Archive for September, 2016

Sylvanas, just because.

Sylvanas, just because.

Raiding starts on Wednesday… /sigh Here are a selection of things I could never see again and it would still be too soon.

standinfireDPS standing in the fire. Healers can just heal right through, right? Movement, especially for many casters means nerfing DPS, so why move, even if the ground around you is on fire? I’m DPS my job is maximum damage period. I’m top of the DPS metre so I’m doing it right. Wrong. The DPS job is twofold: maximise DPS while taking as little healing as possible. If healers are expending time/mana on healing you the tank isn’t getting it. If the tank dies because you stood in the fire and got healing instead everyone dies, not just you. So don’t simply blame healers if there is a wipe. If there is a wipe ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

whyyoudeadPlayers asking for healing. If you are perilously low on health do something yourself to rectify this. If you’re DPS take pots/health stones or simply die quietly. The healers have addons to make healing everyone, especially those with very low health, efficient and effective. Either you will get healing or you will die because your healer decided that was the lesser of two evils. If your healer keeps going out-of-mana ask yourself why that is? It’s probably because too much mana is being spent on damage that should not be taken. Get out of the fire, getting out of the fire and avoiding predictable damage is your job. If you’re the tank keeping you alive’s a high priority. If your health is low pop all your cooldowns and baten down the hatches the healers are having a tough time. Asking for healing will not help and will not get you healed any quicker. Asking for healing, especially if you’re the tank, will most likely only piss off the healers. Low health? Deal with it. If you died ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

wipe2Players asking for tanking. If you’re DPS chances are you nuked too soon. No one has to wait for three sunders any more, but at least wait for the tank to pull…keep pulling mobs out of the tank’s nicely organised pack? When it doubt assist the tank and target his target. It’s not hard and it’s not rocket science. If you’re running away from the mobs you pulled fine, that’s avoiding some melee damage. If you’re running away from the tank you deserve to die. I never want to see another healer or DPS running away back through the already cleared dungeon with a pack of mobs in pursuit followed by a disgruntled tank. If you really want to drop aggro go stand with the tank and stop DPS. OMG I’ll be last on the metre! You will be alive. Let me explain this very carefully for the dumbest amongst you: dead DPS does no damage, does not finish on top of metre. If something went wrong ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

Tspirithealerhe DPS is too low for this fight. This is the most annoying statements of all. What does higher DPS achieve? A quicker kill. What does a quicker kill achieve? It reduces the number of cycles of the fight mechanic or in extreme cases prevents the boss from even entering one of their phases. This is just over-gearing the fight. Your raid team isn’t good enough to work the mechanic of the fight so you need to circumvent it by reducing the number of times they have to organise themselves. If you opt to drop your lowest DPS and bring in (better geared) higher DPS then you’ll need to do this forever. If your raid team is so awful at working the mechanic on a certain boss it is tempting to bring in better players, with more experience of this encounter and better gear. If you need carrying on this boss, you’re definitely going to need carrying on later bosses. Plus your ‘weaker’ players, rotated out because of low DPS won’t get gear…in relative terms how much better will these players be at the next boss? A raid team is fighting it’s way up a downward moving escalator. If you make someone miss a boss while you forge on they don’t stay where they are they move down quicker than you move up. Skip them one week for better geared, higher DPS players then you might as well drop them permanently their gear is not progressing with the raid so they’ll always be bottom of the metre.

spirithealer2Furthermore, stating the DPS is too low is piss poor raid leading and playing. How much higher do you think the DPS of the world first guilds is on the same bosses as you? In their gear? A fraction. Just because they’re the best players in the world doesn’t mean they can magical pull gigantic DPS out of their arses. Don’t get me wrong knowing how to play your class and when to pop your cooldowns will get you more DPS, but not compared to gear. The world’s best guilds aren’t the world’s best guilds because they can out DPS you. They succeed because they can organise themselves, cope when things go sideways and always know how to execute a strategy. They work the fight mechanics. “We need more DPS, to stop the boss going into phase x three times.” Bullshit, you need to train your raid team to cope with phase x more skilfully. Method can do phase x all day and slowly chip away the boss’s health until they’re dead. What you’re actually saying is: “We’re so shambolic and god awful we have to nuke hard and try to avoid another repetition of one of the fight phases because our team is made up of hopeless players who can’t learn.” If this is the case, whatever your ranking on WoWProgress that’s not your guild progress your guild is not 8/9 heroic, you’re probably 4/9 heroic and 8/9 carried by players from better guilds. I’d rather fight with my friends to 4/9 than get carried to 9/9 with friends left out. I want my team to succeed. It’s not my team with two PUGs from substantially more progressed guilds.

do_not_push_this_buttonOK I’ll activate the thing that keeps us alive then. Frequently someone has to push a button, stand somewhere, pick something up and take it to somewhere else. This also happens in LFR, often it’s decided that person A will do it. When it comes to it person A won’t and boom everyone dies seconds later. People will quit LFR because someone had the temerity to ask them to do the thing. When I’m in a guild group I never want to hear a silence when it’s asked who is going to do the thing. It usually requires a DPS (since your job is not important, see the last point if you don’t understand that) and usually one with a lot of mobility so they can still do DPS while doing the thing. However, it usually ends up being a warlock with not much mobility, or a mage with even less, volunteering to do the thing because no one else wants to. It’s a combination of bad and lazy that prevents better suited players volunteering. They also want to maximise their personal DPS (at the expense of someone else’s and the overall team DPS) which underlines how bad they are. It’s not complex or controversial: selfish players do not make good team members (no matter how high their DPS is). I think these mechanics in fights can tell you a lot about a person. If you assign doing the thing to the most appropriate character when the player doesn’t want it they probably won’t sign up for the raid next week. You may not see them again until after that boss is cleared and someone else has learned and now owns in that role. It’s possible they may not raid again (this often feeds into people who won’t raid or even join guilds and bitch about elitist, hardcore, inflexible, dictatorial guilds). Shut up and do your job.

spirithealer3The worst thing in any team is not understanding your role. Your role in the raid team is not to get loot from this boss. If you’re a tank your job is to marshal the mobs, keep them hitting you and keep yourself alive. Keeping a tank alive is not solely the healer’s job, tanks have cooldowns, talents and spells to heal and mitigate damage. If you’re top of the DPS metre as a tank, losing mobs and dying all the time you’re doing it wrong. Pick some more damage mitigation talents and tailor your build and performance to the fight. Healers: your job is to keep yourself alive first and foremost. If you forget to heal yourself you’re dead. If you’re dead no one gets heals, how long will the raid stay up? Your secondary job is helping the tank to stay up. If you’re targetting and directly healing a DPS, unless they’re taking damage because they’re doing the thing, you’re probably doing it wrong. Or the DPS is. DPS: you have two jobs. I’ll say that again: DPS, you have two jobs. Job 1) take no unnecessary damage; Job 2) DPS the right target. That order is not a mistake, if you’re taking unnecessary damage you’re probably dying too often too. Dead DPS does no DPS remember. If you’re standing in the fire so you can carry on DPS-ing chances are the healer is struggling to keep you alive when the tank goes pop and the raid wipes. Your DPS decreases in value to the team relative to the amount of damage you take during an encounter. You may top the DPS metre and not be the most valuable DPS.

sh4Especially if you’re not targetting the correct mob. Adds nearly always have priority, that’s a great rule of thumb. If adds spawn during a boss fight it’s usually your job to kill them as soon as possible. They often come in waves and if you don’t get on top of them during the first wave you’ll quickly be overwhelmed. If you’re too lazy or don’t want to switch your focus away from the boss to help with the adds then you’re not helping the team. Don’t point to the lowest DPS and blame them for the teams lack of progress, look at their damage targets. If they’re hitting multiple targets during the fight and all you’re on is the boss, it’s you you’re doing it wrong.

sh5Why are we wiping all the time? We’re wiping because we don’t know the fight and repeatedly doing the fight is the only way to practice your job and learn. Watching a video or reading a guide is all very well and essential preparation, but it’s no substitute for doing the fight and seeing the spell casts. Complaining about wiping in progression raids tells me two things about you. 1) You’re not fit for anything harder than LFR because you don’t like to wipe. Challenging content is not faceroll, it is not easy. So it will beat you. Again and again and again. Then you will learn your job, learn the mechanics of the fight and you will beat it. However, not before everyone has learned their role. 2) You’re not cut out for progression in any guild, you want to be carried by people who will do the thing for you and out-gear the content so you can simply turn up, statically DPS the boss, take your loot. You’re not a team player. If you’re already tired of seeing the spirit healer progression raiding is not for you. Get to LFR.

My number one rule for anyone who would like to be a better raider and make more progress with their guild is simple: If something went wrong ask yourself: what could I have done better, how should I handle the mechanics of this encounter next time?

naxI’m not really. I haven’t remotely rushed to 110. I’ve been quite happy to do a couple of quests and stop and pet battle. There does seem plenty to do even if I haven’t been doing it. When there is nothing to do but pet battles and fishing then there is not enough to do. When there is plenty to do I enjoy taking time out to fish and pet battle.

So it’s no surprise seeing me in Dalaran, fishing in the fountain again. It takes me back to Wrath of the Lich King and that is no bad thing. Levelling returns its own share of evils. Blizzard tunes respawn rates, at this point in the expansion, early, you’re not going to waiting around for anything too long. Well, no time at all. So why would you swoop in and pull all the quest mobs. Feckin’ Death Knights, I feel sorry for those love the class and have played since WoTLK as Death Knights do seem to be an asshat magnet. There’s only one thing to do…DoT them all up and let the DK deal with them all, as you skip around picking up the other quest items.

mcfishingcrawdadTaking a break in Dalaran I was working on the Dalaran Fountain Coin Achievement when a Blood Elf, it had to be a Belf, strolled up. She looked at my fishing char and casually summoned her Giant Sewer Rat. Well, as a pet collector and a veteran fisher I’m not too impressed by this. I fished up four in the day. One with Ruta, one with Fleety, one with  Èowyn and another with Bethan. For me there was only one response…consider the Rat for a few moments, then summon my Magical Crawdad. Now that’s some committed fishing nipper, jog on…

Raiding starts on Wednesday and my ilvl is currently 775 and clearly I haven’t been in an Heroic 5 man yet. I’ve only been in one normal. So having dinged 110 today I’m reasonably happy with Ruta’s progress and should be able to squeeze into the raid. The main question is the one I’ve been asking since the guild merger: is this guild laid back and social enough for me? Affliction is once again the poor man’s warlock spec, indeed Warlocks are fairly poor across the board. Fingers crossed for a half decent buff sometime soon. The question is will my guild tolerate me playing affliction. If they won’t someone will and I won’t hesitate to move a group that’s more interested in community raiding than progress and gear. We’ll see. We’ll also see how all the raiders react if I am allowed to raid along with other casuals who may not be too great and will undoubtedly hold back progress.

elekkOne idea floated is the old chestnut of two raid groups: the “progression group” that forges ahead as quickly as possible; and the “social group” that takes anyone and is knee capped in terms of progression because of that. The idea is that they, progression group, can support the slower moving, less focused group with their experience of encounters and higher ilvl gear. Sadly the progression group frequently renege on “carrying” the social, not quite so hot group, and doing the content twice. So the “social” group, although they have more fun (arguably) they rarely succeed in clearing the content while it’s current. They would, perhaps, if they all, the whole guild, played together.

This is simply what I’ve been telling you for years. There is no right and wrong way to organise your guild and raiding. If you find yourself in a guild that is not completely right for you keep looking. There is a perfect guild for you somewhere.

images.duckduckgo.comSo Warlords of Draenor is finally over. I’m happy to draw a veil over that and let it go now. Legion launched on Tuesday, despite all expectations to the contrary the launch was very smooth, most of the new features seemed to work. Surprisingly many people seem to have given Blizzard another chance and the only issue of note to report was the hour long queues many of us on higher population servers encountered.

I found myself being mildly excited for the expansion, but not falling over myself to play. It’s been a slow burn this week. I’ve dipped in a couple of hours here a couple of hours there. I have my Artefact Weapon, Order Hall and have started the questing in Stormheim. It’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed myself it keeps reminding me of how I felt at the start of Mists of Panderia. To begin with I was joylessly wandering through the starting zone, rapidly moving from quest to quest. I quickly discovered I was doing it wrong…for me, wrong for me.

220px-Mastercraft_Kalu'ak_Fishing_PoleThe last expansion, which I hope not to be mentioning again, has left a sour taste in my mouth and I’d forgotten how to really enjoy playing Warcraft. I’m not as excited to play as I was, the Garrison has stripped out my enthusiasm and simply doing a few repetitive daily quests, completing follow missions and the command table and exploring and hunting for rare mobs and chest has such a very limited appeal. I’m slowly beginning to remember how to play to have fun and what it is in the game I like. Fishing, unsurprisingly, has made all the difference. Out in the world, questing I’ve seen a school of fish, so I’ve stopped, taken out my Mastercraft Kalu’ak Fishing Pole and done some fishing. Then I did a pet battle and then I rode across the map to the next two flight points, this connected me to Dalaran.

I wanted to get to Dalaran to do some training, I fished up some Stormrays but noticed immediately that my skill wasn’t increasing which reminded me I needed profession training. Getting some tailoring patterns and enchanting recipes made me think about my resources and increasing my skills. I need to train cooking next time I log on and I want to see Stormheim during the day. I got an echo of Howling Fjord during the night, the Forsaken architecture and the lifts certainly helped with that. I also have five other zones to explore, battle pets to collect and fish to catch.

The most important new feature of Legion is scaling. No longer can we talk about zones in terms of linear quests and mob levels or difficulties. They dynamically scale with the player. This means that whatever your level there is (almost) equal value killing mobs and completing quests in every zone. No zone is a “starter zone” like Hellfire Peninsula, Howling Fjord or Borean Tundra. No zone will yield more XP for quests or mob kills at level 109. The real beauty of this is after a couple of levels in a zone there is no pressure to skip the remaining quest lines in that zone and move into another where the XP yield is greater, the yield scales, as does the difficulty, as you increase in level. If you want to do every quest in Stormhein, and kill every living thing you encounter your rate XP gain will be (almost) no worse than if you move to any of the other zones.

Broken Isles

Did Thal’Danath become the new Faralon?

So start in whichever zone you like, move to another zone whenever you like, start in a different zone with every alt if you wish, complete all the quests in one zone before moving on or have multiple quest lines in multiple zones active at once without adversely effecting your levelling. There are no more prescribed starting areas and if you are 101 you can group and quest with friends in any other zone even if they are level 109 or 110. Scaling removes yet another barrier to social play and Blizzard need to be applauded for this brilliant new tech.

All classes have seen changes, some have been more radical and generated more salt than others. Rogues have wept bitterly as one of their specs has not only been redesigned and it’s fantasy redeveloped, but it’s been renamed. The bland sounding Combat has gone replaced with the exciting sounding Outlaw. Since the term rogue has a fundamentally negative connotation and the class is equivalent to the thieves and footpads of other games, Outlaw or Highwayman stylings seem like a great fit for a rogue and offers more class fantasy than Combat. However, if you’ve been playing Combat for ten years I imagine you may feel different. Rogues are also aggrieved that Ravenholdt wasn’t the location of their Order Hall and they were stuck down in the Dalaran Sewers!

Hunters fair a little better. Survival has been given a huge overhaul and is now a melee specialization with an almost completely new set of abilities, most of which cost Focus to use. The class has a melee artefact weapon, a polearm, a blast from the very distant past for hunters. Warlocks have had a spec massively overhauled too. Demonology Warlocks (the spec I’ve never liked or played) has been gutted and hollowed out, the talents and abilities from Demonology have been used as a basis for the Demon Hunter, new in Legion. Demonology has been rebuilt and is a shadow of it’s former self, a very new spec indeed. Affliction is tweaked but remains intrinsically the same. Icy Veins tells us “Affliction is currently the best Warlock spec for Mythic+ dungeons, and the worst for raiding.” So it’s good to be the best at something, but the worst spec for raiding again? Hopefully the next patch will balance out some of the raiding issues we currently have. Many other class and spec changes have taken place I’ve just touched on three of the biggest (for me).

duridNot that being tied to a spec has been a great issue for raiders it’s now become simpler, switching spec now. Dual specs have finally bitten the dust, which is great news especially for our druid friends. (“Get off my feckin’ Terocone…oh sorry, don’t know what came over me.”) Respec cost are completely removed (which is just as well have you seen the price of transmog!) players can swap between all their specs at will, yes all four of yours druids. (“Stoopid flying herb thiefs! Sorry, sorry, don’t mention herbalism, I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.”) Bizarrely, for my money, the cost has shifted onto talents. With the refocusing of PvE talents, in particular for Paladins (unless this has changed in live), AoE multiple target effecting talents are often obviously split from single target talents, in paladins single target on the right, AoE talents down the left of their trees. So to maximise DPS between single target and multi-target encounters a good paladin talentspaladin will be re-talenting. You can now change talents only in “Rested” areas. However,  scribes can craft a Tome allowing nearby players to re-talent freely for a while. Blizzard‘s rationale, which I kinda get (but raiders will be doing it anyway) is that talents are about having meaningful choices, if you can re-talent at will: any time; any where, it would feel like you simply had them all available in a large and unwieldy spellbook. There is some logic to it.

So with the complexities of the profession story-lining, Order Halls and Artefact progression all left untouched there is much yet to do in Legion. It feels nice to have content worth doing waiting for me in game. The launch went well and initially Legion looks very good, art design and levelling is up to it’s usual very high standard (even maintained in the last) and professions are back in spades with other new ideas and mechanisms to enjoy. Legion 7.0 looks very promising. There is no reason to doubt that raiding will continue to be the flagship feature of World of Warcraft and if substantial new content ships during the expansion life cycle there is no reason why the expectation that this won’t be the best expansion since Wrath of the Lich King can’t be fulfilled. For my own part I will genuinely take as good as Cataclysm which looked better and better every day during the last expansion.

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