6.x Raiding Pets

Here I am, swapping back and forth between Exotic Munitions and Focusing Shot depending how much I actually need to move during a fight, when I have the option to just not use a pet.  Depending where you look, either Focusing Shot or Lone Wolf is the way to go for Marksman, but I haven't even tried Lone Wolf yet.

Why not?  Two words:  battle rez.

That's right, I'm raiding with a Crane.  Some raids, we have no druids, no warlocks, and our only death knight is one of the tanks.  If that tank drops, it could easily mean a wipe, and no one likes repair bills.  (We're saving for a yak. Ahem.)  Gift of Chi-Ji gives me the option to bring up a raid member without having to switch to Beast Mastery to bring a Quilen.

Now, there are downsides to this.  I have occasionally worried some people as I wandered into the maze of the Twin Ogron's flames to find a dropped tank and pick them up.  The cast has a 40-yard range, but in practice this means you may have to send your crane to stand closer to the unfortunate's corpse in order to reach them.

Optimal DPS versus raid utility is a trade-off you make sometimes; nowadays, with pet DPS normalized regardless of what buff they're bringing, you can focus on bringing the best pet for the raid - if you need to bring one at all.  The buff redistribution that happened with the 6.0 patch means that no longer am I bringing a sporebat to every raid (regardless of how amusing Stampede was with one).  The nine standard buffs are almost always covered now, and on the occasion that we've been missing multistrike, one of the other hunters has been able to bring that.

One of the reasons I've opted to go with the crane is that I don't frequently die early in a fight, my DPS is usually just kind of average, and I'm good at watching what's going on.  (The third is likely feeding into the second.)  This means I'm generally still alive and not in immediate danger of dying if a tank drops, since it's been quite a while since I regularly rode just under the tanks for threat, and I notice when a tank or healer drops.  I also notice how much mana the other healers have if it's a healer, I've got a Weak Aura set up to monitor how many battle rezes we have available, and I not infrequently can easily pull up Recount to check either the healing or DPS meters without too much affecting my output or immediate safety.

So if we've got two battle rezes up and three DPS down, I'll pull up Recount, see who was riding highest before their demise, and burn one of the rezes on a DPS, saving one in case we have a tank or healer drop.  Some fights you get to know you're more likely to lose one or the other - most of us only raid about six hours a week at the most, and then maybe LFR, so we expect folks to die sometimes.

As our raid pool slowly shrinks due to interest attrition, the people who need a battle rez aren't coming as often, and our raid group is getting to know each other better, so on non-progression fights, the tanks don't die as often.  I'm still not really inclined to go pet-less, though, since Focusing Shot helps make me stand still more (for the mastery buff), and Exotic Munitions means fire arrows that I've wanted since forever.

Dragon Soul meant raiding with Coby, my armor penetration ravager; Siege meant raiding with Clarence, the spell haste sporebat; so far raiding in Warlords means raiding with Lucius, the green crane with the Gift of Chi-Ji, who was originally acquired to be part of the Aesop's Fables stampede group.


Battle Pet: Bob

I know, I know... the Ghostly Skull is supposed to be named after @CM_Zarhym, but... come on, Dresden Files.  If you've seen any of the one season that made it to TV, Terrence Mann as Bob was amazing, and Bob in the books is generally always entertaining.

My undead pet family always feels like one of my weakest, so part of how I picked ones to level up after the initial few (Andrew, one of the shades from Deadwind Pass, and Hilde, my Val'kyr) was I went with ones pet tamers used that I found annoying to deal with:  the Scourged Whelpling, the Crawling Claw, the mariachi dude when I could get him, and of course the Ghostly Skull, because Ghostly Bite can dish out some serious damage.

The Val'kyr may be a more commonly used undead pet, due to the "howl bomb" configuration - with the Pandaren Water Spirit and anything, usually Chrominius, that can cast Howl or a similar damage-doubling ability - which can be very effective versus a single boss pet, but I've found Bob particularly useful in two of the NPC battles: Tarr in Nagrand, with his triple murloc team, and the Diablo trio in the Menagerie.  I think I've used him versus the Goren and Gronn Menagerie teams, as well, but the last time I did those was before I started taking notes, so I'm not completely sure.

What I do know is that, despite Ghostly Bite's stun, it can be devastatingly effective, especially when timed with something (for example, Geyser) that is going to stun your opponent, so the stun rounds line up and become moot.  This can be particularly useful against Gromli, whose Haymaker is as likely to miss and stun him as not, and against Murkalot, whose Falling Murloc will stun him.

Another benefit of Bob is that the one I've got is breed #7 - H/P, which means he's got a lot of health and a power rating over 300, so Ghostly Bite usually hits for over 700.  On humanoid pets, it's amazing, and if you've got it combined with a damage doubler, it can be way out there.  (Not as mind boggling as Chrominius's Surge of Power with Howl up versus a flyer, but still nothing to sneeze at.)  The stun frequently doesn't matter if you're using him as a closer.

If the stun makes you too nervous, you can substitute in Spectral Strike, whose miss chance isn't as much of a hindrance against the Diablo team, since you know Tyri is going to throw out Darkness.

I frequently team Bob up with the Scourged Whelpling and the Crawling Claw for these teams - since the Lord of Terror is a magic pet, the Scourged Whelpling's dragon abilities are useful, and then Death and Decay and Plagued Blood give your later pets some healing.  Like Bob, the Crawling Claw hits hard, so it can knock things down fast, and the undead family's extra turn doesn't hurt.

In the end, only one question remains:  Where in Draenor did Tarr find three murlocs?


Playlist: Bronze Dragon

As awesome as the Awesome Mix (Vol. 1) was, let's face it: mix tapes are dead.  No, nowadays, with all our digital music and its fancy players, now we have playlists.

If, somehow, you've gotten tired of the soundtrack in Draenor (or, more likely, just need something with words to sing along to), here's a bronze dragon themed playlist culled from my library.
Now we just need to be able to pipe these into our garrison's jukeboxes...


Warlords of Draenor Shot Rotation

Okay, we're a bit into Warlords now, and I haven't been entirely satisfied with the numbers my rotation was putting out.  Since I absolutely love the concept of Exotic Munitions (specifically, of fire arrows, which I've wanted since Vanilla), and I'm frequently the raid's battle rez with my crane, I'd been using this cast sequence still:

/castsequence Chimaera Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot

But I've been drowning in focus.  Just drowning in it.  So I put together this cast sequence to work with:

/castsequence Chimaera Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot

The difference on the target dummies, using Murder of Crows, Glaive Toss, and Poisoned Ammo, was a bump from ~15k to ~16k.  Moving in a positive direction!

But then I decided to try Focusing Shot, since I was frequently getting Glaive Toss or Crows in between my Steady Shots when I wasn't paying attention.  The first attempt went badly - I just shoved Chimaera, Focusing, and Aimed into a cast sequence, and I was again drowning in focus and clipping cooldowns.  Based on those observations, I put together this:

/castsequence Aimed Shot, Aimed Shot, Focusing Shot, Chimaera Shot

The results were markedly better than either of the Exotic Munitions tests: around 18.5k.  That's an improvement of about 3k on my average dps right now; with raid buffs that will likely be even better.

What I'm not sure about is movement:  Focusing requires not moving, and there are some fights where movement is important.  I won't get to test this in our raids again until Thursday due to work, but I might hit up LFR before then to see how it shakes out.

Either way, with or without Focusing Shot, this is the first major revision to the cast sequence in what, four years?

Times change!


Elekk Plushie - Draenor Tamers

Now that my Elekk Plushie is overstuffed, I decided to take it around to all the tamers on Draenor and start working on [An Awfully Big Adventure].  Some of them took more work to figure out than others.

Here's what worked for me:

Gargra, Frostfire Ridge:  I used a Fluxfire Feline (S/S) and Mechanical Squirrel (S/B) for this since her set up is three wolf pups.  The Fluxfire is set up with Pounce, Flux, and Supercharge; I started with it for some backline damage.  Once it dies, the Mechanical Squirrel (Metal Fist, Overtune, and Wind-Up) can take out the other one/two left.

Cymre Brightblade, Gorgrond:  Cymre took some work to figure out; she's got magic, undead, and mechanical pets.  Ultimately I ended up using the Anubisath Idol (H/H) with Crush, Stoneskin, and Deflection, paired with the Infinite Whelpling (P/P) with Tail Sweep, Healing Flame, and Early Advantage.  These two are actually one of my go-to pairs for working with carry pets, but I hadn't used them in a while.  Deflection has to be paired up opposite the Idol of Decay's Rot for this to work.

Tarr the Terrible, Nagrand:  Okay, so I hadn't actually beaten Tarr before I tried this, and doing it straight up with the Elekk Plushie took some work.  He's got three humanoids (murlocs), so I went with double undead pets:  a Ghostly Skull (H/P) with Shadow Slash, Ghostly Bite, and Siphon Life, and a Scourged Whelpling (P/S) with Shadowflame, Death and Decay, and Plagued Blood.  I opened with the whelpling, made sure to keep Death and Decay up (including refreshing it before he died), and finished them off with the skull.  There's some RNG involved in this combination, but it will be really close even when it fails.  (If I bump my whelpling from uncommon up to rare, it might be more consistent.)

Ashlei, Shadowmoon Valley:  She's got an Elekk Plushie slotted - how hard can she be?!  Anywho, her other pets are magic and beast, so I used the Emerald Proto-Whelp (P/P) with Emerald Bite, Ancient Blessing, and Proto-Strike and the Mechanical Squirrel (same set-up as for Gargra).  The Emerald Proto-Whelp will almost solo this.

Vesharr, Spires of Arak:  Vesharr has two flying pets and a mechanical that will briefly masquerade as a flyer.  I went with a Sprite Darter Hatchling (S/S) with Arcane Blast, Life Exchange, and Moonfire and a Crimson Geode (H/S) with Feedback, Amplify Magic, and Stone Rush.  I originally decided to level the geode because I've always found the Deepholm tamer annoying to beat, and it paid off for this.

Taralune, Talador:  Taralune has the standard Draenei pets, three moths.  I had good luck with a Disgusting Oozeling (H/B) with Ooze Touch, Corrosion, and Expunge opening for the Sprite Darter Hatchling.  The sprite darter's Moonfire will negate the Call Lightning, which can be really bad with Moth Balls.

Bonus:  Darkmoon Faire

I did both Darkmoon Faire tamers with the Elekk this week, too.  For Jeremy, with his magic/mechanical/beast team, I just used my regular Infinite Whelpling (same set-up as for Cymre) and Water Waveling (B/B - Ice Lance, Frost Nova, Geyser) set up and substituted the Elekk in for the Mechanical Squirrel, which is normally my third.  When the RNG is in your favor, the Infinite Whelpling will solo the first two pets, and eat the monkey's initial stun, and then the waveling can finish him off.  One of the keys is hitting the tonk with Early Advantage with the dragon buff, so you might need to pass a round (or heal or something) on the eye to get it active for the tonk.

Christoph took some experimentation to figure out.  He's got that initial fast magic pet with both a hard-hitting geyser and an attack-blocking bubble, and the obvious counter is a dragon - but which one?  It turns out the Silver Dragonhawk Hatchling (S/S) with Quills, Conflagrate, and Flame Breath can survive it.  Open with the Flame Breath to set Syd on fire; since it's a 100% speed breed, it's going to go before Syd's second-round bubble, so you can go ahead and Conflagrate on turn two, then basically Flame Breath or Quills till Syd's dead.  The tri-horn is going to kill the dragon, but a Mechanical Squirrel (Metal Fist, Overtune, Wind-Up) can take out both it and the cow.  Wind-Up will pretty much take out the tri-horn right away, but with the cow you may want to Metal Fist when you've got reduced damage to avoid wasting Wind-Up's big damage.


Garrison Choices

Now that we're a couple weeks into the expansion, I've had time to unlock Level 2 garrisons on several alts, and Level 3 on my main.  After playing around with it thus far, I think I know which way I want to go with the rest of them, as well.

Some observations:
  • Having an Enchanting Hut on anyone but an enchanter can be... frustrating.  Not everything disenchants via the cauldron.  Work orders are quite expensive when you're not able to disenchant everything.  All in all, if you have an enchanting toon already... Let's just say I replaced my blacksmith's.
  •  The Storehouse is awesome!  I have Jeeves and the guild bank button on my main, but I am so not regretting bank and guild bank access (and eventually transmog), and I am liking the extra work order capacity for the potential days I won't be able to check on them.  This is, in fact, what I replaced my blacksmith's Enchanting Hut with.
  • I haven't figured out which, if any, toon will get a Mage Tower (whatever the Horde name for that is).  War Mill, sure.  Stables, yes.  Barracks everyone starts with, and I like followers enough to keep it.  I think I'm giving my other engineer a Goblin Workshop to see what the inventions are.  But I don't know what I'd do with the Mage Tower, really.
  • Leatherworkers are still getting kind of screwed compared to professions that use ore or herbs, given that the Barn requires tying up a medium plot.  That said, the Barn isn't actually that bad for a medium plot, especially on a toon that doesn't have a tank or healer queue (for the Inn quests) or one that doesn't collect a lot of other raw materials (to do work orders at the Trading Post).
  • The Gladiator's Sanctum is... well, I don't PVP.  I kind of want to give it to a toon for account completionism, but I really don't know which one I'd even try it on.  The rogue, maybe?  One of the other hunters?  I don't know.
I really like followers and follower missions.  Once I have all 13 max level toons' garrisons open, I could easily just cycle through them doing their missions every hour or two and actually not mind.  They're going out fetching 630 ilvl gear for me right now!  (They had better be.  There's a 99% success chance for those boots with the group I sent out this afternoon.)

All in all, I think the way my toons' garrisons are going to shake out are:
  • Small Plot 1:  Crafting profession building
  • Small Plot 2:  Storehouse or crafting profession 2 building
  • Small Plot 3:  Salvage Yard or Storehouse, based on Small Plot 2
  • Medium Plot 1:  Inn or Trading Post (based on gathering profession and dungeon queue roles)
  • Medium Plot 2:  Lumber Mill or Barn (based on whether they need leather)
  • Large Plot 1:  Barracks
  • Large Plot 2:  War Mill (raiders) or Stables (gatherers); Goblin Workshop on Engineer 2
Have I mentioned that I really like followers?


What I'm Riding

And by I, of course, I mean they, my 12 13 characters that are 90+.  I've got a lot of mounts, so I try not to use the same one on two different characters.  I'll do these in the order I opened their garrisons (or plan to).

Duskhawk: Swift Shorestrider - It was a birthday present, and I still love it.

Priest: I use different mounts for different specs on the priest.  For Disc, I'm using the Imperial Quilen.  For Shadow I'm using the Spectral Wind Rider - because it's practically invisible in shadow form, and I find that amusing.

There's a wind rider there, I promise.

Death Knight: My death knight was the first toon I started using the Sky Golem on, since I was leveling her with herbalism.  I didn't realize just how much I would love its flight animation, or how much I miss it.

Warrior:  I'm still using the Sapphire Panther on my warrior; when I first made all the gem cats, I was like, dammit, they're expensive, I'm using them.  She got the blue one.  (Also I was a huge Voltron fan when I was like, 8.)

Hunter 2:  Expensive cats?  This is the jewelcrafter, so she got the black one.

Shaman:  My shaman had the yellow cat for a long time, but I switched her back to a wolf for Warlords.  I tend to prefer unarmored mounts when I have the option, so I went with the Old Cliff Jumper model, the Dire Wolf.

Warlock:  My warlock is still using the yellow cat.  I might switch her up if I find something else I like her on, but the cat turns more golden when she's got full embers, so...

Hunter 3:  This is what happens when I can't decide what mount to use: a boring old Swift Green Wind Rider.

Rogue:  I've been using the Sandstone Drake on her, because 21 canopic jars, but I'm not sure I want to keep using big giant dragon on the ground. 

Druid:  This is where I sigh about flight form and stuff.  At least the updated Astral form makes the Forest Strider look even cooler.

Mage:  This is another character using a drake mount, this time the Azure Drake from Malygos; it seemed appropriate for a mage.  I may just go back to her Burgundy Wolf due to huge drakeness on the ground.  (It matches her hair.  Ahem.)

Paladin:  My pally used to be my bank toon, so I gave her Tyrael's Charger for running back and forth between the auction house and the mailbox.  It was paladin-y, and it wasn't a huge kodo that I couldn't find the mailbox under.  It's also one of the mounts that goes seamlessly between flight and no-flight, which is a plus as you level.

Mabs:  When I first made a character, part of the reason she ended up like she did was because her hair could be green.  So she's got the green cat (after years of default nightsaber that matched her Kitty).