Sunday, May 30, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 8

I re-read something over at our de-wow'd trash-talkin' Angry Butterfly. I remembered the post and sought it out. The focus of the post was a little different than I recalled. But it had the info I wanted.
Since I PuG more often then not these days, I find I get a lot of tells requesting my opening shot rotation.

Here it is:

Misdirect -> Serpent Sting with Rapid Fire/Call of the Wild Macro and Kill Command-> Chimera Shot -> Aimed Shot ->
->Misdirect -> Chimera Shot -> Aimed Shot and Kill Command -> Steady -> Steady -> etc. until Rapid Fire is done, then pop it again.

This is a massive amount of damage within the first 15 seconds or so, particularly with any number of trinket, pet abilities, and set bonus procs.
This made me realize something. I've been using Readiness for all of a week. I have been thinking of it a little wrong.

I think "Rapid Fire, wait for rapid fire buff to end, Readiness, Rapid Fire". That isn't bad. And yes, of course I dump all my good shots before and after the Readiness. But really it should be, "Rapid Fire, Readiness, wait for rapid fire buff to end, Rapid Fire". Meaning: I shouldn't wait for my rapid fire buff to go away use my Readiness.

You can see my slightly flawed thinking in my Rapid Fire macro:
/cast Rapid Fire

/cast Call of the Wild

/in 15 /w Kheldul BLOW IT ALL -then- READINESS

Instead I should do something like the following until I get it in my head right. I may need to make a special Readiness keybind. Currently it's a mouseclick which interferes a little with the slamming home of all my shots.
/cast Rapid Fire

/cast Call of the Wild

/w Kheldul UNLOAD and then READINESS then UNLOAD
/in 15 /w Kheldul RAPID FIRE AGAIN

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Sidebar for the Traitor

I am a traitor to Beastmaster Hunters everywhere for giving up my pet-tanking spec. Whoops! I just gave up BM and pet-tanked a heroic in SV spec with Flash, my turtle, in my pet-tanking gear because the tank didn't want to do Oculus. I am a traitor to Survival hunters everywhere for trying Marksmanship. Whoops! I need to flip back to SV because I'm not bursting these adds down fast enough. Double-Whoops-Ooops! I'm a traitor to Marksmanship.

Meanwhile my gaming computer blew a sector on one of the RAID0 drives ... happens to be something Windows XP needs when it starts up. So I've been playing MM on a lesser computer in 1024x768 and graphics low and just managing 20fps.

I don't remember the exact words from a certain Marksman hunter, but this is close: "Survival is like defusing a bomb every 30 seconds".

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 7

Another hunter asked me in the raid Wed night if I wanted a particular drop (if it dropped). I had no idea. So gear planning is the order of the day. I revisited one great resource I already knew about and found one I hadn't ever tried before. I learned the answer to the question and I found out a lot more.

The first stop is "". You can get to it directly or you can get a nice and easy custom loot list by; a) going to, b) importing your profile, c) enabling the best raid buffs and debuffs, d) hitting update DPS, and finally in the update DPS tab click the link to the customized hunter-loot list. It sounds long, but it takes me 15seconds now. Here is my custom loot list. It is pretty handy to be able to link to the list.

It tells me I should downgrade (iLevels) in a bunch of places in order to get higher DPS. Yes! I'm currently doing gear wrong for Marksman. It also points out a few upgrades that I already know I should make. And it highlights how incredibly well-itemized gear is from ICC-10 Heroic. I however don't really trust for proc based gear. It ranked the Lady DW bow that has a proc as pretty low. And it says it doesn't handle trinkets well.

The second gear planner I tried was RAWR. I had never tried it before and it's pretty nice. You go there and download it. I re-discovered it after talking to a rogue friend who wanted help with gear planning. To his dismay it is a Windows program. RAWR3 is in beta and is a Silverlight-based web app. Silverlight purports to support Apples but it's a Microsoft library. That said, Silverlight is competing against Flash so Microsoft does have a little incentive to have it work everywhere.

RAWR seems to hide a lot of detail from the user. And it isn't fast to configure raid buffs. But it does a great job graphically. And it lets you gear plan and prune possible drops that may be out of your ability to obtain. For instance: my guild is not going to be headed to ToGC-25 any time soon. Uncheck it and boom! Those items are gone.

RAWR also has a nice stat benefit/analysis. It claims that currently ArPen is in fact slightly better for me than Agility. But only ever so slightly. Since my SV and MM gear are currently the same, I won't be switching anything out. But when I get a side-grade piece just for MM, I'll know which gem to slot in.
I am a little suspicious of both and RAWR as far as set bonuses. I suspect RAWR handles procs better. That said, I believe and the spreadsheet both would be a good verification step before anyone does anything ... drastic with their gear.

Friday, May 28, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 6

I keep doing some things wrong with this Marksman stuff.

First off, my instinct is to hit my Explosive Shot as soon as a mob needs some serious damage. My Explosive Shot button is actually my Chimera Shot button. So this is great on a boss who I have already stung. I slam that home every time it is available. But on add mobs or trash I'm usually not thinking to throw them a sting. That was a dps lose for Survival. So I'm hitting them with my big shot -- except it's really a Chimera without a sting to Chimera at all. Chimera fires off and then I realize it wasn't exactly a big hit. /sigh.

My second thing is I hit Serpent Sting accidentally too much. I hit it when I shouldn't. I do hit it when I need to upgrade my chimera rolling sting on a boss. But I also sometimes hit it and effectively downgrade the sting and waste the overlapped DoT to boot.

Why do I do this with Serpent Sting? Well, as SV I'm good -- very good -- at keeping my Serpent Sting up. As soon as it falls off, I slap it back on. I do this by a little macro trick of not having the button be available until I switch targets or until the duration expires. So I see the button become available again. I don't have this visual aid as MM. I just see it available and want to hit it.

I'm not doing Readiness as well as I could. This is mostly timing and knowing when a heroism will be sneaking in. We're also downing bosses quicker and quicker so it's harder to guess. Clearly I'd like to use rapid fire four times in a fight and manage to get some back to back kill shots. But it's a little bit of an art form and I'm only using finger paints at the moment.

I'm not doing burst damage on adds very well. I had to move backward on the blood beasts. And I felt hamstrung on Putricide adds. Maybe that's just the thing with Marks and if I don't like it on those bosses I should flip to SV.

So last night on Dreamwalker I flipped to SV. And then on the vampire Queen I was MM.

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Detour to PvP

It was probably just some luck of getting PvPers who will buff and maybe kill healers first, but I think I like silencing shot better than wyvern sting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 5

I'm playing the marksman tree with arcane shot. At least until I get my armor penetration up. This means I need to have a lot of keybinds. I generally only put spell abilities on my number keys. With Survival, I made accommodations for space by using clever macros with multiple casts or castsequences. I also desire to not have the layout be significantly different than my Survival layout. So I am painted in as far as the number of slots I have and what I can do with them.

This is my Steady Shot Meat-n-Potatoes Macro. I might be casting Steady when I'm just grinding around or when I'm conserving mana. I don't need to add a lot of stuff with long cooldowns or mana-draining abilities here. I don't let it complain if KC or Howl aren't available yet. (No worries!)
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0

/cast [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command
/cast Furious Howl

/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

/cast !Auto Shot /cast Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

This is my new "What the heck is Arcane Shot?!?" macro. Nothing special to say except that if I'm tossing in Arcane shots then I have mana to spare and I want DPS up. So I also toss a Silencing Shot if it is available. This isn't great for PvP ... unless you're only dueling.
#showtooltip Arcane Shot
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0

/cast Silencing Shot

/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

/cast Arcane Shot
This is my similarly-made Aimed shot macro. Same disclaimers as Arcane shot as far as use and use in PvP.
#showtooltip Aimed Shot
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0

/cast Silencing Shot

/console Sound_EnableSFX 1

/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

/cast Aimed Shot
It's sad to say, but I never had Call of the Wild macro'd before. I ... *gasp* had it on Auto. Well, now that I have a bunch of gear procs I do have a decent reason to lay it all on. I also give myself a little reminder to do it all again when my load is spent. I think that's kinda cool. And I need the reminder. Unfortunately heroic instance bosses don't usually last more than 15 seconds so I haven't had much use for it yet.
/cast Rapid Fire

/cast Call of the Wild

/in 15 /w Kheldul BLOW IT ALL -then- READINESS
Here's my initial sting button. I don't really know if the Howl benefits the sting. But I'm certainly not going to put in a /in 1 before casting the sting. You want to sting multiple targets, right? Oh, and I do have Bite on Autocast. That said if I happened to have him sitting around this would make him leap into the fray. And the sting is usually the first shot. IFF I wanted him to stay by my side, then I have to hit the sting and control-2 him back. So, you might want to remove that whole section.
#showtooltip Serpent Sting
/cast Furious Howl

/cast Serpent Sting

/use [@pettarget,harm,exists] Bite

/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 4

I'm in the unfortunate place of not having a four piece T10.5. I'm also in an unfortunate place of having my two T10.5 pieces match two of my three T9.5 pieces. I have two T10.5 and two T10. And of course the two pieces of T10.5 that I do have are the ones that do not have the Armor Pen stats. It's probably why I got them. Armor Pen wasn't the big Survival spec stat of choice.

I've been browsing up/side/down-grades. I have access to emblem gear, occasional VoA-25, ICC-25, and ICC-10H. On ICC-10H however, I'm usually not going to raid an extra night or two to do it. That said, it has some nice stuff.

Here's the list of mail gear with Armor Pen and Hit that I have theoretical access to. Pretty short list, right? And all are technical downgrades except for the Handgrips of Frost and Sleet from ICC-10H. Here's the full list of Armor Pen mail (grouped by slot) that I have or could get.

I have about 110 emblems of frost to spend. The cloak side-grade is easy. But then it's a toss up between the T10.0 chest and the emblem chest. Stat for stat the emblem one is ahead, it's even ahead for the T10.5 version, but the tier chest has set bonus options.

I think I'm going to have to get another 40 emblems or so and then work on getting drops. Once I get a side-grade drop or two, I'll be able to fill the rest in with emblem gear.

And of course there are always some future outright upgrades.

In my next post I will share some of my macros.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 3

I've started doing random heroics again now that I realize I may need to get some side-grade ArPen gear. I got assigned to an Oculus group. The tank insta-dropped. We signed up again and waited. And waited. Well, after 5 minutes I whipped out my turtle. Interestingly enough I was perusing the pet talents and noticed that it was borked. Badly.

It appears that if you go from 51pt BM to something non-51pt BM all your pets talent trees are hosed. I didn't really have 36 talent points. I had 16 to spend, but I couldn't spend them on any of the talents I wanted.

The solution is to head to your pet trainer and re-talent all your pets while you are in your new MM spec. Yes, all your pets. Re-spec'ng pets doesn't appear to cost anything.

Friday, May 21, 2010

On The Road To Being a Marksman - Part 2

With Marksman it is much more important to apply new stings when you are under the effects of a temporary buff. The effect is applied to the DoT. And Chimera Shot will renew the existing DoT. This means I really need to see when I'm under the effects of a good proc or stack of procs. I need to get this visually queued up with Power Auras or Need to Know. I tweaked Need to Know a bit last night, and I owe Power Auras a re-visit.

I need to work out if it's in my interest to do Arcane Shots. I'm not liking what my bars are looking like. ;-)

I went to my bank vault last night to pull out "all my Tier 9.5 gear". Unfortunately it appears that I only have the gloves, pants, and shoulders. These are about as bad as it gets in the tier 9.5 category. Why? Well first: I have Tier 10.5 pants and gloves. I have the Tier 10.0 stuff, but ouch. I really want to keep the Tier 10.5 and the set bonus. The decision on upgrading those pieces from T10 to T10.5 was made in the context of being a SV hunter and having other really good SV iLevel 264 gear for other slots. Now I'm wondering if I need to farm for the other T9.5 or T9.75 (Heroic) gear. In either case, down-shifting to Tier 9.5 isn't looking as easy as going to my closet.

I need to see which MM gear (side-grades) I should take. I've got about enough for one piece of token gear.

I need to revisit my macros. Some will need Marksman versions and Survival versions. Some are just for Marksman.

I need to spend some time with a target dummy.

On The Road To Being a Marksman

In my last post, I mention that I got my tipping-point trinket and have started on the road to being a marksman hunter. Marksman was my first choice far back in vanilla wow some 5+ years ago. I'm coming back and it has changed a lot.

I started with a pretty basic Marksman talent allocation. I'm quite iffy on the Arcane Shot talents. I may go with a more mana-ful allocation. And of course if when I get MM-sidegrades I will need to pick up some hit via the talents.

The first thing I did when I loaded up the new talents was to start making the button layout as similar to my SV layout as possible. I don't need to be hunting around for the MD button. I want Silencing Shot where Wyvern Sting is. Etc. Etc.

The second thing I did was to just try the damn spells.

The third thing was to get the right Glyphs.

And the fourth thing was to make my Serpent Sting duration bar thicker and a more eye-catching color. It's now green instead of brown.

There is a huge amount of stuff left to do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Taking the Plunge

Deathbringer's Will dropped last night and I won the bid. To re-count my previous choices when this happened, I am being pointed pretty strongly at a Marksman build.

So after the raid, I headed to Ironforge, flipped to my Pet-Tank BM spec and -BIG-GULP-re-spec'd it Marksman. I then queued for a random heroic while I worked out the details.

Well unfortunately, the heroic popped before I even had my pet-tank stuff off my bars, let alone having MM spells there. So I flipped to SV to just get it done.

The pug matching algorithm needs some help. I got slotted in with four people all from the same server who were in 2100-3900 gearscore gear. (I sit a little over 6k.) They all died on the first pull of Gundrak. I manage to kill off the last two mobs. On the first boss, the DK is doing quite literally nothing and something glibs the tank. As I'm waiting for them to ghost back in a second time, I pull out Flash, my Turtle and swap to my pet-tank gear. Flash is at around 33k health. Not crazy-good, but higher than the tank. And unfortunately, I could no longer go to my BM tank spec.

From that point on, things went smoothly. I continued to MD to the tank, but Flash OT'd one or two mobs. In my +stamina gear (I was around 44k health) I did a little under 60% of the damage.

So while this was a sad little pug, it made me realize that I don't have to give up pet tanking just because I'm giving up a talent allocation designed for it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maxing DPS with Disengage in ICC

I use disengage in every ICC fight except the gunship. It's a very fast way to move and not delay shots.

I don't try to use it for running straight faster though. I'm a combo mouse and keyboard mover. It works well for me. And running without stuttering your movement delays auto shots and lowers your DPS. So I'll usually do a slightly not straight move. I run straight, stutter, strafe-turn-disengage then mouse-turn back. Depending on cooldowns, I might also let steady-shot turn me as its castbar progresses.

Here's how I use disengage in ICC.

There is often a lot of distance to cover. Plus it's great to clear frost lines.

Lady Deathwhisper
I generally DPS LDW and am responsible for the back guy (who is tanked). I hit disengage after DPS'ng and mouse turn in midair with a MD on the rear tank. After downing the rear mob, I quite literally strafe some side mobs on the return to the boss.

Disengage straight back if my bloodbeast gets too close. This happens surprisingly little. But in a pinch it's great with a slow trap and a concussion shot.

Move out of center in one click, just aim your butt for something not overly green.

If I'm not the collapse spot, it's how I move to my spot after a collapse. Quick rotate, disengage, quick rotate (possibly via steady shot which will rotate you while winding your cast bar).

No specific use here, but it's often to get in range of a dps target instead of moving away. You do have to choose one or another and it's probably just easier for me to properly disengage when I'm under less pressure. I do occasionally use it in the final burn phase.

I'm usually on kiting and safe-killing duty of the explosive zombies. It's great for kiting. It's also great for getting to DPS a blazing skeleton on the other side of the very large room.

Blood Princes
I'm not usually on kinetic bombs. One of the luxuries of having a bunch of hunters. So I use it to get to far range of the everyone-spread-out shock vortex.

Blood Queen
Again, I use it to get to far range for a spread-out before the fear timer hits. Basically it just gives me a little more time DPS'ng the boss.

I haven't killed her in 25man yet. Chalk it up to business travel and light attendance? But it's pretty common to pop it after the pull-in.

Lich King
Supposedly if you are carried by the Valkyries, you can get a priests' levitate and disengage back from the cliff if they drop you. I tried to do it without a friendly priest and it just launched me under the platform for a long long time. I did use it in other ways. But I used it sparingly. I used it for positioning on killing the Valkyries. I used it in killing and kiting orbs. I used it when a Valkyrie grabbed someone and then we had to move for the black ooze. But that's luck of the timer. Generally, I didn't use it anywhere near a ledge. With a 25 second cooldown on Disengage and a 15 minute plus fight you could use it a silly number of times.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fun and Exhaustion and Pet-Tank Gearing

I was starting to get sick and way too tired to raid last night. Luckily, there were people available to take my place.

I did work on my pet-tank set a bit more after Wednesday's raid. Maybe that's why I was exhausted. I'm up to 40k health on the hunter with zero buffs. That gets my turtle up to about 33k. Not too shabby given all the benefits pets get with regard to +heal and what-not.

I've really only three additions. One is completely normal and acceptable: the Wrathful Gladiator's Chain Leggings. One is completely silly amounts of stamina for pet-tanking, but whose "Use:" works surprisingly well in PvP too: the Corroded Skeleton Key. And the last is better than sharding for sure. It's a second Distant Land. Both my pet-tank and PvE dps have the 110AP enchant. But one has two blues, and the other has two reds.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What is the Will of Deathbringers?

There is a decision that I will need to make soon. That decision point is when my last non-iLevel 264 item is replaced by Deathbringer's Will (DBW).

I am currently dual spec in Survival and Pet-tanking. I enjoy both. Survival is my raid spec. I provide replenishment and it is seemingly in short supply lately. But when this trinket lands I know that I can get a lot more dps by changing to Marksman. And not just Marksman using Agility and all my current gear -- but Marksman Armor Pen and all new gemmed gear. We're talking about getting rid of one of my two favorite talent trees and possibly all different gear in exchange for a large dps gain.

Here's the deal:

10707Current gear and SV
10803Current gear and SV and DBW
11349Marks Agil with current gear (and T9.5x2)
11517Marks Agil with current gear (and T9.5x2) and DBW
11559+Marks ArP with essentially different gear and DBW

The "+" is because I haven't even looked at using different ArPen-focused gear.

So when DBW drops, I can just equip it and get ~+1% dps under ideal circumstances. Or, I can change talents, swap out gear, re-gem everything, and get over an 8% dps improvement. And as an intermediate step, I can try out Marks without changing much gear and get a 7% increase.

The problem here is that I only have dual specs, not tri specs. And of course it would be great to have a PvP-specific spec... I'm not sure how I want to handle it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Traveling and Great Places To Camp

Raiders! Krasus’ Landing sucks. If you aren't a mage, you have your hearth in Dalaran. Going from one of the few inns out to Krasus’ Landing and then flying to ICC requires you do dodge all of Dalaran's no fly zone. You can skirt to the north and/or below Dalaran. But it is just irksome.

I loved it when ToC was the thing to do. Not because it was a good instance -- it wasn't near the top of the list. But I liked it because of the portal tabard. The Black Temple was a good instance, if but a little too hard. And it had a very nice neck piece for frequent visitors.

Now, if you have an engineer, you can use your personal wormhole to flip around Northrend once every four hours. That only helps you with The Eye and Ulduar, which don't see much activity these days.

Express Raider Travel Options
Since they're not going to rotate Dalaran 180 degrees any time soon and point Krasus' Landing in the right direction, I'll give you two very nice alternatives. Pleasant even!

Hearth and Travel Option #1: If you really like to camp at one of the two public respectable inns in Dalaran instead of riding to Krasus' Landing and then flying around Dalaran, ride to the Violet Citadel. Take the portal up near the rep vendor, opposite the portal to Tanaris. Once in the Purple Parlor walk outside. Mount up and fly directly to ICC.

Hearth and Travel Option #2: If you don't mind the smell of garbage and blood, set your inn to the one down below in the sewers. When you hearth, you will be a quite literally just a step away from a vendor, your bank, the guild vault, and a mailbox. When you want out, just mount up, and ride down the tunnel. Switch to your flying mount at the end and fly directly to ICC.

I'm still using Option #1. I like to see people and don't mind capturing gearscores as I do. But option #2 really is just missing an AH and toilet. Then you'd never have to leave.

Logging In The Field

When I raid, I usually login with only a few minutes before the start of a raid. So I will usually fly Kheldul to the instance and logout right there -- either a day or two in advance. I'll resupply with mail from my alt courtesy of my squire. I'll mount up and repair and sell any junk I don't need. Those two items are really great for staying out in the field. Engineers of course have other options.

Camping the Auction House

For anyone who supplies (or "plays") the auction house, there is a great little spot for Alliance players. Not many talk about it because it does provide a competitive advantage. The spot is in Stormwind and you can access your mailbox and auction house without running between the two. Make a macro to target the left-most AH vendor. Then hotkey an "interact". You can interact with her by banging on the wall -- while standing next to the mail box outside. It's... glorious.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Alternate Identities Supporting Your Main

I have two level 80 characters. I don't talk much about my alt, Khelark, but she's pretty great for an alt. While she is fun to play in her own right, she is mainly there to support Kheldul.

1) She makes all the serious money. She does it by "creating value". She's got tons of gem cuts. She usually has between a half-dozen and dozen uncut epic gems of every flavor in her inventory. She supplies AH with a steady stream of the things people need at a reasonable profit.

2) She is often camped at the Auction House. She makes sure Kheldul has ammo, flasks, speed pots, and even health pots.

3) She makes sure Kheldul has all the right epic gems he needs in the mail for dps and pet-tanking... often fetch-able during a raid thanks to Knight Kheldul's other loyal supporting squire. And if Kheldul gets some loot on a Wednesday, Khelark just buys him the suitable enchant if nobody is available to do it, before the Thursday raid.

4) While she has bought herself a few nice things (1, 2, 3) for 9-12k gold each, she gives Kheldul plenty of goodies -- some that even have very useful effects.

5) She converted plenty of things to BoA honor tokens and sent them to Kheldul so he could get honor gear twice as fast.

6) Finally, she supports Kheldul as a release valve. If I want to do a PUG, a 5.4k gearscore healer can get an invite pretty quick. I don't have to worry about raid locking my main. I don't have to go over-board focusing on the most minuscule issues on my hunter. A healer can make or break a group. And there are new sometimes unexpected challenges. "Can I heal and dps more than the dps?" Last week, I solo-healed VoA-10 and went on a reasonably successful ICC-25 PUG. I even have proof of doing the easy gunship battle in heroic. Release valves are a good way to keep your main fresh.