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Chain Trap - The Musings of a Survivalist Hunter


Trinket talk

I had never intended for this to be a high traffic blog, posting for the sake of it doesn't appeal, and I'd rather contribute content than add to noise. However, it's been a week since I last posted anything, which is a big longer than I had intended. A combination of work busy-ness, and the fact that I am currently trying to work out how to migrate this blog to its own domain before publicising it, has limited my posting time. Oh, and that all my WoW time has been spent grinding ethereals in Blades Edge to try and obtain a Depleted Badge for my druid. It was whilst killing my 12,334,281st Bash'ir Arcanist that I started to muse on gear sets and my hunter. My main alt of the moment is a Druid. Feral specced, his bags conatin 2 sets of gear at all times. One for dps, and one for tanking. Completely different sets of gear. He also has, in the bank, a healing set, and a spell dps set, for those occasions when he may be called upon to fill that function. I also have a priest, who is really only a primal mooncloth factory and Jewelcrafting alt these days, but she has 2 sets of gear, healing and dps, nevertheless. But Psia only has one set for all seasons, and the only thing that really changes from encounter to encounter are her trinkets. So, I thought I'd take a closer look... Grinding. My grinding, and default, trinket set is a no brainer really. When grinding I tend to move from mob to mob quickly and with a minimum of messing about or downtime. For this reason, I don't want trinkets that require too much user intervention. I'm almost always grinding mobs that require next to no thought or effort on my part, level 70-72 non-elites, they tend to go down pretty easily. I want trinkets that augment my ability and efficiency, and for a survivalist that means +crit. Every time I crit, Thrill of the Hunt gives me some mana back. Every time I crit my piggy, Chipolata, gets to use his kill command. And, of course, everytime I crit, I do more damage. I could care less about spikey damage, as I'm only competing against my own pet, and frankly, the mob isn't going to last long enough to cause me trouble anyway. So, I stack crit. And in the land of crit related trinkets there are two that stand out particularly for me. The Hourglass of the Unraveller. Ahhh, my beautiful, rare, hourglass. 32 crit rating, and a chance on crit of an extra 300 AP for 10 secs. This is a beautiful trinket, and one that punches well above its weight. 32 crit rating is a lot, in the general scheme of things, 1.45% at 70, and the proc is super. Like most of these types of trinket, there is definitely an internal cooldown that prevents it proccing constantly, but I'd guess that that's only 30secs or so. When running at 30% crit, or thereabouts, the proc is up almost everytime that cooldown is done. This trinket drops from Temporus, the second boss in the Caverns of Time: Dark Portal (more commonly known as the "hard" boss in Black Morass). To say that its in demand would be an understatement, you'll find rogues, druids, fury warriors, retridins, and the like all competing against for you the drop. Persevere, however, it's well worth it (and BM is great fun and pretty quick). My second choice for grinding is the Skyguard Silver Cross. Available at Exalted with the Sha'tari Skyguard, it has a passive 34 crit rating bonus, and a 50% chance to increase your attack power by 140 for 30 sec when you kill a target that gives experience or honor. There is a 10 second cooldown on the proc, but 30 secs on the buff means that assuming you are killing at a decent rate, it's almost always up. I reckon that I can take 3 mobs a minute, on average, and so it's a 140AP buff for the vast majority of the time. 34 crit and 140 AP from a trinket is awesome. Of course, were the Shattered Ravens in SSC, I'd be hunting down Leotheras the Blind and spanking him hard until he coughed up the Tsunami Talisman. Like an hourglass on steroids, this is probably the best grinding trinket out there, in my opinion. Bosses. I tend to use my grinding trinkets for the trash in Kara, and instances; the extra crit and the procs are great even when fighting elite thingummies. But when it gets to the bosses, the silver cross gets ditched in favour of old faithful, Bladefist's Breadth. Available from a low level quest in Hellfire Peninsula (albeit one that will require a full team of 5), this is a massively useful trinket for boss fights. For sure, I lose 8 crit rating when switching it in, but 200 AP for 15secs on demand is very useful for those last few moments of a boss fight when you need all out dps. Pop rapid fire and this little baby, and watch the dps climb! It has a 90sec cooldown on it, so if your boss lasts longer than that, you can even get a couple of goes with it. Whilst I tend to stick with the hourglass for boss fights as well as grinding, I have recently been toying with another idea. As an alchemist, I have the Alchemist's Stone that I carry around on my bags for transmuting. As a hunter, i have feign death to get me out of combat. Whilst my mana effeciency is pretty good, on longer boss fights, I do have a tendency to need to glug a Fel mana potion from time to time. I am thinking that a macro, that feigns death, switches the hourglass out for the stone, drinks a pot, and then switches the hourglass back in, might prove to be really useful. I shall experiment and then report back here on the effectiveness after tonight's Karazhan run. The upgrade here is going to be the Bloodlust Brooch, available for 41 heroic tokens, the extra AP from its "on use" power is worth the exchange of crit for AP for more steady dps during boss fights. With the addition of badges from Karazhan and Zul'Aman in 2.3, the 41 badges will be relatively trivial to pick up, and this baby will replace the long serving Breadth. PVP I am a poor PvPer. I love it, and am moderately sucessful in Battlegrounds, and even have reasonable success in Arenas (50% ish wins is ok by me). But I'm no pvp god. More enthusiasm, less skill. And as such I'm not so committed. I tend to have a rather casual attitude to gearing for PvP, switching out a couple of agi/crit pieces of gear for a couple of AP/Stam bits. I tend to consider AP more important than crit for PvP, and so Bladefist's gets to stay, the AP when I want it seems better than a random proc. I then pair it with the Insignia of the Alliance to give me that CC breaking ability that is so vital in PvP. Suggestions for other trinkets for pvp are welcome, of course. However, coming in 2.3 is the uber Cruelty. Not only does this trinket have a massive 40 crit rating, but on use it also gives 1750 health for 15 secs. Obviously, I'll need to try this out, but it sounds on first like a great pvp emergency button. 75 heroic badges won't be too hard to get, but may take some time, so it'll prolly have to wait until after I've got the Bloodlust Brooch. Anyway, some thoughts there on my trinket loadout, as ever, comments are welcome.



Psia is a gun bunny. Given the choice, she'll always opt for a gun. However, due to the non-appearance of the Big Bad Wolf and his gun, she is currently using the Steelhawk Crossbow from Attumen (or Roadkill bow, as i like to think of it). There's a problem with bow and crossbows currently tho, in that the readily available arrows have less damage than the readily available bullets (37dps vs 43dps), as the Adamantite shells manufactured by engineers have no equivalent arrow. However, come patch 2.3, we finally get some 43dps arrows and even better, we get a nifty emergency arrow generator! This absolutely rocks, and I shall be tapping my guild engineers for a couple of them (once they have stopped flying around in the magnificent flying machines).

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Farewell, my deadzone.

So, Blizzard are planning to remove the deadzone. For some, this is the holy grail after which they have quested for years, for others, well they could care less. For me, this is excellent news. For those that are confused about what exactly the deadzone is, our melee weapons have a 5 yard range, and our ranged weapons have a minimum 8 yard range. So... there are 3 yards in which we can't do anything. Not a thing. Now this is fine, if you can move around, but combine a mage with frost nova, some pvp, and no minimum range on his spells, and you can see a problem. Previously, our only counter to the deadzone was Scatter shot, which can be used in that 3 yard zone, but that's a 21 point MM talent, and so virtually forced us survivalists (who don't have the Beast Within to help us smoosh out of the deadzone) to take at least 21 points in MM (and thus denied us the top survival talent). The removal of the deadzone means that my new improved instant cast Wyvern sting (coming to a hunter near you in 2.3) will be a lovely solution to those pesky mages. Obviously, there is no ETA on this change, but its excellent news nonetheless.

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The death (and rebirth) of narrative gaming

Gaming site 1UP have a preview of WotLK up, and despite the majority of info being a re-iteration of news that we have already heard, what stood out for me was the section on personalising the experience. To try to summarise, lead designer Chris Metzen, talks about tying the storyline to the character's development; so that as you progress through the content, your moral attitude to your character will develop, with everything becoming more of a shade of grey than shinyblacks and whites. This is all tied narratively to Arthas, and the events that lead to your final confrontation with him. This has got me all excited, moreso than anything else announced thus far, and I'll try to explain why. I've been playing computer games for a long time. I think that the first one that gripped me was 3D Monster Maze, a game that involved rubnning around a maze trying to avoid a T-Rex whilst trying to locate the exit. There was some hand-wavy initial waffle about the monster having been forozen in silicon, and it all being some sort of gameshow, but essentially there was little narrative. See T-Rex. Flee from T-Rex. Find Exit. Escape. Rinse and Repeat. A lot of fun, but hardly an immersive experience. Gradually games developed. The Sierra adventure games introduced story, and games like Times of Lore pushed that narrative style further, coupling it with top end graphics (well, for their time they were). For me, narrative-based single player games reached their zenith with the likes of Planescape:Torment and the Final Fantasy series, which despite their flaws, kept me riveted to the sceen for vast quantities of time, combining fascinating stories with compelling worlds and well-realised characters. With the advent of online games, these 3 factors that caught me up in solo games have degraded. The worlds that I found so compelling are still there, but in an online game, for all the life that exists, they are somewhat less real, due to the lack of evolution. The characters are still there, but unfortunately it is impossible to legislate the realisation of those characters, and so Xxxwtfpwn the warrior and Legoland the hunter dilute the virtual gene pool. And, the narrative stories are gone, almost entirely. For sure, there are many questlines in WoW that have a storyline, but that narrative takes no account of character, and has no impact upon the world. The limits of the genre are inherent in this, for clearly it is impossible to make a server wide change when one individual completes a quest. It can be argued that, Bernard the wolf paw collector has an insatiable hunger for wolf paws, and therefore the queue of players handing him dozens at a time might not cause him to go home to his palace (for surely with the amount of money he has paid out for those paws, he must be a very rich chap). But in true narrative the character has an impact upon the storyline and the storyline upon the character. Our heroes develop as they discover more, and their actions have an impact. It sounds to me, from reading the interview with Mr Metzen, that Blizzard hope to acknowledge this in the game somehow. I hope that this will occur at a number of levels. The journey to unlock the Death knight is a perfect time to apply some micro narrative to the game, with the player making choices that influences their death knight's start in life (or death, or undeath, or whatever). Exhibit particular cruelty on the quest to unlock the hero class, and you start with more blood runes. Show compassion and get more defensive ability. And so on. If there is moral ambiguity to the expansion's core themes, surely there is room to use that to afffect the character's abilities? This can perhaps be applied at a macro level too. We have all seen the pvp objectives in TBC that apply buffs across zones, well why not apply that to the moral choices made by the player within the narrative? If the narrative offers a choice to massacre refugees, or save them, why not keep a track of the number of refugees killed or saved serverwide, and then apply a zoned buff, or debuff, or perhaps spawn a vendor or questgiver dependent on the choices made by the playerbase at large. If you make the outcomes both desirable, but mutually exclusive, then different players will attempt to achieve different outcomes, and there will be natural player conflict. And it will all be driven by the narrative. I may be way off base here; it might be that the moral intensity and narrative complexity that Chris Metzen hints at will be boiled down to yet another faction who like or dislike you, and offer you nice things or not, and can be appeased by the slaughter of a million billion nerubians and the theft of their hats. but I hope not. And continue to dream of a day where the narrative complexty and thrills given by the likes of Planescape, are available to me in a MMO. My fingers are firmly crossed that Blizz attempt to fit a little of that into WotLK.

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Psia's guide to talking to people

This was a lil tutorial that I wrote to help my guild out with the new voice comms system. I thought that it might come in handy to others, and so have included it here.


The new in-game voice comms system is pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it... but it can take a little messing about to get set up. I figure that it might be a good thing if I put together a little basic walkthrough to show you how to do it, for the benefit of anyone who is struggling.

First of all, you need to enable the voice comms in your sound settings. Press esc to bring up the "Options" menu, and then click the "Sound & Voice" button. Select the "Chat" tab, and you should see the options shown below. Voiceopt

Click "Enable Voice Chat", and choose push to talk or voice activation. Thus far it seems that most people need to ramp up their microphone volume to around the 200% mark, but ymmv. You can also adjust the volume of the WoW sounds when someone is talking with the "Game Audio Fade" settings. Below the options box you can see a little lozenge shaped box like this: Indicator This is the indicator that shows who is talking when in a party or raid (it doesn't seem to work for a seperate channel like ravenschat). It is entirely draggable, so you can put it wherever you like.

The last thing on this options set is actually on the "Sound" tab. If you enable "Sound in Background" on this tab, then it will allow you to continue to talk and listen on the voice chat whilst Alt-tabbed out of WoW. If you do not, then when WoW is minimised you will be unable to use the voice chat.

Anyway, now that your settings are done. You can use voice chat. However there is still another step. You may have noticed a "Voice Chat" button on your minimap (it looks like a little speaker). If you press this you will get the options box below: Chatopt You can only ever be in one channel at a time. So if you are in say, ravenschat, then you will not be able to hear your party members. And vice versa. You can enable voice chat for your party, raid or BG using the tick boxes at the top of the options box. To enable chat for other channels, such as ravenschat, you click on the little speaker icon next to the channel in this option. It will go gold, and you can then chat. As shown in the screenie, you can see all members of a channel displayed on the right hand side of the window, and there is a speaker icon next to the names. Chatenable Where this is highlighted in gold, as in the screenshot above, the character has voice chat enabled for that channel. You achieve this by clicking on the icon. In this case, Psia is chat enabled for ravenschat, and Toojags is not, although Toojags is in the channel.

So, that's it. I hope that this little tutorial helped.

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Why Survival?

Okoloth over at his crazy data mining blog has discovered that of the 5752 level 70 Hunters surveyed, a whopping 7.65% of them are Survival specced. That's 440 hunters (and a .028 of a hunter, and I'm sure that we've all met those) out of the total. Which is not very many. So, why be a survival specced hunter? Clearly to do so makes you a freak, the red-headed stepchild of the hunter world. Or at the very least, a bit different. Well... I wouldn't dare to speak for all survival hunters, but I shall speak for myself. 1. I like to be different. As Mr Okoloth has demonstrated, we're a rare breed, us Survival types. Our Beastmastery and Marksmanship cousins weigh in at 34% and 59% respectively, so are common as muck in comparison with the rarefied company that is the survival community. My talent choice makes me unusual, and I like that. 2. Survival gives me neat abilities. As a survival spec hunter, I get to do some really cool things. Chain trapping, the ability to drop a fresh freezing trap before my previous one has expired, is a godsend, and responsible for getting me invites to many heroic runs with people I barely know. When you remember that traps can be used on pretty much every mob in the game, you can see how my CC comes to be well regarded. I can put mobs and other players to sleep. My wyvern sting is stunning in arena PvP (and it's a shame that the rest of my performance doesn't quite match); allowing me to send the opposition healer to sleep, whilst my team and I nuke down their dps. Expose Weakness is a mammoth buff to my raid. 25% of my agility is converted to AP and added to all physical dps'ers attacks. Also, I get more snakes in my traps, and that is worth the price of admission alone. There are few cooler abilities in the game than the ability to hassle your enemies with a bucketload of angry multicoloured snakes! 3. My dps is respectable. Beastmastery is known to be the hunter dps spec. When you combine reasonable dps from the hunter with awesome dps from the pet, you'll find a hunter talent spec that rules the damage meters. The well known and respected Big Red Kitty is BM, and frequently devastates his raid damage meters. Marksmanship hunters get to watch mammoth numbers scroll past when they crit; which means that their top scores are usually higher than mine. However, I do pretty well in the damage stakes. Sustained dps of 600-650, with none of the mana issues of my marksmanship brethren, makes for a reasonably happy hunter. My crit rate is absurd, when raid buffed, and my agility high, so my AP remains pretty good despite the loss of some of the MM AP buffs. I've certainly never had any complaints about my dps. 4. I am stubborn. I have always liked the idea of the survival tree. I chose the hunter class because I liked the idea of being a ranged physical damage dealer (I usually choose that as my first class in any MMO). The pet thing is incidental for me; so it was always going to be marksmanship or survival for me. I chose survival, and back in the day it wasn't very good. Our top talent was Lacerate, an attack that "Wounds the target causing them to bleed for 133 damage over 21 sec." Uber, huh? Gradually, Blizz improved the tree, adding Wyvern Sting, and pre-Burning Crusade, survival was a pretty kicking spec. Then came the agility nerf. From 2AP for every point of agility, now we had only 1. For a talent tree that had an extra 15% agility added from Lightning Reflexes, this was a big hit to our dps. But did I spec away from Survival? Did any of these things change my mind? Not a bit of it. I am stubborn, and have stuck with it. The survival talent tree is pretty well balanced now (with the exception of the penultimate tier), and is well complemented by lower tiers of the marksman tree. Being a survival hunter may not be trendy, and may not result in that table topping dps, but for me, from the point of view of fun, it's unbeatable.



Who am I?

So, I decided to start a blog about WoW. To add my voice to the million other bloggers posting random, strident, sometimes profound thoughts and opinions on the world's biggest MMO. Whether or not my ramblings represent good value remains to be seen, butI recognise the voyeuristic pleasure I gain from reading others blogs, and perhaps I can contribute positively to the WoW blogosphere. Anyway, I think that the best way to begin is to introduce myself, both in and out of game. In game I am mostly Psia, in so much as she is my main. I have a number of other toons, but she's my first, and the one with which I have the closest bond. She is also the one around whom this blog will focus. Night Elf, hunter, and technology fangirl; she travels Azeroth and Outland armed with her animal companions, shooting things and stealing their stuff. As indicated by the title of this blog, she's a survivalist, and has been for almost all of her career. The survival branch of the hunter talent tree is an oft overlooked, but reasonably versatile, set of talents. They provide for improved traps, extra *gasp* survivability, and the enormously funky Expose Weakness mob debuff. Despite dalliances with Marksmanship, and a very brief stint as Beastmastery, Survival suits my play style and Psia's idiom, and is always the talent tree to which she returns. Out of game, I am John S. I am thirty some, work full time, am married, with a lack of kids as yet. My wife, gorgeous as she is, is a non-gamer (with the exception of the odd bit of Civ 2). As such she doesn't understand the attraction of WoW, feeling it a little immature. Consequently, I have had to haggle for my play time, and have an agreement with her that I play for one evening a week without interuption, and any other play time is subject to distraction, negotiation and completed chores. This makes me casual, in the extreme, and whilst I get a fair amount of unscheduled play time, I tend to end up organising guild runs to make sure my one night a week is used to its maximum. My guild, the Shattered Ravens, is an absolute joy. Formed with the intention of providing a social network of friends with whom to adventure; everyone in the guild knows at least one other guild member in real life. This allows us to avoid the majority of drama that comes from the anonymity afforded by online existence, and yet gives us the numbers to attempt the mid range content (we've recently started regular Guild only Kara runs, and occasionally can muster a 20 person raid to go experience old content in Azeroth). As a guild, we often meet up for beer and frothing about Warcraft. Anyway, that is the introdution over with... on with the content.