Friday, 30 October 2009

Healing? I can do healing, me!

It seems that Miss Medicina has started a meme err... a post about healering. And while I was not technically "tagged" (except in the vaguest possible sense by Tam) I will not let this opportunity slip by without using it as an introduction.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? *giggle* *grin* Kochi! My favourite Druid!

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) ... is the only character who ever healed anything. She successfully healed two normal Nexus and a normal Utgarde Keep.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why? One of them there HoTs, I think. Rejuvenation .. or possible Re-something else.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Tranquility, because when everyone is taking damage I panic and don't remember I have it.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? A trick question, surely - this would require me actually knowing enough about the classes healing abilities. PLEASE do not make me heal again when I have a class that can tank perfectly fine? PLEASE?

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? See above. No really, I mean it.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? *giggle* *laugh* Err... I desperately hope no raid ever needs me as a 25-healer. That would probably mean that Stranglethorn Vale has frozen over.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Any! Anyone who can heal beside me is good. Then they can keep the raid alive while I whimper in a corner about the end of the world and hearing the four horsemen on the cobbled streets of Dalaran.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? Rogues! Because a bandage rogue is not really as brilliant as they make it out.

What is your worst habit as a healer? Panic. I thought healing was something I could handle. At the start, a reasonable spec and decent healing gear made it seem like I could. I'd prepare a few mouseover macroes, which made my usual tank setup work. I even used a decursing add-on to cover the non-health-related duties of a healer. HoT + HoT + Lifebloom works for a while - that is .. they work exactly until someone except the tank starts taking damage and I need to switch targets and then someone else also takes damage and then the tank takes more damage and then everyone and me and damage and fire and help! Does the sentence above instill the utter amount of PANIC that healing does to me? Probably not, but I really hope I don't have to heal again.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? I really hate when players take unneccessary damage. Like - when DPS take damage. Or Non-Tanks in general. That should be outlawed and verboten!

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Health bars. Are they green? I am okay and sailing smoothly. Are they greyed out and fail-angels are about and people are screaming a lot? I think I did something wrong again.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? People assume I can do it ...

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
Haste or Crit and why?
What healing class do you feel you understand least?
What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

Now all the above questions I cannot properly answer. They are technical and would assume I understand healing. I think we have by now proven successfully that I cannot. I'll leave them in, in case someone else wants to copy all the questions off me, for some reason, instead of going back to the original source.

So what made me join in then?

Well ... because I am on the recieving end of rather a lot of heals. According to my in-game statistics, this is happening:

Total Damage Done: 1.313.703.010
Total Damage Recieved: 480.177.532
Total Healing Recieved: 453.413.484


It seems a total of


of my life I live on healers. Let me recount that: 94.4% of my presence in game is due to a healers timely intervention.

Out of my 1.3 Billion damage done 1.240.480.070 are attributed to some healer. Of my damage alone.

I cannot express how much I appreciate someone in a robe, bark or fullplate with a shield being there, making sure I am still alive at the end of the day. Well... or dead (that's the other 5.6%).

But at least they tried!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

What happened to CC?

Topic this week for bloggers about: What happened to Crowd Control. This topic was slightly spurred by a blue post about faction champions apparently. Somehow I feel the need to throw in my thoughts of the day:

Back in Vanilla WoW there was crowd control. I think. I can’t properly remember – it’s been a long time, but I think my rogue was made to sap something – and got really worried, because I didn’t have the talent that allowed me to stay in stealth. Sap meant engaging four elite mobs all by my lonesome, then sprinting back to the group and hope the tank got it right and the mage sheeped one off me.

Burning Crusade was the game I played most. Crowd control was required. Fullstop. Shattered Halls were not really possible without at least two of the orcs being taken out of commission before the pull – and I’m sure that was not only my gear level – that probably applied to pretty much everyone.
All the single role classes (rogue, warlock, mage, and hunter) had some form of crowd control – the hybrids were a bit f…the hybrids did not get a reliable form of crown control in all cases. As a warrior tank, controlling the remaining mobs was a little bit of art. Macroes that sundered a mouseover targets armour and shieldslammed the focus target were pretty much standard for my day. The focus of a groups’ composition was on the play between DPS classes and tank – both from a CC perspective and a threat-race perspective.

That focus has shifted quite a lot in Wrath. It seemed for a long while that tanks could hold aggro on pretty much anything – even warriors on trash packs. Occasionally there are fights where the tank gets challenged for threat – but those are rare (like Hodir, for instance). Healers are much more challenged now – more continuously, it seems to me.

The days of “bored bored bored – oh crap, CC broke on the paladin and he cleansed the hunter and now the mage and the rogue are taking damage and we’re all going to d… oh we’re dead” have shifted to a steady “oh god oh god oh god the tank is dying, dying, dying – hey .. we pulled through” (with the occasional DPS frying in a fiery fire).

Personally, I don’t like the new game quite as much now and then. It feels a bit too hectic at times – and then I feel like I’m getting old and such. On the other hand, the new expansion has already been announced. And as long as I don’t have to use crosshairs, I’m quite looking forward to it. I’m quite willing to see what comes next.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I had no idea Spacegoat-girls were that hot!

Honestly. I always thought the laugh of the blood elf chicks would actually win out. How wrong I was.

Data grabbed from here – again.

Now me, personally, I play both males and females. If I see my little toon wiggle around in the middle of the screen for several days in my life (no .. I’m too afraid to check the actual /played stats for my characters), I don’t mind them looking attractive.

With the current trend of boob-enhancing armour that means I have more female than male characters by now, I think. Of course.. being on the alliance side my options are a bit limited. There are the Macarena dancing humans, the silly wobbly-eared elfies, the adorable little gnomes – chosen more for pure cuteness rather than sex-appeal, and the space goats. We do not talk about dwarf females (and look: the statistics agree with me there). In fact.. we’d go so far as to recommend the Lord of the Rings mode of gender selection: human male/female, elf male/female, dwarf (no choice of gender possible).

Do I dare draw conclusions from this? I’m not sure…

I mean – I have no idea how many female players are in WoW at the moment. Is it like my university courses where we had about one in eight? Is it like real life, where there seem to be lots and lots of attractive females in town all day long and I never notice any males?

One thing is certain, however – my dwarf male warrior will have fierce competition finding a suitable mate, if I ever want to go and roleplay a wedding. Unless I go for space-goat.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Scaling Incompetence

So .. a first "ancient history" post of mine.

My first WoW character was born .. well.. early. The game had not yet heard about weapon normalization. It was not in the first month, but there were no level 60s around yet when I first started (at least.. as far as I could see). I played a rogue back then, slicing and stabbing my way through every area of the lands - because with the lower experience that was pretty much neccessary.

I did a few instances on the way - but not nearly as many as I would have thought. Never managed to complete Uldaman, and I remember hating Maraudon because it took ages. As in multiple hours. Current raid times have nothing on a good old Maraudon run.

My first proper raid was a "Lower Blackrock Spire". I know, I know... that isn't possible any more. However, back when men were men and aeroplanes were aeroplanes all the instances could be entered by up to 10 people. It was neccessary to form a raid and people were not able to complete quests - but it was still a damn lot easier doing it that way. In a way, that was the advent of hard modes. Scholomance hard mode was doing it only with 5 people - and getting the quests done.

The quest rewards were appropriately "epic" - not in the colour of their icon, but in their real power. Compare for instance the Warblade of Caer Darrow - the quest reward from doing all of Scholomance, probably multiple times - with the best blue and epic drops from there. The warblade was a sign of distinction.

Hey.. at a time when people were already actively raiding (the horrors of Molten Core and possibly even Blackwing Lair already), completeing a timed Baron run was still a feat.

Err.. where was I going? Oh yes. At about that time I took a lengthy break from playing. Left my characters standing around somewhere and joined another MMORPG. My wife had encountered some trouble in guild as well and moved on - without going into any detail: what we'd call proper drama, with ingame and out-of-game worries.

She came back first - and for trying something completely played horde on a different server. No chance to run into old enemies that way. Of course - eventually whatever I was playing stopped being interesting as well and I rejoined her. I'm missing a few (probably essential) steps here, but we basically were in a horde guild on the server Lightbringer just before The Burning Crusade came out. Leveled to 60 about a week after the portal opened and rushed with the whole rest of the guild to 70. We did our share of dungeons, then later heroic dungeons and attempted our first steps in raiding (Karazhan).

We did fail quite horribly, quite a lot. And in retrospect - yes... people were just that bad. We wiped on Attumen the horseman because we could not clear the trash and pull him before respawns. That's a 30 minute timer right there, for 7 groups and a patrol. In a time when crowdcontrol was the name of the game, we had hunters who had never used a frost trap before. It really was quite horrible.

Now luckily we have powerful friends!

No .. not a developer or the Sultan of Brunei. A real life friend who had been playing with me since the days of my little rogue - and who had stayed on Aszune through Molten Core and that high water thing. We chatted over a beer every now and then - well.. we complained and he occasionally tried to get us to rejoin Aszunes proper guild.

In the end, he did the only sensible thing for saving our sanity and rolled a warlock. On the Horde side, on Lightbringer. He got a rather bad reputation there for chewing out everyone and everything. A good bit like Simon Cowell. It's not like he wasn't helpful - those who were willing to learn got taught how to trap stuff and he did get through and teach a few people "rotations". In the end he mostly managed to point out the glaring incompetence of the guild to us, though. Eventually we caved in and left. Rejoined Aszune (where a few of my characters were waiting around, dusty and in grimy shoes.

Again, leveled to 70, started raiding with a proper group or two and actually enjoyed Karazhan. We never did get much into that 25-man raiding thing, but that is still guild philosophy and I'm quite happy with it. Shame we never saw Sunwell, but we got to peek into Serpentshrine Caverns (2/x), Tempest Keep (3/4), Mount Hyjal (2/5) and Black Temple (4/x) mostly after the attunement quests were lifted. Cleared all of Zul Aman - although the best we managed was three chests before the removal of the warbears.

We're still in the same guild now - and as some of my posts in the past may have indicated, we are not always entirely happy. Which gives the wrong impression overall - the raid group we're currently in is brilliant. We are clearing progress that is challenging for us (and if we manage 7% more damage on Shadron, we'll even get OS3D done) and are having a lot of fun - it's some of the "other" guild members that are driving me mental. Some have personalities I cannot cope with, some are incompetent, some are annoying and wrong (and I know I sound like Jeremy here: "I'm right, you're wrong and that's the end of it" - but it's all true!).

Sooo (to bring this rather long rambling to a close) - I recently rolled a new character, decked the little shaman out in every heirloom I could find and decided to join a new leveling guild. I got into a big one. They are recruiting through the Guild Recruitment channel (when it works), the Trade Channel (always) and are basically picking up everyone who can send a tell. Their throughput is high - but they do at least enforce their rules and actually kick people.

Much like Pike, I seem to have forgot that not everyone is an alt. There are new players in this guild - so green that they need mowing. They don't know where the heirloom vendor is - or what currency is used to pay him. They don't know about proper gear levels for Naxxramas, instead believing what the LFG channel tells them. They can't make enough gold to pay for a 15 gold respec (I kid you not - and that was a level 80 we're talking about). In general - they are a lot like my guild on Lightbringer used to be.

And it's good - shows me that my choice to come back to Aszune and join people that are at the same competence level as myself was a good idea.

Now I only need to either calm down or work on getting rid of the annoying idiots! erm... players with suboptimal ... ah .. just idiots.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Potions - how useful are they?

A topic that I kept wondering about again recently – how useful are potions (not elixirs), actually? And when I say potions, I’ll forgo something like a potion of speed ( for the sake of ... well… I only use those when I remember, when the raidleader shouts at us or when I accidentally found one in my bags. Anyway… the point in this post will be about healing potions. Healing, not mana, although I’m almost sure it’ll apply there as well.

In my perfect world, a healing potion would allow me to smooth over a healing glitch or an unforeseen situation in battle. I would drink one and receive the equivalent of a heal that somehow never arrived – maybe my healer is having his hair done by snowbolds or I pulled three gnolls and a patrol while levelling. It should feel like another cooldown that reduces the impact of damage – and as I play most of my time as a protection warrior that means a potion has to compete with my Last Stand and enraged regeneration.

Both of those increase my current health by 30% (although in practical terms that’s now how they are used – same as druids most warriors will probably hit last stand immediately followed by enraged regeneration – which means enraged regeneration grants us more health per tic than when used alone).

When I look at my (rather sizable) stack of runic healing potions the same impact does not seem to be there. A maximum health gain of 4500 points is approximately equivalent to 10% health – with 10 man raidbuffs. The perspective is totally skewed, of course. My gear gradually got better, tanks generally have more health than the average player (that is sort of the point, after all) and I seem to remember potions being really quite good while levelling.

So … *opens spreadsheet* it’s time for some statistics, methinks. There are a total of 8 different healing potions available. This is a blatant lie, obviously – there are many more, but those are usually just renamed, funkily coloured offshoots of the main eight. I’ll stick to eight.

Those range in minimum level requirement from nothing (which technically makes them level 1 minimum, I presume) to 70 for the current highest tier (the runic healing potion mentioned above).

But how does that relate to health? This is where it gets a tad tricky. I can’t really say for myself. Of course I can enter my own health into the graph – with or without buffs. I can also log in my low level alts to try and get more information. All of that is not exactly going to help.

I found help here:

Zardoz has gone mined the armoury (and is still doing it), grabbing all sorts of information about all realms. His database is enormous. However, his data (grabbing only the health) is unfortunately displayed as average health with a minimum and maximum value. He does tell me how many samples he took for each class, but not how many for each level. A shame … I vaguely remember that doing an average of averages is not such a hot idea in statistics.
That leaves me with – well – many sets of data.

The above image shows a few sets – limited to a more or less random selection. Only the averages are shown, as I want to try and keep the obviously skewed data out of it – all feral druids would be misrepresented, as their actual health in bear form is much larger. Classes with multiple roles also show a large amount of wrongly represented data – usually by logging out in gear that is not matched to the set (read: Arms warriors with 35k health and such). This might be a dedicated pvp champion, or someone who specced arms and donned prot gear for whatever reason.

So what does it mean? Obvious things first: a potion does not provide a full heal. The effects of potions become less pronounced the lower the level of the potion compared to the user – and there is no level 80 healing potion.

Does everyone need potions in the end-game, though? Blizzards’ thinking seems to point towards “no”. The tanks take too much damage for a potion to have any serious effect. Bosses routinely hit around the 15.000 damage mark. The measly 3600 average runic potion heal is not going to make a lot of difference. The “oh shit” buttons available to tanks are also much better for the use of one keystroke – especially as they scale with health or directly affect damage taken.

However, the damage dealer seem to hover somewhere around the 18.000 health mark on average (keep in mind the above note about not averaging averages – I just did, and I don’t care *shakes fist*). The same potion there is 20% of their health (remarkably precisely). As all damage for damage dealers is supposedly splash (well.. that or they need attention when a snowbold chews up their head, or they are sitting in a flaming pool of burning fire with extra scorch on top) they are not expected to take the same amount of damage again. A potion there will cover a broken line of sight to the healers – or having run in the wrong direction when facing a flame wall.

And while levelling?

Up to level 60 an appropriate level potion will (on average) restore almost half health. After level 60 this diverges a little, but by then most classes already have a good few “oh shit” buttons available in their talents. A potion still won’t save players from stupidity (“hmm… if I leap down that cliff and sprint into the gnoll camp I can take out the named mob before the mage reaches it and gets his grimy paws on my random green”) but it’s most probably enough for those slightly hairy situations one tends to stumble into.

My attempts at a summary: Healing potions are always useful – in moderate amounts. If you are constantly in need of one every fight, you are probably attempting content that is not designed for your level. In the end-game they can cover for momentary losses of healer attention (due to line of sight or distance) but are completely unable to cover for stupidity or the total lack of a healer. For tanks, the situation is slightly worse. The use of a potion is worse than all available cooldowns and requires the same amount of effort. As such it is only recommended as a last resort. Even the warlocks healthstone is better.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A bet that makes me stare in wonder

So the two worst people players in the history of the guild are running a bet: Is it possible to level a shaman from level 15 to 80 in two weeks time. If participant one (henceforth referred to as Madilma) manages the feat before a certain date, participant two (henceforth referred to as Calo) will have to wear a dress and post pictures. If he fails, it’s the other way round.

Looking at my own shaman at level 44 with a rather miniscule playtime, I’d have to say “Err what? How is that even a challenge?”. Makes me wonder if Calo actually likes wearing dresses? However, we are talk-ing about the person who made me write a special macro just for him in the bad good old days of the Shadow Labyrinths. One that said: “/rw Run. Now! Stop Casting! Yes even a healing spell! Why aren’t you running yet?” – and he still died on each and every single Sonic Boom. I wonder if his characters are stationary, like the VX-001 Anti-personnel assault cannon. Well no… no where near enough firepower.

Now why does it worry me so much that they are having this race? (Apart from my poor little eyes when pictures appear. A certain morbid fascination will probably tempt me to actually open that picture thread.)

Weeeell. Calo (who originally played a hunter – and made my book of good graces when the first words out of his mouth after an Archavon the Stone Watcher kill were “back” … in the time when it was actually hard for us to beat the enrage timer) has set up a raid group. He plans on going into Ulduar, tackle hard modes left and right, blast Onyxia and weave his way through the fights in the Trial of the Crusader with ease. He has posted specific role requirements for his raid (which sounds like a good idea at first, but a person with a negative outlook might assume they are based on maximizing his own personal loot) – one of which is a shaman healer.

And here is the catch. While yes, I can see a shaman levelling to 80 in two weeks rather easily (or even blindfolded, with a cucumber in my mouth, juggling flaming balls of coal in my left hand) I somehow missed how a newly levelled 80 is ready for raidhealing in the currently most challenging content. Not even with easy emblems – they still require heroics to be run. How many? Let’s grant 4 badges to each heroic (which is probably underestimating a little), the set of helmet (58) and chest (58) alone will take 29 runs through an instance. At an optimistic 30 minutes per instance that comes out to roughly 15 hours of constant playtime. For two items. With bugger-all else. No trinkets, no rings, no legs, no ranged-weapon-for-shamans-that-has-a-weird-name.

On a player that can’t move.

I fail to see how this is a good idea.

Did I mention the morbid fascination? I really can’t wait to see how this ends…

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sometimes I love this guild...

No really, I do. The priorities for raiding are exactly right. Dress > Skill > Gear. Nothing beats a proper dress while fighting a hard mode. Allegedly tonight even spawned a new website.

So with some pride, I give you a link to - may it be an inspiration for everyone.

The Headless Horseman

A post about a current topic, for a change. The Halloween event - or whatever they called it. Specifically: the Headless Horseman.

He can be summoned inside the Scarlet Monstery Graveyard (that is the left entrance when you come up the ramp - the one with no door in front of it) by characters of level 75 and above (this year, at least). He drops some iLevel 200 rings (physical dps, caster dps and healer - for a rather rough description), a plate dps helm and an extremely slow one-handed sword. Same as the Brewfest boss those are rather nifty to gear up alts or new level 80s. They are not exactly big boosts for the raiding population, though.

Also, there is a flying horse, a mini-pet and a weirdo hat - the last two are required for "the Hallowed" title. All this information is available everywhere, though, so let's move right past and get on to the tactics bit.

After summoning the horseman (by using the pumpkin shrine and then taking the candle to his grave) he will charge whoever summoned him. A tank of some sorts will need to pick him up at that point.

This initiates phase 1: Mounted Horseman.

This phase is an introduction to the fight to come. He hits the tank and so far adds no special attacks. Once he is beaten down to no health, phase two starts:

Phase 2: The head and the whirlwind of doom.

In phase 2, the head separates from the rest of the body. The head flies off about 25 yards into a random direction. As soon as the head is targettable, the body will start moving towards the head (Announced by the shout of "Get over here, you idiot") while whirlwinding away. The whirlwind does not hit as hard as most heroic bosses, so even clothies can be safe for one or two hits. The head needs to be killed to 66%. Meanwhile the body will heal up rather quickly (and it's impossible to kill it anyway), so a dps switch is required. The head and body will reunite once the head is at or below 66%. It is possible to take the head down further with high damage attacks - this speeds up later phases a little, but is by no means required.

Phase 3: The horse, again.

Phase three is technically identical to phase 1 - the headless horseman rides on his horse. He adds one special attack to his repertiore, however: a pumpkin conflagration. This is a ranged attack thrown at a random target (except the current aggro) which stuns for a short amount of time and deals AoE fire damage to anyone around the target. The phase lasts until the horseman is once again downed to 0 health.

Phase 4: The head once more.

Same as phase 2, except that the head needs to go to 33% health here. The head does not heal back up, however, so it's only about a third again. Whirlwind of the body is back here as well - and they reunite once the head falls below the requisite level of health.

Phase 5: The last horse.

Same again as in phase 1 and 3. The horseman gains one additional special - summoning pumpkin soldiers. A group of four of those spawns in a dormant state around the current aggro target. They become active after a short incubation period - attacking with their own threat lists after that. The damage is low, however groups taking a long time to kill the boss should probably switch target to them briefly. Once the horse is down to 0 health the last headphase begins.

Phase 6: The loot .. err.. last bit of the fight. The head will separate for the last time and can now be taken to 0 health. At that point the body will die and any remaining pumpkin soldiers will disappear. Whirlwind and pumpkins make this a miniscule bit more hectic than before. The lootable part of the fight is the burning body, by the way - the head disappears in a green streak towards the sky.

And that's it - not a very complex fight. The difficulty is surprisingly low as well - the boss is only a level 80 ... a good bit lower than heroic instance bosses. Due to the several stages the fight can drag on for a bit, however. It is entirely possible to do this fight with only two people, like a tank and a DPS or a sturdy damage dealer and a healer. However - five party members mean five chances for loot. The summoning can be completed once per day, so more players are always a good idea.

The image above shows the horsemans dead body right on top of his grave. A tribute to our incredible skill at tanking, positioning and crowd control throughout the last phases. Or .. err... dumb luck in a rather large amount of attempts.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Getting Chilly in here...

Blizzard is merging all normal World of Warcraft accounts with accounts. I suppose that is old news. The option to change was there for a good while, though, but with no reason I didn't even consider changing.

Well.. that and the account registration page was more often down than up.

However now they are not takeing any chances any more. People have to change and to make them all feel good about struggling through three webforms and 27 confirmations of terms of service everyone who signs up before ... soon ... will get a free penguin egg mini-pet.

Now of course that meant that I only signed up for last night. My wife had signed up in June or so. When I logged back into the game, I had mail. From someone called Breanni. I also heard some other guildies contemplating their new penguins and saw this message.

Note how our officers show a certain bravery in the face of this threat.
Of course, no one would accuse me of being a bright person - what with getting bashed in the face so much, so ...

Which .. erm.. lead to this:

Now I hate to admit that I wasn't kind of expecting this. Surprisingly enough, though, the rest of guild seemed to be entirely on her side.

Not much symphathy, really. "We don't like you anyway, but while you're around could you let yourself be beat up a bit more?" Hmpf.
Now this alone would almost be a post. However, there is a bit more. I didn't want to suffer endlessly and sought help with customer support - it's what they are there for, after all.

I had sort of expected an anonymous email message that all is working as intended in the next morning. However - the GM in attendance actually not only answered the question, he also admitted to more serious problems with the penguin infestation!
Really good to see that there is a sense of humour left after a whole evening of silly work.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

So did you use the hairdresser services?

I was just wondering - of course I got a nice new hairstyle on my main:

It is called "Fabulous" in the hairdressers menu - and it really is, isn't it? Shows off that a daring dwarf with a big axe can go out looking good. No matter if you are wearing bloodied armour, a daring pink shirt or a tie and a smile.

However, certain people - and I would not dare look at my wife here - find it neccessary to adjust the haircolour of their mage depending on the current spec. Say what?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Weapon Speed – so what does it mean?

Our guild has seen a few interesting choices in weapons lately. I honestly believe that not all of those choices were motivated by greed (The famous: It’s all hunterloot – you know) but rather by people not understanding what weapon is best for the class.

Do I? Well … I’m sure I can find a lot of screenshots from PUGs all over the last two expansions telling me that I have no idea. However, I can also offer a few posts on tanking weapons that generally agree with my choice (like this one or even better this one). Please note that the above two posts are valid for warrior tanks only! Please!.

So what is this weapon speed discussion all about?

Weapon stats are usually not as simple as in this example:

But it’ll do nicely to cover the different aspects.

First on many a persons “check here” list is the DPS of the weapon. Correctly identified as “damage per second” indicator this shows how much damage your weapon will do as an average over a large number of autoattacks if you had no attack power, haste, crit, special attacks etc. I would say “this is the damage paladins did in vanilla WoW”, but even that was (slightly) higher.

The DPS value is calculated from the min-max damage range and the weapon speed (by the formula: [(Min Damage + Max Damage)/2]/Weapons Speed). Again, min and max damage values are given if you had no attack power (and I have this nagging suspicion even holy priests do not manage to go entirely without attack power from their strength – ludicrously low as it may be).

Weapon speed is given in “time between individual swings”, so a lower number here will mean a faster weapon. There is a certain resemblance to real life examples: most daggers are faster than two-handed maces, but don’t rely on that rule-of-thumb overly. There are faster maces than daggers about.

Most weapons also grant certain stats: those can range from simple statistic bonuses (+23 agility) to weird triggered effects (chance on hit to decapitate target, causing 220 to 232 extra damage) to sneaky additions that are hard to spot (like 430 armour). Set bonuses and such are always a possibility – and I will completely ignore and disregard them for this post.

So... which weapon is the right one for me?

Well, this is where the confusion begins. I’ll try and list a few examples of what weapons do before giving a recommendation.

Faster weapons:

Advantages: more steady damage, less impact of single misses (dodges, parries), more frequent use of “on-next-swing” abilities

Slower weapons:

Advantages: higher single damage hits per swing (more bursty damage), higher procs of swing-dependent enchants and abilities (Mongoose)

What is the trick then? Well… instant attacks do not rely on your weapons speed at all. They do not “wait” for the next swing timer and are instead performed when you press the button. Examples are a rogues sinister strike, a warriors devastate or mortal strike, a deathknights obliterate or a shamans stormstrike. If your main damage comes from one of those instant attack sources a slower weapon will always always always be better than a fast one.

If your main use comes from a “on next swing” ability – or just the poison you have smeared on your off-hand dagger – a faster weapon will usually be better.

Case in point:

Deathknight DPS:

Two-handed weapon – the slowest you can find.
One-handed weapons – 2x the slowest you can find, as you’d probably be sporting “Threat of Thassarian” to allow your strikes to use both weapons.

Deathknight Tanking:

Two-handed weapon – the slowest you can find. This goes a little against the “early miss” theory; however your strikes at the beginning of combat are based on rune availability, not so much swing speed. Your normal white damage won’t keep threat off the healers.
One-handed weapons – Not a good idea for tanking. If you really have to: slow/slow. The problem is that no class except deathknights can dual-wield while tanking. With two weapons you will be parried twice as often as any other class. Parry speeds up the next attack of the thing you are hitting – and this can lead to disastrous results. Higher than normal expertise is a must – and then you are wasting valuable itemization points on not getting insta-gibbed by a combination of attack + special + parry-enhanced attack from a boss.

Warrior DPS:

Two-handed weapon – the slowest you can find. Mortal strike, Overpower, Whirlwind, Bladestorm, Bloodthirst all benefit from a slow weapon.
One handed weapon(s) – With the advent of Titans Grip there are currently no useful one-handed dps weapons. Just use a two-hander or two.

Warrior Tanking:

Two-handed weapon – No.
One-handed weapon – the fastest you can find. If that means you need to tank with a dagger, tank with a dagger. Most of your high threat moves are based on raw attack power (revenge), your shield (shield slam) or need to be spammed constantly to use up rage (hello Heroic Strike). Heroic strike spam can make up for around 35% of your damage total on fights where you are not rage capped – like Patchwerk – if you manage to press your heroic strike button often enough.

Paladin DPS:

Two-handed weapon: Slower is better. You get a strike (cunningly labelled crusader _strike_) and there are no on-next-swing abilities to speak of. Most of your damage is holy anyway and makes warriors jealous.
One-handed weapon: No.

Paladin tanking:

Two-handed weapon: No
One-handed weapon: I am completely without an opinion here. All of the paladin threat abilities are based on the shield or on holy damage, so the little pigsticker seems mainly to be there to show the monster that he is, in fact, fighting an armed and dangerous opponent – and not a steel-tortoise.

The right speed depends on the spec here. Mutilate rogues want two extra-super slow daggers, as Mutilate uses both of them to instantly strike. Combat rogues want a superslow mainhand and a fast offhand to apply poisons. For special fun: use two fast weapons with low expertise and stand in front of the enemy on top of your tank to make sure he gets hit more often than usual. It’ll cheer the healers up immensely when the squishy rogue does (for once) not die first.

Enhancement Shaman:

Two-handed weapon: Not nearly as good, although an extra slow one while levelling makes windfury procs that much more impressive.
One-handed weapons: Slow/slow. Your strikes again utilize both weapons.


Whatever gives the best stats. Melee hunters are a strange breed (and I hope I don’t have to drown too many more quietly in the Fjords). In theory you’d probably want a fast two-hander or a fast/fast combination, as Raptor Strike is an “on next strike” ability. Yeah right.

Priest, Mage, Warlock:

Allow me to lump you all together. Stick to using magic. Really. There is no point in trying to bash something over the head while armoured with a shiny (if slightly sissy) robe and a pearl headband. You’ll just break a nail. And then cry. The subtle hint of your weapons having a vastly lower DPS score than proper weapons should have been noted.

Good old times...

I seem to remember having read several nostalgic posts about how the old lands will soon be barren and void, how a great cataclysm will wreck it all and how new players will not be able to enjoy all the rich lore and intricate storylines woven into two continents.

For the life of my little sleepy willy, I cannot seem to find those posts now that I’d want to link to them. Typical.

However, I had the pleasure of levelling an heirloomed alt lately from zero to hero level 1 to 34 – and not all that is remembered fondly is actually such a good idea. Those areas desperately need a serious overhaul.

Some areas are just plain frustrating. Nothing against a little challenge (as long as it’s a clever challenge – and one suited to exactly my level of competence, of course) but a roaming level 25 elite in a level 12 area is not much fun. Not only will that worgen kill a new player every time he sees them – the aggression radius is also insanely high, so that it’s hard to even find a safe spot. Is that truly necessary any more?

Then there are fights that were relabelled – formerly group quests are they now solo quests. Of course the quest mob in question has been changed from an elite to a normal little snuffle-nose-gopher-thing. That does not, however, include the other 29526539175239 monsters in his little village – all of which are runners, half of which are healers, and the other two thirds are big fat meanies *stomps foot hoof*.

I get the feeling that the occasional fight was designed with the “but.. they can drink as many potions as they want” mechanic in the background.

Finally: Old quest chains. While in Northrend quests generally are only a few steps – or if they are multistep all the quests are in approximately the same level range – the quests in Kalimdor can span a good 7 to 10 levels (the Lost Diplomat and the Scythe of Elune line come to mind).

That used to be fine in the olden days. We would wade through knee-deep snow through all three (or so) zones designed for the level range. Southshore, Wetlands and Duskwood were something done at the same time. It made good sense to leave those orange quests because you’d be coming back for them later anyway. And all of southshore and the wetlands and especially duskwood were uphill. Always uphill.

Now, my poor little shaman only needs one of those zones, of course (which has nothing! *stomps foot hoof* to do with the heirlooms). So now I feel sort of loath to actually follow a questline that’ll take me to another continent when I can just kill 22 more ghouls to get to next level and be done with it. Or … go back and kill 40 little raptors of no experience, no loot and no good looks just so I can get to the queststep that allows me to kill another 40 raptors that grant experience (and still no loot – and they still look sort of sad).

So where is all this mumbling and foot hoofstomping taking me? The old lands certainly had their charm back in the day. They desperately need a total overhaul, however – and I don’t mind if that includes breaking the world in half and releasing a ginormous armour-plated dragon of doom. The new new-player zones will probably be that much better designed. And will include a downhill part – and less snow.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

So where are we raiding?

A fair question - a bit of background is probably a good idea.

We are a social guild at heart, really. Those Gevlon makes fun of every week. We're several hundred accounts and have managed not a single 25-man raiding group.

Which is - technically - a lie. We do occasionally do a "once every fortnight" 25-man instance, but the general approach to raiding is horrible very laid back.

We still have people who go afk every 5 minutes, we have the usual share of DPS below the tank and we got healers who cannot heal more than one target. Ever.

As we got the numbers, it doesn't mean we don't have a few people who want more, though. Some of the wander off to proper raiding guilds, some stick with the other people who call raiding "serious business" (I can't do the proper leet-speak, sorry).

Currently 3 2 10-man raid groups survived. With baby breaks, water-polo teams and burnout some raidgroups collapse occasionally. Our two remaining static 10-mans have done most of Ulduar (I think both are still missing Yogg-thingy, cleared Trial of Champions (10, most certainly not heroic) and one-shotted Onyxia and her latest incarnation. Another group is working on Sartharion 3D the "proper" way - even if we tried, we'd probably not have the DPS group for a full zerg online at any one time.

We are currently in the "60 wipes under our belt and getting better" phase. It takes a good bit of learning effort - I am in the thankless position of adds tank on that one (and have to say that warriors probably have the easiest job there, no matter what other classes want to tell you). The curve is steep.

Better players probably figure out instantly that the first spawn of whelps coincides with the second flame wall and that they will all go for the most inconvenient healer - took me several tries to notice.

Better DPS will probably beat up the drakes faster - we are now in the stage where we get Tenebron killed every time and manage to get Shadron to 8% (although that is the "best so far" mark - and we didn't repeat it on the next go). Our two healers are currently struggling with keeping the main tank alive through the flame breaths

In theory we just need a bit better DPS, or a bit of a better cooldown rotation, but we're just not there yet

So the state where we are at is easily described: the best of us can do Sartharion 2D without much trouble, Sartharion 3D is beyond our grasp. We can do Hearthbreaker and Steelbreaker, but we can't do Hodir in the shortened timer for extra loot

The worst of us .. well.. it's hard to describe. I had the pleasure (and it really was good fun) of doing a 10-man Naxx with our new arrivals at level 80 today.

That would be the second row of frogger-slimes.

And here is the third row - same person.

How often do you see two fail-angels of the same person on Frogger, though?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

When it rains and all that

So we've been raiding the brewfest boss. Old Coren - same as last year - has turned into a loot-o-rama for all alts. Everyone is trying to grab as many useable trinkets as possible before the brewfest ends. Of course - those with dedicated mains are hoping for one of the mounts. There is, after all, an achievement for collecting them all.
We did a guild-kill there. A bit of an unbalanced group, as it so happens. The recruitment line of "5 people who all can summon - lots of alts preferred - got warlock, got remote" might have had something to do with that. First try - we actually managed to wipe. I mean.. this is old coren we're talking about here. He can be soloed!
Ahem.. with a bit more focus and actually letting the "tank" establish some semblance of aggro we killed him afterwards. Again ... and again... and again. A total of 15 times successfully. Got two kodos, two rams, three tankards o' terror and every trinket except for the dark beer.
Of course - I was not lucky that night. Ah well.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

What makes people do this?

So ... we assume the average baddest puggy we can find has a DPS of 750. Not too different from some of our guildies when we started getting heroic teams together (*cough*Kalis*cough*).
That is still bloody 750 more DPS than 4 manning it. Besides.. with two newly dinged level 80s we really need all the help we can get in a normal ToC. Honest. Especially when it's the tank and healer.