Thursday, April 28, 2011

Da Trolls, mon

I got to run the newly revamped ZA last night. I have to say that after all the hype and build-up and such... was the most fun I've had playing this game in a long time.

ZA as a raid instance was always in tight competition with Kara as my favorite, and the winner usually depended on my mood that day. So having an excuse to go back in there with an appropriately-geared group and run through it again was a dream come true.

My group went in semi-blind. Meaning none of us had really read up on how anything had changed, but we still had at least vague ideas of what it was like before. (I'd actually gone through the old version on Grevioux a couple weeks ago so I could tame one of the dragonhawks on the way to Jan'alai.) Trying to reconcile what we could remember, what we'd forgotten, and what was new--all on the fly--made the whole experience seem very frantic, but never in a way that was overwhelming.

The biggest on-the-fly adjustments were on Nalorakk (realizing how his charge mechanic had changed and how we needed to deal with it) and Malacrass (figuring out what abilities he was stealing and how to compensate). We one-shot both of them, but it wasn't without a some breath-holding going on...that is when I wasn't shouting frantic commands at group members that may or may not have really been prepared to deal with them. Whatever. They handled it. That's why I like running with them.

Oh, and I snagged one of the coolest looking shoulder models in the game. Always wanted a pair of those back when it was current...

Tonight's raid night for me, but I'm looking forward to trying to tackle ZG before the weekend is out. We haven't had a guild group get through that one yet, so it would be nice to ding that achievement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prolonged silence is prolonged.


I'd like to say that the long stretch of not posting was due to some massive time crunch at work/home or that I've been travelling to exotic places far, far away from any internet access or stuff like that.

The truth is just that I've been horribly unmotivated to post over the last two weeks. Every time I load up Blogger, I just kinda stare at a blank post window and then think, "Eh...later."

Two weeks later...

So anyway, 4.1 is here. Lots of new, cool stuff. Especiall ZA/ZG. I was really looking forward to giving them a try. Of course, as many of us know, patch day is the bane of custom UIs. Most of the time you can get away without too much trouble, but last night was not most of the time. Among other things, my unit frames were borked and Outfitter wasn't updated until I was almost ready to go to bed for the night. (I always forget how much I depend on Outfitter until I don't have it...) Not to mention I pretty much couldn't do anything without Lua errors sprouting up like Noblegarden rabbits.

Since all my toons that are geared enough for the new heroics also have custom UIs, I hopped over to the Rogue I've been leveling and took him through Felwood. It actually wasn't a bad night...just not the way I was planning on spending it.

Also, it's worth noting...Tailoring is a great 2nd profession for an Enchanter. You can make lots and lots of extra stuff to DE for mats. This is good. But to collect cloth, you kind of have to kill things. Subtlety Rogues do an astounding amount of not-killing. This is not as good.

So every now and again I have to get on one of my 85s, go farm some cloth to hit the next level of Tailoring, then farm some more cloth to work up First Aid.

Good times.

Gonna try and get myself back into the swing of things again. Hopefully with more coherent and relevant posts than this one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Burst DPS for a non-tanking Bear

There's a small number of boss fights in Cata where a Bear tank is going to find himself without anything to tank. Rahj in HoO when he's recharging his energy, Throngus during his shield phase, Magmaw while he's impaled, Halfus Wyrmbreaker if you're tank swapping because of the MS debuff, Omnotron before the second unit becomes active. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. There may be a few more (especially on later raid bosses I haven't seen yet).

So what's a Bear to do during these times?

1) Make sure F3 is on the target. Most of the time this won't be an issue since you were already tanking the target previous to that, but for Omnotron or Magmaw (his impaled head is technically a different boss, so it doesn't carry the debuffs over) you may have to apply it before dpsing.

2) Go cat if you haven't already.

3) If you're at least 8 yards from the target, Charge, then Ravage! (if you're specced into Stampede).

If you've specced into King of the Jungle...
4a) If the boss doesn't have the Mangle debuff or the debuff is within 20 seconds of expiring, Mangle

5a) Rake

6a) Pop Tiger's Fury

7a) Pop Berserk

If you haven't specced into King of the Jungle...
4b) Pop Tiger's Fury

5b) Pop Berserk

6b) If the boss doesn't have the Mangle debuff or the debuff is within 20 seconds of expiring, Mangle

7b) Rake

8) Shred to 5cp (if you're not already there)

9) Rip

10) Shred spam. Mash that button. Even when you hit 5cp, don't stop. Just Shred.

11) Refresh Rake when it's within 2 seconds of expiring. (Berserk will almost be over by this time.)

12) Refresh Rip when it's within 2 seconds of expiring. (If you get this far, it's most likely the last thing you're going to do before you have to go Bear again.)

13) If you have to go Bear again before you get to step 12, hit Ferocious Bite to dump your combo points.

If that's all too confusing to visualize, here it is in flow chart form:

Remember, this is intended to tell you what you should be doing if you have about 40 seconds or less of total DPS time before you have to be tanking again. If you have longer, you can start this way for the first 30 or 40 seconds, but then you should drop into a standard cat rotation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I is for Introvert

Last week, Ophelie made a post about how to keep shyness from ruining your WoW experience. She gave some very good tips on how to not get overwhelmed in a game like WoW that has heavy social and group components.

A lot of what she wrote also covers another group of people, and one that I feel I fall into: Introverts.

Allow me to get pseudo-science here for a moment.

When I think of someone as being "shy," I think of a person who (as an average case), feels anxiety in social situations, possibly to the extent of it being a phobia. The thought of conversation, especially in groups, makes them nervous. Actively being around other people can be uncomfortable and awkward. If they do go out with a crowd, they tend to move themselves away from the group, or at least aren't engaged much at all.

One-on-one situations can sometimes alleviate this anxiety, if the other person is someone they know and are comfortable with. Then they can open up.

On the flip side, there's an introvert. Introverts don't mind being in social situations. In fact, group social activity is something many introverts still crave and actively seek out. When in a group, they'll be in the throng and engaged. But the introvert can come off as shy because they still won't say much. They're passive participants.

Many introverts, like myself, feel totally fulfilled socially just by being around other social people and listening to their conversations. If they have something to add that they feel is of particular value to the conversation, they'll offer it. But most of the time they remain part of the audience. Being there is enough to make them happy.

One-on-one situations can be more awkward for an introvert than group situations. One-on-one, there's a (necessary) pressure on the introvert to be an active participant in the socializing. Even when it's with a close friend, the introvert often just doesn't have a lot to express.

So how does this all relate to WoW?

In a game like WoW, where your social interaction is pretty much related to a chat box, there's less distinction between a shy person and an introvert. The people in your guild or group or whatever can't look at you and determine how involved you are in what's going on. No one knows if you're hardly getting anything done because you're trying to read everything that's typed, or if you're ignoring it completely. At the end of the day, if you're not putting words in that box, (for lack of a better way to phrase it) you don't exist. And while you may be enjoying the conversation and banter that's scrolling up your screen, if you want to get the most out of the situation you need to involve yourself a little more actively.

This is where most of the stuff Ophelie put in her post comes into play.

1 - Take it one step at a time
No one's going to go from being a quiet observer to a spotlight hogger. But do little things to remind people you're there and you are paying attention. Even if it's just a simple "lol" or "grats" or "that's amazing" here and there. They're generic non-committal responses to a lot of different things, but at least they get your name in the chat box.

Work yourself up to the point where you can actively engage yourself in a conversation without being prompted to. You don't have to do it all the time, but often enough to show people you're involved.

If you're feeling really daring, start a topic of discussion. Whatever's on your mind. Introverts are almost always thinking something, sometimes playing out entire conversations in their head. But they don't feel any particular need to share those thoughts if they're not immediately relevant to an active conversation.

2 - Seek out (medium sized) social guilds
When a guild is too small and doesn't have a minimum number of players online at the times you play, it falls back to that uncomfortable point where you can feel obligated to participate in any social interaction because there won't otherwise be any.

Alternately, if a guild is too large, it can become too easy to sit back and let everyone else do all the socializing for you. Introverts may not speak much, but because of that, when they do speak, they want to feel heard and acknowledged. Whatever they said was important enough to them to warrant saying. If a guild is too big, your voice can get lost in the crowd which doesn't give you any reason to say more in the future.

3 - Be honest as to why you’re quiet
I'm going to copy this part almost word for word from Ophelie:

There's no shame in being introverted. As long as people know they're not being snobbed, they'll generally give you as much time as you want to open up.

I use a format like this "*insert compliments and appreciation here* *warning that I take a long time to warm up here*". For example: "Thank you very much for the invite! I really appreciated it. I'm having a great time, I'm just a really quiet person."

4 - Be nice to others
Nothing brings an introvert out of their shell quite like strong emotion. Strong negative emotion, in particular. While everyone needs a bitch-fest every once in a while, try to make sure that when you decided to speak in chat it's not always complaining about what a jerk/noob/scrub you just ran with or how much some part of the game is getting under your skin. You may know you're not an angry, negative person all the time, but that's the impression you'll end up giving to other people, and they won't want anything to have to do with you.

5 - Know when to take a break
While introverts may love social activity, it can also be draining on them. After they've spent so much time listening to conversations and being with a group, they often need to retreat off on their own to mentally process all of it and recharge.

I go to social conventions two or three times a year. They're a great opportunity for me to get together with friends from all over the country that I don't get to see very often and party like a rock star in some other city far from home. But after being around other people from the time I wake up in the morning, come mid-afternoon, I need a break. I'll usually head up to my hotel room for a few hours and nap, read, play DS, or whatever. Then I'm ready to head out to dinner and party the night away.

By the end of the weekend, I'm more than ready to have a couple days all to myself.

WoW can be the same way. I may spend a few nights being social and actively doing stuff with my guild. But then every so often I just want to log onto an alt and level or farm and completely ignore gchat. And that's fine. Allow yourself time to do that every once in a while.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another big change for Bears

There were more additions to the 4.1 Patch Notes put up yesterday, and among them was this gem for Bears:
# Enrage no longer increases physical damage taken.
Go head and read that again, just to let in sink in.

Do you feel that? That warm, tingly sensation? The light-headed giddiness? Yeah, me too.

One of the things I've liked least about Bear tanking is the choice I constantly have to make between waiting 10 seconds after hitting Enrage to engage a boss, or dealing with the fact that I'm going to be taking extra damage in the vulnerable opening moments of the fight when everyone is getting into position.

A standard pull for me looks like this: Thorns -> Bear Form -> Enrage -> Barkskin -> Pull. On many fights, this is the only real opportunity I have to throw Thorns on myself, and I already lose several precious seconds while going through the rest of the chain. If I chose to wait the full 10 seconds, it'd be almost a total waste.

Another place I hate having to hold of using Enrage is after Magmaw's impale phase. My raids generally solo-tank Magmaw, which means I'm spending much of the time tanking with that huge armor debuff he applies. I go cat while he's impaled to crank out some additional damage, but when I shift back, I'm rage starved and have no aggro (because his table resets when he picks up the tank). But I don't want to Enrage because I don't want to take the additional damage on top of having the armor debuff. It's enough strain on my healers already. This will make that transition so much easier.

And for you hybrids out there? You should be dancing.

King of the Jungle is an absolutely essential talent for good Cat DPS and Primal Madness is nice (though not essential). The problem was that, even with the benefit those talent also give in Bear form, the tradeoff with the extra 10% damage just didn't really make them worth it.

With this change, they're still not as good for Bears as they are for Cats...but at least they're unarguably positive places to spend talent points if you so choose.

I'm really glad to see this change. Blizz experimented with our T10 bonus, where it actually decreased the damage when took when we Enraged. That was probably overkill and they ended up leaving Enrage alone once Cata dropped. I think it's become clear, though, that there are certain moments when Bears need Enrage, and penalizing us for using it wasn't right, either. So now we're in the middle ground.

I'll take it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Suck it up, buttercup.

Indulge me for a moment as I stand on my soapbox and get a little haughty. There's a good chance I may insult you in this post. It's not intentional and it's not personal. I'm going to make a lot of gross generalizations and I'm fully aware that they are not representative of each individual. Just (my view of) the culture as a whole.

Big news floating around this morning is that, come 4.1, Blizzard will be incentivizing tank (and to a lesser degree, healer) queuing in the LFD tool. Why? Because the lack of tanks (and to a lesser degree, healers) in the LFD queues is what's causing DPS to have to sit and wait upwards of 40 minutes to run randoms.

How are they doing this? By offering guaranteed gold, plus chances at gems, flasks/elixirs, vanity pets, and mounts.

Even if you didn't click the link above to read the post, it's easy to see why this could be a controversial decision. And whenever there's controversy on the internet...well, you've been around. You know how it goes. All the armchair designers come out of the woodworks, spewing diarrhea of the mouth about how much it sucks and blah blah blah.

Some of my favorite lines so far have been, "this is an admission of failure," "tanking is not fun," "healing is not fun," and the best, "First make heroic's easier so there are less wipes and problems. Second add an expert level of the dungeons". (Seriously. I lol'd).

Blizzard hasn't failed at anything. That's not to say everything's perfect or ideal or whatever word you want to use. Yes, they have a stated aim to make tanking and healing more desirable and more "fun." But just because you don't think those roles are fun doesn't mean Blizzard has failed. (I, personally, think both roles are fun. I love tanking. And while I haven't healed a lot yet in Cata, I still have a desire to do it more.)

Let's get this straight. I realize not every class and every spec and every role is fun for everybody. I get that. But let's also be honest here. No less than 90% of the people complaining that tanking and healing aren't fun are really saying "tanking and healing require thought and effort, which I can't be assed to put forward. Also, I might actually have to take some sort of responsibility for bad outcomes."

I get it, though. I really do. I enjoy playing my Hunter in groups specifically because it's damn easy. I hit four buttons. Sometimes five. And I light up the meters doing it. The closest I've come to stress was pet-tanking the last 25% of Foe Reaper 5000 with my spirit beast because the tank dropped to Harvest and like hell I was going to start that fight over. (That required six buttons.)

Many DPS are complaining that this shows favoritism to tanks and healers and why don't the DPS get something, too?

You do get something. You get (theoretically) significantly lower queue times. You get a quicker path to your gear upgrades, your (Cataclysm) random mounts, and your VP/JP. You want more? Bummer. You're a dime a dozen. Not in the sense that you're worthless--you're an essential part of a dungeon group, too--but when was the last time you lost a DPS mid-run and had to wait more than three seconds to get another?

How long do you end up waiting when you lose a healer? Or a tank?

Admittedly, I don't think what Blizzard is doing is going to have much impact. It might at first, but then it will wane. I doubt we're going to see an influx of new tanks or healers queuing up. Some of the current ones who don't mind using LFD but just don't do it often may find incentive to use it more, at least until they get all the rewards they want out of it.

I still won't queue as a tank, and probably still won't on my healer. The rewards Blizzard is offering aren't enough to overcome the reason I don't queue on them, which is probably the same reason a lot of other people don't, either: LFD is a minefield of Internet Fuckwads. Every single role.

I despise dealing with the over-inflated egos, the people who still seem to think dungeons should be played like the were in Wrath, and the general hello-goodbye impersonal nature of the whole system.

And here's where I give you DPS a break...tanks and healers are the worst of them. They act like they're Aman'Thul's gift to groups. Like the rest of us are being graced with their time and so we'd better not waste it by not measuring up to their standards. They're only there for the rewards and we're just a means to that end.

And that's the problem with throwing more rewards out there as an incentive. The people who are going to go for that the most are the pushy, arrogant jerks that are only there for the rewards anyway. And the people that don't queue because they don't want to deal with pushy, arrogant jerks? This doesn't do anything for them.

Bottom line, there is no solution to the problem. LFD is an amazing tool, but it has serious flaws that can't be fixed. Because the flaws are the players themselves. You want low queue times and reasonable people to run with? Find a good guild.