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?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Green, Green, and Green!

I got my transmog ready beforehand, though it surely could use tweaking:
Horns of the Left Hand Path 
Lightning Infused Mantle 
Coldtouch Phantom Wraps 
Shadow Council Gloves
Netherweave Belt
Rod of Corrosion
Book of Clever Tricks 
Blade of the Wretched (sword option)

Then I got green fire, which is nice. Now I have the cape, Xing-Ho, Breath of Yu'lon! Here's some shots:

I like it. I also tried the Glyph of Verdant Spheres, but it got too cluttered looking, and having only one above my head at times looks too dorky. Anyway, cape #5 this week too on my Rogue.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Green Fire Achieved

  I just did Infiltrating the Black Temple today. A couple resources I used were a Youtube video by Adam Becker and Icy Vein's Kanrethad Guide by Ackthal. Many thanks to the two!

  I got it just fine, and it was an enjoyable experience. I feel compelled to say this is a post-nerf kill, seeing as how my ilevel was 537. I killed him in the second Imp phase and felt a brief moment of "That's it?" which was fully replaced with evil glee very soon afterward!

  I popped some cooldowns at the start (Doomguard, Berserking, trinket proc+Chaos Bolts) and Feared the Pit Lord (glyphed) for even more DPS at start. Just as Fear wore off, I Enslaved (also glyphed) the Pit Lord and continued attacking. My macros were:

#showtooltip Enslave Demon
/target Pit Lord
/use Enslave Demon

This gets the Pit Lord in action right away.

#showtooltip Incinerate
/use Incinerate
/use Fel Flame Breath
/use Demonic Siphon

This keeps the Pit Lord's abilities on cooldown.

/target Kanrethad
/cast Charge

This interrupts Cataclysm and I put it right next to my Chaos Bolt.

  When the Imps came out, I just kept Rain of Fire on them and used another macro:

/target Fel Imp
/use Fel Flame Breath

  Before the Felhunters came out, I sent the Pit Lord behind the gate using /petmoveto and avoiding my Incinerate macro until all three Felhunters were out and aggroed onto me. I used Havoc>Chaos bolt to kill two and DPS'ed down the third normally, no problems. In one of my failed attempts, I lost the Pit Lord to Felhunters because I didn't aggro them.

  When the Doom Lord came out, I just had the Pit Lord attack it, used my gate to drop aggro, and continued DPS on Kan.

  Overall, I just stayed out of fire and kept DPS going, using Singe Magic on cooldown and the occasional Ember Tap to stay up. I had some problems with Demonic Circle not working sometimes causing me to wipe, so I just started using my gate to avoid Kan's Chaos Bolt.

  Looking through Damage Taken: Excruciating Agony for 539k and Seed of Terrible Destruction for 254k, so more Singe! One Chaos Bolt hit me for 460k, and I didn't even notice it. Rain of Fire damaged me for 101k, so I'm not perfect on getting out of fire.

  All in all, not bad. I liked the story a lot, too. It was very informative about the nature of Warlocks.