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Archive for August, 2011

The changes to threat

In reference to this Dev Blog

Woah! Did not see that coming.

I love this new change. Right now threat is BOOORING. There were, as of yesterday, only a few areas where I would notice the existence of threat as an issue. I mean I paid attention to it all the time but only in these situations would it affect my game play.

Bosses – Threat was meaningless after the first 30 seconds of any boss fight I have done. Really. After that if you are still having threat problems then you have messed up your build. Now I am not tanking Heroic raid bosses, and I am only 3/7 in Firelands but this has been my experience. So threat was meaningless on boss fights… kinda. If I had a threat problem at the start of a fight I would just blow Berserk on that boss and the problem went away. So I cared about threat, slightly, at the start of a boss fight.

Two tanks – If I was in tank spec and me and another tank were swapping on a boss I would have to throttle my TPS/DPS so as not to pull the boss off my partner at the wrong time. Now this was fine… but vengeance made this sometimes annoying or turned trash packs into a threat tug of war. While those situations might have been amusing they were not really intended game play. Two tanks fighting over a trash pack with taunts so they can get more rage/vengeance was kinda silly. Amusing, but a waste of time and sometimes a deadly distraction.

AOE – Yeah, sometimes people would pull off me in an AOE heavy situation. It was minor. It caused me to be better at taunting mobs back but it was really not that INTERESTING or fun. If Bliz finds this new change makes AOE threat too easy they should nerf tank AOE damage again.

DPS on the wrong target – Yeah, this was the biggest source of issues. But it was still not that big a deal. And I know 5x versus 3x will still not save an undergeared tank from an overgeared person on the wrong target. So this situation might be somewhat easier now but it is not going away.

Shooting things before they reach my melee range – Yeah again. This is still not changing with the new system.

Now all tanks might not have the same experience. I have known some to complain about people pulling off them early in a fight. I don’t complain about that. I see it is a personal failure if I let that happen so I darn sure am not going to whine about it. It is really not that hard to prevent right now. You don’t pull with a taunt, you open up with your best hits, you use DPS cooldowns early, you taunt back fast, and you learn a really well tuned dps/tps rotation. That is it. It works for warriors and bears, which are the only tanks I have played, and the other tanks have more than one taunt anyway.

What does “harder” mean?

Is this going to make tanking easier? Yeah kinda. More forgiving certainly. So? Are there any other roles that will wipe the group if they screw up the first 5 seconds of a fight? No. Really. In my experience the two hardest roles to play are an undergeared healer with an undergeared tank and an undergeared tank with a party of trigger happy morons. Look at it this way; Tanking is too hard. No, I have no issues with it. There is only 1 measure of ‘too hard’. It is not the opinions of elite tanks out there on forums or blogs. The ONLY measure of tanking being hard versus fun is the queue time of DPSers in LFD. Yeah, there are fewer morons out there trying to tank pugs but there are also 45 minute DPS queues.

Look, any hardcore raid tank can tell you the real measure of a tank is doing the fight mechanics and using their mitigation right. Threat is BASIC. Nerfing threat does not nerf the really hard parts of tanking. This is only making it easier for people to START tanking. It is not making it easier for them to get really good at it.

Now these ideas for upcoming changes to the mitigation moves and resource use… very interesting. That could put some nice challenge back the tanking. But it could put it back in a way that does not scare off new tanks too fast. I look forward to seeing what they do with it.

Update (1 ay after)

Last night I ran with a guild alt run in BWD. I can say for certain anyone that thinks threat is being phased out, or that this is some HUGE change in mechanics is wrong. Threat works like it always has. I was on a high dps hunter and outgeared a lot of the other people there. If I picked the ‘wrong’ target and dropped the hammer hard and early I would pull off the tank and they would have a heck of a time getting the target back. (Sry guys, I was doing that For Science!)

Threat dumps, forced attacks, taunts. They all worked the same as before. They all ‘feel’ the same as before. The only thing that changed is now tanks have a roughly 60% easier time picking up and holding threat. That is all. Nothing to see here. Move along!

This is NICE. Now I have the option of, instead of blowing MD on every pull, just counting to three before dropping the hammer. And even doing that I sometimes had to FD. Much less than before though. As Ghostcrawler pointed out being forced to use threat reduction as a part of SOP (standard operating procedure) is not fun game play. If I wanted to blow dps cooldowns on the pull, or open up before a boss was positioned I had to use MD, same as always. This just really isn’t that big a change. It is, if anything, just a step back toward where things were in Wrath.

They did not remove threat. Seriously, they didn’t.

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First off, it’s so nice to finally have a pool of raiders with enough redundancy that I don’t run around in panic when Log has duty weekend. It’s going to be hard making sure that 12 people get enough raid time, but if the alternates aren’t getting enough play time we’ll make some changes. I finally have backup for every role! Now, if we’re missing a healer AND an rdps AND a tank, then we might have issues, but…

So Friday we went to Firelands. We killed our trash like pros. We had three wipes on Shannox and then killed him. Then we had a choice. We could go do Baleroc again, or we could do Beth’tilac and then attempt Ryolith, skipping Baleroc. We’d taken 25 tries the week before to get him down, we had a healer who hadn’t been there…. I was really leaning toward skipping him and going after another new fight.

Reversion pointed out that we need to keep downing fights we know so they can be on farm status for us. If we put off killing Baleroc again for a month we’d have lost all the knowledge we had of how to do the fight. I definitely saw his point… but I so wanted to get another boss down. The picture up top is what I imagine our raid was thinking. Usually we do a better job of blending our raid leading roles.

Anyway so we went to Baleroc. And two shot it. Reversion was definitely right :)

Then we went to Beth’tilac. We’d done four pulls on her about three weeks ago, that was it. We changed things up a bit from our last attempts – Reversion stayed down to tank the drone, Kerick went up to heal the tank, and I stayed down to work my druid awesomeness on the raid. We had a good attempt, but the raid damage was high, so Ado instructed people to be sure to taunt down the adds. Did another attempt, adds were better but still a lot of damage, so we swapped who was going up for dps and kept the mage we’d been sending, downstairs.

Next attempt was really good, so we kept the strategy and pulled again. This time the adds died awesomely and we made it into phase 2 for the first time ever – and next thing I know she’s dead. I just barely got my head out of the “aaahhhh new phase what do I DO?” mode when boom, dead. Nice job raid!

Then we went to Ryolith and spend the next hour, four hours the next night, and two hours Sunday wiping on him. Stupid volcanos. But you will go down, you monstrous…. thing…. you!

And then we get to play with a big bird. I watched a vid. I’m psyched.

I am loving how our raid is gelling. When Rev and I decided to start a raid, it was because we wanted to see new content before it was old content. About all we really hoped for was a solid group that could down things. Instead, I’ve got an awesome group of friends who can surprise me even now with awesomeness. I know some of the raiders better than others, but I consider all of you my friends. Heck I actually have a “real” friend right here in town now because of this raid, and that’s just too awesome to contemplate.

Oh wait. I take that back. Log’s not my friend, he’s my brother. And Reversion probably doesn’t want me to put him in the “friends” zone either :)

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The other main guild raid, usually called ‘Raid 1’, packed it in last night. They had been having some bad luck and frustration and the raid leader had enough. I will not say more on that either to speculate or analyze because it is but not my place and also I don’t have any details anyway. I only mention it at all because we have a lot of guildies that drop by here so it is a relevant news item.

Personally it does make me think of a few things. First off it probably means the guild will lose a few raiders. That is a shame. But if someone wants to raid they have to go where the raiding is. We have a lot of good raiders in this guild and only a few of them are actively in our Fri/Sat run. That brings my thoughts around to a second point. That point is that this guild can still support another raid or two. There was/is also another Friday Saturday run but it has a lot of the same raiders as the Sun/Mon group so I don’t know what the status of it is. No I am not speculating, I just don’t know. But even aside from that group this guild can probably support another raid. We will have to see if anyone steps up to try and run one.

This brings me to another random thought. Maybe we will start a regular alt night raid. Maybe on Sunday or Monday. We actually did run one of those last night… Well we started to and then we realized we had all but one of our people, including the two missing from our Saturday night attempts…. So we went back to Firelands. Heh. However before we went we dropped by TotFW and knocked that out which got Bocat her title :D

My final random thought on raids packing it in is how much can I help out or support other raids in the guild. I was actually in the other run for a while. I kept a whole geared tank alt set aside for several months to either run regularly with them or as a standby. I am sure that was helpful to them. At some point though I decided 4 nights a week was too much and stopped. There is only so much raiding you can do at any one time. So I am left wondering if I/we could have done more to help? Maybe. Without burning out? I don’t know. Probably not… but I do wonder. Also if another raid formed I might try to help… If they needed it… maybe. It would depend on the schedule and how I was feeling. Honestly 8 hours a week is plenty of raiding….. but sometimes I want to just pull out a DPS alt and pew pew. I have no real conclusions there. Just a few of  the thoughts and feelings that float by at a time like this. Alright that is enough random thoughts for a ‘news’ post.

For any Raid 1 folks that leave the guild I want to say good luck in whatever you do and where ever you go. And for any in guild raiders thinking about starting a different run I say go for it… but it is a lot of work and stress so be warned. I can’t promise any help but there are a lot of good raiders in the guild so there is probably room for another raid. I hope so. I don’t think I want us to be the only game in town.

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In Wrath: you joined a raid. There’s a paladin and a druid as heals. You know right away that the paladin is tank healing and the druid is raid healing.

Leading up to Cataclysm: a lot of talk about triage, mana management, tweaking heals… and a general sense that if the paladin wants to raid heal and the druid wants to tank heal, the system is going to support that.

Join a Firelands raid: there’s a paladin and a druid as heals. The paladin is tank healing, the druid is raid healing, and nobody really thinks twice about it.

Maybe that’s simplified but it really does seem the state of things right now. Of course, since I’m a druid healer and the always-there other member of my healer team is a paladin, maybe I’m helping perpetuate that myth. Maybe we could shake things up. But we don’t. She just doesn’t have as many AOE tools as I do. My big heals are wet noodles compared to hers, and there’s nothing I have that’s comparable to Beacon of Light (or Bacon of Light as certain of our raiders keep calling it)

I’m perfectly willing to tank heal. I had very little trouble with Baleroc as far as keeping a tank up went. I was even doing one of the Shannox tanks until our shaman pointed out that this fight was not a good one for her to be raid healing. But again, there was my perception, that shaman are better at raid healing than tank healing, that had me put her on the raid in the first place.

And priests? I have no idea how those weirdoes work at all. We’re talking about having our shaman switch to her priest and that could be…. interesting… but I have a feeling that my default configuration is going to be to keep myself on raid and Kerick on tanks, and the other healer can just fill in wherever.

But it makes sense! Wild Growth is such a cheap, easy little AOE to toss out. I’ve got enough mana that I can toss Rejuvs around like it was Wrath again. And I proc free Regrowths all the time – if the tank ain’t hurting, someone in the raid is.  Depending on the fight, I can’t necessarily keep the whole raid alive but I can come close. And Kerick owns at keeping the tanks up. Sure I’ve got Lifebloom on one of them and I toss a few heals their way when I need to, but I just don’t need to.

So, is it in our class or in ourselves that these stereotypes are set? Maybe I just do better at raid healing because I’m vaguely OCD about healing bars and have to heal everyone right NOW darn it. Maybe Kerick is better at using her cooldowns to fill up a tank right before the next Decimation Blade hits, not because she has better cooldowns but because that’s what she’s practiced.

But – I don’t think that’s the whole of it. I read blogs and I never read about raid-healing paladins. Sometimes about tank healing druids, but mostly in the sense of “I can tank heal, why doesn’t my raid ever let me?” Shaman and priests don’t seem quite so stereotyped. I’m not sure why that is.

Is it really just me? Was I reading too much into things before Cataclysm? I’m not saying I’m disappointed: I’m just saying I want to make sure I’m not doing things wrong!

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Fire Drood is for Posing

 

Analogue completed her Molten Front dailies this week. I’ve had Leyara’s Locket around for a while and I use it all the dang time. If I have to be in caster form, why can’t I have gear like that?

 

 

I like the flaming hippogryph a lot. It’s not very Druid-y but it coordinates great with my outfit.

 

 

 

An outcast after rejecting her peoples’ evil ways, Fire Drood broods pensively as the sun sets over Stormwind Harbor. Will she ever really fit in among these good folk?

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Progression, huzzah!

To recap: I’ve been having difficulty in filling the roster lately. Mostly due to people having other commitments during the summer. Between one thing and another last week was the first time we were able to put a solid two hours on Shannox, and he went down.

This week Log had already told me he’d be out so I needed another tank. Thursday I got online, looked around, and hooked up with a tank who has run with us a few times, another bear tank named Squishi. He’s friends with multiple people in our raid, and solid, so I was happy.

Friday morning Log called me to say…. his drill weekend turned out to be NEXT weekend and he could raid tonight if I wanted.

Well, having already asked someone else for that slot I told him he was on standby.

Raid time comes. We group up, we kill trash, Shannox spawns, and Jhudora, my third healer, dc’s. I get a message that she lost power and doesn’t know when it’ll be back. After a while, we decide to go on without her. We finally settle on Logarithm coming in to tank and Reversion going heals.

We work out assignments and start learning the fight. It takes about four tries to really feel like we’re back in the groove, then a couple below 30% wipes, then boom, he’s dead. Not quite farm status, not when a new tank has to learn the fight, but we’re very confident of him.

With an hour of raid time left we go knock out Bastion real fast.

Saturday night we come back to Firelands. After a little discussion we decide to head to Baleroc. I’ve got Kerick and Sharelore the druid as my heals team – two druids and a paladin. Kerick’s done the fight as a paladin already so I’m hoping that will help the learning curve.

To make a long story short I really like this fight. It seemed to have something for everyone to learn and we had to communicate well. Early on we were getting a lot of early Decimation Blades that killed Rev because he didn’t have enough health and the healer on  him  at that point (me) had no stacks at all. Rev swapped out his trinkets for one with a bit more stamina to help his health pool get high faster and started popping Tol’vir potions; he could usually dodge about 50% of Decimation Blade swings which was a huge help. We adjusted our healing strategy slightly to get someone with stacks on Rev a bit sooner, we had two people calling out different things, one managing the list of dps to get hit by the crystal, one telling the healers to switch. Near the end I got some help to figure out when to hit the crystal target with a single heal to get me some stacks, then back on Reversion until it was officially my time to swap off. I need to do more research on this fight myself.

We got a 8% wipe and then it was close to quitting time. We feasted up for our last pull of the night – and then got a Decimation Blade right off the bat and wiped. Came back, had time for another try – same thing happened. But someone survived the wipe, mass rezzed, and even though Rev and I pointed out that it was now well past quitting time, someone pointed out that the feast was still there and everyone agreed. One more try.

This time we survived the initial phase of the fight where the healer on Reversion had no stacks. We swapped off tank and raid healing duty cleanly. The dps all did their part perfectly. And then, almost surprising me when he finally went down, Baleroc was dead.

2/7, with our second kill following tight on the heels of our first! I was so proud of our raid. It took us 25 attempts to down him. No one complained about repair costs, that this was taking all night, that wiping isn’t fun. Everyone learned their jobs and performed well.

To me, this is progression raiding. I don’t think of progression in terms of keeping up with the Joneses or Paragons, but of pushing your own raid group to achieve more and more every time. And we are! That makes all my headaches as I try to work out who is raiding every week, worthwhile.

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If only

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Not Synonyms

Guild. Raid. Not synonyms.

Lots of blogs I read, they are. “Oh, we lost 3 of our core, we have to recruit new guildies”. “The officers decided on a new loot policy.”  “The raid master scheduled my off tank for the other raid so now we’re in trouble”. Guilds that have two or three raids tend to have an A team and a B team. The B team wants very much to be the A team, but they aren’t and they know it. Some guild officer tries to make sure all the raids run nice but you know, the progression raid has to have the support it needs…

In Crits and Giggles, we have officers, but anybody can start an event, or a raid, if they want to. Rev and I got nothing but support from Troutwort when we started our raid. He even sat down and helped me brainstorm who to invite for my initial roster.

Right now we have two (three? Is Ado an actual officer?) officers raiding with us. The other raid has two as well I think; their raid leader and his wife are officers. It doesn’t matter, and there’s no difference between the officer lead raid and our raid.

Recruitment is up to the raid leaders. If newcomers ask officers about the raids, they’re told who the raid leaders are and what the raid times are and to talk to us about it. Maybe they’re surprised when they don’t see any raids on the schedule – but four evenings a week there’s at least one full raid going.  We don’t recruit and we don’t have applications. If you want in, you convince Trout or someone else that you belong and they give you an invite.

For raids though, you get an invite. We had one new guildie a few months back announce to one of our officers that as soon as he was geared he was going to be raiding with my raid. She passed this news on to me. I was rather surprised since he’d never even spoken to me! Needless to say… he didn’t get invited. At the same time my raiders choose to raid with me. There’s a third guild run now, at the same time and nights as ours. It’s mostly the people from the Sunday/Monday run, on their alts, but there’s some other people who occasionally ran with us who have chosen to have a permanent slot with them. That’s their choice and I’m glad for them. The logistics of having another raid opposite mine give me headaches like you wouldn’t believe but – it’s the way things work. I don’t  own Friday nights. If we decided to start running on Sundays, that group would have nothing to complain about either.

Since the raid and the guild aren’t the same thing, we can bring people in from other guilds without stepping on anyone’s toes. Most of our raid used to be other guilds, I think! Ado ran with Scrubs even though he’d been in Crits and Giggles before that, Grom and Jhudora (and Locklynn, one of our fill ins) from Apathy, Slice and now Sorak from off server. Heck of the people who run with us regularly, only Kerick, Falahla and Sharelore were in Crits when we arrived. I’m very pleased that there are people who have chosen to join us for our raids. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve got a great group.

Does that mean Reversion and I don’t have accountability? There’s no officers to call us on it if we start causing loot drama or personality issues? Well, the raid itself holds us accountable. Any time someone is annoyed with us, they are free to speak up, or to stop raiding. Nobody is forced to stay in the raid or get kicked from the guild. That’s not how it works, thank goodness.

But Troutwort works to make sure the guild runs along smoothly, so if there are personality issues, someone brings it up to him and he gets to deal with that crap. Sort of an executive level check on people’s behavior.

This setup wouldn’t work for everyone. But it’s a great way to have a couple slightly hardcore raids in a casual guild. Wouldn’t work as well the other way around! It also lets us have raids with very very different raid culture. One can use loot council, the other just rolls. One could enforce “PG 13 in Vent”, the other be more relaxed.

Or, with the same guild culture, someone could come and start a rated battleground team! They’d have to work from the ground up, just like Rev and I did with our raid, but in Crits and Giggles anyone who wants to try to start something is welcome to. I love that!

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Satisfaction

Going into Friday night I knew we had to hit Firelands fast and hard. We had a full raid that night – Grom was out all weekend but I’d already arranged for his spot to be covered. My tank and healer setup was all in order. And with luck we wouldn’t have lag.

We were  a bit slow getting started but after just under an hour of raid time, maybe 40 minutes of actual trash clearing, we were ready to start Shannox attempts.  Our first few attempts had the first dog almost dying before something happened to wipe the raid – usually Log, our Shannox tank, dropping, or someone getting stuck in a prism.

I kept an eye on the healing as we went. Kerick and I were pulling some insane numbers, some fights we were close to 14k HPS each and staying ok on mana. Jhudora, our shaman healer, was struggling to get her numbers up. I know HPS numbers aren’t very meaningful but you can tell that when the third healer’s numbers are well below the others, something’s up. I kept an eye on it and made a mental note to do some research on shaman heals later.

After an hour of attempts we were starting to look good, consistently getting the first dog down and then working on the second dog and Shannox simultaneously. We had a discussion during the raid – someone said she’d always seen the fight done by burning Shannox to almost 35% and then burning down the dog rather than splitting dps like we were doing.  But it doesn’t matter whether you burn one then the other or split damage and it works better for melee if they can stay on Shannox the whole time  rather than running after the dog.

We got to the point where I knew any pull could be our kill. It was closing in on two hours of attempts – three hours of raiding total. I had hoped we’d get him down a little faster but this was our first kill after all and we were still learning.

We had a good attempt going.  Log kited Shannox a long way. We headed back toward the entrance – and I see a pack of scorpions come running at us. No way we can handle this in the middle of what we’re doing. They aggro on Kerick and she dies but then they reset. I’m still not quite sure what happened there, whether Addoe fake died or what, but hey, the scorpions were gone and I had a brez with Kerick’s name on it. She got up, we caught up on heals – and then somehow, the boss was dead on the ground.

I must say the kill itself was almost anticlimactic. I was almost surprised that he was dead – that happens sometimes when healing, I don’t really notice the difference between 10% and 1% until boom, the boss is dead.

We got one crafting ember and one ember for Falahla’s staff so she is officially on the way to the legendary!

After that we went and played with spiders. I have to do some thinking about the spider fight. I’m wondering if maybe I should make the paladin go upstairs to play…

Saturday we had a bunch of our regulars out, so Kerick’s friend Sorak brought a rogue over to play and we invited all our sometimes-regulars and Bocat as well. The plan was to just clear a bunch of T11. We made pretty decent time in BWD, took about two hours. One Chimaeron wipe due to a “talk to the robot not the gnome in the cage” pull accident and I think three tries to kill Nefarion.

Then off to BOT. We managed a trash wipe from face pulling, oops. And we swapped a few people in and out depending on fights. There were a couple people who wanted a Cho’gall kill on an alt rather than their main, like Reversion wanted to get it on his hunter so one of the melee agreed to bring in his tank for that fight. Jhudora wanted to kill Cho’gall on her priest but was saved to the first three on her priest. So that added a little time to our adventures. It was getting late when we got to Cho’gall and I didn’t think we’d have time to do Al’Akir. But that was ok, we were having a great time.

With all the people swapping in and out the roles got kind of confused so one of the healers asked for a role check. Naturally this was time for some of us to misbehave. I selected “Tank”, Reversion selected “Healer” and Log picked “DPS” all at once.  then we had some silliness as I manually fixed the wrong roles.

 
When Log is right, he’s right. It doesn’t happen that often (kidding!) so let’s give him his dues.

A fun weekend of raiding. Here’s to getting another Firelands boss or two this weekend – as soon as I figure out the roster, sigh…. Sorak I want your rogue in all the time I just have to figure out how to make that happen…

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