Friday, September 30, 2011

Raid Finder details released - double raiding remix?

Blizzard released some of the initial details about the upcoming Looking For Raid (LFR) tool, which is scheduled to launch with 4.3.  While I was hoping that a different raid would be designed for the LFR, a scaled down version of the Demon Soul raid will be the only available option at the start.  In a way, this makes a lot of sense, especially when you take the recent Firelands nerfs into account.  There will also be reduced pressure on learning a new raid that isn't available in a normal environment.

Tell me about what matters - the loot!

Right now in Firelands we're getting 378, 384, 391 and 397 gear, with the standard 13 iLvls between normal and heroic, and 6 iLvls for Rag.   Much like the 1/2 step we saw between regular heroics and Zulroics, I can certainly see the LFR handing out 397 gear - just like Sinestra's loot was around the same iLvl as starting Firelands.  I full expect to see 397 from LFR, and then 404 and 417 (with possible 1/2 steps from Deathwing) from normal and heroic DS.  All sounds fine, yes?

Not necessarily.

The first alarm bell that starts ringing in my mind is that the LFR will also drop tier tokens, even if they are slightly lower iLvl.  So now you have a potential situation lining up where raiders can be expected to not only raid the standard Demon Soul, but also use the LFR to pick up slightly lower gear.  While this may not be as big an issue for your top tier guilds that already have full Fireland heroic gear, I'm betting that there are still some slots folks would like to upgrade.  So here we have a similar situation to ICC/ToC 10/25, where you had to run both raids every week, just to make sure you were getting as much loot into your raid group as possible.

This isn't a real issue for a 25m guild, where you can control (to some extent) how the loot is handled in the LFR - but this becomes a bigger issues for 10m guilds that are trying to get a few extra drops for the week.

Need before Greed shenanigans

So now my question is, how will the loot be handled in Tank/Healer/DPS situations?  Based on what I'm reading right now, it looks like it will perform just like the LFD.  If you can use it, you can roll Need on it.  So there will be ample opportunity for some shenanigans to take place - especially since you can queue in a large group.  As it stands now, you can roll into the raid with anything from a single player to a full 25m raid group. As long as loot is still tradeable between raid members, I can certainly see an entire group rolling Need on an item to increase their chances of getting it to the person they want to have it.

While this type of thing can occur anywhere, I think the anonymity of the LFR will take the asshattery of LFD to a whole new level.

So will I use it?

I really don't know.  I imagine I will give it a go with the guild as much as I can, and I'll probably throw my Paladin into the mix just to see how it plays out.  I have to hope that enough checks and balances will be placed in the system to make it at least semi-decent.  It certainly won't hurt to get some extra practice on bosses, and a lot will depend on how nerfed the encounters are.  I really hope that they don't turn the LFR Deathwing into a nerfed Shannox on the first day.

Tier set bonuses - still a work in progress

If you know me well at all, you know I feed on the tears of those that nerd rage about things that I consider to be inconsequential, or at the very least - not worth raging about.  Near the top of this list are rants about changes on the PTR, especially in the early days of the PTR.  

All Paladin healing has been reduced by 25%, and mages will now spontaneously combust and take 3456 damage per second of being within 100yds of a Warlock - friendly or hostile.
Now if that was a real patch note, what do you think the odds of it actually going live are?  You can bet money though that a handful of folks would read that and set the proverbial forums on fire.

Love those people.

Legitimate theory-crafting

Now it's certainly permissible, and encouraged even, to put forth some solid theory-crafting and speculation towards anything you happen to see - that's the beauty of having a public space to talk.  Having said that, let's look at the two set bonuses that I really care about.

First, the Paladin.  The new 2pc bonus is similar to all the other healers - 25% reduction in mana costs to all healing spells cast for the next 15 seconds.  This is really sweet for us, because it's triggered off of Divine Favor, which increases our haste and crit - so when we really need to pump out the heals, they're cheaper.  This is a lot nicer than the Druid or Shaman bonus - they have their cost reduction tied to their mana return talent.

The 4pc bonus is a little iffy, though it will depend a lot on how the proposed changes to Holy Radiance pan out.  Right now I generally cast this on CD anyway, so 20% more healing isn't something I'll say no to.  With the new changes making this a concious choice to switch into an AoE healing mode, I think this will be even better (especially with BoL transfers and Mastery hits).

And the Warlock.  When I first looked at the Warlock bonuses, I had a small fit.  First even though the Doomgaurd is pretty powerful, it's still a 6 minute CD with the bonus.  Now if the fights are long enough that you can get two full uses out of him, well then that makes this a pretty amazing CD.  If not, it's pretty lackluster.  Sure the demon does some great DPS, and it's nice that it's a fire and forget type buff (cast the demon and keep doing your thing) - I just think it's kind of unimaginative.

The 4pc bonus is a nice DPS boost every 45 seconds, and the recent change certainly makes it better.  Soulburn an instant Soulfire, and you get a shard back with the 4pc set.  Affliction locks may want to still use Seed of Corruption if they have the talent, since this will reapply Corruption when it detonates, and gives you some AoE damage as well.  It's not an instant cast though, so casting a fire spell may actually be a DPS increase - that's something we'll have to sim out later.

In the end

I expect to see a few more changes to the set bonuses between now and when the patch goes live.  As much as I would have liked to see the patch go live without a PTR, this is one of the big reasons why they exist.  A lot of little tweaks and changes will take place between now and the go live date, though I do hope they don't draw this out too long.

If I was a betting man I'd count on at least one more round of changes to the tier bonuses, and 2 or 3 balance changes to the notes already posted.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I don't PTR/Beta

Betas, PTRs and Demos oh my!  Space Marine, Battlefield 3, SW:TOR, Diablo 3, WoW 4.3 PTR - you've got your pick (yes, I know Space Marine is live - and it's AWESOME) of games to select from.  I'm sure there's a bunch of others available as well, these are just the ones that have caught my attention.

Now, there are certainly differences between a demo, beta, and PTR - but they're all basically designed to do one thing.  Whet your appetite for the real deal.  Some do it by giving you a (hopefully) polished taste, and others do it by letting you help to test out the upcoming content.  Either way, it's a great way to get a feel for the new stuff by playing before the full package is released.

Too much too soon

One of my biggest issues with these is that you start burning through the actual content early.  One of the biggest complaints I hear about games is that you run out of the "new" too soon.  Well by participating in the free play, you're just burning through it that much faster.  You also spend your time playing in an environment that may be less than stable.  While instability isn't limited to non-live environments, it's certainly more prone to bugs and issues.

Now if you're actually interested in testing software and actively reporting bugs, then by all means please continue.  I appreciate your efforts to make my experience better.  Personally though, I do enough testing and trials at work, and I'm compensated quite well for it.  I don't feel that getting access to content early is enough to justify the work that I would want to put into being a proper tester.  There's also something that is kind of disappointing when you know that everything you just did, you'll have to do again when the game goes live.  I get enough of that just leveling alts in WoW, thank you very much.

Demos save you money?

I know some people play demos to help make a decision about the games they want to buy.  While I can appreciate this, I'm generally either sold on a game long before it's released, or I show up to the party 6 months late.  I was mentally commited to buying every game that I have on my list (BF3, TOR, D3, SC2 Swarm) long before a beta was even announced.  I love Star Wars, Space Marines, and the previous Diablo and Starcraft games.  Until a company lands a giant turd on my desk, I'll usually stick to a few specific producers.  Of course I didn't really like ME2 or DA, but who knows - I'm really hoping that Bioware delivers with TOR.

In the end

At the end of the day, these just aren't for me.  While I'm not severely limited in the playtime that I have, I'd much prefer to actually progress my character than spend time in an environment that will soon reset, and I'll have to start again.  I have no illusions about ever being a Masters SC2 player, getting a world first WoW kill, or topping the kill charts in BF:BC2 - I'm just looking for a few hours of entertainment.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Warlock 4.3 Patch Notes

Shadowbolt has a new spell effect.

Well, color me excited!  This is almost as huge as Felfire being green.  HUGE.

Honestly I'm sure there's more coming, once part 2 of the balance changes is released.  There appear to be several interesting changes to the Paladin healing mechanic, including changing the need to judge from 8 seconds to 30 seconds.  It looks like overall there are going to be some decent changes, which are usually met with mixed feelings.  Everyone loves to be buffed, hates being nerfed (scissors are fine, nerf paper), and learning new mechanics (or how to incorporate the changes) is always interesting.

I'm looking forward to seeing 4.3 come out, though I hope we're not looking at 8 weeks of PTR.  With SW:TOR announcing the 20th as their launch date, it would be pretty poor to have 4.3 wait that long.  I don't care about it interfering with TOR (I'll be picking that up regardless), it's just that another 3 months of Firelands instantly sucks at my soul - especially given the recent nerfs.  Going from 2/7 to 5/7 in one week is awesome, and I love killing new bosses.  Farming the same 7/7 (or 6/7 with H-Rag work) for 12 weeks is not something I'm looking forward to.

Here's to a new spell effect for Shadow Bolt.


Friday, September 23, 2011

What if there was no PTR?

So last night, after the nerfs had been live for about 2 days, we got our 2nd kill on Alysrazor which really put a shine on the nerfs.  First kill last week ended with our mage ice-blocking at about 3kHP while DoTs finished her off.  This week - we finished her off with 2 healers dead.

So the nerfs helped, and I think this is definately pointing to new content coming out "soon".  We're 4 weeks away from Blizzcon, where we're going to be dazzled with Diablo 3, SC II Swarm, and the latest patch stuff.  Now, this is kind of a mixed bag, because there's two giant WoW announcements that have to happen at the same time.

First, there's the Demon Soul patch.  The culmination of the Cataclysm encounters, we've already been shown  some information on the Deathwing encounter.  Now while there's nothing saying that they couldn't cut the raid until after 4.3 has been out a while, the odds are good that we'll see it launch on time.  So, Blizzcon will probably be used to preview this raid pretty heavily.

Second, Blizzard is probably going to give us a good view of the next expansion.  I can't imagine that they'd wait until spring/summer of 2012 to announce the new xpac, and waiting until Blizzcon 2012 would mean close to a year (or more) of 4.3x being live.  That's way too long, and would result in some kind of SWP or worse Ruby Sanctum type filler raid.

So what to do?

I would really like to see 4.3 launch without a full PTR for it.  While this has the potential to present us with some buggy encounters in the raid, it's not unprecedented for Blizzard to release gated/winged content, giving them more time to finish the polish on the Deathwing encounter.  Since the raid is only 7 or so bosses though, this seems like it would be some really small gates.

Blizzard was also recently hiring game testers for in house testing, which may indicate that they are at least doing more internal testing.  We know that fights are released broken even after weeks of PTR testing, so I wouldn't be 100% opposed to no PTR.  It would help keep down a ton of spoilers and would bring back some of that feeling we had in MC where there were no real strategies or videos to watch at the beginning.

My bet

I'm pretty sure that we're going to see 4.3 launch extremely close to Blizzcon, like the Tuesday immediately following.  With D3 and the SC2 expansion coming out later this year/early 2012, it would be a good time to announce the next expansion as well.

Here's hoping for no PTR, and Demon Soul going live in just 4 weeks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Initial thoughts on LFR

The first thing I did when reading about the new LFR tool that would work like LFD, but on a 25 man scale is punch myself right in the throat, with a quick knock to the nuts.  Why you ask?  So I would be adequately prepared for the pain that this feature will be bringing to WoW.  I think a car battery hooked to my tongue would also help.

In theory

When you first look at what the LFR is intended to do, it seems like a really good idea.  Decent ilvl gear, supplemental tier gear, and the opportunity to raid in an environment that is tuned easier than the existing raids.  I support all of these ambitions, and think that ad-hoc raids are an amazing idea.  Imagine, being able to learn how raiding works, without being in a guild that raids!  Just like the LFD, this tool will give players who want to raid - but can't for whatever reason - the opportunity to do so.

Providing they can survive the asshattery.

I mean, let's be honest.  While the LFD is a huge improvement over the 2AM "LF Tank for Daily Heroic" search, you can't do a Google search using the word "fail" without getting 15k hits on LFD nonsense.  I am a huge, HUGE, fan of the LFD, though I have to make sure my sanity meter is set to 11 before I start a run of them - especially at the heroic level.  My god, can you imagine the epeen crowing that will be taking place here?

What I hope it has

First, I pray that there's an efficient way of getting rid of LolArthasDK tank who is in 333 blues and doesn't know the difference between Death Grip and Death Coil.  DPS that can't move from the fire, because that's what healers are for.  Etc, etc.

I hope that there are 'teaching' mechanics there, and that it's not just a super nerfed version of some content.

I hope there are rainbows.

Holding out hope

I'm going to hope that Blizzard does this project fairly well, because it does have the potential to be an amazing feature in the game.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

T12 Nefs - bring em on and quit your crying

As I'm sure you're well aware by this point, Blizzard has announced that starting next week (well, the week of the 19th) all the T12 content (supposedly H and Reg) will be nerfed.  The expectation is that this nerf will be in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 percent, both to the boss's health pools, and the amount of damage that they'll do. 

Unprecedented?  Hardly.

In ICC they rolled out a progressive 30% buff to player HP and DPS/HPS.  While this buff would enable you to possible progress past a boss that you previously had been unable to defeat, it didn't make the content LOLSTOMP.  As Kurn pointed out in her blog, you could still wipe your raid with a badly placed plague or unchained magic explosion.  Of course you could tell Hellscream to go climb a tree and turn the buff off, but the buff was still there.

It seems like this isn't going to be an optional nerf to Firelands, and personally, I'm glad.  IMO giving the ability to turn a buff on/off just leads to a whole other level of drama and bullshit in your guild.  What gets me is some of the overwhelmingly violent objections to this nerf.

Well here's my excessive support

First, let's establish one standard/fact/baseline.  Either normal raids are the standard, and heroics are "something extra for the hardcore", or heroics are the standard and normal modes are something you have to progress past to get to the real content.  Doesn't matter which one you decide you're for, because Blizzard has already stated what it is that they want.

Normal raids are the content, heroic modes are the extra content for those that want to work at it.

Not everyone is supposed to clear heroic content (supposedly) and I guarantee you that this nerf won't suddenly boost a guild from 1/7 to 7/7.  No a chance in hell.  If you can't move out of Rag's hammer now, you're going to still die to it at 20% less damage in the future.  Even if this nerf is a straight flat 20% reduction to ALL damage done in the encounter, you're still going to have to learn the mechanics.

Tied in with this though is the boost to guilds who run sub-optimal raids.  I'm talking about guilds that don't stack to get every buff, don't swap out main-spec DPS for that 3rd healer and instead have them going OS DPS - or still three heal.  Guilds that still have members who need the boost of extra healing, because they bring members who can't figure out how to do the Alysrazor tornado dance.

This is not Vanilla

I tell a lot of stories about "back in the day", but you know what?  That's what they are.  Stories.  Like my dad telling a story about getting beat in school for using profanity.  For better or worse, schools don't work that way any more.  The same thing with WoW.  This is not the WoW of yesteryear.  I spent many, many, painful nights trying to force my way through BWL and AQ40.  In BC I moved from guild to guild trying to find one that met my timezones and was actually progressing - imagine if we'd had these nerfs back then!

In Wrath, when the group that finally formed joined up, it was with the goal to a) never miss content again and b) strive for server firsts.  We did that through Ulduar, ToC, and ICC (I'm still pissed Tirion is on my statue).  By the time Cata came out, our lives and goals had changed.  By the release of T12, we'd pretty much moved on to other guilds and games.  In fact my deepest regret in the disbanding of TI was that Monger and I didn't get to finish out T12 just 2 healing everything.  

What I'm trying to say here, is that the average raider isn't interested in wiping 400 times to get a boss kill.  If we're honest with ourselves, the majority of the player base probably wasn't interested in that back in Vanilla either.  If they were, we'd have seen a lot more guilds getting into Naxx, instead of the 2 or 3 per server that we really had.  Instead we saw guilds breaking at the entrance to BWL, never mind the Twin Emps.  We went from being able to let a full 1/3 of the raid sleep through MC, to needing everyone to pay attention in the start of BWL, and AQ40 jumped the difficulty right through the roof.  

Where the wheels came off

By accident or design, Blizzard has designed a game of instant gratification, and they are now forced to keep up that premise.  There are any number of places to point at and say "This here, this is what killed it", there's no single point of failure here.  Heroics dungeons in Wrath were easy at the start (with very few exceptions like Loken), and by the time Ulduar was out they were pretty laughable.  By the end of the content they were horrifically easy - a 180 degree shift from heroics in BC.  

Achievements were introduced to give you that feeling of "I did it", when really all you did was hit level 10.  Whoop dee fucking doo.  Hey you bought a mount at level 20!  Here's an achievement to let the world know you managed to mount a pony and ride it around the yard without falling off.  You bought bank tabs - YAY!  With this type of instant atta-boys being tossed out, is it any wonder that content is being nerfed early?  

As much as I love the LFD tool, this was another change that helped push us to this point.  Now I absolutely LOVE the LFD.  For all the mouth breathing, drool sucking, keyboard turning, foul mouthed racist asshats that we get to deal with - we get the occasional great run.  More importantly, I don't have to sit in Dalaran/Shatt/Org/where-the-fuck-ever spamming "LF x for ABC run - PST".  Now I can keep farming, let the LFD pick me a group, and be whisked away to my run.  Hell, I don't even have to know where the damn dungeon is.  In, out, and on my way.  

At the start of Cataclysm Blizzard tried to bring things back to the BC days.  Dungeons were difficult, heroics were absolutely brutal, and the cry for nerfs was heard round the world faster than you could say "Told you so".  In my experience the average player can't be bothered to wipe once or twice, much less take 18 seconds to either admit they have no clue what the fight is about, or to explain it without calling them a useless fucktard.  Oh noes, the tank doesn't have the fight memorized and isn't in gear 2 tiers above the current content, and the DPS is doing 9k DPS - GTFO and L2P NOOB.

And that ladies and gentlemen, has led us to where we are today.

The idea that we should have it all

Somewhere along the lines, it was decided that everyone should be able to access all the content in the game with a moderate amount of effort.  Designing spectacular raids that 1% of the player base will see just doesn't make financial sense, so we got the heroic version of raids.  Heroics were supposed to be the pinnacle of the end game.  Yeah, you can beat Arthas, but can you beat him on super+ hard mode with x% more badstuff?  This was genius in theory, because it let all the "I'm just interested in seeing the content" players actually "see the content, and it gives the Paragons and Stars of the world something to race for in world firsts.  

Now what happened though is that the average raider got it in their crazy mind that heroic content should be for everyone.  You might link this issue to gear, or prestige, or epeen - but either way, it happened.  I personally think this is crap, because the average player isn't willing to do what it takes to actually accomplish the heroic content.  They want the kill, but they don't want to have to force Jimmy the Bad, or the Horrible Wife to sit out.  They don't want to be forced to grind VP on multiple toons, carry the "perfect' professions, or grind out Archaeology until their eyes bleed because the BiS trinket or weapon comes from that instead of raiding.  

Making sacrifices and hard calls

While that style of play isn't wrong, it's wrong to think that they should have access to all the heroic content.  I wanted to kill Sinestra in T11, but I wasn't willing to do what it took to get there.  I didn't want to play in a guild with more than 10 people - so we had to run with the players we had.  We didn't want to raid more than  six or maybe eight hours a week - so we did what we could as we could.  We didn't want to extend lockouts,  farm guild levels, or any of the other things that we might have done to get us to 13/13.  Instead we hit 5/13, said that's enough, and took some time off till T12.  

And this is what it boils down to.  I think it's awesome that my current guild is 1/7-HM, is really close on a few others, and all while keeping a good roster of players that rotates.  We dont' stack buffs effectively, we don't sub out or swap players, and we rotate everyone throughout the week.  I love it, and I respect that the leadership has stuck to their guns on these topics.  We're either going to get it our way, or we're not.  

I approve, and I respect it.  I also have to say that expecting to be able to go 7/7-HM while doing that may be a little much.  

What I'd rather see

Personally I'd rather see Heroics left alone, and nerfs to the regular mode.  I'm OK with the possibility that I may never see Ragnaros walk outside of a YouTube video.  I'd love to do it, I'd love to see us pull it off without any nerfs even.  I'm also secure enough in my epeen that I'll still take a nerfed kill.  Hell, I'd still do Sinestra if I get the chance.  

I don't want to see an option to leave the buff on or off, and I do agree that increasing player DPS and HPS/Stam is very different than just nerfing the HP and DPS of a boss.  At the end though, it's still a nerf.  I don't think this is going to "kill WoW", and I don't think this is a last ditch effort of anything.  What I do think is that we're about six weeks away from Blizzcon, where we should be seeing announcements for the next expansion.  I'd like to think they're just playing 4.3 close to the vest, but that's probably not the case either.  We'll probably start seeing some raid information trickling out soon, especially since we're getting Tier previews now.  


In the end, this isn't Vanilla, this isn't BC, hell it ain't even Wrath.  It's year seven (eight?) of a MMOs life, and things are bound to change.  You can't walk uphill both ways to school, with no shoes, in the winter, and without a coat even forever you know.  Eventually you're going to get some shoes, maybe a bike, and hell - maybe move to someplace warm.  They're nerfs, they're here, and I don't think it's a bad thing.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On substitutions - and Healers getting the shaft?

One of the tough things about having a blog that your guild mates know about is that it can be tough to have two separate opinions on a subject.  Today's topic was inspired by some discussions going on in our guild right now, and I'll say up front that while I may not agree with the decisions that may come out of the discussions, they aren't discussions that need my input.  I'm not a healer here, so any talk about healing strategies doesn't really concern me.  When it comes to decisions about running a raid, once again - if my input is asked for I'll give it - but at the end of the day I'm just a raider, not an officer or the Raid Leader.

Damn, this could be a post on it's own.  Short version here is, while I may not agree with all the decisions, I support them and respect that they've been made.  Having said that, I'll get on to my real points today.

Raid Substitutions

Back in the day, and more so in BC, raid substitutions had to occur pretty regularly in some guilds.  In Vanilla you might have been happy just to have 40 members for a raid (or 20 for the ZG/AQ).  Unless you were a big guild (or farm night for us), you didn't have more than that showing up anyway.  When raids dropped to 25m in BC, you started seeing more players being subbed in for specific fights.  More/less AoE, different tank types, etc.  While a lot of it depended on how progressed your guild was (chasing server firsts vs server 81sts), a lot was based on what someone read was the right way to do a fight.

There's another type of substitution that occurs as well, and that's based on loot drops.  Some bosses are notoriously stingy with certain drops, and depending on your roster rotation and the fickle nature of loot - you might never see that upgrade you're looking for (shields, weapons, and trinkets are notoriously bad).  I'm sure we all have at least one tale involving a missed raid, and a specific piece of gear dropping, and never being seen again.  Except when someone opened the trade window and taunted you with it.

Unfortunately, these types of substitutions are a pain in the ass to deal with.  Depending on your guild culture, your RL probably spends a fair bit of time every week dealing with scheduling issues already.  Between making sure that all your players have an opportunity to see/kill all the bosses, meeting day off needs, and dealing with last minute misses - the RL has a lot on their plate.  Adding in the additional stress of making sure that Bob gets in for a specific kill is pretty much just asking for them to eat the muzzle of a gun.

In addition to the bother of having to keep track of who needs to swap when, changing out players can be a big hit to momentum.  This isn't as big of an issue in a 25m if you're just swapping out a single player, but in a 10m it can be a big hit (especially if it's a tank or healer swapping out).

Now I will state that there is an exception to my general dislike of substitutions, and that is when the players take the responsibility of subbing out themselves.  This includes everything from making sure you coordinate the swap appropriately (right bosses, etc), to being right outside for the swap.  You also have to make sure that you're willing to swap out for the other guy, and even be willing to give up your regular night if necessary. Of course all of this has to be run by your RL before you try and pull it off.

I'll type that again for the reading impaired.


I really can't stress that enough.  If the RL says no subs, that's the end of the conversation.  Period.  Will it suck if a drop gets wasted?  Sure.  But this is one of those situations where you have the option to either just roll with it, or vote with your feet.  Don't get sour about life if the decision doesn't go your way - just soldier on.

Healers get the shaft - again (still?), or working as intended?

More and more I believe that Blizzard really hit the nail on the head with 10m raiding.  Most of the 10m Firelands (Baelroc is the only one I'd wonder about) can be two healed right out of the gate.  I've talked before about the differences between two and three healing content, and I'll stick by the notion that it's certainly up to your specific group.  There are some distinct benefits to both types of play, and it really doesn't matter which one you do.  Most bosses are perfectly fine with the 2 tank, 2 heal model - which works well since that's what you need for two 5 man groups.

Where things take a twist though is with heroic mode bosses.  I firmly believe that not everyone is meant to go 7/7 heroic in this tier (or 13/13 in the previous one).  Heroic mode fights however are completely different.  You cannot simply adjust your DPS order or tank rotation and call it good.  DPS requirements are generally sky high, and the encounters are fairly tight for all parties.  Healing has to be spot on and higher, tanks have to be right on the mark with CDs, and the DPS needs to just pour it on.

More importantly though, the DPS has to avoid every scrap of incoming damage possible.  You cannot stand in a blaze, miss an interrupt, or let your head slip up your ass for a second.  If you have a personal CD, you have to use it.  Self heal?  Better cast it.  Losing some DPS for a few seconds to either avoid damage or heal yourself back up is completely worth it.

Now, what this will eventually lead to is most groups being forced into a two heal model to meet the DPS requirements.  Either that, or you're going to spend a lot of time getting your DPS geared up to the point that they can cover that sixth DPS.

This does a number on guilds that run a three heal model for two reasons.  First, the odds are pretty good that their healers don't have a DPS spec/gear/experience to do competitive DPS.  What this means is that the odds are good that one of your healers, someone who's put in the same amount of time getting you to this point, is now sitting out for another DPSer.  This can put a lot of stress on those healers, because they're basically being punished for playing the class you needed.  Guilds have broken up over smaller issues than this.

Now this discussion is currently happening for us, because we're running into some issues with heroic progression.  Is it a healing issue?  A DPS issue?  Who knows.  What I do know is that knee jerk reactions to change the makeup of your raid is a dangerous thing.  Personally, I think that if you're not hitting an enrage timer, you don't change anything.  Now if you don't have the DPS to kill mandatory adds or the boss, it's a different story.  Then you have to make a swap.  Again though, if you do this your DPS loses any cushion that they might have had for mistakes.


Can't stress it enough.  If your guild switches form a 3 heal to a 2 heal fight, you cannot stand in the giant big for one second without using your own heals/CDs to get through it.

Remember - it's not your call

Finally, remember that if you're not the RL, or maybe an officer in on the discussion, once the decision has been made, that's it.  Let it go, and don't keep pushing an issue.  The officers and RL have enough on their plate already, they don't need you taking an issue beyond a discussion and into the petulant child realm.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ask Mr. Robot - What are you doing?

I love Ask Mr. Robot.  I really do.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent thousands in reforgeing my gear, or that I’ve swapped out gems/chants just to please that little optimize button.  No, where I scratch my head is how the stat weights actually are computed.  Now normally I have one simple rule for doing my reforge.  Hit to 17% > Haste > Mastery > Crit.  That’s it.  It’s really similar to my standard Paladin reforging.  Haste > Mastery > Crit.  Sure, I’ve played with heavy Mastery builds, or looked at high crit builds, but once I find something that works, I usually stick with it.

Mr. Robot throws that right into the frigging blender.

Now I will admit that it’s a bit more of a challenge with a DPS than the Pally.  Keeping that 17% hit mark is a fine dancing game, and I’ve probably reforged my Darkmoon card two dozen times since starting in Firelands.  It’s just so much mastery that can be swapped out, it’s a big bump.  With the Pally it’s generally look at a piece of gear.  If Haste = 0, reforge something to haste, otherwise, leave it alone. 

Here’s where I run into the /headbang moments with my lock. 

See, I regularly raid with two specs, Demo and Affliction.  Personally I like the feel of Affliction better, but some fights (H-Rhy and Rag right now) require that I be Demo for one reason or another.  For Rhy it’s the awesome AoE, and for Rag it’s the fact that without being Demo, I have exactly zero stuns for the sons.  OK, so that’s fine, but where Mr. Robot throws me a wrench is that even though both builds value Haste > Mastery > Crit (according to Mr. Robot), they value them at different rates.  So in one build I might be told to reforge 3 pieces, then I’ll log out as Demo and be told that 9 pieces need to be swapped.  I “KNOW” that the plus/minus is minimal at best between the two, but I often forget that I’m logged out as Demo instead of Aff.  It’s just mind boggling that there is such a difference, when ranking wise the stats are the same – they just have different values.

After more than one trip to the loan sharks to pay for my reforge, I pay a bit closer attention to how I’m logged out before getting the Robot’s opinion.  Personally I find the tool to be invaluable for getting me as close to the hit cap without going over – and completely irritating when I’m not paying 100% attention.