Archive for the ‘ /failcheck ’ Category

Status report, Mr. Spock – also, how do I use this cooldown?

I’m aware I haven’t posted here in what feels like forever, but that’s just the way things are, I’m afraid. I’m not the kind of blogger who can assure you they’ll have something to rant about at least once a week. I’m steadfastly dedicated to ensuring this blog stays on the topic of World of Warcraft, with possible deviations for other related MMOs, so if I’m not feeling the “itch” to talk about something, then there’s only so much I can put here.

To recap what’s happened between then and now, we’ve successfully crossed the bridge into the realm of 4.2 – aka, the Firelands. Far Riders successfully downed Cho’gall pre-patch, and on our first day post-patch, we downed Nefarian and Al’akir (despite it being our first attempt at Al’akir at all). On our last raid night, we got the pat from hell (also known as Shannox, I hear… but I prefer my name for him) down to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2mil HP. I admittedly wasn’t paying his health as much mind as I was systematically popping all the cooldowns I had for myself to level out any incoming damage and to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic death for my companions. I obviously didn’t succeed in that regard ^_^’

How exactly do I use cooldowns?

But the “systematic popping” of my cooldowns brings me to a topic that’s been bugging me lately. I’ve recently been assisting a guildie with their tankadin alt, and on several occasions, the topic of rotation for both spells and cooldowns came up. I gave her my opinions relating to spell rotation (and also pointed her to Rhidach’s site, since he was a big help to me when I first began as a paladin tank), and in regards to cooldowns, I provided a simple answer: “Just be sure you’re not using Ancient Kings and Divine Prot at the same time.” In reality, the truth is much more complex, and the proper use of cooldowns can make or break you as a pally tank. In my personal opinion, the sheer variety of CDs we have is what makes us the most versatile tank on the market, but too often, I see folks using these skills post-damage instead of in anticipation of a huge hit. This article sums up the topic I feel, but to put it in my own words, we have the toughest job in the raid: being clairvoyants. We need to know the fight, and I mean know it well! While there will always be a degree of flexibility to fights, thanks to our good friend RNG, there’s an underlying flow to how fights work, and tankadins need to use that to pick where there CDs will have the most effect, and then put them into play.

A good example (that most people know by now, I’m sure) is Nefarian’s Electrocute – otherwise known as “crackle.” The activation of this ability is easy to anticipate, as long as your raid’s dps is steady, and there are numerous things pally tanks can do to help their healers out here. For the raid itself, we have Divine Guardian, and while 20% doesn’t seem like much, you can easily prevent ~25k damage to your nearby raiders; this naturally requires some positioning on the tank’s part, but that’s half the job, I’m afraid. For ourselves, we again have Divine Protection, but more importantly we have Ancient Kings. Like I mentioned above, the key is to NOT use these abilities together, as their damage reduction doesn’t stack. And while many tankadins would argue that we should be using Divine Prot on CD, I’d argue this isn’t the case in some fights. Following the example of Nefarian, it can be awfully tempting to use the ability on CD for many portions of the fight, but you can smooth out your incoming damage (and make your healer’s life easier!) if you focus it’s use. I tank Ony in phase 1, and I find the best time to use Divine Prot is for her breath attack and/or when you have her turned for her lightning attack. The breath is massive damage and during the turn, it can be more difficult for your healer to keep you up, so using this CD for either will help them immensely. Another applicable CD for the breath, if you have the correct trinket, is to pop your Mirror. This provides a large magic resistance boost, which can easily be the difference between life and death, if the situation is dire.

Paladins also have several abilities that many wouldn’t inherently call a “cooldown” but can certainly serve in that capacity, given the right situation. One such ability is Avenger’s Shield, due to it’s interrupt capability. Yes, we still have Rebuke, which should be our “go to” interrupt, but on fights where interrupts are important and interruptable spells occur often, we need to manage when we use AS. Cho’gall’s Conversion is an excellent example of this because most of the classes that have long range interrupts don’t have one that has a measly 15sec cooldown (less, if Grand Crusader procs). Besides the interrupt ability, we also need to be sure to use a grand crusader proc’d shield AFTER we use Crusader Strike/Hammer of the Righteous. After all, if you miss with CS/HotR, then you’ll get no holy power but can fill the 3sec gap with the AS (which gives you holy power even if you miss, or so I’ve seen). If you used the AS first and followed with a missed CS/HotR, then you’ll have 3sec that you have to fill with a non-HP generating ability.

Word of Glory is another spell that many wouldn’t consider a cooldown; in fact, many paladins felt it was nothing but a nerf, when Blizzard added the 20sec cooldown. Although I do agree that it nerfed are ability to be an “off-healer,” I want to point out that this makes it much more important to manage when we use the skill. If you know that a big hit’s coming up, then can use WoG; even if you’re at full health, you’ll put a shield on yourself thanks to Guarded by the Light.

Divine plea serves as a two-fold cooldown. It replenishes our mana, which is the same use it has for ret and holy paladins, but as prot, we have a bonus use thanks to Shield of the Templar: it’s a holy power cooldown. When fully spec’d into Templar, we get 3 holy power from activating Plea. What does this mean? If you need mana, then you should aim to use Plea when you have no holy power, giving you the maximum benefit of the HP gain – that saves you from having to generate it through CS/HotR/AS!

The most recent addition to our arsenal of cooldowns is the controversial Holy Shield. Patch 4.2 changed this from being a buff activated by CS and HotR (also WoG, if you specced into it) to being an activated CD. This article covers the topic expertly, but the quick and dirty explanation is to use this in the same way I mentioned above with Divine Protection. Although you CAN use it every 30sec, I’d argue the best method is to use it when you anticipate heavy physical damage coming up.

Last but certainly not least, we have Ardent Defender – aka, the “OH S#&%” button. This ability mirrors Divine Protection, but it’s added twist of saving you from a near-death experience means you should NOT treat it the same. The trick here is, once again, to anticipate how the fight works and to pop this ability when you know you’re about to die. Falling back to the example of Nef’s crackle, then you should use this ability if you know for a fact that Electrocute will kill you. Be sure to alert the healers that you used the ability (use a macro, call it out in Vent/Mumble, etc), so they know they don’t have to use their own CDs in an effort to keep alive through the crackle.

To sum it all up, tankadins have the cooldowns to survive nearly any bad situation, but we can’t use them effectively if we don’t know when to use them. Learn the fights by heart, know their ups and downs, and you’ll be an unstoppable force.

Wait, there’s more?

The other issue I see some paladins making (not just tanks, but holy and ret pallies as well) is the proper use of their seal. No one seal is a catch all, and like our cooldowns, having the right seal up is a matter of knowing each seal’s strengths and weaknesses. So, in the interest of helping my fellow pally tanks, here are the seals I use and when I use them:

  • Seal of Truth: The single target threat seal. Use this seal when you need sustained aggro on a single target. When this seal is glyphed, it’ll also add 10 expertise to your stats. This is one of the highest stat gains you’ll ever get from ANY seal, so unless you’re expertise capped and don’t need it (which I would argue you shouldn’t be, but that’s another topic altogether), then you should look into this glyph.
  • Seal of Righteousness: The multi-target threat seal. This seal works with any melee attack, which includes the physical component of HotR. Also, it works with seal of truth’s glyph as well, meaning it still grants the bonus 10 expertise.
  • Seal of Insight: The mana seal. This one is often overlooked or used incorrectly, so I want to clear the air here. If you’re starting to get low on mana, then the first thing you need to do is use judgment in a blank spot between HP-generating abilities, regardless of the rest of your rotation (never use it in place of CS/HotR though!). Next, you should use Divine Plea, both for the mana regen and the instant Holy Power. However! If you’re still low on mana after all of this, then swap seals to Insight (again, you’ll want to wait until you’re between HP-generating attacks like CS/HotR). Using judgment with this seal active restores MASSIVE amounts of mana, and you’ll be near full mana again in no time. Once you’re in an acceptable mana range, then return to either Truth/Righteousness as applicable.
  • Seal of Justice: I can’t think of any situations for dungeons/raids that you’ll want to use this seal as a tank. The few situations where you’re tanking only one add will usually be hindered by the add being slowed. Cho’gall’s Corrupting Adherent, for example, needs to get to the back of the room (or wherever your raid leads them) fairly quickly, so using Justice would be a bad idea.
As I said before, never switch seals in place of CS/HotR. Holy power is invaluable, so you’ll never want to lose a chance to get it! Otherwise, the key here is assessing the situation you’re in and picking an appropriate seal.
Good luck!
If you have any questions about anything I’ve written here or about something I failed to address, then please feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’ll answer as soon as I’m able!

Gaming and learning

There’s been a lot of talk about incorporating gaming into learning, and without hoping onto a soapbox, I want to affirm that I believe STRONGLY in the power of video games both as a teaching tool and as a power in the entertainment industry. With that said, I propose this: if you believe in the power a video game has to impact the life of a child, watch one (or however many) of the following videos, and do whatever you can to spread the word about this school of thought. We make the future daily through our actions – help steer it towards a future where learning can be fun again.

/failcheck: Mitigation and Expertise Caps

There’s been a lot of forum posts about this and/or related topics, but today, I’m posting to say that I’ve actually managed to meet the mitigation and expertise cap simultaneously =D. Thanks to the Porcelain Crab trinket I acquired recently and copious amounts of testing various reforgings with test dummies, I officially have the following mitigation stats: 11.58% (dodge) + 11.61% (parry) + 53.5% (block) + 5% (base miss chance) + 21.47% (extra block from porcelain crab’s mastery proc) = 103.16% mitigation (the cap is 102.5%). When I first equipped and used my crab (doesn’t that sound wrong?), I was actually in the 106-107 range, so I cancelled any reforging of hit to dodge/parry, then based on the information at Elitist Jerks that expertise is the most important stat after mit cap, I reforged my hit to expertise. I was able to manage 16 expertise, so by using Glyph of Seal of Truth, I can reach the expertise cap of 26 as well!

In the couple of heroic runs I’ve done since reaching this goal (I haven’t had a raid yet, since I’ve had to perform in three concerts this week, preventing me from going), I’ve noticed that I seem to be taking in less damage overall, but it’s hard to tell, since I don’t maintain logs of my damage intake.  However, I do remember that I pulled just under 8k in regards to damage, which is between 1.5-2k better than previously, so that’s a very clear improvement. I would probably be taking less damage, if I were using Seal of Light still, but I’ve been using Truth to keep up 26 exp. Overall, I’m very pleased with where I am stat-wise, and I thought I’d pass on my results to you all!

Quick screenshot of Neh at (technically, just above) the blockcap.

Failcheck: Stam or Mastery?

***Note: this article is geared towards paladin tanking, but may be applicable for other tanking classes as well***

One of the main tanking topics that’s still up in the air is how tanks should gem/enchant/reforge. While I’m newer to the tanking field than some of the tank bloggers and numbercrunchers out there, I think this is a prime opportunity for an experiment. The idea is that since the tanking mastery Divine Bulwark provide strong mitigation, it may be wiser to push our gear towards stats like mastery. Unlike dodge and parry, blocks don’t suffer from diminishing returns. Because of this, reforging dodge and parry on your gear into mastery results in more overall mitigation. As a bonus, I’ve noticed that mastery rating tends to result in more overall points than dodge/parry rating does, so this also contributes to greater mitigation.

Currently, I’m using gear that utilizes the following gems: Puissant Dream Emerald in green slots, Defender’s Demonseye in red slots, and Solid Chimera’s Eye (I’m a JC) in blue slots. Prismatic I fill up with what I can, leaning towards the emerald if I’ve already got all three JC gems in my gear. Now! As a quick, brief test, I purchased the recipe for Fractured Chimera’s Eye. As a JC, I found it frustrating that there was little to no information in regards to whether or not it was better to use stam or mastery JC gems, so this is my first test on the matter: I swapped an Emerald for one of my Solid JC gems, then replaced an Emerald that was in a yellow slot (+10 parry rating bonus from Gryphon Rider’s Boots) with one a brand spanking new Mastery JC gem. Here were the results, without Blessing of Kings or any other buff active – just wearing my gear:

Before: 144,217 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 54.56% block / 81.99% total mitigation

After: 142,509 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 55.41 % block / 82.84% total mitigation

Conclusion: Trading a Stam JC gem for a Mastery JC gem (aiming for socket bonuses) essentially trades 1,708 HP for a 0.85% mitigation increase.

Now, my blocks stop 31% of damage due to block enchants, so keep that in mind, but what this test ultimately means – in my opinion – is that JC paladin tanks should definitely use Stam JC gems over any Mastery equivalent (nor parry/dodge, since they provide less mitigation than mastery does). Does this mean we should not gem for mastery at all? I doubt this is the case, but whenever I can arranged for the funds to test this theory, I will. Until then, I hope this brief experiment will help you choose how to spend those hard earned Illustrious Jewelcrafter’s Tokens!

/failcheck Expectations of PUGers

This isn’t an “experiment” /failcheck – this is me calling out a clear “fail” that needs to be addressed. Here’s the short version of this post: have realistic expectations of a PUG and address issues when they arise instead of saying nothing.

Here’s the long version: I was talking to a friend of mine in my guild, and she mentioned that one of our fellow officers was constantly posting messages in officer chat along the lines of “these guys are total fails,” I wish they would do their job right,” or “can I cry now because this is so horrible.” (I’m not exaggerating about the “can I cry” part either – he says that a lot). Now, I haven’t been on when this occurred; otherwise, I’d tell him to do something about it or stop talking about it. Annoyed guildmates is the only result you’ll get from moaning and groaning in guild/officer chat about something you can fix.

We are only 8 days into the new expansion, so most of the PUGs you’ll get via heroic queueing (and even regular queueing) are players who haven’t done that dungeon/version of that dungeon yet. Newness of the expansion aside, I was still running into players new to a particular PUG during the final month of WotLK. You will always have the chance of that happening when queuing for a PUG, so get used to it or stop queuing. If nothing else, remember that at some point during your WoW lifespan, you were likely in a similar situation. Would you have appreciated other players being mad at you for not knowing a fight on your first visit to a dungeon?

Of course, there are ways you can prepare for dungeons, and I do agree that some are pseudo-prerequisites to joining a PUG (in my opinion), whereas others are beneficial but aren’t wholly necessary. To generalize my opinions, I feel a game should be fun and shouldn’t require outside sources to be fun, but knowing the ins and outs of a game itself is important. For example:

  • There are millions of resources on the internet that can prepare you as much as possible for a fight before doing it, but WoW is first and foremost a game. I feel I can safely say that Blizzard has never and will never release a game designed to force you to research encounters before doing them. There will inevitably be trial-and-error wipes, but that’s how games have been for a long time (“how do we kill Bowser on this level? Well, let’s try this…”).
  • Gear is a prerequisite in my eyes. If it wasn’t, then Blizzard wouldn’t have set a minimum iLevel for players to meet before having access to the heroic dungeon queue. There are some WoW players who don’t put much/any effort into gearing up for heroics, and it tends to ruin the fun for your fellow PUGers when you’re one of these people. After all, it’s one thing to wipe because you don’t quite know and encounter yet. It’s another thing entirely to wipe because your gear is so insufficient that it’s impossible for you to best an encounter (e.g., a  tank wearing WotLK blues/purples is likely going to be unable to successfully tank a Cata heroic). This is what the minimum iLevel is supposed to prevent, but some players are finding ways to cheat the system. One example that I’ve seen is a warrior equipping an intellect/spirit blue ring they got form a quest, simply because it puts them above the iLevel bar.
  • Knowing your class is highly important, and a key feature of the game. Although there’s been some homogenization of class abilities lately, all classes have there own, unique abilities that makes them different than other classes (otherwise, why have classes at all?). You should know what these are, when/how to use them, and why it’s important to do so!

Finally, if you’re in a PUG where someone is failing at something important, then do something constructive about it. As I said before, complaining to your guildmates about a problem you can solve is of no benefit to yourself. Tell your party why what’s happening is wrong and how to correct it. If you can at least do that, and they refuse to listen, then I’m willing to hear your monologue about how you’re in the worst PUG ever. If they try to do the correct method and aren’t quite getting the hang of it, then I’m just going to say “luck of the draw” and tune you out. I stand firmly beside my belief that games should be fun. If other people are ruining your fun intentionally by being stubborn headed about doing things the wrong way, then I sympathize with you. However, if they’re giving their best effort, and you still complain to me about it, then you’re ruining my fun. And that’s no fun (bah dum tsssh?)!

/failcheck: The Turkinator

This one was very cut and dry: rather than speculate on the best time to get the achievement “The Turkinator,” I simply tested whether or not a particular time would work well. Originally, I attempted for the achievement on Sunday – as did many other players – and failed. It was simply impossible to keep a good, long turkey killing spree going. However, at the time, there was plenty of talk about the Shattering occurring on Tuesday, so I figured I would attempt early morning, the day after. Few people are on at such a time, and I speculated that most of the players who did log on would be rolling new toons (the new race/class combos). Sure enough, 4.0.03a dropped, and come Wednesday morning, I set out to kill myself a wabbit! … er, turkey. Lots of them. Moving on…

Within a quick couple of minutes, I did indeed have my achievement, and as I suspected, the few people I came across (only two, if I remember correctly) were both human hunters. Test success! Lol

And finally, a parting word: if the Shattering upset you, then don’t focus on what you’re sad you lost! There are many things we all wish we had finished before we lost the opportunity (myself included), but instead of dwelling in things that make you sad, try to find new, exciting opportunities in this new world! Already, I’ve discovered a rather interesting new quest chain in EPL that takes you from the border of WPL/EPL and goes cross-country. Enjoy the patch, everyone.

/failcheck: To guild or not to guild

That is the question! Or, to be more specific, how does being a new player being in a guild from early on affect their growth? I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that being in a guild (or at the very least, having a higher level friend helping you) makes leveling MUCH easier. What concerns me, is that making leveling too easy could lead to stunted growth as a player.

Let’s lay out some scenarios, to get an idea of where I’m coming from:

  • Erin starts playing WoW because her best friend Jamie is an avid player who convinced her to give it a try. After making her first toon, Erin is immediately invited to Jamie’s guild, and Jamie personally sets out to help Erin level. Through the course of leveling 1-80, Erin is helped and/or carried through the struggles of leveling and never really develops a real image of how her class works and becomes dependent on Jamie’s guild. After reaching 80, Erin joins the guild raid team, but because she’s not used to being in a situation where she’s a contributing member of a team, she struggles to find her place amongst the rest of the raid.
  • Sheila starts playing WoW because she saw it in a local store and decided to give it a try. Through the course of leveling from 1-80, Sheila develops a strong sense of how her class works in different situations, where her limitations lie, how to be self-reliant, etc. After reaching 80, she decides she’d like to give raiding a try, makes an honest effort to scrounge up some effective gear, finds a guild with whom she can raid, and ultimately becomes a fine raider, who clearly understands her role and how best to fulfill it.

Now, to be fair, there are countless factors, both seen and unseen, that contribute to a player understanding and becoming good at a game, but for the sake of my hypothesis, I’m assuming that classic “trial-and-error” will lead to a more knowledgeable player. I feel the contrasting argument to my hypothesis would be that it’s easier for a new player to learn by watching skilled players.

Personally, when I leveled Nehmen (Nehmen wasn’t my first toon, but the rogue I had initially created didn’t really click with me, so I deleted her and began anew with Nehmen), I was subjected to both sides. I did regular, hub-based quests almost entirely alone, occasionally grouping up with another similarly leveled player, for group-specific quests. For almost every dungeon I did, however, my friend and guild leader (who convinced me to try WoW) would either lead me through herself or arrange for another guild member to do so.

Since I don’t have a perfect memory, I can’t say I remember every moment of my first couple of months as level 80 (I do remember the last struggle to get to 80, but that’s a story for another time), but I do remember this: I knew almost nothing about Vanilla WoW dungeons and raids. Because I’m an achievement horder, I decided to myself one day “wouldn’t it be easy to get [Classic Dungeonmaster]?” I quickly realized that I knew absolutely nothing about these old instances, and it was only through the careful examination of dungeon maps/guides and good ol’ trial-and-error that I managed to navigate my way through dungeons and pick off the correct bosses for the achievement.

I don’t have the time or materials (two people who don’t play, but are willing to try, WoW) to see an appropriate experiment through on this topic, but at the very least, I find it food for thought. My current method of dealing with new players is thus: don’t. It seems harsh… because it is. And I feel that’s the point; if a new player can make it to 80 by their own force of will, then I suspect they’ll be much better off than if I had carried them there. Muscles get stronger through appropriate workouts, yes?

And for the record, whenever I mention an experiment in a post (which won’t be all of them), I will refer to it as a /failcheck. After all, what is an experiment but a sophisticated /failcheck? Until next time!