Friday, November 18, 2011

Hine Is BACK (Sort of)

This post is a personal update and in no way implies a return to DK blogging.... (sorry)

After taking over 7 months off and not touching the game, I found that I continued to miss the it. I stayed in touch with some of my in-game friends, read forums, and otherwise continued to maintain interest in Wow. I also didn't really have anything else hold my interest or fill my late-night time in a way that Wow did, so I decided to try playing again - on an even more limited schedule.

Several of the reasons I left in the first place have not changed, so playing 40 hours a week remains a Very Bad Idea.

I found a incredible guild that raids 6 hours a week yet still progresses (according to WowProgress, after our H Baleroc kill we were top-40 worldwide for guilds that raid 1-2 nights a week), has great people, and a good schedule.

When I came back, I didn't start blogging again for several reasons - which all still apply today.
1. I'm not sure I want or am able to devote the time and energy to Wow overall to also write a blog.
2. There's a lot of good resources out there. There are a couple of very good blogs on DKs, Elitist Jerks is a great place for theorycrafting (and #Acherus although I don't really go there), and sites like WOL and RaidBots provide a wealth of information for the performance-minded DK. Not sure what I'd contribute at this point.
3. I 'wasn't myself' when I returned - it had been over 7 months. My gear was way behind, Firelands was well in progress and I'd never seen any of it, and I had computer problems holding me back (turns out my MBP wasn't that great for raiding after all). Additionally, I found I 'had' to play frost which I've discovered/confirmed that I really don't like and am not good at (I didn't get ranked on any fight until this week when I went unholy on Baleroc N during our achievement run).

So, the bottom line is, Yes, Hine is back in Wow, playing DK. I'm loving it so far (although Skyrim is a very compelling diversion at the moment) and having fun. I've maintained a reasonable balance with time/energy invested, and feel like I can continue playing long enough to probably make an annual pass worthwhile.

I may or may not do any more blogging, and even if I do, it will likely be more sporadic, and probably more 'personal' rather than focused on optimizing DK play.

Thanks for the well-wishes in the interim, and hope you are all enjoying Wow, and DK-ing (and yay for 4.3 buffs!!!).


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Sorry all that I have to post this, but:
Due to a variety of personal, professional, and medical reasons, I've had to take a hiatus from raiding.
I don't have an eta on my return.
Given that this is a raiding-DK-centric blog, it's doubtful that I'll be posting until/if I return to raiding.

I'll miss it, big time, but for now will have other priorities.

Cheers to all and thanks for reading.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

So I've started raiding: How do I bid on gear?

I'm assuming you've looked at the generally accepted 'BIS' (best in slot lists) posted on Elitist Jerks (if not, check them out here - Frost and Unholy).
So, now you know what to bid on, right?

Actually, it's not that simple.

While the systems vary, almost any loot rules in any raiding guild are built around one primary principle; fairly distribute loot. DUH! Which means, you won't get every single melee/plate dps item that drops. DUH, again! Which means, you'll have to pick and choose what to bid on, prioritizing how best to improve your overall performance as a dps DK. DUH, thrice!

Still, let's think about this for a moment.
What should you do when that lovely shiny purp drops from Magmaw? Bid? Or not?
And how should I spend my Valor Points?
Where does all the other stuff (rep, professions, boe etc) fit in?

I'll share a few ideas, but I'm sure there will be as many different approaches to gear decisions as there are raiding DKs. I DO have a few principles/guidelines that I hope are fairly clear and will make my own (if nobody else's) bidding decisions easier and more efficient/effective.

1. Melee/Plate DPS gear of the same tier is more similar than it is different due to the wonders of reforging. While some pieces are clearly better than others, even the presence of a 'bad' stat isn't as bad as it seems, since you can often reforge much of it away. Example: I bought the Hyjal exalted tank cloak, but reforged dodge to hit. It was a big upgrade over my 333 blue cloak.

2. Think long term. When you have the luxury, pick items that will last you longer.

3. Above all, UPGRADE FIRST, then go for BIS.

Example time:
Last night on Throne of the Four Winds (or, as we call it, ...Of the Monkey Raid) a plate belt dropped. The mystery stats were haste and crit - actually pretty good! My fellow dps DK bid on it, but I did not.
Why not? It would have been a very good item, almost BIS. I didn't bid on it, though, because I already have the Hyjal exalted belt. If I were to have bid on it, and won, I would have lost points, or priority, or my list position, or whatever it is that my guild uses to determine who gets the next epic. And if a nice set of bracers dropped next, I wouldn't be able to get them, even though my 346 blues aren't looking so impressive any more.
Bottom line is; don't bid on a 359 upgrade when you already have a 359 item, yet. Once you have full or nearly-full 359, feel free to bid on BIS items. But for now, while we're gearing up, take items that upgrade blue or green items first.

What about valor?
You can grab the cheaper items first, but they won't give you as much raw stat jumps as a more expensive item does (e.g., the gloves would be a 22 str upgrade while the chest would be a 42 str upgrade). Also, according to #2 above, if I buy a cloak or boots or some such, I could very well be upgrading them soon, while other items (the ring and relic) may last you well into hard modes or beyond. It's actually a fairly tough decision. For me, though, while I find the chest and helm intruiging, I'll probably go with the following.

So here's my plan:
1. Bid only on upgrades from blue 346 gear to epic 359 gear, saving points for bigger upgrades
2. Get all the rep/crafting gear I can. I have the Ramkahen neck which should last until hard modes. I have the Hyjal belt AND back (I reforged the dodge to hit - it will be replaced but is a decent filler for now), and so on. I won't bid on upgrades for my rep/crafted epics until the other slots are upgraded. Sure, Ill hope for a Scirrocco or Zin'roc from archeology, but I'm not holding my breath. I WILL bid on weapon upgrades.
3. Valor: buy a) relic first b) ring second since they both last deep into Tier 11 content. Next, buy the gloves because they're cheap and allow me to get 2-piece Tier bonus sooner rather than later. Dps DK set bonuses are tasty. Next, spend valor on non-set pieces that I don't have an epic in that slot, and then finally on any set pieces I don't have yet.

Well, I've probably gone on long enough about this, but it IS a fairly important process, after all.
Happy Gearing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cataclysm Heroics III: DPS DKs

Time for another heroic!
Which one shall it be this time, Mmmm? :P
In the absence of requests, I'll go with Stonecore, which I've found to be quite melee unfriendly. There are a few fight mechanics to perfect, but once accomplished, this heroic should go as smoothly as the others.

Since I've commented on this in my other posts, yes, my guild has started 25-man raiding, so while we're not up there with Paragon just yet, we're working through raiding. Expect raid DK guides to start in a couple of weeks.

Stonecore (sometimes abbreviated as SC) is an unforgiving 5-man for melee in sub-359 gear. I think it's also a little easier than Grim Batol, but still more difficult than VP (Vortex Pinnacle). You get four different types of bosses (gyreworm, drake, elemental, witch), but as the name obviously implies, it's a rocky instance and has the obligatory mineable elementals in it. 

The instance is linear and none of the bosses are skippable. 

I don't normally talk about trash, but the trash in here just love to eat melee.
The first pull can be a challenge. I believe it's the earth elementals (correct me if I'm wrong) that do a spinning aoe that can wreck the group quickly. A stun will stop them, and as we DKs don't have a stun, we're useless, right? Actually, you can back away a bit, and death grip them, which stops the spin, although a warrior or non-DK tank, a rogue or anyone else with a stun should use it here.
Rock flayers can kill you quickly as well, if your tank isn't aware. The tank needs to face them all in one direction, and then you can get behind them and dps. but when they do their frenzy attack, if you can't get behind them all, run away! I've died a few times to these buggers.
Finally, the big rock elementals (can't remember their names at the moment); they do a big stomp that hurts and can be hard to see when you're on their butt. If you can, watch for the stomp that's bigger and slower than the others, and jump shortly after their foot starts down, and you'll avoid the damage.

The first boss is an elemental gyreworm who shouldn't cause you too many problems. As a dps DK, you obviously need to stay out of crystal barrage, which can kill you fairly quickly on heroic. Similarly, when Corborus submerges, you need to watch when he's about to come back up (indicated by a dust cloud on the ground); if not avoided it's likely to one-shot you. Finally, it will be much much easier if a ranged focuses on aoeing down the adds. You can kill them, but if they get close, they'll explode and more than one or two of these is likely to be deadly.
Otherwise, just dps the boss. Probably the best time to pop cds is right at pull - as usual, save your frenzy (if UH) if a member uses a heroism buff, otherwise pop it along with the rest. Focus on the boss. If you have a ranged killing adds, don't worry about them. If they need help, you can drop a D&D on them or turn and HB, but otherwise you really don't want to spend time on adds.

This drake is honestly fairly forgettable. The mechanics are similar to normal mode, just a little more unforgiving. As with most drakes, stay out from in front as has a conal attack (Sand Blast). As far as I can tell, there's no tail swipe so off to the side or back will work. You'll need the room, because you obviously have to stay out of eruption (magma circles), avoid dropping stalagtites, and line of sight when Slabhide lands and starts Crystal Storm. Stay too long in any of these effects and you'll spend the fight on the floor. Pop cds at the beginning, even though some of them will be wasted to Slab's flight phase - there's really no good time to burn them otherwise.

Ozruk is the most unpleasant fellow in the instance. He's also the author of the last time I actually abandoned a pug after repeated failure after failure. He's not terribly difficult, but for some reason I've found pugs - especially tanks and melee - have a hard time with it. Basically, you'll be taking bleed damage from spike shield throughout the fight, and strangely, this is your friend. Why? Because he casts paralyze which will incapacitate you while he winds up for his Shatter. Fortunately, because you have the bleed on you, this will break the paralyze and you can run out. You'll need to watch for the emote, because sometimes you won't notice the paralyze - you'll take a tick of damage so close to paralyze you won't notice it. Obviously, you need to run away from the boss or Shatter WILL kill you on heroic. And - fun ain't it? -you'll need to be very careful while running back in, because he'll start his conal ground siege shortly after shatter and the tank may not have a chance to face him away. So you'll need to be ready to run to the side that isn't getting the ground siege before running back in. This cycle repeats itself several times. As I said, not difficult, but you don't have a ton of time to run out so you'll need to do it quickly. Frost DK will have more trouble with this due to being in frost presence, so be ready to hit unholy presence, or even use darkflight or rocket boots as necessary.
As for dps, just pop the cds at the start and on cooldown as needed.
High Priestess Azil: the end boss of the instance. Not too different from normal mode besides the typical increased mob health and damage, with one exception. This time, instead of a mechanic that can kill you, the mechanic we're concerned about can kill the tank. Force Grip - nicely stolen from Star Wars - lifts the tank in the air and does massive damage to the tank. If not interrupted, it will probably kill the tank, so make sure to save some rp for interrupts. I also love to try to sucker a mess of adds to chase me, then run under one of her rock targets, killing the adds for you. Of course you can kite them through Dark Portals as well.
In this case, I actually save my cds for the first add phase, the better to burn them down, and then army during the second add phase. Remember that your army will taunt the boss, so use it only in emergencies. However, if you summon it when all the adds are coming, it actually will keep them off your healer and help kill the adds faster.  Not too bad of a fight, though.

And, that's another heroic down! Let me know if there's another heroic you want some DK notes on before I move on to raids, and enjoy. :)