an expansive instance with twisting maze-like tunnels spanning multiple levels, bosses up the wahzoo, and capped off with a role-playing event where you have to escort Naralex from the BEGINNING of the instance to a water-filled cavern in the middle.

Remember kids, skills are NOT bind-on-pickup.

This instance is usually a pug-killer because very seldom does anyone know where they’re going, what they need to do, and it takes FOREVER to finish the darn thing to get credit. Hell, even if you run through the instance with your level 80 it still takes forever because it is so easy to get lost and lose track of who you need to kill to unlock the event with Naralex.

But back to my dwarf.

I joined the dungeon part-way through where the group had just made it to the first large cavern after what appeared to be a wipe. Oids. Eventually the group was ready to go again and we eventually stumbled our way into an accidental boss pull while we were still working on a group leading up to the boss.

I can’t really explain it, but after NOT wiping and falling apart after the first boss we managed to limp our way through the rest of the instance. I suppose the group was just as much into sado-masochism as I am (blame it on my beta-testing background) and we survived two complete wipes without anyone nerd-rage quitting the group. I even managed to score some sweet blue-quality shoulders for my dwarf and I repaid everyone’s efforts with some sharp wit during the RP event with Naralex.

What can I say? Maybe I’m the glue that held that rag-tag team together. At least we finished the marathon of a dungeon and had some laughs in the end even if they were from delirium. I’m just glad that my dwarf has a metric-ton of quests to complete in the Redridge Mountains to keep me away from WC for awhile.

Sticky Sap is Sticky

I know I had stated that I wasn’t trying to turn this project into a be-all, end-all rogue leveling guide, but it’s okay if I share a few detailed tidbits right? Okay, good. With that out of the way, let’s get on with some more goodness with the rogue’s primary crowd control: sap.

In my last entry I mentioned the usefulness of practicing with utilizing sap in order to clear packs of mobs while avoiding cascading aggro pulls. Unfortunately I didn’t provide a picture to better illustrate what this possible situation might look like. Let’s correct that …

Here’s a pretty standard camp setup that you’ll see quite frequently while soloing. Obviously the enemies are just close enough that without any form of crowd control you’ll aggro all three enemies. But before I go into how to tackle this situation, I’ll need to give you a little more information of what you’re facing here:

  1. She has a ranged attack.
  2. He has a knockdown attack.
  3. Named NPC and is +2 levels of the other two enemies.

Obviously enemies #2 & #3 are in such close proximity that even if you do successfully sap one of them, when you pull the other you’ll gain aggro on the other even while they’re still sapped. Taking into consideration the higher level of enemy #3, it’s probably not a great idea to try to sap him unless you’re only one level below him. If you are lower than him by more than one level like I was when I took this screenshot, going for a sap on enemy #2 seems logical, but you’ll want to steer to the far side of him away from the higher level enemy #3.

So while your best bet is sapping enemy #2, it is plausible that enemy #1 could knock you out of stealth with some bad luck and her ranged shot while you’re getting into position. What do you do? Remember that you can sap as many times as you need as long as you’re in stealth, the targets are not in-combat, and you still have energy for the sap. If you keep these three things in mind you may realize that you can sap enemy #1 to ensure that she doesn’t knock you out of stealth while you’re getting into position to sap enemy #2.

Viola! There you go. Now providing that you don’t trip over the crates while setting up enemy #2 you can sap him and proceed to open up on enemy #1 to reduce the enemy count by one. But before you go and just stand in place after opening on enemy #1, it would be a good idea to pull her away from the camp just in-case your sap wears off before you kill enemy #1. After she’s taken care of, you can then proceed to re-apply sap to enemy #2 and kill your true target, Mr. Pirate Hat.

Well there you go, a short blog entry elaborating even further on the possibilities of utilizing sap to make your life a little easier.

Adjusting to Limitations

As I’ve reacquainted myself with the early doldrums of the rogue leveling experience I have come to accept the fact that without twinkage, I can’t just run around like a demi-god with my baby rogues. I just don’t have all the tools at my disposal yet that make the rogue such a versatile class to play as. I catch myself hitting my buttons for vanish and blind when things turn south and then realizing “Oh yah, don’t have that yet” while admiring the dirt.

But you know what? I’m glad that I’m relearning things that I’ve come to take for granted about my class so that I can share with you what it means to be a rogue. Things such as paying attention to the paths of mobs, knowing how to approach a pack of aggressive mobs, and which mobs to sap to avoid accidental adds. You need to be aware as a rogue because you are not a demi-god early on and being blind to important little details will send you back to spend quality time with the spirit healer.

Let me elaborate on this a little bit more …

If you’re approaching a pack of enemies, you need to keep in mind the potential aggro radiuses of all the enemies directly around you. If they’re of the humanoid persuasion you should sap the closest potential add of your intended target. This allows you to open on your kill target without causing a cascading aggro pull of two or more enemies, something you definitely do not want happening as a fledgling rogue.

You could always avoid attempting to clear these higher density packs, but this is a skill that you want to learn as a rogue. You may be asked to use your sap while in a dungeon and if you practice clearing packs, you’ll be better prepared to rise to the occasion when it calls. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes and eat some dirt, but with each accident you’ll learn the nuances of aggro mechanics.

Another thing I have come to take for granted is keeping slice n’ dice up while leveling. It’s instinctual for me as a level 80 rogue, but back in vanilla I severely underestimated just how powerful slice n’ dice is. In other words, it is far more beneficial to keep SND up, than it is to waste time building up for a 3-5pt eviscerate. Now I’m not saying to not use eviscerate, but there are two things working against you if you neglect SND for using eviscerate exclusively:

1. Eviscerate can and will miss, wasting energy and time that you could have been swinging faster and 2. Not keeping SND up reduces the chances for critical white hits while you’re building up combo points.

Remember that Slice n’ Dice is a percentage haste increase and can never miss. Keeping SND up directly correlates into a percentage increase in your damage output, so use it!

Now let’s say that you have plenty of time left on your SND (for the sake of argument I’ll say 8 seconds or more) or your target is rapidly approaching death, this is when you should choose to use eviscerate to finish the job.  Occasionally you may also run into situations where you will have 3 or more combo points and while your SND maybe about to drop off, it wouldn’t make sense to refresh SND with that many combo points. This is one time where I wouldn’t frown or shake my head for allowing SND to fall off.

So, okay. I think I’ll conclude the guide portion of this blog entry and move into a little bit of what my troll and dwarf rogues have been up to, more bone-headed deaths! Okay, I’m kidding … a little 😉 As you might suspect, I’m still catching myself being a little too over-confident with my baby rogues and that’s prompted my getting up on my soapbox and preaching about all things rogue.

My dwarf rogue hit level 14 the other night and has quickly grown tired of collection quests where the items are low-chance drops on scarce mobs in Loch Modan. He must have killed three times as many boars as bears and spiders for that painful quest, but at least the leather he got from skinning them were worth it. Well, alright that’s not really true, the economy on Winterhoof isn’t great and light leather barely goes for more than 1.5g a stack.

As for my troll rogue, he’s just shy of level 14 and desperately desiring a mount to travel across the barrens faster. How in the world did I tolerate running around for 45 levels in vanilla? (Yes, I didn’t have enough gold to get my first mount until level 45 ;_; noob I was!) However, after skipping over to Ratchet the ensuing pirate killing quests have revived his hopes for rapid advancement.

I really hope the old rogue lockpicking quest with Polly, the HUMONGOUS parrot in the hold of the pirate ship is still intact. I loved that quest …

Polly yells: SQUAWK!

Polly says: MmmmmMmmmm… Enormous chemically altered cracker….
Polly says: What the squawk? Squawk squawk, squawk? SQUAWK!