Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Be careful!

This one is important enough to justify it's own post. Last night when I got home, I noticed a post by one of the officers in my guild's officer forums mentioning that an unfortunate member of our guild got hacked, and all of his gear was either liquidated or transferred. So I login, to check on him and double check my own holdings (all secure on the home front). The guildmate isn't online, though he has reported his losses to a Blizzard GM, which means recovery is on the way, but due to the loss of materials he's not up for playing much at the moment. Understandable.

I went on to play around on my Hunter, then do HMT as I mentioned earlier. At some point during this, some guildies mentioned that their friends' accounts had also been hacked, and there were reports of it happening on other servers. The officers began talking about it, and one of them made the connection I hadn't: It's almost Christmas.

Now, for those of you who are new to MMOs or WoW, this may not mean the same thing as it does to some of us. Christmas (or whatever the appropriate gift-giving holiday for your religion/ethnicity is) means many things, and of them it means people getting large sums of money, and RMTs are taking advantage of that by lowering their prices through the floor.

While I have only circumstantial evidence, I've seen this happen before. Right around this time of year there's a large demand for in-game currency on the part of RMT companies, which means they are probably paying slightly above average for it. This means that whoever is getting it, is putting extra effort, including into the realm of hacking, to get that money.

I could go into a tirade about why RMTing is bad, I'm not going to do that here. This post is more of a warning, and I hope folks spread it around.

First things first, if you are using Internet Explorer... STOP. IE is more full of holes that swiss cheese. While I personally prefer Firefox, I won't tell people what to use, just go for a more secure browser. Many trojans download themselves through adds on sites, and IE does little to stop them.

Next find a good Spyware and Anti-Virus program, if you don't already have one. If you don't have one, you can pick a free Anti-Virus program from here, and I recommend for a Spyware Scanner using Lavasoft's Ad-Aware.

One of the more common methods to get past any security setups you have is to piggyback or be built into mods we download. The first thing to do is when you update your mods, do them all at once, and before activating WoW, run your virus scanner. If any snuck in, it very well might catch them. Also, I advise against using automated downloading programs such as WoWAceUpdater or CurseUpdater. Instead I suggest going the long way, and only getting mods directly from their source sites. This way you can decrease the chance of them being tampered with.

Finally, if you don't already, turn on the option on WoW to automatically fill in your login name. One of the most common methods of account hacking is keylogging. The less you type, the less information they can get from you. If you never type in your login name, all they will have is your password.


Some of these steps (especially the ones concerning mods) may seem a bit extreme, but the potential losses you can incur from being hacked are very bad. Yes, you are highly likely to regain your lost gear and money, but you may not get back your reagents or crafting materials which could be hundreds of gold worth of loss. Even worse is that a good estimate of the time it will take for them to return your lost stuff is a week or two. That means you can't really do anything until then. I know I certainly don't want to spend two weeks sidelined, sitting out of raids and Arena, because some bozo decided my stockpile of gems would be a good money maker.

Going to be slow until January...

With (insert appropriate winter solstice holiday here) right around the corner, we are only getting minimal raids in, which is to be expected I would imagine. The earliest we might go back to two-nights-a-weekend for raids is the 29th and 30th of December (even that's iffy).

Anyway, this past Saturday 3 people were unable to raid, which led to postponing it until Sunday, so all we did was a minimum boss Prince run, with enough time at the end for a Nightbane kill. Prince netted one of our main healers her T4 helm (woo!) and Nightbane continued to be a stingy little *mumblemumble*. Of the 4 drops he's given us so far, all of them have been unneeded, and 3 were sharded, and the fourth was the Scaled Breastplate of Carnage, which was given to our Hunter only for her to test it out and find out it's worse than her current Thick Netherscale Breastplate.

Following up Kara, I was a stone's throw away from having 60 badges, so last night we hit up Heroic Mana-Tombs. I have to admit that Heroic Nexus-Prince Shaffar is easily the hardest heroic boss I've fought yet. We got him down, but it took three tries. On the upside I can now summon Yor, I picked up a good tanking sword, the Warp-Storm Warblade, for swapping in on damage intensive fights like Prince, and got enough badges for me to pick up my Girdle of the Protector, putting me at 3/8 BoJ items bought and 170 Badges spent.

Finally, I continue to work on my Druid. He's up to 17 at the current timeframe. In addition, since my Druid is a Leatherworker I've decided to level a Dwarven Hunter together with my Druid. This way I'll be providing armor for both characters. Part of the reason behind this decision is that I enjoy engineering, but one of the biggest things that bothered me about engineering on my Paladin was I couldn't use any of my guns. So I have an Dwarven Engineer Hunter, with his Prairie Wolf pet, McKinley, that I ran from Dun Morogh to Mulgore to get (but that's okay, he barks when I click him!). While I enjoy being a Druid and a Bear (rawr!) there's something really fun about having a pet wolf to sic on people and mobs. Hee hee hee!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nightbane down, and I need better DPS gear...

This weekend my guild started out in Karazhan, clearing Moroes, Opera, Curator, Chess, Prince and Attumen (in that order). After we finished up Prince at 11 or 11:30, we figured we had enough time so we hopped down and kicked Attumen out of the way so we could access the repair guy.

The following night we re-entered Kara, starting off with facing off against Nightbane. Now, I realize it's possible for a Paladin tank to take on Nightbane, but I tried twice, and each time people died, even when we got him down to 50% (prior to the call for a wipe). Can it be done? Absolutely. Can I do it? Yes I can. But much like Maiden, having me do it is harder than it needs to be.

So Gurneyman, the warrior tank who has been gearing himself up, was called upon. He preformed more than admirably. His first try, we downed Nightbane with a minimal amount of deaths, and those only happened when Nightbane was in the air. After Nightbane, we went and downed Illhoof and Aran (first time for a guild-only run). Go us!

For me, during the Nightbane fight, since we already had 3 healers, I opted to try my hand at DPSing. In a dismal performance, I was only putting out 250 DPS during that fight. While I wasn't ideally geared for DPS (more tanking gear than necessary) it made me realize that I really need to do what I mentioned a few posts earlier, and wade into BGs to pick up the Gladiator's Aegis set.

Now, it was offered to me to join the Arena team I play with on my Mage. I considered, but hadn't decided. Last night I hit up Arathi Basin on my Paladin, trying out a few different specs.

First I went for a Prot/Holy build, with enough points in Prot to be able to tank if needed (33 for Holy Shield + Imp HS), while the rest in Holy. While I didn't mind healing, needing to stop and stand still while I healed, would lead to a dead Alix. It took my a while to figure out the right balance for Kaziel, but I've learned that unless the spell has an incredibly short casting time, or the enemy is running away, you don't want to stand still while casting a spell. On my Mage the only spell I normally stand still to cast rank 1 Frostbolt, which only takes 1 second. This is too short to normally interrupt and slows my target for 9 seconds, with a 15% chance to freeze them in place. For everything else, I use insta-casts. Having to stand still to heal my targets in PvP is a dangerous and painful gamble... one I would rather not take. In a way, this experience was very enlightening. It showed me that I'm not likely to enjoy playing as a Holy Paladin in PvP, so I've put Derras on hold, possibly indefinitely (If I level a Ret Paladin I want it to be a Blood Elf and not just for SoB).

After that, I tried a more offensive build, emphasizing survivability and the type of gear I already have. While I did not suffer from the problem of holding still and being interrupted, I learned something else valuable: Without a good source of Damage Over Time or high burst damage, a class doesn't bring much to PvP. Since another class can come in and heal quickly, unless a class can constantly quickly sap another's health or blow them over in two to three hits, they will be taken out by others who can. While I do have access to a DoT (SoV), it is neither ranged, nor overly powerful. SoR's damage pales in comparison to the type of damage I need to put out. While I was able survive decently, my lack of good burst or DoT damage really diminished much value I could bring.

So I've moved back to my previous 0/45/16 build, and I'll just crappily PvP in that, maybe trying to heal. Not sure. After I get the Marks I need, I'll just throw myself time and time again into AV for the honor, since I know I can tank there and I'll do a damn good job at it too. Also, not going to join up for my Arena team on Alix. Just too much of an annoyance.

Finally, this cemented the previous move I was working on. I had been thinking before that I wouldn't like all the standing around healing and being vulnerable. On the other hand, I knew Druids excelled at HoTs, two of which are insta-cast (Rejuv and Lifebloom), along with another insta-cast that uses a HoT as "fuel" for it's heal (Swiftmend). This allows Druids to heal on-the-move, making them a painful class to oppose in PvP. Prior to my experience PvPing on Alix, I had already started working on Cielthan, a Night Elf Druid. In my spare time I will continue working on him, both as a means to further understand Feral Druids (how I plan to level) and to make a Resto Druid for PvP (planned level 70 build will be something like this).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I am a sad panda

So I was using my new toy, Warcrafter, to test out where I will stand with my Badge of Justice purchases. After doing some testing I am happy to announce that I do have enough avoidance, even prior to upgrading my shoulders, to equip Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian, Slikk's Cloak of Placation, the Girdle of the Protector, the Unwavering Leggards, the Sabatons of the Righteous Defender, and the Bracers of the Ancient Phalanx. That's six of the eight items I planned to buy with Badges of Justice. Unfortunately, taking those 6 items, even after I upgrade my shield and shoulders, I will still be just barely be remaining uncrushable.

While it's great that I can use those 6, that means even after I upgrade everything else, I'll still be using my Iron Gauntlets of the Maiden. I'd prefer to use the Bonefist for the great boost in STA and armor, but I just can't afford the loss in either Defense or Avoidance. And the fact that I don't have enough avoidance to put on the Brooch of Deftness is a bummer. I <3 Expertise.

BTW, here's my setup with my 6 BoJ purchases

The value of Honor/Arena gear for a PvE Paladin and "Goodbye, Seal of Vengeance"

About a month ago I mentioned I've taken up doing PvP on my Mage to help a friend. Since then it's caused an increased interest by certain members of the guild in PvP and arena. We even started a 3v3 and a 5v5 team. But we really lack one key thing: A dedicated healer. Both teams have a Paladin, a Shaman, and a Druid but all of them are offensive specs. No Holy or Resto specced players. So I rolled another Paladin and began leveling him up (35 currently). Still going to play my Mage, but also working on a Holy Paladin (leveling as Ret to get some experience in that tree since I've never been above 16 points in it).

But I digress, my point is that since I've got a Paladin-in-planning for Arena I've been looking at the Arena sets. The Gladiator's Vindication and Redemption sets are pretty obvious to which spec they "belong". But then there's the Gladiator's Aegis set. This set's name would imply that it's built for Protection, but the problem with that is that not many protection talents beyond the 4th tier are really made for PvP. The best PvP Protection build I could go for was this, and without enemy collision mapping protection does little good in PvP.

While I still don't think the Aegis set has a lot of value in PvP (anymore at least with the change that added spell damage to +healing), for a Protection Paladin that doesn't need to tank the boss in a PvE encounter (Maiden, Aran and Nightbane come to mind), the Aegis set has around the same amount of spell damage as the equivilent quality tanking set, along with a fair amount of +crit which would allow for respectable damage output in a raid scenario.

One thing that's lacking from PvE itemization is a straight spell damage plate set. Now I understand why there isn't one: There has yet to be implemented a purely magical DPS tree for a plate wearer. The closest you get is a Protection Paladin, but he needs more defensive stats, so they aren't going to waste good itemization on a very small portion of the playerbase.

It's my opinion that when a Protection Paladin doesn't need to heal or tank, having the Aegis set is their best option for DPS, since it plays to their strong points (1H, access to +spell damage gear). If I wasn't already working on 2 PvP characters at the moment I'd probably throw Alix into BGs full strength to start getting this gear. Maybe even do Arenas for S2 or S3 pieces.


Now, onto Seal of Vengeance. I love Seal of Vengeance. In terms of damage output (and thus threat output) from the Seal itself and the Judgement, it's second to none. In addition, since it's a DoT and not direct damage, if you're fighting a mob that moves away occasionally (such as a Charge, or Moroes's Vanish) it will continue to tick. Problem is that despite it's strengths which are very powerful, it has some very bad weaknesses. For the sake of any comparisons, I will use Seal of Righteousness, since that's the other "Main" spelldamage seal.
  1. Ramp-up time: While SoV does put out more damage than SoR, it takes time to get there. With my current 2.7 speed weapon, average time for Holy Vengeance to stack up to five is 13.5 seconds, assuming each hit procs SoV. This ramp-up time is really bad since it means that your DPS need to wait even longer for you to generate enough threat for them to start to kill.
  2. Holy Vengeance falling off the mob: Despite increasing the duration of Holy Vengeance by three seconds in 2.3, Holy Vengeance still has a chance to run it's duration without being refreshed. Which means in addition to losing damage just because you have to start over, it will be another 13.5 seconds before your running at full speed again. The fact that Holy Vengeance can fall off ties to my next point...
  3. Weapon speed and Procs Per Minute (PPM): Seal of Vengeance is on a 20 PPM system. This means that you will average no more than 20 procs of SoV per minute no matter how often you swing. This also means that in order to effectively get Holy Vengeance to a stack of five quickly and to keep it up you need a weapon of 2.5 speed or slower. Unfortunately with the exception of the Gavel of Unearthed Secrets, every spell damage weapon has a speed of 1.6 or 1.8. Without another high spell damage slow one-hander, eventually SoR will surpass SoV in damage output.
  4. Judgement of Vengeance isn't able to be used as a lead-in: Since JoV relies on at least one Holy Vengeance effect up on the mob, you can't use it to generate a quick amount of threat at the start of the fight. This means that your spell rotation needs to look like this: SoR > Judgement > SoV (for 7-9 seconds) > SotC > Judgement > SoV > Judgement > SoV, etc. While it's not too hard to do, it's thinking needed to be done in addition to the about dozen other things that need to be tracked as well. I just don't need all that, not to mention that in an emergency situation ("ZOMGZ! got too close to the mobs and pulled and now I need to pick them all up and save !") I'm probably not thinking about how JoV won't generate any threat for me without Holy Vengance on the mob. I'm just trying to get threat quickly and I waste a Judgement and then I'm in an even worse situation.

Considering all the problems with SoV, despite the benefits it gives me right now, in the long run the best option for me is SoR. This also means that once I reach 107.7% avoidance, I can upgrade to the new BoJ libram (not that I think I'll reach that level any time soon...). With this perspective, I'm (sadly) going to retire SoV for most situations, and do a bit of shopping around for weapons again (now Exalted with Honor Hold). If I find a weapon that suits me better than the Gavel, I'll upgrade to it, at least until I can get my hands on the Amani Punisher or one of the 25-man weapons.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Making money

First off is a reply to a question asked by Honorshammer and Galo concerning how I actually got up the 5,000 gold necessary for my epic flight skill. First thing I cannot emphasize enough is to be very very careful with your expenditures. Simply put, if you don't need it, don't buy it. When you boil it down, the only things we need to spend money on are elixirs/flasks/foods for raids (even in 5-mans you can get by without food), repair bills, gems/enchants, and flying places. Everything else is extraneous. Giving some money to your alt to help him along? Nope. Buying that recipe that's up on the AH? Nope. About the only exception towards this line of thought is if you know the purchase will have direct and fairly immediate monetary returns. For example, purchasing a rare recipe that you know you can make and will sell well. This is obviously a good investment and even if it takes Primal Nethers will pay off in the long run (my guild leader can make Felsteel Longblades and does this).

Now as for what I specifically did, I will admit that I kinda cheated. As a Jewelcrafter I'm sitting on a goldmine. I refer not to prospecting ore for jewels. While I found in general I could make some decent money with that at first, as the value of certain jewels dropped and the price of ore generally remained the same, the average value of prospecting went down. Too much of a gamble hoping for a high value gem like a Living Ruby or a Star of Elune instead of a low value gem like a Talasite. I found it better to go with the sure profit of 25g per stack of Adamantite Ore. No, what I refer to for JC being a goldmine is cutting of gems. Easiest way I've found to do this is to get Auctioneer, do a quick scan of the AH, and then go though your gem list looking for gems that have "No competition". Make sure not to pick gems with Spell Penetration, Resilience, or any blue colored gems with anything other than STA. After that buy some uncut gems of the type that have "No competition" and cut them and sell them back at 5-10g more than you bought the uncut version for. If you're cutting a Meta Gem, go for 10-20g more. The obvious downsides are that it requires you to have JC and do some prior investments both in money and reputation grinding (if you can access the Consortium Vendor in Kara and are Revered with them you can get the Design: Bracing Earthstorm Diamond, which sells very well due to it's relative rarity), but after you get enough designs for gems you can basically make almost endless money with no effort on your part.

The other big thing a Protection Paladin can do is AOE grinding. If you haven't already go grind your rep with Sporeggar up to Honored for the shield (also a good way to make money for Herbalists if you kill Fungal Giants) then go to one of the many places mentioned over at Maintankadin forums for AOE grinding (I find I like the Demon Hunter Supplicants for the Scryer tokens). What I've found best is using Retribution Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, Judgement of Light, and Seal of Wisdom. Those, combined with the shield brings down even the largest crowds quickly. A fast attack weapon is also advisable. If you happen to have a high level tailor and enchanter, send any Netherweave to them and have them make Netherweave Bracers to make and disenchant. You can sell the mats for way more than you would sell the straight Netherweave.

Even then, it's a slow process. I've been working on getting the 5,000g for around 8 months or so. Unless you get super lucky with a epic quality BoE drop or recipe to sell on the AH for a grand or more it's just a matter of plugging away at it a little bit at a time.