Halloween Gift

Halloween isn’t exactly the biggest holiday in creation — if you raid with primarily 16-24 year olds, it might not even make a dint in your evening plans; however, if you raid with people with little kids at home, or a gregarious neighborhood tradition, a weekend Halloween might knock out 25 mans for the weekend, leaving you stranded wondering “What to do?”

Last night was one of those for PK.  With no hope of conning 13-15 other people into joining us we slimmed down to 10 players and looked at what to take down.  First on the list was ToC-10 — good practice, and a quick easy raid.  Things went really well, and with a little extra work Salt & Pepper would have been ours!  After that we trekked over to Ony-10 and did another quick treasure grab.  Then we had to decide — what to do?  By this time it is 9:30 server and our raids usually end at 10:30.  Our main tank has an obligation (spouses like to be picked up from work it seems) at 10:30, leaving us with either only an hour, or with a semi-extended break with nothing to do.

For the hell of it, we decide to work on The Undying in Naxxramas.  Whenever someone goes squish, the raid will be done for the evening.  If you haven’t completed it yet, or missed Naxx in current progression, it requires that every player in the raid live on every single boss in the instance within one lockout period.  Ulduar’s rules are different, allowing you to keep your raid alive per boss and mixing and matching between lockout periods.

We decided on the hard boss first strategy — Construct –> Plague –> Military –> Spider.  Things went smoothly through construct.  Heigan was easily vanguished in plague wing, and then one of our tanks had to /afk to get the wife.  The raid sits around and has an easy-going conversation while we await his return — then he d/c’s because he’s been afk so long… no problem, he’ll be back soon, right?  Finally, we decide to move on without him — someone has checked, and the only requirement is to be a current member of the raid when KT goes down where no one has died — you don’t actually have to be present for every boss kill.

And that ladies and gents, was the highlight of the drama for the night :P Most groups that I’ve been attempting Undying with absolutely crack when we go to face KT.  Every time a void area spawns, 4 people are yelling at you to move.  When iceblocks occur, same thing.  You become a jittery mass of nerves, wondering who is going to yell at you next — and honestly, you can’t help it that he targeted you to be a big block of ice, right? right???

However, not a whisper from this group.  If someone was targeted, the raid leader just said their name — no panic, no frantic instructions, just a general raid announcement.  When the adds spawned, the off tank identified his taunt target and smoothly brought him over to the boss, switched back to kitty, and all was well.  And the night ended with that wonderful achievement sound and we all flashed green — The Undying!

Not every day that your 25-man raid night turns into such a great 10-man success — You can all laugh at my guild lust now ^^

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Chain Lightning

Awhile back, Llyra introduced an elemental shaman, Tristan Trustyn Johnson, to Healing Way — and I got a challenge that I have been to lazy to complete until now.

The Question

With changes in 3.2.2, is it better to chain lightning on cooldown or just after Lava Burst?  If so, should shamans be respeccing in order to pick up the 5 points in Convection, reducing the mana cost of our most used spells by 10%?

The Experiment

I think no — I’ve run the charts, and I don’t think the risk vs. reward (mana consumption vs. increased damage output) is worth the payout of running chain lightning every cooldown.  If you’re curious where to find this information, go check out the SEICspreadsheet for elementals over at ElitistJerks.

I decided to test it in pseudo action, I’d try myself out on the target dummy with both styles.

  • No non-shaman buffs were used in this testing.
  • Shield: Water
  • Weapon Buff: Flametongue
  • Fire Totem: Totem of Wrath
  • Earth Totem: Strength of Earth
  • Water Totem: Healing Stream
  • Air Totem: Wrath of Air

I ran each test twice in order to give some semblance of validity to my tests.  Keep in mind, I am in my best elemental gear, but it is not best in slot by any means (i.e. I have some obvious healing pieces).  I’ll try to log out in it so you can see my personal shame :P

Anyway, on to the test!

Chain Lightning Following Lava Burst

Test 1

Max DPS: 3011

OOM: 2:34

Test 2

Max DPS: 2998

OOM: 2:32

Chain Lightning on Cooldown

Test 1

Max DPS: 2934

OOM: 1:54

Test 2

Max DPS: 2847

OOM: 1:50.

Conclusion

Chain lightning on C/D fails for me personally.  Not only do I spend more mana, but I also fail to see a DPS increase at all.  While I’m willing to concede this is more likely due to my failure to execute the rotation faithfully, OR a problem with my gear, I just cannot see the justification for a talent change or a restructuring of my standard rotation.

I’d love to hear back from anyone with different results or more success with either option.

tag

X-Perl Unit Frames, Part Two

We’re back for another look at the X-perl options menu.  Part One was a general overview of what X-perl is, but now we’ll start tackling the different things you can do.  Since most options are binary (yes/no — you either want the feature of you don’t) I will take our time to explain some things that are not binary, or that may seem confusing to those new to addon configuration.  Remember — X-perl is one of the simplest frame configurations out there — DO NOT let all the check boxes daunt you.  Simply look at each option and decide — do I want that or not?

Global Options

This pane has options that will affect all of your frames.  You can scale the size of all default frames up or down using the sliding scales on the left hand side, as well as set a texture for health/mana/xp or disable it all together.

Remember, everything you do here will be reflected across all of your frames (player/target, etc.)  If you want 4 out of 5 frames to show you the information, set it up here, and then go fix that one individual frame that you do NOT want that information to appear on — it’ll simplify your life and keep you from flipping to every tab.

Things to Consider

1. Save Settings per Character

This should be your first decision — do you want every character to have the same setup, or will you be individualizing your frames for tank, heals, or dps?  If you are not sure, I highly suggest that you save settings per character.  If you decide you want to copy most of your settings to a new character, you can still do that, but you will not accidently mess up your main’s perfect configuration when you pop on your alt to do some grinding and move your target frame to a different location.

2.  Range Finder

Located at the bottom of the global panel, range finder allows your frames to fade out if you have a group member out of range of your spells.  If you don’t care, leave this option off (set by default) because range finding does take up some of your computer’s resources.  If you are a healer, I would strongly suggest that you accept this option.  When you enable range finder you can choose whether you want the ability in 5-mans or just raids.  You can also choose how you would like it to appear (whole frame/name, etc.)  In the next column you can choose the range at which frames fade.  If you want to base if off your shortest spell (or item), just click on the big spell button and choose the spell/item you wish the addon to base your range from.  OR you can simply select a flat yard distance.

3. Status Highlighting

The favorite feature of almost every person new to X-perl.  Status highlighting makes your raid frames light up like Christmas trees when… well that’s for you to decide.  Status highlighting generally only covers buffs you cast (hots/PoM) and Aggro.  If you do not have these options or just don’t care to be notified in a VERY visual way if you have a renew on someone, then leave it unchecked.

Player

Options here will only affect your player frame — i.e. you!  The standard setup will show a 3d portrait of your character, class icon, level, buffs, debuffs and a cast bar.  Reputation and experience bar can be added if you wish.

Things to Consider

1.  Cast Bar

By default your cast bar will tell you the name of the spell you are casting.  You can select additional options that will enable you to see the delay on your spell (generally due to latency) allowing you to begin casting your next spell sooner.  You can also add the overall time of your cast — I generally prefer this so I can tell how my haste stacking and buffs are affecting my cast times.  You can also choose to position your castbar in the same space as your character name — I prefer this because it slims my player frame down a bit.

2. Healer Mode

Healer mode changes the way that your health is displayed.  Standard display for X-perl is 800/800 HP in the player’s health frame, with percentage of maximum health shown to the right.  However, healer mode offers 3 alternatives:

Deficit/Max: Displays current missing health and max health possible.
Deficit: Displays ONLY current missing health.  When at full health, no number will be displayed.
Cur/Max/Deficit: Displays your current and max HP in the health bar, with your current missing health where the percentage of max health usually resides.
 
3.  Buffs

How you handle your buffs on or around your character frame is a very personal choice.  I personally find 40 buffs and debuffs around my character panel too chaotic, so I try to trim this down.  Also, be aware, that all the check boxes under player buffs –> player debuffs affects both your buffs and debuffs.

Pet Frame

A lot of familiar options here.  If you have a hunter pet, you will want to pick up pet happiness.  Pet target is an additional frame that will show what your pet is currently targeting.  If you’re new to a pet class, you may find this useful — especially if you are a hunter and actively use your pet for a tank while you work on another mob.  Otherwise, I would generally turn this off because it’s just one more frame to flash information at you.  Likewise, I find hit indicators (under pet frame) to be more information than I need.

Target Frame

Other than yourself, the target frame is the most important piece of information on your screen.  Like the player option menu, it also has the most options in order to provide you the best information in a limited amount of space.

Things to Consider

1. Hit Indicators

Hit indicators show the damage being inflicted on a NPC or PC.  You can choose to not have this information shown on the frame, show all damage, or show only your damage.  When I’m dps, I love this — I also know raid leader’s who swear by it, because it gives them a general indication of the flow of the dps on the boss during a fight.

2. Target's Target / Target of Target's Target

Target’s target is on by default, however, target of Target’s Target is not.  Honestly, at one point, I did use ToTT and I can’t for the life of me remember why, but if you have a valid reason for wanting that information it IS available.

3.  Big Stealable Debuffs

My favorite option in the target screen — only useful for limited classes, but freaking AWESOME.

Focus Screen

Your focus screen is now a showing of standard choices except for one thing — the ability to show your focus AND their little dog too.  If you want to allow your focus to display the player/NPC’s pet as well, you can do that with X-perl, the only unit frame addon that I’m aware of that has this option.

Hopefully you know a bit more about X-perl and how to function for soloing.  We should have one more article in the series to wrap it up, but if I am currently missing anything you have a question about, feel free to contact me through my link or by e-mail e-mail.

tag

To Be Continued in Part Three: Parties, Raids & Personalizing Your Frames

Why I Read Your Blog

Let’s face it — World of Warcraft has grown into a huge community over the years.  While early blogs helped disperse information, now there are many tools including forums, item databases, guild databases — the list is huge.

Why then would I want to spend my day reading a blog?  I’m getting much of the same information I can get in 4 or 5 other places.  The answer is perspective.

When you read someone’s blog about anything — a change in-game, a quest they are highlighting, the class they play, a pug they experienced — you get a unique look into someone else’s view of the game.  You don’t always agree with it — heck, many times I post because I think there’s a flaw in the viewpoint — but the point is, you have connected on a personal level with another person whether they know your name or not.  Reading blogs connects you in a very personal way with the gaming community in a way that is difficult to synthesize through other medium — forum posts generally try to be somewhat shorter than your typical blog, an in-game conversation can often take place in the middle of other activities somewhat diluting its impact, news information sites aim to give you news without judgement of the impact on players.

When I am looking at a new blog and trying to decide whether I really, really need another site to check what I consider relevant and irrelevant may seem surprising, but I think, in all honesty, are true to most people who read blogs. Continue reading

I’m Not Dead Yet!

So you see, if you’ll just get me out of this sticky situation I happen to have found myself in, I’ll happily make it worth your while….

And so starts the escort quest.  Invariably the NPC is surrounded by a bevy of monsters just waiting for him to emerge from whatever crevasse he’s managed to squeeze himself into and munch happily on whatever body part happens to swing in their general direction.  No problem!  I’m an adventurer, saving people (unless you’re Valask and prefer burning down orphanages) is part of the job description.  And there’s a shiny piece of loot at the end too — I mean, how can you pass that up? Continue reading

A Week as Windsoar

Upcoming Posts

First, a note.  I have not abandoned my raid frame projects — they are just quietly collecting dust in my draft folder until I have a bit more time to work on them.  X-perl should take another post (maybe 2) and then I’d like to feature grid because, frankly, I use it :P After that I’ll do a Vuhdo post for all you new users of that shiney new toy.  I also have some restoration shaman work to do, because it seems that has become my main at the moment.  Now on to other news.

Achievements and More

For the first time ever (read that — ever) I have completed all the requirements for a Holiday Event.  I have had many mains, and even more alts over the years, and not one has a completed holiday achievement — shocking, huh?  However, Windsoar is now proudly a member of the Hallowed, and is enjoying her time flitting around the world on her broom ‘o doom.

I’ve also managed to PuG my way into much of the content — I’ve managed to down VoA 10/25, Onyxia 10/25, and a few bosses in Ulduar 10/25.  My gear is starting to look pretty snazzy, and I must say, it is nice to be matching for a short time in my WoW career (shield included!)

Again, another first, I managed to be on the winning team of every battleground offered at this time.  You cannot know how thrilled I was to finally be able to turn in THAT quest — it’s been hounding me since 79!

New Horizons

I am also currently in the application process with a raiding guild on Scarlet Crusade.  While the folks at our current guild are nice enough, I don’t actually feel like a member of the team, because, well, there’s no team — they don’t run heroics, BG’s or raid together on any kind of consistent basis, and I feel somewhat at a loss on how to spend my WoW time (probably why I managed to get a holiday event done, but that’s not the point ^.^)

So, I went guild shopping.  I must say I’m kind of old fashioned, so I only apply to a guild at a time.  I chose the current guild based on their current content clear (they haven’t gotten Yogg down yet either, which is a plus to me, since I didn’t get her downed before I left my tank behind).  There are well-established on the server, and the current GM has been handling the guild management since 2007.  They bill themselves as a casual raiding guild — and to me, they fit in that gooey spot between hardcore and casual that I like — nice people getting together to down ugly monsters without a lot of guild drama on the side.

It has been a different application process for me.  I filled out an online application last week (which they haven’t updated since BC which made me slightly leery) and then I waited.  And waited.  Didn’t it say 2-3 days and someone would at least send me a “hey?”  So I got antsy and started sending online guild members /tells.

Hi, I’m a new applicant and I wanted to check on my application status.  Can you direct me to the right person/place to do that?

I tried the GM first — no response.  Ok, so she was in molten core, but I figured I wasn’t being a pain in the ass quite yet.  I went ahead and threw the same tell to another guild member online thinking, maybe she’s taking a dinner break.  Turns out I nabbed her husband, and I immediately get a /tell from the GM.

I’m the person you want to talk about your application!  Sorry I missed your tell.

Oh goodie, I feel better already.  A hands-on GM.  That could be good.  She proceeds to tell me the history of the guild, that my application looked fine and dandy, and that they were really impressed that I liked pie.

At this point, I’m asking what they’re looking for me to improve gear-wise.  I’m not fully enchanted (Hodir dailies are not my friend) and I figure I’m gonna have to make a bigger contribution in this department before I can see a raid.  And she says — nothing.  We’re more interested in the player — we can improve on gear.  I just sat and smiled.

I haven’t been accepted yet — I’m still guilded with my casual guild — but I have been running raids with them this week and so far I’m very happy with the situation.  Onyxia was lagging so bad on Tuesday that instant cast spells would be cast, and then you would count to see how long before they actually hit.  And there was no crying, whining or blaming Blizzard, but a let’s-see-how-it-goes attitude that was a delight to be a part of.  I’m really interested in seeing how their raids go in actual progression (for them and for me) before making my final decision.  But so far, so good.

tag

Chain Who?

So Llyra over at Healing Way decided to build herself a plugin to Grid called ChainWho, and I thought I’d help her broaden her base of beta-testers because

  1. It actually works as intended with zero problems so far
  2. It is pretty nifty

If you’re not a restoration shaman, this plugin is not, I repeat, not for you.  You should never have more plugins or information than you need with Grid, so please, please, please, don’t pick this up unless you’re actually a shaman.

What the addon does is provide you a visual indicator showing you how many targets your chain heal hit.  Chain heal is a great healing tool, but unless you are hitting a significant number of your allowable targets, it can definitely be a waste.  By lighting up the number of hits when you cast chain heal–at say, the mage in the back–it lets you know whether that mage is conveniently clustered with enough other people to really deserve that chain heal.

Llyra suggests setting up your ChainWho to show on the outside border of grid.  I followed her suggestion (mainly because I don’t have anything but aggro showing for that spot) and it lit up beautifully wherever my chain heal landed.  It also did not persist for an unreasonable amount of time, so by the time my next chain heal was fired up and ready to land, the previous indicator had already faded (if I think of it, I’ll time it or maybe Llyra can tell us how long she set it for).

Either way, if you’re new to the magic that is chain heal, or just more fixated on your frames than the relative positions of people in your raid, this could be a great plug-in for you.  If you’re a tank healer, and you just spam your chain heals in one location only, not so much.

Currently this plug-in is in beta testing, and is only available directly from Healing Way. Please remember, like all add-ons in beta stages, that errors can occur. Edit: Now available at WoWInterface.

Thanks Llyra!  And enjoy!

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Adventures with Fail-tank

Now, it’s been quite some time since I attempted the tanking role, but I’ve known enough tanks to know a few things about how it should be done.  Last night I decided to help out a guildie on a HCoS run, to try and get someone a pretty lil drake.  Things seem to be going well, with the tank that we Pugged for it.  (And I’m going to be nice and NOT link this idiots armory).  Then we get to the first boss, Meathook.  Now, Meathook is an abomination, so not entirely pleasant to look at, or to smell I’d imagine.  So you can understand why we, the casters, would want to be as far away from him as possible.  Nevermind the fact that he has an AoE attack that interrupts spell casting, and keeps you from casting a spell of that school for about 3 seconds.

So imagine my surprise when Fail-tank drags Meathook back into the spellcasters for… no discernible reason.  After we kill him, and I point out that you really shouldn’t pull him back into the spellcasters, he responded with “lol w/e”.  This was warning sign number 1.

We divide up the loot, and I ignore my misgivings, and we continue on.  Well, 4 of us continue on.  As we all forge ahead to tackle the next spawn point, Fail-tank decides to hang back and let the rest of the party engage.  Not just that, he runs forward to make it LOOK like he’s going to engage, but then backs away without actually aggroing anything.

Let’s examine that again, shall we?  He moved forward to TRICK the rest of his party into thinking that he was going to do his job, and then backed away to let us all die.

So, the dialogue that follows after that, between the two of us is a doozy.  “Next time, don’t go ahead of the tank”.  “So, wait, you let everyone die to make a point?”  “Yes, I did.  And making me lead so I could mark would be a good idea”.

And then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, he hits us with the next one before we can respond.  “Now make me lead or I’m out”.

I’m sorry, but what?  You agree to tank a timed CoS run, and then you pull this sort of childish crap?  I’ll spare you the insults that were spewed from Fail-tank after we tried to reason with him.  Although I did find it amusing that he told me that I needed to grow up.

We eventually managed to finish the dungeon, after our hunter swapped to an alt, and the healer convinced one of her guildies to come help us as dps.  We were nowhere near the timer, so we missed out on the drake.  And I’m not sure that our tank was even defense capped for heroics, but honestly, she was STILL a much better tank than Fail-tank.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the most badass player out there.  If you’re a jackass, it doesn’t matter how many lil purple shinies you’re decked out in, you’re still a jackass.  Some people, just can’t be helped.  That’s why we have ignore lists.

valask