Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Professions Review - Alchemy

Well, it took me almost two months, but I finally got around to getting all my toons' fishing to 100. This means most of them would have made good headway into getting to 150 for Cooking. So, time to level Vis's fishing some more to get what I need... Well, maybe after I've gotten her mount...

While on the subject of Professions, just which profession is suitable for your toon?

Most long time players will tell you that to make money, double gathering professions (I prefer to pair either Mining or Herbalism with Skinning so that the node tracking doesn't clash, but if you're ok with that, Mining/Herbalism is cool as well) are the way to go. However, if you have sugar daddies (or mommies) to sponsor your leveling than money making isn't really all that pertinent.

Now, unless you are like me, who is endeavouring to have a toon with at least one of each profession, which ones are actually useful in terms of leveling and end-game?

One thing to keep in mind is to look at what each profession can offer the particular toon with that profession? What are the BOP items that each can offer, that makes it special and desirable?

I had originally wanted to write a whole monster article reviewing all the professions, but I realised that is just not going to work. So, we'll start slow and work our way through the rest...

While leveling, alchemy provides you with a variety of pots to make leveling easier, but doesn't actually do anything for you that money does not solve. Pots (especially Healing and Mana Pots) drop in fairly large numbers from mobs around the world and unless you are a melee class, you'll generally do alright with bandages and food.

The BOP items starts off with the Philisopher's Stone. What used to be a rock taking up space in your backpack is now a trinket with +5 to all stats. At a level where there is a distinct lack of available trinkets, this isn't too bad. Not game breaking, but a useful thing to have around.

At 350 Alchemy, you get to upgrade that to Alchemist's Stone. Depending on how much pots you consume, this could be decent or a bit of a waste, as you should have quite a number of more useful trinkets around, even if you are just looking at quest rewards.

Now, if you keep at your Shattered Suns Offensive reputation, at Exalted, you get to upgrade the Alchemist's Stone (with 375 Alchemy) to one of four versions, depending on which is beneficial to your toon (Assassin's, Guardian's, Redeemer's or Sorceror's). Now, these are quite nice, and might be worth grinding the rep for it, depending on the market for Nether Vortex on your server. Now, take into consideration that these trinkets are rivalling Black Temple and Sunwell Plateau drops, it's certainly worth getting them made.

The one thing is that for Druids, the trinkets are a bit more of a question mark. Part of their great utility is the boost to pots that it gives. Not being able to use pots (because you are in Bear/Cat/Tree/Bird form) means that utility is lost on you. However, the trinkets are still worth considering since the mats are really not that hard to farm/buy and outclass most of what you are able to get at this time.

Unfortunately, that's all the BOP goodness you are going to get.

Finally, Alchemy is also consistently one of the few crafting professions that can generate a healthy income. Even cutting edge raiders need pots and the AH is just so convenient some times. Transmutation of Primal Might is always good for a few gold as it is generally constantly in demand for other crafted goods. If you are lucky enough to 'discover' some of the more eagerly seeked receipes, then your cash reserves should be set.

While it does not offer as many BOP items as the rest, Alchemy is certainly worthwhile as a money-spinner, if nothing else than to save some time doing dailies.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I would like to thank my family...

Wow... I went away for a few days to do house moving and came back to a link from BRK, a link from TeePee, who inspired me to write the lock leveling article in the first place and a whole bunch of nice comments. Thanks a bunch!

Looking back on it, it really does seem to favour the Affliction tree over the rest. I really want to try leveling as a Demonologist, but I guess the Affliction bug has bitten too hard. However, one thing I have noticed is that generally, it seems to level a lot like Hunters. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but since Mathe is also being leveled at the same time, I guess having Vis go Afflict would make more sense at the moment...

I am planning on a follow-on articles, mainly to take your toon from Lvl 18 to whenever is a good point to stop. But, I'm curious if it would be helpful?

In other news, there has been a whole bunch of leaks from the Wrath of the Lich King Friends and Family Alpha. I won't be repeating the info here (it's easy to find online anyway), but so far, there looks to be some neat additions to the talent trees.

One thing that is nice though is that having a level 55 character will unlock the death knight, who can be of any race! Guess the BECs will have a new sister come WotLK... :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Leveling a Baby Lock

If you're a warlock and have yet to read TapTapPewPew, you really should. It's a nice collection of articles about the uber class that is Warlock. I found the link on BRK's blog and have been working my way through the archive...

One article I came to was a Leveling Guide for Warlocks. While the article had a lot of sound concepts and before my re-roll, I would probably have agreed with most of it, coming from the perspective of actually leveling one at the moment, I have to disagree with a few points. So, here's my take on it.

If you are completely new to WoW in general and warlocks in particular, the thing that affects your leveling speed the most is downtime. While a mage can tear apart the same mob in half the time, a mage will need to sit down to eat/drink every two to three mobs (depending on your gear), while a lock can generally go on forever without needing to stop; once you have gotten a number of key talents and spells.

First, a general tip. If for whatever reason, you rolled Horde but not a Blood Elf, then before you do anything, run. Just run over to Silvermoon City. I know that for Taurens, this might be a bit challenging, The Barrens is not exactly Level 1 friendly but if these guys can do it, so can you... The quests in the new area are much easier to follow and better designed and they reward much better, in terms of both quality and money... Compared to my broke and white/grey geared Tauren Druid who leveled in the Mulgore, my Blood Elves were nicely geared in greens and rolling in cash. Similarly, if you are Alliance, go to the space goat area. You won't regret it.

Now, the first step is Big Blue, aka Blueberry, or in official Wow-speak, your Voidwalker. It's usually maligned at being a useless tank and after level 50 or so, that's very true. Before that, as long as you keep his spells current, he is a more than credible tank. He might not always hold aggro, but usually he'll hold for long enough. He's also able to take a fair amount of damage so he should generally be able to keep pace with you. If not, I tend to use bandages on him as prior to end-game, a lock has little need for bandages but still need to have them made for training First Aid anyway.

The next piece of the puzzle is Life Tap. Trading one easily replenished resource (Health) for one that is not so easily replenished and utterly crucial (mana) is golden and a skill that every other mana using class in WoW will kill to have. However, to pair it with a spell that drains the health from the mob and replenishes your own, is to give you the tools to make your toon the killer energizer bunny.

On a side note, yes, I know there is a Drain Mana spell, which directly replenishes mana. However, this doesn't kill the mob and there are many mobs which don't use mana anyway, so the Life Tap/Drain Life combo is always better to use. In fact, you'll find that in PvE, there are very few situations where Drain Mana is required so much so that I've stopped putting it on my cast bar.

So, now that the basics are clear, how do we spec?

5/5 Improved Corruption - Level 10 to 14
Yes, I agree. It's ridiculous that three years later, we should be giving up talent points for this when spells like Innervate, and Ice Block were given as trainable skills to their respective class...

Until then, first five points into this. No question.

2/2 Improved Drain Soul - Level 15 to 16
This was such a useless talent but after TBC talent revamp, it's a beautiful soloing spell.

15% of your mana pool back when the mob dies. Think about it... Now the beauty of it? This is irregardless of your spell level. It procs just as well of Level 1 Drain Soul, which costs a staggering 55 mana. It's a spell that scales beautifully as you level (& increase your mana pool) and yet always cost 55 mana.

& to sweeten the deal, 10% less threat on your affliction spells means less likelihodd of you grabbing aggro from VeeDub. :)

Take this talent, and drain the soul (Rank 1) off every mob. You'll need to toss out the shards cramming up your bag every now and then, but you'll be peachy for mana.

2/2 Improved Life Tap - Level 17 to 18
This gives us 20% more mana from life tap. At level 16, you'll be using Level 2 Life Tap which gives 65 mana from 65 life. With 2 talent points, you immediately get 8 more mana. As your spell level increase and you start collecting +dmg gear, this gets more and more efficient.

Eventually, it'll be key to achieving the state where you can kill mobs and have a full green and blue bar.

With these in hand, usually, what I do in any encounter is the following (in sequence).
1) Send in Big Blue
2) Slap up the DOTs (Immolate, Corruption, Curse of Agony)
3) Lifetap
4) Drain Life
5) Just before the mob keels over, switch to Drain Soul.

You should end the encounter with two almost full bars.

When you are comfortable with that, stretch yourself by doing this.
1) Send in Big Blue after Target A
2) DOT up Target A
3) Lifetap
4) Send Big Blue after Target B
5) DOT up Target B
6) Lifetap
7) Drain Life on Target B (Target A will usually keel over now)
8) Just before B keels over, switch to Drain Soul

If things go bad, use your Fear to buy you some time to bandage if required. If things go really bad, remember your Big Blue will (after Level 16) have the Sacrifice spell. Use it as your oops button.

At this point, you need to make a decision. To level as Affliction, killing mobs with your DOTs and draining their life away, or to level as Demonology, to be a matched team with your demon. In my opinion, neither are really superior, it's a matter of preference but both will get you to 70 with a minimum amount of fuss (actually, you could probably not spend any talent points and get to 70 with a minimum amount of fuss). With Affliction, you'll really shine in a multi-mob grinding environment; you can literally dot up 2-3 mobs, Lifetap a couple of times for mana, Drain Life the life back, dot up another 3, lifetap, drain, rinse and repeat until the area is cleared of mobs. For Demonology, while you might not be able to keep this up as long as the Affliction lock, you'll definitely have better survivability and a more durable pet.

The talents you choose will be dictated by that decision. While this might be a decidedly Affliction-bent spec, I do believe that it's a lot more efficient as compared to spreading your points out across the three trees as recommended by TeePee.

Edit: Yes, the spell in the cast sequence should be Immolate... I don't know what I was thinking of... Thanks TeePee for the heads-up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Patch

After the server maintenance, 2.4.2 was released. As always, the latest patch notes can be found here.

The nice thing about being in the low levels is that usually, the changes have little to no effect to you. But I like to keep abreast of them, just to know what is taking place.

The big one for me is the reduction in Cooldown times; from 23 hours to 20 hours, from 4 days to 3 days, 20 hours. This is a huge thing. I used to lose days to cooldowns (which was a pain when I was washing Shadowcloth). Basically, the old 4 day CD meant that you had to wash the cloth later and later each time. If you washed at 10pm this time. The next time, you could only do so at 10pm, at which time you were probably in the middle of something or another, so you do it at 11pm. The next round, this invariably gets pushed back again & so on, until it's not possible to catch it prior to bedtime... So you lose a day and wash at 10pm the next night. The cycle then starts again... :p With this slight reduction, at least I'll be able to get round this problem.

Other than that, no real huge buffs or nerfs that I can see... Since I haven't seen any beying for blood in blogs or forums yet, I guess that's true for now...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ding Ding Ding

Since the last update, Sheanne crept past the 30 line whereas Vis has gotten to 39 before her rested XP ran out... Along the way, she had pretty much skipped all of Thousand Needles (except for that little bit required for her class quest). Frankly, I dislike the place. All those pillars meant that you generally had to navigate your toon around, whereas Desolace (which some really dislike), are nice and flat... Sure, the odd vulture or lizard might try to rip your head off, but that's life, eh? One nice thing about Desolace is that there aren't that many 'run back & forth' quests. You go somewhere, kill a bunch of guys, then move on. If you followed the entire series of quests in Barrens, you'll know what I mean.

After Desolace is a visit to everyone's favourite leveling ground in Stranglethorn Vale. With the enhanced leveling XP, it does make it possible to skip a large number of regions. Thus, to reduce the repetitiveness of leveling, I'm considering skipping STV for regions like Badlands and Arathi Highlands for some of the toons.

This is something to definitely consider for Mathe, as Badlands are a much better Mining spot than STV. But to miss out on the skins in STV... Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Children's Week

Finally done with Reservist and back to the normalcy of slacking at work... ;)

This grumpy fella here is the orphan you get to 'adopt' for Children's Week. You sort of have to bring him running around Azeroth, buy him an ice cream and bring him home to get your choice of pets (a rat, pig, or turtle) or 5g.

Well, I didn't really need the money so I got a small pet for all my toons.

Otherwise, my toons are slowly crawling to 40, with a SM run for each scheduled. Can't wait for them to get to 40, as this walking business is really starting to get old...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy Busy Busy...

Real life caught up to me in a big way this month, with the roll-out at work and going back to reservist for this week and the next... Still managed some WoW-time, but no blog time... :p

Of course, my PC imploded and while waiting for my WoW installation/patching to complete, I figure it's a good time to update some of the stuff that's happening...

Elainith and Kell both streamed past 30 and just a couple of nights ago, so did Tris. This meant the leopard travel form for her, so at least that's one more toon who don't have to slowly plod along...

For the others, SM beckons and while Vis totally lucked out on drops there, Mathe wasn't as impressed... Here's hoping it'll be good for the rest as well...