Orange Box: Impressions

kind of wanted to do a full article/review on Orange Box, but I am so damn tired this week from getting to bed past 1am every night (playing games of course). I need to finish reading through 2.3 PTR notes before making a commentary post (PROTECTION BUFF PALLYGASM).

I pre-ordered The Half-Life 2: Orange Box over the weekend, which was unlocked at midnight the other evening. So I’ve sacrificed nearly all of my farming, instancing, and Doombeard leveling time this week for the sake of obsessing about it. I worship Valve games almost as much as I worship Blizzard games (almost). TL;DR version of the following: Get it. Get it now.

Team Fortress 2 is damn fun, the play reminds me of the WoW battlegrounds a bit in the sense that both are class based team versus team games with similar objectives (node capture, capture the flag, etcetera). I love the art style; it’s just perfect.

Portal is unique first person puzzle game that takes around 3 hours to complete, give or take a half hour. If you haven’t heard of it, YouTube the trailer, the portal gun is endlessly fascinating to play with. I was mostly interested in it for the gameplay value, I didn’t expect it to be funny! The AI adds sadistic humor to the game while interweaving narrative (it’s set in the Half-Life universe).

Upon completion, an advanced mode is unlocked with 6 more challenges, some limiting your time and the number of portals that you can use. I highly recommend playing through the game a second time in commentary mode, it offers insight on the game’s development and design.

I can’t comment on Episode 1 or 2 because I haven’t played them yet. I need to play through Episode 1 first (didn’t buy it originally, wanted to wait for them all to come out or for a compilation). But before that, I want to play through Half-Life 2 since it’s kind of been 3 years. Orange Box is a great deal. Even if you have already purchased HL2 and HL2: Episode 1, it’s still 3 excellent games for $50. A real bargain if you ask me!

What’s in my bags?

bagsThe topic idea is from Galoheart’s post at Ardent Defender, who posted a screenshot and a description of what he carries in his bags, thought I would post my own. So what’s in your bags? This is what was in my inventory last night before Karazhan (for Gruul I use the Ogri’la pots and flasks).

41 slots are dedicated to gear, though I’ve managed to prune some of it down lately. My resist gear is stored in the bank…I used to permanently carry around my fire resist set in the Molten Core/Blackwing Lair days, but I don’t have enough bag space anymore to do that lol. I carry a tanking set (with extra spell damage, dodge, and mitigation pieces that I swap in and out), a spell damage set, and a healing set. In theory I don’t need three 2-handed weapons…

5 or 6 slots are devoted to reagents, which is sort of overkill in lieu of the blessing duration buff but meh, it’s better than running out. 15 to 20 slots are devoted to potions, consumables, and food. I left my flasks and elixirs in the bank, whoops lol.

For fun: Tonk remote, Vargoth’s staff, non-combat pet, and sometimes the Barov trinket, which gets popped at awkward moments. 4 or 5 more slots are for warlock healthstones and mage water, 1 slot is for the Void Crystals from shit drops that were DE’s, the rest of my free space is for trash, chant mats, etc.

October Geekology: Mixed Bag O’ Media

I have some WoW pics from brewfest, tips and other such musings for another post either tonight or tomorrow. I haven’t done a general interest/review post in a while.

Oh, so November is NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), for those who haven’t heard of it, is a creative writing project that challenges participants to write a 50,000 word (175 page) during the month of November. I have always wanted to participate in it, but could never find the inspiration or time to write that much every day for a straight month. I might actually attempt to this year or at the very least: NaBloPoMo. I imagine an undertaking of this magnitude requiring vast amounts of alcohol (home) and caffeine (work).

Normally, other than a few old standbys, I don’t bother watching many if any new television shows unless it features a spaceship or men in armor :P. I actually bothered watching a few of the new shows this season.

Bionic Woman: It’s a re-imagined version of the original series done by the same person who did Battlestar Galactica. I was somewhat disappointed with the pilot because I semi-expected something with the depth of BSG. I don’t really like the protagonist, the special effects where cheesy, and the show/plot was pretty average overall. It is though, difficult and unfair to judge series based off of the first show, so I will continue watching it (given that I don’t blow it off for WoW). Oh, it has Starbuck in it.

Reaper: Two thumbs up for being funny and interesting. The pilot was after all, directed by Kevin Smith. Continuing from last season: Stargate Atlantis, Heroes, Lost (February lol), Battlestar Galactica (4th and last season, I think it starts in November?).

The new Foo Fighter’s album “Echo, Silence, Patience, & Grace” was released late last month. I was to be honest, a little disappointed at first. But as I listen to it I am enjoying ESP&G more and more. It’s just one of those albums that you appreciate over time. I am really digging it at the moment. ESP&G is a good listen, offering a fairly wide range of genres and sounds that flows easily from one track to another. It’s not a black and white, “quiet side and loud side” album ala In Your Honor. Favorite Tracks: The Pretender, Let it Die, Come Alive, Strange Things Have Happened.

The new Radiohead album, In Rainbows is slated for release on the 10th of this month. The preorders are currently available online in two forms: A “discbox” (CD, bonus CD, booklet, and extra stuff) and a digital download where customers are able to name their price. How cool is that? If it’s good, I am really tempted to purchase the boxed set to support purchasing models like this. 

The Orange Box pre-load is available for Steam orders now (or is it out? I’ve been busy this week). I really want to purchase it but I don’t see myself obsessing over yet another new game at this point. I am devoting most of my extra gaming time to levelling dear ignored Doombeard to 70 <3.

So speaking of games, I am interested in purchasing a new game console either this year or early 2008. ONE game console, I don’t have enough time or interest for two. I am almost completely sold on purchasing a Wii for Zelda, SSBB, Metroid, Mario, etc. But, if the PS3 price drop speculation is true, I would be tempted to go Sony. Hmmm…

Huntardation and Protection Suggestions

The in game voice chat is decent despite the fact that it is borking servers around the nation (getting kicked off repeatedly sucks). The quality isn’t nearly as good as Ventrilo, but the in game integration is nice. I don’t really see this as a Vent server replacement, but it’s a good option for those who do not have one and for PuGs (don’t like giving vent info out to random ass people).

I respec’d my hunter Beast Mastery and started leveling my him again this weekend. What an awesome tree, I can’t tell you how much fun it is leveling as BM. Pet doesn’t lose aggro, less downtime, etc. Not going back to MM any time soon (though I might respec at 70 into a PvP build).

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a huntard noob, but I swear that it’s much harder to pull aggro as BM, since my damage is split more between my ranged weapon and my pet. I tried my best to be an ass and repeatedly pull threat off of the tank this weekend in Coilfang, but no dice (it was a guild twink run I have permission >:D).

A few changes that I would like to see for tankadins (I realize that a few points here are borderline whines :P).

  • It would be nice for our survivability issue to be addressed in some manner. Warriors have 1,200 more base health than paladins do, they also have a ranged slot. That is a pretty large gap. Suggested solutions: Equalizing our base HP, adding a stamina libram, or adding a talent that scales block value/raw mitigation higher.
  • An ability deep into protection that increases our mana return. Thinking either by increasing our passive heal gain or doing something like returning mana on block. SA alone as it is, isn’t enough.
  • Better itemization for paladin specific tanking gear. Specifically: Better paladin tanking weapons on par with what is available via progression for the other tanking classes. That is: At least 200 spell damage, at least 30 stamina and some def/avoidance.
  • Some way of dealing with mob spell immunity.

Oh: I bought a new mouspad yesterday. I have been using the one that came in the WoW: BC Collector’s Edition box, but it is too small. My hand scoots off towards the edge frequently. Consequently, I’ve had to up the sensitivity on my mouse to ungodly levels which has lowered my accuracy quite a bit in other games. It’s cloth, it’s huge and it’s niiiice! Kind of ugly though, wish it was all black.

2.3 Speculations and Quotations

So I suppose I’m back from my unofficial posting hiatus. The new theme is a template, I’ll tinker with the layout replace the Drupal logo with something else later; I don’t have access to Photoshop or my WoW screenshots on my work machine. Also thinking that it’s probably time to update and/or prune off some of the articles in the guide section, since half of them seem to be out of date.

I think i’ve finally decided on a new build to go with: 0/49/12 -> 0/44/17. Dropping Reckoning and putting 5 more points into retribution. 3/3 Improved Seal of the Crusader and 2/2 Improved Retribution Aura. Reckoning rarely procs when I tank, to the point where it is more or less a waste of 5 talent points.

Patch 2.3 is going to revamp the ret tree: The current Improved Seal of the Crusader talent will be added to the spell’s base ability. The new Improved SotC talent will give the same effects as Sanctified Crusader (increases critical strike chance of all attacks against the target by 1%/2%/3%).

Mana cost for Exorcism, Holy Wrath, and Hammer of Wrath is being lowered. The duration of Vengeance (the ret talent) is being upped to 30 seconds. Crusader strike cooldown will be lowered to 6. The increased cooldown blew not only because it lowered DPS, but because it screwed the Judgement refresh timing a bit if it missed (I leveled as a retnub on the BC beta realms).

Some time in the future, all gear will receive an additional spell damage bonus of about 1/3 +heal. So 1500 +heal will translate to +500. This was announced at BlizzCon, I don’t know if it’s for 2.3 or the expansion pack. Regardless, zomg? Supposedly, 2.3 is going be on the PTRs first week of October. I am assuming that they are aiming for a late October release, so that the holiday event stuff can be on the live realms in time for Halloween.

Unfortunately I don’t have links for the following blue posts. All were pulled from the WoW class forums. The same quotations are floating around on various WoW sites, shouldn’t be that hard to find.

  • “Q: ETA on when zul’aman will hit ptr for testing? A: hopefully, first week of october.”
  • “We’re pretty much focused on Retribution with 2.3, but some more general changes are being made like lowering the mana cost for Exorcism, Holy Wrath, and Hammer of Wrath. Another Ret change (just to keep the momentum going) will be an increase to the duration of Vengeance to 30 seconds.”
  • “Q: comon blue guys give us some teasers! Cursader strike cool down lowered to 6? A: You’re amazing, that’s absolutely correct.”
  • “No, it’s about a third. So 1500 +heal would give about +500 +spell damage.”
  • “This is correct. It’s actually in addition to the healing and is “free”. It’s not going to reduce the healing bonus on the gear. It’s going to be in addition.”
  • “I believe that it was said at BlizzCon that it would be about 1/3 of healing, but that’s not gospel and could change.”

Patch 2.2 Musings

There is (site) server maintenance scheduled for this Friday and Saturday from 11pm to 6:30am. So it was patch day last night! The instancing servers completely borked, kicking us all out. We had to cancel the run, though I guess we should have known better than to schedule a heroic on patch day. I was DPSing too, I don't get to do that too often, QQ! Voice chat hasn't gone live on my server yet. It's between Team Speak and Ventrilo quality from what I hear.

I am looking forward to testing the Seal of Vengeance changes out this weekend to see how much the 5 second extension reduces the number of times that SoV drops off. The instant damage buff is sort of piddly but at least it's a buff? Oh protip, I don't think that many people realize this one: The SoV DoT will retain any damage buffs throughout the fight as long as it doesn't drop off. Meaning that, pop Avenging Wrath and equip your spell damage weapon/shield before casting SoV. Switch back after it stacks to 5.

Keiya's need list through Gruul for future reference. I haven't really examined the SSC and TK loot tables very carefully.

  • [item]Wrynn Dynasty Greaves[/item]: The only item left on my Karazhan tanking gear list.
  • [item]Belt of the Guardian[/item]: The pattern for this drops off of any mob in the higher level 25-man dungeons (SSC, TK, etc). I will either have to wait until it and the mats drop for me or commission one.
  • [item]Aldori Legacy Defender[/item]: From Gruul, fairly rare drop from what I hear.

Gear & Gruul Update

I am thinking that Gruul is just one of those fights where everyone has to get used to positioning. After everyone can stay out of the cave-in and position for Shatter fast without dying, focus can shift exclusively to maximizing DPS output. On our very first week we got him down to 48%, second week we got him down to 39%, last week 7% (consistently below 30% and 20%). I was absent from Gruul this week for real life festivities, but grats guys! Keep up the great work 😀
Tanking gear wise, I need one more item from Karazhan: the [item]Wrynn Dynasty Greaves[/item], which just won’t drop /lootcurse. I also need one more Furies card, the 7 (most expensive unfortunately…and I blew cash on gems and raid pots). With both, my health should be close to 14,000 unbuffed? [item]Gorehowl[/item] dropped off of Prince. Since no one wanted it I loot soaked it and slapped Savagery on it. Thinking about blowing all of my arena points for the [item]Merciless Gladiator’s Scaled Shoulders[/item] to add to my DPS set.
OH! Patch 2.2 is coming out tomorrow.

WoW Update 9/21/07

Look, I’m blogging again. Haven’t been in the mood to write long articles lately, so I have gone into a state of update dormancy while I goof off with other things 😛 (My attention shifts between various spare time activities). I kind of want to re-theme this site again, but haven’t found the time to create a custom Drupal template. Oh, and I have assloads more space and bandwidth now, so I don’t have to super chop the images down.

  • The stupid breastplate finally dropped last night off of Nightbane! I swear that every guild is cursed differently drop wise. For us, it’s tanking plate: Healing crap drops by the droves, tanking gear is really damn rare.
  • Guild wise: I think we’re at the point where Gruul is now a gear wall rather than an organizing and strategy challenge. Shatter deaths were minimal last Saturday.
  • Noticed that a lot of guilds tend to do Netherspite dead last progression wise and was somewhat surprised. It’s a very different encounter, but I’ve never really considered it to be a difficult or taxing fight o_O.
  • I need to start doing the Netherwing quests, after exalted Consortium that is my next rep goal. Would also one day like to finish off my rep for Argent Dawn and Cenarion Circle…I stopped at mid way revered for both. I don’t really need anything from either faction, it is just to feed my rep obsession.
  • I just need one more Furies card before I can get my trinket: The elusive 7 of Furies.
  • The Karazhan guide will be updated and day. Might add a page for Gruul’s Lair.
  • Is it just me or are there just not very many good epic tanking cloaks for plate classes? The next upgrade above the heroic blues seems to be one that drops in Tempest Keep.

I am trying very hard to resist the urge to pre-order and obsess over Orange Box (TF2)! But it’s slowly chipping away at whatever gaming willpower that I have left. Oh and, Bioshock was very fun: I actually played through and finished it! Even if you aren’t into first person shooters or role playing games, it’s worth picking up.

Weapon Expertise

It's been a while since I've posted any sort of entry. I cycle between periods of feeling like, and not feeling like posting articles here just in case no one noticed. Oh, Maulgar down to my guild on our second attempt ever. A smooth kill at that. Excellent job!

So basically, I am considering exploring different tankadin builds. Specifically, to drop Reckoning and possibly pick up Weapon Expertise, the black sheep of the protection tree. I have two problems with Reckoning:

  1. In order for reckoning to proc I have to get hit. Because my gear is significantly better than it was when I had first spec'd prot, I am not getting hit a whole lot (dodge, parry, miss). So it is a pretty piddly threat bonus at best. It's mostly for farming purposes to be honest…
  2. My primary concern: Mobs Parry too. The more attacks, the more parries. Parry speeds up the boss' swing timer, doing more damage to me.


So the formulas
The defensive formulas for a boss mob are more complicated than the defensive formulas for a player. There are two formulas:

  • If the difference between mob Defense skill and player Weapon skill > 10: 7% + (Defense Skill – Weapon Skill – 10)*.4%
  • If the difference between mob Defense skill and player Weapon skill <= 10: 5% + (Defense Skill – Weapon Skill)*.1%


Without a racial weapon modifier, a player's maxed out Weapon Skill at level 70 is 350. Recall that these miss rate percentages are calculated against a level 73 mob (73*5 = 365 Defense Skill). At 355, the difference between the player's Weapon Skill and the level 73 boss' Defense Skill is 10, so the other formula kicks into effect. Recall that humans have a 5 point Weapon Skill bonus for maces and swords, so they are at 355.

The first 4 points decrease your miss rate by 0.4% per point.
350 Weapon Skill: 9.0% (level 70 player, no racial weapon bonus)
351 Weapon Skill: 8.6%
352 Weapon Skill: 8.2%
353 Weapon Skill: 7.8%
354 Weapon Skill: 7.4%

The 5th point is a huge jump: 1.6%! After that it tappers off significantly to 0.1% per point.
355 Weapon Skill: 6.0% (with 5 point racial weapon bonus)
356 Weapon Skill: 5.9%
357 Weapon Skill: 5.8%
358 Weapon Skill: 5.7%
359 Weapon Skill: 5.6%
360 Weapon Skill: 5.5%
361 Weapon Skill: 5.4%
362 Weapon Skill: 5.3%
363 Weapon Skill: 5.2%
364 Weapon Skill: 5.1%
365 Weapon Skill: 5.0% (with 5 point racial weapon bonus and 5/5 Weapon Expertise)

  • 355 seems to be the magic number for weapon skill in regards to talent value
  • From what I understand, Weapon Skill affects miss and dodge, but not parry or block.
  • If this is true, it's not worth spending points in a Weapon Skill talent past 355.
  • Recall that humans have a +5 bonus to maces and swords. So for non-humans: 3/5 Weapon Expertise is ideal. Anything beyond is a waste.

Healadin/Raiding 101

I’ve been occupied lately poking around with the guild forums/vBulletin, apparently I alternate between what I "feel like" working on lol. This is actually just something that I posted in my internal guild boards for a fairly recent 70. I figure that this might be useful to at least one person who still peruses my site. Well that and I can’t think of anything else to post.

Basic Raid Etiquette

Pay attention and work as a team. Raiding is a team effort, adjust your thinking accordingly.

  • Don’t come to the raid flagged for PvP.
  • Don’t inch ahead of the raid: In general, stay behind the Main Tank.
  • Watch range and LoS. I can’t heal what I can’t see.
  • Mind your surroundings: It is very easy to become so focused on healing/DPSing that you neglect what is happening around you. Example: If black circle of unholy death forms at your feet, MOVE!
  • Come prepared: Repair, buy reagents and potions to last you for the entire raid, read strategies.
  • Be Keen: Keep an eye out for special attacks and special situations.
  • Let people know when you have to AFK.
  • Watch your aggro: What should you do when the Main Tank first pulls a mob? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
  • When fight strategies are given out, pay close attention. If you aren’t sure about something, by all means ask a question!


Though we don’t have a whole lot of healing spells, paladins are one of if not THE BEST single target healers in the game.

  • Flash of Light is your primary healing spell. It is the most efficient heal in the game (efficiency = highest HP healed/mana ratio).
  • Topping off: Spam Flash of Light on people to top health off. Time it so that you aren’t overhealing.
  • Heal aggressively: Base your heals off of what you think your target’s health will be AFTER you finish casting. Basically: Preemptively heal and ANTICIPATE DAMAGE. If you know that the MT will be taking a huge chunk of damage, cast an early Holy Light…you can always cancel it right before the spell lands.
  • It’s okay to overheal during certain situations, knowing when to do this is part of being a good healer. Wasting a little mana is better than a dead tank.
  • Some bosses use special abilities on regular intervals. DeadlyBossMods will show a timer for these…watch it and time your heals around it!
  • Learn to budget mana around fight length and potion use (you can use a potion every 2 minutes). Example: If a fight lasts 10 minutes, you might not want to burn through all of your mana within the first minute.
  • Coordinate heals with other classes.
  • While you are casting: Use this time to select your next healing target, it will save a lot of time in the long run.
  • Begin the fight by using any trinkets and spells on short cooldowns (Divine Favor, Divine Illumination, almost all trinkets). Most fights last around 3 to 5 minutes; If you time your cooldowns like this you can use them twice.
  • Remember that bandages, potions, and even buffs generate a small amount threat (using a 5g potion and then getting 1-shotted and wiping the raid shortly after sucks hard).


Whether you like it or not, it is your duty to cleanse! No one else can do it nearly as effectively as a paladin. Most importantly: Cleanse or you will get bitched at repeatedly lol.

  • You must always keep an eye out for debuffs at all times. Cleanse FAST and cleanse OFTEN.
  • Keep in mind that cleanse has a 30 yard range, that’s shorter than max healing range.
  • SmartDebuff is a very good cleansing mod that is easy to setup. It’s a grid of names, when someone is afflicted with a cleansable debuff it will highlight in red. To cleanse you just click the name, very easy.
  • Otherwise, use Clique + Raid bars (harder to setup).

Other spells

Exceptional paladins not only know how to heal and cleanse effectively, but also know how to utilize all of their spells during appropriate moments.

  • Blessing of Protection: Protects the target for 10 seconds against all MELEE attacks, also prevents them from using melee attacks. This is PERFECT for casters who have aggro’d a trash mob or something. Don’t be afraid to use BoP liberally. If you BoP a rogue or a warrior they will probably hate you for life.
  • Auras: Know what aura to use and when to switch, mid fight if necessary. Remember that resist auras do not stack with class resist buffs.
  • Most trash mobs are stunnable. If one strays, try to stun it.