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On a personal level, the last few weeks have been challenging. We’ve run up against some pretty serious financial issues,  navigated our way through a few difficult inter-personal issues in game, and spent a Friday night at the emergency room due to yet another down-swing in my health.

… That was my first ever “/afk – going to the ER!” …

Unfortunately, my recent health issues have negatively impacted my ability to play WoW, so I’ve been spending a lot less time in game. This is a double-edged sword, because I could also really use the distraction it provides right now. I have the time, what I frequently am lacking is the ability.

We’ve still been raiding Alliance-side fairly regularly – due in part to what seems to be a constant shortage of caster DPS in Stands in Bad – and we’ve been spending what seems like – to me at least – to be a lot of time on PvP.  We’ve been taking groups into battlegrounds on Monday nights, learning the strats and gathering honor for more and more PvP gear in hopes of starting Rated Battlegrounds in the near future.

Maybe I have lower standards, but I don’t feel like elemental PvP is as broken as I’ve been hearing people complain. Maybe that’s because I always have a pocket healer (or two), but I feel pretty effective, both in 2v2 arenas and in battlegrounds.

On our off-nights, we’ve been playing around with low level twinks on Shadow Council (although, the 19s bracket is brutal – or so I hear, I’ve been slacking on my goblin priest), and poking at our abandoned characters on Bronzebeard.  I’ve stalled out on gearing my death knight, and I still haven’t been able to bring myself to level my paladin on Azgalor.

It just doesn’t feel like there’s a lot going on right now, and maybe that’s not a terrible thing.

I just realized that I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, and although it’s partially due to real life kicking us in the teeth, I also realize there’s another reason.

I’m just not having that much fun in WoW right now.

My feelings about this game cycle fairly predictably.  There are periods of “OMG EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” where I just cannot get enough playtime. There are periods of complete and utter apathy; sure, I guess I’ll play for a little bit, but I’m just not that invested.  And there are periods where I just can’t fight the feeling that everything is pointless, and those? Those are the worst for me.

And that’s what I’m mired in right now: feelings of futility. On an intellectual level, I really like the Cataclysm structure of increased challenge (whether the challenge is actually there or it’s just due to no longer being silly overgeared for most of the content), but in practice, it’s somewhat frustrating.

Right now, in order to further gear up my main toons, I need to run heroics. And not just any heroics – a couple of specific ones where there are still upgrades.  However, due to the way that heroics run in our current gear, and the general terrible-ness of groups put together from Looking for Dungeon, I feel like I need to have a block of at least three hours where I don’t need to get my ass out of the chair for any reason in order to just run one.

Sure, some days I get lucky and happen to be available at the same time enough guildies are also available and not already running heroics, and can get a full guild group that runs smoothly. More often, I need to spend at least 45 minutes in queue (and god forbid I have an internet hiccup during that time – a disconnect dumps you out of queue and you have to start over), and then at least an hour in the instance itself at which point the group either falls apart due to it’s terrible-ness, or we actually succeed in clearing the content. The first happens far more often than the second, sadly. Either way, I’m left frustrated and grumpy more often than not.

All that just for a chance at one of the few remaining upgrades. I have no use for Justice Points right now, and I’m not getting Valor Points because I don’t want to spend those three hours doing something that gives no real chance of improving my gear situation. I don’t run heroics for fun like some folks do – they’re a means to an end for me. And while I don’t mind running a instance with no upgrades for me to help out a friend, I certainly don’t want to do it with strangers.

This leads to a couple of other problems for someone like me, who can’t help but over-think her leisure activities:

1) Achievement-chasing: Krikket already has an insane amount of achievement points, and while I’d love to rack up some more, I can’t bring myself to do it. I know I should be spending my in-game time preparing myself for raiding, not chasing NerdPoints. So I’ve been completely ignoring achievements because I feel so guilty about what I’m not doing, it sucks all the fun out of it for me.

2) Alts: Historically, I’ve been a huge fan of alts.  I love being able to see how the other classes work, and seeing the content from all the perspectives of healer / tank / DPS. But when my Horde priest hit 85, I discovered one of the problems with alts now.  Sometimes? When an alt gets leveled up, you find out that playing that class is actually a whole lot more fun than playing your main. Which has led to me not really wanting to play either one – grinding out gear for a character who – in a best-case scenario – will never see anything more of end-game than possibly a Baradin Hold PuG raid is depressing. For any character of mine, other than my two shaman, heroics are the end-game, and since they’re my least favorite part of WoW, I’ve sort of lost interest in getting any of my other characters to 85.

Right now, I log on to do a little farming here and there, to do inscription research on my DK, or to help someone else out with something, or if I have a scheduled raid. Otherwise? I’m not even a little interested in starting up the game.

I’m sure that this too will pass – it’s certainly not the first batch of WoW-apathy I’ve butted up against, but it’s certainly one of the longest-lasting that didn’t come on the heels of a big guild drama-bomb. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it would take to bring back the fun. I’ve considered re-rolling some of my favorite characters on a PvE server somewhere and taking the time to really explore the revamped Azeroth. I’ve thought about hunting for a casual raiding guild for my priest and cutting back on my other obligations.  I’ve thought about pulling out of the raiding game entirely and focusing on the parts of WoW that I used to really enjoy. But those all feel like big steps I’m just not ready to take.

In the meantime, I’m not logging a lot of WoW-hours. I have instead purchased the beta of Minecraft, which is way more fun than it should be, especially since I kind of think I might be missing the whole point. I don’t do a lot of building – I just do a lot of whacking at blocks with a pickaxe and trying not to die.

Although I always like being surprised when something shiny falls out of that boss we just killed, I decided that knowing what I need and where it drops was more important than the – oh so slim – possibility of shiny surprises.

This is obviously not a definitive list of MUST HAVE elemental shaman pieces, and I try to give other options for every slot.  You will notice that a lot of these pieces have spirit, and absolutely none of them have hit.  This is because I want to be able to heal changing out as few pieces as possible because dear god, I am sick of carrying 2 – 3 full sets of gear around with me everywhere.

NOTE: I am only comparing items that are iLvL 346. Sometimes, there might be a comparable lower-level drop, or epic crafted. I am also skipping the trinket slots for now – the nightmare of finding good trinkets may merit its own post.

Head – Cowl of the Unseen World

High Priestess Azil – Heroic Stonecore

This is not a spirit piece, but is full of nommy haste and mastery, and has both a meta and a yellow gem slot with a haste bonus. Even I have to reforge something to hit cap, I prefer this to the spirit/crit helm available from Justice Points, and these are the only two caster shaman options of iLvl 346 currently available.

Neck – Quicksilver Amulet

Karsh Steelbender – Heroic Blackrock Caverns

This is a spirit / haste neck. There are actually lots of valid choices for this slot with any combination of stats, including a lovely – but very pricey – crafted neck.

Shoulders – Fallen Snow Shoulderguards

Grand Vizier Ertan – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

One of three choices for this slot. This one is crit / haste with no spirit, the one from H-SFK is spirit and mastery, so also a very valid choice.  The Seafoam Mantle, purchased with Justice Points, is also spirit and mastery, and just fine if you want another piece that’s not up to RNG.

Back – Solar Wind Cloak

Rajh – Heroic Halls of Origination

Be aware, the healer might shank you if you roll on this, because with spirit and haste, it’s also one of the best healing cloaks around.  There are a couple other good cloak choices, including the cloak available once you’re revered with the Earthen Ring, but that one does not have spirit or hit, so you’ll have to make sure you have an adequate amount on your gear, or reforge some of the crit to spirit or hit.

Chest – Breastplate of the Stilled Heart

Commander Springvale – Heroic Shadowfang Keep

This is the only caster mail chest available with haste on it. The two other options are spirit / mastery from Throne of the Tides, and spirit / crit from Justice points.

Wrists –  Shackles of the Betrayed

Vanessa VanCleef – Heroic Deadmines

There are only two bracers available at this iLvl – these with have spirit and haste, and the ones from H-BRC that are spirit and crit, which in my opinion, are a poor consolation prize if you cannot get a group that can make it all the way through the epic raid-length heroic that is Deadmines.

Hands – Old Friend’s Gloves

Helix Gearbreaker – Heroic Deadmines

These spirit / haste gloves drop from a much earlier boss than the bracers, so the chances are better your group will make it this far. The gloves from H-LC are spirit / crit, and the ones from justice points are crit / mastery.

Waist – Sash of Prophecy

Ramkahen Revered Reputation – Cost: ~33 gold

There is a drop belt in H-HoO, and a belt from Justice Points, but making nice with the RamenNoodleKitties gets you the lovely haste belt.

Legs – Leggings of Soothing Silence

2,200 Justice Points

OR

Legs – Wilderness Legguards

Guardians of Hyjal Revered Reputation – Cost: ~76 gold

The differences between these two pairs of pants is minute – the quantity of haste and spirit – which differs by only 20 – is swapped on them. If you love haste, and you have the JP, buy those. If you’re worried about hit capping more than haste, and you have the rep, buy those. They’re both damn good pants.

Feet – Dark Iron Chain Boots

Forgemaster Throngus – Heroic Grim Batol

Hope you like Grim Batol. These spirit / mastery boots are the only mail caster boots around. Yes, I know Earthen Ring Exalted has epic boots – epic spirit /crit boots. I’ll pass.

Fingers – SO MANY GOOD CHOICES

Seriously. Rings are full of choices. Pick just about any 2 secondary stats you feel like you’re lacking, and there’s a ring choice for you.

Weapon – Scepter of Power

Setesh – Heroic Halls of Origination

OR

Weapon – Biting Wind

Grand Vizier Ertan – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

The mace nets you spirit / haste, the dagger, crit / haste. Be aware that people are already saying the mace is the best healer weapon pre-raid, so your healer might flip if you roll against them for it. DO NOT BE A STAFF SHAMAN. We had enough of that bullshit in Wrath.

Shield – Zora’s Ward

Siamat – Heroic Lost City of the Tol’Vir

The lack of spirit on this makes it less of a healing shield, which means you’re less likely to have competition for it, and both haste and mastery are lovely to have. That said, Shield of the Mists is fairly inexpensive at 950 Justice Points, and either will do fine until you can get the Elementium Stormshield crafted.

Relic – Captured Lightning

Asaad – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

Unless you have access to a generous scribe (or are one yourself) for the Tattooed Eyeball, this is a pretty sweet spirit / haste relic.

 

 

I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating – I’m pretty much a Wrath-baby. So, I don’t really know what it was like gearing up to do heroics and raids in BC or even in Vanilla. What I do know is that in WotLK, we had downed our first wing in Naxxramus before we’d spent two weeks at level 80.

Both of my shaman are level 85 now, and already I am frustrated with the realities of gearing for heroics. You are not allowed to queue for heroic dungeons until you have a minimum average item level of 329. Both of my shaman are stuck at 326, which sounds like it’s not a big deal, right?

I’ve spent hours (literally, hours) on WoWhead looking for upgrades. The sad reality is, there just aren’t that many ACTUAL upgrades to be had. Item level upgrades? Are still scarce.  Access to pieces with an item level higher than 333 (the standard for non-heroic level 85 dungeon drops) is extremely limited.  But trading any piece I’m wearing that currently has either haste or mastery for a piece that has neither is not a functional upgrade at this point.

The only upside to this I can see is that you are not required to have an average EQUIPPED item level of 329 in order to queue for heroics. So the healing trinkets I’ve been lucky enough to hoover up on Krikket count towards my minimum, even though it’d be a DPS downgrade to put them on.

I see this problem as being multi-faceted. Getting to 85 was a quick process, leveling professions seems to be a much slower one, so I’m not seeing the crafted gear I would need to do heroics even available for purchase. Justice points are capped at a handful per day until you have access to heroics. Rep grinding is slow since the tabards only work in three instances prior to heroics.

But I think the biggest problem, at least for the elemental shaman, is Blizzard’s attitude in regards to “secondary stats”:

We want your choice of secondary start to mix up your playstyle, if only a little. Unlike primary stats, we want those secondary stats (i.e. crit, haste & mastery) to be a choice. If one is far better or far worse than the others, then we haven’t delivered on our design intent. Since some of our players have become such great rules lawyers, I am hesitant to mention a magic number at which point the ratios become unacceptable to us. Let’s just say you shouldn’t often be in a situation where you pass on an item in a later tier of content and keep an item from an earlier tier solely because of the stat allocation.

Due to the way that elemental shaman talents & abilities are structured, crit rating – at least at these lower gear levels – is so far inferior to both haste and mastery, I don’t want it. From talents we get 3% crit. From Elemental Oath, we get 5% crit. We have a glyph option that provides a flat 2% crit.  We get crit from the Intellect that we’re trying to stack into the stratosphere.

Alix has slightly more crit on her gear right now than Krikket does, and with a crit rating of a paltry 312, she sitting at over 17% crit. Her haste rating is over 1400, and that only gives her about 11% haste. Is it just me, or has Blizzard failed to deliver on their design intent on this one?

It’s hard to get excited about grinding up rep to buy what are – in my opinion – poorly itemized pieces for my spec (I’m looking at you, Epic Boots of Fail from the Earthen Ring).  And I don’t want to spend the next several weeks running Grim Batol, Halls of Origination, and Lost City of Tol’Vir hoping for a trash drop blue which seems to be the only appropriately itemized mail hat from pre-heroics.

Yes, I get that heroics are challenging, and that I don’t want to blindly flail around in them under-prepared. But I don’t think I’ll perform any better in the amazing crafted iLvL  339 resilience / spirit boots than I will in the iLvL 272 boots I’m currently wearing.

About half an hour ago, my boyfriend bundled up, and headed out to pick up his brother, and the two of them were planning on standing in line for about four hours at the midnight release of Cataclysm at our local Gamestop.  Apple will be meeting up with them later.  I’ve spend the last couple of week gloating about my digital download, and how I could spend those hours sitting at home, all warm and comfortable.

Of course, when I was doing all that bragging, I though I would be desperately trying to finishing SOMETHING before the level cap went up, and there were a million things I felt like I HAD to do, instead of just half a million I felt like I wanted to.

That’s a little harsh, I know, but I think it’s put a damper on my excitement. In fact, the prevalent emotion I’ve been feeling is a pretty serious case of DO NOT WANT.

Am I exaggerating? Yeah, I am exaggerating a little bit. Despite the fact that there’s no way in HELL I’m staying up to log on right at 3 a.m. my time, I’m sure once I get over my initial trepidation and just dive into it, I’m going to have a great time.

But…

Read the rest of this entry »

There is a great post up on Elitist Jerks with some very viable pre-heroic / pre-raid gear to aim for while questing, as well as some crafted blues and epics you might want to start saving for.

The thing I was most excited to see was probably the Elementium Stormshield – which for elemental shamans is basically a hit/haste/spellpower shield. I will pay whatever it costs not to wander into my first raid wearing a staff or carrying an offhand. Krikket’s days as a staff-shaman are about to come to an end.

One thing they don’t mention, that I expect I’ll be willing to do just about anything to get my hands on, is the Darkmoon Card: Volcano. I haven’t actually checked out Cataclysm stat-weights, but I cannot image a better trinket than one which brings over 300 mastery rating and a 1600 intellect proc. I’m very glad that Alix is a scribe now, and I’m seriously considering leveling Koraline before Norrah, simply for access to Cataclysm herbs & the ability to make my own Darkmoon Faire cards.

I know, this achievement is SO six months ago – if not longer.

Thanks to Fuzzbutt, Vainglory, Tzukiko, and my ever-indulgent warlock boyfriend Darktyme for helping me knock out those last two achievements after raid last night.

Proto-dragon #2 obtained – total mount count: 81.

There have been reports on the Official WoW Forums about elemental shaman AoE being currently bugged: Earthquake, Thunderstorm, Fire Nova, and Magma Totem are currently not scaling with spellpower.  I have not been able to find a blue post either confirming this as a bug, or stating that it’s intended.

I tried these spells out last night, and although I don’t have pre- and post-patch parses to prove it, experienced a huge reduction in damage done by these spells.  This bug does not appear to be affecting Chain Lightning – perhaps because it’s not a “real” AoE, but rather a multi-target spell.

Sadly, this means my Anzu-farming is on hold until this is resolved. It’d be embarrassing as hell to die to flocks of little flappy birds because I can’t single-target them down fast enough.

 

ETA: Blue posted confirms, at least as far as Earthquake is concerned, this is NOT working as intended. Bug fix incoming “in a future patch”.

I have not done very much raid leading since we came over to Azgalor, and mostly? I like it that way. It’s not that I’m incapable of raid leading, it’s that I feel damn silly doing it. Apple likened my strat explanations to those safety announcements you hear before the plane takes off, and if I’m really honest with myself, it’s not that far off.

However, since a handful of us got our rusted proto-drakes last week, I made a personal commitment to help everyone who had helped me get theirs if that’s what they wanted – and really, who doesn’t want a shiny riding dragon?!? With official SiB raids canceled for the week, I took the opportunity to make a project raid in which we’d clean up some of the easier achievements* while primarily focus on getting Algalon down.

One of our healers got unavoidably delayed by the homework monster, and with less than no notice, Myssidia agreed to take a break from leveling his not-so-little paladin to come frolic in Ulduar with us. We quickly knocked out Flame Leviathan with four towers, not-so-quickly knocked out a handful of Iron Dwarves while killing Razorscale, took down XT after breaking his poor little robot heart, and cleared up to Algalon’s door, promising that we’d got back and do a few more achievements once our hour was up or we downed him.

In case you were wondering? Algalon is still not a kidding around fight. Yes, our current level of gear and the OP-ness we’re all feeling from 4.0.1 trivializes one of the mechanics – the tight enrage timer.  It’s not a hardship anymore to have a ranged DPS complete committed to the management of Collapsing Stars.

We wiped a few times – once to me dropping a star right on both tanks and porting them into the Black Hole, once to a healer falling through the floor because he didn’t get into the combat arena in time, and a few other times to random oopses. But with a full 30 minutes left on the timer, on only our second night of attemps, we conquered Algalon!

Krikket finally has a title I feel is worthy of replacing Loremaster – at least for a little while. I’ll likely alternate between them.

We then went on to a speed kill of Ignis, a one-shot of Iron Council hard, killing Auriaya without killing her kitties (or our bear tank), and a very sloppy Firefighter. For at least two of our team, the only things standing between them and their Rusted Proto-Drakes is the Saronite Animus and Razorscale’s bad breath.

I even got Kotakh to admit that hard modes in Ulduar? Are still pretty fun. This might have been the most surprising thing that happened all night.

*Clearly by easier achievements, I meant Orbituary & Firefighter. Who knew?

 

For the first time, I’ve gotten artwork done of one of my characters, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Muffin tabard, for the win.

 

See more by the artist at http://duskfalls.deviantart.com/

Who I Am:

CURRENTLY PLAYING

Kimorah
Holy/Shadow Priest

Alliance Raiding Main

ACTIVE ALTS

Krikket - Level 88
Elemental Shaman [A]

Kayci - Level 85
Holy Paladin [A]

Koralyne - Level 85
Unholy/Blood Deathknight [A]

All Classes to 90 Progress
June 2017
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