Lok’tar ogar!

August 29, 2010 at 4:25 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Let’s get down to business
To defeat the Scourge
Did they send me Murlocs
When I asked for Horde?

You’re the saddest bunch I’ve ever met
But you can bet, before we’re through,
Mister, I’ll make a raider out of you…

What do you know, I think I found my voice. I never know how to begin a blog post, I’m no good at a preamble that leads into my topics, so let’s just jump right in. I can’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say, so I’ll just talk about what I want to say.

I believe that in raiding, I have become a better person. I don’t mean that raiding makes me a better person than you, I mean that it has made me better than I was before. It demands, at least of me, certain skills which I have had to develop and to leverage to achieve the success I have and to believe I can achieve the successes I will get later. Skills that translate absolutely outside the game. My accomplishments in WoW should be able to go onto my resume.

I play my classes well. Why? Because I put thought into them, and because I seek out education. I gather extra information, and bring it together. I use tools, be they spreadsheets, or forum discussions, or math, or guides. But I don’t just blindly consume this information: I read the discussions and watch the objective science (or, at least, math) behind a lot of it, and from there formulate my ideas of what I’m going to do. And then, with all that information, I think I execute it… fairly well.

I raid well. Why? I pay attention to my surroundings and can juggle multiple task-components while still thinking about what’s going on and keeping my mind on something like my rotation. This is a skill that has developed as I played the game – I started out oblivious, but then I learned not to stand in bad, and then to keep moving out of bad while still doing what needed to be done. Going from dps to star dps in heroics to a raider, then a raid tank, and now working on heroic healing, it has all made me more aware and able to collate, process, and act upon, more and more information. As I move into tanking and healing, I am developing a cooler head even as things go pear-shaped.

But at the same time, raiding is a group effort at-level. I cannot succeed alone, and other cannot succeed if I am slacking off or performing poorly, both from an individual-component standpoint and from a group membership standpoint. And speaking of group membership, let us not forget that WoW is a social game, one we play with other people.

In raiding, I have developed greater skills to work as a member of a unit, both in a set group set to a purpose, and also a unit that has members rotate in and out of a bigger set. A lot of people, I find in life and in raids, cannot do this. This isn’t just working together by doing it, but two things that transcend merely being in the same zone and slamming on the same boss. Functioning with team happens on two factors: in the gestalt operation of a truly well-oiled group, which has worked well together, where they come together to play at a higher level than normal, to draw out the best and truly ‘work as one raid”… but also to function, socially, with people who I don’t necessarily always like – we are still able to focus on our task and to get it done. Skills that, again, I didn’t have as much as I did before I started raiding.

And what is a raid, especially in a group? It is a commitment of time and of energy. Dedication. As an accomplished, reliable, and skill raider, I have demonstrated my ability to dedicate my resources to a group effort that is both bigger me and, sometimes, not entirely perfectly reflective of what I want – but I still do my best to help it accomplish its goals. I can even set aside time out of my life fairly regularly to make a committment and to contribute.

There are more skills or ways of thinking that I already had, and that in raiding the way I do become apparent.

I have to be adaptable. And I have been flexible, as how to play my classes has changed, as I’ve needed to adapt to new fights, or to changes in a current fight either built-in or due to something going wrong or different. If I wasn’t already, I would have had to develop it, and if I wasn’t or didn’t, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today.

I believe that being good enough to do something is not, usually, good enough. A sloppy kill is a bad kill, and it should be tightened up and cleaned up next time. A raid plan that eventually kills the boss but does so slower or at greater risk of failure or with artificially stricter fault tolerances is not a good plan. Even if we kill the boss and get loot. Even if I stay alive as a tank and hold agro. Even if bosses die to my arrows or players live via my heals, there is probably some way I could have done it better, made the raid go smoother. I actively look for ways to improve my performance above mere necessary thresholds of “good enough.” The ongoing process of this motivation is, surely, a factor that contributes largely to my skill now.

I have failed many times. I have failed personally. I have failed on the whole as part of a unit, even when it was nothing within my control or influence. It is frustrating, yes, but my response to these failures is not to get frustrated, or find something discouraging on its own. No: what I do is I believe that it is still something I can do. We can do. And so I ask: “why did we fail?” I seek those answers, and I use them to then answer the question, “how can we not fail next time?” When I fail, I learn why, and work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When the group fails, I don’t try to blame or give up or get discouraged (until it seems a break must be taken, but it’s just a rest period, nto a surrender) – I try to figure out what to try differently (assuming it’s not bad RNG) so that next time it goes better. And better. And better. And then we will achieve victory. And then we will do it better. And better. And then we will achieve farm status.

Within WoW, I am a finely wrought sword. I have gone from a lump of newb ore to bars through the smelting proccess, and then come from the hammers and the temper of the forge, sharp and deadly and serving my purposes well. There has been fire and there has been blows, it has been forces from outside acting upon me and forces from within. Even outside of the game, what I have done and learned, I see how to generalize.

I leave this with two final notes: I believe these are all valuable tools. I said I would make a raider out of newbs, and this is part of how. I am not giving anyone a hand out. There are no handouts that will make you less a newb, only ones that will make you a newb with a high gear score. There ‘welfare epics’ and there is all the BoEs and crafteds you can buy and you know what? None of it teaches you not to stand in Defile or hug Spores or switch targets as the kill priority changes or how to deal with the grind of Progression. But this is a hand up: nothing I have done or do is really unique to me. Put my data together and figure out how to use it. Although this, I think, is wasted on many of my readers as most people who know about and follow this blog are as good or, even, better, than me.

Ultimately: there is one final component to being a good raider, that I keep taking to heart, and that I feel is, if not essential to a successful raid, or something proven by my personal ability as a player and raider, at least is vital to all of it: remember that everyone who plays WoW is a person. From my friends in my long list of guilds I’ve been in, to even the trade-trolls. Everyone I raid with, from the awesome people I meet in the random pug to the ninja looters, ninja loggers, jackasses, elitsits, and newbs both chill and angry, everyone is a person.

When I group with people, I don’t want my time wasted and my efforts to be put to naught, and as such, I also don’t want to waste their time and effort. When I raid, it’s anywhere from seven to twenty-four other people, and we’re all here to have fun. And to accomplish a shared goal. Part of dedicating myself to it is being mindful and dedicated to not fucking it up by being inconsiderate or stupid or wasting their time. When I show up, I bring it to win it, yes: but I also view the whole thing as a group of effort by people who depend, in part, on me, and do not want to let them down, or to make it an awful firestorm of anti-humanistic badness.

This game has made me a better person, and I rock at it because I am a good person.
This game has made me good friends outside of it, and beyond the context of playing a game.

Isn’t that cool?

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Warning: Educational Content!

February 17, 2010 at 5:58 am (Hunter) (, , , , )

I’ve seen a lot of disagreement on the Lady Deathwhisper fight over if it’s better for Hunters to use Viper Sting or Serpent Sting. I take the less intuitive path of Serpent Sting is better. This has been bugging me, and as we all know, I like being right, and I like maximal dps (as opposed to Predacon dps?) – so, I sat down and ran some tests.

First, no offense to anyone in the Viper camp, but I think a lot of the love for Viper on Deathwhisper is being people don’t quite fully examine the tooltip.

Viper Sting:

Stings the target, draining 4% mana over 8 sec (up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana), and energizing the Hunter equal to 300% of the amount drained. Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on any one target.

I think most people look at the “4% mana” part and think, “awesome, with something like 10 million mana, that’s like 400,000 mana! That’s like a full minute of my dps in eight seconds! (Light knows I did at first!) What we miss is the second part of that: “up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana” (that’s you, the Hunter). Math, raid buffed, has slightly less than 16,200 mana. 8% of that is 1296… ow. Viper is 1% every two seconds for eight seconds, so each two second tick is 324 mana drained.

Plinking Serpent Sting on a target dummy with no buffs beyond Aspect of the Monkeyhawk shows that a normal tick of Serpent Sting does an average, for Math, of 494 damage. He still has his 2pT9, and about 60% (unbuffed) of those ticks of Serpent were crits, averaging 1139. Plus, being Survival (yes, there’s still some Survival hunters left), while Serpent Sting targets take 3% more damage from his other abilities, like Explosive Shot – extra dps that comes from using Serpent, lost during Viper.

While Viper Sting seems, on the surface, to be potentially good, simple math (hah) shows that for Math, going Viper is a dps loss.

This really isn’t a hard and fast rule, “never use viper on Lady Deathwhisper”, though. Really, I want to say it seems generally suboptimal, but you might be a special case – fortunately, it’s not hard to check, if you care about pulling out that last extra hundred-some-odd / hundreds-of dps on Phase 1 – calculate 1% of your mana, and see if it’s a bigger number than an average tick of your serpent sting.

Though there is a time to use Viper Sting on Lady Deathwhisper, and that’s when you run low on mana. Sure, it does less damage than normal, but getting 24% of your mana bar back in eight seconds on a 15 sec cooldown beats eight seconds in Viper by leaps and bounds, let alone the amount of time you’d need to spend in viper to get that much mana back.

I know I’m not some leading authority, but the theorycrafting here is easy enough to try this at home and see – just, don’t blame me if somehow something goes horribly wrong. I’m not responsible for horrible mutants, wipeitis, wandering dps syndrome, or any other fallout you might randomly find. The world is a buggy place!

Fair winds and good hunts. Stay owning, my friends.

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Magic gremlins. The only explanation.

January 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm (althattery) (, , , , , )

Or the blogging wouldn’t continue. I guess I got kinda neglectful with my laptop dying and coming back to life. But I’m getting back into WoW, and now back over here.

So why are magic gremlins the explanation? Because after all the trouble I went with my dead computer, poking, prodding to no success, then popping out the hard drive and backing it up, I take it in to the Best Buy, the tech plugs it in, pokes the button, and it boots up.

… que.

Shuts it down, does it again. Takes it back, checks the battery, checks the RAM connections, dusts it out, and just hands it back. Apparently it’s some sort of battery problem from it dying or getting plugged in near the time it went into sleep mode, or something. Agh. But okay. Get it home, get everything restored, keep it plugged in while waiting for my replacement battery. New problems crop up, but what do you know, a bit of hassle and several reboots later, it’s working again.

… For now.

*eyes it warily* Magic curse goblins. Or witches. o.o

But WoW runs! So I’m back! My Shaman finally got his trinket, and somehow my alt has Frost gear before my Hunter, who’s -actually been inside Icecream Citadel-. This is is unacceptable, yet true. And I’ve started levelling the Paladin. 4.75 levels in two nights of a bit of levelling and reacquainting and messing with cast bars isn’t bad, just have to find a stride. And that stride is called THE PLAGUELANDS. I swear, Pallies were MEANT to level in this place. Nothing like running around in BoA gear with explosions of holy light going GWE HEE HEE and crumpling eight or ten at-level zombies and skellies all at once. Mr. Scourge, I am YOUR Scourge!

…Speaking of Paladins, a word to all my Hunta Brothas and Sistas: if you’re going to try and gank a paladin at equal level, don’t try when they’re at full hp and mana, haven’t seemed to pop any cooldowns, and know you’re there. Seriously. Or, you know, at least be good. Mr. Orc Hunter in Un’goro, I commend your balls and am sorry I had to hand them to you, but if you want to gank me with a hunter, try harder. I even gave you a chance. Next time I’ll Repentance you, kill your wolf in front of your stunned eyes, and then dismantle you at my leisure. Mmkay? You want to gank me with my class, you’re welcome to try.

Ha, this is fun. Plus, it seems next week is ICC25. This makes me and the hunter go bwee. Not sure how much the Hunter and Shaman will see play beyond the JC daily and getting them up to Crusader (AGAIN) for the Hunter and just a RED MECHANOSTRIDER (seriously, this is <4) for the Shaman right now. Too much fun in the plaguelands giggling with gleeful wrath as undead fall down go boom.

It is fun to be back and writing, and I'll get to something resembling a thoughtful and meaningful post, well … eventually. 🙂

But just watch. The last time or two I was in Plaguelands, it was coming in from / going out to The Undercity via the Bulwark. Bets on my Paladin getting killed at least once on autopilot? I … won't bet against you.

eta: Oh, Myssidia over at A Casual Encounter reminded me: sometimes, the most fun stuff isn’t the most challenging. Sometimes when you can’t down Marrowgar, it’s not doing Trial of the Grand Crusader, Firefighter, Sarth 28, or Yogg 0. It’s utterly owning regular ol’ Trial 10. It’s two tanks on Beasts and then one tank, two healers, and seven dps for the rest of the night (eight dps on Champs) – it’s figuring out the trick to mad un-Empowered dps on Twin Valkyrs (namely: light buff means the light one takes less damage, but she still TAKES DAMAGE, and with a shared health pool, abilities that hit both, like Multi Shot or that Rogue thing to hit both adjacent mobs or Magma Totem / Fire Nova, does significantly more damage, why did it take me so long to realize? Likely ’cause until now usually there’s two tanks and they’re not right on top of each other) and getting the speed kill with ~:45 seconds to spare. It’s one-shotting Champs 10 with, what, one death? It’s … and I still get this huge, ridiculous, almost manic grin from this – it’s burning Anub’arak so hard and so fast – with one tank, mind! – that he goes into Phase 3 before he even gets a chance to submerge once.

This, Anub’arak, is your Couch. This smoldering, ashen, kersplattered wreckage, is your Couch on BoO. Any questions?

Yeah. I thought not. Now, surrender your loot.

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