Friday, April 15, 2011


When the announcement was made that the firelands and the next raiding tier that will accompany them was bumped to 4.2 I figured that meant that 4.1 was almost ready and they just dropped the not quite finished content to get it out. Oddly enough that didn't happen and it is now six weeks later. I want my fixes now! /stomps feet

I haven't actually looked forward to a patch in quite a while. Normally it is just new content that I'm not quite ready for and I'll get to it when I get to it. I suspect this first tier of raiding will keep me busy for at least another three months, probably longer. I sort of miss the raiding paradigm where once the core players of your run get something down they could drag everyone else along to some extent. With the current content, especially in 10-mans, there is a lot more responsibility on everyone to be performing well.

So what are those fixes I am waiting for? Well for starters they are making it so I can rez people who released via their raid/party frame. I am also hoping that as a side effect someone releasing mid rez won't interrupt the cast and also that macros announcing rezzes can be simplified and no longer blurt out things like, "rezzing Unknown". Even even half of that turns out to be true I will be quite pleased.

Then probably my favorite change, enrage will no longer cause me to take extra damage in bear form. It is quite annoying to try and time an enrage to coincide with a pull when depending on other people to be ready. Ready checks can help, but there is always that one yahoo that clicks ready and then says, no wait, over vent a second after you've popped enrage. Then in 5 mans there is always the whole crowd control timing thing, but that is somewhat less important since a little more damage in a 5 man won't kill me. Grabbing Halfus and getting reduced healing right off the bat certainly encourages me to make sure I'm not taking more damage in those first few seconds.

I'm also really excited about being able to run 2 or more of my "daily" heroics in the same day. I don't log on every day, but do enjoy running multiple heroics when I do have the time so this will easily more than double my valor point income. The new dungeons will also help keep things interesting as I know all the current heroics like the back of my hand these days.

Death knights getting a battle rez! Since my second main is a DK this is exciting for me, but considering I also run with a dk a lot of the time this will also be beneficial for my druid. It's not always easy/possible to pop off a battle rez while tanking as a bear. Will be trivial for DKs to do it though. I think I am a little jealous.

Prowl has a new... yeah that is stupid.

Savage defense changes for bears should bring us a little closer to other tanks when it comes to mitigating lots of little hits (i.e. trash). Still scales pretty poorly compared to a shield, but it's a step in the right direction.

I'll also admit I am a little excited about the stampeding roar buff. I've actually been making use of this ability more and more since I decided it was worth a hotkey. More speed and a longer duration will make it even more useful.

Cat swipe damage doubled? I have my doubts that this will make it live simply because it sounds so good. Looking at my current performance on AOE groups in cat compared to others I can hold my own and often top the meters. If this change does go through then that would put me head, shoulders and torso above the general population and slightly above those that can give me a run for my money currently.

Looking forward to the healing changes for druids as well. I doubt they will be enough to sway me from my shaman loving ways, but having a couple more things to do besides spam healing touch in a tight spot will be nice. Tranquility will actually be on a short enough cooldown where I'll use it rather than always trying to save it for later.

Righteous Fury won't drop off when pally tanks die! This is always quite inconvenient for me when DPSing with a pally tank.

So I guess not all of those were fixes per say, but they all help smooth over some rough edge or another. In any case the sooner the better. I read over some of these patch notes like prioritizing damage classes with different armor types in random pugs and I start to get the idea the change is already in place.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tank Shortage Solution

Make more tanks, ba dum ching. Even better make less DPS. I'm half serious about that one, but more on that later. Right now we've got two planned changes coming to the dungeon finder in 4.1: first we can snatch up all our "daily" dungeon rewards for the week whenever we want and second goodies bags will be provided to tanks (and possibly healers) for queuing alone. Call me crazy, but don't these conflict somewhat in randoms?

The one big perk of being able to get as many of your "daily" dungeon" rewards as you want on any given day is that if you really liked your group, or can at least stand to tolerate them a little longer, then you have the option to queue again with the same group. If tanks and healers are incentivized to drop and requeue alone that is perhaps a little less likely to happen? I know I value a good group over any goodie bag they are currently teasing me with, but I'd probably leave an ok group after a dungeon for a chance at better rewards.

That got me thinking that random groups that requeue and complete a second dungeon together are in general better at working in a group. Moving players that do just that more often higher in the queue would have some interesting effects. Trick would be finding a way to prioritize those players without penalizing those that just didn't have the opportunity or availability to requeue with a random group to run a second dungeon. Could just add successfully ran a dungeon with a random group to the math and have that weighted slightly lower than ran a second dungeon with the same random group successfully. After all completing a dungeon in a random group shows a moderate level of cooperation, but requeuing for a second and completing it shows that the group actually enjoyed eachother's company to some extent. Divide those values by the total number of random dungeons run and we've got ourselves a number to compare with other players.

So we start prioritizing these better players in the dungeon finder queue and they will have shorter queue times. Which in turn means these better players get into more groups. The end result is that the random dungeon finder experience improves then more tanks and healers will want to participate which improves the dungeon finder experience for all. Even if these better players don't get bumped up in the queue, they could instead be grouped together with similar results. The end result should be a more balanced number of DPS in that priority group and a higher quality of team player (i.e. more enjoyable group).

The second thing that would be nice to include when determining position in the queue is time elapsed since a players last successful random dungeon. I say successful since there is nothing more annoying that waiting 45 minutes for a group only to have it fall apart on the first pull. Players that have gone longer without a dungeon should get in first and this further incentivizes players in a random group to keep it for another rather than face a longer queue time.

The current bribe isn't quite enough to get me to queue alone as a tank, but with any luck healers will also apply for the goodies since I find queuing as a healer is a good compromise between wait time and random pug annoyance. Still I think it is better to try and improve the tank/healer experience in pugs using something along the lines I mentioned rather than try to coax people into something they don't enjoy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

OMG, Put Your Tank on Passive

Once in a while in a PUG something happens that is both unexpectedly ridiculous and terrifyingly horrible at the same time. You can't help but to share and chuckle after the fact, but the initial reaction is always something along the lines of, did that really just happen? Did that warlock pet really just follow Millhouse Manastorm? Yes, yes that little Imp did.

What? You thought that was it? Silly goose! Pets running off and getting into mischief is hardly unexpected, quite the opposite. It might of met the other three criterion though. The place was Stonecore, the time was... who cares. I zoned into to meet the rest of my dungeon finder group comprised of an 85 death knight (it was regular so an 82 instance), a hunter that had queued with them, some crazy rogue and of course, a warlock.

The warlock didn't do much more than a cameo though, tank pulls, no cc marked so I did my best to keep the earthshaper from AOEing us as the healer. Preventing damage it healing too, sort of. Millhouse Manastorm was skulled as is customary to get him out of the way quick. Millhouse runs off spouting something about dropping the soap (as if that applies to a gnome) and the warlock's imp is in hot pursuit first grabbing the pair of flayers on the wall and then the next pull in it's entirety.

I like to toon my own horn (see what I did there), but we might have stood a chance had the tank grabbed everything as it came in. They were obviously new to the tanking gig and using a regular dungeon to practice. Well I didn't come to that conclusion right then, but it became apparent as the instance progressed. So after a few seconds of heal tanking the tank went down and we wiped. On the way back the warlock apologized and said he would understand if we kicked him, ironically he then left the group as no one initiated a kick.

So we got another something in his place; I believe it was a priest, but that particular detail isn't really important. We regroup, kill the rest of the first pull and move on to the next group where Millhouse is patiently waiting for us. Same strategy, same result, very different reason. Apparently the new tank put two and two together and got 3; as soon as Millhouse ran off the tank was right on his heels frantically trying to keep him from reaching the next group again. Ridiculous, check, Unexpected, check, terrifying, well maybe not, but it was pretty horrible.

After a quick clarification from the dungeon guide (me), and no I wasn't mean; I just pointed out that Millhouse does run off and can't be stopped and assured the tank that he would not pull the next group on his own. Playing as both melee DPS and a tank enlightens me to what a melee DPS might be missing when they go to tank and a lot of it is timing. DPS often take for granted those tank pauses that keep things moving smoothly, case in point the two pats that pass by the group of three flayers right before the 2nd boss.

An experienced tank can take them in pretty much any order and make it look trivial. A new tank will try and replicate what they have observed which in the case of a melee DPS is kill order and not the timing. Melee DPS are notoriously bad at looking around for pats and it usually falls to the tank to move for them. Sadly the same usually applies for standing in stuff. Enough picking on melee it was the ranged that got the first extra pat, poor timing got the second and the Chinese fire-drill that followed got who knows what else. The run back all I could think about was how horrible the room after the next boss would be.

It was a piece of cake actually. On top of that I actually learned something myself in that next room I had dreaded moments earlier. That one sentry that pats perpendicularly in the middle of the room can be death gripped right over the group in the middle without pulling anything. Pretty cool looking to boot. Any I picked on melee standing in stuff before, but this tank did pretty well on Ozruk. Minimal standing in stuff opposed to most tanks on regular that eat every single boss ability. I suppose Ozruk is a special case considering that anyone that has melee DPSed on heroic would know that standing in stuff equals certain death.

Rest of the instance went pretty smoothly aside from some add control issues, but again that is something tanks get better at over time. Certainly an amusing time healing, I barely got any time to DPS. I definitely look forward to healing more on my shaman, druid healing just hasn't clicked for me since the cataclysm. Although I've always preferred the feel of shaman healing to druid healing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Loot or Autoloot

Way back when I started playing WoW I had somehow decided that auto loot was bad. Maybe it was the limited bag space or perhaps it was the previous game I played required clicking and dragging each piece of loot individually to my bags (including coins). Whatever my reasoning I never really looked back.

Then quite a few months ago I discovered/rediscovered the auto loot modifier key and start using that pretty much ever single time I looted. For some reason I still didn't enable auto loot at that point. The most annoying shortcoming of this method was that when I was mining, skinning, herbing, etc, and hit the auto loot modifier mid "cast" that it wouldn't apply unless I had it pressed at the start of the cast. I suppose that is an auto loot modifier bug.

So a couple weeks ago I took the plunge and decided that holding a modifier key every time I loot and/or gather was stupid; I enabled auto loot on all my toons (apparently it isn't a global setting). It took a couple days to get used to not hitting the shift key with auto loot on since the modifier I had used for so long to auto loot now had the opposite effect. I can't believe I didn't just auto loot from the beginning.

I think the one add-on that made auto looting a possibility for me was one that could throw away my cheapest vendor item as well as show vendor items by their value in ascending order. Before that I had to look through all my bags (which always seem to be full) and see if what I was picking up was better or worse than what I had. I don't really make the effort to visit a vendor to sell stuff until I have to start chucking those grey items worth a gold or more.

People might think the hybrid tax is measured in performance vs pure classes, but it's really paid in bag space. My druid carries around 4 sets of gear (DPS, tanking, healing and PVP) plus various potions, scrolls, food and whatnot. I think I have 7 bag slots free right now with four 22 slot bags. I really need to burn through some consumables rather than try and ration them. Meanwhile my pure DPS toons are walking around with 47+ free slots.