Sunday, March 29

Feelin' Lucky?

Friday is my first toon, as far as I'm concerned. Not technically, mind you. I mentioned before that my very first toon was an Undead Warlock with spiky hair. I thought it was very dark and goth and Punkish. But really, the Forsaken are mostly just grusome and twisted and too Metal for me.

Fri, though technically my second toon, was the one I really got into. So, put simply, that's why she's my main.

Unfortunately, she's also exceedinly unlucky.

RNG? Fuggitaboutit. Loot? None for Fri, thank you. Pick up 20 ears from mob-o-the-week with 44 ears each and with a drop rate of 90%? She'll have to kill 4000 to complete the quest. When I first started playing WoW, I ran VC over and over trying to get a particular sword to drop. Wanted two of them to dual wield. Nadda. Even after it was irrelevant, I kept running her through solo. Cleefy never dropped it for me, not once, that rotten, seaweed sucking, son of murloc bastard. Oh, I've seen it drop. Lots of times. Either didn't win the roll, or was running someone through that needed it.

This use to piss me off. Since maturing as a player, though, I don't even worry about it. If something isn't working I just go back later. Okay, technically I go kill the crap out of something until it's good and dead, let it respawn, and kill it good and dead again, just to take out my frustration. Lately, it's those elite giants that walk along the walls in Icecrown. But it's really the same sorta thing... Maturity = senseless slaughter, right?

What I've gotten better at is learning to do two or three things at once.

So if I can't find Shinys because some asshat Warlock, who runs in and grabs 'em while I'm killing all the giant, annoying snakes lurking about, took 'em all and I'm running around in the hot, steamy jungle in 200 lbs of armor with an idiot savant Shiny finder tagging along behind me... I just herb. Sure it takes me twice as long to complete the quest as most, but I come out of the dialy with 100g of herbs in my bags.

Ya gotta make luck work for ya, even if it's bad luck. :)

So you can imagine my surprise when in one day in HoL, Eternally Folded Blade dropped. Then in the next run (last night), Seal of the Pantheon dropped!

Wicked. :D

And now I are DEF capped enough to start buffing Hit and AP!!! Hooray!

Maybe Fri's luck is changing.

Maybe Alchemist Finklestein will finally just die.

Ah... dreams.


* And yes, in that first screenshot those are our bones when our healer got silenced and we wiped on trash. Like that's never happened to you before... :P

Sunday, March 22

Large, Burly Men Picking Flowers

The big bad Warrior trudges through the icy landscape, cutting a swath through the evil undead with his mighty sword. The enemy seems endless, but our hero fights on. Blood, gore and bits of brains splatter his once pristine armor. Biceps bulging, he chops down two walking corpses with single, powerful blow and looks around for his next target when suddenly...

Ohhhhh! Pretty flowers!

Flower picking and mixing pots may not seem like the most Warriorly of professions, but there isn't a Warrior out there that doesn't use 'em. Whether you make 'em or buy 'em, you'll need to know about those pretty flowers and what wonderful concoctions can be brewed up with them!

I haven't done a lot with Alchemy and Herbalism since Wrath launched. Honestly, it's probably at bottom of the professions as far as interesting goes. Oh, sure we got all the regular stuff. Not much more than that, though.

One addition we did get was how we learn new mixes. Northrend Alchemy Research is a great addition and way better than the BC method of randomly learning a new Pot while making something. Alchemists picked up a neat passive ability called Mixology that doubles the duration and increases the effect of Elixirs, Potions and Flasks. Herbalists picked up Lifeblood, which is a nifty heal. Both are practical and useful skills. I just think both professions offer up the opportunity for some more fun, silly, and unusual applications, as well.

I use the term "pot" to refer to Elixirs, Flasks, and Potions, by the way. They are different and have different uses, but for a generic term, it'll do. I also equate Alchemy with Herbalism. One isn't complete without the other. I understand that you could certainly do one without the other, and that herbalism now supports a second profession. To me, though, the two are one and the same. :)

Herbalism is easy to level. Just pick stuff up off the ground and Ding! you're at level cap. Alchemy isn't terribly difficult either. There is a minor brick wall when you get near the end. You can't level the skill any further unless you do the transmutes. Minor annoyance, because you have to shop for the mats, but not terrible either.

One of the things I've always felt I should be doing with Alchemy and Herbalism is carry around the mats I need and mix on the fly. I never do, though. I usual end up with a big bag full of all sorts of weird crap I've mixed up thinking "Oh yah! I can definitely use that!" and then never actually use. Eventually, I burn them off while questing just to make room for one more stack of [miscellaneous bad guy body part]. So I sat down and made a carry list of stuff I'd actually use.

Brilliant, I know.

This is particularly true for Elixirs, which is the bulk of what you'd be mixing on the run. Potions are too situational, though being able to mix one when you need it just before a fight is handy. Flasks and Transmutes would require carrying too many mats. Most players will only use one type of Flask anyhow, so carrying the mats for them isn't economical, bag space-wise. In most cases, you'd pre-mix the particular Flasks you want and then hand 'em out and consume them prior to going adventuring.

Like me, you'll know you need to switch to carrying mats instead of the finished pot when you're filling a 20-slot bag with bottles of various fluids. Not good. :)

The Pretty Flowers

There are currently eight Northrend herbs. The vials you'll use are the Imbued and Enchanted Vials. A proper alchemist will carry one stack of Imbued pretty much all the time. Anything else, you'll probably only buy containers when you're pre-mixing.

Do you need to carry a particular herb?

I've started carrying enough to make the Elixirs and few pots I need plus anything my guildies might need. We're very magic dependent in Dark Clan, so I frequently need to make stuff to boost mana regen or spellpower and the like. Your mileage will vary, so look at what kind of groups you usually run with and you may be able to drop an herb from your bag.

Frost Lotus - only useful for making your Flasks and Alchemists Stones. Warrior Alchemists will probably end up making two of the latter: Indestructible Alchemist Stone and Mighty Alchemist Stone. I have both cause I don't have a better trinket to replace the Mighty one (damn you Loken!). Flasks always have a special reagent you have to use, like Pygmy Oil or a Crystalized something-or-other. Carrying all the mats would defeat the purpose, so Flasks are usually going to be pre-mix and carry. Basically, not a lot of reason to be carrying around Frost Lotus. Bank it.

Adder's Tongue - an excellent herb to consider carrying. Warrior's will mix up Elixir of Deadly Strikes and Elixir of Expertise. Unless you're capped on these two stats, these pots come in terribly handy. And who couldn't use an Expertise boost? You can also use it to make Elixir of Mighty Agility and Potion of Speed.

Deadnettle - might not carry this one around unless you really, really need to. It's used for Elixir of Lightning Speed, Elixir of Mighty Thoughts, Lesser Flask of Toughness, and Wrath Elixir. For a Warrior, Wrath Elixir is tempting, but there's a better one that doesn't require Deadnettle. You might need it for Elixir of Mighty Thoughts if you run with those magic wielding types a lot. If not, bank it.

Goldclover - Probably should carry two stacks of this. It's the most commonly used Northrend herb and is a reagent for 15! recipes. Nope, not gonna list 'em all. The most common thing you'll use it for is healing pots, of which I prefer Crazy Alchemist Potion. A heal plus a bonus. There's plenty of Warriory Elixirs that use it, too. Just carry it. It's your little yellow friend.

Icethorn - yes and no. If you're not at Def cap, then yes. This and Crystallized Life make Elixir of Mighty Defense, which frankly, you need if you're tanking under cap. The top end healing potion, Runic Healing Potion, also requires this, so if you prefer these you'll need Icethorn. I've never been willing to burn my potion cooldown on situational pots, but if you do, Indestructible Potion is excellent. Otherwise, you can safely bank this one.

Talandra's Rose - this one is worth carrying just for Elixir of Accuracy. Specially if you're like me and the ol' Hit rating sucketh. With this and a bit of Tiger Lily, you can be smacking stuff around properly. If you're packing Deadnettle, as well, your mana using friends will love you for Elixir of Mighty Thoughts and Elixir of Spirit. The best pot heal comes from the Rose. It's called Potion of Nightmares. One of these and a quick bandage will get you back in the action fairly quick. You might be a bit disturbed after, but you at least you'll be fighting quick. :)

Tiger Lily - One of the best. Another you won't want to leave home without. For Warrior's, Elixir of Mighty Strength, for spell casting friends, Spellpower Elixir. If Armor Penetration becomes more important, this one will also do Elixir of Armor Piercing. And, of course, you'll need it for Elixir of Accuracy, mentioned above.

When I know I'll be mixing for a group, I carry:

1 Endless Healing Potion
20 Adder's Tongue
20 Deadnettle
20 Goldclover*
20 Talandra's Rose
20 Tiger Lily

*I always run out of Goldclover, so prolly should start carrying more.

Which is 7 bag slots (including flasks). With these I can make at least 16 pots for a nice buff diversity. Two or three more slots increases that to close to thirty mixes. Much more economical than carrying around the individual pots.

If I'm not planning to be mixing on the move, I carry:

5 Elixir of Accuracy (Battle)
5 Elixir of Mighty Fortitude (Guardian)
5 Flask of Stoneblood (Both)
10 Crazy Alchemist's Potion

Once I'm hit capped, I'd switch to Elixir of Mighty Strength for the Battle Elixir. So, just for m'self I can run around with some nice buffs in only four bag slots. And all are dirt cheap to make for a flower pickin' Warrior.

Don't be ashamed to pause the head bashing for a moment to pick some flowers. Stop and smell the Talandra's Roses. They may laugh at you now, but they'll be kissing your plate-clad behind when it comes time to hand out the pots. :)


Sunday, March 15


Sorry about the leet. When I see that stuff I always think the person is being silly. Even if they aren't. Which has probably gotten me in trouble a few times, but if you talk that way, you really can't expect much. :) So I always use it silly...

I want to say thank you to Michael Gray over at WoWInsider for linking one my posts! Not my best or even coherent post, but it's still very neat to see Neveron's face on a major WoW site and .... wait a second... Nev?!?

Guys always post the blonde first. Sheesh! :D

Seriously, thank you Michael. The response was amazing, and some very good counters and supporters to what the original post was about. I really like that about blogging. Those last two posts were literally just a brain dump. They were pulled together from various thoughts I'd spewed out in draft. The responses to Michael's post really help refine my thinking on the matter of easy/hard, casual/hardcore. And I think that's a lot of what blogging of this sort is about.

There are plenty of downsides to being in a small family guild. The good outweighs the bad, of course. One of the difficult things is finding something to do when you're not in the mood to do something. When there's lots of people on, it's no problem to just tag along and have some companionship while playing. When there's no one on, or those that are on are doing something else, it's more problematic.

Since my work/life schedule gives me Sunday and Monday off, Saturday night is a good night for me to play. I can stay on a little later and sleep in a bit in the morning. Unfortunately, some people seem to have lives (the nerve!) and actually do things on Saturday night. So last night there's only three guildies on and two of them are puggin' Nexus on thier DK alts.

So I can PuG something m'self, but I'm not feeling in a very sociable mood. Never am after work. At least not where I want to interact with new people. I can run dailies, but when I got tired of that, I dropped down in Icecrown and started smacking elite giants around. Great, but not really into it. So I head out to Scholozar cause I never finished those quests, and it's a paradise for herbalists. But it didn't appeal. I also sat in guild chat and talked the two Nexus runners through a few fights they were having trouble with. Then it occured to me how much fun it use to be to solo dungeons. But none of the Outland stuff is appealing, and old world stuff wouldn't be any challenge at all. Pulling everything at once and killing it is amausing, but only once or twice.

I remembered I said there weren't any really great moments, for me, in BC. But that's not really true and probably a little too flippant. Because there are some great moments, and one of them is Caverns of Time! Escape from Durnholde is an awesome instance. Me and Thrall, tearing through Hillsbrad? Yah, that's sounds good.

So I grab guildie #3, Tilano, a leveling Prot Palladin. At 67 he wasn't going to be much help, but some nice Pally gear drops in there. In Dark Clan we don't have a standing policy against it, but there's a general feeling that Dungeons should be run at level. At bare minimum once, just for the experience and the learning opportunity. So we try not to do "run throughs." But we do occasionally, and in some cases it's quite fun.

CoT: Durn isn't terribly difficult post-nerf. But it's interesting and it is still a fun running fight. At one point I missed a runner and Thrall ran right into the Wave 3 of the initial mobs. He ate it before I could get everything under control. Otherwise, it was a stand and fight affair, but without healing or cc (Til did throw a heal my way every now and then, but a 67 Prot Pally throwing a heal on an 80 Prot Warrior is kinda like peeing on a forest fire), ya do have to pay attention and burn cool downs and self heals in the right order.

I was slightly disappointed with the boss nerfs. I literally was able to stand and tank 'n spank every boss with no danger of dying. The mob waves were more interesting, trying to down and interrupt two or three Wardens at a time, for example. Then the rifle guys give you that Hunter stun and everything aggros on Thrall (or your poor unfortunate Pally guild mate... oops.) As a bonus, I stopped running Outland instances to focus on PvP long before the Achievement system was in place, so doing these over kinda fills in the Achievement list.

I'm gonna try Black Morass next. Not sure I could solo that one, but it'll be fun to try. I know several guildies that don't have the achievement for that one yet, so might be a fun "Saturday Night Drunkcraft," event. Yes... we have Saturday Night Drunkcraft. Most of us don't actually get drunk (most), but it is a great time to get on the headsets and run something silly just for fun. There's usually a lot of laughing, wiping, cursing, off color commentary, and omg brb beer. It's kinda like Mystery Science Theater WoW Edition. Makes a nice break from playing too seriously.

If ya think WoW is too easy, or you get bored with it, there's plenty of ways to make it more interesting. Just because ya CAN do something a certain way, doesn't mean you have to do it that way. Run Heroic Nexus with three mages. Let a Prot Pally heal an instance. Run naked through Deadmines. Basically, make your own Hard Mode. It's a lot more entertaining than Polishing Hodir's Spear, again.

I can't wait to drop that freaky perv in Ulduar. There's motiviation for ya.


PS Okay, running VC naked isn't exactly "Hard Mode" but...

Monday, March 9

Casual Friday: Hardcore and Easy

I know it's Monday, so the title of this post isn't exactly right. Just work with me here. I'd post it on Friday, but I work those nights. This is a post about "casual" gaming. And I'm Friday. See what I did there? K.

I'm a casual WoW player.

There. I said it.

I never thought of myself as a casual. I'm pretty serious about playing well. K, I'm not particularly talented or anything, but I do study up on fights before I fight 'em... mostly. I practice priorities and rotations. I occasionally turn on Recount to see how I'm doing. I have Omen installed and keep it updated. I'm in a teeny, tiny guild that most nights would rather run alts through quest chain x... again. With the exception of latter, I may be silly sometimes, but I'm pretty serious about my play time. Mainly, I'm a "causal gamer" because I rarely have more than an hour or two to play a night... and, gasp! some nights not. at. all. Horrible, I know.

So what?

I may be casual WoW player by some standards, but I also have something many hardcore players seem to lack... I actually enjoy playing the game. It's not a job for me and if something or someone frustrates me in the game, I go do something else. That's actually kind of nice. I really, really don't want another job.

I thought about the no pain, no gain argument, of course. I mean you should have to work to get what you want. But... This is entertainment. Seriously. There's a difference between working hard and long hours to feed your kids and grinding the same instance 40 times for enough badges to buy a virtual sword. One is necessary and done with the expectation that it won't always be pleasent. The other is for fun. Getting there should be fun. So the no work, no gain argument doesn't hold for me. If you're working for it in game, it should be entertaining at the same time.

This all got me thinking about two things that I read about elsewheres around the Interwebs pretty much every, freakin' day.

First, that Wrath is too easy. Second, casual vs. hardcore players. There's been a ton written about both, and today I have the mildly burning need to chime in on the matter. I'll see a doctor about it tomorrow. Maybe those Argent Crusade legs are chaffing a bit.

Has Wrath really made the game easier? People that claim this sound like noobs. Not a big fan of that word, but seriously, anyone that claims Wrath is too easy either has a really bad memory or is completely new to the game. Of course it's easier!

For one, a huge portion of the WoW player base is experienced now. Very.

I remember level 5, taking my shiny new Warrior self out for a spin, and getting "pwn'd" by a buncha Defias nothings while trying to gather grapes. Repeatedly. Now I can take a shiny new level 5 Warrior and blow through that quest in five minutes. Easy peasy. Did those quests get too easy???

In a way, yes. There's been general nerfs to xp gained. By nerf I mean the xp went up. So you level faster, which makes you tougher, which makes questing easier. Dungeon bosses also have been nerfed serveral times to make them easier by lowering thier health. Even some wild mob bosses got nerfed. (Thankfully, the left Hogger alone... but of course, you can grind the extra level you need to solo him in, what, 30 minutes?)

More important, though, I got more experienced. I know how much a Warrior can take. I know how to use my stances. I know when to damage and when to defend. I know how to use all of the Warrior abilities, in the right order, to get the job done. I know how to pull. I know which target to take out first. I know what to do when a caster and minion are tossing fireballs at me.

My very first character was an Undead Warlock. (No, not Friday.) I spent a good portion of those opening quests dying(again) a lot while trying to level my dagger skill! I figure, if they gave it too me, it must be important! Yah, when I rolled a new warlock not too long ago, just for grins, I didn't bother. Just nuke 'em till they glow. Yah, it's "easier."

It's more than just having the quest memorized. When in Northrend, we also know quest mechanics. True, Wrath added a few new hitches, but those are mostly fun or annoying. The basics are the same. I can look at a cave full of mobs and know that I need to pull here, but over here I can Charge, and over there I need to close with and shut down that caster first, and right over there is the best place to pull that group so that elite doesn't aggro, and so on.

If I didn't know these things, these quests would be hard. Killing gnolls standing around a campfire in Westfall is pretty much the same as killing harpies floating around a tree in some frozen ravine in Storm Peaks. The gnolls kicked my big round ass several times, repeatedly. The harpies can't touch me. And it's not my not-so-wicked quest/crafted armor saving me. I just know how to do that kind of quest.

I still see dead bodies scattered around Northrend frequently. My first impression is, "WTF? How could you die on this quest? It's a freakin' buffalo!" But if you just stand in front of the buffalo and repeatedly hit Heroic Strike... well, you're gonna die when that wolf you didn't notice bites you in the ass.

The only other thing I'd point out here is that most people started Wrath after playing BC for most, if not all, of it's run. So you get to Northrend and yah, with gear that'll last you until 75-77, it's going to be fairly easy unless you're a complete doof. It's a lot more challenging if you blast through 58-68 (and not even finish a single zone!) and hit Northrend in Outland quest greens. It's actually balanced pretty well. It's not nearly as annoyingly difficult as some points in vanilla WoW, but it's not blow through it easy either. And more important, there's less figuring out how it's done (which you should already know) and more about being involved in what's going on. I like that a lot.

Northrend isn't too easy. We're just better. The design is better. So the counter argument is, "That just means Blizzard needs to make it harder! That's the point!" We'll yes, that's a point, but it doesn't mean that at all.

Blizz has a tried and true method for questing. It works. Mess with it too much and it stops working. There's only so much you can do inside those mechanics. Wrath is a huge leap forward in that regard. Some of the new mechanics work, but they really just add a touch of variety.

Blizz has gotten a step closer to perfecting their quest model. Quests that become available only when you've finish a prior set, instead of popping up at level. Quest chains that flow together better. Popping all quests for a related area in roughly the same place, instead of having to run around and gather them. Much nicer and more focus on actually doing the quests instead of worrying about which one to do. That's not making things easier, that's making things make sense.

Most of the Wrath is too easy arguments boil down to a dumbing down of quests and dungeons/raids. Please!

What would be "harder?" Tougher mobs? Within the quest model that doesn't make it harder, just astonishingly frustrating. Or maybe having mobs tighter packed where you can't move two feet in any direction without aggro'ing half the world. Oh wait, that would be World of Terokkar Forest. Gak!

Better mechanics? Sure, that would be great. Here's my thing, though... I've been sitting here for ten minutes tryin' to remember the most memorable quest chain or experience in Burning Crusade. Nothing. Maybe a few neat bits in Nagrand and Shadowmoon... Bonewastes with it's boss for every occasion (carried over in large part into Wrath)...

I remember many in original WoW. Little Pamela, anyone? And there's tons of "moments" that are amazing in Wrath. Maybe BC just didn't appeal to me as much. Probably, actually. Playing through it again on my Priest, though, it seems like there's a lot of grinding and quest-to-quest with nothing important happening.

Progression? Okay, originally it was very hard. Also mostly time based. I really have no problem with some things not being accessible to every player. "End game" stuff should be enjoyable by everyone, but there should be more beyond that. Those that can spend six hours a night, six days a week should definitely have stuff in the game for them, and yes that includes exclusive rewards and content. That's awesome. I'd play that much if I could!

But should that be the focus of the game? No. Absolutely not. The focus of the game should be on creating better and better (not harder or easier) experiences for the 11 million other players in the game. Top tier WoW raiding and PvP should become the sideline. The domain of the few and the proud. But not the primary focus of the game, nor the wish of every player.

Now we have a major patch coming through that was discouraging at first because the huge focus is going to be on one single "end game" raid. But you'll be able to do it 10-man style. The hard modes will be there. Sorry, but it's a brilliant solution to give "hard modes" for hard core gamers and normal modes for everyone else. More content open to more players without extending development time. Pretty slick idea. Still, a new raid wasn't terribly exciting regardless of it's cool factor.

No, Blizz has it covered. The Argent Tournament is, hands down, going to be the biggest addition to the game in 3.1. Yah dual spec will be neat. Some other additions. But this'll still be hot when Ulduar's not and long after we're saying "hey remember when you couldn't dual spec? Ah good times." Despite my QQ, I should have a little more faith. This looks like so much fun, for hard core and casual WoWers, it really should be overshadowing the new raid by a long shot. Most news that comes out about WoW is oriented toward hardcore gamers, but it's stuff like this that pays the bills at Activision. Expect to see more of it. I'm thinkin' it's gonna be awesome.


PS I'm sticking the random pictures in this post now. And yes I changed the site again and hate it. I'll keep working on a new, more Spring/Summer design. Valentine's Day will have to work for now.

Monday, March 2

Does DPS Matter?


Kinda sounds like a silly question. The problem is, there's a significant number of players that don't understand the answer.

Yes, DPS is obviously important. Not enough AND too much.

I've played DPS for probably, oh, 90% of my WoW time. Tanking and healing these last couple of months have broadened my perspective on those two jobs, and provided some interesting personal insight into the role of DPS. I'm not terribly good at either, comparatively speakin'. But I'm learning some things about both. For example, despite how nonchalant they usually are about it, it's REALLY annoying when DPS pulls off the tank.

I'm not talking about the tank missing the pickup and DPS getting clobbered because of it. I'm not talking about a tank trying an instance they aren't ready for. I'm talking about DPS not paying attention to what's going on, between the tank and the healer particularly, and pulling aggro because of it.

This is where the "you need to hold aggo, you need better gear, dps needs to be as high as possible" QQ crowd get annoying. There's a huge difference between a tank that can't hold aggro and a tank that isn't allowed to hold aggro. Massive difference. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with gear. It always has to do with someone, somewhere not paying attention to what's going on.

With a few very specific exceptions aside, though, the vast majority of these situations result in DPS not knowing what's going on with the tank and the healer. The tank simply may not have the option (cool downs, sudden target priority shift, etc) to be able to put more threat up on your target. Time to back off. The healer may suddenly be faced (due to AoE or some spell killing gimmick) with a party down to quarter health. G'head and pull aggro in that situation. Not fun.

Why DPS Matters

One time, at band camp... um... Gundrak, I mean... I'm in a PUG with a Fury Warrior. He struts in all decked out still in his t5/t6 gear. We have a DK tank, a Mage and I'm DPSing as Arms in Northrend quest greens and blues. On the second pull in, I pull aggro off the tank with a Bladestorm. Just one mob. I shut everything down quickly. Tank re-established aggro with AoE and it was fine. I don't think anyone even noticed. And I started giving it an extra beat or two before I hit Bladestorm. DPS was fine for that instance. Taking it down a notch was well within acceptable range. Easy enough.

My dps, however, is running significantly behind the Fury Warrior. And I'm starting to watch the other Warrior closer and, sure enough, he's pulling at least one mob off the tank on every pull. About 8 pulls in, he eats it. Major face plant from a Whirlwind too early. Pulled all four mobs on himself and the healer barely had time to register the change before Fury boy was dead as a doornail. DK is cool, though. He re-establishes aggro, and me and the mage finish the pull.

So we're waiting for the other warrior to rez and he says, "Damn Friday don't you ever Bladestorm?"

Tempted to pull out Recount and show him how I'd Bladestorm on every single pull, but I resisted. Instead I says, "Of course! :D I just try not to do it too early. Otherwise, I might pull aggro and die. That would be embarrassing."

He kept his epeening mouth shut for the rest of the run.

All players have to understand is why DPS matters, not just that it does matter. The first is obvious: To get those mobs and bosses dead. Without sufficient DPS, your healer will run out of mana. When the healer runs outta mana, the tank runs out of health. Very bad things happen at that point.

The tank will control the mob's basic behavior. Aggro and positioning, being the two main jobs for the tank. But there's another level of control that is solely in the hands of DPS. This is the part where a lot of player's understanding falls apart.

The second reason DPS matters is that only the DPS team has control of the speed of the encounter. Too little is bad, but too much is usually worse. If DPS generates too much threat, either through direct attacks or AoE, they'll pull aggro. This in turn forces the healer to heal harder, increasing the healer's threat and burning through mana. As this is happening, the tank has to attempt to recover control over her aspect. Which means less threat put to general uses, burned cooldowns, and a general loss of control. That compounds the problem because the threat threshold on other targets, from the healer and DPS on the proper target, gets narrower and narrower.

Either the healer is going to pull because he's healing both the tank and a DPSer, or the healer is going to pull because the tank is slowly losing control, or the other DPS are going to pull, forcing more threat onto the healer, and sucking the mana right out.

That's the basic recipe for a huge majority of wipes.

Now, again, I'm not talking about situations where the tank screws up on the pull. Nor am I talking about situation where the tank just can't control the mobs. In both those cases, it's pretty cut and dry. Those kinds of wipes are very apparent. Either the tank is in an instance they aren't leveled/geared for, or they need to pull their head out their plate clad ass.

In my first run in Halls of Lightning, a PuG, we wiped like five times on the first boss. Gah! Three times were because someone wasn't paying attention, got to close to his path and pulled. Sigh. The other two times, though, were all me. I wasn't picking up the two adds he carried with him. It was horribly apparent what was going on. Yah, I felt like a noob. I pulled me head out, nabbed the two adds, and wham he went down smooth. You learn, you adapt.

DPS doing it wrong, though, doesn't have an immediate effect. It causes a cascading effect that ends in a wipe. It's easy, in these cases, to blame the tank or healer. The whiners will either blame the healer for not healing them ("Why were you taking melee damage in the first place?") or the tank for not holding aggro ("Why were you hitting the star when the skull is still up?") But when these situations occur, I guarantee it is NEVER EVER the healer or tank's fault. It's always DPS hit something that they weren't suppose to be hitting either directly or indirectly.

What all DPS (yes, I include myself) has to understand:

The group revolves around the tank/healer dynamic.

YES! And yes, the healer and tank aren't going anywhere without the DPS. And vice versa. The problem isn't teamwork. If the teamwork thing isn't there, no one's going anywhere anyway. That's entirely different post. You can't even get to proper teamwork, though, until DPS understands what's going on between the tank and the healer.

DPS Plate posted this ten commandments for all DPS melee folks. Actually most of it applies to ranged DPS as well. It's been much linked and I'm doing it again here because it's perfect. All of the in combat commandments are directly tied to the healer/tank.

Here's how healer/tank relationship applies to DPS and why:

1. The more damage you take, the more threat the healer generates. This in turn closes the threat gap between the healer and the tank. Believe me, there is nothing more terrifying for a tank than tabbing to a mob and seeing your healer's picture. That's panic time for a tank. I assure you, if building threat to put distance between herself and her healer means letting you, as DPS, eat it... well, we'll rez you after. Yes, a tank knows when you pull aggro, pretty much instantly, and yes, sometimes she'll let you have it if it means keeping her healer alive a few more seconds.

2. A good healer will heal the tank first. That's nothing personal. A good healer knows that if the tank goes down, the fight is done. They also know that many fights will finish successfully with one of the DPS down. Oh, and all those mobs you're not hitting hard? Guess where they're gonna aggro when the tank dies? Yah. So there's a little self preservation in the healer's priorities there.

3. Both of the above tie directly into the innate understanding between healers and tanks: namely, if one dies, the other dies. If the tank and healer die, your survivability as DPS drops dramatically. Thus, it is very much DPS's job to keep the healer and tank alive. See also, ten commandments linked above.

"If the tank dies, it's the healer's fault. If the healer dies, it's the tank's fault. It DPS dies, it's their own damn fault."

That glib saying is humorous, if not entirely accurate, but there a measure of truth to it, as well. DPS has to understand what's going on with the tank and healer. These two jobs are incredibly intense (yes, I can say from experience, way more so than DPS). If DPS is aware what's going on, they can make everything run smoother. Here's some thoughts:

1. Pay attention to the over all group health. If your healer is about to switch to group healing, your tank is going to get less. Compensate by doing everything you can to buy the healer and tank some time. Your recount rank be damned.

2. Pay attention to what your tank is hitting. When you switch targets, you should know at a glance how hard you can hit without pulling aggro. Your tank/healer don't give a f@#$ about your DPS ranking. To them, dead DPS = zero DPS. Your job is to kill stuffs. Their job is to keep you alive long enough to do it.

3. Know what your DPS is before you go into the dungeon. Then turn your DPS meter off. (Recount, for example, keeps working in the background, even if it's not visible.) There's nothing more annoying to a tank or a healer than someone popping a DPS meter into /p after a wipe. Fat lot of good that giant DPS did, eh? More important, you can analyze your DPS after the run. Then you'll know better where to make adjustment to your rotations for next time. If you're analyzing your DPS performance in combat, YDIW!

4. Related... your tank (and probably your healer) will know what your DPS is. If it's not enough, they'll letcha know. If it's too much, they'll letcha know that too. Don't worry about it. Get in there and kill stuff as fast as possible WHILE keeping yourself and everyone else alive. Your threat meter is WAY more important than your DPS meter. Always. No exceptions.

5. Know when to back off. Know when to pour it on. Slap the right gear on a blind monkey and he'll hit high on the DPS charts. Yah, I'm looking at you DKs. :P Which, again, is solely dependent on threat on target. Turn off the DPS meter, turn on the Threat meter.

Good DPS kills stuffs. Awesome DPS kills stuff properly. Being awesome DPS revolves entirely around understanding that the tank/healer relationship is more than just topping off her health bar and keeping the bad guys off him. It's for another post, but there's a lot more going on between a really excellent healer and an awesome tank. DPS is an integral part of that relationship.

The best DPS I've ever seen are the ones you barely notice unless you're looking for it. Yah, they're scoring high on the charts. That Frost Mage that can in combat cc at just the right moment to mitigate the spell damage coming in on the tank. The Arms Warrior that can hamstring the right mob in an emergency. The Rogue that peals off to keep sap up. The DK that Death Grips that wayward caster who's targeting the healer, pulls the mob to the tank and then backs off enough that the tank instantly pulls aggro. The Hunter or Lock who can off tank effectively with their pet/minion when everything goes to hell. All of which hurts their raw DPS number.

Those are Awesome DPSers.

They do it without a lot of recognition. Be that DPSer, anyway. And tanks and healers should notice and appreciate it more vocally. I always personally thank my healer or tank at the end of a run. I've made it a point lately to thank those DPSers, regardless of where they are on the DPS chart, who are doing it right because they understand the entire group dynamic, not just the "hold 'em still, heal, and kill 'em fast" part.

It is appreciated. :)


Sunday, March 1

Meet Friday and Neveron

Pix tagged me for another of these. This one looks like fun, too. He did his as an interview with the toons, so I'm swiping that idea. :) Here goes.

1. What is your name, and where did it come from?

Friday: Friday Anne Macfay. My mother is a little odd. I was born on a Saturday. I get my love (and bit of skill I have) of herbalism from her. She said she just liked the way "Friday" sounds better than Saturday. "Betty" or "Jane" just never occurred to her.

Neveron: Neveron Galdis Tuustale. Friday twisted my family name to Tuesday to match hers when we were kids. It kinda stuck. Everything with Friday kinda twists (to her own worldview) and sticks (she wears her helmet too tight). And yes, her mother is a "bit" odd.

2. How old are you, and what is your birthday?

Friday: I'm 24. My birthday is just before Hollow's Eve.
Neveron: I'm 26. My birthday is the first day of Brewfest. Shuddap, Fri.
Friday: I thought that was when you were conceived?
Neveron: I shall smite thee mightily.
Friday: :P

3. Are you in love, and with whom?

Friday: King Wrynn. Hubba-hubba
Neveron: /blush
Friday: She loves Sven. You know, the hot guy with the tent out in Duskwood?
Neveron: FRIDAY! I do not!
Friday: /grin He does have a nice tent.
Neveron: OMG
Friday: K, sheesh. You don't love Sven. /w But she really does.
Neveron: /blush

4. What is your favorite mount, and why?

Friday: I've only ever had four mounts.
Neveron: Not what I heard.
Friday: Ha! :P Anyhoo, I have my first pony, Charlie. And my black warhorse, Bruce. And then I have two birds, one really awesome jet black but slow, and one really really fast. I don't really need any more. They poop a lot.
Neveron: Wow. That was gross, thanks. I just want to get the pheonix mount some day. I know priests aren't suppose to lust after things...
Friday: 'Cept Sven.
Neveron: Grrrrr. Ahem. That's just a really beautiful mount.
Friday: I'll tell ya what else is a beautiful...
Neveron: /facepalm
Friday: Nevermind. :)

5. Do you prefer a certain type of Azerothian meal, and where do you get it from?

Friday: Spicy Crawdads. Chocolate Cake. I make and fish the crawdads, m'self. I mooch chocolate cake where it may be found. No chocolate cake shall survive my awesome tankness. I can tank the hell out of a chocolate cake. I'm hungry now.
Neveron: /eyeroll Had to get her started on the cake, didn't ya? I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but I've actually developed a taste for fish sticks. Someone needs to invent mac and cheese.
Friday: What?
Neveron: No idea where that came from. Probably your mother.
Friday: Hey, that's not... Okay, yah, prolly.

6. You know those giant mushrooms in Zangarmarsh? What is your theory on how they came to be, and why are they so huge?

Neveron: Friday went through there one time and she's so full of sh...
Friday: Hey! You're a Priestess of the Light, you can't talk like that.
Neveron: I can also melt someone's face off.
Friday: Okay. So you can talk like that.

7. If you saw the Lich King walking toward you, what would you do?

Friday: Tank him.
Neveron: He would die.
Friday: He took everything from our people. We'll be back to reclaim it after I stick my sword up his...
Neveron: We're not really big fans, if you can't tell.

Neveron: We've got to go.
Friday: Ya.
Neveron: Sorry, I've got an appointment.
Friday: With Sven? /grin
Neveron: No! I've got to have communion.
Fruday: With Sven.
Neveron: And then get to bed!
Friday: With Sven!
Neveron: /blush Stop it, I wasn't kidding about smiting mightily.
Friday: WITH SVEN!

Neveron storms out.

Friday: She loves him. :)

Edit: furgot to pick blogs to pass it on to:
Weryl, Brackarn, and Ready.... steady.... go!