Monday, October 31, 2011

Life hits me full on

Hi guys (and gals)! Stuff happens, as we all know. And they've happened to me. One could call it a major catastrophe or the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but in short - I am going through a pretty rough patch. We all do, sooner or later. It just hurts so damn much. I won't bore you with long talks about whuda, culda and shuldas, because frankly at the moment I don't even have a clue about up and down.

Because of this I don't know if I'll be able to keep on posting (it's also the reason I haven't answered any comments, sorry!). On one hand everything seems meaningless (hey, do I sound depressed or something?), on the other hand I know I love writing and it is fully possible that I won't be able to stay away from it. That it in fact will allow me to move on, in whatever fashion I will have to do that.

I have had so much fun with the blog, you can't even imagine! And I don't want this to be good bye at all, just that things are out of my hands right now and have to settle down into... something, before I know what to do. I want to thank you all for the support and enthusiasm you've shown me over the time, and I really, really hope I'll be back asap.

But for now, and I have no idea for how long, the blog is on a hiatus. Until tomorrow, next week or next year but hopefully not forever. No one is more sorry than me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Games for education isn't a bad idea

When I wrote my review on Jane McGonigals book "Reality is Broken", I complained about how she tried to hold games above reality in what I saw as basically the opposite of what non-gamers always do towards games - arbitrarily deciding that something is better than something else based on old, faulty or biased information. In that post I wrote;

"The gaming industry, and more specifically gamers, have fought since the late 70's to be considered a part of the normal entertainment system."

Basically, gamers constantly have to fight the common misconception that "gaming" is something bad. That it is something that solely can be about an ultimately wasteful use of time and that that time nearly always could've been spent doing something better. If we by "better" mean something like earn money or get smarter, that might have been true 20 years ago. Few people got richer or smarter by playing Mario (although this line of reasoning of course completely forgets how important good old fun is for anyone to become successful). But they seem to have completely missed the last 20 years of gaming development. Games can be social, they can have you earn money or become smarter, they can do loads of stuff that whatever "good" hobby does. When writing the above, little did I know that real life soon would give me the perfect example to prove my point. Prepare for a small rant.

I was casually reading through one of Swedens largest news papers - Dagens Nyheter (News of the Day) - when I stumbled upon this little pearl. Headline said, with my hobo-translation:

"Got to play video games during class".

Oh? I thought, and clicked to read more. Like I said, although I think there are plenty of games that suit a learning environment I don't think playing Mario during math will have you learn much algebra. But that wasn't the issue at all - no, apparently the Skolinpektionen (swedish School Inspection, set to make sure schools live up to standard and law) had gotten a report of a school that used a dance mat and an Xbox (god forbid!) during gym class. I was immediately intriguied. Because to me, that sounds like farking genious idea - using a dance mat to get people interested in getting sweaty. School Inpection however, did not agree with me. They had raised a warning finger and told this particular school that this was not ok, with this line of reasoning (yet again my hobo-translation).

"The gym teacher who worked with the children during the fall doesn't work there anymore, instead do some of the students go to Gyms or use a video game console - an Xbox - with a dance mat. That can't be enough to reach the goals, says School Inspection".

No I agree, that isn't enough to reach the goals. Because gym class isn't just about busting your ass, it's about learning proper diet and how training affects the body among other things (at least in sweden). Just leaving the students to take care of all that by themselves isn't going to give them the knowledge they need and are supposed to get from Gym Class (it's also not the only issue this school has apparently). And that's not what I have a problem with here either, I totally agree that they need a teacher and more than just training. But that isn't how it is worded. Or at least that isn't how I interpret it.

With the headline "got to play video games during class" and telling us that they have nothing but a dance mat, they want to make us think about that these kids are basically not doing anything during their gym classes. I wonder if anyone at School Inspection (or the journalist in this case) ever has set foot on a dance mat. I think I spend more calories during 30 minutes on a dance mat than I ever did during those 100 times of playing Rounders I did during Gym Class. Because playing the dance mat is seriously no walk in the park, it takes a lot of energy - a lot. Alone it's not enough to reach the goals, sure. But it's a damn good step in that direction.

And what is the real difference between playing Rounders and playing a dancing game on the Xbox anyway? They're both games aimed at having you bust your ass. The only difference really is that one is a lot cheaper than the other, especially if you have 30 students who are supposed to get some sort of training - 30 dance mats, xboxes and tv-screens isn't as practical and cheap as just throwing the kids outside on the football field with a bat and a ball.

But even if it was, even if the school for some reason had perfect opportunity to let a kid play a dance mat instead of Rounders, they wouldn't do it simply because the one is played on a gaming console and the other isn't. And games can never be good for anything else but wasting time, right? This is what really bothers me. I remember from my gymming days in school (which I always forgot to bring shoes to, that sucked during bandy), that half the class didn't bother to show up and or just sat at the sideline every time. I don't think a dance mat would encourage every kid to start training some, but it sure as heck would encourage some of the kids who currently don't. It annoys me when people turn down a perfectly viable and great idea just because it is a game. I would've totally loved to be able to play a dance mat during my gym classes, instead of the endless walking, skiing and rounders that we did.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rammy's Arms Warrior Guide - Part 4: Raid Pointers

Welcome to part 4 of my guildie Ramagos guide on how to play an Arms Warrior!

So, today seems it's a dull day at work, so I have tons of free time which I don't know what to with, so I'll write some more.

This time I'll go into fight specific tips.

Shannox: This fight is annoying as hell. With the tank running around kitting the boss, if you start running too late, you'll be out of range and won't be able to DPS at all. I would recommend you equip the Glyph of Rapid Charge, that way you can charge every 12 seconds instead of every 13. The problem about charge is that the travel distance is until you reach the max Melee range of the target when you charged. What does this mean? If you charge, and the target moves, you won't be at max melee range. Here is a simple drawing I made to explain it better.

Forum Image

The point where the charge ends won't follow the target if this one moves, so never charge when the target is moving away from you. Since you won't be able to reach the boss by walking until the tank stops or starts making a turn, wait until that moment, went he is starting to move sideways or just completely stops. A charge midfight is a very powerful tool since it gives you an extra 25% crit chance to your next MS, and we always love our MS to crit.

Save your Heroic Leaps for Rageface. If you need to bring him to a trap, leap past the trap and you'll trap him.

Make sure to use your CDs when you know your tank won't begin to move in the next few seconds.

Beth'tilac: Haven't done it, no tips.

Rhyolith: No tips really, since I'm driving most of the time, there is nothing special I do as a Warrior here.

Alysrazor: This fight requires a lot of moving around. Use all the spells in your arsenal to move more effectively. Since I've always done the right side, I will base my tips in that you get that side. I would recommend you get the Rude Interruption Talent since every extra DPS is necessary for this fight.

On the pull, don't shout, you don't need the Rage now and you want to save the 10% buff of the 2pset for later. With all the dmg that goes around at the pull plus the initial charge you'll have enough Rage to even spare a couple of HSs. Keep on DPSing Alysrazor until your 4th MS, then turn back and run to the initiate. By that time he should be coming down as a bird, when he is down, charge at him and go on with your rotation.

The first two initiates spawn within a VERY small time span in literally opposite sides of the room, so you need to be REALLY fast in taking down the first one. initiates 98% of the time have the following rotation "Brush Fire - Brush Fire - Fieroblast". So, when he starts casting Fieroblast, interrupt him, cast Battle Shout or Commanding Shout (depending what your raid needs) and blow all your CDs. At that moment you should have the 5% increased dmg from Rude Interruption, the 10% from the shout, hopefully the 10% from an MS crit, your trinkets and Deadly Calm. The initiate shouldn't live to cast a third Fieroblast. If he does, you are in a bit of trouble, but not too much.

When he is dead, start running to the other side of room, Heroic Leap, and then charge the Initiate. Be very careful though, to reach the Initiate you will need to avoid 2 worms that are in the way, the tank that is probably bringing the bird to eat a worm by then, and the brushfires. If you managed to kill the first initiate before the third Fieroblast, you will reach the second Initiate when he will begin to cast his first Fieroblast. If you didn't, that will go off unless someone else interrupts it, since you are probably still running or still killing the first initiate.

After the second initiate is dead, kill the bird and carry on to your closest Meteor. Remember you can either intervene an ally or charge the other Bird (if it's alive) since by then Firestorm will be soon, so the tank will be bring the bird to the meteor.

The third and fourth Initiates are way easier to deal with. You should have your shout back after the Firestorm, so line it up again with your interrupt so you will have a 15% buff. Kill the Initiate as normal and follow up to DPS the bird, since you'll have a lot of time until the fourth Initiate spawn. Be sure not to Charge the bird, since you want to have Charge available for the fourth Initiate.

You WON'T be able to kill the fourth Initiate before Firestorm, so don't try. You keep on the Initiate until there is 7-8 seconds left for Firestorm, because at that moment he'll cast his last Fieroblast, interrupt that and run to the Meteor to hide. After the Firestorm finish off the fourth Initiate and help kill the bird. Right side only has 4 Initiates while left side has 5 or 6. Do not go to the other side to help out with the Initiate, you'll have to cross the whole room to do that and risk a lot of worms and brushfires. Plus, you need to DPS the bird as soon as it spawn in order to kill it before tornados, and even by doing so you might not make it.

Tornados come and then burn phase. By the time the Tornados disappear and the burn phase starts you'll have all your cooldowns ready. You are now presented with a choice: use them or save them. If you save them, you'll use them on the First initiate and have a second P1 identical as the first one. If you use them in the burn phase things will get messy with the first and second initiates, since you'll spend more time on the first Initiate; the second Initiate will launch one or two Fieroblasts until you are able to reach him; you will barely be able to kill the Initiate before Firestorm so you won't have time to DPS the bird, risking a wipe behind meteors thanks to a bird cleaving.

Third and Fourth Initiates are always the same, the only trouble you have is at First and Second if you don't save your CDs.

Baleroc: DPS, DPS, DPS.

Staghelm: Bring an AoE spec for this one, although single target DPS is important, Arms has awesome multitarget DPS. Your tank and healers will appreciate that little tigers go down fast.

Ragnaros: I have one tip for P1, stay at max melee range, that way when you are pushed back, you'll be able to Charge back and gain Rage + 25% more crit to MS. You'll only be able to Charge back if you are at max melee range when pushed, if you are closer to the boss when pushed back, you'll be too close to be able to Charge.

And be very careful! I've known Warriors that for the sake of being at max melee range they chanced the wrath of the hammer! Thoughts like "Ok, two little steps in and the wave won't reach me, so I can get back fast to max melee range" are dangerous! Don't prioritize the chance of a Charge over your own safety!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Top 5 Class Roles That Nearly Existed

I love it when you casually read something and it grows in your brain until you've spawned an idea that is just awesome, or so you think anyway. The other day I was reading Gavendos answers to Blizzards Class Feedback questions, and one thing commenter Safari said to that post really set my brain gears in motion.

"One thing I wrote is another role. I think hunters should have melee DPS spec as well. Based on fast quick attacks of course." 

Melee hunters? The very symbol of newbie playstyle and a standing joke in the WoW community from the dawn of WoW till today? But you know what - why can't hunters be a melee class? In fact, Blizzard have themselves pondered the idea, because many design choices about hunters definitely show that Blizzard long thought of meleeing hunters as a valid option. And they're not alone. Here is my top 5 list of class roles that could've come to be;

5. Dk Healers
When I first heard about the design idea of Dks, I imagined a plate wearing warlock, essentially. I thought it would be awesomely cool with a caster that worked as a tank, who commanded its undead minions to do his tanky bidding. That isn't what Dks turned out to be at all, but there are still a couple of things that if changed the right way could turn a dk into a caster - either as dps or a healer.

Why it could be true:
Unlike the other items on this list, Dks don't have anything that screams "COULD BE CASTER!", but rather a lot of hidden potential. For instance, Death Coil heals if used on the dks ghoul, this could theoretically be designed to heal anyone. And while we're down that path, many of the dks skills could of course be designed to heal rather than deal damage - like Death & Decay. Their Gargoyle could work like a little summonable healing pet. Death Strike could give the dk a Holy Power-like heal. Blood Tap already heals the group with the right glyph. And before you say "well you could design any skill in the game to just heal instead of deal damage, Rip your friend for a hot ey!?" I don't agree. None of the other dpsers skills would make sense as healing skills, but many of a dks skills would (except you would maybe have to rename the skills to a little less death, like Death & Decay to Undeath & Undecay or something). They have a resurrection. Originally Blood Aura made so that everyone healed themselves worth of their damage dealt, like a version of Vampiric Embrace. They are in a sense the opposite of any healer, but how awesome wouldn't it be if they then actually could be healers?

Why it isn't true: Initially Blizzard intended for Dks to be a little bit of everything. Icy Touch was so strong for a while that Dks could've been competitive ranged dps if they had had enough runes, even called "Plate Witches". They did the most damage, took the least damage and could heal themselves for more than any other non-healer could. Each talent tree basically turned the Dk into a tank-dps with strong self healing capabilities. Blizzard then realized that eventhough it would make Dks fun, it made every other class annoyed and that they had to decide just what Dks were supposed to do and be. So they made a warrior out of them, turning one talent tree into a tank tree and the others into dps (where one coincidentally is for twohanders and the other for dual wielding). The Dk just didn't fit into the frame that every other classes had been molded in, and so Blizzard had to reshape them into that frame instead. In that process, any possibility of a healing dk died. But it would be awesome to play.

4. Tank Warlock
This didn't just almost become true, tank warlocks actually existed during a short period of Burning Crusade and Wrath, albeit in two different forms. A fellow guildie of mine wanted to see just how far he could take his lock using the old SL/SL build. He managed to actually turn himself into a proper tank lock, tanking me and other people through real Burning Crusade heroics!

Why it could be true: Warlocks actually have an entire spec - Demonology - that has many sneaky features in it that could've been used for tanking. Soul Link reduces the damage taken by the lock by a significant amount, but that was far from everything. In Metamorphosis the warlock took less damage, was made crit immune, had a mass taunt, and a charge to quickly get to the mobs in Demon Charge. They also had a skill, Searing Pain, with increased threat value to keep aggro on mobs.

Why it isn't true: It undoubtedly seems like Blizzard at least thought of the possibility, but eventually scrapped the idea. Metamorphosis still reduces crit chance received and damage taken, but the taunt has been removed and Demonic Charge changed into Demonic Leap (which still is basically the same thing though). The idea worked so well that it actually briefly worked too well. Designing a tank that can deal regular dps damage is a very dangerous thing to do, as anyone who had to fight a protection warrior in late Wrath or a dk in early Wrath will attest. In order to fix this, Blizzard would probably have to reduce damage done by anyone in Metamorphosis, which would make the cooldown worthless for anything but tanking. Also Blizzard probably thought that anyone who plays a warlock wouldn't be interested in tanking anyway. Or would they? As far as I know, it's still a deep harbored wish among warlocks to be able to turn into a real tanking maniac every once in a while, just as back in BC. The way warlock tanking worked back in BC wouldn't work today though, since the damage reduction from Metamorphosis doesn't make up for the lack of proper dodging, or not being able to parry or block as a warlock.

3. Melee Hunter
As mentioned, the idea of a meleeing hunter is far from an old one. And if we look at other games we realize that the pure-ranged hunter version that we have in WoW is actually a rather unique style of hunterism. Most other rpgs depict the hunter as some form of Aragorn inspired mix between the WoW version and a Wow rogue - a character that has the possibility to do good damage in ranged but who also is able to fight in melee and be annoying as hell with traps if needed.

Why it could be true: Anyone who played hunter back in Vanilla remembers that the way the old Survival tree used to look, it seemed suspiciously much like Blizzard wanted survival hunters to actually be melee hunters, or at least some 50/50. The fact that Hunters have more melee skills (Raptor Strike, Mongoose Bite, Counterattack, Wing Clip, traps before Trap Launcher) than any melee has ranged skills seems like further proof that Blizzard at least at some time thought hunters should be able to go melee. Not to mention Hunters actually wield melee weapons with their ranged weapon as a backup. Coincidence? Perhaps, but most hunters agree they'd much rather see their ranged weapon than their melee weapon on their backs.

Why it isn't true: Some of you might hate me for saying this, but let me ask you a question: If you could choose to be able to use your skill at 40 yards or only in melee range what would you prefer, regardless of class? Eventhough most hunters didn't turn into melee hunters for the simple reason that their melee skills just weren't all that good, another factor is that ranged always have been a lot easier to play than melee. Right now, hunters combine the best of two worlds with the benefits of actually dealing melee damage while being a ranged class, why would they give that up to go into melee range with all the drawbacks that has? The only drawback a hunter has towards other ranged is that they can't deal damage in melee, something Blizzard already fixed once and surely will fix even more soon. But wouldn't it be interesting if you as a hunter could smoothly switch between being ranged and melee, eventhough most hunters would end up being ranged 95% of the time.

2. Tank Shaman
As with the tank warlock, this is something that was so close to becoming true, it actually worked in a limited setting. Up until approximately level 40, enhancement shamans are actually capable of decent tanking. So capable in fact, that I wrote a guide on how to do it (as I've done with warlock tanking as well). Unfortunately, the lfd tool has killed both aspiring warlock tank and shaman tanks, so if you want it to happen you have to gather 4 friends who are crazy enough to join you.

Why it could be true: Shamans actually have a taunt. They have a totem that does nothing but tank. Enhancement shamans prefer two one handers, but can wield shields if they want to, and enhancement shamans used to have a talent that gave them parry and a talent called Shield Specialization which increased their block chance by up to 5%. They have a skill that reduces damage done to them by 30%. And they have a weapon buff that increases their threat by 30% and reduces their damage taken by 5%. Need more proof?

Why it isn't true: The reasons there aren't any shaman tanks running around are probably the same as why there are no tank warlocks. Blizzard learned that combining the design of a dps with that of a tank was a very bad idea. Nonetheless, Shamans have retained most of their tanking skills, in fact, Rockbiter was changed to increase threat in Cataclysm - this isn't some old remnant from Vanilla that Blizzard has just forgotten about. This is a change they actively applied to Shamans recently, for some reason.

1. The Everything Druid
Druids are among the hybrids that have suffered worst from the "hybrid" curse. Back in Vanilla, Blizzard often wanted hybrids to be good at a little bit of everything, which meant they weren't good at anything (or only one specific thing like healing). This was especially true for druids. They were known as the "Jack of all trades" and Blizzard obviously wanted druids to be able to freely fulfill any role (them being the only class that currently can do every role in the game) and only specialize slightly in one.

Why it could be true: Back in Vanilla, Blizzard really thought of druids as bear-chicken-cat-healers (although chicken form didn't exist initially). As with many hybrid gears back then, many leather items had both melee stats and caster stats on them, or set bonuses that catered both. All druids had the capability to combat res, throw heals, go into tank form or sprint away as a cat for a reason - they actually wanted them to be able to do anything during a fight. People who decided to focus on one area were rewarded with extra good talents. This might sound odd, but that is actually how most talent trees worked, only it had the most interesting implications for druids. Imagine a druid that truly swaps roles mid fight, going from tanking to ranged to caster to healer as needed, mid combat.

Why it isn't true: Unfortunately, as I mentioned, being half ass at everything means not being good at anything. Druids became known as "Jack of all trades, master of none". Blizzard also realized that allowing people to freely spend their points some here and there made designing talent trees a hell. In some cases they made some talents too good which meant everyone had to take it anyway (like Innervate for druids). In some cases they made combos so good that everyone took that anyway (like the warlock SL/SL build). And if combining a healer and tank is dangerous, imagine the horror of a class that is actually every role in one? I still think it would be totally rad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reminiscing BC & Wrath Priest Tier Set Bonuses

So here we are, with my second part of looking at and evaluating old tier bonuses. Let's get right to it.

Burning Crusade

Tier 4 - Incarnate Regalia
Obtained from: Tokens from Gruul's Lair and Karazhan
Incarnate Regalia was the first set to be obtained entirely from tokens. This was Blizzards first try with having tier drops rely less on luck, because back in Vanilla you could be left out of tier just because it never dropped for your class. Another reason for this change was that Blizzard implemented 10 and 25 man raids, where you could expect a couple of classes to be missing, as opposed to the 40 man raids where you knew that nearly any tier drop would go to someone in need. Indeed, I still feel like one of the biggest issues with the current tier system, eventhough we have tokens, is that some get their tier way faster than others just because of luck - but that is probably unavoidable as long as tier tokens will only count for a couple of classes a piece. Blizzard also made some changes to how the tiers looked, giving us fewer pieces and fewer set bonuses.

2 pieces: Your Prayer of Healing spell now also causes an additional 150 healing over 9 sec.
Then: Yet again, we see the infacy of what was later to become a standard feature of some sort - this time it's the Prayer of Healing glyph. Prayer of Healing wasn't used as much as it is today (it sometimes makes out some 30-40% of my healing, not counting DA), and still had the same issues that it had in Vanilla, namely that it was only castable on the priests own party. I don't remember exactly how much hp people would run around with in BC, a rough estimate would be 7-10k for a caster, which means 150 healing over 9 sec sounds very little.
Now: The glyph that this mechanic turned into in Wrath is usually considered one of the must-have glyphs for both specs of healing priests, mostly because of how often PoH is used.

4 pieces: Each time you cast Flash Heal, your next Greater Heal cast within 15 sec has its casting time reduced by 0.1, stacking up to 5 times.
Then: Here we have the original version of what would later become Serendipity. Greater Heal was something of a standard heal back then too, but if I remember correctly we were still able to downrank then which meant we could use lower and faster ranks of GH, which were affected by spellpower in the same way the max rank was (which meant holydins could use rank 1 Flash of Light for basically no mana cost but all the spellpower gain, that was crazy). I am unsure if we had any talents to lower the cast time of Greater Heal however and the usefulness of this set bonus was probably similar to the one Serendipity has today - when you spam Flash Heals it's usually because you need to dish out fast hps and a faster Greater Heal is quite welcome then.
Now: The usefulness of Serendipity is debated - personally I don't use it often but like mentioned above it's one of those talents you're happy to have when you need it.

Tier 5 - Avatar Raiment
Obtained from: Tokens from Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye
Yet another full token set (they all were in BC), Avatar Raiment is often considered among the coolest looking priest sets, and I have to agree. Especially if you managed to get the head and shoulders in combination - they really got this tier to make you look so very priestly. I am guessing this will be one of the gear combos we'll see many priests run around with after transmogrification enter the scene.

2 pieces: If your Greater Heal brings the target to full health, you gain 100 mana.
Then: Like mentioned, Greater Heal was much then as it is now - big, slow, mana efficient (even more so back then than now) and considered among our base heals. This was probably a decent way to increase the mana efficiency of Greater Heal some more.
Now: It's an interesting mechanic to reward a healer for topping someone off (something I wish they'd still have today so I don't have to stand around and wait for a heal when tanking). Blizzard have since tried to move away from mechanics that reward us for healing when X is at some certain healing pool because they noticed that that in fact influences our whole way of healing, rather than just be a bonus when something occurs. Eventhough we're back to the mind set of having to constantly top people off in raids, that wasn't initially the idea in early Cata, where Blizzard hoped to give healers more leeway and time for choices. I like the idea of this mechanic, but I am unsure how well it would work in practice.

4 pieces: Increases the duration of your Renew spell by 3 sec.
Then: This was just pure good - a longer duration on Renew meant having to cast it less often which meant more mana saved for other spells. Renew was used as often by holy priests back then as it is now, but I am unsure how useful this was for disc priests. Although I actually did play disc back then, since BC was the expansion that made disc healing somewhat viable, I would think that this set bonus favored holy as much then as it would now.
Now: This would still be a very useful set bonus, although nowadays most people rather want more ticks from their renews than a longer duration. But who says we can't have both? Haste for the extra tick and a set bonus like this for longer duration. Disc would need some equivalent though, perhaps extra duration on shields or DA?

Tier 6 - Vestments of Absolution
Obtained from: Tokens from Black Temple and Mount Hyjal
Vestments of Absolution was the first set to have different names between the healing and the shadow set (Absolution Regalia). It was also a set that went back to the 8 pieces we saw from tiers in Vanilla, although Blizzard still only designed two different set bonuses. Tier 6 is also considered among the better looking priest tiers, although it differs greatly in esthetics from tier 5 - being dark and low profile as opposed to tier 5 light and high profile style. Blizzard were definitely on a role when they designed the BC tiers if you ask me.

2 pieces: Reduces the mana cost of your Prayer of Healing ability by 10%.
Then: Prayer of Healing has always been among our costliest spells, for obvious reasons. Reducing the mana cost of it would have made priests very happy without being too overpowered, like it might have been to lower the mana cost of some more frequently used spells like Greater Heal or Flash Heal.
Now: Although of course a very boring set bonus, I'd love to get this today because of how often I use PoH. On the other hand I think tier bonuses should be more of a "fun" style (which probably is why I love 4 set tier 12 so much) rather than overpoweringly good. I really didn't like the 5% crit bonuses that tier 11 had for example.

4 pieces: Increases the healing from your Greater Heal ability by 5%.
Then: Yet another set bonus to provide pure throughput, but with extra healing rather than extra mana. 5% isn't very much, but probably balanced enough to be a good set bonus.
Now: This is very similar to the 2 set bonus - boring but useful. Fortunately we've got this through talents nowadays instead of in our tiers.

Wrath of the Lich King
A new expansion came with yet again new ideas for tier designs. This time around Blizzard implemented tiers that came in both a "normal" and a "heroic" version, they were basically the same only the heroic version had more stats on them. They were also acquired from the same raids only, you guessed it, heroic tier came from heroic mode.

Tier 7 - Heroes' Regalia & Valorous Regalia of Faith
Obtained from: Naxxramas and Archavon (VoA)
All the tier 7 were remakes of the old tier 3 sets, since you got them from Naxx which was a remake of the old Naxxramas. This too was one of the better looking priest tiers. Tier 7 was the first tier set I managed to completely collect, the closest I'd been before that was tier 4, so it holds a special place in my heart.

2 pieces: Your Prayer of Mending will jump an additional time.
Then: Prayer of Mending is one of my favorite spells, which I have ranted about before plenty of times. It has worked the same way ever since it was implemented in BC, although initially it didn't have a cooldown (which was far too op of course). It's just one of those spells that provides, and I think everything about it is so well designed - it's not too good, but still good enough, it doesn't feel spammy but you can use it on cooldown, regardless of situation you can always toss out a PoM. Enough of the love declartion though - adding a jump to it would be very useful during aoe situations, and less useful any other time. I love this set bonus, but looking at it objectively I'd have to say that the extra healing from it is actually very low.
Now: Massive aoe bursts are more common now than ever (or so it feels anyway). Nonetheless, I rarely get full use of PoM before I toss out another one, partially because the PoM Glyph rewards throwing out new PoMs all the time. I don't like to say it, but I still don't think that this set bonus would be very useful to us.

4 pieces: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%.
Then: Wrath saw Flash Heal become the main heal of both disc and holy, and at least towards the end of the expansion I don't recall using Greater Heal much at all. Why bother when Flash Heal had way higher hps and mana wasn't an issue? This might've been a decent set bonus in early Wrath, but honestly I think it was too weak even then to be considered a good 4 set.
Now: We all know what happened to Flash Heal in Cata, and Greater Heal has definitely taken its place as much as it can. Reducing the mana cost on GH by 5% is still something I'd consider weak for a 4 set bonus though - not to mention that it's rather uninventive.

Tier 8 - Valorous Sanctification Garb & Conqueror's Sanctification Garb
Obtained from: Tokens from Ulduar and Emalon (VoA)
Also good looking! Hey Blizzard sure knew how to make nice priest tier back in them days.

2 pieces: Increases the critical heal chance of your Prayer of Healing by 10%.
Then: Blizzard had fixed one of the biggest drawbacks of Prayer of Healing, that of it only being castable on your own party, in early Wrath. This meant it was becoming as useful as it is to us today, and an added 10% crit to this spell must be considered a rather strong 2 set.
Now: As I've said plenty of times before, because of how much we spam PoH in current content, any buff to that spell would be considered really good. Although it's a boring bonus I'd definitely not turn down the prospect of a 10% straight up crit bonus to PoH.

4 pieces: Casting Power Word: Shield also grants you 250 spell power for 5 sec.
Then: Shielding was never something you did often as holy, so this would interestingly enough be one of the few bonuses that would be better for a disc than a holy priest. 250 spellpower back then was a nice buff, and this would actually have most holy priests try to weave in a lot more shields in their healing than they otherwise would've. These kind of set bonuses are interesting because they force you to change the way you heal just to accomodate the extra buff (as long as that would be the best course of action of course). Some enjoy to have to rethink their healing styles, some think it's annoying to have to completely change what they do just because of one set bonus. I'm probably somewhere inbetween.
Now: Like I just said, I stand inbetween when it comes to these kind of set bonuses. I don't mind changing the way I normally heal as long as it makes sense  - casting extra shields as holy might not feel entirely natural, kind of like having this kind of buff but with Renew would feel wrong as a disc. But on the other hand, if it is beneficial i.e you gain more throughput by using the set bonus, then why not? Whatever it takes right? In any case, it definitely would spice things up a little.

Tier 9 - Conqueror's Zabra's/Velen's Raiment and Triumphant Zabra's/Velen's Raiment
Obtained from: Tokens from Trial of the Crusader and Koralon (VoA).
This not only had different names between specs, but between factions too. The question of course has always been - who the heck is Zabra? Esthetics wise, this, tier 10 and 11 are among the worst priest tiers.

2 pieces: Increases the healing done by your Prayer of Mending spell by 20%.
Then: One of my all time favorite set bonuses, it was so good that I kept it for as long as humanly possible even when we had moved on to ICC. This is 20% extra to every jump, and an overall really nice boost to healing done. In my opinion one of the best designed set bonuses there ever was.
Now: I'd completely love to get this set bonus back, although it might actually be considered too good in its current state. 10% wouldn't be too much to ask for though? PoM POWER!

4 pieces: Increases all healing you do by 5%.
Then: Tier 9 was overall given some very good set bonuses, first the 20% to POM and now this. 5% extra healing to everything you do? Yes please. I don't remember however whether this affected our shields and DA, if I know Blizzard right it probably didn't. But still, any healer would like this kind of set bonus - boring but extremely good.
Now: See above, this set bonus would be insane. I doubt many set bonuses since have had this much impact on our overall healing output as this set bonus did (Cauterizing Flame as comparison seems to be about 1,5% extra healing on average).

Tier 10 - Sanctified Crimson Acolyte's Raiment
This time, Blizzard thought it would be enough to just put a little "heroic" tag on the heroic gear instead of giving it another name. Maybe that is for the best, who cares what the gear is called after all?

2 pieces: Your Flash Heal has a 33% chance to cause the target to heal for 33% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
Then: Considering how much we used Flash Heal back in late Wrath, I always did consider this a rather good set bonus, it was basically a ~10% increase to Flash Heal output (if my math isn't all wrong) which is very good for a 2set bonus.
Now: We use Flash Heal way less than we used to, on the other hand it has become a lot stronger than it used to be too. I still don't think we'd have much use of this set bonus, but I wouldn't mind seeing a version of this on some other skill - like Greater Heal. But maybe the holy mastery is too similar for Blizzard to go that way.

4 pieces: Increases the effect of Power Word: Shield by 5% and Circle of Healing by 10%.
Then: The first set bonus ever to actually try to accomodate both specs, unfortunately it fails on one major point. Shield is available to both specs, while CoH is available only to holy, meaning holy has the benefit of both bonuses while disc only has benefit of one. Ah well, Blizzard will never get that entirely right I suppose. Both bonuses are very good though, and even balanced towards eachother.
Now: This would be considered a good set bonus now too, although perhaps 5% to shields is slightly better than 10% to CoH, considering CoH has a cooldown. It's a boring set bonus however, and I am glad everytime Blizzard think of something else than these straight throughput bonuses.

And that's that folks. All the tiers and set bonuses we've had up until Cataclysm. It makes me wonder how far it will go? Kind of with the Final Fantasy series. Will we have Final Fantasy 30 and tier 32 in ten years? Though I think we'd have gotten a new huge mmo by then. We saw some interesting mechanics early on which Blizzard obviously liked much enough to give us as talents or glyphs, and I am happy they did. Those mechanics were often good enough to not be wasted on only ever being some tier set bonus. One can always argue what the idea behind set bonuses is supposed to be - on the end it is meant to offer the wearer a stat boost (every set bonus is some kind of stat bonus when broken down), that just isn't obtainable through off-set gear. Overall I think Blizzard has succeeded with this mission, although I would've preferred it if they skipped the pure stat gains alltogether (like 5% extra crit and such). We get plenty of those from every other gear, set bonuses are supposed to hide the boring stat gains in fun mechanics. Which set bonus would you like to see make a come back?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reminiscing Vanilla Priest Tier Set Bonuses

Four set tier 12 is the first set bonus I've been longing, and working really hard, to get since 2 set tier 9. Not because it is awesomely good, in fact I haven't checked up on its healing output (there is seriously a void regarding the information on this set bonus, but that's matter for another post), but because it seems like fun! And fun is why we play this game after all. In any case, it made me reminisce about old tiers I've had and didn't have but wished I did. What kind of set bonuses did they have, and were they any good? How has the idea of set bonuses for priests changed over the years? Let's take a look shall we?

Since there are quite a few by now, I've decided to focus on the pve tier sets.

There are many things unique about the old Vanilla tiers that Blizzard decided to change with upcoming expansions. First of all, there was no dps tier - if you wanted a tier set you had to heal. This was true for most multi-role classes, where warriors only had a tank tier, druids only had a healing tier and so on. Hybrids could also have funny combinations of stats, with intellect and strength being on the same items. Back then, Blizzard only made tiers for one spec or for the class as a whole (regardless if that class could fill several roles), and everyone else had to gather other kind of gear. What the reasoning behind this was, I have no idea. Did Blizzard design an entire spec and then not think it would be a viable end game spec, or did they just think shadow would be fine with off sets? I have no idea. Let's just be happy they realized that it wasn't a good plan.

Another unique property of the old tiers, although not necessarily a bad one, was that they had more pieces and therefor also more set bonuses. Tier 1 had no less than 8 pieces, and 3 set bonuses. Why they decided to change this I can only imagine - probably because it was a lot of work to design three decent set bonuses. What with them releasing tiers in an ever faster pace (or so it feels anyway), most of us probably wouldn't get to smell the highest set bonus until it was time to trade it for the next one anyway.

Tier 1 - Vestments of Prophecy
Obtained from: Molten Core

3 pieces: -0.1 sec to the casting time of your Flash Heal spell.
Then: Flash Heal used to be one of our bread and butter spell, before Cataclysm that is. In modern terms, this would be like giving .1 sec reduced cast time to Heal or Greater Heal. It does convert into a decent amount of haste, back when haste didn't even exist, and for the first set bonus it's an ok one.
Now: Although we use Flash Heal more and more now, we don't use it often enough for this to be noticed much. Perhaps on fights like Baleroc where spamming out as many Flash Heals as possible usually is the point of the fight. But considering most of us already have a decent amount of haste and the cast time of Flash Heal already is low we wouldn't find much use for this set bonus.

5 pieces: Improves your critical strike rating by 28.
Then: Tiers were among the few items in the game that provided secondary stats like haste (above) and crit. Priest specifically didn't have any special need for crit, no more than they do now (bigger heals, proccing Inpiration). 28 crit rating converts to roughly 2% crit, which wasn't awesome even back then.
Now: Back in Vanilla, we didn't have fancy stuff like "ratings". This item probably provided 2% crit straight off. Unfortunately, having gear that gave straight stat increases meant that you could actually cap yourself eventually, and it also made it difficult for Blizzard to introduce better than previous gear - an item that gave 2% crit at 60 would do so even at 85. So they introduced the rating system, with the explicit intention to make old gear less and less useful the higher level you got. And of course, that means this set bonus isn't very useful to us today, since it would give about .15% crit, and crit being our least wanted stat too. But looking at it as a crit bonus (instead of focusing on the numbers), we can see that is something Blizzard has continued using throughout the tiers. Tier 11 had crit bonuses as 2 set, and I am sure we will see more of crit in the future tiers as well - maybe it's just one of those stats that is fairly easy to balance.

8 pieces: Increases your chance of a critical hit with Prayer of Healing by 25%.
Then: Yet another crit bonus, this time looking like what Inner Focus would be if it were a set bonus. The difference of course being that it is a permanent 25% buff to your Prayer of Healing. Prayer of Healing used to have a couple of crippling drawbacks back in the day, most importantly that it only healed the priests own party (remember, this was back when you had 40 man raids divided in 8 groups). It meant that it was very useful when doing dungeons, but to get the most out of it in raids you probably would want to swap around priests to cover as many groups as possible (the kind of swapping we still do today to accomodate PoH, although for slightly other reasons). A strong bonus mostly limited by the spell itself.
Now: PoH has become one of our most frequent used spells. On some fights I feel like I do nothing but spam PoH. Imagine having a 25% straight off crit buff to all those PoH? Pretty insane huh? This set bonus would indeed be really good for us still today, in fact it would be better for modern priests than it was for priests back in Vanilla.

Tier 2 - Vestments of Transcendence
Obtained from:  Blackwing Lair

3 pieces: Increases your Spirit by 50.
Then: Back in Vanilla, spirit only counted for out of casting regen, which meant to benefit from it you had to stop casting for at least 5 seconds and wait for your mana regen to kick in. This was something commonly used by healers of course, like I said, it was the only way to regain mana during a fight (except of course there was no cap to using mana pots, so you could chug as many as you liked on 2 min cd). Spirit was still about as important a stat back then as it is now, and this was probably considered a rather strong set bonus - 50 was a big number back then.
Now: This is a pure stat bonus, something that was uncommon back then, but we see on every gear nowadays. Blizzard have tried to make set bonuses special and set apart from regular gear in that they provide stats but in a "funner" manner than just raw stats (the Cauterizing Flame is an excellent example. Eventhough spirit is among our most important stats, and we'd do well with a chunk of spirit at any time it's not likely Blizzard will design tiers with these "boring" set bonuses again.

5 pieces: When struck in melee there is a 50% chance you will Fade for 4 sec.
Then: Wait what? Fade? As far as I remember, pve priests weren't hit much more in melee than they are now, and we had regular Fade back then too. If we ever did get aggro, which happens, we could just Fade. Why would we have even more aggro after that? The only time this would be useful is... no wait, I can't think of any time. It's not good for pvp nor pve. Blizzard did a couple of wonky set bonuses like this one back then, before they had decided that each spec, role and arena would get their own kind of tier. Like I mentioned above, it's like they realized somewhere that they had a lot more content than just pve healing, and thought they had to accomodate all the other priest types out there as well. But in nearly any setting this set bonus is very weak.
Now: This set bonus is about as useful to a pve priest now as it was back in Vanilla, ie not. We're not supposed to be hit much in melee and this does basically nothing to improve our healing.

8 pieces: Your Greater Heal spell now also heals for 315 over 15 sec.
Then: Adding a hot to Greater Heal isn't such a bad idea at all - we're seeing a predecessor of Holy Mastery here. Until Cata, priests only ever had Renew as a hot, and hots have always been very useful. Greater Heal was also an often used spell, and I can imagine that this was a very good set bonus indeed.
Now: If we look aside the fixed bonus healing, because that is of course far too weak to be of use to us today, the idea of a hot to a heal is a very good one, and I am glad they gave us this kind of healing through the Holy Mastery. If they had done something else with the Holy Mastery, I'd have loved this kind of set bonus myself.

Tier 3 - Vestments of Faith
Obtained fromUnavailable (used to be old Naxx I think)
This tier was super special and had no less than four set bonuses! Unfortunately, this tier is no longer available in the game *sad face*. If you want something that looks like it you will have to go get tier 7 from Naxx.

2 pieces: Reduces the mana cost of your Renew spell by 12%.
Then: Holy was the spec to be if you wanted to raid back in Vanilla, and if I remember correctly Renew was a pretty commonly used spell back then too, about as it is used today. Reducing the mana cost of that spell by 12% would be an awesome set bonus (consider too that this is only the 2 set bonus!), fitting of one of the most hardest to get tiers.
Now: As we've seen with later tiers, this set bonus would be skewed in favor for holy of course. Eventhough using Renew is far from taboo for a disc priest, it's usually not used very often and this bonus wouldn't end up to much for a disc priest. For a holy priest however, this would be a really good bonus and something I wouldn't mind to see the return of in later tiers (as long as there is an equivalent bonus for disc of course).

4 pieces: On Greater Heal critical hits, your target will gain Armor of Faith, absorbing up to 500 damage.
Then: It's always fun to see how mechanics that were later implemented in the game, often started out as set bonuses. Here we have another one - do you recognize Divine Aegis in its infacy? It has a fixed value, but 500 damage back in Vanilla was far from shabby. The only real drawback is that it only affects one spell, but like mentioned, GH was much used in Vanilla. Depending on your crit this could've been a really powerful set bonus, much like how crit influences the power of DA today.
Now: For disc this would basically be like an extra Divine Aegis, maybe an extra strong DA on your GH crits, and why not? This would definitely be useful for holy as well, but considering this mechanic has already been thoroughly implemented in the game, we probably won't see anything like it again.

6 pieces: Reduces the threat from your healing spells.
Then: Like I already said regarding tier 2 5 set bonus, threat has just never been that huge of an issue for priests. This feels like the kind of bonus you'd throw in because you have to have something and you don't want to use up all your good ideas on one tier. This should've been the 2 set bonus if anything.
Now: I can see this being a decent set bonus for those healing classes that currently actually have some issues with threat, most notably resto druids. Priests have always been able to rely on fade, and it has done a great job throughout the last six years. I can't even remember the last time I thought "gosh darn, if only fade had a shorter cooldown" because of my massive threat.

8 pieces: Each spell you cast can trigger an Epiphany, increasing your Spirit by 60 for 30 sec.
Then: With a 5% proc chance, this would have roughly 1 ppm, or an average of 30 extra spirit overall. And remember what I said about spirit? Only useful out of casting. This makes this bonus actually weaker than 2 set tier 2, which I find very odd indeed.
Now: Proccing spirit is what has become our trinkets today, we see this kind of mechanic all the time. With the proper amount of spirit this is a good bonus, which DMC Tsunami can attest!

Next time - BC and Wrath bonuses! (Pictures from

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rammy's Arms Warrior Guide - Part 3: Stats

Welcome to part 3 of my guildie Ramagos guide on how to play an arms warrior!

Since I'm running out of advanced strategies, I'm going to talk about simpler stuff... like stats.

Haste, what good does Haste do to us? Someone wants to share with the class? Any hands? Yes, you in the back, what does Haste do to us? ... Very good! It makes our melee swings faster so we have more Rage to use more HS. One point for Griffindor!

What else? No one? Of course no one is raising their hands, because Haste has nothing more to offer. Unlike the rest of the classes, our DoTs are not affected by Haste. That's it, neither Rend nor DW will tick faster the more Haste you have. If you think Rend ticking faster would do weird stuff with the TfB proc for our OPs you are mistaken, since if you remember our first lesson, we try to force Rend ticks with MS.

The drawback Haste has is Slam, since when you are casting it, you delay your melee swings, reducing the value of Haste. As I said before, roughly every 7 Slams you lose an entire melee swing. In a normal 6 minute fight you get to do around 40 slams, meaning you lose 5 melee swings during the course of the fight. 5% Haste gives you roughly 1 melee swing a minute which is roughly 1 extra HS a minute.

Soooo, Haste does seem a bit attractive, let us look what Mastery has in store for us. An X% chance to perform an extra attack that deals 100% weapon damage, seems nice, right? An extra attack means more damage, right? Yes, but, how good is an extra attack compared to Haste and Crit? Let us see the good and the bad of Mastery.

The Good: It can proc of every single melee attack and melee spell, it can crit and it can also proc Sudden Death.

The Bad: Does not generate Rage, has an internal CD of 0.5 seconds so it can't proc of itself and it only does 100% weapon damage.

It is basically an extra melee swing that doesn't generate Rage. It is nice, indeed, but doesn't look specially more appealing than Haste. We do know one thing, though, since it has a 0.5 CD, it will have a cap, so the closer we get to the cap, the less value Mastery will have.

Last of all, we have Crit. Let us see what do we get from Crit. Our main rotational spells have an added value of 120% instead of the normal 100% melee crits have. Our crits also apply DW, which deals 48% weapon damage (not the spell damage like Fire Mage's Ignite) over 6 seconds. DW is affected by the 30% Bleed buff we apply, so it's actually 63-64% weapon damage. DW does suffer munching the same way Fire Mage's Ignite do, although not as much, since it's weapon damage and not the damage done. Crits are devastating with ThunderClap in AoE as well, since they spread DW around.

But 120% crits is hardly reason enough to consider Crit above the other two stats. But wait! What do we have here? MS crits increase our damage done in 10% for 12 seconds? Mmmm, interesting.

Let us see stuff in action with some logs:

As you can see, Mastery (Opportunity Strikes) only consists of 7.2% of our total DPS while DW alone consists of 9.2% of our DPS. And we are not counting the damage done by all the crits. I have 6.25% Haste, which is 1 extra melee swing and 1 extra HS per minute, the fight lasted 6 minutes, so the effects of Haste were 6 HS (of 36 which is 1/6th of the 5.8% total DPS HS did) and 6 Melee Swings (of 84 wich is 1/14th of the 10.5% total DPS melee strikes did).

So in total we have the following numbers:

Haste: 0.9686% HS dmg + 0.7497% Melee dmg = 1.7183% total dmg
Mastery: 7.2% total dmg
Crit: 9.2% DW dmg + 32% MS dmg which is 4.9% total dmg + 50% OP dmg which is 7.05% total dmg... 3 spells makes 21.15% total dmg, should I go on? It will probably reach 27-30% total dmg.

Those extra 6 melee swings, 6 HS and 82 Opportunity Strikes would most certainly have procced some SDs, giving DPS indirectly by means of CS, but we are also not counting the DPS we gain every time MS crits and gives 10% dmg for 12 seconds.

It is true those are my logs and I'm reforged to favor crit above all else, So when I get home I'll do 3 dummy runs of 5 mins each, each one specced favoring Haste, Mastery and Crit respectively and post the details here for you to see.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Majordomo Staghelm Heroic 10 Man Guide

Here's my second shot at a guide to how to heal a heroic Firelands boss, this time it's Majordomo Staghelm. Unfortunately I didn't get around to doing the shot until after the nerf, but the fight doesn't differ that much - it's just shorter. I have no idea why the video isn't in widescreen, and my WM file is broken so I have to redo it all to fix it. Maybe I'll get around to is some day, until then - hope you enjoy this!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Learning vs Relearning

I love how I, six years after I first started playing this game, still can make new discoveries about myself and my playstyle. Maybe that partially is why I've stuck with this game for so long, there is always something else to find out, something to improve and get better at.

I pride myself in being a fast learner. I don't think I've always been good at learning fight mechanics and learning how to avoid stuff, although I couldn't say for sure what would be the moment when I suddenly defined myself as a decent, maybe even good, raider. I do think I fail less than average (although I haven't confirmed this) and I do think I learn faster than average (but maybe I've just been in guilds with low standards). For instance, when I did my very first Majordomo kill (normal of course) I hadn't watched any videos or read any tactics (yes, shame on me) and  hadn't the faintest clue what would happen in the fight. Add to this that my TeamSpeak wasn't working so that I couldn't hear anyone in the group talking to me. My raid group couldn't be bothered to give me the entire tactics, so they only told me to use my Barrier at a specific point. I still managed to heal through that fight without any trouble, avoiding all and any fires. When I did heroic Ascendant Council for the first and only time I didn't have a clue that you had to kite the Frost Orbs through the fire patches, but as soon as I saw them both it clicked in my head and I knew I had to do it that way. I have been doing this for so many years now, I've probably started to learn how Blizzard think and how they design their fights. And seriously, how difficult is it to get out of fire?

How difficult indeed. Let's now move from the "how awesome I am" part of this text to the "what I really suck at part" (which probably is more fun to read too). Because I might be a fast learner, but I recently noticed something I definitely wasn't good at - relearning.

I do my fair share of mistakes of course, but like I said, I think I am good at keeping them to a minimum. But there have been times when I've failed a lot more than everyone else. When I just can't seem to figure out what the hell I am doing and I am instead doing the same bloody mistake over and over. I look at my res button and think "what is going on? Did some alien take over my brain, what's up?". I have two great examples;

We were doing 25 man heroic Conclave of Wind and I was put to heal on Rohash platform. On normal, healing on Rohash platform basically means going afk and watching some Star Trek (at least in my case). On heroic however, Rohash occasionally does a Wind Blast that goes clockwise around the platform. Depending on where you're positioned on the platform, it will move faster than you can run. If caught it will deal damage to you and knock you off the platform. The difficult part is that you don't know exactly where it will start out, which means you will have to adapt on the run, while of course avoiding all the tornadoes that fly around and heal your team mates (if you're healing). I think I managed to get caught in that damn Wind Blast ten or eleven times in a row. In a row! After the tenth time my raid leader told me that "now I know you don't normally fail to these things, or I would've replaced you by now" and he was absolutely right. It is a tricky mechanic, so it might take three-four times to get the hang of. But not ten. Definitely not ten. And every single time I basically died the same way, I just didn't move away from it fast enough. I just couldn't understand it. Why was this particular boss mechanic so darn difficult for me to get the hang of? Why did my fingers just not move in the right way here specifically? And then it hit me - I had done the fight before.

Just the week earlier I had gone in there with a tweaked 10 man team to get the feel of the fight and see if we could down the boss (we didn't at that time). We wiped for a couple of hours before giving up. The thing was, I had been healing on Rohash platform at that time too, but had no issue with the Wind Blasts. Same fight, same Wind Blast, only different raid sizes. What was the issue? Simple, the Wind Blasts didn't occur at the same time. In 10 man it came some 40 seconds into the fight while in 25 man it came only some 15 seconds into the fight. Those two or some hours wiping in 10 man had already made me hardwire the Wind Blast into occuring at 40 seconds. I had mapped my brain to not bother reacting to such a mechanic until way later. Then, when I got into 25 man and the Wind Blast came at a whole nother time, I didn't just have to learn to react to it - I had to relearn to react to it. Which took me about three times as long as just learning the thing.

Another example. I joined a 10 man for heroic Nefarian and was assigned to the NE platform. The first five or so wipes, I managed to run to the wrong platform. I didn't fail on getting up, I just simply ran to the wrong one. Every single time. After a few tries of me failing like this I started putting up special cues that would help me, like trying to follow some raid member that was also going to the NE platform, going there prematurely, turning my character in the right direction at once and so on. And I still managed to run to the wrong platform! I was furious, until I realized what the problem was. I had already done the fight many times in my 25 man raid, and nearly always been assigned the South platform. After having done some 50 attempt running to the South platform, I just had hell trying to get myself running to the NE platform instead. I had mapped out exactly where to stand, how to turn, when to throw this and that heal to time myself to run at the right time to my south platform, and none of that knowledge helped me when I was supposed to get to the NE platform instead. No, it actually hampered me, because while trying to learn to get to the NE platform I also had to suppress all my automatized urges to run to the South one.

Pre-existing knowledge would also explain how I managed to miss the extremely obvious left path from Revantusk Village in Hinterlands, every single time I ran by it. Not until Love pointed it out and said "did you know they implemented a new path from Revantusk?" did I notice it, although even then I said "no they didn't" and had no recollection whatsoever of ever having seen it when he showed it to me. Because it had never been there the 200 times I've run passed that place before over the years, not only did I not bother to check - I didn't even see it when it was right in front of my face!

Fortunately, I rarely switch between 25 man and 10 man settings (especially not anymore since I left the 25 man guild), so this problem only arises very rarely. Before I managed to pinpoint my issue though, I was really perplexed at what my problem was. People around me would say "just don't fail" in the same way I've probably thought that about others who fail at what I consider fairly simple stuff. Yet it took me an abnormal amount of tries to manage to purge my old playstyle, the way I had decided to run with the fight, and fit in a new one. A lot of people who do something for a long time learn more and more of their profession by hand. It means they can do it faster, smoother and safer than a novice, but it also comes with a drawback - being slower at adapting to a major change. Not only do they have to learn something new, they have to unlearn, or at least put aside, the way they had been doing it up until then. I was amused to see myself in this position, and happy actually to have been able to find something about myself that obviously needed improvement.

Now, whenever I find myself having trouble with something, I think to myself - have I really understood this fight? Have I done the right assessments? Sometimes I have to retrace several steps back to be able to pinpoint my first mistake that lead to my death (or other kind of fail). Maybe I moved to early which meant I didn't get to point X in time which meant I would be late with a heal which meant I wouldn't get a certain buff which meant the tank died. I realized that getting too comfortable in a fight has its problems too, and that I should try to be as mentally active about my decisions as possible (that might sound obvious, but I'm lazy like that). And once I'm awesome in this area too, I will have to find the next thing to work with. Maybe my humility.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rammy's Arms Warrior Guide - Part 2: Rage Management

Part 2 of my guildie Ramagos guide on how to play an Arms Warrior.

Hello students, and welcome to another class of L2P Arms. Today we are going to talk about Rage management.

So, to know how to manage Rage you need to know how it's generated. It follows the simple formula of 6.5 * Weapon Speed. To that we have to add Anger Management. Let us see what affects our Rage generation:

Melee Weapon Speed:

6.5 * 3.6 = 23.4 + 25% = 29.25 = 29 Rage per swing.
3.6 Weapon Speed over 1 minute = 16.666' = 16 swings per minute.
16 * 29 = 464 Rage per minute.

6.5 * 3.8 = 24.7 + 25% = 30.875 = 30 Rage per swing.
3.8 Weapon Speed over 1 minute = 15.789 = 15 swings per minute.
15 * 30 = 450 Rage per minute.

  • Slam delays our melee swings, so every 7-8 Slams will deny one melee swing, that's about 1 swing per minute, or more, depending on how lucky you are with Colossus Smashes.
  • Anger Management also produces 1 Rage every 3 seconds, that's 20 Rage per minute.
  • Blood Frenzy would generate 20-30 Rage per minute statistically.
  • Battle Trance would save us some Rage depending on it's usage. It's proc rate would be once or twice every minute.
  • Tactical Mastery lets us keep more than 25 Rage when switching stances, up to 75 total Rage.
  • If you Charge you get 15 Rage or 25 if you have Blitz.
  • And the glorious Battle Shout.

That makes up for near 520 Rage per minute.

Our spells cost 5, 15 and 20 Rage. Our Rotation being mostly MS-CS-OP, MS-OP-Slam, MS-CS-OP-Slam, MS-OP-Slam-Slam makes them cost 45, 40, 60 and 55 respectively. In a 1 minute time spam you get to repeat the rotation about 11 times.

That makes it near 550 Rage usage per minute.

"OMG, we consume more Rage than we generate!" you might say. This is true. If you went to the dummies, you'll see doing your rotation leaves you OOR. But this are all unrealistic numbers, since they were made with 0% Haste. The more Haste you have the more Rage you'll generate. For example, I have 6.25% Haste, which makes my swings be 3.39. Let us see the same formula we used before and compare the effects Haste has on Rage:

0% Haste

6.5 * 3.6 = 23.4 + 25% = 29.25 = 29 Rage per swing.
3.6 Weapon Speed over 1 minute = 16.666' = 16 swings per minute.
16 * 29 = 464 Rage per minute.

6.25% Haste

6.5 * 3.6 = 23.4 + 25% = 29.25 = 29 Rage per swing.
3.39 Weapon Speed over 1 minute = 17.699... = 17 swings per minute.
17 * 29 = 493 Rage per minute.

16.25% Haste (with someone giving the 10% Haste buff)

6.5 * 3.6 = 23.4 + 25% = 29.25 = 29 Rage per swing.
3.01 Weapon Speed over 1 minute = 19.933... = 19 swings per minute.
19 * 29 = 551 Rage per minute.

And now we are talking. Add to that the fight's incoming dmg and you get more Rage. And to that add Deadly Calm at least twice a fight, Bloodlust and Executioner and you get some more Rage which you'll be able to convert into HSs.

Right now you might be thinking "All this numbers are pretty, but how the hell do I manage my Rage?", I was about to get to it.

Since we are Stance Dancing, our Rage cap is 75 instead of 100. This makes every single point of Rage that surpasses the 75 mark to vanish when you change stances. All Rage lost is Rage you didn't turn into a HS, which is lost DPS. Since our melee hits generate 29-30 Rage per hit means that you don't want to have more than 60 Rage at any given moment, so when you hit 55-60 or higher Rage, you hit your HS button so you get down to 25-30 Rage.

You also want to monitor you BT [Battle Trance] procs, since HS costs 30 Rage while CS and Slam cost both 20 and 15 Rage. Why make a spell that costs 20 Rage free when you can use it in a spell that costs 30.

The only exception is in the Execute Phase, where the only spells you use are MS, OP, CS and Execute.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Pills for everyone

I woke up in an exceptionally cheery mood the other day, stood up and decided that this was the day to end all whine. I was fed up with the cranky mood that had been spreading around the bloggosphere and among WoW-players in general. Don't get me wrong, I love to read posts about why someone stopped playing, why this and that just doesn't work or is a bad idea. I do my fair share of whining around here. I agree with nearly all the general opinions about what currently isn't very well designed in WoW, from the raid fight design philosophy, "bring the player not the class"-failure, how mistreated melee have been this expansion and so on. But you know what? I am still playing this game. I know many of you out there actually aren't, you've actually walked the walk and not just talked the talk. And that's exactly it - like I always tell Love when he complains about how badly designed druids are (and in many cases I agree with him): If they're really that awful, then why do you play them? No one is forcing us to this game, and I am still enjoying it. So in my case there still has to be more good than bad about the game, even when not counting the fact that I've got a lot of friends to play it with.

Therefore I thought I'd talk a little about what I enjoy about WoW. I realize some of the things I mention might come out as ironic, but that's absolutely not my meaning.

The Instances
Currently, there is actually no instances that I absolutely dislike. I might sigh when I get Deadmines or Halls of Origination, but the truth is I still enjoy doing them. Maybe not as much as another instance, but more than say, go read a book or watch a movie. At least at that particular moment, because otherwise I would log and do those stuffs instead. So what do I enjoy about the instances in particular?

I like that some of the instances have optional bosses - HoO can be really short or rather long depending on what you prefer. You can either get loads of JP from it or just head straight for the end boss, same goes with Throne of the Tides and Shadowfang Keep.

I like that some instances have really challenging trash packs, because how you handle them will really show the quality of the group. There is something extra rewarding about dealing successfully with a painful trash pack like the first groups of HoO or some of the packs in ZA/ZG just because of good teamwork. I wouldn't like it if it was all equally easy no matter how little you cared.

I actually think nearly all boss fights in all the instances are pretty fun. It would be faster to name the ones I don't like than the ones I do like. Especially out of a tanks perspective do they offer a challenge without being over the top difficult, they require some teamwork and I still feel that there is something to learn from many of them. Considering how many there are they're still pretty diverse and not many are similar to another. Just look at such diverse fights as Setesh and Temple Guardian Anhuur in HoO, High Prophet Barim in LC, Daakara and Jan'alai in ZA, Zanzil, Jin'Do and Venoxis in ZG, Erunak/Ghur'sha and Ozumat in TotT, Forgemaster Throngus in GB and that's just mentioning a few of all the rather unique fights. You probably don't recognize the names of half of these bosses, I know I couldn't name all the bosses in HoO off the top of my head if someone so offered me 1000g for it, eventhough I must've killed them 50 times each by now.

I really like the esthetic design of the instances, from the vast epic Indiana Jones feeling of LC and HoO to the Thousand Leagues Under the Sea feeling of TotT. I love the sky temple of Vortex Pinnacle and the rough yet sparkly caves of BRC and Stonecore. The eerie feeling of Shadowfang Keep and working your way down the mine shafts of Deadmines. I still discover details in every single one of them, just by looking in a different direction than I normally do. I tend to tunnel vision on the next trash pack or on my rotation or on my bars (if I am healing), which is understandable. But with very little effort, just lifting my head from the sweat and blood in front of me, can I notice all the beauty that the instance actually is.

The Classes
Eventhough I definitely enjoy some classes and specs more than others, there are extremely few that I find outright boring. Even a rotation like the one of the Arcane Mage is made fun by good damage numbers and big crits - I'm in the mood for simple pleasure occasionally too and being able to switch from the more complex fire spec to a mindless, yet very rewarding spec of arcane can be very fun too sometimes. I've even come to really enjoy shadow priest dps. Even melee classes, which are the ones I usually have the most trouble enjoying, have their special areas which I love.

Shamans: I love that elemental shaman has become more complex, and they've always had some of the skills with the best feeling in the game. I just love to shoot off a Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Thunderstorm. It feels -good-. Enhancement have a complex and fun rotation system which never gets boring. Resto shamans have one of my favoire healing skills ever - Chain Heal. I'd probably never tire of casting that.

Death Knights: Death Knight tanking is easy to learn yet probably the most challenging to master - I play my DK tank all the time and I still think I suck at it, and this is a good thing! Every time I tank I think I learn something new about how to manage my runes or when to best pop a cooldown. Speaking of cooldowns, dks have so many fun ones. Dk dps is similar to dk tanking in that the real challenge is learning how to best use those runes, there is a very big gap between a dk who knows this and one who doesn't - as it should be.

Druids: I love being a fat boomchicken, and balance druids have such a entertaining rotation at the moment. Switching between two "styles", either the faster smaller Wrath or the slower bigger Starfire. And I really notice the difference when I properly manage my Eclipses and when I don't. Resto druids have a very unique healing style with all their hots, and I love the feeling of truly being able to heal everywhere at the same time, the attention all those hots need from me to be properly managed. No other healer does this. I love the concept of shapeshifting and that whne playing a druid you have the potential to be any role you want.

Warrior: Warrior tanking just never goes dull, every single fight there are so many buttons to push, so many utility skills to use that it feels like I can treat every single pull completely differently if I like to. Warrior tanks truly have an ace up their sleeve for nearly every situation and there is no feeling like propely executing those skills and saving the day. Dps warriors have possibly the best melee "oomph" of all the melee classes. I love the splatty, splooshy sound all their skills make, it makes me completely forget whatever dps I'm really doing, because it feels like something gets hurt no matter what.

Mage: I really enjoy all the mage classes, frost and fire with all their procs to which you need to react accordingly to do the most damage and arcane that need that minute mana handling to be really, really good.

Warlock: I love that the warlock talent specs actually manage to be so very different from eachother, they are as close you can get to being a hybrid without actually being a hybrid. Affliction, Destruction and Demonology have nearly nothing in common in their rotation and playstyle except they all use Shadowbolts in varying degrees. The class offers a huge diversity while all the specs still manage to stay very true to the warlock idea, and all the specs are loads of fun to play!

Rogue: I love that the rogue has managed to keep its backstabbery, sneaky feeling, with lots of little utility (blind, lockpicking, sap, poisons). They're not the least similar to playing any of the other melee classes but have a very unique playstyle.

Priest: I love that you can switch between two very different heal styles when being priest that both offer a huge tool set of skills with something useful for just about any situation. Discipline has many different ways of being played within the spec (Atonement, SoS, ToT). I love that holy has the ability to focus on either aoe and single target healing (and only wish the feature be more pronounced). Shadow priests have an interesting reactive style of rotation and I love the fact that you can jump in and do some hobo-healing in a real pinch.

Hunter: I love that the hunter is such a forgiving class. If you just mindlessly press buttons you will still do a good job, but to truly master a hunter there is so much to learn. A really skillful hunter has loads of interesting skills at their disposal that when properly used definitely make a huge difference.

Paladin: Paladins have a huge set of utility and much like hunters they can be played leisurely or hardcore. If you're tired you can just log on and fool around and still do a good job. If you feel like it you've got a tool for every situation, the possibility to tweak and tinker every fight to turn the tide to your favor. I just love that paladins have so many cooldowns to manage.

The Raids
There is probably no fight in Cataclysm that I don't like. I enjoy all of them (although to varying degrees). Some fights are really unforgiving, some fights are doable even if someone messes up, most of them are quite varying (especially in Firelands) and offer a new way to play your character with each boss. Some focus on heavy healing/dps, some focus on micro management or a lot of moving around. Some focus more on environmental awareness and some more on playstyle awarenes. I love that most of the Firelands bosses require so much teamwork, I really feel like they managed to not make it the one man show of 10/25 people but that good communication does the trick (some of the t11 bosses did this too). The nerfs is another discussion, but just looking at fight mechanics I must say I'm really happy with Firelands, each boss feels fresh and interesting and most of them still require you to be on your toes even after having done them loads of times and after the nerfs.

Shannox: Feels like the perfect start boss. I think he gives you a good general idea about how the FL bosses work, with a good mix of simplicity and need for awareness and teamwork. The rest of the fights will generally require more of one or the other, and Shannox has a very good balance between challenge and ease.

Beth'tilac: I usually really like fights where you have to split the raid and each group has their task - Beth'tilac is no exception. It has a common theme of awareness in the first part of the fight and nuking in the second part, which in my opinion keeps the fight interesting throughout, but with two radically different ways of having to play.

Ryolith: A great example of when good teamwork pays off and a fight with lots to think about for most people involved. Everyone have their part that they need to take care of, no one is left out to just mindlessly dps/tank/heal.

Baleroc: I always love it when they try to implement healing-oriented fights, I really liked how Valithria worked. I like how Baleroc forces you to have great communication between yourself and the healers and dps for the shards.

Alysrazor: I like it that the fight focuses so much on awareness, it really puts a strain on you and I think it is one of the more difficult fights in the instance (at least pre-nerf). I love that it requires good healer/dps distribution because it makes me a feel a whole lot more useful when I know that this part totally depends on me doing a good job, because there is no one else there to do it for me.

Majordomo Staghelm: I find it funny that you can choose between doing it the fairly easy way or the very hard way, although I doubt anyone would intentionally choose to do it the hard way (our first kill was with several scorpid phases, and it was tough I tell you). In a sense this is a sort of relaxation before the big fight that is Ragnaros. I particularly enjoy the Searing Seeds, having to keep track of a debuff that has a unique timer for every single player is a really fun game mechanic.

Ragnaros: Raggie has so many things for you to think about, but I don't think they're as unforgiving as some were on Nefarian. You can survive a wave, you can survive a tick from an Engulfing Flame. I also like that Raggie seems to be approachable with slightly different tactics depending on your setup, there isn't necessarily a tactic that is the only way to do it (that's not to say there isn't a setup that is the best to have).

So you see, I can rant quite a lot about all the things I actually like as much as I can rant about the things I dislike. Most of the time we talk about everything we don't like because it's just more fun, for some reason. But I think I would love to read a post about why something is so enjoyable as much as I love to read the posts about why someone really dislikes something. I dare you to be happy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Archangel vs Evangelism

One thing that really got me curious when I was playing with Atonement/Evangelism/Archangel, was to find out whether it is better to always use the Archangel buff or keep the Evangelism stack. I wondered: If I'm only going to smite anyway, wouldn't it be better to just keep the Evangelism stack since it lowers the mana cost and increases the healing done of my smites? Is 30% Reduces mana cost on smites more than 15% max mana return? This particularly interested me regarding questing, since that is when we can expect to spam the most smites and want to use Archangel as often as possible, but I thought it would be interesting to know for raiding as well. It might be something you all know already, but I just had to test it for myself. I specced out of AEA before I could do tests unfortunately, which meant I had to spec into it (and back again) to do these maths, but all in the name of science! Considering what some people have done in the name of science, this wasn't that bad.

My first thought was that it of course all depended on whether I used many smites or not. If I throw only five smites for 30 seconds, then maybe the total mana gain would be less than what I'd get from the Archangel buff. Where was the breaking point? How many Smites would I have to use to gain more mana from the reduced mana cost than from the archangel buff?

There were several factors to consider;
Evangelism increases healing done to Smite by 20%, while Archangel increases all healing by 15%.
What about Holy Fire who we also use, is affected by Evangelism as well and further increases the healing done to Smite for a couple of seconds by 20%.
What fights allow us to spam smites for 30 seconds straight anyway?
Do we want to use Archangel on cooldown? Maybe while questing, but most people tend to save it for bigger incoming damage during raids.

This is the difference between theoretical and practical calculations, and I was mostly interested in the theoretical results, because knowing them meant mastering its practical values - or so I think. Therefor I decided to remove Holy Fire from the calculation since the mana gain through Evangelism is fairly low (at best 816 mana during a 30 second time span as we will soon see). I also decided that the 20% Evangelism buff and 15% overall healing buff were close enough to cancel out (to ease up on the calculations). The Archangel buff has a duration, but on the other hand it takes a while to gather a 5 stack with Evangelism. My guesses are that to calculate which is more mana effective in the long run, this wouldn't make big enough of an impact to warrant the headache the calculations would give me. And since this is theoretical, we can ignore the fact that most fights probably won't allow us to use every gcd on Smite 30 seconds straight (at least not in progress raiding).

Evangelism lowers the cost of Smite by a fixed number, meaning it is unaffected by buffs (only slightly affected by race). Each buff lowers the cost of the next Smite by an additional 6%. To me that was 185 mana. Beyond the first smite, it would look like this;

Holy Fire by comparison;

How many Smites and Holy Fires we'll manage to cram into 30 seconds depends on your haste. Unbuffed I have 1483 (12,7%) haste, and using a regular rotation I can throw 9 Smites and 3 Holy Fire, or 12 Smites within 30 seconds.

9 Smites and 3 Holy Fire equals 6366 mana "gained" through reduced mana cost.
12 Smites equal 8325 "gained" through reduced mana cost.
Remember that this does not take into consideration the increased hps of Smite through Evangelism and HF buff.

And now for the final conclusion;
Completely unbuffed, I gain 5954 mana from Archangel. This is completely dependant on your max mana, and will differ greatly once you're fully raid buffed, but let's look at it like this first. It would mean that I, unbuffed, need to throw at least 10 Smites (6475 mana "gained"), or at least 9 Smites and 2 HF (5958 mana "gained") within 30 seconds to gain more mana than using the Archangel on cooldown. That is just barely what I have time with.

So what does this all mean?
There are two practical areas where this has an impact, questing and raiding (instancing).
Questing: While questing the healing aspect of AEA matters less, and you can fully focus on being as mana efficient as possible. As long as you can expect to keep your Smites rolling, you'll gain more mana from doing so than using up your Archangel buff. Most of the time there will be some sort of downtime between mobs however, which means you will want to use up your Archangel on cooldown.

Raiding: As mentioned, there are many factors that need to be calculated to get an exact value of whether it is best to use Archangel or keep on Smiting. Regarding haste; Eventhough we can only expect the numbers to differ perhaps 1, max 2 spells between characters, if one has stacked haste (like me) and the other hasn't, it still means that raid buffs like Bloodlust, if you've got PI up or otherwise get a huge buff in haste, will greatly favor spamming Smite, since the more Smites we can cram into 30 seconds, the more mana we will "gain" over using Archangel. In reality however, dps is very rarely the reason we use Atonement healing in raid - most of the time we want to consider not overhealing by spamming Smites, keeping Archangel for the right moment and a thousand other things that probably will interfer with your perfect Smite + HF rotation. Regarding max mana: Although I might need 10 Smites unbuffed, the number is a lot higher during a raid where my max mana is higher and Archangel might give me 7 or 8k mana instead of 6k. Overall we can safely conclude that it is nearly always better to use up the Archangel buff whenever you need it than to keep the Evangelism buff as long as possible.