Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last Post

This will probably be my last post on this blog, it's got more or less a little successful at one point, I was up to a few hundred hits a week, most of which were most certainly NOT unique, but it was a start. Then I kinda dropped off, lost my ambition, and try as I may I really can't bring myself to start again. I was just going to leave this blog be as it is, but after reading a blog today I thought I should atleast do my part to pass it on.

For those of you who aren't aware of the blog, The Gold Queen, has been a favourite of those of us that like to have enough gold to do whatever we want, whenever we want (in game). However it was never one that I got into. Having said that, I popped on there today to take a peek while I was a little bored at work and was very sad by the article I read. Apparently a few months ago the writer was gang raped a bunch of men, and is currently recovering. Due to the huge amount of fans she has, and the horribleness of this incident, there has been an overwhelming amount of support. A few people have now organized a "white ribbon compaign." Now don't feel bad if you don't know what that is. I didn't until a few minutes ago (although i kinda picked up on it from the post on her site). The White Ribbon is the symbol of the "campaign against violence against women."

As my final post I'm hoping that a few of you that are still following me (if any of you are) will spread the message about this story, and if you have a few spare bucks sitting around go to one of the below websites and donate.

Once again thanks to those of you that read my blog, pop onto Mug'thol and say hi from time to time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nerfs: Our love/hate relationship

This week we were able to clear the first three heroic bosses in the first night. While this may not sound like a feat, we are still between permanent tanks, and so spent a few wipes trying out new apps, and letting a few newer, somewhat undergeared players give it some attempts. We also killed Beth for the second time, and this time was a huge amount cleaner, really demonstrating that last time wasn’t a fluke (despite how close of a kill it was). We then went on to work on HC Alysrazor. We only had a few attempts on Tuesday, and went back in on Wednesday ready to spend some time wiping. And we did. But we made progress pretty quickly, with our first entrance into phase two we had her down to below 70%. That showed us how easy that fight would be once we got the mechanics settled into automatic mode. By around 11pm about 2 hours into attempts we downed her. We then went on to take on Baleroc, but only on normal mode. We one shotted him (thankfully, it’s embarrassing when we go from downing a HC mode boss in a single night of attempts to wiping on normal modes!), and moved on to HC Majordomo. On our second attempt of this fight we had him below 20%. Now this fight is more or less a DPS race, with some minor mechanics thrown in, including the one which allows the DPS to make the enrage timer. Of course with DPS races, its rarely the first few percent that a guild wipes on. The next night (Thursday) we went back in and spent less than 5 attempts on this boss, before killing him. Bringing our total count to 5/7 HC, with two those kills in one week.
While I am quite excited about seeing the content this far (I’m sure we will get Baleroc this next week), I am a little concerned about the speed that we, and most other guilds, seem to be progressing after the nerfs, it makes me think that Blizzard has gone overboard on their across the board nerf. Now as I said I am quite happy about our progress, however I wonder how much of our progress is now us just powering through the mechanics, now that we are over-gearing the content by so much. I’m quite happy that we will be hitting the new content close to as well geared as any guild out there as a result of this rapid progression, but I do wish that I could have seen how far we could get without the nerfs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Gauge Performance

All raiders that are at least a little serious about their own personal (read character’s) progression, or their guild’s progression should be constantly checking on their performance. Whether it’s as compared to someone, or to a potential, it’s important to have some sort of understanding of how you are doing. With the proliferation of addons such as recount or skada, people have put a huge emphasis on “the metres” and sometimes this is helpful, but other times a step back is needed to understand why someone isn’t topping the charts.

  1. Class or spec. This is one that is often the go to favourite of people. While there will always be a little bit of a spread between the top spec and the bottom spec, blizzard does a pretty good job of balancing them out, at least with in reason. There will always be some specs better on some types of fights than others. For example demo locks are better on heavy aoe fights then affliction, but on single target affliction locks tend to out show demo locks. This is one reason why you should really look past the numbers to see the reasons. While this is a very cut and dry example of why people should learn to play all their class’s specs (so they can swap depending on need), other times it’s a little less obvious.
  2. Utility vs. Numbers. Some specs or classes are currently a little underpowered on throughput, but they bring important utility. Shaman for example have, in the past (and still somewhat) been known as more of a support class. At first in vanilla they were buffers, they provided the raid with buffs that made them better, in Cataclysm resto shaman were brought normally for their mana tide and not for their total through put, and enhancement/elemental were brought for their amazing interrupt (wind shear).
  3. Gaming the numbers. While until now I’ve talked about why some people may seem low, there is also times when you have to think about why that person is always on top. Ghostcrawler has talked a bit about this in the past, with for example resto druids always being a little higher on the healing charts because of their amazing cooldown of tranquility, when they are actually supposed to be no better than any other healers the rest of the time. But there are also times when people intentionally game the numbers. For example I was watching a live streamed raid the other day by one of the top guilds, and on Alysrazor their rogue popped on bladeflurry during the time when Alysrazor was grounded, during this time their tanks had silenced and brought in the two adds. These adds don’t need to be killed, and he had intentionally nerfed his single target damage to artificially inflate his numbers. I know this same guild has a shadow priest that on Shannox will triple dot, even though the dogs should be ignored by the dps.
  4. Role. While you rarely hear of people talking about how low the tanks’ DPS is, I’m talking about something a little less obvious, such as people who are handling a particular mechanic. Shannox for example, generally guilds will run one or two people who have the job of controlling rageface, and breaking his “facerage” ability. These dps generally have substantially lower numbers than those who get to focus on only killing Shannox.

So how can you really tell where you are when all these variables make add-ons very poor gauges? Dig a little deeper, spend some time looking at more than one screen, go to worldoflogs (if your raid uses them), or just reason it out (or even talk to them). For example: Why does that healer keep having his tank die? (Death logs: oh the tank stood in bad stuff and took unnecessary damage) Why is that healer always ahead of me? (Spell breakdown on WorldofLogs: Oh 10% of his healing came from a tranquility). Why is that DPS ahead of me? (Damage done by target: oh 50% of his damage was to unnecessary targets). Or even better, compare yourself to your potential rather than others. Hit a target dummy and see how much damage you do, and extrapolate from that with raid buffs how much you SHOULD be doing, or look online for how much you SHOULD be doing, and try to reach that target (without gaming the system!). Or if you are a healer, focus more on why someone died, and how you could have prevented it (if you could have), or if no one died, then look at things like how many judgements you got off, and how many you could have (pallies), or if you could have cast more mana efficient heals, or maybe even dps’d a little? And if you were on a fight like Shannox in charge of breaking face rages, look at the amount of damage you did to Rageface, and see if you were perhaps focusing TOO much on him and could have put some more dps into Shannox, or how much damage he did by facerage, maybe you should have been quicker to break those.

There are always ways to gauge your performance, and by taking a bit of time before or after raid, or maybe on a down night, to dig into your performance you can see what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how you can improve the next time around.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Healer Test Fights

Last night one of our top healers mentioned how he hated Baleroc. Now this isn’t a guy QQ’ing about the fight because he’s not good at it, he’s currently ranked on it (in normal mode as we don’t have this boss down on heroic). He then followed it up with a comment about how he wished Blizzard would stop making healer fights. Given that I am overly opinionated, and USED to be a healer, I thought I would weigh in on this!

I should start with an explanation of what we mean by healer fights. Healer fights are fights that put the majority of the mechanics on the shoulders of the healers. No matter how good the rest of your raid is, there is NO way to make up for their mistakes. This is the equivalent of a dps check fight (with a tight berserk timer), or a tank check fight, with lots of adds to pick up or boss movement, such as Shannox, (although in these types of fights usually intense healing or dps can give at least some wiggle room). The three fights that are most recently thought of as healer fights are Baleroc (Firelands), Chimaeron (Black Wing Descent), and Dreamwalker (Ice Crown Citadel).

Blizzard tends to make this type of fight, in my opinion, because while dps and tanks sometimes get to deal with interesting mechanics (or at least testing mechanics), such as interrupts, “vehicles”, etc. healers are generally assigned the same role of keeping green bars full, and handling the normal high damage phase that seems to accompany pretty much every fight. As someone who used to play a healer I have to say that while you get very good at this type occurrence, it can get quite tedious and boring over the long run, “what do I do on this fight? Oh yeah stay out of bad stuff and keep green bars full…again…” Much as they make fights like Alysrazor where dps gets to try out something new such as flying, they like to let healers experiment with some new things too, even if “new” still means keeping an eye on green bars.

There are two major issues with these types of fights, as I see it. The first is that the mechanics tend to be, at first anyways, quite buggy usually, or don’t work as well as they should. Chimaeron for example was well designed (if annoying) however because of latency and the very short window to heal someone, it wasn’t that uncommon to see a green bar go over where it needed to be, only to see that person die, because while your computer registered the heal, the server didn’t. The second, and more important issue that I see is that while Blizzard’s intent is good, healers already tend to carry a ton of weight on their shoulders, 90% of the fights tend to be mostly relaxing for DPS, where they can stand there, hit their rotation, and move occasionally, normally with some sort of heavy “avoid this” phase or “burn” phase. Healers on the other hand tend to be constantly reacting to what is happening, and picking up the slack for people that don’t move or make a mistake. This is especially an issue on fights that have a soft enrage, where they tend to be able to extend the time that dps have to finish a boss by “brute healing force”. By creating healer fights, blizzard doesn’t tend to really change the fight for them, just make things more stressful, as a mistake on healer fights tends to mean at least one death, if not a wipe.

Personally I think that if done right healer fights can be a ton of fun for all involved, however the only one that I think of in recent times as “done right” has been Dreamwalker, and it’s pretty hard to extend that mechanic to new fights, without making it feel stale.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Attendance Boss

The Attendance Boss.
Oh how I hate thee. Of all the bosses I’ve fought in WoW this seems to be the one that never gets nerfed and seems to scale with gear. In my current guild this seems to be the major issue preventing us from being a top 10 guild on our server.
When we first began raiding in Firelands on Mug’Thol, we had some recruiting to do, that was something we knew ahead of time and had been trying out best to do so. We weren’t real picky, it was a new patch so no knowledge of the fight was expected, and valor gear and tier 11 was so easy to come by that we really didn’t have concerns about gear level. Our first raid we downed three bosses with less than 25 people because we just could not fill the spots. It got better the following week, we filled, if just barely, and the following week we were up to around 30 people. Finally we could start to select based on performance, and we did. We of course had people quit over the fact that they were replaced do to poor performance, but we had a pretty good first month overall.
Then it happened. There was a sharp and sudden drop off in attendance. First we noticed it on Thursdays, we were having trouble filling raid. And suddenly it was every week. Normally we are able to fill our raid, although we have 24 manned a few bosses and done a few Baradin Holds with substantially less than that, however it’s WHEN we fill it that is the issue. Our designated raiding times are 830-12 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; this is something that is clear to everyone that apps and so everyone in the guild should be aware of this. Does life sometimes get in the way and it is not possible to show up for every single raid on time? Absolutely. Working late, family gatherings, bad traffic, whatever the reason, there are always good excuses. However when we are consistently having issues making that first boss pull before 930, an entire hour after we are supposed to be buffing and pulling trash, that’s an issue.
I have found this week especially hard to put up. There’s a huge nerf to Heroic modes in Firelands that has taken place; 15% reductions of damage and health right across the board. This is the week that we should be able to really push past some bosses, using this nerf to give us a bit of room to make some mistakes, and yet this week seems to have presented our worst attendance so far. It’s Thursday today, last night we raided and again didn’t pull until 930. Around 850 in my frustration I said in guild chat something to the effect of “Is everyone that showed up late aware that we raid at 830?” The response I received from one person was “It’s just a game,” and from another “there’s no point getting mad about it, that doesn’t solve anything”. I hate both of those responses. I get that it’s just a game, but if you had plans with a friend to meet them for drinks, and you showed up 30mins-1hour late, how happy would your friend be? Sitting there waiting, and waiting, and waiting until finally you show up, no apology, and just sit down. That’s exactly what making the rest of your guild wait is like. How do we fix an attendance issue? Recruit. We recruit and start to sit people who don’t show up. Will we maybe not progress as quickly by not running our top players because they don’t show up? Probably. But it’s not as though they can really go anywhere else. Most guilds that are substantially into heroics require something in the area of 90% attendance from raiders, it’s something they can afford to say because they have a lot of applicants when they’re sitting at 6/7, us not so much, but considering we don’t progress very quickly by wasting half our week waiting around, I think I would rather raid with people that want to be there, and try hard (even if they aren’t the best) then people that show up whenever they feel like it, without the regard for others to be on time, or let us know that they will be late.
Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where in the Firelands have you been?!

(See what I did there? and know...bah!)
So wow it has been around 5 months since my last post on here, and while I have from time to time had the urge to write a post I just haven't made myself make the time. A lot has happened and I figured I would update this blog, and maybe try to get back into a regular posting schedule.

Goodbye Healing!
Well this post was tied quite a bit around my adventures while healing, whether I was stubbornly holding onto Disc or playing as my eventual favorite spec of holy, I tried to approach this blog from the perspective that only a healer could, after all, we do tend to keep a really good eye on health bars and environmental hazards.
However, as I had wrote I was originally in a guild called Jubilance. During Cata release we swapped from a 25man to a 10man guild, that then had it's ups and downs, and eventually the raiding core decided to move over to another guild on the server ShadowRaven, which was a 25man raiding guild, a bit further progressed then we were. After a few months of raiding there we all started to realize that this wasn't what we were looking for, a few decided to take a break, but the rest of us decided to server transfer with many of the people from another guild on the server. I am now on Mug'Thol, under the name "Moriturri" (some silly lvl 62 DK had my name and Blizz said they couldn't just delete him or something...). Currently I am raiding with the guild: One Last Stand (the guild we transferred to be a part of). This server is quite a nice change at times, pugs regularly clear content on normal, and attempt heroics, and of course everyone's favorite Holy Priest Aliena is on the server with the guild from Tankspot Void.
I suppose that the bigger news for some of you out there may be my conversion to the dark side, or rather Shadowy Side! I am now playing Mainspec Shadow DPS. I actually have only healed in raid once, and that was only for a planned wipe to allow someone to do a quest for the legendary. In fact, I have probably only healed a handful of times since transferring. While I seem to be doing pretty good dps (rarely outside of the top 3 or 4 by the end of a fight) I have noticed that I spend a lot less time paying attention to the raid frames than I used to, in fact probably less than I should, there have been times when I am dps'ing away only to realize that most of the raid is dead and I hadn't even noticed. It's a much different play style!
Having said that: I am loving it! (sorry McDonald's, please don't sue me!).

So if anyone out there is still following me: Feel free to check out our guild! One Last Stand on Mug'Thol (currently as of writing we are 2/7HC, however with those pretty 15% nerfs to heroic we will likely gain a few more kills this week). We are always looking for talented players (especially tanks at this point!). If interested in joining, or even just discussing this blog or playing a priest or anything else feel free to send me a tell!

Good luck in Firelands all, and I hope to be writing a lot more of these!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chimaeron Update

As I am fond of doing, I am going to do a bit of an update to a past post. I noticed just today I received several hits to my post on Healing Chimaeron, so I thought I would update it with my thoughts on the fight now, and how I heal, now  that I am in a 25man guild that is farming Heroic Chimaeron.

So far my assignment has been to the Double Strike tank. We have a soaker tank, which is actually either a DPS DK in Blood Presence, or a Ret Pally with Righteous Fury on. Regardless of who is taking the majority of the hits, they will always be jumping back and forth between 10k+ and 1hp, so no point in wasting potential dps on bringing a third tank. We have 2 tanks who alternate taking the double strikes, the only time they are actually tanking is during the stack up phases, otherwise they taunt for the double strike, then the soaker takes him back. The purpose of that is to avoid getting stacks of break. So back to me: I heal the double strike tank, along with one other healer (usually a holy pally, as they can beacon the soaker tank, which along with hots, is all the healing they need). Priority is to get that tank topped off to 100% quickly, although there is actually a fairly big window to get him topped off before the next double strike, but any time spent healing him up with slow casts is time you could be spending helping up healing Caustic Slime Targets. My "secret weapon" to keeping the double strike tank topped off, including during the stack phase, when he quite often has stacks of break, is Prayer of Mending. This spell is great because as long as they survive the first hit, they're getting a ton of healing instantly, between hits. When the Bile-o-tron is online, this spell will guarantee that the tank survives the double strike, no matter how much damage each hit inflicts.

Every second Caustic Slime I am able to cast a Circle of Healing. This spell is another of the Priest's secret weapons on this fight. Normally I either target one of the tanks, or someone near the stack location, regardless of whether they are at full HP or not; This is because I have it glyphed, so it hits 5 targets in addition to my main target. And how many targets does Caustic Slime hit? That's right, 5. This spell alone is enough to handle all five caustic slime targets. It's sometimes a little scary, because my initial heal from it isn't enough, but one second of Echoes of Light (my mastery) pushes them over the Low Health warning and into the safe zone. If my circle of healing is on CD, I will always look for a group that has more than one low health member, and throw a flash heal on them.

Before the first Stack phase, I stay in my single target healing Chakra (the holy word is great for a quick top-off on a low health party member), but as soon as we stack up I switch to the raid healing, drop my circle on the ground, hit circle of healing, and then look for my tank's HP. Because I have a Holy Pally healing with me, I know they will quick to make up for any little hits the tank takes, and we have a Lay on Hands rotation that ensures my tank will be topped off before he starts taking damage. If my tank is full on health I start throwing Circle of Healings, or Prayer of Healings on the raid. I have Chimaeron Focused so I can see when he gets the double strike debuff. As soon as he does I cast Guardian Spirit on him (first and third stack) and then a Prayer of Mending (see above!). Then I will start throwing serendipity bombs to ensure I get him topped off right away. At this point I stay in the Raid Healing Chakra, because I don't have time to swap to single target, then back to raid healing before the next stack phase, and my circle of healing becomes that much more powerful!

Phase 2 is another area where Priests shine (especially Disc, but eww). As soon as phase 2 hits we should look at the DPS count, and start bubbling our top 5 dps. Constantly keep them bubbled, this will ensure that your top DPS are taking minimal damage, and will survive the longest. If Guardian Spirit is off cooldown wait until your first or second tank is low and throw it one him, it will allow him to survive a little longer, making Chimaeron leave your high Threat DPS alone for a while longer.

This is my guide in a nutshell. Please comment or ask questions, this was wrote pretty quickly so I may have left out things you have specific questions about!