A Brief History of Me – Stumbling into Progression

As we approach my 10 year anniversary of playing World of Warcraft, I thought I’d take a step back and do some reminiscing. Many years ago I wrote about how I started playing this game, from The Burning Crusade to the middle of Wrath. Here’s where that post ended:

Power Word Awesome was the last guild I ever felt a strong social connection with. I’m still Facebook friends with some of them. I met quite a few members at Blizzcon ’09. We went out for spaghetti and I discussed if I would race change to a troll druid when Cataclysm dropped. It was wonderful.
But sadly, real life events forced me to transfer. But that’s for another time…

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New Nighthold Tanking Guide!

The tanking guide is up for normal and heroic Nighthold. As always, I’ll be updating over the next few weeks as I learn these fights, simplifying where I can, correcting what I got wrong, and filling in the “notes” tabs with talent builds and class-specific tips.

Nighthold Tanking Guide

Microblog: Underdog

I enjoy my class better when it isn’t the best. I might even enjoy it the most if they’re the worst. It usually means that I’ll be challenged a bit more, and I crave challenge of the sort where I just have to play tighter to survive. The way balance works in this game, it’s unlikely that any (perceived) balance issues will actually hurt my chances at progress.

I like being sort of uncommon. This is true in for many of my choices, too, including talents and cosmetics. I regularly change my demon horns if I see too many people with the same ones. There are so many vengeance demon hunters strolling around Dalaran, Lazier is but one among many nearly-identical demon-elves. But on my brewmaster, I’m special. There’s not so many of us, and I like that.

Flavor-of-the-month population surges aren’t my thing, either. I like my little group of people that enjoy the class for what it is, not the ones who felt required by their raid to reroll to it.

Most of the time I don’t even realize there was an imbalance, and I still did just fine! I tend to not pay attention to population or rankings at all until I get multiple questions about it. I’ll never be one to reroll for balance reasons.

Vengeance 7.1.5 Survival Guide

Overview

  • 10% physical damage reduction was moved from Demon Spikes to passive, making us more sturdy when Demon Spikes isn’t active. We also got a stamina buff to help manage burst.
  • Metamorphosis was greatly buffed, and now offers an armor increase and guaranteed Soul Fragments from Shear.
  • Many talents got rebalanced. Expect to re-evaluate most talent tiers, especially tier 7 (Last Resort, Demonic Infusion, Soul Barrier).
  • Item level should be more important in deciding whether items, especially rings and necklaces, are an upgrade.
  • Many lackluster legendaries got buffed.

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Brewmaster 7.1.5 Survival Guide

Overview

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Microblog: Monetization

I don’t make any money off this blog. At least, not directly. When I started many years ago, the primary way to make money was through ads, which are ugly and obtrusive and don’t make enough money to justify marring my “artistic expression”. So I didn’t do that.

Now, there are things like Patreon which allow readers to directly give back to creators. And those are great. People should be able to get paid for their work, even if it’s stuff like blogging for video games. But I’m still not interested in turning this blog into a (minor) moneymaker, for my own reasons.

Because I don’t get money from this blog, I can do whatever the hell I want. I can avoid topics I dislike (like stats and legendaries), and write about passions not many people share (learning theory, transmog), all because I’m not obligated to please a paying audience. I can fail to update or write anything for two months straight, and I’m not letting any potential customers down.

“You could do all that, and people would probably still subscribe through Patreon!” you might say. That that might be true, but for me it still feels like it would warp my selfish goals. If I have an audience that’s actually spending money out of appreciation for my stuff, I feel obligated to do something for them; to reward them for their patronage. A lot of people who subscribe on Patreon might have questions, and I probably should answer them, right?

I feel like if this were a job, it has to come with responsibility. If you’re being paid to do something, that includes doing the things someone else doesn’t want to do. And I don’t think I could make enough money through Patreon to convince me to write about boring things.

Now, indirectly I have made money off of this endeavor. Bigger sites like Wowhead pay for guides, though it’s usually just enough to cover my costs to play WoW. I wouldn’t have gotten those jobs if not for this blog. What’s probably a bigger, if more subtle, payoff is the marketable skills I’ve learned through this blog, like CSS, documentation, and learning how to answer frustrating questions in a nice way.

I’m pretty privileged to have a well paying job, and the skills I’ve learned from maintaining this blog actually contribute to my job, so that’s all the payment I need.

Vengeance and Brewmaster in Emerald Nightmare

I’ve cleared all of this raid on both vengeance and brewmaster, enough offer a decent comparison of the two specs I main. Both are roughly the same ilevel, with experience on the same bosses.

For Emerald Nightmare, I started bosses on my DH and took my brewmaster on farm. Originally this was because I am far more comfortable on my monk and I wanted to force myself to learn my demon hunter. It ended up being handy because the way a DH times their AM can more easily apply to the way a monk applies AM than the other way around. I can learn to time my Demon Spikes around an event, and that maps to Ironskin Brew pretty well. In contrast, a brewmaster is much more flexible, and can potentially use Ironskin much more often than a DH could do with Demon Spikes.

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Microblog: Stagger is a Hell of a Drug

Tanking something that hits hard feels so damn good on a monk. When I see my stagger reach really high numbers, and I purify it mostly away, it’s like a drug. I get a little surge of happy brain chemicals, like you get with most games, but it’s built into the class.

On any other tanking class, you can imagine how much damage you just reduced. Maybe you got hit by the same attack without active mitigation up before, and now you see just how much more health you have remaining when you got your timing right the second time. But the feedback is nowhere near as obvious as on a brewmaster. You can see exactly how hard that hit was in how much stagger you have. And then you can see exactly how much damage you’re throwing off with every purify.

I always want more of it. When I see my stagger start to rise, I want to Purify at the highest point, before it goes back down. There’s some gambling there, trying to get the pool high before cashing out, or before losing it all. I crave that big purify.

Whenever I fight weaker bosses, that low level of stagger leaves me unsatisfied. Why should I ever purify such a small number? It’s such a chore, to have to purify in a dungeon when I just faced off against Guarm, a tiny 10% stagger compared to my earlier 110%. It’s like I built a tolerance to it, always craving a stagger that’s higher than the one before.

Microblog: Talent Experimentation

It’s funny. I love talents more than the average joe. Like, a lot more. I get frustrated when people who don’t change talents for like I do (that’s basically everyone). I quietly rage at people who aren’t open to talent variation. But I also hate spending gold. I’m frugal to a fault. So I rarely change talents in raids unless a) it’s something vital to our strategy, b) there’s a tome set out for everyone, c) we’re on a break so I have time to visit a city, or d) I’m on my monk and I can Zen Pilgrimage to quickly get out and back.

This can be really frustrating when I want to experiment. I love experimenting, especially in those early progression pulls where you have no chance of actually killing a boss, so you might as well learn as much as you can about your talent choices. But I have to really really want it to spend that much gold on a tome. (And I’m not actually spending that gold, I am a herbalist and a scribe for the one reason: making my own tomes. But just knowing how much they sell for stays my hand.)

I usually take down notes between pulls of what talents I’d like to spec into during our next break. We only get one break in the middle of three hours, so sometimes that’s a long period of thinking really hard about how much I want a talent instead of experimenting with it.

I know a lot of people make their talent decisions before a fight by researching what other people do. That’s the smart thing, but it’s not what I enjoy. And with how communities tend to cling to certain talents, I don’t quite trust that other people are making decisions based on experimentation over what’s viewed as the only acceptable choice by the group.

I find a lot of joy in swapping talents even if I don’t have a specific plan in mind, because all the time I’m accidentally finding creative solutions I never thought of. I would love to also use farm raids as an opportunity to experiment, though that’s even less likely to be worth the gold cost of a tome.

Brewmaster 7.1.5 Talent Changes

Throughout Mists and Warlords, our level 75 defensive talents have been exemplary. The choice between the three talents was always compelling and varied; the universally useful (but minor) Healing Elixirs, the strong damage reduction (but restricted uptime) of Dampen Harm, and the impressive magical damage reduction (but situational use) of Diffuse Magic.

But when the tanking paradigm changed in Legion, these talents suffered. In a world where big defensive cooldowns were neutered, and active mitigation was molded to fill that role, Diffuse Magic and Dampen Harm fell into disuse. Compared to Ironskin Brew, both abilities were ineffective. Diffuse Magic could reduce magic damage pretty well, but why waste a talent on it when Ironskin Brew is nearly as good, and most boss burst magic were designed to be countered by frequently usable active mitigation anyway. Dampen Harm could be used to reduce those giant physical attacks, but if it was used at the same time as Ironskin it was unlikely to even trigger. These two talents were built in a time when infrequent defensive cooldowns were necessary, and clung to that ideology even when tanks changed to value frequent defensives much more.

But, in 7.1.5, that’s all going to change!

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