Low level PvP and Priests – Suppressing the Pain (part 2)

Same disclaimer as part 1.

What this isn’t.

This isn’t a guide to PvPing at 85 although some of it may be useful to Priests at 85. In fact it isn’t really a guide at all, more of a practical look at making levelling through PvP less painful.

Drinks and other methods of regenerating mana.

Low level drinks really haven’t scaled well so your best option for AB and WSG (once you hit lv 25) are the rations you buy from their respective quartermasters. From lv 55 onwards, you can do the same for Alterac Valley.

Alliance gets their WSG water from Illiyana Moonblaze and their AB water from Samuel Hawke. The Horde should visit Kelm Hargunth and the awesomely named Rutherford Twing respectively.

As these are counted as food, you can still and should drink your ordinary water for an extra boost at the same time. Holidays and other such festivals are also good for drinks, think bobbing apples from Hallows End and Festival Dumplings. Unfortunately these tend to be limited to the duration of the festival but are usable in any battleground.

You also want to keep an eye out for the chests with the green leaf on top as shown below. These restore 10 percent of your health and mana every second for 10 seconds but attacking or being attacked will cancel the buff so in order to make sure you get the most out of it, be aware of your surroundings. Fear plus line of sight can be really useful.

In WSG, they always spawn in the houses below the graveyards (handy for camping the opposing faction) and are on a relatively swift timer. In EoTS and AB, they have a chance to spawn at any of the bases (along with the movement speed buff and the berserker buff). In EoTS, they appear inside the towers and in AB most are fairly obvious apart from the one at the Farm which spawns inside the house.

Buffs

Rumsey Rum Black Label, (provides 15 stamina for 15 minutes, doesn’t last after death) the preferred tipple of twinks everywhere is worth picking up if you have a high enough level character to enter the Old Hillsbrad instance (I think it requires lv 67). You shouldn’t need to kill anything, just ride straight out of the entrance to Southshore and go into the Pub, where you can buy the rum from Barkeep Kelly for 2 silver each. The only limit to how much you can pick up is your bag space and they stack in 10s.

Gear

Basic overview of Stats

Stamina is king, especially at lower levels since certain classes (glares at rogues and hunters) seem to spend their whole lives looking for people they can oneshot, the higher your health pool, the less appealing target you make.

Resilience. Damage prevention is always good, however below lv 70 there aren’t that many options. The PvP shoulder heirlooms provide some, as does the BoA PvP trinket. Once you hit Outlands though and socketed gear, your options do increase dramatically.

Next up, the bigger your heals, the better. More intellect gives you more spell power and works well alongside the Discipline specialisations, Enlightenment in particular. Regen is less important because you can and should drink out of combat as well as pick up the green buffs whenever you see one. Plus, given the bursty nature of low level PvP, combat periods do tend to be fairly short.

Spell hit/penetration. As healing Priests, you will be doing a fair bit of offensive work, dispelling, fearing and mindcontrolling in particular, so try and pick up some hit/penetration as soon as possible. Hit is a lot easier than spell pen to obtain at low levels (below 60) but from 20 onwards you can use the WSG trinket (rune of perfection) for a bit of spell penetration. Once you get dispel magic, remember to remove buffs like mark of the wild/blessing of Kings as soon as possible.

Gear

There are some really nice blue dungeon quest items hidden away and since Blizzard have made things so much simpler by popping all the quests in the dungeon entrance, it’s little effort for the rewards. I tend to focus more on dungeons when I’m in the bottom level of the bracket but it adds a change of pace, especially if you hit a losing streak.

Purchasable with Honor.

If you aren’t Human, your first honor purchase (unless you have an inherited BoA one) should be an Insignia of the Alliance/Horde. Bought from Sergeant Major Clate (Alliance) and First Sergeant Hola’mahi (Horde) in Stormwind and Orgrimmar respectively (It’s on page 3 of their wares). Costing only 55 honor, it should only take you a couple of games to earn the honor for it.  The 5 minute cooldown is a pain, but it’s the best you can get at until level 70. At level 70 you should immediately update it for a 2 minute one.

Alliance

At lv 18 you want to visit Illiyana Moonblaze (she’s hiding at my cursor), the Silverwing Supply Officer in Ashenvale. She offers a range of goodies which include a blue ring, staff and cloak. These can be upgraded (for more honor) every 10 levels until you hit lv 60. You might even want to consider the agi/stam necklace, especially when lv 28 because of it’s high stamina. There are also epic bracers which become available at lv 40.

Unfortunately you have to go back at lv 20 for the trinket, but since trinkets at these levels are hard to come by, it’s worth making the trek even if you aren’t questing in Kalimdor.

At lv 28, check out the goods offered by the Arathi Basin quartermaster. It’s the same deal as with WSG, every 10 levels you can upgrade the items. The quartermaster can be found at the Refuge Pointe in Arathi Basin, near the flight master. These include boots (with movement speed) and a belt, plus another trinket.

Horde

The Horde equilivent for WSG is Kelm Hargunth, the Warsong Offensive Supply Officer who can be found just south of the Morshan Rampants in the Barrens. For AB, you need to visit Rutherford Twing, who lives out the back of Hammerfall in the Arathi Highlands.

Both

At 60 I would recommend the full Grand Marshal PvP set. I was still wearing some pieces of mine when I hit 70, it’s definitely worth it, if like me, you are unlucky with dungeon drops or lacking on heirlooms.

At 70, again I would recommend buying the full PvP set plus accessories if you can afford it. Not only does it come with a lot of sockets for stat customisation but it gives resilience which is crucial in these brackets, especially as burst dps increases.

As soon as you hit lv 70 or so, you want to start checking the AH for Cataclysm greens and BoE blues. The lowest level you can equip this stuff is lv 77 but the more you have by then, the better. You can also enter Black Rock Caverns at lv 77 even though it doesn’t appear in the dungeon finder until lv 80 so if you have friends or guildmates who can run you through, great.

Random items which are worth buying with spare honor.

The Alliance Battle standard/Horde Battle standard. These are basically totems which increase you and your party’s health by 15 percent as long as they stay within a 45 yard radius of the standard. They cost 500 honor and should be one of your first purchases as soon as you’ve bought your PvP trinket plus any lv 18 blues than are upgrades. Whilst they are killable with AoE, they have 1500 health which in the low level brackets is about as much as most of the players. At higher levels you just need to get more creative with your placement if you want it to survive.

Pugnacious Priest has a great guide to hiding your battle standard but the basic rule of thumb is try and put it off to one side. Don’t stand next to it unless you want whoever is attacking you to kill it without having to think.

The Stormpike/Frostwolf Battle Standard. Same principle as above only this one increases damage not health by 10 percent. This one is less useful as it’s only usable in AV but if you’re alone and the other battle standard is on cooldown, it’s a nice 2 minute trinket.

Part 3 coming later this week.

Screenshot Sunday – Hallows End

Obligatory Haunted House

Drowned

Halloween Town

Creepy Crate – Munching it’s way to an Armadillo

Feeding Time in the Deeprun Tram

Possibly because the crate is an extension of our own dark thoughts or merely because it’s a happy to help sort of crate, all the critters that it snacks upon count for both the Critter Kill Squad achievement and the Pest Control achievement.

As we’ve just made a little guild to store alts and to provide access to a guild bank, now when I’m afk, I sit in the Deeprun Tram, next to the instant re-spawning rats and let the always hungry crate overeat his way towards a baby armadillo. He averages a rat every eight or so seconds, so it’s a great place to hang out.

In fact, I suspect hitting exalted with the guild will prove far harder than getting the critters killed.

Out of the Mist: First thoughts on the proposed new talent system, Pandas and the lack of Alliance love

Partly to see whether by the time the expansion goes live, my feelings have changed in any way and partly because speculation is always fun.

Talent trees:

My instant gut reaction was one of “Nooooooo”, but after some reflection and a good look at the existing trees, I think this has a lot of potential. Right now, we have talents you want to take, talents you have to take and filler bits and pieces you take only to progress down the trees. I much prefer the idea of only having to pick talents that interest me and getting all the current modifiers just baked into either spells themselves or given as bonuses when you pick your specialisations.

Now we know that spells will be acquired in one of three ways.

  • Base-line as part of your class. Probably stuff like Levitate, Prayer of Healing, Mind spike for Priests. Will be interesting to see if all the basic heals (flash, heal, greater) stay baseline. I noticed on the screenshots they provided at Blizzcon, that Holy Paladins got Holy Light as one of their Holy specialisation spells, so from that we can possibly extrapolate that all the efficient heals will only be accessible to healers. If this is true, it will be interesting to see what else is removed from certain specs. For example will healing Priests keep mind blast?
  • As a reward for picking a certain spec. For Holy, I would imagine we’re looking at Circle of Healing, Lightwell (unless they finally decide to give up on it), Spirit of Redemption, Chakras and their associated Holy Words and so on.
  • From your talent choices.
So if we look at the existing Holy Priest tree, we can see that the entire first row are purely modifier talents, providing increases to a variety of heals and decreasing the cast time of some of our slower heals. Nothing exciting, interesting or thought provoking there. So that’s potentially eight talent points that could easily just be baked into our spec choice.
The same principle continues throughout the tree, whether it’s cooldown reductions (see Tome of Light), increased throughput under certain conditions (Test of Faith) or to specific spells (Empowered Healing). In fact out of the 37 points available to spend in Holy, we only get five new abilities, everything else is just a modifier of some sort.
  • Desperate Prayer
  • Lightwell
  • Chakra and it’s associated Holy Words (I’m only counting these as one ability because you can’t have access to both Holy Words at once.
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit
Spirit of Redemption isn’t an ability you can choose to use. There is no “kill me now” button on your interface and thus it’s basically a modified and slightly slower death, not a new ability.

Of these we know that Desperate Prayer looks like it will remain a talent point and Circle of Healing is confirmed (at this point in time) as being an ability Holy Priests get for choosing to be Holy. So we will still have access to two of the five. I actually like Chakra despite it’s clunkiness and thus hope it hangs around. Given that they haven’t quit on the Lightwell yet despite years of complaints, I imagine that it and Chakra will make the expansion in some form or another. Guardian Spirit on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. The proposed Priest talent tree has a couple of potential tank cooldowns on offer and I’m a little concerned that raid balance could be thrown if non-tanks have access to more than one tank saver.

So on paper at least, we should lose very little but at the same time have the chance to gain some new and interesting abilities. I think we also have to factor in glyphs here, to me at least, that’s where the majority of spell modification should take place.

New Race:

Not sold I’m afraid. I own a Pandaren Monk mini-pet and it’s one of the most annoying things in-game, up there with Monkey pets, ice lance, spell steal, inner focus and mind spike. If the Pandarian race or Monks of any race make even half as many annoying noises.. grr. Imagine raiding to the soundtrack of nails down a blackboard.

Theramore:

Just no! I’m rather sick of my favourite zones in-game being destroyed for one reason or another. My Night Elves are traumatised by the loss of Auberdine, My Gnomes are still struggling to overcome the fact that they couldn’t take back Gnomeregan, not to mention Southshore and the Battle of Andorhal and now we’re going to lose Theramore.. Poor Spot :(

Not to mention that from an RP perspective on my server at least, we’re meant to believe that a bunch of people who can’t even win Tol Barad attacks 70 percent of the time are actually going to manage to take a fortified town? I don’t need to lose anything to want to fight, I’ve already lost enough. My hatred burns bright already, for what they did to Southshore (one of my favourite haunts in Vanilla), I’d happily go to war.

Suppressing the Pain – the Hallows End edition (part 1b)

The same disclaimers and such apply to this as to part 1 (which can be found here).

Hallows End brings us one or two news tricks to treat ourselves with whilst levelling. Okay, none of this is actually Priest or levelling specific but it’s useful nonetheless.

First up, Ogre masks. Bringing a whole new meaning to fierce, these also give you a nice little stamina buff which stacks with fortitude and with Rumsey Rum. Unfortunately they don’t last after death, but since you buy them in stacks of five, it’s definitely worth it. At lv 20, they provide 150 health to give an indication.

Rawr

Secondly, magic brooms. You can’t cast them on the move but they are instant cast. Ideal for a quick getaway in a battleground. Gives you a slight head start against anyone on a normal mount. Plus they also look amazing and if your levelling gear should happen to include any pointy witchy hats, well that’s just icing on the pumpkin cupcake. I received mine in my crudely wrapped gift but you can also buy them for 150 tricky treats from the candy and toy vendors.

Thirdly, Bobbing Apples which provide 3 percent of your health and mana over 25 seconds. Drinks really haven’t scaled well, especially in lower level brackets so these are manna from heaven.  Every Inn has a bucket of apples in it, so get dunking. The fact that these also heal you is just an added bonus. They stack in 20s and you can just keep “bobbing” for them. You just need to wait a few seconds between each “bob”.

Edit: Not so sure about these atm, because I couldn’t get them to work at all in Tol Barad. Need to do a spot more testing.

Edit 2: Worked fine in the lv 20-24 battlegrounds, so not sure what was up in Tol Barad.

Finally, the Wickerman buff. Again, it doesn’t last after death but 10 percent increased reputation is especially good in Arathi Basin and WSG if you should be aiming for exalted. The 10 percent experience gain isn’t to be sneezed at either.

Happy Hallows End!

♫This is Hallows End!♫

Cataclysm has brought a few changes to Hallows End and they are all amazing.

Currency

To bring Hallows End in line with other festivals like Noblegarden, Tricky Treats now function as a currency. All the bits like pieces like the sinister squashling can now be purchased from a vendor. Because of this, Trick or Treating from the Innkeepers has been removed. No more frantically logging every waking hour to try and ensure you got everything you needed.

So now it doesn’t matter how bad RNG is, that squashling or hallowed helm can be yours. However the drop rate on the Squashling from the Headless Horseman’s bag does seem high, so it might be worth holding off on that particular purchase until the end of the festival.

In the Candy Buckets, there is a chance to get your G.N.E.R.Ds, masks, wands and Hallowed Helm so I imagine most if not all of these bits and pieces could be found there. So again, it might be worth waiting until you’ve collected all the candy buckets before committing to buying anything. You also get 8g 27 for each bucket at 85.

Masks

Masks no longer replace your helm and so can be worn at all times.

So far I’ve received them in my pumpkin goodie bag from the Headless Horseman and in my handful of treats (received from interacting with the pumpkins full of sweets scattered through Azeroth’s Inns). However you can also buy all the masks.

The wands can also be purchased for 2 tricky treats each so completing all the achievements should be easy this year.

Quests (from an Alliance perspective)

The Worgen have brought their own version of the Wickerman Festival to Stormwind, so we can share in the fun (and the experience/reputation grinding buff).

Hallow’s End is a time for celebration and reflection, though many of us have forgotten why. Indeed some aspects of the festival, like the Wickerman, have been lost to time… until now, with the return of the Gilneans to the Alliance fold.

So both factions now have a bunch of dailies revolving around celebrating our own take on the festival and sabotaging the opposing side. There is a quest to light your own bonfire (which gives the exp/rep buff for 2 hours) and one to put out the Forsaken’s. There is a quest to clear up stinkbombs in Stormwind and what has to be the best daily ever, one to bomb Undercity/Stormwind from the back of a broomstick.

There is a also a new quest chain starting for the Alliance in the Gilded Rose (I imagine the Horde one starts in one of the Orgrimmar Inns) which is well worth doing for it’s reward.

All in all, with the addition of two new mini-pets (creepy crate and the feline familiar), a Wickerman Festival I don’t have to crash and the bombing quest, I’m loving the new Hallows End.

The Levelling Game

Up until Cataclysm hit I was a complete quest junkie. I earned my Loremaster colours with pride and loved hunting down obscure and hidden quests. Since then, however, I’ve undergone a change of heart. Part of what made questing amazing for me, was the fact that you wandered into a town, a bit like a gunslinger in the Old West (or at least how I imagine it) and had your pick of dubious jobs needing doing. Kill some bad guys, fetch some bits of bear, find a lost child/pet/turtle, your quest log would fill up nicely and then you could run around doing bits and pieces as you chose.

The emphasis there should be on “chose”. Each zone always had it’s horrible quests, in my case usually the pick ups with low drop rates. However by alt number 3 you knew which ones to avoid in any given zone. Then came along Cataclysm and it’s revamped zones, where there is no avoiding that horrible quest you hate because it leads onto four or five awesome ones. Quest lines which have no relation to each other are linked in such a way to cause maximum pain.

Take for example Un’Goro Crater which was one of my favourite zones for much of the game. You arrived at Marshal’s Refuge and then you loaded up on quests. You could get a good one and half levels rambling around, collecting bones, killing dinosaurs and saving A-Me. Now though, oh how things have changed. Before you can rescue Ringo, you have to climb about taking hot spot temperatures. Two things which are completely unrelated, especially since the quest text when you return from dropping thermometers  into lava pools specifically says:

My good friend Spraggle has been fretting about something for some time now. I’d help her, but as you can see, I’m pretty comfortable right now.

Could you check in with her and see what she needs?

Oh she’s been fretting for some time you say? About the same amount of time I spent climbing the same mountain Ringo happens to be unconscious up? Perhaps even longer. It wouldn’t have hurt the flow of the zone to allow you access to both quests at once. What ever happened to offering us choice? Was having a full quest log deemed too complex for the average WoW player?

For the first time, in my six years of playing WoW, I found myself looking for other methods of levelling when it came to my latest alt.

Which brings me to my other issue with questing at the moment.  The quest rewards are paltry compared to the other aspects of the game. Dungeon blues are way ahead as are the items you can obtain through PvP (particularly below lv 60). This discrepancy isn’t just one or two levels below the PvP/Dungeon blues, its a good five to ten. Mr Harpy was still wearing his Stockades quest reward hat a good fifteen levels later because no quest had offered a replacement. So not only do you have to wade through tedious quests to get to the interesting ones, there are barely any items to look forward to either.

Levelling through PvP and dungeons on the other hand, not only allows you to garner a better understanding of your new class as you go (assuming you can stay alive) but offers proper rewards, both in terms of levelling items but also honor and then justice points which can be used to gear yourself at 85. It’s a win win situation but no matter how much I love PvP (and I do), I can’t help but feel sad every time I go out to quest with my pathetically empty quest log. I usually last until the first pick up quest before I hit the battleground queue.

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