Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘DPS’ Category

Part 1 here – how to prepare

Part 2 here – the gauntlet

So here we are! Through the gauntlet, and ready to take on a huge dragon.

Couple things before starting. First, running up the ramp to where the void boss usually lives will start the event. Don’t go up until you’re ready.

Second, if you die and run back, there’s a nice glowy portal that brings you here.

Don’t try to run in manually, you can’t get across the chasm. After some period of time, the portal goes away and the gauntlet respawns. My guess is it’s something like an hour after you first clear the gauntlet – so yes, you might have to clear it again. It took me several days to beat the boss so I think I ran the gauntlet four times.

Now, take a minute to look at the fighting area. You’ve got the ramp and platform, and you can also run around in the area in front of the ramp a bit. Don’t get too far away or he’ll despawn and that sucks.

When you’re ready, go up the ramp. Tarecgosa goes with you, and then Thyrinar appears. He stuns Tarecgosa and now you get to fight him. he starts at 50% health, but that 50% is going to take a while.

Be in boomkin form when you go up the ramp. As soon as he goes active, pop Barkskin, dot him up, and blast away with cast spells. Be ready. When he flies over to the other side of the platform, get to the ramp. When he breathes fire, run down the ramp and don’t let the fire hit you. Hot yourself up at this time, and lay Wild Mushrooms near the bottom/middle of the ramp.

Pro tip: run down one side of the ramp. That way the fire only hits one side and you can go up. Also don’t cut to the other side as you leave the bottom of the ramp. The fire will follow you and block the bottom. Cut toward the same side the fire is on until the beam is off the ramp and then run in a circle around it to get to the other side.

After the fire is done, he starts shadow bolting you again, but more importantly an add spawns at the bottom of the ramp. These adds suck. But there’s a way to handle them. They spawn at the bottom of the ramp, run up the ramp, look around, and come hunting you. If you’re at the bottom, you can dot them up, blow your wild mushrooms, and they will either be dead or nearly there when they come back.

When you can’t kill them this way, they have a couple nasty abilities. A Silence, a Fire Nova, and a nasty melee hit that can daze you. Don’t forget about Entangling Roots or Nature’s Grasp as a way to get them off your back.

The adds spawn… fast. Somewhere I read every 30 seconds but I think it’s more for druids because we don’t have to worry about the self-heal thing that all the other classes have to deal with, thanks to us not having an offensive dispell.

Anyway. Add is dead. Run up the ramp – check your health! – and dot up the boss. Barkskin might be back up. Use it on cooldown. Watch for Starsurge procs, and use them when you can. Don’t hard cast Starsurge or use Starfire, they’re just too slow. You’re more likely going to be healing yourself.

The first two add spawns sync nicely with fire, but the third one seems to spawn a good ten seconds before the fire. Beware of that. After that I didn’t notice a pattern.

You might get your treants to help you with adds, or they might just sort of wander around shaking their fists at the boss.

The key to this fight is movement, and keeping your dots and hots going. And your mana up. Innervate early and often. Don’t let the fire hit you. Get the adds dead. Rinse, repeat.

My successful fight took 15 minutes and some of my attempts took nearly as long. This is a long, long fight. Be prepared. You will probably wipe a few times learning to handle it.

I actually had Reversion helping me toward the end by sitting over my shoulder and watching my procs and cooldowns – “Barkskin’s back, use it!” “Starsurge, starsurge!” “Add spawning, get the mushrooms down!” It helped me. If you have a friend or partner who plays WoW and can sit there with you, and you won’t kill him for this sort of thing, it can be really valuable to have another set of eyes.

(Rev editorial: It is a nasty little fight. Doing it in a spec you are not already pro with is hard. You have a lot of procs and abilities to use and the difference between Barkskin at a critical time or 15 seconds later because you did not notice it was off cooldown… well that is life or death on this fight. If you find you aren’t using some things you might just macro, grasphing roots, barkskin, starfall, and inervate to something you spam so you can’t possibly miss using them. Also be sure to space those mushrooms out as you run up or down the ramp. If you have spare mouse buttoms you might map the shrooms to a click. It makes them a lot easier to use while moving. Use those ramp runs to be dropping shrooms or healing, or both. If you are not used to shrooming remember this: it takes time to drop them and then blow them. Don’t aim them where the add is. Aim them where he is going to be in a little while. If you just space out all three around the center of the ramp it is almost always the right place.)

Doing this chain improved my boomkin skills a huge amount. I’m still a Resto druid, but now I can do some decent DPS, too.

If you’ve got any questions about any part of this chain, please feel free to ask me!

OH – don’t forget to click the clickable thing near Tarecgosa after Thyrinar is defeated, or you won’t get the quest completion, which would kind of suck.

Good luck, and have fun!

Read Full Post »

Part 1 yesterday described how to get ready for this quest chain. If you haven’t read it yet and you’re an actual resto druid, go take a look. If you’re a holy priest or something, it might have some good advice for you too, just ignore the druid specific stuff.

Ok. So you’ve got your gear reforged, gemmed, enchanted; your buff food and flask; your keys bound to useful stuff; and your mage slave waiting around at the Nexus entrance to Arcane Brilliance you. Now what?

Enter the Nexus and you’ll see a big blue dragon there – our buddy Tarecgosa who we met outside. When you talk to her, she’ll start the gauntlet. Now, the gauntlet isn’t that bad, but I found it really confusing the first few times I ran it, so I’m going to do a whole walkthrough here.

Like everyone who runs the Nexus, she heads down the hallway to the left. Partway down she casts invisibility on you so the big sentry doesn’t see you. Keep with her and when you get to the room at the end of the hall, start attacking the big arcane sentry.

You’re going to dot him up with Moonfire and Insect Swarm, then look at the two doors you didn’t come in. A little magic-eater-dog thing is going to come in both doors. Guess what? Hibernate works on them! Pop Nature’s Grasp to root them when they touch you, and Hibernate one. Dot the other, then kill it with Wrath. Note, these guys have a really really nasty silence. Definitely keep one asleep while you kill the other.

Once dog 1 is dead, kill the other dog, then kill the sentry. All this time the sentry is doing an ability you will want to avoid. When there’s a big glowing ice patch under your feet, move. Get off it. Don’t stand there. It hurts.

If you get low, pop out of boomkin and drop a few heals on yourself.

When the sentry dies, Tarecgosa gives you a chance to rest – heal yourself up now – and then leads you down a corridor of mists. Stick with her and don’t stand in the mist.

You’re going to come down to the next corridor. In the normal Nexus, this is where the frozen people are. This time you’ve got another Sentry plus dog pair to handle. Just do it the same way as before. Hibernate one dog, kill the other, keep the Sentry dotted, heal yourself, kill the other dog, kill the sentry.

Tarecgosa will play with the Sentry while you kill the dogs.

Now that the sentry is dead, start heading down the corridor. Halfway down, this happens:

Yeah. Two big nasties. She freezes you and lies to them. They disappear and she runs ahead.

Now the first couple times this happened, I got really confused. See, there’s a slow effect on you after you come out of the ice, but you can more or less catch her at the end of the hallway. She runs up the next ramp and if you follow her, you’ll probably die, because things are coming up behind you to nom your face. Let her go on ahead, while you go to the end of this corridor and turn around to deal with the new threat: not two but three puppies. They spawn right where you were frozen and run for you.

See this image? This is what happens if you don’t move from where you were frozen. They spawn right there and you have no time to get set.

Hibernate one, pop your Nature’s Grasp, let one get rooted, and then move away and kill the third. They’ll still silence you but you can handle it this way.

I forgot to screenshot this next bit. As you go up the ramp there are frozen spirits in ice cubes, and mists. There’s basically 5 spirits to a “chamber”. Enter the chamber. AOE. When the mists disappear, go to the next chamber. AOE. The bits to worry about here are, these guys hit really hard. Don’t worry about mana, nuke ‘em. Starfall kills them dead but Hurricane works well too. Also, they respawn when the mist forms, so don’t stay behind in a chamber – keep moving forward.

When you get past these, you’ll be up where Whatsername usually is, the splitting mage chick. Telestra. You know her. Anyway, instead, our buddy Tarecgosa is there, with a pair of arcane sentinel guys. Kill the first sentinel, avoiding the ice, and then the second.

Now Tara leads you around the corner and you find an ice wall. She’ll deal with it, and you get to deal with a great big named fel puppy demon this! Piece of cake. Dot him up, avoid his breath of fire attack, boom, he dies. I am serious about avoiding the fire breath thing though, it hurts if you don’t. When he’s casting, just get behind him, he doesn’t move once he starts casting.

Now – the funnest part!

Tarecgosa flies off and leaves you alone to make your way across the chasm. But you can’t use flight form inside! So just hop on that little platform. It’s a vehicle, but don’t worry, you don’t have to use vehicle abilities. It just takes you to the next guy to fight. There’ll be a big dragon on a big platform with four floating orbs. Nuke him, and click the orbs as your platform goes around. They give you a shield against his big damage attack although it doesn’t completely prevent damage. When you kill him, you have a new empty platform. Don’t jump yet – heal your wounds first. Then jump.

Two little adds will spawn, rising up on platforms. Hibernate one! Hibernate is awesome and this is the first time, like, ever, that it’s been so very very useful. Kill the other, then kill the hibernated one.

Then jump to one of the little platforms. Rinse and repeat your way across the chasm.

When the big scary dragon dude shows up, don’t panic, just jump to the next platform, kill the last dragon that you have to face, and jump to the ground. When you do, Tarecgosa will make her way to you and kill all the dragons on the ground. You don’t have to fight them!  Just try to avoid attention til she gets there.

That’s it, that’s the whole gauntlet. Now it’s time to face the boss… or it will be in Part 3!

Read Full Post »

So, you’re a resto druid. Heals are your thing. Maybe sometimes you go boomkin or cat – you’ve probably got an offspec for quests and stuff and maybe on raid nights when the priest refuses to go shadow for the farm content. Somehow or another, you got 25 Eternal Embers and then bought the 3 Sands of Time from that vendor in Uldum, turned the combination in, and got sent to see Tarcegosa in Coldarra.

Now what?

First, don’t just fly off to Coldarra right away. You’ve got serious work to do. Now, if you regularly Boomkin, this may be no big deal. If you’re like me and rarely touch the stuff, it will take you a few tries. You’ll save time and gold in the long run by taking some steps up front

Gear – with luck you’ve been picking up some dps gear in your raids after the mages and locks pass. A pair of solid trinkets will make a big difference, and if you’ve got options in your other slots, that’s good. If you have picked up your Boomkin 2 set, or can get it, I thought it made a nice little dps increase when I used it. Your resto set bonus are going to be useless so if you’ve got alternate pieces for those slots with better stats, then go for it.

Once you’ve picked out your dps set, save it – you might be working on this for a few weeks. Then go to the reforger. Here’s the scoop: the stuff you fight in there tops out at level 85. That means all that spirit – that converts to hit and probably has you way over hit cap – can go. I know, it’s unnatural to reforge spirit, but what you really want is haste and crit. This fight is all about your dots and hots, so pump up the haste! Mastery is basically useless, you won’t be spending much time worried about your Eclipse rotation, so that’s the other stat to dump.

Check your enchants! I had some pieces in my set that had old enchants, or no gems, because it was offspec gear. Spend the money and get your stuff done right.

Spec – listen to me here. You’re doing this in full Balance spec. Your dots won’t hit hard enough in resto, and the dragon is flying way, way overheard so no feral either. But you don’t want a cookie cutter Balance spec. You are almost never going to be standing there casting direct damage spells at the boss – and if you are, it’s Wrath, or a procced Starsurge. So look for talents that boost Moonfire, Insect Swarm, and Wrath. Take a hard look at survivability talents – I took 3 points in Perseverance for this fight, because most of the damage you take is spell damage and that 6% reduction adds up.  I did not take Solar Beam – yeah the interrupt is nice but on such a long cooldown it wasn’t worth it. No Owlkin Frenzy – you are in caster form most of the time.  I also skipped Gale Winds but that one is arguable.  I recommend picking up Blessing of the Grove and Heart of the Wild from the Resto tree.

Glyphs – don’t do what I did and realize a week into this that you’re using resto glyphs. Go buy boomkin ones! The set I used was

Prime glyphs: Insect Swarm, Wrath, and Moonfire

Major Glyphs: Barkskin, Starfall, and Monsoon

Minors: whatever you want, but not Typhoon.

Typhoon is going to be a good friend to you on this fight. You want it on a short cooldown but not – I repeat not – glyphed out of the knockback. The knockback is your friend.

Buffs:  buy a stack or two of fish heads and some flasks of  intellect. Also mana pots or health pots or both. Bandages if you have the skill (I don’t, I admit, I fail). You might even want a few Volcanic Potions but save those until you know the fight well.

If you have a really, really good mage friend perhaps she will park outside the Nexus and cast Arcane Brilliance on you every time you die and run back. I didn’t bother, but it would be a nice little perk. She might even give you cookies so you can eat on the gauntlet phase.

Abilities: I had to redo my bars a little bit to make things I needed accessible. Your major damage spells are going to be Wrath, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm. You’ll get Starsurge procs so have that somewhere easy to use. You’ll use Typhoon  a lot, and you want your Wild Mushrooms and Detonate Wild Mushrooms on the keys. I also suggest having Hibernate on your bar, mostly for the gauntlet but you may need to sleep an add for a second at some point.

You want Barkskin and Nature’s Grasp in easy to reach spots. I had mine mapped to F1/F2 and also F11/F12, for easy access. Innervate – use it early and often! Starfall is a nice damage boost, and your treants should be somewhere easy to get to.

Whew! What else? Why, your hots – but if you’re a real resto druid raider you’ve probably got those bound to mouseclicks in Vuhdo or Grid or whatever. I’ll assume you have access to those in your balance spec, because if you don’t it’s gonna suck. If for some reason you need to map the heals to keys: prioritize Lifebloom, Rejuv, Regrowth, Healing Touch. Nourish isn’t going to cut it.

Yay! You’re ready to go! Make sure your gear is repaired. There’s a repair guy at the Transitus Shield in Coldarra if you need him. Then, hop a boat or zeppelin and get to the Tundra – or fly from Dalaran if you’ve moved back to mageville. You’ll get a cut scene, meet Tarecgosa, and be told to meet her inside the Nexus. Go on in – and note, you cannot be in a group of any sort at this point. When you talk to her, she’ll start the gauntlet event, so be ready.

Next Time: The Gauntlet!

Read Full Post »

That Worked

How many people out there raid with their full perfect team every week? I envy you. I don’t know we’ve ever had our “perfect” team. Seems we always have to pull someone in. This week may be an exception; I don’t know. After that we’ve got three weeks in a row where Reversion and I will be out definitely twice and possibly more. That’s not going to help.

Anyway, this week we were missing our mage, the lovely Falahla, and Saturday her husband our shadow priest would also be unable to play. I started recruiting a guildie early in the week but he tentatively was helping out a different raid. He promised to keep me posted. And one of our semi-regulars would be available Saturday but not Friday so at least that was one slot filled.

Friday rolled around and I asked Repgrind to make sure that either we got the warlock or someone else – because I was going to be over in the next town standing in line for an ipad. I’d be back before raid time, but maybe not in time to find our tenth man. She promised to help out, of course, and I set off on my quest without any concerns.

I get back and find that Whodowhat can after all! Huzzah! Lock buffs for me! But…. where’s our hunter? She logged off right before raid time…. I got into a conversation with her sister and it turned out there was some RL stuff going on. Ok. RL comes first… but now I have to find a replacement. We get someone and head to Bastion.

Halfus dies easily but the Twins take a bit. Actually even Halfus and his trash took us a while – yes we one shot them but things just felt slow, like we weren’t all really feeling it. I certainly wasn’t and I couldn’t identify why, but raid just felt off.

After far too many wipes  – I think 3 maybe 4 but I’d like to two-shot those guys, at most – we got the twin dragons down and started clearing toward the Council. We wiped on that trash, came back, cleared it, and just before we started discussing the pull, two of us dc’d.

We waited…. and waited. Nothing. Finally we gave up and decided we’d switch to BWD and do Magmaw and Omnitron. We got some guildies’ alts and went over. We decided to do Omnitrom first; it took a couple tries. Then we went to Magmaw, wiped, and we were past quitting time so we disbanded. A bit disappointing, really, only three bosses down in the whole evening and no attempts on our progression fight but that’s how things happen sometimes.

Saturday night, rinse and repeat – again had to get a spare guildie in to fill a slot. Only… what we could get, was another healer. Empyrean, our new priest healer, isn’t comfortable dpsing. Kerick would have swapped to her mage but we really needed those paladin heals. We were bringing in a  disc priest and I realized sadly that the best person to go dps was me.

Probably I should have gone for my mage but I do want to be able to boomkin respectably, and there’s gear I need, so I just swapped specs and we started on Magmaw. The first couple attempts didn’t go to well; Empyrean was trying to heal our whole ranged group and it wasn’t working. So we had the disc priest come out too, and Kerick kept Logarithm and the melee alive. That worked and the worm died.

Downstairs to Maloriak. We one shot him, just like last week. Logarithm is an awesome off-tank and does a great job rounding up the adds. I never get healing aggro  from the giant untauntable guys. We did better on that fight than we ever had before because our setup was just a bit more AOE heavy. That was probably the only fight in BWD that night that I felt like I was really doing my job as dps.

Reversion and I had previously discussed strategies for what to do Saturday nights after Maloriak and had sort of agreed we wanted another look at Chimaeron. So we went over there. We ended up using a four healer strategy…. and the fourth healer was not me. Nope, we had our elemental shaman go resto and I… stayed boomkin. There were a couple wipes as people learned the fight, but eventually we got everything down. Reversion and I used our Tranquilities at specific Feud phases, we had two shaman casting Healing Rain, and just enough dps to get through it.

When Chimaeron went nuts and started one shotting the dps, I wasn’t totally sure we’d make it before enrage, but after the tanks died, he went after Grom, who bubbled and managed to keep his attention for a long time. It gave us the edge we needed, and he went down.

I am really glad we got that kill, but selfishly – it’s  healing fight, and we didn’t get it until a setup where I wasn’t healing. It kind of makes me feel bad. It was the right call for our raid setup but I just don’t enjoy dpsing, not when I should be healing.

 

We did a few tries on Atramedes then went over to Throne of the Four Winds to do Conclave. Had a couple new people so we had two wipes. After the first, I went heals and swapped with the disc priest. She hadn’t been there before and I know how to heal that fight in my sleep and we were all tired… so after the third try, when they went down, it was more a sigh of relief than of triumph.

It worked. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had with this raid, but I did enjoy myself.

Next time though, I’m making Kerick switch. So what if the tanks die? I think we know what’s important here…

Read Full Post »

Tips for the Conclave of the Wind

We went after the first encounter in the Throne of the 4 Winds on Friday after we dropped Magmaw and again on Saturday and got them down. Videos on this fight helped but I noticed there were several tidbits of information that we did not get from videos. These small ideas were key to getting them down so I figured I should post about it. Go watch a video and then read this. It will make more sense that way.

This fight has 3 bosses that all need to die within 1 minute of each other. You need 2 ranged, 2 tanks, 3 heals and 3 of any other sort of DPS.

When setting this fight up I like to put raid makes on the floor of the entrance platform and have everyone stand on them and move back and forth to practice the phases of the fight. The left boss is green because he does plants and healing, the center/top boss is blue for his ice and the right boss is any color (what color is wind?). We will call the right platform yellow

Setup

Right/Yellow
One heal (preferably one that can reduce fall damage), Two ranged DPS.

Center/Blue
One healer, one tank

Left/Green
One healer, one tank, 3 DPS melee or anything.

This is the configuration at the start of the fight. The fight has two alternating phase. The bosses all have an energy bar. This bar fills from 0 to 90. Ninety is full, not 100%. Don’t mix up ‘percent’ and the energy number or your timing will be wrong. At 70+ energy people need to shift to be near the bridge they are going to use. At 80 energy people move. At 90 energy the wind bridges vanish and you have to already be moved.

Movement

At 80, all the DPS on the right/yellow platform move to center/blue. Everyone on the green platform goes to blue and everyone on blue (tank and healer) goes to green. It is important to note as you are moving there might be a boss there taking a swing at someone. Also on the blue platform there might be an ice patch you land on. Get off it fast. The healer on the right/yellow platform does not move. That person stays there until that boss dies.

Special attack phase.

At 90 the bosses do a big attack. Lasts only a short time. During that time the DPS should be burning the blue boss. As soon as the boss energy bars drop down everyone needs to be moving back. EXCEPT, the tank and the heals on the blue and green platforms. They only move once per cycle. The ice boss applies a debuff so you can’t go back there right away. There will be plenty of aoe damage on the ice platform and everyone also needs to stay off the fickin ice patches and out of the spray of ice.

Now for the real tips…

Right platform, wind, yellow

This platform does not need a tank because the boss just stands there and shoots stuff at you. The big risk here is getting blown off. If the whole squad gets blown off the boss silences the raid and everyone dies. It is possible to recover from a blow off, if you did not die. So try to get back on the platform fast. There will be tornados. Don’t let them hit you. The big thing is that periodically the boss will start channeling a knockback and slowly turn clockwise, sweeping the blast of wind around the platform.

-When he is doing the sweeping move he holds one hand out in the direction he is doing it

-If you are far back it is easier to see the boss’s move but takes more running to get away from it

-keep your camera at max zoomed way out to see better.

-If you get blow off toward the inside of the ring of platforms, you live and get carried back to the platform. If you get blow off AWAY from the ring you die.

-Don’t stack with everyone else. If one of you gets blown off it is not a wipe. If you all get blown off it is probably a wipe.

Center platform, ice, blue

-Don’t stand on the ice

-Don’t point the boss at your healer or anyone else on the platform

-Always be ready for you or the healer to get ice under them. Have your next movement after that planned out.

-Don’t move to the bridge too early or it will get blocked up with ice.

-Don’t move to the bridge too late or it will be too late. If you don’t jump in time the debuff will drop you.

-If you are jumping to the other platform and you left an ice patch near the bridge, tell people in vent so they will be ready to move fast.

Right platform, life, green

The boss drops healing rings and you have to move him out of them fast.

-The INSTANT you see him casting ‘soothing winds’ turn and run away. He will move as soon as he is done and he will not heal up. You HAVE to keep him out of these rings.

CRITICAL: The area of healing is larger than what it looks like. WATCH the bosses health bar. If it is taking ‘up’ ticks move him farther away.

-Don’t stand in the green yourself.

-When he casts ‘nurture’ adds will spawn from the flowers.

-Don’t let adds stand in the green.

CRITICAL: When 3 or more adds stand together they do bursts of AOE. Tell every DPS to spread out, find some adds and tank/kill them themselves.

-Do NOT gather the adds up.

-The tank should kill the adds too, just don’t turn your back on the boss.

-The adds MUST be down before the end of the cycle.

- NO DPS should be back on the boss until ALL adds are down. Communicate and let people know if there is still one up.

-The healer should stand near someone that can get adds off them. Don’t run away from your people or they can’t get that thing off you.

-DPS needs to spot any packs that are larger than 2 (3 or more) and pick one, hit it hard, and move it away.

-Single target DPS the adds. Don’t AOE them. AOE is garbage now and you can’t afford to have too many up in a pack. IF there is a pack of 3, single targeting one down fast will REALLY help the healing situation out.

-keep all adds and the boss well away from the center of the platform while killing adds. This is critical. He will drop another circle of green either on himself or an add. Be ready to move him off it. If this circle is any where even remotely near the center of the platform then the boss will take big heals during the end of cycle phase. If he is standing on a circle he will heal to full in that phase. See the picture for the areas where the boss should NOT be at the end of the cycle.

-It is ok to leave him standing in green when you jump on the bridge at 80 energy. He will teleport to the center of the pad a moment later. In fact it is GOOD to have him drop that last green patch there because you know he will not heal in the ‘big move’ phase.

-Killing adds fast is a critical key to this fight.

CRITICAL: Keeping that last green circle from dropping in the center is also key to winning. Don’t take it lightly. When we messed it up a little we lost. When we did it right we creamed the fight. Make sure the boss is well clear of the center when energy is 50 and higher.

-At the start of the next round the green boss will be enraged. This makes him bigger so he is actually closer to any healing circle. This also makes him CREAM the next tank.

CRITICAL: The next tank needs to attack him during the ‘big move’ phase and apply all tanking debuffs that he has available before the boss comes out of the big move. Tanking cooldowns should be saved for this time. If the enraged hits are too hard you should apply the debuffs and then run away before he comes out of the move. This will buy you a few seconds of not getting hit. The enrage wears off fast so those few seconds are precious.

Here are my super professional pictures of the tanking on the green platform. Here the boss is green and we are about to pull. The blue arrow is the bridge to the blue platform.

Next the boss is casting his healing circle and the tank is turning to run.

Here is the new boss location well clear of the circle. Remember, the healing area is a lot bigger than the graphic of the circle.

As you are fighting the adds each time here is the area that you want to avoid.

But! If you run to the bridge at the end the boss might drop a circle as it is chasing you. So you can’t drag him across that area. Also you don’t want to be too far from the bridge. So THIS is the real area to avoid.

Do recap, let him drop the first circle in the center and then keep him in the upper left area for the later circles. There may be two, so leave yourself room to drop two in that white area. Boss positioning is very key on the fight but it is not totally obvious how key it is. Move fast and position the boss well.

And also… no that is pretty much it…

Oh wait… if you get on a wind bridge at the very edge of it you can get blow to kingdom come and never land on the other side. Get on bridges ONLY in the center area. Try this out before the fight. It does not kill you. See how sensitive they are so you don’t screw it up in the real fight.

Read Full Post »

There’s been some brouhaha in the blogosphere recently about the role of DPS classes in 5 mans. Are they just supposed to obediently follow the tank, should they be given more consideration, does the healer regard them as nothing more than useless mana-sinks? Really it’s the sort of thing I don’t think we’re going to be talking about any more once the expansion hits, at least not for a year or so, because we’re resetting the gear curve and things are going to be hard again.

That’s my theory, see: ease of content is promoting an attitude of “I can do it all myself, what do I need these other four losers for?” even in basically decent players. How many stories have you heard of a tank-and-healer out-dpsing the three dpsers – and laughing at them? Or the hunter who did 12k, pulled the boss off on himself, but got the pet to tank it so it was fine?

In less than a month we’ll be back to the old dance, where everyone had to know his part and follow it. But for now, here’s some thoughts. First, from my uber-geared-healer side: Shut up and follow the tank. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe he’s nuts and pulling three groups at once (Hi Reversion love) or takes forever to pull just one, or is going some really non standard way – I once had a tank go RIGHT in Nexus, can you believe it?

But he is standing between me and nasty big things with teeth and curses and I will let him do that. If you stick near us, you’ll get heals. I throw them at anyone who is in range. If you aren’t? If you’re on your own optimal path, or see some side path you think needs exploring? Don’t expect me with you. This is for your own good.

No, really. See, when you pull more than you can handle, you’ll die. If I’m there, maybe I can keep you alive. Maybe I can’t. Either way the mobs are going to attack me too. Then I die. Then we have a long run back.

However, if you die nicely where you are, maybe the tank and I will come and rez your butt.  Heck, I might even innervate you if you’re a mana using class. I won’t need that spell for myself until Cataclysm.

See, there’s only one of me. Even if I could guaranteed keep you and me alive – what happens to the tank in the meantime? Or the other two dpsers? There’s four of you. Assuming you all come into the instance and run in different directions, I can only be with one of you at a time.

Now, the other side of things. This weekend I ran a Deadmines on my level 20 hunter alt. She’s heirloomed up, she has two different pets to choose from, she kills things so fast it ain’t funny. I get a group: there’s a priest healing and a druid tanking. There’s also a paladin and a shaman.

The druid goes tearing along like you expect. Then he gets to the room with the first boss. Somehow everything gets pulled at once (no it wasn’t me doing it) and he dies. I switch my pet to growling, keep aggro off the healer, the healer keeps us up, we finish, we rez the tank, who says something really dismissive to the healer. And then the tank rolls Need on the cloth gloves that just dropped, that the priest rolled on.

The priest asks the druid not to roll on intellect cloth. The druid says, and I kid you not, “I use mana too”. And then again criticizes the priest’s healing.

I chime in to say that intellect is spellpower, now, and a tank doesn’t need it. I get told to “shut up huntard” and asked whether I know how to druid tank. I refuse to play this epeen-waving game and we continue.

The druid now is in cat form. He stays in cat form the rest of the instance. The paladin throws Righteous Fury up and soaks a lot of aggro, I keep my pet ready to growl things off me if I can. However, I’m doing so much damage that basically every mob runs over and beats on me.

The healer does an amazing job and I don’t die, but my damage is now terrible because, well, I’m a hunter and all these things won’t stay at range. So now the tank starts mocking me. I point out how if he was doing his job I could do mine. “Learn 2 hunter” is his reply.

What exactly should I do? Feign Death? Don’t have it. Freezing trap? Don’t have it. Misdirect? Don’t have it. Disengage? Don’t have it.

At some point we finally get out of combat long enough that the priest is able to initiate a vote kick, reason “ninjaing loot”. I vote yes. The vote fails.

“Stop being loot whores” is what one of the other two dps say. I sigh.  The group continues.

This is the incredible thing to me. The healer is being mocked, when his skills are actually above average. He’s not getting most of his loot. He’s dealing with inconsiderate, jerkish people. Me? I would have sat down and not gone any farther, or let the tank die, or something. But he didn’t.

As a low level dpser, I had two choices: drop group or keep putting up with this crap. I stayed. Maybe I should have dropped  but at that point I was rolling need on spell drops so I could give them to the priest. It felt like I’d be abandoning a comrade in a pit of suck to leave now. So I shut up and followed the tank.

On thinking about it, I am depressed but think it was still the best choice. It was that or leave, and it didn’t really violate my principles enough for me to leave in a snit. What I didn’t do was head off on my own and kill something I’d decided needed killing, because that wasn’t my job and because that would have made it harder for the healer, who at that point was the only person in the instance I thought was innocent of blame. Even though the tank was wrong and he sucked, I could only have made the situation worse by independent action, not better.

But I don’t think I’m going into lowbie dungeons without at least Reversion again. Two of us makes a powerful force against stupidity.

Still, I think all of us need to steal a motto from somewhere else. I’d suggest “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”, but man, that  one gets harder all the time. Maybe “First, Do No Harm” would work?

Read Full Post »

Wait, I have a mage?

My mage, Invariant, was my first main. She’s been somewhat neglected in the last year, doing the holidays and grinding pets and other “fun” stuff but not getting much real playtime. I like healing too much, and raiding on two characters just wasn’t for me. So she’s mostly in TOC25 gear she bought on a GDKP (lucky run where all cloth dropped and nobody wanted it so I got it cheap)

We moved both our sets of 80s over to Winterhoof and into Crits and Giggles last weekend and since then I’ve raided three times – twice on my mage. Monday and Tuesday nights I took her to an ICC 10 man. The Monday night raid was awesome though we only downed  3 bosses – Reputation Grind wrote about that here. And last night we got 6 bosses down and some good tries on Putricide. It was late though and I had to quit. Morning comes too early these days…

Anyway it was neat. Arcane mage rotation is… nice and simple. I’ve macroed most of my cooldowns into one giant macro that I just pop every few minutes, otherwise it’s stack Arcane Blast to 4, wait for Arcane Missiles to proc, fire. Shoot a little on the run. Profit. My gear is weak but I was putting out a respectable amount of damage, which pleased me.

Being a healer has made me a better mage, no question. My situational awareness is way higher than it ever used to be. Get out of the fire? No problem. Stack for spores? No problem. Switch to bonespikes? Got it! I was really thrilled. It’s always nice when skills in one role translate into skills in another role.

And the fights – wow! You really see so much more of them when you’re not staring at healing frames. I’ve been running ICC for nearly a year now and there are things I’ve only just learned. Lady Deathwhisper’s adds, for instance, which ones a mage is supposed to hit. And how you can kill yourself if you shoot the wrong one (fully stacked Arcane Missiles spell reflected back = dead mage. Ow. True story). That the axe throwers on the ship get stronger if they’re not taken down. And just how pretty some of these fights are.

It’s not going to make me switch my preferred roles, but perhaps with the new tighter lockouts, Invariant will get more playtime. At the very least I feel like she’s got a new lease on life. Something beyond “pet collector” and “achievement monkey”.

So that said… where’s all the mage blogs at? Other than Frost is the New Black I just don’t know any….

Read Full Post »

Dearest Pug,

To the heirloomed out warrior in the Dead Mines,
Thank you for your critical analysis of my tanking ability. For future reference a lvl 16 paladin does not have many tools to work with. Also note that if you are in the next room spamming thunder clap while the tank and heals are both drinking there is a chance the tank will not be able to ‘hold aggro for sh**’ as you so helpfully put it. You might also note that you did a lot better job tanking for us in the second half. I respectfully submit this had more to do with your party including the formerly tanking paladin that switched to backup healing you… a lot. On the other hand the party I had to work with included all the same characters except in place of the paladin (me) I had a warrior running ahead and pulling things the whole time (you). In light of this I am doubtful the difference in outcomes was related to your tanking ability (non-existent). My healer informs me she spent the second half of the instance healing herself, a lot.

To the gogogo hunter in SM graveyard,

I appreciate your eagerness to take a very short instance and turn it into a slightly shorter one by running ahead and soloing things. I was flattered by the request to run another instance after that one. I am sorry if you did not understand my response of ‘not with you’ followed by dropping group. Allow me to clarify. Yes I was talking to you and I would rather solo the place than run anything you ever again. Hope that clears up any confusion.

To the party in SM library who I ran with over lunch,
I know I directed my ‘you suck’ before I dropped at the druid who was pulling 9.7% of the overall damage. To be fair you all sucked. Yes, even the Lock who was ‘topping the meters’ at 25% of the damage done. You were all agroing things I was not on, running away from the tank, pulling things while the healer and I were drinking and generally playing like idiots. My Shaman I know it is very impressive that you can climb the bookshelves there near the end. I respectfully submit your chain lightnings work just as well from the ground floor and you have time to get more of them off if you don’t climb things. Mister Lock I would like to suggest that calling out ‘heal my pet’ when it is around the corner in the next room and the healer is out of mana is probably not going to get much of a response. I noticed you changed pets to a voidwalker after that and it stopped dying. I also noticed you continued to target your pet for things I was clearly not attacking. Nice try but you fail. I hope you all don’t think me arrogant to say that as a tank specced paladin with no heirlooms and being the second to lowest level in the party I probably should not have been doing 48% of the damage. No mister druid, the final boss sheeping you twice did not explain your 9.7% of the overall damage.

To the other 5 parties I played with in the last 24 hours,
Thanks. You killed things, mostly were not jerks, and generally played like you had a couple brain cells. Thanks.

Read Full Post »

If you missed it before go check: Situational Awareness and You Part 1

I said at the end of part 1 that I would talk more about the issue of high mouse speed. It is not the speed itself that is the issue.

Your brain

You brain uses a vast number of clues to piece together the world around you. If you turn your head your brain has many things to work with in order to fit the view your eyes see before and after the head turn into one picture of the world around you. Your brain has inputs from your neck: muscles tension, skin stretch, twisting of the vertebra. Your brain also gets the inputs from your inner ear sensing motion and acceleration. Your ears also hear the ambient sounds change as the sources of those sounds ‘move’ around you. Even the air movement on your cheeks and in your hair is fed into your brain. All these things and others help your mind understand what it sees and fit the images it sees together with the images it saw a moment before or minutes before.

In a game world you have FAR fewer inputs to work with. Everything I described above and more is gone. You have very few things to work with to help your brain process where you are looking and what you are seeing. If you look rapidly around at action happening all around you your brain needs to blend all that into an ever changing picture of what is going on.

Your brain on WOW

The things that don’t change between in game and real word processing in your head are the image recognition side of things. Well some of it. You lose the depth perception clues. But you do have the normal image processing your brain is capable of.

You DO add a new input. In place of the sensor input from your neck turning you have the input of your mouse hand moving. But is that enough? Can you close your eyes, and move the mouse with a right or left click and know instantly how far your character turned? Without opening your eyes? Can you spin exactly 180 degrees around and in one try without over shooting? Many players can. A very many players can’t. With your eyes closed you only have the input of your hand moving on the table. That is not a lot to go on.

What else do you have? Well the screen of course. But two things are working against you. Frame rate and mouse speed. Anywhere from 10 times per second to upwards of 60 times per second the image on your screen is updating. Imagine your character is turning. Each moment as you turn the screen updates. Each update looks different than the last. If you are turning very slow most of the screen is showing the same thing as before. If you are turning left on the left side of your screen new material keeps appearing each moment and everything moves right. If you are turning fast much more of the screen is updated with new material. If you turn extremely fast nothing or almost nothing is the same as before. If you turn your character completely around between on screen update and the next (easy to do with a mouse twitch) then there is NOTHING on your screen that looks the same as before (not counting your character itself).

When you are turning slower your brain has all the stuff that did not change to give you instant input as to which way you turned and how far. If that tree on the screen moved half way across it then you know something useful about how far you turned. If you turn so fast that the tree simply vanishes then you lose that input. In that case your brain has to start from stretch and figure out where you are looking. Fortunately the human brain is an amazing creation and can figure it out very fast. But why force it to do extra work? If a lot is going on around you then your brain needs all the clues you can get.

Slow that mouse down!

A good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to turn 180 degrees with one mouse move. So do this. Set your hand on the mouse. Using the right click turn move your mouse as far as you can to the left or right. Only move it as far as you can without shifting your grip. How far did you turn? If you turned completely around twice then things are probably set way to fast. Tweak your speed and try again. Keep doing it. Only you can decide how fast is fast enough or too fast. Here are some suggested guidelines.

You should be able to turn 180 and face the opposite direction in one smooth move without shifting your grip or lifting up your grip.

If you have to grip very tight and try several times when you are navigating a tight room (like a human inn) then your speed is too high.

If you have to lift up your mouse to steer a tight corner then it is far too slow.

Try slowing things down until they are way too slow and then slowly creep it up until things seem smooth and steady but still reasonably fast.

Do NOT just leave mouse speed alone. It matters to situational awareness so you should mess with it and give thought to it. Find what speed is right for you.

The goal is that you can move the screen rapidly and have a reasonably good idea of how far you moved, even if you can’t see the screen. The goal is to be able to see the screen pan as you turn

Get your frame rate up

For all the reasons I was just talking about for mouse speed you need a good frame rate. Get in to your video settings and turn things down. When it comes to getting your disoriented frame rate does as much as mouse speed or more. Turn some video settings down until your frame rate is high. You can set almost everything to minimum and still play with no problems. Just don’t set the particles to the bottom or you will not be able to see the fire you are standing in.

More mouse tricks:

Strafing with the arrow keys: You can use right click and used A or D or to do the exact same thing as the Q and E keys. Try it! Maybe it will fit your play style better than Q and E. Or maybe you will want to do like me and use it situationally.

More practice activities

Go play in the Argent Tournament. It might be hard and annoying at first but the rewards are good, cash is solid and the skill up if your movement is great.

Buzz things on your flying mount. Don’t fly over the trees. Use keys and mouse steering to weave between them. This is great practice and does not slow your travel time much. No trees? Just flow low and try to skim the ground without actually landing on it.

Drive vehicles in battle grounds. Those things work differently for movement so try them out.

Ride around like those bored people in Dalaran. Only don’t do it there you are laggy. But ridding around town and like a drunk moron is actually really good hand mouse coordination practice and steering practice. Zig-zag, jump, dodge around people.

Looking is not seeing and seeing is not knowing

The everything I wrote in part 1 and above is focused on helping you look all around you at any time and to be able to fit what you see into a coherent picture. That helps you see what is around but next you have to know and understand what you are seeing. Being actually AWARE takes more.

Stay one step ahead

Knowing what is going to happen next is a critical part of awareness. Mainly it helps you sift through what you are seeing and spot the things that are important. You can see 8 packs around you but what is important to look at? You can’t know everything about everything but you can be picking out what are the next two groups you are going to fight and already thinking about what comes next.

Whether you are playing solo, healing, tanking, or DPSing in 5 mans or raids, anytime, anywhere, you can be thinking about what comes next and getting ready for it. Is the tanking going to go left or right? Maybe you can’t be sure, but if you know he is going to do ONE of those you can position yourself so that you react to either. And you can be ready for either. Almost nothing a tank does should take you by surprise. No really. There aren’t that many things a tank CAN do so it is not that hard to be ready for almost anything. If you assume the tank is NOT going to do something then you are already setting yourself up for a chance of failure. Rather you should position yourself and be ready for all the likely options and have a backup plan for the unlikely ones.

How?

Predict what will happen with your best guess but don’t fixate on your theories. You should at any time have a vague idea of what comes next. But you should not have an iron clad prediction of it. If you get too invested in your expectations you are put off balance when they don’t come true. If you are absolutely sure the tank is going to pull that group on the left and you get set up for that and only that then you can caught unaware when he goes the other way. Don’t do that. Set yourself up to be able to react to several likely options. This is particularly key advice for a healer. Did you stop to far back and then get surprised when the tank ran around a corner? That was your mistake. There was not real reason to stop back there except that you assumed something about what the tank was going to do. Then you lost line of sight when he ran in the room. Oops. Should have been farther forward from the get-go.

React quickly

That statement ‘react quickly’ is a ‘what’ but not a ‘how’. The how is this: When things change throw out the old and change with them. Don’t stop and go ‘ohcropohcrapohcrap’. Instead simply forget everything you had planned and assumed and start over. Don’t try to resist that changing situation. Don’t try to force it to be what you wanted. Just toss the plan out the window and go. This applies to more than healers. This applies to everyone at all times. All the time I see DPS fail to react when the situation changes. Maybe some adds come and the tank shifts to engage those and there is that lone warrior over in the corner fighting that one guy. He tunnel-visioned right into that one target and will be aware of nothing until that one is dead. Or a tank that ignores the adds on the healer. Or the tank reacts to the adds but tries to fit them into the pull he had already made.

When the situation changes it is changed permanently. Don’t cling to the plan if what happened was not in the plan.

Expect the worst case

Or at the very least expect the most likely things. If you are fighting a group that fears EXPECT to get feared into one of the nearest packs. It is going to happen so you should already have an idea what you are going to do about it. After the fear goes off is not the time to hunt around for your Feign Death button or your Barkskin.

If you know there are other packs around EXPECT one to pat into you from behind. It is going to happen so have a plan for that. All the time when I am tanking I have my camera already turned around and I am looking right at that group behind us. So when the hunter back there fails to notice them and gets agro I am already ready for that. This goes for everything that is annoyingly inconvenient.

All those things that people do all the time that piss you off? EXPECT them, plan for them and react to them fluidly. Don’t spend time going ‘argue they did it again’. Just deal with it. This is a key part of being aware. And it is one of the easiest things to do. If you have a peeve about something then you know about it. And you also know that it is likely to happen. It would not be a peeve if it did not happen to you fairly often. So don’t act surprised when it happens again.

Tanks, see that 6.2k geared guy over there? Yeah, he is GOING to pull off you at some point. Probably all the freaking time. Don’t act shocked, roll with it. Expect it. Factor it into your plan. Use some taunt triage. You don’t have to fight the guy for agro if he can take a few hits. So work him pulling off you into your plan instead of fighting against it.

This goes for everyone. DPS, do you have a plan for when the adds jump you? For when the tank suddenly dies from a big hit? For if the healer DCs? You should and you should expect to need those plans at any time.

More to come

This is getting big so I will carve off some for part 3 and maybe even more. Next time I plan to talk about being more aware of what your party is doing and then maybe I will get into user interface issues and considerations.

Read Full Post »

How to improve at WOW

WOW is a big game. Lots of people play. Some people can have their gear tweaked out to the fifth decimal place and some have Int on a rogue. It take all kinds… but how do you get to be  better at it? How can you, no matter what your personal skill or experience level, get better at playing your class?

There is a lot of good information out on the internet. The trick is figuring out how to use it. What do you search for, what do you do with what you find. How do you make sense of it all? That is what this post is all about.

You can

First off you can do it. Seriously. Chances are that if you even think you can get more out of your character, you can.

You don’t have to play more

You don’t have to be a ‘no lifer’ or a ‘min-maxer’ or any of that. Those are things people use as excuses for not getting better. You will (probably) not have to radically change how much you play. You will also not have to spend huge amounts of time doing it.

Admitting you have a problem

Admitting a problem is the first step. Let’s face it, we ALL can find a way to get a few more points of damage/threat/healing out of our character. The problem is many people get into a comfort zone and don’t want to break out. Or they imagine improving is some huge hard thing that will consume their life. When they think this they make excuses and stay at their current level. I know because I have been there.

It is an attitude

The thing to realize is that improvement is a never ending goal. It is not about some magical thing you do and then you are uber. It is about recognizing that you COULD be better and trying to get better. That ‘trying to get better’ does NOT have to consume your life or your play time. It can even be done as a onetime exercise in character improvement. But even if it is a onetime thing you need to approach it with the right attitude.

But I LIKE how I play the game

That is fine too… But even within your own personal ‘style’ there are probably small things you can change that would make a large difference. Just because you hear the best spec for your class is one you don’t like does NOT mean you should give up on ever being better. Just about every spec is capable of great things. Also what is ‘best’ changes all the time and even varies based on what level of gear you have. Don’t let the attitudes or suggestions of others affect your goal of getting better. You are doing this for YOU, not them.

Getting started

Identify the problem:

It might be that you suck at PVP. It might be that your DPS is just low all the time and people are starting to complain. Or maybe you stand in the fire too much. Or maybe your tanking is just not working out.

Try to focus in on the specific issue. Don’t be egotistical about it. Don’t be defensive with yourself. This is not the time to make yourself feel better. This is the time to rip off the bandaid of ego, stare at what you are doing wrong and say, ‘ok, I can make this better’.

The areas of improvement:

There are a lot. Here is my list: Gear level, Itemization, gems, enchants, Spec, Glyphs, ability rotation, tactics, strategies, Interface, control usage.

Wow, that is a big list isn’t it. Let’s run down them briefly.

Gear Level:

This one is a TRAP! It is an excuse and a red herring. Yes, getting higher level gear can improve your numbers, but it is the LAST thing to worry about. Gevlon’s Undergeared project proved that you can down the whole first wing of ICC and multiple bosses beyond that in BLUE gear. This is just one of many graphic examples of how your gear does not improve you. Yeah, if you give a high end race car to any driver they will go fast. But so what? That does not mean you can race. Give every NASCAR driver a YUGO and they could hold a pretty impressive race. Give the first few dozen people off the street a NASCAR and you will have a lot of death and destruction but not a race…. Ok maybe that is what people go to races for, but you see my point. People that do poorly point to gear level as an excuse. DON’T LET IT BE YOUR EXCUSE.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you will hit a limit of what you can do with your gear. But the vast majority of the time if you have a performance issue it is not your gear. Using gear as your excuse paralyzes you and blinds you do all the things you can change and improve that are FAR more easy to fix.

(Yes, I know many raids might not let you in without a certain GS. Ignore them, they suck anyway.)

Itemization:

This is a biggy. If you just throw on a bunch of gear you will not have a good set, maybe even if you pick pieces that seem to be right. Heck even if you pick the pieces you read in a gear guide somewhere. Itemization is not as simple as that. I will get back to this later. Just don’t assume your itemization is right. Don’t assume anything when it comes to improvement. DO know your rule of thumbs: if you’re a healer, spellpower is good, if you’re a rogue, don’t stack intellect! But it gets tricky beyond that and you need to know your class. A gifted priest healer who just rolled a holy pally for the first time might not know that spirit is useless to her.  A new bear might not know that the defense on tanky trinkets doesn’t do that much for him. Learn your rules of thumb so you don’t waste time on evaluating a piece of gear that just isn’t right.

Gems and enchants:

Same with Itemization. Don’t assume. Have you ever put an expensive enchant on only to find out later that it was totally wrong for your class and play style? Yeah I have. Most of us probably have, though maybe not all of us have realized it. Some people simply don’t care. If you want to improve don’t be that guy. Make sure the enchants work the way you think they do! Mongoose might look appealing to a hunter – but since it procs off of melee swings, a good hunter won’t get much use out of it.

Spec:

Your spec can probably be improved. Almost certainly there is a point in there somewhere that could be someplace else. It might be of little importance or it could very well be the thing that makes or breaks you. Even if you had your spec right when you respecced last chances are your play style has drifted and there are changes you could make.

Glyphs:

Research your glyphs, major and minor. If they seem confusing, look for a guide to what glyphs are best for your spec. There might just be three that stand out as “must haves”, or five that have situational uses. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get the best set for your playstyle.

Ability Rotation:

This one can be huge. And it can be subtle and tricky. It can be as simple as finding out your are missing some skill you should be using or as tiny as using them in a different order. It can make a very large difference in your damage/threat/healing. Very large. For most players there is improvement they can make here. For many players there is a LOT of improvement they can make here.

Tactics:

Tactics are the small choices you make during combat. This covers all the buttons you press that are not simply doing your ‘rotation’. Target selection is tactics. Pulling tricks? Tactics. Healer Triage? That is tactics too. This area is pretty broad and it can be a lot harder to pin down your mistakes. Unfortunately there is a good chance that your mistakes are here. Most people could use an upgrade in their tactics.

Strategies:

Strategies are the bigger picture things. Stuff that over-arches everything. It is more vague than tactics and touches on a wider variety of ways you approach your character. There is not much I can say about this area because it is so big. Just remember there are larger things that can be areas of improvement too.

A final note before we get started…

Many of these actually work together. If you make a change to your tactics you might start using a new ability in your rotation. That might cause you to want to change a glyph and that decision effects what your spec should be. Don’t focus on one area of improvement and ignore the others. Try to remember what else can be effected.

Disclaimer

I have had many times where I realized mistakes I was making, things I over looked or stuff I totally did not know. If you think I am writing this because I am elitist, you’re wrong. Unless seeking to get better at the game makes me an elitist…But heck, everyone can be that kind of elitist.

Starting

Before you wade out in the internet, keep in mind that much of the advice out there is aimed at a specific sector or area. For example almost all Talent builds are aimed at someone with max level. There is a good chance that you actually want some other build while leveling and want to respec several times on the way up to move points around. The same goes for stats on gear, glyphs, lots of things. How you play the game is not the same as how others play the game.

And, to make things worse, it is not always obvious. For example a guild to tanking might fail to mention it is totally focused on raid main tanking and that if you are tanking heroics only you might want things a lot different. A PVP guide won’t be much good for doing PVE, and vice versa.

I am going to start with gear, go through them categories of improvement. Keep in mind that if you change something later it might affect things in you already looked at. Never assume you are done tweaking things.

Gear

Leveling gear

The gear choices you make while leveling are different then what you look for near max level.

Don’t waste a lot of time on it.

The first thing to say about leveling gear is ‘don’t worry about it much’. While leveling almost anything will do. But, sometimes it is a trouble area so here is how you take a look.

Find your worst items and look for a replacement. This is pretty straightforward. It is just what is says. You go down your list and look for the slot that is lagging the most and find something new for that. Let’s say you are 23 and looking over your gear you see you still have grey or white boots. That is a pretty good candidate for an upgrade.

Avoid the auction house. But if you do hit the AH, don’t buy the bestest thing you can find. That is a waste of money. Like with most things in life you can usually find something 80% as good for 20% the cost. Buy the Toyota, not the Lexus. You are going to replace it in a few levels soon anyway so don’t waste much on it.

Quest drops

You can avoid the AH by looking for a quest drop. Use site like Thottbot or WOWhead to find a quest reward that replaces your item and go run that quest. Another way to upgrade gear is to grind instances for a while. Go check the information on what drops there though. Thottbot, Wowhead, even WOWwikki all have boss drop information. Don’t forget to get the quests for that instance. Those often reward gear.

If you are above level 60 your best bet is quest drops. Bliz did a much better job from 60 to 80 of providing a steady flow of gear upgrades for people leveling. This is extra true for someone who just hit Outlands level of Northrend level. Do your research on what quests rewards you need and go find them.

Craft your own.

Do you have an higher level crafter alt or a friend who can? Heck you can even spam trade for someone and get them to make you a cheap green replacement for any slot you have that is really lagging.

Max level gearing up

There are four stages to max level gearing up.

Gearing up Stage 1: 200-219

Stage one of gearing up a lvl 80 character is to replace your quest greens and instance blues with item level 200 or 219 blues and purples. This involves running NON-heroic versions of all the level 80 instances. All of them except TOC, FOS, POS, and HOR drop item level 200 blues from each boss and Item level 200 purple from the final boss. This is decent stuff. TOC drops 200 purples from each encounter including trinkets but not including any weapons. FOS, POS and HOR drop 219 purples from all bosses and some random packs including trinkets and weapons. I recommend making a list of all the 200 and 219 gear you want from those top 4 places and running them all until you have most of that list.

Gearing up Stage 2: 232-245+

Badge gear and heroic ICC 5 man drops are what you are going for next. Start by grinding random heroics until you have a few pieces of badge gear (232). Once you have a few of those you can add some focused runs of the top 3, FOS, POS, and HOR. As you are working on ‘stage 2’ you can start also working stage 3. As you run out of things that drop on instances or from triumph badges you will have moved fully into stage 3.

Gearing up Stage 3 is ‘Best in Slot’

This is the stage where you start paying attention to gear guides and finding that one piece of gear that will be best in that slot until and unless you get a raid drop or a zillion frost badges.

Find a guide. There are a lot of great gearing up guides out there. But make sure your guide is up to date. If you find one that looks good but is actually from patch 3.1.2 you will waste a lot of effort and not have the best gear. Many blogs and other sites have made gear guides specifically tailored for showing you the best non-raid gear you can get. Find one for your class and keep it handy. Check off each slot as you get it.

Gearing up Stage 4

This is all about raid gear and frost badges. There are actually various levels of gear from raid drops and badges so you have to do your own research as to which you want. Also which you are working on will depend on what sort of raids you are getting into. You might be 12/12 in 25 man hard modes or you might only get the occasional weekly runs. Or it could be anywhere in between. If you are regularly in 10 man pugs that get 5-6 bosses down then you can easily compile a list of gear you are likely to see drop off of those bosses. If you check this list against what you can get with frost badges you will be able to have a master wish list of what you are working toward.

Gems/Enchants

These depend on your spec. First off never leave anything ungemmed or enchanted. If you are not sure what is best min-max slap a cheap enchant or gem in there until you go find out what is best. Don’t waste Epic gems on less than phase 3 gear. Put those high gold cost ones on gear that you expect to wear a while. Also keep in mind what gemming and enchanting you want will vary based on other factors.

Step By Step Powering Up

Step 1: Rotation, Talents, Glyphs

The biggest areas of ‘problem’ you can have in your character revolve around your Ability Rotation, your Talent Build and your Glyphs. These three end up being a LOT to cover. But since they are tied tightly together it is hard to fully separate them. Chances are if you make a change to one you will want to change the others… but since it is impossible to talk about them in a lump lets break them down.

Rotation

What might you be doing wrong with your ability rotation? There are two big ways to screw this up. There are other ones but these to cover most of it.

Using the wrong abilities.

There are a lot of abilities out there. Even in one spec there are a lot to pick from. BUT they are NOT all appropriate for you to use. As you level up you end up with abilities that are intended to replace other abilities in your main rotation. Also as you apply talent points you increase some abilities and decrease others. In a given fight there is a limit to your mana/rage/energy and also to the number of global cooldowns and seconds you have to use abilities. You can’t use them all. You have to pick which to cast and which to not cast. If you pick one over another you might be picking wrong. No, don’t tell me that you prefer to play that way and don’t want to change. That is nonsense. Some abilities are flat wrong. For example if you are a Prot warrior you should not be using Sunder Armor. For Prot warriors the Devastate ability completely replaces Sunder Armor. If you did not notice this you might go on using the wrong one. This is just one example and there are a LOT of others. Another example is that for a Survival hunter Explosive Shot replaces Arcane shot. There is pretty much no reason for a survival hunter to ever use Arcane shot once he gets Explosive Shot. That is just how the game is made.

It is critical that you find out what abilities make sense for your spec and which do not. It is also important you understand which abilities are interchangeable depending on situation. For example a warrior can use Heroic Strike or Cleave. They both (pre Cata) go off on the next strike so you get one or the other in a given swing but not both. So you pick which you want depending on the situation. It is not just spamming buttons. One is good for certain situations and the other is good for others. If you are just randomly hitting whichever you feel like or if you just use one because it is your favorite then there is a VERY good chance you are often using one that is not the best choice.

The scope of this article is not to tell you which is best. There are FAR to many choices to cover all that. The point is to get you to go look.

DO – Find out what abilities people are recommending for your class and spec and find out WHY they are recommending them. Don’t just find one guide and do what it says. It could be wrong or it could be out of date. Read several, check for counter arguments and debate. Check the dates on what you are reading.

Using abilities at the wrong time or in the wrong order.

There are efficient rotations out there. People with a head for numbers and a lot of time on their hands have worked out what rotations of abilities make sense for particular specs. If you trigger abilities in the wrong order, or prioritize one ability over another you can see very large changes in your damage/threat/healing. Even if you are using all the ‘right’ moves but are not using them in the right proportions you may be wasting a lot of your potential. I had the experience of realizing I was not using Maul enough on my bear. I was using it. I thought I was using it a lot. But when I studied up I realized I needed to be using it EVERY SWING. So I went and made macros so it triggered every time I pressed any of my other hot keyed attacks. My DPS/TPS shot way up. I knew Maul was important, and I was using it a fair bit. But I did not realize just how important it was or just how often I needed to be using it. Had someone told me ‘maul more’ I might have scoffed and said “I do that”. It was only when realizing I had a serious PROBLEM with my DPS/TPS and that I needed to make a serious change that I finally did the reading I needed to really see what I needed to change. VERY often small tweaks like this can make a large difference in damage/healing output. Don’t assume you have to make big changes to see big differences.

DO – Read up on proposed rotations. Make sure you check if they are intended for bosses, or trash or what. Rotations vary based on the fight. Read more than one version and look up enough to understand WHY they suggest those rotations. Compare that to what you do. I mean REALLY compare. Find a target dummy and practice. What you think you do for a rotation and what you actually do may be different in subtle and important ways. If the rotations you read about have a ‘priority system’ make certain you understand what they prioritize when and why.

Analogue inserts – this is even more important for certain class/specs. For instance, the paladin tanking rotation is a very tight rotation of abilities we call the “969 rotation”: you use an ability with a 9 second cooldown, then one with a 6 second cooldown, then 9, then 6,  repeat til things are dead. If you do, you have insane amounts of aggro, control the fight, everything’s beautiful. If you don’t, you flail around, don’t have a good pattern, and your healer dies.  Not every class plays like this – for instance my healing druid might cast any spell at any time depending on what needs doing.

Talents

There are a lot of ways to screw your talents up. Some are small and some are large. Sometimes when you vary from the conventional ‘wisdom’ in your talent build it does not matter and sometimes a few misplaced or missing points can completely hamstring your build. Let’s look what what you can do wrong.

Mistaking PVP and PVE talents

Are you a PVE DPSer? Then you don’t want to be wasting many points on things that up your HP or give you more dodge. There are a LOT of talents that are aimed squarely at PVP. If you are a PVPer and you don’t have some of those you will find you are squishy and get owned a lot. If you are a PVEer and put points into many of those talents you will find your dps/heals/threat is seriously lagging.

Points you forgot about

Play styles change. You might find you are never using a certain spell but you put 3 points into making it crit more often. Oops. Don’t let your Talents sit around forgotten. Check up on them and compare what you see to how you currently play the game. If you are 80 and are still using your leveling spec to run heroics and raids then you probably have some really poorly spent points.

Key Missing Points

Many trees have some points that really make or break it. It is not always obvious what those are. For example as a bear there are 3 points you HAVE to take or you can’t be a serious tank. I was ‘bearing’ at max level for a couple weeks before I went back and did my homework and realized what I had missed.

Here is a key point: Sometimes those critical talents are not in your main tree. In fact every decent build I have ever heard of has points in other trees that are important. I have never heard of good build with 71 points in one tree. But you see this mistake a LOT. The only way for that to happen is if people do not read all the available talents and weigh what things will and will not matter for how they play. Don’t be that person! 71 points in one tree is a sure sign of a noob. Fix it before people start to point and laugh.

Listening to ‘conventional wisdom’ in place of thinking

This can really hurt you. Don’t listen and turn off your brain. I lost track of how many level 60ish DKs I ran into that had all their points in frost and were trying to tank. Why? Because you use frost presence to tank. Clearly that means you must need to put all your points there, right? Wrong. If you don’t know why (and you are a DK) you either have not read what your talents say on them or you have not read anything on the internet about DK tank builds. Probably both. There are plenty of examples of this. Like putting all your points in to BM on a hunter because someone said it was good for leveling. Well it is good for leveling but don’t put your points there just because someone said something. Read up for yourself and do your own thinking.

Leveling without respeccing

There are some great builds out there for when you are max level. You can look one up and use to assign each point as you go. But that is almost certainly a bad idea. Because what you need while leveling is not the same. It works better to assign them as you go based on what you are currently using, and everyone so often, respec completely to move some points around that you don’t need anymore.

Always be ready to respec. Any change to your play style can change what points make the best sense for you.

Using a cookie cutter build

This can work… or it can be suboptimal. If you don’t know WHY they chose those talents then you will not know if they are actually best for your play style.

Reading the text for yourself and deciding based on just that

Wait… what? That is right. If you just go off what the text of the talent (or ability) says then you can get really screwed up. Why? Because Blizzard is BAD at percentages and uses the English language ambiguously. I am an engineer who deals a lot in contracts and requirements. Those contain specific language that is intended to be completely unambiguous. If two people read one thing and come up with a different idea of what it means then that text is BAD. Blizzard, in their descriptions of what talents and abilities do, makes this mistake a lot. A WHOLE LOT. Some of the text can be very misleading. A good example of this is taunts. If you read the text of ‘mocking blow’, ‘growl’ (bear), ‘growl’ (hunter pet), and Distracting Shot and tried to explain how each was different, without doing some extra research, you would be almost certainly completely and totally wrong. And the ways you would be wrong could be life or death in a party.

I am not saying you are too dumb to figure it out. I am saying those ability tool tips can be VERY misleading. I had to explain to a warrior one time that Mocking Blow was not a taunt. But it says right there in the text that it taunts. Except it doesn’t. It is a forced attack and not an ‘attack’. This is a subtle but very critical distinction and can lead to all sorts of headaches while tanking if you are depending on that ability. When your own judgement contradicts what is out there on the internet do NOT assume you have it right. Don’t assume the internet has it right either. Keep researching until you are SURE. If you find yourself saying ‘this has to be wrong because the ability says…’ stop right there and go research more. (And if you are totally lost about those taunt descriptions then go read my posts on tanking)

I have run into this first hand. For a long time I read the text of aimed shot as applying a debuff that makes other shots hit harder. Does it say that? Well not really, but it could be argued that it does. When I figured out how wrong I was I felt pretty stupid. This leads me to another point…

Since this post has gotten too long I will make it my last point.

Don’t let ‘feeling stupid’ get in the way of getting powered up

We all hate to feel like a buffoon. There are a lot of things about powering up that can make us feel that way. If someone gives us some criticism we mentally reject it. That sort of thing make us feel bad. Don’t look at it that way. Find a way to see their point. This means EVEN if they were a total asshat about it there might STILL be a point in there. In fact even if they way they worded it was WRONG there still might be a point in there somewhere if you look at things from all angles. If you are serious about getting better you need to start treating all criticism as a chance to improve your game.

Changing your rotation? Makes you feel awkward and clumsy.

Changing spec? Makes you feel totally lost and confused.

Reading that some other ability (that you ignore) is important. Makes you feel defensive, and annoyed with yourself and others.

Finding some advice that counters your thinking on gems or enchants? Makes you want to defend your side of things, or to call ‘sour grapes’ on their thinking.

There are many ways that trying to power up can get us defensive, or feeling stupid. Do NOT let that get in the way. You are in control of your own mind and emotions. Don’t let them control you and do NOT let them send you pack to your old less effective way of playing. It is easy to convince yourself that you are good enough. This is a crutch we lean on when getting better seems to hard. Most of that ‘hardness’ is mental and not real. Don’t let your natural reactions get in the way.

They are natural reactions. I am not saying feeling stupid is stupid. We ALL feel dumb when we realize we have been making a mistake. That is normal and perfectly ok. It does not mean you are dumb. It is only dumb to let that feeling rule you. Harness that annoyance and make it motivate you to get better.

It is VERY easy to let this sort of thing get in the way. Many times I have seen an issue with something and resisted actually doing something about it. I would slog forward for a while until the problem blew up in my face or the slog got so annoying I had to fix what was wrong. Have you ever done that? Ever realized your spec was bad but did not bother to fix it for a while? I think we have all been there at one time or another. Just learn to recognize when you are trying to avoid fixing something. It is usually a good indicator when you find yourself thinking up an excuse for something.

 I had intended this post to give a case study of one character I did some ‘powering up’ to. But it has turned into such a huge wall of text I will save the practical examples for other posts. In the future I will try to document an actual ‘power up’ session and post what resources I use.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.