Every so often you have to take stock of where you are and look for ways to push your game to the next level. Well… that is if you care. If you are happy with how your occasional heroics go, or are satisfied farming one or two raid bosses, then you can live complacently. But if you want progression you have to progress. If you want to progress to harder content then you have to progress your game.
Don’t be satisfied
I am not a min-maxer. Really I am not. I like to tweak things. I min-max more than the average player… but I don’t make my own spreadsheets. I avoid the math. I get enough of that at work. But I do pay enough attention to second guess guides, and do my own thinking. If I see a guide recommending Stamina stacking for a bear tank I laugh and go somewhere else. But I know I am not the best. I can always get better. I play a pretty good bear but… the other day I ran a ZH with a guildie and his bear did more damage than mine even though mine has better gear. Wake-up call time! I pulled up the meters and check some rotations and right away saw some things he was doing different. Different and better. We can always do better. As long as I was a bear comparing 10k dps to 6k dpsing prot warriors I was happy. But when a 11K+ bear comes by I get a wakeup call. Don’t get satisfied. Don’t get complacent.
Play smarter not harder
The funny thing about getting to the next level is that it does not always mean you have to be any faster or smarter WHILE you are playing. Don’t convince yourself that you have to have faster reflexes or quicker hands in order to improve your play. It is often not the case. Subtle differences in which abilities you use when can make a large difference. Even moving things around on your ability bar can help. Those things are small and don’t require you to hit keys any faster than you already do.
One thing I have been doing ‘wrong’ is stacking Lacerates too fast and hitting Pulverize too soon. I should be waiting until the buff is about to fall off. I keep it up all the time, so I am not doing it BADLY…. But I refresh it too soon so I can do BETTER. Because I do that I tend to prioritize getting my lacerate stacks up too much. I focus on that more than I focus on getting Mangle off every time it is ready. That is a dps loss and I need to do better. Because I am not a min-maxer I did not know that it was a mistake to do that. But because I challenge myself to improve my performance I went out and found the information I needed and am tweaking things. It is the little things like that that matter.
Read, Re-read and then read again
Don’t just read one guide, do a few things and then assume you have done all you can. Read another guide and then another. Wait a few days and read the first guide again. Tweak things and then re-read the second guide. Things are not always obvious. On the second or third look at something you might make a connection you did not see the first time. Many of the subtle things are in emphasis. On your first read you might think “Oh, they say that ability is important. Well that is nice. I use it a lot.” But the second or third time you check that guide you might see those words again and thing, “Oh they mean it is REALLY important, and is MORE important than this other ability that I usually hit first. Oops.” It might be that you already use two important skills all the time but you use one slightly more when you should been using it slightly less.
I just did a reread of Inconspicuous Bear’s bear 4.1 guide. It is good stuff and I had read it before but I got a little more out of it this time. That little tidbit about using pulverize and lacerate too much? Yeah that took more than one read of more than one guide to really click.
Another subtle change I need to make is reforging dodge. Now I am analytical. Plus I am stubborn. If I don’t see how someone reached their conclusion I am likely to doubt it. Dodge was one of those. When I did not know WHY forging crit to dodge made sense, I sort of dismissed the concept. But then, after I read several things more than once it all clicked for me. You see, crit helps your Savage Defense… but only to a point. Once it is going off all the time then you can’t make it trigger any more often. So crit is not very useful after that. Also if you crit less but dodge more it trades off. Critting less might make your SD trigger less but when you dodge your SD lasts longer, so it does not have to trigger as often for the same amount of mitigation. Something similar goes for forging away expertise and hit. It does not matter (to mitigation) if you miss more. The only way hitting helps mitigation is if you crit AND if your Savage Defense is not already up. If SD is going off lots already then you might as well toss out the expertise and hit and get more dodge.
As long as I thought I understood something, I did not value the counter argument. Once I figured out why they suggested a change then it all made sense and I bought in. It turns out I am more stubborn than analytical 😛
The thing is, when I THINK I understand what a guide is saying I might THINK I am doing that. But if I read again I might see that what they were getting at in the guide was subtly different. Then I find that what I am doing is close…. but no cigar.
Patches can change things. You might read the patch notes and think you follow the change. “Oh hey, I will just use X ability more.” But miss something subtle. “No wait, that means to use Y more and then use X when Z procs.” If you don’t min max yourself you should at least read what those who do are saying about expansions. Read it before one comes out. And after…. And then weeks or months later read it again. The ‘current wisdom’ is always changing. Even if you are not on the cutting edge ‘generating’ that ‘wisdom’ you can be following, reading, understanding, and adapting to what others are figuring out.
It is not just patches!
Every time you swap a piece of gear your stats change. Over time those changes can add up a lot. What was a good idea before might not be now. Don’t wait for a big patch to look into it.
Break points matter
My wife Analogue recently did a bunch of reforging to haste. Because her gear levels are high enough now the reforging puts a breakpoint in range. A haste ‘break point’ is a point at which your hots tick one more time. Other stats have breakpoints too. A break point is where that stat interacts with an ability or a mechanic such that you really want to be at that point or a tiny bit higher. With Hots and haste being a few points low means you get the same number of ticks as always but once you pass that point you get another tick and that is it… you get little more out of haste until the next break point.
Small changes add up.
Little things add up. In the case of my wife reforging haste she gained 1.5k more heals per second. But even more than those numbers, she gained a critical margin of safety for healing Chimeron, a fight where fast targeted heals are critical. People that before died JUST before a hot tick saved them now are getting saved. The small change matters.
Anyone who has ever had a raid boss enrage at 1 or 2% health can tell you that even a TINY bit more dps can really add up over the length of a fight. On our Cho’Gall attempts Friday we were popping potions like crazy to beat the 4th add. With another raid on Monday a slight bit more dps meant they hit phase 2 more cleanly…. But their RDPS was lower so the adds were more of an issue. A small change in dps here or there can make a world of difference.
Don’t be satisfied! Do what it takes to get that extra dps (or healing or mitigation). One person doing 1 K more dps means the average raid’s damage just went up 1%. Over a 7 minute boss fight? It is almost a half a million hitpoints of damage.
There is always something… I have not listed all I need to work on. I need to use berserk more often and better. I need to use mangle a tiny bit more and pulverize a smidge less. I need to reforge a lot. I should probably check over my gems too. There is always more to do. We are SOO close to getting an end boss down. Time to push to the next level… again.
P.S. This darn wordpress keeps bugging and posting things I am not done writing…. grrr.