Monday, June 29, 2009

Using Full Recount Potential, Part I

Go to: Part II

Recount. That lovely little addon, the bane and delight of number jockeys everywhere. It provides so much information, yet is often ignored for the majority of its knowledge and simply reduced to a DPS or HPS race. There is a lot of value for healers in what Recount has to offer, especially if utilized while in the process of raid progression (during pauses, loot, wipe recovery, etc). Please note, this guide is for those who already know how to set up recount (it takes very little effort and comes mostly set up for you), and is instead designed to give more insight into reading the meters. Utilizing all of Recount's meters can make you a better healer, if you adhere to certain rules:

1. In no way is any fight ever a "healing race." Trying to push your heals to the top of the meters often resorts in heal sniping and possible assignment negligence. The top of the charts almost invariably belongs to raid healers. Perform for your assignment, not for the charts.

2. Understand that the healing meters themselves are the least influential and telling of all meters. They are limited and deceiving.

3. Trash. Doesn't. Matter. Only use meters for boss fights. Boss fights have assignments, jobs and strategies. Trash is more often a heal fest and the quickest healer with the twitchiest finger and the best ability to raid heal wins.

4. The Ret Paladin is only outhealing one of your healers because it's a straight-forward tank-and-spank and his Judgement of Light is healing all your DPS smacking away at the boss. Don't take it personally.

5. If you ever say "the boss died, that's all that matters" you've never carried a raid, and you may even be being carried. Anyone who says this while being dead for any portion of the fight due to their own negligence should be railed at.

Do you have those down pat, engraved upon your mind and heart? All right then, let's go over types of meters and how to use them.

Recount Meter #1: Straight Healing Meters
Wait a minute, Bell, you said-

I know what I said. The straight healing meter's use is limited. But it is by no means useless. And, once they are expanded, they become far more influential.

To start with, you have the face-value ranking of who has done more healing. Ta da! What does this mean? More often than not, it shows who is raid healing. Raid healers hit more targets more often, and if you're assigning someone to raid it means more often than not, that healer's hands will be full. Whether they're compensating for a damaging aura, someone being dumped in a crotch pot or an immense hand swiping itself through the raid, someone always needs topping off. And in their downtime, it's not uncommon to have them tossing heals to your tanks, either (hey, they're in the raid, too)! This means less downtime, more effective healing, and less lost ticks or overheal to pre-casting and tank mitigation. When your raid healers do not come out on top, that's when you worry.

What a healing meter can tell you, as well, is who is just downright terrible, or if you have too many healers. Paladins often bear the brunt of this; if you have too many healers (especially if those healers are heal snipers), they can suddenly be left with nothing to heal and thus have little effective healing done. Their overheal skyrockets and they're left with nothing but a large overheal. However, if things are going awry and you notice someone with a low HPS and low overall healing, you may be dealing with a slacker who cannot prioritize for his assignment. Like all things, however, this may take a little exploring into meter synchronization (which will be covered in a later post).

Expanding Recount Meter #1: Effective Healing Skills
If you drag your cursor over the bars on your healing meter and click a name, a whole new wealth of information opens to you. By clicking the arrows in the top right, you can run through a range of information for the selected name that greatly improves the quality of the information to be gleaned. One of those details the effective healing spells for your character.

Why is this important? For many reasons, especially if you're trying to judge your own performance or, in the case of a heal lead (or someone itching for the position), the performance of another. Taking into account their assignment and seeing what healing abilities they prioritize over others can bring great insight into possible problems or areas for improvement. When thinking back over a fight, how often did you use Regrowth? How often does it show up on the chart as effective? Does it match up relatively well or are you wasting a ton of time and mana on ineffective healing? Helpfully, if you hover over or click on a spell, the bottom half of the window will detail hits, crits and ticks in percentage of healing done for that single skill, giving you a decent idea of the necessity of certain things, such as if the tank is really getting the benefit from applying Regrowth because, even if it's direct portion is wasted, you can see the ticks of the HoT portion having a good deal of uptime.

Expanding Recount Meter #1: Who Healed Who
Arrowing over once to the right from the first expanded window of the straight healing meters will lead you to the "healed who" meters. This will give an outline of who the healer was healing and how much of their healing percentage was used upon them. With a main tank assignment, it should show that the majority of their healing and time, proportionally, is on the tank. If they are on raid, there should be a more equalized pie chart with a little more emphasis on tanks or people who consistently are taking more damage, perhaps more than they should be.

This chart is especially helpful to see who is sticking to their assignment, who is straying from it, and who is just not doing it. If your healer has not spent the majority of their time on their tank assignment, it will show up here. Maybe that is why they went down? If the healer has overall high healing but their assignment keeps dying, the problem is revealed here. For even more detail, you can click a person's name and see what they were healed with. If your healer has an even pie chart but the raid keeps dying, you can see that those who were healed were being hit with Regrowth. Regrowth is slow and not at all suited for raid healing, but when it did hit it was helpful, hiding the problem. Thus, expanding the expanded window even further is much more enlightening.

Recount has a lot of meters, and I want to go over a large portion of them. I'm splitting this up to make it a bit easier to digest, and so people who wish to point out mistakes or what have you don't have to go through an intense wall of text to point out a minor thing. So, when we come back with part II, we'll look at Who-Was-Healed-By-Who meters, Overheal and Dispelling.

Go to: Part II

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Emblems, Time and Frustration

I rarely feel the inclination to talk about patches anymore. So many people cover them that I feel I have no need to add my voice to the crowd. Yet, sometimes, things pop up that I just feel I need to talk about, for no other reason than that typing it out and submitting it to the populace for scrutiny is a way to sort out my feelings. And so, I now present to you my personal feelings on the new Emblem system as it is proposed now for 3.2.

For some background, I'm a casualcore raider of Ulduar 25 and ten. I spend four or five nights a week in raids, though only three of those nights are progression raids and the others are simply alt-gearing raids I run in to give over geared heals or Ulduar 10 because for some reason I find Flame Leviathan to be fun as all get out (especially in a motorcycle OMG). I log in other times to lead no-drake OS since I still need Valorous gloves, sometimes do WG and otherwise level alts or do a couple dailies. Three nights a week for three hours I spend healing Ulduar 25 on normal modes with only relatively competitive progression without strict attendance requirements (thus casualcore).

When the Emblem change was announced as in the works for 3.2, I was honestly stunned. I found it to be...rather disheartening. The idea of banging my head against progression content and scraping together enough conquest badges for one piece of T8.5 after a month of wiping, grinding and pushing and then finding out that I could spend those three hours a night train-killing heroics for more benefit is disheartening, to say the least. Why should I push and frustrate myself with Ulduar and compete against other people and RNG for gear, when I could get competition-free heroics gear? Especially with the new content coming out, as Ulduar 25 gear will prepare you for normal 25 T9 level (it would have to).

At this point, I do Naxx 25 once a week. I cannot stand Naxx anymore, but it is something that is important for a lot of people who need to gear alts, new mains or even their current raiding mains with that last piece off of KT, so I go to be helpful. At times I am gearing up Bellbell just for something else to do, but a lot of the time I have to switch to Bellwether because her geared heals are needed to offset the difficulties that come with people playing Alts. I do this to help the guild, but with the hope that eventually we won't do Naxx anymore, that it won't be a raid night that rewards DKP and people will just pick it up on their own. I don't want another reason to go into Naxx. I don't want it to be a required night again just so people can attain a ton of Conquest badges quickly to get two piece T8.5. I don't want another reason to visit old, tired content. It invalidates Ulduar 25 as a farming instance once a new raid comes out, since Naxx is faster, easier, and has more badges attached. And, once again, no RNG or competition for emblem loot.

I understand the pull and attraction for people gearing up alts. And, from a progression stand point, I understand this is extremely helpful for people who are switching progression mains. Other people have pointed out that it's only two piece T8.5 and a few other epics. But the thought that a fresh 80 could rival my Druid in gear by running heroics while I'm smacking my head against a progression wall seems out of whack to me. You would almost get more benefit (time versus reward) from running 25 Naxx than fighting to Yogg. For an experienced raider in a progression guild or even a casual guild, this is actually helpful as it means more badges, KT loot, and less time spent with less difficulty and less repair bills. Helpful, but mind-bogglingly boring.

I also feel that this more encourages people to skip content, rather than play it. If you can gear up past Ulduar level through Emblems (Be Imba has placed my gear level, wearing a mash-up of H Naxx and Uld 10 loot at past H Uld), why visit it when you could skip right to the higher, newer tier of progression? There's no step ladder, so you're actually missing content. Isn't this counter-productive? Why would I bother running the coordination-reliant Malygos 25 when I could hop right into Uld 10 with my non-RNG-based-heroic-farmed-non-competitive T8.5 helm and chest, and T8 equivalent neck, pants and gloves? Or why even do Naxx 25 at all if you don't have the people or feel like joining/making a PUG, when Naxx 10 epics and heroic badge loot will let you waltz into Ulduar 10 or 25, perhaps even T9 introductory level?

I admit, as well, that the thought of someone in quest greens and two-piece T8.5 is...unsettling. I understand with Vault there's a lot of discrepancy, but this will just blow it out of the water, especially as Vault gearing relies completely on dumb luck. I would certainly take advantage of it on any alts I level if it is, indeed, implemented, and people don't seem to realize that this change would be extremely beneficial to raiding guilds. Suddenly have no mages, but too many Druids? Pull the one with the mage alt through Naxx 25 and 10 a few weeks and they've got enough badges and decent gear to be competitive. It's crazily better for casualcore to hardcore raiders than it is for strictly casual people, and yet I still don't want the change.

I guess I just don't like handouts. I raid for the sense of accomplishment, which I suppose is why I don't like Naxx anymore. I don't find any feeling of accomplishment or sense of earning my gear when I go into content I farmed as a fresh 80 and get T8.5 for it. I suppose, at the root of the problem, is that it feels condescending, and I do not like being condescended to. I do not like to just show up and Blizzard to go "Aw, how cute, you killed King Ymiron. Here you go, sweetie, some T8.5 and a popsicle. You run along now, go get 'em, Tiger." I don't want things easier, I don't want to be forced into continuous Naxx farming to remain competitive (like Kara farming of BC, it gets old really, really fast).

Some have mentioned that this is how the PvP system works, so it's how PvE should work, too. However, this is completely off-base. The raids don't scale with each patch. While each season your same opponents get tougher with better gear, Naxx does not get an upgrade each patch. In fact, more and more content is nerfed so it is easier and requires less gear, less coordination. You're doing less for more, whereas in PvP it's the complete opposite. You need better gear to do the same thing each season in PvP; in PvE you do not, and in fact can get by with less. To do the new thing you need more gear, but there were already steps put into place before that new thing that provide the gear. I could understand giving better gear rewards if they buffed heroics and Naxx, but when they're leaving it the same? It actually makes less sense than the PvP system.

So there's my two pennies chucked into the pile. I recommend also reading Tree Bark Jacket's opinion on the state of the game and how hardcore raiders are perceived because of it; she's done a fine job and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I'm honestly rather sick of people devaluing others' opinions because they disagree or dislike the changes. You're entitled to your opinion and so is everyone else. Agree to disagree, but telling people flat out to shut up and belittling them by calling them elitist or wanting to be a special snowflake or all the other sorts of demeaning language because they do not like the changes (or calling them "casual in an insulting tone on the flipside) is simply rude and hypocritical.

Monday, June 22, 2009

If _____, You Would _____

I want to try something with this post to spur people into writing about something I've been thinking about lately. Basically, I am going to give you situational questions. Exercises, problem solving, etc. Your job is to either in the comments or on your blog (linking in the comments to the post would be wonderful) answer the questions to the best of your ability. Since they're "what would you do" questions, there's no right or wrong answer. I am simply curious.

Ready? Here we go!

1. You've just started a guild. You're guild leader, and you have a decent sized pool of regular players. It's time to create officer positions. You can have six officers. What jobs would you give them, and what character traits would you find most desirable for those officers? Keep in mind, you can have less than six officers, that is just the problem's max range.

2. You're in a raiding guild. You're not a "new" member (you've been around a few months) but you're definitely not one of the senior ranking members. However, you notice that there is a job that could be filled. None of the officers are taking it on, but the GM has stated that he does not want to promote any more. Would you offer to do the job without the officer title? If yes, how would you discuss it with your GM? Would you be hoping for eventual promotion or would you be fine without the title and promotion? If the GM decided to simply pass off the job to an officer and not you, would you be okay with this?

3. You are the GM of a relatively successful progression raiding guild. Within your guild, you have a large amount of couples. One of your tanks and one of your dps are a couple. They will not raid without each other; however one of them is exceptional at their job, and the other learns slowly and does poorly. This situation is slowing your guild down and a lot of adjustment needs to be made for the one who does not do as well. Though you have other people who can fill the job of the person falling behind and their partner, they are inconsistent in showing and for the moment, you need them. What do you do?

It's only three questions, but as you can see they're rather long, and could be complicated. If you feel like only answering one, that's quite fine and I understand. I'll be working on my own answers for these questions and will post them up during the week!

Good luck, have fun.

EDIT: Just a heads up, these aren't problems I'm actually tackling within my guild, they're just scenarios playing out in my head that I've been thinking about. I appreciate the encouragement, however!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Five Amber Oculus Run

A lot of people don't want to be in Oculus more than they have to, yet they dearly want that Red Proto-Drake Mount from the Glory of the Hero achievement. And a good way to knock out two void achievements at once (Emerald and Ruby) is to do Oculus with all five people riding an Amber Drake.

This strategy, though not overly difficult by any means, does require communication, so you might wish to be on a voice chat program with your group. Also realize it can take a few wipes to get the hang of it. Since these are not Ulduar vehicles and they do not gain any benefit from your gear, there's nothing stopping you from stripping to your skivvies and enjoying repair-free deaths. It's best, as well, if you've done Oculus on normal, first, so you have an idea of what to expect.

The first thing to do is make sure you understand what your Amber Drake can do. They have three moves: Shock Lance, Stop Time, and Temporal Rift. Temporal Rift is not available to you until the third boss dies and you are on to Eregos. Shock Lance is your basic damaging spell. When combined with Shock Charges generated by Temporal Rift, it detonates them, causing extra damage to Eregos. Time Stop freezes all enemies in place with a diminishing return. And Temporal Rift builds up your shock charges so long as while you are channeling it, other drakes (in this case, other Ambers) are doing damage.

Setting up Jobs and Rotations

Alright, so you're ready to go, have all mounted up on your Amber Drakes and are waiting to pull. It's time to assign jobs. You should split the group into two groups. The first group is composed of three Ambers. Their initial job is to channel Temporal Rift at the start of the fight. Channeling Temporal Rift does not pull the boss, so it's definitely doable to have all three channeling before the fight. The second group is composed of two Ambers who will be firing Shock Lance in the beginning. This builds up the other Ambers' Shock Charges. As soon as the other groups' Shock Charges are up to a stack of ten, groups switch jobs, so the ones who were channeling to begin are now firing Shock Lances (thus detonating their charges) and the ones who were firing Lances are now channeling, creating more Charges. As long as this rotation is kept up properly, no one drake should have to fire more than two Lances before switching to channeling.

Now it's time for Stop Time assignments. You will have two drakes assigned to the first active fight phase, and two more for the next active fight phase when he comes out of banish after kiting. The first Stop Time caster should always be one of the drakes in group two, who start with the Shock Lance. This enables the channelers to be channeling before the pull without interruption, and an Amber can pull with a Lance, then use Time Stop, and then resume Lancing. The second Time Stop should be used when he comes out of the first. Be careful not to clip the first Time Stop, as two Time Stops cast on top of each other makes it run short (weird but true).

If this sounds rather complicated, it's all right. I have created a simple time-line that shows Time Stop order. Here are the assignments:

D1 = First Time Stop (Lancer)
D2 = Second Time Stop (Channeler)
D3 = Third Time Stop (Lancer)
D4 = Fourth Time Stop (Channeler)
D5 = Back-up Time Stop (Channeler)

Eregos is Pulled
D1 casts Time Stop
Eregos comes out of Time Stop
D2 casts Time Stop
Eregos comes out of Time Stop
Eregos Banishes
Kite Phase
Eregos returns from Banish
D3 casts Time Stop
Eregos comes out of Time Stop
D4 casts Time Stop
Eregos comes out of Time Stop
Eregos Banishes
Kite Phase
D1 dies
Eregos returns from Banish
D5 casts Time Stop
(and so on)

If Eregos seems to be coming out of the second Time Stop too early and your Ambers are taking massive damage from his enrage, wait a few moments before casting Time Stop until he actually is announced as becoming enraged.

Setting up the Pull and How to Kite

It's best to start the pull from in front of Eregos's path. He flys counter-clockwise, so when he is directly opposite you on the map is the best time to move into position. The Channelers should begin channeling before the pull, and they have good enough range that all three should be able to do so before the first Shock Lance to aggro the boss. This ensures immediately high DPS.

When Eregos banishes, he summons orbs that chase the Drakes and must be kited. They can be outflown so long as you immediately fly away when he banishes. Sticking together also means that there is less of a chance of one drake dragging an orb into others. If you set up the pull as shown in the first diagram (and explained to the side) then the first kiting direction will be counter-clockwise.

The next time, when you engage the boss again, you will be on the opposite side. This is exactly like pulling the boss in terms of starting jobs, though there will be different drakes on Time Stops due to cooldowns. This also means if he banishes himself again, you will need to kite clockwise away from him to get away from the orbs.

It sounds more complicated than it really is. It may take some trial and error, and requires some communication. You will lose drakes during even a successful fight, but it is very doable so long as people focus and understand how to use their mounts and their abilities, and keep to the rotation. And, well, if you took off all your armor, there's no reason to get stressed over repair bills. Just do your best, see what works, and soon you'll be two steps closer to a menacing red mount.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Loot Conscious or Loot Whoring

“Loot Whore” is a pretty derogatory term in the World of Warcraft. You don’t want them in your guild, you don’t want them in your PUG, and you don’t want to see them whining in trade chat that someone gave such and such an item to a different class who did 200 or so less DPS than them. However, this generalization of the slanderous title can be dangerous and be rather far from the truth. Its stigma can be such as to keep many quiet as they’re out-rolled and out-bid time and time again, as they watch items go to people who are generally more geared, get less benefit or are simply gearing wrong.

Knowing when to speak up is entirely based upon your environment. In many cases, simply asking the other person if they will pass to you is acceptable. Adding an explanation, i.e. it’s a larger upgrade for you, it’s BiS for you, they just picked up some legs and you could really use the four piece bonus, can be helpful. In this case, it’s up to the other person. Will they be gracious? They may decide they need it more. They may have run the instance every week since they were 80 waiting for it to drop and being out-rolled every time. In this case, you’re SOL, but you don’t look like a Loot Whore unless you pitch a fit over them not passing. In fact, if the other person has already won a ton of items, it’s possible that they could be the ones to come out looking like a Loot Whore if they say no, so be careful of putting people into such a position.

Be aware of loot rules before going into an instance. Can you live with them? One piece of loot per boss sounds nice, but that still leaves room for someone to continually win a piece of loot off of every boss. One piece of main spec loot per instance (unless everyone is out of main spec rolls) sounds nice, but can become convoluted quickly, especially in longer instances where you lose track of who has won what. Free roll on everything means you go with the dice and the dice don’t lie. If you get out-rolled on three pieces in a row, you get out-rolled on three pieces in a row.

What about DKP or other point-based systems? Well, in those instances, the more you lose, the more you gain. Meaning, maybe you keep losing bids on items, but so long as you continually show up for raids, you will keep gaining DKP while others lose it, and items that were hotly contested prior may drop in price. Eventually, you will be top dog and can pick your items with impunity. Please note, bidding other people up just to make them spend their points is really just another form of Loot Whoring, and is in very bad taste.

Or how about the infamous loot council? If run correctly and impartially (it is possible!), the loot council system can insure that upgrades are given to the proper class, to those who perform the best for their gear level, or who need the upgrade the most. Stating your case in a clear, polite, non-aggressive or threatening or whining manner can help the loot council decide in your favor. However, pitching fits when they don’t, imagining favorites, or forgetting that all people, including yourself, are fallible and mistakes happen can put you low on the loot council’s priority.

Raiding and playing should not be all about the loot. But, face it, without the prospect of upgrading gear, what’s the point in seeing the raid content more than a few times. While you may relish the fights, everyone wants to see their character improve and look more badass each day. As well, losing out on an item again and again or seeing it drop but once and losing it to the tank who cannot even use half the stats on it can be a bitter pill to swallow. It’s always up to you on how you act when this happens, and how close you can stand to gaining the Loot Whore brand. An unfortunate part of the game’s culture, to be sure.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Some real life news /gasp

I just turned 21!

Your 4 Haelz will return after the weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mad as Hell

I'm sorry for the radio silence as of late, but there's been a lot going on in my life that I've needed to take care of. Just to let you know, I'm still here, I'm still playing, and I will be writing again soon.

However, nothing is more discouraging than getting scraped. And not only getting scraped, but finding out about it four months after the fact.

What does it mean to be scraped? It means someone lifted an entire article of mine, reposted it on their site without linking back to me and, in this case, they added in a sentence in the middle linking to all their services.

These services include selling WoW gold.

I am, excuse my French, fucking pissed, and will be working on fixing this. I want their site shut down. Not only is what they're doing illegal, but they're making a profit by stealing my work.

Not. Happening.

I refuse to link to them so they gain traffic. I will be doing something about this.

If you want more information on scraping, I suggest reading this.