Archive for May, 2010

Orphan Achievements, done. Got the EotS flag cap last night. Approximate the Hunter and Invariant the Mage ventured in. Approx got his cap in the first bg; the Alliance played pretty well and we always had at least two bases and usually the flag. He actually then managed to get the flag and bring it to me twice; the first time I managed to hit Ice Block instead of clicking the flag (don’t ask) and the second time it bugged and wouldn’t cap. With only 8 seconds to go we didn’t have time to try anything else.

The next two EotS were utter fail; in one we agreed on a strategy but couldn’t accomplish it. There was a really skilled shaman who kept knocking our offense off the cliff to our death.

Finally we got a group of Alliance that knew what they were doing. I tried to get the flag several times but just died; my lousy pvp gear and fire spec give me the survivability of a snowball in hell. I went on defense and kept watch at the Draeni Ruins and Approximate ran the flag; he dropped it just outside the cap point, I picked it up and scored. Some of the others in the bg were confused about what he had done so he explained he had to get the achievement for his wife and had a couple “aww, that’s nice” type comments. And one “Darn it, I’m going to have to burn badges and get an entire pvp set just for this one achievement” comment. I don’t think that guy was having fun.

In summary, bring a friend or three with you. Let whoever is most durable and has the most tricks run the flag, while the others watch his back, and get that thing done. It took me a total of 7 EotS bgs to do; 1 AB, 1 WG, 4 AVs. Not too bad at all. Barely enough honor for one piece of gear. It was annoying while doing it at times but not as bad as I’d feared.

After that we went to Stormwind, turned in our orphans, and then headed to Shattrath to look after a cute like Draeni girl who has a great destiny. Wonder if we’ll see her again sometime? Apparently these underprivileged youths have a surplus of pets, because they gave us one. Of course Invariant has 63 noncombat pets right now so it’s not like she needed another but hey, that’s two closer to the Pet Fawn!

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I was recently running a UK run on my 69 (now 70) warrior. We had a frost mage in the group. He was speced to make just about everything he cast do a ‘nova’ type effect and freeze things in place. I mentioned he should avoid using nova. In response I got called some names. He kept saying that if I could hold aggro it did not matter and that nova was ‘what mages DO’. He also insisted that on his tank and his 7 levels 80s (yeah right) he had NEVER heard a tank ask for a mage to not use frost nova. If that is true (i doubt it) there is a serious lack of communication going on out there. I decided my next installment needs to be targeted at this particular gap.

This post is aimed specifically at Ranged DPS, though other roles may benefit from it.

As you all know tanks do threat to keep aggro. The more threat they do the more likely they are to hold the attention (aggro) of the pack in question. Tanks do threat to the pack in several ways. Primarily they hit them and get a chunk of aggro equal to their damage done times some multiplier depending on their spec and class. This threat is applied only to the target they are hitting . They also have some abilities which do melee hits on more than one target, usually 2. This means some of the other critters in the pack get threat applied to them also. All classes of tank also have various things that do AOE threat. These moves are have 8 yard radius for Pally and Bear, 20 yard radius (but less threat per second) and 30 or so for things like death and decay. There are a few other moves tanks use for AOE threat but these are the main ones (DK do more other things that don’t have a strict radius (honestly I don’t know a lot about DK moves)). This means that anything within that range of a tank is probably getting some threat. Outside of strict melee (point blank) and this aoe radius, tanks have very few ways to generate threat. There are a few, but compared to the damage that a hit from a ranged DPS, the other tricks don’t amount to anything. So this leaves taunts.

A taunt works a very specific way. It takes the top person on the threat list and gives the tank that much threat. Taunts also force the target to attack the tank. What does this mean to you the RDPS?

Let’s get to some situations you are likely to see. When a creature is in the melee around the tank you have to do 130% of the tank’s threat to get that critter to attack you. Below 130% and it will stay on the tank. Above 130% and you are now that thing’s worst enemy and it will do anything to come and get you. Once the creature turns to come get you the tank has a very tiny window to use a melee ability before that creature is out of melee range. Even if the tank IS able to hit it with a melee move they would have to do 40% more threat instantly to grab aggro back. This is the 30% you beat them by and then the 10% melee range threat buffer.

You see, while you have to do 130% to pull off a tank from caster range, it only takes 110% to pull off a tank in melee range. That is melee range to the creature, not to the tank. That is the melee range threat buffer.

So it would take 130% more threat for the tank to catch up with you and then 10% more for him to out threat you and reclaim aggro… and that is just that first instant. A moment later the critter has passed out of the tank’s melee range and is headed your way. Now to ‘out threat’ you the tank will have to hit it with 30% more threat than you (160% of where he was when you pulled off ago). Which pretty much means he has to taunt it. Either that or he has to run after the critter, and hit it enough times to make up all that threat.

For discussion’s sake let us say the critter gets all the way to you and then the tank taunts. Now that this moment the tank has the exactly same aggro as you. He also has the creatures attention. The creature will turn and head toward the tank. If you continue to attack that creature you will only have to do 10% more threat to pull it off the tank. And is taunt is on cooldown. Hence this is a very critical window when you must do something difficult and complicated. That thing that you must do is this: STOP SHOOTTING THAT ONE!!!

Have I fully explained why that is? Is it completely clear that the tank can’t do much more after he taunts and must rely on that creature coming back into his melee range? Well there is one thing.. Lets see what that looks like, shall we? Let us say that you keep shooting that one. Now you blow past that 10% and you are once again getting beat on by that critter. What are the tanks options. Keep in mind he already had to rotate his camera around, find where that guy ran too, select the moving target, and fire his taunt. A good tank can do all that pretty fast, but that ‘pretty fast’ is still a distraction from what he had been doing. While he was doing all that he was NOT continuing to apply threat moves to the targets around him. Now maybe it only took one, or two global cooldowns, not a big amount of time, but it still was a distraction.

Back to his options after you agro through his taunt.. Some tanks might have death grip, charge or another taunt (pallys have two ranged taunts). If he has to taunt again he is still back where he was a moment ago, relying on you to change targets. Even worse if he charges or runs over to get them off you the hard way he/she is risking all the other creatures he was tanking pulling off and attacking other party members. Every moment you are distracting the tank is a moment where the healer or another DPS might pulls something off.

So you absolutely must change targets or that one you pulled had better be very very close to dead.

What else can you do during all this that would really annoy the tank? Frost nova. What did that do? Now you have a critter that is completely stuck and unable to run back to the tank. Even if the tank taunts the critter is stuck. Best case here is the tank taunts, and you change targets and the creature is safely back ‘on’ the tank even though it is stuck. But, the tank might not KNOW it is back on him. It is hard to tell when they are stuck over there. So it is still a source of distraction for your tank.

Here is the part that is worse. A creature stuck in place, able to hit things, but unable to reach the top target on its threat table, will attack anything it can reach. If you fail to move away from the nova the creature will still hit you, even after the tank taunts it ‘off’ you. Even if you DO move it can still hit anyone that was near you. Which might include a healer or another ranged DPS.

“Oh,” You say. “But they only have to move away too.” Sure. But do they notice? How many hits can a healer take? Is the healer too concerned with keeping the tank alive, or saving that rogue over there standing in the fire? She might not SEE the nova-ed thing next to her. A healer’s biggest enemy is tunnel vision on the health bars. It is quite often that a healer can see nothing else. The health bars are their whole world. Plus even if the healer DOES notice and moves away that movement might have interrupted a important cast that was going to save someone.

All of this about Frost Nova also goes for things like earth bind totem. It goes for any move that holds things in place but does not stop their attacks.  Those moves are only intended to keep things OFF you. In a party that is the tank’s job, not yours. And those moves interfere with the tank doing that job. It is not a wash or a nitpick to rail against that. Anything that you do to make the tanks job harder is endangering the whole party.

Just be cause you have a move does not mean it is a good idea to use it in instances.

One of the the tanks roles is to position the battle. They chose where the battle takes place and, if needed, they move the battle around (for example to avoid a patrol or to shift the boss off the fire). Anything that interferes with this must be used with caution or not at all. Typhoon and Thunderstorm are problems here too. They seriously disrupt the tanks ability to position and move the group and they blow things completely out of the tank’s AOE threat radius. While they are nifty and fun moves they have only a very VERY limited use in instances and should be avoided in most cases. THIS IS NOT TRIVIAL. The tank is not just whining and being a douche for complaining about it. These things make his/her job a lot harder. Just because a few tanks were overly nice and did not complain in the past does not mean most tanks are not annoyed by these moves. For example part of my warrior’s opening rotation is to align the pack into the cone in front of me and then use shockwave. It really hampers things, wastes a cooldown, and risks pulling stuff off me if someone typhoons at the start of a fight. This blows all of them out of my shockwave target area and ensures my next thunderclap will not hit them all.

Yes, most of the time using one of these will not wipe a group or even cause a big problem. That does not mean you should use them. And it does not meant a tank is being whiny to complain about you using them.

If all of this was too confusing click here.

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Cool Under Fire

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So, Orphan’s Week. I do holiday achievements on my mage Invariant. It’s sort of an apology to her for not being my main any more, plus Analogue has flight form and doesn’t need a proto drake. So there.

I’ve gotten to needing Flame Warden (accidentally did that one on Analogue), two Hallow’s End achievements, and Children’s Week, which is the one I’ve been dreading. Saturday I spent farming up the Lovely Cakes and such that we’d need (they had gone to 100g on the AH when I checked) so that we could concentrate on School of Hard Knocks.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy PvP. In BC when Invariant was my only max level character, PvP was my end game. Heck I got her all decked out in purple shinies including the staff that looked like it might have questionable alternative uses (the pink glowing rotating… whatever… at the top. What was that anyway?). All from battlegrounds because I am not and never will be any good at arenas.

But you see, I have a really great mage pvp strategy. I spec into fire. I hate frost, just don’t like the playstyle at all. Then I run at a bunch of enemies and do as much damage as possible in the ten seconds before I die. This strategy works great when I get in a bg mood, which hasn’t happened lately honestly. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well for the School of Hard Knocks achievement, which requires me to accomplish goals with my orphan out.

Still. Ok, activate pvp spec. Check what I’ve got for pvp gear… ouch, not much, I did some pvp at the start of Wrath but I have very little. Still what I’ve got gives me 250 resilience which is better than nothing. I queue up and get started.

Arathi Basin has always been my favorite BG. It feels like the right size of battle, I can usually contribute and I know the strategies. In this case, I headed right for the Gold Mine – the Stables was the noob “click on the flag with the orphan out” honeypot – and get it done. Ten seconds in, we’re good, now I can enjoy this bg. Well I stay at the mine with a few other orphan tenders and when a horde guy comes by, we let him cap and then they recap a few times, and then the guy wanders away…. by this time every point has exchanged hands a dozen time and I realize this could be a long battle.

I look around for action. For a while there’s a bit of a fight at the Lumber Mill, but then the Horde take it pretty solidly and the Alliance doesn’t want to press there. So I go the the Blacksmith. It’s currently ours and Horde keep coming by to try to cap. I hang out by the flag and every time a group shows up – Tab, Living Bomb, Tab, Living Bomb, Tab, Living Bomb PYROBLAST TO THE FACE! How’d you like that? MWAHAHA. We held that flag against all comers for the next ten minutes; it ended up being the only place in the BG that actual pvp was taking place.

Lost the battle, got the objective.

WG next  – I come into a battle that’s already started and a Tauren immediately tries to stomp in my head. I manage to finish him off and notice that there’s a Troll picking up and dropping our flag, so I get that achievement too.  The game stretches on… and on…. and on… There were about two players on each side actually trying to run the flag. They got nowhere until five minutes from the end when the Horde decided to go on offense and we had to really fight to defend the flag. It ended up as a 0-0 tie. And frankly the most boring battleground I’ve ever been in. I had thought the AB was bad until I got to the Blacksmith for the battle there; that was nothing compared to dancing in our flagroom waiting for something to happen. (Go run the enemy flag yourself? I hear someone ask. Dude. Fire mage wearing non-pvp gear. That’s just not happening.)

Alterac Valley – fun BG usually. My first two tries dumped me into mostly complete battles where the Horde set up a gauntlet halfway down the map ganking anyone who tried to get to the end. No chance to try a tower. The third one, Reversion brought his hunter Approximate along. Approx is his pvp and holiday achievement character, and has a motorcycle and pvp gear. He got me into a tower in time to cap it. Yay! And then we puttered around killing things until someone managed to zerg rush the enemy boss. I mostly died a lot. I need better gear.

Eye of the Storm. Never a fan of this place. And right now, it’s a nightmare. The objective for the achievement is to cap a flag. I’m not sure I’ve ever capped a flag there. I’ll find out when I get it done as there’s an achievement for the first time you cap a flag. The first one I went to, we got three capped and the Horde kept the flag. Miserable failure. The second one, I ended up rousing the troops, running a solid defense of the Mage Tower  and Draeni ruins, pushing hard at the Horde; we had the flag the whole time and won convincingly. I never got near the flag. Clearly I’m doing this wrong. I envision a lot of EotS this week to get the achievement.

On the positive side, I’m gaining honor. Got to check a list for PVP gear for Invariant and maybe respec… I took Dragon’s Breath out and a knockout is great for pvp… she’s got a few arcane points she doesn’t actually need.

On the whole, Blizzard succeeded in making me want to pvp again with this achievement. They also succeeded in making pvp kind of boring. There were battlegrounds where I only died once or twice. That… doesn’t happen, not with my gear like this. Hopefully I’ll stay in a pvp mood next week when it’s fun again. Right now – well sorry hardcore pvp folks, I’m in UR BGs being a N00b. And sorry achievement mongers – I’m just good enough at the bg to mess up things for you. Don’t hate me – hate the shiny shiny protodrake-shaped carrot on a stick Blizzard is dangling at you…

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