Archive for April, 2010

Saw that coming…

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As a healer, your game ui can be your greatest assistant or your worse enemy. Yes, even worse than that dk who seems to think fire gives him an attack bonus. Probably it ups his spellpower. As I’ve mentioned before it’s important not to get tunnel vision when you’re healing, and your ui can help  – or hurt – with that.

Analogue's UI at 65

Here’s a screenshot from when I was 65. A lot has changed since then (my name used to be Metaphor. When we server changed I was forced to change to Analogue). You can see that a lot of  what I’ve got here is straight out of the box WoW. I’ve got the extra bars turn on and a couple addons in place.

I actually did not use raid frames until after I was 80 – here’s the story. I was having fun at 80 healing 5 mans, even went into Naxx 10s sometimes. Did this for months. Then 3.2 dropped – Argent Tournament patch – and a member of my then-guild was complaining that he couldn’t heal any more because the patch had broken his raid frames.

My first reaction was “Hah, see, I knew there was a reason I didn’t use those. He can’t heal any more without crutches”. My second reaction was – “Wait a minute, if they do that much, what am I missing?” So I took a whole day and played with raid frames. I’m the sort to research things thoroughly, so I learned that everyone seemed to use Grid or Healbot, both of which I’d heard of. I tried Grid first. My main reaction was “how many addons do I have to download here?” It was about a dozen, I think. I tweaked for two hours and couldn’t get something I liked, so I tried Healbot. I pretty much hated Healbot right off – if Grid had too many options, Healbot didn’t have enough – so then I tried the addon with a weird name some people on plusheal.com were swearing by, Vuhdo, and like Goldilock’s taste of the little bear’s porridge, I thought it was ‘just right’.

This was the result. Vuhdo wasn’t the only ui tweak; I’d made a lot of changes, specifically and most importantly to use Vuhdo to show my healing targets. I had a really bad tendency to shove things to the edge of the screen – I knew I wanted lots of room to see stuff around me but this layout makes almost no sense to me any more. I had to remember where all my things were, there was no real logical layout. I have no idea why I had buffs and debuffs halfway down the screen like that

Now here’s my current UI, first in combat and then out. I personally think it’s a lot better than the previous ones. I’ve got my action bars grouped at the bottom, except one tiny sliver along the side. (The side bar has buffs and a downranked version of Rejuv that I use on stupid people occasionally, idiot hunters and such who pull aggro, won’t drop it, and whine about not getting heals). The bar with my profession skills disappears in combat, leaving me a solid view of the SexyCooldown bar (the big blue bar at the bottom). I’ve got my Vuhdo frames anchored just right of my character and my own and target frame just below me. This helps me keep an eye on what’s happening to me and around me as well as just the bars.

I’ve set Recount and Omen to use the same spot on my screen. Recount shows out of combat, Omen shows in combat. It’s a nice trick to save space. Along the bottom I have ChocolateBar with various plugins that I don’t really need much – gold totals, clock, mail icon. Bartender manages my button bars – I have one bar in the middle and on either side, another bar that I’ve arranged in 3×4 format. Personal preference there, nothing fascinating.

If you look at the in combat shot you’ll see I have buffs and debuffs on my target’s unit frame but not my own. They’re redundant since I have Elkano’s Buff Bars in the corner (I like the nice verbose version of my buffs; I play enough characters that it gets annoying to remember what symbol means what for who.)

As a druid, if I’m in a raid I’m supposed to be raid healing and that means being able to tell at a glance who has what HOTs and for how much longer. I’ve tweaked Vuhdo to show me exactly that. Each HOT has its assigned place on a health bar, and displays how many seconds it has left. Here’s a bigger version of a Vuhdo square so you can see it. Vuhdo has options to show other people’s hots too and I have it set to show me if another druid has something on a target that I can Swiftmend – the red dot icon in the corner of the unit frame says “Regrowth or Rejuv active on this target and Swiftmend is off cooldown”. The Lifebloom stack is really cool – when I have one stack up, it shows a red number of seconds remaining, when I have two stacks it’s yellow and when I have three stacks, it’s green.

You may have noticed in my “in combat” shot that some of the Vuhdo bars showed little red >> << marks. That means someone has aggro from somewhere (sometimes it’s laggy but it’s pretty solid) and also a third small bar along the top of each player’s health bar showing a visual representation of how much aggro they’ve got. This, Omen, and TidyPlates are all tools I use to try to keep track of who is likely to take damage soon.If I can see that the mage has threat and is getting more all the time, I can maybe save him.

Finally here’s a screen shot of what Vuhdo looks like in this setup in a 25 man raid. This is the “test” mode – those aren’t real people in a raid, I’m sitting in Ironforge by my lonesome.

I recommend you see what raid frames work best for you; Grid and Healbot are both popular for reasons. Here are a few links for setting up Vuhdo from people who do it better than I would:

Setting up Vuhdo

Lath’s setup

And Rolling Hots

Vuhdo manual – And this forum has the creator of Vuhdo, Iza, as a very active participant! He’ll answer your questions if you can’t find them elsewhere. Look for the Vuhdo subforum off of the Mods & UI forum there.

My takeaway for you would be, don’t settle for “ok” in your interface. Find what works for you. Keep tweaking until it shines. Try new things, get rid of what doesn’t work. Some people put their raid frames below their character, or to the left, or along the top. Figure out what helps you keep yourself and everyone else alive the most. Some people hide most of their abilities, others need everything on screen at once. Look at other peoples’ ui screenshots – that PlusHeal forum I mentioned before has a long, long thread for just that – and copy the elements you like, ignore the ones you hate. There’s no one perfect setup for healing in WoW.

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So you want shorter queue times eh? Or you just want to try out this tanking stuff. Reaspecing as a tank is not very hard but I have heard several times that people tried it but did not like it. Or it was too much stress. I have also seen people trying to get into it the wrong way. Here is a quick how to guide to respeccing as a tank. This assumes you are already 80 and know the basics of the game. This will be a MUCH lower stress way of getting into tanking.

You don’t have to have uber gear to start tanking. In fact, with this plan you don’t even need crit immunity.

The first thing to do is STOP, LOG-OFF, and READ!

Go read some blogs about tanking. Go read all of my tanking 101 posts (see link on the sidebar). There are a lot of other good things out there so feel free to read more. Most importantly read up on what a real tank spec for your class is.

Something to keep in mind when reading is that some material is targeted at raid tanks tweaking for that last little bit of threat or that extra tiny bit of stamina. That is probably not you.

Respec carefully

Find a good spec online and then find 2 more that match it. Don’t just take one person’s word for it.

Re-itemize carefully

Find out your class’s hit and crit immunity numbers (defense cap or talents) and be sure you get there. If you use a shield get a good one. If you don’t have money or mats to get one crafted, go look up the best quest you can do which drops one and get that one. If you have any really weak slots, check and see if there is a quest drop upgrade for those slots and go do that too.

Re gem and enchant as much as you can. If you are not sure you will be a full time tank, get some armor pieces that are spare or alternates and gem those for tanking instead.

Don’t neglect your glyphs

The glyphs matter. Read up on which are good for tanking, also read other advice. Keep in mind that the advice out there will be raid oriented. If you can only afford one set of glyphs then DON’T do it yet. Wait until you try a couple runs and learn which abilities you actually USE in a rotation. Glyph those. If you are a bear get a glyph of maul before you do anything else. If you are a warrior get a glyph of sunder armor (it works with devastate too).

Getting started


First off you need to know your rotation. There is good information about doing pulls out there but those are useless if you don’t know what to do right after the pull. So know what abilities to put in your rotation or priority list and practice them on the dummies. Read your abilities carefully and know which ones do a lot of threat and which don’t do any.


If you absolutely have no clue on starting pulls, and/or have stage fright, get a friend and go do some quests or dailies. They can be DPS or heals. Your job is to pretend to tank. Just focus on keeping several things attacking you while they heal you or dps them down. This will let you play with a few pull tricks, some rotations and even taunts. Use them all and experiment. Feel free to round up more than you can handle and get yourself killed. That is part of the point of doing this with a friend in low stress. If you don’t have a friend do it solo; it is still good practice.

Run something

Do NOT queue for a heroic. I don’t care how good you were at DPS or healing. I don’t care if the tank set you built is 6k GS. If you are not used to tanking do NOT NOT NOT queue for a heroic run.

Queue for the lowest level regular run that you can. Pick a couple of them. Don’t put Occulus, ToC, PoS, HoR, or FoS in the list. Just don’t. Trust me.

Why? ‘Trust me’ was not enough for you? It is simple really. If you queue heroic you will get people that are uber at DPS and have zero patience or tolerance for a learner. You will also get every moron in gear made of paper and cardboard that just dinged 80 and thinks it is heroic time. Not queueing for heroics is the single most critical piece of advice I can give.

Also, the smart players, the experienced ones gearing up an alt, are all in the non-heroic runs. Particularly the non-heroics of the TOC and ICC 5mans. The average player in those runs is going to be more adept and understanding. So there will be fewer way out gearing you and fewer you have to carry if you avoid heroics.

If at all possible bring a friend. Any DPS class or healer is fine, just someone that knows you are learning and get watch your back a little bit. That will take a lot of the stress off. If you can, get a friend that plays a tank to come and dps or heal for you. They can give you advice on some of the more interesting pulls.

Heck, if you play on Ghostlands US whisper or ingame mail me (Reversion). I will be happy to give pointers any time I can.


Now run regulars, then run some more regulars. Then run more. Get to know each one well. Now go run ToC regular. At some point, when you have done a lot and are confident in your gear, rotation and ability to do some basic pulls, queue for the ICC 5 mans. One at a time, in order.

Expect to wipe

Expect to have morons gripe at you. Expect to have morons do stupid stuff. If you let the healer die apologize. Feel free to tell the group you are new to tanking. Many hardcore players will tone it down and adapt when you give fair warning. Whatever you do, don’t take it personally. If you find yourself getting annoyed take a break. But don’t take a break for more than a day or two. You need to keep at it to get better. Also, if you are grinding runs remember, DPSers are very often willing to do several runs with a tank. Invite them to stay in the group. If you need to drop someone who is deadwood, invite the others to stay in whisper. Getting a couple people who are friendly, good, and know you are learning to queue with you will REALLY cut down on the stress.

If you have an IRL or guild friend giving helpful advice, remember to tell them to back off and let you play BEFORE you get the point of hacking them to death with a shovel. Accept the advice with a nod and then say ‘ok now let me try a few before you give me more pointers’.


Above all, don’t set foot in heroics as a tank until you have run all of them on regular. Preferably until you have run them all until you know the pulls very well. And double preferably don’t run them until all your gear is purple 200 or better. Remember that the ICC 5 mans drop 219 on regular. Look up what drops for your class and makes sure you have it all before moving on (unless a badge piece is in reach).

So now you are in heroics and tanking. The only real advice I have left is to avoid heroic PoS and HoR for a while until you are really good with taunts and rounding up packs. Those are very nasty and can chew up and spit out a new tank.

Good luck!

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Always ready to help out

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Shiny Sparkly RMT

I’ve seen a lot of posts about the Celestial Steed on the blogosphere, from “Oooh shiny” to “Slippery slope” to “Just for morons”, but I haven’t seen any recognition of the fact that with the for-cash pets and now this mount, Blizzard has stealthily set up a way for players to trade their real world money for gold.

(Note, not condoning this in any way) This is how it would work:

Bob, a hardworking Hunter with a good real life job and not a lot of play time, wants gold. Maybe he’s going on a GDKP run, maybe he wants some pieces crafted. Whatever. So he asks around in trade and finds XXArthaaasX, a DK with 40k in the bank and his mom’s credit card paying for his account. XXArthaaasX really wants the shiny pony, or the Lil’KT pet, so they agree that Bob will buy a pony code and trade it to XXArthaasX for, say, 20k gold. They do; neither Bob nor XXArthaaasX tries to cheat the other. Now Bob has gold and XXArthaaasX has a pony.

This is basically the “EVE model” of RMT. In EVE players can trade game-time codes for ISK, the EVE equivalent of gold. It’s built into the game and so there’s no risk to players of losing either their ISK or their code. In WoW, you’d obviously have to trust both members of the transaction to live up to their side of the bargain.

Thing is, I’m not actually sure whether or not this is against Blizzard’s Terms of Use or not. I’m sure we’ll find that out soon enough. Personally I think they ought to support it. Unless XXArthaaasX sells his pony code on ebay for $20, he can’t make actual money from his WoW gold. All he gets is in-game loot. I think that means it stops short of what Blizzard really wants to avoid, a way to trade gold for cash and making WoW a way for people to make money.

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Better than coffee

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Did I get your attention? Well this is not exactly what I used to think of blogging but it is close. Sure I knew there was some good ones out there. Some people wrote guides… but that was not really blogging was it? And some people would do some good (IRL) news or investigative reporting. But a whole bunch of people whose hobby was to post their thoughts on the internet as if someone actually cared? And there were people that made a habit to actually read them? What a waste of time!

On the flip side I was active at posting on various forums…. Heh.

So a few months back my wife suggests a WOW blog. Since I am actually a pretty big egotist I figured it might be fun to grace the masses with my amazing wit and wisdom. Starting the blog and then networking on it completely changed my view on things. Oh, by that point I was more open minded about them anyway. But it was still eye opening. So what did I discover?

Blogs are a slow moving forum inhabited by people that can actually write and think (mostly)

And, depending on how you set up your blog-roll you can tailor your ‘forum’ to be personalized with only posters you think are interesting and have something to contribute. Sweet eh? Of course since you are reading this you already knew that.

So here we are a few months later with lots of content and a couple people that sometimes read things. I am not sure we don’t have too much content… so most people just run more than one blog to break up topics? We have three series and a comic series going… And I am thinking about more. So far there is a series on tanking I am having a lot of fun with. Not going to link it in-line, the links are on the right.–>

I still have several more Tank 101 posts planned and more that probably will spawn.
Analogue also has one on healing and we both have done some for the pairs leveling series (need more in that one).

Since most of our series are guide oriented it seems lame, and pretentious, to spawn them off as their own blog. I would rather just have too many posts here.

So my newest idea is a series on wiping… Er, you know, in instances. I am not sure what I am going to call it yet. “Legends of the Fail” might be a bit much. “Why is my screen all black and white?” is probably too long (yeah I heard that in chat once). “The anatomy of a wipe” could be bad for the google search hits… So I am still not sure what to name it. It will be all about the ways a group dies. There are not as many as you might think.

Meanwhile I resolve to have more personal story posts. I keep finding myself saying to my wife ‘you should blog that’.

This post would be more suited for a bloggerversary but since we don’t have one of those anytime soon I just thought I would post it anyway. Thanks for clicking, we are not going anywhere for a while.

Oh, and the comics will keep coming. They are too much fun to do.

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This weekend it was time for some BC dungeon pugs with my disc priest and Reversion’s warrior. Thursday afternoon I had run around and gotten us attuned for Old Hillsbrad so we tried queuing specifically for that and got a party right away, to our pleasant surprise.  There was a paladin, a hunter, and a shadow priest. Reversion and I hopped on the dragon, the shadow priest right behind us, and took off. As we start in on the first guards at the gate the hunter says “We can’t make the dragon work”. So we tell them to get a new pack of bombs first and they make their way to us. I glance at the paladin and hunter – same server, different guilds, but I was betting they were friends or relatives in RL. Sometimes you can get that vibe.

We start clearing stuff, I ask the shadow priest for some tips on a face-melt rotation (thanks! It worked, I killed quest mobs most painfully) and then I notice something odd. When we’re fighting, Reversion is the only one in melee. The hunter and priest are staying back, as they should, but so is the paladin. And he’s… casting… Exorcism?

Yes, we had just encountered the melee hunter’s opposite number; the ranged Ret pally.

I let it slide. He’d occasionally run in and consecrate, and he seemed a bit awkward at the game. When we made it to the keep to get Thrall, he could not find the basement and the hunter reminded us that he wasn’t there yet before starting the escort phase; I was more convinced than ever that they were a dad and kid, or something similar. The paladin said nothing the whole run. His exorcisms hit pretty hard, actually, and things died well. So it didn’t matter.

Next there was an Auchenai Crypts run, not notable except that we got three hunters as our dps. It’s bad enough trying to convince one hunter that his pet is growling; trying to track down and identify which two out of three are doing it, especially when two are white corehounds, is just not fun.

That was Friday; Saturday morning we queued up and got Steam Vaults. I was thrilled; I’ve been in there perhaps twice before. It’s great fun running instances you don’t really know. We got a mage, a DK, and a hunter. We fought our way to the gnome mekgineer boss – then were stumped. Where was the other boss we had to kill? We backtracked and started clearing. Suddenly the mage said “I was right we just need a key” and takes off for the other side of the instance where the locked door is that the final boss is waiting behind. We ignore him since Reversion has already said he’s pretty sure we need to kill the boss over up the ramp from where we are.

“Guys I gtg” the DK says suddenly, and leaves. The mage follows suit without a word, and we queue for dps. We finish clearing trash and we’re still waiting, having found the naga lady boss and her elemental pets.

After six or so minutes in the queue we agree we have nothing to lose by trying, so we start in three man and wipe. No problem; I identify two things I did wrong, we note boss mechanics and discuss strategy as we run back. Reversion is explaining to the hunter how he wants to have the hunter use Distracting Shot and freeze trap one of the adds on one side of the room. As we’re plotting strategy we get just a tiny bit too close to the boss – oops. The hunter goes down fast, Reversion and I try until I get silenced, and we wipe again.

Back again, and we’re ready to try. Reversion charges in. The hunter pulls out an add, but it resists the trap. Reversion taunts it back, and then the hunter pulls it out again. They ping pong it for a few rounds as they’re dpsing down the other add. For an ad-hoc strategy it works great. They kill the first add then focus on the second one. I’m healing away – she keeps silencing me so I have to play catch up rather than dps – and then suddenly I notice my combat text: “Berrysnatcher has died”.

Berrysnatcher? Is that the hunter’s pet? Nope! In the middle of the fight we’d received our two new dps friends, a rogue and a shaman, who commendably had run straight into the fight and gotten creamed. Vuhdo, like most raid frame addons, can’t update during combat and I had not even noticed the two new guys were here before they died.

We took the boss down, I rezzed and apologized to the new folks, and we ran to the end boss and killed him down fast. It was great fun – I love strategizing kills rather than just brute forcing them.

And then after lunch and some baby play time (Nomster dinged one yesterday and I guess she’s not really a baby any more!) we queue again and get Sethikk Halls. Ah, yes…

So we get a hunter, a mage, and a dk. The mage is very “go-go-go” but I’m having mana problems so Reversion takes things at my speed. The hunter has to be told twice to take his pet off growl. He’s not very good and he keeps a constant stream of banter going that tells us he’s probably about 12. In fact, after some particularly inane comments, I ask him if he’s twelve and he eventually after some “lol” and “guess”  says he’s 11. Well, we’re warned.

We get all the way to the end and on the final boss wipe; I got polymorphed and couldn’t get around the pillar in time to avoid the arcane explosion. The mage says something rude and drops group; the rest of us run back and a nice shaman joins us halfway through. “Oh, that boss,” she says when we explain what happened. “Ugh. But why drop now?” Exactly my thought. I share the instance quests with her even though she can’t complete them since we’ve killed a boss she needs, but now she’s got them, and she thanks me. We drop the boss. The hunter dies; I don’t think he understands the need to hide behind the pillars even though we told him so. Reversion’s been whispering with the shaman, who wants to know if we’ll re-queue with her once the others drop. We agree and wait. The dk drops – and the hunter starts popping up the “requeue” screen. We decline and decline and decline. “Come on pick a role” he says. “You’re not very good at taking hints are you?” I ask. Finally, since we’re not getting rid of him, we take the queue.

Of course the last slot is a dk. He sets out immediately proving that he is less mature than the hunter; death gripping mobs to himself, being a jerk in chat, and finally bragging “Wow! I’m getting 1k death strikes!” which makes us all notice that his damage is, in fact, abyssmal. We point this out – he’s doing 125 dps. The idiot hunter is managing close to 500 – and he gets abusive, so we kick him.

His replacement is a paladin. A paladin who apparently thinks he is the tank. “Go go go” he says. I explain again that Reversion is catering to my mana. He doesn’t think much of this. He keeps over-pulling, grabbing other groups – and finally he runs into a room, aggros everything, I am sitting and drinking and we just decide to let him die. We end up wiping since he pulled three groups and didn’t kill anything before he died and on the way back from the graveyard he starts giving me crap about “you need to say something if you’re afk”.

I explain that I was not afk, I just wasn’t putting up  with that sort of behavior, and he tries to vote kick me. Reversion laughs at him and says “good luck with that, since I’m married to her, no way”. Apparently he tried again several times and then he tried to kick Reversion, with the same luck.

Unfortunately since we kicked the dk, we cannot kick this idiot, so I tell the shaman not to heal when he does his nonsense. Sure enough when we get back he tries it again. We ignore him, Reversion tanks the mobs he was planning to pull, I heal people who aren’t the paladin, the paladin dies, we clean up, and we leave him lying dead on the floor and head in to kill the boss.

The guy didn’t bother releasing. Why do that when you can pile invective on peoples’ heads? I guess low level instances are srs bznz and that my job as the healer is to heal people regardless of whether they are doing their job or trying to get me killed. Also I guess things like “doing what the tank says” or “paying attention to healer mana” are overrated.

Anyway, great weekend. I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between jerkwad behavior and “I’m 11″ behavior. I’ll put up with 11 year olds but people who are just annoying and mean get to suffer.

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Someone page him

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Wow Developers’ Twitter Chat, 4/16, about druids:

Restoration druids are actually getting a fair bit. For one, Tree of Life is getting a whole new model (think Ancients of War) and will also “morph” some of your spells to do crazy things while in the form, such as cause Regrowth to be instant, or Lifebloom to apply two applications at once. Tranquility will be raid-wide. We’re also touching nearly every Restoration druid spell to make sure each has a niche and feels good. In general, playing a Restoration druid should feel a lot different (better!) in Cataclysm than it does today.
(copied from here)

If the original class preview had said this, I bet there would have been a lot less QQ about tree form. This is telling me that even if we don’t look like trees most of the time, the essence of our tree-ness will still be important to resto druids. Don’t get me wrong I still want ToL a a permanent thing but this could actually be a cool cooldown. I was afraid of a healing boost or haste boost, but this is an actual mechanic change. Very eager to see it in action.

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