Petless Pet Classes

I can’t remember where I read it, but I seemed to recall that the warlock talent tree was bringing back Sacrifice Demon. Those of us that have been around long enough remember a time in BC when there was a spell with such a name that would grant the warlock a power buff in lieu of having a demon. I remember using this on my warlock (Kittykat) during raids since it seemed the pets would die far too often. It was a nice change of pace. I could play my spell caster without the worry of pet positioning and management. It was nice.

If in Mists of Pandaria this ability is brought back and I can go without a demon pet, I’m guessing that there will be a spec that I pick up that allows me to do so. Demonology for when I want a pet and affliction or destruction for when I don’t. This adds a new element to game play for those warlocks that never want a pet.

Naturally this train of thought led me to the petless hunter concept…basically an archer. I’ll be the first to say that pets are great for having during leveling and running around in Azeroth, but when it comes to dungeons, I’d just as soon sacrifice my pet and play the role of the archer pew pewing from the back. Allowing survival and marksman hunters to drop the pet for a buff doesn’t seem game breaking if you’re going to do it for warlocks.

Now there will be the argument that the pet is what makes the hunter class. But this would introduce a new flavor to the hunter that isn’t available without making a Ranger or Archer class. Also it wouldn’t have to be a “Sacrifice Pet” like the warlock, but perhaps an Aspect of the Pet. Make it an aspect where your souls bind and you gain characteristics from your chosen pet. This would allow you to turn it on quickly like when a warlock sacrifices, but would also allow you to turn it back on by changing aspects and calling your pet again. Since the hunters have the system of aspects in place, it would be a nice way to weave this into the game. It could even be a buff simply by pet type not pet family; like a cunning, ferocity, and tenacity buff rather than a bear, wolf, or kitty buff. That way they don’t have to balance out so many buffs.

I know this is not going to happen in MoP, but given how we see Warlocks work without pets, I’d like to see them expand this to hunters too. I love some of my pets, but when it comes to a dungeon, I still feel pretty forced to certain pet families for buffs instead of the pets that I want (I heard this will be different in MoP too) but if I could just Aspect of the Pet with my ferocity pet and not worry about using the pet I should rather than the pet I want or for taking crap for using the pet I want rather than the pet I should, it would greatly improve the quality of my huntering.

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The Right Class

About 10 hours of play and we’re up to level 45 on Smetana and her leveling companion Nychaareht.  Yes, that’s right, my friend named his toon after an anti-smoking gum.  Awesome.  I guess not everyone has such classy tastes in names as me.  😉

We’re flying along though!  I’ve done recruit a friend 3 times now?  4 times?  I can’t even remember.  But I had forgotten how quickly you level and as a result how horrible your gear is.  When I hit level 31 I was still using both weapons I got in the start zone.  Yeah, I was rocking two maces…one did 6 and the other 9 DPS.  AMAZING!! 

Admittedly I looked up quests where I could get new axes since I’m leveling as enhancement again.  And so I might have been favoring myself a little, but heck, he’s playing a paladin, they don’t need any help with all their awesomeness, he pretty much kills things with exorcism and avengers shield before they reach him anyways. 

Things seem to be going pretty smoothly, and I think class choice has made a difference for him.  Whenever I introduce new players to the game, I always try to encourage them to try out different classes.  Sometimes the description of a class isn’t how you imagine it.  So instead I try to focus on what the classes can do.  Are they ranged, magical, melee?  Do they tank, DPS, or heal…or all three?  After they try a new class I try to pay attention to what it is they have trouble with or succeed at.  For my friend that I’m playing with now, he had tried the game as a hunter previously.  It was…difficult.  He seems to have trouble with depth perception in the game so was ending up with mobs up in his grill, which is bad for a hunter.  He also struggled with shot rotation and would burn focus by spamming serpent sting, either failing to understand how it worked or just feeling like if he was hitting special shots, it must do more damage.  He started with a hunter again this time around, but instead we tried beast mastery, that seemed to work much better for him!  But still I wasn’t convinced hunter or even a ranged or DoT class was right for him.

I suggested that since he sometimes has trouble with depth perception and how close he is to monsters that if he played a melee toon there would be less threat when one is really close to him.  Melee like that, they need it, so it seemed like a good fit for him.  After reviewing the melee classes he went with paladin.  I was a little worried because there are lots of “weird” things with paladins – holy power, seals, hands, blessings…it’s enough to make your head spin.  But then I thought about my paladin…I use one seal, one blessing, and the last time I used a hand was…well before they were called hands.  I could be a bad paladin, but I can get things done for the most part and sometimes even tank dungeons!  

By far the hardest part to teach about this game is gear.  I swear that every person I have introduced to this game gets hung up on one stat.  Armor.  Yes, armor.  If I had a quarter for every time I heard “Do I want to equip this?  It has 30 more armor.”  Seriously, Blizzard, please just remove the ‘stat’ armor from the game.  Just make it hidden and passive or something.  It’s very hard to convince people that armor is ignorable (for most classes) especially when it’s the first stat on an item.  This is not the first person I’ve had to explain this to.  I remind them that there are three main stats in the game:  Intellect, Agility, and Strength.  All the others are minor stats and will ‘naturally’ come with the gear.  For leveling purposes, choosing the item with the greater amount of your classes primary stat is the safest way to go when choosing gear.  Second stats are considered if that stat has a tie. 

The paladin is working out very well for him, aside from remembering to refresh the stupid seals and blessings he’s doing well and can hold his own.  He’s better at figuring out when to use heals on himself, but holy power still is a mystery.  There is only one ability that consumes holy power until past level 40+ and that is a healing spell.  So it’s hard to know the purpose of holy power if you’re not healing.  For a prot pally, they really should give that shield bash thing at a much lower level so that a paladin understands the purpose of holy power a bit earlier in the game.

Still, he’s doing well.  There are quests that we’ve done where I say “you know, you died doing that on your hunter” and this time he did it perfectly.  I know that it’s partly the experience he’s gained and the skill set with the game, but I think a lot of it has to do with class.  Finding the right class for your play style is important to your success.  This is why all my spell casters make it to max level before any of my melee.  For me, it’s a better fit. 

Long post is long, but as a chronic altoholic with now two accounts and 20 characters on the same server, I do recommend that people try different classes and specs.  It may take some time to find the one that is just for you.  Or…maybe you never do and you have 20 characters on one server.  😉

Bardcraft

Following up on Slice’s post on why he wants to be a pretty Blood Elf Bard, I decided to give my own post instead of filling his comments section with my inane ramblings. 

After the April Fool’s Joke of what…2008, when they told us there would be Bard’s introduced people have gone crazy over it.  People believed that this would be primarily a support role if it ever existed.  Blizzard has done a pretty good job of making three unique trees for their classes, sure the lines get a little blurry for some classes that are pure DPS (warriors, rogues, DKs, warlocks) and some could argue they are pretty similar, but they still manage to feel different.

So what about a bard?  How do you make it unique and give it talent trees?  In my opinion you use it as support and for the “catch-all” for the classes that aren’t in the game that people want to see.  Hang with me here…  I suggest the three talent trees be Ranged Physical DPS, Melee Physical DPS, and Support buffing and healing. 

Since all classes need to have DPS specs, make two of them fill that role.  The first is ranged physical DPS, the Ranger tree if you will.  Ranged weapons, hunters horn, NO PET.  Almost like a survival hunter, without the annoying pet.  Still provides some buff via the hunter’s horn or hunters call type abilities and perhaps some magical damage as well.  Agility as a primary stat.

Melee physical DPS is basically a Brewmaster.  Bards hang out in Taverns, and probably are pretty good at using their fists!  Kapow!  So here it’s dual weilding one-handed swords, axes, or daggers, similar to combat rogues (NO STEALTH), but providing buffs using KEGS of beer to inspire your party members!  Perhaps some short ranged explosives as well.  Agility as a primary stat.

Lastly, the support healing role.  The trick here is really do you select the DPS or healer button when clicking LFG?  They either have to have enough healing to keep up a 5-man group, or they must have enough DPS to hold their own.  Where the other two Bard talent trees would be purely DPS type specs, this support role is also DPS, except DPS boosting, not DPS of your own.  So I’m going to go with DPS again for the final spec.  But not solo DPS, group DPS.  That is what support is about anyways right?  So let’s say normally you would have 2 DPS each doing…I dunno 14k DPS.  Maybe this support bard only does 6k DPS on his own, but to make up for the lower DPS he can increase the DPS of the other two by 3-4k (30% more DPS).  14 + 14 + 14 = 42k DPS and 18+ 18 + 6 = 42k DPS!  Look at that, a match!

 The idea here is that the bard would use songs and temporary charms or enchants to inspire his mates to be able to increase their DPS for the lack of his own.  Maybe actually he has less DPS than that normally and only does DPS when not enhancing others.  It’s basically like using cooldowns ON other people–think Power Infusion or Hysteria!  I think it would work.  If each buff was short enough duration, you’d basically need to keep them refreshed on your party.  Maybe you have a buff that increases haste for 8 seconds by 10%, stacks 3 times, say it’s a 1.5 second cast time.  You’ll basically need to keep rolling that spell on your compadres to give them the boost.  Okay, that might be a terrible example of times, maybe that’s too short, too many stacks, but you get the idea where I’m going here.  Maybe somethings boosts healing by 15% for the next 12 seconds you can use it on your healer.  Something to reduce incoming damage for tanks…you see where I’m going.  But how to regulate it.  Well a bard is going to be thirsty after all that singing…maybe a DK rune type system to limit how often these spells are cast only instead of runes use beer.  Ha!

Anyways, I think it could be viable, during downtime they can add some of their own DPS, but mostly their damage would be indirect damage by increasing that of others.  In a raid environment the limitation would come on how many people you can buff at the same time since they all have short durations.  This would prevent it from being overpowered and increasing the whole raid DPS by 30%…you know except for maybe a MEGA SONG OF EPIC LYRICS cooldown. 

Anyways, it’s a thought.  Some of the other trees would have those abilities but nothing like the support tree, where singing Slice would woo you with lyrics of epicness.

True Hybrid

I’ve had several discussions as of late with people over Ventrilo about the shaman class.  I have been leveling my shaman lately because as usual, I get bored with the same dungeons or I’m scared of healing, or whatever and so I need a distraction and I pick one and go with it. 

One of the things I love about my enhancement shaman is the ability for him to fulfill so many roles at once.  The ability to switch roles and temporarily assist with roles, in my opinion, is unsurpassed by the enhancement shaman.  I’ll elaborate.

There are many classes that are considered hybrid classes, 6 of 10 of them, and while many of them can serve many functions there are very few that transition flawlessly between many of the roles at once.  I noticed this especially when also working on my druid recently.  The druid could not take the physical hits while in boomkin form, then he’d have to switch out to heal himself, losing his armor bonuses and damage increases.  The best way was to load myself with HoTs before combat if I thought I was going to take lots of damage, but this means switching in and out of boomkin form often and it’s not very convenient.  Shadow priests can run into similar issues, but vampiric embrace means you get healed for some of the damage you do, so if you learn to kite around better your DoTs will help keep you healed.  Shadow priests can still use PW:Shield in shadowform as well.

The enhancement shaman though, can cast heals in his most powerful form.  And in fact tossing out additional heals in times of massive AOE or whatever is quite easy without a huge loss to DPS thanks to Maelstrom Weapon.  This talent allows you to basically instant cast any healing spell.  With self-healing on you can for example chain heal right in rotation and it will heal you then bounce off the other melee.  You can also watch for procs and toss them out on other that may need heals at that time, also works with healing rain for additional AOE heals in tight situations.  This makes it very easy for the enhancement shaman to toss out heals while maintaining most their DPS, as it will only use a global cooldown with 5 stacks of Maelstrom.  Even with just a few stacks, cast times are reduced significantly. 

Additionally to the heals a shaman can cast out on the go, enhancement shaman have many defensive abilities for high personal survival.  Feral spirit wolves heal as they attack, if you are taking lots of damage, tossing the wolves out assists with your Maelstrom weapon heals or you may be able to avoid self-healing using just the healing from the wolves.  So you get an increase in DPS as well as healing coming back to you!  Sweet deal!  Additionally, the wolves taunt and stun their targets and can provide a 60% run speed buff for the shaman for 15 seconds.  This helps if you need to GTFO fast!

The feral wolves combined with Shamanistic Rage can allow you to temporarily tank in some situations.  I have had situations where for whatever reason a tank has gone down in the middle of a fight, if it’s close enough to the end of the fight, my shaman using this ability has been able to withstand the blows and survive through self-heals from Maelstrom weapon as well as the spirit wolves.  Of course, there’s also the Earth Elemental too.  But the reduction in incoming damage and free offensive abilities allows you to maintain DPS while effectively “tanking” for that duration.  Enhancement shaman have pretty high dodge rates as well.

One added benefit though not super critical, is that since the enhancement shaman combines both melee and spellcasting, it makes it possible for an enhancement shaman to be out of melee but still doing damage, something that more pure melee classes have a harder time doing.  In fights like Corla in BRC, the shaman can take one of the beams if the group is melee heavy and doesn’t have ranged DPS to fill the role.  Since enhancement shaman get a conversion of attack power to spell power, their spells still allow them to DPS, though at a much lower rate, but some DPS is still better than maybe a rogue from a range.

A good enhancement shaman can be the ultimate hybrid in my opinion.  Knowing when to pop the cooldowns can mean the difference between a wipe and a dead boss.  Understanding the power of these talents and abilities will leave your shaman nigh unstoppable.

There have been many group quests over the course of my shaman’s leveling experience and attempts at these quests with my shaman proved successful where attempts to solo on other classes failed. 

I have now picked up dual-spec for my shaman, but the power of enhancement is one that I will enjoy and appreciate for a long time.

Class Pictures

When talking with my good pal Repgrind today, I stumbled upon the great idea of class pictures for our guild.  At least, I think it’s a great idea.  It all started with the moustache, which is ever so popular among so many of our human priests, so popular in fact, we may start making it a requirement for all human priests in the guild to mimic the fine ‘stachery of one Magnum P.I.  I kid of course…sorta.

So we thought it would be pretty cool to have class photos for the guild.  Basically get all the priests together, make them stand together and take a picture, one of just standing there, looking hot in their garb, and one with things like giant bubbles and circles of healing and LOLwells.  Good times.  These would then be posted on our Facebook page and on our website where we share news about guild events. 

So we then thought:  where is the best place for each class?  We would want it to be some place representative of the class.  Here’s what we’re thinking…

Death Knights:  Archerus or someplace in Northrend near ICC or at Shadow Vault. 

Druids:  Moonglade seems most appropriate.

Hunters:  This is anybody’s guess.  Someplace like Stranglethorn or Sholazar where Nesingwary is seems like a good idea.

Mages:  Most likely Dalaran, I mean, it’s the city of mages.

Paladins:  Uther’s Tomb or that statue of Tirion at Light’s Hope Chapel.  Perhaps a group of paladin’s all bubble hearthing?

Priests:  The Cathedral in Stormwind seems most fitting, or the Temple of Elune in Darnassus.

Rogues:  The Dalaran sewers seems like a shady place, or else…hmmm…some Arena area.  Or maybe have them all queue up for a WSG and then stand by the flag.  Ha!  Or else the Forlorn Cavern in IF seems very shady too.

Shamans:  The Throne of Elements in Nagrand or maybe in Deepholm?  Though I think the low-level shamans would not be able to get there?

Warlocks:  Shadowmoon Valley seems dark and demony, otherwise someplace where there’s a big runic summoning stone…oh that place out in…Burning Steppes?  Where the blackrock warlocks summoned some demons?  Isn’t that a real thing, or did I make this up?

Warriors:  That’s a toss-up, though Repgrind suggested the Statue of Anduin Lothar in Burning Steppes.  But maybe there’s another place.

So that’s our list of suggestions!  Of course, people might think of way better places to have the pictures taken.  And I hope people have lots of fun with it, another spin on it might be to see how many different tier sets we can get in one photo!  I know Elgar has saved all of his tier pieces and has enough to look good in tiers 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10!  This could be fun photo day for the guild.  I hope people will participate.

Class Difficulties

One last word on Archaeology…it should be noted that you can create and gain skills from ANY of the pieces you find.  Completing a troll artifact at level 400 will still give you 5 points just like it did back at level 100. 

Okay, so I was thinking of the guild the other day and browsing over the guild rewards and guild achievements.  I personally have been using corruption and holy nova on every little critter that I see, taking note of where there are large groups of critters to easily hellfire in the future.  I’m not sure how many critters the other guild members are killing, but I figure I am gonna end up killing about a quarter million toward our goal of killing 500,000!!  Apparently Elgar has killed over 71,000 since they started keeping track, he’s probably only killed 1,000 since Cataclysm. 

I think that one of the hardest achievements for us will be the “Classy” achievements.  We can do the dungeons and raids, especially all the classic ones, we’ll get the Cataclysm ones eventually; and even all the mining, herbing, etc., we’ll get those as time goes on. 

So for those of you who don’t know, the “Classy” achievements are to have a character in your guild to level 85 for every class of each race.  So you’ll need to have a human level 85 of all of the following:  warrior, DK, rogue, hunter, priest, warlock, mage, and paladin.  I started to think about this for our guild…the challenges mostly lie within the new class/race combos. 

I looked at our armory last night (which is really weird now and hard to figure out, I miss old armory, though I like the layout of this one, the features and access to it are not there) and realized that for some we’re totally on track, others….not so much.

Humans:  Since they only added the hunter class, we’re in really good shape here, many of the classes are already above 80 if not 85.  However, human hunters are almost non-existent for now in our guild. 

Dwarves:  We’re in trouble here again because of the new classes added.  We have no mages, warlocks, or shaman of any significant level at this point.  Mostly just rerolls that people tried out during the two weeks before Cataclysm.  All the other ones are at least 80 already including rogue, and let’s face it, you just don’t see that many dwarf rogues.

Gnomes:  We’re in best shape for the gnomes!  Yay!  I think the one we weirdly might have a little trouble with is gnome warlock.  I don’t recall seeing any 80+ ones out there, but I might just be forgetting.  But we had a priest convert to gnome, so we’re good with the new class.  They have fewest classes to choose from, so it does give them an advantage that way.

Night Elves:  Druids?  Check.  Hunters?  Check.  Again, the new class of mage for the night elves  is a real struggle here.  I don’t recall seeing any in the guild.  Ouch.  I believe we are in position to hit 85 on all the others though.  We even have the elusive NE warrior (it’s even female!!!)!

Draenei:  No new classes for Draenei leaves us in a pretty good position for them as well.  Mages, shaman, and paladins are plentiful for this race in our guild.  I believe we have all the others up and coming as well.  Unsure for warrior, but I know we have hunters, priests, and DKs at least to level 80, they will eventually make it.

Worgen:  Ouch.  This one will take time, period.  Unless there are some race changes soon, most of these are rerolls that haven’t seen much leveling past their 20s (if they even made it that far).  We had a few converts for Hunter, Druid, and Warrior, but other than that….it’s gonna be slow.  Since they have many classes available to them this will take some time.  We do have one Rogue that is leveling pretty quickly though, so it appears someone found a new main.  Or else is just enjoying all the new, ‘old’ world.

Of course, the other trick to this achievement is that the character must be honored with the guild.  So before they can even count, they have to hang around for quite some time.  When I last checked only a few people were even counted.  As a GM, I’m not going to pressure anyone to race change to ones we need or anything like that.  Plus, it’s $25.  But in my opinion, these will be the hardest achievements to complete.  Maybe it’s time I start hanging out in the guild recruitment channel spamming for dwarf shaman and night elf mages.  Ha!

On this topic…I have been toying with the idea of converting Rossini the human warlock into a dwarf.  Not that I RP, but it would pretty much confirm that he and Elgar are not brothers.  Well, maybe brother from another mother.

The 4.0

I know I’m a little late getting to the party to comment on the Patch 4.0 which shifted our characters into new heroes by losing some skills, gaining others, and changing the rest.  It was a wild ride for many people.

Inspired by a post over at The Wayward Initiative, I decided to give my own comments on the patch, how I dealt with things and what I thought about the changes that went into effect.

As far as interface changes, Blizzard again made some awesome interface changes and really provided some things that people always wanted anyways.  The list of professions for the guild has proven more than handy and even the default raid interface is totally acceptable for me…though I’m the king of few add-ons.  As a GM too, the guild ranks and ability to add the requirement of authenticator to the ranks is awesome.  Being able to remove ranks from the middle of the ranks too is nice as well.  We had too many so I did that right away.  Requiring authenticators was already something we did for guild bank access, but I won’t mind not having to have people pull out their Core Hounds.

But on to the real changes with some of my classes…

Priest
Discipline – Elgar has been disc since patch 3.0 before wrath, I love it, I will always love it.  Bubbles are amazing.  Anyways, patch 4.0 brought some really cool things to disc and I really love it now.  #1  Atonement—smite now heals and it procs divine aegis!  It’s epically awesome to be doing damage, crit, heal, and bubble all in one spell.  Seriously?  How epic is that?  Then on top of that, you get a buff that you can cash in to get 3% more healing per stack AND the animation is wings!!  I just about peed myself from excitement.  The difficulty now of course is working in smites at the appropriate times because I find myself wanting to smite, but I don’t want to end up forgetting to heal.  He he!  But the spec is awesome now.  I really feel viable and capable.  What’s more awesome than being in a bubble?  Being in a bigger bubble!  PW: Barrier on a 3 minute cooldown is awesome.  I have been getting in a rotation of using it often since it’s a relatively short cooldown.  

Shadow – While I haven’t really spent much time playing as shadow other than a few dailies, it’s really fun.  It seems a bit easier than I remember and now with Mind Flay to 40 yards I don’t feel the need to be all up close and personal with the things I’m fighting.  And the little dark images that appear and run to kill my enemies?  AWESOME, especially awesome when you use your Gnomeregan trinket to look like a little dark gnome.  I’ll get some more play time on this soon, but so far it’s fun.

Hunter Marksmanship
Trout is still marksmanship and overall the damage just feels low.  I’m not seeing big numbers like I used to and I’m in better gear than before…figure that one out?  But I do like the focus changes, dislike losing volley, but the hit anything multishot is nice, and the pet changes are pretty fun for the most part.  It’s nice to be able to get a buff from the pet.  I will try it out more as time goes on, but I think at least the focus change was awesome.  

Mage
Frost – Schubert has a tendency to go frost.  And he really likes it, and now everything seems to proc all the time and he’s like crazy mad frost slinging gnome!  It’s pretty cool.  The damage from frost is definitely up from before.  The pet being able to freeze anytime and add to that a talent to make cone of cold freeze targets in place makes me keeping everything frozen all the time it seems.  That means super crits from ice lance and before you know it, everything has frozen to death.  

Fire – The fire spec seems like it can pump out some serious AOE damage.  They might be king now with the free flamestrikes, the targeted blast nova and such.  Though I haven’t tried it in combat yet (frost is too much fun) I will have to run some heroics on it to see how crazy I can get.  I better keep ice block handy.

WarlockDemonology
The demonology warlock changes are awesome and really gave a sense of rotation now and in my opinion shifted the play a little more towards destruction.  Immolate is able to be kept up all the time without recast thanks to Hand of Guldan, which is fun on it’s own because not only does it refresh immolate, but it adds a root and stun!  Good times!!  Felguard lost his taunt, but gained BLADESTORM and the new guardian demons are pretty awesome as well.  Either way, I feel like I have a better understanding of spell priority now than I did when it was a mess before.  Hellfire can be cast on the move and does 30% more damage, we’re still kinda this mix in the middle, but it’s very fun.  If you’ve never tried out this spec, I suggest you at least take it for leveling, because it’s awesome.  

Okay, this is already a massive post, and again without pictures.  So I apologize.  I just keep forgetting to send them to myself.  I’ll stop here though and leave out my feelings on the Druid, Shaman, and Paladin, they haven’t gotten much play yet anyways, so I’ll get back to them eventually.  

In summary, I felt like all my spell casters really got some fun tools, got their toolbars cleaned up and are very fun to play.  The hunter should be getting a damage buff per the up coming patches, but they just feel a little weak.  I am continually looking forward to the further changes over the next coming weeks and just one month from this weekend, we’ll all be scurrying about working towards our journey to 85.