Archive for the ‘itemization’ Category

The idea of shaman tanking in Cataclysm doesn’t seem to be popular at MMO-Champion, or on the official boards.

But some people are asking: Why the hell is Blizzard giving us taunts and threat-generating abilities in some of our revamped skills and talents?

Here’s the tooltip for Rockbiter Weapon:

Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with the fury of the earth, increasing all threat generation by 30% and reducing damage taken by 5%. Lasts 30 minutes.
( Unleash Weapon : Unleashing this enchantment forces the target enemy to attack you for 5 sec. )

Aside from the fact that few people are going to be doing any serious content with Rockbiter as their weapon imbue, why bother giving a DPS spec a threat-generating ability?

Some point to nebulous rumors about a return to mandatory crowd control and kiting in heroic dungeons, and they argue that with the re-balanced Stamina pools, Shamans might be viable tanks or off-tanks. But that line of thinking got shot down pretty quickly:
“Shaman are not tanks. They are balancing out health pools between dps and healers and casters with *plate dps*, but not tanks’ health pools. Tanks will still have a higher health pool and more tools to mitigate damage than plate dps will.”

Of course, with re-adjusted health pools, forging, gems and careful use of talents, some players are guaranteed to try Shaman tanking, out of boredom if anything else. I tried it a few times myself, including a short-lived and hilarious – but semi-successful – stint as an off-tank on a Karazhan run a few years ago.

But one thing’s for sure – Shaman players don’t want to be tanks, and they’d rather have Blizzard’s designers use development time to fine-tune Enhancement as a DPS spec, rather than make a half-hearted stab at situational tank viability.

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We’re gotten some e-mail — and quite a few people searching — about Patch 3.3.5’s new raid instance, Ruby Sanctum, and gear of interest to Enhancement Shaman players.

The good news? There’s a sweet ring, the Signet of Twilight, that features AP, Crit, Hit, a ton of Agility and a yellow gem slot.

The bad news? That’s about all we know for right now. Although bits and pieces of the loot table (mostly for the 25-man version), have been pieced together by the pro data-miners over at MMO-Champion, the majority of loot drops are still a mystery. With news that Ruby Sanctum itself will be delayed (it won’t open immediately when Patch 3.3.5 drops), it’s possible we won’t have a complete picture of Halion’s loot tables for some time.

As a consolation prize, check out this Halion video from the PTR — and fair warning, like most other guild vids it’s heavy on the Eurotechno, so get ready to hit the mute button:

Who will benefit most from Cataclysm’s revamped Stamina system? Some say casters will dominate, others say healers stand to gain the most, but one poster put it best: “Anyone who’s not a Warrior, DK or Paladin.”

In other words, if your class doesn’t wear plate, you’ll see a marked improvement in Stamina balance. And that includes Enhancement Shamans.

Enhancement Shaman Stamina: Improved in Cataclysm?

Stamina Man runs, like Enhancement Shamans do when they see splash damage!

It’s still early, and many questions remain about the overall statistical rehaul, but Eyonix offered the most comprehensive information to date when he detailed the changes back in March.

And while Eyonix was quick to point out special considerations will be made for Balance Druids and Elemental Shamans, who often share gear with healers, curiously absent was any mention of Enhancement’s unique situation: It is the only melee spec in the game forced to share gear with a ranged class.

Along with Enhancement’s other itemization woes — which typically involve using gear made-to-order for Hunters — the melee-spec-with-ranged-gear problem has been a big one in this expansion. Every semi-serious Enhancement player has dealt with it: Some boss abilities, especially in heroic modes, can one-shot Enhancement Shamans, while leaving other melee still standing. This is a particularly frustrating issue for players because it has nothing to do with the much-discussed “skill” involved in raiding.

It’s simple math: If you have 30k raid-buffed HP, and the other melee have 10k more than you, you are going to die more easily and more frequently.

Not only does that effect player perception (a death is a death, and players of other classes aren’t thinking about our criminally low HP pools), it also creates some absurd situations: In my guild, there are ranged classes and healers who have higher unbuffed HP than my Tauren Shaman.

Blizzard hasn’t addressed those concerns in Wrath of the Lich King, let alone Cataclysm. It seems unfathomable that an entire expansion can pass by with such a glaring imbalance left intact, but it’s less surprising when you consider the dev team’s track record when it comes things like this — it’s been obvious for a very long time that class designers do not play the Enhancement spec.

So while there will be a complete rehaul of the stat system and Stamina balance in Cataclysm, there’s been nothing to suggest Enhancement won’t again share gear with Hunters. If that remains the case — and we should assume it will — what does that mean for Enhancement’s health pool relative to other melee classes? Will our joy at a more balanced Stamina system be tempered with disappointment because we’re, once again, limited by stat weights optimized for Hunters?

Stomstrike — and Enhancement players — will be watching Blizzard closely in the coming weeks and months.

Hostess: Dean, Amy, I just sat you.Waiter: Oh, sh!t. What do we got?
Hostess: Well, yours are cool. They look like business people.
Waiter: All right.
Waitress: What about mine?
Hostess: I don’t know. They don’t speak English.
Waitress: Foreigners!
Hostess: I’m sorry.
Waitess: Are you mad at me?
Hostess: No, I swear! I’m just going by the rotation.
Waitress: I f*cking hate foreigners! It’s such bullsh!t!
Hostess: Like they don’t know how to tip?
Waitress: Oh, they know.
Waiter: Aw, yeah, they f*cking know!

Waiting: WoW's Bad Tippers

"100g tip for a couple gem cuts? Sweet."

The above quote is from the movie Waiting, a comedy about a TGI Fridays-esque chain restaurant called Shenaniganz. As expected, the waiters and waitresses spend a lot of time bitching about tips, but there’s one group in particular they dread most — foreigners.

In the film, five or six Europeans sit down at a booth and pretend they don’t speak a word of English, presenting themselves as tourists who aren’t familiar with the American custom of tipping for service.

As crafters on every server can attest, some World of Warcraft players aren’t much different when it comes to tipping the people who make or enhance their gear. In one way, WoW’s bad tippers are worse than the foreigners in Waiting — you can see the Europeans coming, but Azeroth’s bad tippers don’t look any different from their better-tipping brethren.

Although real money is not at stake when it comes to in-game tipping, bad tips can influence player behavior — why would a crafter keep a BoE pattern if they’re getting paltry tips on big-ticket items? If they know from past experience they’re not going to recoup the going price of the pattern by crafting an item, why not just sell off the pattern?

Those were questions I asked myself a few months back, when I accumulated four Trial of the Crusader patterns for iLevel 245 gear and hadn’t ‘learned’ them yet. If I can get upwards of 5k for each of these patterns, I thought, is it really worth it to keep them for crafting?

As it turned out, it hasn’t been worth it. That’s a lesson I should have learned back in The Burning Crusade.

An example: Recently a Hunter had me craft a Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate. He had me travel to Undercity to meet him, kept me waiting for about 10 minutes as he finished buying off the materials, stood there eagerly while I hit the ‘create’ button, and ended the transaction by tipping a whopping 5g. Five gold is cool if I’m converting some Borean Leather into Heavy Borean for you, or if your level 50-something alt wants a Blue Dragonscale Breastplate. But if you’re asking a crafter to make you a near best-in-slot item that requires thousands of gold in mats, and you make that person travel to — and then wait for — you to gather up mats, you should tip them well.

"I like to swim in my guild bank's second tab."

I can’t help but notice how, on my server, there are a handful of people Horde-side who I’d consider completists when it comes to patterns and plans, while the rest seem content to max their crafting skill, make a few items for themselves and call it a day.

Around the same time as the above example, I had a player craft Crusader’s Dragonscale Bracers for me. I bought two of the Crusader Orbs with emblems, paid up the nose for the other two, and presented the mats with a 150g tip, which I still felt was kinda low despite my depleted in-game finances. Likewise, if I bring three epic gems to a jewelcrafter, I usually tip around 60g, or a little more than 20g per cut. I haven’t gotten any complaints, and I hope the crafters I deal with are happy.

Should we, as players, be tipping 15% or 20% on crafted items, as if we were settling the tab at a diner? No. A tip of 1k gold on an item that costs less than 6k to craft is problably excessive for most people, although if you’re one of those players sitting on more gold than Scrooge McDuck, you could make a crafter very, very happy that way. (I know one guy who was the GM of a large raid guild, and he claims he’s got more than 100k.)

Tips should reflect the value of the item being crafted, its rarity, its power, and the good faith of the crafter who learned it instead of selling it off at the Auction House. If a crafter makes a grand total of 15 Bracers of Swift Death, and she receives an average 10g tip for each of those bracers, the fact that she could have earned thousands more gold by selling the pattern will not elude her.

And while it’s true that every pattern sold through the Auction House finds its way into the possession of another crafter, those might not be the same folks who hang around in Dalaran or Orgrimmar for hours, offering their services in trade chat. Some people view crafting as a minigame itself, and it’s much better to have a reliable, frequently-available crafter on your friend’s list than it is to chase down a player who’s always in an instance or out farming somewhere away from civilization.

Of course, as in the real world, if you receive bad service you can choose to reduce your tip, or not tip at all. In the service industry, customers use their wallets to provide feedback. But if you’re happy with the transaction? Next time you excitedly gather up the mats for a big-ticket item and bring them to a friendly crafter for a key enchant or piece of gear, put yourself in their shoes and show your appreciation in gold. Like a bartender, they won’t forget you, and next time you need something they’re more likely to go out of their way to help you.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

Last night I picked up the Frost Giant’s Cleaver from the Gunship Battle in 10-man Icecrown.

The raid was significant for a couple reasons, most especially because it was my guild’s first real progression night in many weeks, since we had cleared the first wing of Icecrown Citadel and it was our first foray into the upper reaches of Icecrown.

Our raid had been delayed for the better part of an hour, so after three attempts at Festergut — 86%, 48% and ~ 30% — we called it for the night, with plans to go back sometime during the weekend. Festergut, like Deathbringer Saurfang, is an easy fight for melee DPS, requiring almost no movement. With its short enrage timer and stand-still mechanics, from a melee perspective it’s similar to the Patchwerk fight and can serve as a good benchmark for actual DPS numbers. I plan to revisit the fight in an upcoming post, with more detail from a melee DPS perspective.

Although it’s near-impossible to look at Trade Chat on my server without seeing at least one rep farming group forming, the only Ashen Verdict rep I’ve gotten has been from actual runs, ie. going in to kill bosses. As such, I ended the night a few hundred rep shy of upgrading my ring, but all-in-all a good night.

But, yeah, the weapon: I’ve historically had terrible luck getting weapons to drop — Kel’thuzad never did drop Calamity’s Grasp for me, Anub never dropped his sweet iLevel 245 weapons, and Ulduar’s hard-mode encounters didn’t yield any weapons for me until the Masticator dropped — AFTER I had already gotten the iLevel 232 versions of Anub’s weapons. In fact, my bad luck stretches all the way back to TBC, when Najentus refused to drop the much-coveted Rising Tide.

Frost Giant's Cleaver

Frost Giant's Cleaver - Image courtesy MMO Champion

So going from an iLevel 232 mainhand weapon — the Frostblade Hatchet — to the iLevel 251 Frost Giant’s Cleaver might not be the biggest leap, but for me it’s a major DPS upgrade, with noticeable gains once I’d gotten it enchanted — mid-raid — with Berserking. That makes me a very happy Shaman.

Coming soon, we’ll have some more detailed posts on Icecrown’s second wing, and the encounters from a melee perspective. In the meantime, check out some other Stormstrike goodness:

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

Here’s a round-up of Hunter Enhancement Shaman gear from Patch 3.3’s three new five-man dungeons collectively known as the Frozen Halls, as well as all the new Emblem of Frost gear we can put to good use.

Regular-mode items are iLevel 219, while heroic-mode items are iLevel 232. Items purchased with Emblems of Frost are iLevel 264. Many of the iLevel 232 gear is badly itemized — aside from lots of Armor Penetration, these pieces also feature fewer gem slots than their Trial of the Crusader equivalents, and in many cases they don’t have any gem slots.

That’s probably Blizzard’s way of placating those who go into hysterics when they feel their hard-earned gear is too easily replaced. But the gear from the three Frozen Halls wings isn’t for raiders — it’s for casuals and alts, so they can gear up quickly and join the fun in Icecrown Citadel. That said, many raiders have one or two odd pieces they haven’t replaced in a while, and there are some gems among these five-man loot drops that can fill in gaps while players compile their Icecrown wishlists. 


Forge of Souls:

[Accursed Crawling Cape]

[Eyes of Bewilderment]

Heroic:

[Nighttime]

[Essence of Suffering]

[Needle-Encrusted Scorpion]

[Seven-Fingered Claws]

Pit of Saron:

[Ring of Carnelian and Bone]

[Scabrous Zombie Leather Belt]

[Horns of the Spurned Val’kyr]

[Gondria’s Spectral Bracer]

Heroic:

[Spurned Val’kyr Shoulderguards]

[Barbed Ymirheim Choker]

[Belt of Rotted Fingernails]

[Band of Stained Souls]

[Seven-Fingered Claws]

Halls of Reflection:

[Muddied Boots of Brill]

[Frostsworn Bone Leggings]

[Hate-Forged Cleaver]

Heroic:

[Spiked Toestompers]

[Frostsworn Bone Chestpiece]

[Black Icicle]

[Hoarfrost Gauntlets]

Emblem of Frost Emblem of Frost:

Band of the Night Raven

Logsplitters

Longstrider’s Vest

Totem of the Avalanche

Herkuml War Token

Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3: Should we respec?

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?

Thanks to MMO-Champion for posting a video of the new Shaman Tier 10 set. It’s something to look forward to as we wait for Patch 3.3 to drop on Tuesday. (Hopefully.)

The new Frost Witch’s Battlegear, as it’s been dubbed, has a sweet-looking shoulder animation which randomly displays a spectral projection on either side of the Shaman wearing the armor. I’m still not sure what it is — some sort of demented Lich-deer or something? Either way, it looks pretty cool.

Check out the video below. A wide view of the spectral shoulder animation is available at 0:37 (blink and you’ll miss it), while a close-up can be seen at about the one minute mark: