Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Living at the Threshold

Matticus recently writes about the internal threshold of performance that each of us has, below which you push to improve, and above which, you've got little motivation to change things. Good enough, satisficing, perfection vs slacking, Pareto Principle, 80/20 rule, diminishing returns, whatever you choose to call it.

We all have an internal feeling for that threshold. It drives us when we're below the limit, it often leaves us feeling "why bother?" when we're above the line. And its unique for each of us.

There's three concepts intermingled in the original WoM post...

1) Human Performance

The post opens with human performance (dying on frogger, eating a flame wall, clearing the ledge), if Matticus is indeed human, which is the topic of endless debate on our Guild forum :-P

Each person is in control of his/her own performance. We all mess up sometime, the value is in how you recover and what you learn from mistakes. Are you interested in reliably surviving frogger? Then you can examine why you died and make changes. Did that fire wall taste good? No? Then you can try to review things like your positioning before the wall appeared (were you too far away from a safe spot? where would be better to stand next time?), or what distraction caused you to not react fast enough (was somebody babbling on vent, was House jibbering and jabbering about Lupus, or was your focus too narrow on your healing assignment at the sacrifice of situational awareness and personal survivability).

Although the specific threshold of performance is unique to each individual player, people tend to be highly critical of their own performance. I'd wager that most WoW blog readers/writers have a high threshold that they want to keep their performance above. Sure, some of us are in the blog world for pure entertainment purposes, but when it comes down to it, we're also looking for things that can improve our own performance.

Readers of my blog know I obsess on this aspect of the game. The experience of improving my own personal performance alongside my teammates who are doing the same thing is what keeps me playing WoW.

2) Toon Performance

The original post then moves to toon performance. Professions to eek out more heals, running a heroic every day until you win that one perfect trinket just incase you ever find yourself grossly under the hit cap, maintaining multiple sets of gear perfectly tailored for certain situations, and so on with the toon enhancers.

I think that we all vary greatly in our threshold for this aspect of the game. Personally, I'll grind the hell out of just about anything Blizzard can throw at us to get a gear item or a shoulder inscription (curse you, spear thrusting quest), but as long as I'm having fun with my profs, I have no intention of dropping herb/mining for a DPS enhancing profession, even if that means I'm leaving 20 or 30 DPS on the table. I tried the min/maxing LW drummer boy routine back in TBC, and learned that for me its just not worth it.

This will vary much more from player to player than our threshold for our own personal performances, and will even change over time as our mood or gear situation changes.

If I look back through my performance improvement plans at the beginning of WotLK raiding, it started out almost exclusively focused on gear items and enhancements, and then as I reached my internal level of satisfaction with my gear, my thoughts migrated deeper into the softer side of personal skill improvement.

3) Dim Sum

The article then moves on to food. Delicious food.

I discovered my love for dim sum on a business trip to Vancover. When I'm in town, my work team knows its all serious during the work hours, but once we leave the building, its all dumplings, all the time.

Inspired by my chopstick agility, the natives (well, technically Hong Kong natives, so I suppose Vanc "locals"?) started ordering some things that were clearly out of Fear Factor like duck tongues and chicken's feet. Once you get past the cultural gag-factor, both were outstanding, although I'd rather stick to the basics that Matticus will be forced to buy me next time I'm out that way and I stalk him down. Cue scary-laughter-and-eerie-staring-eyes.

Farewell to BRK, maybe?

In case his farewell post isn't an early April Fool's Joke. Sorry, but the WoW community has jaded me to be suspicious of any major announcements near 4/1....

I just read the farewell post over at BRK's site. Seems that he'll be stopping playing/bloging about WoW to open up more time to spend on things that're more important to him.

I applaud the move. For someone who is as passionate about our shared hobby as BRK is, I'm sure it is a very challenging time and decision. I hope that it works out well for him and his family. And I hope he continues with his book project, if it is written even half as entertaining as the blog, I'm sure it'll be a fantastic read.

BRK has added so much to the community, and enriched my WoW experience tremendously. Through his teachings I learned so many of the finer things that make a good hunter stand out from the crowd. He's given us so many entertaining stories, whether related to WoW or not, its been some good times.

If the announcement is an April Fool's Joke, I'll fly down to Florida with a wet noodle (which is easy to get past airport security) and pay my "respects", but if its serious, I wish the best and hope to hear good things about your first book in the not-too-distant future.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Immortal Cocoons

Ok, so yesterday's reference to "butterflies" was a phrase indicating a feeling of anxiety or nervous excitement, and not the airborne phase of a certain insect's lifecycle.

But, to switch it around, if the Butterfly is what we'll morph into when we ding the achievement, then we must still be snug inside our cocoons, still getting ready to spread those wings and fly. I think we're pupas right now or something. Whether the biologically correct term or not, I just like saying the word.

Ain't I poetic? And mature?

How'd it go?

Well, the early parts of the evening went according to plan. Quiet, soothing environment. The calm before the storm.

When I logged in, I started looking over my alchemist to see if there's some other elixirs I'd like to use than my standard Mighty Thoughts / Agi combo.

Brewed up some of the +350 health ones (fortitude?) and some Guru's Elixirs. +20 to all stats is actually pretty cool, and since it buffs agi and also raw stamina which then gets converted to attack power via Survival talents, it is not entirely discarding all DPS enhancement value.

Just like in my good old ice hockey days when, before a game, I'd visualize laying out a incoming winger at the blue line, I mentally pictured the little things l'll be doing to stay alive in Naxx.

We got the team together. You could tell there was an electricity in the air, although, thankfully, nobody was harping on and on about our goal for the night.

Everybody take a deep breath, because we're starting trash pulls.


Start the night with our good friend Patchwerk. Normally a testing ground for balls-to-the-wall DPS, HPS, and TPS. But not tonight. Tonight, we're here for one thing only. Ranged DPS wait 10 seconds or so before opening up. Melee DPS hang tight until the RL gives the instruction.

Spent way less attention to DPS than usual, and I refused to check the Damage Meters for the entire night. Despite trying to go so deliberately slowly, we still killed him in less than 3 minutes, which is comical.

25 players enter, 25 players leave.


Ok everybody, you know its not polite to fart near your friends, so run to the back before you let loose.

Everything's going fine, gassy folks are positioning right, tanks are picking up slimes, DPS is truckin.

And then the dreaded.....Oh, SHT, [name-of-healer] is D/C'ing.

Ok, don't panic. Another healer calmly calls out that he will heal the DC through any damage. We're focused, we're on target.

And then, maybe 5 seconds later, and the second dread....Oh, FCK, [name-of-dc-healer] just got tagged. She's about to fart in the middle of the room.

But we're a bunch of cool customers, so we all shuffle around the expanding cloud of nasty that's occupying the middle of the room.

Things continue fine for another minute or so.

The exact sequence of what happened next is a bit blurry to me, and I'm not looking over the combat log until later, so this is simply from memory of what I observed during the event.

*) A melee DPS D/C'd. DAMN YOU, INTERNETZ! Whether he then was insta-gibbed by something and died, or if it was over a brief time due to standing in a cloud that follows the kited boss, I'm unsure.

*) A healer got flagged, made the correct move to run away from the huddled masses, but made the incorrect move and ran straight into existing clouds and died. The player says that her screen was not showing any clouds at all, perhaps a visual setting?

So, about 15 minutes into the much anticipated Immortal attempt, phoot, no mas.

Then what?

Despite the three losses, we killed Grob, no surprise there.

Move on to Gluth, still interested in practicing Immortal, and we nailed him perfectly, no deaths, outstanding kiting (IM-very-biased-O) by the hunters and mages.

And then Thaddius and the dreaded Ledge Boss. This is one of those moments that just make you cringe. On a personal level, its been months since I've failed the leap, but it still gets me nervous every single time. On a team level, I havent really tracked it, but it does seem that we lose somebody almost every week.

Nailed it. All 25 across safe and sound.

And then for the real fun. We're trying for the Shocking thing. Simple strat, basically same as we always do. Just run in very wide arcs around the boss as you switch sides.

As the fight wore on, the tension builds more and more and more. Who's going to fkc it up? More importantly, will it be me? Push those thoughts out of your head, focus on your positioning, the boss cast bar, and your own debuff. Run WIDE to the outside when you switch.

The lower the health of the boss, the further you move to the edge of your seat.

And then he dies, and your screen fills up with Shocking achievements, which was pretty damn cool. One shot, everybody survived, no crossed polarity.

From there, since Immortal wasn't an option any more, we went and 20-manned some of the wings, culminating in finishing off the 20-man achievement for many of the players. Topping the highlight reel was 20-man Safety Dance.

What worked?

Although we didn't ding Immortal, I am very happy with the evening. Here's some of the keys that I think build the foundation for when we will ultimately get it done:

1) Communication - Two of the Officers co-led the raid, and the two of them did an excellent job of using calm voices and giving very clear instructions for things that we'd be doing differently versus our normal routine.

2) Pace - There was absolutely no rush. Example: Patchwerk. Its annoying how he paces around. If you're not ready to engage him at the right time, he might walk away and you wait 5 minutes. Or you might rogue distract him or have a MD hunter risk the frogger boss to pull Patch as he walks away. Not tonight. We were very deliberate about all our actions.

3) Control - Although only a series of trash pulls, the combination of large kicking/stomping mobs, roaming patrols, and hidden shades between Gluth and Thaddius often give us issue. The raid showed excellent control and discipline as we smoothly handled this area, allowing tanks proper time for positioning, choosing when to engage, focus firing mobs. Its the small things that make a difference and this segment of the evening was just right.

4) Confidence - Yes, we didn't get Immortal, but we did go in and nail out several achievements, all one shots. Thaddius Shocking and zero deaths was a big win. 20-man Safety Dance builds confidence.

I truly hope the guild wants to keep trying. We showed what our raid is capable of when we focus. We are disciplined. We are focused. We have effective leaders, and members who can follow instructions and deliver results. Immortal is DEFINITELY within our grasp.

What needs to change?

While building on the existing strengths, we definitely need to learn from mistakes and not repeat them. None of these is intended to zing, or single out, the player(s) involved. I'm proud of the effort each raider put in. However, we do need to take action if Immortal is going to happen:

1) Visual Settings - The player who died on Grobbulus by running into the damage. You absolutely must get your visual settings configured properly. We can go to a Naxx-10 before next week's immortal attempt, and just sit in Grobbulus's room, fiddling with your UI until its right.

2) Disconnects - We had a few disconnects. Yes, it does happen, and often times it is out of the control of the player. Sht happens, especially when it comes to computer networking. However, some things might be in your control. For instance, I know if I raid from the house with DSL, incoming calls usually disconnect me, and the Cable Modem house does not have this risk. I will never attempt an Immortal run from the DSL house. Each player might have similar things under their control that can improve our chances.

3) Practice on Each Boss - I do appreciate that we changed modes once Immortal was gone and got a few other achievements. It was nice, it was fun, and many raiders (me included) needed them for the meta-achievement. However, if Immortal is ever to be a reality, we need to visit each boss with every raider thinking only about team survival. If we consistently stop practicing after the actual Achievement is gone, then we will have a tougher time on the later bosses, the first time the sun is shining and we succeed at the early ones.

The Future

Not sure what the future has in store for our Immortal attempts, or how many more weeks we have to shoot for it. Probably 4 more?

The thing I like about Immortal is that it really is simply encouraging something we should be doing anyway. We all want to be alive at the end of the fight, however, things like DPS e-peen, youtube videos playing on a computer next to your WoW monitor, and so on, all get in the way.

The more I think about it, the more I want Blizz to implement a similar achievement in each dungeon, but with a twist. I want it to give some tangible reward each and every time you ding it, not just the first time when you get a title or whatever. I think the game is better when everybody is trying to focus together on survival for every fight during every raid.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Immortal Butterflies

Anybody who participates in my raiding life real-time will likely laugh when they see this post. Hell, even those who don't probably will also, but for other reasons.

As I write, it is tuesday lunchtime, waiting in anticipation for tonight's raid. By the time this post hits the blog, the events I'm anticipating will actually be over and done with.

Tonight is the first night we will be making a focused effort to become Immortal. Clear Naxx-25 without any deaths during boss encounters.

Prep Work

You'd like to think that clearing naxx every week would be prep enough. I mean, don't we all try to survive EVERY fight?

But this is different. Take Patchwerk. If you're shooting for a world speed record, every DPS will be pushing threat as absolutely close to the tanks as night elvenly possible. That runs a risk that a melee dps might eat a strike and bite the dust. I'll leave it as a debate for the readers as to whether that's reasonable or not, but the fact is, it can happen. Going for Immortal? Take your time. Instead of 2.5 minutes, lets kill him in 4 or 4.5. Let the rage-starved second and third tanks stay above you so they eat the strikes. Its why they're here, and its why we love them.

In prep for tonight, we've got lots of conversation going on the forums.

Tweaks to 4H to ensure survival. Tweaks to Thaddius, Heigan, Instructor Raz, and so on. Anywhere we've lost a player in the last several weeks. What went wrong, what do we do to fix it. On fights we havent had recent deaths, we reinforce the keys that make us win.

Then there's the consumables. Push the stamina and defensive stats more heavily than the raw DPS or Healing stats. We know we can kill these things with only 20 players, so go a little extra to help survive.

I'm leaving the decision of swapping a few gems for more stamina (which is also AP for my spec, so not entirely silly) for an impulsive decision close to raid time.


Once we start pulling, its Go Time. Game Face On!

No other computers on the network downloading anything or playing wow. No iTunes playing. No distractions. No extra sources of lag. No booze.

No "that's what she said" on vent, no matter how perfect the setup is, and how much its killing me to not say it. Lock it up and maintain focus.

Might bring my Immortal Ancona Chicken companion pet, but that's only because she's awesome.

I haven't died in Naxx in ages. Must remember the little things that increase personal and team survival.....

Nobody dies in Maex webs on my watch.

My grobulus farts go where they belong.

I keep my Zombie Chows on the frost so they cannot catch me.

Night Elves CAN Jump! Thaddius ledge boss will be cleared. I know what + and - look like, when to look for them, and what to do when they change.

I do not multishot on Razuvious so I don't mess up the priest MC's.

I assist the tank on the undead side of Gothik as he picks up the adds and I do not pull aggro.

I watch my debuffs and switch Horsemen without standing in the bad stuff.

My MD will be ready when Noth blinks to save my Mages.

I can dance like Swayze and Grey. Nobody puts Baby in the corner!

After eating a spore, I return to my spot to make the 3 seconds my healers get just a little bit easier.

I hide behind ice blocks and I mouse-turn to run out of the snow.

I know how to target the proper Soul Weaver and kill her from range. I know how to spread out to limit ice cube chains. I know how to NOT mana explode my healers. I'm ready to Wyvern Sting and Frozen Arrow any MC'd teammates.

I will not die in the fire.

I will not die in the fire!


Geeky or not, I've got butterflies in my stomach.

And I love it.

Thinking it over, this is exactly what I want out of Achievements. Immortal is pushing us to do something we should be doing anyway. Not like the silly 20-man ones, where Blizz is asking you to tell 5 of your teammates to sit out for no real reason. Stupid. Immortal is spot on. We raid naxx each week, and this achievement is making us do it better.

Anxiety. Tension. Build Up.

The team is depending on eachother to deliver flawless execution.

We might get it, we might not. Obviously I want to nail it, but if it doesn't happen, not the end of the world. Just exciting to be trying, and if we fail, I hope we come back and keep trying.

Tonight, before WoW time, everything will be peaceful and zen. When I get home, with a little help from the uber gf, I'll make some dinner, take the dog for a walk, do some coloring books and some bedtime stories, and then I'll tuck the little one in for the night, sing Twinkle Little Star, kiss her peaceful lil' sleeping forehead as I turn out the light.

Then, keeping with the calm meditative tone, I'll get tomorrow's breakfast and lunch prepared and packed and ready to go, make sure the dog has gone outside and he's curled up in a little ball all snug on his dog bed or the couch, that little rascal, and make sure everything is right with the world, because once I log in....

...its time for Daddy to kick some ass!

Flask Changes

The following post is the result of a slow day of reading material to fill up a lunch break and a desire to see how many times I can fit the word "flask-hours" into a blog post.

So WoW Insider reports that Flasks change in patch 3.1.

Old: Recipe crafts 1 flask. Flask lasts 2 hours. Flask-Hours / Materials = 2

New: Recipe crafts 2 flasks. Each flask lasts 1 hour. Flask-Hours / Materials = 2

In both the old and the new, the number of hours I can be under the influence of a flask is 2 for the same material cost.

So why predict a change in the market price of flasks?

Some anecdotal evidence to start off...

Reflecting on my own situation only, I will be wasting less flask-hours.

My raids are three hours in length. To be continuously under the influence of a flask, I need to drink two of them. However, one full flask-hour is totally wasted (well, technically it benefits me while questing or farming or doing BGs after the raid, but that is time I would not actively choose to have flask buff for).

Lets say I raid Ulduar 4 nights per week, 3 hours per night.

In the old configuration, I would drink two flasks (4 flask-hours) each night, and a total of 8 flasks (16 flask-hours) each week.

In the new configuration, I will drink three flasks (3 flask-hours) each night, and a total of 12 flasks (12 flask-hours) each week.

Time for some conjecture here

I'm going to guess that the average raid has a duration that is close to an exact multiple of 1 hour.

A much smaller set of raids have a duration close to an exact multiple of 2 hours.

Blizzard makes this change, and the result is much fewer wasted flask-hours. For my raid, 25% of my current flask consumption is pure waste. Given how easy things are, you might argue that 100% of my consumption is waste, but go do OS+3D with a progression group a couple times and then we have a chat.


In the current setup, demand is artificially boosted. I'm forced to consume 4 flask-hours when I only want to consume 3 flask-hours.

Its like bread companies selling buns in packs of six, and wiener companies selling hotdogs in packs of 8. They're artificially forcing you to purchase 2 extra items which often go to waste (unless I plan on having 24 hotdogs, or if I like eating peanut-butter-on-a-hotdog-bun sandwiches the day after I eat hotdogs. did i get that right? maybe its sliced up bunless hotdogs mixed in mac n cheese. i always forget which one comes extra since I always eat 24 at a time anyways).

Now that we can purchase in more efficient quantities, we will be consuming fewer (wasted) flask-hours.

So demand drops. If supply of flask-hours remains the same (same materials input will produce the same number of flask-hours output), price per flask-hour should drop.

But that's not all folks

Next they tell us that gathering a node will yield more herbs than in the past.

So the expected impact is that supply for mats for flasks will increase. If you look at this in a vacuum, and keep demand for flask-hours constant, that should reduce the price of a flask-hour.

But we're not in a vacuum. We just said above that the demand for flask-hours will drop.


Lower demand for flask hours, this reduces the price for flask-hours. But then reduce the cost to produce a flask-hour. If they get it right, the profit per flask-hour, or cost/income ratio, might remain stable.

Just how good are the economists at Blizzard?

The question is...just how good are they?

If they have some existing data regarding how many wasted flask-hours there are on a server (perhaps measuring how much time players are under the influence of a flask but NOT in a raid instance. not perfect, but perhaps indicative of trends), and they have existing data on the herb gathering rates on the server (easy to gather since blizz controls the spawns and the parameters that control how much herbs show up in the loot window), they just might be able to tweak the herb drop rate to keep price per flask-hour stable.

They need to address the Elixir Spec procs as well. The current procs provide between 2-10 extra flask-hours (or is it 2-8? whatever). If the new procs provide the same number of flasks, they'll be providing half the number of bonus flask-hours for the alchemist, in effect increasing the cost to produce a flask-hour.

Of course, it'll need some time to settle since the first week after the patch hits, all sorts of craziness will happen as people dump stockpiles of herbs or flasks (bad idea, craft them after the patch or else your existing flasks will change from 2 hour to 1 hour overnight), or other people try to jack with the market.

Also, we've got another, less easy to predict factor. Is Ulduar hard enough to drive demand for flask-hours up? That might totally skew the entire market. I'm thinking that demand will increase quite a bit, but that's pure speculation.

Or a new limiting reagent appears like Frost Lotus. So all the other herbs are plentiful, but Frost Lotus doesn't change. That then becomes the price driver for the flask market.

Its enough to make you go crosseyed

Since I farm my own herbs, have stockpiles galore, and I brew my own flasks, I'm excited by the change since my three hour raids will be less wasteful, but it will be interesting to watch what happens to the market.

My only hope is that Ulduar is hard enough. Or rather, that the hard modes are rewarding enough to encourage ongoing participation beyond the single achievement kill. Default Mode Ulduar will be only slightly more difficult than Naxx, which is good to allow access to wide audience and also to allow rich folks to buy farming spots months after the progression experience is gone.

If hard-mode Ulduar is both hard and rewarding, there's going to be lots of demand for flask-hours, which will benefit me if I choose to sell my raw herbs or my refined flasks.

Plus, flask-hour economics aside, its hard-mode content that I'm actually here for.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alt Leveling Quickies

Looking over my posts from last week, one might notice a small slowdown. Leaves a hole in most of your hearts.

Stems from a few places: new and exciting stuff going on at work, in-game doldrums between patches, and more importantly, a super top secret pet project that I've started in WoW. I've been feverishly writing about it, but not posting yet, because I don't want my posts to actually interfere with the project itself. So lots of content that'll be posted probably starting in May or so, once I've concluded the project.

Of course, that means that once Ulduar comes out, and I've got lots to talk about, I'll also likely open the flood gates on these extra articles, so the timing is unfortunate, but what can I do. The inspiration for my project came to me when it came to me, and sadly not at a convenient time for posting purposes.

Here's a few quickies from this weekend:

1) Working on leveling an alt. Another player and I are mostly keeping our two alts close to eachother. Fun because its tank/healer (or at least was until he respec'd), so I'm seeing forming PuG's from the other side of the tracks.

2) One nice part of the design of Northrend quest zones is that we can keep one zone for solo work, and also keep another zone with quests totally synchronized (aka, don't go to the zone when the other guy isnt on). Piddle at your own pace in the solo zone, and then when we're on at same time, the synchronized zone just flys.

3) If you've never done a "Kill 15 xyz" quest by rounding up 15 mobs on a Feral Druid, and having a Shadow Priest Mind Sear them down, its a sight to behold.

4) One of my toons is a level 65 who's only real activities are earning tips as a Blacksmith and following Amava around for the daily JC quest. She went the full way through level 65 and dinged 66 simply by doing the one quest daily. If I was clever, I'd calculate how long it'll be till this girl turns 68 and becomes eligible for Northrend proper, but I am not so I won't.

5) Progress continues....slowly...on the Explorer's League. Roughly 1 month till Revered, then close to 4 months beyond that for Exalted, that is if I don't miss any days. At least the one quest is fun...ish.

6) I've been using the alt as a place to learn tanking. I've put that on hold, just a little bit. 3.1 will give 360 degree, non-targeted swipe, basically consecration for bears. I'll re-learn tanking once that's in place. Or just tank an instance when I have quests for it.

7) Group quests take on new meaning when you've got a level 80 with a gorilla hovering overhead ready to drop down and lend a helping hand.

8) Achievements that just sorta happen are a very amusing addition to the game. I fell off a cliff. I nearly died. I dinged "falling down" achievement adding a big chuckle to the moment. A level 80 Orc death knight was harassing two level 74 Alliance players. When we turned on him and killed him, I dinged some achievement for killing one of each race, adding a big chuckle to the moment.

DSL d/c from WoW

Do any of you connect to WoW over DSL?

When I'm connecting via one of two DSL networks available to me, and there's an incoming call, 90% of the time I get d/c'd from WoW.

When I'm playing over a Cable Modem, no such problem (what with there being no phone on that network, its tough to compare apples-to-apples).

Anybody else have this problem, and more importantly, know a fix?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ask Amava - Malygos, Main Assisting, and Teh Suck

Welcome to the wall 'o text that is the latest edition of Ask Amava. Durgan is looking for some ideas about playing Hunter in Malygos, the concept and usage of Main Assist, and also is wondering how some Hunters can perform so poorly despite good gear.

And to top it all off, one little tidbit contained herein comes to you hot hot hot off the press, breaking news!!! just discovered last night. Read on for more!

All excellent questions. Lets take a look...

Malygos Spark Management

How do you see where sparks are coming from, for my first time in there it was really confusing trying to find these sparks that were flying all over the place, and with no DK to gather them up maly even got to eat one.

For those unfamiliar with the encounter, the Malygos fight takes place on a circular platform. During Phase 1, sparks form periodically around the outside of the room, and slowly make their way towards Malygos (who is the one and only mob you're fighting during P1). If a spark reaches Malygos, he does mean things to your raid. If you kill a spark before it reaches the dragon, a little patch of sweetness lands on the ground for a little while. If you stand in the sweet spot, your damage output is amplified greatly (forget the percentage increase off the top of my head, but it is very very nice). Spark Sweet Spots can stack, so if you pile dead sparks on top of one another, your DPS reaches Ludicrous Speed.

Spark placement is a balancing act. Clearly, your first motivation is to kill them before they reach Malygos. However, if you kill them too far away, then your Melee DPS can't stand in the sweet spots, hurting the raid. Its like The Price is Right, you want to get the spark as close to maly as you can without letting him eat it.

In 25-man raids, we generally use 2 methods for spark management. (A) Death Knight grip to bring spark over to where you want it, followed by focus fire for quick death. (B) Boomkin entangling roots to keep sparks from moving while Death Grip is on cooldown. The Boomkin will spend lots of his time scanning for sparks, which I can only imagine hurts his DPS, but he's performing a very valued service in return.

There are more sophisticated techniques that involve tank movement for optimal stacking of 3 or more sparks, but we're only just dabbling with that, so I can't confidently comment on how its done yet. It is this kind of mobile tanking solution that would be required if you want to stack sparks but have no DK available.

In 10's, you have much less wiggle room or extra classes. I've had to be the spark lookout sometimes in 10's. Unfortunately the only advice I can offer is practice. You need to constantly swivel your camera around to look for new sparks. Since P1 is not very mobile, other than the repositioning following a Vortex, it does get easier to figure out where the sparks are forming. Sorry, no quick easy solution here.


Hot Hot Hot off the presses! To make use of Improved Tracking, I generally slap on Undead, Humanoids, or Dragonkin, depending upon where we're going. Sure, since a recent patch, it doesnt matter what type of mob you track, just so long as you dont track minerals and whatnot. Well, discovering half way through Sapphiron that I was tracking "and whatnot", I stumble to quickly select someting. ANYTHING. that isnt a mineral or herb. I landed on Track Elementals.

Fast forward 20 minutes, and we're in malygos, and I'm seeing these strange red dots on my minimap, starting out from the perimeter and moving slowly towards the center.

Track Elementals, Bitches! The sparks show up there, making it much easier to identify and locate their position.

FYI, this is likely NOT breaking news, and I bet others have found it months and months ago. But for me and the hunters I roll with, it was a revelation, so there!

Main Assist

Speaking of assist, I still haven't encountered a group that uses it, and I think it would be such a huge benefit for everyone to be able to just concentrate fire on one thing at a time without guessing what the target is. Any explanation of how to set it up and use it properly would be appreciated.

Main Assist (MA) is a technique wherein a single player in your raid is assigned the aptly named job of Main Assist. The job of this player is to select targets. The job of the rest of the DPS is to assist the MA for selection of new targets.

Very simple in concept, very powerful in results. In a 25-person raid, if you have a 6-mob trash pull, and everybody chooses discrete targets, you'll have 6 mobs at 25% health, hitting just as hard as 6 mobs at 100% health. However, if you focus fire and burn down mobs one at a time, you will quickly remove each individual mob very quickly, thus reducing the burden on your crowd controllers (if you are employing them), and your healers and tanks (we love them).

Using a MA is a very effective way to achieve this focused fire.

1) It starts with the raid leader. The RL needs to assign the job of MA and communicate it out to the raid.

2) DPS needs to have an easy method for assisting the MA. Two good methods are:
a) Assist macro (/assist Player-Name) This works pretty well, just spam the macro as your target reaches the end of his life.
b) ORA2 Tank Frames. If your raid uses ORA2, the RL can designate the MA as one of the tanks (or there might be an actual MA function in ora2), and that player and his target will appear in your ORA2 Tank Frame.

I end up using both 2a and 2b simultaneously. For slow controlled fights, the visual effect of the tank frame is good, and when the stuff hits the fan, I spam my assist macro.

3) As the current mob reaches 10-15% remaining health, the MA should switch targets to the next one, and the other DPS should stay with the current target until its dead. This allows for seamless transition from one mob to the next.

4) If a sudden target change is necessary, the MA should call it out on voice. A good example is when Shade of Naxxramas appears mid-pull. MA needs to be a player who is alert enough and knowledgeable enough to make decisions like that.

When I started raiding 10's in Karazhan, we did not use MA, and personally, I think it led to a harder learning curve for the team at the time.

When we entered 25's and I became the Raid Leader, one of the first things I introduced was the MA, and it's been a part of my raiding ever since.

Hovering Bad Guys in Malygos Phase 2

How do you see those damn flying guys in phase two. I had a hell of a time looking up and trying to find them. Maybe a target macro would be in order, but I'm thinking maybe using assist would be the better solution.

Arrrgggh, Malygos! One of the most visually overwhelming encounters I've done.

First night in there, I was helplessly lost. I couldnt find these flying guys for the life of me, and I was beginning to go crosseyed by the end of the night.

I'm happy to say, its gotten much better.

Four things I do to make Flying-Guy-DPS easier:

1) Camera Zoom: I set my camera to zoom out further via...
/console cameradistancemaxfactor 4

Then zoom out as far as you can. Seeing the full battlefield makes life sooo much easier.

2) Main Assist: Durgan touched upon it in his question, and he's right. Using a Main Assist is outstanding here. Of course, this requires that you have a player capable of targeting the discs without the help of a MA, but oh well. If that guy happens to be you, hopefully a combination of #1 above and #3 below will make your life easier.

3) Tab Targeting: Once the mobs on the ground are dead, you can use Tab button to target new guys. Usually works ok, but its a little tricky visually locating the guy you just targeted. He might be out of range, or he might be slowly revolving around you so that he was in front for Tab to target him, but by the time you start firing, he's moved out of LOS. TAB does help, though.

4) Steady Shot: Ok, so Steady Shot doesn't help me acquire a target, but it does help me stay locked on. As long as your target is vaguely in front of you, your toon will automatically rotate to track your target while you cast Steady Shot. This helps very much as your target moves. Only works when you are safely under a magic bubble and get to stand still for a few seconds.

Last but not least...Teh Suck

One question though, how is that I, a sad little casual running around in my sad crafted purples and a few lucky drops from raids can out dps the other hunters in my raids by anywhere from 1000 to 1500 dps. I don't even know how a hunter with almost all BiS gear can do only 1500 dps

Yeah, I'm not sure where to go with this one. It is definitely true that you come across all types of output from all types of players.

Of course there's the basic stuff which can be Armoried, like:

1) Gear. Just a simple upgrade from the level 70 peacock xbow to my sweet and beautiful Arrowsong led to a nearly 30% DPS increase. I know that's extreme, because it was also a jump in 10 levels, but it proved the point to me that solid output requires solid gear. But Durgan's question addressed gear, indicating the players have good stuff, so we need to look further.

2) Polish. How do the enchants look? Empty gem slots or slots filled with green-quality gems? How's the help arcanum and shoulder inscription look? If you consider each enchant or gem on its own, they feel small, but the cumulative effect across all gear slots adds ~20% to your toon.

3) Hit Rating. This one is tricky. For a player who doesn't spend the time and energy that most blog readers/writers do, the concept of hit rating might go totally missed, since there's not a whole lot in-game to educate you about it. These players might have very good gear, but if itemized incorrectly, might be missing large percent of the time.

4) Spec. Talent points invested in the "wrong" spots can gimp damage big-time. Now, I'm not one to judge, because I think people should more or less do what ever the hell they want with regards to spec. However, raiders I want next to me will have cookie-cutter or very close to cookie-cutter for the talent tree they want to use.

Each of those points above can be armoried, so if the question were more than rhetorical, you can find pretty concrete answers.

But to get deeper than that, how about some of the things I've written about my own experiences?

Lag management - That's a sophisticated term for "spam your buttons". In my own case, I've seen a roughy 1k DPS difference when I spam or don't spam.

Rotation - This can mostly be seen via combat log reports. You can examine the relative percentages of overall damage coming from each type of attack. It should be roughly consistent across Hunters of the same spec. Maybe its a hunter who used to play BM in TBC, and is still pounding a 1:1 steady:auto macro. Times have changed, and so must we.

Kill Command - I remember back in TBC, one of the biggest things I found as I inspected new hunters was the limited KC usage.

Cooldowns - See that trinket? "On Use" means you have to use it. Look at combat log to see what they're doing.

Pet on Vacation - The only PuGs I do anymore are the occasional 5-man, and its not uncommon to see a pet just stand by the hunter's side the entire run. Silly, but very easy to notice.

And lastly...

Teh Suck - This could come out of inexperience, or could in fact be that they just suck. Inexperience can be fixed quickly via practice. But that requires the person to actually care about their performance and be interested in doing something about it. If they just plain old suck, well, that's why we're called Huntards :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Free Yourselves

A post at Ms Elf got me thinking. Go read the original, but I'll paraphrase one snippet here. Basically, she's saying that most fights stress healers in ways that they don't stress other players, specifically DPS. If DPS stands in the fire for a brief moment too long, its usually something that a healer could technically make up for. However, if that healer chooses to not correct for that error, and the player dies, everybody screams "where's the heals" rather than "why'd you stand in the fire".

And I'll even add to that by saying that the DPS player will actually look even better on the ego stroking meter, since they were pew pew'ing during those precious seconds that they should have been moving, thus making it a nasty cycle reinforcing bad behavior.

One way to stop the cycle is to instruct healers to not heal DPS who stand in fire for brief moments. We're not talking about players who just flat-out stand in fire, few people have issue letting those folks die. Rather, I'm talking about the ones who are sluggish to move out of it in favor of finishing off that long cast or getting in another shot or two since Bestial Wrath is up. This is a difficult solution because your healers might not see where the damage came from, only that one of their precious babies took damage so they'll heal 'em up.

Another way to fix it is for raid leaders to perform closer scrutiny to combat logs. Examine your DPS players and see what damage they take. Rather than the reactive yelling at healers for failing to heal, lets get proactive and instruct players to more effectively avoid incoming damage. Movement might lower our standings on the beloved damage meters, so this would only work for sophisticated/organized raids, and would never succeed in a PuG where DPS e-Peen is King.

Ms Elf quotes a Blizzard forum post where somebody suggests another alternative. Blizzard could design a mechanic that puts responsibility where it belongs.

The quote uses Anub'rican and his spikes. Make the spikes pin the player in place and they can only damage the spikes, not the boss, until they break the trap and escape.

This would be an outstanding mechanic. HOWEVER, here's the catch I'd like to add. Well, one of two possible catches.

Catch A) The trapped player takes no damage while trapped. Damage done to the trap by the player in the course of escaping the trap will NOT be reported to the combat log. IE, the time in the trap does nothing but sap the epeen of the DPS'er because all the properly alert and mobile players avoided the trap and continue to pew pew.

Catch B) The trapped player takes damage, BUT cannot be healed. So the penalty for DPSing your own trap too slowly is that you die and nobody can help you, thus subjecting you to public humiliation and also no epeen since you do no dps when dead.

I absolutely love the idea of forcing more individual responsibility.

However, I do subscribe much more to "win as a team, lose as a team". My greatest joy in the game is tackling content with my team. The shared experience of knuckling down and defeating challenges together is the most fun for me. So I don't want every fight to be 25 solo players standing in the same raid dungeon.

But it never hurt to mix in a mechanic or two that very visibly places personal accountability on each individual.

Inner Demons in SSC were kind of like this, however they miss the mark. A tank or healer needing to DPS his/her Inner Demon required that player to sort of step out of their normal raid job/duty.

A mechanic that teaches/forces players to move from the fire quickly simply reinforces the behaviors that lead to success through out all raiding.

Hunter Techniques for Sartharion and Gluth

In a comment discussion following a post on BRK's site, there was a hunter asking for some help on learning how to play hunter in two specific encounters: Pet Survival against Sartharion, and kiting Zombie Chow on Gluth.

Well, to be fair, given the context of his question, I think he's looking for some help with a variety of bosses, but only specifically itemized these two, and he was looking for video footage, which I don't have.

That said, I figured I'd give my Hunter techniques some air time regarding the two fights in question.

Pet Survival in Obsidian Sanctum

Pet survival in Obsidian Sanctum with drakes up is pretty brutal. However, even a Survival hunter gets 15-20% of the total DPS from the pet, so we all want to pay attention to it.

I have found some keys to keeping my pet alive when fighting Sartharion:

Run away, little girl! Run away!

Condition the stimulus response.

Stimulus: Ears hear "run away little girl".

Response: Recall pet and locate safe spot in flame wall.

Even with full Avoidance and Resistances, I have found no way for my pets to survive a flame wall hit. Recall pet, find safe spot in wall, watch wall pass, send pet back in, and resume pew pew.

Twilight Torment

Twilight Torment is a sneaky mechanic. You take damage as you do damage. You need to monitor your pet's health very carefully on this one and keep him by your side if need be during the Torment stage of the encounter.

TT is tough for the Hunter too, so you need to monitor your own health very closely as well. Mend pet, even the dull boring non-talented version that SV hunters have, will help your pet stay in there a bit longer, but be vewy vewy caweful.


This one is tough. With your pet positioned behind a Drake, it can be very tough to spot fissures back there.

It is a shame when you see two or three hunter pets die simultaneously when a fissure comes up in a bad spot.

The flame wall and Twilight Torment are avoidable. The Fissures must be avoided without fail by the Hunter, and do your best to also spot pet fissures.

Hunter Kiting adds on Gluth

This is a fun one. If you're assigned to Zombie Chow kiting duty, you will be playing a role that is entirely different than your job on every other boss in Naxx.

Bye-bye, Pew-pew. Hello, Frost Traps.

In 10-man, this is fun as hell, because you'll likely be the only person doing the job. In 25-man, still fun, but you'll need to coordinate your efforts with other players (other Hunters, and some Mages, in my experience).

The short version of the story is: Drop a frost trap and run circles around the perimeter of the frosty area, shooting at all the Zombie Chows you can see. Drop new traps whenever the cooldown is available.

Step 1- Drop Trau Trap: After you jump down from the pipe, run in a few steps and drop a Frost Trap as soon as possible. You want to get your trap cooldown ticking right away.

Step 2 - Blow the Whistle: Recall your pet (since you dismissed prior to entering the tube, yes?) and sic her on the boss. I just leave my pet chewing on Gluth to help out with the DPS efforts. I'm sure that more creative hunters can make use of their pets in kiting, but that's not me.

Step 3 - Pull Aggro: Look for Zombie Chow. They'll generally bolt straight for a healer. You need to nail them with enough damage to generate sufficient threat to keep them off your healers. I find Explosive Shot works nicely. If I have some distance between me and Chows, I'll stand still for a moment to fire an auto-shot for added threat.

Step 4 - Position for Trap Activation: Move your toon such that the Zombie Chow you just aggroed will pass over your un-triggered frost trap.

Step 5 - Round and Round We Go: Run in a circle around the perimeter of the frost trap. The Chow will basically remain stuck sorta in the middle-ish of the trap AoE, continuously turning to follow you, thus keeping himself slowed by the trap. Meantime, you run at full speed, so he never catches you.

Step 6 - Pickup Adds: Keep eyes open for additional Zombie Chows. Here is where it gets a little tricky because you use your mouse for movement to keep yourself running around the outside -BUT- you need to target the new Chows. So I usually briefly use my left hand on the keyboard for movement while I target a new chow via the mouse. It happens very quickly, so there's nearly zero interruption to the movement.

Step 7 - Renew Trap: Ensure frost traps drop as soon as the cooldown's up.

Step 8 - Other CC: Depending on how well the "round and round we go" technique is working for you, you may need to Concussive Shot and/or Wing Clip. A jump shot here or there can be added in for some style points.

Step 9 - Volley: At certain points, all the Zombies will run for Gluth. It'll be pretty noticeable because you'll think you just lost aggro on the entire pack you were kiting. Volley the hell out of them because it'd be bad for them to reach the boss.

There you go. Nine simple steps to kiting Gluth's adds. When done well, Step 5 in Naxx-10 is a sight to behold, as you'll have this nice tight pack of 6 or 8 Zombie Chows just spiraling in the middle of your frost trap.

Who's next?

I'm not claiming to be an expert on any of this stuff, but I do like sharing methods that have proven successful for me.

What other bosses would you like hunter advice on?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh noes, the blog

I'll try to keep it quick, since the burning drama that I'd like to talk about (and no, those of you who incorrectly think I'm suffering from infatuation, its not the drama that you think it is, although there is some awfully big cannon fodder out there this week) is best kept quiet for now. You've been warned, it might be boring(er than normal).

1) Oh noes, the tadpoles! - My level 70 alt is questing through Borean Tundra and has reached the Murloc Quest line. It remains one of the most entertaining things in WoW for me. Between the baby murloc immature murgle-murgle noise generating glands, the goofy murloc suit, and the general clamminess of the event, its just fantastic.

2) Poundin' Some Bosses - No official performance plan update, other than to say that my Patchwerk numbers are back to right around where they should be. I might switch trinkets and regem for next week for no other reason than to try something different. 7 or 8 gems to switch, but luckily some joker is messing with the jewel market, listing stacks and stacks of dirt cheap gems. Annoying to my JC, but pleasing to my raider.

3) Enough with the leftovers - Infused Mushroom Meatloaf. Maybe 6 days in a row now. On three toons per day. My boots are starting to stink from running around the Sewers so much.

4) Slow Boat to China - JC daily quest is required to buy JC recipes. Most of the JC dailies can be done in Grizzly Hills. Not too far from there is the Explorer's League's one and only daily quest. The flight out to the area and the completion of both those dailies feels like the absolutely Slowest Boat to China in the world, with the end goal being 4 or 5 months out for both of them.

5) Big Love - Among the joys of multiple boxes is that you can take care of other stuff (see #3) while riding the slow boat to china (see #4).

6) On the Boosting front - The uber gf and amava went on a nice trip to Heroic Violet Hold with some friends. Its a great place to run because (A) its pretty quick and (B) if you're not a veteran raider/dungeon runner, it offers some chaos and requires paying attention to dynamic targeting and threat management. Fun had by all.

7) Melting Faces - Also on the Boosting front, the uber gf's gear is getting pretty solid according to the shadowpriest.com pre-raid recommendations. Plus she's performing better and better in runs with friends and PuGs, so that means pretty soon I won't be able to call it "boosting" anymore, which makes me both happy and sad at the same time. Plus, her shadowy flying carpet looks awesome.

8) Snot Rocket - Somebody had what I think is a baby murloc pet during our raid last night. During the quietest of quiet times, you suddenly hear this eerie giggle/whine noise. Soda came out my nose (tmi). I love it, and more to the point, I hope they don't over do it, because I rather enjoy the cleansing that comes with a carbonated beverage passing through your sinuses, but if it happened all the time, it'd lose its impact. I think celebrities and rich people pay thousands of dollars for these types of cleansing treatments at spas, whereas I get it for free as added perk thrown on top of raiding with the guild.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On learning to tank

Short Version: If there is one ability that I'd like to see added to the Feral Druid tree, it is an AoE debuff that will cause the mobs to be immune to Death Grip. Nuff said!

Medium Version: Learning to tank at level 69/70 is interesting. For a player long trained to stand far away from the fight, to avoid being #1 on the threat meter, and to follow the pace set by another player, it is a very strange experience. I highly recommend all DPS players to try it out at one point or another, if for no other reason than to get a very clear pair of concepts through their head: FOLLOW THE DAMN KILL ORDER and THROTTLE YOUR DAMN DPS IF YOU'RE ABOUT TO PULL AGGRO!

Long Version:

By the time my Druid reached level 69, she really hadn't raised a claw in anger in her career. She flew from 1-60 as part of the RAF program, following her big sister through classic dungeon after classic dungeon. Then in Outlands to 68, she did a combination of questing and instance boosts, still with an actionbar that really only had a single macro on it..."/follow Amava".

Once she was Northrend capable at 68, she began questing in Borean Tundra, but still as a lover, not a fighter. Multi-boxing, FTW. This brought her to 69.

And then a friend leveling a healer was looking for a tank for Nexus or Utgarde Keep, so it was time that my little bear brushed her fur, cleared her throat, and started to growl.

Getting Ready

As you can imagine, things were not pretty at first.

Step 1: Get some gear. Level 69 is kinda stinky for AH greens and armor packs and stuff. Level 70 would have been better, but my friend was anxious, and since he was the healer, if he felt I'd be ready, then its time to take the training wheels off and see if this bike can ride. I was able to get a few items with agility and stamina, and some gems.

Step 2: Visit the Druid trainer. Hadn't been there in countless levels. A couple hundred gold in training :-)

Step 3: Spend talent points. 10 or 15 talent points just sitting there doing nothing, dump them into tanky looking abilities. I'll do my research later for a real spec, for now lets jump into the deep end and learn to swim.

Step 4: Glyphs? Who needs glyphs? Totally forgot to get any for the first couple runs. Oops.

Step 5: Browse the spell book and see what these bears put on their actionbars. There's a reason Blizz doesn't just let new toons jump in at 70. The array of abilities you're faced with is overwhelming. So I picked a few that looked reasonable. Hindsight showed that I was almost right.

Trial by fire

Did a couple runs at level 69 in Nexus and UK. I can only imagine what the PuG members were saying to eachother about the tank. Sloppy, to say the least.

But, I've got a reasonable handle on the game's mechanics, and sorta got the hang of things. Definitely rough around the edges. Definitely not using any sort of threat rotation. Definitely missing a few key abilities off of my action bar and talent spec (lacerate & charge, ftl).

Not too many deaths, but then again, a 5-man group with 4 level 71's won't have too much trouble in nex and uk.

Focused on watching the kill order and pushing threat on the current mob in the sequence, while also swiping for threat on the rest of the pack.

The runs all completed successfully, with the biggest obstacles being your standard PuG afks and other non-sense, not the hopelessly inexperienced and undergeared tank.

Changes at 70

After a few runs, I reached 70.

This allowed me to go to the AH and get solid starter set of gear, jumping from 9K health to about 14k health in an instant.

There's just so many more options once you hit 70, and the leap in stat allocation is nice.

And the big discovery at this point. LACERATE and CHARGE.

Went back into nex and uk with a real threat rotation. What a world of difference, as if that should be surprising. FFF, 5 stack lacerate, keep mangle up, maul like a madman, swipe if there's extra mobs.

Will I become a good tank?

I'm not sure if I'll make a good tank or not.

Not so much a skill question. I have no doubt that with more practice, I'll do a reasonable job at holding aggro. I'm sure I can study gear and spec and whatnot to become sturdy for taking hits. With experience, I'll learn the subtle art of positioning mobs to point where we want them and to move the packs such that the melee folks are not standing in fire.

No, my problem is an attitude thing. I react poorly to coconuts.

Mr. Death Knight who loves to death grip mobs away from me? DIE IN A FIRE. I shall not taunt anything off of you, not that it really matters at this level, you OP f'er. Even better that the healer is my friend, and we're in cahoots to let you die when you act irresponsibly.

Ms. Warlock with your little pet who is dumping out more threat than I can keep track of? What's the deal? Do warlocks have a pet that's more threat-oriented, or have a growl'esque ability like hunter pets that can toggle on/off? Either way, you and your pet annoy me.

Mr. Mage who thinks that we're putting icons up so that each player can pick his own mob to DPS? Watching you die was so. much. fun. I hope you don't have a lot of gold, and the repair bill was a big inconvenience for you.

All the DPS players who respected the kill order, and when things became chaotic you kept assisting me to keep up with my high-threat target? I love you, and you reinforce the behaviors I like to exhibit when I'm DPS'ing.

And it takes more than one or two boo-boo's to become a target of my hatred. Its those jokers who death grip every pull, or specifically target their own mob on every single pull. Those are the ones who need to either (A) leave my party or (B) die in fire, not necessarily in that order.

I hope to keep playing as a tank, as its a very different and fun view of the game. Time will only tell if I'll learn to tolerate renegade DPS, or maybe I'll just stick to runs with players I know.

A Weekend of Quickies

A random assortment of fun from this weekend, which included some WSG action, some alt leveling, my first stab at tanking level-appropriate content, and paying a visit to Black Morass, Lurker Below, and Prince Malchezedoodle (and his whole band of merrymen in that there tower).

Coordinated BGs: If given the choice between premade and pug WSG, I vote premade. One small example: Horde FC is hiding in the Horde base. He's a Paladin, and he has with him two additional paladins and a priest. In a PUG that equates to hellish nightmare turtle with allies running in one at a time, chipping off 1% of the pally FC's health, and then getting crushed. However, a coordinated surprise assault by 4 of our players focus fired on the priest (dead before he knew we were there, /assist macro FTW), faked a focus attack on one of the others (to distract the healers away from the FC), then slaughtered the FC.

The Fisherman Below: A couple of us wanted to go fish up Lurker for the achievement. SSC with 5 players is an interesting sight to see. Fun to remember how intimidating some of those trash pulls in between Hydross and Lurker were the first time we saw them at 70. Also fun to AOE them into the ground at 80.

Jumpshots with the Flag: Although this does not require a premade BG, it is substantially more fun when you are the flag carrier being protected by a pain train of friends on Vent. When you're the FC, your normal reaction is to run in a straight line towards your own base. As the situation allows, you sometimes might engage in combat. As a hunter FC, you're generally dropping frost traps, wyvern stinging healers that're in front or off to the side, using Aspect of Cheetah or Pack when there's no enemy around, and running like Forrest Gump. A new twist I stumbled upon this weekend. Jump shot the pursuit team with Concussive shots and/or Wyvern Sting. Keep running, jump and spin in the air, and nail them to keep them away while you continue forward progress. Such fun.

Back to the Future: Upon reaching level 68, my Druid became eligible to specialize her alchemy. Elixir spec requires collection of quest items in Black Morass. So Amava, the uber gf, and the druid-on-follow went off to caverns of time. Discovered you need to rescue Thrall before you can do BM. These are two of my favorite TBC instances, especially when we were at a gear level that made them hard. Anybody else remember how much fun being on add duty was in BM and trying to keep the shield at 100%?

Important Safety Note: the frenzy fish in SSC will one shot you if you're naked. It is inconvenient to learn this by having your two available rez'ers drop into the water before putting their clothes back on.

Freezing Arrow, FTW: Run into WSG flag room via the tunnel. See enemy defender standing by ramp. Shoot arrow, freeze him, grab flag, and GTFO. Either he has to blow his trinket, making him easy to take out on the way back to your base, or he sits there till he thaws, in which case you're at mid-field already. This also works for freezing people that're off to the side of your path when you're the FC, although (A) your traps are likely on cooldown from frost traps, and (B) it requires you to use your keyboard briefly for movement so you can use the mouse to target the trap aiming reticle or activate autorun for a moment.

When was the last time you went to Karazhan? After fishing up Lurker, somebody wanted to see if Moroes would drop Mongoose since its still a very viable enchant. Well, he didnt drop it, but we did go on to clear the entire place, including both dragons and illhoofy hoof. We were a pack of school girls having a pillow fight, giggling amongst clouds of feathers. It was awesome. Pull entire rooms of trash dinner guests. If it gets too tough for the Warrior (pansy), just Gorilla-tank everything you can get your thunderstomp on. Chess was the only boss fight that was hard, but with only a couple players and no official healer they were all chaotic enough, and definitely nostalgic enough, to make the run worth its weight in gold.

I can haz tank: There's probably too much to talk about on this one to call it a quicky, so go read the next post.

/shoo Nightbane: For anybody unfamiliar, he switches modes and flies up into the air every 25% of health. But you can continue to DPS him while he's up in the air. We were cackling with glee to burn a full 25% of his health while he's up in the air, and then watch him fly down to the ground to start a ground phase, only to instantly fly back up, touching his feet for less than a second.

Friday, March 6, 2009

10 Reflections About 120 Days

Matticus, GM of Conquest, posted his reflections on the first 120 days of the guild.

Here's some things I'd like to add about the experience. If it feels like fanboi jibber jabber, well, maybe it is. Bottom line is that the guild has been able to deliver on what is stated in its charter, which is a decent way of measuring success as an organization.

And since I took the leap of faith to transfer servers and join the guild based largely upon how strongly I agree with the mission stated in the charter, I'd say its been a pretty big success for me, individually as well.

Lets take a look at some specifics from my experience so far:

1) Bringing Like-Minded People Together. The biggest thing I enjoy about the guild is that we all have a pretty similar approach to our shared hobby. I think the charter, plus the general tone and expectations from the Matticus blog, make it very clear to applicants what the atmosphere will be like in the guild. Many people would not enjoy it, which is perfectly fine and hopefully those players find an environment suitable to their tastes. The most toxic thing to any group is when members have dramatically different expectations, and Conquest does a very good job of providing an environment consistent with its charter.

2) Successful at Progression. Conquest members signed up to defeat content, and we have accomplished that at the T7 level and are well positioned to continue to do so in T8. We do not aim to be server- or world-first, but we do aim to progress steadily and efficiently in a reasonably limited number of hours per week. "Reasonably limited" by our definition, your definition may vary.

3) Minimal Drama. It is a funny thing to consider how much press the Wayne situation received in the blogosphere (player who geared up very very quickly and decided to stop playing until T8). That is perhaps the single example of "drama" in the first 120 days, if you even want to call it that. The team reacted seamlessly and continued progress.

4) Recovery from main tank hack. It is awful for a player to have his account stolen from him. I hope he's doing well IRL, because he is a good person and we miss him. On the flip side, it is awful for a guild to lose their main tank. It is a testament to the strength of the organization (and the new MT's versatility and skill) that we adapted very quickly to such a big loss.

5) Healthy Turnover. We lost only a single raider due to differences of opinion, and the situation was handled by the leaders, members, and the departing player in a very mature fashion, allowing the guild to continue progress and the player to leave with zero bad blood between us. Any other turnover in the raiding team has been reasonable and mutually agreeable.

6) Efficiency. We start on time. We end on time. We waste little in between. One of the biggest things I appreciate about the officers in Conquest, that I was never able to provide for my raiders in my old guild, is an outstanding ability to deliver on the schedule. We all benefit from the time efficiency of the raids. Can we improve further? No doubt, keep pushing those limits.

7) Staffing. Conquest does a good job of maintaining a proper sized raiding pool. To ensure you can handle turnover, hacks, sickness, real life, and at the same time also stick to the schedule, you need to have the right number of raiders. Too many and you've got unhappy bench warmers. Too few and you've got late starts and canceled raids. It is always a dynamic balancing act and the guild has handled it well.

8) Vibrant Forums. One side of the guild that the public does not get to see is the level of engagement the team has on the forums. Lots of conversation involving a wide player-base, ideas, critiques, strategies, and even social threads having nothing to do with WoW (Oh noes! You mean you guys are both friendly with each other AND able to constructively criticize raid performance/strategy at the same time? Inconceivable!)

9) Loot Council. This one is probably the most subjective, and each player's opinion is his/her own. IMO, it is working exactly as advertised. Whenever possible, loot is rewarded in a way that will provide benefit to the guild. Whether that means it goes to a toon that will get the biggest benefit, or to a toon who's player reliably shows up on time ready to rock, or to a toon that specializes into unique and weird roles for specific situations (Sarth+3, here's looking at you), there has been a very good distribution of loot, which is a testament in part to the LC, but more importantly to the type of players that are in the guild. More often than not, raiders actually work the loot out among themselves with no need for LC involvement, and when LC needs to decide the outcome has been generally effective.

10) Blunt Feedback. I wrote about the style of very direct feedback from the raid leadership. If you like sugar to coat your pills, you would not enjoy a progression night in our raid. However, if you have a thick skin and like examining and improving your own performance with the help of those around you, even if that means you need to accept responsibility for your action...nay...specifically when you need to accept responsibility for your action. It'll be blunt, but it'll usually be right, and if you think they're wrong for saying you messed up, you better have some hard data to back your claims, because our RL sure know how to interpret a combat log and he rarely misses something. But if you do have evidence to support your position, they're all ears.

All good?

I'm sure there's more positives to write about, but you're probably getting nauseous already. Along the way, there's of course been hickups.

There was the Wayne situation, which really only was important because it was the first bump we hit.

I've had small nitpicks with the LC along the way, some of which got written up for the public here, and some of which were addressed in private channels. End result is small tweaks leading to a stronger operation, rather than silent resentment leading to total collapse.

Having your main tank get hacked is traumatic, especially right in the middle of progress through Sarth 3D. That was a massive challenge, definitely slowed us down by at least a week on the encounter, but was handled well by the team.

I wrote about a leadership mandate (shoulders and helms getting polished) that was premature in my opinion. Good intent, less good timing. But that's just my opinion, others in the guild have commented to me that they appreciate the leadership pushing hard and pushing early.

Are there any other issues?

Bottom Line

There might be other challenges, mix-ups, fumbles or whatnot that Ive written about or thought about along the way.

But the important thing to take away is that I can't remember them or they're not lingering because they came up, they were dealth with, and they're gone now.

Real life, hacks, nerfs, patches, guild policies, who said what to whom or who got offended by what on vent, silly wipes, educational wipes, achievements, dead bosses, epeen, recruiting, you name it. Things come up in any group activity.

That to me is the true sign of a healthy organization, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and continue on with the mission.

Lag Sux. QQ.E.D.

Lag is starting to annoy me, so much so that it's inspired me into song....

Old NaxXramas had some lag.


With some latency here and a frozen screen there.

Here a pause, there a freeze,

Everybody D/C!

Old NaxXxramas had some lag


Sorry, I just had to get it out of my system.

Did we all get nerfed?

One of the cool parts of being in a raid guild with a stable roster is that you can measure changes in your routine or gear (A) absolutely measured against yourself week on week, and (B) relatively measured by the other players in the raid.

So when you head on into Patchwerk, and discover that your own numbers are down 200-300 DPS over the previous week, you've got a place to look for root cause.

First step is to look at your own self. Did your gear change significantly, did you change spec or shot rotation, were you doing anything special that you didn't do last week? No? Ok, what now?

Next step is to look at other members of the same class. Ok, another Hunter who was very close to you last week is also showing the same decrease.

Great. Did they f'ing stealth nerf f'ing Hunters again this f'ing week?

Maybe, maybe not, so to continue the pseudo-scientific process, lets look at the other classes. Ahhh, seems that the entire raid dropped roughly the same amount, give or take some anomalies (dusty miner's leggings, here's looking at you).

Raid composition both weeks covers all the things we need. Timing of Heroism was consistent. All things seem to be aligned properly.

Only factor I can think of is some server-side situation being different, such as server LAG.

I'm starting to hate lag, as even 100ms changes are showing pretty big impact to numbers.

Sure, it doesn't really matter to the outcome in the T7 content that we're farming, I'm just using the encounters to compare week over week. But if boss fights become harder or if enrage timers are more aggressive, a 5-10% DPS loss across the raid due to some stupid server-side garbage or network bottleneck at Blizzard's datacenter is just brutal.

Consistent Pets

One thing that stands out when I review our WoW Meter Online report (like WWS, but different) is the consistency of pet DPS.

You might recall that our pets are what triggered my lag investigation to begin with.

The story went like this....two BM hunters, pretty similar gear, both OP and loving every minute of it, and both putting out pretty similar numbers.

Nerf bat to the crotch, we both respec to SV. We both show decreased output (expected due to nerf from OP to just P), but one hunter shows bigger decrease than the other.

The theory I had was that lag was the answer, namely that Brass was managing lag better than I was. We were both wearing the same similar gear, using similar spec, and similar shot prioritization, but his nerfed output was much better than mine. Continuing with the theory, I figured that as BM we did similar numbers because the automated pet doesn't suffer from lag issues and BM pet does 40-50% of damage. When we went SV, our pets change to 20% of our DPS which means that my poor lag management was showing a more visible impact to my total numbers.

Make sense?

Step one was to more properly account for lag in my shots (spam buttons), and the results were immediately positive.

Step two is complete this week. Comparing last weeks numbers where the two hunters did similar DPS, to this week where the hunters did similar to each other again but ~5% less than last week.

Examine the pet portion of the DPS. SAME! Across weeks, the pets show no noticeable DPS change, while the Hunters and the rest of the damn raid show a consistent decrease across the board. I'm attributing that to either a network bottleneck near the server, or a sluggishness on the server itself.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Earning Middle Class Wages

Having just re-dinged the 20K gold arbitrary threshold of happiness, and prompted by a reader's comment, I figure I'll throw out some ideas about how I earn my gold.

There's plenty of sites focused on earning gold with the least effort, min-maxing the gold game in the way that raiders min-max the gear & stats game. Just My 2 Copper is one such site. Follow those ideas if you want to find the most time efficient ways to earn your gold.

For me, its a middle class approach, I have enough gold for the fun things I want and the raiding stuff I need, but I'm not cornering any markets or becoming so filthy rich that I can collapse the server's economy.

You can look at the gold tracker on the right to see that my techniques result in steady progress. The flat areas are more due to me forgetting to run my tracking program for a few days in a row (still cant get Vista scheduler to work properly over a year later), and the big drop offs are when I buy fun stuff like mini vans or dragons or when my sac became gigantique (the doctor gave me a cream to fix that).

Note - This is how I got to where I am now, not necessarily what I'm doing in prep for a new patch. I really don't do a whole lot, economy-wise, when a patch is looming in the distance, but I'll think that one over and post about it later.

So here's some of my basic moves:

Gathering Professions

Its no secret...I love 'em. I've got 'em on as many toons as I can. While min-maxing for raids in TBC for a bit I waffled away from mining/herbalism on my main, but even then had Skinning as one prof.

My income is mostly from gathering stuff while I'm out and about doing my thing (daily quest for rep, flying to/from raids & dungeons, flying to sholazar to buy new egg, questing, etc), and then selling on AH.

I like Herbalism & Mining, because I treat them as a passive activity. Fly some place. See herbs. Pick herbs. Sell herbs. Buy Mammoth. I almost never specifically go on "farming" missions, unless there's 15 minutes until raid invites and I've already eaten dinner and the uber gf is nowhere to be found, in which case I'll take a swing around Storm Peaks or Icecrown for some quicky saronite and lichbloom lovin.

Skinning on the other hand is active. Since the mobs are everywhere, you sorta choose when to go skinning or not. So if you like the concept of setting aside 15 or 30 minute killing/skinning sessions, then you might like this one. It is nice because its not dependent upon the random nature of node spawn timers.

AH Mule

If you've not got an AH alt yet, this is a big help. Create a level 1 toon. Run him to the nearest city. Main mails everything to that alt.

There's tons of reasons to do this, however the one for me is psychological. There is a distinct break between when I'm out playing and when I'm doing financial stuff. Having the separate toons helps me mentally separate the activities and I can choose when to engage in either one.

Personally, I like having a guild bank for that mule. It helps me stockpile stuff during times of stupid market conditions. Some coconut destroying the Lichbloom market by listing tons for a few silvers? Just store your incoming herbs in the bank and wait things out. Once the joker is gone, you can trickle your supply back into the market.

Whether or not you want to buy this guy out and hope to deplete his supply at low price and then sell high once he's gone is up to you. I generally avoid the buy low/sell high speculation in WoW because I'm risk averse. If you choose to take the risk, you might be able to profit nicely.

Make a disenchanter

Disenchanting is a big money maker. Your main will bring in lots of disenchantable BoE gear. Some BoE items sell for a pretty penny, but most are worth more as dust.

Yes, you can have a friend DE for you, or if you have no friends you can hire a DE, but the convenience factor of having your own is fantastic.

DE is also for when people try to mess with your gatherables. If you're a miner/herber like me, you deal in raw commodities and you sometimes run into people who try to totally fiddle with the market.

Sometimes its just a kid who doesn't know market values, sometimes its a person trying to play their hand at the economics game, and other times, who the hell knows. Normally just wait a week and they go away. Other times your DE will come in handy for....

Craftable Alternatives

In the past, I would have viewed this as an "advanced strategy", but depending upon your server's market, you might need to consider this a basic move if you're to generate suitable profit out of dual gathering.

My old server had a very straight forward Ore market. Gather stuff. Sell it for generally stable price. Ka-ching.

The new server seems to be a much more competitive environment, both in raid progression and in the economy. Seems that there's continuous undercutting, attempts for monopoly on a specific item, barking in trade with a friend to artificially boost the price to make AH listings seem more attractive, and on and on with the schemes.

So I've had to be a little more creative to sell my gatherables.

Somebody messing with Cobalt prices? Craft some entry-level plate armor (either your own BS alt or hired help). Depending on your market, maybe that plate will sell nicely, but more than likely, DE it into dust for max profit.

Somebody messing with Goldclover? Brew up some elixirs. You need to experiment with your own server to see which elixirs will bring the biggest margins, but I've had pretty good success across the board during times when people try a focused financial attack at a specific raw herb.

Eternal Earth is another great example. Well, actually, Crystallized Earth, since that's generally what to sell, since ppl buy it for 10% more than the Eternal equivalent. I've got stacks and stacks of the stuff from mining. But so does everybody, because the demand is pretty low, so the prices are just insane low. So find a JC, craft that ring that only requires 2 Eternal Earths as mats, DE, sell dust, obtain gold.

On a server with competitive business folks or just plain stupid undercutters, you need to search out alternatives since it'll be much harder (or impossible) for a player to dominate all possible outlets for a given material.

Like I said, I used to reserve this as an advance technique, but on my new server, its a way of life, and in fact has replaced nearly all of my raw material sales just to prevent myself from crying over how ludicrous the competition is.

But don't feel bad if you're just selling your ores, you're still going to bring home the bacon, even in a competitive market.

A Penny Saved...

My last note regarding basic middle class economics...

The path to riches is simple....spend less than you make. The bigger the gap, the higher the slope of your own gold tracking chart.

I know, it sounds silly or simplistic, but there you go. Only spend on things you can afford. Do you need to enchant your level 57 alt's gear? Probably not. Do you need to buy that Kirin Tor ring? Its up to you, but personally I've chosen to not go there. Do you need all the JC recipes from Isle of Quel'danas? Not anymore.

Sure, you're fine if you do choose to buy things, useful or frivolous (train smasher, ftw), have fun. But if you're hurting for gold, think twice before spending.

The only place I recommend NOT skimping out is on gear enhancements if you're a raider. When 9 or 24 other people depend upon your performance, a few hundred gold on enchants or gems goes a long way, both in terms of stats, and more importantly, sending the message to your team that you value their time as much as you value your own.

The Rebirth of CC

One of the toons that I do the daily cooking quest on is my level 69 Shaman.

She lives in Dalaran, really only leaving the city to pick carrots, or to occasionally follow Amava around and skin mass quantities of rhinos.

But the other day, I have no idea why I was looking, but I noticed that she had been given a refund of her talent points. Must have been some patch or other mixed shammies up enough to warrant a refund.

So I figured...why not throw the points into the Resto tree and see what this healing nonsense is all aboot.

LFG normal mode UK

Have you tried to get a run together for a normal mode dungeon lately? Not a whole lot of demand for that as it would turn out.

But, there were a few players in Amava's guild who wanted to go, and a brief visit to LFM channel found the rest.

Best part...tank was a level 69 Death Knight....

Who admitted he was high as a kite.

Meh. Whatever, we were just trying to have a fun run, no pressure. That's the beauty of finishing raid content very efficiently. If you've carved the time out of your schedule, but finish raid early, you can fart around with Smoke Dog the DK Tank.

Where's my pet, and what the hell do I do now?

(A) The hunter with us was confusing the hell out of me because I kept thinking his pet was my pet. /tap [forehead] Oh, right, I'm a shammy.

(B) What on earth do you want me to do now? I've got totems, I've got shields, I've got weapon enchants, I've got some spells or something.

Luckily, one of the guildies knows a bit about shamans, and the other knows lots about healing, and they're both extremely patient, which was just outstanding.

However, Smoke Dog's tanking ability was not outstanding.

The Rebirth of CC

I suppose we could blame the healer for the early trash wipes, since he's total noob and still wearing attack power belt and boots.

But we love the healer, so we're gonna look elsewhere and see what we can do with our motley crew.

Tank McTankerton was a bit squishy. And was pulling everything in sight. Ok, stop that!

And we've got a mage who's just itching to show off his cute Turtle Polymorph.

And somebody playing his Hunter alt, champing at the bit to try some chain trapping.

Lets Doo Eet! Sheep the moon, trap the square, I'll try to heal stuff, gogogogogoggogo!

It was awesome

It really was pretty cool again. The alt-Hunter did a great job trapping. Sheepy was spot on with his job. Despite having a kiddy pool for mana, the healer was sorta keeping people alive. Smoke Dog was showing signs of his mind altered state, but whatever, it was fun. And I dinged 70 while turning in the quest for the guy's head, so that didn't hurt the fun-factor at all.

We were relying upon the ancient art of crowd control, and every pull that we survived was actually a sense of accomplishment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stupid Quickies

Some quick, some not-so-quick. All stupid.

Stupid Glyphs - Why is it that you find a glyph you crafted on the way up to the high levels has no current listings on the AH. So you list one for a reasonable price. It sells. So you list another one for 2 gold more. It sells. So you list another for 2 more gold. You continue doing this happily for several days. Then some other scribe comes by and lists 20 auctions at half what your original price was 5 days ago. Could be another leveler, although you rarely make too too many of the same glyph during leveling, since they go from orange to green pretty quickly. Why undercut like an insane person? Is he trying to squeeze competition out of the market? No problem, easy enough to just wait until the cheapo glyphs are gone, he eats his loss, and then resume selling, which tends to happen within a few days. Its consistent across 6 different glyphs now, and different players each time (same person using alts to disguise the effort?). Strange though.

Stupid Phasing - I found myself sitting with 129/140 quests complete in Icecrown, with a big old pile of group quests left to complete, stagnating in the quest log for 2 or 3 months now. Flying back from buying a new Oracles egg, I cut through the zone to pick flowers on the way home. Saw "LFM group quests". Phasing is a cool feature to WotLK zones, but it sucks when you can't figure out why you cannot see any of your teammates and they can't see your quest mob. But, the quest log is clear, which is nice.

Stupid Cards - Nobles cards were absolutely insane on /trade this weekend. Continuous streams of WTT, WTB, WTS for nobles cards. So I went ahead for giggles and made a card on my scribe. It was a nobles card. It sold within minutes, nearly paying back the entire investment to level Inscription, not that I'm necessarily doing it for the profit. But profit never hurt, amiright?

Stupid Mojo - The trolls in Grizzly Hills have way too many types of Mojo. Each quest in the Guru chain required a different kind of mojo. I'm surprised we didn't have to collect any soiled mojo during that outhouse quest.

Stupid Horde - Up in Icecrown, there's an Amphitheater of Anguish-type event. Sometimes Horde think it'll be fun to interfere with our attempts at the event. I think its classic when they tried to surprise, but were caught early via Track Humanoids. I wonder how the priest and mage felt when they were lying dead and saw their paladin friend bubble hearth to safety, while we finished up the last boss guy in the amphitheater?

Stupid Lewtz - What are people thinking when trying to sell BoE epic raid drops? A guy lists a pair of bracers in /trade WTS pst with offer. So I pst with offer that is 10% less than my auctioneer appraisal, and a little less than WoW Head's list price. No answer. So I check AH. He listed it for 800% mark up. Later, some other guy lists a ring I'd like in /trade WTS pst with offer. So I pst with offer. No answer. I pst him just for fun, knowing we definitely are not doing business with eachother, but I'm curious. I ask what's the story? He says it's done, it just sold for 6500 gold. Yeah, ok. Auc values it at a hair over 1000g with 15 having been seen and WoW Head about twice that. Are people really buying these for 6.5k? I mean, I'd like the ring and what not, but Shirley you must be kidding me.

Stupid Mercenaries - Ok, this one isn't stupid, I kinda liked it. There's a quest in Grizzly Hills where you can request the help of an imprisoned Furbolg Druid, and you have the option of asking him to tank, dps, or heal. Pretty cool idea, mercenary NPC's.

Stupid Dungeon Idea - The massive tree fortress in the middle of the zone is visually outstanding. I'd love a dungeon or raid instance in that tree where you fight through gauntlet event through the battle raging outside, and then spiral around the ramp going around the outside down to the bottom, facing bosses along the way, and a final challenge at the bottom. I'm just sayin.

Stupid Timesink - Upon completion of Grizzly Hills and Icecrown, I can haz Northrend Loremaster Achievement. I debate seeking The Seeker via questing in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms. Probably better to level an alt, but I am kinda liking the rep gain for old world factions that'll come with the journey. Probably just go in small chunks of 10 or 15 old world quests at a time to keep myself from burning out.

Its really not a plan

To keep my notes ongoing on my progress, I'll just float the latest update to the performance plan.

Its really not a plan at this point, its just a series of continuous tweaks as I identify areas of hidden DPS just waiting to be poured into raid bosses. Kinda like when you make a little bowl out of your mashed potatoes so as to hold more gravy. Sure, the mountain of potatoes with all its nooks and crannies of fluffy goodness can do just fine with a drizzling over the top, but with a simple spoon flick depressing the middle of the pile, you can really make the most of any gravy situation.

Small tweaks for big impact. That's what we're all about.

Mmmmm, gravy.

Last week

So, last week was my big "lag" revelation.

When LK rolled out, I stopped my TBC habit of hammering my shot key.

I mean, since I'm no longer macroing my shot rotation, and I'm selecting between a variety of shots in a priority order, I might as well just press the button once as soon as the GDC is up. Right?


Changes this week

I did install Quartz to help visualize the impact of lag. I honestly have no idea what I'm looking at, or more to the point, what to do about the information that Quartz is providing for me.

So the only real change I made this week was to spam the hell out of each attack. While the GDC from the previous shot was ticking away, I'd continuously hammer the key for the shot that'll be fired next.

The priority rotation stayed the same, the timing of haste pot & rapid fire & call o' the wild remained coordinated with heroism, kill command & savage rend remain together on a macro to be triggered each minute on the dot.

Only change was key spamming.

Oh, and properly tracking an attackable trackable (undeadables), rather than last week's wastable improved tracking on the non-attackable minerables. What????


We'll go ahead and give it the ol'...Daddy's Back!

Lets take a look at the last 3 weeks:

Week 1 (simply pressing keys the instant the GDC was up): 4.4K DPS

Week 2 (carefully trying to press buttons a drop before GDC was up, to nip the lag): 5.2K DPS (includes adjustment for stupid tracking choices)

Week 3 (spam the bejezus out of the keys): 5.5K DPS

I'm going to go ahead and say that its a bit annoying that abusing my keyboard results in a solid DPS improvement, but oh well, I suppose I'll have to live with it.

94,000 DPS

The raid had a collective 94,000 DPS, which was just sweet to see. Almost got Patchy down in 2 minutes.

It feels pretty good being part of a team with every DPS player above the 4K watermark, most above 5K, and even players breaking the 6K barrier. Not many raid bosses can withstand firepower of that magnitude.

And you know you're pushing the limits of your gear and spec when two Hunters standing side by side end the fight 1049 damage apart from one another.

At the DPS we're doing, that's less than 2 tenths of a second between us.

And to think, I let my serpent sting fall off for one tick during the fight :-0

But its all good, and definitely reassuring to know the Hunters and the whole raid are putting up outstanding numbers as the T8 content is coming into swing.

And how cool to be able to get some payback from Hodir in Ulduar for all the crap we had to go through grinding rep with his damnable Sons in Dunder NIfflem.