Archive for February, 2011


Wrath has had many unforeseen consequences, worst of all it has created many unacceptable expectations. WoWCrendor addresses this in another marvelous YouTube short. He responds quite succinctly to the accusation that Cataclysm instances are too hard. If you completed any of them in Heroic mode you’ll know this is not true, they can be very straightforward once you learned the mechanic of any given fight. Of course you have to focus and if someone makes a mistake the entire team may need to adjust to get past that. So naturally PuGs fail almost every time anything, however minor, goes wrong. The inevitable finger pointing begins. “Blizzard suck” because you cannot simply walk into an instance and walk out with the loot you want.

Normal, top level, instance dungeons are a means of learning the basic fights and accumulating the next rank of gear to get ready for Heroic modes. Heroic mode ups the ante and requires more skill, better gear and higher focus. Heroics are a training and gearing ground for raiding. They are meant to provide a challenge and test your mettle. They are not exactly hard, simply challenging. However, the PuG scene now reflects this new perceived level of hardness.

I have whined about the situation of the Affliction lock before now, most people responded by simply re-speccing Destro. Well, I did and my DPS naturally went down as I struggled to own the ‘rotation’ and not stand in the fire. I also really enjoy the Affliction spec and I would like bigger numbers, but I do fine really. I’m an asset in most heroics. I am usually one of the very last alive in a wipe, I know the fights and I respond quickly to problems. I can banish and fear and will use my initiative if the mage dies and we lose polymorph or we pull a second group or badly (for us) timed patrol. I don’t stand in the fire and self heal when things are going pear shaped (that’s what Life Drain and Deathcoil are for). I cannot, however, lay down as much DPS as I, and often the group, would like.

I’ve had a lot of constructive suggestions, for example, where is optimal to tank a mob, not standing in a particular coloured circle or when to stop all DPS thrown back in my face with some remark about where I rank on the DPS metre.

Someone has to roll in last guys and who would you rather have? A high DPSer who dies at the beginning of the fight, stands in wrong place and pulls extra groups and causes wipes or an experienced guy who plays a nerfed class and is there cc-ing stray mobs, self healing during chaos and throwing in the last shadow bolts to squeeze out the boss kill, after the tank dies because the healer got ganked after the polymorph broke when the mage and rogue died standing in the green circle? Higher DPS of course…

“N00b!”, “L2P”, “Roll Destro”, “Play another class if you can’t play that!”, “At least I do more DPS when I’m alive…”, yeah but I’ve put down three times your damage in this run already! Someone, usually the tank, will sigh and say in a quite reasonable manner “Guys we need more DPS”. Here comes a kick.

So how do I get all this experience given a kick usually follows a wipe as the post mortem, blame storm will usually conclude that more DPS will mean quicker kill with less skill? Well, fortunately I have friends and guildies and despite my n00b level DPS we manage to easily finish all Heroic dungeons with some care, communication and planning. Go on check my achievements, I’ve completed all the instances in this patch (many heroics with PuGs). So I can say with assurance that my skill, gear and DPS is easily good enough to complete any 5 man dungeon in Cataclysm on heroic.

Next time there is a wipe, ask yourself not who is fourth on the DPS metre, but why did you die? How much damage did you take as DPS and how much did this extra healing contribute to the healer going out of mana? Did the tank have the mob facing the right way? If the Warlock doing 7.5K DPS was replaced with Mage doing 10K, who was an ass, wouldn’t listen to tactics, stood in the fire and then bitched out the healer, would you down this boss any quicker?

You have been removed from the group.

It’s not just a n00b question either. What is a guild, what purpose does it serve and what do people want from a guild?

This question opens up a whole load of other questions and in attempt to answer some of them I’ll be answering for the average rank and file guildie and the guild leader and officer inevitably.

For the average player you would join a guild to get some support levelling, instancing and ultimately raiding. There is also the question of socialising as we are playing a cooperative game when working together and persevering are rewarded. Blizzard is trying to reinforce this and make guild loyalty pay off and membership become more valued with rewards and guild levels and achievements. This should hopeful bond people into more interdependent groups. In addition guild have certain resources that follow from being in a collective: advice and help; a guild bank (this can be used for repairing raiders, making high level mats and enchants available to guildies); and commonly a voice chat service.

People form guilds for much the same reasons: to raid and to hang out with people they trust. Trust is very much a two way thing. We trust people to help us reach our goals and trust also they when we invest time and effort (maybe mats and gold) into them reaching their goals, they will appreciate it, be respectful and this includes being prepared to reciprocate. Reciprocal, per se, is not necessary, however being prepared to is. Essentially the only difference between Guild Officers, Leaders and members is that the former want to do things there way and the latter are happy to let them.

This raises two questions about guild types and who owns a guild. WoW players often talk about several categories of guild as they were mutual exclusive. They describe hardcore and casual guilds, raiding and casual guilds and raiding and social guilds. More commonly and, I think, understandably after 5 years of World of Warcraft the once scoffed at social, raiding guild appears to be becoming very popular.

What do all these categories mean and what distinguishes them. That simple to express in principle but in practice the way in which guilds operate is as varied as there are guilds. A hardcore, raiding guild (and those two words are often used to imply one another so make sure you check that point when joining a raiding guild you think isn’t hardcore) is usually a quite unforgiving and anti-social place. Their focus is progression raiding, ranking of the guild on the realm and competing to be ‘server first’ to complete many in game goals. Rules underpin the hardcore, raiding guild and they are of the kind that state “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not”. Of the guild resources on offer policies are rigid, voice chat is for the raid leader to give out raid assignments and specify what strategy is being used. Voice chat is not for ‘trash talk’ and such chat, jokes or messing about in raid will get you kicked. First out of the raid and then out of the guild, usually without a warning. You should just know you shouldn’t do that. Bad tanking, healing or DPS over a (small) number of raids will get you kicked or ‘re-spec-ed’. Or ‘re-spec-ed’ and then kicked if you still perform ‘under par’. Having a piece of gear un-gemmed or un-enchanted, or attending a raid without potions or buff food will possibly get you a warning or more commonly lead to a kick. They’re hardcore, they don’t mess about.

‘Casuals’ turn up occasionally, when they like usually don’t want to raid and usually can’t or don’t want to commit to long periods (required for raiding or even instances) in front of their computer. They often hang out in guild for company and a laugh, they don’t use the guild bank, often don’t chat much in guild chat and often never use the voice service (no mic is often the reason). Guilds exist purely for them and casual, social guilds welcome them.

Wrath in particular has facilitated the growth of the non-hardcore raider. These guys are often serious about raid progression and doing well. However, they often insist on a more laid back and fun approach. We’re playing a game after all, it has to be fun or surely something is wrong. Obviously I place myself in this category and while hardcore raiders and the casual player are more clearly defined the range and variation of non-hardcore raiders, like their guild is greater. Clearly a social, raiding guild could be many things. A social guild that raids now and again for fun. A raiding guild that hands out and socialises and does fun, non-raid related stuff. Then there is everything in between.

The thing I like about the social, raiding guild is that the fun is the raid progress. The idea, for me, is that the guild is fun place to hang with good people you can trust and toss in some decent raiding as well.

Who owns a guild? Now this is highly contentious. Most officers, and many rank and file guildies, would simply answer the GM. I think this question needs some thought though. If you buy a guild charter and get the four signs you now need and buy a guild bank. You buy a guildomatic forum website and rent a ventrilo server. What have you got. Nothing. Absolutely feck all.

If you buy a guild charter and have four mates and they sign it and then you manage to convince some other people that you and your mates can deliver some of the things they require, then you’ve got something. So does a guild belong to it’s membership. No, not really because you can get kicked at any time and the GM can always disband the guild just as you’re starting to like being in it.

Shiny Reward Bag?
A slimy reward bag is right. What have you done Blizzard?

I remember when all this was fields…ahem, I mean I remember when a Fishing Reward Bag contained a reward. Sometimes even a pet. But often a few fishing hooks and occasionally a Modern Art Painting or a Porcelain Bell. OK, occasionally you got some worthless glass shards and the pets were extremely rare, but mostly there was something of value in the bag even if that was just a few (or a hundred) gold. Most importantly the quests all involved FISHING.

Slimy Reward Bag
The new Orgrimmar Fishing Dailies suck! OK, you never get anything worth having in the bag. Arguably the shiny bauble fishing lures have utility, but unlike the sharpened fishing hooks in Terrokar or the Dalaran Glow Worm they are NOT the lure of choice with we fishers. Aquadynamic Fishing Lures would be nice, but no we are fobbed off with sub-standard lures. The greys in the reward bag are derisory. They are greys befitting a city that is open to all and regularly has level tens running around the place quite legitimately! Greys worth copper and a couple of silver, which is exciting when you’re level 12.

Clams?

Worst of all is the quests themselves! They do not involve fishing! The closest you get to fishing is dynamiting the new lake in Durotar where Thunder Ridge used to be. You swim into the depth a hack a rotting tail off a decaying Thunder Lizard and electrify fish in the lake that are otherwise un-catchable. That’s not fishing. BAH!

Bad Blizz, bad Blizz!

Since the much whined about, by me (and to be fair many other Warlocks), changes to the Affliction rotation I’ve been looking for an addon to assist me with my casting choices. I’ve always been a fan of DoTimer because it works very well and is clear and uncluttered. DoTimer shows a bar illustrating which of my spells are afflicting the target at any one time. These timer bars count down (textually and graphically) the remaining time on each spell. It also reorders the bars in terms of remaining duration, so that the next DoT to fall off is at the bottom. That should help you gauge which spell to cast next.

Giving a duration remaining also allows you make decisions about when to begin recasting. Instant DoTs like Corruption are probably better just before, as, or (as in the case of Bane of Agony) factionally after they fall off. Longer casts (Haunt, Unstable Affliction or Soul Fire) can be started well before their buff or debuff wears off. For example, I ideally begin casting Soul Fire (SF) 2 seconds before the Improved Soul Fire (ISF) buff falls off, as SF is a 2.2 seconds cast. Equally if the next spell to expire is ISF in 3.5 seconds I will be casting another Shadow Bolt or two and casting SF ‘late’. DoTimer doesn’t make decisions for you it presents the information required to make decisions quickly in an easy to read and interpret format.
DoTimer
The only problem I now have with DoTimer (or it’s configuration) is that I can find no way to force the ISF buff onto the target’s set of timers. Casting Soul Fire gives the Warlock a 15% Haste buff so the ISF timer is with another set of buffs for the player. This doesn’t make decision making around when to reapply ISF. What I need is the cooldown on ISF to be shown and sorted with the DoTs and effects I have on the mob. Then I can see what will fall off next, for example Haunt or ISF. That information is currently only provided in two separate places with DoTimer, I want it in one.

So I’m currently questing for an alternative. My requirements are DoT timers for me debuff incorporating the ISF buff on me, it must be presented in a clear easy to read format (much the same as DoTimer) and be relatively easy to configure.

Raven: by merging the two ‘Bar Groups’, Buff and Target, I get all my buffs and my DoTs/effects on the target in one place, sorted by time remaining. This is useful because I can gauge, at a glance, if I’m properly self buffed – Fel Armour, pet out, Soul Link, Dark Intent on someone, potted Spellpower buff food. So far so good.

Currently this is a work in progress as all my buffs are shown…so I’m having to blacklist those I don’t want to see: Kings, Fortitude, MotW, Flametongue Totem…equally I don’t need to see procs of Hymn of Power and Hurricane. I wonder if it’s possible to keep the Dark Intent 30 minute timer and remove the Dark Intent proc? There is an interface to create a custom bar…which would be perfect. Instead of blacklisting all the things thrown up that I don’t want to see I could move all the things I do (much smaller subset) to a custom bar. However, the only timer I could actually get to work in a custom bar group was Fel Armour. I think that was because it’s all about me: cast by me, cast on me, action on me. I thought Bane of Agony, for one, would be equally easy: cast by me, cast on target, action on the target. This didn’t work and wouldn’t show up in the Custom Bar Group when it was ticking away on the Target Dummy. Needless to say ISF didn’t work, cast by me, cast on target, action on me. OK I have a timer it’s a pig to configure and is taking time to fine hone.

So I have a selection of others to try out and I keep going back to DoTimer now and then to see if I can bend it to my will. Recommendations of timers I can try most welcome.

We all had high hopes for Catacylsm, most if not all have been met. I still have an issue with instancing and of course my issue is with PuGs. I had dared to dream that content would be hard enough to require tanks to demand crowd control, plan and communicate and at least wait for the DPS and the healer to be in range before charging into packs.

Most tanks still seem to be on the clock in normals and clearly on piece work. Kills per hour, baby, kills per hour. Go go go go go go. C’mon keep up! It feels like a month and half is a short time for them all to gear up and become wrath invulnerable. Indeed PuGs being what they are many tanks are still dropping the odd mob or three out of packs and letting the clothies tank for them.

[Tank] You pull it you tank it.
[Ruta] I wasn’t even targeting that one! I was on the skull, the only one you had threat on!
[Mage] The one that killed me was beating on the healer you’re only alive because I aggroed it off him.
[Tank] wha wha wha cry me a river

What annoys me as much as this, I am the tank kick me and wait 45 minutes for my replacement while I insta-join another run, attitude and the speed tanking is the mob skipping! Why are we going to such lengths to skip one pack of four? It would probably be quicker to kill them and now the healer is dead and has to run in…it was definitely quicker to kill them.

[Ruta] Considering their proximity to the boss and the likelihood of arse pulling them during the boss fight we should…he just charged in without a ready check! Do you have mana, I haven’t got mana?
[Ruta] /sigh

[Tank] rez me
[Healer] sec mana
[Tank] LOL
[Healer] Well I had none when you pulled…so
[Tank] nubs
The tank leaves the party, do you wish to queue for a replacement?
[Healer] How does that make us…oh great. Moron.

I’d like to think that heroics separated the tanks from the ‘auction house green shield’ boys. To a degree it does, but this trend is creeping in:

[Tank] OMG
[Tank] Skip this boss?
[Ruta] OK, I got toasted in the flames and he was healed up we killed him three times otherwise. Should we all be on the adds.
[Healer] Everyone else was on the adds, they heal him so they have to die quick.
[Hunter] Oh I wasn’t on them either.
[Tank] FFS
[Ruta] Sorry people, our first time here and you charged in before I could confirm the tactics.
[Tank] Skip this boss?

One wipe and some people want to skip onto the next section of unchallenging trash. I could see an entire instance progressing like this if I am unlucky enough (and I am) to get four of these slackers. One wipe at the final boss and the tanks calls it and other three agree.

[Ruta] C’mon all we’ve done is kill trash we skipped every boss after one wipe!
You are not in a party.

Addons are a constant quest for perfection for me. I like addons that do one thing perfectly, and only one thing. I often find large addons that do several jobs, but that’s invariably a hammer to crack a nut. You don’t use the full range of their functionality so that’s a waste of good memory that could be powering the game engine. Small and perfectly formed with a low use of precious system resources is what I look for in an addon. I’ve made a couple of changes to my list of essential addons this week, today I want to talk about Chat Management and WIM (WoW Instant Messenger).

I’ve liked and used WIM for a long time now, but if addons have taught me anything it’s nothing lasts forever and something better is often just around the corner. When you get a whisper it grabs that ‘conversation’ and puts it into a separate, Instant Messenger style, window. The beauty of this is when someone whispers you while you’re AFK or very busy healing heroic Stonecore. You come back to a window with their whisper in it, without it all the party, trade and guild chatter would’ve scrolled the whisper off the top stack and you’d never know you were whispered at all. It features a useful URL grabber and you can toggle the opening of multiple WIM windows, for each whisperer, or to keep all whispers in one tabbed window. It works, but it is a bit of resource whore.

OK, I admit I kinda missed some of the interface changes that Blizz implemented recently. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the chat functionality Blizzard have implemented.

Social Pane

Selecting IM style will allow you right click on a whisperers name or on the [Party] text before a party members name and select Move to new window.

A new tab opens on the chat panel.

You can drag that tab and move the separated whisper window to any part of the screen.

OK it isn’t perfect. I would love if there was an option to automatically open all whispers in a new tab and of course there is no URL grab functionality. However, being able to isolate a chat channel: party; raid; guild; trade in the same way as I used to do with whispers in WIM is a real boon and offers enough for me to retire WIM. Eventually someone will extend the default interface for me to include the features I’ve mentioned, assuming some addon developer hasn’t already.

Nothing would surprise me less.

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