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Archive for the ‘Playstyle’ Category

World of pet battles

This expansion is great! Yeah, I know I have behind… We were moving. We still have not gotten the raid back up yet. We will see there… But in the mean time I have been doing pet battles. Lots of them. So far I am at 366ish pets. It is a good think they upped the cap because I was releasing them right and left in order to stay under 500. The only tameable one I was missing prior to Tuesday was the darn minifernal. I have tried server hopping and a early morning log-ins but so far nothing is working there.
For other pets I have used persistence and good luck plus lots of wowhead research. Of the new 5.1 pets I have 4. The mecha cat, the imp from molten core, the kunlai yeti runt and one other I am completely blanking on at the moment. Oh wait, I also snagged a harpy before I left for work this morning. So I have 5 of them. Have checked for a few others, without luck. I ran molten core and only the imp dropped. I tried to run BWL. I think the new abilities razorgore is suppose to have aren’t working yet. They were there, but they did not do a darn thing. I wiped a couple times, put in a ticket and left. Tonight I might try the other two raids. If anyone is wondering, the raid pets are BoP, but once you equip them they are cage-able.
So far I have 19 lvl 25 pets, obviously some from every family. I am working toward the uber trap you get for having 30 max levels.

I have been checking my progress on wowprogress and I have been holding steady at number 2 on the server. A week or so back I rolled a noob hordy and whispered the number 1 guy. Well I don’t think I will be passing him soon. He has around a hundred more pets than me. The only way for me to get there from here is with CCG pets and some holidays that aren’t any time soon (children’s week). I had a hard grind to get this far because I was not a pet collector before. I had pathetically few prior to the 5.0.

So next up I am thinking to start trading. A lot of folks trade on the forums and such. I will have to gather up a bunch and make a list. I will post it here when I am ready to start swapping. Hopefully my wife did not auction all those spares I sent her.

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How To CC DESPITE the tank

So you have a tank that is trying the ‘gogogo’ thing or just plain has not asked for CC. There are more than a few ways you can use CC despite him, or try to. Here are a few. There are probably plenty of others. These tips are also useful of you have a tank that wants to CC but the DPS keeps breaking it.

Distracting Shot + Frost Trap

Distracting shot is a 6 second forced attack that hunters can use. If you tag a CC’able melee target with it and then drop a trap at your feet, you can pull that target off the tank and trap it.

Banish

Banish is a ‘lock ability that puts an elemental or demon target in a state where they can’t do anything and they can’t be hit. This is great because you can Banish targets that are in the melee and it will not break accidentally.

Deathgrip plus a friend

Deathgrip pulls a target right out of the melee pack. Then you can have a friend trap, repent, sheep, etc. Be careful though, if the target has a DOT on it then it will not stay CC’ed. And Deathgrip is also a taunt – so if the cc doesn’t go off, you will have a very angry mob up close and personal.

Mind Control

With Mind Control a priest can take over a target and use its abilities. The controlled target becomes an ‘ally’ for a short time so the CC will not be broken since the target can’t be hit.

Knockback plus something else

You can use Typhoon or Thunderstorm to knock targets way from the tank and then CC them. This is risky and disruptive but it can work.

Hex

Hex is very durable. It resists a lot of damage. It can take a few aoe hits and not break. So you could keep something, even in the melee, CCed for at least a short time.

Almost anything during ranged pulls

Many forms of CC work when the tank is pulling the group back with a ranged move. Traps, Hex, Sheep, Repent… just about everything except sap. And even sap works if you get in there fast before the pull starts and hit a target the tank is unlikely to hit with the ranged move. This is effective against DKs tanks that tend to use deathgrip for pulling (some do, but not all).

Hit one in the back while the tank is moving in

As the tank moves in for the pull, the targets aggro and move to meet him. The fight usually takes place about 2 steps in FRONT of where the first target of the pack is standing at the start of the pull. If you preselect a target that is far from where the tank will meet the first opponent, there is a very high chance you can CC it out of range of melee aoe. You can do this even as the pull is happening if you are fast. This can work with a ‘charge’ tank like a bear or warrior, and is very effective with a Pally tank. You may have to do it after a shield throw if you’re worried about the shield breaking your CC.

Hit the caster

If you have run the instance a few times you should know which targets are casters and will not move toward the tank. Many tanks that are not experienced enough to ask for CC also tend to leave a hanging caster out shooting at the party. If you know which those targets are likely to be you can CC them before they get a cast off. This is very effective with a bear tank because they lack a real ranged silence. You tank will be very thankful even if they did not mark targets properly.

Party Chat

Just offer to do it. Some tanks don’t ask for CC, not because they dislike it but just because they are being lazy or forgetful or they don’t like being demanding. Or they may be so new they don’t know what classes can do what kind of CC against which types of targets. If you offer to use CC they will often be glad to let you do it. You might have to pick and announce which targets you are CCing if the tank doesn’t. Many tanks, if you announce what you are going to CC, are happy to let you do it and try to avoid breaking it.

Keep trying

It takes time for tanks to get really good at dealing with CC pulls and just CC in general. It takes time for them to learn not to break it. It takes many tries for them to get the hang of the proper sequence of a CC pull. Keep trying. Help your tank learn. If they break it, don’t cuss them out. Remind them what target you are CCing and tell them how they can avoid breaking it. Tanks did not have to learn this stuff in the last expansion. Don’t be shocked if your tank has no idea how to work with your kind of CC. Offer to use it and help them learn how to work with it.

Or they might just be so gung-ho that they or lazy they don’t want to CC. If you keep trying they may give in and let you do it. It helps the healer and often keeps you all alive so don’t be afraid to push the issue with a reluctant tank.

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I have two main characters.

Analogue became my main during Wrath and probably will remain my main for as long as I play; I’ve just so merged my identity in WoW with “druid healer” that I don’t think I can change it. She gets leveled and geared first, that’s the name I use in Vent and on blogs and, well, it’s my WoW identity. Symbolically, she became my real main when she got name changed to Analogue. Originally she was named Metaphor, but when we moved servers the first time, that name was taken, so I looked for something themically similar and chose Analogue. It works for me.

Then there’s Invariant – who, like Analogue, was originally not named Invariant but Variant. Again, first server move, that name wasn’t available so I changed to Invariant. Either works. She’s a mage. She’s not the first character I rolled, but she is the first that actually appealed to me enough to get past 40. She was my first level 70, my second 80, and my third 85. Poor thing. But despite being leveled behind my priest, I identify with her a lot more than with my priest. Elucidate is just “Analogue’s priest”. Invariant is…. Invariant.

I’ve been able to keep her identity because I use her for very different things. I’m not that into damage dealing these days; I’m too perfectionist to like doing a lousy job, and too haphazard to get 100% performance out of my mage. Oddly I don’t have the issue with my druid… but it’s the role, not the character. I give 110% when I heal; when I’m doing damage I just don’t.

But somewhere along the way Invariant became my achievement runner, my pet collector, my archeologist. It seemed logical enough; mages have some advantages like portals to everywhere. Makes them a lot faster at world achievements. She got 50 pets; then she got serious and scored 75. Now I collect them just to have them.  She has the first mount achievement, and works slowly on getting more. Her archeology is 525 and I’m looking forward to plenty more time with that.

Do you have a dichotomy like this? One character for “fun” and one for “serious business”? Or a PVP main and PVE main, or a different identity for Horde and Alliance?

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Loving the expansion. The dungeons are hard. Nicely hard. So far the only person I have heard saying how easy they were is a cocksure tank whose boast were not quite loud enough to drowned out the whimpering that was his healer, over in the corner, rocking back and forth moaning ‘oom… oom’.

FYI to all tanks, if you think you are doing great but your healer is a nervous wreck then you are not as good a tank as you think you are.

But this one is not about tanks… or rather it is not ONLY about tanks.  I just read another blog that had a nice description of some of the trials of these new runs. It mentioned that they wiped a lot due to OOM but that she thought they had actually covered for some lesser experienced players. No offense to the other blogger but those statements are a contradiction.

The healer’s mana is everyone responsibility

There is a lot of damage in these runs. LOTS of it… however, a huge proportion of it is avoidable. It is up to every single person in the run to do their part in avoiding it. Anything less and you get OOM heals and a graveyard run. These new runs will require everyone to learn all the little tricks of their class that they never had to learn before. Everyone should recite this mantra, ‘there is ALWAYS something more that I PERSONALLY can do to make the run better’.

Breaking the habit

I have now done every run on non-heroic and many of them several times. I have done all my runs with good players. They were mostly long time players with alts and varied experience. But even running with high class players I STILL see things they are not doing or not doing well enough. For example there are lots of things mobs do to us that are interruptible casts but very few people are interrupting them. The attitude of ‘just DPS as hard as you can’ is very very hard to shake. I know we did not really need CC in the last expansion, but it is much more than that. We needed almost none of the extra tricks DPSers could do and hence no one remembers they have them.

Learning the true meaning of Christmas helping the party

I always found discussions ironic and funny about ‘tanks versus dps’ or when people were whining about DPS not getting respect. I lost count of how many times some mage would say something like, ‘I do more than just dps, when at add comes after the healer I frost nova it and blink away.’ I just wanted to pound my head on the table and shout ‘That is not helping!’ I didn’t usually because it took too long to explain the reasons why that was a bad idea.

There are things DPS can do to help. Lots of things. Very few dps seem to know what they are or when to use them or how. This is not surprising. We have not really needed those tricks. How many druids here know where your hibernate button is and that it works on dragonkin? Just yesterday a VERY solid kingslayer boomkin had to go find it in her spell book because she had never used it. How many hunters here know that distracting shot is a ‘forced attack’ and works VERY well with frost trap to CC stuff by pulling it out of the melee? A couple runs back I taught that trick to an outstanding hunter that had played one since vanilla beta. This is not to toot my horn. I only know a few tricks, mostly from classes I have played a lot. There are lots out there.

I find myself in runs where over half the classes have spell interrupts or silences but I seem to be the only one using them. I probably missed seeing some of them, but that is not my point. My point is that even very good players need to be racking their brains and burning up the internet for more tricks and tips on what THEY can do to make the fights better. Learn more CC tricks. Dig through your spellbooks for long forgotten abilities and see what they can do. And…

DON’T STAND IN THE FIRE!

As I said above most of the damage is avoidable. Some of it is only BARELY avoidable so you have to move fast. We need to hit ourselves in the head every time we find ourselves doing our rotation while standing in the bad.

Speak up

I have said in the past that more people need to be willing to point out the mistakes of others. I really believe that you don’t learn to play better until something pushes you or someone gives you a tip. I have learned plenty that way and I like to think I have offered a lot of helpful advice that way. And now is truly the time for it. There are so very many things in these instances that need to be pointed out to people. If you see someone doing something wrong please tell them. It is not being a jerk, it is being helpful (if you say it nicely). If someone can’t handle being told not to stand in that stuff then you should not be running with them anyway. And don’t assume because someone is a good player that they don’t have room for improvement.

Listen

This goes for all of us. There are always more tricks to learn and more skills to get. There are always new ways to use the skills we already have. If you think you can do more, ask. If someone makes a suggestion, listen.

Earn it

Some DPS whine that tanks and heals don’t give them enough respect… Time to go earn it. I don’t care what your meter looks like. If you are standing in the flaming whirlwind while not using your interrupts, mitigation moves, stuns, et cetera then trust me, it is not the healer’s fault she has no mana.

Do you die a lot? Maybe swap in a tanking trinket for a mitigation cooldown. Or grind some first aid. If the healer is leaving your health low he might have decided you are too expensive and expendable to heal up. So pop a bandage and a potion and help him out. Above all you should be focusing on getting your skill at avoiding damage up. In fact you should be focusing on that concept more than you focus on getting better gear.

Now tanks and dps say it with me all together, “The healer’s mana is my responsibility.” Put it on a post-it note and stick it to your screen. Tattoo it on the back of your mouse hand. Learn it, know it, love it.

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My pit

Sorry for the picture quality. As I have mentioned…. the new version of the wordpress iphone app is totally garbage.

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 In this whole ‘situational awareness’ series I have focused on maneuvering your character. That is because the art of being situational aware starts with being about to see and interact with your environment. If you are constantly distracted with turning and moving then you will not have the mental bandwidth to also observe and assess your surroundings. The smoother and faster you can move and look the easier it will be to assess things. If you become disoriented or confused situational awareness goes right out the window. So let’s get to something a lot of people seem to have trouble with.

Maneuvering and navigating in three dimensions

This really messes up a lot of people. To be perfectly honest I have to use my imagination to figure out why. This is something I do instinctively. I think a lot of that comes from my IRL experience with flying and also a lot of gaming experience with flight simulators. So why does all that help? And why do other people have problems? Because there are concepts in 3D navigation and maneuvering that are not in a land based game. More accurately they ARE in the land based game but they are so simplified that you don’t notice them. The big one is…

Point of aim

Now some of you are thinking “that is not it. I have no problem with that concept.” Maybe that is true but this is the big difference in WOW with flying versus walking. On the ground you are only concerned with direction of your travel. You have several ways of seeing your direction of travel on the ground.

You can look at your character and compare it to the land around you on the screen.

You can mentally draw a line straight up the screen from your character and see where that points.

You can just vaguely estimate what is way in front of you.

You can look at the arrow on your mini map

You can also look at the arrow on your big map.

Those are all ways you can see where you are pointed…. But the BIG crutch comes from having the environment around you. What I mean is that you CONSTANTLY get little feedback from everything around you and that lets you continuously update your characters heading as you travel. Do you ever point your character in a direction, press the auto run, and then walk away from the keyboard? When you come back are you exactly where you expected to be? Do you take short cuts across country or do you always follow the road?

If you are mostly using your immediate surroundings to navigate and orient your character then you probably tend to follow the road exactly and you most likely rarely just aim across country and then go hit the head or grab a drink.

What I am trying to get you to think about is that list of methods above. Which of those do you use? It is something we do so instinctively that we might not know. Once we start flying some of those thing are taken away from us. If we were heavily using one of those the flying will cause a sense of disorientation. If we were relying heavily on one of the ones that did NOT go away then flying will be no different than anything else. That statement is a simplification but I hope it gets the point across.

So what is the list of nav aids for flying? How do we orient ourselves up there?

Well the map and mini map still work…. Except they are only in one axis. They help us navigate in a plane (geometric plane, not aeroplane) but they are no help for getting us oriented in the other axis.

What else? We can’t draw a line from our character to the top of the screen. It does not work right. We can’t compare constantly to the objects around us because they are far away and don’t give high fidelity feedback. What I mean is they don’t move fast enough and far enough to give us an instant awareness of where we are pointed. You have to look at them more closely and then check again and even then you are off track.

So what does work? Aim point. In flying your point of aim is king (just be glad we don’t have wind to deal with). BUT! Once you leave the ground your point of aim changes! I expect this really messes a lot of folks up that are new to flying.

Normally in this 3rd person view point game you have a camera that is behind and above you. It is NOT on your line of travel. It is above your line of travel and looking down at it. By line of travel I mean what it says. I mean the line you travel along on the ground.

In this picture the eye is your camera and the figure is your character. We are looking at it from the side. The person is running straight to the right and the camera is behind them and looking down at an angle. If you pan your camera all the way down to the ground you would be looking straight along that ‘line of travel’. The character would actually block you from seeing where you are going. Where you will eventually end up is straight ahead, through your character and off to the horizon.

This is how the camera works when flying! It goes from following you from above and behind to following you just straight behind. Except that it does not automatically move. Your character does the moving. The instant you take off on your dragon mount your character pitches forward ‘nose down’ and is aiming, not at the horizon, but into the ground a few yards in front of you. The first thing you do when taking off on your flying mount is to drop your camera down to your line of travel.

That is step one. The next step to travelling in the air is to stop key turning! Seriously! You can’t key turn while flying and expect to have any sort of awareness of where you are headed. When it comes to flying your right mouse button is everything. The only keys you need while flying are W and your right mouse button…. Well the space bar and X come in handy but I will get to that.

So here you are, flying. You hold down the right mouse button and hold down W and you are off. It is incredibly simple. You simply put your character on top of where you want to go. What I mean is that your direction of travel is though the mounted figure on your screen. If you are aimed at where you want to go that location will be in the dead center of your screen and covered up by your figure. Fortunately your figure is small enough that you can still tell where you are going. If your figure is NOT small enough then zoom out more. If you can’t zoom out enough go into the interface settings and crank up your max camera follow distance.

Navigating Oculus.

If you are one of those that is constantly getting lost in Oculus I recommend trying to ‘break it down’. Think of the place as a building with 4 floors. Each floor is made up of all the floaty platforms that are roughly on the same level as each other. Each floor has things you need to clear and a boss at the end.

The first floor is the ring you start off on It includes the ‘C’ shaped ring and the platform where you get your dragon.

 Once you get your mount you immediately go to the ‘second floor’. This ‘floor’ is made up of a ‘C’ shaped ring in the center and 3 platforms equally spaced around it. Two of those platforms have packs to kill and one has the boss. As soon as you spot which the boss is on your know exactly where to find the two with packs. You clear all the stuff on that floor and then do the boss.

As soon as you are done with him it is time to go straight up to floor three. Make it easier on yourself; just hold down spare bar until you get there. This floor has three ‘arc shaped’ platforms and a central ring. The ring is slightly lower than the platforms. The ring also has a second ring that is right below it but we don’t care about that one so don’t let it confuse you; just ignore it. If you go STRAIGHT up from the last boss you will be right next to the platform you need to start one. From there you just go clockwise around to the other two and then from the last one you go straight into the center ring to find the boss.

Now you are on to the fourth and final floor. To get there just fly out a decent ways from the boss you just killed and then hold down spacebar until you reach the top. This ‘floor’ is made of three tiny platforms and one BIG wide ring. The dragon flies in circles over the big ring. Most groups meet up at one of the small platforms so find the, meet up, and finish the place off.

This is a classic example of breaking something big and confusing into bites-size bits that are all understandable and all together form a simple pattern. You can avoid the confusion of the ‘3D-ness’ of the place by breaking it down into mental bite sizes that are all in 2D.

Navigating exercises.

Practicing navigation is easy but should be done anytime you have the chance. It is very simple. Start traveling somewhere. Aim where you are trying to go by comparing the horizon, mini map, and main map to your direction of travel. Do all that aiming stuff right up front. Then don’t touch the controls. Just watch and see how well your aiming worked. Allow yourself just one ‘mid course correction’ when you are about half way to your destination. How far off are you when you get there? Try doing it with no correction and challenge yourself to get it right every time.

If you don’t have an excuse to fly around, go to Icecrown and grind various daily quests. There are tons of them there and at max level they are good money. Just pick a few that you know you can do fast and easily and then run them. As you move between thempractice this exercise.

Maneuvering exercises.

Exercise 1: Buzz the tower.

This is for if you are not use to the concept of ‘flying’ your character by continuously holding down the right mouse button. Fly low. Buzz things. Try to get close to them without landing or hitting them. Once you fly past it make a wide turn and sing back for another pass.

Exercise 2: Aerial Slaloms.

Go find a forest. Western Dragonblight works. Fly low between the trees. Weave in and out between them. Now do it while trying to fly generally in the same direction. I mean try to keep going east while still weaving in and out. Even go around trees you don’t really NEED to dodge. Go out of your way to go around trees. But still try to work your way in a general direction. If the ‘weaving’ is too tough don’t worry about the ‘general direction’ thing. Just weave until you run out of trees and then turn around and go again. Feel free to use AQE and D to maneuver sideways a little. In fact be sure to mess with those some.

Exercise 3: Static Bombing Runs.

There are a number of quests and repeatable missions in the game involving dropping bombs on people, demons, fish, pirates, siege weapons, etc. These are great flying and situational awareness practice.  Why? Because they require you to maneuver your camera independent of your direction for travel and track targets with it as you perform a basic attack. That is great. For an advanced version that is still a static run (by static I mean you don’t control the path; it just follows a fixed path) you can do the dailies in Icecrown. The one where you drop off paratroopers is pretty unforgiving; so that is a good challenge. The bomber base up on the spire is also a good one for advanced practice. Those have bombing and air-to-air action so they require more situational awareness.

Exercise 4: dynamic bombing runs.

These are ones where you are maneuvering your mount, avoiding counter attack, AND bombing something. The two I can think of off the top of my head are both Skyguard daily quests. One is in Terokar to bomb eggs and the other is in Blade’s Edge and is bombing piles of ammo at the demon base. Both of those are far simpler than Northrend mounted combat but still require the situational awareness skills. You have to maneuver your mount, dodge in various directions and keep an eye on your health while still finding the targets and hitting them.

Exercise 5: All-Out Flying Combat.

In dragonblight there is a nice dragon flying daily. Also high above Coldarra there is a daily quest involving flying dragons that is pretty challenging. Both of them do not require a group so it is a low pressure way to practice your skills.

Cataclysm will have even more flying than ever so get your practice in when and where you can.

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My first main was a mage, through all of BC and a bit of Wrath. I love my little gnome mage – still do. Throwing fireballs at peoples’ heads is fun. At the end of BC Reversion and I leveled a pair of druids and I started healing as we went. Once we hit Outlands we basically leveled in dungeons with me healing and him tanking. Analogue the druid was my first healer character; I hadn’t played other games with the dps-healer-tank trio, I didn’t know that I’d like healing, so it was a surprise when one day I woke up and realized that not only was this druid my main, I was a Healer with a capital H.

I leveled  a paladin up as ret/prot, tanking my way to the top. Then I realized I needed her offset to be Holy. I still like tanking 5 mans on her – I don’t enjoy trying to heal parties as a paladin – but when I raid? I want to heal. Beacon, Shield, Holy Light spam is more fun than whacking things in the face and taunt-at-five-stacks.

I have a priest at 72, a shaman at 60, both dual specced, both with one really solid healing spec and one questing-dps spec. They are my most anticipated leveling projects. I want all four healing classes at max, and I’m not the only player I know with that desire. I read the druid news coming out of Cataclysm beta and I’m afraid I won’t like druid healing, so what is my reaction? Not “ok, maybe I’ll be balance” but “ok, maybe I’ll be a shaman.” My identity is not as a druid, but as a healer.

Why? I’m not really the most nurturing person ever. Actually I’m more of a bossy older sister who knows what’s good for you and will tell you so. I’m not an angel of mercy, swooping in and soothing your brow; I’m the “you screwed that up; here’s a bandage now get in there and do it right” battlefield medic.

I heal because I can fix everyone elses’ mistakes in ways that dps and tank roles don’t let you do; because I have to micromanage everything; because I can count on myself and never feel like I can count on every single other person in the raid. That’s why I like raid healing, too; when I see those dps health bars drop I want to swoop in and Swiftmend them.  It’s why I pug, even though I have to deal with morons. I heal through stupid, because I can and because honestly I expect it.

I heal because it’s binary; they live or they die. Eaking out 10 more dps doesn’t appeal to me. Striving to keep one more person alive, that does.

I heal because it’s more fun. It’s more complicated than switching to adds, or waiting for phase 2 to drop your cooldowns. Second to second, the situation changes and you don’t have time to breath or someone dies.

I heal because apparently I’m perfectly content to stare at a matrix of health bars instead of the lavishly-designed boss fights. Perhaps in another life I would have been a whack-a-mole champion.

I heal because I feel like part of a team, taking things down; when you aren’t actually smiting the evil, it’s harder to forget that the other people in your group matter.

I heal because it’s the most fun part of the most fun game I’ve ever played and until something can be as fun as this, I’m not likely to switch.

Yeah, some of those are contradictory, some of those don’t make sense – but gosh darn it,I love healing! And no matter what they do in Cataclysm I know one of my alts will find a niche to shine in. Maybe it’s the hour of the disc priest or the resto shammy?

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