Monday, December 22, 2008

Naxxtastic

Well it's been over a month since I last posted. Since that time WOTLK has been released, I've hit 80, ran lots of Heroic's, and began raiding Naxx. Whoa. It took me 13 days to ding 80, and I enjoyed every minute of it. So where to start, how about release day.....


And then there was WOTLK.
So on release day I stepped out of work a bit early in preparation. Release time T-minus 4 hours. I drove to my local game stop and took my place - 7th in line. As it began to sleet I thought to myself "I'm glad there is a Target store right next door". I asked the person behind me to hold my place and made my way over there. What was I after? A folding camp chair and hot coffee - I'll tell you what, best investment ever. So I get back to the line and plop down in my comfy new chair, pull out my Zune and begin watching a movie. Smokin' Aces - nothing like a shoot-em-up flick to pass the time. Every once in a while I'd pause to share a raid story with the group surrounding me, but then the rainy sleetly goodness would make me withdraw back into my hoodie/coat and awesome camp chair. At midnight I walked into the store, picked up my pre ordered copy and ran home. The install went amazingly smooth and there were no hang ups at all. More surprising was the fact that the server was up and running very smooth! There was not an issue all night with disconnects or latency. I was very pleased. I spent the majority of the night questing with a good shaman buddy of mine, Virj. We blasted through much of Borean Tundra, getting a taste of the landscape and even some siege machines. It was a late night but a fun night. I basically had the next 4 days off so I leveled my ass off for those days. I remember the grind from 60-70 and it feeling very painful, maybe it was because so many other people were at 70 and raiding. I also think it was the way in which the level experience was presented. I remember at level 60 I needed 300k to level. By the time I was 69 it was around 660k - big difference. The XP requirements for 71-80 seem to be around the same amount of XP just presented on a more linear way. You needed 1.5 million for for level 71, but only 1.6 million to ding 80. Comparatively the amount of XP need to level and rewarded from quests / instances was around the same as the BC level grind but just presented more user friendly. Regardless the journey to 80 was nothing like that at all. It seemed so flawless and I almost hit 80 by surprise. I began to run Heroic's and found a nice array of epic gear available in the form of drops and emblem purchases. For instance, there is a Naxx quality bow in Heroic UK and epic bracers and blue trinket from Heroic Nexus that are great for entry level raiding into Naxx. Of course running these yields emblems too so I was quick to pick up the Mirror of Truth [proc+1000 AP] and the badge belt. I found myself quickly gearing. Then it all fell apart.

What do you mean, too effective?
So we headed into Naxx for the first time, 10 man style. I very quickly realized a few things. 1] I was substantially better geared than many other dps'ers. 2] My talent and spec was extremely overpowered. Right off the bat I was leading the dps charts - something I was not used to doing, always coming in behind rogues and fury warriors for single target and mages and warlocks for AOE. This was no longer the case. At the end of the day my BM spec / Raid Cat spec were owning the charts by long shots, clearing something was wrong. Of course they release information about the great hunter nerf, basically gimping all the tricks I had been using to pwn the charts. What are they? Kindred Spirts increases pet damage by 20% / now reduced to 15%. Cat's Rake will have the damage lowered for both physical damage and bleed effect. Volley damage is being reduced. Steady Shot is having the attack power bonus reduced from 20% to 10%. So all these things are suppose to bring hunter's back down into check. What they really mean to say is bring the "entry level class" back down under the premier classes. Sure at the beginning of WOTLK raiding it would seem that I was OP but as we are a few weeks in, I've noticed a balancing act begin to surface. Fury warriors slightly under geared from me are right on my tail. Shadow Priests with only heroic gear were literally melting face. So why are they nerfing us hunters? Like I said before, the hunter is an attractive class for the starting player. That said, having them be a leading dps class would be just too much for some players and Blizzard themselves to handle. I feel that some of the nerfs [steady shot, kindred spirits, rake] are really uncalled for. These nerfs will gimp our dps is the worst ways. The volley nerf is alright in my book, the hunter is not an AOE class so checking that was a good call. It just feels like Blizz was a bit too "knee jerk reactive" in nerfing hunter dps. Of course to add insult to injury they are buffing DK dps in the very same patch. I feel that this is clear statement from Blizzard indicated preference over certain classes. Will it make me stop playing my hunter? Probably not but I can tell you that I'm very disappointed with Blizzard for the way they handled the situation.

The Druid Solution
For anyone who knows me, knows I love my druid. I've often talked for hours about him - I once tried to superimpose a picture of me hanging out with my druid, I think I have issues. That said, leveling another toon up to 80 seems like such a daunting task and currently I have no time to dedicate to that. My main is grinding rep, doing dailies for arrow/repair money [as the auction economy is jacked beyond belief, more on that later], and raiding 3 nights a week. So what am I to do? Enter solution. For 40 emblems of Heroism, I purchased some shoulders on my main that are the new BOA [bind on account] items. These items are considered level 1-80 and the stats would scale according to your level. The real gem is a 10% boost in XP gained from killing mobs. It's not a huge amount but if you are rested and your buddy hauls you through an instance with his pally, you can really stack up the XP. I would recommend taking the shoulders for a toon that you are leveling for the simple fact that all these BOA items are unenchantable. They are classified as level 1 items so no enchants, no item enchantments can be used. Shoulder enchants are not readily available until you hit 80 and grind Hodir rep so those are a safe investment. I know one day I'll go back to leveling the druid, when I do these will help ease the burden of grinding those levels out.

The economy is just crap.
So I'm not really sure what is going on with the economy has really been crap as of late. I've had to level grind and run dailies for money and I go bust many times a week. Every time I get a bit of extra gold I cringe at the thought of burning 50 gold for deposits on items I have no promise will sell. I did use auctioneer and make a killing each weekend in BC but currently it seems the economy is under heavy fire. Auctioneer basically works by gathering prices over time and then generating a undercut price, usually around a 5% undercut. Recently so many people have been flooding the market with items and they have been undercutting with prices anywhere from 35-65% under market value. Someone like myself will scan with auctioneer then place all my auctions up at around 95% market value but due to the flooding they never sell! So I've just wasted 50 gold in deposit for nothing. I'm waiting for those gold sinks [ie 19k mounts, 12k bags and rings] to work their magic and bring some stability to the market. Of course that comes at a price - at the end of BC epic leg patches were around 300-500 gold. The new WOTLK epic leg patches are flooding the market reducing the average cost to 150 gold. So while my revenue stream is slightly less, items I buy are relatively cheap[er]. I've been banking many items to sell in preparation for the return of said stability.

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