Friday, October 24, 2014

"Challenge Mode" Raiding, a tentative gearing plan.

  Disclaimer: I have not played beta. I'm getting my info from Wowhead.

  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.

  What I propose, then, is a series of self imposed gear caps for progression raiding. The initial gear cap might seem necessarily complex, as the sources for gear for the first tier of an expansion are diverse. However, I intend to reduce that complexity by instituting the initial rule of "Theoretical Day 1 Availability" for Highmaul Heroic raiding. Blackrock Foundry Heroic raiding would then also allow all Highmaul Heroic and Normal gear, along with whatever catch-up gear could be gained within a week, i.e. "Theoretical Day 8 Availability + Highmaul".

  As 5man content is all available on Day 1, any gear from there is allowed. However, only one Daily Challenge Mode reward is theoretically available on Day 1. As such, only one item from this source may be worn at any given time.

  Apexis Crystals are a daily grind, and nothing useful can be purchased with 1 day's worth of crystals. As such Apexis gear is not allowed.

  630 crafted weapons and most 640 crafted gear is available without the use of daily cooldowns or Savage Blood.

  LFR will not be available on Day 1, so no gear from there is allowed. Normal mode gear is available, but using it would defeat the Skill>Gear theme.

  Following this Day 1 rule, it seems that all armor items, capes, necks, and one ring are likely best obtained from the crafting professions (640), rather than Heroic Dungeons (630). (there may be exceptions, due to particular class/spec stat optimizations.) This is advantageous, as sets can be crafted for recruits that have not geared up yet, or who have already geared past the Day 1 limit. This lease weapons, trinkets, and a second ring to account for.

  630 crafted weapons compete with Heroic Dungeon weapons, a 630 weapon from a daily Garrison Mission, 640 weapons from daily Challenge Modes, and a 645 weapon from a Gold Victory. Each of these items are theoretically obtainable on Day 1.

  The 640 ring from Khadgar's Task is available on Day 1, but the upgrade to 680 from Power Unleashed is not, so only the 640 ring is allowed. It's very likely that some players will have already upgraded their ring, so an alternative may be necessary. Options include 640 Challenge Mode rewards, 630 Pit Fighter's Punching Ring, and 630 Heroic Dungeon drops.

  Inscription trinkets are not allowed, as they use multiple daily cooldowns. Aside from Heroic Dungeon drops, there is a 630 trinket from a Garrison Mission, and also 620 PvP trinkets to consider. The Philosopher's Stone may also be useful.

  In summary, each raid team member progressing through Highmaul Heroic would be expected to maintain a set of gear consisting of:
  • A full set of Blacksmithing/Leatherworking/Tailoring gear.
  • A cloak from Leatherworking or Tailoring.
  • A neck and ring from Jewelcrafting.
  • A second ring from Khadgar's Taks, Challenge Modes or Brawler's.
  • Weapons/Off-hands from crafting, Heroic Dungeons, Challenge modes or Garrison Missions.
  • Trinkets from Heroic Dungeons, Garrison Missions, the Honor Vendo or Alchemy.
  The average ilevel would be around 640. The content being progressed through drops 680. I think that making this jump in ilevel is not only possible, but that a team of skilled players could make short work of it.

  I'm guessing that after clearing Highmaul, most Apexis or crafted gear would be obsolete anyway. Inscription trinkets might remain competitive, but they take longer than 8 days to craft and upgrade. I think the 680 ring from Power Unleashed would be reasonable to use while clearing Blockrock Foundry Heroic without invalidating the Skill>Gear theme, and it's easily obtainable within a week.

  Now I just need 9 other like-minded players!

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.

  I guess writing articles for this blog is a test of my self discipline, and I mostly fail. My previous standard of two a week on two themes, well, that was definitely "Up" me talking. "Down" me can't cash that check. I'm changing that to one a week. Some will be a Random Rambling like this, full of thoughts that are too long for Twitter, or irrelevant to Reddit. Some will be a big idea I have, like Disc DPS, or How To End #GamerGate, both coming Soon(TM).

  I'm also considering a broadside salvo concerning #GamerGate, particularly how it relates to WoW. It's been a pressure cooker in my head for too long, so in the interests of sanity, I'll hold nothing back.

  For now, here's a few comments from a Reddit thread, where I changed my mind a bit about the feminist angle of the issue [edited for clarity]:

Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth but I thought this subreddit [/r/kotakuinaction] would be one of the few places smart enough to stay on target.
Zoey, Anita and feminism keep getting thrust back into the conversation due to those that want that to be the subject of gamergate. Stop already, please.
Zoey and Anita are professional victims and con-artists. If they have to be brought into the conversation then the question to ask is why do they possess such a loud voice in this industry with so very few accomplishments regardless of what is between their legs?
That was the original outrage that led to more discovery that made this appear to be a huge industry problem, hence gamergate. That's how I see it, I understand a lot of folks here believe this is a orchestrated affair by people pushing an ideology and so what if it is? Does that change the fact that Game Journalists lap up anything and post it as truth regardless of the legitimacy of the source or even sometimes just making shit up to push an ideology?
I'm surprised the whole rantec or whatever fiasco didn't open more eyes on how huge this problem is, they will print anything for clicks because they don't care about the industry or it's consumers. For me the issue is fix it or I'll never visit your site again, continue to post shit to further incite the issue and I'll go after your advertisers. It's a pretty simple script, stick to it and meanwhile I'm enjoying reading a lot of these new sites that are trying to be legit.
Many might not share my opinions but the more of this revolt allows itself to be dragged into this feminism shit the less chance these issues will ever get out of a reddit ghetto and maybe make larger industry changes. I'm actually OK with that, I know what sites to give a little trust to and which to ignore, if that doesn't change, not my problem. 

You can no more disconnect feminism from Gamergate than you can Richard Nixon from Watergate. This is a multifaceted issue.
The way that game journalists have been corrupt and have betrayed and dismissed gamers are the main aggravating causes and main goals to address, certainly, but this attitude on the part of journalists comes from somewhere. It comes from the same source FeministFrequency comes from: A certain SJW brand of feminism. To deny this source prevents us from addressing it as one of the root causes of corruption.
There are different brands of feminism, of course. Based Mom [Christina H. Sommers] is a feminist of the brand that the overwhelming majority of people can agree with. However, the brand of feminism that expresses itself as "Social Justice" should be made to understand that though it is welcome in our community (e.g. TFYC [The Fine Young Capitalists], who offer options instead of tearing others down), it may not drive others out, and may not ostracize gamers as scum.

I've been a gamer for 29 years. First it was bad for the eyes, then it was rotting kids brains, then it was promoting sex (via arcades), then it was violence, then it was school shootings and now it's misogyny. What's your bet on the next ideological issue shoved down our throats?
Personally, I expect the people that write about the thing that I care about understand how many fucking times we have been attacked with some ideological groups bullshit and have the integrity to actually say no, that's bullshit. The state of the industry now is "wee it'll get us clicks, gamers are dead and fuck gamers!"
Once this goes away, we'll be attacked for something else, hopefully this revolt can re-introduce ethics into the gaming journalism so the next one doesn't turn into a hobby embarrassing shit storm.

>Zoey, Anita and feminism keep getting thrust back into the conversation due to those that want that to be the subject of gamergate. Stop already, please.
>Zoey and Anita are professional victims and con-artists
I'd like to try to meet you halfway on this, not because I think either of us are right or wrong, but that I think we're both right, but our perspectives are different.
I completely agree both are con artists and should be ignored for the trolls they are, but I'll add the caveat "as much as possible while remaining intellectually honest about the issue". Literally Who 1 and 2 [Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian] are not the central issue, for sure. I will not engage them and I discourage others from doing so, for exactly the reason that trolls are best ignored.
However, I think the histrionics both have displayed need simple, direct, onetime rebuttal, then an immediate and purposeful return to the real issue. Financial corruption in games journalism and the social ostracization of gamers by those same journalists.

I agree with a direct one-time rebuttal and disagree with a sustained engagement. The sustained engagement should be with the journalists who betrayed their audience for some fucking clicks. 

Sustained engagement with the SJW issue would cause us to fall into the trap set for us, I think, but that's not to say that we can't explicitly state why we are not stepping into the trap set for us as we redirect the conversation to the reformation of games journalism.
For example, in a defense of Gamergate to a person relatively new to the issue, one might state clearly, when prompted to, why Literally Who 1 and 2 are trolls. I think it's appropriate to reference or link to one or a few of the many articles and videos debunking their claims, but of course that should not be the main talking point.
It's also important to recognize that a lot of this is hashed out on twitter (no pun intended). In this case, I think the process should be sped up a bit, e.g. link once and only once to a rebuttal, immediately moving on the the issue of games journalism. If the engaged person does not move along with, drop it. Do not get trapped. Some people just will not be convinced.

  Quick note, does anyone see any harassment here? Any threats? Insults? Misogyny? No, it's just two gamers being self-aware, sharing our views, and generally being respectful.

   This was from 17 days ago, and all through this past month, I've been challenged in my views of feminism, and how to engage with it's supporters.

  First, I've decided that the word "feminist" on it's own has become somewhat useless, in the way Sam Harris has described the word "religion" to be useless. He compared "religion" to "sports", saying badminton and football are both sports, but they share almost nothing in common other than breathing. I think this comparison works for "feminism" as well. I am personally somewhat suspicious that Christina H. Sommers is drawing a false dichotomy between what she describes as "equity feminism" or "freedom feminism" vs "gender feminism". Although I'm not certain the comparison is accurate, I do perceive these qualifiers as useful in dialogue. When a person says "I am a feminist", that needs just a bit more description added to it. Likewise, when I say "I am not a feminist" and certainly when I explain my objections to feminism, I should be more specific than I have been in the past.

  Second, I observe that The Fine Young Capitalists have gained the respect of many in the gamer community. They are self-described as radical feminists, and as such I disagree with much of what they have to say. However, they have earned their place in gaming by playing by the rules. They did not play any victim cards, or lie, cheat and steal, or bully anyone. They did not tear others down. Instead, they started their own games jam, to promote women in gaming development. When Zoe Quinn tried to shut that down, 4chan raised $23,601 for their project. Seriously, 4chan. Maybe it's because anonymous gamers don't actually hate women. Maybe most of them love women. Maybe some of them are women. (Maybe some love women and are women?) Anyway, actions speak louder than words, and when TFYC asked 4chan what kind of videos they wanted TFYC to make, 4chan said "Talk about great female developers". Seriously. 4chan. I may not agree with TFYC, but I respect them.

  Finally, this! Everything about this is awesome! It also demonstrates in action what that other Redditer and I came to some agreement on, i.e. a one time rebuttal of "misogyny/harassment/threats", then a return to the issue of ethics in game journalism. This segment is very inspiring to me.

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:
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:
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:

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.

  Playing a Feral Druid has been a high learning curve for me. Now that I'm in LFR and doing sustained DPS instead of just trash pack after trash pack in dungeons, I'm learning the nuances of maintaining Feral's "stuff". Icy-Veins has been an invaluable resource, as always. For the most part, there's two primary combo point generators to build with (Mangle/Shred), a buff and a debuff (Savage Roar/Faerie Fire), 2-3 bleeds to maintain (Rake/Rip/Thrash), the occasional combo point dump (Ferocious Bite), and 1 sub-minute cooldown (Tiger's Fury). That's 8-9 abilities to track at any given moment. It's actually a pleasant rotation to execute, since it does require attention as well as the ability to adjust on the fly. That's the basics, though. The nuances are knowing when to refresh dots early due to procs, managing energy with Clearcasting procs, and learning what all abilities are gained and given with Symbiosis. I think all this can be achieved in LFR, so I'll do SoO LFR's on my Druid until I feel I've figured it out well enough. This alt isn't my main focus anyway.


  My main focus is, of course, my Pally. We got Heroic Shamans down, and got a first look at Nazgrim. The fight seems pretty challenging, but at least it's short, so we'll get it pretty fast, I think. My group fails our way through brick walls a lot.

  One of my personal raiding philosophies is to maintain discipline and return to a ready state quickly. I'm certainly guilty of unannounced AFK's to grab a drink real quick, but I try to not be the last one ready. A lot of time is wasted between pulls, for one or another reason, but my reasons are mine to control. If that means I shouldn't drink so much I need to pee between every other wipe, then so be it. If we're going to fail our way though Nazgrim, we need as many attempts as we can get.

  I don't know if we'll finish heroics this Xpac, but I'm glad we're still raiding. It's at a level above any I've played in the past, and even if we don't finish before WoD, I think we're a heroic team.


(links are NSFW, strong language)

  Gamergate is a thing, apparently. I'm getting the main story from InternetAristocrat. The three videos in his Quinnspiracy Theory series so far, The Five Guys Saga, In-N-Out Edition and White Castles and Ivory Towers, each are compelling in my view. It really makes me want to do something about the issue.

  Perhaps what I can do here is speak out against the source of the problem, which I believe is Feminism. Due to Feminist influence, criticizing a woman, for whatever reason, is now called misogyny. However, I don't hate Quinn or Sarkeesian because they are women. Rather, I hate their work because it is an intentional, relentless attack on gaming. I am convinced that the attack comes from Feminism, for the purpose of profit.

  There is a profit motive for trolls like Sarkeesian, of course. She pretends to be a gamer so she can declare herself a "Pop-Culture Critic" and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Simply put, she will take any game and show how it's sexist. Women in a video game are protected? Damsel in Distress! Women are subjected to violence? Objects of Violence! It's like reading tea leaves. She takes anything and everything and calls it misogyny. She's a master troll, and I still believe she is best ignored.

  There is a profit motive for Quinn as well, and for her it's particularly problematic, and cannot be ignored. She has been involved in a scandal with serious implications for the entire gaming community. Major gaming news outlets have censored criticism en masse. Editors have been quick to defend the indefensible behavior of their writers. The impartiality of judges of competitive gaming has been called in question. The impartiality of ratings and reviews of games have been as well. Gaming journalism affects gaming society as a whole. It's supposed to inform gamers, not push agendas. It's supposed to review and rate games impartially, based on their merit, not prevent game developers from freely creating their art. Gaming journalism has been corrupted, and gaming society is already affected by it.

  Simply put, Feminists are claiming the gamer society as their own, and are drawing a line in the sand. Either you follow their rules or you are an evil misogynist. They are doing this because it's profitable. The articles "10 of your favorite games are actually sexist/racist/homophobic!" get lots of clicks and the ad revenue rolls in. Someone in the industry says something innocuous at best, moronic at worst (but never actually causing harm), so they sell workshops on "How to not say such evil misogyny again!" Speaking engagements amounting to one strawman after another sell well. Feminism is a business now, not a social movement.

  Misogyny exists. So does misandry, and racism, and homophobia and all of the things. These things are real. However, I don't find them in gaming nearly as much as I do in other aspects of life. In my experience, gaming is far and above most other cultures in treating others with respect, courtesy, generosity, honesty and openness. If you only turn up the volume on the trolls, it might not seem that way, but there are far more many wonderful people with rich experiences to share than there are trolls to be ignored.

  Being a gamer doesn't mean being a lonely, white, male, cishet, middle-aged, middle-class, overweight nerd with a fedora and neckbeard, eating chips and drinking soda. Even if you are that, that's OK, because being a gamer means playing games. Anyone who plays games is a gamer. In my main guild, my DK co-tank is a young woman I have to argue with sometimes, but we work it out anyway and get to tanking. Our Hunter/Priest (she's a real team player for switching) is an older woman who works in the airline industry and has really cool stories and we talk late into the night sometimes after raid. I'm bisexual, and not for a moment have I been made to feel unwelcome in this guild for it. Sure, one person is making awkward humor I've heard a thousand times before, but he doesn't offend me. (It's like hearing a non-native speaker trying to learn the language. I appreciate that he's trying.) It just now occurs to me that I have no idea who has what color skin, because I don't care and it takes the context of PC-bullshit for it to reach my mind. My point is, our small guild has diversity, without even trying, and without PC-bullshit rules. We treat each other with respect because we are a team. We are gamers together.

  A last thought: I find it interesting that the only guilds I have been made not welcome in are "LGBT-friendly" guilds. So much for tolerance.

*edit* I suggest also reading an alternate point of view from an anarcho-feminist for anyone interested,.

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.


  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!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Black and Blue

After taking a side trip on guild fun runs of old content (these people like achieves), I ran all the errands and got my 5th cape.

My latest transmog wasn't going to match it though, but I like it so I'll show the outgoing set.

Now the legendary cape goes better with the old Scouting outfit I was running with through Cata. I think the headdress hints at a Wildhammer heritage.

My other 4 alts at 90 are all at the Sigils stage of the questline, so I think I'm going to forgo doing legendaries on all alts and focus on preparing for Warlords. I've got a Druid to finish leveling, likely zooming to 80 soon this week. I've got a Mage to either boost and level more profs on or level then boost. I guess it's a decision between what takes more time, leveling to 60 or leveling 2 profs to 600?