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?

[Pictures later.]


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).


Argh Profession Gating

I'm a profession junky.  I had all of them maxed at the end of Mists, and four alchemists at 600 (because you can never have enough transmutes).  So garrisons have been both awesome and frustrating in that regard - awesome because it's a new system tied in, but frustrating because you run into gating based on level or resources.

If you don't use ore, your gathering bonus options are limited until later than the mine at 92; you can't unlock the herb garden until 94.  Want more leather?  The barn requires more work for leather than the mine or the herb garden do for their materials.  I haven't started my leatherworker yet, so I'm not sure this is actually going to be a big deal, and now that I know how trapping works, it's not that bad to deal with.  I'm still accidentally killing some things when I try to trap them, and I'm still running into mobs that inexplicably won't set off the trap, but I can go grab seven or eight boars or talbuk or clefthoofs and be good for the day's work orders in fifteen minutes in the right area.  It does seem a bit unfair that you have to tie up a medium building for it, though.

I'm more frustrated by the gating of the intermediary crafting materials than anything else, though.  We've had recipe acquisition gated behind dailies since Wrath, and I hated it for jewelcrafting then, but these are innocuous dailies more along the lines of alchemical and inscription discoveries, so they're not really that bad - you even get to pick which recipe you learn.  But I'm sitting on so much ore on my engineer, and I can't do anything with it.  I've got Blingtron 5k and scopes and pets in my recipe list, but I can't do anything to make them yet.  Delayed gratification sucks, but it also means that there's not going to be any jumping in on the market of selling those pets and scopes any time soon, because I'm saving up to make myself that gun and some goggles.

And that also sucks.  I'm trying to get into Molten Core, but I had bad luck on quest item upgrades at an ilvl that mattered, and so far my dungeon drops have been for slots that I already had 615 pieces in.  My most recent upgrades came from Mr. Pinchy Sr. (who got me into heroics) and 615 shoulders from a garrison mission.  I'll get there, and it won't be horribly slow, but there's no more, "Oh, I'll just drop 5k on mats on the auction house and make myself a piece of gear for that one slot I really need to upgrade."  Having done the silver proving grounds required for heroic dungeons at a 584 ilvl, though, it's a bit frustrating.

But I made my Elekk plushie last night, and my blacksmith has a forge in construction (actually it finished sometime last night), and this weekend I'll probably get all my alts a level 2 garrison so I can have their profession buildings made well before I actually get around to leveling them, so I can stockpile materials for when I do.  Other than herbs, I think I can keep them mostly supplied with raw materials for their cooldowns just from my main.  My death knight might get bumped up in playtime just for herb gathering.  Once I have a follower in the herb garden, that may end up unnecessary, though.

I like the tie-in of hunting down a follower of the affiliated profession and, now that they've got the mission levels fixed, leveling them up to the point they can go to work for you in the profession buildings.  I'm also liking the "cook to learn more cooking," although not so much the five meats/filets to make anything.  The talbuk have been scrawny.

All in all, it's not a bad system; it's just frustrating after several years with only the major pieces requiring delayed gratification for crafting.  Titansteel cooldowns, living steel cooldowns, sure.  Scopes being gated by cooldowns?  Not really sold on that, but it's what we've got.  I've been reluctant to put a scope on my leveling ranged weapons, because who knows when they'll be replaced, and I need those gears for a gun and goggles.

I should have just bought the yak, though.  That 120k I stockpiled before the expansion isn't going to be needed for powerleveling  professions this time around, because there is no more powerleveling professions if you're already at 600.

On the gating flipside, thank God there's a cap on timber stockpiling, because I was starting to somewhat obsessively deforest Nagrand.