Friday, February 27, 2009

Quartz. Now Spam?

So I installed Quartz to help out with the impact of lag on my shot rotations.

I don't know if I'm doing it right.

The only noticeable change to my UI is a big casting bar in the bottom-middle of my screen.

The bar has a small red section at the end to indicate my server's lag.

What am I supposed to do with that?

Do I wait until the casting bar reaches the very initial tip of the red zone, thus snipping out the lag?

Do I still have to wait until the cast bar runs its full length before casting another shot?

Speaking with another hunter who does some stellar DPS and uses Quartz, he just said "spam the buttons and forget the rest".

So I spammed

Anticipate what shot will be fired next (using the priority of Explosive > Kill > Serpent > Multi > Steady), and begin spamming it as soon as you identify that its the shot you'll be wanting to fire once the GCD is up. (I waffle between ES or KS being first, but lately favoring ES, dunno why).

And my DPS went up considerably. I've only raided Sarth+3 and Malygos so far with this, which does not really give a scientific benchmark since Sarth is soooo mobile and dependent upon variable factors, and Malygos changes by how many sparks you stack and the ridiculous dragon vehicle mount in phase 3 messes up the combat log. But a general comparison of my standings overall in my raid show a big improvement by spamming.


After 4 or however many years, is that the best Blizzard has come up with?

No good way to solve the lag between client and server, so spamming buttons is the best because it will fire the shot as soon as physically possible, rather than waiting until some visual cue says you are ready to fire?

I had no issue spamming a single button in TBC. It was actually fun, and became the source of many jokes when I'd key my mic during combat and my raiders would hear the slamming of my #3.

But switching between spamming 4 buttons? Stupid.

I take no issue with needing to choose between 5 available shots and have to effectively give priority to the proper shots at the proper times. It adds an additional technical component to combat as a hunter, and I've grown to enjoy it.

But having a several hundred DPS difference between firing a shot the moment the visual indicators say a shot is ready to fire and spamming a button so as to have the shots fire sooner than the game is saying they're available?

This is stupid.

But I'll do it because I'm a big fan of more DPS, in case you're new here.

Who Moved My Cheese?

So, how yall doin with the patch 3.1 stuff comin out?

Some people absolutely thrive on getting access to new stuff as soon as humanly possible. There's new armor and weapon art to look at. New dungeon and boss encounters. Changes to talent specs, spells, abilities, stats, whatnot. A tournament world event thing, involving championing the city of your choice. Profession changes. Changes to hunter pets, ammo, quivers. Changes to glyphs glyphs glyphs. Dual Specs.

All sorts of changes.

And if you follow WoW Insider or more than one or two blogs, the hype surrounding each and every change is out of control.


Really? Breaking???

A large passenger jet recently crashed into a residential neighborhood near where I live, causing a .5 mile fireball, killing everyone on board and injuring/killing people on the ground and destroying houses. Complete tragedy for the family and friends of those involved, heroic effort by fire fighters to limit the extent of the damages to the surrounding area, and caused a big impact on the whole community.

I'm gonna say that that initial news report warranted the label "BREAKING".

Video game patch? Not so much.

But I do understand that many of us take the game seriously, so we'll let it slide.

Anything good in there?

I've mentioned that many of my guildies are hitting the PTR to see Ulduar. Given the hours we raid (max 12 weekly), we don't try to compete for server firsts or anything, but we do like to push ourselves to get the most out of the time we do have. So we'll hopefully see a few encounters on the PTR to help the early days of live server action.

Having never done that before, I'm a little excited to try it out. Sure, like one of the readers here pointed out, that might lead to experiencing doldrums or boredom more quickly after patch 3.1 is released, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

What about the business opportunity?

We're already seeing posts cropping up about business opportunities. Such and such item is changing, which means so and so material will drop/rise in value so TAKE ACTION NOW!!!!! And the climate will only get more and more urgent as the business folk discover more and more impacts on the economy.

Sure, if you are able to anticipate changes, you can make or save a pretty penny.

Your average player? Probably not that concerned, other than maybe learning about some new daily quests that'll come out to grind out a minimum wage.

The rich will get richer, the folks who only care about having enough dough to enchant and repair won't really give a hoot. I think I count as middle class maybe, somewhere in between the true rich and the i-cant-respec-back-to-my-raid-job-because-i'm-broke ppl, having enough money for frivolity, but earned via gathering and questing rather than buy low/sell high or whatever. I doubt the middle class cares too much about the patches.

The only one I actually care about

This post was actually inspired by one of the dozens and dozens of "3.1 PTR" posts at WoW Insider. This one.

Seems like they might change Fool For Love title to require only 6 out of 8 candies, which means that when I log into the live patch 3.1, I'll instantly be a fool for love, since I've got 7/8 candies at the moment.

And I think that annoys me.

Not game changing in any way shape or form. Nobody's house blew up or any airplanes crashing.

The seasonal event came and went, for better or worse, you either got it or didnt. Sure, I, like many others, felt the seasonal event was soured by the short duration and total dependence on the random number who-haa.

But its over. And it was soured. It gets no less sour by granting me the title after the fact by altering the requirements.

Its like competing in the olympics, not getting gold medal, then 6 months later, video review of the race shows that the gold medal winner stepped his foot out of bounds so he's disqualified and you win gold....6 months later.

Yes, you carry the achievement with you forever, and you hang the gold medal in your trophy room or wear the title around azeroth.

But the moment came and went, and you missed out on it. I highly doubt you'll get a Wheaties box picture 6 months later.

Getting the Lover title months after the event ended will just be stupid and anticlimactic.

I might feel differently if I was trying to get the reward for all the seasonal stuff (special mount, maybe????), but I'm not in the brew of the month club, so that'll be waiting at least until September 2010 I think, and who knows if I'll even be playing WoW at that point?

Who Moved My Cheese?

I seem to always get annoyed by all the hype when big patches first hit the PTR.

This patch is the first big content patch where I'm part of a guild that's cleared everything up to this point and ready to jump in head first, and I think that actually has me even more annoyed by the hype, which seems counter intuitive.

But I suppose that's me....counter-intuitive and fearing of change.


After I finished this post, I read another at WoW Insider, which has now been removed from my feed reader for the next week. No Soup for Insider! One Week!

Luckily, enough regular bloggers write about incoming changes, so I likely won't miss out on any breaking news ;-)

Normal mounts won't dismount when landing in water. Cool.

New aquatic mount added to game. Also cool.

Inferring that this means the next expansion pack will be about some Maelstrom or whatever? Are you $#@#$ing kidding me?

Whether true or not...its just ludicrous!

LK has been out for ~3 months. And they're already leaping to conclusions and making half-assed extrapolations about the next one.

And I though it was only jack@ss bloggers who did shoddy research and then made outrageous incorrect claims.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Alternate Quest Reward

Hardcore Casual recently ran an article describing MMO quests as lackluster (my paraphrase). Whether it is the difference between trivial tasks (kill some rats) and epic quests (change the world), or the text we all ignore since we really dont care about an NPC's starving family, we just want to level and move on.

The author touches upon the possibility of putting in some random rewards. Sometimes gold. Sometimes gear. XP boost.

And that last one hit a chord with me.

WoW is the first game I ever played where the expansion packs require you to PLAY the original game plus all earlier expansion packs.

Many games require you to BUY and INSTALL the original, because the companies want to get paid, but to play the expansion pack, you can jump right in and play the expansion pack.

MMO is different. They require you to buy, install, and PLAY all past versions of the game before you can start playing the xpac.

And the parts of the old versions that you generally get to play are the (my opinion) less exciting ones. For a large group of the player base, the end game is where the fun is at. Questing and leveling provide some entertainment, but often are viewed as an obstacle in the way of the end game. When you want to play the expansion pack, you don't pause to enjoy the classic raids at the appropriate level, since everybody else is playing the new expansion's end game and in a social game, you pretty much need to be at the same general point as a large group of other people.

Blizzard seems to acknowledge this so they reduced the XP needed to level in classic, and then TBC levels. They invented recruit-a-friend so you can sucker in other paying subscribers and help them fastforward through the obsolete content (or triple box your way to a half baker's dozen level 60's). If you want to play an alt, you can Death Knight it up and hop in at 55. Still only applying to your own alts, there is the 10% increase in XP from heirloom shoulders.

Seems that they realize nobody wants to play the old games as much as they want to play the new game. What a revelation??!!??

I doubt they'd build a Death Knight-like path for every class (do some entry level stuff to learn the very basics, and then enter the world at 55 or some other fast-forward point), which would be nice, IMO, even for new players.

But, maybe just add in an optional Quest Reward on all quests that currently allow you an option of gear or potions or whatever.

I'd choose "Nice Chunk of XP" as the reward every time, especially when playing a toon that's getting a free ride through quests by their big sister level 80 toon, and therefore does not need any gear.

Round and Round We Go

Short Version: Don't go AFK out in the world on a PvP server.

Medium Version: I can haz jump shot skillz. I nailed that f'ing warrior with countless Explosive Shot jumpers, while running circles around a little pile of dirt in Hellfire.

Long Version:

If you've been following along with my beloved blog, you might know that I'm not a big world PvP guy. Occasional (read: one) raid on Horde cities, occasional turf battle over a Titanium node (however, single click mining has taken most of the fun out of this one), and just generally defending myself when the enemy strikes.

So I'm out in Hellfire Peninsula, multiboxing to boost my jewelcrafter up to 65 so she can start doing the JC daily, and I'm over in the west part of the map. There's a Cenarion Expedition camp just south of the main road that runs horizontally across the zone (glory road?)

That camp sits immediately south of a small mound of dirt, and there's a quest NPC on top of the mound.

My lil JC turns in one of the quests, and I minimize the WoW screen to fiddle with iTunes and my level 80 and 62 toons are just sitting there waiting to be slaughtered.

While playing DJ and queueing up some music, I see out the corner of my eye on the other screen that some pain in my ass Horde warrior felt he didn't want any Alliance on that little hill.

By the time the WoW screen regained focus of my computer, my little baby 62 was dead, and Amava was at about 80% health.

Round and Round We Go

So clearly he's gonna whoop me. (A) I'm not that good at 1-on-1 pvp, (B) I'm wearing PvE gear so I've got zero resil and no trinket to get out of stuns, and (C) He's got a 20% health head start on me.

But, he's not going to get away without a fight.

Since I had been AFK, I think he was startled that I began evasive maneuvers.

What's the single most important resource in a fight between a Hunter and Warrior? Distance.

Wing Clip, Disengage, Frost trap, Run like the dickens

That little mound was just hysterical. I started running circles around it. Doing whatever I could to maintain distance.

Kite the bastard.

I was doing my normal Strafe-Kite routine, but it was leaving me unable to fire some of the time, due to the orientation of me not facing towards him enough.

And it dawned on me....Jump Shot.

I've been using jumpers more and more in PvE lately. Very useful in Malygos phase 2 when running from shield to shield, on Sartharion while maneuvering to get in safe spots in the flame wall, or on Heigan to keep doing damage while playing DDR.

But PvP? I've never really done it effectively so sorta gave up and stick to my strafing routine.

So I try the first one. Run directly away from him. Jump. Spin 360. Fire Explosive Shot while facing him.


And Lock-n-Load proc'ed off that first one. Happy Hunter :-)

So again and again. Running circles around that mound. Dropping frosty traps, mixing in concussive shot, keeping serpent sting ticking.

Explosive Jumpers galore.

Had him down to 10% before he finished me off.

I lost the fight, but , man, oh, man, was it a cool feeling to successfully execute some clean jump shots. I think I'm going to have to visit a few BG's and try this out some more.

If only I had been questing in PvP gear

My only regret was that I wasn't in PvP gear at the time. He was sooooo dead if I had my dancing shoes on.

Also, it was the first time I ever did a completely clean for-real jump shot on purpose in PvP, so if I was thinking right, I'd have kited him in a straight line all the way to Honor Hold instead of round and round that dirt hill. Whatcha gonna do? /shrug

But it was fun as hell. And he did the honorable thing and accepted his victory and went on his merry way rather than camping out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ORA2 Tank Frame Misdirection Addon?

Quick question to readers:

I would find it very useful to be able to click (or right click, or whatever, just no menu systems during combat) on one of the tanks specified by the raid leader in the oRA2 Tank Frame window to cast Misdirection on that player without changing my current target.

Is there anything out there like that?

A New Visit to the Performance Improvement Plan

When my WotLK raiding began, it became clear very quickly that I had some work to do to extract more performance out of my toon. So I started my formalized improvement plan, with just about weekly updates tracking the progress and revising the plan as changes occurred.

The plan was most helpful in the beginning because a fresh level 80 toon has such an immense breadth of options to go after. Prioritizing the top 5 items allowed for constructive progress, without the overwelming feeling that comes with excessive options.

Over time, the very concrete items like specific gear items or faction reps began getting replaced with softer skills like working on the shot rotation, more detailed reviews of the talent trees, different timings of special abilities during boss fights, and so on.

Then some insane nerfs came in and flipped the performance plan inside out, mostly centering on learning how to work with a totally different set of special shots, pet capabilities, and the always-wonderful-but-strange-to-a-new-comer Lock and Load.

After the BM nerf came the stealth Explosive Shot nerf, leaving any baseline comparisons from week to week in total confusion.

But we've been stable for a couple of weeks, and an old friend threatened to have his alt hunter surpass my DPS on Patchwerk, so it was back to the drawing board.

Three key adjustments on my part for this week's : Anticipating Lag, Timing Special Abilities, and Being A Tard

The Real Kicker: LAG

I've had a sneaking suspicion that Lag is causing me some DPS issues

Comparing my numbers to brass (a hunter I raid with), when we were BM, our DPS numbers were much closer to one another. Since the switch to SV, we both took a decrease, but my numbers dropped disproportionately. We talk about shot rotations, gear items, stats, you name it, all the time, but nothing was coming out as a clear reason for us to have such different numbers.

My first theory was "he's just better at huntering than me". Likely true, but I'm not one to just sorta sit there and write things off.

So I developed an updated theory..."BM gets lots of damage from the pet that is doing automated attacking which has much less dependence upon client lag than human-activated key presses, therefore my higher Lag is hurting my SV output more than it was hurting my BM output. and brass is also just better at huntering than me."

Lag is unique to each player and a few in-game comparisons show mine to be about 100-200ms higher than what the other hunter has.

So this week, I decided to try to push those GDC's a little bit.

Hammering my shots just a fraction of a second before the GCD appeared to be up.

And lo and behold, the shots were firing without any issue, and clearly firing in a much tighter rotation than was previously achieved if I let the GCD fully expire before trying to fire.

Pain in my ass from a "repeatable scientific" perspective, because lag is variable week to week as network conditions vary. But interesting to note.

Timing Special Abilities

Timing is everything, and not just for GCD's and keypresses.

In the past, when BM was king, timing things to ensure I had Bestial Wrath ready when Heroism was called was a massive DPS increase. Likewise for other On-Use performance enhancing abilities.

On the plus side, proper timing allows for a very low cost way to improve your DPS, and is available to all players without any gold or grind. On the down side, optimal timing requires good knowledge of the encounter, your team's performance and time-to-kill, when your raid leader will call for Heroism, and so on.

But my benchmark is Patch-25, which is a very well known fight, with a very confident estimated duration, and a predictable Heroism invocation.

SV has no BW and both of my trinkets are on-equip rather than on-use, so I took a look at what cooldowns I have to play with: Rapid Fire (haste boost) and Call of the Wild (attack power boost)

I used to be a CotW auto-caster. 5 minute cooldown. So in a Patch-25 three minute kill, this would autocast right at the beginning. The new routine is to manually casting it during Heroism, which I know for my raid to be somewhere in the 2:00 or 2:15 point of the fight. Curse the pet special action bar and its 4 available slots.

Rapid Fire, since special shots dont clip auto-shots anymore, I don't think there's any such thing as too much haste. Why not lump that one in there with Heroism and CotW? Only going to get one shot at RF in a 3 minute fight, so lets make it count.

And Haste Potion.

I really wish I had opened up the character screen to see my shot speed, but it was just a machine gun. RF, Haste Pot, Heroism. Gattling would have been proud.

Who brought the Huntard?

Yeah, this one just sucks. You know 5 of those points you invested in Tier 1 of the Survival tree? The ones in Improved Tracking? Yeah, those!


Improved Tracking adds between 2-5% to your DPS, so lets just call it 3.5% that I shoved up my tail pipe. I thought I was sitting a little funny during that fight.


I wish I could separate out the improvement via my lag adjustment from the improvement via my special ability timing, but whatcha gonna do?

Last week: 4.4K DPS

This week: 5.0K DPS

If we account for the Improved Tracking Brainfart: 5.2K DPS

Not quite a "Daddy's Back" kind of moment, but I'm definitely happy with the changes, and very happy to be back above the 5K arbitrary line of joy.

These techniques were used during all boss fights (although none are quite as 100% predictable/comparable week-on-week as Patch), and I noticed improvement across the board.

F#ing Lag!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

And then there was one....faction

Why is it that faction exalterations seem to come in groups for me? I've long had a history of dinging Exalted in various factions within a few days or so of eachother. And Northrend seems to be no different.

Kirin Tor. Do the daily cooking quest for a WHOPING 150 rep per day. That's just outstanding! Gonna ding that one in no time flat. But luckily, they giveth us the Tabard championing concept, so I wear the goofy Tor Tabard for a while, and bingo. Not sure what this brings besides cheeper repairs in Dalaran, but certainly appeals to the completionist.

Wyrmwrest Accord. Three dailies avaialble. Two reasonable ones (disrupt energy beam in dragonblight, harpoon a lil dragon in coldara and farm 3 stacks of cobalt and two stacks of tiger lily on the way over), and one hateful one (aces high. once you figure out how to survive malygos phase 3 more than 80% of the time, aces high can suck an egg). 500 rep per day from the reasonable ones is slow and steady. Throwing the Tabard into the heroic mix helps things along. Sat down yesterday, did the two reasonable ones, collected the nice stacks of ore, gems, crystalizeds, and herbs along the way. Found myself 37 points away from exalted.

So I caved and went Aces High. Long story short, if you see anybody else in the up. Two of us did the quest in no time flat, me DoT he HoT, ding exalted. And some other achievement for finishing off a bunch of Northrend exalteds.

And another dragon to fly on, dinging 10 mount achievement. Tough to choose between Cenarion War Hippogryph, Red Wyrmrest Dragon, and Purple Netherwing Dragon, they all feel a bit different when flying, which is probably just the eyes playing a trick on me, but its fun to have choices.

And then there was one...Explorer's League. 4K into Friendly with only one daily quest worth 250. What is that? 5 months? 6 months? IF you do it daily.

We'll see.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


So I wrote up a post yesterday, all slap happy about how I finally got most of the crafting professions up to being able to make most of the stuff a Hunter or Shadow Priest need. Sure, one might argue that leveling Blacksmithing to really only create 4 or 5 belt buckles and one epic caster mace, Inscription to make a glyph or two and maybe dabble in darkmoon cards, Alchemy to make a couple of potions and elixirs, Engineering to maybe not even ever make any bullets before the ammo-changing patch, and LW to make 3 or 4 armor patches that'll get any personal use is rather costly and frivolous, but whatever. There's something fun about it.

Before posting, I did something unusual, I actually re-read it instead of just throwing it out the door and leaving it up to the readers to decide whether to jump ship after the first paragraph or two. Came out boring, even by my standards. So it shant see the light of day.

Then I tried to think of another topic.

Another description of a heroic PuG that had a total jabroni, who got kicked and replaced by a nice fella, and we looted some badges? Bah. Not enough drama to be story-worthy.

Do I write about clearing Heroic Sarth+3, Malygos, and 75% of Naxx in 3 hours? Efficient, yes. Good material for a story, no.

How about topping the meters on 4 Horsemen, which is only story-worthy because (A) with the team i'm in its rare enough, and (B) the nerfs have been pissing me off so its a smack in blizzard's face? No, (A) the attitudes on my team are cool enough that it really doesn't feed the ego, and there's only one guy who actually boasts when he's on top and we all hate when he does that, and (B) i still suck on many of the other fights, so this was probably an explosive-shot crit fiesta anomaly.

What about more ranting over the hit rating, and how I'm playing with a helm downgrade that lets me regem everything else resulting in a roughly 700 gold cost for essentially a side-grade that frees me of some these stupid +hit gems? Booooorrrrriiiinnng.

Anybody care that I raided with a Raptor instead of my lil kitty Princess Vespa? Likely not. Although he is from Arathi Highlands, one of my most sentimental places in Azeroth, which is nice for me, but boring for you.

Everything I came up with is not really story worthy.

So it got me to this sorta what WoW is going through right now? A doldrum?

Ulduar is set to come out some time soon-ish.

My guild will probably fiddle with it on the PTR, which I've never done before, so that might be interesting.

This is the first time in my WoW career where I'm progressing at or faster than the pace of content release. By the time I began raiding TBC, everything but sunwell was already in play, meaning that there was always content out of reach, and my raid never had the feeling of "ok, now what?", plus the content felt harder so we didnt get to the 3 hour kara farming runs for months, until everybody was geared in T5/6 equivalent gear from badges and pvp.

I'm definitely not bored in game. I'm hitting some heroics, seeking out some random achievements, playing with alt professions. A random battleground here or there, some wintergrasp when I'm in Dalaran and the event kicks off. Playing with the uber gf. Holiday Events. Farming herbs and ores, which is one of my favorite relaxations. So lots of activity and lots of fun.

I'm not one typically subject to writers block. Maybe that means I usually have low enough standards that I just brain dump and fling it out the door, but I wonder if there's something to it?

Anybody else feeling in limbo before Ulduar's release? Not bored, but just sorta in a holding pattern?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reflections on Foolish Love

Another seasonal event came and gone, so its naturally time for reflecting upon the experience.

To recap some of the earlier reflections:
1) Merrymaker - big win. Fun combo of group and solo play. Very accessible.
2) Elder - pretty good, big hickup that you are forced to run a heroic, and therefore are forced to level up to 80.

So, Love Fools out there, what'd you think of this one?

I'll sum it up my experience with a word....


Random Number Generator.

If the RNG granted you one or more Bags of Candy, and then the RNG again favored you by giving you each of the required candies, you probably liked this one.

Looking at some of the achievements I dinged, you'd think the RNG was a big fan of me this weekend.

I got the Black Dress, which isn't required for the title, but is supposedly hella rare.

I got the permanent companion pet guy, which isn't required for the title, but is supposedly hella rare.

6 Picnic Baskets, although you only need one. Where's Yogi when I need him?

I even got two bags of candy.

Every single achievement associated with the event. Almost.

One silly piece of candy.

"You're mine" or whatever. Just a single piece of candy missing out of the pile.

So perhaps my assessment of the event is skewed. I'll try to remain objective...

The Good

1) A variety of activities, mostly just some talking to NPC's, which isn't too intense, good for a relaxing morning or two.

2) I don't know why, but I've grown to enjoy the ones where you have to locate one of each class/race combination. For Alliance on my server, Troll Rogue seemed to be the universal goocher. What was your toughest one to find?

3) Voting for your favorite Faction Leader. (see more on this below). Fun. Although I like Ironforge the best, I had to stick to my Nelf roots and go Darnassus.

4) Much less running around than other events. I did enjoy the exploration side of the Elder coins, but I'm also happy that most of the traveling for this event was portal to city / hearth back from city.

5) Mending Hearts. When I first thought about this achievement, 20 mendings, i was annoyed. Once I got into the groove, it was kinda fun, in a totally killing time way.

The Bad

0) Too Short - lol, that's what she said. 5 days? 6 days? If you had anything else going on this weekend, such as RL valentines day for the many many folks who choose to embrace a commercialized event in which corporations tell us to spend money in an effort to tell the important people that we love them, then you were definitely hard pressed to get it done. This loses major accessibility points in my book. But, if you say I Love You on a regular basis, say...via boosting runs, you're free of the normal pressures of val's day XD

1) Like a Plague - Thursday and Friday night in major cities was worse than when the Plague hit right before WotLK's release. Every coconut on the server was running all over the place. /General and /Trade were 1000% less readable than normal. If you're going for "game altering experience" then this was win, but those first two nights were intolerable IMO.

2) Un-Mendable Hearts - The overall mechanic of of the broken heart and requiring another player to mend, kinda fun. However, trying to finish off the Darnassus gift on a saturday morning, when your morning is 3 hours before the server's morning? Awful. I got a broken heart with no mender, had to abandon the pursuit until much later. I understand the "lets get players to interact" part of it, but would have been nice to have something other than a 1 hour timeout to reset this without blowing my hearth to go to Dalaran for a mending.

3) Shooting rockets - Ok, I get the reference to firing rockets too fast and what not. Hardy har har. But these add very little value. Map to action button, spam button, spam mouse click for ground area target. Complete achievement. But whilst going for speed, you barely even get to enjoy the visual of the rockets firing, which I think takes away from the experience.

4) Voting for Faction Leaders - I already said I like this one, so what's bad about it? Nearly zero publicity. They should put a NPC running around in Dalaran, constantly barking out the standings. Make people actually (A) aware of the standings, and (B) sorta want to contribute to it. Put a massive statue of the currently winning faction leader in front of both banks in Dal, updated hourly or something and the winner gets to keep their statue in place for a month. Make this stuff relevant. I think the only actual benefit is the winner gets some buff-giving NPC tucked away in some old-world capital city for a week. /bah

5) Too Many Items - I think the number of items was excessive. Sure, I'm nitpicking, but there were too many bag slots required, there were too many Icons that look identical or nearly so, too many differences between soulbound, non-soulbound but you must conjure it so no trading, non-soulbound but you can trade it, on and on.

6) 1 Minute Cooldown on Fragrances - Why? Just why? I mean, the whole concept of a seasonal event is a time sink that's mildly entertaining. Why require one minute between applying Perfume and Cologne?

The Ugly

Already said it. In the end, completion was entirely RNG based, which combined with the shortened duration of the event, is fail in my book.

Even if I had gotten the last candy, I'd still be disliking this aspect. But not quite as much :-)

The other ugly: Ganking Coconuts in Gurubashi

Four horde just stayed there for hours ganking anybody trying to pity the fool in Stranglethorn Vale. Again, I know the whole concept of the event is a waste of time, but this brings it to a new level.

Luckily in addition to being stupid, they also had slow reflexes, so I was easily able to spawn, drop the fool, pity the fool, and even make some headway towards the exit before they got me again.

And the Paladin who tried to chase me down, thinking crusader aura is the shiznit? Lol. Mammoth with Aspect of the Pack runs just as fast as you. I kited him nearly all the way to Booty Bay, /waving and /cheering the whole way, before he realized he wasn't going to catch me.

Bottom Line

Some fun random activities.

Potential for inter-faction and inter-race competition via leader votes.

Too much dependence on random numbers.

Accessibility cut short due to short duration.

Maybe a 5 out of 10?

I Will Survive

How does one follow up after last week's shenanigans?

Continue to muddy things up with additional conflict?

Describe the outstanding experience of a boosting run through Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle this weekend where the boostee may or may not have contributed to a few wipes (*), and yet the tone on vent was light, fluffy, and full of laughter and win?

Share two additional reputation-based anecdotes from the weekend (one where positive rep caused gain, another where poor rep caused loss/closed opportunity)?

Tell the tale of a PuG run (no uber gf) where two DPS'ers were below the tank and yet we still managed to clear Heroic Nexus in 32 minutes without any wipes, beating the Raid ID reset timer by 7 minutes allowing a second follow-up run, thus efficiently grinding gear, emblems, faction rep, and hunter pet xp?

Go passive/aggressive by floating teasers about several occasions where cooperative play led to fun, gear/economic gain, or both? (mabye, just a little bit).

Nothing to see here, folks

Nah, I'm gonna take the advice of several people I respect and just move along. Nothing to see here!

What to do then? How about a tribute post linking to a funny page, followed by a review of the most recent seasonal event (see next post)?

/voice [Karazhan Chess Piece that kinda sounds like George Takei] on
Sounds fine.
/voice off

So, first on the agenda: tribute.

Here's a recent outstanding parody song over at BRK. Very well done, sung to the tune of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, captures the inner conflict amongst the Hunter community quite nicely.

Go go go, read....nay.....sing that post now.

(*) Oh, and for the record, it was actually the boosters who caused the wipes not the boostee (one was specifically me not getting it through my thick head when the healer asked for "hunter take out the witch doctors", but I digress), but its moot because the end result was a fun hour or so of play time for five people.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When Goblins Fail

Its a sorry sight to see when someone you used to respect as an intellectual person who is willing to take a controversial position resorts to slander and personal insult.

What follows is likely an incohesive, meandering braindump which is nothing new around here XD.

I wasn't going to honor the situation with much of a response other than to confront my attacker, but I'm following the example of BBB, a person I have tremendous respect for, and just let it go where it will when an Internet personna makes an attack without fear of real life consequences.

I'll warn in advance, I've got a bit of spare time today, so this might become a book.

Lets see where this one goes, shall we...

[EDIT: played out pretty long. BBB'd be proud. So I slapped the usual short/medium/long format for your convenience. Let me know how far you make it.]

Short Version

Intellectual debate turns ugly when greedy goblin resorts to personal insult and slander rather than provide meaningful content.

Medium Version

GG is out to prove that cooperative teamwork is fail because he has yet to be successful in a cooperative environment and he lacks the empathy required to imagine what its like when he reads about the experiences of others.

When he does read of success coming out of a cooperative environment and he has nothing of substance to support the position he is clinging to so vehemently, he launches personal attacks.

And destroys any respect I used to have for him.

I suppose in the end, I should just stop boosting the website traffic of an interpersonal M&S.

Long Version

For the few months that I've been reading Greedy Goblin (when he was recently linked by Tobold, yet another writer who discusses controversial issues without resorting to personal insult), I've thoroughly enjoyed what I read. His posts about economics are interesting, sometimes informative, usually entertaining whether you agree or disagree with his position.

His approach is much harsher than your average person is used to, but once you see past that, there used to be some value here and there, however those economic posts have become much more rare of late. His posts about grouping are horrific but sometimes entertaining, but in the look-at-the-train-wreck-who-cant-play-well-with-others-and-blames-the-others-for-it kind of way, rather than the quality of the content or (lacking) supporting evidence for his position.

However, he's turned to personal insult. He's turned to completely unsubstantiated accusation. He attempted to find a flaw in a post I wrote yesterday, his research came up empty, and with no other way out, he accuses me of lying.

Intellectual Debate Gets Ugly

In the short history of emails, blog posts, and comments between GG and I, we've had agreements, disagreements, thought provoking intellectual conversation. Facts. Ideas. Professional/adult debate.

He took two recent posts of mine and tried to dissect them, in an effort to prove....something? I'm not actually sure, as he's provided no support for any position other than wanting to bash me.

Granted, both of my posts hi-light how un-goblinish behavior led to (A) fun/entertainment value, or (B) economic value.

So a response is not a surprise. What was unexpected was a personal attack completely devoid of fact or substance.

First Post:Strong Raid Guild Brings A Friend Into VoA - Boosting is frowned upon by businessmen, so GG takes offense.

Second Post: One Example Of Guild Reputation Making A Difference In A Business Transaction - In the past GG has used a loose analogy to some academic research to try to demonstrate that reputation does not matter, so he takes offense.

However, in neither of those posts do I make any claims that this is a universal truth. I'm merely conveying the story of two in-game events that brought me joy or gold, and some of the background behind how I came to that joy or gold. No claims that this will work every time, for every person, guaranteed. Just two fun anecdotes that contrast to the extreme position that's been portrayed in GG's posts.

No attack on anybody else, or any attempt to bring somebody else down, but rather, simply celebration of some things I've enjoyed.

Cooperative Play Accomplishes Results

My guild is very successful at raiding. We work hard, we play hard, we distribute gear effectively, we challenge underperformers. We have proven results.

Icing on the cake...we are successful at raiding while maintaining very positive environment, we have lots of fun, and while doing so, we waste very little time.

I'm pretty sure a business person would be very interested in an operation like that.

Using a cooperative approach to teamwork, a core group of people tackled the hardest 25-person content the game has to offer, and plans on continuing to do so as bigger and bigger challenge is released.

We're at the point that we routinely clear all 25-person content in 6 or 7 hours, and improve on that time each and every week.

Morons & Slackers?

We do not carry poor performers on our roster for very long. In fact, the performance culture we've bred weeds out 90% of the M&S before they even apply to the guild. An effective recruiting process, and an effective trial raiding process takes care of the rest.

As a result, even our lowest performing raiders are of an extremely high caliber, and continuously strive for self-improvement.

How would a business person NOT be interested in something like that?

But for some reason, GG cannot accept that we enjoy this kind of success, and is out to prove something, although nobody's quite clear on what that something is.

We Boosted, and it was Fantastic

We boosted a friend in a VoA run.

We had fun!

You cannot put an economic value on "fun" and therefore, GG must reject the pursuit. But, lacking anything of substance to say on the topic, he resorts to childish insult.

Although we have not tried yet, I believe we could probably defeat Heroic VoA with 9 or 10 of our top raiders, and any collection of 15-16 other level 80 toons you can find.

There is zero risk to bring a friend. We will not wipe. We will not waste unnecessary time.

This is not Sarth 25+3. This is VoA.

The result of boosting a friend in a low risk situation is to bring the team closer together.

A business person who does not understand organizational dynamics cannot see the value here.

But the leaders and members of our Guild do understand the bond that forms and how it can improve team performance if managed properly, and we've got the proven results to show for it.

Reputation Makes A Difference

I describe one solitary situation in which a customer explicitly informs me that the reputation of my guild made a difference in one business transaction.

I do not claim this to be proof that reputation has value for all groups in all situations, and provides a blank check with which to do as one pleases.

I do claim that for ME in THIS SITUATION it DID!

There's plenty of data out there in real-world business to provide the proof that Brand Value and Reputation have actual real economic value. A simple example is on the shelf in your local pharmacy. Tylenol bottle of same dosage of same medicine sits right next to Generic Acetaminophen. Tylenol costs double. Tylenol product line has not been discontinued due to zero sales or financial loss. That's proof enough in my book that brand and reputation have economic value.

You can say that reputation has value because of Morons & Slackers believing marketing hype, but doing so only illustrates your complete inability to understand group dynamics.

GG Has No Real Response

He has some internal feeling that nothing good can possibly come from cooperative behavior. I've got my own ideas on how a person can reach that state of mind, but I'll keep them to myself as I'm trying to avoid the whole personal insult thing.

So he tries to tear me down. GG cannot prove otherwise, so he attacks.

Tries to claim I'm a liar, simply because he cannot find a shadow priest in my guild with quest greenie gear, zero or few raiding achievements, and 450 mining.

He cannot find this player, so he accuses me of lying.

Nice Work, Sherlock

He claims to have done "research" to find my realm, guild, and toon.

My Armory Link is Right There -------> in the upper right of the blog. Always has been.

Intellectual Property Theft

He took an image from my site, posted a copy onto his host, and re-used it on his site. Not even a simple embedded image linking back to my original, but direct plagiarism. In the same post that he copy-and-pastes several paragraphs from BBB's site and reposts it on his.

Your posts regarding business ethics have new meaning to me.

Srs Bsns!

Durgan gets to use Amava/Amiva interchangeably. GG does not.

The toon name is irrelevant (armory link points to correct toon), the internet persona is Amava. Respect it!

Just like you wouldn't call Prince "Prince" while his name was that funny symbol, you don't get to call me Amiva.

Bottom Line

I'd like to thank everybody, besides GG, who is still reading by this point.

I warned of incoherent meanderings at the top, and if you made it this far, you deserve a Pepsi (not some generic cola, brands have value, lol) or a coffee (starbucks) or something. Go ahead and get yourself one.

I would have much preferred if GG either (A) had something to add to the discussion supporting or refuting my thesis that reputation has real value, -OR- (B) provided a response with unenlightening-but-entertaining content without turning to personal insult.

I suppose in the end, I should just stop boosting the website traffic of an interpersonal M&S XD

One Example of Guild Reputation

What follows is basically just a story of selling two titansteel cooldowns, with a little guild-ego stroking mixed in. If you find that boring, /shoo

Reputation is a tricky thing. It takes consistent behavior observed over a period of time to build a positive reputation, and a single bad event can crumble what takes months to build.

This holds true for individuals, families, small groups of people, and even large corporations.

Companies spend enormous energy trying to build up their reputation or brand value. Its brand value alone that lets Tylenol charge more for the exact same pill that your local pharmacy sells a generic version for dirt cheap.

A Business Deal

Although I enjoy reading about the economic practices of Goblins, I'm definitely not one myself.

I make my wow-gold by gathering while I'm out and about doing what ever it is that I'm doing. And "what ever it is that i'm doing" is often daily questing, which only further divides my activities from the efficient gold/hour numbers that Goblins are capable of.

However, even I recognize the value of a daily cooldown.

Smelt Titansteel

I should probably be using my Titansteel cooldowns to save up mats to boost my gf with an epic shadow priest mace.

But, I'll deal with that when I get to it, and I'm about 20 blacksmithing points away from needing to worry about that.

In the meantime, there's always somebody willing to pay good money for a cooldown.

One such fella barks on /trade, he and I arrange a get together at the Dalaran forge.

Badda bing, badda boom, he's got his steel, I've got my gold. Smell ya later.

But then a happy moment comes along.

Oh, cool, titanium

The uber gf was out and about doing whatever it is that girls that play wow like to do, and she's a miner, and came across a titanium node and mined it.

Go you!

Wait a tick? I thought titanium required 450 maxed mining. When did you ding that?

This morning

Ah, gratz. Wait another tick? Wanna make some gold? (digital pimpin', ftw)

My happy customer from just moments ago, as it would turn out, is interested in one more Titansteel.

So she scoots back to Dalaran, he trades over the mats.

Like a Bat out of Hell

And what he sees next is....the toon he just traded a hundred or so gold worth of mats with...she bolts like a bat out of hell out into Dalaran.

WTF? or at least that's probably what was going through his head as he trotted off to follow her.

You see, having just dinged 450 that morning, she hadn't trained to smelt titansteel yet. And in a brain fart, rather than just talk to the mining trainer right here, she decided to wander deeper into the city.

So I reassure him what she's up to, so please don't worry.


It was his answer that made the ape-subroutines ingrained in my genes smile....

I'm not worried, I respect your guild. I dont think she'd stiff me.

And she didn't. Two seconds later, she's trained up in steel, he's got his product, she's got her money. Smell ya later.

Sure, we're not talking about world-changing stuff like the brand value of Google or Nike, but the guild's reputation did keep things calm in a situation where the customer might have started crying "NINJA!!!"

Its all about respect, and it looks like we're doing something right.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to make a Goblin Cry

Goblins are business people. They thrive on information asymmetry to part idiots and their gold, and they strive to earn max reward with minimum effort.

Some Goblins write entertaining, informative articles about economic principles, while taking extreme but misguided positions on working in a team of other people.

Two big things make Goblins Cry:

1) Buying 10 Crystallized Fire for much more gold than 1 Eternal Fire

2) Boosting weak people through content, allowing them to earn epics without equal input (

Well, #1 is a little mis-placed because generally the Goblins are the ones selling the Crystallized, so it only makes them cry if they accidentally purchase an expensive item when there's an equivalent cheap item available. But Goblins are perfect, so they never make those kinds of mistakes ;-)

However, boosting the "dumbs"! That's a sure way to rub a goblin the wrong way.

A Shadow Priest's First Raid

While I was getting ready for our 25-person raid monday night, the uber gf was putzing around in Dalaran and saw some PuG 10-man looking for a Shadow Priest for Vault of Archavon.

She said she's going for it! And what's VoA? pst, its a raid, honey :-)

Woe-fully under hit cap, clad largely in quest greens with a couple Heroic Gumdrop drops, all nice and neatly gemmed and enchanted.

She lets them know she's a recent 80 new to end-game, and they're all good with it.

Rock On!

Luckily, VoA is a quick little run, so for a casual player jumping into a group can have some fun without a major time committment.

So I give my advice (stuff falls from ceiling during trash, move out of it. stalactites fall from ceiling/boss during boss, move out of it. keep vampiric touch up. have fun.) and she's off.

Quick like a bunny, she kills the boss and its on to looting.

And the T7 priesty pants drop, and they're all hers!

Gratz on your first epic, lady!

Boosting to make a Goblin Cry!!!!!!

A Shadow Priest's Second Raid

While all this is going on, we're getting our 25-person raid together. The plan is to do VoA real quick, then head over to one-shot Malygos, and then call it a night.

As it would turn out, some people were already saved to heroic VoA, which is pretty puzzling why we have folks running 25's out-of-guild, but I digress.

So we found ourselves short on players.

Around this time, I excitedly tell the team that the gf just did her first raid, 10-man VoA.

Many cheers, followed by the GM having the sweet idea of inviting her for some Big Leagues action.

And since she's already right there at the portal, all the better.

So, how did it play out....

1) More news to fuel the Goblin fires. Less DPS than the tanks. Taken on the surface, its boosting at its finest. However, when you look beyond the surface and consider these tanks are the best geared and skilled tanks on the server, and the player is in her first 25-person raid ever, 1200 DPS ain't too shabby, and provides a good benchmark as she works on getting a little +hit gear and a spell priority/rotation.

2) Take a look up top. We got your stealth nerf....RIGHT HERE!

No phat priesty lewtz on this run, which truly would have put the nail in the goblinish coffin, but whatever. It was fun as hell.

If only Greedy Goblin could have been there!

I just wish GG could have been there.

It was boosting in the finest form.

And it absolutely made my night!

Blunt Feedback

I've had a couple posts brewing in my mind for a while now, all centered around my server/guild switch when WotLK came out, my personal switch from being raid leader to worker-bee, switching from regularly being top one or two in DPS to being anywhere from #1 to #12 depending upon if I sneezed during heroism or who nerfed what this week, and a whole host of cultural changes that come with the experience.

Reading a post over at Big Bear Butt inspired me to try to get one of the posts out onto e-paper. Read BBB's original, because as always its a good one. To paraphrase...he expects people in game to interact with other people the same way as they'd interact face-to-face. IRL, there's consequences in the form of knuckle sandwiches if you break the social rules of rudeness/offensiveness/whatever-ness. He's a US Marine, therefore, likely to receive a fair bit of well-deserved respect IRL (unfortunately probably out of fear of receiving a thumping, rather than out of respect for helping defend our country and freedom, but I digress).

Communicates Well With Others

One of the things that always strikes me in-game is how people give feedback to another player regarding behavior they'd like to see change.

Consider an example...Player A pugs with Hunter B. PA inspects HB and sees a variety of +strength gear. PA would like that behavior to change, since he has some information about the mechanics of the Hunter class.

How does the average Player A in WoW convey this information?

Response A) - I noticed you are wearing some [bad-stat] gear. I'm not sure if you are aware of it or not, but [bad-stat] provides very little benefit for your class, you'd be better off with [good-stat] or [good-stat]. To learn more, a good resource is[Class].

Response B) - dude, [bad-stat] sux. you should get more [good-stat] or [good-stat].

Response C) - fail [class] is fail. l2p noob, ur g@y

Ok, so lets take a look at the available options:

ResponseProsConsLiklihood in WoW
A Treats the person with respect. Focuses on facts and/or behavior, not personal traits. Shares some info, and also a place to go to learn more. Wordy, long to type. Player B might not absorb everything being said. Near to Zero
B Succinct, quick to type. Focuses on facts and/or behavior, not personal traits. Provides fish, but does not teach how to fish. Without supporting information, no way to tell if Player A is informed/uninformed, right/wrong. 10-15%
C Very compact, easy to type using abbreviations. Provides no constructive feedback to Player B such that he/she might improve. Includes personal insults and derogatory language. Damn near all the time

What works best?

Ok, so A,B,C are some what exaggerated to prove a point. C is most likely to be found in PuGs and on /trade channel. A is best if you have a high bandwidth communication channel such as Vent or even better face-to-face where you can include the extremely high bandwidth non-verbal communication of facial expression and body language. B works reasonably via text, if the person is interested in change they can ask for followup, and if not, there's no insult or harm done.

The transition from my old guild to my new one was full of uncertainty regarding delivery of feedback.

I'd heard so many horror stories of hardcore raiding guilds and raid leaders who scream at or belittle people as their way of providing feedback.

I'm a big fan of leadership, both in the theoretical world of academia and literature, as well as practical applications of leadership as a manager at work, in emergency fire situations as a volunteer firefighter, captain of inter-scholastic sports and academic teams (nerd jock, ftw), or as a Raider/Raid Leader.

As such, I was very curious to see what style of feedback would be given in the new guild, and what my reaction would be. As much of a fan as I am of leadership, I also have a massive problem with authority, especially if the powers-that-be are abusive.

Blunt and Focused on Behavior

The heading says it all.

What I've seen so far in Conquest is blunt. The Response A given above is pretty much non-existent. Pleasantries or other fluff is basically absent in either text or voice feedback.

When you die in the fire, you'll either be asked why you died in the fire, right then and there during a post-wipe analysis.

If you're bringing sub-par threat, you'll be called on it.

If your healing assignments are dying, and the officers can figure out that your assignments aren't doing stupid stuff like standing in fire, you'll be called on it.

If Tenebron doesn't die before his second set of whelps spawns, underperforming DPS players will be called on it.

No pleasantries. No fluff.

However, the key to success is keeping the feedback focused on behavior.

"Player X, you died in the fire. Stop doing that."....

is very different from...

"Player X, you died in the fire. You suck".

Sure, among friends, telling eachother "you suck" is fine. However, in a raid environment, not everybody is close friends. Many of the 25 are there simply to accomplish a difficult (or not so difficult, depending upon your thoughts of how hard WotLK raiding is, so far) task together. Friendship grows in pockets, but it'd be a stretch to call all 30 or so raiders "friends".

Feedback focused on behavior allows the recipients to make desired changes without feeling personally insulted.

Dish it out, and take it as well

The next part that actually makes it work, IMO, is that the officers providing the feedback do not treat themselves as perfect.

Classic was a night trying to kill Sartharion + Three Drakes.

Very hard fight. Very long night (25 wipes, followed by a successful kill). Silly wipes due to void zones or fire walls become increasingly frustrating as the night goes along.

So the Raid Leader reaches, not quite a breaking point, but definitely a point at which the frustration is boiling in his voice.

He lets the raid have it in very blunt un-ambiguous terms that it is unacceptable to die in the fire, and deaths due to fire are the single barrier preventing us from success.

The very next attempt, he himself dies in the fire.

And during the post-wipe analysis, gives it to himself just as directly and bluntly as he gave it to the raid.

More attempts, fewer deaths in the fire, finally resulting in looting a boss in one of the hardest encounters in the game.

The key to the blunt feedback...and this is a recurring theme here...nothing personal. It is focused on observed behaviors, documentable facts (recount/wws data), and avoids personal insult. Note, that does not mean it avoids placing personal accountability on a specific individual when they die in the fire. Die in the fire and you'll get called out by name. However, the feedback is focused on the behavior, which is something you can change.

What's your experience?

How do you like to receive feedback?

How do you give feedback?

What's the norm for your guild? PuGs?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where are the servers?

A question came up this weekend.....

Where are the servers located?

If your server is EST timezone, do they geographically locate the hardware close to the east coast? Likewise for the other timezones.

Or is the server time simply used as a means to align the prime time of the players on a zone, making it more likely to find groups at the same time as you are available?

I was of the opinion that Blizzard has one data center (well, hopefully two located more than 200 miles away from eachother, so one can fail over for the other in case of disaster), because that'd be the least expensive for them.

Latency and bandwidth has so much more to do with where you personally sit on the network backbones, than it does with actual geographical physical location.

But my opinion was the laughing stock of those on Vent at the time. Curse you all!!!!

I could understand wanting an Asian datacenter, a European one, and an Oceanic (is that also Asia, or just Australia/NZ?), as the pipelines across the Pacific are generally low performance, and the Atlantic is better but far from ideal, however within the US, once you clear the bottleneck of your local ISP, data traffic on the tier one backbones make little difference from northeast Maine to southwest Califlowernia.

Anybody got inside knowledge on where they locate the servers? Hell, a simple traceroute with a little research to map the IPs to locations would show what I'm looking for, but that's probably beyond how interested I am in actually tracking down an answer.

Instead I'll rely upon the readers :-)

3.1 - I suppose I'll have to chime in

Ok, patch notes. 3.1? or is it 3.0.9? Who can tell lately with all the change?

1) Ammo (pouch-b-gone) - Sweet. Getting another 22 bag slots (my sack is, indeed, gigantique) will be very cool. Especially as I grind out a full set of PvP gear that I generally want to have with me at all times incase Horde wants to Waltz Matilda by my Titanium node.

2) Sniper Training - Excuse me? Did I just hear you say "stand still for six seconds before this ability even kicks in?" So for a benchmark fight like Patchwerk, if you kill the boss in 2:53, then you'll be benefiting for 2:47, which is nice. For any other fight, do you ever stand still for 6 consecutive seconds? Maybe here and there. But 6 is only the beginning of the benefit. Do you ever stand still for 10 consecutive seconds, during which you'll actually get a return on your talent points for 4 seconds? This talent goes from "fun dance to try to remain at max distance which really feels like a mile away when you've got Hawk Eye" to "prolly not gonna take it".

3) Ammo (not consumable) - Still sweet. If you're not an engineer. I just might have to flip my favorite engineer a sweet tip when the patch hits, just to soften the blow of the dried up revenue stream.

4) Beast Master Buffs - BM looks like it'll get better. But predictions are that SV will remain on top DPS-wise. Assuming they keep Explosive Shot reasonable.

5) Hunting Party - This depends greatly upon your raid needs. My raid leader said it'd be best if I did NOT invest points here, since we reliably have two other mana batteries in our raid. The patch notes say it'll also grant a passive bonus to the Hunter. Will this passive bonus be mana-regen related? Unless Ulduar changes things drastically (yes, please!) mana is a non-issue. Aspect of the Viper gets used between trash pulls, and that's about it lately. When beginning Naxx, I'd use it from time to time. In fights where we lose 50% of the DPS and the raid leader doesn't call for a wipe, mana is an issue. So meh on this one.

I think that's it. If I find anything else of note, I'll complain about/cheer for it in a future post.

PvP and Q.Q.Quickies

Spent a good portion of my WoW time this weekend in BG's, in Wintergrasp, and leveling up some alt professions. The following is a series of quickes celebrating the fun and whining about the bad. Same as always.

1) Do you have Emblems of Valor just burning a hole in your pocket? - Why not deck yourself out in Hateful Gladiator gear? The full set will run you quite a few tokens, but it seems that the T8 dungeons will have a new type of currency, Emblems of Conquest, so you likely will not be stinging yourself if you blow Valor on PvP gear. Somebody please bookmark this post and throw it in my face when I qq that I need to save up a million Valors later.

2) How bout Wintergrasp? - Assault is fun, feels like William Wallace laying siege to York. Defense if fun-ish. If you manage to get one of the guns, its fun for the first 10 seconds before they focus fire you. Other than that, hiding in the fog of lag war and taking out siege vehicles and healers is pretty cool. And the best part is, you can very quickly build up tokens to buy gloves and boots for PvP.

3) Mages who think they are cute...aren't. - I haven't fell for this one yet, as I'm pretty weary of any player-made portal I click on, however, you are guaranteed to find at least two false portals right on top of the WG portal in Dalaran. This is pure asshattery and if a player takes your Theramore portal and has his hearth on cooldown, you've directly caused him to be unable to participate in Wintergrasp. This should be ban-able, IMO.

4) Druids are unstoppable. - No joke. Resto Druids are unstoppable in battlegrounds. I've seen one take on 4 dps focus fire him, and just sit there healing through it, not dipping in health at all, and 20 minutes later went OOM. If you ignore him and DPS somebody else, he just heals that guy through the damage. I'm crying OP, damn it! :-)

5) Strand of the Ancients - Good clean fun here. I like this one. However, its still subject to the coconuts-who-just-grind-HK-in-the-middle-of-nowhere problem. Seriously, they need to come up with some way to reward behaviors that are tied to Strategic Victory. However, they'd also need to reward Defenders for kills in the middle of nowhere, because that ties up the offense, and is therefore Strategic. Not easy, but I credit Blizzard with being able to solve difficult problems, despite their inability to calmly and smoothly bring Hunter DPS to the level that they think is appropriate. /cry

?) Ride the Tanks - WG or SotA. Ranged DPS and Healers, jump the F on the back of those tanks. And kill/heal stuff. So. Much. Fun. Unless the driver of your tank is one of those coconuts who hides behind stuff while the battle rages way up ahead and barely makes any impact. Jump off of those immediately.

6) Anybody know a good Resilience target to shoot for? - What's a reasonable amount of Resil? I think my set is around 580 or so with close to 22K health right now. I definitely take a while to kill, but I'm not sure if it'd be better to keep pushing resil, or would I be better off using any additional gems/enchants for DPS stats or pure stamina?

7) PvP as Survival = Fun - Ok, I definitely miss my big red get out of jail free card, but in a high mobility environment like PvP, I'm digging the Explosive Shot and Improved Stings / Noxious Stings. Word on the street is that I should gem for Attack Power over Agility, since AP improves Explosive Shot more, but I'm unsure. Any ideas?

8) Shadow or Heal? - Using a solo/heroic dungeon PvE Shadow Priest spec, what do you think is most effective in a Battleground: going shadowform and doing damage, or no shadowform and casting heals? Bottomline is the uber gf should do what's more fun, but I'm curious to hear what the community thinks is most effective.

9) The Spoils of Power leveling - Have you ever power leveled a profession? How about 8 at roughly the same time (lw, eng, bs, jc, alch, scribe, cooking x 2)? You end up with so much garbage. Mats you farmed/bought but didn't need, intermediary products you crafted but ended up not needing, all those stupid random inks and pigments, silly potions that nobody in their right mind would drink, foods that do nothing that you couldnt get from a vendor cheaper, random leathers that might have been useful when max level was 60, but now are garbage. Way too many bank slots and toon bags filled with his crap. And I'm too stingy to just decide to vendor half of it, and I take my time on the AH. Decent income, but massive annoyance factor.

10) Disengage - I had not cast disengage more than two or three times prior to this weekend. It is so fun. I highly recommend it, although the semi-unpredictable distance/direction is awkward at best.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stealth Nerf

Short Version

Explosive Shot got kicked in the bean bag.

I normally try to just roll with the changes as they come, and make the best of situations.

But this is starting to get annoying and distracting.

Medium Version

So I take a day or two off from reading blogs.

Then I raid Patchwerk.

DPS decreased by 15% from the previous week. Brass's DPS down 10% over previous week.

So I turn into an emo b12ch.

Then the next day I read some blogs and find out there was a stealth nerf to Explosive Shot.

I'm still emo.

TL;DR Version

Thursday night. Naxxramas speed run, hoping to shave a few minutes off of our time to clear the full place. (just about 2:55, if you don't count the silly, avoidable, due-only-to-ppl-not-remaining-calm-in-the-face-of-some-bad-luck wipe on KT).

Naxx nights are always fun because I love repeating the same dungeon again and again for months Patchwerk is a good place to assess my performance.

No gear or spec changes this week, so the comparison would only be assessing how much tighter my SV shot-priority rotation has gotten over the past week.

I even brought Haste Potion same as last week, based upon the helpful suggestion of one of the commenters on my beloved blog.

Everything seemed to go perfectly. Well, I think I blew one Lock and Load proc, overriding the last tick of one of the Explosive Shots. Also think I had one GDC where I let Serpent Sting expire. But lets not get picky, generally a good performance, IMO.

Dead boss.

/recount toggle

4.1K DPS


Last week was a nice and tight 4.8K DPS.

What about Brass? Always good to have his numbers to compare with. He's down from 5.1K to 4.6K.


Neither one of us had any idea what the deal was.

For the rest of the night, Brass actually kicked major ass, showing Blizzard what he thinks of the damn nerf. My output was pretty meh, but I did get a new belt which will let me re-do a few gems and get some more agility kicking which is pretty big. But not enough to justify how much I suck compared to what's possible to output.

Then I have a slow day at work read some blogs and wowinsider, and discover that tuesday's reboot contained a stealth (unannounced) nerf to Explosive Shot.

Enough to justify a 10-15% decrease in overall DPS?

If it were just my numbers, I'd just figure I was a noob. But when both hunters see a marked decrease, you know something's up.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Ding of Dings

So the Lunar Festival comes around and provides some nice relaxing WoW that's easy to enjoy for hardcore and casual alike, perfect for a raider and his gf to kill an afternoon or two.

Until you reach the Gumdrop elder and discover that the coin guy is only there in Heroic mode.

Kinda sux if one of you is only level 78.

But that's pretty easy to fix by spending some time in Zul'Drak and Icecrown, aided by some epic cold weather flying, and a week later she dings 80 without really needing to push beyond a normal casual routine of playing the occasional evening here and there, or maybe filling the cold empty void that comes with a significant other who regularly raids in a cone of silence (ah, new cordless headphones, how I love thee).

Big fat gratz on dinging 80!

What's a Shadow Priest to do?

So, we've got our sights set on Heroic Gundrak.

Before going anywhere, lets make sure to reduce as many noob indicators as possible.

Enchants, gems, all the nice things a player can do to improve what she's wearing without leaving the comfort of Ironforge.

But, neither of us really has any clue what a SPriest needs at level 80.

Consult the Armory, check out one of the guild's shadows, and monkey-see monkey-do.

30 minutes and 600g later (its good to be rich), and all her greenies are nice and shiny.

Time for some action!

Welcome to Heroics

You can imagine the situation is pretty nerve wracking.

Here's a player who has a very casual view of the game, getting in on her first real Northrend dungeon run, at level 80, in heroic mode, in a party with 4 pretty hardcore players.

That's a lot of pressure! When ever you have two different cultures collide, there's potential for drama and conflict.

Luckily, the players that joined us are the types who are experts in their roles, geared out the wazoo, plus, they're very welcoming of social members.

The run was a beauty.

The uber gf remembered to buff people, kept her mana battery spell up (vt? ve? i can never remember which), and most importantly....she didn't die in any fire in the one or two fights that come with that hazard.

And, after surviving all the combat situations, and generally staying with the pack and assisting the tank for DPS targets and remembering to mana up after fights, she went ahead and, completely out of combat, fell into some water and got eaten alive by some fish, which was just amusing.

Outstanding work for a first timer, if I do say so myself.

If you want to replace it, polish it

I'm a long-standing advocate of appeasing the loot karma gods by enchanting the hell out of any piece of gear you want to replace.

Well, fresh at 80, you pretty much want to replace every single piece of quest greenie gear, so that's what she did....enchant & gem everything.

And lets just say that it worked.

Every. Single. Boss. dropped something cloth with wonderful spell power, crit, and intellect (all things which EJ says SP like to wear, if I'm not mistaken).

Four sweet Heroic Blue items. Luckily the team we're running with is (A) geared up in ilevel 213/226 epics, and (B) very cool and happy to help a new priest upgrade her stuff.

By the third and fourth drops, it was just getting silly on vent.

So another 400g was happily withdrawn from the Gear Polishing Fund and she's off to a sweet start to her set of gear.

But that's not all, folks!

She's still got a few coins left to get her Elder title, so we're off to Black Rock Spire.

And one of the achievement-hounds in the guild notices and wants to try to trio the Jenkins one.

Have you ever tried this with only 3 players?

All I can say is .... WOW!

That's a lot of whelps.

Warlock runs around grabbing all the whelps while Hunter stands on explosive trap and Priest bubbles everybody. Seed, Volley, that thing that Shadow Priests do for AoE.

3 or 4 seconds of terror as 50 or 60 whelps spank us.

Ding Jenkins!

Sweet way to end a sweet night.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prep for First Raid

A little hordie birdie asked me for some tips on a Hunter's first raid, so here's a few gems to ponder. These are built from my own experience and thoughts, with some conjecture thrown in. Some of this talks about emotions and other such frivolous topics, which is totally taboo in the world of anonymous 1337 Internet supermen who tell mere mortals to L2P.

What follows is less about how many stacks of such and such reagent you should bring, and more about controlling the irrational pressure that the gaming community puts on new people. Most of what you read from the hardcore and most of what you hear from the vocal people you encounter in-game gives the appearance that on day one, you're supposed to know everything, be skilled at everything, and be immune to human emotions.

I say BUNK. A person's first raid can be fun, exciting, and also nerve-wracking. To keep the night focused on the fun/excitement and less on the painful side, here's some food for thought.....

Before the Raid Night

1) You are New, but you are not a noob - The word "noob" comes with such negative connotation in WoW. Forget that crap. But you are new, so accept that (A) you might make mistakes, (B) its totally ok when you do, and (C) someone might call you noob when you do. Ignore them when they say that. Just wait. They'll mess up soon enough, and you can do a Victory Dance in your house when they do :-)

2) Prepare ahead of time - Polish your gear (gems enchants etc), stock up on elixirs and potions and food. You know your raid is friday or saturday? Get your stuff squared away on wednesday or thursday. Make sure your Vent is setup in advance.

3) Scouting - This might sound funny, but your first time in, you might not know where the instance is located. In Conquest's first 25-person raid, I didn't know where Obsidian Sanctum or Naxxramas were, other than what's listed on Wiki, which is "dragonblight". Dragonblight is a big place, and knowing the exact locations beforehand will make you feel less like a noob come raid night.

4) Don't worry about Boss Fights - Here's a place where I diverge from the popular concept of knowing boss fights in advance. If your raid is planning on tackling a large chunk of Naxx in one night, you will be way way way too confused if you try to research each boss. If you're planning on doing only one wing, then definitely read up and try to watch some vids. But 14 bosses is too much to digest. Ask questions if you're unsure of how a boss works.

At the Start of the Raid

5) Be Early - if possible, log in an hour early on the night of the raid, with plans to do nothing but think about the raid. You'll probably be excited and nervous, and allowing as much time as possible will help reduce anxiety. And since you already scouted out where the place is, you'll have plenty of time to get there and help the other early guy summon people.

6) Repair and get Ammo - I don't care what consumables or mats or whatever else you pack. If you only do two things before the raid (A) Repair and (B) Full quiver. Oh, and remember to bring your DPS pet.

7) Growl off, Passive stance - I know, I know. But its at these exciting moments of a first raid that we forget the basics. Growl off, passive stance.

8) Know Your Tanks - Make sure you know who the tanks are. It works somewhat better to Misdirect onto them than onto the other players.

9) Know Your Targeting - For target selection, you should either have a designated Main Assist, a raid icon kill order, or at the very least, a tank who you will use for selecting your next target. Ask about MA or Kill Order at the beginning, and if there's no satisfactory answer, just pick a tank and assist him/her all night.

During the Raid

10) Fire Bad! - Generally, anything funny looking on the floor or flying down from above is bad. Step out of it.

11) Ignore Recount - Whether you run a damage meter yourself or not, I'm sure some idiot is going to post a recount report to /raid at some point in the night. Completely ignore the output of the report, unless you're on top :-P and also completely ignore that person going forward. It is hugely detrimental to team unity when those people spit out those reports. Definitely review WWS after the night is over for constructive feedback, but for now, ignore it.

12) Turn off Viper - Once your mana is full, turn off Viper. Uggy, I hate when I do that.

13) Loot your Badges - Dead boss means (A) Phat Lewts, and (B) Emblems of Something. Don't forget to loot your badges.

After the Raid

14) Sleep. Or Not - If you're like me, you spend the hour after a raid totally wired. The first few raids I was in, it was like two hours before I could even consider falling alseep. It is exciting stuff. But that's just me. Maybe you'll sleep like a baby.

15) Empty Your Bags - I have maybe 15 bag slots filled with raid stuff. I hate when I forget to empty my bags and then head straight out to quest or gather, and suddenly find my bags full. Empty that raid stuff out into your bank.

16) Review WWS - depending upon when the report gets posted, maybe you view it that night, or maybe the next day. Take a look at things like how many misses, or what percent of your DPS came from what abilities.

17) Growl on, Stance of your choice - I always forget to turn growl back on, and then the next day I wonder why the first mobs I solo run right up to me. Noob!


So there you have it!

Some might be obvious, some might be all emo and carebare and touchy-feely. Some of these are things I do at the start of each and every raid, whether its a farming run through Kara at 70, or a 3 Drake progression night at 80.

Its all about keeping calm and remembering the basics.

Fire hurts. Mobs hit the thing with the highest threat. Empty quivers fire no shots.

I can't wait to hear about how it goes.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Incohesive Ramblings (aka, some more quickies)

This is not a cohesive post. At least less cohesive than usual.

Maybe call it a quickies post? We'll see how it turns out.

[EDIT: as it would turn out, its a mish-mash of Surival Hunting, Naxx Achievements, and other stuff]

1) Survival Performance - Doin pretty well. 4.8K DPS on Patchwerk. If I compare that to my pre-nerf BM best of 5.3K, the result is an approximate 9.4% decrease, which is less than I had predicted (15.6% was the prediction). Sure, I'm comparing apples (BM for 3.5 minutes) to oranges (SV for 2.5 minutes) because I was trying to model the change to BM before / BM after the patch, but I'm trying to make a point here, so sue me.

As a comparison, Brass went from 5.5K BM-best to 5.1K SV last night, 7.3% decrease. So I suppose I feel pretty good about my baseline stand-and-deliver numbers. Not to say I'll just let it stay at that, but also not going to douse myself in gasoline and light the match.

2) Quickwerk - Its not even funny. Our previous best was 3:03. Last night was 2:34, a full 29 seconds faster than the previous attempt. There were 5 players over 5K, and nearly everyone over 4K. If I'm reading what one of our Officers posted correctly, this is the 247th fastest Patchy kill ever, which I find incredibly amusing. Rock on! The improvement is attributed to (A) Warlocks using Doomguards and (B) Hunters adjusting to the nerf and not sucking this week.

3) The Immortal - no, we didn't get it. This one makes me laugh though. You kill three or four bosses with no deaths, and all of a sudden everybody's on the edge of their seats for The Immortal. HELLO, McFLY! THERE'S A REASON YOU DON'T SAY THE WORD "SHUTOUT" TO A GOALIE WHO HAS NOT ALLOWED A GOAL YET, HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST PERIOD! Sorry to be shouting there, I'm more amused than angry, I figure this achievement will happen when it happens without any special deliberate attempt, beyond the normal desire a player has to NOT die. Or not.

4) Splitting up the Horsemen - We did the Four Horsemen one where you kill them within 15 seconds of eachother. This one was fun, because it takes some precise coordination between the 4 sub-groups on each boss mob. Fun to see that the Officers want to allow some focus on Achievements. Sure, the Achievements themselves don't mean much, but it is cool trying to do farm-status fights in strange ways. Along the way, I discovered a hidden pitfall for a SV hunter....

5) Sniper Training can sting you in the rear - If you dump points into Sniper Training, you'll generally want to stand very far away from your target. However, along the back of the Horsemen room, if you stand further than 30 yards from your target, you'll still be in range to get the debuff from the boss you just swapped off of. Fail Hunter is fail, dead as a door nail. But we got the achievement, so that works for me.

6) Burst the Webs - Maxxena. Hunters are assigned to break people free of the webs. Explosive Shot, FTW! Very fun to have strong burst damage for this. As a BM, this was actually tough, because you'd not use your pet (since she'd have to run all the way across the room, would be very ineffective), and your personal Hunter burst is ZERO. Webs were being busted faster than you can say "Lock n Load".

7) Professional Madness - I flipped out this morning and decided to start leveling two toon's worth of cooking, and while I'm out there, make a skinner, and using the gathered mats, level a leatherworker. I can tell already that its biting off too much, but I suppose that's Classic Amava in action. If I let myself take time (aka, not force it all to Grand Master level this weekend), I might retain some sanity and sociability (real word?). I doubt it'll work out that way.

8) Uber GF - She's knocking on the door of 80 with 4.5 XP bubbles left. Rock on! Once she dings, we'll enchant whatever she's wearing and head straight on into Heroic Gumdrop to finish off The Elder.

9) Last bit about SV - The "shot priority" style of WotLK Surivial Hunter DPS, versus the "shot rotation" that was king in TBC, is fun. I like slamming my #3 key macro as much as the next guy, but maintaining a priority of Serpent Sting > Explosive > Multi > Steady is pretty cool, especially when Lock and Load procs and you've got to weave things such that you don't overwrite any ES DoT ticks. Mentally taxing, but as I get the hang of it, its kinda fun. Still want a better contribution from my pet, but I'll bet that doesn't surprise you.

I think I'm going to blow off the rest of the day and go drink while it snows the three or four feet that're predicted for the weekend. [EDIT: we did not get that 3 feet. Only one foot on friday. But the drinks worked their magic anyway]