Hunter Tips for Malkorok

Malkorok is the 9th boss in Siege of Orgrimmar. He’s got some nasty abilities and is a step up in difficulty from many of the early bosses. 

It’s two-phase single target fight (there are a few adds in heroic, but they’re not a big focus). 

The fight

During phase one there is constant raid-wide damage, and a shield mechanic similar to Tortos. Any healing taken will go into your shield, not your health bar. Thankfully, you don’t have to shoot a crystal to trigger the shield, it applies automatically. Malkorok uses a few damaging abilities. Seismic Slam does damage in a 5 yard area and shoots players up into the air. Be sure to be spread out so only one person gets hit at a time. Imploding Energy will spawn void pools around the room. After 5 seconds they will explode, doing damage to anyone in them. Each zone must be soaked by at least one player standing in them, or massive shadow damage will be done to all players. My raid splits the room into quadrants and assigns people to each one so everyone knows where they need to soak. Arcing Smash is a cone attack that he will use 3 times during the phase, this can be avoided. 10 seconds after the 3rd Arcing Smash, he’ll use Breath of Y’Shaarj which deals massive damage in the places where the smashes were. Remembering the position of each smash so you know where the safe zones are is very important.

Heroic only – When Malk uses Seismic slam, it causes Living corruption adds to spawn and attack players. These have an aura which reduces the casting and movement speed of those around them. They need to get to the tank so they don’t sabotage the casters. Malkorok will also spawn orbs of corruption continuously throughout phase 1. These persist and if anyone comes into contact with them, their barrier gets removed and they take damage. These can be soaked using cooldowns, but should generally be avoided in this phase.

In phase 2 the Ancient Miasma fades, meaning people no longer have shields and can have their health restored. Malkorok will start using Blood Rage, doing huge amounts of damage split among any players in front of him. In normal, everyone just stacks in front of the boss to split the damage. Displaced Energy is a debuff that will be applied to random players. It deals damage to the player and if it is dispelled (or after 9 seconds) explodes, doing damage to anyone in 8 yards. Because of this, players who get this need to move out of the group. Whether or not you want to dispel is up to your group (I vote no!).

Heroic only – The Displaced Energy debuff also roots the affected player in place. Only tanks (or one Monk tank) should stand in front of the boss to soak the Blood Rage. The rest of the players should stay spread out in their quadrants. At this time, the Essences of Y’Shaarj can be soaked by players with good cooldowns (hunters, shadow priests, paladins) to free up some space.

When the Blood Rage ends, we go back to phase 1.

Talent Recommendations

Level 15 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera
In order to soak as many Orbs as possible, the shorter cooldown on Deterrence is good.

Level 90 – Glaive Toss
Normal is a single-target fight and in heroic the adds aren’t numerous and die quickly.

Tips for the Fight

  • Deterrence has a ton of uses on this fight. In heroic you can use it to soak the Essences of Y’Shaarj. If you get caught in an Arcing Smash or Breath of Y’Shaarj, Deterrence will keep you alive.
  • Disengage can help you get out of the bad floor effects, reduce fall damage after a slam, or get to Imploding Energy to soak in time.
  • Keep an eye on your Barrier level. It will change colour based on how full it is. Use a Healthstone if you’re in the red.
  • Heroic - Master’s Call is helpful on heroic, it can be used if you’re slowed by an ooze or if you are rooted by Displaced Energy.
  • Heroic – Help out the raid by Misdirecting the oozes when they spawn. Once they’re on the tank, Multishot every once in a while to help get them down. 
  • Heroic - Get a Druid to Symbiosis you so they can get Deterrence and you can use Dash so you can soak more orbs.

Happy hunting!

Button Bloat – Hunters

I talked about what abilities I thought could be eliminated from the Resto Druid kit last week, and now it’s time to talk hunters.

As I looked through my spellbook for all three specs last night, it struck me that I was fine with the hunter’s basic rotational abilities. I wouldn’t get rid of any of the basic 7-8 shots used by each spec. There are not too many. If anything, some new shot or mechanic could be added to spice things up a little bit. Where hunters feel bloated is in our cooldowns and situational abilities.

There are a whole bunch of abilities that could be removed or streamlined to make hunters feel more fluid, and possibly make room for other, more interesting abilities.

Aspects
These used to be a lot more interesting back when we had Aspect of Nature and Aspect of the Viper. We needed to make a meaningful choice for what aspect we were in and would often switch a few times during fights. Now there really is no choice and these abilities seem unnecessary.

Aspect of the Hawk/Ironhawk should be passive, or just removed. There’s really no reason we should ever have to reapply it. Right now it only serves as an annoyance to have to make sure to put it back on after switching specs. 

Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack we could probably live without. Having a whole aspect bar just for these two things seems silly, if AotH is removed. Perhaps we could get an ability like Stampeding Roar as a replacement. That would actually be really nice, even without a root/snare break.

Traps
Trap use has gone down a lot since previous expansions and they’re clunky to use compared to other abilities. The only real positive traps have is being able to place them before a pull, but even that only gives a marginal increase in damage.

As far as a I know, Survival is really the only spec that gets any use out of Explosive Trap. In order to be worthwhile, there needs to be a certain number of enemies and they need to stay still within the area of effect. I’d be more than happy to have this taken away.

Likewise, Snake Trap has very little use in PVE. I remember there used to be some cool uses for it, when snakes could be targeted by boss abilities and save your raid some damage, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

The PVP implications of this might be too big, but I’d also love to see Freezing Trap and Ice Trap combined into a single ability. The first hostile mob to hit the trap would be frozen. If the trap gets broken, or the mob is immune, the Ice Trap effect would show up.

Trap Launcher should be removed and made baseline.

Cooldowns
Rapid Fire and Focus Fire are very similar abilities which increase haste and I see no reason for both to exist. One could be removed, or they could be combined into one. The pet haste effect from Rabid could also be combined into this.

Other Spells
This one may be a bit more controversial, but I’d love to never be asked to Misdirect again. With all the changes to tank threat and ranged taunts, it really shouldn’t be necessary (and whatever happened to “wait 3 seconds before you attack the boss?”). Of course, MD is most useful in directing stray/spawning mobs to the tank, but our ability to do this marginal at best. As BM especially, my misdirect can’t out-threat much of anything. 

Hunter’s Mark seems unnecessary at this point. We don’t really even need to cast it anymore since its application is baked into basic shots. The tracking component is useful for PVP, but I’d rather it become a situational spell used for the tracking and have the damage buff component removed.

Flavour
These spells don’t impact much and the only reason to keep them would be nostalgia.

I can’t remember the last time I used Beast Lore. Since pets have been normalized, and don’t need to be fed, there’s not much point.

I didn’t even remember hunters had Eagle Eye until I was browsing through my spell book. I wouldn’t miss it.


Well, that’s 13 abilities I think could safely be removed from Hunters. That’s a lot. It seems that there are a lot of opportunities to streamline our toolkit. 

What do you think? What Hunter abilities would you like to see removed? Are there any you wouldn’t want to lose?

Ashunera has written another well-thought out piece about ability bloat, and wants to know what 5 abilities you’d prune from your class. You should check it out.

Button Bloat – Resto Druids

Everybody’s talking about button bloat. Lissanna’s doing it. Vidyala’s doing it. Celestalon was the one who started it.

So I’m going to talk about it too. First, to answer the question – there’s no ability I love that I fear will be cut. I am fearless in that regard. Would I want something like Rejuvenation to go away? Obviously not, but I’m also quite positive it’s not on the chopping block.

Second, I think removing some abilities is an excellent idea. How many abilities is too many? More than I can comfortably bind. On my Druid I use VuhDo bindings and bind all my common heals to a combination of SHIFT, CTRL, ALT (or no modifier) plus one of 4 buttons on my mouse. That gives me 16 possible bindings. Actually, 15, since unmodified left click is used to target.

Currently, my breakdown of resto Druid spells in PVE looks like this:

  • Spells I want the fastest access to that need to be bound: Healing Touch, Lifebloom, Nature’s Cure, Nature’s Swiftness, Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Wild Mushroom, WM: Bloom, Innervate, Ironbark, Barkskin (13 spells)
  • Spells which I feel  should be bound, but in reality almost never get used: Nourish, Genesis (2 spells)
  • Spells which are used regularly but have a long enough cooldown that I don’t mind not having them bound: Rebirth, Tranquility, Incarnation, Nature’s Vigil/HotW, whatever I get from Symbiosis (5 spells)
  • Utility spells that I use frequently: Dash, Displacer Beast, Stampeding Roar (3 spells)
  • Situational utility spells: Typhoon, Soothe, Ursol’s Vortex, Cat form, Bear form, Might of Ursoc, Growl (7 spells, give or take)
  • DPS spells that I like to use when I’m bored or the boss is at 1% and is berserking: Moonfire, Wrath (2 spells)

Adding those up, I have a total of 32 abilities which I will want access to at some point or another in raids. If I take away the highly situational spells that I don’t use on most encounters, I’m still left with 23. 

I think 23 abilities is too many to use on a regular basis. So what can we cut? Looking at my breakdown of spells, two things stick out. Nourish and Genesis.

Nourish is a spell I haven’t had bound since about a week into Mists. With all the other healing spells available to us, it just doesn’t pack enough of a punch. It’s cheap mana-wise, but it’s also slow and barely puts a dent in health bars. It seems like an obvious choice for removal.

Genesis is a spell I was excited about when it was first announced, thinking that it would give Druid healing some much-needed extra burst. However, it didn’t really work out that way. Rejuvenation just has too short a duration to make Genesis really work. At most you’re going to have 5 up that you can speed up, and the first couple applied will barely benefit from the Genesis cast. Plus, using Genesis mean you lose all your applied Rejuvs very quickly when most of the time it’s more beneficial to leave them up, ticking slowly. The only real use people have gotten out of Genesis is quickly charging Wild Mushrooms, but I don’t think giving us a faster way to overheal was what the devs had in mind when they made this spell. Cut it.

These two were obvious ones, but now it gets a little murkier. Healing Touch or Regrowth could also be candidates for removal, depending on how/if the healing model changes in Warlords. If we continue down the road of AoE/smartheal/cooldown all the things, we really don’t need 2 cast-time direct heals in our kit. I think that Healing Touch could be removed without too much impact. For most of this expansion I only used it in combination with Nature’s Swiftness (or if there was not enough to heal and I could just chain cast it on a tank to refresh LB/Harmony/give me something to do). The 4T16 bonus means people are using it more now, but unless this effect gets baked in as a passive ability, this will change in Tier 17. I find that Regrowth and Healing Touch are in the same niche, but Regrowth fills it better. If the healing model gets changed so that single target heals are something we actually want to be casting, I think there is room for both of these spells. However, I think they would need to be changed a little to differentiate them. I’d like to see the HoT portion of Regrowth be more substantial, as it once was. Alternatively, Healing Touch could be cheaper and bigger to compensate for the slow cast time.

The last spell that I think could be removed is Innervate. Of course it’s nice to have a mana return, but I think it would be just as easy to balance healers around not having an ability like this instead. Druids’ mana return is a little more interesting than something like Divine Plea or Mana Tea in that we can choose to cast it on someone else but, really, how often does that happen? Generally Innervate just amounts to another 3-minute cooldown to watch and use as soon as it’s available. It’s not really adding anything.

I’m trying to find more candidates for removal, but everything else has a real purpose, even if it doesn’t get used on every fight. I really like having so many utility spells and I can’t think of one I’d want to remove to reduce button bloat.

What do you think? Are there any abilities you wouldn’t miss if they were removed?

Speaking of Resto Druids (since I don’t speak about them all that much any more), if you’re an avid tree lover, you should check out Team Waffle’s most recent Resto Roundtable and Final Boss’s podcast on Restos for some great discussion. I’m kind of sad that not maining a Druid means I don’t get invited to these things anymore :( But they’re both great things to listen to.

Warcraft Logs – Basic Raider Evaluations

Another day, another section added to my Evaluating Raiders with Warcraft Logs guide.

This time, I give some tips on basic raider evaluations, using my Hunter as an example. I go over all sorts of things, like:

  • Evaluating damage done
  • Ability use
  • Targets/damage prioritization
  • Timing and frequency of cooldown use
  • Debuffs applied to enemies
  • Avoidable damage taken
  • Self-healing and healthstone use

Buffs-cast-on-bats

Go check it out, and feel free to ask questions or give suggestions.

Evaluating Raider with Warcraft Logs

Evaluating Raiders with Warcraft Logs

There is a new combat analysis site in town, and its name is Warcraft Logs. While the site is currently in open Alpha and will likely not be officially released until Warlords of Draenor, it still has a ton of functionality and is already a great tool for evaluating logs.

Since log analyzers aren’t entirely intuitive to use, I’ll be writing a guide on how to use Warcraft Logs to analyze and improve both your own performance and that of your entire raid (just like I did with World of Logs).

The guide is in its beginning stages, currently I just cover the basics – how to upload a log and a breakdown of the log UI. Soon I’ll be adding sections on how to analyze individual raiders and how to use logs to find out what’s happening on boss fights when things go wrong.

Warcraft Logs summary screen

I’ve added the first two sections to my guide section, please check it out and let me know if you have any feedback.

Evaluating Raiders with Warcraft Logs

Filling Another Stable Slot

If you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you know that I recently got a new puppy.

Lily at 12 weeks

This is Lily. She’s an adorable little mutt. Her mother is a beagle/bulldog mix and her father is a husky. She’ll be 3 months old on January 15th.

Since I’m a proud new puppy parent, I thought I’d take the opportunity to inundate everyone with an excessive amount of pictures.

Lily at 6 weeks old

This is Lily the first time I saw her, when she was only six weeks old. She was so sleepy and calm. I fell right for that bait & switch.

Lily and daddy

Lily with her daddy on her first night at her new home. At 8 weeks she was still so tiny! Only 10lbs when we got her.

Max and Lily's first meet

After we got her home and settled, we introduced her to her kitty siblings. Momo, who is suspiciously absent from all these photos, was not (and still isn’t) impressed with the new addition to the family. Max was more curious than anything.

I love the look on Max’s face during their first meeting. “What the fuck is that?!”

Sleepy puppy with her cow toy

Sleepiest puppy. On her first night at home we were too wimpy to put her in her crate so she slept under the bed.

I never had a puppy before. The first night was fun. The next few days were overwhelming. She was peeing everywhere, chewing everything, biting everyone. She had me in tears by the third night. I was so used to quiet, low maintenance cats, and puppies are so needy and need to be watched constantly.

Max watches Lily

Max proved to be a good puppy watcher, and followed her around the house all the time to try to make sure she wasn’t causing trouble.

Lily learned to play fetch pretty quickly.

Sleepy puppy

The nicest thing about puppies is that they sleep a lot. We finally got into a pattern where she would be awake and get to run around for 60-90 minutes, then go into her crate for a nap for 90 minutes. Once we started this pattern I felt a lot less exhausted and overwhelmed. (And finally had some time to sit down and play the video games I got for Christmas).

Lily and her bone

She’s still pretty crazy though. She has so much energy and sharp little razor teeth, I can’t wait for those to fall out. My biggest source of frustration right now is that she is so bitey. Hands, feet, clothes, she wants to chew them all. And it’s not just nipping, she’ll latch on to my hand and try to bring it to her bed with her. Ouch. I’ve tried all kinds of things to get that to stop, but am not having too much luck so far. Hopefully it’s something she starts growing out of soon.

We try to distract her from biting us with toys and delicious marrow bones, but nothing seems to keep her attention for more than a few minutes when she’s riled up.

Banana thief

She also steals Max’s catnip toys because she’s a jerk and verboten chew toys are the most fun chew toys.

Lily on Max action

Not only does she steal his toys, but she also likes to try to mount poor Maxmoo. Max doesn’t seem overly pleased with this, and Lily tends to get bit shortly after. This week they were approximately the same size (18lbs each), but she’s going to outgrow him fast.

Last night Lily had her first puppy socialization class. I was afraid she was going to be awful and unruly since she can be so wild at home, but she was actually very good! She did the best out of all the puppies at the obedience stuff. She played nice with the other puppies. I was worried because she was twice the size of the rest of them (the other puppies where much smaller – a pomeranian, a shih-poo, a greyhound and a shiba inu), but I only had to step in to intervene once. She actually seemed a little intimidated by the little 7lb greyhound (man, that thing can run). As an added bonus, the class wore her right out. She was a very nice, sleepy puppy for the rest of the night.

Still fooling people into thinking she's good

She can be infuriating, but she sure is cute. Over the last few weeks I’ve come to accept that she’s just a puppy, and not a little demon in disguise like I first thought she was. I love this bad puppy.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Patch 5.4 and Siege of Orgrimmar was released on September 10, 2013. We’ve been in there for 4 months so far but to me it feels more like 4 years.

This week we learned that there is another PVP season planned during Mists. This means we’re likely looking at another 6 months in Siege of Orgrimmar before Warlord of Draenor comes out. At least. Blizzard does a lot of things well, but pacing their raid content releases is not one of them.

The most recent three expansions have had a pretty distinct pattern when it came to time spent in a tier vs. number of encounters available in that tier. The first tier goes quick. There are a lot of encounters, but the tier isn’t current for that long. In the middle tier, the ratio of encounters:time goes down – the tier stays current for roughly the same amount of time (give or take a month), but there are less bosses to fight. In the final tier of an expansion that encounter:time ratio drops even more. We get more bosses than the middle tier, but the tier drags on for 10-12 months while we wait for the next expansion to be released.

Wrath of the Lich King
Tier 7  (5 months, 18 encounters – 3.6 encounters/month)
Tier 8  (3.5 months, 23 encounters 6.6 encounters/month)
Tier 9  (4 months, 11 encounters – 2.75 encounters/month)
Tier 10 (1 year, 26 encounters – 2.2 encounters/month)  

Cataclysm
Tier 11 (6.5 months, 25 encounters – 3.8 encounters/month)
Tier 12 (5 months, 14 encounters – 2.8 encounters/month)
Tier 13 (10 months, 16 encounters – 1.6 encounters/month)

Mists of Pandaria
Tier 14 (5 months, 32 encounters – 6.4 encounters/month)
Tier 15 (6 months, 25 encounters – 4.2 encounters/month)
Tier 16 (10 months?, 28 encounters – 2.8 encounters/month)

Tier 8 (Ulduar) in Wrath of the Lich King is an outlier in this – an example of creating a tier that was amazing in both quality and quantity, but then pushing it to the background with another tier extremely quickly. WotLK is also a bit of an anomaly in that it was the only time in any expansion (or original WoW) that we got 4 raid tiers.

The question is…why the hell do they keep doing this?

I can understand some front-loading of content. When a new expansion comes out, having a ton of new content is going to help convince people to purchase it. But they need to spread the content out better. Here’s what my generally mindset looks like as expansions proceed:

Game is released
“Oh my god, there’s so much to do! Level! Get rep! Get enough gear to start raiding! Try to check out the new features that were introduced.”

First raid tier ends
“I wish it had lasted longer! I’m sure my raid could have defeated a couple more raid bosses if we had an extra month, and there’s still so much other stuff to do.”

Second raid tier ends
“I feel good about this tier. We had a decent amount of time to progress, and I’m ready for a change of scenery.”

Six months into the final raid tier
“Is this tier ever going to end? Can we hear some news about when the next expansion is coming? Pleeeease.”

Eight to twelve months into the final raid tier
“I’m so bored, we killed everything months ago and playing has been a huge waste of my life for the last few months. Fuck this fucking game, I hate it.”

They need to learn to hold something back. Maybe instead of having 3 raid instances at the start of the xapc, only put out 2 and save one for the last tier. I know I’m not the only one who gets bored doing the same, single raid for almost a year.

Mists of Pandaria also had the least amount of raid zones. In Burning Crusade we had 8 different raids – Karazhan, Magtheridon’s Lair, Gruul’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Hyjal, Black temple and Sunwell. Some of these only had one or two bosses, but 8 raids make for a tremendous amount of variety in scenery, lore and types of bosses encountered. It makes things much more interesting. In Wrath of the Lich King there were 9 different raids. In Cataclysm we had only 6 raid zones. In Mists? Only 5, and 3 of them were squished into the first 5 months. This made for a lot of monotony over the next 10 months.

Is providing varied, interesting raid zones becoming less of a priority?  It seems that in Warlords, a lot of attention is being paid to allowing people to raid in 700 different ways (LFR, normal, heroic, flex, cross-realm, mythic). How much attention will be paid to the variety and amount of raid zones themselves?

After the original release and four expansions, will Blizzard ever learn how to not suck at timing their raid content releases?