Monday, December 28, 2009

Tanks for the Memories...

Tankfail... I've started seeing it more & more. (and healfail, and DPSfail...)
I have seen a noticeable decline in the normal folks running in the PuG Heroics lately. My guess is that all the more hardcore, more determined, and such folks have got all their triumph badges, and have moved on to more gear-heaven-y pastures.
How so?
When the new LFG/Badge system was implimented oh-so-long ago (sarcasm) I would get into a fail PuG, maybe once in 10 runs. Now, I would say it's 50-50 at best. What makes a PuG fail? Here's what I think:
- Everyone is "moderately" geared , at best. Though there may better geared DPS or two, it won't really help unless they can off-tank.
-ANY of the following:
- woefully undergeared tank
- woefully undergeared healer
- moderately inexperienced (or dumb) tank
- moderately inexperienced (or dumb) healer
- all 3 DPS are dumb/undergeared
- one incredibad DPS (early pulls, etc)
If you have a uber-geared Tank, or Healer, they can save (many) fail PuGs from failure, simply because they can either tank or heal the stupid/etc.
The problem is, they are becoming less & less common. They've "out geared" the regular Heroics, and have moved on.
I also think the long wait times for DPS are contributing to this. On my server, it can easily take 20 minutes to find a group as DPS. As a tank, it's less than 10 seconds. (I assume it's similar for healers)
This has led more & more DPS people to play off-spec in an obvious attempt to get into runs more quickly. Fortunately, I have not seen any tanks port in and ask "who's the tank", like some have, but it's clear that many tanks & healers are second rate.
This includes me. (more on this later)
(and DPS? well, we're still the same lot of folks you had before, only with the best & brightest/geared-est of us moved on. ...durp durp..)
Per espempio....
I joined an LFG PuG that tried to run Utgarde Keep (UK). We wiped once just before the enslaved proto-drake area, TWICE in the protodrake area, (we killed the boss) and then wiped on the stairs leaving the level. TWICE.
The tank was a Blood Spec DK with a 4,200 gear score. (I mention GS, simply to give a sense of the group's gear) We had me at 4,000 GS, a hunter at 3,900, a 4,900 Warrior and Priest healer at 4,000-ish (don't remember exactly) So, we were NOT undergeared, by ANY stretch of the imagination.
Per my learnings from last weeks "5 things your PuG DPS (DK tank) want you to know", (see my second to last post) I make sure to give the DK Tank a few seconds to get aggro. (which lets me watch him "settle" into a spot, and let me circle behind) And then I start wacking.
I have to keep stepping back out of combat, hitting "Hand of Salvation" (aggro dump) and overall, just throttling the hell out of my DPS. EVEN when I ensure that I am attacking the target that the tank marked. (which he actually did a couple times) Mind you, I wasn't heavily buffed, and I was only doing ~2,500 DPS on any single mob.
After the second wipe, I put on my tank gear (still stayed Ret/DPS spec) Even at the lowered DPS (1,100 -1,600) I still managed to pull aggro a couple times. The best news was that I needed less healing, so the healer could focus more on the tank, etc etc.
The third wipe, I just lost focus, and when I noticed my health drop quickly, I bubbled and healed, only THEN did I realize that everyone else had already died. If I had been paying better attention, I would have tried running to at least save some gold.
The fourth wipe, the tank died, followed REALLY quickly they mobbed me and BOOM dead, even before the healer could help. Also, I had hit my Avenging Wrath key (not intentional) a minute or so earlier, which put my bubble on Forbearance (unable to use) so I died. (also, I had needed to Lay on Hands earlier, so it was on CD as well)
I then died a 5th time running back through the proto-drake area, because one of the mobs managed to aggro on me. The tank didn't want to clear the Drake room, so we had left a drake on either side and, evidently, I didn't stay far enough away, got aggro and died.
*leave group*
I had another equally fail group that got so bad that the tank left(again a DK that kept losing aggro) followed by the healer. And 3 DPS waiting for group in LFG, in a dungeon is going to be a looong wait. (we waited for 5 minutes - then *leave group*)
Katt had one group, with a tank & heal team (they were guildies) and the left group right after they killed the first boss in one instance. I guess they got whatever loot they wanted and bolted. I've not seen that behavior yet, so I can be thankful...
On the GOOD side, we had a couple REALLY competant groups run, including a Tank that ran us through Stratholme, and started off by asking "are we going for drakes of zombies?" Thanks to his work, Katt has a Bronze Drake. :)
Now about *my* sojourn into tanking...
I have a couple good pieces, and a few so-so pieces. My GS is 3,200, which is well above the recommended Heroic level (which is stated to be ~2,500 or so) However my n00b debuff is strong, so I did NOT go "random LFG PuG". I know the Violet Hold (VH) fights reasonably well, so I simply looked for group for THAT.
And even though I had a specific dungeon request, I *still* had a nearly instant invite.
So where did the n00b-fest start? Let's see...
Crusader Aura on? - check (makes faster mounted speed, not a combat spell)
Righteous Fury off? - check (increases my aggro - THE tanking spell)
Blessing of Sanctuary off? - check (THE tanking blessing)
Did I start the fight? - nope
Inadvertantly screw up my action bars because I lef them unlocked? - check
However, even though I *DID* get heckled a bit by a rogue (he had the time to create the macro that said: "Balthazario's business as usual") we finished the instance without anyone dying, and with only mild face chewing on the DPS folks. When I thanked the group for dealing with my n00bishness, the healer said "you did fine", which helped my bruised ego a tad...
So yeah, Tankfail is NOT limited to the folks on the other end of the network connection. (oh, and after running Vh the first time, I switched specs and ran Forge of Souls. But I left Righteous Fury on, and still had my tank gear equipped. Oops)
My next two runs through there (one regular, one heroic) both went much better.
Once I learn other instances better, I'll try tanking them as well. (Stratholme is my next likely target, followed by Nexus)
So, even if I can only run a couple instances this way, and even though I lose 2 "free" triumph badges (you only get the 2 extra if you use random) I can still earn badges faster this way. Mainly because I can run/tank 2 entire instances in the time it takes for me to simply queue for one on DPS.
So, while the loss of expertise, gear and skill of tanks & healers is frustrating to me as a DPS, I COMPLETELY understand why it happens.
I just wish they weren't such COMPLETE failures, so much of the time.
EDIT - yeah, blogspot is acting up and not seeing my carriage returns, so you're stuck with periods for paragraph breaks. *sad furlbog*

Sunday, December 27, 2009 la la...

Not Much WoW-ish to talk about, but wanted to wish everyone Happy Holidays. Even if it's just a Festivus Pole in your living room.

Kattastrophe did a neat year-end wrap up about where we've been, a bunch of her (and our) accomplishments.

One note:If you look at her link in my blogroll, it does not have the "www." in the link, BUUUUT, if you click on the link, it auto-inserts www. FRAK.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wheels in the Sky, and Mountains Too!

I've been mulling a couple posts "in process", and they're all a bit grim/frustrated, so considering the season, they will likely never see the light of day, so here are a couple random bits:

Go see Avatar, if for no other reason than to get to see Zangarmarsh & Nagrand "for real". Somebody on James Cameron's design team HAS to be a Wow player... (as a movie/plot snob, I give the movie an 8 (as if you care) - But Kattastrophe gave it a 10+)

I learned something that I had "rubbed up against", but never really put together: right before a fight/pull, target your tank. As he runs in, hit "F". So simple, so helpful. (it makes you target the same mob as the tank)

Even though I getting better, I still end up taking a stupid number of dirt naps.(yes, even using the "F" tip I mentioned above) Some of them are the result of less than ideal tanking, but many are still me standing in the stupid. (not necessarily fire/voids, I'm actually ok avoiding that, it's just other stupid shit)

A red flashing screen (when you have Omen) is bad, m-kay? Learning this (I asked a guildie the other night) and the "F" bit have definitely been helpful, and have reduced my time spent sniffing pavement, but haven't stopped it.

I need to assign Hand of Salvation to a hotkey.

One other observation, that relates to my dirt naps: even with time time spent face down, I am usually at the top for both damage and DPS. Even when in groups with folks 500-1,000 gear score higher. I've had one Warlock, and one Ele Shammie beat me out, but that's all I recall. And I'm still doing this while I'm either: a) throttling my DPS down to lose aggro and b) standing there confused because [tab] won't target and I'm struggling to click on one c) too focused on my rotation and didn't notice that the tank pulled the mobs away from me. (doh)

I wanted to thank Amber (Forthebubbles)for posting the meme-du-jour: "5 Things you PUG [insert class] wants you to know" and posting the links for Tank, DPS, Mage and DK. I learned a LOT reading these posts, as well as the comments below. THANK YOU!!!!!

Oh, and I had never thought about the fact that Prot Warriors needed to chain pull to keep rage. It's very nice to know. It doesn't make uber-fast chain pulls less annoying, but it's nice to know there's a legit reason for it :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Like my Naan with Pickles and Tamarind

Ok, so that's not a song title in my post title, but hey, we all have limitations. There MAY be a song with tamarind ni the title, but I seriously doubt it. (though if there is, I MUST see any video for it. I love Bollywood! lol)

So, what's it all about, eh?

Over on Righteous Orbs, dear Tam(arind) proposed the following:

It’s basically a blog-content gift exchange (and it really needs a catchier title), and here’s how it works. If you’d like to play, leave me a comment and in return I’ll give you a subject, or ask you a question … and then you go away and blog about it.

And lo, I said COUNT ME IN!

I also sent Tam a quick email with a suggested topic for HIM to address. (more on this later)

So, being the spanner that I am, I waited for a return email... (turns out he posted a reply right below my "count me in" comment)

My Topic De Jour?

Okay, here’s my topic for you, taking advantage of your unique perspective at the end of the levelling game, beginning of end game: what do players immersed in endgame forget. I’m going to leave that deliberately broad to allow you to interpret in whatever direction you like – to remind of us lost pleasures or condemn us for disconnection.

So... what would I like the more experienced players to remember?

Basically it comes down to to one thing: remember your confusion. (though the confusion may have been less for folks that levelled up inside a large guild)

So, please remember your confusion about...

- the alphabet soup seen everywhere in /2 trade, lfg and everywhere else. "lf2m dps gs4600 HTOGC abcd eieio."


Um, wha...?

- Learning to play as a raider, instead of levelling, often solo. Spell rotation, abilities, tactics and even equipment needs are significantly different for the levelling player than they are for a raider. Even if a player DID know exactly what the "ideal" specs are for a level 80 raider, I guarantee that an educated solo radier will spec/equip differently. Especially for DPS and healy classes.

Healers will likely opt for for damage producing gear and more survival/duarbility, and DPS players may often look for more armor and more health than is "correct" for end game raiding. The more solo (aka "isolated") a player is, the more likley everything about their gear and playestyle will be homebrewed and the fursther from "ideal" it will be.

- Complete noobishness about the various dungeons & fights. I hinted about this in my last post, but the HUGE number of Lich King raids, combined with 3-5 bosses for each, means there are nearly 70+ fights HEROIC/10/25 man to learn. ( INSTANCES BY LEVEL on wowwiki)

I would hazard to guess that a significant portion of players are not running a lot of instances as they level. So not only are they new to the whole raid environment (ie, very specialized roles) but they/we are COMPLETELY lost our first coule times into each and every fight.

- Respect the crafted items. If we jut hit 80, we likely put a TON of effort into levelling up one skill or another to help us out in late game. Especially blacsksmiths, leatherworkers and tailors (for plate/mail, leather & clothie wearers respectively) Yes, they may only be crafted blues, but if the are 400-450 skill items, they are the result of a lot of effort. We're damned proud of them! :)

- going in to your first raid or pug,proud of the equipment you had, because of all the effort it took to get, but also shame at the same time about that exact same equipment, because you know full well that what you have, is so completely and utterly below whateveryone else in your group/raid/whatever has. An odd feeling, that.

Other more random things... do you remember...

- what it's like to blunder around in pretty much ANY place in old Azeroth, 2-3 shotting everything, just because you can? No matter what level you were at the time, your first steps into a new zone were always terrifying and awesome. The mosters were SO nasty and aggroed if you even looked at them! Now, being able to revisit these places without a worry, because you won't aggro anything and anything you decide to harass, will die in a handful of sceconds. The feeling of "I HAVE ARRIVED" is such a bubbly warm satsifying feeling.

- going into your bank, and looking at the odds & ends you've collectted through the levels. Some are probably quest items that didn't get turned in, or were left over after the quest ended... or maybe you've got a few mementos of tough, challenging or rewarding quests or challenges. They now collect errant electrons, taking up valuable slots, but theystill mean something.

And last but not least is what, in my most humblest opinion is the biggest feeling/thing to try to recall:

HOLY SHIT!!! NOW WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I think many of us actually enjoyed the levelling process, and hitting max level pulled the rug out from under you. Yes, there's raiding, but that's still "yet to come". As of the moment you hit 80, you are DONE!

Satisfaction, uneasiness and a sense of directionlessness seem to be (for me) the complicated stew of emotions that I experienced.

So, dear Tamarind, I hope this answered your question (albeit it in a long winded fashion).

It's been a long road, and the prospect of raiding (and gear harvesting) has become the new obsession, but I have to admit, I get restless hearing about the upcoming cataclysm, because I look forward to more interesting quests, the "oh shit what now" feeling of levelling up.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Farmer in the Dell (Heroic)

3.3 is now live along with the new LFG function, and bloggers worldwide rejoice: a spicey, new topic, fresh off the Blizzard Grill!


And yes, this is a bandwagon I will happily jump on!

I don't know HOW many Heroics I have run, but it's been a bunch. I've managed to purchase one T9 (tier 9) piece; Turalyon's Gauntlets of Conquest.

If you're following with any interest, between the above purchase, and a few decent drops, my GS (per is up to 1710.

(sorry about the fuzzy pic, Blogspot now "enhances" my embedded pics - click to see a clearer version)
Or, if you're more familiar with the Add-on scale, my GS is about 3,300.
My performance is.... well.... adequate.
I *DID* have one fight where I hit 4,000 DPS. I can't even remember which Heroic it was in, but I was accounting for ~40% of the total PuG party DPS. (I think I averaged about 3,000, and the next highest was averaging about 1,600)
BUT, (again, lest good performance go to my head) I've had some fights (the several attempts at Malygos come to mind) where I'm still doing only 1,600. Ick.
So, it's with a huge dose of Sad Furlbog® that I read in some other blogs (Righteous Orbs) that there are newly dinged 80s, in quest greens & blues that are pulling down ~2k. (a n00bcow in this case)
So, enough about my "oobur leet geer"...
Overall, I really can't complain about the new LFG tool. On my battlegroup, it's not uncommon to wait 5-10 minutes if I go in as a solo DPS. If it's later at night, I have waited for 20 minutes or longer.
A funny anecdote about this. A guildie joins group with me (his main spec is DPS shammie) We sat in LFG for at least 10 minutes. He /p's "Watch this", and re-enters us into LFG, this time with him as healer. As soon as I click "accept", we get the invite. I mean literally within a second or less. Healers are always in demand. DPS? Not so much...

Anyhow, overall I'm pretty happy with the results and the experience. Here are a few observations and some circumstances that stick out.
- Overall, the LFG *DOES* seem to take relative gear levels into account when creating a group and selecting the instance to put them in. I ran Nexus a bunch when it first started. Since, getting better gear, I've only been there once.
- Halls of Lightening (HoL) is a bit tough, especially the second to last boss (Ionar) - those damnable crawling bits of electricity. The first time, Deadly Boss Mods (an add-on that gives on-screen prompts about the next type of attack) would give a warning, then -
*nothing* and then MANY seconds later, I would find myself struggling to outrun the damnable balls of electric hell. I have since gotten better about avoiding them, but for a n00b, new to the fight, they were a MAJOR bitch. Loken was a breeze in comparison.
- As SO many folks have said - the PuGs are are amazingly quiet. If it's a run that's new to me, I will usually follow for a trash fight or two to establish my DPS vs the group (and I'm usually mid pack) and THEN I'll ask "so, this is my first run through here... anything I need to know?" That will usually get a response, mostly "don't worry, just kill stuff." I have yet to be kicked from a group.
- The other big comment of other bloggers (and I've commented about this even BEFORE 3.3) was how fast everyone runs through the instances. Only now, after 7 or 8 runs, can I say I know what to do, where to do it and how each fight goes. I had actually watched vids about Nexus, so even before I went in, I had SOME idea, but that was because I knew that was a "beginner Heroic", and that's where I spent my LFG time.
One note regarding this last comment: with the random dungeon/raid aspect, it's impossible to know where you will be going. This means it is impossible to read up, watch a vid or two, and try to know what's up before going in. This creates a double ding against the new guys:
1 - They are new. Their gear is "sub par" and since they JUST dinged 80, they won't be really familiar with all their abilities & spells. Ergo the reason they/we are called n00bs.
2 - They can't possibly read up no all the possible raids they can go in. You
can't simply read the tactics on 5-10 instances and expect to be able to
retain any usable information. It ain't gonna happen. Hell, I've probably
actually GONE through several of them, and I have a hard time keeping
everything straight.
So, not only are you the scrub new guy, your performance will be below simply because of gear, AND you're going in essentially blind with (often) a group of people that don't communicate, give pointers and probably don't want you there. Not very fun.
That being said, I have yet to see any open hostility (as some bloggers have ) to anyone simply because their gear is poor. Hell, nobody has even mentioned GS in any of the PuGs I've been in. I've been in a group or two that were simply doomed because of being under geared. (ie, a healer can't expect to heal HoL if he/she is in greens, ESPECIALLY if the tank and one or two DPS are also on the blue/green side.
But, I've also been the tail end charlie in a couple WAY over geared groups where even the healer has given me a run for the money in DPS. (which is quite humiliating, I might add) There was one run through Nexus that took all of 7 minutes or so, and it seemed like the healer didn't have to heal anyone except for me.
One last raid of note - Kattastrophe & I enter LFG with both of us as DPS (her new preference) We get teamed up with a group of other low/medium geared folks in Culling of Strathlome.
One note before I go further - I have tried tanking. I suck at it, and I realize it isn't easy. That being said, you can't out-gear the stupid debuff, if it's bad enough.
For us, the tank kept running around playing with the trash undead, and kept ignoring the "real" trash, that are too difficult for a non-tank to stand toe-to-toe with. Even with a pretty well geared priest healer.
The tank just would NOT pull the "big" guys.
So, after the second wipe against the trash, the healer bails, and we start to vote to kick the tank. He actually leaves before we can, so in an attempt to stave disaster, I switch specs and gear and get ready to at least TRY tanking.
We manage to get another tank & healer;
The healer is nowhere near as good as the previous, but he/she is adequate.
The tank is still less than ideal, but he at least knows what he SHOULD be doing, even if he does keep losing aggro.
Fortunately, I hadn't changed back to my DPS spec/gear, so I just do my best to play the off tank (and still not doing all that well at it) but between us, we manage to get to the end, WITH Arthas alive (during that escort section, I focused on keeping aggro off him, and bubbling him as necessary), and take down the final boss.
But seriously, that raid shouldn't be that tough.
That was one fail PuG we had, and then we had another that fell apart (lost the doofus tank) even before the first trash mob was cleared. (I again switched over and tried tanking, but with a healer in greens & blues - it was destination: fail)
Overall, I'll give the new LFG system a 4/5. Along with the relatively fast emblem acquisition, there's also the opportunity to tabard your way to a boatload of reputation.
My only complaint is that the patch failed to address was fixing the jousting. I don't mind that the AI can be tough and smart, but these piss me off to no end:
- AI that can shield break and charge WAY closer than I am able to.
- AI that always seems to be on the winning side of any latency. I can go from 3 shields to zero in about 3 seconds, after 1 shield break and some melee. (and my shield timer was still over 30 seconds)
- AI that refuses to stay ANYWHERE near the field of play, opting instead to go out of bounds, forcing me to either follow (and DQ) or stay in bounds and be shield broken to death (with an occasional charge thrown in for good measure) And even if they don't go out of bounds, they seem to take evil delight getting me stuck on tent poles, fences, torches or any other obstacles.
Seriously, I could handle tougher AI (more health? smarter?) if only they would play by the same set of rules that I'm bound to play by.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey, Dirt? Hello, it's Me... Balthazario

Um, yeah... see the boss kill achievement? Yup... I helped... by dirt napping.... It was a PuG 4-man of Drak Theron (I'd never done it before) and the other 3 folks were all from the same guild, and all were significantly better geared than I.

Even dead, I still put up reasonable damage (and DPS) though the Destro lock was just killer (literally - she's the one that went for the ride on the Rhino's horn I mentioned a couple posts ag0 - lol)

Um, yeah... Here I am contributing again....

And again...

Though, to be fair, LAST night I was actually a contributing member of a 5 - man (Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle)

2,800 DPS and top of the damage list? Oh yeah....

And a FIRST!!!! I broke 3k DPS and still managed to top the chart. (the # 2 was a DK that was geared similar to me) WooHoo!!!

Lest you think it went to my head... yeah, I had several fights at/below the 1,200 mark. The lowest on the list was a guy REALLY doing well considering his gear.

(*note to self* - performance isn't helped when food buff & strength potions wear off, and I don't re-apply them :P )

I've been slowly buying (with tokens and from crafters) some better items, collecting a couple decent drops and really working on gemming and enchanting stuff.
And trying to focus on the fight.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's Going On - What's a RetPals' Role?

Thanks to Tamarind at Righteous Orbs I have a couple topics to ramble on about...

This first one is a follow-on to my diatribe yesterday about how raids can be an "omgwtfbbq!" experience for me. Some of it may be due to the lack of good play by others, but much of it is my own fault. But, before I go into my failings, party failings and "bangin & blaming" anyone, let's take a step back.

What are the "core" abilities of a Ret Paladin?

- DPS (though 2 equally geared/skilled DPSers, a Ret and say Mage, Lock or Rogue, and the Ret will probably be 5-10% lower in DPS/damage)
- Buffs - Blessings of Kings, Wisdom, and Might.
- Survivability - We're plate wearers and can self heal
- Raid/"Oh Shit" healing - We may not cast quickly, but 7k+ heals can get the Tank (or anyone else) through a rough spot
- Cleansing - We have some of the fastest, most thorough debuff removers in the game
- Taunt/Righteous Defense/Repentance -We can pull Aggro off clothies and (hopefully) survive until the situation is "fixed"

Now, in 10 man (and even moreso in a 25 man) raid, there are dedicated raid healers, and off tanks to help deal with many of the smaller oh shit moments. The flexibility of the Ret might not be as helpful.

But, in a 5 man, (which is all I've done so far) it seems to me that each player has to be on their toes a bit more. I know it's a *bit* of a joke, but the roles in raids, 5 man especially, seem to be as follows:

Tank - don't let the healer die
Healer - don't let the tank die
DPS - don't let yourself die and STAY OUT OF THE FIRE! Oh, and kill the bad guys.

Now, because this smaller player pool, having the Healer taking care of the Tank AND doing raid heal can be a problem. Mana, cast time, damage spikes and such can make it difficult for them to raid heal. Let alone do cleanses, etc (if they even can)

And with Pallies being as "self sufficient" as we are, this *can* be a help because the healer can (should?) be able to focus elsewhere. The hybrid aspect of Pallies is there to work well in multi-functional roles.

That being said...

During a recent run through 5 man ToC Heroic, we had a Tree healer that wasn't really doing that much healing. While eating after one of several wipes I glanced at the healing page of Recount. During the previous fight/wipe, I had roughly 75,000 healing, and the Tree had about 200,000. THAT is truly a failure of the healer (one of our guildies mentioned that the guy had ToC 25 man gear, so gear wasn't the issue). But that much of a failure is rarely the case.

So, now to my "opportunities" as a player...

I am bona-fide A.D.D. I was diagnosed way back in the mid 70's, WAY before it became the trendy thing. One of the things that ADD-folks (me) do to compensate for being easily distracted is to hyper focus. We have learned to focus VERY intently on something, so that we can avoid the temptation of the other distractions. The world can fall down around us, but we won't notice. The only problem is that, well, I'm focusing on one thing. (ok, maybe 2 or RARELY 3) This means that I will NOT be able to:

- maintain rotation - (watch the bars light up and do the FCFS thing)
- watch the aggro meter
- watch my own health
- make sure my target hasn't run away
- make sure I'm always targeting something (the [tab] key doesn't always work)
- keep an eye for any debuffs *I* may have
- watch deadly boss mods for phase thingies
- watch the chat window for instructions
- make sure I'm not standing in the fire

Let alone watch the rest of the group.

This isn't a problem that Ret Pals face alone. EVERY player has a similarly long list of things to watch/take care of. And when you list it all out like this, AND see someone doing it well, you get one of those "holy SHIT that's awesome!!" moments.

Now, learning to scan the screen, to keep intent, partly focused and such is a learned skill. And I *am* making progress. My biggest bugaboo is that I sit and stare at the cooldowns on my action bars, and not watch the rest of the screen enough. (*blush* or at all)

Driving is a good analogy:

-Watch the road
-Check left side mirror
-Watch the road
-Check gauges/speed
-Watch the road
-Check rear mirror
-Watch the road
-Check right side mirror

etc, etc

I just need to incorporate the same scanning/awareness in WoW.

Could having a better UI help? Most likely, but that's a topic for a different day... ;)

EDIT - I forgot to actually discuss how this all applies to my rotation/jobs that I mentioned in my post yesterday.

A significant part of those issues/crises are "helped" by the fact that I don't see thing happen early enough. "Better late than never" applies, but "early Bird gets the worm" or, um, "doesn't get waxxed", may be more appropriate. Being "in the moment" and reacting to things as they happen, not AFTER they happen can make a HUGE difference:

- watching the Aggro meter can help PREVENT the boss from chewing on my face
- watching the fight (and not my cool-downs/action bars) will help me stay ON the target, and not lose it
- watch the fight so that I can AVOID the fire, instead of seeing/hearing the low health warning after I've been standing there for 5 seconds, THEN running away, THEN having to heal

As for the Healer getting eaten, well, during the Black Knight fight, the undead spawn phase, there's not much a healer can do to avoid the ADDs. They just spawn and chase him/her down.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Helter Skelter, and this is FaceRolling?

When I'm in a group, and we're starting a Boss fight, my cast order looks like the following:

- Sacred Shield
- Avenging Wrath
- Judgement (wisdom) as I run into the fray - range = 10 yards
- Crusader strike
- Divine Storm
- Exorcism (if AoW procced, if not, skip)
- Consecration
- Crusader Strike
- Judgement
- Divine Plea
Bascially running down "FCFS" (first come first serve) using my action bar as shown above. If two spells are available, use the one to the left. (again, as viewed on my action bar)
For the occasional Boss, this is the entire fight, and it's pretty easy. (ie, a "faceroll")
But, that is pretty rare. Usually it looks/sounds more like:
- Sacred Shield
- Avenging Wrath
- Judgement (wisdom) as I run into the fray - range = 10 yards
- Crusader strike
- Divine Storm
- Exorcism (if AoW procced, if not, skip)
- Consecration
- Crusader Strike
-Run over to the boss
-get into rotation
-run out of the fire
-Hand of Salvation
-Righteous Defense
-back to rotation
-Lay on Hands
-Run back to Boss
-Restart Rotation
-Divine Plea
-back to rotation
THAT is more "the norm" for the raid Boss fights I've been in. And in PvP, it's even more complicated.
I sit & watch range DPS do their pew-pew, and the healers clicking on Healbot, whilest I'm foundering around trying to do 3, 4 or more things in different directions, while still trying to "do my job" (DPS)
All the while, I read "Retpal = faceroll" and I get pissed.
And to make things worse (and my fault - no blame here) I don't have Vent, so I *should* be reading the battle text.
Except there's no frikkin way I can.
During a lul in a recent ToC fight, I noticed the phrase "Well, have Balth bubble you". I have no clue when that was typed or who I was supposed to bubble (or with which bubble, we have 3)
Sorry for the rant... and maybe it's just because I'm still pretty dang new to all out, balls-to-the-wall fights, but calling this class "super easy" is just mid boggling.
EDIT - drat... formatting is all cattywompus again, so I had to use periods to separate the paragraphs

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shake it UP, Cuz this is Learning!

In a recent post, I mentioned that some interesting DPS things happened in my run through Violet Hold. The interesting part is due to the picture above. Those that recognize the website I captured it from may groan, but I plan on using the info above as a learning tool, and I may possibly show how it CAN be useful.

For those that don’t recognize the picture above, it’s a screen cap of a character comparison from the website The reason for the possible (likely?) groans is that the main use for that website is to review a character’s “Gear Score” or “GS”, and there has been a recent trend (in both PUGs and Guilds) to focus a bit too much on this number. All it is, is a means to get a VERY rough idea how well geared someone is. It says nothing about how appropriate the gear is, or how skilled the player is. It just says how “powerful” all the gear is. I could gear my pally in all iLevel 200 cloth, caster gear, and I could get my GS to be as high as I want. I would be an EPIC FAIL if I played with that gear, but I could “easily” get a high score that way.

Anyhow, back to my point, and the commentary about my raid into Violet Hold.

During the raid, the other melee DPS player was a Fury Warrior (who happened to be a REALY nice guy to play with). At the start of the raid, we were both running about 1,400 DPS for each fight. As the raid progressed, and we both “got into the grove” we both made it into the low/mid 1,700 range. He was slightly ahead. (I didn’t screen cap, but the numbers I recall are me – 1,720 and him – 1,740) Also, he was doing a bit better in getting into the fights faster, because his overall damage was a bit higher than the slightly higher DPS would cause.


I know I was paying a fair bit of attention to Recount (my DPS meter) though this was mainly to try to make sure I was “doing ok”. And yeah, a bit of a competitive blood stirred. So I was a *little* disappointed that he out DPSes and out DMGed me, even though the numbers were pretty darned close.

After the fight, I decided to see if he had worse gear than me. After all, it would be a competitive blow to be out done by someone who wasn’t even geared as well as I was.

Such was not the case.

If you look at the numbers listed in the picture at the top (click to see large version), you’ll notice his score was roughly 2,100, and mine is roughly 1,100.


Also important is the fact that the gear that shows up here is my tank gear. (I must have been in Wintegrasp doing PvP prior to the data up/download, because I wear my tank gear to PvP. It just lets me live a bit longer…)

My original thought was that my DPS gear would be similar in score, so I just went with it.

And here comes the learning part: evidently I was doing at least reasonably well, because I was performing pretty much the same as a guy in a very similar class (melee DPS) and I had significantly “lesser” gear.

He had clearly put moderately good enchants on all his items, way more than I had (though he was missing one gem for an empty slot) and even though some of his gear was “tanky” (more stamina/defense as opposed to strength/hit) it was still pretty dang good. (and heck, some of *MY* “DPS” gear was also tanky)

A couple days later, I FINALLY remembered to make sure I logged off with my DPS gear equipped and was a bit surprised to find that my DPS gear was worse than my tank gear. By a LOT. My GS for my DPS gear was less than 850.

So what does all this numbery mumbo jumbo mean? Well here are a few general take-aways…

1 – A higher GS does NOT equate to better numbers. It can certainly help, but on its own, it means little.

2 – Focus your gear, as much as possible, on what your particular class/spec needs. Obviously, gearing yourself during leveling/questing is far different from the specialization that occurs during raids.

3 – Know how to play your class to the best of your abilities. There’s no need to obsess, but knowing more never hurts…

4 – Pay attention during the battles. As I mentioned, our DPS was pretty close, but overall damage was distinctly in the other guy’s favor. Why? Because he was getting into the fight a bit faster, he was staying on target more (like when one dies, he got his next target faster) Overall, he just did better.

5 – Damage Done will nearly always be the more important number, since it’s total damage that kills the bad guys. The bosses don’t simply keel over if the RATE of damage (DPS) gets to a certain point, they keep going until ALL their hp are gone.

6 – I may have obsessed more over the details of playing/gearing a ret pal, and I have probably read EJ more and practiced my rotation more, but if you look at the Damage:DPS ratio, it’s clear that he did better. Player focus during a fight and experience during a fight will almost always do better, even if everything else isn’t exactly optimal.

Pictured below is my latest gear set for my DPS spec. It’s now 1072! That’s up over 200 points from a few days ago, and the gear is getting more focused on what I need. (click to enlarge, if you’re so inclined)

As for the near future, based on my recent fights as well as some test dummy info I need the following:

1 – Get my 2 handed mace skill up to 400. It’s at 389 right now, and during my fights, I still see a number of “glancing blows”. That’s 11 “free” skill points. It may not prevent misses and glancing blows, but against a Boss, every bit helps. I may switch weapon types later, but I can worry about “topping” that skill off later.

2 – Increase my “Hit” score. On the test dummy and in battle I have a fair number of misses. Increasing my hit will help. As the screen cap below shows, my hit is a bit low. It’s about 200, and should be closer to the “max” of 263. (known as the “soft cap”, and prevents melee misses)

3 – Increase my Crit. For my Pally, Exorcism accounts for 8-12% of my total damage. The problem is that it’s only an useful attack if another attack crits (which procs Art of War, aka AoW) Even with my old 2H axe (Axe of Frozen Death ) , I would have the occasional situation where Exorcism would be ready to cast, but AoW wasn’t active. And this is a weapon that has 43 crit points. When using my new 2H mace (Titansteel Destroyer ) which has zero crit, I find that AoW is ready only 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Since I don’t always notice that AoW isn’t ready, I will sit there casting, which wastes 1.5 seconds, which slows my attacks, etc, etc, etc… Now, the fact that my weapon skill for the mace isn’t maximized will also affect this.

4 – L2p. (learn to play) As I mentioned above, my raid experience, focus and such aren’t ideal. Unfortunately this isn’t something that can be gemmed for: you can’t gem against stupid. BUT, I can do as many raids as I can to remove this debuff lol.

5 - Work on better gear. Even though I've got my GS up a fair amount, looking at my list of gear, it's pretty obvious I still have a few green pieces there. That's not exactly conducive to better performance.

Ah well.... it's all good and getting better. :)


I am currently using the crafted purple chest piece: Bulwark of the Ancient Kings LINK with 3 gems:

Etched Ametrine (10 str & 10 Hit)
Rigid Autumn's Glow (16 hit)
Bold Cardinal Ruby (20 Str)

This gives a final "as used" stats of:

1825 armor
+70 str
+56 sta
+51 hit
+41 crit

PLUS - "on use" I get 1,500 extra health and 150 extra strength

My other DPS chest is Breastplate of Undeath LINK which has:

2166 armor
+80 str
+112 Agi
+75 sta
+45 hit

The gains in Str, Sta & armor are (to me) pretty small (and I'm now over my hit cap, so I could swap out the Etched Ametrine for another bold ruby) so that it's nearly a wash... The AGI (works out to 2.15% crit) is more problematic

BUT, that extra strength and health has become a VERY nice thing to have in Boss fights.

*sigh* If I got a chest piece that was equivalent to the Undeath one WITH gem slots, it would be a no-brainer. But I'm having a hard time giving it up... "Bulwark... I can't quit you..."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Money for "Nothing", and your Greed for Free

Everyon knows the SOP for loot rules in non-DKP (Dragon Kill Point ) informal raids:

Need - for main spec
Greed - for everything else

And it works. Mostly. There's one small addition I'd like to see roll order be:

- Need - main spec
- If noone rolled need - off-specs can roll need
- Greed to sell

I've been in a couple raids that allowed this, and I think it's neat. But because the "uninterested" folks (ie, the ones not rolling need) are potentially losing out on vendoring (or sharding or possibly auctioning) the items, I think some compensation should be "encouraged".

SO I have a proposal:

1 - Need for your main spec
2 - If noone rolls need, then the option to roll for off-spec
BUT - if you win, you should give each member a portion of the potential gold they lost. I think most blue & purple items vendor for 10-15 gold, I think it would be reasonable to require the "off spec Needer" to pay each raid member 5 gold. (for a 5 man raid)

This ensures a couple things:

1 - I honestly think that gearing everyone's off-spec is a more worthwhile goal, than simply getting lots of "useless" items vendored.
2 - Since each person is getting real gold for each of these (and slighlty above vendor price, divvied up) I think it potentially works BETTER for everyone.
3 - If you ensure that the "cost" for the person to buy the off spec piece is worth more than the vendor, you can help ensure that it is actually used for gearing.

The only downside I can see would be for enchanters which would lose out on the possibility of gaining an item to DE. (disenchant) Although, thinking about it, maybe they could "pay for the need"...

OK, maybe this would be better:

1 - Need for main spec - just click and roll
2 - "Need for a Fee" - if no one rolled for their main spec, then ANYONE can roll need, BUT, if they win, they MUST pay each of the other raiders 5 gold.
3 - Greed for the rest

Hmmm.. that could actually work. EVERYONE can make out.

- Main specs get the chance to gear up.
- Off spec get the chance to gear up, for a modest fee
- Enchanters can get "high value" DE items at reasonable cost
- Everyone else gets hard cash, ideally more than the vendor value, so they make out.

It's a lot simpler than some of the "Gold DKP" runs I've seen mentioned (at Spinksville) which I think are neat ideas in their own right. It *should* benefit everyone in getting gold (possibly extra gold?), and should still let everyone gear up ASAP.

What do you think?

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You Often Get What You Greed

After Dinging 80 last week, I had some time to run around and try to run a couple raids and whatnot. Needless to say, it’s been a bit of an eye opening experience.

First was an attempt at ToC, 5 man heroic.

A really well geared guildie tried to help us out, but since this is a tough fight for even moderately geared 80’s and we had us two n00bs, and a couple “so-so" geared others, it was a lost cause. We went home with our tails between our legs.

We then did the herioc run though Nexus.

And here I emphasize RUN through. Our Tank & a DK DPS were both pretty well geared, and pretty familiar with the fight. We had Kattastrophe healing with her Shammy, and a Shadow Priest helping with DPS. (The Priest was the friend of a friend, the DK was a guildie, and the Tank was a PuG)

During the raid, Katt & the Priest were struggling to keep mana’d up between fights. As soon as one was completed, the Tank & DK were already pulling the next group.

This didn’t really hurt until we ran into Grand Magus Telestra. Me, Katt & the Priest got worked and had to run back. I’m still not sure if the DK & tank died or not (I think the DK survived to fight all by himself)

Needless to say, Katt was livid, since the semi-wipe would have been avoided if mana hadn’t been an issue.

The good news is that the rest of the run went off without a hitch. I didn’t get any gear worth remembering.

Then we went on to run 5 man ToC, normal.

We ran this in a PuG, and it went pretty well. I was killed once, I think, but we did OK. I got the Helm of the Violent Fray . A pretty good run, and some lootz! (I also ran it a second time some time later. No loot, but at least I'm learning the fight)

My next to last run was Heroic Violet Hold.

We did this with me, Kattastrophe, a tank we knew, a DPS warrior that Katt knew, and his wife, the Priest I mentioned above. I really enjoyed running with these guys!

We forgot to set it to heroic when we started so we had to exit and re-enter, but other than that it went really well. I even got the best piece of plate loot in the place! (a tank piece; Bolstered Legplates )

Some interesting DPS info, that I’ll discuss in a later post (I hope)

Last we ran Culling of Stratholme, heroic. (same group as last time)

This was neat on a BUNCH of levels. It was a longer one, and we got to meet Arthas! (and let him die a couple times muhahahah! Erm, booo…)

I’m not much into the lore of the game, mainly because so much of what happens is shown to us in small snippets here & there, completely disjoint and with no easy way to remember it. It doesn’t help that I barely ran any of the old world instances either. Here, however we got to see the events of the past in full recreating. VERY COOL!!!

We only had one issue; the tank DCed a few times and contributed to Arthas dieing a couple times. It wasn’t catastrophic, and he’s a really neat guy to play with, so no worries. :)

Oh, and I got one piece of loot: Legplates of Steel Implants. a decent piece of DPS plate.


So, I’ve finally dipped my feet into the deeeep water that is raiding, even if it’s only a toe. The longer instances are better, except that they’re so long! (hard to fit them into the life schedule) I can see why folks get a bit annoyed with running the various ToC iterations, over & over & over again. But hey, badges is badges, loot is loot, and and above all, learning to raid/play is paramount.

The quest for lootz continues…