Monday, January 25, 2010

Shooting yourself in the foot...

/Begin Rant

While watching the NFC Playoff game last night, and watching MN essentially shoot themselves in the foot by turning over the ball so many times and losing a game they should have won... it got me thinking about WoW, and how the same type of thing often happens during raids.

Granted, in WoW, there are no such things as fumbles or interceptions... there are still many things that raid members, regardless of how experienced they are, do (or don't do) that can cause your raid to essentially shoot itself in the foot and fail at what it set out to do...

Although... things like bad calls, and poor clock management are at times a very real thing in WoW.

What can be done to prevent things like this from happening? Just as remembering the fundamentals like protecting the ball, and not throwing cross-field can keep you from losing a football game, remembering the fundamentals of healing (or whatever role you play in a raid) can keep you from walking away from a raid night without a boss kill.

What healing fundamentals am I referring to? Things like sticking to your healing assignment (if given one), healing smart instead of healing to "pad the meters," and managing your mana/cooldowns.

As a healer, if you do not stick to these "fundamentals" while raiding, it's likely that someday it'll come to haunt you. Sure... you may look like a superstar for a while, healing everyone in the entire raid, spamming heals on everyone, dominating the healing meters. But... come that time where you were supposed to be AoE raid heals for the raid and a raid member dies to AoE while you were spamming heals on the MT.... or you use your Divine Hymn early and don't have it when you truly need it... these types of behaviors are likely going to wipe the raid, and there really isn't any excuse for it.

We, as healers, have truly been spoiled during WotLK raiding. Anyone who has been raiding since Molten Core, remembers the days of healer rotations on Twin Emps, fights like Major-Domo which required upwards of 5 tanks with specific healers and assignments... or fights like Chromaggus, where the MT was often out of LOS, so only the assigned healers could heal him/her. Back then, you had to trust that the other healers in the raid would do their job, and be able to heal their assigned target, just like they were trusting you to do yours. Often times, you wouldn't even be able to "back them up" if you wanted to, due to range, LOS, or mana constraints.

Now days, most raids don't even require healing assignments, and can be healed with the "everyone just heal everyone" approach. Every once in a while though, especially while working through new content, there comes a time where the raid may need specific healing assignments and CD's used at a certain time in order to succeed... and if you don't stick to your game, you may well blow it for the entire raid.

This is not just a healer rant. Every class and role has their own fundamentals in terms of raiding that need to be done in order to succeed... the healer ones just hit closest to home. Tanks need to make sure they're always keeping the mobs turned the right direction, or taunting/kiting/inturupting when they need to. DPS need to make sure they're DPSing the correct targets at the right time, and switching at the right times, or stopping DPS at the right times, as well as doing things like inturupts, dispells and spellsteals.

Stick to the fundamentals as a raider, even if you may not necessarily need to in order to beat the content, and you'll end up being a much better player for it... because the behavior will already be habit when you need it to be, instead of having to learn it on the fly when you actually need to use it.

/End Rant

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Battle of the Stats: Haste vs Crit

While not nearly as epic of a battle as the impending Vikings/Colts Super Bowl is gonna be (sorry, I had to do it)... it's time to see which is more popular for priests... haste, or crit.

Today, bored beyond belief while spending hours in a hospital waiting room at obscene hours of the morning, I had the opportunity to catch up on many of the forums/blogs out there that I have been missing out on over the last few months.

One of the hot topics that I have seen on many of these forums and blogs, especially in regards to Priests, is the seemingly endless debate about which stat is "better"... Haste, or Crit.

First off, a disclaimer: I am not about to go and say that either stat is "best" for a spec/class, or that people who do not choose to gear the same way that I do are "noobs" and need to "L2Gear." People thinking that the way they do something is the only way to do something and anyone who thinks or does otherwise is stupid, seems incredibly closed minded to me. This age of WoW is not the age of Sunwell Plateu or Vanilla Naxx, and while there may be math and theorycrafting to "support" why a stat may or may not be slightly better than another, this type of micromanaging simply isn't required for WoW in this day and age... even if you're raiding hard-modes. Don't misunderstand me... there are ways of gearing that are bad, like a Priest gemming Strength or AP. My point is, that if something works for you, and your raid isn't getting pwned and the bosses you're going after are falling over... chances are you're doing something right... regardless of the math and theorycrafting that may or may not directly support something you choose to do.

Keep in mind that the problem with theorycrafting vs actually testing something yourself is that while theorycrafting, most people do not factor in individual aspects of boss fights. Things like having to move out of the Giant Big, or kite a giant slime... or having to switch to raid heals while a druid battle rezzes etc. are simply not things that most folks think about when trying to theorycraft. This is the problem with strictly going by the math as well. Most of the time when things like this are calculated strictly by "going by the numbers" it assumes that the situation is always optimal.... and we all know the situation is rarely optimal.

The post in question that spawned this whole tirade, was a post about someone going for straight haste and having 1100 haste. It was on the WoW Priest forums, and can be located here. The second response to the OP, in its entirety was simply someone typing the word: "BAD". This is the exact type of attitude that I'm referring to above. The poster obviously doesn't agree that extreme haste is a good way to go, but instead of giving helpful or useful feedback to support why he/she may think that way, or help answer the OP's question... they simply type "BAD."

This is not what this post is about. I have a very specific goal in mind in terms of my gear, and I am simply curious to see what other priests out there are doing with their gear, and why they go that route. I know there are many ways to play a Priest, and with those many ways of playing also comes many ways of gearing. I'm also simply curious about which stat is more popular amongst priests.

Personally, I prefer crit over haste being Discipline specc'ed. While I do feel that Haste is a very important stat, when it comes down to Crit and Haste being the sole deciding factor on a piece of gear, the piece that favors Crit is likely to win out.

My reasons for this are mainly due to the Divine Aegis talent, where the more I crit, the more damage I mitigate. Divine Aegis also stacks, which also benefits from multiple crits. Having 3/3 in Imp. Flash heal also adds an additional 15% chance to crit when your target is below 50% hp, along with 5/5 in Holy Specialization adds another 5% chance to crit. When raid buffed, my Crit % for heals is sitting at ~45%, and 60% on my FH if the target's below half hp. Believe me... when the target is below 50% hp, it's a nice time to snag a crit. Gaining crits in those types of situations also saves mana, because many times I end up not having to cast more than once to get them back to full.

Crit, along with the PW:S glyph, also greatly helps out when having to play the "mobile healer" and having to heal while on the run. I've seen the PW:S glyph crit for 4k, which is nothing to sneeze at for being an instant heal I can cast while running. This "heal" also does not directly benefit from haste due to the Weakened Soul debuff preventing from casting another shield on the same target.

Haste is still a favored stat, but it isn't something that I gem for. I do however try to get as many pieces with both haste and crit on it as I possibly can, but I try to shy away from pieces with strictly haste unless the other stats on it make it a clear upgrade in other areas. I will however take a piece with haste and no crit if it doesn't have Spirit. Like I've posted before, I feel that Spirit, for a Disc priest, is a complete waste of a stat when it comes to any gear above Nax, making Haste a much better option.

I also keep haste pieces of gear around for the times when I'm required to spec Holy. I view Haste for Holy the way I view Crit for Disc. They're both good, but for Holy, I see Haste as more important.

So, for me... Crit > Haste, with Haste still being very important for Disc, and Vice Versa for Holy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Does Elitism run rampant in WoW?

First, before I get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I'm going to make an admission... and no, it has nothing to do with "elitism"...

I admit that when I started this "priest" blog, I did not realize just how difficult it would be to come up with interesting, informed, and original posts about priests. Seriously... I've been wracking my brain for the last few days, trying to come up with something priest related to blog about. The way I see it, is the Priest class in WoW, has not really received any major changes in almost a year.

There really isn't anything to theorycraft about (imo) that hasn't already been beaten to death on other blogs/forums, there hasn't really been anything special about the ICC bosses (so far released) that requires anything different than any other raid boss out there at the moment, and so far, none of the gear from ICC (aside from T10 which I've already touched on) is really all that game-changing (aside from Rotface's Trauma, but I'm waiting until I actually get it to post about it).

So...... that being said, I figured I'd post about something else WoW-related that I've been thinking about.

Yesterday, MMO-Champion linked a video on their homepage from G4 called the "MMO Report." This is not the first time MMO-Champion has linked an installment of this report on their homepage, but for me, it was the first time I had actually watched it. Overall, it wasn't all that impressive. It was a rundown of MMO related headlines from the week, with a one-liner thrown in after each where the host tried desperately to be funny (and failed).

There were two WoW-related blurbs on this MMO Report, the first about some 16 year old kid who got a 40-something woman to meet him in some hotel, and the second which highlighted MMO-Champion's feature of the WoW-addon "Elitist Group."

The first story, aside from being a bit disturbing, I didn't really care about. The second caught my attention not because a member of my guild recently started using the addon mentioned, but because of the remark that the host threw in afterwards, which was along the lines of how "WoW-nerds" love to "verbally eviscerate" fellow players for "simple in-game mistakes."

I'm not going to try and deny that this type of behavior doesn't happen, because it does... sometimes, quite often in some cases. I'm sure that my guild members and I are guilty of our share of "verbally eviscerating" fellow players for "simple in-game mistakes." Does that make someone "elitist" by default?

In my opinion, no.

"Simple in-game mistakes" will happen, I (and probably most of the members of Parabola) understand that. They happen to me, more often than I like to admit. From my experience though, most of us are pretty good about letting a mistake slide without the "verbal evisceration" if that's what it was... a simple mistake.

Mistakes are meant to be learned from though, and if the same "simple in-game mistake" keeps happening over, and over... and over.... That's when the "verbal evisceration" usually comes in during our raids. There is a difference between a "simple in-game mistake" (which happens occasionaly) and not paying attention and standing in the Giant Big... over... and over... and over even after your name is called.

This post may (in some people's eyes) make me look like an "elitist," but I don't feel that I am. I simply have specific expectations from players who choose to raid with Parabola (and I'm not even the raid leader).

1.) Be on-time, and be prepared. This should not just apply to raiding. Punctuality is important in all aspects of life... why should it be any different for a video game? If you're raiding and you're late... you're either holding up nine people, or 24 other people. Take some initiative and if the raid starts at 6:30, be at the raid and ready to raid at 6:30... not logging on at 6:30 and asking for a summon.

2.) Pay attention to what's going on around you. Either in-game, or on vent. Pay attention to what's being said by the raid leader... most raid leaders don't enjoy having to repeat themselves 23 times, and can lead to some early "verbal evisceration" even before mistakes are made. Also, pay attention to what's happening to your character in-game. If you die due to standing in the Giant Big too long, don't blame the healer... blame yourself for not watching your feet and moving.

3.) Know what your role is. If you're healing, know who you're supposed to be healing. If you're a tank, know what you'll be tanking, and when. If you're a DPS, know what you're supposed to DPS and when, and manage your hate accordingly. Most important of all for this point... if you don't know or are unclear on something, ASK... hopefully it was not something that was said on vent already and you just weren't paying attention. You don't necessarily have to ask the Raid leader either... ask someone else of your same Role, and they may be able to explain something more role-specific than the RL did.

4.) Most of all (and this probably sounds like the most "elitist" expectation), know how to raid. Don't misunderstand me, this is not a "L2Play" expectation. There are very specific things that players need to know how to do in order to successfully raid. Every role in the game changes a bit when it is in a raid environment vs a 5-man. Be aware of what you need to do differently as your class in a raid setting. Things like paying closer attention to your surroundings, managing your mana and threat, or not going out of range of heals. Don't go into ICC without ever having running a raid in your life and expect to know what you're doing... There are reasons why other raids came before it. If your DPS/Healing/Threat is significantly lower than what you should be at for your gear level... chances are you may be doing something wrong and someone's likely to call you out on it. We're in IceCrown Citadel, and ICC is not the place to learn how to raid... that's what Nax, Sarth, and Ulduar are for. In most cases, it's nothing personal... but we are here to succeed, not carry people through content. If you notice that you're significantly behind someone of the same class/role with similar gear... ask them what you may be doing wrong. I know personally I'm much more understanding when I know that you're actually trying to improve vs just being content in being carried.

So... back to the original point of the post. Does "elitism" run rampant in WoW? I think it again comes down the different mindsets of the players who play WoW, and I made a post about this a few weeks ago. With 11 million people playing one game, you are going to have players of varying skill levels, as well as varying mindsets. It's a fact. Some players are more skilled than others. The folks in guilds like Ensidia and others getting world firsts... are far more skilled than most players. There are also those players (and we've all seen them) that can't seem to see the big flaming patch of ground they're standing in... who are less skilled than most.

In my half-decade of playing, I feel that "elitism" (or what appears to most as elitism) usually shows up when people of drastically different mindsets meet. This can either be within a group/raid, in Trade-chat, or even sometimes in Guild Chat. What most people (from what I've seen) think is "elitism" is actually just people having expectations (usually about raiding) that clash drastically.

I have no doubts that I would appear to be "elitist" to someone who does not have the same expectations about a raid as I do... does this mean that I'm "elitist" and think I'm "better" than they are? Absolutely not. I'm a firm believer that everyone should raid in whatever way gives them the most enjoyment. Having specific expectations does not make one elitist, as long as you don't expect things from others that you don't do yourself. I don't think I'm "better" than anyone because of the way I choose to play... I know and understand that the type of raiding I enjoy isn't for everyone. I love a challenge and think fast-paced hard-core raiding is fun, whereas others may enjoy a relaxed pace. It's nothing personal, it just all goes back to different mindsets and what people are playing the game to do. I feel it's better to set the expectations early, so all the raiders know what's expected instead of just "verbally eviscerating" people after they haven't lived up to something they didn't know they weren't doing.

"Simple in-game mistakes," like accidentally cleansing the Abom controller on Putricide (oops) or forgetting to taunt because there's a football game on TV, happen to all of us. They only really become a problem when the continue to happen and you don't try to make an effort to keep it from happening again.

I'm pretty confident that with 11 million players, there are just as many "lazy" players who never try to get better as there are "elitists" who actually think they are "better" than everyone else.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Armory Features

The WoW Armory got a pretty nifty update today, which allows you to do this:



Now, everyone can see how hawt or fugly your toon is!

Since /facepalm doesn't actually have an animation... this is as close as I could get.

There were a few updates as well, like being able to RSS feed into a character's activity, which can be useful for things like guild recruitment, etc..

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Problem with long boss encounters...

To be completely honest, I enjoy long boss encounters.

I love having to manage mana to make it last upwards of 7-10 minutes... I enjoy utilizing ability cooldowns to their max potential... and I truly enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when you overcome a long and challenging boss.

What I do not enjoy, is having to find music for the FRAPS video for long boss encounters. -.-

I enjoy recording the videos for our guild, and I enjoy not using that boring techno that many videos use... but picking out music is not as easy as one may think. First, the music has to fit into the time of the video. If it's too short, you either have "dead air" or you have to fill it with another track. The more tracks you have, the more likely you are to pick something that Youtube doesn't agree with, and have it muted once it's uploaded. If you pick something too long, it either gets cut off (which bugs the hell outta me) or you have "dead air" at the end of your video.

Our guild got Putricide last night, and it was epic, and incredibly fun. I even treated my guildies with the sandbox tiger after the boss went down. Now tonight I am having difficulties finding music long enough to fit the video.

The video is 7:38, and the closest I got was 7:05 for stuff I haven't used yet... so there's some boring dead air in the vid... but not so much that it's too annoying... in my opinion, anyway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Priest T10 4pc bonus... worth the hassle?

Ever since the stats/bonuses for the Priest's T10 set were released, I have been trying to decide whether or not I like the 4pc bonus. Keep in mind, while I do respec Holy for a fight here and there, I primarily raid as Discipline.

The bonus reads as follows:

"(4)Your Circle of Healing and Penance spells have a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance spells."

Upon first glance, you may have the same initial reaction that I did in thinking that it'd be really cool to have my Penance CD reset after a flash heal.

After thinking about it over the last few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that there are two major problems with this set bonus.

1.) It relies on a proc in order to reset a Cooldown, on a key spell. This is a problem because any priest worth his/her salt already knows how to play well with those set cooldowns in place, and works around them.

I'm not saying that I would ever complain about my Penance CD being reset... but the problem comes when people start relying on or getting used to that Penance CD being reset.

If you get too used to that Penance CD being gone 20% of the time, and then change out some gear... your tanks or raid members may not be too pleased with you.

Personally, I've never been one to rely on procs. Like any other proc in the game, it'll be nice when it happens, but you should always plan on playing as though the proc isn't there... and just react when it is.

2.) The amount of "wasted" stats on your gear you need to go through in order to get the 4pc bonus.

As I said above, I primarily raid as Discipline. As such, it is my opinion that Spirit, as a stat, is completely worthless. (as a priest raiding current content, keep in mind)

As a Discipline priest, aside from Meditation, there are no talents that benefit from high Spirit. With the way the game is setup right now in terms of raiding, and gear, Mana is not enough of an issue to stack your spirit in order to benefit more from Meditation. You'll get spirit from other sources, there's no need to stack for it. As Discipline, it should be very rare that you ever find yourself outside of the FSR to actually benefit from straight Spirit regen. Meaning, that unlike Holy, Spirit does not increase your spellpower, nor does it noticeably increase your mana regen.

As Discipline, most of my mana regen comes from Rapture, and my PW:S being absorbed.... thus making Intellect, a much more valuable stat. Intellect increases my mana pool, making Rapture return more mana. Intellect also increases critical chance on spells, making Divine Aegis proc more often, providing more damage prevention. Intellect also passively increases your mana regen, along with spirit.

My point is, in order to receive the 4pc Tier10 bonus, you have to be wearing four of those pieces (duh). At the lowest ilevel, the priest T10 items have 406 total Spirit on the items. Granted, you don't have to wear all five pieces, but at the lowest, the gloves and shoulders, both have 71 spirit... that's a lot of what I would consider a "waste" of a stat, just for a 4pc bonus that I consider pretty mediocre.

Now, the 2pc T10 bonus is pretty nice, and worth the spirit, but the 4pc just isn't worth it for me... Especially when you look at some of the Frost Emblem items, and Ashen Verdict crafted items that don't have the spirit, but have both Haste and Crit on them... two stats I value much more highly than Spirit.

Monday, January 4, 2010

WoW: 2009 Year in Review

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! It's hard to believe that at this time last year, many people had either just very recently hit 80 in the new Wrath of the Lich King expansion, or were still leveling their way up.

It's difficult to believe that I spent half of the last decade playing World of Warcraft. This game has changed drastically since November of 2004, and 2009 (like every year since the game was released) introduced quite a few new changes to the game.

Was 2009 a good year for WoW though? The answer to this question will be different for each and every one of the 11 million people who play this game. From my standpoint though, here are a few of the major wins for WoW in 2009... I'll talk about the "losses" later.

Wins for WoW in 2009:

-10 and 25-player raids. Although WotLK was released in November of 2008 with the option to run 10 and 25 player versions of the initial raid content... I feel that 2009 was where this option really took off. In terms of the 11 million subscribers, a very small percentage of those players were actually doing a ton of raiding in 2008, so I'm chalking this option up as a win for '09.

The option to be able to see content, and only having to find nine other players to fill the roles within a raid instead of 24 other players, was one of the greatest things to ever happen to WoW in my opinion. Don't get me wrong... raiding with 40 players, and even 25 is an epic experience to be sure... but sometimes you just don't want to have to deal with that size of a group. It also allows smaller guilds that may not always have the numbers needed to run 25's to still be able to see everything there is to see without always having to PuG.

-The Hearthstone Cooldown Reduced to 30 minutes. This may not seem like a big deal... but it is... It really is.

-Ulduar. Ulduar was, in my opinion, a truly great raid instance. It looked great, it had an interesting story leading up to it, and within it, and the bosses were very diverse and interesting.

Ulduar, like Sartharion, offered "hard modes" which were the same fights... only with an added twist to make them more difficult. This allowed the bosses to be tuned such that the more casual guilds could still down bosses, while at the same time, providing a bit of a challenge for the more hardcore guilds out there.

There may be debate about whether the bosses were too hard, or too difficult, but as an instance, I feel that Ulduar was a very well done raid instance.

-Dual Spec's. This feature changed the way many guilds raid. All of a sudden, "off-spec" loot becomes useful outside of PvP or doing dailies.

As soon as Dual-Spec went live, everyone's toon became much more flexible in terms of what they can do both inside and outside of a raid. Hardcore raiders could now spec for that "situational" spec that offered a talent or two that were incredibly useful in one situation... but not so useful the majority of the time. Players also had the flexibility to have a PvE spec, as well as a PvP spec for doing battlegrounds or arenas... without having to spend obscene amounts of gold changing specs every day.

-Faction Change. There will likely always be folks out there who "complain" about people who faction change, and whether they are "true" horde/alliance.

It's a video game. Who cares if you weren't one faction from the beginning or not. I faction changed to Horde earlier this year... and I'm loving every minute of being a part of the Horde.

Does it make me any better/worse of a player? Nope. I do however look a whole lot cooler, as well as feel much more like a badass because I get to have Hellscream as a leader come Cataclysm.

The reason I chalk this up as a win is because never before has the game been more accessible for friends to be able to play the game together... without having to completely re-roll. It's also nice for those that may be getting bored with their faction and want a change of scenery.

-Built in Equipment Manager. Not having to update an addon after a patch to manage your 19087120397 different sets of gear is a simple, and often overlooked feature that can make life much easier.

-The "Disenchant" option on the loot roll window. It's about time... enough said.

-The new cross-realm LFG system. Even though it's only been out a few weeks, I feel that this new LFG system is probably the best thing to come to WoW this year... and maybe since the game was released (with the exception of raid-wide buffs, of course).

For a guy like me, who hates questing but loves running instances... this system is a dream-come-true when it comes to leveling alts.

The LFG system doesn't only work great at level 80 either... I ran quite a few level 20-25 instances the other night. The ability to be able to quest or do dailies instead of having to sit around in a city trying to find a group is awesome. There seems to be a bit of a tank shortage, but hopefully that'll change with Cataclysm.

The only downside of this system, is the fact that you can't be queued for Battlegrounds or Raids in the LFR system at the same time. The Battleground restriction makes sense to me... but not being able to be queued for Raids when they are still realm specific and can take a while to form just seems counter-productive to me. I'm sure it's due to some technical limitation... but it'd still be nice if you could be queued for both at the same time.

Mongrr Metal Update: Top 10 Metal tracks of 2009

I will say that although Tool did not have a new album out this last year, overall, 2009 was a pretty good year if you're a metal fanatic.

Due to the holidays pretty much being over, and I finally have some free time on my hands... I've decided to put a list of my favorite metal tracks released during 2009.

This was a very hard list to narrow down... but here it goes:

10.)

"The Consciousness Eaters" by Scar Symmetry

9.)

"Esoteric" by Skyfire

8.)

"In Ashes They Shall Reap" by Hatebreed

7.)

"Broken Hands" by Lamb of God

6.)

"Before the Damned" by All that Remains

5.)

"The Venom Inside" by Chimaira

4.)

"Resurrection Blvd." by Devildriver

3.)

"Stockholm Syndrome" by God Forbid

2.)

"Cypher Drone" by Disarmonia Mundi

1.)

"World Painted Blood" by Slayer