Monday, October 20, 2008

Learning the Art of the AoE

Breaking News: the International Coalition of Clefthooves, Talbuks and Buzzards (ICoCTB) has filed an official protest to have the use of the combination of Hunter Volley and Gorilla pet classified as a war crime.

I've been spending more time with Bubbles the Gorilla, trying to learn the finer points of the AoE.

It is just such a new concept with Volley no longer on a cooldown, and actually packing some firepower.

When I think of AoE grinding or farming, I have two main visions. One is a Mage, using frost nova to lock a pile of mobs into place and then using some AoE damage spells (arcane explosion?? blizzard??) to nuke the masses. The other is a paladin rounding up every mob in sight and slowly chipping away at them since they're so damn survivable (consecration, holy shield, retribution aura ??).

Well, now Hunters have a much improved Volley spell. More power, no cooldown, time for some fun.

The only hicup is that unlike a Mage, we have no reliable way to lock the mobs safely into place, and if we allow masses of mobs into melee range like a pally, we're toast.

BUT, we do have our favorite way to keep mobs at range, our pet. And since we're talking about masses of mobs, the new and improved Gorilla pet and its beautiful wonderful Thunderstomp capablity.

When I first started fiddling with multiple mob Gorilla tanking, I was still very much locked into the way of thinking from the past.

Old Way

Send pet in, cast Misdirection, fire a Multishot to solidify aggro on three mobs. If there were more than three mobs involved in the pull, make sure that any non-misdirected mobs are dead before you cast Mend Pet. Keep pet on defensive and just continuously assist your pet and focus fire on your pet's target.

Using this general method over the past year or so, I've farmed thousands of Clefthooves in Nagrand, Buzzards in Hellfire, Naga in Zangarmarsh, Flayers in Netherwing Mine, Blood Elves on the Isle of Quel'Grindy.

I can't think of any serious time where I employed Volley in any of these situations.

New Way

Send pet in, cast Misdirection, fire a Multishot to solidify aggro on three mobs. It might be unnecessary to do that, but old habits are hard to break, and it really doesn't hurt anything. With 30-second cooldown on MD, silly not to.

The moment you see the first Thunderstomp, you can start with the Mend Pet. Pretty safe to do that, unless you've got a caster or a shooter mob standing at range. In that case, as soon as the Thunderstomp has the attention of all the melee folks, you can then send the Gorilla to attack the caster, and she'll bring the melee pack with her and all future Thunderstomps will nail all the mobs.

Once the GCD from the Mend Pet is up, Volley. And then Volley. And then Volley. You can just keep chain-Volley'ing till your out of mana if you like.

When we get down to 2 mobs, I look at their health. Maybe a Multi-shot will finish them off, or maybe some more Volley. When its only one mob left, switch to Aspect of the Viper, and auto shot to recover some of the mana.

Addendum to New Way

Using this technique to run my babies through Dire Maul East, I began to run into an issue. In the Conservatory wing of DM:E, there's packs of 15 non-elite shrubs. Send Bubbles in, and she's not even casting Thunderstomp, even though 15 mobs are wailing on her. WTF? Turns out they're immune to Thunderstomp, so the AI is smart enough to not cast it, saving the focus for other aggro and damage dealing abilities.

So, add a brand new first step. Drop Explosive Trap. Send pet in. When positioning the Volley target, I'd ensure that I put it as physically close to myself as I could while still hitting the furthest mob. Start Volley, most mobs come running for me. Since I position the target like that, they ahve to run through the full window of the Volley, taking damage the whole way.

Some might die on the way in, some might survive. Any survivors run right into my waiting Explosive trap, and burn, baby, burn.

Appendix to New Way

If you're fortunate enough to have a baby (or full-grown) Druid following you around, go ahead and set up and easy peasy macro to cast Thorns on your pet. It'll buy you a second or two of extra time that the mobs will spend in the Volley.

I was worried that the Thorns would pop Bubbles, but as it would turn out, she's much more sturdy than the Strawberry fragrance Dora the Explorer bubble bath that I'm accustomed to.

Edit to Appendix and Addendum

I just read a response to a BRK message that suggests turning off Smack to save focus for Growl and Thunderstomp. Sounds reasonable, I shall try this out.

Good to see that BRK indicated that he'll be having a How-to AoE with a Gorilla post or series coming up, so we'll see what additional tricks he's got up his sleeve.

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