Wrapping Cataclysm Up

We’ve reached that point in the expansion where the end of progression raiding is in sight, there are no more content patches to come, and we’re simply waiting for Mists (if you’re not one of those folks hanging up their transmogged hat). It’s a bit of a quiet period, and for me, it’s a time to set goals.

At the end of Wrath, I set a few goals for myself. Some of those were group goals. For example, I wanted the Lich King kill that eluded me. Others were individual goals – I wanted to hit 40 exalted reputations. In the last few weeks of the expansion, I was able to complete both of those goals, with some help from Apotheosis, the guild I had just joined.

Since my guild is now over halfway done with heroic tier 13, I thought I’d sit down and make a list of goals to hit by the end of this expansion. So I did. Here’s what I came up with, separated into goals to complete as a group, and goals I’ll work on individually.

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Fangs of the Father: Tips and Tricks

So I’ve had a few weeks to play with my legendary daggers, and I’ve learned a few lessons (most the hard way!) about how to make the most effective use of the crazy power they give you.

PvE Tips:

1. Try to convince your raid leader to leave you on the boss wherever possible. There’s not much worse than getting a proc just as you run out to DPS a Yor’sahj slime. If this isn’t feasible for your group/comp, do keep an eye on your stacks. Below 30, and DPS those adds away. As the stacks get higher, be more conservative, within reason. Leaving an add a few second early to get back to the boss may be worth it so you don’t proc and waste DPS. Make sure, though, that you’re communicating these plans with your raid leads/officers. You want to make sure you’re doing what’s best for the group, not being selfish.

2. Try to time your cooldowns for when you’re getting close to 30 stacks, so you’ll maximize a chance of a proc while they’re still up and running. Timed right, you can also get a glyphed Tricks in during a proc so your abilities cost less (I’m assuming you have at least 2 piece T13).

3. Be a bit more conservative using energy as the proc gets closer. Absolutely avoid capping, but try to run in the middle of the energy bar so you have a finisher or two worth of reserves available as soon as the proc fires.

4. Use Power Auras or something similar to tell you how many stacks you’re at and when the proc is active.

Here are my Power Aura strings:

Version:4.23; icon:inv_misc_volatileshadow; buffname:Shadows of the Destroyer; x:-240; stacks:1; owntex:true; size:0.39; y:230; texmode:2; stacks.enabled:true; stacks.LegacySizing:false; stacks.Relative:BOTTOM; stacks.h:1.55

Shadows Power Aura

Shadows Power Aura

Version:4.23; icon:Spell_Shadow_Shadowfury; buffname:Fury of the Destroyer; x:270; owntex:true; size:0.39; y:228; texmode:2; timer.h:1.77; timer.enabled:true; timer.Relative:BOTTOM

Version:4.23; b:0.0745; g:0.9961; icon:Spell_Shadow_Shadowfury; buffname:Fury of the Destroyer; x:270; texture:2; size:1.2; y:228; texmode:1

Fury Power Aura

Fury Power Aura

PvP Tips:

Some of the tips above also apply for PvP, but here are a few additional things I’ve learned specifically in regards to PvP’ing with the legendary daggers:

1. It’s fairly obvious you should save some cooldowns for close to your proc. But maybe not so obvious is saving your pvp trinket if you can. Nothing’s worse than being cc’ed immediately as you proc. A smokebomb and stun as you get close in stacks can also be quite helpful, especially if you’re lucky and proc early.

2. If you have two sources of burst DPS (hint, you do now, at least if you’re Sub!), you can make them more effective through one of two methods: use them at the same time, or back-to-back. Unfortunately, Shadow Dance and the Legendary proc are not mutually beneficial. For the former, you want to spam openers; for the latter, you want to spam finishers – you can’t get maximum benefit out of both at the same time. So chaining them is the right answer. And since you have very little control over the exact timing of the Legendary proc, you’ll want to use Shadow Dance second. Note: at least in my arena experience, if I use Shadow Dance as part of my initial opener, it’s up in time for the Legendary proc.

Your turn! I hope these tips help you out. If you have any others, I’d love to hear them – please leave a comment!

Race to Server First!

Three weeks ago, I acquired my legendary rogue daggers. Now that I’ve had some time to play around with them, I thought I’d blog, both about the acquisition of the daggers, as well as lessons I’ve learned from playing around with them in PvE and PvP.

So the questline itself was pretty amazing. I’m not much into lore (I can be fairly impatient, so reading quest text is tough), but I really enjoyed using abilities I rarely have use for in a PvE setting.

A little bit about each stage, from my perspective:

Pickpocketing Hagara: This went smoothly and happened earlier in the tier than I expected. Our 25-man guild (now recruiting!) was able to get to (and two shot) Hagara on our first night of raiding. Both our raiding rogues pickpocketed Hagara before the kill and were able to get our 24 hour timers running early. In later weeks, we opened up pickpocketing for alts and non-raiding members of the guild so most max-level rogues in our guild now have the stage 1 daggers.

Killing Creed: I found stealthing here a bit of a pain at first, but got the hang of it after a while (and after a lof of failed routes). For this quest, I grouped up with our other raiding rogue who had a bit of a head start on me. He had just gotten past the stealth part and was working on the boss when I showed up. Unfortunately, soon after I grouped up with him, he downed Creed. Since I was in his group, I got quest credit as well, meaning I never actually got to fight Creed. So that was a bit anticlimactic, but who knows – maybe I’d still be on that phase of the quest!

Killing Nalice: Stealthing seemed much easier here (as well as a good deal shorter). While I found stealthing to Creed annoying and frustrating, I found sneaking underneath Karazhan to find Nalice enjoyable. And the fight itself was amazing. It stretched my capabilities and key bindings as I used abilities I hadn’t in a long, long time. A list of abilities I used other than my usual rotation: Expose Armor, Blind, Shiv, Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot, Kick, Sprint, Recuperate. Quite a selection. I probably would have had a tougher time if my PvP experience hadn’t trained me to maintain control of an opponent.

So after all of that, plus just over a month of collecting elementium gem clusters, and I was on the cusp of getting my legendary. The other 25-man guild on our server close to us in raiding progress was just behind us, but some quick napkin math showed the exact gem number didn’t matter – server first would be determined by who killed Deathwing first during the next reset.

Since our Sunday raid was going to be cancelled anyway due to the Super Bowl, we decided we were going to make a push for server first. With that, the race was on.

We found out the other guild had decided to start an hour earlier than usual to match our start time, so it was clear they were making a push as well. When we got started, they had already downed Morchok. As a guild, we approach raiding seriously, but we like to have fun and our raid leader likes to spell out instructions in detail, so speed runs aren’t our strong suit. Nevertheless, we tried to hurry things along. After clearing of trash and handing out of assignments, we pulled Heroic Morchok and we were underway.

One thing to point out – we were sacrificing progression attempts, but we were going to try the heroic modes we’d already downed (Morchok and Hagara), so it was extra exciting when we one shot Morchok. It was about this time that the rival guild shut off their DBM whispers, so we couldn’t tell which boss they were on directly. Later in the raid, we started using the armory site to check in, but all we knew at this point is that we were behind.

Yor’sahj and Zon’ozz normal modes went down quick, even though we had issues with Zon’ozz and ping pong the week before. With these two kills, I had enough gem clusters to complete this stage of the quest, so with the pre-arranged help of guildmates (Thanks, Jaymz and Srsbusiness!), I was summoned to Ravenholdt Manor to turn in the gem clusters and pick up the last quest, which called for retrieving a fragment of Deathwing’s jaw, looted from Madness. So close!

I was summoned back and on to Heroic Hagara we went. For those of you who haven’t done Heroic Hagara on 25 man, there’s a lightning phase, which for our strat requires most of our raid to create a cross formation, with players just inside 10 yards from each other so they can almost instantly chain lightning from one pillar to three others. Because of this formation, there is a good deal of pre-pull setup required, and it can be time consuming. With the pressure of the race, and knowing the other guild wasn’t going to be doing Hagara on Heroic and therefore could skip this organizational step, it felt like it went on forever. When we finally did pull, though, it went smoothly, and we soon had another heroic mode boss fight, and arguably, our least likely one shot, behind us.

About this time in the night (90 minutes in), we’d normally break, but we knew we had to push on to have any chance of getting server first. Ultraxion went down without issue, as did Blackhorn, and it was around that time that we started to use the armory site to determine how far the other raid had gotten. Based on their loot, we could tell they had just downed Blackhorn minutes before we did, so it was close. We dropped a feast, ate up, and started in on Spine.

Spine went smoothly as well, and when we checked the armory while buffing on the platforms of Madness, we still did not see another Spine kill for our competition. Through some discussion after raid, we found out the other team had disconnect issues on the fight, leading to a wipe, and allowing us to take the lead. We continued on, taking Madness down in a one shot. I looted the jaw fragment, and now all I had to do was turn it in and pick up my daggers first, and we’d win the race and server bragging rights.

For those of you who have seen The Amazing Race, you have probably witnessed a team caught up by the frantic nature of the game and suddenly turn blind, unable to see their objective, despite it being smack dab in front of their face. Usually at this point, the cameraman will pan from their faces frozen with “Where is it??” looks to the item in question to underscore how oblivious they are. Yeah, that was me. I was summoned back out to Ravenholdt, ran into the manor and found… the building in flames with no quest giver inside. Confused, I thought maybe I was out of phase with the rest of my raid group and couldn’t see the NPC, so I flew to the bottom of the hill, dropped group, and came back. No luck. I then hearthed to see if that would solve it. Again, I was summoned back to the same burning manor. Finally, after taking a few seconds to survey the area, I saw the NPC outside but near the manor and I was able to complete the quest, retrieving my legendary daggers. I guess getting outside of a burning house is smart, even if you’re an NPC.

The guild headed to Stormwind to announce to trade chat took some screenshots in front of the Stormwind Cathedral. You can see me in the middle of the pack, falling with my batwings. About twenty minutes later, our competition got their legendaries, and it was a big celebration for us all.

Fangs of the Father

Fangs of the Father

All in all, it was a great night for me, and I hope for the guild as well. I wish there had been a guild benefit for completing the legendary (other than me doing more DPS), like there was for Tarecgosa’s Rest, because obviously there was no way I would have gotten it without all of them contributing, sacrificing playing time and some time on progression for me. So my sincere thanks to Apotheosis for all of their assistance.

I plan on posting some tips and tricks on legendary use soon, including power auras, but I have a few other posts to get out there first. Look for more updates to the blog soon!

Evaluating Assassination Rogues with World of Logs

About a year ago, over at Cannot Be Tamed, Jasyla wrote an extensive guide on “Evaluating Healers with World of Logs.” She suggested I write one covering what people could look for on World of Logs to evaluate a rogue’s performance. Sounds like a great idea to me! For this post, I’ll look specifically at the Assassination spec.

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OMG RIGHT!
(or How to Steer Lord Rhyolith, a Primer)

In my guild, I am the pilot for Lord Rhyolith, taking responsibility for steering him away from lava and over active volcanoes. Since my guild is now relatively successful at this fight, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to how I approach that part of the job. This post assumes you know the basics of the fight; time permitting, I will be writing a post covering the fight from a rogue perspective.

Steering: The Basics

So you’ve been nominated to steer Rhyolith – congratulations! This can be a stressful task, as all eyes (and hopefully ears) will be on you as you wipe the raid a few times (or are luckier than most!), but if you succeed it’ll be in no small part because of your work. So what does “steering” Rhyolith entail? Let’s get to it.

Rhyolith Meter

Rhyolith Meter

Rhyolith starts out walking down the middle of his island. By doing damage to his feet, you can steer him. The higher the relative damage is on one foot, the tighter he turns in that direction. His feet are individually targetable and cleverly named “Right Foot” and “Left Foot.” Make sure you are quite clear in your instructions that right means Right Foot as labelled, not as looking at him. Once you pull Rhyolith, a meter will appear, allowing you to tell the tightness of his turn radius. You will want to keep your eye on this throughout the fight.

Because you will need to stomp out active volcanoes, you need to know that every time he stomps, he creates two volcanoes and shortly thereafter lights one (it doesn’t have to be one of the ones he just created). Rhyolith is supposed to favor lighting one ahead of him (and therefore more likely to be in his path) than ones behind him, but he is a fickle and mysterious boss.

Normal Mode Tactics:

DPS assignments: For normal, our guild uses six melee DPS on feet. We assign three DPS to each foot by default, attempting to balance DPS output across those feet. Keep in mind while balacing DPS that you may need to move off the boss to scout out active volcanoes, angles, etc., so your output is likely to be lower than it would otherwise. We also designate two backups for emergency calls (more on that in a second); try to pick ranged DPS who can ramp up quickly. If, after a few attempts, DPS seems to be out of balance, don’t be afraid to shift assignments around, as long you’re very clear about who is where. Something you may want to do between attempts where steering is off is go look at your logs and see if people’s ratios of damage to feet makes sense for their assignment. If you have someone assigned to the right foot and most of the calls were to the right, then it would be odd to see 90% of the damage to the left foot.

Basic Calls: As with all calls, keep your directions clear and decisive. “Right!” is more likely to be successful than “lef… er, right?” Don’t yell, but don’t be meek either. Try to avoid qualifiers. Your DPS will be confused if you give directions such as “a little right.” What we do is use a system where calls are defined ahead of time.

Call Meaning
Straight DPS the assigned foot
Right DPS the right foot
Hard Right DPS the right foot and pop cooldowns
Emergency Right DPS, including backups, unload on the right foot with everything they’ve got

Those calls (and their analogs on the left side) are all you really need to say to get through the encounter.

Emergency Calls: Obviously, you want to use emergency calls sparingly, but there are two instances where you’ll want to call emergency. First, when you’re going to go in lava otherwise. That’s to be avoided at all costs, so calling for help is warranted. Second, if you miss an active volcano, or one spawns behind you, and it makes more sense to do a 180 than go around again, then call for an emergency turn. Again, not ideal, but how often are boss fights ideal? Make sure after emergency calls to tell your emergency folks to go back to what they were doing after the danger is over.

Walking Him Forward: The ideal approach is to avoid all tight turns. Steer him in a gentle curve (probably to the right, since if you get lucky, you’ll get an achievement), sweeping over active volcanoes. Don’t go out of your way to avoid dormant volcanoes, despite the fact that the he gets a damage buff as a result. The time you’ll lose and the risk that he’ll get steered off course isn’t worth it. You *will* want to prioritize volcanoes that have been up longer, so if you have to choose, aim for the oldest volcano (you are keeping track of them as they come out, aren’t you?).

Oversteering: Keep your eye on the meter at all times, especially as you’re making turns. One of the easiest mistakes to make as a pilot is to oversteer. Remember that for your DPS to react to a call, switch feet, and ramp up will take some time, while Rhyolith himself has some inertia working against you. Don’t be shy in calling straight early, or even calling the opposite foot to get things back to straight more quickly. Learning when to call left and then straight to come out of a right turn at the angle you need is key to the fight. Get that part down, and you’ll be well on your way to a kill!

Heroic Mode Tactics:

Steering doesn’t change a ton for heroic, but there are enough small differences that they’re worth addressing here.

DPS assignments: For heroic, we assign eight DPS to legs. When we don’t have eight melee in, we usually fill with hunters and elemental shamans. We keep the two additional emergency DPS ready for a call, as in normal. On early attempts on heroic, we found that oversteering was a big problem, with the extra DPS. In order to combat this, we assign two DPS (one right, one left) to stay on their legs fulltime except during emergency calls. This helps keep turns smoother, and because we also ask them to pop cooldowns when we need to straighten out from a hard turn in the opposite direction, it brings us back into line more quickly. Finally, because the soft enrage is brutal, we have all DPS assigned a default leg to switch to when no adds are up. This will affect steering, so be mindful of this.

Liquid Obsidian Adds: Things to note here are: Rhyolith walks faster if he’s going straight, so try to keep him going that way as much as possible. It’ll put some distance between you and the liquid obsidian adds that spawn, and more will die from cleaves and the like as a result. Since you’ll have the clearest idea in your head of the path you’re going to take, you’ll be in a great position to make out blowback calls. The most effective use for the blowbacks are on tight turns, since you won’t be covering as much ground, and near the end of the fight, when you’re looking to push Rhyolith into phase 2.

Phase 2 Preparation: So you’re getting close to phase 2 – what kind of calls are there to make near the very end? Well, apart from the blowback call mentioned above, there are potentially some strategy-related calls you can make here. Our strategy goes something like this: at 4:20 into the fight, we pop hero. Once the following adds are down, we have all ranged DPS switch to the feet on my call. Why do we not just have them switch immediately? We learned the hard way that having ranged on the feet dramatically changes steering, and it becomes extremely hard to control. So when our guild leader tells me the ranged DPS are ready, I will wait on that call if we are going to get another volcano down in the next few seconds. Any longer than that, and it’s probably not worth holding DPS, but one extra volcano near the end of the phase can pay dividends in your ability to burn him. So get a volcano if one’s nearby, call for ranged DPS to jump on the legs, and get ready for phase 2! Don’t forget to dodge those lasers….

Your turn! Are you a pro Rhyolith pilot? Did I leave anything out? How do you call directions out in your raiding team?

Thanks to @Morynne at Marks-365 for the use of her image of the Rhyolith steering meter above!