Thursday, October 16, 2008

Patch 3.0.2 T+1

Early impressions of the Echoes of Doom Era

So. It's been a full day and some hours since the update. How do I feel about it? I feel great about it!

I spent a lot of Tuesday and some of Wednesday experimenting with pets exotic or just plain new. (Also the barber shops. Astute observers will note that all three of my characters have hair styles not available to their respective species before Tuesday.)

Tivara and the Kurken

I like a whole lot of them, but it didn't take me long to come back to Sagarmatha. He quickly hit 70, so he has a new level of Growl and therefore gets the early aggro built up fast, and the reduced cooldown on Thunderstomp makes things amazing. I send him at many mobs, he stomps, I volley away...and since Volley no longer has a cooldown, I can do that as long as it takes. For me, it really is the fun parts of protection paladins' AOE grinding without nearly so much attention and stressful worrying about whether I'm about to get overwhelmed. Sagarmatha has a huge wide safety zone of health and focus, and I've got a bunch of things I can have Tivara and Sagarmatha do if Tivara ends up with unwanted attention. The kill tallies that follow from this just keep overwhelming me. Wow.

On Being a Single-Emphasis Player

I note that pretty much all the best hunter bloggers are recommending that hunters try out the range of specs and pets. That's good advice. Let me explain why I'm not doing it, though. For those of you who haven't read me before, I have chronic auto-immune problems, and cascading complications from that. I'm not the Boy in the Bubble, but I do face the challenges of dealing with berserk allergic reactions to common environmental things like soil molds and orris root (the base ingredient in most perfumes), abject failure on my body's part at repelling infections, and all that, plus depression rising from imbalances in neurotransmitter production, chronic fatigue and other nastiness from defective neurotransmitter recycling, lymphatic action, and on and on. I live a restricted life, and there's a narrow range of things that reliably provide me fun in gaming that I can manage without getting exhausted or anything.

I got on this hunter kick in the first place because of that, actually. I had to shelve my rogue and paladin as raiders because I couldn't commit to them. A random bad health moment the afternoon of a raid - or for that matter a flare-up of something acute during a raid - and pfft, there goes my participation. I had a lot of last-minute cancellations and a fair number of mid-raid bailouts, and while raid leaders never pressured me about it, I know it added complications, and furthermore, it made me feel like a failure. I have too many opportunities for that already. I wanted something that would leave me feeling more reliably successful - something that would, to abuse programming jargon, degrade gracefully, rewarding detailed manipulation of options when I feel up to that but also work reasonably well when all I can manage is simple commands. For me, hunter is that something.

The key to it is a very strong pet. The more the pet can lift the burden of being hit from me, the better: I get to focus on what I intend to do, rather than responding to things forced on me by enemies. (Warlocks also have this advantage, depending the pet used, but other complexities that wear me down right now.) So the Beast Mastery talent tree is the right thing for me, since it improves my pets in a bunch of ways. And Tenacity pets, or at least pets with a good solid AOE capability, are the right thing for me too, since they protect me most thoroughly in the widest range of circumstances.

I'm definitely interested in what the other specs can do for me, but not in an urgent way. I already have good reason to believe they won't make me better at the stuff I just described, and that's what counts for me now. I may well wait until the dual-spec option comes along so that I can keep this as a ready fallback and experiment with notional seat belts in place. For now, it's more important to me to succeed at something than to dabble and do okay, or poorly, or worse - reliability is the key. Experimentation will come when the foundation's in better shape. In the meantime, I am constantly cheered, and often surprised, and just how very, very well this particular little niche does work for me. I've got to arrange some pet tanking instance runs with friends and see how far I can really push it.


I have two low-level hunters on the Alliance side. Night elf Sengakuji is in her mid-20s now; draenei Cirna is advancing with recruit-a-friend experience multiplication and is therefore now (when you read this) nowhere near her level then (when I wrote it). It looks like both will go the same route: bear, then gorilla. The variety will be in the folks I play with and the quests done. It's the same mechanical operations, but it feels different to me as the context changes, and since what counts is my satisfaction and performance, my vote wins. (And of course there are some real differences with racial abilities, professions, and such.) I'll be experimenting some, but I'm really happy with Sengakuji's bear Higashiyama (originally, Mangeclaw from the east end of Loch Modan) and Cirna's Toulemne (originally a simple young black bear from the vicinity of Kharanos in Loch Modan).

Sengakuji and Higashiyama in Ironforge

Cirna and Toulemne Visit an Auction

And that's all the news for now.