Do or Die (I Think I’ve Said This Before?)

There is mention that Cata raids are gimmicky and it’s true, but that’s also true of previous Wrath raids as well, they were just more simple or only required passive action to avoid (mostly). You also didn’t have a cap on the number of battle rezzes and most of the mechanics weren’t a matter of do or die.

Think back to the Naxx fights and you’ll see they had gimmicks too, they were just more forgiving for the most part or could be countered by anyone. Cata? Not so much. You need more specific roles to counter some of the gimmicks.

Think about it.

Spider Queen popped little spiders, webbed people to the web and had a phase where everyone was webbed.
Four Horsemen were spread out and you needed to ensure every one of them was engaged and in range of a target or they’d AOE the raid down.
The safety dance.
Spore management.
Dealing with zombies that could feed that big undead dog that did that rampage thing.
Thaddius with the whole positive/negative bit.
Splitting groups for the whole live side/dead side boss.
Charming the students and using them to tank the instructor.
Sapphiron with the ice blocks and ducking behind them, dodging ice storm.
Kel’Thuzzad with all the little things to worry about and adds.
Malygos wasn’t one big gimmick?
Sarth a little less so, short of the bouncing into the voids and back out for some of the drakes.

There were a lot of gimmicks in the previous expansion so what makes Cataclysm raids different?

They’re tight.

Most of those gimmicks I mentioned above could be healed through or survived without too much effort and if you did fail and die, there was usually a battle rez available. Not so much now with 10 mans only being allowed one battle rez and when the mess ups almost always mean you’re dead.

Mess up on getting Rageface off someone? They die. Mess up and kill the pooches before Shannox is at a low point and he becomes a little too much to handle. Mess up and get Shannox a little too low and the dogs start slaughtering the raid.

Beth’tilac? Mess up on a drone or spiderlings and you’ll get overwhelmed or Beth’tilac will heal up to full when she comes down. This puts you at a hefty disadvantage because now your tanks and healers are going to be stressed because if they have one slip up the raid likely dies.

Can’t steer Lord Ryolith well enough? He hits the lava and wipes the raid. Can’t handle the adds? Healing becomes too intense. Can’t get him to walk over the active volcanoes? The raid healing could become unmanageable. Miss moving out of the way of a magma line? Ouch. (Admittedly he’s way easier after they increased the stacks of his armor that falls off and when

Mess up on the shard of torment Baleroc pops and lose a DPS that is supposed to suck it up and you’re not likely to recover and deal with future shards and if you do, you might not have enough DPS to beat the enrage. Healers don’t get enough stacks to heal the tanks? Ouch, raid is done.

Alysrazor – leave your druids at home. I kid, we tend to always lose our druids around this time regardless of whether they’re feral, resto or balance. But seriously, they seem to eat tornadoes and die. That’s if we get to the tornadoes without also having a hatchling up. DPS distracted by adds, heals focused hard on tanks, and if anything screws up it could be a wipe especially if you lost a tank attached.

It’s like playing with dominoes or building a house of cards, one mistake and it all tumbles down around you.

We’ve actually been able to pull off some recoveries or victories but it wasn’t easy. Was it rewarding? Maybe a little more than some of the simple fights but there is something negative to always feeling stressed.

This post was inspired after some coffee and having contemplated a post from Spinksville which was further musings based on a post from Malchome’s Mind on Gaming.

The Big Pay Out

A few days ago we (the guild leadership) decided to discuss what to do with the guild bank funds. The guild funded repairs didn’t really put a dent in it and neither did buying up materials for cauldrons and feasts. People were asking about using the funds to buy recipes for crafted items which we considered, but being small it wouldn’t be of much value to the whole guild since we’re pretty small.

So what would?

Really, if everyone took a portion to use on upgrading their characters (or whatever they wanted really) that would be a good use right? The overall power of the guild would increase, people would be happy, loyalty and dedication would be rewarded while lollipops fell from the sky and kids dance in the streets… oh wait.

Here is what we went with:

Sum up the activity points (this is shown on the WoW Armory in the roster – it’s a Blizzard system so no admin required) of members and their alts. Determine the percentage of the total their activity points make up and that’s how much of a cut they get from the amount we’re dumping out of the bank. We posted the system to let people know and think about any issues with the system – we heard nothing negative about the idea.

The first payout was 125000 gold. We still have a fair amount in the bank for all the other expenses.

Yours truly got 20k from that with the second highest being our Raid Leader who got 23k.

Now, with that payout done, the activity points of those rewarded are marked (here comes the admin) so the next payout, they have that number subtracted from their total to get their new activity point amount. Effectively, we reset the activity point total of each player that received a payout.

This was done to reflect long standing members’ efforts in accumulating that money along with loyalty and dedication. This also allows new recruits who work hard to get a share that better reflects their more recent efforts. This isn’t a pyramid scheme – after the hand out, everyone is on equal footing.

 

I know, blah blah blah, who cares about the system! We want to know what you bought with your share, Smaken!

Oh my adoring fan(s), I finally got rid of the old Heroic Rockslicer I was using all throughout the previous tier of content and 5/7ths of the way through this tier. I also upgraded my wrist and picked up some enchantments for those items. This finally means I hit Cataclysmically Epic and got that achievement out of the way. (I’m now rocking ilvl 372)

WoW Threat – You Don’t Get It

This is removing the aspect of threat but it’s not for any other class but the tank.

Still don’t get it?

Yeah your tank can hold agro easily (assuming he’s attacking and damaging the targets) but can he survive? You see the job of a tank isn’t to hold threat, it’s to build threat and take the damage. With other classes helping tanks hold threat (sometimes build it) this aspect of tanking becomes trivial.

They’re not trying to make tanking (or the game) easier, they’re trying to make it more active and require more decisions.

Play a Blood DK where you have several different active devices to bolster your survival when needed. This is where they’re headed.

Things you actively have to use as a Blood DK:

1. Bone Shield
2. Anti-magic Shell
3. Diseases (slowing mobs)
4. Icebound Fortitude
5. Vampiric Embrace
6. Lichbourne+Death Coil@self
7. Dark Sacrifice
8. Death Strike

All these items are key to a Blood DK’s survival. Active decisions.

Compare this to a Prot Paladin who has maybe three active mechanics (not on 15 minute cooldowns and that don’t shed agro completely) to help them tank. The remainder is passive – block, parry, dodge, armor, self healing buff. It’s quite dull to play in comparison to a DK, believe me, I’ve done it. Also consider the Prot Warrior. I have no idea what mechanics they have short of Shield Wall but they also benefit mainly from passive abilities and less so from active ones.

It’s not trivializing the game, it’s making tanking more active (and harder to do in one regard).

DPS can, will and do still end up with agro because they’re attacking the wrong target or open up with big hits after popping cooldowns. Bad DPS are still going to be bad DPS but they’re not going to punish good DPS anymore. Healers are still going to have to heal multiple targets (bad DPS are still bad, remember? they’re still drawn to the bad stuff on the ground..). Tanks are still going to have to make choices about what to pull, how and where to (yeah that is a weak one, but then I’ve had some bad tanks that LOS pulled trash in BWC).

Just pointing out the less than obvious for those that don’t play the game, don’t play the game well, or never played a tank.

 

EDIT: Dammit, I missed talking Bears. Go figure. Lore has a good comments on The Weekly Marmot.

Oh, In Hiding

I started playing Rift a couple of weeks ago (I think) mainly for something ‘new’ to do because I was a little tired of leveling alts in WoW through the same content. Apparently I was hiding that fact rather than being open and talking about it to people that have no interest in it.

And once I did start talking about it, sure enough, they had no interest.

It’s a filler game for me – stuff to do inbetween raids. I’ve mentioned I’m a little burned out on running heroics and I have no desire to chase down the FL dailies as I have what I need from them. I’m also not going to bother farming instances for mounts that have ridiculously low drops rates.

I want to have fun. That stuff isn’t so much fun at the moment unless I’m running it with people I know.

I did try PVPing on a fresh server, Horde side as a Druid, but I really didn’t run into anyone. The one person I engaged in PVP was twinked out and an alt of one of the Guild members I had over there.

So in off time – when the kids are in bed or otherwise occupied and I’m not playing Minecraft with them – I’m playing Rift on a PVP server with some people from work.

It’s still easy. Still feels like WoW, in fact the instances I did were much easier than the ones available in Cataclysm – mostly tank and spank with little to really worry about. The open world questing is a little more exciting because of the PVP element – you never know when someone is lurking by ready to pounce.

I’ve pounced three times and been pounced on three times. Two of my open PVP kills were mage types with pets while the other one was a Warrior who was AFK. What? He was an easy target and standing right near where I needed to kill stuff for a quest – I couldn’t leave him around to gank me while I was killing quest stuff.

For the first one I CCed his pet as he was about to attack a mob. He nuked the mob, pet didn’t move, mob moved to mage and started to eat him up. I appeared behind him with a backstab that stuns and quickly melted him down. Then I killed his mob and skinned it. He didn’t stand a chance against my Assassin/Nightblade/Infiltrator spec.

The second one was more recent so I was running my Assassin/Riftstalker/Nightblade spec. She sent her pet and I appeared behind her. She had a little more fight in her than the previous guy (she was two levels higher than I was) but I managed to kill her. It might have been a different story if she actually called back her pet. Must have been running Chloro as one of her souls because she was healing a little. Which mean I had to pop a stun and an interrupt. Still, dead.

As I noted above the third one was a poor AFK Warrior. I have no remorse about it, if I was AFK in the open in a PVP area I’d be shocked to come back to the computer and still be alive.

The three gankings, well one ganking and two attempts, were amusing.

The one ganking that worked looked like a triggered event from a quest I just completed so I wasn’t on top of my game. There were two of them, a melee and a caster, and they were level 44 to my level 36. I was running my Bard/Nightblade/Infiltrator spec at the time (soloing a group quest) so they made short work of me despite my use of Riff, Virtuoso and spamming the healing Coda (basically, I popped five combo points then a cooldown that lets me use them without them going away so I spammed my only real heal available).

The pricks then hung out at the hand in area waiting for me to show up. I did, but I switched to Assassin/Nightblade/Infiltrator at that point so I was able to stealth around without it coming up. Either they weren’t too bright (explains why they were ganking lowbies) or they were having a quiet night because I was sneaking around using my CCes on them without them catching me. Meanwhile, a work bud was rolling in on his level 50 in T5 PVP gear to clear them out. The melee one bailed before he got there. I guess my stealth CCs and debuffs were scaring him. The caster got melted as soon as my friend rolled in. As a little F U to the guy, I opened up with the stun back stab and already had him down to half when my work bud finished him off.

The guild we’re in has a policy about ganking – if someone is ganking a guild member, you help out.

The first gank attempt was a level 50 (I’m guessing  he was what would be a ‘skull’ level in WoW) that was approaching through Scarlet Gorge area (I was about 27-28). I saw him first and popped stealth but he circled around looking for me as I was passing him on a bridge so I mezzed him and kept going. He wasn’t very pleased (in Rift you can understand your enemies) and once the mez was up he started looking for me. He thought he found me but it was just another lowbie who he ganked and moved on.

Thanks for taking one for the team… er.. me.

The second gank attempt was during an escort quest. I was in Bard mode and engaged with a mob when the guy almost killed me. Until I turned on him, popped Riff, Virtuoso then spammed my heal until I was close to full them spammed Coda of Wrath (I think that’s the AOE one?) which killed the mob so I finished him off with the direct damage Coda.

I admit, it’s wickedly fun sneaking up on people and beating them down in open PVP.

I’ve also been queuing up for Warfronts which tend to pop pretty quickly and they’re decent XP when you win. For the first bit I was running as Assassin (mostly protecting the carrier of the Fang in Black Temple) but after about 20 it became a little less valuable so I moved to a support role for Black Temple and The Codex. I stayed like that for White Steppes (I think it’s called) but  I’ve recently switched back to Assassin/Riftstalker/Nightblade and I’m finding it effective (for now) in Warfronts.

Last night (yes, I took advantage of the boosted XP/Favor) I had a few Codex maps pop on which I was a beast. I held the Codex against two people until reinforcements arrived and I was rolling over the Guardians. It was pretty sweet. I had the same luck in Black Temple, though we had some pretty close matches and we actually lost one.

All in all, it’s a fun distraction. I’ll play it in off times because it’s different and I enjoy the PVP. I won’t be giving up my WoW raiding for it.

I have been debating dropping MMOs to free up more time for things like sleep and family, but a certain someone pointed out that I’d likely just end up doing something else to avoid sleep – TV, books, single player games or something.

I am sure I will move towards a far more casual player hours in early next year and if SWTOR is out (and decent), I may end up just playing that – not focusing on raiding or hitting end game in any hurry, just playing here and there.

EDIT: Oh, I’ve also mucked around with LOTRO and Champions Online somewhere in the last two months.. maybe three, but they didn’t stick. I wasn’t hiding it, they were Free 2 Play, I wanted to see if they were improved or fun. They just weren’t interesting enough to write about.

It’s Still Fantasy…

I’ve complained before about being a little tired of fantasy type settings. I’ve been reading about or playing in fantasy worlds for over 30 years now – maybe it’s just getting a little too old hat?

Looking back to the time that I complained, it was around the time when I had to create a character for my pen and paper group that plays Pathfinder.

I’m in around that point in time again. I’m not very inspired at the moment because everything I think of has been done before, often far too many times before. I’m going with what the group needs, a healer, but I wanted to do a different spin. I’m going to look at making more liberal use of mass healing so I went Gnome for the extra Charisma but also because I’ve never played a Gnome and thought it’d be a nice change.

Reading up on Gnomes, they’re a little different in Pathfinder. They’re more tricky and fey, including some different appearance changes – namely coloring and larger features (eyes and mouth, not the nose like I usually imagine). Then tend to avoid community, being somewhat chaotic in nature, but are drawn to places with strong ties to the fey realm.

It’s different but somewhat similar to my previous Cleric (the crazy Goblin) in nature. I was picturing him more as a small but old and wise figure. He would be serious but also warm and approachable. That doesn’t quite work so well with what Pathfinder Gnomes are so I might just go with a different race.

A Human would likely be a decent change. I could tie him to the nobility that is looking for adventurers to reclaim the Stolen Lands as I intended him to be in more of an advisory role rather than actual leader – more of a gentle guidance with the interests of the community at heart.

Back to my lengthy experience in the fantasy genre, that might be an underlying reason why my current fun in WoW outside of raiding which is more social than about the game. I can’t bring myself to level up more alts because I’ve done it so many times before and the setting is still fantasy with swords and shields and what not. It’s not really new and interesting, at least not for very long.

I’ll piddle around with the character concept some more.

Spec Swapping

I went ahead with switching my off spec – which was another flavor of MM only talented for AoE – to BM and practiced in heroics. Not bad overall so I hung on to it and swapped back and forth during the Firelands raid last night.

Not bad, really.

World of Logs parses from last Tuesday (unfortunately our logger missed Beth’tilac that week) and the parses from last night (again, logger missed the first boss which was Shannox this time).

Comparable though a little unfair for two reasons. First, I wasn’t running BM the whole night but mostly for trash, Ryolith and Baleroc. Second, the fights are a little different since last week due to some hot fix changes. I did note something weird with the Ryolith fight numbers; I’m listed as doing 10k DPS and my pet doing 6.5k but the total shown is 14k.

That’s one of the bigger things I noticed – pet DPS is almost three times what it was for MM while Hunter damage is pretty low – a lot of that is due to Kill Command parsing with the pet.

Morynne from Marks 365 posted a quick guide to swapping specs and getting familiar with the placement of new abilities to which I commented with what I do (having recently swapped around with SV, MM and BM). It’s worth a look.

Here’s what I did. I identified the parallels as each spec has a signature ‘shot’, a builder, a dump and a longer cooldown ability.

For Survival that is: Explosive Shot, Cobra Shot, Arcane Shot and Black Arrow.

For Marksman that is: Chimera Shot, Steady Shot, Arcane Shot and Aimed Shot. (Yes, I use Aimed Shot as my focus dump when I can)

For Beastmaster that is: Kill Command, Cobra Shot, Arcane Shot and Focus Fire (not really an attack – arguably you could put Bestial Wrath in there instead but I find FF is available more often than BW).

I suppose I didn’t really need to mention Arcane Shot as it’s commonly the focus dump. Anyway, here is how my keys are set up:

1 = Serpent Sting
2 = Explosive Shot/Kill Command/Chimera Shot
3 = Arcane Shot
4 = Multi-Shot
5 = Master’s Call Macro
6 = Camo
Q = Hunter’s Mark + Pet Attack macro
E = Kill Shot
R = Cobra Shot/Steady Shot
T =  Feign Death
F = Disengage
G = Trap Launcher
Z = Concussive Shot
X = Misdirection
C = Black Arrow/Kill Command/Aimed Shot
V = Mend Pet
Mouse4 = Bestial Wrath/(task shot = Distracting Shot/Tranquilizing Shot)

So I never really move anything around – it all has a nice little home where I can easily reach it.

Some things I don’t have Keybound and why:

Intimidation (BM only) – I often don’t need to use it in a raid or group. I might replace G or Z with it if I were to use it more.
Fervor (BM only) – I put this in the same spot as Readiness (MM only) because I don’t want to hit it when it’s not needed and waste the cooldown (I actually need to get better at using Fervor).
Readiness (MM only) – See Fervor.
Rapid Fire - I macro this into my DAI button following.
DAI macro – This fires Rapid Fire, trinkets, pet buffs, potion drink and BW if it’s up.

Typically, I’ll press a lot of 2, R, 3 and C in any given fight. You can see this doesn’t really change from spec to spec.

Four buttons… so hard to face roll!

Sometimes It Isn’t Me, It’s You.

I’ve blown my bandwidth cap the last couple of months so I extended the amount I’m allowed per month (I get charged more up to a cap when I go over) and I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time. I had only once blown my bandwidth amount because I downloaded my Steam library down on to my new PC instead of pulling it over by share so I was pretty surprised to see it happen.

The main difference lately is that the kids are watching a lot of YouTube (Minecraft videos and stuff like that) and they’re both playing a lot of Minecraft (local server so no bandwidth cost – though sometimes short bouts on internet servers) or Roblox.

Originally I thought it was due to my running a MC server with ports open to the outside which the kids, the kid up the street and the kid up the street’s friend were using. Then I found out they advertised the server because they were upset that someone grief-ed them. I shut it down and closed the ports.

Next month same problem.

I increased the bandwidth figuring with the kids playing lots more and watching stuff I probably need more bandwidth.

I got a warning about a week ago saying we’d already hit 75% of our limit. Stunned I looked up on their site to see what the daily usage was. Here it is:

Daily Usage

Download Usage (MB)

Upload Usage (MB)

Daily Total (MB)

  August 21, 2011

164

103

267

  August 20, 2011

402

97

499

  August 19, 2011

484

14

498

  August 18, 2011

470

143

613

  August 17, 2011

1,912

283

2,195

  August 16, 2011

449

498

947

  August 15, 2011

931

1,138

2,069

  August 14, 2011

1,192

4,134

5,326

  August 13, 2011

2,279

6,563

8,842

  August 12, 2011

2,268

2,323

4,591

  August 11, 2011

3,639

3,802

7,441

  August 09, 2011

774

624

1,398

  August 08, 2011

3,791

6,245

10,036

  August 07, 2011

2,198

7,073

9,271

  August 06, 2011

2,099

4,316

6,415

  August 05, 2011

1,017

2,862

3,879

  August 04, 2011

1,090

112

1,202

  August 03, 2011

9,774

304

10,078

  August 02, 2011

665

92

757

  August 01, 1970

1,561

231

1,792

  July 16, 0007

1,443

3,365

4,808

  July 30, 2011

1,472

3,882

5,354

  July 29, 2011

2,818

3,117

5,935

  July 28, 2011

647

2,210

2,857

  July 27, 2011

664

185

849

  July 26, 2011

658

1,455

2,113

You’ll note some oddities namely that on some days the upload is higher than the download. In some cases it’s twice or almost three times as much.

The 16th is when I got the warning and I told the kids no more YouTube for awhile. The 17th they were home with their grandmother watching them and they got on to YouTube for a bit, but the owned up to it. You can see YouTube use really increases the download. Upload is about 1/10th of the bandwidth used – this is more normal.

So… what’s with all the upload data and why’d it disappear after the 15th? And the 2nd to the 4th of August? (I downloaded a large game on the 3rd – note the upload bandwidth is far lower than the download – makes sense). The 27th of July is another good day for no upload.

My second thought was that maybe someone was leeching bandwidth from my wireless (which is secured).  I hadn’t seen it was mostly upload data that was being bad which doesn’t make sense for someone leeching off my WI-FI. I ended up adjusting settings.

Still lots of bandwidth. What did those days have in common with our usual schedule?

The kid up the street.

The days we had lots of upload, he was at our house playing with the kids on HIS laptop. Well, it belongs to his mom but he uses it when she’s not using it for dating sites and what not. Each day that he was over playing with the kids (he is around a lot, even popping over in the evening to play for one hour or two) the upload is far higher than the down.

He’s been away for the last week (since part way through the 15th – and yes, he was at our house for half that day) and some of the days we have no bandwidth issues, he’s at his dad’s so not around to play.

I’m thinking he’s either running a bit torrent and doesn’t realize it’s sending everything on his system over to someone else, some malware or maybe some bizarre offline back up that he really doesn’t need.

I was so busy trying to figure out what was wrong with my systems that it never occurred to me that it was their computer.

Ugh. I should have known better.

EDIT: The 16th was a Tuesday and I raided that night for about 2.5 hours. The kids and I were doing some stuff on the computer prior to that which may have also used bandwidth so it’s a good measure of a more intensive night – still less than 1gb used.