Bear Video of the Week #6 – Illhoof, less powerful than a locomotive!
This week I have another boss battle video, of Legatum Ignavis taking down Terestian Illhoof.

We once again have two bear tanks, courtesy of Windshadow on Illhoof and Fandamn on his pesky sidekick, Kil’rek.

The music this week was going to be another Cruxshadow song, Sophia, but that will have to wait for another time. Likewise, my use of Dragonforces’ Through the Fire and the Flames, which was my second choice for this fight.


Because when you’re using a boss fight as your video, you have little control over the length. And the fight just doesn’t last long enough for either of those songs.

But please don’t think any the less of my choice number three, Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull.

I have LONG been a Tull fan, since the first time I was roaring down I-95 in South Florida, the wind ripping through my crew cut as I drove my mom’s 280 ZX while home on leave. Locomotive Breath came on the radio, and I cranked the sound and the speed simulataneously. As soon as the song was over, I whipped on into a record store (you might have heard of those, we had them in the 80s… they sold music on these vinyl record thingies… they looked like Laserdiscs… oh wait, you probably don’t remember laser discs. They looked like CDs, but made out of black runner and 10 times bigger) and bought a greatest hits tape… plugged that sucker back intop the car and roared off. I didn’t stop until the car was damn near out of gas.

These days, it may seem to be tamer than hell compared to what you listen to… compared to Dragonforce, for example. But I still get swept away by the Tull.

Now, yes, I’ve done Jethro Tull here before, I played Heavy Horses for a Raid Song of the week.

But Locomotive Breath really does take me back, and I love it mixed with Illhoofs’ hordes o’ Imps.

I certainly hope you enjoy it! 

P.S. If you are interested in an entire album, I strongly recommend Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. It’s a concept album that is all one piece, much like what The Who did with Tommy or Quadraphrenia. And because it is all of a piece, it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear the entire thing in it’s wonder unless you find a disc somewhere. Radio stations used to play Thick as a Brick as a single, but it’s just not the same.

I’m all buzzed out

BuzzedoutPatch 2.4 news is everywhere. The patch will be massive, and literally every day brings more info mined out of the latest patch ‘dump’.

I’m sure many of you are expecting me to chase the buzz, grab the bees within my reach, and gush words like flowing honey all about how great this or that or whatever will be in the new Patch. 

And while it looked like the initial patch release on the PTR was mostly finished in concept, I was doing that.

Well, my apologies to you, but I’m all buzzed out.

Things are changing so fast on the PTR, with new things being added, existing things being changed radically, and hints being dropped at still more massive changes being considered, that I am no longer going to try to follow every little nuance of the patch.

If you want to stay as up to date as possible on the latest findings, I highly recommend you go to MMO Champion or World of Raids and follow their breaking Patch news and discoveries. They are working their butts off to stay on top of things.

So, nope, I’m not going to just buzz about every little thing that they find out, and then when that changes go rush to give you the new scoop.

Instead, I am going to wait until something actually goes live, and analyze that.

But I’m not going to just leave you out in the cold. I think there are a few things that are going to stay constant in the Patch, things you can prepare for right now.

The first thing is, no matter what your class, there will be new rewards available for Badges of Justice that are comparable to Tier 5 or Tier 6 end game gear. The key phrase there is comparable.  I do NOT believe that the items, as they are now listed, will remain unchanged. The Fist Weapons, Vanir’s Right Fist of Brutality and Vanir’s Left Fist of Brutality especially, are comparable to the Warglaives (Main and Off hand) in my personal opinion, and I just cannot see Blizzard leaving a pair of Fist weapons available for Badges unchanged, that are comparable to the very best hard to earn raiding weapons in the game.

Oh yeah, since I’m linking new Badge reward stuff, here is the Feral Druid stuff so far… what the heck.

Feral Dr00d Badge stuff in 2.4;

But no matter what form they do end up in when the Patch goes live, there will be damn good gear for almost every class and spec, and it looks like, just as I surmised on one of my WoW Insider podcasts, Balance Druids are finally seeing some good loving… so far.

And you can prepare yourself by saving up your Badges of Justice.

As you can see above, there are leather Leggings and Chest pieces that would be amazing upgrades for Feral Druids for tanking, and there is a two handed staff and other pieces for Ferals that are just amazing. Again, I don’t expect it to go live unchanged. But there is plenty to look forward to. 

So if you are not immediately needing to use Badges of justice for upgrades, if you are exchanging them for Primal Nethers for crafting stuff you sell, I advise you to hold off on using them, store them up, and be closer to buying the goodies when it goes live.

Also, this is a good time to go ahead and change your play habits.

If you’re bored with Karazhan, and I know many of you are, or if you have what you want from heroics and are spending time you used to spend doing those to farm or dance naked in Ironforge or spam the Trade channel about Chuck Norris (and if you do spam the Trade channel, btw, I hate you), go run the daily Heroic instead.

Try and get a group of friends that will reliably join you, every day you can, to do either the daily Heroic, or something quick and easy like Heroic Slave Pens.

If you’re past Kara, go ahead and go back in there once a week on Badge runs. You can get 22 Badges for a full clear, and if you do 2 or 3 Heroics a week, they all add up fast. 

If you are interested in PvP, and you’ve been saving your points for specific pieces of Arena gear, don’t rush to spend them just yet. It’s been said by at least one Blue that the new Arena Season may start when the patch goes live, or one week after, even though Season 3 just kicked off a little while ago. And you know what that means; current Season gear becomes available for purchase with honor, and new Season gear becomes available for Arena points. Hold onto those points, unless you really need that upgrade you’ve been drooling over.

If you have been stockpiling Black Lotus, you might want to make whatever Flasks you can now, because one of the changes is supposed to be replacing Black Lotus with Fel Lotus in recipes, adn increasing the drop rate of Fel Lotus. If you’ve been slow in making your Flasks, go ahead and get it done before a patch comes along that may render your Black Lotus unusable for the Flasks you sell. This is nowhere close to being certain, but just in case, why hold onto those Black Lotus forever?

And if you have been using Primal Nether or Nether Vortex for BOE recipes just to make money, hold off. In the patch, they will both become Bind on Equip, so you will be able to sell them to people that want to desperately upgrade Blacksmithing weapons (just as an example) or make their Engineering Goggles and could never get a good group for Heroics before.

Plus, there will be tons of people, just like you, saving their Badges instead of exchanging them for Primal Nether. So the availability of folks selling crafting with Nether included can be expected to go way down,a nd if you don’t need those Nethers for much anyway, why not wait until the price of them rises?

I’ll give you one example of how I’m planning ahead.

I have a friend, Nawat, who can make the Spellstrike Set. The Spellstrike Hood and Spellstrike Pants are great for Shadow Priests, and I have already been doing my cloth transmutes on my 52 Priest to save up the mats.

Yes, that’s right, my Priest is level 52, with 367 Jewelcrafting and 355 Tailoring, and I have all the flight points in Outlands and have made two full transmutes of the cloth already. I’m sad. Corpse run through all of Outlands FTW! (Oh, and Cassie is sad that my level 52 Priest has more flight points in Outlands than she does at 66, since she hasn’t been to Shadowmoon Valley, Blades Edge or Netherstorm yet. We’ll have to fix that.)

The point is, each one of those recipes requires 5 Primal Might and 1 Primal Nether. I have two Primal Might already, but I’ll need Nawat to have 2 Primal Nether…

I talked with Nawat, and he offered to run with me on heroics until we got the Primal Nethers to drop so he could make them for me… or to use Badges to get the Nether.

But I happen to have two Primal Nether in my bank on Windshadow, sitting there waiting for me to decide what to do with them. I had been thinking of saving them for a Goggle upgrade, or of making a couple of tanking guns for the guild… but if I can mail them to Nawat in the patch, then I can provide him with 100% of the mats he’ll need to make my epics, and I won’t have to worry about having him waste precious game time farming some damn Nethers for me or wasting good Badges.

So, in conclusion, go have fun, by all means keep an eye on the changing news coming out of the Public Test Realms, but expect things to change without notice, and plan ahead for what you want to get out of it when it goes live.

And please, don’t worry about tomorrows changes until they happen. For now, go out there and enjoy the game as it is!

I’m not a theorycrafter

This comes out of a discussion I had with Cassie yesterday.

After my WoW Insider article on Threat came out, she read it, as she always does, to be supportive and let me know when I mispelled words or used the wrong phraseology. (I kid! I kid! Love you honey!)

So she read it, and then emailed me at work to let me know that she liked it, and that, even though she doesn’t raid, she understood most of what I was talking about and almost 75% of it made sense.

Which, for me, is a lot.

But it got me to thinking, because I know a lot of folks use the phrase ‘theorycrafter’ to describe what they do. SuraBear calls himself one right on his front page. And it’s a title that is well deserved.

Blizzard rarely, if ever, shares what math they are using internally to do things. Like, almost never. Their revelation of some of the math behind the new skills they announced for the Burning Crusade over a year ago was a marked departure for them.

So a new breed of adventurous investigator was born. A new kind of detective for a new kind of crime; those who test results in game using Combat Logs and repeatable situations to determine on their own the theory behind the math that Blizzard uses, and then share those theories with the rest of us.

Without the Adventurous Theorycrafter, our lives in game would be hell. Even now, people cling to old ideas that what loot drops from a boss is determined by arcane conjunctions of effects, such as what class the raid leader is when the first person zones into the instance, or what classes make up the raid, or other even more esoteric concepts.

I keep waiting for someone to tell me that his Black Swashbucklers’ Shirt is what made the Warrior Tier 4 Helm drop from Prince Malchazaar.

Anyway, the theorycrafters are awesome, and deserve the legends they carve out for themselves.

Me, I don’t think of what I do as theorycrafting. I don’t start off with a clean slate. I research the work of others first. I make assumptions. I hunt out countervailing arguments. I try to see what the thought amongst others is first, and then I lay out things to do in game to test, for myself, whether what I am being told matches what I myself see in game. That ain’t theorycrafting, it’s at best verification.

The special sauce I bring to my approach on these things isn’t a special love of math. I have to use it at work, but that doesn’t mean I want it in my home. Icky maths!

My approach comes from a life long love of playing pen and paper role playing games, and moving around frequently. Often, you are thrown together with new people in the service, and while there are certainly going to be two or three gamers, there will always be two or three folks that have ‘always wanted to play, but never knew anyone that did to get started’.

And it would fall on me, repeatedly, to take a vastly complicated rule system that I knew by heart, and break it down in such a way that I could get the rules across as a cohesive whole that could be comprehended and remembered after about one hour of explanation.

And that is all that I’m doing, except this system I don’t know by heart. So I’m going to a dozen different locations, I’m gathering tons of different opinions, I’m putting it all together to get an idea of how things are supposed to work, and then I go test things out in game. And then I try to write it up as one cohesive little article bringing it all together.

So the actual work is done by theorycrafters. I feel like I am contributing somewhat, in bringing a lot of different published theories and facts together into one place and giving it my testing and then my interpretation. But the hard work has been done before by others, and as has been said by those smarter than I…

I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Rambling Bear and Swipe vs Lacerate

Felkan and Rhoelyn brought up some great points and questions in the post comments yesterday, and as I started writing a 5 paragraph long reply, I realized the discussion deserved it’s own post. Also, it made me aware that somehow, I’ve never read Rambling Bear before, and I don’t understand why. 

SuraBear, what the heck? I asked for blogs to check out, I know I did, and I carefully visited and read every blog mentioned. I swear you never beat me over the head with your greatness. Your blog kicks ass. If anyone else hasn’t been reading Rambling Bear, get your butts over there now. You don’t have to look far, SuraBear is on my sidebar now where he belongs. Just, what a great blog.

The comments I’m talking about are discussing my old post from October 17th of last year about Bear Tanking Multiple targets, and comparing some of my results at that time with the analysis of SuraBear.

The whole timing of this is fascinating, because I’m revisiting that old article and updating it for Wow Insider, and applying my own opinions of Bear Tanking as they’ve grown and changed since I originally wrote that piece.

As far as Lacerate vs Swipe, my take on the issue comes down to the difference between a main target and your maintenance targets.

When you are tanking, as I mentioned yesterday in my WI article about Threat, you have two goals;

  • Build up a large pile of Threat on your main target, to allow the DPS to blast away without pulling aggro from you with their Direct Threat.
  • Slam any other mobs nearby with enough Threat generation to keep them from attacking anybody creating Global Threat, such as the cherished healers.

So to that end, it comes down to how many mobs you are tanking, and the environment in which you are tanking them.

I have always personally advocated using a macro such as Lacerate on Mouseover, because it allows me to choose my main target and spam Mangle on him, while using Lacerates to surgically pick and choose where they will land on the maintenance targets.

In most raid situations, I find myself fighting no more than two mobs in close quarters right next to CC. And there is always CC, whether it’s a Shackle or an Ice Trap. So I have trained myself so my natural tendency is to Lacerate, not Swipe, unless I know I am not going to have to worry about breaking CC.

SuraBear mentioned in his great article on tab-targeting that, in situations where he would normally not Swipe because of CC, he prefers to move his own positioning around so he can Swipe safely rather than switch to Lacerate.

And I’m here to tell you that is a perfectly fine thing to do when you can. I do it myself, often, because I do love Swipe. When I can safely position myself to use it, I do, always.

But I plan on the positioning ahead of time. I make my pull, and I back away and even turn and backwaddle around a corner and position myself so the CC will be drawn away from where I am, whenever possible. This prevents my having to reposition myself later.

There are two reasons why I try not to reposition myself to use Swipe instead. First, quite often like I said I am in tight quarters, and while I’m screwing around moving I’m not micromanaging my Threat output. The second reason is, I hate to move once melee DPS has positioned themselves properly.

As tanks, we are only one part of the team. The melee DPS, to maximise their own abilities, and to prevent their attacks being Parried or Blocked, move behind the target. If I am moving around a lot, they have to reposition too. And that reduces their effectiveness.

I have personally played with bear tanks as offtanks that hop around while tanking worse than a frog, and I watch in disbelief as the Rogue constantly tries to stay behind the mob, and while hes doing that he ain’t attacking right.

To be fair, I think part of the problem may be that it can be hard to see what’s going on around you, that big bear butt gets in the way, but that is why I move my viewpoint around instead of physically moving my character.

But seriously, I agree that Swipe is the most effective tool we have for maintaining aggro on multiple mobs. I believe that my old article says that, too. If not, it damn well should. I like having Lacerate on Mouseover as a tool to add boosts of threat to specific targets, especially when the real world situation is too tight for Swipe due to Crowd Control.

But I’ll be honest, there are plenty of times I say “Screw it” and intentionally break CC with Swipe and grab the broken mob, to build up threat on it and not have to worry about when the Ice Trapped mob may break trap and run away, since I’m too lazy to chase it into the casters… and I don’t need to remind you that keeping mobs out of the casters is a good thing. 

SuraBear mentioned something I haven’t ever implemented before, which is creating a Swipe on Mouseover macro. I did think about it, but I was too lazy to figure out what to shuffle to force the room on my bars. It’s a great idea, when suddenly taking on large groups, to be able to mouseover a group to your left and Swipe, and then a  group to your right and Swipe.

I’ve personally done it by changing my targeting, which is damn inefficient and dangerous. I’ll try, somehow, to find the room on my bar and practise with it. Sigh.

Anyway, I think I’ve said my piece on this.

Swipe = awesome, but has dangers around CC, and while you can move to avoid CC, that makes melee DPS readjust, and in close quarters may be difficult to entirely avoid CC anyway. but it is damn good and a critical ability.

Lacerate = pretty darn good, and has no risk of unintended consequences.

I have intentionally not mentioned using Swipe on single targets instead of Lacerate, because I have not yet, this week, worked on the math for what AP value Swipe cause more individual Threat. When I do, you can be sure I’ll talk about it more.

A new article is live at WoW Insider

Just to let you, my friends, know, my latest article is live on WoW Insider.

What I’m doing is a two part series revisiting my old post about bear tanking strategies for multiple mobs.

This time, I decided to break it down, and the first article focuses solely on how threat in a party works.

The second article will deal with all of the goodies bear tanks can bring to the party.

To irritate TJ, I’ll let you know that “I’ve received thousands of emails asking me my opinions on bear tanking and holding threat”.

Actually, I’ve had like two. Maybe three. Over months.

Still, I think that WoW Insider gets enough of a mix of new player and seasoned veteran… and crank ass, that the posts will appeal to a wide variety of folks. And piss off even more, I’m sure.

 So go on over and check out how Threat works… as if any of my readers don’t already know.

One format to rule them all

Can I haz format wars?

Figures the biggest news on my first full day at the new site ain’t WoW related… it’s all about the inner geek.

Engadget just threw up the news (and if this is old to you, I apologise) that Toshiba has officially thrown in the towel and given up on HD-DVD.

That’s it folks, the evil empire has won. Blu-Ray is your choice, your only choice, and nothing but your choice.

Why is the word ‘choice’ even used in these things? From everything I’ve seen while following this battle royale, HD-DVD was a higher quality format, and their players were cheaper for consumers.

But Sony ‘leveraged’ (God how I hate that word, can we just be honest and call it ‘applied financial blackmail and intimidation’) their many different content licenses to ensure that the distribution networks were given a lot of incentives… both carrot and stick… to commit to exclusive agreements with Blu-Ray.

Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. Sony won. Blu-Ray is our only future choice for high definition disc content.

I was really hoping the multi-format discs, with HD-DVD on one side and Blu-Ray format on the other, were going to simply make the choice null and void. Let us choose which we liked in terms of hardware and format. Let us choose with our money as consumers, rather than take the decision away from us with behind-the-scenes backroom exclusivity agreements. Sadly, this was not to be.

But the good news, and it is good news, is that those of us that never committed to buying either format can now rest easy knowing that, if we want a high definition player, our choice is now “which Blu-Ray player or PS3 do I choose”, rather than “which format do I hope like hell will last more than one year”.

Maybe, if I start saving now, I’ll be able to afford a player to go with my HD TV in… hmmm… 2010?

Isn’t that when we make second contact with alien life?

Damn, I am behind the curve, lol.

Welcome to the launch of!

Bear Wave


Yes, I know that the site looks different, very different, but if you look closer, it’s still the same old me, with all of the same info.

It’s just arranged a heck of a lot nicer.

I hope you’ll come on in, look around, and let me know what you think by responding to this post.

 Just keep in mind, we are still working on things, so please excuse the old banner… I’ll get to it, I swear.

Bear Video of the Week #5 – Waves and Stars

This week, I’m coming from a different direction on the video. It’s not a raid boss, it’s not a big violent fight. It’s a relaxing vid instead. {waits for the sound of stampeding feet leaving the blog to die out}I’ve been a big fan of Nina Gorden since her days in Veruca Salt. This video features her song “Tonight, and the rest of my life”, from the album of the same name, which was one of the songs Cassie and I chose for our wedding reception CD (songs which we chose together, and burned copies of for all our friends at the reception).Just kind of keeping the whole Valentine’s Day theme of the week going one last day. :)I really hope you enjoy the change of pace. I know I did.

Note: To reply to someone last week… I’m calling these bear videos because I’m the Big Bear Butt. And these are the Bear’s videos. Just so you know where I’m coming from on da name. I do not promise any particular amount of bear buttage in each video.

PTR patch 2.4 changes to Primal Nether and Primal Vortex?

Hey, interesting piece of news I heard last night…

Word is, on the PTR last night, they changed the Primal Nethers at the heroic vendor so they are Bind on Equip.

And they added Nether Vortex at the heroic vendor for 15 Badges of Justice, and 8 Gold, and made THEM Bind on Equip.

So yeah… that news should give you something to freak about… I know I’m thinking, for casuals, this rocks. And for those with those epic patterns that are tired of farming Nethers or Vortexes… this also rocks, since folks can now do Kara to get the Badges to get the Vortexes to provide all mats for the items they want made.

I’m sure someone, somewhere, will cry about it though.

But from our Guild discussion last night, what this does mostly is spur us on to want to run SSC even more, so we have recipes that can USE those Vortexes.

Wow, I’m a sick damn bear

Right, so, bet a bunch of folks are wondering where the heck the video is.

Me too 🙂

I think I mentioned that I came down with pink eye shortly after my son did this week. Well, I also have a bad, roaring cold going on and have had all week.

Last night, my right ear closed up. I think it’s heavily infected, and it’s affecting my sense of balance and coordination.

Now, you might think this means that I went to bed early last night. Actually, the pain kept me up for hours.

No, I spent the night in a stupor, leveling JC and Tailoring after dinging 50 on my Priest and actually THINKING as little as possible.

Thanks to the ore I’ve been farming on my hunter, I dinged 350 JC last night. And Although I have TONS of rare gems, like, seriously, TONS of rare gems to sell on the AH in dribs and drabs, I’m otherwise broke. Cannae buy JC plans, captain! The pocketbook she’s breaking up!

Oh yeah, and I dinged 325 Tailoring, but, well, anyone with Netherweave can do that. When I’m 70, that’ll make a difference, but it doesn’t do much for me at the moment.

The biggest news is that for Valentine’s Day, Cassie bought me hosting at for my own domain!

So we will be moving forward with our plans to migrate this blog to a new location… using WordPress self-hosted.

And she bought me a two year plan in advance, so expect to be hearing from me for a long time to come. 🙂

But yeah… the movie will be delayed, since I’m finding it hard to concentrate. But it will be up this weekend, since I enjoy them too much. And I ahve what I think is a GORGEOUS idea for it, that will only be limited by how well I can realize the vision I have in my head. So if it sucks, it will truly be 100% my lack of skill and ability. We’ll see.