Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Amava Knows Box, Part 3

Welcome to the season finale of my three part series about multi-boxing. In Part 1, I covered some basic two-toon action, and in Part 2 I explored the proper way to avoid seeing Azeroth, namely boosting your toons with a level 70. Today's edition returns back to a more realistic playing scenario where two toons become a tightly integrated fighting force.

I'll repeat my disclaimer from Part 2, and apologize in advance for the lack of macro examples in this article. When Blizzard switched over to server-side macros, they deleted all my existing ones, and the server transfer and mad dash to 80 (ding, btw) has pretty much disctracted me from multi-boxing. Sorry :-(

  1. Part 1: Two toons, one healbot

  2. Part 2: Three toons, one lvl 70, two babies along for the XP ride

  3. Part 3: Two toons, seamlessly joined up and working together as if two humans were playing

Now we're down to the real meat.

Before I bamboozle you into reading further, I'll totally discredit myself by saying that I've only done this through about 25 levels. If you're looking for a One Person / Ten Toons clear of Karazhan, sorry, I'm not your guy. If you want to stand in TP and dress your 5 shammies in pirate outfits and press one button and shock an attacker to death instantly, also not your guy.

But if you want to struggle through a variety of technical issues and the tedium of macroing every damn thing you do, then read on.

Before you get started with playing a tightly integrated team of two multi-boxed toons, you've got some things to take care of first.

Choose your classes

The very first is to pick out your classes. There's a variety of ways to make this decision.

Playing two identical classes can make some of the setup easier, but it can also reduce your flexibility.

Playing two identical toons can confuse enemy players because the won't quite know what they're looking at if your two toons are standing right on top of eachother. But it can also fool you. I confused myself time and time again playing two little Draeni beauties, but then again, I'm not the sharpest hammer in the toolbox.

Playing two melee classes is...well...just say no.

I've done some fiddling with the following combinations: Shammy/Priest, Mage/Priest, Pally/Druid

All three of them are pretty nice. Even once my toons are "highly" integrated, my playstyle still sort of revolves around one primary and one secondary toon, and I love having a secondary toon with an instant cast HoT so they can heal while mobile.

Develop a shot rotation

Once I picked out my classes, generally I'd start off with the healbot mentality I described in Part 1 of the series. As I got comfortable with the pairing of toons, I'd slowly add in some small attacks from the secondary toon, but still mainly use her as a healer.

Then I became curious to see how much more I could join them up and pretend I was two people. My therapist is helping me with that, but...well...Roses r red, violets are blue, I'm schitzoprenic, and so am I.

So I sat down to plan out a "shot" rotation.

For example, when playing Mage/Priest, here's the thought process I used.....

1) I'd like the two toons to enter combat as close together as possible. This means that either both toons open up with instant cast spells, or choose spells that have the same cast time. Single button press and both toons enter combat simultaneously.

2) Pick which toon you want to generally have aggro. For this pair, I want the mage to have aggro as much as possible, which will allow the priest to cast heals uninterrupted as often as possible.

3) Make sure that the first two attacks in the rotation end up generally putting more threat on the toon you want ot have aggro. Sure, crits and other effects are random so this might not work out 100% of the time, but generally I'd choose spells on each toon for the first and second salvo that would normally end up with the Mage delivering more damage and thusly more aggro.

4) Plan out your macros.

Number 4 is when it really sucked for a while, because I probably took it too far.

I wanted the pair of toons to be fully functional and not dependent upon eachother. I also wanted to be able to have them kinda function as though two real people were playing.

Little things like buffs. I'd macro it so I could easily buff eachother. Press a button twice and both toons end up with Fortitude and Intellect. However, a random passerby would drop Blessing of Wisdom on the girls, and I'd kinda be handcuffed and unable to buff them back. So tweaked the macros to allow me to target with the primary toon and have both buff him with a single press.

Same for heals. I made a few different buttons to allow me to easily heal either toon without having to rely upon fancy modifiers. Although it was very confusing at first to remember all those buttons, with time and practice, it became second nature.

All this was before patch 3.0.2, so managing all these macros, action bars, and key bindings across (at the time) two accounts and two computers was brutal. Patch 3.0.2 stores all of these settings on the server and makes this process exponentially easier.

Then I slowly added in more and more of the tasks that I'd do on a normal basis.

Create mana biscuits. Trade biscuits over to priest. Shoot stuff and deplete mana. Drink.

So I made macros to help with the trading and also the drinking.

Accepting group invites, setting focus, following, spreading out into a formation.

Then through practice, I would tweak the shot rotations. This varies hugely from class pairing to class pairing, so you'll have to play around to find what works for your selection.

For instance, for the Mage/Priest, I found this kinda nice...

Opener: Mage Frostbolt, Priest SW:P
Second shot: Mage Fireball, Priest Mind Flay (hit this button twice quickly, since SW:P would only need a GCD and Frostbolt would need some cooldown time, that lets Mind Flay start channeling and then the fireball start casting on the second press)
Third shot: Mage Fireball, Priest PW:S [target=Mage]

And so on. This sort of routine would generally end up with aggro on the priest immediately (but at ranged distance) because SW:P is instant and Frostbolt has a cast time. But by the time the mob got hit by the Frostbolt, Mage would grab aggro, and generally retain it through out the pull.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot more advice I can give on this, because that's the extend of my experience. The only recommendation I can make is to pick your classes so you have ones you like playing but also have some synergy in being together, spend a little bit of time planning out your basic tasks and attacks with a pencil and paper, and then practice like crazy.

Thus brings an end to my Multi-Boxing Mini-Series!

1 comment:

Daxenos said...

Thanks a lot for this series!

I ran one WC and decided I really didn't like dual I used the level 70 running the baby setup and had a hard time with the baby body pulling while on follow.

So, I ended up parking the baby, rounding up the mobs with the 70, running back to the baby, and burning them down. Worked pretty good.

As for my hardware setup, I played two laptops side by side.

But, anyways, thanks again for writing this up.