Legion sounds awesome!

Okay, for once I got to watch BlizzCon streams at home in real time!  All in all, I'm excited about a lot of the stuff they talked about.  I'm not super-stoked about playing Marksman without a pet, but it's for sentimental reasons, not mechanical ones, so I figure I'll just swap over to Beast Mastery when I want to visit my pets.

But what I am looking forward to...  (If you don't have livestream access, try Blizzard Watch for info and lots of pictures!)


Things I didn't notice in Draenor until flying

This is going to be an image heavy post.

The spires of light in Talador:


Artifact Weapons: Speculative Concerns

If you've done a lot of raiding over the years, you know that it seems like there's always someone in your raid group who just can't get a weapon to drop.  That was me, for the entirety of Wrath Naxxramas, stuck using my engineering gun until an Ulduar-25 PUG landed me the gun off Kologarn.  It sucked - I literally couldn't crit high enough to pop the constructs on Ignis until I got a weapon upgrade.

So Legion is going to bring us artifact weapons, and no one will need to worry about weapon drops (because there won't be any).  The various skins you can unlock and the ability to transmog the artifacts mean you aren't visually stuck with it for the whole expansion.


Pre-Legion Goals

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not surprised that we're looking at a Legion expansion, even with Wrathion mostly m.i.a. in Draenor.  We've had so many Old God expansions that we've been due for some serious Legion action, and even with Gul'dan mucking about in Draenor, it hasn't really been a Legion expansion yet.

But before the Legion gets here, there's stuff I want to get done.  The list isn't terribly long:

  1. Emerald Drake.  I want to get the Drakes achievement finished so I can be flying around the Broken Isles on the loveliest of drakes that isn't a fey dragon.  I just need Deathwing to cooperate...
  2. Tiger Cub.  I want to finish off grinding enough Blackfang Claws for the Saberstalker pet, because it is adorable.
  3.  Level the remaining alts.  Not all of them, but the remaining nine that were also at 90 in Mists.  These are three hunters, a mage, a warlock, a shaman, a druid, a paladin, and a monk.


Pet Battles of Tanaan

Over the past week or so, since I finished Draenor Pathfinder and don't feel compelled to do grindy stuff for reputation, I started working on the new boss battle pets in Tanaan.  These are all boss pets with a kind of nasty surprise - they all come with two additional pets.


Many of these pet battles wouldn't be nearly as troublesome if you didn't have to deal with two buffed extra pets after knocking them out; the boss pet will cast Fel Corruption throughout the fight while they're up, and in addition to being a fairly hard hitting AOE (and making it hazardous to have mechanical pets in your lineup), it turns the backline pets on their side into minibosses for up to 10 rounds.

Most of these battles I was able to get through with some experimentation, though for a few I had to hit the WoWhead comments for ideas on pets to try.  It should be obvious from the chart that, although some of the commenters frequently push the Anklerender and the Emerald Proto-Whelp, I don't have the former leveled, and I only found the latter helpful once.  I also tried out suggested strategies involving forced pet swaps (to minimize the Fel Corruption), but those gave me no success.

Due to the back line pets, setting up a traditional "Howl Bomb" (Unborn Val'kyer/Pandaren Water Spirit/Chrominius) frequently meant that the Fel Corrupted pets would finish off the AOE-damaged remaining pets even if the boss pet was dropped.  Using 1.5-2 pets to get the boss pet down and cleaning up the remnants with the Anubisath Idol was ultimately more reliable.


The numbers after the pet name are the ability slot choices - particularly with Chrominius and the Anubisath Idol, who saw heavy use, there are some fights where not swapping out an ability really hurt.

PetSlot 1Slot 2Slot 3
BleakclawChrominius 2 1 2Disgusting Oozeling 1 1 1Crimson Geode 1 2 2
Chaos PupIron Starlette 1 2 1Pandaren Water Spirit 1 2 2Chrominius 1 1 2
Corrupted ThundertailPandaren Water Spirit 1 2 2Chrominius 1 1 2Emerald Proto-Whelp 2 2 2
Cursed SpiritTolai Hare 2 2 2Mr. Wiggles 1 2 2Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
Dark GazerLil' Deathwing 1 2 2Infinite Whelpling 1 1 1Anubisath Idol 2 2 2
Defiled EarthDancing Water Skimmer 1 2 2Magical Crawdad 2 2 2Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
DireflameGarden Frog 1 2 1Dark Phoenix Hatchling 2 1 2Crimson Geode 1 2 2
DreadwalkerFel Flame 1 1 1Infinite Whelpling 1 1 1Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
FelflyChrominius 2 1 2Disgusting Oozeling 1 1 1Crimson Geode 1 2 2
Felsworn SentryPandaren Water Spirit 1 2 2Chrominius 1 1 2Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
MirecroakCrow 2 2 2Chrominius 1 1 2Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
NetherfistUnborn Val'kyr 2 2 2Ghostly Skull 1 1 1Anubisath Idol 1 2 2
SkrillixPandaren Water Spirit 1 2 2Chrominius 1 1 2Anubisath Idol 2 2 1
Tainted MaulclawSprite Darter Hatchling 1 2 2Darkmoon Hatchling 1 2 2Anubisath Idol 1 2 1
Vile Blood of DraenorInfinite Whelpling 1 1 1Anubisath Idol 2 2 2Crimson Geode 1 2 2

Pet List

Anubisath Idol: The Anubisath Idol saw heavy use in Tanaan, making it into the lineup for 10 of the 15 battles.  Sandstorm is the big boon here - the damage reduction and its humanoid healing allow it to survive the Fel Corruption-buffed backline pets.

Chrominius: Chrominius makes it into 7 of the teams in Tanaan, although in one he was a barely-used third pet.  He is frequently paired with the Pandaren Water Spirit for the "Howl Bomb," buffing the Whirlpool/Geyser combination, but for the two flying pets, he can simply Howl + Surge of Power to one-shot them.

Crimson Geode: The Crimson Geode makes it into four of these fights, not so much for the boss pets but because it's a strong candidate for cleaning up flying pet adds.

Crow: Crow makes one appearance in Tanaan, using the Call Darkness/Nocturnal Strike combo on Mirecroak.

Dancing Water Skimmer: The Dancing Water Skimmer was brought in to handle the Defiled Earth.

Dark Phoenix Hatchling: The Rebirth ability helped make the Direflame fight doable for the team I was using.

Darkmoon Hatchling: There are other pets with the Predatory Strike ability, but the Darkmoon Hatchling is a Critter, which is less susceptible to Fel Corruption, so it survived on the backline to be brought in as a finisher on the Tainted Maulclaw.

Disgusting Oozeling: The Disgusting Oozeling was put into two lineups in case Chrominius couldn't for some reason handle the flying boss pets, but it turned out to be handy for cleaning up the back lines for them, since Fel-Corruption-empowered pets make fast work of a recharging Chrominius.

Emerald Proto-Whelp: The Emerald Proto-Whelp only turned out to be useful for me for cleaning up the Corrupted Thundertail's back line pets.

Fel Flame: Fel Flame was a trial pet in a lot of battles, but it only ended up on the final team for Dreadwalker - albeit as a starter, not on the bench.

Garden Frog: Garden Frog softened up Direflame enough for the phoenix to finish off - and the crowd control from the Frog Kiss didn't hurt to keep down the Fel Corruption casts.

Ghostly Skull: Bob was brought in for Netherfist; Ghostly Bite is lovely for how hard it hits, even with the boss damage reduction.

Infinite Whelpling: The Infinite Whelpling made it onto three teams; with its mixed bag of abilities, it's useful both on magic and mechanical pet bosses.  The heal doesn't hurt, either.

Iron Starlette: Iron Starlette was one of the suggestions I got from the WoWhead comments; the Chaos Pup was giving me fits, and it turned out to be the mechanical for the job.

Lil' Deathwing: Dark Gazer was Lil' Deathwing's first appearance on a pet team for me.  He is the hardest hitting dragon I've got, and many team combinations went down to this fight before he joined the team.

Magical Crawdad: Magical Crawdad is another pet you see touted a lot, and it can be quite good in some lineups, but for me it only helped with Defiled Earth.

Mr. Wiggles:  Mr. Wiggles was brought in, as he not infrequently is, for an undead fight, the Cursed Spirit.  Being a critter, he could take the Fel Corruption on the back line better, and he hit especially hard following up the rabbit.

Pandaren Water Spirit:  The Pandaren Water Spirit made it onto 4 teams, most often as a truncated version of the "Howl Bomb," i.e., with no leading Val'kyr.

Sprite Darter Hatchling: The Sprite Darter Hatchling was brought in for Life Exchange versus the Tainted Maul Claw; it helped set up for Predatory Strike from the Darkmoon Hatchling.

Tolai Hare: The hare, like almost all the rabbits, can be wicked against undead pets, and it made the team for the Cursed Spirit as an armor break before Mr. Wiggles.  Dodge and critter resistance to elemental damage didn't hurt.

Unborn Val'kyr: The Unborn Val'kyr made it onto only one team, versus Netherfist.

Alternate Teams

I'll update as I find additional combinations that work.

Direflame: Jungle Darter, Pebble, Crimson Geode


Prot Warrior Deck

So the caveat with anything Hearthstone is that I'm not that good - the best I've done is rank 15, once, and I did that on the back of Oil Rogue and Mech Mage decks.  That said, I do enjoy playing around with random decks.

This warrior deck is okay - it works well enough for quests, but you're unlikely to get anywhere on the ladder with it.  It's all weapons and armor for the most part, with some warrior spells thrown in to flesh it out.

The problems I've run into most frequently with this deck is the card draw hitting a patch of all weapons, or getting stuck with a freezing minion in a mage deck with no removal or minions.  When it works out, though, it can be quite fun - build up armor, smash things with axes.

Card list:
  • Inner Rage x1
  • Execute x2
  • Shield Slam x1
  • Upgrade! x1
  • Whirlwind x1
  • Fiery War Axe x2
  • Cleave x1
  • Slam  x2
  • Armorsmith x1
  • Ogre Warmaul x2
  • Bouncing Blade x1
  • Shield Block x2
  • Death's Bite x2
  • Mortal Strike x1
  • Arathi Weaponsmith x2
  • Defender of Argus x1
  • Arcanite Reaper x2
  • Brawl x1
  • Siege Engine x1
  • Shieldmaiden x2
  • Gorehowl x1


A Shot in the Arm

As I mentioned in the mount post, chasing mounts is a pretty big motivator for me in terms of content; heck, I did Long Strange Trip on three characters for faster flying prior to the achievement (and mounts) becoming account-wide.  So flying in Draenor?  Well, I just needed to finish three of the apexis areas for Securing Draenor for existing requirements.  But the carrot of flying is going to have me in Tanaan working on the new reputations, for sure.

So what am I looking forward to with flying?
  • Leveling my druid.  I love flying on my druid, and taking her to Spires of Arak, after all the druid flight quests in Outland?  That's going to be pretty cool.  Anzu used to be part of the quest to get epic flying on druids.
  • Flying around in my Sky Golem.  Maybe I'll farm herbs on my death knight; maybe I'll just track down all the followers she missed while leveling.  I don't know, but I'm gonna enjoy flying around in my green goblin iron man suit doing it.
  • Archaeology!  It's going to be so much less painful to farm for unfinished rare relics.
  • Pet battle dailies!  There are a few pets I only have lower quality ones too.
  • Maybe farming?  I used to swap over to farming ore, or fishing, when I had bad brain days and wanted something mindless today.  In Burning Crusade it was Nagrand; Sholazar in Northrend; Uldum or Deepholm in Cataclysm;  Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria.  I need a lot of lunkers for Nat Pagle still...
In the meantime?  I finished Grand Treasure Hunter back in November, but I'm going to try to get them all before the patch drops.


Favorite mounts

I just did favorite followers, and I think I ended up with seven out of seventy-three.  When I was drafting  posts I apparently thought limiting myself to five mounts was a good idea.

Five was not a good idea.  I have two hundred sixty-two mounts in my log, not including warlock, paladin, or death knight mounts.  But I think I've got it down to seven, including only mounts I actually have.  (One day, Emerald Drake.  One day.)

#7 - Dark Riding Talbuk

Way back in the Burning Crusade, when mounts we no longer items you had to keep in your inventory, I started... acquiring.  Mounts drove my reputation grinds - Netherwing, Sha'tari Skyguard, the Mag'har.

And then there was Halaa.  I was one of those people who got the first mount, and then... sat on languishing research tokens while vainly trying to acquire battle tokens in later expansions.  But I had the first one!

#6 - Azure Drake

So when the Emerald Drake was announced, I started farming Malygos for the two blue ones he drops.  The Blue Drake isn't anything terribly special, but the Azure Drake?  The Azure Drake is covered in arcane symbols and a variety of blues.  This is a mage's mount, for sure.

 #5 - Sea Turtle

This is the mount you get from fishing, originally in Northrend, but over time it got added to the new waters, as well.

I got it in Pandaria.  I wasn't even trying for the turtle - I had gone on dedicated turtle-farming fishing binges in the past.  No, I was trying to get a Flying Tiger Gourami for the Nat Pagle daily quest.

Bam, turtle.

#4 - Black War Raptor

Once upon a time, Tauren could only ride kodos.  Then Tauren could only ride kodos and wolves.  Then they added PVP mounts, and they decided that the raptor would be Tauren-tough.

I did a lot more PVP back in Vanilla, but it was still a bit of work to have the honor banked to purchase the raptor the day it went live - not to mention grinding out the gold for fast riding.  I did it primarily via Felcloth.  In the old Azshara.

This raptor is made of blood, sweat, and tears, for sure.

#3 - Sky Golem

I built the Sky Golem myself, because, you know, mount count.  I didn't think I was actually going to use it... until I leveled my death knight, an herbalist.

This was shortly after I leveled my druid, also an herbalist, and druid flight-form herbing is hard to beat.  Sky golem Tauren death knight comes pretty close.  And it matched her 'mog.  And her hair.

Sky golem for my death knight is one of the things I miss about level-cap flying.  I loved flying around in it on her.

#2 - Enchanted Fey Dragon

Back in Vanilla, I did the sprite darter hatchling pet quest chain on my original Night Elf; it was one of the handful of pets I had on her (along with the white kitten, which was my husband & I's introduction to limited-stock vendors).  Since then, I've been pretty sprite darter/fey dragon gung-ho; I have this in plush, as well.  This may have been my first mount-store purchase.

#1 - Swift Shorestrider

This is the mount Duskhawk is running around Draenor with; it was a birthday present, and I love it.  I like the striders the best of the ostrich-type mounts; they feel sturdy enough for a Tauren, and they aren't too flashy.


Spires of Arak

I love Spires of Arak.  It is far and away my favorite thing zone-wise of all of Draenor: the ambiance, the story lines, the puzzles.

You get introduced to the stories in Spires through two routes: aiding the Arakkoa, and helping out at Pinchwhistle Gearworks, where attempts to start an outpost have gone awry.  Along the way you meet various members of the Arakkoa Outcasts, find out what Wrathion has been up to in Draenor up to this point (not-spoiler spoiler: no good), and fight more plant zombies like you ran into in Gorgrond.

Into the woods to help my bird buddies...

I like the Arakkoa story here the best, but the two kind of side-plots with Pinchwhistle and Admiral Taylor's garrison are both engaging as well (and the former will land you the Salvage Yard plans).  Ultimately this is where my alts have been hitting 100, working towards getting Talonpriest Ishaal, their Salvage Yards, and Admiral Taylor's sword (where applicable).

The Arakkoa Outcasts have had a difficult time, basically on the losing side of an Arakkoa civil war.  They've fled from the spires in the sun down into the shadows, and you both help them against the Laughing Skull, who are hunting them, and against the Arakkoa who still live in the glory of the sun above, following Terokk's story as you do.  Depending on how well this Draenor's Arakkoa parallel our own, this story line helps flesh out the bits we got in Terokkar Forest in our broken Draenor.

Spires in the sun...
... banished to the shadows.

I vastly prefer getting around this zone grounded compared to Nagrand, and despite the rope puzzles making my palms sweat, I also appreciate most of the puzzle rewards here more - the archaeology fragments, the various items at Terokk's shrines.

Bear-okay puzzles
Bear-not-okay puzzles

Arakkoa are interesting; those following Rukhmar have sun and air magic, and they also make much use of wing-blades.  The Arakkoa Outcasts make heavy use of shadow and illusion magic - sort of the flipside of Rukhmar's followers.  They are closer to Anzu, the raven god, and Terokk, their former king.  Prior to Spires I didn't understand why people wanted to play Arakkoa, but now that I've got Ishaal and Kurekk hanging out in my garrison, and Reshad and Percy visiting?

I don't know that I want to play one myself, but I wish they were a bigger faction back in our home timeline.

In the meantime, I've retired Bloodsail Admiral for awhile.


Garrison pet battles

After a couple times through the Menagerie's pet rotation, I realized I wasn't going to remember what had worked if I didn't start keeping notes.  So now I have a spreadsheet for what teams worked for what; here's a visual version of the spreadsheet if any of them are giving you trouble.

Some of these pets are harder to find (Unborn Val'kyr in particular), and some of them (I'm thinking of the Crimson Geode) are perhaps not as commonly leveled; I did that one in particular for the tamer in Spires of Arak.

Archimedes, Samm, Jahan; The Beakinator
The team:  Disgusting Oozeling, Crimson Geode, Chrominius
Both these fights are flyer heavy; Chip (my Disgusting Oozeling) can take the Beakinator by himself, but if he gets knocked out in the three bird fight, the other two can finish them off.

Brutus and Rukus
The team: Pandaren Water Spirit, Fox Kit, Alpine Foxling Kit
This is the two boar team.  Make sure both foxes are set up with Bite; I've got flurry on the Fox Kit from the Floret team fight and forgot to swap it for the picture.  Any two foxes will work here; these are my two rare quality ones.

Deebs, Tyri, Puzzle
The team: Scourged Whelpling, Crawling Claw, Ghostly Skull
Deebs is a magic pet, so you'll want to start out with the Scourged Whelpling in this line-up.  The Crawling Claw and Bob... er, the Ghostly Skull can handle the other two.  Make sure you set them up for some healing before the whelpling dies.  Tyri is going to pop Darkness, so you can set up the skull with either of his hard hitting abilities.

The team:  Any three rabbits (shown here: Tolai Hare, Tolai Hare Pup, Elfin Rabbit)
Slot three rabbits, pop dodge, stampede until it's dead, rinse and repeat.

Grubbles, Scrags, Stings
The team: Elder Python, Mechanical Squirrel, Chrominius
This is a basic critter/beast/flying team, so counter with a beast/mechanical/magic team.  Chrominius gets thrown in for the magic here because Howl/Surge of Power is going to do 2000+ damage.

Hanos, Manos, Fatos
The team: Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling, Lil' Deathwing, Chrominius

This is the fight that finally made me level the Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling.  Manos, the Hand of Fate, is probably best known as a MST3K episode.  You can probably substitute the Scourged Whelpling or another mechanical in if you don't have Lil' Deathwing, since he's a CE pet.

King Floret and Queen Floret
The team: Pandaren Water Spirit, Fox Kit, Eternal Strider
This is similar to a "Howl Bomb" set up, except that you don't start with the Unborn Val'kyr - Geyser, Whirlpool, swap to the fox, Howl, Dazzling Dance, Flurry and Howl till the fox is dead, and then swap to the strider to finish things off.  You can buy the Fox Kit now, but I got it back when it was a drop in Tol Barad.  Apaprently "Reynard" is a restricted name, so I went with the alternate spelling.

Mr. Terrible, Carroteye, Sloppus
The team: Two frogs (here, Jungle Darter and Garden Frog) and the Emerald Proto-Whelp
Set up your frogs with Frog Kiss and go to town.  When the frogs are down, finish off Sloppus with the proto-whelp.  Apparently frogs don't blink for pictures; they just hop out of the frame.

Protectron 011803, Protectron 022481, Blingtron 4999b
The team: Terrible Turnip, Tiny Shale Spider, Mr. Grubbs
This is a team that gave me fits, and the use of the shale spider came from reading the comments in WoWhead.  I got the shale spider on Super Bowl Sunday - it was the first day the population was low enough to snag the rare.  You can throw any pet in the third slot, really - the shale spider will close out the fight.

Quintessence of Light
The team: Unborn Val'kyr, Pandaren Water Spirit, Chrominius
This is the classic "Howl Bomb" configuration; you can probably substitute the Ghostly Skull for the Val'kyr (I haven't tested it, but it also gives you the Unholy Ascension option).  You want to close with Chrominius if possible for that Howl/Surge of Power combo.

Rockbiter, Stonechewer, Acidtooth; Kromli and Gromli
The team: Crawling Claw, Scourged WhelplingGhostly Skull
This is basically the same team you use for Deebs/Tyri/Puzzle, but you can start with the Crawling Claw.  Try to line up the Ghostly Skull's stun from bite with the gronnling's haymaker - it's got a pretty good chance of stunning him.

Stitches Jr.
The team: Unborn Val'kyr, Sprite Darter Hatchling, Chrominius
Stitches Jr. has that annoying trait that he only takes damage if the attack deals at least 500, so you're going to want to debuff him for Doom, ascend so he takes more damage, swap to the Sprite Darter, Life Exchange, Moonfire so magic abilities deal more damage, and then swap to Chrominius for Howl and Surge of Power.  You may want to throw in a Bite before Surge.

Tirs & Fiero
The team: Unborn Val'kyr, Disgusting Oozeling, Silkbead Snail
I haven't got a max level crab, so this is the team I ended up using for this pair.  The snail works fairly well.


Post-Blackrock Foundry

Yeah, yeah, 6.2 hasn't dropped yet.  But Blackhand's dead, and my guild is taking an unofficial raiding break.

So what am I doing in WoW right now?

Leveling alts.  I had done my warrior and priest with the intention of having tank and heal alts available for fives, alt raids, LFR, etc., but realized that with treasure hunters I might be able to get the yak.  So my death knight got bumped up when it got slow, and my rogue is a fresh 100.  The weird thing is that I'm doing the melee first.  They aggravate the arthritis in my hand with their keybind-heavy set-ups, but the DK just kind of mowed through stuff, and my rogue, with stealth, can skip a lot of stuff (I've been doing this with her since Vanilla, really).  I really like Spires of Arak and have been basically heirloom and potioning my way to it and then more or less doing the quest achievement for the zone.  You get your salvage yards done like that.  I've hardly touched Nagrand other than on Duskhawk and some barn farming.

Missions.  I love the missions, although I kind of wish our mission table were in Warspear, so I spent more time around people I'm not in charge of.  I also wish Nazgrim were running it.  Siege of Orgrimmar left some holes in our NPC ranks. :(  But yeah, the  missions are edging me closer to a yak.

Crafting.  I realized I had over a thousand hexweave bolts; I upgraded my main's bags and kind of have some space again.  I feel bad when I load up my barn on my priest because I always feel kind of useless in a group farming wolves, but she's disc/holy.

Occasionally - apexis dailies when they align with the two reputations I still need to finish.  I'm nowhere near done with the Frostwolf and Laughing Skull reputations, so when those dailies come up, I buy the extra apexis dailies from my sergeant and hit them up with my bird-buddy Ishaal.

Even more occasionally - hitting up old dungeons or raids where I need mounts.  I still need the mount off Deathwing to finish out the drake achievement.

All in all I'm still playing, and enjoying, the game, but I'm not doing some of the things I did previously; I haven't farmed out the archaeology items yet, and I haven't been regularly hitting up the pet tamers.  Both of those feel too time consuming on ground mounts.  We'll see how Tanaan is for non-raid content once 6.2 drops.

Favorite Garrison Followers

I have 73 followers on Duskhawk.  Every week I go to the inn and get a new one, currently favoring Treasure Hunter followers because I'm still working towards that yak.  Having as many as I do, I definitely have some favorites.  Here's my top seven:

Talonpriest Ishaal:  Ishaal is my best bird buddy, currently assigned to the barracks.  I really wish he could go everywhere with me, not just in Draenor.  I loved the Spires of Arak storyline for the Arakkoa, and I'm really glad I've got a couple of them hanging out with me now.

Lin Tenderpaw:  Lin was the first follower I got that was a pre-existing NPC back in our timeline.  I was so excited when she showed up!  I think I have rerolled her stats, since I don't recall her having come with mining.

Matoclaw:  I was even more excited to get Matoclaw than I was when Lin showed up.  Matoclaw is the druid who coordinated all the Azerothian side of the Molten Front!  She's pretty awesome, and I wish I could get her Warmaster Zog's job.

Aila Dourblade:  You're probably thinking, "Who is Aila Dourblade?"  I don't know, but she's a blood elf rogue with death knight hair, which is entirely the reason I picked her at the inn that week.  And she's subtlety, the best rogue spec!  Aila has helped bring in a crazy amount of resources for me with Scavenger.

Bim'ini:  Bim'ini is another Inn follower you've probably never heard of, but she's got an awesome transmog, Emerald Plate.  This transmog and Epic Mount have kept her in my active lineup of followers.

Soulbinder Tuulani:  I like having Tuulani around since she's a draenei and I'm playing Horde.  She's one of my active healers, ironically, since she's a shadow priest.  I'm still trying to get Treasure Hunter or Scavenger on her.

Talon Guard Kurekk:  Kurekk hangs out with me since I'm, you know, the Talon Queen.  Also he's an engineer, likes fast horses, and works well with orcs.  I think I probably rerolled him trying for Treasure Hunter, but Epic Mount was good enough.


6.x Raiding Pets

Here I am, swapping back and forth between Exotic Munitions and Focusing Shot depending how much I actually need to move during a fight, when I have the option to just not use a pet.  Depending where you look, either Focusing Shot or Lone Wolf is the way to go for Marksman, but I haven't even tried Lone Wolf yet.

Why not?  Two words:  battle rez.

That's right, I'm raiding with a Crane.  Some raids, we have no druids, no warlocks, and our only death knight is one of the tanks.  If that tank drops, it could easily mean a wipe, and no one likes repair bills.  (We're saving for a yak. Ahem.)  Gift of Chi-Ji gives me the option to bring up a raid member without having to switch to Beast Mastery to bring a Quilen.

Now, there are downsides to this.  I have occasionally worried some people as I wandered into the maze of the Twin Ogron's flames to find a dropped tank and pick them up.  The cast has a 40-yard range, but in practice this means you may have to send your crane to stand closer to the unfortunate's corpse in order to reach them.

Optimal DPS versus raid utility is a trade-off you make sometimes; nowadays, with pet DPS normalized regardless of what buff they're bringing, you can focus on bringing the best pet for the raid - if you need to bring one at all.  The buff redistribution that happened with the 6.0 patch means that no longer am I bringing a sporebat to every raid (regardless of how amusing Stampede was with one).  The nine standard buffs are almost always covered now, and on the occasion that we've been missing multistrike, one of the other hunters has been able to bring that.

One of the reasons I've opted to go with the crane is that I don't frequently die early in a fight, my DPS is usually just kind of average, and I'm good at watching what's going on.  (The third is likely feeding into the second.)  This means I'm generally still alive and not in immediate danger of dying if a tank drops, since it's been quite a while since I regularly rode just under the tanks for threat, and I notice when a tank or healer drops.  I also notice how much mana the other healers have if it's a healer, I've got a Weak Aura set up to monitor how many battle rezes we have available, and I not infrequently can easily pull up Recount to check either the healing or DPS meters without too much affecting my output or immediate safety.

So if we've got two battle rezes up and three DPS down, I'll pull up Recount, see who was riding highest before their demise, and burn one of the rezes on a DPS, saving one in case we have a tank or healer drop.  Some fights you get to know you're more likely to lose one or the other - most of us only raid about six hours a week at the most, and then maybe LFR, so we expect folks to die sometimes.

As our raid pool slowly shrinks due to interest attrition, the people who need a battle rez aren't coming as often, and our raid group is getting to know each other better, so on non-progression fights, the tanks don't die as often.  I'm still not really inclined to go pet-less, though, since Focusing Shot helps make me stand still more (for the mastery buff), and Exotic Munitions means fire arrows that I've wanted since forever.

Dragon Soul meant raiding with Coby, my armor penetration ravager; Siege meant raiding with Clarence, the spell haste sporebat; so far raiding in Warlords means raiding with Lucius, the green crane with the Gift of Chi-Ji, who was originally acquired to be part of the Aesop's Fables stampede group.


Battle Pet: Bob

I know, I know... the Ghostly Skull is supposed to be named after @CM_Zarhym, but... come on, Dresden Files.  If you've seen any of the one season that made it to TV, Terrence Mann as Bob was amazing, and Bob in the books is generally always entertaining.

My undead pet family always feels like one of my weakest, so part of how I picked ones to level up after the initial few (Andrew, one of the shades from Deadwind Pass, and Hilde, my Val'kyr) was I went with ones pet tamers used that I found annoying to deal with:  the Scourged Whelpling, the Crawling Claw, the mariachi dude when I could get him, and of course the Ghostly Skull, because Ghostly Bite can dish out some serious damage.

The Val'kyr may be a more commonly used undead pet, due to the "howl bomb" configuration - with the Pandaren Water Spirit and anything, usually Chrominius, that can cast Howl or a similar damage-doubling ability - which can be very effective versus a single boss pet, but I've found Bob particularly useful in two of the NPC battles: Tarr in Nagrand, with his triple murloc team, and the Diablo trio in the Menagerie.  I think I've used him versus the Goren and Gronn Menagerie teams, as well, but the last time I did those was before I started taking notes, so I'm not completely sure.

What I do know is that, despite Ghostly Bite's stun, it can be devastatingly effective, especially when timed with something (for example, Geyser) that is going to stun your opponent, so the stun rounds line up and become moot.  This can be particularly useful against Gromli, whose Haymaker is as likely to miss and stun him as not, and against Murkalot, whose Falling Murloc will stun him.

Another benefit of Bob is that the one I've got is breed #7 - H/P, which means he's got a lot of health and a power rating over 300, so Ghostly Bite usually hits for over 700.  On humanoid pets, it's amazing, and if you've got it combined with a damage doubler, it can be way out there.  (Not as mind boggling as Chrominius's Surge of Power with Howl up versus a flyer, but still nothing to sneeze at.)  The stun frequently doesn't matter if you're using him as a closer.

If the stun makes you too nervous, you can substitute in Spectral Strike, whose miss chance isn't as much of a hindrance against the Diablo team, since you know Tyri is going to throw out Darkness.

I frequently team Bob up with the Scourged Whelpling and the Crawling Claw for these teams - since the Lord of Terror is a magic pet, the Scourged Whelpling's dragon abilities are useful, and then Death and Decay and Plagued Blood give your later pets some healing.  Like Bob, the Crawling Claw hits hard, so it can knock things down fast, and the undead family's extra turn doesn't hurt.

In the end, only one question remains:  Where in Draenor did Tarr find three murlocs?


Playlist: Bronze Dragon

As awesome as the Awesome Mix (Vol. 1) was, let's face it: mix tapes are dead.  No, nowadays, with all our digital music and its fancy players, now we have playlists.

If, somehow, you've gotten tired of the soundtrack in Draenor (or, more likely, just need something with words to sing along to), here's a bronze dragon themed playlist culled from my library.
Now we just need to be able to pipe these into our garrison's jukeboxes...


Warlords of Draenor Shot Rotation

Okay, we're a bit into Warlords now, and I haven't been entirely satisfied with the numbers my rotation was putting out.  Since I absolutely love the concept of Exotic Munitions (specifically, of fire arrows, which I've wanted since Vanilla), and I'm frequently the raid's battle rez with my crane, I'd been using this cast sequence still:

/castsequence Chimaera Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot

But I've been drowning in focus.  Just drowning in it.  So I put together this cast sequence to work with:

/castsequence Chimaera Shot, Steady Shot, Steady Shot, Aimed Shot

The difference on the target dummies, using Murder of Crows, Glaive Toss, and Poisoned Ammo, was a bump from ~15k to ~16k.  Moving in a positive direction!

But then I decided to try Focusing Shot, since I was frequently getting Glaive Toss or Crows in between my Steady Shots when I wasn't paying attention.  The first attempt went badly - I just shoved Chimaera, Focusing, and Aimed into a cast sequence, and I was again drowning in focus and clipping cooldowns.  Based on those observations, I put together this:

/castsequence Aimed Shot, Aimed Shot, Focusing Shot, Chimaera Shot

The results were markedly better than either of the Exotic Munitions tests: around 18.5k.  That's an improvement of about 3k on my average dps right now; with raid buffs that will likely be even better.

What I'm not sure about is movement:  Focusing requires not moving, and there are some fights where movement is important.  I won't get to test this in our raids again until Thursday due to work, but I might hit up LFR before then to see how it shakes out.

Either way, with or without Focusing Shot, this is the first major revision to the cast sequence in what, four years?

Times change!