Friday, February 25, 2011

Macros Not the Answer, What Was the Question?

Maul. Yeah, don't macro that; it's bad. Not as bad as remapping half your keybinds and learning to tank again, but worse than the week after when your fingers know where to go again. Which is exactly what I did a couple weeks ago.

Way back when I was posted all about this epiphany I had to avoid adding another key to press in bear form. I didn't have enough rage to always use maul, but I could narrow down on a percentage on how often I could use it and use castsequence macro lines to randomize my mauling accordingly. That actually worked quite well during combat, but the drawback was the RNG of mauling immediately when pulling with limited rage. It made grabbing snap aggro just a little harder. That got to be a little much over time and I decided to make a change.

At the same time I was actually leveling my new goblin warrior and had just gotten heroic strike. Of course I hadn't macroed it immediately after getting it seeing as I had a ton of space on my bars. So I was getting used to the idea of using a rage dump. So between those two influences I ended up combining growl and challenging roar into a single keybind and using a modifier key to access my sparingly used "AOE taunt". I actually used that a lot more in wrath. Anyway, that freed up the spot I needed to toss maul out on it's own.

The initial transition was painful... like really painful. I was pretty frustrated the first couple instances I tanked that way. Of course I had decided while I was moving buttons around that I should start using my 'Z' key as well and move the weapon sheathing/toggling button to '\' which I remember using for some FPS once upon a time. That let me move my interrupt from 'T' to 'Z' and whatever I had on '6' to 'T'. I'm using one of those natural keyboards so '6' is just just out of reach without a handgasm (the strange sensation of trying to spread the tips of your middle and index fingers as far apart as possible). On the bright side I am now using every possible key within reach of my left hand. Was tempted to use 'X' too, but I like to swim/fly down sometimes for fun.

So for those with a puzzled look I should explain what my keybinds look like. I use WASD for movement. 'A' and 'D' still turn left and right rather than strafe. I tried the strafing, but sometimes I want to take my hand off the mouse and still be somewhat mobile. Holding the right mouse button and 'turning' achieves the same effect as strafing anyway so no great loss.

'3' and '4' are my bread and butter abilities that get spammed a lot. They are easily reached while holding 'W' or 'S' to move forward or backward while steering with the mouse. Remaining mobile while attacking is pretty important for melee and also pretty handy for casters at times. '1' and 'Q' are next with the next most frequently use abilities followed by '2' which slightly impairs my ability to move forward so I stick something I use once in a while (I can still move forward by hitting both mouse buttons).

'5' I use for a taunt or another less frequently used ability. I've always had my taunt on '5' for my death knight since there were a lot more abilities in my tanking rotation than my bear. I always took that as a bit of a disadvantage seeing as taunt should in theory be more readily accessible. In practice I've found the opposite to be true; now that my taunt key is not immediately accessible I am hitting it much less in error so that when I do need it I'm more likely to have it off cooldown. After all I had it on '4' previously and '4' is one of the two buttons I hit the most for every other spec. Can't fight muscle memory.

Then my new addition 'Z' is where I stick my interrupts, they used to be over on 'T' and that wasn't nearly as convenient while moving. 'E' I use for AOE, 'R' for charging, death gripping, jumping back, blinking, basically anything that gets me to where I want to be or brings the where to me. 'T', 'F' and 'G' are reserved for cooldowns along with 'F1' and 'F2'. 'F3' I use for crowd control, 'F4' to break out of crowd control and 'F5' to reduce damage taken. Exceptions exist for classes without such abilities.

'C' I use for cleansing, 'V' for sprinting, dashing, moving faster by some means and 'B' I use for buffing. I actually have been macroing my 'B' to buff out of combat or with a modifier and than use some sort of cooldown I don't want to accidentally hit out of combat only while in combat. Mark of the Wild and Barkskin in the case of my druid. I used to use 'V' for mana regen, but decided to just leave that over with my mana potions and utility crap and click it as needed. A keybound speed boost has proven much more valuable in practice.

And finally that poor '6' key is still looking for a use. It is actually further of a reach for me than 'F5' so I've been experimenting with long cooldowns there, but really I've been clicking it more with the mouse than actually hitting '6'. Previously I used '6' for my start of a fight prep type key, hunter's mark, stealth, etc. So in reality I didn't add a key to my repertoire so much as add one, remove one and move two. Right now I'm still leaving '6' empty on my druid since it is so close to 'T' and I still slip once in a while trying to stealth. Once I grow out of that I'm sure I'll find a use for it. Moral of the story is get your binding right the first time and hopefully this long winded explanation helps someone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interrupts Using a Fleeting Resource

Among my two complaints about feral right now; yes I only have two, well maybe three. Anyway the one that bugs me most is using rage, and worse, energy to fuel a timely interrupt. Here I am happily smacking away and boom I need to interrupt in the next second an a half. If I don't have the rage or energy already available it ain't happening.

While tanking something where I know I will have to interrupt I can make the additional effort to keep a little rage in reserve for a timely interrupt. It actually isn't that big of a deal, just a matter of not hitting maul that one more time. Bear rotation remains relatively constant when it comes to rage usage per unit time.

Cat form is a whole other story, energy levels are constantly doing a roller coaster from near full back to nothing and that fluctuation more often than not will never line up for a convenient interrupt. Best case scenario you have the energy and it doesn't muck up your dots/roar, worse case scenario you just threw off a ferocious bite or something. I don't really like to consciously think about the numbers, but when you get into the cat groove you get used to having a certain amount of energy to work with, setting some aside really isn't a consideration. Saving some short term for a known interrupt is probably the best of both worlds, but that isn't always possible. Oh that reminds me, there are four things I don't like about feral.

Taking a look at other classes we have interrupts again on cooldowns, but using a more static resources like mana, focus or runic power. Even rogues don't seem to use their energy in quite the same way as cats do, so the occasional kick isn't as much an inconvenience; could just be that it is cheaper too. Many of these interrupts aren't even on the global cooldown. This is how I like my interrupts, yes I hit the button quickly, give me a cookie. Ideally an interrupt should have no impact on other abilities and having it on it's own cooldown is sufficient in my book.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Corporal Punishment for Dungeon Finder

After coming up with the title I'm not sure if it means I would like it implemented or that it is already the case, but either way there are a few rather serious issues sucking the fun out of the dungeon finder. Particularly when it comes to heroics. The greatest of which is waiting 40 minutes only to have your group fall apart through no fault of your own.

In heroics I see a large portion of groups fall apart after a tank or healer, often with a DPS that queued with them, roll need on a piece of loot they wanted and then drop group immediately. It is obvious that they got a friend to up their chances of getting the item, came just for that and thought nothing of everyone else's time. Aside from that seemingly frequent special case most groups fall apart on any wipe, for any reason. Sometimes a bad pull that only a couple people die on is enough to have someone drop.

It would be nice to see the punishment for dropping a group be severe enough to give such players pause. My favorite idea so far is to have the deserter debuff longer (proportional to the frequency of dropped groups) and with stat penalties much like resurrection sickness. Including, of course, the loss of durability on every item the player is carrying. If dropping group is more costly than wiping a couple times then I'm sure people will try and make things work.

Of course we don't want to punish groups that really are failing. Each boss/dungeon should have a par associated with it. Something like this boss usually takes 3 wipes average for a group to learn it. If after those three attempts the boss isn't down then players can drop without penalty. Could even be something hardcoded, like 5 wipes over the course of a dungeon. Pretty lenient, but the goal is to get people to try rather than give up, not to force anyone to wipe on the same boss for an hour.

I'm pretty sure most players are in agreement that something needs to change and I think whatever solution is implemented should basically force people to put in a minimal amount of effort before giving up. Blizzard is collecting all that kick/drop information already so I can only imagine they will begin to use it for something more eventually. Right now it is just being used to throttle the number of people kicked, but not the number of people dropping as far as I know.