Archive for the PvP Category

Guides: Feedback and Requests!

Posted in Guides, Professions, PvP, Raids and Instances, Reputation, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , , on August 2, 2010 by Natarumah

As we are slowly marching on to the release of Cataclysm, I have come to the realization that there are many things I still want to do; my hunter’s epic level 60 quest, completing the Scepter of the Sands questline, completing a few of the old questlines and reputations. So, with a light heart I started completing the Scepter questlines (about halfway now) and started gathering materials for a lot of old world factions like the Thorium Brotherhood.

This prompted me with an idea, for which I will need your assistance. What I want to do is to create a series of guides on some of the old world and Burning Crusade material from the perspective of a Shadowpriest.

Guides I am sure to do at this time are:

  • The Insane title
  • The Scepter of the Shifting Sands questline
  • RP outfits from the old world with RP commentary
  • Loremaster’s Compendium (this will take a while!)

What I will do in those guides is make a clear and step-by-step documentation on how to do it, from a Shadowpriest perspective. I don’t care if it can be solo’d by a Hunter or Paladin, but if a Shade can do it – and if not, what you will need to get it done. The usual niceties apply; maps for quests and locations, questlines in order, requirements listed beforehand and if any useful addons currently exist to help you.

I also want to include a “cheat sheet” with each guide, basically a one-page checklist of all the materials you will need to fulfill the requirements of the guide, including some optional stuff if applicable. To me it should feel like this one page when printed out and put next to your keyboard should answer all your needs when checking the AH or grinding.

I know there are many other guides out there, most of them paid, but what I am going for is to make it specific for our needs and to put some brains in it. That is to say, if there is a smarter way of getting it done than the usual, I go for it. I will try to get a sample guide done this week to show you what I mean.

What I need from you guys is to tell if you feel a guide should have more “meat” in it than I described. I need these guides to be usable and complete, not quick rundowns. Consider this your chance to get your wishes across – I am writing these guides for you, after all!

Second, I want to know if there are any reputations, questlines or other guide-worthy subjects you want to see published; I am open for requests and there’s plenty time for me to go and get firsthand experience as well as research these subject matters. Just keep in mind I am looking for things that are Shadowpriest-specific; I don’t think I will make a guide on completing the hunter epic quest or a showcase of Paladin armor. It also doesn’t need to be Classic-only. The Burning Crusade has a lot of fun things to do that would be helped by a clear how-to.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

Shadowpriesting Styles

Posted in Fun, Guides, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on June 24, 2010 by Natarumah

We all know that in real life, you sometimes have to adjust your pace, speech or actions to your environment. It will do little good to address a businessman for a deal wearing baggy trousers any more than speaking like the prime minister to your mother’s going to get you anywhere. The same goes in World of Warcraft, where your current environment can drastically alter the way you play.

Raiding

When raiding, you can be sure that the tank will have reasonably steady aggro. Tricks of the Trade and Misdirect add a huge chunk of threat, so that issue is generally off the table. You still have to be careful in those fragile first few seconds, but after that, going full-out makes no difference anymore.

Once you have your raiding priorities and keybinds engrained into your memory, you will find the time to look around you, avoid danger and make optimum use of environmental bonuses (like the fires and moonlights on Hodir) or ways to assist others (killing zombies on Valithria).

Raiding in many ways presents an “optimum” baseline for us, because there are plenty of times when we can “stand and deliver” and we have little worries about being beaten on by scary monsters.

5man Heroics

This is where you will find a few more restraints being placed on us. Heroic fights are usually very short and very deadly, meaning that it isn’t rare for our DoTs to not even tick fully before everything is dead. This is why in heroics, we usually put a VT or DP on the main target and Mind Sear away.

This generates quite a bit of threat, and the tank is not guaranteed to be of equal gear level or having Tricks/Misdirect. As a result, watching the aggro meter suddenly becomes a little more important. We can take a hit or two, Fade or use Dispersion, but pulling aggro on a tank is also a dent in our style. We should be better than that.

The need for burst damage and less reliance on making our mana last through a 10 minute fight also means we regularly skip Replenishment. Always check your healer’s mana though – if he goes OoM fast or seems a bit spammy on the heals (fresh healers are like that) at least chuck in a VT + MB combo every 15 seconds.

Player-versus-Player

Here we come to the greatest restrictive environment of all. Aggro does exist, but it is player-controlled, and not calculated by the server. This means we can be attacked at any time, by any class, with any of a myriad of abilities. This makes PvP combat one of the hardest to get right, because there are many variables and a limited time to respond.

The two greatest dangers we face to our performance (aside of being killed) are being Stunned and Silenced. Silenced also includes being locked out of our Shadow school (by Counterspell, for instance) because that is effectively the same.

When we are stunned, this leaves us quite defenseless, and without aid from our friends we can be dead in seconds. Two options exist, namely to use your PvP trinket/Every Man for Himself to get out of the stun, or use Dispersion to weather the storm. Against Rogues, with multiple stuns and combos, this can be an exceptionally tricky choice.

If you get out of the stun, chances are you will be stunned again right after. And Dispersion is simply six seconds of free combo point generation to a rogue. Unless you have DoTs ticking on him, you’re toast. A good trick here is to use a /cancelaura Dispersion /Cast Dispersion macro, which you can press a second time to remove Dispersion. Use Dispersion when you are stunned, and cancel it on second 4 or 5. Rogues will be able to see how long you’ve been in Dispersion, but hardly ever anticipate it being removed early, followed by a Fear. Those one or two seconds can save your life against a non-veteran rogue.

Being Silenced means that you cannot do much of anything to save yourself, except move away. When locked out of Shadow you can at least put a shield on yourself. This debuff is not directly dangerous like being stunned is, but indirectly it is all the more dangerous.

All of the above, and a dozen other tricks and responses, will be part of your toolkit when PvPing, and that is in combination with staying with allies, not getting boxed in, putting pressure on healers and not wandering into the enemy group accidentally. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and this is also why good PvP players are a rare breed.

Going Solo

Alone, you are free to cast whatever you want and even heal yourself. There’s very little pressure on you except for the fact that you will have a mob or two beating on you. A good example of this is the daily quest in Icecrown where you are tasked to kill 15 cultists. They are not very dangerous, just shield, DoT up 5 or 6 of them and kite them around until they die.

Your DPS will be low, since you put only one DoT on each, but you save time by killing a boatload at once. Such behaviour in a raid or 5man would earn you ridicule, but it works wonders when questing. At T9/T10 level of gear, your offensive power is so high you will reach the Warlock’s God of Death Mode (healing more than any level 80 quest mob can damage you for) if you do it right, and very little can hurt you.

Going out of your comfort zone

The final “change of style” I’d like to address here is the one where you do something out of your normal business entirely. Tanking Keleseth, for instance, even though this is designed so it can be done by a caster, is a tough thing. You have to keep the shadow orbs on you so you do not die from his Shadow Lance, while generating enough aggro to allow the raid to DPS him. This style is more like thinking as a tank, and your pure DPS suddenly matters a lot less. Survival becomes key.

Shadowpriests at T10 gear level can tank normal dungeons just fine. If you are worried about being Crit, take some PvP gear (high stamina)  and you can get to uncrittable. Your only drawback is 30% threat reduction in Shadowform, but if you are running a few characters below 80, their aggro will likely be much less than yours.

I accidentally even ended up tanking one of the Val’kyrs in a ToC10 run. I happened to over-aggro on the tank by mistake, and the mob stuck. I seemed to survive it quite well with little real attention from the healers, so the tank decided to just leave it on me, and it died pretty quick after. Out of my comfort zone, but possible.

Conclusion

Being a good Shadowpriest means that you can perform well in your chosen role (most likely raiding) and know how (and why!) to do things. You will be able to survive with minimal healing and while our priority system’s not the easiest, it is very rewarding.

However, a great Shadowpriest manages to go beyond it, able to adjust his style to the current requirements, make decisions on the fly and obtain a measure of situational awareness close to that of tanks and healers. All that is required is that you first get your basics down, and then experiment with it. Enter battlegrounds, Wintergrasp and Arena to taste the excitement and faillure of PvP. Try and squeeze out all damage you can in the 10-second fights in Heroics. Offer to tank for your guildies’ alts and surprise them when you succeed.

Squeeze out of this game all the fun and challenge that you can, and bask in the glow of your new-found sense of tactics.

Why I wrote this post? Next week I will be attempting to get some PvP achievements, and I will need my own advice to get through it in one piece…or at least as few as I can manage.

More talent previews

Posted in News, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , on June 10, 2010 by Natarumah

MMO-champion has released a new look at the talents here, and although all of this is still subject to change, it is both interesting and worrying. A lot is subject to change, and I do hope a bit a lot will actually change, because the direction the talents are taking still has a few glaring holes.

Spirit Tap (Redesign)

Spirit Tap will, triggered on a kill, provide 30% increased Mana Regen and will instantly regenerate 15% of our mana. Lovely at low levels or in PvP, and it’s certainly more fitting now that Spirit will not be our stick anymore, but in raids this is likely to do not much for us. I kill 1 in 5 adds or so at most, so this is a very unreliable (RNG) source of mana. But hey, we need to stick our points in something.

Dark Thoughts (New talent, replaces Improved Spirit Tap)

This talent reduces the pushback suffered from damage while casting Shadow spells by 35%/70%. This effect used to be in Improved Shadow Form (who now has our “crit aura” effect instead). A bit of a strange move to place this here, since while leveling as a Shadowpriest, you actually don’t use Mind Blast or Vampiric Touch much. And while we use Mind Flay, you should be shielded and thus not lose any casting time by damage as long as the shield holds. This will likely be one of those talents we leave until we are about level 50, as we then have Vampiric Touch.

Improved Shadowform (Redesign)

In addition to its normal effect of removing snares by using Fade, it now increases the Spell Critical chance of party and raid targets within 100 yards by 3/5%. This is interesting, but we were promised a Haste aura, which is actually useful. We get Crit talents, a Crit Mastery and now a Crit aura – more Crit than any Shadowpriest needs really.

Conclusion

Looking at the current setup of the talent trees, we see a lot of Crit, removal of Improved Spirit Tap and the like. This seems to me like a really weird design setup, since we love Haste much more than Crit. Critical strikes used to give us the Improved Spirit Tap, which it no longer does, so the value of Crit has lowered even further (it is not only damage, nothing more). And with the Crit value going down, we get even more bonuses to Crit. Why? It’s like giving nothing but Parry bonuses to a Protection Paladin. Sure it’s useful, but not needed and not really in the spirit of the class.

Also, my concern is with the amount of talents we have. Looking at level 85, I filled in the talent tree a bit, as you can see here. With our dependency on Discipline severely reduced, we now need to put in at most 11 points (granted, the new Martyrdom reducing Interrupt effects s pretty badass, so I put it in). Which means we can take every friggin’ talent in the Shadow Tree except useless threat mitigation. And if Threat becomes an issue, I will just put points from Fear and Silence into it, and done. We need more stuff to put points in – cookie cutter will now be 11/0/65.

And finally, mana regeneration will be a major issue for us by the looks of it. Replenishment is still in there, but that’s probably going to change. If we actually kill stuff we get a lot of mana from the new Spirit Tap, but in raids that’s not very likely. We don’t get mana regen from Meditation anymore, nor is it in our masteries. Our old standby Shadowfiend and the judicious use of Dispersion should now cover it, I guess, but until we get our mana pools up after just hitting 85 I think we will be struggling hard for a while.

My initial Feedback

As Ghostcrawler asked for feedback in the forums, I see that as the liberty to voice my opinion regarding the current talents.

  • Because two of our trees are healing trees, and only one (Discipline) has any use for us, we simply have no need to spend more than 11 points out of Shadow from a raid perspective. In PvP, I can see a Disc/Shadow Hybrid going much deeper into the other tree. Otherwise, the Shadow Tree is simply too empty, and you simply get to pick (almost) everything, including talents that are for PvP, without having to make any real choices.
  • The Shadowy Apparitions are a very interesting talent, and has the proper feel for a Shadowpriest. However, depending on how slow they will actually be, it is possible this talent will be skipped simply because it never reaches the target in time (we are ranged, after all) or the boss is moved too far away, or (in PvP) someone sidesteps them.
  • Mana management will be an issue if replenishment is altered. It is currently a large portion of our personal mana regains, as well as part of our Raid Utility (the other, Misery, having been removed). Unless spells at level 85 will be considerably cheaper for us, or we get more options to get a reduction in the mana cost, we are going to go out of mana hard until we have enough raid gear to support us.
  • Our aura (from Improved Shadowform) was rumored to be 5% Haste. We rejoiced. Now it is Crit instead, which does not make us very happy. We gain damage from Crit, but not as much as from Haste. In fact, when coupled with our Crit bonus Mastery, we will have gained so much crit we likely will always pick Haste gear over Crit gear. Unless of course the intention is for us to stack Intellect now. A Crit aura will give us back some raid utility, but I can’t get over the feeling raid leaders would much prefer it when it was tacked on a person with Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp. ‘Nuff said.
  • I agree that the Shadow Tree is looking solid, but it’s “100% complete” only with regards to the Alpha. It needs to be fleshed out and thought over again for the Beta. Remember the maxims “Haste>Crit”, “We need Replenishment too” and “Don’t make us pale warlock copies”.

I am anxious to see what the next iteration of the talents will be, and how our Glyphs will be altered to fit in with the new scheme.

Guilds 103: Trial, Objection, Irrelevant!

Posted in Guides, PvP, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , on May 25, 2010 by Natarumah

You have succesfully passed any application forms, made your way through an interview and/or trial run with your new guild, and have been accepted as a trialist. This stage is usually found only in Raiding and PvP guilds, and it is a time of anxiety for more than a few people. I know from experience that the first few days can be a bit unsure, as you know few people and a lot is expected of you.

What is a trialist?

A trialist is a new member who has not achieved the full “member” status in a guild. Usually this is done to gauge your performance and how you act in the guild. Not unlike the trial period in real-life work contracts, it allows both parties to say goodbye to each other if things don’t turn out the way that was expected.

Trialists usually have a more strict requirement on signing up for raids or PvP battles, in order to be able to see what they can do. Likewise, they have a more restricted access to the guild bank (to prevent people who came in just to swipe the GB from having their way).

What can I do as trialist?

The simplest answer to this is to be yourself.

There’s nothing to be gained from being especially nice, since doing this will only lead to raised eyebrows once you show your true colors, after you became a member. It also does not allow for the guild to accept you as you really are, which is the core of being in a guild in the first place.

It is important, however, to participate in guild activities. Don’t be shy and join their heroic runs, random raids, and spontaneous Wintergrasp events. If none are happening, try to get one going if you like. This shows your interest, and is a good way to get to know your fellow guildies.

For raids, it is good to be on time and prepared, as usual. It is even more important because you will be watched, and being “the new guy who keeps standing in fires and mooching flasks” is not a great way to leave an impression. Do your best, but if things do go wrong, don’t go on the defensive too much. Raids and Arenas are all about synergy, and it takes a bit of time to get in the same flow as the rest. Be patient, accept honest criticism, and remain yourself at all times.

Mentors

Some guilds place you under the wing of a mentor, usually a more experienced member of your class and often the class leader. This person’s role is to explain you any things that are guild-specific, or special tactics used by the guild. He also monitors your skill, and will give pointers and advice where needed. In turn, you can always turn to this person for help if you need it.

This helps to make sure that your questions are answered by someone who’s “in the know”, and that you get a quick answer to any questions. Remember to also ask about anything you are unsure of, or which confuses you. Knowledge is power, and being quick on the uptake and willing to learn endears you with the rest of your team.

What is that irrelevance thing in the title?

It’s about gear and experience, to be honest. As an example, when I joined Unity I had Naxx gear and experience but joined an Ulduar progression community. I was there when Unity had their first kills on the watchers, even though I was lagging behind in DPS and had never seen the fights before. I had only read about them and watched a few videos.

Key here is that if you can follow commands, be as prepared as you can be, and stay out of the fire, you will do fine. Don’t be nervous when your performance seems lower than that of the rest at first (they often have more gear and experience with the fights) because the people who will judging your performance will keep this into account if they are fair.

This also goes in reverse: your gear and experience are irrelevant if you don’t make use of it. Being underperforming even though you claim to have a lot of experience (and have good gear for the instance/arenas) will mean you will have a hard time convincing the guild that you are an asset, no matter how nice you are.

Welcome to the club

After some time, usually a month or in some cases up to three months, you will be promoted to a full member. This means you have earned the guild’s trust, that your performance is adequate, and that you are now part of the team. Good job!

Now is the time to continue on as you’ve been doing, and not slack because you “made it”. If you were being yourself throughout the trial period, this shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember to talk to your class/raid/guild leader if you have any issues, avoid making conflicts worse (there will always be a conflict somewhere, it’s Human nature) and have a good time!

Of course, there’s always the chance that during the trial period you will be asked to leave. It could be your performance, not meshing with the team, or you might have actually been naughty and broken a rule or two. Take it with pride, and don’t start making a fuss about it. Thank the people involved for their effort, and start your search again for a guild to fit in with. The same goes if you feel the guild is not your place to be, be honest and open about it, and it will cause the least amount of friction on either side.

Guilds 102: A job like any other

Posted in Guides, PvP, Raids and Instances, Theory with tags , on May 19, 2010 by Natarumah

Guilds that lean heavily on group activity and success (such as raiding and PvP guilds) rely on a system of requirements and trials to make sure that those who join their team have the skill and experience required to contribute to their success, rather than depriving it.

When you seek to join a guild like this, there are a few hurdles to take, and sometimes things you will have to do or achieve in order to make it in. This post takes a closer look at some of these hurdles, and how to overcome them.

Guild Requirements and Manifesto

Guilds who advertise on trade or the realm forum for members usually include their website. This has a few reasons besides showing to the public what they have achieved. It also allows for them to explain their rules and expectations to prospective members before they seek to apply, meaning less administration.

Usually called “raiding requirements”, “about us” or “what we expect of you”, these kinds of posts explain to you beforehand what the guild expects of you in terms of experience, conduct and gear. It usually also details if there are any required programs or addons (like DBM, Proximo or Ventrilo) you will need, what times the raids will be run, as well as an overview of their loot system.

Go over this information carefully, make sure you understand it and can agree with it. Nothing hurts you and your credibility more than applying without knowing the rules, arguing about the rules with the guild management, or breaking these rules after reaching member status. It may sound simple, but many applicants never read it, and proceed to make a fool out of themselves.

Application

Applications are like applying for a job interview, and you have to make the most out of it. That’s also why WoWinsider, HDO, and Hots&Dots all supply great tips when filling in your application, with a view from both sides of the fence.

Is it really that important?

Well, if you make an application with spelling errors, l33t speak, rants or even blatant lies you are not likely to be accepted. But you will also lose credibility with the people who read your application (at least guild members, but many guilds’ application area is public) and may get called out on the forums.

Like with the news, good news you never hear of but bad news makes the front page. Don’t be bad news.

This is also a great opportunity to ask questions. If something’s not clear in the guild charter or raiding requirements, ask it. This does not only give you the information you need, it also shows you pay attention and have read them. I know guilds who place a grievous, terrible sentence in the middle of their guild charter, and ask in the application form whether they have read the charter. Everyone says yes, but when that particular error comes up, they draw a blank.

The Interview

Usually when your application appeals to people, you will be contacted by an officer or class leader of said guild to have a chat. This could be through email, ventrilo or in-game, it matters little for the actual content. This is where the people of your prospective guild try and get a measure of you, how you think and what kind of person you are. Not only to filter out the lolbois, GBthieves and Recount/loot whores, but also because when you join a cooperative team effort like raiding or PvP you have to work as a team, and having an incompatible or disruptive person in the team can spell danger for the continued existence of the guild.

Think I am kidding?

Guilds have fallen because of minor arguments, single loot incidents or differences in philosophy. It takes an alert and diplomatic team of officers to successfully run a guild, it’s really a work of art to see it in motion. People have arguments, or differences of opinion, which is quite alright. But when people start holding grudges, fail to communicate or start cutting the guild up in cliques, it becomes an uphill battle. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

What does this mean?

Raiders and PvP guilds are not just looking at your achievements, gear and Arena Rating. They want to know whether you will mesh in with the team they already have. This is why your reputation is quite important, as a bad rep makes it harder and harder to get into the guilds you want. If an officer has to make a choice between you and the team, you will have to go (or at least, won’t be coming in).

Likewise, this is the chance for you speak of what you like, and what you wish to achieve. Purposeful guilds require motivated, hungry people to gain greater success, and members who are motivated to achieve what they want are worth their weight in gold.

It is also the chance to determine for yourself whether you would mesh in with the guild, and can be happy playing and raiding or PvPing with these people. Don’t feel bad if you decide that the guild does not happen to be what you were looking for, or feel pressured to join anyway. Simply state your decision in a polite and respectful manner, and there will be no hard feelings. You are then free to move on in search of what you look for, while the guild has avoided unnecessary drama down the line.

For those who do decide to join, remember that there is always the trial period to confirm whether this is the place for you.

Conclusion

Make sure your application is correct and well-written. Have it proof-read by a friend, or leave it for a day or two and then read it to yourself again. Be polite, but firm about what you want, and make sure you will mesh with the guild you wish to join. Remember that your reputation precedes you, and that if you’ve done bad things, people will have heard. Do not ever lie when applying or in an interview – you will be declined and your reputation will be all the worse for it.

Next post will be about Trial runs and the period as a trialist in a competitive guild.

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