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Archive for August, 2010

More fun to wait

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Let them die!

You yank it you tank it!

Ever thought those? If you have done any decent amount of tanking then yeah, you have. Even if you did not give in to the temptation you probably wanted to. Every time you got some jerkwad not watching his threat and pulling you probably wanted to let them die. I have let more than a couple such people die. But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the OTHER times you let people pull aggro and die.

Look, you can’t hold all the aggro all the time. I know, I know a good tank tries. Yes. I said as much in other posts. And a really good tank has a shot at pulling that noble goal off. But sometimes you just can’t. Most non-tanks might not agree, most non-tanks probably have never tried to hold aggro when you get an accidental extra pack, a patrol from the rear and some trigger happy DPSers critting their butts off.

Triage

The art of putting your efforts where it is most needed even if it means letting something else slip. This concept applies a lot to healers. Often they have to decide where that critical heal is going and who needs it most. However, when it comes to tanking we get in the same boat. It is very often we have to decide which of two or more targets to taunt and which to throw AOES at. Which to target for some extra hits and which to let run away from us.

Some of you are saying ‘I don’t do that! I just round them all up!’ Ah, but you do. You decide which to round up first and which to wait a GCD for. Or which to wait on your taunt cooldown. You might round them all up EVENTUALLY.  But there are always going to be a few moments where something is not on you. Often that something is going to have a chance to take a swing at one of your party.

With healing triage you heal the people that need it the most AND are most critical to the over all team. Keep the tank up, keep yourself up, keep that really solid caster over there alive. Let the noob DK get smacked around for a while. It does not mean you are letting them die, though sometimes that happens.

Tanking triage works the same, even if we don’t usually think of it that way. Moment to moment, we the tanks, decide what threat moves to use and where. When things go to heck we are deciding on the fly what to taunt and what targets to use what moves on.

Like healing triage this is not something a new tank is likely to do. Like a new healer a new tank will simply throw around what aggro they can and play whack a mole with targets that pull off of them. As you get more experience you develop a system and a sense for what taunts and threats to use where.

Why we triage

The point of triage is that we don’t want to waste our efforts in places where they do no good. Taunting the add on that ret pally is less useful than taunting that add that is hitting the healer. Things like that. If we take the time to taunt off both, something else might pull off of us. Also if we taunt off the pally first the healer could die. A tank that is not actively deciding what triage to do might just simply taunt the first one he notices. In a really bad situation that could lead to a wipe.

Your Priorities

Healer

The top priority is always the healer. That person absolutely needs to not be getting hammered. You have to taunt off them as fast as you can… mostly. If more than one target is going after your healer it might be best use of your precious time to move the fight toward them and use some more AOE. Some of your more exotic ‘oh crap’ moves may need to be saved for the healer alone.

Soft DPS… sometimes

Many soft DPS are either fast with their ‘oh crap’ moves or they are dead. Mages are the big example here. They actually have a lot of moves for saving their own lives. Based on my experience they don’t remember they have half of them and they are usually to slow with the ones they DO remember.

Soft DPS are important to save… except they are probably dead by the time you need to save them. So if you can’t get them in time, cut your losses and let them go. No reason to waste a taunt cooldown taunting a critter that has already finished off your friend in the pointy hat.

Bosses

You have to keep the boss on you. Really.

Adds… sometimes

Most of the time adds have no real threat built up yet so you don’t need a whole taunt to get them to come to you. Still it is better to get some of them on you any way you can.

Adds are usually in a pack. And adds are usually going after someone that is not you (at first). Which means someone is about to bet blasted. So you need to soften that blow as fast as you can. Taunting one of the adds as they come at you is a good way to do it. So is getting closer and throwing AOE. Whatever you can do. This is more important than taunting off of people that just are doing too much threat.  Why? Threat pullers are usually pulling one target. And they usually do it often enough that the healer and the person doing it are ready for it. The healer may NOT be ready for the mage in the back to get omnomnomed by a whole pack of tiny velociraptors.

Adds happen. Dealing with them fast and effectively is the mark of a good tank. When adds happen is when a weak tank/group wipes. So the faster and more effetely you can deal with the changing situation the better. You want to round up those things so fast and tie up their threat so tight that most of the party does not even realize you got any adds.

When NOT to taunt off.

A big challenge in tanking is to not get tunnel vision. If you panic when you see a target pull off you then you stand a very good chance of losing threat on another target. Focusing on that first one caused you to miss a threat move or two and not keep building up your aggro on everyone else. So it is important to know when NOT to worry too much about a target ignoring you.

Taunt off of other dps…. Rarely.

I mean really, why bother? Melee DPS are mostly plate wearers and rogues. Plate can take a few hits and if a rogue can’t dump their own aggro they aren’t worth your taunt cooldown anyway.

And hey, the more threat that DPSer builds up before you taunt the more threat you will have after you taunt.

Hunters, just about never taunt off them. Seriously, feign death and misdirect? What the heck else can anyone need?

Don’t throw threat moves to save someone if there is a higher priority issue. Don’t taunt off that melee DPS if you have not sewed up that pack of adds with enough AOE yet. Early in a fight AOE is more important than taunting. Let me say that again…

EARLY IN A FIGHT AOE THREAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAUNTING

If someone pulls off you early and you stop some AOE to get that target back you are highly likely to lose someone else. Don’t do that.

I will get back to that in a second…

What moves to use when

Moves like Intervene, deathgrip and that one that taunts three targets that pallies get. Maybe you save those for the healer and maybe you don’t. It depends on how often you need them and what the chances of getting adds is.

It depends on your play style as well and what your personal strengths are. You don’t want to save a move for saving the healer if you never can remember where you put that obscure hotkey. If you can’t hit it fast and easy then it is not the right move to pick when saving a high criticality target. A lesser move fast is better than an uber move too late. You need to get to know your more obscure options and try them out BEFORE you need them. If you are not use to using something then it will let you down when you need it.

Some ‘oh crap’ type moves need macros to use them most effectively. Even if you don’t use macros for much consider using them for a few critical things as needed. In another post someday I will cover ‘oh crap’ moves and when to use them. Your main categories are these.

-AOE threat

-Focused threat (might be more than one target still)

-Taunts

-‘Other’ oh crap moves.

Here are your top priorities as the fight changes…

1) Opening instant of the fight:

->Get some small amount of threat on EVERY target.

2) First few seconds of the fight

->Build up a lot of threat on the target or targets your party is focusing on.

->Build up some AOE threat on every target

3) Middle and late stages of the fight

->stabilize any situation that developed early on.

->round up targets that pull off you

->watch for adds

4) End of battle

->stop runners

->check on your healer

->plan your next move

Notice how your focus and priority changes. Also that phase three one ‘->stabilize any situation that developed early on’ is a big area. It might be that your health is going down to fast, or that someone is off in a corner soloing something. It could be a lot of things. But you can’t get distracted by those until you have done the ground work early in the fight. By the time targets are half dead you could almost stop tanking entirely and the fight will end favorably. It is those critical first few seconds your agro generation has to be a high priority. It still matters later. But later, if you drop threat on a target or two, it is unlikely to cause a wipe. If you do that early on it is quite likely to cause a wipe.

Order of business in the triage world.

Stabilize the patient

The party is your patient. If you have to amputate (let someone die) to keep the whole body alive, do it. The first thing to do is to stabilize the situation. What I said about getting to a pack of adds fast? That was stabilizing the situation. Taunting off someone is the same. It is that initial minimum thing you need to do for things to stop being ‘bad’. Even if for just a moment. This can take many forms. Lots of ‘oh crap’ moves are good for stabilizing different situations. AOE force attack moves are great for buying you a few seconds of stability. Antimagic shell is a bit of a stabilizing move, if the issue you have is magic related. Shockwave’s area effect stun is a nice little stabilizing move if timed right.

Assess the situation

This happens in a nano second. If you are having trouble with assessing the problem might be that you are having situational awareness issues. I can’t cover those here so go read other posts :P

Part of assessing is measuring the situation against what you are personally capable of. Can you handle a pack of adds that big? What would have to happen in order for you to survive? Can you keep agro on those casters over there and still keep the big melee all under control? If you can’t handle the situation as it is, what would have to change about it for you to be able to handle it?

Prioritize

See above. You have to decide what area needs your attention the most and focus on that. If there is something you have to do to get things under control, do it. If there are things that are getting in the way of you getting control, stop doing those. Now is the time to do what you KNOW will win the fight. Don’t play threat tug-a-war with an over geared DPSer if you think something else about the fight is at risk.

Cut your losses

Let people die that are going to do. The most important thing in the world is that at the end of the fight one of your party with a rez spell is still standing. Everything else is optional. Sometimes this means you the tank have to die to buy time for the rest of the party. So be it. Your survival is optional. Failure is not optional so be certain that whatever you do, SOMEONE that can rez is alive at the end.

Usually this means you need to preserve yourself, the healer, and one decent DPS. As long as those live you can usually finish things. Sometimes you might be the last one standing or you might only be able to save the healer. Triage is about making the tough choices fast so that the whole survives.

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Pet-tastic!

My mage, Invariant, is a pet collector. I passed the 50 pet mark a while back (I had wanted it to be more meaningful than a random bought pet so I went and did the OOX quests for the mechanical chicken, which I hadn’t gotten around to yet. That was fun)

Recently she’s addded the Mini Thor pet. That one is incredibly cool – it’s as big as she is (she’s a gnome of course) and just spectacular. Blizz outdid themselves on that one)

Anyway this weekend I persuaded Reversion to come help me run Magister’s Terrace to try for the phoenix pet. I’ve done that a handful of times, never religiously. He brought his hunter Approximate since he’d like a shot at the Hawkstrider mount. We had to run it on regular first since Approximate wasn’t attuned for heroic. That was good; it took us that long to get our strategies down. Approximate pet-tanked, I sheeped and tried to keep from pulling aggro, not always successfully, and we killed Kael, jumped out, set it for heroic, and jumped back in.

And what did that silly Blood Elf leave for me?

We’ll go back for the Hawkstrider later, honey.

Psyched up by this awesome pet and the fact that my count was now 67 minipets, I checked out http://warcraftpets.com/ to look for pets I’d missed. Then I remembered the Blackrock Mountain pets… a quest in LBRS for a spider pet and a wolf pet, that I’d never done. Well! Now I had a quest. And while I was at it… The Darkmoon Faire was in Shattrath until midnight that very day, so if I went to the bar in BRD I could grab Dark Iron Ale and get myself a Jubling pet at the Faire!

So I did. Fortunately I have the Shadowforge Key so BRD is an open book to me. I went out of my way to kill the Pyromancer guy by the dwarf statue – he sometimes drops a Fiery Weapon enchant recipe that I want. I’ve been doing some auctioning and some of the low level enchants that you can put on heirlooms sell really well; I’ve made 10g worth of mats into scrolls that I sold for 200, just because apparently nobody else is bothering.

Anyhow, BRD first, I could skip a lot of the trash since they just didn’t notice me. Into the bar, buy the beer, then steal the free ones on the table just for fun, start the bar fight, end the bar fight (hah! Fireball to the face!), and back out, up the chain, and into Blackrock Spire.

I found a guide someone put together on stealthing to do the pet quests as it had great directions and pictures, and as a mage I have invisibility which is like Stealth only even better. Except for the, you know, cooldown. Half an hour later I’ve got a baby spider and a tiny warg cub, and a Jubling egg maturing in my backpack. 70 pets by Friday if I don’t add any more before then!

I could spend ridiculous money on world drops, or quest Argent Tournament, but for the last few I need I’m wanting something more special, so my new quest: fishing. As in leveling it from, um, 10, and doing the Outlands fishing daily and maybe trying to fish up a Mr. Pinchy when I feel like it.

This is what I love about the game. I can spend hours doing stuff like this when I’m bored with heroics. Know what? Analogue went to ICC twice this weekend, and I played the markets (we have alts that need epic fliers; I made about 5k this weekend) and some alts got some levels and I had a blast, because I could switch to something different when I got bored. Best cure for end of expansion blues there is.

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Cube farmer

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ME109’s shot down -8
Hurricane’s – 0

 We win! Wait… no… Wrong RAF.

Refer a Friend is over. Well it is almost over for the account I had linked up. Analogue still has a month or so on hers. Actually I am not sure exactly how long. We had better check that. We don’t want a repeat of last night.

You see, earlier this week we realized my RAF was about to run out. I was SURE it was not going to be gone until a week from this coming Sunday. I was all set to have a weekend marathon of leveling up the last couple alts. Because it ended early I am left with a couple alts short of the finish line and some a long way away. Still, the results of this RAF stint are nothing to sneeze at.

–Note: I use the term ‘offside’ to mean a character you are playing in addition to your ‘main’. That character usually gets less attention and is used less efficiently compared to the ‘main’.

Despite not playing much in the last few weeks and my miscalculation of the end date I still have a lot to show for it. I now have the following alts.

Mage – 60

This was the first RAF we did. It was leveled as a pair with Analogue on a warlock. That went ok. You can kill things fairy fast. The mage can provide food for both and then lock can do a little pet tanking. But this pair does lack the ability to survive serious ‘oh crap’ situations. It does have a lot of AOE later on though. You just have to employ in carefully and not bite off too much.

Shaman – 61

This one was also leveled mostly as a pair. It was mostly with a paladin. That makes a very solid combo. We have used that pairing now about 3 times and it works well. It was leveled as a combination of Resto and Elemental. Despite the bad press it gets Elemental is actually fairly good for leveling. It is quite good if you are leveling in a pair or with a lot of LFD.

Rogue – 58

This one was level mostly using the ‘grant level’. Hence I have not played it much and don’t really know how it works. Oh well. I have done some Hellfire with it. It is geared for the outlands and ready to level.

Hunter – 55 (just a bit short of the goal)

At some point Analogue and I suddenly decided that leveling as a pair was silly and we should be doing quads. We talked a bit more about this in the posts we did earlier. This hunter was part of the first ‘quad’ set we did. My offside partner was a druid. My wife Analogue was running a Shaman and an ‘offside’ pally. This set worked well with the hunter doing as much damage (with heirlooms) as everyone else put together. This set showed us some things. For one we did not need that many healers in one party. Also hunters make very good choices for the ‘offside’. With a hunter you can get a large fraction of their damage output with just one button press. Just autoshot and petattack put out a lot of damage for almost no effort.

Priest – 50

This was my ‘main’ in our second ‘quad’ set. My offside was a hunter. Analogue was running a mage main and hunter offside. This quad was very solid. I spec-ed the priest disc and was able to toss out some instant cast heals and shields as needed. Stuff died fast. I mean stuff just sort of exploded when we looked at it. And with dual tanking pets (bears) we had all sorts of off tanking. That first ‘quad’ was durable but this was durable and also cranked out the damage. As you all know killing stuff fast is its own sort of ‘durable’. So the survivability was actually better with this pair. If things got bad we did not lose as much dps or healing. Actually things almost never got bad because stuff died so fast. This quad got to just over 30 before we realized we were out of time. I got the priest to 50 using level grants.

Warrior – 44

This one was mostly level grants. It was paired with an alt of Analogue before we turned RAF on.

Pally – 17

Warlock – 4

Both of these were where I tossed the last few grantable levels. I wanted to get them higher but the time miscalculation got in the way.

Conclusions

If you have two people that want the RAF rocket and lots of alts, do them both together as quads.

Quads work much easier If you can do one or more of the following:

-Have a second computer. Set up some macros to control a few key abilities and pick a class like a hunter that does not need a lot of attention to be helpful in a party.

-Get a program that does synchronization between game instances on one PC. Pick two of the same class and level them as a set.

-Or, use an offside character that you can mostly ignore. /follow and forget.

Other realizations include the following:

-Heirlooms are fine. Use them on if you want. Just be ready to skip a few quests on that one to keep it synced with the other account.

-You ‘main’ and your ‘offside’ do NOT have to match which one is the disposable RAF account and which is your real account. You can control the disposable character and have your heirloom geared alt on /follow. This actually helps when you want to just do the collect type quests on the non-heirloomed one.

-If you want to you can easily get 1 of every class leveled up with a single use of RAF. We did a lot of slacking and still leveled a ton of alts.

Next up we will be doing some experimenting with trios and pairs as we finish out Analogue’s RAF period. I think there is a few weeks left on it… pardon me while I go check.

Last night we cleaned out all the little alts in the disposable account and got it ready to sleep. Battle.net says I have until 8pm tonight… whenever that is. So I plan to try and get a few more levels on the priest. Since all the alts are gearless I will do it by running instances and then afterward standing next to a nekid RAF alt while I turn the quests in. That way my wonderful wife can keep killing Zerg while I put this thing to rest. I will let you know how it goes.

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Tomorrow we get our stats back

I admit it. I am a stats junky. I like to check them and see how we are doing. It is also fun to look at the per post break down and see what sorts of things people are most interested in.

When we started the blog of course the stats were nothing. Mostly just the hits from times we looked at our own page when we were not logged in. Slowly people started finding us. Analogue commented on other blogs and pimped us around a few forums. The numbers started coming up. We got a couple vaguely interesting posts out there and we started seeing a few dozen hits a day…. Ya! We started our blog in February and I the first month managed 127 hits. Yaa! Then someone somewhat popular posted something about us. Sadly I don’t recall who. This made a nice spike. But then tragically the numbers fell back down a day or two later. But they came down and settled at a higher average than before. And again and again. Then one day I posted a comic in response to a Big Bear Butt post and we got a ‘huge’ hit. Hundreds. It was great.

Some time a few weeks later we woke up and were famous. Well not really, but Wow.com linked a post Analogue made and we hit over a thousand pings. The next day it broke 5k. There is something deliciously narcissistic about that. Something perhaps only fellow bloggers can understand. The tragic thing was that the two days after the number was much lower and 3 days after it was back to ‘normal’. Only now normal was twice as big as before. But this is the problem. You see compared to the ‘spike’ our normal numbers are way smaller. So on the wordpress.com stats graph it looks pathetic. L

After a while I was really looking forward to that spike being more than 60 days old. That way it would ‘fall’ off the left side of our daily stats chart and then puny normal numbers would jump up to the top and look good again. Just as this was about to happen we got linked by them again!

This spike was shaping up to be bigger than ever except that the next day Bliz broke their folly of Real ID on the forums. The fall out of that cut our spike short as everyone’s attention was distracted.

And here we are almost 60 days later. Tomorrow is the day that it will have been long enough that our last ‘wow.com spike’ will fall off the graph. Yaa! Numbers which look big again! And they sort of are. We usually get more in a day than our whole first month.

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I’ve been having a great time playing Starcraft 2′s campaign this week – I was really bummed to only get one mission done last night but I had some trouble with it and had to restart. Sure, I’m playing easy mode but I still feel like I’m playing the game.

Anyway as we’re getting flashbacks and cinematics explaining who Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, is, and what’s she’s up to, little “this seems familiar” bells are going off. Powerful female warrior, risks everything in defense of her cause, then defeated, left to die – but no, it’s worse, instead she is transformed into what she most hates and becomes the embodiment and leader of it? Hmmm. Sylvanas, is that you?

Now some Forsaken loyalists may accuse me of being unfair with my further characterizations here but bear with me.

I’m a writer. I work on novels sometimes (like in November; plug for http://www.nanowrimo.org, National Novel Writing Month). I’m totally into characters and characterization, and I’m loving Starcraft for the amount of character interaction they put into each little cut scene. Each character is recognizable and different and the way Raynor interacts with everyone on his ship is great – each interaction is slightly different. He doesn’t talk to his old friend the way he talks to a new ally. It’s awesome.

So why, oh why, are the very few female roles so – well – weak? I’m not talking about how apparently women are medics or fly med transports (or, yes, the Banshees. Yeah.) Or the way the medics speak – dripping with innuendo even in innocent lines. Whatever. The Thor sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger; they’re not going for realism.

So far in Starcraft, I’ve encountered three females: one mercenary who I had a mission to pay off (she was creepy as hell and hasn’t been seen since), the aforementioned Queen of undead Blades, and a scientist chick who I had along for a while. Now, when it came time for her to leave, I had a choice of missions and I picked the one that lead to her [spoiler!] getting turned in a zerg and killed. So that doesn’t help my perception of the game so far.

Then look at World of Warcraft. I can think of precisely two female leader-hero type characters: Sylvanas and Jaina. Jaina may not be a victim-villain-bitch, but she’s not much to recommend her sex either. We’re talking about a character whose defining characteristic is “I used to date Arthas and I abandoned him at Stratholme and feel guilty as hell about it”. Realistic character? Maybe so; I think feeling guilty is reasonable and I liked Jaina just fine up until the Halls of Reflection, where she went all angsty -”No, I must know if he can be redeemed!” Since then, I’ve seen her once, showing up after we kill Saurfang and being Varian’s cheerleader-slash-mommy, simultaneously patronizing the leader of the Alliance and demeaning herself.

Where are the women with stories as complicated and interesting as Thrall, as Tirion Fordring, heck, even as compelling as Thassarian or Varian Wrynn?

My guess is it just doesn’t occur to the writers that there’s anything missing. Kerrigan, Sylvanas and Jaina are all powerful women. They lead factions or movements, wield power, stand toe-to-toe with male counterparts, yes – but as characters, they are ridiculous caricatures. And they don’t have to be. Blizzard does an awesome job creating stories in a medium that doesn’t lend itself to real character development. You’ll never confuse Thrall with Garrosh, Tirion Fordring with Darion Mograine – so could they take just a little of that ability, maybe talk to a woman or two, and create a woman who isn’t a victim?

Or am I just being overly critical?

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He is a tricky one…

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Tanking 101: LOS

LOS stands for Line of Sight. No it is not Line of ‘Site’. (Trust me. I use the term in a technical sense at work all the time. ‘Line of site’ makes no sense.)

Interestingly this acronym means the same thing in WOW as it does in the real world. It means you can draw a straight line from one point to another and it will not go through any walls or mountains or buildings or anything. Simply put, anything you can see is in your line of sight. In WOW that is anything your character can see. In wow this is also restricted to what is in front of you.

Also remember that in wow there is a difference between what you the player can see and what your character can see. Your camera is far over your characters head. Imagine some guy standing 20 feet behind you, and on the top of a tall ladder. This guy would see different things than you can see. It might be that he can see things you can’t but it might also be that you see things he can’t. What if you are standing in a door way. You are just inside the door and he is 20 feet back and on a ladder. You can see everything that is on the other side of that door and he can see almost none of it. This is true in WOW as well. Just after your character steps through a door you can’t see anything they can. Then your camera zooms into the room and you have a view of things again.

So what am I getting at with all this? Camera control is important to being able to use LOS. If you have a tough time with it you can expect to have a hard time using LOS to your advantage.

Now why do we care about LOS? Simple, in World of Warcraft ranged attackers can not shoot directly at a target that they can not see. This simple fact means you can use Line of Sight to ‘pull’ targets to you. You can do this as a tank or while soloing. Any time you want to move a target or pack of targets toward yourself you can use LOS. Of course if they are not ranged attackers then you don’t need LOS to do this. You also don’t need LOS if you have some way to cast a ranged silence. Of course ranged silence effects can be tricky to apply so even if you have such a skill you might want to use Line of Sight anyway.

Line of Sight is an amazingly simply concept that a shocking number of people have problems with. The term LOS usually stands for ‘Line of Sight Pull’ such as in the sentence “stay here I will LOS them.”

Here is how you do an LOS pull.

1: shoot them

2: hide.

That is all. But I keep seeing hits from search lines on our blog about this so I will say more.

First you shoot them. This means you use any ranged attack against the opponent. It can be a taunt, or a shot from a gun/bow/etc, or even a debuff applied from a distance. Any skill or ability that can be applied from a distance. Actually it does not have to be from a distance but it helps. No wait! Stop! Don’t shoot yet. Look at step 2 first. Yeah see that part is ‘hide’. So before we shoot at that pack we want to be standing near something we can hide behind. That is they trickiest part of an LOS pull, finding the right place to do it. Some areas have lots of good places to use LOS and some have none at all.

So where can you hide? Most of the time features of buildings will work. Walls in the game, even ones free standing in the world, are often enough to break Line of Sight. You see, that is what you are doing when you hide. You are breaking THEIR line of sight to YOU. This means in order to see you again and get a shot at you they will have to run toward you and around any obstacles you are hiding behind.

Walls of caves and tunnels also work. Terrain features usually do NOT work. This means outdoors, hills, mountains, even trees, can be fired through. Yeah technically the target can not ‘see’ you and technically they can’t get to you except by running around some obstacle. But they can still shoot you. It is very important to know where in the WOW world you are actually breaking LOS and where you are still going to get fireballs up the patooty.

Stairs are something that breaks LOS but you might not notice very often. Here is the tricky things with stairs and ledges. WOW calculates LOS to your feet. That is right. If you can see all of a target except below their knees you probably still can’t shoot at them. This also means they can’t shoot at you so that is handy to know. (The issue with stairs is very annoying when tanking or healing near the top of a steep set of stairs so use caution)

So here is the new set of steps for an LOS pull:

1: Find a place to hide (that is a real hiding place

2: Stand near it (As close as you can and still hit the targets)

3: Shoot the target (hit the closest one, it does not have to be a caster)

4: Hide (duck out of LOS as fast as you can)

Something more about hiding though… you want to stand near the point where they are going to show up. By that I mean if you are hiding behind a wall, stay near the corner of the wall. As soon as they come around that corner ranged enemies will stop and shoot you from there. They will not keep coming to you. They will run ONLY as far as it takes for them to be able to see you and then they will stop and shoot. Keep in mind that if you are targeting a pack that is spread out some of them might be able to see you at a different point than others. Those ones might stop early to shoot while other ones keep coming. There are a lot of curved corners in ICC where this happens.

That is all there is too it. The simplest pull ever right? WRONG!

There is more to it than just that.

Risks

One of the big risks about doing an LOS pull is having the DPS or healer agro the targets as they run in. They can do this pretty easily because you have not generated any significant threat on the targets. RDPS shooting something obviously will generate threat and potentially pull off of you. So will a healer casting heals on you. But the heals will only generate threat when they actually heal real hit points. If you are full on health and someone puts a HOT on you then there is no risk. But if you have even a little damage and take some healing it is likely the targets are now on the healer.

There are two distinct ways that someone pulling off you can be a problem in an LOS pull. One is that the targets will stop coming to you. This happens when someone standing in the open draws agro. If someone stands out in the open and gets blasted it is usually pretty clear that they messed up. The other issue is more subtle and possibly worse. Someone may draw agro off you but NOT cause the targets to stop. This can be if they were hiding and the target pack was ranged, or if the pack was all melee. The risk here is that you, the tank, will only have a TINY window to regain agro before those targets hit your ally.

One place you see this a lot is Halls of Reflection. Most people hide in the alcoves and LOS the packs. The risk is that if you are standing there fighting and your healer is hiding, sometimes you get several melee attackers running in at the same time. If you miss time your AOE your healer can drop instantly. It is not always obvious that it was a tanking fail either.

Tanking the first part of Halls of Reflection.

This stuff applies to ANY place you are trying to use LOS and having trouble tanking it. It can be a real problem if your healer can’t handle more than one or two hits. If you find you are in this situation, which healers dropping instantly as you complete a LOS pull, try these things.

-Check your position. You want to be lined up so that the targets have to run though a lot of your ‘aoe circle’ to get to the healer. Draw a mental circle around yourself and consider how long it takes the targets to run through it.

-Time your AOE better. You need to hit it when they are JUST inside the range of it but not before. This gets tricky if more than one target are coming into range and different times. It is sometimes better to let that first one get all the way to the healer if that means you get the next two in range.

-Use other aoe options. There are other attacks you can use. Even non-aoe ones. Try changing targets as they come at you.

-Hit the targets with some extra threat before they come in. Range attacks, etc.

-Pick your targets better. Know which ones are 2-shotting the healer and be sure those get some extra attention during the pull.

-Ask DPS to use CC, or misdirection or tricks of the trade. Death grip, stuns, kites, frost traps… there are a LOT of things the DPS can do to slow them down as they pass though your AOE circle. Buying you a second or two can mean the difference between a dead healer.

-Get the healer to throw bark skin or shield or some sort of mitigation move before or during the pull.

-Ask the healer to not pre hot you or throw any moves until the pack has arrived. This may require you to throw some tanking cooldowns to stay alive.

This is all aimed at solving the problem of the healer dropping instantly on a pull, or taking so much damage they are distracted from healing you. If your problem is something else, use something else. If DPS is pulling agro the easiest thing to do is tell them to stop it. Or let them die.

But I can’t seem to get them to come to me!

Ah, time for some remedial LOS. Look, the line of sight means the line your CHARACTER can see. Zoom your camera all the way in. No, keep going until you are inside your characters head. This is what they see. You camera is much higher and farther back. Your camera sees things your little person can’t see. Try this, draw a line from the target STRAIGHT down to the bottom of the screen. I mean straight down, like if you held a marble where they target is (right in front of your monitor) and then dropped it. Did the marble pass over your character? No? Then turn your screen. Move your camera until the target is straight above your character in the screen. Not sure? Hold your mouse by the cord and dangle it in front of the monitor. Let it hang free and move the cord to line up with both you and the target. Can’t do it without two hands? You are not lined up…. Ok fine, here are some pictures.

 

Can’t tell if the Line Of Sight is interupted? Check the overhead view. Yup. You are safely hidden.

Looking at it from your own camarea it is not clear if you are LOSing them or not. Checking a view from the side we see that the Line of Sight to your feet is good if you are slighting back from the top of the steps.

How about this one? Looks bad right?

Not bad. Good. The target can’t see you. It is close though.

Yeah real close. If the target was just a little to one side then it can see you.

Practice!

Don’t wait for a pull that you absolutly have to LOS to try using it. LOS any time. Heck, do it solo… I mean use LOS when soloing. Also use it instances. Keep an eye out for any pull that you CAN LOS and then try it. The more you practice it the better you get. Don’t wait for a fail-tastic HoR run to brush up on your skills.

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Friday the Starcraft 2 collector pack came. We hadn’t bought a collector’s edition Blizzard item before and I was impressed. Actually my first reaction was “so where’s the actual game?” It was one of the two dvd boxes (the other was a making of). And there was a soundtrack, a comic, a very very nice artbook, the usual tchotchke in the form of “Jim Raynor’s dog tags” – a usb stick. Actually I thought the gimmick came off well there.

The one thing it didn’t have was a hard copy “Mini-Thor” pet code, 90% of the reason we bought the collector’s edition in the first place. We decided it probably auto-applied to the Battle.net account you hooked the game up to, so Reversion very kindly connected it to my account.

Mini Thor is about the coolest mini pet ever. First off, he’s huge – he’s got to be the biggest mini pet I’ve seen. He flies. He hovers. He shoots things with his cannons, all the darn time. He’s totally awesome and Invariant loves him. She’s getting close to 75 pets and I need to make an effort there: Invar is my achievement and pet collector. It makes up to her for not being my main. She also got the Touring Rocket that I finally decided to give her. Same reason. Also because gnomes love rockets.

Friday was a level-skills-on-Argent-Dawn -SAN-alts night; whee fun.

Saturday I levelled my disc/shadow priest while Reversion killed zerg. I haven’t played Verdandi in a while and had forgotten how fun it is – actually this was my first major solo shadow questing session. I like it a lot. At 71, you just don’t die and don’t go oom in normal questing. Vampiric Embrace means you heal for a percent of your damage done. Throw a bubble at the start of the fight, toss your dots, Mind Flay, profit. Throw in a [Whatever that spell is] + Mind Blast combo to trigger replenishment before something dies, combine with the Spirit Tap proc, you’ve got mostly full mana for the next encounter. She wandered around Dragonblight for a level and a half, ending at a good ways into 72. Not sure where I’m going to take her next. She needs to get to 73 for Grizzly Hills, she’s done all of Howling Fjord and the fun bits of Dragonblight (I don’t like Star’s End and Wyrmrest much). Might go play with the tuskarrs for a while. Or back to Borean Tundra.

Saturday night after church I fired up Starcraft 2 myself. Interesting item: you only need to log in to Battle.net to load up your single player campaign. We were both able to play at the same time without any problems. I think you don’t get achievements if you’re not on battle.net though: I got a few, then Reversion logged on and I didn’t get any more.

The “Casual” mode of play is perfect for me. I know how to play RTS games, I’ve played some Starcraft and most of Warcraft 3, and I’m really good at turn based strategies like the Civilization games, but I tend to forget to do things in RTS games. Or I’ll have trouble concentrating in two places at once, and either my advance team gets slaughtered or nothing happens back at the base. But the easy mode in SC2 (thanks for calling it casual by the way, nice way not to diss us not so good players)

This isn’t a Starcraft blog so I’ll keep it short: I’m really liking the game. The story is fun, the writing feels good, and the game play is interesting. I played it late Saturday night and all Sunday after church. I’m not letting Reversion give me much advice although he did tell me, and I listened, to do all the memory crystal missions at once: it gives you a good leg up on tech and then later points that would have been tech go to cash. The most interesting time was when there was a decision mission: side with the humans or side with the protoss, and the mission itself was different. Reversion picked one way so I picked the other and everything was totally different – the objectives, the enemies, the strategy. Overall it didn’t have much effect on the game – either way you lose the services of a certain NPC – but it felt like a fun difference.

So I feel revitalized for now, both for WoW and in SC2. I think I might have a shot at getting this priest to 80 before Cataclysm; my pet achievement is in view; and I killed zerg for like, 15 hours this weekend. Whee!

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