Archive for the News Category

Turning over a new leaf

Posted in News with tags , , , on March 5, 2013 by Natarumah

spell_shadow_twistedfaith1Over the course of Mists of Pandaria, I started to feel the effects of my “old age” in WoW terms. I’ve been playing my Shadowpriest ever since the Burning Crusade, and during this time, the changes I experienced have been minimal. Many things were shaken up in Mists of Pandaria, but even here much of my playstyle remains the same. This has been leading to me becoming somewhat disappointed and disillusioned. I began to slack more in the raids, and my damage started to deteriorate.

In addition, Unity has seen a recent surge of new and returning Priests, meaning we’re pretty swamped. On the other hand, all of our Strength DPS seems to have vanished. So to combat my ennui and provide additional worth for my raiding group, I have decided to switch my mains.

Currently I am gearing up my Death Knight in rapid time, and hoping I can jump in quickly when 5.2 hits us. I will try to complete the posts I had been working on about Shadowpriests in challenge modes, but I do feel that I am lacking the emotional reach to get it done right now. However, my enthusiasm about my Death Knight is only growing, so it’s quite likely I will be switching around my blogs as well, when I am settled in.

This means my absence is going to last longer, and new posts will be slower in the making. I dearly love my Priest, and my guild was shocked about my intention to switch my mains, but it is a necessary change to stave off the stagnation I had been feeling for months now.

I am currently considering using Twisted Faith to house my three favorite classes: Priests, Death Knights and Warlocks. That way I will have plenty to write about, and the general theme remains viable. What do you guys think?

Insanity – and they weren’t kidding!

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory, Theorycraft with tags , , , on January 17, 2013 by Natarumah

ability_warlock_eradicationIt is hardly a secret that Shadowpriests have been avoiding Power Word: Insanity like the plague; an ability that consumes your Shadow Word:Pain in return for a modest amount of damage (and only if consumed at the very last moment) is like trying to play whack-a-mole with a set of tweezers. Now Blizzard noticed this and tries to put the plague back into this talent, redesigning it for patch 5.2.

The Deal

The current incarnation of the ability as presented is “Solace and Insanity”. We ignore Solace – that’s for our healing brethren. The “Insanity” portion basically causes your Mind Flay to deal double damage while there are three shadow damage DoT’s on the target. This wording is very important because it’s the difference between Insanity being total suck or total win.

First Impression

When you think of the reasonable application, it means that Mind Flay deals double damage only with three of your shadow damage over time effects. That would be all three of VT, SW:Pain and DP. And considering that DP can be applied with 1 to 3 Shadow Orbs (increasing its damage) it suddenly becomes a pain game of deciding whether a 2-Orb DP + double damage MF more often is worth it over a 3-Orb DP with less double damage Mind Flays. In practice, it won’t be.

Taking an 8 second cooldown, you will have a 3-Orb Devouring Plague every 24 seconds, after which your Mind Flay (3 second channel base) will deal double damage. Of course you might get lucky with the Divine Insight procs, but we should discount this for now to get the base value of the talent. This “bare increase” will give Mind Flay a slight boost in DPECT (Damage per Effective Cast Time). Basically, it’s DPECT value increases by 100% but only 1/10 of the time.

To get to this 3-Orb Devouring Plague we need:

  • Three Mind Blasts (1.5 second cast time)
  • Three Mind Blast cooldowns (8 seconds each)
  • Devouring Plague (Instant cast + GCD)
  • We can start casting Mind Flay

Total time required: 4.5 seconds casttime, 24 seconds cooldown, 0.5 seconds GCD = 29 seconds (let’s round to 30); Devouring Plague lasts 6 seconds base, giving us room for 2 Mind Flay casts. This gives us an active time of 12 seconds per minute; 20% uptime on the buffed Mind Flay. This also means a 20% increase (roughly) of the Mind Flay damage you’d see in your logs.

In the red corner, replacing our retarded Shadowfiend: Mindbender. With a minute cooldown base, the Mindbender is fire and forget, deals more damage and restores more mana than the Shadowfiend. It deals about 60% of the damage of a normal Shadowfiend, but can be used three times as often. You will see your “Shadowfiend related damage” increased by 80% if you have the Mindbender talent.

The key here is: which one’s higher?

If we read the tooltip literally

Well, we’d be happy with all our Warlock and Shadowpriest colleagues in the raid, that’s what. If we read it literally, it doesn’t say that we need 3 of our own shadow DoTs on the target, meaning we get the buff as long as aside of our main DoTs (VT, SW:P – which we should keep on our target at all times) one other Dotter is doing his job.

Corruption, Shadowflame, Unstable Affliction, Doom, and Shadowpriest DoTs will all count, and we can effectively say that in a 25man raid we have a 100% uptime on Insanity. That quite changes the outcome of things.

The Match

I am going to take the damage per cast time for Shadowfiend and Mindbender, and bring them back to damage per minute (the shortest cooldown), then I can see the benefit that Mindbender gives as opposed to having a vanilla Shadowfiend over a similar span of time.  I don’t need to do that for Mind Flay, because it has a convenient channel time I can abuse for this. Here I can simply check the direct increase in damage based on its uptime of roughly 20%. (so also 20% more DPECT). 

Shadowfiend DPECT (my gear):51529 (3 minutes cooldown) = 17.176,3 per minute
Mindbender DPECT (my gear): 36.129 per minute
Benefit of Mindbender vs Shadowfiend = 18.952,7

Mind Flay DPECT (my gear): 38.969 (3 second channel)
Insanity DPECT increase: 100%
Active time: 12 seconds/minute (20%)
Benefit of Insanity vs vanilla Mind Flay = 15.587,6

If all DoTs are counted, then the uptime of Insanity becomes about 10o%, massively improving the output of Mind Flay.

Mind Flay DPECT (my gear): 38.969
Insanity DPECT increase: 100%
Active time: 100%
Benefit of Insanity with all DoTs = 77.938 (!)

Results

We can tell that if Insanity is triggered only by our own DoTs, it suffers from giving us a smaller increase in damage even if we’d time our Mind Flays perfectly, and on a Patchwerk style fight. With increasing Haste, the value of Insanity will slowly creep up to the value of Mindbender, but as soon as we have to move or suffer from lag, its value drops significantly. Also note that the 20% active time is really generous, considering it’s 6 seconds of buff for 29 seconds of rampup. Over a fight of 10 minutes you will have 34  buffed Mind Flays (so closer to 17%).

Only when it counts for all Shadow DoTs, from all other raid members, does Insanity catch up – and then it shines. Of course I did count 100% uptime here, but I think that’s reasonable considering that it takes only two Shadowpriests or Warlocks to get this done.

Do note that Mastery, which increases our Shadow DoT damage (and thus Mind Flay) scales very well with this talent. While Mind Bender doesn’t benefit from Mastery at all, a Mastery-heavy gear set will not only bump up DoT damage a lot more, but when combined with Insanity will also interact with the 100% damage buff. A +10% damage from Mastery effectively doubles while Insanity lasts and with a 17% uptime this will work out to 11,7% in practice (or +20% if all DoTs count).

I am not sure which design Blizzard is going to take, but if my napkin math hits anywhere near home, this choice will determine whether we will ever use the talent or not.

Unity Raiding Community – Recruitment Post

Posted in News, Raids and Instances with tags , , , on November 2, 2012 by Natarumah

One of the things we face as the game grows older is that sometimes we outgrow the game; I’ve been a part of the Unity raiding community since Ulduar, and it’s the best time I’ve ever had. The people are great, good atmosphere and while we’re certainly not the most hardcore progression group, we’ve being doing quite well and consistently. Recently, some of our members have quit the game for personal reasons (most of them happy occasions!) and that means it’s time to step up recruitment and welcome some fresh new faces!

What is Unity?

Unity is a 25-man raiding community on Steamwheedle Cartel (EU), Alliance side. As a raiding community we don’t ask of people to join a particular guild, so people can remain with their friends if that’s what they like. The core guild of Unity is the House of Elements, and many members of Unity are in this guild. We’re a moderate progression guild – we don’t push for world-firsts but aim for steady progression and a sustainable raiding experience.

Past achievements include achieving every single Glory achievement since they were released and completing several Legendaries (Val’anyrs, Shadowmournes, Dragonwraths and Fangs of the Father). Our current progress is 4/6 Mogushan Vaults, and we’re very close to killing Elegon.

We raid every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 20:30 server time until 24:00 server time. Gathering time for the raid is 20:15. Our voice chat is based on Mumble.

Recruitment Status

We’re looking for:

  • Warrior (Fury or Arms)
  • Mage (Any)
  • Possibly Warlock or Priest (Shadow)
  • Paladin (Retribution)
  • Death Knight (Unholy/Frost)

We are full on Hunters and Druids. Our Tanking and Healing team is very strong and reliable, so we don’t need mainspec tanks or healers. You are welcome to have those as off-spec, but it’s unlikely they will be called on for the time. Monks would compete directly with our other Agility users, so we’re not going to accept any Monks unless you prove to be of exceptional skill with this class.

Key talents:

  • Knowing your class, and willing to improve
  • Willing to listen to orders, perform encounter-specific functions and discuss tactics
  • Teamplayer
  • Ability to raid on at least 2 of the 3 days mentioned above

Join us in saving Pandaria!

If you’re interested in joining us, please visit http://unity.home.pl/forum/index.php for more information. You will find our recruitment forum here, with more essential info and our current applications. Your application is your first impression, so be sure to answer the questions and give us good insight in who you are. We recruit people based on their personality as much as their skill.

Note for cross-server applications:

We accept people from other realms, and some of our members today are the result of successful cross-realm applications and transfers. I strongly suggest making your app and linking us a combat log (such as from worldoflogs.com) which shows us how you perform, before you transfer. There will be plenty of time to hop over to Steamwheedle Cartel (EU) once we decide to give you a trial run, and it’s a waste of time and money if you transfer blindly.

The Cycle of Alts

Posted in Fun, Guides, News on October 1, 2012 by Natarumah

The content added during Mists of Pandaria is already staggering. Even in the starting zone people mill in confusion, while the quests attempt to guide them into the storyline in an orderly fashion. But it’s all nice and good when you try to rush your main to 90 – after that you have an even longer road ahead. You will need to grind reputation with factions – to allow you to grind reputation with other factions. This return to the old TBC model of reputation as the main precursor to raids does have a rather unsettling side effect, namely that you will find yourself actually running out of progress, normally filled in by levelling alts.

That said, the content is much more focused on lore and your character’s role – it allows less for alts. In fact, leveling an alt in Pandaria will be much more of a chore than in Wrath or TBC before. So in the light of most people reaching or approaching level 90, a few tips on how Alts can make your day better.

Levelling alts

The best advice is to get through the starting sequence in Pandaria and then ride on to Halfhill in the Valley of Four Winds. The ride there is with very little danger for a level 85 character, and it gives plenty herbing and mining opportunities if you are so inclined. With the many creatures being killed there daily, skinners will also find it a lovely place to visit. You will find an adventuring gear vendor here (Grummel with a big pack) who can sell some good stuff. After you are done here, you can fly back to the starting zone with better preparation.

If your cooking is not up to scratch, this place allows you to quickly level cooking through “Pandaren Cooking”, where you get specific recipes using Pandaria ingredients to level quickly. A lot can simply be bought at the trainer, for the rest you will either need Ironpaw tokens or materials sent in from other characters or the AH.

Do the starting quests for the farm, and make sure you plant stuff there daily for use in cooking. Now, the trick is that the dailies for the tillers do not actually appear until level 90 – but this place is a good spot to put your hearthstone. And, even if you decide not to level through questing, you can easily use it as a home base while running random dungeons or battlegrounds. If you keep any alts here that you don’t plan on levelling yet, you ensure a steady stream of ingredients for your main’s cooking – and trust me, you will need a lot of them. Once they do level to 90, you can farm crops daily for about 200 rep a day – plus whatever daily quests you do. Once you get to revered, you can start farming special crops. This means that every character you get to level 90 can potentially have 16 farming slots, each with a plant that provides 1 or more pieces of cloth, leather, herb or ore. Even enchanting mats or Harmony can be farmed this way.

This will severely relax the need for farming alts (except that they will be farming literally of course), allowing you to sustain yourself with what comes off the farm. This also means less time spent running after resources, which are then available for people levelling who need them. This also means that the Cross Realm Zones will affect us less, again. Winning all around, but it takes some effort to get the engine running.

Reputations for alts

Lorewalkers, Anglers and the Order of the Cloud Serpent reputation is either less important for alts, or is simply very hard to do without a flying mount. In such cases, only go for these reputations on alts where you feel you must have access to the items they provide. If you want to have a permanent fishing/hunting alt, specifically for providing fish and meat for cooking, then feel free to go for the Anglers reputation.

Black Marketeering

The Black Market is a pretty dangerous place to get to, but if you manage to get an alt there (bonus points if it is a Warlock) and your friends put an alt here as well, you can have a quick summoning stone relay to get mains in to place a bid on items at the right time. Not many people actually come here, some don’t know and many don’t have the money for it. But if you want early access to epics, this place offers an opportunity.

The alts here can be used to check what’s on sale as well, and using a guild form or guild message of the day to report what is for sale will make your guild respond a lot more efficiently to the stock.

Old materials

Right now the Auction House is flooded with low-level materials brought in by levelling Pandaren and Monk characters. New tradeskills being levelled creates demand, meaning prices are outrageous for the TBC and Wrath materials. This is a good stock to cash in on now. Starting materials will quickly stabilize, and Cataclysm materials are in great supply (leftovers), but might rise in a week or two.

Note that the Cata inks are still used to trade in for lower level inks in Stormwind – if you have a scribe make sure to use the cheaper herbs and whatever stores you have left to trade them in for glyphs to sell.

If you have alts running dungeons and have no use for the Justice Points, they can still be used to buy Cataclysm grade materials for a modest profit or levelling an alts’ professions.

Gearing Alts

Alts that managed to hit 90 can be very quickly geared. Level 90 quests and normal dungeons equal the new Justice Points gear, while heroics equal the new Valor Points gear. This means that every option is open to get yourself up to snuff. In fact, many people are currently using the PvP crafted sets to gain their last few skill points in Blacksmithing, Leathworking and Tailoring, and their prices are dropping steadily.

These PvP items are cheap to make, meaning that they are a quick avenue to meeting the iLevel for Heroics. In fact, because PvP sets take up a lesser amount of item budget, PvP gear is almost as good as the PvE gear of the same iLevel. This is good news for newly dinged 90s.

A special note to tailors

Dear tailors,

Northrend cloth farming, or whatever it’s called, works in full force. You will still find many, many additional pieces of cloth and therefore will have no difficulty completing your daily tailoring in the Silk Fields, reaching 600 tailoring or finding expensive lint all over your bagspace. Please consider using it for First Aid on your main (for Cloud Serpent dailies) or on any alts that might need it.

Personally I am sitting on 50-60 bolts after hitting 600 on tailoring, so I might commit the unforgivable sin of actually leveling First Aid to max…

As we prepare for our journeys

Posted in Guides, News, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on September 3, 2012 by Natarumah

With the release of patch 5.0, the servers have been flooded with people resubscribing to get into the game before Mists releases. There’s something cute about dozens of people milling around in confusion, trying to find out what their talents are doing, whether their class is still competitive and where they can train for pet battles (which they can’t, until Mists launches).

Shadowpriests are in a good spot at the moment. We’re not so overpowered that the nerfbat looms over us, yet we’re not so much behind or broken that we can’t simply play the game. In fact, I would categorize us as the “somewhat boring, safe choice” at the moment. Warlocks certainly had all the goodies, but from their angle I see a lot of complaints about mana issues, restrictive rotations and the lack of DPS cooldowns.

Our basic rotation

Priority one: Keep up Shadow Word:Pain and Vampiric Touch at all times, on all targets. Shadow Word:Pain gives us Shadow Orbs and Vampiric Touch regenerates health and mana for us.

Use Devouring Plague at 3 Shadow Orbs to be safe, or use it whenever the old one starts to drop off (this may be a DPS loss). Mind Blast on cooldown, Mind Flay as filler. Assuming that you took From Darkness Comes Light and Divine Insight as talents, you’re going to see 2 procs:

When your FDCL procs, your Mind Spike becomes Instant cast, costs no mana and doesn’t wipe DoTs. This is the only time I will use MS, and combined with the Mind Spike Glyph it meshes well with Mind Blast. When DI procs, you get an Instant cast, free Mind Blast. So two procs to juggle, not too serious.

Finally, <20% Health you start prioritizing Shadow Word:Death for execution – if you have it glyphed you can use it while on the move even above 20% health, but otherwise there’s little reason to touch it. Its damage is inferior when not in the Execute phase. Multidot when there’s 2-3 targets, above that target your tank and Mind Sear away.

Cooldowns

First off, Silence and Psychic Horror are now baseline. These are great tools while questing and even in dungeons, but they were never worth it to invest talent points in. Rather than including them in the new talent choices (where they would again be ignored, most likely) the Developers decided to add them to our standard toolkit. I am grateful for this, because it also gives us baseline PvP ability right off the bat.

The first tier of our talents are all about control – which you take depends on your personal preference and content. Dominate Mind is great for instancing and mayhem in PvP. Psifiend is of most use when you expect to stay around a single spot for some time – this usually is a raiding situation where you need to keep adds of you – but this is mostly good as healer defense. The Void Tendrils are a good go-to and the one I took for myself – an AoE root around yourself is a great escape.

Your talents will hold a few other choices, most of them up to you. One of the talents I picked up to test them out was our Camouflage, which is simply hilarious. I can’t really judge how effective it would be in a real raiding situation, but in an Ulduar fun-run we had I managed to get aggro on some mobs, and then pop this. They went after my decoy and started hitting it – and by the time it went poof they had to move all over the room to get to me again. This is great as an escape mechanism, especially when combined with Fade, but it will also surprise a lot of people in PvP.

Vital statistics

With the gear chances, Hit isn’t really going to be an issue. We will gain Spell Hit from Hit, Expertise and Spirit now. If you are anal about the hit cap, then the Human race is for you: Expertise bonus with Maces as well as a Spirit bonus. If you are an experienced Shade, 13% Hit will be plenty.

We still favour Haste, but Crit and Mastery are now on a more equal footing. Since they both do the same thing (doubling damage) the only difference is that Crit can help our Shadowfiend cooldown via Mind Flay while Mastery cannot. That said, to prevent gimping yourself due to Diminishing returns, balancing Crit and Mastery isn’t a bad deal. After all – you can have your damage doubled by both a Crit and Mastery at once.

On a personal note: preparations

For alts I often rely on the Darkmoon Faire to get around those pesky sore spots in levelling professions where I’d need to sink in tons of gold. Alas, the Faire’s quests weren’t properly reset this month so that plan went out the window. Since I don’t know whether I want to focus on levelling my Warlock, Death Knight orPaladin after my Priest, I gave them all sufficient shiny gear to survive the starter zone. With my Warrior at 85, I now own an 85 of every class except for the Shaman, which I just never really got into. If I find the energy, I might decide to spend the time before Mists leveling it to 85 just to have a “full stable”

I am looking forward to the pet battles, but I can already see an issue on the horizon. There are quite a few pets of which I have 5 or more copies – in Mists we will be limited to three of each type. As we can’t crate them for trade before Mists actually launches, I worry that some of these pets will be crunched in between “can’t crate it” and “crate or lose it”. With a modicum of common sense, Blizzard will first enforce a “never gain more once you have three of a kind” first and not hard enforce the limit until a month or so passed.

My focus points on the moment are getting my Warlock her droolishious Conquest outfit for mogging, now that it is available for Honor. I was already halfway saving conquest, but things speed up nicely this way. Second on the list is winning that darn Fishing Competition so that I can get my Salty title. Problem is, I am hated by Booty Bay leaving only the Dalaran fishing competition – and that’s a tight window.

The future of Shadowpriests

We are safe for the moment, a good choice. I can see how people from less favored class reroll when they get disappointed about how their classes turned out after the beta. Many times the beta’s start was shiny and new, and the Developers tried lovely new things – only to discard them (like Warlock tanks). But these ideas rooted in the minds of people, as they really liked them. And now that the patch is here, they see their class hasn’t even got half the shinies it was offered.

With Shadowpriests receiving little to no “fun” goodies (less shadowy shadowform? Shadowy pets? Why would I take those?) and is using basically all the old abilities in a slightly modified rotation from before, I think we came out better than I expected. Good damage (but not jaw-droppingly so), plenty mana and a Shadowform that just won’t quit – what more could you wish for?

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