Monday, December 20, 2010

Cata Tanking Tips

Just a couple so far--only hit 85 last week and got Heroic qualified with Andrexxis yesterday.

5 man regulars may require some care here and there on trash pulls--but AoE isn't quite as dead as you may think.

In heroics there are trash mobs with over 1,000,000 HP and bosses can be north of 5m. Last stand has a cool down of 2 minutes. Use it early, use it often to help with mana conservation. Adrexxis is a pure healer, having a disc and holy spec. I don't know if its just priests, but mana management for them is huge. As a tank anything you can do to help them save mana is a good thing.

Which also means using the lightwell when it is down. Which means learning to notice it as positioning the mobs so that both you and your melee can easily get to it. Oh and the limitation that you can't be hit for more than 30% of your HP...not much of an issue in heroics. With just a couple of heroic blues equipped and a GS just over 329 I sport 128,999 HP. Unbuffed. There aren't a lot (if any) times that I am hit for close to 40k in a single shot.

And I am finding tanking rewarding and far more mentally taxing than back in Wrath. 2 instances am ok for, after a 3rd I am toast.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tobold on EVE PVP

Tobold, generally a really good gaming blogger with a good head on his shoulders has insulted me and most other EVE players.

Here's what he did: he prepared to jump into a 0.0 system on the edge of low sec, knowing it was likely camped, got ganked and podded and then concludes that EVE PVPers are bullies.

There are 2 basic errors he makes in his evaluation. Firstly, he seems to single out EVE players as bullies--he's tried a number of MMOs and IIRC, has played WOW since launch. As I recall his first 60s were Horde side too.

What I don't know if he ever took part in the open world PVP: where the Alliance would attack the Horde side quest hubs in the Barrens and Tarren Mill, more or less forcing a Horde response. On my original server of Kargath these would end up as 120 vs 40 fights, Horde loosing and not even being allowed to res and get full HP. You would res by your body and get killed with in seconds. In know DAOC exhibited the same behavior on Albion. And I saw the same thing on Silver Hand.

To characterize EVE players a bullies because of behavior you can find any PVP game is unfair.

The other problem I have is with the method of his testing. He wondered into a strategically important system for a much more powerful group than himself and then evaluates PVP from that. Now I don't have a huge amount of PVP experience, but that is not at all how PVP worked for me on a nightly basis while I few for the Minmatar militia or Ushra'Khan in 0.0.

Most PVP I ended up in was of a roaming nature--where neither fleet would engage if they didn't think they had a chance of winning. Death, and even ship loss, is consequential in EVE. Briefly, it hurts. So most PVP isn't spent in lopsided fights, but going out looking for something where you can win while getting the enemy to engage. To measure EVE by a single suicide run at a gate camp is a useless action.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ICC10: Don't It Just Figure

In our Monday night ICC 10 we got the 2 plague essences from Rotface and Festergut. Normally we can now one shot Rotface and we're iffy on Feseter. So of course, we FD reset Rotface to get his mark--and I wipe the raid as the 8 stack-of-gastric-bloat OT and eventually my 20k shield slams tear agro off the MT. This wasn't so bad but for the fact that he hit me with a 9th gastric and reset my timer.

We got him down to 8% before the tanks exploded.

The second time one of the 3 out people dies and Fester made the melee group--including both tanks---yak. Wipe.

Third time we actually got him, FD-reset Rotface and turned in the quest.

Then we one shot Rotface. Doesn't it just figure?

We've started on Professor Putricide--we were getting some P2 time but we need more practice. Looks like a tough movement fight.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lum Is The Mad One: On The Star Wars MMO

Scott Jennings wrote over at"> that he was afraid for the MMO part of the gaming industry because EA seamed to be willing to stake $150,000,000 on the project (going from the fact that EA felt they needed 2 million subs to make a profit).

I think there are some great analogies to be made between the Hollywood studio system for creating movies and the studio system we are developing with games and their most recent and expensive iteration MMOs. Scott wonders if EA has priced all but a few top players out of the MMO market.

I say the answer is no--and that is obvious. We are learning how to run and price F2P games. WOW created a market is 20 times larger than anyone though possible. Remember that people though WoW would eat all of EQ and EQ2's player base. In fact both are still going concerns. Before WoW, if you had a niche game that might appeal to 1% of the MMO crowd, you were looking at 4,000 players. Now, post WoW you are looking at 80,000. I suspect that Star Trek, if it has legs, well help grow the MMOsphere with more new players. Star Wars: The Old Republic is, indeed, swinging for the bleachers--but the $150 million Scott projects requires a real marketing campaign and a mass media presence. Should SW:TOR meet a reasonable proportion of its expectations it to will make more room in the MMOsphere for the little games, the mid-market games and even the AAA tent pole games.

MMOs are a very new phenomenon and we are just learning how to segment the market and what expectations to have for a release. I don't think the MMO market is any less capable of supporting a range of experiences than the movie industry: think on Clerks, The Hurt Locker and Avatar.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reading The BlizCon Tea Leaves

I think we can now confidently say that Cataclysm won't come out before Tuesday, October 26th of this year. You hold an event like BlizCon to build up the excitement for your product rather than just after you have released it when excitement is high. Besides you have serious WoW players paying serious money to go. You wouldn't want to conflict those fans with the choice of go or play.

I mean can you imagine Blizzard scheduling BlizCon for the weekend after release? Might not every dev there want to be working on bug fixes the? I would think its an all hands on deck period.

We haven't seen any leaked details on Cataclysm yet either so that makes me doubt that they are going to have it ready to go in less than 6 months.

I suspect though, that BlizCon will see the announcement of the launch date for some 4-6 months in the future-February to April of 2011--and the soon after BlizCon release of a 3.4 patch for Wrath with a raid instance.

Catastrophic Cataclysm Fatigue Already?

I am noticing it already--far, far fewer sign ups for raids.

I think I have to officially declare that the pre-expansion blahs are hitting WoW--and it seems to me sooner and harder than either of the first 2 bouts of fatigue.

This is something I never really noticed in EQ--but there was not point in EQ where I was so well geared that the next upgrade was marginally useless expect in ICC. With my 245ish Fury gear mobs last maybe 10 seconds when soloing. In prot gear they lasted longer, but I have tested since I got 2 piece bonus on the Tier 10 prot warrior armor (20% DPS increase to shield slam and shockwave) and the massive buff to revenge.

This weeks Naxx 25 had a 40% absentee rate, and failed to finish going 20 man--too many alts. ToC25 was short. Our 10 is holding up nicely.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What 3.3.3 means for me

About 1200 HP (if the Vitality change I had read about went through, from 6 to 9%).

And probably tailoring 450 since I had stalled out at 445 and absolutely didn't want to do the ridiculous transforms for cloth for the last 5 point on my up to now unmentioned 80 priest.

The raid weekly is Patchwerk, IIRC which is good, I can probably grab 10 extra frost badges for eventually getting enough primal saronite for Guthammer's boots. Primal saronite slaves for the win.

Umm...apparently I had missed the fact that Revenge is back.

Not a small change. And TankingTips is a great blog.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ICC 10 Progress: 5% or A Change

We are on a real roll in Pride and Joy's ICC 10. We tweaked our line up, having one of our druids go boomkin while our regular hunter has been bringing his shaman and our regular DK brings his hunter. And it seems to be working. The hunter was undergeared the first week, but got some nice drops last week and this week got the bow off Lady Deathwhisper.

Our regular group is fun, but ugh, our composition. 3 warriors, 2 druids, 2 shaman, no paladins, no warlocks, no rogues, 1 mage alt (sometimes),

But we are meeting with great success. We got Festergut for the second time this week, and Rotface fell to us for the first time this week. We tweaked our Festergut strategy a bit, holding Heroism until we have done our first tank transition, so that I (since I am the first Fester tank and Rawlnos takes the first round of 175% damage hits) have 8 stacks of Gastric Bloat and because 18k shield slams are yummy.

Rotface took no more than 2-3 tries and that was after a couple of weeks of not playing with him. Very satisfying. On a normal raid night we would have even had some time for Professor Putricide, but we had to call it 30 minutes early. So 3 hours, 6 bosses down including a first kill (and a small dinner break).

Friday, March 19, 2010

FF13: Choice and the Illision of Choice

I have been playing some Final Fantasy 13. I just got into disc 2 on the 360. So far I have had to make lots of choices. Some of them interesting, most not so much. Few, I think, that will effect the story line that FF is taking me through.

Spending XP--CP in this game, at the moment at least, is an illusionnary choice. So far the choices are none, in that I can afford to fully develop everything I have access to on a character, or the choice is so blindingly bad (a tier 3 buff in a main spec for 220 XP, or that other off, off spec tier 1 ability for 330) that only the impaired will buy them before they have completely maxed out the character.

The game is real time and the basic decision unit is the 1 action bubble attack--though the normal mode of game play is to let the bar build up completely (to a number ranging from 2 to 6) and let all those commands execute at once. You can decide to interrupt your bar buildup to perform partial bar attacks.

Now there is a lot of rote button pushing. Most trash combat--so far--is just repeatedly hit A button (X for all you PS/3 types). Very dull. A good thing/bad thing is the AI is smart, choosing well among the moves you have, to maximize damage/stun/chain. Its good because the battles are timed and real time, bad because there aren't many decisions to be made in the game and taking most of the basic decision making out of the players hands for such a basic unit of interaction is bad.

The heart of the combat system, and where it gets interesting is stance dancing--paradigms in this game. Actually, to put it in more WoW like terms, you can respec on the fly, in combat--and you have groups of nothing but druids. A character can melee (commando), DPS (ravager--more ranged), heal, tank (sentinel), buff (synergist) or debuff (saboteur) . Any given character will probably be good at 2-3 of the roles and sub optimal for the others. Choosing which roles to do when and how is the real heart of the combat system. The one downside is that there very little time to make those decisions in and you are limited to more than 6 stances at once.

So the one place where choice shines in FF13 which, I think, is enough to keep me engaged for a while yet. The utterly weird Japanese (or over-engineered German) weapon XP system might be another place where there is some meaningfulish? choices to be made, but mostly the system is just weird.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breakfast Club Special

My 25-man LO charter is Breakfast Club. Silver Hand is a PST server and I am an EST player and Breakfast Club starts our raids at 7 AM server. I am also a child of the 80s and, as I recall, I saw the movie in the theaters too. It seems an appropriate name.

BC has always been more about teaching and gearing up that progression--I mean why else would we /still/ be running Naxx?

We also seem to find new ways to wipe. Some weeks ago, on Thaddious I called a "go". One of the platforms wipes because the tank does nothing--they DCed just as I called go.

Last week, with 4 mages and a shaman in the raid we're fighting Noth. And bringing him down at a tremendous rate. Just as I wonder if we are going to down him before he teleports. BANG! 19 players dead. No one in the raid got rid of Noth's debuff. We could only laugh.

The Tank's Conundrum

I want to see ICC25. I have a tank who is geared for it--39k HP unbuffed almost all ToC25 or ICC10 gear. I know the fights and I am at least a fair to middling raid tank and experienced raid leader.

My chances of seeing ICC 25 are low though due to the fact that the tanking core of any guild (or charter in the Leftovers system) are among the most reliable players and, often, like me leaders. Bringing in a new tank to a raid for the first time is almost a guaranteed wipe somewhere in the instance to do different styles of doing encounter fights. Its likely that new tanks will have real costs on raids unless you massively over gear the place.

The one thing that makes is more likely for me to see ICC 25 is that Cataclysm burnout seems to be hitting WOW hard and early (we don't even have a release date--a bad sign if you ask me) and since there are so man 25 mans running ICC can sub in somewhere sometime soon.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 5% Buff

So this week our group of ICC 10 raiders finally got to do ICC 10 with the buffs and their raid leads--last week our firewall/router was giving us 2+ second (2000MS) lag and we called in a friend to lead and got out of our raider's way.

This week Pride and Joy (my 10 man charter) got everyone in and up and going more or less on time. Speaking as a tank, the 5% buff was fairly invisible. As a raid lead the 5% made our raid feel like it was one of the days on which we were clicking and things going well. Marrowgar was 2 healed--the healers (She Who Speaks Horde and a leafy friend) said that the 5% was hugely visible to them. On Lady Deathwhisper I was noticing that the 5% was giving us an 5 to 10 seconds of DPS time on the mana shield--we seemed to average about 25-30 seconds of DPS time between adds.

Sourfang punished us for sloppy execution went down after we adjusted. We also downed Festergut for the first time and downed the extra frost badge boss. Assuming the performance is repeatable that puts me right on 30 badges a week if I am consistent. I picked up the tanking hat too and now have the 2 piece warrior bonus--a 20% bonus to shield slam and shock wave!

Friday, March 12, 2010

SAN 1 to 10 Project: Dwarf Paladin

Trying (and not doubt failing, since I am a 10 year MMO player and 30+ year computer gamer) to put myself into the shoes of a new player and leveling a dwarf paladin from 1 to 8 left me distinctly unimpressed. Paladins are about as interactive as Farmville. Paladin powers are as bad as hunter’s 1-10—when hunters have no pets.

Level 1 starts a paladin with auto attack and…heal! Not needed at all 1-5 when the mobs aren’t agro, I have no AE attacks and we still have the massive HP and mana regen power. Level 2 got me devotion aura—something I have cast once so far, as I haven’t died. It was cast out of combat at that.

As a quick side note, I dinged 2 before I even completed my first wolf quest and had 0 copper. I couldn’t have trained had I gone back to the trainer. 3 and 4 came on nearly as quickly—in a way that I think would have left me slightly disoriented and thinking the effort to level was too easy. Adding to the out of control feeling I had was that some quests were auto-accepting. I had no clue if I still needed to read the quest text, or what the heck was going on. I know I ran out of coin at least 2 more times before 8th.

Level 4 got me 2 powers, Judgment—which I don’t recall here at work—and—the 50% shield wall type ability. Judgment, 1-8, looks like a second button to push in combat, but you would be wrong. You can, and should start your attack with judgment, but that turns on auto attack. Most 1-6 mobs are dead before the 8 second cool down is up, so there isn’t even a second button to push (or decision to be made) in combat.

Here, economically I am barely making it. There are very few small bag drops for the Alliance, and I certainly don’t have the coin to spend before on some extra bag space. Once I learned blacksmithing and was running around with quest items, it wasn’t unusual for me to leave the in with 5—or fewer!-- open bag spots.

The culmination of Anvilmar used to be a big, dangerous confusing cave with a named troll in the back. The mobs, at least for non-peak use conditions, are closely packed, social and, IIRC, have some casters mixed in. Getting the book at 5th or 6th was a non-trivial task—and the first real hurtle a player had to cross.

Now that the cave is non-agro, its just a big, confusing, boring cave that has no risk it. You find Waldo, bonk him on his head, while his non-aggro guards watch, and you leave. While the whole confusing/dangerous cave is problematical (and the comments can equally apply to the orc/troll starting cave, and maybe even the first night elf cave quests) the big, confusing, boring cave is even worse.

By 8th level I finally learned a second ability I might be able to use in combat—the paladin stun. Only to find its on a one minute cool down. I think, after training 8th, I would have strongly considered walking away. I have 2 ways to start auto-attacking, and if the fight goes long I might be able to hit one of those buttons again. Once every 4 or 5 fights I can hit an extra button for a stun.

Sid Meier said that a good game is a series of interesting decisions. The first 8 levels of being a paladin misses making almost any decisions at all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Modest Proposal: 1 to 10 SAN Project.

The proposal springs from the fact that we know 2 things, rather recently: that 70% of the players never make it past level 10 and that we know a lot of bloggers are rolling new alts for SAN. And conveniently we have Horde and Alliance side SANs.

While I am sure that Blizzard is more than capable of reviewing the 1-10 experience themselves, I am sure they would love to hear what we think. So, I suggest we SANners start a blog project--if you roll up a newbie on Argent Dawn try thinking like a newbie and see what you think of the experience. Would you keep on playing WoW?

I suggest we call it the SAN 1 to 10 Project. You can even tag the race and class combo at the end of the title.

Since my blog has all of 1 follower and not too many readers I will forward this on to Tamirand and Miss Medicina.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Single Abstract Noun

I have joined it, at least for some alting, over on Alliance, Argent Dawn US.

Rolled up a paladin, Guthammer, to see if I can learn pally tanking.

I think it's also going to turn into a review of the first couple of levels of auto-attacking, er paladinning.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Would Have an Insightful Post About Wynns Battle Song

Or whatever the proper name of the ICC buff is but Cablevision continued to be completely buttheads and I bailed out of the raid with well over 2 seconds of lag.

It looks like the raid, lacking the normal leaders, still managed to down the first 3 bosses with undergeared walkons.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Threat-Capped DPS

Caer Morrighan pulled out some interesting points from the latest Dev Twitter Chat.

Here's a real gem:

Q. You talk a lot about changing how we heal tanks, but will aggro ever come back as a challenging part of the game?

A. Not sure. This is something we discuss a lot. I even had a meeting on it this week! On the one hand, some tanks really felt like the way to distinguish themselves was to generate maximum threat per second. On the other hand, threat is a pretty invisibile part of the game (it’s limited to the UI at best), and I know when I tank that I always feel pretty emasculated when someone actually pulls off of me. It’s challenging, but is it really fun? This is the kind of thing we’d love to get more feedback on. Please include your feedback on large banners to be shown in the background during the Olympics. Failing that, the forums would work too.

As a tank I think the raids lost something when optimal DPS stopped being about managing aggro and resources and became about twitch reactions to not standing in the fire and and banging out your priority queue properly.

I also think--though I would really want more feedback from DPSers on this--that new tank--who threat cap the T10 geared DPSers anyway--suffer more now than they would if even their T10 geared tank threat capped them.

I think--I mean no matter what a well geared DPSer (unless he is willing to solo a mob (something I encourage in HHoR as a warrior)) is going to have to throttle DPS way more with a new tank than a well geared one.

There is a negative flipside though too--raids are already potentially blocked by tanks not being survivable enough for an encounter--adding a threat cap to raidwide DPS would put huge pressures on tanks to up threat and give them first crack at gear.

Ultimately new tanks are always going to threat cap well geared DPS and I think making all DPSers in most situations aware of their threat and teaching them how to control their aggro would do more to help new tanks than not.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So Long Defense

There have been many electrons spilled talking about the stat changes coming in Cataclysm. Tobold has a great little post on defense--and points to the fact that the defense cap is a "hidden" requirement for tanks. Considering how important it is--don't get slotted for raids without 540, and lots of group grief under 535 in 5 mans--there is nothing, I repeat nothing in game to teach a tank about the importance of the stat--or even clue you into the fact that it makes you crit immune.

Yes, I think there should be some interesting stats on gear, but when you need to run out of game simulators, or massive amounts of theorycrafting and excel spread sheets from hell to figure out if you want ArP or Haste or whathave you stat, there is something wrong.

An informed player (one who has been informed by the game no less-not outside sources) should be able to identify best or near best gear choices with a little bit of thought--but no longer than the decision cycle that Blizzard imposes in the looting process.

Monday, March 1, 2010

O RLY? Authenticator Hacked?

MMO Crunch is apparently reporting that account with authenticators have been hacked with confirmation from blue.

This is actually crappy title making--Tobold's guilty of among others.

There is a key logger out there that will intercept what you type into authenticator dialog box and forward it to the secret masters--while forwarding a bad code to Blizzard. The authenticator is till perfectly secure and the black hats still don't know what number will come up on your authenticator when you hit the button. It is a hack of your PC and the login process not, NOT, the authenticator.

Monday, February 22, 2010

DPSing Naxx

I rarely get to DPS as Guthammer in raids. Its something I decided that I wanted to explore and maybe even master a bit (once I started using the Dungeon Finder and swimming in Triumph badges).

But even in my own charter I get slotted as tank--a lot. Saturday I got do DPS Naxx and without any of the administrative duties either. I have no clue how I did relative to my potential, but came out having done a reasonable 4500 DPS or so, per recount.

I also like to DPS the occasional raid so that I can have some insights into what the other roles are like in game. When I started this I was like "ZOMG! I have to follow the mobs?? They don't always follow me?"--which, you know, is a luxury that you do get as a tank in a raid. Most of the time the mob you want to be hitting will be following you. Handy that.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wait..That Wasn't a Pug

Really, because I saw exceptional PUG like behavior from 3 DPSers on my server, in my freaking raid alliance, some of whom I have tanked for 3+ years ago.


Ok, I get invited by a guildy to a heroic (well actually I invite her to mine, but Reluctant Tree already has a group and She Who Speaks Horde has already done a daily) so I join her group. I find a DK, a second warrior (as DPS, arms) and rogue as we zone into Halls of Stone.

Reluctant Tree is not reluctant because of her skills--I remember thinking well of her healing in BC--but that she's relatively new as an 80 and being focusing on DPS for gearing. We convince her that, barring an ICC heroic, my 39k HP (WTF?? when did I get 39 kHP?) would be enough to do any heroic. The DPSer were at least acquaintances .

And off the freaking rails. Sure we could burst 20k DPS on packs. But Reluctant Tree only had 15k mana. And asked for mana time. I admit I was bad in not checking her mana between pulls myself. While she's drinking, and I am hanging out in back with her, the DPS pulls. And I save their bacon. And she saves mine.

Then rankwatch goes off, telling her that she's using down ranked spells. She asks for a minute to check her spells and learn where her buttons are. And the DPS goes off and pulls again--by the elder this time. And I charge in to save their bacon. Again. This time I blew all my cool downs as I figured Reluctant Tree was still nose in book, figuring out her UI.

These DPSers had mainlined "GOGOGOGO" and gave Reluctant Tree (and me) even less time than they would in a regular pug.

By the end of the run, while RT had managed to not let anyone die (I did miss agro getting on the warrior once, early on and got him flattened) I was one pissed off dwarf. The DPS treated us, or more specifically RT, horribly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ICC 10: Progress and Expectations

Its amazing what different expectations can lead to. She Who Speaks Horde is used to a more stable core of raiders (though I think our ICC10 is about to tick over into a stable composition) while I am used to Breakfast Club's..umm special raiding. BC has a long history for wiping on stuff that we never ever should and finding really weird ways to wipe. BC, as a charter, is very laid back and is a teaching raid (or so we claim).

So we came out with very different feelings about our progress last night. We one shotted Marrowgar (a first for us--saving at least an hour there), 2 shotted Lady Deathwisper--my system stuttered for about 6 seconds between P1 and P2, during which she took the time to frost bolt me for 30k, one shotted the Gunship battle and 1.5 shotted Sourfang. (Ranged DPS disconnected early in our first fight and we leashed him.)

We even had a 2 healer one shot on Precious (though there were a TON of ghouls up afterword) and started to learn the Rotface encounter.

I, used to, as I am, to BC's ways, and wiping for an hour or more on Marrowgar, I am ticked pink. She Who Speaks Horde, being used to progression raiders and consistent sign ups had a higher bar set. I also think she's molding some excellent raiders.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Grind

Most people playing WOW spend a lot of time grinding. Right now, at 80, I am grinding Frost Badges. That means a heroic a day from now until about Cataclysm. I really should be grinding 3 heroics, for my 2 80 alts for primal saronite--but I haven't been that motivated.

You would think that I can handle a grind in any game at this point.

But it all depends on the grind mechanic. I finished off Mass Effect 2 (on the 360) finally, and I have to say that I absolutely /hate/ their grind--mining. You need it to customize/upgrade your ship, your weapons and your powers. Mining, prospecting, fits in not at all with your mission as a super secret agent, a Marine and one of the galaxy's ultimate bad-asses. Wait, I will go save the galaxy, but I just need 25,000 more platinum first.

The real problem is the play unit in the ME2 grind, is very simple and boring. It would be no more than a play element in WOW, but in ME2 it--by itself--is a couple of hours of game play. Its like having to taunt a shield bash a training dummy--for hours. And on the 360 at least, you have to keep a trigger pulled the whole time you are scanning. The game design induces finger and wrist fatigue, since controller also vibrates when you find some concentrations of minerals. And finally the initial scan speed for a planet is way too slow and the improved is just a bit too fast (for me at least).

The sheer monotony of the mining "mini-game" has me so turned off I am really torn about doing a second play through.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking the Blame

So last night was the first raid with She Who Speaks Horde with us and, with my blessing, running things with much tighter control, and better knowledge, than I ever would express. And it paid some nice rewards. While still not quite one shotting Marrowgar, the number of attempts was way, way down. She Who Speaks has good situational awareness and is really spot on. While we need the extra direction at the moment, I don't want to run the kind of raid where the raiders are just the marionettes of the raid leaders will.

I have been quite taken with Itay Talgam's conducting talk and I seem some strong links raiding. I do want my raiders to be their own agents, being force by the contours of the fight into action, not because they are following the absolute will of the raid lead. I want to hear from the when they feel that the way the fight goes suggests some action from them that we haven't thought of or covered.

This, of course, can occasionally lead to confusion. One of our Sourfang tries there was a great deal of confusion over which of the Blood Beasts we were supposed to be killing. We started with the hunter agroing the near beast, but were supposed to have switched to killing the far one and CCing the near.

After that wipe people were getting a bit frustrated and I was hearing 4 voices going in Vent at the same time, starting the play the blame game. It was one of the few times where I did my thing as a raid lead--it was /my/ fault that the instructions weren't clear. The blame, clearly, was mine. So lets res, make sure that my instructions are clear, and kill him.

What do you know, but it worked. Next week we are quite likely to be playing with Festergut.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Be Rude

She Who Speaks Horde has now transferred over to the Alliance on my server, as a deep cover spy, as she says.

Yesterday we ran a heroic Oculus together. She Who Speaks Horde accidentally pulled the Lay Guardian while we weren't all together and I, on my red drake, was at about 2/3s health and we had some whelp agro.

Not surprisingly, we wiped. The mage in our group, oddly enough in the lowest GS (I have finally installed it, as it does give some useful information--but nothing to bank on) said "FFS, a wipe", I asked him to apologize. She Who Speaks Horde owned up to the error. He didn't and someone, I don't know who, started a kick vote for the obnoxious mage, which passed.

So the obnoxiouse mage, got kicked just before the Lay Guardian while we were recovering.
I hope he enjoyed his DPS queue time for his 2 frost. It would have been perfect if his replacement didn't start with a "gogogo" when he got up to the top.

Can't win them all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Changing Relationships: Healers, RDF and Me

(G)TFL had an interesting post about tree hugging. I was going to say that it really hadn't changed my relationship with healers--but he made me think it it has.

Where as players on my server are actually people, thanks to the lack of tools from Blizzard for cross server chat, all others have been reduced to mere numbers. I mean I know they are still people, and I would like to connect at least some of them--but they are only part of my life for these 15 action packed minutes. Not only am I unlikely to see them again, its difficult to actually talk to them once we are done.

I am, if you ask me, catastrophically overgeared for most 5 mans. There is very little that can kill me in i200 dungeons other than stupidity or inattentiveness. My healer is reduced to a mana pool. If the pool is high, I keep on pulling, if not I stop. The DPS, generally, gets even less attention. I don't care about their mana. If they pull aggro they are probably even more overgeared than I am for the instance and can down the mob without my help. Even if it they, aren't, it probably gives the important mana bar healer, something to do.

My mental model for these people has been reduced to some black boxes of heal, damage or tank, with maybe 2 bits of other information--good or idiot, and (if a healer or tank) capable of supporting chain-pulling: Y/N.

RDFs really are soloing together.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Using the Stick

Another Monday, another ICC 10 run. And another test of my "talents" as a raid lead. I run a very open leadership style. If you have a suggestion of how to stomp a boss, I want to hear it. If you sign up, I want you to raid. If you see something I can do better, I want to know.

It can be a good way to raid--when it works. Sometimes, though, the raid lead needs to lay down the law. We were heading to another "special" night of wiping on Lord Marrowgar. I didn't have good sign ups at the time I was doing the slotting--and went with the raiders I had--not the ones I would have wanted. Proactively, and unusual for me, I sent out a private message to those who had signed up, saying why I had slotted as I had and hoped for some melee cancellations. It sounded a bit harsher in text after I read it, but it worked (at least so far, and I didn't get any flames in my mail box afterword).

In the end I did have to lay down the law--but not by ranting and raving but with a simple "Unless I see significant progress on this attempt I am going to stop wasting everyone's time and money here." That attempt was great until the RNG got us at about 20%--dead ranged DPS, spiked healer about a second before Bone Storm...

The next attempt got us Lord Marrowgar (who gave me his tanking weapon!), then a 1 shot on Lady Deathwhisper and the Gunship Battle. And a quality attempt on Sourfang.

So in the end, the threatened stop focused everyone tremendously, and netted much better results. We'll see if that carries to next week too, with good, early sign ups and focus next Monday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Doh! Moment

I was reading Larisa on the PPI about her Saronite Slave when I went, WOW! That is a good idea!

I mean I have 3 80s, Guthammer, the instant queuing, i245 or so tanking warrior, Freydina the paladin (ret/holy--not that I have any clue how to pally heal) and Eirena the priest (holy/shadow atm, but I keep on hearing how fun Disc is from She Who Speaks Horde). Frey probably has enough Emblems of Frost to get a Primal Saronite right now. Eire--I am not entirely sure, but this weeks raid weekly (or maybe weakly, considering the target) is Noth which will certainly help.

Now I am quite dedicated to running one a day as a tank on Guthammer--but that is rarely more than 15 minutes. Then I usually run around doing the tournament dailies while queuing as DPS--that nets me a good 400G a day. But considering that I was just saying I have fallen really behind on with my knowledge as a raid lead, grinding a heroic or 2 on my 2 healers, while upgrading them from the finest of Naxx gear, while getting more Frost Emblem gear for my main is a solution made of win.

Now if only I had thought of it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I am a raid leader in what is likely the largest raid alliance in WoW--Silver Hand's (NA) Leftovers. Though really, we aren't a raid alliance because we don't require any guild membership--if you are 80 and on SH you can raid with us, Horde or Alliance. If we could get you into raid instances before 80, that would be our minimum.

Now, as a raid lead I lead a teaching charter--something to get people geared up and used to raiding. Yes, I do have a bit of a conumdrum with the new LFD tool and what role the Naxx raids play. Additionally we have a slow progress 25 man raid, which just got ToC 25 on farm.

Lastly, I have just spun up an ICC10 raid--where I have flying solo as a lead. This as been a rude awakening. Between She Who Speaks Horde's knowledge of class mechanics as she was observing, and our inability to down Marrowgar with most of a group that got its first Sourfang kill last week I realize I have been slacking.

I still haven't done a good analysis on what was going wrong (DK OT, 44k HP, 3 healers, he would still fall down go boom)--but I am sorely lacking on current class mechanics knowledge and way rusty on log analysis. (Further, it seems that WWS hasn't been updated for ICC--and any recomendations for a log parcer would be appriciated.)

That said I don't think I need to know /everything/ about all the classes--but more about my leadership style in my next post.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

She Speaks Horde

There I am, busily tanking Marrowgar, trying to figure out why the OT keeps on falling over in the dramatic Draenei way, dancing around the ice-ground-thingie, making sure the DPS are staying bunched up when, at the start of one of the whirlwind phases my friend, watching over my shoulder, asks "Have you used Bloodlust?"

Whirl-wind is about over, I and my OT are getting into position, I am racking my brain to remember this Bloodlust buff she's asking about. I dance around more ground-ice-stuffs, calling left or right to make sure the Draenai and I break the same way, and wrack my brain for this "Bloodlust" thing--and am drawing a complete blank...

Back to the whirlwind, finding enough time to ask "Bloodlust? I don't know it..."

"You know, shaman buff."

"Oh! You mean Heroism!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Catastrophically Overgeared

The simple fact is WoW breaks with the gearing level many players can bring into a 5 man. While everyone posts that these new 5 mans are a great way to teach how to group I am not so sure I believe that. Brute force and ignorance is the tactic for the day. (AE damage and utter ignorance about what the mobs being AEed down actually are.)

If you're a DPSer or healer who's learning the ropes in i200 dungeons with i245 tanks, there really isn't a lot to learn. And if you're a healer there might not even be a lot to keep you awake. With Guthammer's ok tanking gear (mostly i245) you're probably getting a tank you can't out agro on your DPS rotations, a pool of hit pints that is nearly double what the original intended tanks had, and a combination of instance knowledge and chain pulling that isn't a "normal" part of the game. And as I understand it, while not quite equally over geared, running the leveling instances you get groups who out level the place in blue gear that was unimaginable at the time the game came out.

I have also been doing instances as DPS, in 232ish gear and I have found I can still catastrophically over gear an instance. Even in DPS gear I have oodles of HP--close to 30k*--more than enough to tank some hits even in berserker stance. If the tank that overgears the instance, I implement the ignorance part of the DPS rotation, not really caring about agro because its not really a problem. Or I get a tank who's undergeared and unable to hold against the AE--at which point my tanking instincts kick in and I find myself soloing the mob that was just beating on the healer.

Lastly there is very little way to continue communicating with a player you might want to take the time to show tanking tricks, DPS rotations or healing strategies. Without cross server communications in the game while having cross server groups Blizzard is promoting the mind set of 5 people soloing together rather than a real 5 person team. If someone drops group at the end of an instance before I get a chance to finish typing...they are gone.

Looking at the typical 5 man PUG, at leas this late in the game of Wrath, the dungoen finder is of limited use in teaching the right stuff for challenging 5 mans. And I wonder just what the RDF will be like with 85s running instances in a combination of questing/leveling gear, old T10 and some T11. It can't be this comfortable, face rolling, brute force steamrolling of instances that we have now--and Blizzard is now teaching its customers is the normal way to do things.

*Consider that tanking the first tier of dungeons probably requires around 23-24k HP, 1 or even 2 mobs aren't going to be a huge problem with a healer who's paying attention.

PS: WTF with Old Kindom? As a speed run its 2 bosses. As a full clear its about 25 minutes. And I have had party members chain drop it. There is nothing wrong with this instance and Blizzard shouldn't nerf the place. I would be happy to see the deserter debuff go up to 30 minutes though.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Great Tanking Shortage: A Solution

The basic problem with tanking isn't that its hard to do, but that it is hard to learn. Not only go you get to fall flat on your face but you get to do it with an audience participation too--including them falling flat on their faces too.

Learning to tank in front of 4 people is hard. Doing it in front of 24 other people takes real determination. I had that kind of moment on the Iron Council. I knew I had to be looking out for blue-stuff and drag the boss out of it, but there were a series of 3 quick wipes that were 100% my fault. The first one was "Oh that is what it looks like!" the second was "Oh! That is how fast I have to react!" and the third was "Oh! That is how far I have to move him!" Even on a ten man you are burning man hours for each trick the tank has to learn by wiping.

The easiest thing Blizzard, or any MMO maker, can do is give tanks an agro generating NPC healer, in a solo instance and mandatory quest. Making it scalable and repeatable would be very good too.

Learning to keep one NPC healer alive is a wonderful, low pressure way to learn to tank--how to get agro, how to collect ranged mobs, maybe even LOS pulling and the like. But the biggest, biggest must is that you do it with an NPC. I bet you it is that simple.

Breaking Gelvon

Gelvon over the Greedy Goblin has a despicable post on how break the social contract of WoW and act like a parasite, leaching time from other players.

He thinks the move is unbeatable by "government regulation" too--but even simple logic gives you a way to eliminate most false positives: the common traits for all queue jumpers is tank leaves before the first boss while having party members from the same server. Odds are low that any random group will have that happening.

Then there are the actions the players themselves can do. If you see someone in your group and has their same server tank leave instantly, vote kick them in 15 minutes (this particularly appeals to me as you get to work them for a while before banishing them before the last boss, and locking them out to that instance out of the RDF) and ignore them.

If you as the tank walking into the group notice that you are replacing a tank before the first boss, see if you can figure out who you bad actor is. Adding them to your ignore list is probably 3 or 4 times more powerful than having any single DPSer do that.

And the last thing you can do against the solo-parasite queuer--which unfortunately also effects the rest of the group--is never queue alone. Grab one other player and go. You will never fall into the hole being left for you by the solo queue jumper.

And never, as the tank, do you have to pull and enable them to get their badges--you can stop until they vote kick you or the drop.

In Praise of Specilization

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Holy Trinity

Often people will decry the MMO paradigm of the Holy Trinity of Tank, Healer, DPS--but to me they seem to be the most evolved and flexible set of assignments that allow people to succeed in MMOGs and play more interesting classes. Tactics--like genes--evolve.

There are two primary factors that tactics are evaluated on--the first is success, the second is time. Time, of course, only kicks in after you group has passed the pass/fail check of looting the boss. As a raid group gets better at an encounter you will see the number of healers used go down (and maybe even tanks) and the number of DPS go up.

Everything in the group (or raid) is focused on beating the encounter. Encounters are beaten with DPS. If a boss was a brick wall that you had to knock over by doing X million points of damage, you wouldn't bring any tanks or healers. Tanking only exists when mobs do damage to the group in some sort of controllable way--the party can get the mobs damage onto some sort of specialist who sacrifices DPS for survivability. Healing only exists if the damage encounter's damage is large enough to kill DPS during the encounter.

As an example, we know, that caster mobs don't need to be tanked in instances if one of the over geared DPS decides go one on one with them (I am looking at you Facestab of Kargath--back in LBRS). This is an expression of the evolutionary pressures of encounter length--as soon as part of or all an encounter does away with the need for a specialist role, it will be done away with--shortening or simplifying the encounter. You see this all the time with raid groups--the number of healers and maybe even tanks will go down, the number of DPS will go up. If you can swap out a non-DPS specialist for a DPS specialist you do.

WoW, with its 10 classes and 30 specs, is more than rich enough to support player groups different than the holy trinity. I will also bet you, as a player, you were twitchy at first, doing whatever odd configuration you were, and then decided that the encounter was too easy because it didn't force you into your specialist roles. Ever been in a run healed by a shadow priest, in shadow form? That isn't a holy trinity group--no healing specialist. I know it made the players I was grouped with twitchy the first couple of pulls doing it myself. And in walking into SM (Library IIRC) I knew I was over geared and under challenged.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rise of the Leet King

Jumping on Tobold's band wagon.

There are some, limited, ways I would make WoW harder--but only because the game needs to teach far better than it does. Its also a "difficulty" that exists in the game for rogues--though only briefly and it may be entirely optional now.

If you have leveled a rogue, in the low twenties you go on a quest to unlock the poison ability. The tower quests are more an unexpected mini-game for rogues that, as a long time MMO player, I found challenging and interesting. Of course, at the same time, I think as a general tool, the poison quest line is a bit too challenging, forcing the rogue to master many abilities in a very short succession. It was hard to do at 20 or 22 (I don't quite recall when I did it (twice, once Horde, back 06? and once on Alliance, maybe in '08)--but it is the right idea for targeted difficulty.

I have sung, repeatedly, praises for LotRO skirmish system for teaching me how to tank with an NPC dependent. While I don't think WoW needs the skirmish system itself, it does need to pull the teaching opportunity and lesson out for their players.

So the more difficult content--in limited amounts--would be to have the players learn their scarier class rolls in a less threatening and hostile environment--gently with a group of NPCs. The reason this should be difficult is the lessons should not be defeated with overwhelming DPS--but by protecting the DPSers, or healing the tank, or controlling DPS so that marked targets are killed in order, meeting some threshold of DPS, without ripping agro off the NPC tank. Forcing the player into their other specs and playing nicely with groups would be the challenge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prot Warrior DPS

I have a more substantial post (or maybe even 2) talking about specialization--but it just isn't coming together well at the moment. The ideas are there, the words aren't.

So something about tanking and raiding. Monday was the first time I raid tanked since I became aware of the of the great tank DPS disparity. ICC10. And boy was it there. I haven't run the WWS yet and the DK was better geared (about a tier ahead), but I suspect by the end of the night he had 1000 more DPS than I did. Considering that we had 3.4% wipe on Lady Deathwisper and a 560 HP (yes 560 HP) wipe on Marrowgar, I really, really want comparable DPS--particularly when I am not being beat on.

In some ways, tanking is a role of sacrifice, giving away the big DPS numbers for survivability and allowing the raid to succeed. There is little more demoralizing, as a raid lead, than to realize perhaps the best thing you can do for your raid is not slot yourself or maybe your class and role combo. The DK above, had about 5000 more HP buffed (45k vs 50k) and while I am normally the lead tank, I stepped aside for him. I am glad I didn't have another tank like him that I could have slotted in my place.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tank Questionaire

From Falling Leaves and Wings a really good post about tanking for the first time.

Need to find where I got this meme from and link...when I get home.

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

I usually do 2-3 5 mans a day, a 10 man ICC and a 25 man Naxx and ToC.

What is your favorite tanking spell for your class and why?

I have to say I loved charge since the level I got it (as a warrior) at level 4 or 6. With Warbringer letting us charge in combat its even better. My favorite way of getting agro on a pack is a charge (for body agro, a stun and rage), a thunder clap and then, a second or 2 later, a shockwave. Charge, though is the most fun and the ability that lets that happen.

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?

Challenging Shout--something has gone horribly wrong if I pop that.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?

Mostly that the longest playing tanks in the game are warriors and have a huge amount of knowledge about the game.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?

Not to sound like a whiner, but from what I have read lately there isn't anything. DKs and Pallies have AE advantages, bears have huge HP pools and all 3 put out lots more DPS than prot warriors. Considering we had a wipe at 560 HP on Marrowgar yesterday, along with a 3.6% wipe on another boss, I want that extra 700-2000 HPs.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

MT/OT--we have lots of threat generation and--like paladins--we really need to be hit to add to the raid.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?

I am going to cop out and say its really the player. I think warriors work best with DKs as I think DKs can bring a lot of tools that make warriors stronger.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?

Other warriors--not that I dislike it--but you can't really cover each others weakness if you're both the same class. But I am far more about bringing the player first, the class second.

What is your worst habit as a tank?

Out pulling my healer. I have gotten so used to overgearing the 5 mans that I forget to see how the healer is doing.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

Can I get 2? Not hitting the marked mobs has to be number one--particularly in PUGs. Number 2 has to be non-tanks walking in front of Marrowgar.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?

No. Weak AE, supposedly weak EH (haven't read enough tank theorycrafting lately to confirm that), weak DPS. That said, I think I can tank anything (what tank doesn't)--but I don't want to be the obvious worse choice. I am supposed to be helping my raid, not hindering it.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

First and foremost, Vent and raid chat. I will ask did I do something to make me go *sploot*--or miss something that caused them to. After that it would be Omen, Recount and WWS.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?

EH. Regular steady damage is easier to heal than huge spiky damage. That is why worse tanking bears were the tanks of choice in places like Gruuls on first kills. Yes they too more damage than the other tanking classes, but they had the huge health pools to get healed back from those hits.

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?

DKs. Though I haven't tanked on any class besides warrior. Maybe I should.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?

None ready. I have an intervene one, but I don't use it often. A health stone one, so I don't have 3 different buttons. I keep on hearing good things about tiny plates.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

Given a choice I will slot stam gems, assuming I have reasonable amounts of hit and expertise--but I am the sort of person who find it hard to say no to item bonuses too.

Tanking: Barriers To Entry

Continuing my economic analysis of tanking in WoW (and it probably applies just as fully to healing).

A barrier to entry in economics are factors that keep you from entering a market where otherwise you could make a profit. They are the one time costs you a player has to pay (or overcome) to start tanking but that someone already tanking doesn't even notice.

Considering that MMOs have always had a shortage of tanks (and healers) its surprising that WoW's design has such high barriers to entry for tanks--higher than even EQ. The barriers are: class, spec, gear,
knowledge, skill and psychology.

Lets say you're 80, on your first WoW character, and finally decide you want to tank. Chances are that you stuck right there. In WoW 6 classes can't tank (mage, rogue, warlock, hunter, shaman, priest) and 4 who can (warrior, paladin, death knight and druid). If you want to tank you have to give up your main character and start a new one. To add insult to injury, very little of what you have earned on your main will be useful to starting a new character (though more gets carried over now than before).

So lets say that our random 80 is one of the 4 right classes to tank--the next question is do they have a tanking spec? Do they have a talent spec that they can get to, to tank? Has this character gone back to the old world to train/retrain? Or have they spend the 1,000 gold to get their dual spec? In the log run, dual speccing is the better choice--so this barrier would be 1,000 gold and a trip back to the old world.

Ok now we have our random 80 with the right class and spec--but they still aren't able to tank: you need the right gear to tank: instead of damage gear, our player needs to have spent time and money to have a set of tanking gear. Even with defense out of the picture in Cataclysm, tanking gear will look significantly different than DPS gear: more stam, more armor, dodge and parry and it will be gemmed and enchanted completely differently. Mind you the optimal behavior--until you decide you want to tank--is to sell off or disenchant all that tank gear.

Ok now that our tank wannabe has passed the class, spec and gear we're ready to roll, right? Wrong--the player behind this tank needs knowledge. Everything from what his class skills are, where those buttons are on his UI, and what the cool downs are like to knowledge that leaks over into other barriers: do you know what a good tanking spec is? Do you know where to find one? Do you have enough HP? Armor? expertise? Hit rating? Resistances? (And more I am sure I have missed.)

Having passes all those checks--our tank still isn't ready: we need to know if this tank has the skills: does he know where his taunt button(s) is? (G9 on my keyboard). Does he know how to use his class skills in tanking situations? Does he know about pulling? Patrols? Looking out for healer agro on agroed ranged mobs? What about the pulling possibilities his group brings with it? LOS pulling? Staying top agro on 5 or more mobs? That he even has to stay top agro on most of the mobs? Does he have the situational awareness to respond quickly to changing situations?

And the, having satisfied all those prior checks--you have to ask is the player willing to take on the awesome responsibility for taking the fun and time of 4 other players in his hands? Rarely, I am reminded of what it is like to tank for the first time and get a set of nerves when taking on a new instance or boss. I doubt that is comparable to what people think of tanking for the first time if they know the game already--and how fast you can get feedback.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How Tanks Are Like The Interest Rate

Gelvon has an interesting but flawed post while doing an economic analysis of tanks in WoW.

He maintains that tanks are getting "paid" enough in game to be tanks. What he misses are the roles of the lower zero bound and policy interference distorting the market for tanks (disregarding my arguments from What does WoW teach? for the moment--we'll play in Gelvon's ideal, rational, economic garden.)

The Random Dungeon Finder and the Interest Rate have the same lower bound: zero. Queuing up for a dungoen can't get any faster than instant. The "market" signal breaks at zero. It can't reward me any more than an instant group--it can't give me a minus 5 minute queue time that might be the real (though absurd) number to plotting out supply and demand curves. Just like the current interest rate can't go lower than 0, even though the Taylor rule implies something like a -5.6% interest rate.

Then there is the severe policy distortion depressing the demand for tanks. There are basically four group-play styles in WoW: solo, group, 10-man and 25-man. Each of them employs an ideal percentage of tanks: solo: zero, groups: 20%, 10-man raids 20%, and 25 man raids--8-12% (2-3 tanks in 25s). The value of tanking is strongly devalued in both solo play and 25 man play. Assuming that all tanks are "acting rationally" and want to tank 25 man raids so they can get the best gear a rational analysis leads them to choose another role. If we have a "full employment" tanking rate in groups and 10 man content, there will be 50% unemployment at the highest levels of the game for tanks. (In fact, the reason I am learning to DPS on Guthammer is so that I can, eventually, break into a progression group--trying to get a tanking slot for an established group is neigh impossible--even with 4/5 T9.33 tanking gear.)

In the current design of WoW--ignoring barriers to entry (like the psychological issues of the previous post, or even having a tanking set)--
tanks are getting a much weaker demand single than the ideal market of groups and 10 man raids are setting due to limitations of the instant queue times in the RDF, and severe demand dislocations in both the solo and 25 man raid portions of the game.

Now,to think of a solution, preferably a "fiscal" one--that doesn't give rewards to tanks so that long term they end up queuing less.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Does WoW Teach?

Priest With A Cause brings up an interesting point about what WoW, or any game teaches you. Combine that with some of the better Oculus criticism we have seen lately and WoW--and most other MMOs--fail to teach 90% of the important stuff to players. And 95%+ of the information to maximize performance isn't available in game--if not more.

Let's look at 2 specifics:Weapon damage and grouping. Weapon damage is 3 numbers, damage range, speed and DPS. Which one of those numbers is the most important? A casual playing friend always equips for the biggest damage range. In fact, with significant exceptions, DPS is the most important number, delay is next and damage range, as far as I know, least. But that doesn't tell you anything about the hidden mechanics. For example, back in the KZ days, I was tanking with the dagger off the Prince.

Why? Because it was a significant upgrade to my then tanking weapon and I had forgotten the completely hidden nerf in dagger mechanics causing them to have a completely different scaling than all other 1h weapons. (I even remember reading the patch notes, after the fact--but ignored them--my low level rogues had the proper mechanics to use daggers, even with the scaling nerf, and my warrior didn't use daggeres...)

Now do a normal mode analysis, if you will, of all of WoW. Normal mode, for all characters is solo DPS. This teaches one set of skills--and as easy as soloing in WoW is, not to a very deep level. The basic test becomes a pass/fail test of can you kill the mob faster than it can kill you. WoW (or any other MMO) gives you no warning that the game changes completely at max level. There is no gentle introduction to group mechanics. Just like Oculus drakes, if you are taking or healing for the first time, there is no "light" version--you are responsible for everyone else in your party using a set of skills that are no where near as developed as your DPS skills. You may be using stances or full talent builds that you haven't looked at before, using skills that you don't normally use, may have spells in bad positions on your hot bar--or not even on the hot bar at all.

WoW Dungeon Finder doesn't really help--you are still completely responsible for the party and, as likely as not, you're going to end up in a group that face rolls through the place--either because your tank overgears the place stupidly, not really stressing you as a healer, or your healer and DPS will work around you as a newbie tank. Or you will just wipe because the DPSers are just used to overgeared tanks and will open up with hard hitting AEs.

The one game that I have seen so far to offer role training (but nothing about proper gear and enhancement selection) is the new skirmish system in Lord of the Rings Online. There too I play a tanker--a guardian. I couldn't have told you where my tanking buttons were or what a competent agro rotation was before the Skirmishes. After two or three skirmishes with a pocket, agro generating, but not going to bitch at me NPC healer, I had a much better sense of how to tank in a group in LOTRO. I quickly fell into the habits of a grouping tank--making sure I had agro on everything, paying attention to ranged mobs, making sure I had an AErs away from the healer.

I am a confident tank--I have tanked since EQ, and I raid tank in WoW, from MC to ICC. Sometimes in progression content, often not. I consider myself a good tank--not great--but good. Just from those couple of skirmishes, protecting my NPC healer, I feel much closer to that level of confidence in LOTRO that I have in WoW. I now know where my agro abilities are, I now know their cool downs and now I have a good idea of their effects. And I am much relieved not to have to do all that learning and confidence building with 4 or more other people waiting for me to make a mistake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Quick Thought On WoW Healing And Tanking

People are talking, a lot, that tanking and healing in WOW (or probably any MMOG) is harder than DPSing.

Doing any of the 3 jobs well requires a high level of knowledge of the game, game mechanics, probably the instance, and good situational awareness. Good play is good play is good play.

The fundamental difference is tanks and healers have to take on responsibility--in full measure--that the DPS does not. DPS can choose to take on that responsibility--should they want to--but its not mandatory. And some facerolling PUGs won't allow it--everything just gets AEd down without regard to anything like strategy, execution or responsibility.