Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

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Zusterke on Inspiration

January 12, 2010

Zusterke strikes again!  This time, he delves into numbers to discuss that basic Priest talent: Inspiration.

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration is a welcome tool, whether you’re making art or healing the tank. Most combat parsers check the uptime of this buff, showing the value of this talent. Sadly logs do not tell us how inspiration evolves with respect to crit and how we can manipulate our healing to work with inspiration. That needs to worked out differently, with pretty colors and graphics.

Inspiration uptime

“Theory”! Ha! Scared you, didn’t I? Due to heavy reader loss last time I wrote a guest post, I promised I’d stop aiming my theory at the readers and put the loaded math down. Still, for sake of completion I present the formula for inspiration uptime. The credit for this formula goes to Dagma at PlusHeal for he taught me both formula and its proof. The faint of hearth are invited to close their eyes for a second, it will not be pretty.

Math for buff duration uptime

Hits denotes the amount of (inspiration able) heals within the buff’s duration that we cast on the target. C denotes critical strike chance.

You may open your eyes again. We have 2 things that effect our chance to proc inspiration: critical strike chance and the amount of spells we cast on the target. This pretty rainbow below shows us by how much. Sadly, there is no pot of gold at the bottom end of this rainbow, only rotten potatoes for that’s where our inspiration ends.

Inspiration Uptime

Each line corresponds to an amount of heals on our target. Crit quickly boosts our inspiration uptime and as little as 20% gives a good uptime for spammy scenarios. For 25% crit we obtain 90% uptime when healing the target 8 times or more within 15 seconds. That’s easy with FHeal and/or penance, our tankhealing tools. Higher crit gives better uptimes, but the benefit from crit diminishes. The difference between 30% and 35% crit is only noticable if we heal the target less frequently. Beyond 35%, the benefit of crit is very low.

A grain of salt for these potatoes

I love theor.. eh.. rainbows but it isn’t 100% reliable. Critical heals are still random. The numbers above give ‘expected values’ but in practice your buff time could differ a little. Still, the more crit we have, the more reliable our inspiration becomes.

Another factor that effects our outcome is how you heal. The formula assumes that our heals are equally spread over time. In-game, this is rarely the case. This could influence your uptime both in a positive and negative sense. While the numbers above remain good indications, they are not 100% on the spot.

Counting on Inspiration

Tankhealers are seldom confronted with this question… but support healers or OT healers might: how often do you need to heal your target to proc inspiration? The answer for pessimists is “infinitely many times”. For all optimists out there, we can work out your chance to proc inspiration depending on how often you heal the target. *crushes door* Here’s theory! While I would enjoy a reign of math terror, you are spared another formula. The chance to proc inspiration, depending crit and your number of attempts, can be calculated with exactly the same formula as above. Consequently, the same rainbow shows you how reliable your chances are to proc inspiration and we can draw the same conclusions.

Inspiration and Surge of Light

Inspiration and Surge of Light

Surge of Light offers a free flash heal, but one that cannot crit. For our global inspiration uptime, it could be noted that SoL has a negative impact. But if we check the graph above, we can see that 1 heal less does not greatly affect our uptime. What’s more: in tankhealing scenarios it is likely to be a proc from a critheal on our tank. It would thus be the same heal that resets the inspiration timer and we should have about 15s time to ‘use’ that FHeal and cast more spells on our tank.

While I doubt the lack of inspiration or the gain of SoL has ever caused a wipe, there is a small risk that SoL procs from PoM or CoH that crits on a player, other than your target. In the (inconceivable) case that this proc would hinder your healing, a holy priest could use Binding Heal on the target as work around. But I have rarely been in a position where this would make a difference.

TLDR, aka the conclusion

For inspiration we note that 20% crit is sufficient to provide a reliable inspiration uptime in a tankheal scenario. More crit is welcome as it gives more freedom of how often we need to heal the tank but there is a diminishing return. At 30% crit, this diminishing return becomes strong and beyond 35% crit it weighs heavily. These numbers are raidbuffed. They should be taken with a grain of salt, so adding or dropping 1% won’t make a tremendous difference. If I remember correctly Jov always promoted 20% crit as minimum for holy priests. I guess I just added a piece of the proof she’s right. (and I’ll probably never hear the end of it) [You just said my two favorite words:  Jov’s right.  Of course you’ll never hear the end of it!  -ed.]

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Guest Post: Priests in the Arena

November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Week!  Jov and Seri are traveling, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for a serious case of food coma.  Special thanks for the guest posts for taking wow posting off our plates, and leaving us with more room for sides…

I thought I would write a guest post for Snarkcraft (one of my favorite priest blogs!) about a topic not often covered:  Arena PVP.  I’ll start with some basic arena strategies.  I am assuming you’re just starting out, and that you’ll be a Priest, specced Discipline.  Holy really isn’t arena viable at the moment.

General Arena Helpful Tips

  1. Don’t Die
  2. Don’t Let your Partners Die
  3. Blow Defensive Cooldowns when the other Team blows Offensive Cooldowns
  4. Blow Defensive Cooldowns Earlier Rather than Later
  5. CC and DPS when the target is low
  6. Drink – a lot!
  7. Pick up a PVP trinket – don’t leave home without it.

How to gear

As a priest, you wear cloth and lots of it.  You’ll want to wear as much resilience as you can get your hand on.  Once you start feeling comfortable (for me this happens only once I’m in the 1000+ range), start stacking stamina and spellpower.  Get the spirit set, although you can double dip the shadow set, getting the 50 resilience bonus from both sets, but you’ll notice the lower regen.  You will be able to go offensive much better though, so it could depend on your playstyle.  Get at least 4% hit so your fears connect a reasonable amount of the time.  Yes, it’s that important.  Pick up the +hit offset pieces for cloak, ring, and neck slots, and you should do fine.

Glyphs – Pick up Pain Suppression and Inner Fire, especially while still gearing up.  Glyph of Penance is 100% necessary 100% of the time.

How to survive

You have no real escapes, especially against warriors/undeads.  Priests in PVP essentially tank in cloth.  I know it sounds crazy, but it’s crazy fun when you can pull it off!  Anyway, keep moving, cast PW:shield->Penance->Prayer of Mending->Renew->stop and flash as necessary.  Remember to dispel any dots or snares that you can – especially against DKs (Chains of Ice and Diseases) and mages’ frost novas.  You’d be surprised how much dispelling what amounts to these classes’ damage buffs reduces the amount of damage they can dish out.

Line of Sight (LOS) – Line of Sight is your friend in Arenas.  Anyone who says otherwise, or says that LOS is cheesey, plays too many battlegrounds on their hunters.   Good LOS play can significantly reduce the damage you take and the scariness of enemy target switches. You’ll notice some teams will try to lure you into their LOS.  Shield/Penance your DPS when you can, but be aware the other guys have some dirty tricks up their sleeve…

Fearing Defensively – Save your Psychic Scream for when you need to get a cast off, or you see an opportunity to gain distance or get out of LOS.  If you are in an emergency situation, however, blow it.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than dying while your cooldowns are still up.

How to heal

Penance and PW: Shield, Prayer of Mending – these are your most powerful heals in arena.  In my experience, greater heal comes close to the output of penance, but penance has the benefit of going off immediately, and going through line of sight.  Use PW:shield first, especially since it gives you a haste buff.

Flash heal – Flash heal is what you do when Penance, PW:Shield, are on cooldown.  Get a latency mod, like quartz for your castbar and spam that button!

Other odd heals you wouldn’t think to use – Greater heal, Divine Hymn, Binding Heal, and Prayer of Healing are heals you probably won’t use very often, mostly because they’re best when you aren’t being focused, which happens approximately 0% of the time.  However, if you can get them off, especially if someone has let their mortal strike debuff fall off for a second, you can really turn the tables.  I’ve seen 3v3 matches where I was super behind, and I popped Divine Hymn and Inner Focus and topped off my team.  And they say Priests have no reset buttons.  😛

Mortal Strike – Mortal Strike is your enemy #1.  Know what the debuff looks like, know how long the cooldown is, know how to get as many heals off as possible when the debuff is *not* up.  Hunters, Warriors, and Rogues can all apply versions of the 50% version.  Mages and Shadowpriests (do they really exist?) provide a 20% version.  Oh, and if someone has the debuff and needs a heal, heal them.  You just got outplayed, but you have a better chance of winning if your teammate is alive.

How to pressure

Dispel – Dispels at the right time can be sooo clutch.  Paladins and Priests should be dispel spammed if they are your DPS target.  Also, dispel any CC as often as possible.  Some classes have dispel protection – for instance, if you dispel unstable affliction from Haunt warlocks, you’ll get silenced, which is BAD…

Mana Burn – You’ll find that the one thing in your bag of tricks that will force a healer to go defensive is Mana Burn.  As a healer, learn this sound.  It will strike *sheer terror* into your heart… It’s fun to hold people on the other side of pillars with this.  Say your DPS is focusing the other team’s DPS.  Use Mana Burn to force the healer to LOS their DPS, then keep using it to hold them there.  They’ll only be able to get off instant casts, which means they’ll be way behind.  Just make sure you remember to heal your DPS in time…. Cast Shield, Psychic scream, and Power infusion, then spam Mana Burn at the other healer for fun and profit.

Mass Dispel – Mass Dispel has two uses in Arena.  One is when there’s a zergfest and everyone’s in range – you’ll dispel debuffs and buffs at the same time!  This is win. The other use is to dispel Iceblock and Divine Shield.  Especially against Paladins, it’s important to pre-load this so that you can get their bubble off and get the kill before their heal goes off.  Plan ahead!

Fearing Offensively – Psychic Scream is a powerful CC because it hits all targets within range.  Use that to your advantage, and try to catch the target and at least one other player.  Also, against healers, fear them when the target is around 30% health – they may think they are keeping up, and then BAM! They’re CC’d!  At the very least, you forced the trinket or blew their timing/global cooldown.  This is all huge, just from a 30 second cooldown!

How to DPS

If you are in a place where you need to out-and-out DPS to help force a kill or apply more pressure, you need to consider what situation you’re in.  IF the target is very low on health, cast Penance or Holy Fire->SW:Death.  This “Backloads” the damage from SW:Death (the damage will all come in nearly the same global cooldown, because the GCD from Penance is already done).  If you need to pressure, use your holy DPS spells.  These spells (Holy Fire and Smite) are at what amounts to 100% spell penetration because Holy has no resist stat.  Don’t forget your DOTs and Mind Blast, they do a surprising amount of damage!

Smite Spec – if you want to go really offensive, pick up the smite glyph and the low end holy smite talents – Holy spec, Divine Fury, and Searing Light.  Congratulations!  You are now a Mage with healing spells!

How to CC

Refer to Psychic Scream offensively, above.  One little thing to note here, do not ignore shackle undead!  Make a macro to target Ebon Gargoyle, and shackle DK ghouls whenever you can.  Also, DK’s who pop Lichborne are legal targets for Shackle as long as the buff is up…

When to trinket –
#1 – when your team needs a heal.  You just got outplayed, again.  Prepare to eat blind or sheep.
#2 – Against CC, try to sit it out if you can, and save the trinket for emergencies.  However, be aware that some comps can easily drop your DPS inside even really short CCs.  Refer to #1 and trinket.  Otherwise, refer to the LOS section.

How to Drink

Drinking is how to pressure, defensively, as a Priest and as a healer in general.  Most of the time, especially against Paladin and Druid healers, Priests just can’t keep up in the mana department.  It’s the drawback we get for being able to go offensive with Mana Burn.  If you can, have your DPS go defensive and get drinks off, early.  The longer you can postpone your shadowfiend, the more pressure you can put on the other healer in a mana war.  A few ticks of drinking can change the game!  Learn to notice when the other team is leaving you alone.  These are the best times to sneak off behind the nearest pillar and get a drink.  Do it at every opportunity! Remember, you need to buy special Arena Water for Arenas.

On a side note, make sure to dispel innervate and divine plea whenever you can.

Enjoy!
~Felade

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Guest Post: Warcry!

November 25, 2009

It’s another Turkey-week guest post, this time a super-Wednesday edition.  This time from Juzuba, a frequent commenter both here and on PlusHeal.

Warcraft?  Warcryft?  War cry craft?  Ah, so it’s build your own war cry.  I can deal, I can deal.  It’s a worthwhile endeavor, you know.  Obviously our homemade chants and shouts cannot possibly eclipse the Classic.  But our lesser brethren (read: the Alliance) have been struggling for fifteen years without an original quip to fall back on after being invariably gunned down before the gates of Orgrimmar.  “For the Alliance” is the equivalent of “Cocoa and peanut butter FUSION” or “Vampires twinkle in direct sunlight”.  It’s a cheap knockoff, and everybody knows it.

I hereby offer a few variants for your situational rage-filled trumpeting needs.

Classic Era

“Defend the Crossroads/Southshore!”

“Remember Mr. Bigglesworth!”

“More Dots!  More Dots!  -50 DKP!”

“Leeeeeroooooyyyyyy Jenkins!”

“Fuck dishonorable kills, I’m getting on my main!”

“Loot the hounds!”

“Sheep the adds!”

TBC Era

“No, YOU are not prepared!”

“______ was merely a setback!”

“Please don’t let it be Warrior/Druid again!”

“Leeeeeroooooyyyyyy Jenkins!”  (still a classic)

“Actually, I think that’s a hunter weapon.”

“Don’t move on Flame Wreath!”

“Kill order is skull, then X.  Sheep moon, banish purple, trap blue square, sap triangle.”

“Don’t nerf me, Bro!”

WotLK Era

“For Saurfang!”

“Death to the Scourge!”  (“And death to the living!” is optional)

“Suffer well, brethren!”

“Kill order is Death and Decay, Consecrate, Blizzard, Bladestorm, wheeeee!”

“Remember Mr. Bigglesworth (redux)!”

“In the mountains…”

“Get out of the Brain Room befo- Yes, master…”

“Battle on, heroes?  It’s my sixth run-through this week!  Screw you, DJ Fordring!”

“Leeeeeroooooyyyyyy Jenkins!”  (always a classic)

“More Dots!  More Dots!  -50 DKP!”

“Remember to loot the Daily Quest Item!”

“Death to the raiding guild!”

If The Alliance Had Huevos

“Remember Lordaeron!”

“Honor to the fallen, and honor to Stormwind!”

“My King Is A Douche!”

“Avenge Gnomergon (One Day, Maybe)!”

“We got Worgen, haha, bitches!”

~

So, fellow war-bards – inspire us with your tales of bravery and courage in the face of oncoming slaughter!

Look, as a D&D player, you have no idea how much effort it took to say that with a straight face…

Jov sez: And now I’m going to be picturing that whenever I’m playing my Aasimar Bard in our Saturday D&D game.  Gee thanks.  >.<

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Guest Post: Priests in Battlegrounds

November 24, 2009

Happy Turkey Week!  Jov and Seri are traveling, spending time with friends and family, and preparing for a serious case of food coma.  Special thanks for the guest posts for taking wow posting off our plates, and leaving us with more room for sides…

So you want to run some battlegrounds as a . . . *gasp* PRIEST?  What are you nuts?  Seriously, people can have this reaction.  Our class doesn’t have a great reputation for survivability and that deters many of us from running battleground or ever trying them for that matter.  Fear not!  I am here to guide you through these death mazes and give you some tools to bring the pain to your foes.

The first thing you should expect in Battlegrounds is to die . . . a lot.  How much is a lot?  Picture the Horde and Alliance lined up in the field of strife in Alterac Valley and the enemy all pressed tab at the same time, they would all target you.  Yes it CAN be that bad but it rarely IS that bad.  Battlegrounds (BGs) are not raids or heroics or arenas or even quests.  They are their own unique slice of WoW and it involves dying. A lot. Everyone dies at least once in a BG, release, let go of it, and move on to the next victim.

You got Talent

Many people talk about pvp talent builds but be warned not all of these will benefit you in a BG, most of them are designed for arenas.  You have a great deal more flexibility in your spec for BGs but a dedicated BG spec will make your life a lot easier.  As Priests we have a lot of options for good pvp talents but we will stick mainly with one tree and this decision will rest mostly on your play style.

I WANT TO SURVIVE!: DISC
I WANT TO KILL’EM ALL!: SHADOW
I’M A LUNATIC!: HOLY

All types of priest are viable in a BG and have talents that designed for pvp activity.  You can make your own choices and don’t have to stick with what you raid in.  I am a Holy priest but I run BGs as shadow exclusively because I spend enough stressful time healing dungeons and pvp is a way to blow off steam and melt some Alli faces.  I will not go into great detail about every useful talent for each built but I will point out a few crucial ones.

The Mandatory Disc talents are important here but there are some key differences.  You will want to pick up Unbreakable Will if you find yourself getting snared or stunned a lot.  Imp Inner Fire and Imp PW:F are VERY helpful. Meditation and Inner Focus are less mandatory. The reason being that BGs require a lot of chain casting (healing or killing or both) and I find mana regen impacts my performance since I am usually dead before I run out and I rarely find Inner focus to be worth the point except specific BG scenarios.  Better spent points are Imp PW:S and Soul Warding to enhance protection.  Further in DISC are some pvp essentials like Reflective Shield, Power Infusion, Rapture, Aspiration, Pain Suppression, and all the way to Penance the all purpose heal/nuke.

Shadow has a lot of great pvp talents too.  Mandatory ones for pvp are Imp SW:P, Imp Mind Blast, Mind Flay, Imp Psychic Scream and down to Silence, Shadow Reach, Focused Mind,  and pick up every talent in the Vampiric/Shadow form segments. Take up the all important Imp Devouring Plague(DP) not only because it is increased damage but also it gives DP instant damage which our class lacks a lot of in pvp.  Optionally you can pick up Psychic Horror and I would grab it because there is a use for it and I will tell you shortly. Take Dispersion even if someone tells you it suck, it does but its all we got *sigh*. Its main use is mana regen and a very last ditch escape mechanism. (PRO TIP:You can Disperse even while mounted!)

Holy . . . well it kinda sucks.  You CAN heal a LOT of people VERY effectively in BGs with this spec, but you can’t heal yourself very well with it.  Survivability is key to pvp, the longer you live the less the enemy does.  However, we do get some nice spells here.  Healing Focus (stops pushback), Divine Fury (extra holy damage/healing), Desperate Prayer (instant full health heal or near it), and Body and Soul (an escape mechanism combined with shielding). You could argue there are more important talents in holy but for pvp these are the must haves.

The Tools of DESTRUCTION (mwahahahahaaa . . . ha)

You got the talents and the spells now what do you do when you want to kill someone. Typically you mostly spam SW:P and DP.  I know it’s really sad and you are probably saying “Wow Nic you make BGs sound sooooo exciting!” Firstly, hey shut up!  Sarcasm will not help you kill faster. Secondly, there are two reasons why you will spam your DoTs.  1) Almost no healer will ever remove your DoTs in the BG and 2) They are exceptionally potent and quick cast DoTs.  Seriously, nothing will make you happier to watch a Rogue get DoT’ed up and run around as they desperately try to escape their ever shrinking health bar until they die.  In fact I have yet to meet the rogue that can survive the SW:P and DP combo, even if no one else is attacking them (Sorry Seri). The key to topping the damage charts is getting in damage as quickly as possible before the target dies from other combatants and unfortunately our class dps is more of a steam roller. Takes forever to get moving but can crush anything, assuming it doesn’t quickly step to the side XD. Speaking of DoTs, Vampiric touch is very good too, except the slightly long cast.  If you can get it up do it, but don’t start with it and don’t follow up with MB, its just not worth it (time wise or mana wise).

Our other useful spells are our trusty nuke, Mind Blast. IF you get the chance cast it. Another staple is SW: DEATH!  I know it seems risky as you can actually kill yourself with this spell and probably will several times till you get the hang of it. However, it does crazy instant damage, crits very high, and glyphs can reduce the damage you take.  Mind Flay is great in that it does a decent stream of damage AND cripples your opponent’s movement to a crawl.  It’s bad in that it is basically a giant glowing sign pointing out to your enemy who is killing them slowly and can probably die easily. It’s good to use when others are around to finish off someone. Fear, Horrify, and Silence are all amazingly effective interrupters of casters and can help put distance between you and a charging horde of enemies. It also can be effective in chain silencing/interrupting Warlocks who are the current pvp champs and particularly difficult for priests. Horrify is particularly useful against the dreaded hunter.  While two seconds of doing nothing doesn’t seem like a lot the key is the 10 sec of dropping your main hand and ranged weapon. You can essentially turn a hunter into a gimpy one-handed sucky rogue and own them. (See?  I told you there was a reason for Horrify!)

If you go disc the power of bubbling and Penance cannot be overstated.  Have you ever tried to kill a disc priest? They are, in my opinion, among the hardest to kill in a BG right after Trees and Pallies.  If you are good no single player will be able to kill you, sometimes not even two or three. If you are disc the world of spells is open to you, if you are shadow you will neglect any holy spell as the cost to drop shadow form will be too costly to mana and inevitably health.

Tactics and Closing thoughts

Your job as a shadow priest in a BG changes depending on what you are running.  In IoC sometimes you are most effective running seaforium bombs to the keep walls, in AV you are useful in defending a tower, or sometimes it just comes down to bringing the pain.  In general we have some basic purposes depending on your end goal.  If you want honor run where the action is and cause as much damage as humanly possible from afar and heal/passively heal whenever you get a chance.  The more honorable kills you get and the more objectives you defend the better.  If you want to win BGs, cause as much chaos as you can by slowing down hippity hoppity rogues with mindflay, silencing mages/healers, or sacrificing yourself to plunge into a crowd of enemies and cast fear.  If your goal is to have fun I highly suggest you accomplish the first two goals with a friend or guildy in a party.  Communication is survival and a partner can drive you to the top of the honor chart, damage chart, and heal chart in any BG.  Finally, experience is the best advice I can give.   Learn the layout of each BG, see where the enemy on your Battlegroup likes to attack and counter it.  The goal is to have fun while dying, something you can’t accomplish in any raid or heroic. Happy hunting!

~Nicoran

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Guest Post: Gaming With Your S.O.

October 29, 2009

Howdy.

I was reading my excessive list of blogs I check daily at work and noticed they were looking for guest posters during the vaca. (I really do hate that word, but it’s so easy to use.) I thought I’d drop my hat into the ring as it were so here I am!

I guess I should introduce myself a bit prior to getting to the meat of what I’d like to discuss with you fine readers today. I’ve been playing WoW since the early days, November 26th, 2004 is when I created my account and my very first character was a Night Elf Warrior. Rawr. I dabbled through vanilla, and managed to get myself to around level 43 and quit cold turkey for a good year. I would have had a nifty zergling or panda pet as well but I really despise a certain gaming establishment that sold my copy of the original CE I had paid for, but that’s a story for another time. No hard feelings. Really. No, really.

Anyway.

Way back when I started to play my significant other started to play with me. We both bought the game, made some Night Elves because they were cool looking and went on our way. She took a break about half a year before I did, and then I took my good long break.

We picked the game back up when BC was released and I created a hunter at that point. She a druid and we went along our ways and played through BC to Wrath. Long story slightly less long, today I am an official alt-a-holic. I have four 80’s and turned out to be a raid leader in the guild I’m currently in. She’s also amassed a number of 80’s under her belt and we both have a good selection of people to choose from to play.

That said, I read a lot of WoW related blogs as I stated above. Some of the ones I read often have posts about their spouse who plays with them and it got me wondering. Are she and I alone here, are we one of the only couples I’m aware of that when they play a game together, such as WoW, we don’t actually play together? We sit three feet apart from each other, and we talk and we even raid and instance on occasion.

But during the entire 1-80 process for our multiple characters we never actually grouped. Is that odd? Seems normal to us and fits us I guess since we do it without a problem but I always wonder, are we just the weird people, and every single other person out there does that?

I guess it’s enough that we raid and run heroics together. I mean, I see her a lot. We both work for the same company, more or less the same hours and same days off. She’s not remotely a bad player, not someone I wouldn’t want to bring on a raid. Are we doing something wrong here? Is it chaos? Cats and dogs sleeping together sort of chaos and end of the world…ness?

I personally feel it works out. We live together, spend a lot of time with each other and our friends but in game we get our “alone” time as it were. We get a nice little MMO-Break from each other. I think that’s a good thing in a way. We don’t really fight, or argue we still get our work done and our house clean and the dogs and cat fed. So it must be good, right?

What do all of you think?

Those of who play with your significant other. How do you do it, do you two constantly group/party up and does it work out? I wonder.

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Guest Post: EZ WoW– Solutions for the E-Peen Generation

October 27, 2009

This rebuttal is brought to you by Morrigahn of Caer Morrighan

There’s been some discussion about WoW being too easy recently.  It started with a discussion of how the change in the difficulty has affected social relations on World of Matticus.  This was followed by an excellent post at the Pink Pigtail Inn which I must say I agree with 100%.  Then it spread across the blogosphere like wildfire and was picked up by the likes of Casual Hardcore and  Tobold.

This is my contribution to the debate.  Instead of talking about the problem I’m suggesting a solution.  Its not a practical solution.  Its more a ranting, slightly insane type of solution.

Let me tell you whats really behind the ‘too easy’ and ‘welfare epics’ complaints.

Once upon a time, only a very few people had epic gear because only a very few people could raid.  This allowed them to feel better than everyone else.  Their gear was the visible evidence of their success.  They could walk around their relevant city, confident that no one looked better than them.  This rewarded them for their lack of social life.  They were the ‘elites’.  Everyone else was a ‘pleb’.

Fact 1: players who whine normally weren’t a part of this elite.  They resent the fact that they won’t ever get the chance to lord it over their fellow players based on having cool looking gear.

Solution 1: make gear more user definable.  Then elites can prance around in ridiculous looking gear and think they are better while plebs get a good laugh instead of having to listen to them whine.

Fact 2: players who think that raids and gear should be limited to a select few are quite happy to be gaining whilst others pay for them to do so.

Solution 2: make raids ridiculously hard but make players pay extra to access them, whilst us plebs pay less since we can’t access them since we have jobs/lives/our sanity.  So if for every 10 players, 9 are plebs then those 9 players can pay say $10/£6 a month.  Raiding is about 1/3 of the game content so plebs pay 1/3 less.  That means that the $45/£27 a month that the plebs were paying should all now be paid by the elite.  The elite can be elite, but they have to pay $60/£36 a month to do so.  Of course since the elites have no jobs they can’t afford to do this.  Which means even less elites.  Which means, to cover the cost of raid development, the fee would have to be higher.  It also means you brought your epics.  But you can strut around and look cool if that’s what you really want.

Fact 3: players who complain that content is not worth doing because world top 5 guilds have already completed it need a quicker way to get the hell out of my WoW.

Solution 3: implement software that recognises these key phrases so that when someone makes a statement like this an option box pops up in WoW allowing them to choose to end their subscription immediately.  In fact, give them a $50 bonus for leaving.  That money will easily be made back by the saved time on the forums not answering their posts.  Plebs would be happy to increase their subscription by the 0.50c/30p it would cost to cover this for the reward of not having to listen to this complaint ever again.

Fact 4: players who like to be judged based on their gear don’t like it when new gear comes along to replace it.  This makes them feel that all their work has been a complete waste of time.

Solution 4: allow gear to scale with epeen.  Then the plebs will be able to spot the enormous d***** a mile off and avoid them.  This would be an addition to Solution 1.

Fact 5: players who want to be better than everyone else don’t want to play in a cooperative environment.

Solution 5: make a whole new version of WoW that doesn’t involve cooperative play but can be played competitively only.  Call it … Starcraft?  In order to make up for the lost revenue from Solution 3, players could be directed to this game instead.

I am a pleb and proud of it.  I call upon plebs everywhere to rise up and defend their right to have epic gear and participate in raids they are paying for the development of.  Yes, entry level raid content is easier than it was, but this is our right as paying players!  No the game is not easier because most players still have never even seen Algalon yet, and hes the end boss of the previous tier!  No they are not welfare epics because every player who has an epic item has to suffer through the complaints of the epeen brigade and that is payment enough!

Disclaimer: This was a political broadcast brought to you by Morrighan, head of the Plebs for Epix party.  Morrighan accepts that not all vanilla raiders are epeens.  Not all people who complain about the game being easy or welfare epics are epeens.  Morrighan has a lot of friends who were both vanilla raiders and don’t like how easy epics are to get and is not calling them epeens.  She’s just fed up with listening to complaints about WoW being too easy from people who can’t even manage Heroic Azjol Nerub!

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Guest Post: Wistful Thinking

October 22, 2009

Special thanks to our guildie Prathi, from over at Piercing Shots for this post.  This was written in the middle of his move when he was going through massive withdrawals.  Happily, he has since been able to reactivate his account, and is happily pewpew’ing for us again.

At the end of August I had to move.  I won’t go in to any great length about why I had to move, but one of the results was that I had to give up playing WoW until I’d settled some things.  Some things have now settled, so I renewed my sub last night.  I didn’t do a whole lot – I said hi to the guildies that were on and did a quick heroic ToC-5.  WoW looked a lot prettier than it used to, but I’m not sure if that’s innacurate memory or what.  It was mostly just nice to play a little again.

In a sad confirmation of stereotype, one of the things I’ve been missing has been upgrading my gear.  We all know and love that warm, internal glow from finally getting a shiny new purple.  It’s a little bit like the glow a chronic gambling addict gets from their infrequent payouts, I think.  Especially because the longer you go without it, the warmer it is when you finally get another taste.  And man if it hasn’t been a while since I had a taste, you know?  I’ve replaced two things since before the first time I killed Yogg-Saron in the middle of the Summer, both the rings, neither of which came from a 25-person raid.

I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to be able to return to raiding, but it’s going to taste pretty sweet when I do.  Especially since I’m sure the rest of the guild is swimming in 245 gear at this point.  Imagine the situation like this: it’s a kid’s birthday, and he’s in the back yard with all his friends.  There’s a pinata full of his favorite candy – maybe some kit-kats – and all of his friends are stuffed full of hotdogs, chips, cake, and soda.  They’re lying on the ground in a disordered, groaning semi-circle.  You hear the whoosh sound of him swinging the stick a few times, then a sharp crack followed by an avalanche of crinkling wrappers.  Giggling quietly, he scoops up the candy and runs upstairs to stash it in his room.

That’s going to be me in the Coliseum.

Distinctly second in the list of stuff I’ve been missing is the people.  Ha-ha!  Just kidding!  As an emotionally healthy human adult, of course I value interpersonal relationships far more than I value pixels named with purple text.

Hm.

Has anyone else ever heard a saying that goes something like “if you tell a lie to yourself enough times, you might begin to believe it”?

I’m not sure if that’s true.  But, moving on!

I really have missed my guildies, seriously.  Reading Snarkcraft has been the cause of some occasional wistfulness, because it reminds me that I haven’t been able to hang out with Seri and Jov, both of whom are pretty excellent ladies.  Axiom is just in general a really fun environment to raid with.  Making fun of the raid leader, making fun of Crutches (can I just say that the Hammer of Ancient Kings is apropos for him), misdirecting bombs onto the druid co-GM, pulling off the tank and wiping the raid in the first 5 seconds of an attempt (my specialty!), imagining the female Orc warrior Kerp speaking with the male Polack voice of her player, just on and on.  It has really been a drag missing out on all of that for a month.

On the other hand, there have been compensations.  This has been a really great way to get out of doing dailies and otherwise farming consumables.  Dragonfin Angelfish, for example, is pretty much never available for sale anywhere ever.  Saving myself the outrage over the prices for alchemy mats has also probably done wonders for my blood pressure.  And can I just say that I could happily live the tortured, immortal existence of an Anne Rice vampire just so long as I never, ever had to encounter the trade channel. Sadly, that boat has sailed, so no lace and black velvet for me.

For real though, everyone: none of it is funny any more.  None of it.  Any joke you were going to make in trade?  It isn’t funny.  Every time you say “anal”  and then link an ability or item, it actually creates a hole in the universe.  These holes – and there are, by now, trillions of them – vacuum up and destroy the elementary particle of human joy, known as the “fabulon”*.  Relentlessly and forever.  They don’t go away, people.  Now that we’ve made them, they’re going to be here until the heat-death of the Universe.  And while it’s true that kittens and puppies generate fabulons at a steady rate, we are rapidly approaching the point at which the holes will be depleting them faster than they can be replaced.  Please, think of the children.

*Entirely different from the god worshipped by the shadowy cult of Naga known only as “The Bravo Demographic”.
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Guest Post: On Race Changes…

October 20, 2009

Greetings all! This is Derevka from Tales of a Priest. Yes I did close the doors at Tales, (mainly due to work being much more demanding of my time during the day, and our firewall at work now blocking blogger access) but I mentioned that I do miss blogging a bit, so Seri asked me to do a guest post here at Snarkcraft.

In the spirit of Snarkcraft, I really should try to make this post as snarky as possible. So I am going to discuss the in game feature that I am looking forward to the most. No, it is not killing Arthas and slapping that rather constipated expression right off his face… its Inter-Faction Race Changes.

This has been something I have been looking forward to for a long time. I know some people are rather upset by it because of the lore involved. How can you change your character’s RACE when you’ve been living and experiencing that race’s lore for 4+ years? To those I reply with, quite easily… you stare at the back of a female dwarf for 4 years and tell me that again. (I know I’ll be hated by the dorf lovers in this post… but I am shallow and like pretty things, so I’m looking forward to my visit to the plastic surgeon… a little snip here, a tuck there, an ‘augmentation’ over here…

I rolled a Female Dwarf Priest back in Vanilla for the sole reason of Fear Ward. The priest class back then, was the only class that had not only Racial Abilities but Race Based spells (Desperate Prayer, Fear Ward, Devouring Plague, LOLFeedback) Back in Vanilla you actually NEEDED Fear Ward on the Alliance side. You didn’t have Tremor Totems on Ally, and you needed fear protection for Ony, BWL, and MC.

Then enter Burning Crusade, and Space Goats were also given Fear Ward… but there weren’t many fights that had the opportunity to cast it. (Nightbane and Maulgar are the only 2 I can think of). Then Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, decided to dole out Fear Ward to every priest. At that point, Vanilla WoW Dorf Priests looked around and /boggled.

Fast Forward to today, I’ve changed Gender to Male Dwarf because I simply couldn’t stand staring at “my humps my humps my humps….” anymore. I’ve been checking my Blue Tracker and even logging into the Account Management screen daily hoping to see the “Paid Race Change” to lose that taunting “Coming Soon” tag that is branded next to it. Hell, I’ve even clicked it a few times hoping it would somehow let me go through.

Some people view this as just another way for Blizzard to make money off of the player base. Just keep milking that dying cash cow. While I do tend to agree with them, I will happily spend that money in a heartbeat. It’ll be a change of pace… visually making the game look newer. No more having to rush to the front of a Guild Screenshot so I’m not completely blotted out by a Night Elf. No more twirling braids, or big bushy beards. No more oven mitt sized gloves. No more blow up doll facial expression when doing an Omni Cast. (look at a Female Dwarf spamming Inner Fire, and you’ll see it)  Soon I will have a Female Draenei ‘stretching magic’ casting animation… and not to mention a rather hoofed-yet-sexy physique to go along with it.

Why Draenei? Why not Human? Yes, for PVE Healing, Human is generally the Alliance best bet for Every Man For Himself, Faction Bonuses, and Human Spirit 3% spirit bonus. Mine is purely aesthetic, and the fact that my toon’s name is Derevka. (Which is a spin on the villainess family from the TV Series ALIAS – so having the Eastern European accent on my toon only seems fitting.) Now, if only the /dance animation was to “Single Ladies”…

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Guest Post: The Evolution of a Tree

June 30, 2009

Jov’s still on vacation but, fortunately for you, Mr. Seri has had something on his mind…

Nothing to see here, move along.Hi, I’m Mr. Seri and I’m a tree.

I play WoW casually (far more casually than my wife and our friends) and since earlier this year I’ve been raiding with a progression raid guild as a resto druid.

A few months ago I started raiding with Seri and Jov’s raid team. From the outset I had some marks against me – my gear wasn’t super great, I didn’t have as much experience as others (although I did have some SSC/TK 25 man experience in Burning Crusade, and Karazhan experience with Seri/Jov/Tarsus) and I certainly didn’t have the WoW skills that others did. However, I had enthusiasm, I could type (without using ‘1337 speak’) and I could take direction. (And Jov thought I was funny.)

In the last few months I’ve learned three things: the psychology of the raider, a firm hand is better than a gentle one, and trees have bark.

Psychology of the Raider

It’s fair to point out that in the overall hierarchy of gamer types I could easily be described as a ‘social’ gamer. I am here to play with friends, hang out, swap cool stories and have fun. The surroundings (raid) matter little to me, loot matters little to me, and achievements and other doodads really don’t float my boat. However, over the last few months I’ve found my mindset changing in the time I’ve been in the guild. In the beginning I was sort of wide-eyed, not really understanding what was going on or what ‘I think we’ve lost focus’ or ‘You just need to concentrate on executing’ meant.  Now however, I’ve developed a better sense for raid psychology. I have learned that ‘focus’ isn’t some made up phrase, it actually has real meaning in terms of the morale of the team and how people are digging in to win no matter what. In one of our recent raids I found myself getting really frustrated because I felt like a good chunk of the raid wasn’t taking this particular progression fight seriously – there was a ton of joking, laughing, people trying to kill each other. I didn’t feel like the part of the fight we were working on was overly difficult, it just required near-perfection. But it seemed like with every attempt, people just cared less and less – they’d try for ten, twenty seconds and then just give up and run around trying to kill each other. I know that isn’t the reality, but that’s how it felt to me, at least.

I’ve learned that to excel in a progression guild you need to have that drive to win. You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘win at all costs’ type, or the sort that always wants to be the top of the healing/DPS charts. But you need to have that desire to know you’re one of a small subset of guilds that can do what you do. To be fair, I never thought I’d succeed in a guild like the one we’re currently in. My ex-guildmates in RHOT were positive that I’d last maybe 2 weeks, 4  weeks max before I’d be frustrated and taking off. And to be fair, learning to accept a called raid wipe was weird for me – I wasn’t used to it. You need to put yourself in a mindset where you accept that the raid leader is looking thirty, sixty, ninety seconds or minutes ahead and can see that this just isn’t going to happen and everyone just needs to die fast and get back in there. I accepted this far more easily than I thought I would. In fact, I’m so amused by the concept of the ‘Mandatory Wipe’ that when I won a 120 GB iPod at work I named it that exactly.

I’ve slowly found myself changing. I focus more on bettering my game now, I check our various stats in our saved logs to see how I did. Tweaking my rotations slightly, or my positioning, or learning how better to maneuver and shift around and keep my healing presence high. To be fair, I have two really good healing leads (one is Jov) and a great ‘senior druid’ (Hi Ling!) who has helped me along. I had healed 25 man raids before Wrath but not since the change-over, so it took some relearning to figure out the ‘new’ ways of doing stuff. And I even surprised myself when discussing my talent tree with Ling – as I saying things like, “Well, this particular talent accounts for sixteen percent of my overall healing, which means we’ll need to make sure that these changes exceed that in order to see any sort of positive change in my healing numbers…” Yeah, I never figured I’d be saying stuff like that.

A Firm Hand Is Better Than A Gentle OneAre those.. arms?

This one comes out of learning how this particular guild runs fights. When I started, the guildmaster lead almost every single raid. There was the often quoted ‘Vesht Mod’ – essentially a running verbal tally of everything that was going on. So for example, it might go something like this: “Alright, everyone’s here. Let’s go: five, four, three, two one, go go go….alright, spread out, spread out, good positioning. Group two, move to the left a bit good good … good. Shadow Crash on Ling, move, moving, good, good, boss is transitioning, on him, good, Mark on Bas, move Bas, there you go, great, boss is shifting, flame explosion in ten, Shadow Crash on Jov, move Jov, there you go, explosion in five … and out, move out, great, excellent movement, and …….back in, reposition…”

It was this never ending comforting litany of everything that was going on. Now, there’s a plus in this  – you always know what’s going on, but there’s a negative as well. It requires your ‘boss mod’ to always be there – and people sometimes can neglect their own situational awareness capabilities in lieu of just waiting to be told to move. In the end as this particular guildmaster started raid leading less this changed – and the ‘new’ raid leaders didn’t keep that running tally in quite the same way. However, they’ve kept the second trait I saw that the GM had – the firm hand. By that I mean, if you die he/she wants to know why. Not in an insulting way, but more like: “Hey Bas, I know this is only your first time doing this fight, but look through your combat log and whisper me why you died.” And once you explain it, you get a simple, “Alright, cool. Lets avoid that in the future, try not to let it happen again.”

I think raid leading is just like managing any other group – one person has to be in charge, one person has to try to manage all the people that want to back-seat drive (and trust me, there’s a ton of that)  and they have to both cajole and constructively criticize those folks that need it to help step up their performance. I’ve experience both the gentle-hand-no-real-firmness-not-calling people on stuff raid leading, and I’ve experienced the sort of raid leading where there’s no question who is in charge. I prefer the latter.

Trees Have Bark

By this, I mean that you need to have a thick skin to raid with a progression raiding guild, I’ve found. Tensions get high when you’ve been wiping on the same boss for 4 hrs, and before that last night you wiped for 3.5 hrs on the same darn guy – people blow off steam and you need to have a thick skin. You have to not take it personally when a raid leader says ‘Hey, you messed up there, don’t do that.’ You have to not take it personally when someone asks you to change your talent spec because they believe it’s wrong. You have to accept that a leader has to try to lift you up by your bootstraps and get you energized and excited about winning – and sometimes that means being frank enough to say, “We can do better, we know it, we need to not suck. We’re better than that.” It’s hard to hear in the beginning and there were definitely times when I was learning OS+3 or 6 minute Malygos that I wanted to throw my display out the window with frustration. But that frustration subtly shifted over time – I wasn’t ticked off because someone called me on dying to the lava eruptions, I was ticked off because I knew I was a half-second late on moving, and that was why I died. The focus shifted less from feeling bad because someone ‘called me out’ and more to being annoyed at myself because I knew I could be better.

You gotta be able to let that stuff slide off your back. Last week I had a healer call me out on the healing channel when I was (without realizing it) standing too close to her during one particular fight. I didn’t realize it (for other reasons that aren’t important to go into) and had to accept that hey, she was right. I shouldn’t stand so close to her during this fight.

The bark thing also applies internally. As a healer, there are many times that I have to watch us wipe because we’ve lost too many DPS, or we lost a tank because someone missed an interrupt or what have you. Many, many many times I’ve had to die just because someone else didn’t do something right. And that was pretty frustrating for me in the beginning, and I still struggle with it. It’s hard to keep ‘up’ when you know your seven other healers are all kicking butt and someone else just screwed up. (Conversely, I’m sure it’s just as frustrating to be a tank or DPS and have the reverse happen.)

Now what?TL;DR

I like being a progression raider. God help me, I never thought I would. But I do. I like the challenge, I like continuing to hone yourself by tiny little increments. I like the people, I like knowing I’m in a select subset of guilds worldwide that get to do this stuff. Granted, the guild I’m in isn’t the best in the world, but I’m darn proud of what we do. And much to my surprise, I find myself digging each time we step in to fight a new, largely unknown boss.

Many thanks to Kaylan e. of Drawing on Walls for the artwork!

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Guest Post: Yuki Learns You Stat Weighting (p3)

June 25, 2009

sleepyukiAs stated last week, here’s the post outlining how to determine weights to plug into lootrank to figure out your best in slot.  It’s a general list written by (alas) a DPS-type, so it’s not aimed at healers specifically, but I hope you all can still find it useful.  Yuki’s been my guildie, my buddy, and enabler of my anime addiction for several years now.  He’s also the first person who told me that such a thing as mathcraft exists.  Be warned, there’s numbers ahead.

Step 5:  Final Complications

There are basically two things left that haven’t been modeled.  The first is mana regen, which creates some difficulties, and the second is trinkets and the like with activated or proc effects, which presents others.

5a:  Mana Regen

The main thing about mana regen is that it only matters if you run out of mana.  This can make it hard  to model, since it’s not something that easily converts directly into spellpower or attack power.

Probably the most common way of modeling mana regen is in terms of how many extra spells it lets you cast if you WERE to cast until you ran out.  Basically, you figure out how long you can cast without running out of mana, and how much effective healing or damage you’d do on average. Then you see how much 1mp5 would let you cast.  You compare how much a point of spell damage would have added vs. the amount the mp5 added to determine the effective spellpower value of a point of mp5.  This is a popular method because it’s pretty straightforward, and you can modify it a little to include out of 5 second rule regen if you’d like.

Another method is to work backwards:  essentially, you take a length of time longer than the amount of time it would take you to run out of mana chain casting and then calculate how much less time you have to spend on 5-second-rule regen to determine how many more spells you could cast, and use that to derive the relative value.

As you can probably guess, there really isn’t a great way to graft mp5 onto spellpower. Still, these two methods at least produce something, which can be modestly useful for modeling gear.

5b:  Procs

So, we’ve basically covered how to model static stats; what about ones that aren’t so static?  Generally these are in the form of either active abilities (clicky trinkets, for instance) or passive procs (chance-on-hit/crit trinkets).  How to model these?

Actives are actually pretty easy.  You can basically model them as “permanent” power by dividing their effect by the amount of time it spends on cooldown.  So, for instance, a trinket that provides 200 spellpower for 15 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown is effectively the same as one that grants 50 spellpower all the time.  This isn’t wholly accurate (since you can stack some cooldowns to get more out of them, like an unholy DK blowing Gargoyle while her trinket buffs are up), but it’s good enough for government work.

Passives are trickier.  You need to know the proc rate and internal cooldown, which are almost never listed; you’ll need to get them from datamining or testing.  Use these to calculate the average uptime % (which is the proc duration divided by average time to proc + internal cooldown), then multiply the value of the proc by that.  Since this requires you to use the average time to proc, which can vary wildly for low-chance trinkets, and it shares the flaw of not modeling stacked-burst very well with the active version, it’s not wholly accurate, but it gets the job done well enough to compare trinkets.

Step 6:  Putting it all together

At this stage, you have enough information to generate final stat weights:  for each overall stat, add up the weights you calculated for each of their effective ratings you calculated above to determine the final overall weight of that stat.  So, for instance, the value of a point of int is:

Int ESP = Any Value From Talents + (Effective Crit Rating) * (Crit Rating ESP) + (Effective mp5 Rating) * (mp5 ESP)

I used Int on purpose, because an observant reader will note that it provides a benefit we haven’t modeled:  an increase to your base mana pool.  You’ll have to determine what weight (if any) you give to that similarly to how you chose to calculate mp5; I didn’t mention it there mostly so that I could point out that at this stage you should be on the look out for stat effects that you hadn’t considered yet!

Once you’ve done this for everything, you’ll have your final weights for stats as calculated against your baseline!  Now you can use them to help consider gear . . . until you move too far away from your baseline and have to recalculate them.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve always been fairly skeptical of stat weights as anything other than very general comparisons of how “strong” a given stat is.  Having seen this demonstration of what hot dogs are made up, you can probably see why:  there’s a lot of assumptions in the process, and the end result loses value considerably as you move away from your baseline. I tend to agree with Ghostcrawler’s assessment that if you’re just pulling “best” gear from somewhere based on this stuff, you’re not necessarily doing yourself a service as it won’t necessarily actually be “best” for you if your gear is different than the assumptions.

One thing this process will teach you, though, is the underlying mechanics of your class, including what scales with what and how things interact, which is probably the most important thing to learn for any form of theorycraft.  The numbers generated may be of limited value, but the process of generating them has some fairly valuable lessons to be learned along the way.

Aaand done!  You’ve made it!  Special huge thanks to Yuki for putting this together and trying to learn us some math.  Did it work for you?

Also, there’s not gonna be a Tuesday post for me next week.  I’m currently in California visiting my family with the Tarsus; and my mom doesn’t really live in this century as far as internet goes.  But I’ll catch you all the next week!