Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rage Quit

I quit my main raiding guild a few weeks ago, during the pre-patch. From an outsider's vantage point, I'd see it as a surprise. I've never rage quit during a raid before, ever. Not even when I was robbed of loot. I've always finished the fights, attempted to redress any issue I had, and if I felt I needed to leave, I left at a low activity time. Leaving is always my choice, for my reasons. I don't do it to make a point. That said, I'd characterized the way I left my recent guild as a rage quit. My first, in over 5 cumulative years of playing this game.

I logged in expecting the last night of attempts at clearing SoO on Mythic. We were set to start at Blackfuse. We did not have 20 people, though, so we instead went to ToT. What the fuck? I really don't give 2 shits about old content, and ToT is old. I don't want to play it again for at least 2 years. I go anyway because it's a team effort, and my understanding of the team dynamics at that point was that actually killing Garrosh on Mythic is less important that building a 20man team that will transition into WoD. It doesn't matter what we are doing, so long as we are doing it together, as a team.

Well, it's that "together as a team" part that wasn't going well. The raid leader was giving orders but his reaction time was way behind. He would say "interrupt that" (and it's already interrupted) or "taunt that" (and I've already taunted). I don't care about tone or word choice (though that could improve). I care about results, and as a tank, I'm one of the those most responsible for providing those results fight after fight. I have learned to appreciate what fair criticism is and isn't, and I wasn't getting it at all.

There was one particular wipe called when the raid leader said over vent "Don't bubble!" I don't know if he was seeing my Sacred Shield or meta gem proc, but I certainly wasn't trying to live after a wipe was called. No, that's what the other tank does, frequently. I don't like being blamed for something I didn't do, so I contested it and it was dropped. However, this is not the first time this accusation has been leveled, and certainly not fair to begin with.

Then we get to Primordious and I get the rehash of the stupid fight I already know because we've done it so many times before. I wait for my add to come out. I see it and sprint to intercept it and as I'm taunting and engaging, I hear "Get the add! Get the add!!" I already got the add. Then when it's my co-tank's turn to get the add, she doesn't get it. I don't know why, but I get blamed anyway. I "must have done something to pull aggro." I demanded a specific explanation of what they thought I had done wrong, but no explanation was given, just "something".

 So I quit, then and there, and I haven't looked back. I had realized that I was paying $15 a month to put up with abuse. Fuck that.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Challenge Mode" Raiding, a tentative gearing plan.

  Disclaimer: I have not played beta. I'm getting my info from Wowhead.*Edit. I've heard something about a 3 piece limit to crafted gear. If this is the case, this changes gearing options significantly, and I'll update this article shortly  rewrite this article later to reflect this.

  For a while now I've had the idea to start a guild with a theme of Skill>Gear. The two ways in which I intend to prove this concept is to have guild members organized into Challenge Mode teams, and to combine those teams into a heroic raid team with an interesting standard, i.e. a gear cap.

  It has long been my firm conviction that clearing any particular raid is designed to be possible using gear from the immediately preceding content, e.g. SoO cleared in gear from ToT, ToT cleared in gear from HoF/ToES, ToES cleared in gear from HoF/MV, HoF cleared in gear from MV/dungeons, and MV cleared in gear from dungeons. Any gear that drops during progression through a particular tier is not necessary towards clearing that tier. It merely "nerfs" the later bosses of that same tier.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Ramblings: Disc DPS postponed again, feeling extra bi-polar, semi-obsessed with #GamerGate, rethinking feminism

  I've decided against posting my current draft of Disc DPS: A Case Study, mostly because I think it's crap, but also because I want to incorporate a pre-patch comparison, and that will take at least a week of playing. Also, it's crap. I feel very strongly about the major points this article will have, which are currently Competitive Context, Judging Viability, and The Nature of Hybrids. Along with a pre- and post-6.0 comparison, I'm also considering adding a major point about "Niche vs Gimmick". It's all over the place and it's crap. Sorry. This baby will come in it's own time.

  I'd be remiss to not also blame #GamerGate for hogging up much of the internet time I don't spend raiding on my Pally or messing around on my new Mage. This train don't stop!

  I try not to spend the whole day at the computer, but it's the source for my writing (I write other things as well), most of my reading, my TV, my radio, my news, my games and my communication with people far away (I hate talking on phones). I don't conscientiously limit my time at the computer so much as my body can't stay put for long when I'm up, but when I'm down, I can't create anything. I just watch videos on Youtube and look at funny pictures on Reddit. Like this one:



  If you don't get it, don't worry. It's just silliness expressed through compounded inside jokes.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Questions to Restore Focus

  It's been hectic on Twitter, between #GamerGate and #NotYourShield. I've put my two cents out there and will continue to do so, but I'm not getting sucked in to the point of forgetting what I'm really here on this blog for: My thoughts and experiences in the World of Warcraft. That includes the aforementioned kerfuffle, of course, but is not limited to it. That said, let's answer some questions:

  1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
   Both times I started WoW, it was because I was bored at the end of a deployment. After we packed up our equipment, there's nothing to do but sit around watching DVD's and playing video games.

  2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
   In 2006, I played a Tauren Hunter, got power leveled, geared up with friends and spent 20+ hours a week raiding. I ended up hating it after a while and quit before BC came out. In 2010 I played a Dwarf Hunter named Kalven, tamed an orange tiger named Hobs, and took my time leveling, finding my own way into the game again.

  3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
   Both times I started playing, I chose faction and server based on where my friends were playing.

  4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
  Raiding ICC with <Eutopia> on Ally-Durotan. We were way behind the curve, super casual, and only got 11/12 before Cata came out, but it was fun. We raided on 10man twice a week for only a few hours at a time, which was much better than my previous raiding experiences in Vanilla where we raided on 40man 4-5 nights a week for 4-5 hours at a time. I learned quality over quantity from that. I knew all of my teammates by name. Everyone was quick to accept responsibility for mistakes. We treated each other with respect and patience. My favorite night was the night we got Blood Queen down after about an hour of attempts (first night of attempts), then Sindy down on the third attempt. We were casual, but we were good.

  5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
  The game changes, and the overwhelming majority of the changes are good. If you had told me in Vanilla that I wouldn't have to worry about pets running away, and that I could have 55 pets (!!!) and that my pets were important to my team and did great DPS on their own, and that I wouldn't have to buy ammo, and that I could use 4 bags instead of 3, and I wouldn't have a dead zone... I'd laugh and call you crazy, then I would dream your words would come true.

  6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
  The Dwarf starting zone. Every expansion, I like to roll each class and level it to 15-20 or so, to get a feel for it. It's fun and enlightening. I played the new zones in Cata, of course, and did one character through the Pandaren Isle, which was beautiful, but I can't get tired of Dun Morogh.

  7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
  My total /played according to Altoholic is 367 days, and I've taken a few 1 month breaks over the past 4 years.

  8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
  Usually, especially the first time through a zone. I like a good story. My favorites for the stories are Dun Morogh, the Horde side of Stonetalon Mountains, both sides of Southern Barrens, Deepholm, and both sides of Twilight Highlands.

  9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
  It often comes to mind that I regret not killing the Lich King while he was current, even with the buff, but after 4 years, that's not what matters to me anymore. Now I'm on the next step up of wondering if I'll kill Heroic Garrosh before WoD comes out, but that's again not the important part. My real regret that stays with me is that every team I join breaks up at the end of the expansion. <Eutopia> didn't reform after Cata came out. Most of my teammates went to another game. <Ephemera> didn't reform after MoP came out. The guild was still there, but no raiding, no rated battlegrounds. I'm concerned <Egalitarian Misanthropes> won't survive WoD.

  10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
  I've gotten a better sense of timing, from executing a DPS rotation while managing cooldowns and reacting to fight mechanics. This is a surprisingly applicable skill to working in a restaurant, particularly working on the line.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming? - See more at: http://www.alternative-blog.net/#sthash.NPzryKre.dpuf
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming? - See more at: http://www.alternative-blog.net/#sthash.NPzryKre.dpuf
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming? - See more at: http://www.alternative-blog.net/#sthash.NPzryKre.dpuf

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Random Ramblings: Learning to Play Druid, 8/14H SoO, #Gamergate and Feminism

  I got my 10th character to level 90, a Druid named Kallonika, and by now it's just a relief that it's over. I hate leveling and the only thing holding me back from my goal of a 90 of each class is just setting aside time to do it. Dungeon diving as a tank is my least hated way to level, so getting my Druid to 90 has been easy enough. The only reason I'm leveling instead of boosting is to save $60.

  That's just it, though. Leveling is easy, but a chore, and I hate doing it. I also reject any argument that it "teaches you the class". Multiple specs for each class, particularly hybrids, makes that argument irrelevant. You can level a Combat Rogue, then switch to Assassination and already be familiar with the basics of managing energy and combo points, but if you level an Enhancement Shaman then switch to Restoration, nothing in your leveling experience will be relevant

  Here's what I think is a better case to be made: Want to learn your class? Do some PvP. Staying alive and getting flags capped or bases captured, peeling healers, killing healers or being a healer will force a player to sink or swim. Do some battlegrounds while leveling or wait and jump off the high dive at 90. It doesn't matter what level you are when you learn to play your class, and it doesn't matter how or where you learn, just so long as you learn.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tanking Factors

  I've had two kinda vague concepts in mind as I've both healed and tanked in WoW: 1) Maximizing healing on a tank; 2) Maximizing a tank's effective health.

  The first started as a healing gut feeling, which is a tendency to favor increasing the rate of healing that the tank is receiving. This is not the same as saying "If I heal more, the tank dies less." It's not that simple, of course. My point is that I would (for example, as a Disc Priest in Cata) favor keeping a Renew active on a tank rather than save that GCD for anything other than a PW:S or a fresh PoM. Popular wisdom was then that Disc Priests did not use Renew, but I did and I think it's because it was effective at topping off the tank, bringing the tank up if not topped off, or preventing tank death with it's steady ticks. It was a versatile and reliable ability.

  To support this gut-feeling based concept, I ask what is the ultimate HoT? I think it is the healer them self. A steady supply of Greater Heals is effectively the same in concept as a Renew. Simply put, the difference is the size and pace of the tick, that is all. For this reason, I look towards what maths out the best, never mind what a class/spec is "supposed to use." It's not a question of style to me, but rather a practical assessment of what keeps the tank alive.

  The second concept I became more attuned to as a tank, particularly by treating a Blood Shield as an extra health bar on my DK. Again, simply put, effective health is the amount of damage a tank can receive without dying. Increasing that amount leads to less death, particularly during vulnerable moments.

  Between the two, my goal has always been to reduce the rate of tank death during progression. With this in mind, my intent is to consider each individual factor that leads to tank death, assign it a value, and deduce the factors into manageable "chunks" of factors. The two chunks I am attempting to quantify are are the two concepts I described, which are preventing death due to lack of heals within a set amount of time, or due to spike damage. 

RD = the rate of damage received by the tank, after mitigation
RH = the rate of healing received by the tank from all sources
ERH = effective rate of healing, RD+RH
Th = the tank's current health
Ha = healing from absorbs
ETh = effective tank health, Th+Ha+RD
td = time until death, [ERH]/Th, when ERH is negative (brackets denote absolute value)

  Chunk factor 1 is ERH and chunk factor 2 is ETh. In both cases, the lower the number, the higher risk of tank death. More precisely, tank death is a result of either a negative ETh at any time, or a negative ERH remaining in place for the duration of it's related td.

  ERH is one of the more commonly assessed factors of tank death. Having a negative ERH can be described as either taking damage too fast and/or not getting enough healing. Whether the blame lies on the tank or the healers (or both) depends on assessing the whether the tank used active mitigation (AM) and cooldowns properly vs. whether the healers were putting out the necessary hps. This might seem somewhat subjective, and tending towards being the healer's responsibility, but a tank would be wise to maximize their abilities in this regard.

  ERH can be controlled by modifying two other factors (using some Paladin abilities as examples):
RD is modified by using AM and cooldowns (SotR, DP) and gear (armor, mastery).
RH is modified by using healing abilities (EF, SoI) and gear (haste).
(note, mastery and haste are mutually supporting for Pallys. This is just for example.)

  ETh is a factor less commonly assessed. Having a negative ETh can be described as taking too big of a hit or just plain not having enough health. Other than absorbs, this chunk is largely the responsibility of tanks through the proper use of major cooldowns.


  ETh can also be controlled by modifying other factors:
RD as above.
Ha is modified by certain healing abilities (SS) along with other absorb healing.
Th is modified by using health cooldowns (Fortitude of the Zandalari) and gear (stamina).

Example A.

  Tank has 1,000h, and is receiving -100hps as damage and 100hps from non-absorb healing, 50hps from absorb healing. The tank's effective rate of healing (ERH) is 50hps with an ETh of 950h. Time until death (td) is irrelevant, since ERH is positive. In this example, the tank is not at all likely to die.

Example B.

  Tank has 1,000h, and is receiving -200hps as damage and 100hps from non-absorb healing. The tank's ERH is -100hps with an ETh of 800h, and td is 10s. In this example, the tank is most likely to die due to low healing.

Example C.

  Tank has 1,000h, and is receiving -800hps as damage and 700hps from non-absorb healing, 200hps from absorb healing. The tank's ERH is 100hps with an ETh of 400h. Again, td is irrelevant since ERH is positive. In this example, the tank is most likely to die due to spike damage.


Monday, July 21, 2014

7/14H, Challenge Modes, Pet Battles, Soundtracks

  First, some listening music from the Mirror's Edge soundtrack:



  <Egalitarian Misanthropes> is 7/14 Heroic in SoO as of yesterday. We were debating whether we should attempt Iron Juggernaut or skip ahead to Nazgrim (which we'd already gotten once last week), and we even voted on it, with only 1 person abstaining and everyone voting to skip. Someone suggested poking it just to get an idea of the fight, and a few wipes later, we got it! Sometimes you just have to go for it.

  We were missing a couple people, so we had to bring some friends in, and there was a bit of a debate whether we were carried or not. They were the top two DPS, but the two we were missing are our top two DPS, so... Who even cares? No amount of DPS is going to pass a heal check or keep people from standing in fire, so I don't think it was a carry at all.

  We're getting to a point in progression where everyone is going to have to collectively step up. Early heroics are outgeared, I think, due to the ilevel boost of 4 upgrades along with fairly optimized gear across the team. We're pushing into the next level, between heroic Dark Shaman and Malkorok, and some specific problems need fixed. I'm not going to air out my guild's dirty laundry, though, at least not now.

-------------

  I also got roped into doing challenge modes on my Warlock, an alt that I had retired and wasn't planning on playing anymore in MoP. My gear isn't optimized. Not every piece has mastery, I have no ToT weapon to use an extra gem on, my trinkets aren't great. I hadn't even done the dungeons on heroic on that character. I didn't ask to be there, I was asked to come, so any complaints fall on deaf ears. I'm topping the charts anyway. I'm only going along with this to be a team player and to get a preview of the fights. One of my goals before WoD is to get all Gold CM's on my Hunter or Rogue or both.

  My personal WoW time management philosophy is to have 3 plates spinning at any given time, because I don't like playing more than 25 hours a week. I focus on quality, not quantity. If I'm failing at something, I'm not inclined to brute force it with time+RNG. I'll expound more on this in a future thinking post, but for now I'm just making the point that stretching one's self too thin is a surefire path to burning out, especially for a tank. Currently, my primary plate is raiding. That's about 8 hours of raiding and 2 hours of valor capping, ect. a week. I've read up on all the fights already, so there's not much outside-the-instance tasks for my Paladin to complete each week. My second plate, reluctantly, is challenge modes. My third plate is a mess.

-------------


  I've made good headway on leveling my Druid (level 78) and I've started a Mage, which I will level to 60 and boost (20 so far). These are my last two classes to level.

  Additionally, I've started doing some pet battles. I'm almost done with Battle Pet Tamers: Eastern Kingdoms. My 1-2 knock out combo so far has been Lil' Bling and Clockwork Gnome, currently level 15 and 16. They both have self-heals and dots (Make it Rain and Build Turret), so that's a significant edge. If Bling has the speed advantage, I keep him out and spam SMCKTHAT.EXE, if not I keep Clockwork out for more uptime on turrets. My third pet has varied, usually chosen to fill a gap that having two Mechanical pets leaves, but in practice I haven't found any of them necessary so far, as I've defeated most of the trainers using only Bling and Clockwork. The ones I did use are Mountain Cottontail (S/S, renamed Speedster) and Bonkers.

  I'm going to have to change my line up to defeat Durin Darkhammer, though, since two of his pets are strong against Mechanical pets, and are level 17. Up to now I've been beating the trainers two levels below them. I'm thinking I'll try a couple Critters for the defense boost.

  Special mention for Panther Cub and Sapphire Cub, which I renamed Critter Killer and Swishy. They're only level 8, but I've had fun with the two.

  My plan with my Mage was to do pet battles between bouts of PvP, but I think my pets too quickly outleveled the zones I can survive in. I could just level extra pets through the lower levels for the XP, but I think the most efficient use of my time is to decide what this third plate is. Leveling alts or leveling pets?

-------------

  I like to listen to all different kinds of music while leveling alts or making gold, so some strange associations have been made for me. Listening to Pretty Lights reminds me of leveling my Hunter in Wrath, for example. Currently I'm on a soundtrack kick, and a few that I really like are Bastion, Journey and Mirror's Edge. I haven't played Bastion or Journey yet, but I will when I have the time and money.

  I'm learning some of the songs from Bastion on the guitar. They don't jam well solo, but playing along to the music is fun. The style is called Frontier Rock, as I've learned, and the tuning is D Modal, which I can strum loud and clear for a very full and open sound.

  Journey makes me very nostalgic for Iraq, oddly enough. It's orchestral, with a lot of cello, but according to Wikipedia, the music was made "as universal and culture-less as possible." I guess what the music and visuals are reminding me of is all the time I spent walking through the desert in real life. The last song I Was Born For This adds vocals, and after 53 minutes of instrumental music, the vocals add a sense of finality and accomplished purpose to the whole set. It's very emotional music.

  Mirror's Edge is a very fun game. If you haven't played it, you're missing out. I've never attempted parkour or free-running or whatever myself, but I am an avid runner. Being able to do that in a game in a creative and engaging way is very satisfying. I'm also a former member of the military-industrial complex, so playing a futuristic, stick-it-to-the-man storyline (with limited violence as a bonus!) was part of my break from that a few years ago.

Rebooting

  Ah, the cliched post about how I should post more. But seriously, I'm going to pick a theme and stick with it, and I think 2 posts a week ought to be a good start. My tagline has been "My thoughts and experiences in the World of Warcraft." for over 2 years now, but I've been stop-starting regular posting using various tricks, to no avail. I've also attempted guides and that Alt Appreciation theme, but never finished. I think what I need to do is return to the core reason why I started this blog. I want to express my thoughts so that my head doesn't explode, but in a way that doesn't overwhelm Vent or guild chat.

  Going forward, I've got two weekly posts I'm going to do. Mondays are now my "Here's what I've been doing" posts and Fridays will be "Here's what I've been thinking" posts. I'll supplement with some cooking posts here and there as I experiment with new recipes. It's good to have the occasional off-topic post, I think.

P.S. I was Navispammed!