Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Patch 4.3 Changes

Disclaimer: This is all tentative right now, and things good change a lot before the actual patch hits.

So we got the first glimpses at what 4.3 might bring us. First and foremost, a buff to melee. Maybe now those mages won't be the top of recount every night. ...Right.

The Shaman changes seem standard for right now...
1) Flametongue Weapon no longer increases spell damage. It now increases all non-physical damage done by the wielder by 5%.  
2) Lightning Bolt has a new spell effect.  
3) Wind Shear now has a 25-second base cooldown, up from 6 seconds.
    ...except. OH SWEET BABY THRALL. My wind shear!!! 19 extra seconds?! Kill me now. Looking at this rationally (which I'd rather not), I can see why they did it, as elemental shaman currently had a big one-up on all the other ranged interrupts. BUT we don't play elemental shaman now do we? Thus as of this moment enhancement are the only melee without a reliable, 10second interrupt. And at this moment I will swear to you 80% of my raid utility is because of that interrupt. Buffing melee should help some of that, but still all melee classes get a buff, but only one (read: US) loose their interrupt. Harsh..."

    Edit, based on 4.3 Changes Explained: "We made changes to Wind Shear to restrict the short cooldown version to the DPS shaman (who have the Reverberation talent) and make Restoration less potent at interrupting. We think Restoration is currently too useful in PvP relative to other healers because of a potent, ranged interrupt. We don’t think this nerf will have major PvE ramifications." So, is Ghost Crawler telling me that Reverberation will talent it back down to 6? Otherwise his "major PvE ramifications" prediction is about to be WAAAY off. Also, apparently elemental shammy can have interrupts, just not resto. Who knew. 

    I thought I'd tackle each Enhance change one-by-one.

     1) Improved Lava Lash now causes Lava Lash to spread a Flame Shock debuff from the target to up to 4 nearby targets. This excludes crowd-controlled targets and those who already have a Flame Shock debuff from the shaman.
    Hello AOE! Am I ever glad to see you. This brings the fire nova button mashing party down to just three. Instead of six or so. Sure it still takes more thought than "durr-cleave-durr," but it's an improvement to be sure.  

    2) Improved Lava Lash no longer increases base Lava Lash damage by 15/30%. This increase has been rolled into the base Lava Lash skill.So did we loose that talent completely? If the talent buff goes into the skill, what replaces it? 

    3) Mental Quickness has been redesigned. Instead of granting the shaman spell power, Mental Quickness now causes Enhancement shaman spells to behave as though the shaman has spell power equal to 55% of attack power. Enhancement shaman spells no longer benefit from spell power from other sources.Take that Eye of Purification, and take that all you spellpower-enhance theory crafters. I cling to my beautiful, beautiful attack power and agility-based weapons, and, you know what, so does Blizzard. Mwahaha.  (Remember what I said about being rational...) Edit: Straight from the man himself: "We changed Mental Quickness and Flametongue Weapon to hopefully put a nail in the coffin of Enhancement shaman using spellpower weapons. We want Enhancement using melee weapons."

    That's it for now. I'm sure there will be much tweaking in the weeks to come.  Now if you excuse me, I have to go sob uncontrollably about the wind shear nerf.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Tier 13 Set Bonus

    Tier 13 set bonuses were announced yesterday. I admit I'm optimistic but slightly puzzled by ours. 2-piece looks good at first glance. Lightning bolt is one of our staple attacks, so increasing it's damage is nice. However, is the 20% increase uniform if it's 2 stacks of maelstrom or 5 stacks? Or do the number of stacks matter? The blue post reads like maelstrom stack numbers don't matter, in which case will we be changing when we shoot off lightning bolt?

    Right now we shoot lightning bolt at maelstrom weapon x 5, it's the most damage efficent. However, with the 20% increase it might be more efficent to have a slight cast time and shoot at 3 or 4 stacks of maelstrom. Probably not, but the possibility exists.

    4-piece seems kind of lame aesthetically but good damage-wise. We can only have our wolves up every two minutes, but they're out for 30 seconds at a time. More maelstrom stacks means more lightning bolts, and they'll be super-charged because of 2-piece.

    I'm not really a get out the sim and go crunch numbers type of gal. If I get super bored at work, maybe. Until then I'll leave it to others to calculate exactly what effect these bonuses will have on our DPS. These are just my non-math-backed thoughts.

    I don't know why but I have this expectation that 4-piece sets should have some sort of cool aesthetic bonus. Like my wolves come out on fire or something. Fwoosh.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011


    This is one of those fights that is really about repetition. Do each of these phases enough times and you WILL get it down. The only problem is in player consistency. Rag is very much a patterned fight. Which is dangerous. You can be lured into a false sense of security and then completely not notice that Engulfing Flames is spawning under your feet. Having all DPS alive is a big priority in the last phase, so even losing just one or two - even in 25man - will pretty much guarantees a wipe (except not really anymore, thanks nerfs).

    Ragnaros can be broken down into five chunks: Phase 1, Transition A, Phase 2, Transition B, Phase 3.

    Phase 1:
    Run in (not before the tank, though if you have nice healers you will live through one stack of Burning Blood. Not that I speak from experience...) and plant yourself as close to Rag as you can get without swimming in the lava. My fellow melee and I stack together, which makes the placement of Sulfuras Smash predictable thus much easier for the ranged to dodge the resulting shock waves. Because you are hugging the front edge of the platform, you will always be in front of Sulfuras Smash and will never have to worry about getting hit by it.
    Fire traps are put down, but let those ranged with fall mitigation deal with them. They always are placed on ranged, so you should never touch one.
    The only thing we really have to worry about this phase is his knockback ability. Sometimes you resist it and stay where you are, other times you get knocked back into the middle of the platform. This is dangerous because it can knock you into the remenants of Sulfuras Smash or - rarely - into the waves themselves. To avoid the first pitfall, just move/angle a bit to the side after he smashes. To avoid the second, make copious offerings to the luck gods.
    At 70% Ragnaros hits his first transition phase.

    Before the fight starts you have to assign transition positions. These small flame adds can be stunned, but not slowed. Healers and tanks with stuns should use them as well as all DPS. Knockbacks also work (just make sure your Boomkin and Ele Shaman know how to aim) Once the adds HP is under 50% they move at a crawl. They CANNOT reach the hammer. Remember, if your add is moving slow at low HP it's probably safe to move off it for a bit and help DPS another down.

    Phase 2:

    Three things will always happen in this phase. 1/3 of the platform will engulf in flames. Sulfuras Smash will drop. Searing Seeds will plant themselves where raid memembers stand. These three things may seemingly come at random, but there's actually a set pattern.

    After the transition phase everyone should stack to one side. Immediately after Sulfuras Smash hits, Molten Seeds will plant themselves where everyone is. The exact second they appear everyone must run to the opposite side of the platform, because the seeds grow and do a distance-based AOE explosion when they blow-up. In 10man it's easier to be standing far enough away from each other, yet still firmly on the side, to avoid two seeds coming down on each other. In 25m you have to be a little more careful that you spread enough to ensure the seeds (which do distance based damage before they explode) don't kill those nearest, but remain close enough to the side that you don't have exploding seeds reach you when you shift. Melee is especially infamous for causing role-wide death with seeds. We like to stack on each other, it generally means we're in the right place. But having six melee stacked with seeds dropping = dead melee and angry raid  leader. Spread out! Rag has a GIANT hit box so you can pretty far into the middle of the platform and still be hitting him.

    After the seeds explode, little adds come out of them and converge on the raid. These need to be AOE'd down fast. I'm going to be honest here...I don't touch these adds. My AOE contribution is neligible and I lose a ton of DPS on the boss if I try to switch to them. The adds just die too fast to really make use of multiple flameshock + fire nova.  Of course, I can really only get away with tunneling in on the boss because I have a solid group of other raiders that can pull the AOE needed to down the adds. If we struggled a bit more with DPS on them I would switch to them. Luckily that's not the case (and now with nerfs!...).

    After the adds the floor will spontaneously combuts. This can happen in front, middle, or back. If it happens where you are standing, move. You can still hit Rag from the middle (just barely) and there is enough warning time between the charred, cracked floor visual and the actual floor-of-pain that I could run out of there backwards and still make it in time.

    The 2nd shift will always have a Sulf Smash right after. Just know that on that 2nd shift you should all stack up front. I usually have shammy rage up when I can, and I drop stoneclaw at the beginning of every shift (before shifting into ghost wolf) for a bit of a buffer while I run.

    At 40% you begin the second Transition. Remember your positions, they don't change from Transition A. Kill the little adds, just as in the first one. However, there are now two big adds on screen. They should get picked up/misdirected to the tanks and then ignored. Kill all the little adds but one and switch to the scions. Have ranged ready to kill that last little add when he gets too close to the hammer, but not before. This is so that you have max dps time on the scions without Rag up.

    You might get Blazing Heat put on you. If you do, you should run to the outside of the platform and away from everyone else. This is both to 1) not light your raid on fire and 2) not heal the small adds with the fire, because it will.

    Phase 3:
    When Ragnaros emerges your tanks should drag the remaining scion(s) to the middle. Once they are dead it's a full out DPS race on Ragnaros.

    About 30seconds into this Phase the first meteor will come down. It WILL try to land on someone so make sure everyone is paying attention. If you get hit by a meteor in any fashion (it lands on you, it's fixated on you and catches up, you're standing in it's path, you sneeze near it) you will die. The meteors can be slowed, and upon damaging them (only when they're lit) they will be knocked back.

    If everyone goes about hitting the meteors, they will be knocked back willy-nilly into the raid. This is bad. The person who the meteor fixates on should run from the middle to the back sides of the platform, once there the person angles themselves so that the meteor is knocked off the edge. From there on out the meteors new target should always be able to turn and knock it back out.
    I have F4 bound as my "rotating use key." Some fights it's Purge. Others it's Grounding Totem. This fight it's Frost Shock. If I'm being targeted by a metor I will run angle it so that the knockback puts the meteor into the boss and use frost shock to do so. Yes I lose a shock cooldown, but this way I slow the meteor, I don't have to waste a MWx5 Lightning Bolt, and I don't have to wait for Flame Shock to tick.
    If you're not being targeted for a meteor just make sure you're not in their path. They are hard to miss, so it's very easy to sidestep out of their way and continue DPSing the boss. Once everyone understands how to handle the meteors they become far less threatening. Admittedly the first time I was fixated I panicked and managed to drag the meteor through three of our healers, taking them out like a bowling ball to pins. Not my proudest moment.

    At 10% the fight is over! Congrats. You scared Ragnaros into hiding.Only on heroic will that last 10% mean anything.

    Spoils of war: Matrix Restabilizer. DROOL. Choker of the Vanquished Lord

    The Blooper Reel:
    1) Never have a priest lifegrip someone during smash. Biggest heart attack I have ever have. Died, ahnked, was immediately lifegripped into an oncoming wave. I lived, but it scared the crap out of myself and the other 5 healers who saw my health go from 100% to 2%.

    2)If you're going to wipe anyway, make sure you go by smash. There's something satisfying about that giant hammer just smooshing you in one blow. Like some old school arcade game whack-a-raider.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Tier 13

    My guide to Ragnaros is written and waiting to be posted, but my tablet is packed away, so I don't have any pictures for it yet. And I simply cannot post without pictures. Everything should be unpacked by Sunday. Hopefully.

    But! I am alive. To prove it to you I've quickly compiled my thoughts on the newest shaman tier. Completely useless, but there you have it.

    Tier 13 for shamans was revealed today. I like it - I think. The shoulders kind of remind me of Tier 2, if Tier 2 died. It's a good dead though, looks nice. Loving the fangs that hang down off of them.
    It's also a kilt. Again. I suppose that's just one of the things I must accept as enhance shammy. Though if I squint hard enough they kind of look like samurai style pants under kilt-like armor. Squiiiiiiiint.

    Oh well. We will fight in dresses and we will be awesome about it.  I'm on the fence with the helmet. I think the front part, with the fangs over face, is sweet - if even a little understated. MOAR FANGS *cough* ... but the top with the bones sticking out seems a little too cartoonish. Like Pebble Flinstone meets Shaman.

    And is it just me or is the decoration at the bottom very horde symbol-ish? I guess it can also be seen as a shaman symbol, but with it extending towards the bottom it definitely looks more like the horde symbol. Not that that's a bad thing. My draenei can be horde at heart.

    I'm looking forward to Tier 13, overall. It feels more bad ass than Tier 11 and Tier 12 (if only slightly). I was going to jump on the Transmorgify train, but I got too OCD about trying to create the MOST UNIQUE AND PERFECTLY MATCHING OUTFIT EVER!!!!111!! Thus, for mental health reasons, I'm going to stick with tier gear for now.