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Planning for PvP: Shadow Priest

While I am still in search of info on Shadow Priest PvP, I’m content going on in PvP discovering things for myself until I find a decent source that can tell me something I don’t already know. I already have a decent skill set for PvP with the Shadow Priest so until I’m able to learn more I have to focus on other aspects of it, which for right now is going to be the gear aspect.

I need to start dueling other classes to get a better idea of how to take on various opponents in a 1v1 setting, but I’ll take care of that when I reach level 85 so that I’m facing the full package instead. But the gear I can start working on right now. I can’t buy level 85 gear without being level 85, but at least I can start building up the currency needed for those purchases and I can plan those purchases well in advance so that I’m not sitting there at the vendor staring at her inventory for an hour before I decide on what to buy.

I decided to make a spreadsheet to plan out my purchases, noting the cost of each piece and the stats that were on it. I also had to take into account the currency used for each and also establish a starter set so that I at least had a decent start while I built up the currency to purchase the larger pieces. I knew that Cynwise had a recent post where he shared his thoughts on how to get ready for Cataclysm PvP, so I started there.

Step 1: Make a Plan
I started off with the list that Cyn mentioned in his post:

  1. Get the crafted pieces made as soon as you can.
  2. Supplement with good items gained from PvE.
  3. Participate in Tol Barad whenever possible, win or lose. Do dailies for Commendations for PvP enchants.
  4. PvP in regular BGs to grind as much Honor Points as you can to get Bloodthirsty gear, focusing on offset pieces and the 2-pc set bonus.
  5. Participate in as many rated PvP matches as you can, up to the limit of Conquest Points you can gain this week. Focus on gaining Vicious set pieces and weapons first. (As Taugrim points out in the comments below, if your class depends on their weapon, get the weapons first, before anything else.)
  6. Once your Vicious set is complete, start replacing Bloodthirsty offset pieces with Vicious.
  7. Once you’ve upgraded your offset, upgrade your weapons to the Glorious versions.
  8. Skip upgrading the Conquest armor unless you have points to burn at the end of a season (and even then, just consider stockpiling them at the cap.)

Crafted pieces was already at the top of my list because my Tailor has already been maxed and I’ve purchased all of the patterns and the gear was well in hand.

Supplements from PvE are sort of what I’m working on right now. My Priest is only level 81 so I’m just now working my way through Cataclysm content to get her various upgrades. I should really be a good little facemelter and do some research on quest rewards, dungeon drops, and rep grinds to find out which quests give me items I need for the slots I still have open.

TBad when possible will have to wait since it requires level 85.

Running BG’s to build honor I’m already in the process of doing though it is slower than it will be once I hit 85. Rated BG’s I think have to wait for 85 as well, but I’m not sure since I haven’t looked into them very closely yet.

Upgrading Bloodthirsty Honor pieces to Vicious Conquest pieces also has to wait for 85 since I can neither purchase them nor gain the currency for them until that point. Upgrading the weapons falls into the same.

Step 2a: Crafted Pieces
Emberfire Cowl 425 Stam, 283 Int, 189 Resil, 189 Haste
Fireweave Pants 425 Stam, 283 Int, 189 Resil, 189 Haste
Emberfire Robe 425 Stam, 283 Int, 189 Spirit, 189 Resil
Emberfire Boots 316 Stam, 210 Int, 140 Resil, 140 Haste
Emberfire Gloves 316 Stam, 210 Int, 140 Resil, 140 Haste
Emberfire Belt 316 Stam, 210 Int, 140 Resil, 140 Mastery
Emberfire Shoulders 316 Stam, 210 Int, 140 Spirit, 140 Resil
Emberfire Bracers 237 Stam, 158 Int, 105 Resil, 105 Haste

I switched the pants to Fireweave instead of Emberfire because I prefer Haste to Mastery right now. I might change my mind on that later, but for right now I like the Haste more. I considered doing the same for the Robe since Emberfire gives Spirit, which is Hit, where the Fireweave gives Haste, but decided not to. First off, it would throw my whole look out of whack with a bunch of white gear spread around a red robe, and second I’m actually going to need that Hit stat since PvP gear is typically lacking in Hit Rating. But honestly, it’s the look that makes me not do it. At least the pants are hidden under the robe so it won’t throw me off.

I have full suits of both sets anyway, so that I have a starter set for both of my specs, and can swap them out to mix and match as I please.

Step 2b: PvE Supplemental Pieces
This is one of Cyn recommendations that I haven’t done yet. There are tons of items that I’ll have to dig through in this category to find out which ones will really be good for me, and I’d rather do that when I’m closer to the level cap so that I can skip over items that aren’t upgrades compared to the gear I (will) already have.

The most important item here, starting out at least, is going to be a weapon. Hopefully I can find myself a solid one-handed caster weapon to use so that I can make use of my off-hand as well, but I’ll definitely pick up a staff if it’s stats are superior.

Step 3: Honor Pieces
When I first decided to make my list I checked with Cyn on how easy he felt it was to reach the Honor and Conquest caps. Both of them cap at 4,000 points at any one time, but Conquest Points have an additional cap of only 1,343 Conquest per week. His response was that running arena matches maxed his Conquest weekly cap every week quite easily, but that Honor was really hard to cap.

That being the case, I aimed low for my weekly amount of Honor points. Not being 85 yet on my Priest and not really doing much PvP at all on the toons I do have at 85, I had to do some guessing on how much my weekly Honor allowance would be. I didn’t have any current information to with so I just pulled a number out and went with it – 1500 Honor/week. That’s just over 200 per day if I PvP every single day. That’s 3 losses in Tol Barad every day if I do nothing else, or almost half of a single offensive TB victory. Not to mention whatever other BG’s I manage to get into, so I think that’s a safe amount to go with.

I also estimate that I’ll have at least 300 extra Honor to start with before Week 1 actually starts so I’ve added that to the initial pool. I have 1800 Honor right now and I’m aiming to be able to buy at least 1 item and have the extra 300 remaining before I even get started on the weekly allowances.

The pieces purchased with honor are all “Bloodied Gladiator’s ..” pieces, so I’m going to save some space by using “BG’s ..” in place of that when listing the item names.

Week # Honor Earned Honor Cost Honor Balance Item Purchased
1 1800 1650 150 BG’s Mooncloth Gloves
2 1650 0 1650 No Honor purchase.
3 3150 2200 950 BG’s Satin Hood
4 2450 1650 800 BG’s Medallion of Tenacity
5 2300 1250 1050 BG’s Drape of Diffusion
6 2550 1650 900 BG’s Treads of Alacrity
7 2400 1250 1150 BG’s Cuffs of Meditation
8 2650 2500 150 BG’s Band of Accuracy
&
BG’s Band of Cruelty
9 1650 1650 0 BG’s Insignia of Dominance
10 1500 0 1500 Start over, building the full healing set.

I don’t manage to get any set bonuses at all from the Honor gear because I’m going for one Mooncloth piece and one Satin piece. I’m going to get the set bonuses by adding Vicious pieces though as I’m going to build both sets at once.

The reason I’m going for 2 pieces from each set is because first, dual sets give me extra resilience for more survivability early on, and second the Mooncloth Gloves have better stats than the Satin gloves, so I might as well take advantage; right?

I’m working towards filling in my other slots with Vicious gear as well, so anything you see that’s oddly missing is likely because I’m picking up the Vicious version which you’ll see in the next section.

Step 4: Conquest Pieces
My Vicious pieces are being put to use first to finish off my set pieces, and then to fill in my missing slots with the higher quality pieces. Luckily I don’t have to estimate my Conquest points each week because I know exactly how much I can get. Granted, there may be some weeks that I don’t manage to hit the weekly cap, but at least then I know I can just update my spreadsheet accordingly and know how far it sets me back. Hopefully I can at least hit the cap for the first few weeks at the very least so that I can establish my set bonuses if nothing else.

All Conquest items have “Vicious Gladiator’s ..” in their name, so I’ll shorten that in this list to be “VG’s” instead just to save some space.

Week # Conquest Earned Conquest Cost Conquest Balance Item Purchased
1 1343 0 1343 Not enough points yet.
2 2686 2200 486 VG’s Mooncloth Leggings
3 1829 1650 179 VG’s Satin Mantle
4 1522 700 822 VG’s Touch of Defeat
5 2165 0 2165 No item this week.
6 3508 2200 1308 VG’s Satin Robe
7 2651 2450 201 VG’s Gavel
8 1544 0 1544 No item this week.
9 2887 1650 1237 VG’s Cord of Cruelty
10 2580 950 1630 VG’s Endgame

And similar to my Honor Points, moving forward I’ll do the same thing with my Conquest points going for a healing set instead of just DPS.

The first week of Conquest points caps before I can buy any set pieces, and rather than blow it on other Vicious gear I’m going to just hold off for a week to build up some more. That gives me the opportunity to pick up my first 2-piece set bonus on week 2 when I get the Mooncloth Leggings and my second 2-piece bonus on week 3 when I get both the Bloodthirsty Satin Hood the Vicious Satin Mantle.

So the first week I’ll be in mostly crafted gear and then in week 2 I’ll start building my set bonuses, finishing those in week 3, and then moving on to all of the off-set pieces from week 4 on.

Step 5: Gemming
Step 5 will of course take place during steps 2-4 as the pieces become available. I treat my serious PvP gear the same way I do my serious raiding gear, with gems and enchants added as the pieces become available.

My Priest is a 525 Jewelcrafter, so I have access to the JC-only gems, Chimera’s Eyes, which provide higher values of stats than you’ll find on regular red/yellow/blue gems.

Gems
There are only a few different gems I’m going to consider for the PvP gear. All of the socket bonuses are at least decent, so I’m going to match them unless I get the urge at some point to prioritize a certain stat regardless of socket.

The gear itself grants 3 Red, 3 Yellow, 3 Blue, and 1 Meta gem slot. I’m also going to have a belt buckle added to the gear which will open up an additional slot, which I’m going to use as Red.

Red Slots:
Brilliant Chimera’s Eye (+67 Intellect)
*Brilliant Inferno Ruby (+40 Intellect)

I haven’t decided for sure whether I’m going to use my Chimera’s Eyes in the red sockets or the blue. I’m leaning towards blue to start with for the extra survivability, and then switching over to red after I’ve completed my gear sets, but I’m still not sure.

So I’ll either have 4 Inferno Rubies for +160 Intellect, or I’ll have 3 Chimera’s Eyes and 1 Inferno Ruby for a total of +241 Intellect.

Blue Slots:
*Solid Chimera’s Eye (+101 Stamina)
Solid Ocean Sapphire (+60 Stamina)
Steady Dream Emerald (+30 Stamina, +20 Resilience)

I’m leaning towards Stamina for my blue gems, and as I mentioned in the Red section, I’m leaning towards the Chimera’s Eyes being used here at least to begin with. I considered going with Stormy gems for Spell Penetration, but you only need 240 total and I’ll have almost twice that amount from my gear alone. There’s a slight chance that I might go with the green stam/resil gems when I move the Chimera’s Eyes over to the red sockets, so I’m leaving it on the list just in case.

So starting out I’ll have 3 Chimera’s Eyes for +303 Stamina and when I switch them over I’ll end up with 3 Ocean Sapphires for +180 Stamina or 3 Dream Emeralds for +90 Stamina and +60 Resilience.

Yellow Slots:
Mystic Chimera’s Eye (+67 Resilience)
Mystic Amberjewel (+40 Resilience)
Quick Chimera’s Eye (+67 Haste)
Quick Amberjewel (+40 Haste)
*Willful Ember Topaz (+20 Intellect, +20 Resilience)
Steady Dream Emerald (+30 Stamina, +20 Resilience)

While I might get better stats overall going with an actual Yellow gem here, I’m leaning more towards the Willful Ember Topaz. I don’t want to focus too much on survivability as a DPS spec, so Resilience is an option but not my top choice. Haste is tempting, but I’m going to hold off gemming for Haste until I see how well I perform without it. The green gem is another one I’m considering placing here if I do happen to need some more survivability, but again I still favor the orange Ember Topaz.

My initial plan will be 3 Willful Ember Topazes with +60 Intellect and +60 Resilience. If survivability is an immediate issue then I’ll switch those to 3 Dream Emeralds for +90 Stamina and +60 Resilience or 3 Mystic Amberjewels for +120 Resilience, and if I find that survivability is fine and I need more killing power then I’ll switch it up to 3 Quick Amberjewels for +120 Haste.

Meta Slot:
*Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (+54 Intellect, +3% Critical Damage)
Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond (+54 Critical Strike Rating, +3% Critical Damage)
Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond (+54 Critical Strike Rating, +1% Spell Reflect)
Effulgent Shadowspirit Diamond (+81 Stamina, -2% Spell Damage Taken)
Ember Shadowspirit Diamond (+54 Intellect, +2% Maximum Mana)
Forlorn Shadowspirit Diamond (+54 Intellect, -10% Silence Duration)
Powerful Shadowspirit Diamond (+81 Stamina, -10% Stun Duration)

The Meta gem I’m not 100% sure on. Above are all of the ones that I’ve considered using for one reason or another. I’m going with the Burning Shadowspirit to start off with because I have the pattern myself. Spirit Priests aren’t known for their crits, so I’m not sold on the crit gems here though some of them do have some decent additional abilities.

The ones that reduce stun and silence duration have some potential, but only if the CC applies in a given match. I expect that CC to happen in arenas, but in Battlegrounds you can never be sure. With our current mana issues, the 2% Max Mana from the Ember is an interesting option that I’m keeping a close eye on. Mana isn’t as important in a BG setting as it is an Arena setting, but I haven’t decided which of the two I’m going to run more often so it’s on hold for right now.

Destructive sounds interesting with the 1% Spell reflect, but the crit isn’t all that great, and neither is a measly 1% chance. On the one hand it would be incredibly fun to kill someone with their own spell, but at the same time the chance is so small I can’t count on it for anything. Effulgent offers much more survivability, and it’s one I’m also considering.

Step 6: Enchanting
I know which enchants I’m going to use for most of my gear, but I do have a few pieces that I’ve narrowed it down on and need to make a final decision.

Shoulder: Greater Inscription of Vicious Intellect (+50 Intellect, +25 Resilience)
Head: Arcanum of Vicious Intellect (+60 Intellect, +35 Resilience)
Back: Greater Intellect (+50 Intellect)
Chest: Might Resilience (+40 Resilience)
Bracer: Speed (+50 Haste)
Gloves: Haste (+50 Haste)
Belt: Ebonsteel Buckle (adds a Prismatic Socket)
Legs: Powerful Enchanted Spellthread (+95 Intellect, +80 Stamina)
Feet: Earthen Vitality (+30 Stamina, Increased Run Speed)
Weapon: Mending (Proc: Heals when spells deal damage)
Off-Hand: Superior Intellect (+40 Intellect)

Once I’ve had a chance to build up my stash of Maelstrom Crystals I’ll put some of the more significant enchants on my gear. Of those Weapon, Bracer, and Chest will be the first to be upgraded, though the Weapon will probably wait until Blizzard finally releases the upgraded weapons to us.

I’m going to do a little playing around with my weapon enchant at first. I want to start out using Mending as I have in the list because I’ve seen some of what it can do when you’ve got DoT’s ticking on several targets and every time they deal damage you have a chance to heal yourself. The more DoT’s I spread, the more healing I have coming in on top of the healing I naturally generate as a Shadow Priest. The first upgrade will be to Hurricane (Proc: +450 Haste for 12 seconds) to help with my damage output. Once the real PvP weapons become available I’ll upgrade to Power Torrent (Proc: +500 Intellect for 12 seconds) for even more power.

The Mending enchant averages about 850 healing when it procs, and can crit for around 1350. The proc rate is uncertain but reports list it as somewhere between 10% and 17%, and the proc happens any time you damage an enemy with a spell or melee attack. I’ve heard mixed reports of whether or not DoT’s can trigger the healing effect, so I’m going to test it myself and then decide when/if I’m going to switch to a new enchant.

Step 7: Professions Change
Right now while I’m still leveling my Priest she’s going to keep her Mining profession so that she can gather while she levels both for the experience and for the mats. Once I get her to level cap and start getting into the PvP though, I’m going to want to change that out for something more relative to PvP, but I haven’t decided yet what it’s going to be.

By dropping Mining I lose Toughness (Rank 7) which is 120 Stamina, or 1,200 Health.

Enchanting
Enchant Ring – Intellect (+40 Intellect)
Enchant Ring – Greater Stamina (+60 Stamina)

Enchanting gives me the ability to enchant my Rings. Most likely I would go with dual Intellect enchants for +80 Intellect, but if I’m feeling vulnerable I could always go with the Stamina enchant instead. But if I were to use the Stamina enchant I would get the same benefit of Mining (+120 Stamina) and nothing but the high cost of level Enchanting to show for it.

Engineering
Lightweight Bio-Optic Killshades (helm, see below)
Grounded Plasma Shield (Belt: Absorbs 16,200 to 19,800 damage)
Invisibility Field (Belt: Invisibility outside of combat)
Synapse Springs (Gloves: +480 Intellect for 10 seconds)
Tazik Shocker (Gloves: Deals 4320-5280 Nature damage)

Dropping my Bloodthirsty Helm for the Killshades would cost me 213 Resilience and 153 Haste in exchange for a bit of Intellect and Stamina. However, it would also allow me to use 2 Cogwheels in place of gems, so I would trade one Inferno Ruby (40 Int) or Chimera Eye (67 Int) for two Cogwheels suck as the Mystic Cogwheel (+208 Resilience) or and the Quick Cogwheel (+208 Haste). It’s something to consider, but it’s not enough to sell me with the one item alone.

The Plasma Shield could be interesting, providing me with another bubble that I could use when Power Word: Shield is on cooldown or something. I don’t know if you can use it in Arenas yet or not (I haven’t researched Engineering much yet), but it would be useful in BG’s as well. It’s a decent option, but not great.

The Invisibility Shield has some interesting potential if I can use it in Arenas. I could use it to get into position at the start of a match, or I could use it during a match to regroup and reposition if I could manage to get out of combat long enough to use it. It’s gimmicky and it wouldn’t help much at all against certain group setups or in some situations, but it’s not a bad choice otherwise.

Synapse Springs offer a great cooldown for when I need some extra burst, or when I’m about to use my mana cooldowns. By increasing my Intellect it increases my Total Mana value which would allow Dispersion, Shadowfiend, Divine Hymn, Glyph of Spirit Tap, and Masochism to all return additional mana to me while the effect is active. There’s some definite potential for this one.

The Tazik Shocker is an extra bit of damage to use every 2 minutes. It’s not enough to be a huge game changer or anything, but extra damage is extra damage.

Another bonus of the Glove and Belt enchants is that they don’t replace normal enchants, so it’s all extra. If I do go with Engineering then I’ll use the Synapse Springs for sure, and probably the Plasma Shield (if I can use it in Arenas). I’m not sold on the helm alone, especially since it takes an item set slot, but it’s a decent option, and there isn’t a bonus for having all 5 pieces, only 2 or 4, so I’m not losing as much as I otherwise could be.

Tailoring
Lightweave Embroidery (Cloak Proc: +580 Intellect on cast)
Embersilk Net (Use: Root a target up to 25 yards away)

Tailoring offers a very nice cloak enchant that can grant a huge amount of Intellect when it procs. The extra Spellpower from that is nice on it’s own, but just like the Synapse Springs from Engineering, it also has the added benefit of allowing my mana regeneration spells to give me even more mana back by increasing the size of my mana pool. In the case of Shadow Priests, size does matter.

The other benefit is the Embersilk Net which only Tailors can use. It’s a ranged Root which we otherwise don’t have access to (other than the Paralysis talent), which also deals a fairly small amount of Fire damage to the target. It only lasts for 3 seconds, but those three seconds can be significant and so can getting someone to burn a cooldown or trinket cast to get out of it early).

Inscription
Felfire Inscription (+130 Intellect, +25 Haste)

It’s the best shoulder enchant out there for casters, even if it’s not the PvP enchant we’re using already, but 55 Intellect and 25 Resilience compared to 130 Intellect and 25 Haste isn’t too hard to see the winner. 25 Resilience isn’t going to kill you (hopefully), and that 130 Intellect is worth the upgrade.

As I already have an Inscriptionist, yes “Inscriptionist” not “scribe”, I’m not too thrilled about having it on two characters, so I don’t know that this is a big enough benefit to make me choose it.

Leatherworking
Draconic Embossment – Intellect (Bracer: +130 Intellect)

Leatherworking is just a little bit above Blacksmithing for me. I get more potential stats from Leatherworking, but again I have very little use for anything else the profession has to offer. It’s another one to consider, but not very likely.

Blacksmithing
Socket Bracer (Add a prismatic socket to bracers)
Socket Gloves (Add a prismatic socket to bracers)

Blacksmithing doesn’t offer anything real exciting, but it does provide 2 free gem slots that are otherwise unavailable which is 80 Intellect, 120 Stamina, 80 Resilience or 80 Haste just waiting for us to take it.

I’m not thrilled about the idea of leveling Blacksmithing again, but it’s possible. That’s a lot of time, effort, and gold for a fairly small return. Given that it’s a cloth wearer, it’s even less impressive.

Onward and Upward
I’m going to see if I can hit level 85 this weekend on my Priest. I’m fairly confident I can do it, but it’s been about a month since I leveled a character through the end game content so I don’t remember how much time it actually took me on each character. I also have the BoA cloak and the Guild bonus to leveling which I didn’t have on any of the others, so I’ll level faster than before regardless.

What do you think of my plan to get my PvP gear?

How about the gems and enchants? Any suggestions for ones to consider that I missed?

And what about changing professions? Engineering has always been linked to PvP to some extent at least, but do you think I should go there or perhaps another route? Or should I continue swinging my pick axe and not bother changing at all?

 
9 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Caster, Class, Guide, Player vs Player, Priest

 

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Looking For Info: Shadow Priest PvP

When I write all of these guides I like to make sure I know what I’m talking about by experiencing all of the content for myself. I don’t write guides for leveling classes until I’ve played them myself, for example, nor do I like to cover level ranges that I haven’t actually participated in personally. Before I even get started on leveling my own toons though, I like to do my own research beforehand.

My own research includes checking blogs that I know are related to the topic in question, checking forums to get multiple opinions on various aspects, and digging deeply into the Wowhead database for things I might have missed. I don’t always catch everything of course, and that’s not why I mention it, but the point is that I like to research things before I get started. That desire to know what to expect ahead of time is the reason why I blog about what I do, to offer other people the kind of help I wish was out there for me when I needed it.

And that brings me to the purpose of today’s post, Shadow Priest PvP. As you know if you’ve been following my blog for the last few weeks, I’m currently working on a Shadow Priest who I just got up to level 81 last night. I’ve been participating in PvP off and on since she was level 10 and quite frequently from the time she hit level 60 on. As usual I like to get into PvP my own way and figure things out as I go, adjusting where I see a need so that I can get better at it every match. Eventually I get to a point, like last week, where I’m doing great, but I want to improve as I know I’m fighting random players that aren’t necessarily skilled at PvP. And so, the search for Shadow Priest PvP began…and ended.

The only sources I can find for Shadow Priest PvP are outdated. I’m sure I haven’t checked “everywhere” or else I surely would have found something. Right? I am exaggerating there just a little bit, I did find a few decent sources of information, but not enough.

The most recent post I found on Shadow Priest PvP that was anything more then “hey I can kill everything but a feral druid” was from over a year ago. I did manage to find a few forum threads here and there that mentioned specific parts of a strategy and some suggestions on spec, but nothing really solid.

So rather than continue beating my head against a shadowless wall, I’m going to take a break from my searching and ask you instead. If you have a link to any decent, up to date information on Shadow Priest PvP I would love to see it. Whether it’s your own or something you stumbled onto for whatever reason, send me a link. Whether it’s blog posts, forums, podcasts, or videos on YouTube; if you have a link (and it’s recent, 4.0+), I want it.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Class, Player vs Player, Priest

 

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Guild: The Breakfast Club

There’s a new guild in town, and it’s called The Breakfast Club. It was started by a group of five people who got together originally when MOTiE was created, who decided that we might as well also start up a twinking guild. I happen to enjoy PvP, so I agreed to doing it and offered to lead the guild as well since I had more PvP experience than everyone else.

To give you a quick definition of what twinking actually is, it’s basically obtaining the best gear you can get along with the best enchantments you can find for said gear, and using that to make the most powerful low-level character you can. A lot of the gear you get from Dungeons, some from turning in PvP rewards of honor or marks, some from quests (usually higher level quests that you get a high level character to run you through), and some you might get from turning in badges or shards for BoA gear from your high level main character.

While there is such a thing as a PvE twink, people don’t usually bother with that because if you are constantly leveling and progressing through the game then you are constantly having to replace your gear as well. The majority of twinks are PvP twinks who focus on a single level bracket. In our case, that bracket is currently level 19.

Meet the Team
Guild Master
Ibewaffles (Tauren Druid 19)
– soon to move up into the 29 bracket to heal in Arathi Basin as well

Guild Officers
Ibegritz (Undead Rogue 19)
Ibebacon (Blood Elf Hunter 19)
Ibepancake (Orc Rogue 19)

Guild Members
Ibemilk (Blood Elf Hunter 19)
Ibesyrup (Orc Shaman 17)
Ibepancakes (Blood Elf Warlock ??)
Ibehashbrown (Undead Warrior ??)
Ibeomlet (?? Rogue 9)

Some of these guys were brought in while I was not logged in and I haven’t seen them since, or they are players that play during hours that I do not. Looking at the roster last night we have quite a few more that aren’t on the list here, but since many of them are still below level 10 as the players focus more on their main characters, I cannot look them up on the armory or like sites to find all of their names now.

Recent Twink Changes
Turning Off Experience Gains
With the launch of 3.2 players are able to turn off their experience gains so that their character can stay at a given level indefinitely. This allows twink players who previously could not run instances or do quests without leveling their character up to do so. Along with that change was one to battlegrounds, where players who have turned off their experience only fight others who have done the same, so there is essentially a Twink battleground, and a non-twink Battleground.

Despite the theoretical existence of two different types of battlegrounds, the reality is that you will still face twinks in the non-twink battlegrounds due to the amount of experience rewarded being so small, and you will still face non-twinks in the twink battlegrounds because there are players who plan on twinking but have not bothered to get their gear or enchants yet even though they are in the bracket with you. The biggest difference that you see is that non-twink battlegrounds have a significantly shorter queue time on average than the twink battlegrounds do.

“Nerfing” Enchants
Another recent change, that’s been around for a few months now, is that a lot of the enchants that people used to abuse to make their twinks more powerful are now unavailable to them because Blizzard made two changes. First, they put level requirements on enchants so that you can no longer get some enchants for lower level brackets that you used to. In the past, if you had a high level character, a fair amount of gold, and an excess of time, you could have a twink that was pretty well unbeatable by anyone who did not match your level of devotion to twinking.

In addition to putting level requirements on some enchants, they also made it so that some of the other enchant-type items that you received became soulbound when you enchant them. Previously you were able to get head enchanting items on your high level character and then use it on your twink, but this no longer works as the enchanting item is bound to the high level character and whatever item you use it on becomes bound to you as well.

Time Limit
The most controvertial change of them all is the 25 minute time limit that has been placed on Warsong Gulch (WSG). Along with that change was one that says in the case of a tie whoever captured the first flag wins the game. When the time limit was first introduced it was only 20 minutes, which passed by so quickly that basically whoever captured the first flag won. Prior to this change, there was no time limit at all which presented its own problems.

People complained a great deal about the time limit and Blizzard responded by giving us an extra 5 minutes. That’s not a whole lot of extra time, but those five minutes do help a lot more than you would think. Before the time limit was introduced people did what we call “Turtling”, where they capture a flag and then pull most of their players around the flag carrier to defend them for however long they feel is necessary. In some cases you would turtle to prevent your team from losing, in some cases you would do it to give your own team time to recapture your own flag, and in the horror stories it was done so that the team doing the turtling could go and farm honor from their opponents for as long as they wanted.

Turtling
Turtling is not much of an option now that there is a time limit though you do still see it. When the time limit was first introduced people turtled because they were used to it. After a few days it pretty well disappeared for the most part because people were rushing to do as much as possible within the time limit. Here recently though turtling has been reintroduced by whichever team captures the first flag as they try to win with a single capture instead of trying to win the game as intended by being the first team to capture three flags.

The sad thing is, turtling is effective. If the other team doesn’t pull together a solid team to come crack down on your flag carrier then you’re probably going to win so long as you had the first flag cap. It doesn’t show that you have any skill in PvP or in being a twink, it just shows that sometimes simple math proves itself in that nine people can kill two faster than the two can kill one with however many healers standing around him.

The flip side of turtling is that it can easily cost you the game, especially if you capped the first flag but your opponent capped the second and you’re now tied. Your team turtles to score a win because you capped the first flag, and meanwhile the other team does the same thing while continuing to send a couple of small groups at you one at a time. Your team keeps up the defense because they think they’re effective and shutting down the enemy assaults.

What’s really happening here is the opponent is sending those groups in to find out what each person of your team is doing and what they’re capable of. They’re also running the clock down to nothing. They want to find who all can heal and what kind of damage your flag carrier can take while also getting used to a pattern so that you defend against an attack every 2 minutes. You fall into the habit taking out the group then sitting down to eat and drink and getting caught up on the TV show next to you. Suddenly you find out the other seven people sitting just a few yards away pop their trap and completely own your face using crowd control on your healers and everyone else focusing fire strictly on the flag carrier. Your guy dies, the enemy recaps their flag and then caps yours as well for a 2-1 victory with no time left on the clock.

The ones that came in on offense tend to kill whoever they can while not bothering to heal themselves during that time, hoping to get a small amount of honor before you save them a trip back home. That’s right, they want to get killed, they just don’t want it to seem to easy. Because the next step in this process is a mad rush by your team to cap a second flag so that the score can be tied again with your team winning from having the first cap. The problem is, you just killed off all of their attackers allowing them to resurrect right back at their base so that they can meet your sad little rush with a brutal defense. Congratulations, you just got owned.

My Thoughts
For the most part these changes are good because it allows more people to join the mix and have a chance at twinking. In some cases the changes are “bad” and have driven players away (mostly talking about things like the head enchants there), but I leave bad in quotes there because it’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

Turtling sucks, and anybody who decides to do it or participate in it sucks too. It’s a valid strategy and it does technically win you a match if done correctly, but if I see my own team turtling I will intentionally let enemy players bypass me to go after my flag carrier instead and I will not help in defending them. I’m there for a fight and a challenge, not to see who has the thickest shell. I will certainly help defend my flag carrier in normal play, but once it becomes a turtle I want no part of it. In the examples above of good turtles gone bad I will not defend my flag carrier, but I will serve my team by killing the EFC instead. I do want to win, I just don’t want to do it via some pansy tactic like turtling.

The Breakfast Club: Start your day off right – go kill some Alliance!
So far none of the premades that we have done have faced off against premades from other servers. So while we generally dominate when we’re together, we have had an unfair advantage in doing that so far compared to our opponents.

Despite the lack of opposing premade groups, there are a lot of very experienced twinks in our battlegroup that present a wonderful challenge and provide us with opportunities to learn and grow in our own skills and strategies.

Though we are not a big guild and we are not focused solely on PvP (the guild is, but the players aren’t), I think this guild has been successful in doing what it set out to do and we have a blast when we get together and face off against the other players.

The Blog
I have no intention of turning this blog into a source for Twink information. I created the blog to be a source of information for leveling your characters, and that’s how it’s going to stay. I might start up a second blog to house twink-related information, but I’m not in too much of a hurry to do that if I do it at all. I would not be surprised if a bit of twinkage shows up from time to time on the Notebook, but don’t expect the blog’s focus to change.

Out of every aspect of World of Warcraft that I have participated in, I find that PvP presents the most challenge in the game. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the hardest part of the game, or even the most fun, just that it gives me the most challenge. There’s an extra level of excitement when rushing into the unknown of facing other people who are capable of making their own decisions on the fly that you can’t find get from facing a raid boss who follows a preprogrammed course of actions.

Despite all of that, I still find leveling characters to be the most enjoyable and most rewarding experience overall. For the best flavor overall though, it’s a nice mix of all of the above.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in World of Warcraft

 

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Dual Specs: A Review

When Dual Specs were first announced, I was pretty thrilled about the whole idea. I knew right off that I wasn’t going to buy it for my mage because, well, ranged dps is ranged dps no matter what color your spells are.

I was pretty excited to get it going on my paladin though, being a hybrid class and all, so I got it set up on him right after he hit level 40. Lexington’s dual spec happened quite a while ago, and I decided today that I would share with you what I have found with it so far.

First Attempt: Prot/Holy
My first dual spec was Prot and Holy. I knew for sure that I wanted to level as prot, but I also wanted to get a feel for paladin healing since my wife enjoyed it so much with her’s. I had her tell me about the spec that she used, how she healed, what addons she found helpful, etc, etc.

I left that dual spec up for about 8 levels, never using the Holy spec once or even bothering to switch over to it to spend my talent points from those levels.

I realized that Holy probably would not happen very often since finding healers was very easy at the time and finding tanks was serious business. All I did was tank, so I figured the need to heal was worthless. Enter a respec.

Second Attempt: Prot/Ret
I knew that there were some cool abilities in Ret and that most paladins who played with that spec really enjoyed it a lot, so after finding that I would not be a healer I turned the dual spec over to Ret instead. I ran around a bit to get a feel for the new spells since I hadn’t used any of them before, and then jumped back over to Prot and went back to leveling.

When the time came to move on over to Outlands, I found that I still had never bothered using the Ret spec nor had I bothered gearing for it at all. So when it came time to choose quest rewards in Outlands, I went ahead and picked up a few pieces for Ret and actually put it to use on one of the quests.

To be a bit more honest and clear on that, I should say I went into the fight as Ret, killed a single mob, and then switched back to Prot.

A few levels down the road I switched over to Ret and made myself do a couple of “kill X mobs” quests with it, and then I decided that Ret was not for me. Enter a respec.

Third Attempt: Prot/….nothing?
I found out that Ret was not the spec for me, and I knew that there were still plenty of healers in my level range if I needed them so there was no need to bother with a Holy spec. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that second spec, so I paid for the respec and then didn’t bother spending any of the points.

Outlands had come and gone and I was in Northrend. I started noticing that almost every stinking quest reward in those starting areas were either geared towards Ret more than Prot, or that they were downgrades from my existing Prot gear.

So, since I wasn’t using it for anything else I decided to jump back over to Ret once again. I did a few quests with it, jumped over there to kill some stupid Gnome Death Knight a time or three, and got a pretty good feel for it. The problem was, Ret was slow and boring. Why in the world would I want to fight a one mob at a time when I knew I was capable of taking on so much more with Prot?

The answer didn’t take long to arrive, and I set Ret back on the shelf. Several more levels passed by, and I eventually just gave up on that boring business all together. Enter a respec.

Fourth Attempt: Prot/Prot
So now I know that I don’t care for Ret very much, and I know that not only do I not have the gear for Holy, but I also have no desire to heal as a paladin, and my wife has giving up on the paladin class all together after leveling two of them to 80 for healing.

So rather than trying to make the other specs work, I jumped over to a dual Prot spec. One is Prot/Ret which is what I use for questing and instances, and the other is Prot/Holy which I use for farming lower level instances so that I can have helpful benefits such as being immune to silence and reducing stun/slow times.

I find though, that even with this new spec I rarely bother actually switching over from one to the other. The only instance that I really even need to switch over to the farming spec at all is Stratholme right now, and I have such a large supply of the enchanting mats and cloth that I run it for that there’s really not much of a point in me doing that either. The only reason I go now is to continue my fail streak at getting the Baron’s mount.

But, screw all the respecs, I’m tired of changing.

Looking At Other Classes
So now we get down to me sharing my actual thoughts on dual specs rather that my experience with them.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t want to dual spec a straight dps class because it really doesn’t matter whether my mage is frost, fire, or arcane, it’s still always the same thing with different colored spells. (I’ve got an 80 mage, and I’ve rocked every viable spec in the game. Excuse the generalization there, I know each spec is “different”.)

But surely Hybrid classes would get more use out of a dual spec, right? As you can see in my case here, no we really don’t. At least not in my experience. I think the problem with dual specs on a hybrid class is the fact that we’re hybrids. To explain further, we’re hybrids because we can fill multiple roles, and we can fill those multiple roles even when we aren’t specced for them. So while dual specs seems like a good idea for a hybrid, what I found in my playing was that I never had a reason to bother with that second spec because I performed just fine in the other roles with my primary spec.

I thought long and hard about dual speccing my 47 Shaman to be either Enhancement/Resto or Enhancement/Elemental, but you know what I found in playing him? That’s right, he performs both of those roles (dps/heals) just fine with his default Enhancement spec. So after thinking about it quite a bit, I am almost positive that I will not bother getting a dual spec for my shaman either. I don’t need to switch between Enhancement and Elemental because dps is dps. Sure, having ranged vs melee is good in some cases but that doesn’t make it necessary.

I find no reason to bother with a dual spec on my priest, hunter, or rogue either. I look around for who to buy it for, and where I might use it and constantly find myself drumming my fingers on the desk with almost every class failing to get me even remotely excited about it.

Yet there is one exception: Druid.

I am currently playing two druids. The first one you already know about, Beldinn (Tauren Druid 35). The second is a new addition named Ibewaffles (Tauren Druid 16), and is part of a twink guild that is spawning from some of our existing members of MOTiE where we are all named “I Be (breakfast food)”.

What I have found, with both of these druids actually, is that the idea of dual specs works pretty well for them. Both of these druids already carry multiple sets of gear. Both of them fill their various roles on a frequent basis, even when leveling solo, and both of them could make solid use out of being able to change their spec on the fly.

Beldinn is running a Balance spec right now, and Ibewaffles is running Feral (he’s going to be the FC, doubling as a healer when needed). While questing with them I keep them both in their casting gear and play them as Balance until I run out of mana. If I am in combat then I use the built-in gear manager to switch over to my dps or tanking gear and then finish the fight. If I run out of mana at the end of a fight then I either sit down and drink (which is hard on Beldinn since his mana pool is 60% larger than the best water he can get), or I swich gear and continue on as Feral while I wait for my mana to regen.

Looking Ahead
After looking at all of the different classes that I play, how I want to play them, where I want to play them, what goals I have for each both short and long term, I find that the druid class is the only one that I have any sincere desire to dual spec, and it’s the only class that I personally see any true benefit coming out of.

On the one hand I could use Balance to burn through everything I need to until I run out of mana, then switch over to my Feral (dps) spec to continue on as a cat, and then I could switch back. But the problem there is that you lose all of your mana/energy/rage when you change your spec. So switching back to Balance would mean that I need to drink and restore my mana right after I made the switch, which would nullify the very reason for switching over to feral in the first place. At that point I might as well just stay as Feral until I am going back to town for some reason.

Will I bother with getting a dual spec for Beldinn? Possibly, but probably not. Having a decent set of great pretty well nullifies the need to bother with a second spec when you aren’t at least in Outlands. If I do go ahead and get him a dual spec it will start off as Balance/Feral and then probably move to Balance/Restoration or Restoration/Feral once I get into either Outlands or Northrend.

I can see how dual specs will help people at end game, especially if they manage to farm the raids and by doing so are able to build two full sets of gear that they can use for their specs. But early on though, even at level 40 when you can first purchase it, there really isn’t much of a need to bother with it.

Collecting multiple gear sets at lower levels is really a bit of a waste of time unless you plan to stay in the level bracket for battlegrounds. Otherwise you’re better off just gearing for your primary spec and leveling on. Even though I have multiple sets of gear for Beldinn, most of his Feral gear is made of bits and pieces that came from his 19 and 29 twinking. It still works just fine for when I need it, but I’m not going to bother keeping all of that gear up to date when I have an option of upgrading my Balance gear instead.

If you are playing a hybrid class then you can handle (at least to some degree) the various roles that you can fill with your class with a single spec. A tank spec will not perform as well at healing or dps as one who was specced as such, but they can usually get by.

Looking ahead, I see Dual Specs becoming a thing of my past. Unless I decide to dual spec Beldinn and it turns out to be exceedingly useful then I do not see myself bothering with it again. If they chopped the price down dramatically, then I might look at it a bit more, but probably not even then unless it was about 10g.

Final Thoughts
Looking at various classes I have played, the only real reason I find to bother with dual specs for my own play style is to have one set up for PvE and another for PvP. But even then, I don’t think that I can justify a 1,000g price tag for something that is not going to be used all that often. Even if I run PvP like nobody’s business am I really ever going to make enough changes back and forth to justify that amount of gold? I seriously doubt it.

At this point in time I do not see myself purchasing a dual spec for any of my characters save for the possible exception made for Beldinn. Having run with a druid before on my paladin though, I know that a Balance druid can perform all the healing needed for two manning instances below average instance level well into the 50’s. Will I dual spec at that point? Probably not.

I think with the introduction of the Gear Manager (even though addons already existed for such functionality previously, that the need for dual specs for anything other than raiding is limited. If you need to tank instead of dps, then it’s not that hard to throw in your tanking gear and do the job. If you’re supposed to be a dps caster, then it’s not that hard to switch over to using your healing spells for a while instead. All it takes is two clicks of a button and you go from filling one role to another.

Are dual specs helpful? Sure, if you actually put them to use then they can be a real help. Do I feel that they are worth the money it costs to get them? No, I don’t. Not even at level 80.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in World of Warcraft

 

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Twinkies: The Kind That Kill You

No, not those twinkies. These Twinkies!

I haven’t had a lot to say on the blog lately because rather than being focused on leveling my characters, I’ve been focused on leveling and gearing new and existing characters to do a little twinking in battle grounds.

Since the paladin that I blogged about for so long is an Enchanter, I decided I would go ahead and start up a few twinks to enjoy low level battle grounds like I used to on my mage. I never bothered doing PvP with Lexington because I just didn’t feel like doing PvP as anything other than dps and my skill with my Ret spec is lacking to say the least.

Lex also happens to be an amazing farming and grinding machine, so farming for specific items is pretty easy with him. That doesn’t mean that the items I am looking for are going to drop any faster or easier for me, but it does mean that I can do the farming itself quickly and with ease.

Belgawrath (Orc Shaman 36)
The first character I wanted to twink was Belgawrath. I have every intention of doing a lot of PvP with him in the 49 bracket when I can dual wield, but I also wanted to try him out in the 39 bracket while he is still using a powerful two handed weapon by already has Windfury to back it up with some insane attack power.

Even at level 36 with very little in the way of actually “twinking” the character, I already end almost every battleground in the Top 3 on the horde side. I have not yet managed to reach #1, though I have been #2 several times and come close to the first slot many times as well.

The most important piece of gear for an Enhancement Shaman is going to be his weapon(s). With dual wield out of the question, that means I had to look for a slow, powerful two handed weapon. So I turned first to WoWHead.com to search their item database for two handed weapons that were in my level range.

The first priority was weapon speed. The slower a weapon is, the more damage Windfury is going to deal. The slowest weapons in the game have a speed of 4.0 and there are only 3. Two of those weapons just happen to be level 39 two handed weapons: The Pacifier and the Pendulum of Doom. Both of those weapons happen to be BoE items, which allows me to farm them with my paladin, with Pacifier dropping from a rare spawn and Pendulum (PoD) dropping from trash mobs inside the Uldaman instance in Badlands. Windfury is the whole reason to be Enhancement, and weapon speed is a multiplier in the formula used to calculate its damage. So a slower weapon with less dps can still do significantly more damage than a faster weapon with higher dps.

The second priority was high damage. The more damage you can do, the faster your enemies are going to fall. You can’t count on Windfury to proc every time you hit, so you need to make sure you’re dishing out decent damage on normal hits as well, and of course the higher your damage the higher your crits. PoD has a higher top end damage as well as dps, but it also requires level 39 to wield it as opposed to 32 for the Pacifier.

After three days of farming The Pacifier I ended up finding two of them. They drop off of a rare spawn that only appears once every 24 hours, so he’s a little hard to catch sometimes. The good thing about that long respawn time though is that if you find him once you know when to look for him again the next day. The first time I killed him he dropped a pair of shoulders I believe, but the second and third time he drop The Pacifier.

After almost two months now of farming for the PoD I still have not seen it. I run this instance almost every day 1-12 times, killing every mob that it has a chance to drop off of. So far the dice have not been in my favor. But, I am going to keep on trying until I either find it or get so tired of looking that I swear to never step foot in the place again.

Here is a table showing some information about the weapons mentioned:

Weapon Name Speed Damage EP Value Bonuses and Procs Drop Location Drop Rate
Pendulum of Doom 4.0 124-187 (38.9 dps) 229.51 Proc: Deals 250-350 damage Uldaman (Trash) 0.00037%
The Pacifier 4.0 104-156 (32.5 dps) 211.55 +18 Strength, +7 Stamina Alterac Mountains (Rare) 12.0000%




Because of it’s maximum damage the PoD ranks higher in EP Value than The Pacifier, making it a better weapon choice. The Pacifier can actually deal more damage from a Windfury proc than the PoD can, but in general it will do less damage overall. None of that though takes into consideration the Proc ability on PoD to deal 250-350 damage when you hit. When you add that into the mix you will see that the PoD does have more damage potential than The Pacifier.


Windfury Damage Calculation (Spd x (Dps + AP + WF_AP))
Assumes AP = 400, WF_AP = 46
Weapon Name Speed DPS AP + WF_AP WF Damage
Pendulum of Doom 4.0 38.9 400 1939.6
The Pacifier 4.0 32.5 418 1986.0




If you want another way to judge which weapon might be better for you, then look at their average prices on the Auction House. The Pacifier sells for up to 500g, while the PoD sells for 10,000g. While the weapons are very similar in how good they are, the PoD’s ridiculous drop rate and brutal proc ability make it significantly more sought after than The Pacifier.

Initially I enchanted The Pacifier with Fiery Weapon because each hit from the Windfury proc is also able to proc the Fiery Enchant’s extra damage, and each Fiery proc has a chance to crit itself. There were several times that I scored hits with my attack, both WF procs, and three procs of Fiery Weapon in a single attack. Three times I was able to score a full crit (attack crit, both WF crits, and all three Fiery crits) for insane damage for my level. There’s nothing quite like one-shotting a yeti or ogre that’s 3 levels higher than you.

Right now I use The Pacifier with the Crusader enchant on it which gives me a chance to gain +100 Strength (equal to 100 AP) and heal me for 75-125 damage when I hit with it. I don’t want to waste the Mongoose enchant on The Pacifier since I know that I fully intend to leave the 39 bracket and would rather not waste an 800g enchant on a weapon I will discard for good in 4 more levels.

If I ever manage to get my hands on the Pendulum of Doom then I will enchant it with Mongoose for a chance to proc +100 Agility which equates to an equal amount of Attack Power but also increases my chance to Crit.

Silkendeath (Undead Rogue 18)
I still have a lot of work to do on the rogue here, but after getting repeatedly owned in Warsong Gulch earlier this week, I don’t think I’m going to keep him in the level 19 bracket and instead will push him forward either to the 29 or 39 bracket instead.

As I do more with Silk and get a better handle on how to use the class I will give more information on it. As for leveling the rogue, there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can give that’s going to really help.

I cheated a bit in leveling him by buying the two best daggers I could find from regular vendors (3.3 dps, level 3 required) and enchanted them both with Fiery Weapon (chance to deal 40 Fire damage when you hit). So leveling him wasn’t that hard because those weapons proc all the time and often allowed me to kill many of the mobs I faced with just 2-3 hits. The Fiery Weapon proc is also capable of critting, so it often jumped up to 60 Fire damage in addition to the regular damage from the weapon, so things just sort of died when I came in contact with them.

I used those daggers all the way through level 18 and am just now switching to other weapons with just a straight +3 Damage enchant on them until I find his twink weapons.

Hookum (Tauren Hunter 11)
Hookum is a hunter that I started a couple of days ago and plan to do battlegrounds with in the 19 bracket. I do like to have my own little power trips from time to time and after seeing how easily Silk died when he faced 9 Hunters and a Priest in a single battleground I decided it was time to roll my own.

There really isn’t a whole lot that you need to know about leveling a hunter during these levels. Basically just make sure you keep your distance and let your gun/bow do your job for you. Fire, move, fire, move, etc. Kiting is pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it, and that’s the only thing you need to do to get to level 10.

Since I’m only level 11 there isn’t a lot to talk about just yet on the Hunter. Pets are great, never being touched in combat is great, and the class can be “easy” to play if you’re fairly new to the game or new to the aspect of playing a dps character.

If you need to learn about playing a hunter, there are a lot of blogs dedicated to teaching you. I suggest you take a look at this series on Aspect of the Hare to start off with, and then there are plenty of resources for finding further information.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2009 in World of Warcraft

 

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