Posted by: Kro | July 30, 2010

Gearing down for Cataclysm

I just cancelled my auxiliary account for WoW. With that in mind I thought I’d go over some of the benefits to having a second account now that they are painted in sharper relief for me.

Dual boxing is something I’ve quite enjoyed over the last two years. It all started with Recruit-a-Friend bonuses and then followed into maintenance and convenience.

My first dabble was a mage/paladin leveling combo. At the time I was considering playing main paladin after several years as a druid in vanilla and shaman in BC. It didn’t end up that way after I created my first DK but in the end I was a paladin healing main from ToGC onward. To complement my paladin I thought a mage would do the best.

I didn’t want to get to deep into dual boxing. I chose not to get or use software to control multi actions or anything that fancy. The biggest technical thing I used was two monitors. (Dual monitors are essential for anything for me now. If you’ve ever gone double down on monitors then it’s hard to ever go back.) It was a bit of an easy transition just having a windowed/maximized wow screen on each monitor.

Housekeeping items to make things a bit smoother included a “/follow kro” macro on all my toons hotkeyed. This makes it so any time I am on both accounts and in proximity with both characters I can just tap this on whatever character I’m currently on and switch to the other screen and scoot off to wherever I’m going.

I also stick mostly to channeled spells or AoE ground effects. Being able to swap from paladin consecrate / blizzard / consecrate /blizzard meant that I could grab a huge pack of mobs and take care other random spells in the other 6.5 seconds before I had to swap back. I could consecrate, then toss a heal or two, change my aura, bop my mage, or any number of things and still get back in time to refresh blizzard without clipping.

Sometimes this would get boring so I would use one toon with the other mounted/following.

You’ll want to have free for all loot on always and choose one character to be the mule. Collect all items on the character you consider master (for me paladin) and then dump all vendorables onto your mule character (mage) when you start getting full. This is nice for staying out to grind a bit longer before you need to hit a town to unload your phat grey items. I’d suggest doing mob dropped quest items on one toon at a time and just play your mule as primary once your true primary has all the rewards. I skipped a lot of these quests as well just to avoid the situation altogether.

Once you are max level there is still plenty of reason to keep your second account. I decided to keep my second account initially for the mage portals. I can’t praise enough the benefits of having a mage on your second account that will send you off on your way to any city with food/drink if you want it. (No tips required either, unless you have multiple personality disorder).

After the RAF bonuses dry up either because you hit 60 or you ran out of time it may be a pain to level up your mule. Still worth it though to get your mage up to 74 so you can create Dalaran portals. For this I decided I couldn’t stand to level again so I transferred my 71 druid (my enchanter) to my 2nd account.

This transfer did a few things. It allowed me to bring over some Bind on Account items including 10% experience armor, (did this before the 2nd item came out) and Northrend flying at level 70. I couldn’t purchase them with the druid but I did grab them on my (at the time) 80 DK and Paladin. These two upgrades are pretty much essential for me to even want to level. I used these upgrades to get my druid and mage to 80 (eventually) and benefited from their chanting/porting skills.

My last benefit I want to talk about is a bit specific and may not apply to most people. This is dual boxing Molten Core for old world legendaries. I’ve dual boxed MC as both DK/balance druid and as Paladin/Mage

The dual boxing isn’t necessary because you can solo most of the instance with the two tanking classes (generally as dps spec with a few tanking pieces or maybe just frost presence/seal of light now and then to get topped off). I solo’d Thunderfury on my DK in Ulduar gear but I didn’t even bother trying the rest of the instance because I didn’t think I could do Gehennas (that the name of the healing curse one?) or Rag. The real magic of dual boxing with these classes is decursing. There are a few 5 minute curses that make some fights very difficult or very annoying. Just getting rid of these will increase your “solo” clears by 10 minutes or more.

I’m justifying the loss of my decurse/ extra damage buddy in my dual box MC clears because I’m comfortable as ret through most of MC solo and I can just bubble off the curses. I’m no longer running two MC runs a week because my DK already has Thunderfury and with Shadowmourne just around the corner (7 shards to go) I’m more interested in Hand o Rag on my Paladin. It will be nice to retire Krodiak on his ZG Raptor with Hand o Rag as a dwarf in a quiet corner of Ironforge for the rest of his dwarf days. Yes of course I’m making a Duthan clone by design, not happenstance! Who else would I want to be… Tweezy? (Just kidding tweez you are a great dwarf role model too however you didn’t have the raptor mount or Hand o Rag did ya?)

With that all said I also used RAF in a slightly different way my second time around. There was a deal on Christmas Eve last year to grab a wow account for 5 bucks. The other nice perk to RAF is when you buy the account you get a free month to play, then when you pay for your first month on the new account, your main account is credited with a free month. Essentially this means your first two months are free so you don’t need to spend too much time on this side project all at once.

I used this RAF session similar to my first go around in that I did it to continue a healer main trend. At the end of BC it was to have a Paladin healer for Wotlk and towards the middle/end of Wrath it was to level a Priest for Cataclysm main healing. The similarity stops there because this time I had 3 accounts! I planned my accounts ahead of time to have my priest on my main account, and my RAF 3rd account had a hunter. (Hunter just because I didn’t have a hunter) My mage on my mule account remained free to clear/reset/repeat all the lower end dungeons. This was especially amazing for stockades where my mage (in a funky fire – blazing speed spec [perma sprint]) could pull the entire stockades and aoe them down at the door where my priest/hunter were chilling and they would jump up 2-3 levels a clear. When my hunter hit 60 I used the free level granting to ding my 20 something Warlock up to 46ish to become my lowest level class. I then cancelled my hunters account and for 5 bucks had a 60 priest in a couple hours of work. The rest of the level grind was not quite so fast but it was nice to skip the early stuff since I had done it 7 times before.

I could probably have left a lot of backstory out of this post and just bullet pointed the benefits but then it wouldn’t have been as much fun to write.

I thought perhaps that making this post would persuade me to reactivate my second account. StarCraft 2 being released this week (OMG Campaign is so much fun but I can’t wait to finish and move back to multiplayer) and CoD:MW2 taking up a lot of my time these days in the calm before the Cataclysm has left me feeling like two accounts is a bit of a waste. My only remaining WoW goals before Cataclysm are to finish off my two legendaries which I can accomplish without my 2nd account. I feel I’m in decent shape to say goodbye to my druid and mage for awhile. I’ll have to remember to log them out someplace peaceful though, just in case I never reactivate them.

Goodbye Krolore and Kroast! Thanks for the memories.

Posted by: Kro | July 21, 2010

Healing Hands: Grabs a Leg Up

  • Healing Hands now has a 1 min cooldown.
  • Speed of Light *New* – Casting Holy Shock grants 5/10/30% spell haste for your next Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine Light, and casting Healing Hands grants you 10/20/60% movement speed for 10 sec. Also lowers the cooldown on Healing Hands by 10/20/30 sec at all times.

**Edit** The sprint has been changed to 4 seconds as opposed to 10 seconds as of July 30th-ish. I feel like this is a good thing as 10 seconds was way to much but 4 still will get you to hustle butt over to where you need to be every 30 seconds.

So you may have seen my posts on Healing Hands and why I didn’t think this new paladin aoe heal would work as originally presented.

 In my first angry post from April 19th I was not optimistic at all and even said specifically that this spell would not work without a passive sprint…. Thanks Blizz for this fix. I know it’s not exactly passive sprint they are giving paladins but 100% up time while this heal is up is essentially where I was going with that comment.

In my second post I cleaned up my thoughts a bit but still came to the opinion that Paladins would end up good enough to have in your raid, but not the preferable choice.

With these changes I feel I can rescind this opinion and go back to feeling comfortable about holy paladins in Cata. They also added all healing spells back to beacon but reduced the healing amount transferred to 50% (down from 100%)

With the ability to sprint to a group when they need Healing Hands, having beacon (even a reduced transfer beacon) on our presumed bread and butter heal, and the option to use Healing Hands as utility to sprint in non aoe healing situations (something I felt the pally lacked and what is drawing me to priests for body and soul/lifegrip) will go a long way to achieving parity in the healing classes.

It may even be too much and I’m sure well see how that goes in beta and when 4.0 goes live. Until then I’ll continue farming Hand o Rag, finishing off shadowmourne, waiting for SC2 release, and playing CoD:MW2 (my first night ever last night)

Posted by: Kro | July 15, 2010

Time on Target: From Good to Great

Something I see a lot on different forums is “Why is my dps this low when I have the right gear, the right spec, and the right stat allocation?”

I also see plenty of “Why is the other <insert dps class> in my guild doing so much less damage than me consistently when they have similar, comparable, or even better gear than I do?”

Some of this comes down to class mastery, knowing your class’s optimal spec, rotation, and stats can be pivotal. In the end though, this is something anyone could (and should) be researching and implementing into their game in the first place.

A common retort is “play better”, but what does play better specifically mean?

In my opinion, a large portion of playing better (this example assuming your gear/spec/glyphs/rotation are not the problem) is your time on target..

What is Time on target?

This many sound silly but often you can check damage logs and find out why someone is doing better (or worse) than you primarily by checking how many casts they got off.

It’s no wonder that one death knight with 100 scourge strikes will do more damage than another that only manages 80. (Obviously these can be skewed by talents and the presence or absence of death runes but again, lets assume you’re competing against someone else playing a clone of your toon).  In a fight with multiple add phases, the DK with 400 disease ticks will win out against the DK with 250. The mage with 130 fireballs beats the mage with 90.

You may be thinking, durrrr, I’m not standing around doing nothing, these people getting fewer abilities in are obviously dunderheads picking their teeth or bioing during boss pulls. We aren’t talking about someone simply standing around though not doing anything. You’d be surprised how often in most fights there is an opportunity to sneak in one last hit, modify your rotation, or anticipate a phase to eek out that extra bit of damage as situations change.

Refresh diseases even if they have 8 seconds left because Sindragosa is lifting off into an air phase. Recast pestilence while running away from gunship archers to get 20 seconds of 2 diseases across 4 mobs rather than 12 seconds x2 x4, while you are moving to kill the battle-mage.

Understanding mechanics can easily increase your dps as well. If you are running all the way to the wall to avoid ooze explosion on Rotface and your fellow melee are simply side stepping a couple of yards, they are going to grab a distinct time on target advantage over you.  This is a severe example but you can see how a less obvious similar example might generate 1 extra attack. Multiply that extra attack by 10-15 opportunities per encounter and you’re looking at a big increase.

Putricide is another great example where you can set yourself up to do more damage by increasing your time on target. Having your diseases ready to be pestilenced to the green ooze so you can immediately start scourge striking grants you an extra attack. AMSing the knock back racks up your runic power to unleash 2-3 Death coils as your running back into position to soak the next explosion, and finally, being aware how close you are to Putricide while attacking the green ooze will enable you to often pestilence your diseases back onto Putricide as the green ooze is dying setting up an easier transition back to your boss rotation. Similarly, saving up runic power while on Putri to toss death coils at the red gas as it’s spawning and deciding who to follow, will mean you are in place to dps it as soon as possible while giving you the least time standing around doing nothing.

I use a lot of DK examples but this carries over to many specs. Increasing your time on target will improve your dps for any class even if the mechanics are slighty different for achieving that higher play. This is also why you will see a great player compete on a slightly undergeared toon or excel on many different characters. Skill transcends class and time on target proficiency carries over even if your class abilities don’t.

Using the Putricide example, leaving the gas a bit earlier than its death to catch your vengeance 5 stack from falling off Putricide will net a dps increase as ret. Constantly monitor your position as a mage so when its time to switch to the gas you can seamlessly swap targets without a gap in your cast chain. Use movement time running from malleable goo to refresh your insect swarm and moonfire on any available targets. You’ll be creating more dps from essentially no where.

If you are at the top of your wow macro (your gear, talents, glyphs, rotation are all 100% optimal) and you can’t figure out why your same class, spec, and geared peers are able to consistently outpace you then I highly suggest looking at creative opportunities to steal one last cast, snipe an extra bite before a phase swap, or juggle your dot’s to get around boss abilities intentionally designed to break your rotations.

The reason different boss encounters are interesting is because they intentionally try to break your rotation and force you to adapt. Knowing beforehand when your rotation will be under fire and setting yourself up preemptively to be in a position to cruise back into your groove will go a long way in ironing out the gap between you and your similarly geared classmates.

As a side note, after reading through this several times I can find instances where some of my specific examples are a gamble. I’m less of an exact numbers guy (I’m a healer remember!) and have more of a “more or less” (green bar or empty bar)attitude. I’d believe it if a scourge strike did more damage than 12 extra seconds of 2 diseases in some instances or a mage could spam a 130 fireballs and do less damage than a 90 fireball mage who also uses procs correctly and has 50 instant pyros. I’d like to cover my bases before posting and state that my examples are pulled out of the air rather than hard math.

 In other news, check out Borsk on the Raid Warning Podcast  for the round table Shaman discussion.

Posted by: Kro | July 8, 2010

Starcraft 2 Beta Phase 2 is upon us

The last month without Starcraft 2 Beta has been a harsh calm before the storm. We’ve eagerly awaited the return of our favorite alien vs predator clones, but finally that wait is over. (Sort of)

Though were not able to play just yet, (Matchmaking doesn’t seem to work, nor create a game) You can log in and the update while signing in says Blizz is working on fixing B.net.

While we wait I thought I’d offer a few tidbits of information to those folks unable to log in at this time and check out the achievements or portraits.

Portraits

First off, the starter portraits seem a bit more detailed. The starter portrait rather than looking like a generic teenager is a dude with a goatee, weathered hat and noise reduction ear muffs. There is also a lined african gentleman, and two women with short hair (one with the same cap on). The caps both have a bunny on them, anyone know the significance of this?

3 New Portraits are Tiger, Panda, and Wolf Marine. These are awarded for completing guides 1 2 and 3. They are somewhat cartoonish and not realistic but still look pretty fun.

You can be Orlan, a military beret and handlebar mustache portrait if you win a free for all against 7 insane AI players.

The solo win portrait requirements have been severely increased. Marine, Zergling, and Zealot have all been increased to 10, and from there go up to 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 750, and 1000.

Random portraits (following the same win requirement order) are Reaper, Sentry, Overseer, Viking, High Templar, Mutalisk, Banshee, and Hybrid Destroyer.

The 1k Win portraits seem to be a character each, Hybrid Destroyer for random, Terran is a woman Nova, Zerg is Queen of Blades (with a VERY cool portrait), and Protoss is Tassadar. There is also a portrait for winning 1k games as each race option, this one is Dark Voice.

For 25 Team Random wins you can have a Hydralisk Marine portrait in the same vein as the Cartoonish Panda, Tiger, Wolf Marines.

Theres also a transformer panther looking portrait named Predator for 1000 team wins as each race option.

Plenty of portraits are available for Sc1 units. Goliath, Vulture, Medic, and Firebat are all represented.

Achievements

There are a few hundred achievements so far, many of them with different degrees of difficulty in the varied modes. The more interesting achievements are the Combat ones.

They include creating 10 marines in the first 320 seconds of single Melee game, 20 Zerglings in the first 255 seconds, or 5 zealots in the first 250 seconds.

Expanding before 225 seconds have passed, repair 1k life on allied structures, deplete 10 rich mineral fields are a few of the economy combat achievements.

Melee combat achievements include Destroying 10 cloaked or burrowed units in a single game, Kill 50 supply worth of units in 15 seconds, Create a Zealot as the Zerg,

A new “anal” achievement to Link in “The Back Door” which involves using warp prisms to warp in 50 units in a single game.

Save 8 burning terran buildings, cancel construction of a structure that is being destroyed by an opponent, and control 15 hallucinations at once (all of these in a single game) are a few other melee combat achievements.

League combat achievements are mostly killing a certain amount of units with different abilities or units. 20 Units using Yamato blasts, 20 units with sniper rounds, 30 units with infested terrans, 6 units with a single Seeker Missile, 40 Units with any single unit, 20 Scvs with Auto-Turrets, Destroy a fully loaded transport (lol raining blood is this ones name). There also Macro Master achievements for training 9 terran or protoss units (21 for zerg) at the same time.

Some other fun, noteworthy achievements are “Work, Work” Win a league game without exceeding 30 seconds of total idle harvester time, “Big Brother is watching” hold a xel’naga tower for 5 consecutive minutes in a league game, and “Denied” destroy a command center, hatcher, or nexus while it us under construction.

These seem like a lot of fun flavor things to do in Starcraft 2 and I can’t wait for the matchmaking to work so I can start working on them (well not seriously because I’ll wait for release to really try)

So fear not folks, Starcraft 2 Beta Phase 2 is here.

Also (as expected) the wow integration on friends list is up and running, Thanks cheese for logging into wintergrasp and going in VoA wihle im sitting here looking at the SC2 Achievement pane to remind me about this. I also see my realID friends last online for wow while im in SC2.

Obviously we were expecting this but I still find it fun to actually see it in practice.

Posted by: Kro | May 25, 2010

Strength of Wyrnn: v4

The fourth iteration of the Strength of Wrynn buff is here and with it comes praise and jeers from all over the aisle.

It’s not a secret that my guild has been seeing a bit of a slow down in attendance. A lot of it over the last month has been the usual end of school lull mixed in with some folks quitting until expansion and others just feeling the burn out over years of raiding. When you also have steadfast guildies cringing with every cancelled raid and aspirations to hold the course and keep the pace we set with Sartharion and Ulduar a year ago, were up for some tough times.

With each buff increase we seem to lose 1-2 raiders. A new job schedule was our most recent loss (not that that can be helped). The problem this creates is each buff increase essentially balances us out. We spent a lot of learning time on Heroic Putricide trying to get a kill with the 10% buff but he seemed to elude us. When 15% came out we thought it would be cake but it took us another couple of weeks just to get a full 25 person raid. With a bit of undermanned practice, learning with 24, we were able to push through.

Sindragosa proved to be a similar beast. Feeling lucky if either Wed or Thurs raids were actually held, we would pound away at Heroic Sindragosa for scant few hours. For all things holy, we managed to kill her with 3 pulls yesterday evening. It would have been a pretty large blow to spend all of the 15% buff to come away with only Heroic Putricide.

Now that we stare 20% in the face, I look forward to a bit of achievement farming. Needing Neck Deep in Vile, and All You Can Eat. We are also going to go back and redo a lot of the achievements we did while waiting for the wings to be unlocked. We’ve had a lot of turnover since then and a small break before we dive head first into Heroic Lich King is well deserved. Well, rereading that sentence, we really don’t deserve a break after all the called raids recently, I think the break we need is from the tension of a standing boss we are fully capable of killing that refuses to bend to our will.

On a non guild note, 20% will also hopefully speed up the Gold DKP pug I attend on the weekend. Collecting shards (up to 21 currently) in our 3 hour time frame has been a long and arduous challenge. Starting almost 3 months ago and only going 10/12 in the pug with the release of 15% was a bit tough. However I’ve only been collecting shards for 7 weeks and at 21 that puts me at around 10 weeks away from Shadowmourne. I’ll shave off a couple weeks assuming my average SPW increases with 20% and later 25% over that timeframe and hopefully have a shiny legendary before Cataclysm.

What better way to get Borsk to let me be a DK main than to get Shadowmourne in a pug and hand over my healing reigns (not the shaman ability) to my capable raid mates with their 30% healing bonus!

P.S. That last paragraph isn’t meant for Borsk’s eyes so I’ve cleverly coded it to not show up with his IP address. No commenting on it!

Good luck to everyone tonight. May you all use this added 5% to push over whatever hurdle you’ve been stuck on.

Posted by: Kro | May 19, 2010

Starcraft 2 Beta Going on Hiatus

 Battle.net forums has stated the close of the Starcraft 2 Beta.. for now.

We’d like to let all of our StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty beta test participants know that the first phase of the beta test will be coming to an end in all regions on Monday, May 31. The beta test will be unavailable for several weeks while we make some hardware and software configuration changes in preparation for the final phase of the beta test and the release of the game. We plan to bring the beta test back online for a couple of weeks prior to the game’s launch to complete our testing. We’ll have more details to share about when this final beta-testing phase will begin at a later date.

We’d like to thank all of our beta-test participants for your enthusiasm, dedication, and valuable feedback during the beta test, and we look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the StarCraft II beta test as the game’s July 27 launch approaches.”

I’ve been having loads of fun in the Starcraft II Beta. I’m comfortable with a few builds and strats as my main race and steadily climbed my noobie self out of copper and through bronze into the teen rankings of silver. I’m very excited for release, and ergo, heartily crushed by this news.

I expect were looking at a 6 week drought before we can get going with the final two weeks of Beta followed closely by release.

It was mentioned they were looking to put 3v3 and 4v4 matches into the beta mid-May. This gives me some hope that well be able to try that out before Beta goes down in two weeks. Another highlight is the fact that we will have a 3 day weekend to really see the Beta out with a bang.

If all else fails I can keep sneaking impatient peaks at my preorder receipt hiding under my keyboard. No one will ever find it there… no one.

Posted by: Kro | May 14, 2010

Smoking 2.0

Miss Medicina casually mentions in her latest (as of, when I started composing this) Blog post to quit taking smoke breaks and start Vaping. She seems to have beat me to the punch because I’ve been brewing up an article about Electronic Cigarettes for a while and how they have changed my break habits in wow.

Vaping, PV (Personal Vaporizers), E-cigs, Electronic Cigarettes, are the name for the phenomenon of a new way to smoke. The principle is you suspend nicotine into a propylene glycol solution in a cartridge. You use an atomizer and battery to heat the solution until it is vaporized and then you inhale the vapor as you would smoke from a cigarette.

The brilliant part is it feels very similar to smoking and you also get all the same nicotine, however there is no combustion, tar, smell, 2nd hand harmful smoke and from what I can tell supremely reduced health risks. I’m not a doctor nor do I claim to know for sure. All I can present is my limited understanding that the big danger is the chemicals in tobacco to preserve it and the combustion of burning leaves/paper, neither of which is a factor in Electronic Cigarettes.

The nice thing to me when I first started Vaping was the flexibility. You can Vape in many places you wouldn’t normally smoke in. Restaurants, the movies, the office, even inside the home are now perfectly acceptable places to grab a hit of nicotine. The smell free and nearly instantaneously dissipating clouds of vapor are not a concern to your non-smoking  fellow patrons, coworkers, or housemates. You can even “Stealth Vape” and hold the vapor in for a few seconds and no visible vapor is released (recommended for risky situations).

Despite limitless practicality in “the real world”, Vaping has effected my time in Azeroth as well. Vaping at my computer has removed the need to take untimely smoke breaks. I’m no longer a useless player the last 20 minutes before a scheduled break is coming as I count down the seconds, or sneaking afk during trash. 

The other enjoyable part of Vaping is the freedom. Of course you aren’t completely free from Nicotine addiction but you are more free in your day. Choking down a fast smoke or two before you go into a situation where you wont be able to smoke for several hours was always a pain. Sometimes you may have just had one 20 minutes ago but you are now going to have to go 2 hours so you have another. Maybe you only wanted a couple hits but since it is lit you finish the whole thing.  With Vaping you can have that one hit whenever you want wherever you are. If you aren’t comfortable about doing it in front of people who may think you are smoking then just go to the bathroom or take a stealth hit.

I’ve turned perhaps twenty or so smokers to Vaping and everyone can’t believe how enjoyable the swap is. You regain a lot of smell and taste (for good or bad), you can feel your lung capacity strengthen, you no longer smell bad (and when you quit smoking you realize just how bad you really smelled). Walking past the smokers corner or being near someone who had a smoke 20 minutes ago is a LOT more apparent than I thought it actually was.

So to get started vaping I suggest heading over to E-cigarrete-forum.com. This is a great place to learn all about personal vaporizers. There are links to vendor sites, reviews on materials and liquid, tips and tricks for use and maintenance, and even some nice stories.

I’m not trying to get everyone to quit smoking. I’m just saying that even if I did continue to smoke, I would be using e-cigs in addition. They are a great tool to augment your smoking experience. Just don’t be surprised if you find you enjoy them so much that you naturally quit smoking as a byproduct.

GL and happy vaping!

Posted by: Kro | May 4, 2010

Quick Update

Just a quick Kro update over here.

Work has been quite busy the last few weeks so I’m unable to spend a decent amount of time on a quality post.

<livejournal>

StarCraft

Borsk was able to get me a Starcraft II beta key and I’ve been playing that quite a bit. (Oh noes even farther behind on daily dungeons and 5 characters worth of profession quests) Having only played against AI in very limited amounts of StarCraft and WarCraft3, I’m pretty terrible, but having loads of fun all the same. My race is Terran as it was in SC1. I was able to place in bronze league after my 5th RTS match against a real person, however I think battle.net realized it’s error and dropped me to copper league after winning my first rated match after placement…. seriously? yeah. If you want a match im Krovoke.bloodredmoon

I’ve been doing some 2v2 in the Beta with Borsk where we were placed in bronze league, and even miraculously remain in the league after a few matches so my hopes are high. We are 5/5 technically, though one loss was from a DC. We are also still pretty noobie so I feel like well rise pretty quickly once we get more practice.

I can certainly see myself forgoing generational alts 3 to 5+ in Cataclysm to prop up my StarCraft 2 time in the future. Well see how that goes and maybe I’ll start making some posts about my thoughts on StarCraft, though I’m by no means any kind of expert on that material.

My Previous and Future Main Progress

My Priest lucked out and got into a low-end ICC10 Pug a week or so ago and picked up some gear. It was quite fun and I loved being able to swap disc-holy and back whenever I chose. It was not 100% parallel but comparable to having access to my resto druid as my holy paladins dual spec rather than protection. I’m quite excited about the prospects of healing as a priest in Cataclysm and all the flexibility that comes with it. At a respectable 5200 gear score my Priest should now be able to find a decent 10 man ICC to attend regularly which has been my main goal for her since I decided to take the priest plunge. Still a few hundred gs shy of my resto druid and 1k gs behind my now 10 man free agency on my holy pally I may have trouble convincing groups to let me go on my underdog. We shall see.

Shadowmourne progress on my DK Krovoke through an alt pug is going well. It took 4 weeks to get 8 shards but with the 15% buff we were able to clear 10/12 rather than the usual 6-7/12 and I got 5 shards this week. If this sort of drop rate keeps up I may be able to finish during this expansion.

Main Raiding

As far as main raiding goes were in a bit of a slump. I’m optimistic with the end of school terms ending and a lot of our recent absences will be fewer and farther between, but even with the buff to 15% last reset we were unable to push over the last hump of Putricide Hard. I suppose when you spend 3/4 of your progression time with 24/25 raiders and a different 3-4 people are missing night to night, while still making progress compared to the previous week you can call that a victory. We weren’t looking for anything short of a kill though so we are a bit bummed out. Perhaps this week we’ll see full raids and 2 new hard mode kills. I’m eager to get them out of the way so I can be satisfied with the expansion. I feel like were spilling into the winding down portion of the expansion and losing focus when there is still hard nosed progress to be made!

Oh I also race changed to Dwarf, name changed as well from Krona -> Krodiak. I’ve been tanking a lot lately in main runs to fill a gap while we recruit and I could not stand the female Draenei tanking animations. So now I’m a giant orange bearded male Dwarf and very pleased with both tanking and healing animations. I’m also falling into the subliminal roleplay of being a dwarf a lot easier than I imagined. It’s really rekindled my interest in my paladin and will likely keep me riding high on him until the end of the expansion. (Something I was worried about recently and desperately interested in swapping back to my DK or a different healing class.) I’m all for doing whatever is best for the guild and luckily I found an option to continue enjoying my play on the character that makes the most sense for the roles I need to cover and the current pool of options we have. I’d have stayed on the pally regardless in the interest of progression once that was revealed as a necessity and I don’t dislike the paladin play style. I was just in need of a change and I’m pretty sure I’m sufficiently sutured up for the time being.

I hope everyone elses gaming endeavors are going decently and you reach all your goals before Cataclysm comes out. It’ll be a race to the finish for me but I’m up to the challenge.

</livejournal>

Borsk outlines some very interesting concepts detailing the hows and whys that govern raiding momentum and morale and how they thrive and/or, are disrupted. This post is meant to augment his Lord Moralegar Hidden Hard Mode

Fundamentals such as a death prevention attitude, micro managing your raiders thought process through step by step analysis, reigning in those players trying to do too much and coaxing better performance out of those lagging behind the pack are all touched upon in HHM: LM. Drilling through these broad concepts there remains a menagerie of smaller things you can do as an officer or raider to help your raid leader defeat this hidden hard mode that transcend all encounters and strategies.

Morale is deeply affected by player skill, team effort, and encounter mechanic mastery. These all increase morale through proximity, but to maximize your benefit you need to massage the morale itself.

Let’s pretend your raid is the Yogg Saron encounter in Ulduar. We’ll call phase 1 with Sarah “player skill”, phase 2 tentacle dps “team effort”, and p3 “mechanic mastery”. You need to complete all of these phases/player aspects to defeat the boss. However it’s not possible without the p2 brain team “morale”.

Morale is that brain room. You can have all those other pieces clicking and the brain room can shut you down over and over if you don’t know how to stroke your morale.

5 Concrete Examples for Stroking Raid Morale Directly

I’d like to give 5 concrete example of how you can prop up your raid leader by pushing or pulling at raid morale to try to sharpen your raids focus or bring them back from spiraling out of control.

1) Personal Accountability – Inevitably someone will have an off night.  Either they are an essential player/class who had to be late. They cause a wipe more than once to the same mechanic or they have a bad attitude and snap at anyone criticizing them. Toxic statements can boil up when these shortfalls are discussed over vent or in raid chat in a time of poor morale. As a raider you need to start out understanding the consequences of what you say to others. If someone else is instigating it’s also on you to steer the conversation away from personal attacks. Snide comments are not acceptable in a team environment. If someone lets out a seething remark call them on it in a whisper and say it’s not helping, spin the overt conversation to something more acceptable such as how it’s going to be fixed in the next attempt, or how things will work better under the new circumstance, and talk with the person who messed up in whisper. Good things to say are; Don’t let it get ya down/we all have bad nights no worries man just pick yourself up and lets give it another go/do you need help with your assignment? Any support from someone who still believes you capable of fulfilling your job when you are having a poor night can stroke your confidence enough to set you back on track.

2) Mood Quirks – There are plenty of times you’ll be on the cusp of a new kill and nothing seems to push you over the edge. At these times you need to be weary of frustration overtaking the fundamentals you’ve worked on. My personal quirk is the “Win Bell”. The Win Bell is just a hand bell I received at a buddy of mines wedding that sits on my desk. When we are getting close to a kill I’ll ring the bell over vent and everyone knows what that means; it is time to put this boss away. I’ll try to be clever now and then pretending I know when it feels right to use the Win Bell saying “not this time” or “oops I was a little off we weren’t quite ready for the bell last attempt”. In reality I try and use the bell only when it seems frustration is taking hold and impedes further progress or when we are at the point we know we can kill the boss but we are trapped in a cycle of senseless wipes that is ruining confidence. Another example of a mood altering quirk is the “Hard Mode Hat”. I don’t take credit for this tactic but it is something used in our raids. When it’s time to buckle down and push through the last check mark or a progression boss someone will call for Hard Mode Hats where you must go find a hat to wear in your house. Many of us have funky or weird hats, or just baseball caps rally style or anything that you can fit on your head. If things continue to go awry we’ll jest that someone doesn’t really have their hat on and it keeps things light.

3) Sowing Your Team – Often times you’ll have relatively new members or players returning from long absences. It’s great no matter what your rank in the guild to make a point to reach out to them. A whisper telling them you saw them save that other person caught behind a flame wall, or you saw the dps warrior taunt off the mage to save the day in a hectic add phase, or if they do particularly well on the meter in comparison to previous performance. It means a lot to me when I’m told my efforts go noticed and I love to pay it forward.

4) Sewing Your Team – There are times where non raid related topics come up. Be it during trash or between boss pulls it’s healthy to have a constant dialogue. There are however plenty of times that you need to patch up detrimental topics or inappropriate non raid discussion. In Blood Red Moon we have a few topic ending phrases. Guild/Raid chat topic ender is “Trains”. It is essentially our “how about them (insert professional sports team)”. Knowing when to use “I like trains” is very important for keeping out any gaps in your raiding fiber. Politics, extreme sexual opinions, and overzealous sports team enthusiasm, can paint your fellow guildmates on the opposing team. How do you expect a radical tea bagger and a looney lib to trust each other on the playing field? How can you expect an avid Yankees fan from the Bronx to trust a red-blooded Sox fan from the heart of boston? It’s fine to talk about these positions in moderation but they can easily spiral out of control and promote animosity between people who should be on the same team. In officer chat we use a similar principled phrase. The Monkey Clause is a phrase to shelf a topic in O chat. We have a lot of heated debates in O chat and during    raids it’s not always appropriate to continue the discussion when you have 17 other folks wondering why we aren’t pulling. Invoking the Monkey Clause basically means bring it to the forums or forget it for now there’s other work to be done. A final example of sewing your raid together is to sew the intervals of time together. If you just had a near flawless attempt and an emergency comes up where one of your players cannot avoid going AFK for 5 minutes you are in for    trouble. All that momentum Borsk talks about is at risk of going out the window. In these times, rather than wait in silence or let conversation about mermaids and bathtubs come up, I try my damnedest to ask questions and talk about strategy even when the raid is already comfortable with all mechanics. Keeping folks thinking about the encounter for those 5 minutes will help reel them in when it’s time to pull again.

5) Know the Player not the Class – You all know what your class and role has assigned to you. You know what to do with your spells, threat, positioning based on your abilities. For corralling morale you need to know the person because everyone responds differently. Some players are comfortable or more responsive to being yelled at while this garners resentment in others..

For me personally my focus goes way up when I’m talked down to for a legitimate reason. My previous guild lead had come down on me hard twice. Once during The Illidari Council and again during Kil’Jaeden. The first time, a recently recruited shaman (I was Shaman lead at the time) spoke this line when asked who would heal the rogue poisoned targets from one of the council bosses. “I’ll volunteer Kro” said he. This was taken by me as “I’ll volunteer (to do it), Kro” Fine I thought that’s covered. Well the next thing to happen is the first 2 targets of the rogue die miserably. As the wipe follows, I less than pleasantly call out this shaman over vent. I had made a mistake; apparently the shaman was saying “I’ll volunteer Kro (to do it)”. Blaming the shaman even though I hadn’t realized my error yet was the wrong thing to do. As the one doing healing assignments I should have been more thorough and double checked. I was reamed out deservedly and told more was expected of me. I got real defensive and argued it was a fair mistake and crushed that I was so disproportionately admonished compared to others who made similar or worse mistakes. In the end I was told he came down so hard on me because I was someone he counted on to not make mistakes, someone he didn’t have to worry about generally handling whatever was needed.

With this realization in hand I moved on respecting the treatment I’d been given. I think a part of the effect comes from the difference in my own model for coaxing performance. I’m never hard on folks, I pride myself on being the calm teddy bear anyone can relate to or get constructive criticism without fear of anger.

I have several tells per raid asking me to clarify an assignment they got in vent or in raid chat and I casually spin it off as my own clarifying question to Borsk over vent. If someone isn’t comfortable asking Borsk because it may look like they aren’t paying attention, or it’s a rudimentary question and they don’t want to look bad for not knowing, they can come to me to bear that load.

It takes knowledge of each person in your raid to know how to personally deal with them. Harsh treatment or calm speculation, overt admonishment to light a fire, or covert understanding whispers to put one out, you don’t have to be the torch for each style as all are needed however being one  (preferably the opposite of your guild lead/raid lead/ or guild officers) can help keep the morale in your raid from ebbing away.

Thanks for spilling the beans Kro, I’m sure these will still work. </sarcasm>

Perhaps it isn’t wise to reveal all my true intentions. I’m potentially lessening the effect my tactics will have on people who read this article and know where I’m going. I feel I can continue my practices safely because the final key is to be genuine. You can fake your way along and possibly get some of these to work on people to boost attitudes but eventually you’ll be caught and you’ll lose any credibility using them in future. Most times when I send a tell to someone to try to cheer them up after they have caused a wipe, I’m genuinely concerned for them. Yes I want their morale bar to fill up for the good of the raid but that’s secondary to my wanting them to improve for themselves. My peers can know when I ask a rudimentary question that someone in the raid was too afraid to ask but they’ll never be sure as I ask clarifying questions for the good of repeating information often anyways. They can also know that I don’t solely use the Win Bell for the reason that’s suggested because either way it’s just a fun quirk and the “magic” is in the humor.

I’m not suggesting you got out and lie to promote morale in your raids, I’m simply offering small things you can do to (I’d recommend genuinely) prop up your raid leader and work behind the scenes to augment their plans and tactics involving raid morale.

GL with this hidden hard mode and hopefully this entry helps you keep Lord Moralegar on farm status regardless of your official level of responsibility in your guild.

So talking with some guildies and reading more of Ghostcrawler’s responses from the Healing Hands thread on the wow community forums, I’d like to talk a little more about what I see coming in the next expansion for all healers.

I’ve been under the impression that the healer role (tank healer, raid healer, aoe healer) will be by and large going away in Cataclysm as they relate to class. Or I should say, under the impression that is their goal, whether it ends up that way or not is up for grabs.

You can have several people read 1000 Ghostcrawler quotes and each of them could make a different case as to how they’ve interpreted them correctly. GC needs to remain as ambiguous as possible in order to disappoint the least amount of people and I don’t fault him for that.

With all that out of the way I’d like to start with my impression. I could swear I’ve read in plain English somewhere that they want all healers to be able to tank heal and raid heal equally.

If they have said that.. anyone have a link?

If they haven’t, perhaps the reason I’ve come to this conclusion is what I gather from certain GC quotes.

1) If Paladins lose their current standing as OP tank healers then they need to be reliable raid healers
2) To be a reliable raid healer we need to be able to raid heal in multiple situations
3) HH is not set up in such a way as to allow Paladins to heal in multiple situations

-Player

I would say it thusly:

1) If Paladins lose their current standing as OP tank healers then they need to be reliable raid healers
2) To be a reliable raid healers, we need to be reliable raid healers.

I don’t think your point 2 and 3 follow from point 1.

-Ghostcrawler

 

This quote is pretty interesting (and reassuring that paladins will either have a tank healing niche or be “reliable” raid healers). Taking into account the introduction of Healing Hands, and the plan to remove Holy Light (or the Greater Holy Light or whatever will be the main mamma-jamma healing spell for paladins) from Beacon of Light, we can extrapolate that they are toning down paladin tank healing and beefing up raid healing.

The removal of big heals from Beacon of Light would substantially reduce paladin OP tank healing. In this instance, OP meaning able to effectively or solely heal 2 tanks simultaneously or able to whack a mole raid heal without losing HPS on a singular tank. In an environment where we expect little overhealing to occur (assuming smart play and mana conservation), it’s fair to also expect the necessity to use those greater heals we’ve all being given (as opposed to exclusively using fast/inefficient). If we are using those greater heals, and they aren’t on beacon, the argument that paladins tank heal the best, or can heal the raid while tank healing lose a lot of water.

We don’t know the exact amount of damage, or life expectancy without attention tanks in Cataclysm will have but if memory serves, the intention is that the raid will be at a constant state of sub 100% hp comfortably, and tanks may be able to go a few seconds without heals and without the danger of being gibbed.

What is concerning (and reassuring) is the “IF” included in the statement by the player and in Ghostcrawlers response. The “If paladins lose their premiere tank healing title belt” statement leaves this option for paladins to remain THE tank healer class in the air. This is further supported in my previous Healing Hands post where GC is quoted saying “We might be okay with the tendency for groups to still assign paladins to tank healing because they are particularly good at it.”

The contradictory portion is in the words, might, tendency, and particularly. After discussion with a few of the players whose analytical skills I most respect, I will submit that it’s quite possible Paladins will still be the go to tank healer. However, the presence of those 3 words from GC encourages my belief that Blizzard intends to balance the 4 healing classes to seamlessly fit each healing role. I believe the whole statement to be a catch-all, cover your butt statement that loosely confirms the opposite intention but accepts the likelihood of coming up short of that goal. (I concede my interpretation could be completely wrong here.)

The difference between the players assertion that “to be a reliable raid healer, you must be able to raid heal in multiple situations” and GC’s correction that “to be a reliable raid healer, you must be able to reliably raid heal” is very basic and true. GC is absolutely correct and the player is both right and wrong. I believe the correction by GC is to underline his previous example “Sometimes you’ll have to spread out and your group healing won’t be as efficient (in the same way a shaman’s group healing isn’t as good in the same scenario)”

What makes GC correct in his shaman analogy is that Shamans group healing (pre healing rain) is very dependant on how many people are grouped up or how many yards people are away from each other. What it skates over is that when a raid is grouped up both pally and shaman will have great AE healing capability, but when many small groups are spread out shaman will still shine and paladins will be outclassed. I’m purposely ignoring priest and druid because I believe both to have a capable tool box for raid healing whether grouped up or not.

I believe what makes the player correct is that paladins will have the least amount of raid healing utility. HH may have a 10 yard radius; it may heal enough to continuously keep everyone in a 20 yard diameter topped off (no small feat in what we expect Cataclysm raid damage to be like) but it will not allow paladins to fulfill a straight raid healing role.

Now one point I should have thought of that struck me considerably is .. what are the other healers doing?
“Basically blizzard doesn’t want Holy Paladins to have a clear cut position in a raid when it comes to healing but they don’t want to give us the tools necessary to actually be interchangeable with druids/priests/shamans.”

-player

We never said this. In fact we pretty regularly try and encourage you not to challenge our goals on the basis of specific mechanics or spells. (“X is a bad spell for Y, therefore clearly Blizzard has given up on their notion that we can do Y.”)

We are trying to further banish the notion that you need X to raid, where X is anything other than “a good player.” If you were earning your raid spot because nobody else had the powers that your class had, I would try to improve your personal contribution or find another group.

-Ghostcrawler

As well as

What we want to avoid are those cases where a group feels like they can’t possibly keep tanks alive because they lack a paladin or they can’t possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins.

-Ghostcrawler

These two GC quotes may be where I interpreted that all healers will be equally capable of raid or tank healing. Taking into account the other healers in compliment of a raid healing, Healing Hands paladin,  I’ll try to describe with a few examples the class make up of presumed healing teams in Cataclysm, assuming for the sake of argument, 2 tank healers and 4 raid healers.

Team 1 (Classic Model)

Holy Pally x2, Druid x1, Priest x2 (both flavors), Shaman x1

Loose assignments can be, Paladins tank healing, with the 4 others raid healing (albeit differently, some washing hots, chaining groups of people, pre damage bubbling, and large direct group healing)

Team 2 (raid healing paladin)

Holy Pally x1, Druid x2, Priest x1, Shaman x2

Priest and Shaman1 well say are on tanks, Shaman2 plus druids/paladin on the raid. 3 raid healers are able to throw group heals at anyone in the raid while the paladin heals the largest mass of players (likely the melee/tanks)

Team 3 (all your friends are paladins)

Holy Pally x4, Druid x1, Shaman x1

To really exaggerate the concept of ” If you were earning your raid spot because nobody else had the powers that your class had, I would try to improve your personal contribution or find another group.” we’ll put all 4 paladins on raid healing. This will also test the statement that Blizz wants to avoid “they can’t possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins.”

Druid and Shaman heal the tanks while each of the 4 paladins spread out across the room. Maybe 1-2 are in melee, 1 is in range, and the last is somewhere with obscure group X for mechanic Y.

The funny thing about team 2 and 3 is that this would likely work. It confirms the counter points from my discussion with guildies the assertion that the other healers would support a solely raid healing paladin enough to make him a “reliable” raid healer.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts it would seem.

I still believe paladins will be on par tank healers with the other 3 healers (a justifiable downgrade). I also believe Healing Hand paladins pound for pound will be worse raid healers than the other 3 healers, forced to lean on other raid healers to justify their own spot, chained to their assignment and unable to cross/cheat heal.  In a 25 man raid situation, the goal of  making the abscense of a paladin or having to many paladins (or any class) less of an issue is achieved even if paladins are deficient pound for pound in AE healing proficiency. However can I even still say paladins are deficient if they are capable of being brought into a raid and pulling the same weight? (assuming stringent assignments)

Perhaps you can’t if they can be propped up by the other 3 raid healers or by 3 other supposedly deficient paladin raid healers equally. Also consider that paladins are somewhat of a (don’t hate me) beginner class. From the start they’ve had easier “rotations” and smaller tool boxes (in some senses) that allow them to play at relatively higher levels with less effort. I’m completely discounting the buffing, dispels, hand spells that require talent in pvp or for going from 90% to 100% proficient players (as opposed to other classes where button mashing only takes them 60% and their rotations/sense bring them to 100%). Maybe it’s the intention of Blizzard to give paladins reliable raid healing without allowing them to cross heal on par with other classes. You can’t stretch your healing to the limit propping up less talented raid healing compatriots however you can’t cheat on your own assignment so you are forced to heal the “right” people. It could be another fail safe to keep paladins from the top of the world but almost difficult to play at the bottom.

Maybe this is where I veered off into Kro land where obscure ideas aren’t transmitted through osmosis. (It’s good I’m keeping a blog and have people nice enough to call me out so I can learn to present my ideas differently.)

Will Healing Hands make paladins reliable raid healers…? In the context of a raid healing team rather than one player, yes it’s quite possible they will be (contrary to what I boldly stated in my original healing hands post). Will Healing Hands hold back paladins from growing beyond their assignment (something I hold essential as an end game healer but is not technically a healing requirement for any role).. It’s quite possible as well.

I suppose it comes down to how you define reliable; capability or potentiality.

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