Posted by: thakarron | April 13, 2010

Sorry!

Hey everyone, sorry I’ve been falling off my blog-game for a while. Spring break was crazy busy for all the right reasons, then after that I had a ton of midterms not to mention crazy hours at work. Aside from that, I’ve also been experiencing some weird burn-out like feelings about WoW =/ luckily I’m over that now and feeling a little more energized about the game.

I won’t hesitate to admit that things have been strange, my 10 man is down to raiding one night a week (a marathon session of ass-kickery) and my 25s ended up disbanding when the leadership decided to take a break and have more real life time, a decision I support wholeheartedly. At first I was thinking that it’s for the best, and although I don’t talk about it much I have some issues with my 25-man team. It isn’t that they piss me off on purpose or are a bunch of dicks, its just that sometimes I think the people that share the same mindset I do are heavily outnumbered by those that don’t. Anyway, after that thought I was assaulted by another thought..what if instead of enjoying the time off I went the opposite way and got back into raid-leading (which I did in vanilla during silly silly silly 40 man content). This is clearly crazy talk, raid-leading is really a rough job (especially from a logistical point and all the behind-the-scenes shit that goes down) and I have nothing but respect for those that do it. When I was thinking this I began to realize that my raiding addiction is really pretty intense, if you know something would be bad for you and it would get under your skin yet you still wanna dedicate hours and hours to try and do it you clearly have a problem =P In the end everything worked out though, a few other people stepped up to handle the logistics of the reformed 25 and try and continue. They decided on a leadership council, with people doing different roles (loot, strats, invites, etc) and I was happy (perhaps foolish) to get involved. I’m hoping that with the reform our 25 will head in a slightly different direction and be able to make some changes to our composition and our general attitude. I may end up in the role of the enforcer (read: asshole), but thats a position I’ve played before. I’ll be sure to keep you guys more informed on whats happening with all that, if anything it’ll provide some good content for the blog!

Speaking of content, now that I’m spending less time raiding and most current ICC stuff has gotten stale for most people I think you can expect more UI/addon related posts as well as more meta-posts about my feelings (yuck) and other stuff like the Blog Azeroth shared topic. I’ll try to work up something about recent news, like the Cataclysm preview and whatnot. But to be frank I’m a lot more interested in some of the other classes’ changes instead of hunters, IMHO they seem pretty lame at the moment. Hopefully as things get more and more precise I’ll get more into it. Well on that note, I’m back in the blog scene albeit with a few changes. A slightly different view on the game, a new haircut in real life :O, and an entirely redone UI that I’ll post up this week. Also that DXE preview is still coming! Sorry its so late =/ thanks for keeping the faith guys =]

Posted by: thakarron | March 20, 2010

WoWPhiles Podcast!

Hey, quick post here. The new episode of the Wowphiles podcast is up and I’m on it! :O Modum and Jaizen are awesome guys, not to mention they lead my 10 man raid. If you guys haven’t heard of them they’re a great wow podcast, definite up-and-comers with a ton of content presented with their unique views, and both hosts are really easy to listen to.  The interview itself covers a bunch of basic stuff for hunters (things I’m sure you guys already know), but if you feel like hearing my sensuous voice give it a listen (or are just curious) besides their other segments are always awesome too. Be sure to hit them up with 5 star reviews, add them to your subscriptions on iTunes, and check out their site (my blog is syndicated over there as well if you want to read it twice as often =])

P.S. If I sound funny its because I’m from Hawaii =X and I don’t know why I said “definitely” so much either..feel free to tease me :< (I was nervous!!)

Posted by: thakarron | March 10, 2010

ICC Gear – A Blessing and a Curse?

Since I’ve been away from some real hunter-specific content for a while, I thought I’d jump back in with a post about gearing for and through ICC. So if you were thinking about hitting unsubscribe because my blog was taking a turn for the strange don’t do it yet! In this post I’ll go over the way I’ve been gearing my hunter with ICC 10 (and a bit of 25) drops, badges, or crafted items and the pros and cons I’ve found with this level of gearing.

Now I’m not going to just link you the BiS gear for every slot, because in most situations thats not easily accessible to me. I like to consider myself fairly middle of the road (for a regular raider) so the gear I talk about here will be available to most of my readers as well. I won’t be focusing on the stats and everything for every single piece, instead I’ll be going over how all our gear synergizes as a whole and what benefits or pitfalls it may bring.

First off, I’ll start with the gear that we’ll be holding over from previous levels of content, our tier 9 set. From what I’ve seen the optimal pieces to keep are definitely the t9 helm and legs (I’m rocking the ilevel 245 versions, which shouldn’t be to hard to get especially because pugs regularly steamroll TOC25) optimally you’d be able to score the 25man heroic-level versions. The helm is wonderfully itemized, and is still holding its own compared to drops I’ve seen in ICC. The pants are also good, but my main reason for keeping them is because the t10 pants are terribly itemized and don’t have any arpen at all while the t9 legs still have a fair amount. It also seems that holding onto the gloves instead of the helm is also viable, although there are some good options for that slot at higher ilevels.

Sticking with tier gear, a lot of our tier 10 pieces have some strange itemization, but the ones that I’ve gone for first are the shoulders and chest. The t9 shoulders were also kind of lackluster so t10 is a big upgrade, not to mention that I’m an orc so how am I supposed to not go for a pair of spiked shoulders that look huge and awesome on me =P. I had the Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate before I acquired my t10 chest, which wasn’t that awesome since it was kind of a side-grade. The t10.5 version of the chest scales up wonderfully though, not to mention the set bonus is entirely too awesome to pass up (especially when combined with our t9 bonus).

To make up for the fact that some of our t10 gear is kind of weird at times, almost all the badge gear we can get is wonderful. The back is BiS until heroic content, not to mention it has a fair amount of arpen and a socket. After my tier and the cloak the next upgrade I went for were the gloves, which are itemized beautifully again with more arpen. The t10 gloves are decent if you’re in dire need of some hit (more on the entire hit-cap thing later in this post T_T), but as a MM player that arpen is awfully tempting. Speaking of hit the badge belt is also awesome, it has a ton of hit rating and a total of 3 sockets (after the buckle) which means you could throw 20 hit gems in all of those and have around 3% on one piece. I upgraded to this from the 25man Anubarak belt, which was a little painful because that belt was really good at the time and itemized perfectly for a marksmanship hunter. But with a lot of gear I have is so barren in the hit department that I couldn’t resist.

The ilevel 264 crafted items cost an arm and a leg at the moment, but in my opinion its definitely worth it. We already have our t9 legs so I won’t be breaking that up (although the crafted pants are pretty sweet), but the crafted boots are awesome and a big upgrade from most available alternatives. I was lucky enough to score the boots off of 10man Festergut which are itemized well and make the 264 boots more of a sidegrade. They are still a decent sized DPS boost, despite that some stats are being moved around. But since getting this gear is still pretty cost-prohibitive (for me at least :<) I’m not chasing after crafting them right away instead I might start selling some Primordial Saronite until the prices come down a little bit.

For the other slots that can only be filled by drops there are quite a few decent choices. For the neck piece I’m still rocking the Charge of the Eredar, if you have the dough to spend you can easily get pretty close to BiS with Wodin’s Lucky Necklace from the auction house (or off trash in ICC). When it comes to rings theres no reason not to go for the Ashen Verdict ring, it scales extremely well and once you get to exalted its awesome (AP proc, gem socket, hit rating, what more do you need!). For your second ring the Dexterous Brighstone Ring from Triumphs is still a contender, although I have the ring off 10man Saurfang which is a wonderful upgrade. When it comes to your ranged slot theres a great bow off 10man Lady Deathwhisper (which drops all the time o_O) and if you can afford not having any stats on your bow (apart from a badass proc) Zod’s Repeating Longbow off Lady Runs-Her-Mouth 25man is BiS until heroic content (I was skeptical when I first got it, but after a short adjustment period I’ve fallen in love). As for a stat-stick in ICC there’s a serious fucking drought of hunter-itemized weapons. Sure there’s a staff off of 10man Rotface, but it’s not that amazing (better for kitties IMO). There’s a decent polearm off of Blood Princes, it sacrifices a large portion of agility budget for arpen and some hit (my calculations place it below Quel’Delar still). If anything you can hope for Distant Land off 25man Festergut (again, more designed for feral druids IMO). If you have the gold to spend I’d suggest investing in a Battered Hilt (its better in overall DPS than everything listed so far except Distant Land). Or you could end up like me stuck with a 232 weapon, looking silly =[. If you’re hoping for that brilliantly itemized weapon just keep dreaming about stuff like this and this (or maybe this) from the Lich King.

One of the most talked-about items for hunters are definitely trinkets. One of the most easily accessible is the Needle-Encrusted Scorpion (from heroic Forge of Souls), despite its low proc-rate it certainly pulls its weight once you’re able to soft-cap arpen with it. Also the Whispering Fanged Skull off Deathwhisper 10man is a wonderful trinket to keep around if you aren’t worried about arpen or are close enough to hard-cap that soft-capping is no longer a concern. But the elephant in the room is definitely Deathbringer’s Will, it has a HUGE amount of passive arpen on it (11% percent O_O) and wonderful procs that can change your entire rotation. I managed to get my hands on it, but only by forgoing any loot in 25man ICC for a month to secure my position on top of the SK list for my raid group (this was before we even downed Saurfang once, so I was pretty much pissing into the wind). It’s definitely worth it DPS wise, not to mention it makes you feel like a total badass. If you don’t have access to this bad boy, the old standby Darkmoon Card: Greatness is still viable (or Death’s Verdict/Choice for that matter).

After this wall of text crits you you’re probably wondering what all this means. On my toon this gear puts you ridiculously under hit cap (you’ll need 3/3 Focused Aim for sure), with a severe lack of haste (I know it’s not a big deal but having slow slow slow Steady Shots are a pet-peeve of mine T_T), and a fairly high amount of crit along with soft-capped arpen (100% when the scorpion procs). This combination of gear leads to some changes to our play style as well, based on set-bonuses and procs and all that jazz. Two piece t9 is still awesome, so Serpent Sting still needs to be up as much as humanly possible (rolling on multiple targets if you’re really a big dog). Two piece t10 augments this further, while the 15% bonus damage proc is active you can reapply your SS (during the Steady Shot phase of your rotation) and refresh it with Chimera Shot to constantly keep that damage bonus to Serpent Sting up on the target. Deathbringer’s Will procs add another layer on top of what we already know, when we proc either Aim of the Iron Dwarves or Agility of the Vrykul along with the t10 2-piece (and even Culling the Herd if you’re feeling cheeky) you want to reapply SS and refresh it with Chimera Shot as I went over earlier. Keeping up this “super-sting” is a HIGH priority because its doing 15%-18% more damage and has an augmented crit chance based on either 600 agility or 600 crit rating, this provides a big bonus to our overall dps not to mention our Chimera Shot damage. While these procs are up you definitely want to pause and do a Rapid Fire/Readiness cycle to maximize the amount of shots you can crank out while under the effects of such bonuses. One proc I haven’t talked about yet is the arpen proc, due to the exponential nature of armor penetration the closer you are to soft-cap the more important this is. For me, when this procs I have to do my best to stand still and crank out a high frequency of Auto Shots and Steady Shots (hasted as much as possible) since the boss is effectively naked.

Despite the shortcomings presented by ICC gear, overall I think Blizz did a pretty good job designing things (except no weapons! :<). Our set bonuses are influential and fun, not to mention they can change our entire rotation sometimes. Sure it makes things more complicated if you really want to squeeze the maximum amount of DPS out of your toon, but personally I get bored when things get too repetitive or easy. Hopefully this guide helped you to make your own choices on what gear you’re gonna be shooting for depending on how you play. I don’t recommend copying me item for item,  but I do hope my logic in choosing items has helped you decide whats right for you. I’d love to hear the choices you made or trends you’ve observed at higher gear levels. Also feel free to send me some gold to aid in my gear “research” =P thanks for reading!

Posted by: thakarron | March 8, 2010

Bobby Kotick > Deathwing?

So a quick post here, if any of you have been keeping up with recent events in the gaming community there have been some big things happening over at Activision. Big scary things.

New Level ?? Raid Boss Datamined?!

Last week over at Activision, everyone’s favorite gaming company (which also bought Blizzard, much to our cumulative joy) the COO Vince Zampella and President Jason West of Infinity Ward were terminated. From the looks of it, this whole ordeal wasn’t very friendly. Outsourced security guards were present at the actual termination, to both escort them off the premises and keep any information from being passed to other Infinity Ward employees. Infinity Ward plans to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit, which Activision will surely contest.

The repercussions are sure to come fast and furious, since Infinity Ward has been touted as one of the tightest knit group of friends and developers. Who’s to say that more Infinity Ward employees won’t follow their leadership and leave Activision to head towards greener pastures? Speaking of green, other publishers will definitely be throwing some crazy cheddar down to secure Infinity Ward if they do leave Activision as a whole. In case you’ve decided to become a hermit for the last few years, Infinity Ward developed the original Call of Duty, as well as perhaps the best-selling video game of all time Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Although we don’t know what kind of legality Activision has on the CoD IP, you can bet that its pretty ironclad. They have announced that Sledgehammer Games will be working on the next CoD title due in 2010, while Treyarch continues to develop a Vietnam Era CoD. There’s rumors that IW wanted to work on a new IP apart from CoD, or at least pursue a different angle, something that Activision probably wasn’t very happy with. Regardless if another publisher (EA? Microsoft?) decides to pick up IW who knows what could happen, needless to say the future of Infinity Ward is definitely in flux after recent events.

What does this mean for Blizzard? Like Infinity Ward, Blizz is definitely a tightly knit group of highly skilled individuals that has made some awesome games. Infinity Ward has also gone on record talking some serious shit about big, bad Activision. Although Blizzard hasn’t said anything bad to the public, many of us can see that the two could easily be at odds. A lot of long time Blizz fans have noticed many changes, that could be the result of Activision’s (more specifically Bobby’s) financial mindset influencing what Blizzard wants to do. They’ve been known to release games when they feel that they are ready, not when the calendar says would be the peak time. I for one have nothing but respect for Blizzard’s efforts to put out quality products, but I’m not sure Activision is a fan. If WoW takes a turn towards annual expansion packs in an effort to suck more cash out of us, I won’t be very pleased. The growing number of microtransactions aren’t a very good sign either.

Finally, you can’t help but think that Activision and Mr. Kotick didn’t know what message they would be sending by terminating the creators of one of the most successful games of all time. Its a statement that you ain’t safe, no matter how much money you put in our pocket or how fervent your fans are. If you conflict with our interests, you ain’t safe. Bobby Kotick pretty much dropped his pants and showed us what he’s working with, and he isn’t afraid to do what he thinks is right for Activision’s financial future. So what does this mean for Blizzard in the future? You can bet they had one hell of a morning meeting the day after this all went down.

So although Deathwing may be the big boss of Cataclysm, but all the destruction he wrought isn’t shit compared to what Mr. Kotick could do to Blizzard as a whole. Regardless of what happens, things have definitely gotten a lot more interesting for Blizzard, as well as the rest of the gaming community.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this whole situation, and if this is your first time hearing about it I hope this post provided a good bit of insight! Thanks for the read everyone =]

Posted by: thakarron | March 8, 2010

Thak’s Journal – An Introduction

This is an in-character post, so beware! I’m actually a lot more nervous about writing this post than any of the other’s I’ve put up, so don’t make fun! Well, you can if you want but I’d appreciate other comments or constructive criticism a lot more than “zomg carebear kbye”. Actually I am on an RP server so I’m allowed, even though I don’t roleplay in-game. So I hope this is a nice change of pace from my usual content and that you all enjoy it, if it goes over well I’ll probably end up posting more of this style of writing.

Dalaran was crowded, but that was nothing new. Despite the masses of city residents and visiting adventurers the orc moved through the foot traffic with familiar ease. After releasing his mount at the flight pad to rest he made his way down a few well-traveled roads before descending into the network of tunnels that wound under the entirety of the magical metropolis. Things were a little less glamorous in the tunnels, which was probably why the hunter spent most of his time here. Of course a few of the less savory denizens of Dalaran made their living in the Underbelly, but they knew who deserved a wide berth (it helped to have a heap of canine muscle trotting beside you). The underground thoroughfares remained fairly crowded as the orc reached his destination.

He rounded a corner and was assaulted by the welcome commotion of his favorite haunt. Despite being in the heart of the Underbelly the Cantrips and Crows Tavern was always doing good business, bringing in a crowd who were after a little more secluded atmosphere, whether to seek a little peace and quiet (at least as peaceful as it could be in the busiest hub on the entire continent) or to conduct business away from the common passerby. The orc’s muscular bulk made the thick planks creak as he crossed over the cloudy water and into the tavern proper. He scanned the large common room, quickly finding a seat at one of the many mismatched tables looking over the docks and water below. The noise of the tavern’s many patrons, whether at the long, sturdy bar or around the crackling fireplace, was comforting to the greenskin as he settled into the soft time-worn leather chair and stretched his arms out wide. Even Sleet, a grizzled Frostworg matron that had become attached to him after his time spent with the Sons of Hodir, laid down stiffly and rested her scarred snout on wicked paws.

“Thakarron, it’s good to lay eyes friend! Got a fresh bowl of stew for you, Brella made some changes to the recipe after you suggested that new marinade for the Shoveltusk and it’s become a favorite once again!” blustered the well-known proprietor of the inn, setting out a simple bowl of simmering house stew on the wobbly wooden table along with a tall glass of sweet herbal tea.

“Same to you Ajay, it feels nice to have some time to relax,” replied Thakarron, his friendly smile was made fearsome by his broad tusks. The orc picked up the battered spoon and scooped up a spoonful of thick reddish brown broth along with a small hunk of dark shoveltusk shoulder. A heady aroma of garlic, rosemary, and other flavorful spices filled his nostrils as he let the decadent broth coat his tongue. The shoveltusk had just the right amount of marbling and was a mix of sweet marinade and gamey meat as it melted in the orc’s mouth. “Give my thanks to Brella, she’s outdone herself as always,” complemented the hunter, around a mouthful of hearty stew.

“I’ll try, you know shes already amazed that a ‘filthy greenskin’ like you could be such a good cook!” exclaimed the human jokingly, a wry smile beneath his salt and pepper mustache.

A guttural chuckle spilled from the orc, at odds with his menacing appearance. Brella was a young battle axe, even for a Dwarven woman, and firmly believed that the stout little people were clearly the master race of Azeroth. “Maybe its better you just tell her I bow before her endless skill with pot and ladel.”

The innkeeper barked with laughter and slapped the hunter heartily on the back, a gesture that barely stirred the muscular orc. “You always were more clever than I, Thakarron. Anyway, I’ll leave you to your business, stay as long as you like, I’ll have your room ready if you wish!” With that he turned and made his way to the back of the house, mingling with other patrons as he went.

Thakarron quickly gulped down his stew, the heat of it helping to protect against the cold that permeated all of Northrend. He was almost finished when Sleet nudged her large muzzle against his leg, her mouth open and tongue lolling out. With a sigh Thakarron fished out one of the last pieces of shoveltusk with his spoon and let it fall down toward his pet worg. Before it could even touch the ground Sleet caught the morsel in her mouth and gulped it down, letting out a chuff of approval before returning to her strenuous task of comfortably lounging.

Now that his meal was pretty much finished Thakarron slid his bowl to the side and took a simple journal bound in supple brown leather along with a writing set from his pack. With a delicate touch he opened the cover, exposing creamy parchment pages of utmost quality. He uncorked his inkpot and dipped the oversized quill, plucked from a roc in Sholazar Basin, into it. The orc paused with his hand over the page, his heavy brows furrowing in thought. After several moments he finally began to write in heavy skittering script…

***

I’m still not sure why I am writing this, I have told myself that it is because I feel like my exploits could provide knowledge to others. But perhaps this is an attempt to immortalize my fellow adventurers and I, so even in death we are not forgotten. I do not fear death, no true Orc would. What I do fear is meeting my end before I can serve my purpose, whatever it may be. In these dire times nothing is certain, so it seems this journal is an effort for my tale to live on beyond me. It is my hope that I can educate others through the horrors and wonders I have seen. My lessons won’t be taught in some soldier’s practice pen or in the children’s lecture hall. These lessons will be written in the blood of my enemies, told by the point of my arrows, and backed by experience wrought in the crucible of combat. I am Thakarron, proud hunter of the Horde, friend to many and enemy to countless more. Here I recount my adventures through Northrend, in peace and in battle, I hope whatever tales I record here bring honor to our brethren and terror to any who would stand against us. Lok’tar ogar!

As our war in Northrend pushes toward our final goal, the death of the Lich King, I find myself tested like never before. Not by the trivial bloodsport of the Argent Tournement, or the possessed gods and technological marvels of Ulduar, and certainly not the decrepit liches of Naxxramus. The foes here are great, but so to is the chance for glory. I am not rushing in headlong, the bloodlust of our past is certainly the path to destruction when the sakes are as high as they are now. For now we journey slowly through the Citadel of the Lich King, aided by heroes of the Horde as well as the warriors of the Ashen Verdict. I have acquired many wonders and relics so far, and tales of others have perked my interests. My father drilled into me to “train hard, fight easy” a phrase he lived by, considering his axe was never far from his hand. So at this time I hone my skills, my bow arm has never been stronger nor my marksmanship more unerring. Despite this I continue to search for further ways to push myself. I have heard whispers from the denizens of Storm Peaks of a exceedingly rare beast, a creature more myth than flesh. A holdover from times of ancient magic and rampant power. I cannot resist such a chance to track down a legend. Perhaps I will have to take a leave of absence from Icecrown when the opportunity presents itself. My only worry is that Sleet will become jealous, she is already as fickle as any Orc woman, a trait I do not place in high regard!

***

Although the first entry was short, Thakarron was satisfied for now. He closed the journal and quickly wrapped up his  writing set. Several of the other patrons risked glances at the orc, seeing a greenskin writing with both speed and skill was a rare sight. No jokes were made though, many either knew of the hunter’s reputation or simply saw the ancient longbow stowed across his broad back. He took a long drink of the herbal tea before leaning back on his chair and shutting his glinting blue eyes for a bit of relaxation.

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