I've been poking around in my guild's raid logs since the patch, partly because I'm so glad to be rid of Sidewinders, and partly because being rid of Sidewinders didn't make me worse.

Pre-7.1.5:  ilvl 870, average DPS for boss fights in heroic Emerald Nightmare: 209,635.1 (log)
Post-7.1.5:  ilvl 876, average DPS for boss fights in heroic Emerald Nightmare: 240,105.2 (log)

My ilvl has only gone up a little, but that's about the same kind of boost in raw numbers that I saw from initially switching to Sidewinders a few weeks into normal Emerald Nightmare.  I didn't like doing it; I like the on-demand instant shot that Arcane Shot has become, and other than kind of switching Marked Shot for Serpent Sting, it's the same three shots that were the core of my Molten Core rotation.

I realize a lot of hunters are disappointed in Marksman (and Beast Mastery) right now, but playing at the level I am (where that 308k on Nythendra is kind of a personal non-trash best), I'm really happy with my numbers.  I'm also really happy to have some traps back.

After this long, I had gotten used to the Sidewinders/Marked Shot AOE, but by the time we got to Dragons trash I was pushing out relatively decent numbers again.

Overall, across our raid group, the patch was good.  We steamrolled through H-Emerald Nightmare, beating our record times for both Cenarius and Xavius, andwent for a couple easy kills in normal Trial of Valor, but no one wanted to go through then minutes of Helya after all that.  Sunday we're going to look at heroic Trial of Valor and see what it looks like now.

Still want some kind of really AOE (either damage or heals) for my discipline priest, but that doesn't seem likely at this point.


Artifact Transmogs

So now that I've started getting artifacts on my alts, pretty much the first thing they all do upon getting out of the artifact scenario is get out the transmog yak.  (That thing is worth its weight in gold.  Also I want to see some kind of series now involving the adventures of Cousin Slowhands, Mystic Birdhat, and the yak.)

Anyway, here's where things stand so far.  I still need to get artifacts on the demon hunter, second priest, second mage, and hunters three-five.  My rogue's got her artifacts (subtlety), but I haven't found a transmog I like for her yet.

Disc priest
Prot warrior

Windwalker monk

Prot paladin

Resto druid

Blood death knight

Destro warlock
Fire mage

Resto shaman

Marksman hunter #2


Alting in 7.0

So I've been running all my alts through the Broken Shore scenario since I got the troll hunter to 100 (that's five now).  Doing this is letting me get their bars set up, figure out a bit how they work, and all that.  It's also let me see how I like where the specs I usually play are at now.

Marksman:  I think I wrote about this at length in the post-macro... post, but I'm liking the Hunter's Mark/Marked Shot interplay.  I'm using Patient Sniper but not Sidewinders.  I'm also mostly using Murder of Crows because it's harder to switch back and forth between that and Barrage on the fly.  I'm having a bit of trouble judging "safe" distances for Barrage with the mastery range increase - which I like, but I'm just not used to it yet.  I miss a nice reliable crowd control like Freezing Trap that doesn't necessarily put you in combat, and I miss Spirit Bond for its survivability and less downtime while soloing.  I'm thrilled to still have my pet, and I've been doing invasions with Puppy (KitTabik), Cuddles, PangurBan, Jack, and Kitty.  Oh, and Inle, because I wandered out of the Kharanos Inn on my level 3 gnome hunter... who's now level 11.

Discipline:  Disc wasn't bad for invasions, but I'm finding group healing without the cooldown you get from the artifact to be... missing something.  It's going to have to be reworked after Legion to account for this, which seems like an oversight to me.  There's no good sustainable area healing or damage.  I'm using Halo for both right now, since you either have to spread out some Atonement and then do damage or put up Purge the Wicked and then have the target live long enough for you to be able to Penance it - and if Penance is on cooldown you have to wait to start AOE damage.  Applying Atonement is awkward with the area-based Power Word: Radiance, and too expensive to just blanket with Plea after six applications.  There's also no good way to heal up that one person who died during combat that you've resurrected and want to get back up quickly - I used to spam some Flash Heals on them, but I've got nothing without a cooldown strong enough to really do that now.  Easiest fixes?  Give us back Mind Sear, and make Power Word: Radiance target like Prayer of Healing did and adjust the mana/cast time/healing done for five targets to let us apply Atonement in a more predictable way than just where someone is standing.  It would make LFR less infuriating to try to heal.  Doesn't fix the out of combat healing, but there's food for that.

Restoration (Shaman):  Haha, I have no idea what I'm doing on my shaman.  This isn't entirely true, but I'm not even sure why I have her spec'd Resto because I didn't like healing on her that much before.  She seems to have a decent toolkit for both AOE and single target heals, a couple of good big-heal cooldowns, and that added totem-based battle rez.  I need to switch her back to Elemental, though, because I want to play her as a lightning-zappy shaman rather than as Resto.

Destruction:  I was a little worried when I was setting up my warlock's bars until I realized I'd talented Incinerate to hit everything.  Destruction seems fine from a casual point of view, and hella fun.  Keep Immolate up to generate some shards, hit Conflagrate when you can, Incinerate all the things, and Chaos Bolt for mana regen.  Life Tap and Drain Life's return was very welcome, and my infernal has a name now and I  apparently talented to keep him this is amazing.  Super pleased with my little burny goblin.

Subtlety:  I feel like I'm not completely incompetent on my rogue again.  I can just Backstab now and don't have to rely on Hemorrhage for soloing since they changed the positioning stuff on Backstab.  I also discovered that I have crap for leather transmog.

Protection (Warrior):  Invasions probably weren't the best place to judge my tanks, since the healing is so sporadic.  I miss Charge, but other than that and not always being sure how to get rid of all the excess rage, it's seemed okay.  She's got some new melee animations, which seem neat.

Protection (Paladin):  I actually felt more survivable on my pally, but that might be because I was doing the invasion a week later and there may have been healing going on.  I actually feel like I have buttons to push on her now, which is a change; with the removal of holy power (just for prot? I don't know), I did have to move buttons around so I wouldn't hit things that I need to save the cooldown for rather than just smashing them because they were available.  I'll still run through the holy spec artifact quest at some point because I really want to see it, but I think she's going to stick with prot as her main spec.

Restoration (Druid):  The druid has always been my second favorite to heal on, and for the most part she feels like she still has a complete healing toolkit.  HoTs, AOE, single target, some defensive cooldowns, and Tranquility still seems pretty great.  I really hope Disc feels okay with the artifact or I may have to switch over for dungeon healing this expansion.

Blood:  This is the only spec I've really played on a death knight in... a very long time.  It's changed a bit, but I still muddle around in it okay.  I think I spent more time making a new mog for her than actually doing the scenario and invasion.  I didn't feel as comfortable as on my warrior or like I had as much wiggle room for muddling around as I did on my paladin, but I didn't feel so lost that I won't play her in this spec (like my shaman).

Fire:  I switched off of frost for two reasons:  I had always preferred playing fire but kept dying while leveling, and I made an awesome fire mog for my mage.  Other than being frustrated by Flamestrike's super slow non-Hot Streak cast and wondering if I should talent differently so I feel like I have useful AOE, the crit-crit-Pyroblast rhythm of fire is fun.  I don't play the mage enough to know if I'm doing badly at it.

Mistweaver:  I've been lost on my monk since 6.0 when I boosted her to 90; that hasn't really changed, but I've somehow managed to complete the healing proving grounds on her, so I guess it's not a lost cause.  After running the Broken Shore scenario, I went through and renamed all her healing macros - her spells are now hot, +hot, chan[nel], 3heal, and bubbl.  I've played my other healers long enough to mostly know what their spells do by name, but I don't know my monk well enough to keep them straight.  I think she's got a decent healing toolkit if I ever play her enough to get used to it.

So overall - there are some specs I feel kind of lost but not helpless on.  Since discipline is one of the ones I play the most, I have some frustrations with it, but I think I'll get by.  Marksmanship has lost a few things I miss (Freezing Trap, Spirit Bond), but overall it feels okay.  My warlock may move up in the alt leveling rotation because destruction feels so fun.  Most of my toons are 660+ post-invasions, and my primary toon in each role (Duskhawk, priest, and warrior) are all 690+.  So I feel pretty set for Tuesday when my collector's edition box shows up.


The Return of Hunter's Mark

So I've been using a shot macro since like, Karazhan or Wrath sometime, when I realized I was not effectively using Steady Shot in my rotation.  The macro has changed a bit over the years, as shots available changed, haste plateaus affected it, and so forth.

So, Steady Shot is gone for me.  I don't really miss it - I like having Arcane Shot back, on demand, free and on the move.  I do miss the Aimed Shot mobility, but that's just a matter of retraining myself to stand still for it.  I've got Aimed Shot, Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot, and Marked Shot for core shots now, with Bursting Shot as an interesting kind of combination of Barrage and the old Scatter Shot.  I went with Murder of Crows for my regular set up, which I've been occasionally regretting when I go to farm old raids and forget that I can't just change it on the fly when I remember, after I'm there, that I kind of want it for that.  I love the crows, though, and it feels safer in raids and dungeons since my mastery increases my range now and I don't have as good a feel for how far back is safe to Barrage yet.


Features I like(d)

I like some random, inane stuff.  Tiny cute things.  Anything green.  Completely extraneous Easter-egg stuff.  So over the course of WoW there's been a lot of random stuff I've like from each expansion, regardless of whether there were other things that drove me batty (like gated profession stuff and losing both ships on a 92% mission fail).

But this is about stuff I like, so here's some of them:

Fished up bosses.  The first of these (as far as I know) was Gahz'ranka in the original Zul'Gurub.  Unlike later fished up bosses, like the Lurker Below and the Pandaria fishing quest bosses, Gahz'ranka required a process to fish up.  This is also why I was a bit irritated about Nat Pagle forgetting who I was every expansion - he taught me 225-300 fishing skill.  But yeah, I liked that having done what a lot of people hadn't in Vanilla (maxing fishing) was useful for something besides obscure food.

Yes, I still have my Mudskunk Lures.

Long quest chains with both strong emotional payoff and decent equipment rewards.  The Major Windsor escort through Stormwind (and Bolvar's subsequent badassery).  The Cipher of Damnation (Burning Crusade edition).  Alas, Andorhal.  The Battle of Darrowshire.  Drakkuru.  Zul'Drak's troll gods quests.  Terokk's story in Spires of Arak.  When I specifically seek out these zones to quest through again, it means they're doing something right.

Zapthrottle.  So I'm still carrying around my mote extractor.  As an engineer, I loved suddenly having resources that only I could gather.  I may have occasionally frustrated people by being en route to some group thing and getting distracted chasing down balls of gas.  It was worse than ore tracking.

Floating islands in Nagrand.  They're so full of Easter eggs, and they were fun to go hang out on if you had to afk for a bit.

Water with currents.  After how many years of waterfalls and such, Pandaria finally gave us water that would pull us around!  I especially liked the currents off the southern coast of the Dread Wastes.

Phasing that lets us change zones over time.  One of the things I was a bit sad about until phasing went in was that, no matter what we did in WoW, nothing changed.  You go help someone out and as soon as you leave, it all resets.  But in Mount Hyjal, we helped beat back the Twilight's Hammer and start the healing of the fire-scorched areas.  In Pandaria, we contributed to the devastation of some of their pristine areas.  In Deepholm, we repair the World Pillar.  And Gilneas!  Oh, Gilneas.  One of the things that impressed me most in the Cataclysm beta, playing through Gilneas for the first time, was that the moment of the cataclysm itself - so bluntly shown in Kezan as Deathwing disrupts a sports game - you feel it when the devastation hits, and your village begins sinking into the ocean.  It was visceral and amazing.

So, uh, sorry, west coast of North America.  It's going to be devastating when you fall into the Pacific, but it's going to be amazing for your narrative.

Tol Barad.  I liked that some PVP opened up some basically PVE daily quests with mount and pet and gear awards for the related currency.  The zone was interestingly creepy, as well.  I suppose Winterspring was also in this vein, but Tol Barad felt more polished.

The Seahorse in Vashj'ir.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that you could only use it in Vashj'ir.  Going fast underwater was almost better than flying.  It didn't hurt that the place was gorgeous.

The turtle boats in Northrend.  It was slow, but it was a nice thematic touch for the Tuskarr, and when you forgot which zeppelin went where as frequently as I did, it made schlepping over to the other end of Northrend prior to having flying much easier.

Garrison followers.  I love my bird-buddy Ishaal, and a lot of the followers just make me more connected to Draenor in general.  I may hardly leave my garrison, but I do have cool people hanging out with me.  When I'm not making them do random menial tasks.

NPCs that use class-specific skills.  The last boss in Nagrand's Ring of Blood shaman-popping.  Yrel in that Talador cutscene.  Anytime I see NPCs we're interacting with behave the way I'd expect someone of that class to - it's just awesome.  (Seriously, I kinda teared up when Yrel popped wings in that video, because Yes! That is a paladin!)

Rexxar's rat innkeeper.  Because it's cute and adorable.

Pet biscuits.  Because rats bigger than gnomes are awesome.

Pre-Legion Bucket List: Update

I forgot to post this back in February.


Transmog Weapons

So as I'm logging around my level 100 toons today, when I got to my shaman, I suddenly realized I didn't know if she was going to have a spec that she could transmog into Gorehowl with the artifact weapons.  I don't play enhancement, and I remembered that elemental is getting a fist weapon (cool enough), but... Gorehowl?

Not all of my toons have weapon transmogs that I care about; my mage, for example, has the basic Draenor staff because all the staffs I like to go with her transmog are bound to other characters, and at this point I'm not buying duplicates when the looks are going to get shared so soon.

Some of them, though, I'm probably going to have to change.

Hunter (main), marksman
CurrentlyGolden Bow of Quel'Thalas
Changing?:  Nope, hunters have been able to transmog between ranged weapon looks for a while, and Marksman is getting the bow artifact, anyway.  The Windrunners are cool, and all, but I'm a Tauren.  My alt hunters by and large don't really have a preferred mog weapon, although my original Night Elf is tranmogged into the Gorewood Bow (Blightcaller raids, heh) right now; most of them may use the artifact looks.