31 January 2011

Stairs! Why did it have to be Stairs!

I love the idea behind Trap Launcher. It's a huge improvement over the old Outland trap dancing where you had to edge up to the pack and drop a trap at your feet where you expected the Blue Square to then path over and take a required chill pill. Ideally, you got fancy with it. Fancy trapping was moving off to the side someplace nice and out of the way, waiting for the pull, and tossing distracting shot on your target to peel it out of the pack while the rest barreled on over to old Sherman, Abrams or Bradley.
As an aside, I nickname my warrior tanks Sherman, paladins Abrams and Death Knights Bradley. Why? No real reason, it's just me. Back to the semblance of a point.
Enter Arthas and the Scourge, and trapping becomes a lost art. There's simply no need with Thunderstomping tenacity pets and arrows that rain down from the sky shredding packs of mobs. Fun at first, but ultimately the only highlight was the Recount charts to see how high your DPS could get (until you grouped with an unholy Death Knight).

With Deathwing's emergence and the return to an actual reliance upon tactics in an instance, trapping has seen a renaissance! To avoid the stigma of Huntardism however, we must perform our trapping effectively. With an unobstructed line of sight and coordination with your party, the hunter can keep stuff on ice all night long. Boom! Done. With obstructions, things get tricky. <insert mumbled Dwarven curses here>

Here are two of my least favorite places so far:
  1. Shadowfang Keep
  2. Bastion of Twilight

Shadowfang Keep

Fighting in narrow stairwells as you proceed up into the towers is one of the more frustrating aspects of this dungeon for me. Not only do I have range issues so I can actually use my gun as a ranged weapon instead of whacking dudes with a stick, but SPIRAL staircases make it a real hoot to try and have visual range to trap bad guys. Anyways, stairs suck for actually trying to fight stuff.

The OMFG part for me in here is the steps right before Commander Springvale. Even though you can place the targeting circle on the top of the stairs, the trap just won't launch. You have to get up close and personal for this pull, and you have to be careful because they see you PDQ despite Camouflage.  I don't even use launcher here; it's an old school drop at the boots and disengage off back to my group.

Bastion of Twilight

Saw this place for the first time last night and ran through a few times farming epics from the trash drops. Was slightly chuffed that a gun (Crossfire Carbine) dropped, but it had strength and expertise. Damn tanking ranged weapons! They tease me!

So we get a 10m group rolling, and we've got plenty of CC, including two hunters, a shammy and a mage. If we get desperate, we also have a shadow priest for Mind Control. Marks go out, and first few kills are fine. Now we're at the floating beach ball of doom room (flashbacks to Blood Princes) and the overlapping patrols. All except the big ones can be CC'd. However, again, you can stand at the base of the stairs and get a green targeting circle to show on the top of the stairs... but when you try to actually launch that trap? Nada.

Once again, it's time to get up on top of the steps and then either launch or just lay it down by your boots.

What's my point?

I'm just whining that I'd prefer the game mechanic to revert the trap launcher targeting circle to the red out of range indicator if the trap placement is also out of sight so that I can easily see where I need to be. The game already knows it's gonna fail.  Just clue me in visually?

So new rule for Pea: when facing steps, I will need my little Dwarven feet placed at the top of those steps. Not one step down, either. All the way up top. Gotta have my traps!

29 January 2011

Why I'm a Part-Time Progression Raider

You know how when you go to the beach on a really hot day, all you can sometimes think about is the water? So you head down and sometimes just standing and letting the waves wash up around your feet is enough? If getting your feet wet isn’t satisfying enough, you edge out a bit deeper into the surf and bob about in the waves. Sometimes you can duck under them, and other times you can just kinda jump and float right over top. For the true seekers, that’s not enough, either. They need to venture out past where you can stand looking for waves to tame. Catching that wave requires some work, and sometimes the wave is going to spit you out in glorious wipe out. But, when you do it right... when you ride that sucker until it’s out of juice, there is nothing like it. It’s pure Win!
WoW is like that water for me.

The Wader

Sometimes I’m content to log in and just hang out, letting the game wash over my feet. I might run a few dailies while I spend time chatting in guild, vent or evenTwitter. I may farm some rep through low level daily quests. Perhaps indulge my inner goblin and tinker about with the Auction House. Despite barely scratching the surface of the content, I still experience the smells and sounds of the game.

The Swimmer

Most of the time, I’m not content with just standing on the shore getting my feet wet. Oh no! I’ll want to charge into the surf to hang out. I’ve been known run all 25 possible daily quests as I farm for rep or rep-based tokens (think Champion’s Seals). I’m guilty of spending absolutely slaughtering lowbie mobs 2 - 5 points (like those dreaded Pirates for the Steamwheedle Cartel) at a time. I’ll run a few heroics, hit random battlegrounds to farm honor and pad the HK's or, if nothing else, farm some old achievements. These kind of nights are my normal. In this mode, I’m happily experiencing more of the games content, but there’s still a whole other level that exists.

The Surfer

To see that other level, that’s when it’s step it up and swim out past the breakers. In other words, I am talking about progression raiding. This is more serious and much less forgiving. Now you’re part of a team, not just you and your pet. I'm a 10m raider, meaning that nine other people (who are also busy in their own lives) are counting on me: they expect me to be there, aware, and on doing my job. That also means I’m on time, I’m prepared, and I’m bringing ranged DPS and situational awareness to the party. Because when I'm not all of those things, I'm not only wasting my time but their time.

A Willingness to Raid

So far, I’ve talked about three levels of play: the pure social dabbler, the little bit of everything, and the progression raider. There seems to be an endless discussion both in the blogosphere and in trade chat about being Casual or being Hard Core, and often casual players are derided or disrespected. Despite being a member of a guild and a member of a 10m progression team, I’m still Casual. I disagree that I’m still not a progression raider even though I’m Casual. I’m just a part-time progression raider.

Progression Raiding is the end-game (at least for me), and it requires some extra effort on a player to actually be successful. You have to actually work for it (i.e. fine tune DPS, review strategies, communicate with your team, etc). At times, it feels like actual work and it can cause burnout. You also need to be willing to fail (frequently at first with improvement as the encounter starts to gel). Failing sucks. Eventually, however, you’ll pull it together and kill the sucker! That feeling of beating a fight, especially a challenging fight, and seeing the epics drop or achievements pop up is one of the best.

I raid two nights a week for about four hours in each session. I can plan around it -- yes, I actually need to plan to play video games on progression nights. I want to get the kids in bed, kiss my wife good night, wrap up work, and the switch over to Peashooter mode.

I enjoy raiding. It’s the game’s pinnacle, and to play at the end-game level you need to have some focus. Chat is present, but not during raid rules or strategizing, and certainly not during the fight! The players are still friendly, but more businesslike. The game is more intense, more exciting, and sometimes a bit stressful. It’s fun, but it’s different that mucking about in Stormwind collecting crabs.

Sounds stressful, right? Sure, but when you Win.... ahh.... it’s all worth it!

Due to that intensity, I won’t commit to 5 or 6 raid nights a week. That’s just not me. That leaves me with no downtime to actually just hang out diving under waves or floating over top of them when I feel like it. Other times, I’m merely content to walk along the edge and watch the others ride the waves.  See, I play WoW because I simply enjoy playing the game at each of these levels.

So what about you? Can you raid all week long? How do you balance more casual down time?

25 January 2011

Hunting Elders

Well my grand plans for redeeming myself never got off the ground. Hotel wireless speed is sadly lacking, and my latency of up in the 2,500 range pretty much meant I'd be dead weight in any kind of heroic, so I passed on joining guild mates in random heroics.  Instead, I'll be farming achievements this week until I can track down some real internet bandwidth.
Lucky for me, Lunar Festival is back!
This is my third time through the Elders. Since I'm edging closer all the time to an Elder title in real life (I remember when remote controls had cords, and before that the remote control was the kid closest to the TV set who got to get up and twist the knobs to the next station!), I may as well finally complete the To Honor One's Elders achievement.
I was parked in Stormwind, so after scrabbling for apples and fishing up a swallowed locket, out I headed on my flying mount. First, OMG flying makes doing the elders so much easier. I tried one or two before on the ground mount, and promptly said no friggin' way. Goldshire, Sentinel Hill, Zul'Gurub, Booty Bay, Blasted Lands, Searing Gorge...  wait a sec!  Where the heck is Rumblerock in Searing Gorge?

Phasing Strikes Back

Bugger!  He was phased and I wasn't in the right dimension to find his little buns. Well, I'm all dressed up, so I may as well knock out some quests!  If you haven't done so, you will need to complete the quests with John J. Keeshan at the western camp.  Eventually, as you start giving gifts to Ogres while wearing your Halloween costume, you'll see the Elder pop on the side of Dreadmaul Rock.
By that point, I only needed two more quests for Burning Steppes Quests, so I went ahead and knocked those out and enjoyed the subsequent achievement splash!
Next, while I was in Burning Steppes, why not knock out the dungeon elders for Blackrock Depths and Blackrock Spire criteria of Elders of the Dungeons.
Am I done?  Nope! Not really all that close.  Still have to knock out the northern half of the Eastern Kingdoms, all of Kalimdor, most of the dungeons, and the Alliance capitals. Ugh, I've got some travelling to do!  But, I'll be on spotty wifi all week, so I guess I should pace myself.
Anyways, hope your week in WoW is off to a more exciting start than mine!

24 January 2011


I've made it my mission as a hunter to follow in the footsteps of Big Red Kitty and other Hunter bloggers (too many to currently name, check the blog roll) in respect to eliminating huntardism where I see it. I've helped new players learn the beauty of kiting. I've explained trapping mechanics. I've commented on gear choices and helped eliminate intellect and spirit from hunter gear. I've encouraged folks to try out rotations, gears and talent tweaks by personally checking numbers on the target dummies.

But Saturday night, I was just a plain Dummie.

In what was probably the most frustrating instance run I've ever participated in, I violated several cardinal rules for huntering within a heroic instance group (Throne of Tides).
1) Failure to crowd control my assigned target (or the corollary that forbids breaking CC on something already controlled!)
2) Pulling before the tank was ready
3) Pulling aggro off the tank

Honestly, it was a chain of errors, that under other circumstances, would have been funny. However, I was tired, and getting frustrated and down right pissed off with myself, which then spiraled into making more mistakes.

The Cardinal Rules

Let's talk about those cardinal rules for a moment, shall we?

  1. If you're assigned a target, CC the bugger. With a Freezing Trap.Any spec hunter can pull this off, but Survivalists will get a bit of a boost with lessened resistance (Survival Tactics) and increased duration (Trap Mastery) via talents.
    Again, any spec can pull off a freezing trap.  At level 85, pop Camouflage, activate Trap Launcher, put the cross hairs of the circle under the marked blue square (at least on my server), and then fire off Freezing Trap. Boom! Done!
  2. In my opinion, the Hunter should pull, but NOT until the tank (and by extension, the healer) says "Go". Why does the hunter pull? Because that is the best chance for the trap to actually trap the intended target.  Sure, you can still trap it on the move, but it takes better reaction time and placement when things are moving, and my argument is that any hunter can pull this off, even a slow reacting one.  Besides, the other thing hunters are doing when they pull is Misdirecting onto the tank so that all that aggro runs right at the pile of plate (or fur if the nameplate is all orange). With all the threat still hitting the tank, why shouldn't the hunter pull?
  3. There is no excuse whatsoever for pulling aggro off the tank.  We have too many tools at our disposal: Misdirection, Feign Death and the fact that we're at range so we actually need to get 130 % of threat (compared to a melee that only needs 100 % of threat) to actually pull aggro.  Get a threat meter, use it, and use abilities.
These rules are ingrained within me. I pride myself on trying to surprise fellow puggers by showcasing really what a hunter can pull off... trapping two mobs? Sure thing, one's iced and one's asleep due to Wyvern Sting! Line of sight pulling?  No worries! Filling the role of DPS! Sure thing!
But being an idiot? <sigh>

What did I do?

  1. A) In the hallway leading up to Lady Naz'jar, casters weren't being marked, but I was asked to CC casters.  I didn't do that, and we got almost overwhelmed by adds.  When in doubt, toss out a trap!
  2. B) On the first attempt to kill Lady Naz, I didn't drop my trap before she got to 66%, so I spent several seconds chasing my adds, only to have them dotted up by another player before I could get 'em trapped and negating any CC.
  3. C) On the second attempt, Tank asks "Ready?"... and I misread that by launching a Serpent Sting and start on a rotation.  Meanwhile, healer is still AFK because the "Ready?" was actually a question, not a statement.
  4. D). On the final attempt, I successfully place my freezing trap, grab the first, wyvern a second, and then screw up my targeting by hitting a wrong key and retargeting my iced mob... which gets scratched by an autoshot and wakes up. Not much reeks of ineptitude more than breaking your own CC prematurely.

Add to my screw ups, we had issues interrupting her Shock Blast in time, so we kept losing people early and often.

The run was with two other guildies and two random players. I felt horrible: not only had I let my guild mates down, but I embarrassed myself in the process and I always feel that one players performance impacts how a guild is perceived by others. I know it was a PuG, but the point remains: I wasn't at my best and those other players probably said to themselves, "What a fail guild".  Not cool.

Time to get some rest, regroup, and log back in to prove to me, and my guildmates, that I'm not a total noob-cake and that I can actually play the game.

Wish me luck!

21 January 2011

The Best Title Ever

I realize that most players have clearing Cataclysm raid content in their scope sights right now. My personal raid team is still getting some last few gear drops from heroics, and if we can pull a team together this weekend we'll give Blackwing Descent  a go.  Don't judge!  Like me, most of my raid team hase limited play time.  When I can log in and the guild tanks or friend tanks are already in a dungeon, the DPS queues average about an hour for a heroic. On those nights, my entire evening can consist of running some dailies and waiting for a single PuG heroic (which falls apart on the first wipe 66% of the time anyways), but that's a different post.

Back to the topic of titles.  While I'm on hold in the LFM queue, I'm using my time to run my dailies and work on achievements that spark my interest.  I recently earned Therazane, but at the same time I was pleasantly surprised to also see 35 Exalted Reputations pop up. Thirty five? Yikes!

The Goal
The next reputation milestone is 40 Exalted Reputations.  Seriously?!? A title? ... the Exalted! You mean to tell me I can run around Stormwind doing Feeling Crabby as "Peashooter the Exalted"? Oh, I gotta get me some of this!

The Plan
I need a plan of attack. What factions can I knock out quickly?
First? Spend about 350g on the AH (Dark Iron OreCore Leather, Fiery Core and Lava Core, head to Blackrock Depths, hit the bar and bam! I'm exalted with my dark iron brethren of the Thorium Brotherhood.

At this moment, I'm sitting at 36/40.

Next?  Well...I'm still working on "Next".  I'm eyeing the normal progression with the Cataclysm factions that I still have to go (I'm revered), including: Baradin's Wardens, Ramkahen, The Earthen Ring and Wildhammer Clan.  I'm running my dailies in Tol Barad (and in the peninsula if we can actually hold the friggin' towers) for the Wardens, Twilight Highlands for the Wildhammer, and Uldum for the Ramkahens as well as sporting my Tabard of Ramkahen for any rep I can squeeze from heroics and/or regular random runs. The druids of the Ring are gonna have to wait until I can ride a camel.

I'm also sporadically wrapping up my Outland rep with Netherwing and the ogres of Ogri'la. These aren't challenging, but I'm finding them very tedious.

Looking ahead, if I can get all of these, that will put me at 42/45 for 45 Exalted Reputations. Gonna need some raid help for the remaining three!

When I finally get this one in the bag (and assuming that nagging feeling that this was nerfed with Cataclysm to be the reward from 45 is just not true), I plan on sporting my Tuxedo Jacket and dancing on the steps of the Stormwind bank in celebration!

20 January 2011

Hello World!

Introducing.... Me!  I'm Peashooter, a dwarf hunter on the Borean Tundra server. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the groans. "Another hunter blog? Really?"

Yep! Don't make me switch to PVP and slap a Hunter's Mark on you!

Anyway, I've been playing World of Warcraft since just after the Burning Crusade expansion was released. My in-game interests include questing, running instances (at level or older content), raiding, farming reputations, and completing random achievements within the game.

I am guilty of sinking time into the Auction House to a minor extent (just to see what I can do).  My stable of alternate characters helps feed this particular aspect of the game, but they also allow me to lose myself in a different character from time to time.

Outside WoW, I have a family and a career. Working 10-12 hours and spending time with my family, gaming is my third priority. I just don't have endless hours to devote to hard-core gaming, so I proudly wear the often maligned "Casual" title. 

So that's a bit about me. From that, you can get a sense of what this blog will be about. I plan to share about my game experiences, but be forewarned:  I'm mainly doing this to express myself, not write for an actual audience. If any actual people join in on the ride, then that's just gravy!