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Archive for August, 2011

Downplaying

I was going to wait until after the contest to post but that is just too long without a comic. So here it is, comic number 100. Now where is the international fraternity of webcomic artists to give me my prize?

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More DPS!

So I started giving advice to our friend and fill-in raider Bocat concerning getting her numbers up on Firelands boss fights. But I figured such advice was good post material so here goes. The thing with firelands bosses, at least the first 4, is that they are movement and target switching heavy. That is tough stuff and it is stuff you can’t just theory craft and optimize or practice on a target dummy… or can you? There are some things you can do to up your damage on fights with a lot of target switching and movement.  These things mostly relate to…

Situational Awareness

Increasing your situational awareness can up your damage done in a few ways. It will let you move less so you have more time to hit stuff. It lets you not move when you don’t have to and not move excessively far when you do have to. It will let you acquire targets faster so you spend more time hitting them. Situational awareness will also keep you alive so you spend more time hitting. Finally it will help you plan your actions better.

Move early, move less, move smaller

On a movement heavy fight it is common to have bad stuff come at your or spawn under you. That is one of the main reasons you move. By being more situationally aware you will see ‘bad stuff’ coming earlier. You will also be able to judge if the ‘stuff’ is really a threat or if it going to miss you. If it is going to miss you don’t need to move. Taking the effort to really see what is going on around you will let you avoid moving when you don’t have to. It will also let you move just the minimum amount. The faster you stop moving and get back to the pewpew the better your damage will be.

Early movement also helps. If you can take one fast movement early you can focus on doing damage again. If you watch the stuff coming at you for a while and move at the last second, your focus is split. Also focusing on just one bit of the ‘the bad’ might mean you don’t see something else.

Look at the stuff, decide on your reaction, do it, get back to the task at hand. Once you have done the move you planned you can ignore that bit of ‘the bad’. Like a car you pass on the freeway. Once you decide to pass it, and complete your pass, it is gone, done, ignorable, no longer a factor in your planning. You should always be thinking ahead to the next step and not looking behind in your mental rearview mirror.

See the targets, know the targets

Before you make a target change you should already know where your target is, what it is doing, and have a plan for when you are going to switch to it. If you have to spend several seconds looking around for a target that is several seconds you are not DPSing.

The power curve

There is an expression called the ‘power curve’. It is a way of expressing if you are in control of a situation or if you are just reacting. It is well known that those who are only reacting are less efficiently. Pilots know this well. Sometimes when a poor pilot crashes they say he was, “So far behind the plane he did not die for an hour”. Morbid, yes, but it aptly describes being in a bad situation where you are reacting. Reacting to things that already happened… and probably reacting wrong because 3 other things have already happened AFTER the one you are reacting to. The pilot is so far behind the sequence of events the plane has been a smoking hole for several minutes before he catches up.

The more ‘aware’ you are the more you can get ahead of events’. Know what is coming next and have a plan for what you will do. When you get good at that practice knowing what is coming two moves ahead and have 3 plans for that. The farther ahead of events you are the easier it is to deal with the NOW. People that are behind events all the time can’t imagine having the mental ‘bandwidth’ to think that far ahead. But the truth is when you ARE thinking ahead then ‘now’ is a lot less distracting. You are stable and grounded because you know what is happening. You know what is happening because you expected it to happen.

How to be more aware

Look around. Yeah that is all there is to it… no that is not true. First you have to look and then you have to SEE.

Looking

Use your camera independently of your character facing. Don’t look around BETWEEN casts, look around DURRING casts. If you have a long cast started and you know what your next cast will be you have several seconds you can look all around. You can even fire your next ability off while looking. It is better to be slightly less focused on your rotation for a couple seconds, every now and then, instead of losing awareness and getting into trouble. Look around any time you can spare the time.

Seeing

Know what you are looking at and understand it. This means paying extra attention to videos and the prefight briefing. It also means being more knowledgeable about parts of the fight that are not ‘your’ part. Seeing is understanding. Don’t neglect a glance at the DBM timers. Know what is coming up next and how soon. Memorize the sequence of the fight and never get taken by surprise.

Now what do you do with all this ‘seeing and knowing’ stuff?

Plan ahead

When are you blowing cooldowns? Do you have time to blow one now on this target? Can you move your cooldown use around and get more of them in one fight? Can you stack them better? Can you wait for a proc and stack something with that?

When are you saving your resources? When can you blow them?

Where can you stand that will keep you from having to move so much? Where can you stand that will let you SEE more without LOOKING so much? Where can you stand that will anticipate where you need to be for the next phase? Which way do you have to look so you can see the next phase before it comes?

Practice and experience

The thing is… it is really hard to do all this without seeing the fight, a lot. There is a reason progression raiders are better than average. It is because they ‘put in the wipes’ necessary to know the fights inside and out. Two players of equal ‘skill’ one that knows the fights and one that doesn’t are going to have very different levels of play and the numbers will show it.

 

Target switching

On a fight with heavy target changing I can tell by looking at the meter who is good at that and who isn’t. And this you CAN practice on dummies. There are three aspects to a target change: Reorienting, Acquiring and ‘Ramping up’.

Reorienting

This means turning and moving to get into position to attack the new target. This varies by class. Some have to run over to a new target and some can just spin and shoot. Some have ways of moving fast and some don’t. But there is a large element of player skill here. For example a keyboard turning pally will lag way way way behind a really pro hunter… but a really skilled pally using mouse turning and thinking in advance can keep up with dense hunter. Sure player class has a big effect but only your own skill can make the most of the class you are playing (of course it is also up to the raid leader to assign you a role that plays to your strengths and your classes strengths).

Planning ahead makes reorienting faster. This is how situational awareness and thinking ahead ups your performance. Can you move a little between casts and shave get closer to where you need to be on the next phase? If so you are likely to engage a new target several seconds sooner. That is tens or hundreds of K in damage. That really can add up!

Acquiring

Acquiring is the act of finding, and targeting the new target. This is done before, after, or at the same time as ‘reorienting’. Like reorienting your skill makes this faster or slower.  Better reorienting also make this faster. If your camera was already lined up where the adds spawn, and you had already shifted to be in range of them, then you are likely to engage be able to get them targeted extremely fast. Situational awareness wins again.

Ramping up

Once you have a new targeting selected and you are in position to attack it you still have to get into your rotation. You have to apply debuffs, dots, start the right cast sequence, all that stuff that is needed to do good damage. There is a huge element of player skill in this. There is also focus and planning but those are skills too. For if you forget to apply an important debuff (or self buff) until you are the second time through your rotation you probably just wasted many thousands of points of damage. Ramping up is something you CAN practice. It is hard to get feedback though. You can sit on a target dummy and go through the first 10-30 second of your rotation over and over but it will be hard to know how improved you are. I would suggest timing yourself for s set period of time. Like go for exactly 15 seconds each time and then look at the overall damage done. Also read, study, and think. There is always some other tip or trick out there that can improve your opening rotation.

 This stuff is not easy

Anyone that had raid healed, raid tanked, and really pushed themselves at raid DPS will probably agree that dps is not ‘easier’. In some ways it is harder. Healing and tanking get easier as your gear and skill improve but DPS, progression minded DPS, is always a challenge. There is always more to improve. If it gets easy you are slacking! Try harder… well that is not totally true. If you get really good at knowing fights and being situational aware then things will feel easier, less frantic, less disorienting. Your brain, fingers, and awareness will be freed up to work on the task of squeezing out those last few points of damage.

A couple final tips

When force to move here are a few things to try:

Move during the GCD: The global cooldown gives a caster enough time for a very short couple steps. The best time to do this is when you just fired an instant cast or you are about to fire one. Start moving before you fire. Fire while moving. And stop as soon as the GCD is up. If your rotation has a couple instant casts in it you can usually move a good few yards in just one rotation. So, if you have some place you want to move, but you don’t have to move their for a few seconds, you can use this trick to move in short steps without any lost DPS. This is great for things like slowly kited bosses.

Refreshing dots: Sure that dot might have a lot of time left on it but if you can refresh it with an instant cast while moving then that is two global cooldowns worth of movement time that are not completely wasted.

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Comic Contest!

That is right, a contest! We are lining up some prizes and we are going to have you make your own ‘Corporate Raider’ style comic. The ones we like best win… er I mean the comics win. It is not like we will give out prizes  based on popularity. We are all impartialastic or whatever. Kinda.

So how does it work? Just make a comic.

Format

If you can’t master my incredibly complex and inspired technique of ‘scribbles on a whiteboard’ then you can use on of the templates I posted below. There are two different ones at two resolutions each. You can always make speech bubbles in MS paint if you don’t have anything else. Or, if you are more artistic and junk like that you can draw your own. Oh, or feel free to photoshop any of my old comics. You can use multi panel style or the single picture style of comic. Whatever works. I find sticking to 3 frames or 1 static image is usually best. If you need more to tell a joke it often falls flat. We look forward to seeing what you come up with (all five people that read this site).

Theme

Oh, and the theme of your comics should of course be WOW and IRL work. It does not matter if it is corporate, retail, service, homemaking, politics (ew), volunteerism, or the military. Whatever someone might do as a vocation/work is fair game.

Submissions

Submit your comic by emailing L4M.blog@gmail or else posting it on your own blog and sending us a link. Submission of an image/idea is take as permission to post it here blahblahlawyerblah. You get the idea.

We will let this run a week or so… or until we get enough entries to actually judge something. If we get too few I will just make a fake email account when Analogue is not looking and judge myself the winner. Muwahahahaaa!

Prizes

What? You want loot? What is wrong with just basking in the reflected adulations of our adoring throngs? Yeah I thought not. We have a winged lion for first place! In addition we have a few CCG pets, XT and a Night Saber Cub. Who gets what will depend on how many entries we have and such. I am thinking 2nd gets their pick and 3 gets what is left… unless we only have two entries and then Analogue is likely to swipe the prizes ;D

Note: if first place winner does not want a winged lion, they can choose one of the other pets, either a Blizzard Store pet or get first pick from the XT and Night Saber Cub cards. Codes to redeem your prize will be mailed to you so please use an email you actually check!

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Whew, another weekend of raiding down!

Friday we were missing Log, Grom, and Kisara – in other words, all our melee and the offtank. I’d already covered Log’s spot by inviting Squishi to raid this weekend, so we had tanks, so I looked around the guild and ended up inviting Bocat and another guildie. Bocat wrote up her account of coming with us, so check it out.

We got Shannox down with a little trouble, I wanted to two heal it and while that was a valid strategy we just were really pushing it in the final phase for cooldowns. I want to say, our second two healing attempt, I stepped on a fire trap and died. Kerick kept the raid up until I got a battle rez and could regen mana and we went all the way to the end of that fight. After two wipes though we went back to three heals and crushed Shannox. He dropped shoulders for me…. which means I’ve had amazing FL loot luck, sorry Kerick. I’m sure those plate drops will happen!

Another Ryolith kill. One wipe there, due to him walking into lava. I blame the driver ;-p

Then we went to Beth’tilac. Again, one wipe, then a kill.  Ado is really pro at managing her adds and makes that fight pretty straightforward to us – but everyone who taunts down adds fast makes a big difference.

Then we went and worked on Alysrazor. Friday night’s attempts were…. let’s not really talk about it. Unpleasant to say the least, we died halfway through Phase 1 most of the time.

Saturday night, Grom and Kisara were back, so we started on Baleroc and killed him dead. Grom is really key to our strategy on Baleroc, he takes almost the whole first crystal and lets Kerick build awesome stacks. We could do the fight without him but since we knew he’d be there Saturday we saved that fight.

Then back to the firebird. Saturday was almost immediately better and we started getting a lot farther.  Still, our two healer strategy is very unforgiving, one mistake and a healer or tank dies and it’s over. But we definitely started getting the hang of it.

After about two hours we had our third healer switch back from dps and rearranged the heals a bit. The difference was noticable right away; we just had a lot better survivability.  Yeah, our dps was too low, but at least we were getting through the first phase cleanly.

It was getting late, and we had a good attempt, got through a whole cycle and mostly a second. We were tempted to call it but…. we’re progression raiders, and at some point we have to act like it, so we called for one last good attempt.

Someone died just before the tornados, but when I saw everyone else was alive, I rezzed him, did my mana regen thing, we did the next phase, then the next.  For the first time we actually got through three cycles.

Then we wiped because she was at 20% and we couldn’t kill her fast enough.

We have a lot to tweak. I think we’re going to have to two heal it, but not til we’re consistent about getting through cycles. We need everyone to take the burn phases seriously. Maybe try to get  a little more dps from everyone, even the healers (I spammed Moonfire to regen mana but I really should have been keeping Moonfire up and using Wrath).

But like I said…. that wipe felt like a kill, to me. We can get this kill, it’s just a matter of time. We’ve learned to dance.

I hope everyone watches a Staghelm vid this week…

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Crits and Giggles did TOGC 10 man last night. We had no deaths.  I think the longest fight was the faction champs. Kerick and I two healed it and probably either of us could have solo healed, though someone might have died. On Faction Champs, I did almost nothing but Wild Growth and dispels. I won the Dispel meter on that fight handily, by leaving Kerick sheeped for a good twenty seconds. Hee hee.

It took longer to explain Anub than to kill him. We pushed it over to third phase in about twenty seconds. No burrow phase at all. It took a while in P3 because we all had so much health! But again, easy kill.

After that we went and did OS-3D. For a while we were running that pretty regularly, but it’s been a while. Now we hit it with 10 characters, most of whom were fully raid geared. Rev suggested we just kill the first couple trash packs and see what happened.

Well, Sarth wasn’t dead when the first few trash packs hit us, but he died just before the first lava wall came in, and we aoe’d down the trash. Again, no deaths.

I want Damnation, out of Naxx-25. Seeing how we steamrolled this I’m thinking a ten man should be able to do it….

Between our huge health pools and insane dps levels, old content is really trivial. Really, really trivial. But still fun! And there’s some cool stuff in the old places, we saw some really unique weapons drop.

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I have not been very talkative this week! I’m feeling ok, just distracted by things outside of WoW. Good things. Life is awesome. And it’s winding down to the end of tourist season here so we’ve been enjoying the great outdoors more – it’s more fun to take the kayak out when the beach isn’t packed with people.

Anyway. Friday night we went to Firelands and killed Shannox like usual. Then Beth’tilac – she went down pretty easy. I think we had to try her twice? The first time we had some confusion about getting the away team aloft. Or we may have recovered from that, I honestly don’t remember. Anyway, she died.

We went and tried Baleroc. It was our first week on him with Log in the group and that was an issue, because we’d been working with Log earlier in the day and he was currently sporting two tank specs and basically didn’t even have dps gear. No two hander, nothing. Still it was possible that the other dps could do enough that he could dps in tank spec and we’d still get it. We gave it a try, and got most of the way through before I let people die, but the math said we’d hit the enrage timer before Baleroc was dead.

So we switched to Log tanking but…. it didn’t work. Not a reflection on Log, but our strategy is basically built around Reversion dodging half the Decimation blades, and warriors can’t do that. Again, I struggled with my healing tasks as well. I just kept letting dps die when it was my turn to heal them.

Finally after several attempts, Log agreed that he should step out for this one, and I talked to Squishi, who was online. Squishi agreed to come help once he was done with his Zul-heroic. So we went and killed Ryolith while we waited, then it was cloes to end time anyway so Log went to bed and I got Squishi in. We smacked down Baleroc and called it a night – four bosses, one evening, and I got two upgrades! (Offhand from Shannox and my wrists from Baleroc).

Saturday night we were back and ready to start facing the infamous giant bird. Kerick and I are two healing this fight, so I knew it was going to be a stretch, but not how much of a stretch. Let’s see.

First, I am not supposed to do much healing on anyone but my tank. Ok… I’ll work hard on that. Second, I’m solely responsible for that tank. Ouch. Third, I can cast while moving, but that doesn’t make it easy. Oh, and the way I usually cancel casts by moving? That doesn’t work. Ooops.

I ran into fire worms. I stood in brush fire. I died to who even knows what. I let the tank die because I was accidentally healing Grom. I used Nourish instead of Healing Touch and he died. Bleah. I love my cooldowns but Alys has me wanting a real tank CD for the first time ever.

We got to the tornado phase several times, and of those, half the time I followed the tornados properly and half the time I died. Oops.

I don’t want to sound like a downer. I really like this fight, it’s awesome. Tons of fun. I just wish it didn’t illustrate what a bad raider I can be!

It did help me with my “diagnose what’s wrong” skills. People would die and say they didn’t know why, so I’d go look at  Recount’s death chart and tell them why. Sometimes it took some thinking, because the last piece of damage maybe wasn’t what really killed them. That part was fun.

Anyway three hours in, Ado mentions we have BH and I jump at the suggestion. I was so tired and unable to focus that I knew I’d hit my wall. And Sorak mentioned Cho’gall so we had to go do that too – ugh, yet another kill and he’s still never dropped that trinket. We did have both a Cho’gall and a Nef lockout with just them up, which is great, means if the alts who had those lockouts don’t get saved again we can do that over and over! Which I think Sorak is rooting for.

Occu’thar dropped mage pants, so that was nice.

Anyway, good set of raiding. I still like where we are as a team. We’ve had good progression for the last month! If we can just get fire bird down, we’ll be in good shape!

 

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Wiping is raiding

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Dear Hordie

Thanks for swooping down and showing me where to stand in order to tame that spirit bird. I was a little miffed when you tried to start taming it yourself. I had, after all, been trying to get it for 15 minutes. Oh, and a word of advice: don’t PVP flag when you are trying to tame a rare pet. Someone who feels you are cutting in line might scatter shot you, frost trap you and then tame your target.
Also I want to thank you for all that /spit. My lovable new pet loves licking it off of my face.
Have a nice day.

PS: Your name was offensive.

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Link achieve or no invite!

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Most specs have a set of glpyhs that is optimal. Sometimes you chose between one or more glyphs that are ok. For Resto druids, the proper Prime glyphs are Swiftmend, Rejuvenation, and Lifebloom. Glyph of Regrowth is a “gimmick” glyph. Ok every resto druid worth her salt swapped it in for Chimaeron, but mostly I’ve not seen anyone speak well of it.

What it does, is simple. If you have Regrowth active on someone, and that person’s health is below 50%, it refreshes. It keeps refreshing until they go over 50%. It actually sounds pretty good, then you start thinking…. how often are people below 50%? The other healers get them up past that, incidental heals work, how much good does this actually do? According to WowPopular.com, most resto druids don’t use this glpyh.

Actually, in progression fights? Sometimes people take damage and it just sits because the healers are trying to save the tank, or remember what else they’re doing. Sometimes I know a person is really low but I don’t have time to get him all the way up right now. Regrowth ticks are pretty small, but combine it with a Wild Growth and if the victim isn’t standing in bad any more, it can be enough to keep them going.

Regrowth isn’t a great spell to use. I’ll admit that. The heal is small and the mana cost is high. But it is fast, and if I get a Clearcasting proc better believe I’m using it. In a fight with high damage phases followed by low phases, I know that I can blow 30% of my mana on Regrowth spam and still get it back later. And that ups my throughput on the raid. If I were tank healing, the strategy would be really stupid, but usually I’m raid healing.

Just last week we were working hard on Ryolith and taking a lot of raid damage from volcanos. It was hectic as we learned the fight, and over and over I saved someone thanks to my auto-refreshing Regrowth. Cast it on them when they’re at 10% health, cast on someone else, keep going, save them all.

The glyph I gave up, Glpyh of Lifebloom, increases the crit change of Lifebloom. Which I have up all the time. So a crit chance increase is an obvious, definite HPS bump. But, if it’s not Tree Time, Lifebloom mostly stays on a tank. It’s a nice little bit of healing to help out Kerick and power my Clearcasting. But it’s not winning us the fights.

Glyph of Regrowth is unpredictable. If we do our jobs perfectly, then on most fights it doesn’t help much at all. But on progression fights where we haven’t learned not to take damage, and I am just trying to keep the raid alive another thirty seconds so we can get this phase down and have a better shot next time, it can really do wonders.  It’s very much a personal play choice thing.  I still might be fail for using it, but I’ve weighed my options and deliberately chosen this fail.

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