Friday, October 24, 2008

On Spiders, pet special ability issues and macros

It's exciting times to be playing a hunter there's no doubt about that. As I alluded to a in a recent post I've been running around training some new pets. My choices are a combination of research, analysis and 'zomg cute factor' just so you know *grin*.

I've got Snaggle as my Ferocity pet so I wanted to try out a Cunning and a Tenacity pet. After some reading at the most brilliant pet resource of all Petopia I opted to train a spider as my Cunning pet. My reason was because spiders have the special ability Web and I could foresee this being very useful in PVP against melee classes.

I decided to train one of the spiders that lurk in Terrokar forest since a) the location was convenient and b) I like the skin. After putting the lurve onto my spider and feeding him some Clefthoof Ribs to make him happy I specced him out and played around a bit with killing other spiders to get comfortable with using him. I found myself to be pleased.

Next I hopped over to Ironforge to pick up some glyphs from the Auction House and realised that a couple of fellow guildies were duelling out the front, a warrior and a rogue. Eager to try out spideys Web ability I joined them. I duelled the warrior first and won and then fought him again and lost. Mr Rogue had been observing and was very interested in seeing Web in action so then we duelled. I lost the first one and won the second. Now Mr Rogue is one of the top PVPers in our guild, very skilled so the fact that I managed to beat him was awesome! He however was not very pleased with spidey at all! I was not very pleased to discover the rogue ability Dismantle. We experimented a bit and discovered that when under the effects of The Beast Within it's still possible to be affected by Dismantle. Not happy. Still all in all I was feeling the joy of having a new tool in my PVP arsenal and in honour of the discombobulation Mr Rogue was experiencing trying to find a counter for Web I adopted his name suggestion for spider: Smithers. Hehe.

The main thing though of course is working out how to manually trigger Web. In a PVP situation against more than one player it's going to be pretty useless if the ability is on autocast and spidey uses it on a ranged caster while a warrior is all up in my grill. During these initial duels I had an autocast macro set up to toggle the ability:

/petautocasttoggle Web
But this didn't give me the fine control I was looking for. Someone suggested I modify a warlock pet macro for my own use and this is what I ended up doing. The bonus being that I can use one macro to trigger a special ability for each pet depending which one I'm currently using thus:
/cast [pet:spider] web; [pet:cat] rabid; [pet:bear] swipe
I haven't decided whether it's worth having the cat and bear abilities on manual cast yet. I can see a future where I get yelled at for having Swipe on autocast for bear in a crowd control situation. Rabid I will probably end up working into a macro associated to a shot rotation. Anyway the macro works and that's good. Well it kind of works. I've been grinding elementals up in Nagrand for pet levelling purposes (as well as hopefully some profit) and using the time to experiment with 'on demand' casting of Web. I soon discovered that I would frequently get a 'ability not ready' error when trying to cast it. Huh?

I'm no guru as I've often stated before so it was time to search the interwebs to see what more intelligent people than me are saying. What was puzzling me is that Web is a no cost instant cast so it's not like I needed to make sure Smithers has enough focus before I try and cast it. What then is causing the issue? To Elitist Jerks! I waded through the massively long Hunter WoTLK thread and on page 185 came across this comment:
Hey guys, I've noticed with my crab that while claw is on autocast, it triggers the 1.5s GCD and thus it makes it very hard for me to using pin or roar of sacrifice.

I have noticed however that intervene doesn't have this problem since the pet can intervene while in the GCD of a claw. However, I wish blizzard would do the same with pin and roar of sacrifice as these are all on demand skills.

The way it is currently, I have to turn off claw, cast pin, then turn claw back on. Even though I have a macro to do this, it requires 2 button presses and is kinda inconvenient.

Does anyone have any opinions on this? =P

I know that blizzard removed focus costs from almost all the pet special abilities since people were complaining that due to the focus dump skill, no pet could ever have the energy to perform their special abilities without the hunter first disabling the auto cast. However with the special attacks on the GCD, it is still pretty annoying =P.

What do you guys think?
Aha! So it seems that pet special abilities are using the 1.5 second Global Cool Down. That's not very cool since even with the changes to Autoshoot you're generally spending a lot of time managing the GCD to keep up a steady rotation working in your shots as you need them. Initially I tried inserting /stopcasting in front of my macro but this didn't yeild consistent results. Further research revealed that pet special abilities share the GCD with Bite. So I turned off Bite and ran around killing Basilisks. Result - Web cast everytime I wanted it to. I removed the /stopcasting command from the macro and experimented with firing the macro mid cast of steady shot and no problem. This would seem to indicate that the special ability is tied only to Bite and not the GCD for hunter abilities. No idea if this is actually true though.

Conclusion: At this time the only way to manually cast a pet special ability on demand is to have Bite turned off. Whether this is at the detriment of your DPS is not a question I have the theorycraft skills to answer, but for me, in a PVP situation the ability to control when I cast Web is more important to me than the damage from Bite.

Of course now I need to work out whether I should manually cast Wolverine Bite or just leave it on autocast. Questions, questions, questions! Like I said, these are exciting times! I'm sure I'll have more to report once Smithers is level 70 and I've mixed it up in a BG.

What has your experience been? Got any wisdom to share?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Corrupting the innocent

Well the not-so-innocent is what I would opine *grin*

Although I should probably be working on levelling my new pets, continuing my experimentation with the issues some pet abilities seem to have and all those kind of things last night I instead had lots of fun running around on a new toon with a friend from work who is exploring World of Warcraft with a trial account. Typhoon Andrew and I are both hoping that she'll decide she likes the game so much that she'll subscribe, but I think we're both also consciously trying to not push the crack too heavily hehe. Of course if she does subscribe I'll be angling for her to roll a toon on Feathermoon rather than stay on the oceanic server Nagrand where we are currently slaying kobolds. Ugh Kobolds, I think they are even more annoying than murlocs!

I can tell you this - she's a born mage - cackling with glee as she fire balls critters.

Say hello to my lowbie priest Caeri and Kittoug the evil mage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rehuntarded in a brave new world

It's been an exciting and also unsettling few days since the patch hit. My initial reaction upon logging in was to feel completely at sea - re-huntarded in fact. I immediately regretted my lack of in-depth reading on the changes affecting the hunter class and was overwhelmed by a UI that was in most parts broken as a result of me using a lot of mods to replace every aspect of the default interface.

My first step was to get my UI into a semblance of working order. Sadly Ace Updater is no more so I have picked up the Curse installer and so far am finding it to be rather good. I discovered that Deadly Boss Mods although apparently updated for 3.0 causes a problem with my chat frames where I can't see my chat at all so I've got it disabled at the moment. Hopefully it will be working now as I have a Black Temple raid in just under 2 hours. I also had to set up my action bars all over again which meant setting up all my G15 keyboard hot keys again.

The next pressing question was how to spec and also what pets to use and how to spec them. Decisions, decisions! Initially I threw together a deep BM build just to try it out and went off and tamed a devilsaur. He is big and stompy and I named him George *grin*. To see George hit level 65 upon taming was a great thing but that's still 5 levels to get him up to a raid ready state. Hmm. I tried him doing a few Sunwell dailies with him and discovered that I pulled aggro off of him very quickly. He was also quite focus starved and this probably impacted on him not being able to use growl as often. I had all abilities on autocast as well and of course he is only 65. Going deep BM to pick up exotic pets means having to forgo Go For the Throat in the MM tree. Not to mention missing out on Aimed Shot as well which I enjoy having mainly for PVP.

All this activity took place over a couple of nights of play so I'd been able to do some brief interwebs research and from what I read on EJ it seems that for a 70 build you pretty much want GFtT still and my trial with George seemed to indicate that was the case. I was also concerned about having a 'raid viable' build since the Badgers plan to keep raiding T6 content until we either hit 80 or finish it. Mainly because we want to see the content.

So that evening I placed George in the stable and respecced to a build I'd put together using the talent calculator - it's a 48/13/0 build which allows me to push 3/5 Kindred Spirits in the BM tree but still retain the yummy Lethal Shots, Mortal Shots, Go for the Throat and Aimed Shot in the MM tree.

Of course in this brave new world I also need to spec my pets too! You can be sure I immediately purchased the 2 additional stable slots now available so was also keen to try out some new pets. I've always had cats as pets throughout my entire time playing WoW but now I wanted to try out the different trees which meant picking up a cunning and tenacity pet. A future post will deal with the fun and games of new pets and talent builds. Initially I just needed to spec Snaggle my cat to be my raiding pet ready for our raid and I threw together an initial build. Stay tuned for a post on how I fared in our weekly raid.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I can haz bear!

I've been terribly slack about posting lately. I'm afraid that a busy real life (seems like all the birthdays and babies and weddings are all happening at this end of the year) coupled with a sense of ennui has left me feeling a little unmotivated to write, especially when everything is about to change. Yep, the pre-expansion doldrums have finally started to kick in and just like prior to release of The Burning Crusade the question of 'is it really worth doing X or Y' with my toons is starting to rear its' head. There are, however, plenty of things worth doing and with the popular belief that the patch will arrive with the next maintenance the Badgers have been busy.

We've been running ZA for several months now and our once a week extreeeem ZA raid has slowly seen a growing group of people gain their Amani War Bears. As Cynra recently posted we even had an emergency mid week run at a ridiculous time of morning for the Americans and a not so bad but not so early time of night for the Aussies. This Sunday was our last ever run with a chance to get the bear mount if the patch really does hit and yours truly was the only regular raider still without a bear. I'm sure you can imagine how nervous I was! What if we stuffed it up? I wasn't sure what would be worse - if I made a colossal mistake and ruined my own chances or if one of my dear Badgers did and I would be so sad.

I don't think I have suffered such extremes of emotion playing a game since the good old days of blockading in Puzzle Pirates. Firstly one of the people scheduled to come didn't show and we had to find a replacement who would be ok with not rolling on the bear if they didn't have one since this was the final chance for me as a long term regular to get one and was also geared and experienced with the run. Luckily fellow guildie Puppetteer stepped into the breach. The run started really well with everything going super smooth right up until the pulls before the lynx boss. Somehow people got feared and the mobs on each side of the door got pulled and we wiped. We NEVER wipe in ZA any more. I started chewing my fingernails nervously at this point and making strange wheeking noises while Emelin kept chanting at me 'it will be ok, we'll make it' over and over.

So we regrouped, and cleared all the trash and had about 30 seconds to mana up and prepare for the pull. Until that is Puppetteer our dear lock, wandered a little too far into the room and face pulled. Eeeek! Galvanised into action I let rip with a Misdirect to our main tank, everyone sprang into position and the healers out did themselves keeping Mogri (the MT) up while our pally OT Cliff got into cleave sharing position. It was on and everyone unloaded as much firepower as we could muster. Never has a fight seemed to go for so long! We made it with literally seconds to spare and I was the closest I've ever been to a heart attack. The elation after the tension was exhilerating! I got bear! Huzzah!!
To celebrate what is likely the last bear run naturally we had to pose for a photo moment mounted on our bears and then our Moonkin made the excellent suggestion of converging on Ironforge in all our bear-y glory to preen and strut and generally be idiots. This idea met with much acclaim and we hot footed it over there to crack some pony kegs and have a good time doing bear conga lines while people either laughed, cheered or mocked us.
After we'd had our fill of being blithering idiots it was on to Mags. I for one decided that since I'd actually been there and done that I wanted the title to go with it and several Badgers felt the same so Cynra had put in motion the plans for a run. We ended up having to pug it unfortunately which was pretty much full of fail until some people left and we were able to pull in some more guildies who had since logged in. Once we had a higher Badger quotient things went much more smoothly and I'm now the happy owner of at least one BC title. Sadly no Hand of Adal as we were unable to down Kael on our Saturday raid, but still, it's been one awesome weekend for Jez!

Special edit: our irascible rogue recorded our jaunt in IF and has added a very fitting soundtrack, it made me giggle like a loon all over again watching it.