Streaming!

November 13th, 2013

So I have been trying to stream our raid nights and other playing that I do.  You can catch me on Twitch.tv at Noodlez Noggin.  You can also find our YouTube channel at The Mirage Guild.

I don’t often look at chat but you can always message me or leave a comment here.

It’s been awhile…

November 13th, 2013

I did not realize how long it’s been since I made a post.  Boy time has flown by.

So As of right now, I have nine level 90 toons.  Mysteiria (shaman), Punda (monk), Saimus (pally), Leucis (druid), Noodlez (lock), Cyndir (dk), Grayghost (rogue), Aalexa (hunter) and most recently Nouillez (priest).  That’s a lot of 90’s.  It gives me an interesting perspective of the game and it’s many facets though.

For instance,  nine toons with nine farms can be a lot of herbs/resources.  It normally takes about 3 days to cap my rep out enough to get my full farm.  You do have to “preplant” some veggies to help keep things moving.  The order is 1-Scallion, 2-carrots, 3-green cabbage, 3-witchberries and 4-striped melons.  If you plant them ahead of time as you have space, you can harvest and replant as needed for the quest line.  It keeps things moving without having to wait the day for them to grow.  Also, as you level, if you do instances and mark the Tiller rep as the bonus rep, you can usually get to honored before you even hit 90.  So that gives you a nice jump in the rep.

So what else has come out…  oh yeah, the Timeless Isle.  The quickest way to gear up your toons ever.  I had so much timeless gear coming in, I made a character just to hold all of it.  Though it can be disenchanted for crystals, the downside is that my enchanter can only make the shadow items.  But it’s still a decent amount of crystals coming in.  With all of the cloth items I had saved up, when Nouillez hit 90, she was bumped up to a 495 ilevel with just a couple mailed items.  That makes her eligible for MV, HoF and ToT LFR’s.  (She has an inscription BoA weapon).  And with just a little more gear, she will be SoO LFR capable.  The down side is that her stats are pretty bad with this gear.  It’s not the best but it makes her playable.

Flex raids!  I love them.  I love the ability to pop in and out of them as needed.  If we have 10 people great, if we have 15 people, that’s awesome too.  No one has to sit on the bench.  Some one comes on late or has to leave early, no problem.  My biggest problem is who to bring.  That’s a nice problem to have.

BLIZZCON!  Yep, just happened this past weekend.  I am excited for the new expansion.  The poster I got of Garrosh is now hanging in my office.

Things I am most excited for…  Garrison.  This will be awesome.  I loved Ultima Online player housing and Star Wars Galaxies had some awesome player run cities.  This is almost a combo of both.  I wonder how far they will take this?  Will they let us display our legendary items?  Will we have access to it from the web/mobile app?  How long will it take to grow?

Boost to 90!  Though I will most likely have at least one of every class at 90 by the time the expansion hits, it will be cool to be able to boost another toon.  I’ll most likely boost a horde side to see that storyline.  And get some achievements over there too.

Quality of life changes.  Things like a true heirloom item page accessible by all characters.  A toy storage and quest item page.  Item squish.  And stat simplification.  It should be interesting.  It might seem like they are simplifying the game but I think it will make it actually more important to analyze what gear you are getting and how it affects your gameplay.

It’s an exciting time to be an altaholic in WoW.  :)

Take a chill pill…

February 22nd, 2013

So I finally capped my Monk at 90 by going Windwalker the whole way.  I’ve saved gear and such along the way to have a Mistweaver spec but other than a few random incidents and some BG’s at low level, I haven’t tried to heal much.

Now, for me at least, the monk basics are pretty easy.  You do you Jab to generate some chi.  Then Tiger Palm to get the ignore armor buff going.  And lastly Rising Sun Kick to put an increased damage debuff on mobs.  If it’s one mob, you rotate between Jab’s and Blackout Kicks until they are dead, keeping buffs up if they drop off.  For three or more mobs, you do Spinning Crane Kick, while keeping the Rising Sun Kick and Tiger Palm buffs up.  At two mobs, I am mostly lazy, just doing Spinning Crane Kicks on them too.  Though you should really stick with your single target rotation.  On boss fights I throw in Tigereye BrewTouch of Karma and Xuen as much as I can.

Seems pretty easy right?  Well, doing instances as I leveled and at 90, I am noticing that most of the time, I top the charts.  It’s not a hard thing to do.  I have run into a couple of instances where dps’ers were kicked because they were not “performing” to what the other players expectations were.  At first I tried to defend them.  Thinking that maybe they were new players or new to the spec/class.  Maybe they had chosen not to research their class as I often do to find a decent rotation.  Maybe they were just lazy.  I am sure a few were in there to do the bare minimum to get through and get their justice/valor points.

But after awhile, I started to wonder to myself.  “Why would you consciously play a game in which you were not playing to the best of your ability?”  Isn’t that just wasting your own time?  Why would you not research your class a little to get better?  I honestly feel that those who play to the best of their ability, will get more out of the game overall.  Notice I said “to the best of THEIR ability”.  Not everyone is an uber player.  And not every class can top the charts all the time.  Sometimes your gear is holding you back.  Sometimes it’s play style.  But knowing the best way to play your class will make you feel better when you play it.  Even if it’s not perfect, you will see marked improvement with some simple spell rotation changes and fight awareness.

So in an effort to help readers out there, I’d like to link a few good resources to help you get a little better.

Noxxic – Basic class breakdowns
Icy-Veins – Similar to Noxxic but a little more in depth
Preach Gaming (And his Twitch and Youtube channels) – Full class reviews and EXCELLENT workshops.
Healiocentric – Healing focused blog
SacredDuty – Pally focused blog

If you have others, leave them me a comment and I’ll add them to the list.  Helping others get better is one of the easiest ways to get some more fun out of this game.

Giving a shout out…

January 29th, 2013

So I have to give a shout out to Mike Preach over at Preach Gaming.  I’ve mentioned him before but he is the one I am modeling my UI after.  He has his own UI download if you want to try his.  It’s pretty clean and I am finding that, for the most part, it’s the way I want mine.  Though I do use different addons for some things.

The simplicity of his interface is extremely nice.  You have your main focus in the middle of the screen.  He uses Pitbull for unit frames and I use ShadowedUF.  That’s the big thing you will see.  He also uses BigWigs instead of DBM.  Again, that’s kinda a personal preference and they both work very similarly.    And I use WeakAuras and he uses TellMeWhen.  WeakAuras gives more flexibility for things like adding dynamic groups, but TellMeWhen is a quick and dirty, easy to use monitoring addon.

Overall, if you are looking for a clean interface and don’t know where to start, check out Preach’s interface.  It’s simple to download and he has a quick video on how to set it up.  I’ve gone through it and it’s pretty simple.

There is another popular UI pack out there called ElvUI.  I tried it briefly.  I have to say that though it looks extremely clean, it was much harder for me to customize some of the things I like.  Like additional spell bars, the bag setup, etc.  I do love the unit frames though since you can actually overlay the character portrait directly onto the health bar.  I’ve seen several bloggers/streamers out there that use it.  Again, it looks really nice but it’s kinda like an “all your eggs in one basket” setup.  If you like that, go for it.

Want versus Need

January 28th, 2013

So I started recording my game play with Fraps (great software but it uses a LOT of disk space) and really looking at how I play and what I use.  And it was kind of a shocker.

I have a TON of addons.  Almost all parts of my UI are customized.  But this comes with a couple down sides.  First, when patch day rolls around, I tend to have at least a few broken addons.  It also puts a bit of extra load on my system though that’s not too big of a deal with the hardware I have.  Lastly, there is the issue of “what is this weird addon and why is it doing something odd?”  Sometimes, things don’t break, they just change.  An addon author adds something, removes something, changes something.  And you sit there and wonder “why does my screen look different?”

So what did I find?  I found that I had a lot of addons just creating clutter.  I had to decide which addons I “want” and which ones I “need”.  And it’s tough!

I had added a Scrolling Combat Text addon just before raid so I had not tweaked it at all.  And it created a lot of “spam” on my screen.  But I also found that some of my addons seemed either unnecessary or duplicated with other things.  Like my SUF raid frames shows buffs and debuffs on a target.  But I also had Raven to track that sort of thing also.  Did I need both?  Nope.  Should I keep both?  I’m still undecided on that.  And here’s my reason why.  Review.  When I watch the video after the fact, I can’t “mouseover” a debuff to see what it is.  So having it up in a text format is nice.  But do I need it when I play?  Nope.  And, depending on what it is and where it is, I might not even look at it during play.

Organization is key.  Making sure the important things that I do look at are in the middle of the screen.  My WeakAuras, Vuhdo, DBM warnings, things like that.  They need to be where I am focused.  Things like buff/debuffs, scrolling combat text, raid frames, they can all be off to the side somewhere.  Smaller.  Invisible while I am playing but visible to look at when I review the video.

Thinking about how I play, I could minimize to just a few addons.  Things I NEED are DBM and GTFO.  Other “almost need” stuff is like Bartender, Vuhdo and some sort of unit frames.  I could use mouseover macros (look up Episode 4 of the Training Dummies if you need help with them) to heal with over the built-in raid frames.  And I may try that at some point.  But I wonder to myself “why?”  Why not use addons if they do a specific job and do it well?  Like Vuhdo.  Vuhdo (or Healbot if you prefer) is an excellent healing addon.  Single clicking to cast different types of heals, it shows debuffs and other peoples heals.  It can even show estimated incoming healing.  Most of that is duplicated by mouseover macros and raid frames.  I think it’s the “ease of setup” and maybe a few minor “better” things here and there that really make the addons shine.

Blizzard has done a great job at making things work well without addons.  But honestly, a few are really nice and they can enhance your gameplay.

Bitten by the bug…

January 17th, 2013

So I’ve been bitten by the bug.  The Alt-bug that is.  I started messing around on my Boomkin/Resto druid (86) and my Guardian/Feral druid (85).  I’ve also been working on my rogue (88) and my low level WW/MW Monk (64).  All the while still doing some dailies on my 90’s and farming up crops.

Wholly cow!  How do you keep it all straight?  Well, sometimes I don’t.  LOL!  But most times, I can.  I have a strategy.  When I first started healing and using Vuhdo, I looked into getting a mouse with multiple buttons I could use for Vuhdo.  I tried a couple but ended up with a Steelseries Legendary Mouse.  I love it and use most of the buttons for different heals on Vuhdo.

Most healing classes have similar healing spells.  You have your HoT, your “fast, expensive heal”, your “slow, big heal”, your “cheap, slow, medium heal” and general AoE heals and buffs.  I tend to try to put my heals in similar spots for my different healing classes.  For instance, Rejuvenation and Riptide share the right click button in Vuhdo.  Same goes for Regrowth and Healing Surge.  They share the lower button on the left side of the mouse.  I made up a picture of the mouse in Word and numbered the buttons how they are numbered in Vuhdo.  So I can quickly refresh myself what spells are where.  By knowing what spells, in general, are where, I can get back into the swing of things with a healing class faster when class switching.

But what about the dps side?  I have to admit, my controls are probably not optimal.  People always say “to get the fastest response, keybind EVERYTHING and use the mouse to control movement.”  But one thing I have learned over the years is that I move and attack.  I seem to do it a lot.  Especially strafing.  I am never happy just standing in one spot and going through my rotation.  Even on toons like my warlock, I move.  Mostly because the bloody tanks are always moving and grabbing adds and stuff.  Nothing ever stands still.  I move to get out of stuff.  Or to move into good stuff (like heals – do it folks – make your healers happy).  I move to get a better shot on something or get myself into a better position for an AoE spell.  I can’t not move.  And it seems like we have to in MoP more than in previous expansions.

So I still use the standard movement keys.  ASWD and QE to strafe.  “ARRGGHHH!!!  KEYBOARD TURNER!” the mob screams accusingly.  Yeah, sometimes.  But I more tend to use my mouse to turn quick if I need to.  Most times though, I have found things don’t suddenly appear behind you.  And that strafing to the side while keyboard turning can get you re-positioned fairly quickly also.  I’m not saying it never happens though, like in Spirit Kings.  When you fight Qiang the Merciless you run through him when he starts to do the annihilate.  When I run through, I quickly mouse turn.  But if Subetai the Swift starts to volley, I don’t turn and run with the mouse, I strafe and turn with the keyboard.  Remember, I’m a healer normally so I am waiting with my mouse over the Vuhdo panes to heal someone.  It’s hard to move when you click to heal.

DPS man!  Stay on topic!  So after watching all sorts of videos on moving and keybinding and such, and having difficulties translating that into how I play (with the healer mentality) I settled on my own way to keybind.  To my mouse.  I use Bartender to modify my bars on my characters.  Of all the buttons on my mouse, I find I use about 6 easily.  I could use a 7th but honestly, that is the default auto-run button and I like using it for that.  LOL!  The nice thing about the Steelseries mouse is that it is directly integrated into the game.  The buttons can be linked to directly without having to setup something third party.  I do have a Logitech G19 keyboard and I had to do some funky stuff to make use of the extra keys on the left.  But the mouse had none of that.  :)  Go into the keybinds, find the button you want to bind, click and you’re done.

So with my Bartender I setup 3 rows of spells.  Top row was my normal mouse clicks.  This was the 6 spells I used the most on a character.  Normally not cooldowns and such unless they are really short.  Or very special (like Ascendance) and I didn’t really have anything better to put there.  On my second row, I tend to put AoE spells.  Or spells that are still used a lot but not as much.  You might find a few more short cooldown spells there.  Things like buffs that drop frequently.  This second row is cast by holding down shift and mouse clicking.  And then the last row I put my cooldowns.  The last row is simply numbers 1 through 6 on the keyboard.  With 3 being my most often used CD.  This gives me 12 spells I can cast via my mouse while still moving with my keyboard.

Yeah, but you still keyboard turn!  Yeah, sometimes I do.  But we can’t have everything.  I have yet to see a good guide on how to heal and move well.  It just requires too much.  I think my way works for me and after doing it for years, my muscle memory is becoming quite adept at it.  Relating my dps and tank setups to a similar style helps that muscle memory to still work when switching classes.  I find I rarely stand in crap (with help from every raiders buddy, GTFO) and can move well when needed.

If you play a lot of alts, doing a similar thing can help you get into the swing of a class when you switch toons after a bit.  And check out the multi-button mice like the Steelseries Legendary mouse and the Razer Naga.  The extra buttons really do make a huge difference.  Especially if you have the same healer mentality I do and feel that you just can’t get completely away from the keyboard for movement.

Oh, and one last thing.  Many people have suggested in their keybinding videos to change strafe to A and D and not turn.  This does open up two more keys to bind spells to and if you need to “circle strafe” something, you just turn with the mouse. While this may work for some dps, I find that moving my mouse on and off the Vuhdo frames to do the turning actually slows me down more.  And with keybinding to my mouse, I can still get enough buttons to do most everything I need to.  But what ever you do, give it a good try.  Don’t try it for an hour of dailies and then give up.  It takes awhile to build up that muscle memory.  Moving the mouse less to “click” your spells on your bars will make you a faster, more reactive player and increase both your survivability and your dps.  And being alive through the entire fight is always more fun than being dead.  :)

Say Cheese!

January 2nd, 2013

Yesterday I made cheese for the first time.  It was not a super long process but it did take some work.  So while I was doing this, I was not playing WoW.  In fact, I did not play it much at all yesterday.  And that got me thinking…

Our characters in WoW are reflections of ourselves.  It’s who we are and what we like to do.  There is so much to do in WoW and I could easily fill a day with just playing WoW.  But making a New Year’s Resolution to spend more time with my wife and to help more around the house has got me thinking.  What are my priorities in WoW?  And what do I like to do for “fun”?

Farming – this is a big one for me. (Check out the Farmville post if you want more info.)  I love the “Christmas” feel of walking onto your farm and seeing how many Golden Lotus have spawned from the crops you planted.  I’m probably averaging about 5-6 a day over my three toons that I have planting crops.  But I have seen as little as 1 and as high as 11.  I try to get on each day just to do my crops.

As a side note, Mysteiria just hit max rep with Nomi yesterday (from her Cooking School Bell) so now she can get a free Iron Paw Token every day.  Eventually, she will have a full set of cooking gear.

Valor Points – I try to cap at least one toon each week in VP’s.  Capping Valor Points each week gives you a buff.  This is really nice for my alts to get a little extra.  The catch is that most times I can’t cap until the weekend so I miss a lot of the extra VP’s.  It’s also a matter of which toon do I cap on?  If I cap Myst, then I get nothing extra from our Sunday night raids when I kill a boss.  If I cap Cyndir, then eventually, I will have a toon with nothing really to spend VP’s on.  Or…  I can cap whatever my most recent 90 is and then play my other toons.

Right now I’ve been capping Cyndir because he is such a blast to play.  And if I get more confident in his tanking, it will go even faster with the bonus of possible pets and mounts.  But Grayghost is coming up in levels and soon, I will be running Scenarios and Instances on him for gear and VP’s.

LFR – I know a lot of people who don’t like LFR.  And it has it’s moments when it feels like a grind.  It can be challenging when you don’t know the fights or have others that just can’t seem to do them.  But it can be rewarding too.  The gear is nice and the fights are pretty cool.  But again, it comes down to time.  I have 2 toons that are LFR ready.  Cyndir and Myst.  Myst is pretty well geared.  She could use a couple pieces from LFR, mostly more tier pieces, but she does not need much.  Cyndir could always use more gear and I do think he is more fun to play.  But can I devote hours of LFR time to him when he is not my “main”?

Raiding – We raid twice a week for two hours a night.  It doesn’t seem like much but it’s fun.  We’re still working on the first two bosses in MV.  I raid on Myst as a healer and so I try to focus on her when I get gear and running LFR.  But, given the option, I would love to sub in with Cyndir for a dps.  He’s a strong dps and can bring some utility to a fight.

Instances and Scenarios – These are fun and go pretty quick.  With having a ranged and melee dps, a healer and a tank, I have a pretty good feel for all of the “heroics” that are currently available at 90.  This makes it fun to do them.  Most times I queue up as dps on Myst or Cyndir and then queue up for a scenario.  This gives me a little extra valor and a chance at a purple piece from the Cache of Treasures.  And it helps to kill the time as you wait for the instance to pop.

Reputation Grinds – These have slowed for me.  I’m not a big collector of vanity items so things like mounts, pets and transmog gear really don’t excite me.  So for Myst, I pushed to get all of her reps to Revered or better so that when 5.1 dropped and the commendations came out for double rep, she could snatch those up right away.  It’s been a huge help in leveling alts.  But honestly, I really don’t worry about those with alts IF they don’t have anything to gain.  Grayghost will work on getting the Leatherworking patterns after he hits 90.  And of course all my toons must have full farms.  LOL!  But other than that, it will be just as I have time.

Auction House – I have two toons that work the AH for me.  Selling all my wares.  This can actually be a major time sink.  It takes a lot of time to post over 1000 glyphs.  LOL!  But the nice thing is that I can do this on a second instance of WOW as I play a main toon.

For now, that’s my activities in WoW.  These suck up the majority of my time spent.  With my resolutions, I will have to prioritize them and be a bit more picky about what I do and do not do.  I could easily play for 8 hours a day, every day and not be bored.  But I don’t want that life.  Get out and make some cheese people.  It’s awesome!

Upgrades!

December 18th, 2012

Upgrades!  Everyone loves them.  New gear is awesome.  But with patch 5.1, Blizzard put in a system that you can upgrade items themselves.  Items of ilevel 458 and higher can be upgraded.

Rare (blue) items can be upgraded with Justice points.  And Epic (purple) items can be upgraded with Valor points.  For the Rares, it’s a one shot deal.  1500 JP’s will get you 8 item levels in one upgrade per piece.  For the Epics, it’s 750 VP’s for a 4 item level upgrade and you can do it twice per item.

So what do you upgrade?  That’s the big question isn’t it.  Well, the basic thought is that you upgrade your highest ilevel pieces first.  Like tier pieces you may have grabbed from a Sha of Anger run or LFR.  Next would be pieces you are not gonna replace soon.  Like if you have Raid Finder shoulders but aren’t doing normal raids that drop shoulders.  Weapons and trinkets are also normally good choices.

But what is best?  What gives the most bang for your buck?  Convert to Raid recently mentioned WoWupgrade.com.  It only works for dps (sorry healers and tanks) but you can get the basic idea.  It gives a number for each upgrade.  Letting you see what upgrade will help you most.  Some people may still be storing up VP’s for purchasing upgrades, but if you still have a blue or two and have extra JP’s from running instances, this can be a good way to spend them.  Or if you are lucky enough to have purchased all of your VP gear that you need, this will keep that gear progressing.

You’ve got this… aura about you.

December 16th, 2012

So I used to use Power Auras back in Cataclysm but then it decided to go kinda wonky when MoP came out.  So I did some looking around and found that several people use WeakAuras.  Now, I used to use a lot of fancy pictures for indicators but honestly, since I switch toons so much, I found that difficult to deal with.  I couldn’t remember what each one meant.  It wasn’t Power Auras fault, just my own, trying to replicate the Blizzard indicators.

So when I started using WeakAuras, I found a site called Sacred Duty.  They had a whole section on auras for Tanking pallys.  Very cool.  I did use them on Saimus but since he doesn’t tank much ever, it wasn’t much help.  But they also had auras for other classes and specs.  So today, when I started playing my rogue again, I decided to throw a few on.  You know what?  It really does make a ton of difference having the indicators where you look.

So some people like their cooldown bars and can use addons like Raven and ForteXorcist.  But what I have found, when you have a big huge icon on your screen saying “HEY IDIOT!  YOUR WATER SHIELD IS NOT ON”, you tend to see that better than a missing buff.  LOL!  Same goes for procs and modifiers like Blade Furry.

If you like making your own custom indicators for things, I suggest checking out WeakAuras.  And if you need some help on getting things setup, check out TouchyMcFeel’s videos on youtube.  And lasting, you can import with WeakAuras too.  So do a little hunting around on the net.  There may be someone who has already setup a few of the important auras your class needs.  Like Sacred Duty did.  :)

Reforging and the pain that it is…

December 14th, 2012

So, if you are like me, you dual spec on most of your toons.  But some of my toons share gear between the specs and I reforge when I change specs.  Yeah, I am one of those crazy people that have bought one of the Grand Expedition Yaks.

To do my reforges I love AskMrRobot.  I could load my character from the armory and have it tweak my toon to hit the best numbers for my main spec.  But then, when I switch to my offspec, things are a bit out of whack.  Like since I focus on my resto spec on my shammy, when I go to elemental, I end up with like a 23% chance to hit with the high amount of spirit I have.

Normally, I would log out in dps spec, load myself in Mr. Robot and then use the Reforge Export option and Reforgerade to switch things around.  Yeah, it can get expensive but I don’t worry about that much.  It worked pretty well though I would have to actually log out of the character and back in.  Which can get time consuming.

So what I found a few days ago was ReforgeLite.  Let me back up a second.  I’m an addon addict.  You’ll probably see a lot of addons get posted here as time goes by.  Most will fill one little niche thing that I want to do and not much else.  I don’t use addon sets and I am sure most people would say my interface is too cluttered, but I like it.  Pick and choose what you want.  That is my motto.  LOL!  Anyways…  ReforgeLite.  This allowed me to do similar to what Mr. Robot does but in the game.  So I could just switch specs and reforge without having to log out and back in all the time.

The other nice thing is that it works for reforges only.  It takes into account the gems and enchants you already have on your gear and works around them.  So I don’t have to “lock down” my gems and enchants in Mr. Robot to force it to not tell me to redo them.  Yeah, I know it’s not optimal to have the spirit/crit gem in a helm as dps.  But those things are expensive to keep swapping out.  For the most part, I have found that if you order the stats the same as they are on Mr. Robot, you come up with the same results.  You can even select between 5 mans and raiding setups.  That nice because of the difference needed on some stats like Hit and Expertise.  If I know I am going to be running 5 mans as dps, I can use some of the extra hit stats to increase my other stats like haste, crit and mastery.

And best of all, I don’t have to think to hard!  Always a good thing.