Monday, November 5, 2012

Ok, I'm Level 90, Now What?

After hitting level 90, and looking to get geared up to raid, it became painfully obvious that grinding reputation with various factions via daily quests wasn't viable.  Reputation grids take weeks of doing dailies, as the name suggests, every day.  I for one don't have the time or ambition to log in each and every day to kill X of this, and click on Y of that.  I do see myself working toward honored with the Golden Lotus faction for my leather working patterns, but other than that I'm not sure I will ever seriously pursue dailies/reputation on any sort of a regular basis.

So after poo-pooing dailies I took a moment to ponder what my actual goal was, to acquire gear that would support raiding in as short a playtime as possible.  Obviously a spreadsheet was in order; a means to locate and exploit the lowest hanging fruit.

As an aside it is also helpful to have an accounting professor in the guild to point out the best low hanging fruit.  That being the 450 quest reward weapon from the Arena of Annihilation scenario, the epic boots from the Sha of Anger world boss quest and of course holiday rewards from Brewfest and Hallow's End.  The first two I probably wouldn't have noticed right away on my own and boy did they help.

Back to the spreadsheet I made while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.  I first came up with a list of all the possible heroic drops and reputation rewards for honored or lower (revered is just too much of a commitment) and went through for each slot listing the possible upgrades.  I then took the list of upgrades and grouped them based on dungeon and faction instead of slot.

Now I needed a way to prioritize which dungeons/factions were worth hitting first.  Item level was of course the answer.  If I take the item level of the upgrade minus the item level of what I've got equipped I can easily weight which dungeons/factions have the most to offer.  The one problem with that is that item level is weighted differently for different slots.

After a quick Google search I got a rough idea of how item levels compare for different slots.  Head, chest, legs and two handed weapons are all weighted at 100% of their item level, shoulders, gloves, belts and boots are all weighted at 75% of their item level, bracers, necklaces, cloaks and rings are all weighted at 56.25% of their item level, and trinkets seem to be the topic of some debate at 68% of their item level.  Lucky I'm a feral druid and don't have to worry about one-handed weapons or off-hands which also seem to be a bit of a mystery.

So after figuring out what each dungeon/faction had to offer in terms of item level increases I had an ordered list of what I should spend my time doing in game when I got a chance.  It turned out Sholomance offered more opportunity for upgrades than anything else so of course I ran that first chance I got.  After deleting the items that were no longer upgrades the weights changed a little and I ran the next dungeon and so on ans so forth.

As it turns out I'm not gaining valor quickly enough to make faction rewards much of a possibility at all, so reputation grinding is really a non-issue.  Something to work on when I don't feel like queuing as a tank and have time to kill while waiting.  I got Klaxxi to honored pretty easily in the dungeon queue thanks to it not being gated by dailies.  As a result I qualify for a neck upgrade I can't yet afford.  By the time I can afford it I might have already gotten a better drop from a raid.  I'm comforted by the thought that dailies are completely optional and I won't need to grind for hours just to gather raid gear.

I've so far reached an item level of 455 out of the 460 I need to queue for LFR and have access to even better rewards for my time.  With any luck a few more priority selected heroics will get me there more quickly than queuing blindly for random heroics.  Eventually the valor points from random heroics and reputation rewards will be a bigger draw, but I am planning on focusing more on having fun by that point and not trying to maximize playtime at the expense of ignoring my new monk.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Aspect of the Fox

It appears as if my blog is back.  It was seemingly deleted accidentally a while back while transferring ownership to a different account.  I've since moved my attention to a new blog, Aspect of the Fox (, with much the same format, but without a pseudonym.  A little more on that in my first post on my new blog.

My main interest in keeping this blog around was originally just to facilitate the transfer of information from one to the other, but now that it is back I am glad to be able to revisit old posts again.  I've been blogging for quite a while now (over three years) and I anticipate extracting a lot of enjoyment out of reading through some old posts.

Seeing as this is likely the last post I will make here I feel I should say something uplifting or memorable; nothing comes to mind.  I am however happy to have the opportunity to extend an invitation to anyone still following this blog to continue to follow me in the future, now that you have the forwarding address and all.

Of Warcraft and Wooing

Yesterday marked a first for me, the first time I got online to play with others while my girlfriend was around.  I suppose this remark warrants a little back story.  We started dating early March and as our relationship progressed I naturally spent more time with her and less time online playing what was 4-5+ month old content at that point.  Signs outs become more frequent on my part and I more or less dropped off the face of Azeroth around the time my raid group downed Deathwing for the first time.

Without getting into the details of what has quickly blossomed into a very serious love filled relationship, I will touch on a recent event which relates to the topic.  At the end of last month my girlfriend moved in with me and over the course of a couple weeks we'd rearranged furniture and integrated all our worldly possessions into what has now become our home.  It was quiet an achievement to get to a point where we could enjoy an evening of leisure rather than plan which of a dozen projects we would tackle before getting to bed and going to work the next morning.  There is still a lot to do, but our living spaces are more or less in order and both cars are in the garage for winter.

The move coincided almost perfectly with the new expansion, and for the first week I hardly even had time to think about logging in.  My girlfriend does spend a fair bit of time traveling and as a result I got a few evenings in last week to start leveling up and preparing to raid.  We've talked quite a bit about my eventually setting aside an evening each week, and she has been very supportive, but it wasn't something I was interested in until the expansion was out.  Just spending time with the woman of my dreams was, and still is, far more appealing than time spent on the computer playing Warcraft.

The difference now is that we live together and have organized our home in such a way that our office, and by extension my computer, is more centrally located, rather than tucked away in an upstairs bedroom.  This confluence of planning and circumstance is what has allowed me to partake in the guilty pleasure that is Warcraft.  I say guilty pleasure because it  is, I can't help but to feel that I've done something wrong when sitting down to play computer games while my girlfriend is doing dishes.  Before anyone agrees too readily to that statement let me mention that it is just as likely to be me doing the dishes while she is otherwise occupied.  We are quite proficient at splitting up the housework.

Despite dropping my girlfriend off at the airport before the butt crack of dawn this morning, and my desire to get 25 more bars of experience before Brewfest ends, I will still be cleaning the bathroom first thing after work in preparation for company next week.  One beautiful thing about love is that even the most menial tasks, when done for love, can be as enjoyable and as fulfilling (if not more so) than any recreational activity.

I'm still tickled that my girlfriend brought me dinner while I was running dungeons with my guildies.  The evening went remarkably well with one notable exception that I wasn't able to pay as much attention to the voice chat over mumble as I would have liked.  It probably came off as a little rude on my part.  Working Warcraft back into my routine is a work in progress and I'm sure it will become easier over time to give my guildies the attention they deserve while at the same time not feeling like I'm ignoring the one I hold dear.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Digs

After writing The Bear Flank from behind a handful of pseudonyms over the course of the past few years, I decided it was time to just be me; and me I shall be.  I've learned a lot of what a blog means to me and what I liked about what I posted and what I didn't.  I grabbed this name, Aspect of the Fox, on a whim a while back (before there was even such a thing introduced to Warcraft), but I never got around to using it as one blog was more than enough to keep my literary needs in check (I like to write, or type as it were).

So I had planned to grab all the stuff I liked from the old blog and paste it to the new, namely some reference materials and links I had posted, but it got clobbered when I deleted the old admin email I wasn't going to use anymore.  I had added a second admin before I did it of course, but apparently there is a bug somewhere in the blogger back-end foiling my plans.  I posted for help on Google's support group and maybe they can help, but in the meantime I'll plan on there being some busy work in my future reinventing the wheel so to speak.

So as for what to expect content wise, Warcraft stuff mostly.  Probably not much, if any, hunter love despite the name.  Likely some ranting about LFR.  Definitely some druid information as my feral druid remains my main character.  Basically whatever happens to be on my mind.  That and a plethora of reference information pertaining to macros and add-ons.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Disturbing Truth

There are certain bits of information you are happier, and perhaps better off, not knowing. A couple examples from the Basic Instructions webcomic I read (link in my blog list to the right): bugs bunny looked better in drag than any of the female looney toons, or that Beaker from the Muppets spoke perfect English but every word needed to be censored. This another case where ignorance is bliss.

Next time you find yourself in bear form (and play a night elf) take a look at your butt, from the side. Pay close attention to what your cute little tail does during the idle animation. How this even got out to the public amazed me. So far as I know this only affects the night elf bear form, but I've not looked at others.

For those of you without easy access to night elf bear form I'll sum up. Like a finger the tail strokes up the backside bottom to top in a most unseemly manner. I'm no expert in bear anatomy, but so far as I know tails don't do that. They do in Warcraft obviously, but probably shouldn't.

So now having noticed this I can either never let my bear idle, or be sure to sit down or change forms. It's like a train wreck; it's terrible; you feel bad about it, but you just can't look away. Oh my.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Replace 25-mans with 15-man Raids

I was doing some thinking about guild raids recently and how we have more than enough for two, but not quite enough for three. It occurred to me how much simpler organizing raid would be if the two sizes were 10 and 15 (or even 10 and 20) rather than 10 and 25.

10 and 25 man raids already give the same rewards, so the only reason to run one over the other is a matter of how many people you have interested in raiding. Although the consensus nowadays seems to be that 25 mans aren't a convenient size. Anyway looking a normal raiding roster fluctuations, sometimes you have a lot of interest and sometimes you don't. In the times of hardship it is a struggle just to get 10 people from week to week and in the times of plenty rotations are a necessary evil.

But with 10 and 15 man raids a 10 man with a 13-14 person roster could easily pick up a few more interested players and run the 15 man version. If there are a bunch of sign outs for whatever reason, they could drop back down to the 10 man version. If there was so much interest that 15 wasn't even enough the raid could split and do two 10 mans which in turn could expand into 15 mans of their own or recombine back into a 15 man. Basically some combination of 10 and 15 could accommodate smooth roster size transitions of any magnitude.

25 mans would still make sense for LFR with role ratios being what they are.

The more I think about 15 man raid vs 25 man the more I like the idea. It solves the whole issue of 25 mans being harder to organize. It allows raid rosters to be more flexible and not exclude people just because there are only 10 spots. It doesn't introduce issues like moving from 40 mans to 25 mans or 25 mans to 10 mans where many people would be unable to raid with the same people after converting. Serious 25 man raid could splint into a 10 man A team and 15 man B team or vice versa.

15 man raid seems an elegant solution to the problem where 10 mans are too small and 25 mans are too big.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pandas are Killing my Feral (Hybrid) Druid

A few weeks ago, probably a couple months now actually, I dropped my hybrid feral/resto specs in favor of a "guardian" (tank) spec and a feral (DPS) spec. Just to see how the hybrid spec I was using compared to a dedicated tank/DPS spec and to get used to the idea of some of the changes coming down the pipe. What I also got was some insight into what some of the changes in the new talent calculator will mean and just how lame the talent choices are for ferals.

My first observation is that when just DPSing in a tank spec, happens a lot when there are two tanks and one of them isn't actively tanking, it just doesn't pay to flip to cat form. That is with all the cat abilities they are taking away from tanks in the next expansion: shred, rip, savage roar and tiger's fury to name the biggies.

On the other side of the coin, pulling a hero bear (flipping from cat to bear to tank in an emergency) is also a thing of the past. With my hybrid spec it saved the day countless times and contributed to many first boss kills. But without crit immunity, and many of the other tanking talents to reduce magic damage and such, it just isn't that effective. If a real tank goes down a poor excuse for a tank isn't going to fair much better; not for long anyway.

That was pretty much the point of splitting feral into two specs though. I guess it works. The problem is that is totally shatters any feelings that druids are a hybrid class. There are a point way back when where balance spells were a widely accepted means of grabbing aggro at the start of a pull. Not sure I really miss that particular detail, but I will be a little sad when I look at my cat or bear bars in my opposite spec and find that they are half empty. What is the point of switching forms when my other form doesn't do anything fun? It just becomes a chore; I have to hit this one button so I can use this one ability and then I have to hit this button to go back.

So here we have the hybrid features of the feral class pretty much entirely gutted, to the point where I don't feel there is any benefit from switching forms anymore, and then we have new talents to pretend we are still a hybrid class. X talent forces you into cat form, or Y talent forces you into bear form. Flipping forms going from a fun utility mechanic to an annoyance that you have to press another button to return to your spec's actual form.

Or that talent that increases the damage of your spell/melee attacks when you do the other. It's only purpose would be for feral DPS to toss heals and regain some of the DPS time lost. I guess that isn't terrible, but only one spec out of four has any business taking it. Just give it to feral DPS and come up with a new talent more than one spec might be interested in.

I think the most insulting one has to be the heart of the wild which is designed to allow a druid to temporarily fill a different role. I wonder just how useful a non crit immune bear with limited mitigation cooldowns is going to be to any encounter. The talent is almost better used to help heal before a tank goes down.

I keep waiting for that something special to show up and fill the void left by the not having reason to flip forms. Feral druids don't have any flashy abilities like other classes, their flash ability was always shifting forms. With shifting out of the picture there needs to be some pizazz in the feral druid specs to make them more than poor imitations of rogues and warriors (ability wise, not performance wise).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Good People Do Nothing

I had the absolute worst luck in LFR last night. I was rotated from my regular raid so I decided to knock out the last half of LFR on the couple toons I wanted a weapon on. The first LFR I ran on my druid went swimmingly, but my polearm of embiggeration did not drop. Sadly I will not become bigger in a vigorous manner for at last another week. That first LFR on my druid the other tank even briefly discussed tanking strategy with me in the form of they let me know what they were doing and I acknowledged I heard them. There really isn't a need for tank communication in LFR, but it's nice when it happens.

My second LFR on my DK I got into a group on the last boss, which I originally thought was good because I only wanted loot off the last boss. There was a small group from Proudmoore in a guild called Hypnotic doing thier best to troll everyone (and they did a pretty good job). The specific players involved were: Riggnaros, Kfchicken, Sylisha, and Porkzqt. Obviously raid geared and knowing what they were doing, but mostly looking to make trouble. They needed on everything; which isn't a surprise, but they even needed on the greens. They bad mouthed everyone, they tried to incite the kicking of people that didn't really deserve it, including myself (it never even went to a vote).

The absolute worst though was when they purposefully wiped us. Three of them went directly to the last platform and DPSed the wing the entire time so that when the rest of the group finally got there we were getting stacks of blistering tentacle debuff before anyone could even kill the big tentacle add. Now anyone else I would assume they just wanted to see what happened, but they blamed just about everyone else and tried to get half the raid kicked. I'm not sure how many attempts they foiled before I got there, but I'd like to think that my calling them out on precisely why we wiped caused them to behave and actually get the boss down the next attempt.

OK I lied, that wasn't the worst part. After I was done with that LFR I was about to log off in disgust when my regular run finished and a bunch of guildies were going to queue for LFR. I decided to go along on my mage who hadn't yet done the first half and I wanted the option to do the second half in the future. Guess what 4 people were in that new group with me? Oh yeah. They were a lot less annoying in that run so far as what they were saying, but they also didn't have as many people feeding the trolls that run. We actually passed a vote to kick one of them, Kfchicken, who made a point of belittling everyone else's contributions each and every fight. That amused me a little.

Still, what I don't understand is why don't people just kick these types of people immediately? Not kicking them just encourages asshat behavior in LFR because they think they can get away with it. Worse than that, other closet asshats might think they can get away with it too and start griefing their next LFR. I think BBB did a much better job elaborating on the evils of encouraging bad behavior by inaction, read his posts here and here on the topic.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Self Modifying Macros: When One Focus isn't Enough

There are three main reasons people use their focus targets in macros: to be able to refresh crowd control without switching targets (self explanatory), to be able to refresh a buff on a friendly target without switching targets (earth shield, misdirection, etc.), and last but not least to track buffs/debuffs and/or spell casts of a specific target (i.e. a healer tracking a boss ability with focus target cast bars). The problem I've run into, and I am sure many others have as well, is that some classes could benefit from using their focus target in more than one way. We need a second focus target, and a third...

After much deliberation, preceded by a fair bit of procrastination, I've come up with a fairly elegant solution for "sharing" a single focus target; let's have the macro remember who to target. Self modifying macros have been a crazy idea in the back of my head for quite a long time, but I wasn't sure if it was possible no less feasible. Then I saw a very promising sentence on wowwiki describing the EditMacro function, "If this function is called from within the macro that is edited, the rest of the macro (from the final character's position of the /run command onward) will run the new version." Not only can you edit a macro while it is running, it will continue to run from the point it left off before being edited! This actually turned out to be a little bit of a bummer too, but more on that later.

So I have to write a macro which does what I want, leave room for an unknown player name up to 12 characters, and also leave room for some lua code to change the name on the fly; with only 255 characters total. It actually wasn't that bad, but a few more characters would have allowed for more thorough targeting conditionals.

Right off the bat there are a couple glaring limitations: you can't edit macros in combat and you can't use GUIDs to select targets (or in layman's terms some trash mobs have the same name, which one will your macro target?). I may eventually find a way around the latter, but I am pretty sure that all the target switching LUA functions are protected. Perhaps it's not really an issue either since how often are there multiple mobs in the same pull with the same name when it isn't an AOE group without CC? Still macros aren't going to be a great way to handle crowd control targets, but they are very good way to remember and retarget players; better than focus targets even if you know how annoying it can be to keep losing your focus between sections of the dragon soul raid.

So here's what I got so far: a misdirection macro for hunters and a tricks of the trade macro for rogues. Fully tested on my hunter and I really liked the way I didn't have to clutter up my UI with a focus frame I wasn't really using.

/use [btn:2];[@asecondfocus,help][help][@targettarget,help][@pet]Misdirection
/stopmacro [btn:1][noraid,noparty]
/run i=GetRunningMacro()EditMacro(i,nil,1,gsub(GetMacroBody(i),"%b@,","@"..UnitName("target")..",",1)..(" "):rep(24))

/use [btn:2];[@asecondfocus,help][help][@targettarget,help][]Tricks of the Trade
/stopmacro [btn:1][noraid,noparty]
/run i=GetRunningMacro()EditMacro(i,nil,1,gsub(GetMacroBody(i),"%b@,","@"..UnitName("target")..",",1)..(" "):rep(21))

The first couple lines look like a regular macro you'd find almost anywhere, with a few less checks perhaps (no room for those frills). I first try and target the "focus", then I try the current target and if it is a hostile I try and target it's target (hopefully a tank). For the misdirect macro I also try the pet as a last resort. If all the targeting checks fall through you'll get a hand to pick a target manually (that should almost never happen).

Then comes the LUA code which is run when the macro is right clicked. Could use a modifier instead and make the macro even shorter, but I prefer not to hit it on accident. Not to mention you can only edit macros out of combat so it's not a big deal to have it super accessible. The code is just a little pattern matching to find and replace the name, "asecondfocus" in the macros above, with the name of your current target. I do check to see if your current target is at least in your party/raid before changing it so you can't accidentally target an NPC.

Then comes this interesting block of code at the end that pads out the macro with spaces so that it is always exactly 255 characters long. This is where that "feature" that continues running a macro from where it left off before being edited comes in. If you right click on someone with a longer name that your previous target your macro text would become longer, but your macro continues running from the end of the old macro causing your character to /say those last few characters of the macro; quite annoying. For example if you target someone with a name that was 3 character longer your character would say something like, "s))". The extra spaces are inert so far as the lua code goes and they make sure the macro never changes length.

Enjoy the most advanced aggro redirection macros in existence; short of installing a plugin anyway. I prefer the macros because they are saved on the server so you can flip PCs and they are always there and you never have to update them after a patch.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mount Macros

The most recent incarnation of my mount macro includes combining it with another ability that is only used in combat. This serves three purposes: it cleans up my action bars, I can't accidentally hit my combat only ability out of combat, and I get a speedy hotkey to mount.

The ability I've chosen for all of my toons is a crowd control and/or snare removal ability. For druids this would be "power shifting" or shifting out of and back into your current form, expending a global cooldown in the process. Obviously shifting forms isn't something that burns a cooldown out of combat, but I'm just being consistent between toons. I've also got my mount combined with Cloak of Shadows (Rogue), Tremor Totem (Shaman), Lichborne (Death Knight), Fear Ward (Priest), Master's Call (Hunter), Escape Artist (Gnome), and Hand of Freedom (Paladin).

Right now everyone has 3-4 mounts they use on a regular basis: an Abyssal Seahorse, a flying mount, a ground mount, and perhaps an additional RP type mount. I know my Worgen have use an additional ground mount just for fun when they don't want to use Running Wild. So keeping all of these things in mind my mount macros look something like the following:

Worgen Rogue

/use [combat] Cloak of Shadows; [btn:2] Black Stallion; [swimming,mod] Abyssal Seahorse; [flyable,nomod] Magnificent Flying Carpet; Running Wild


/use [nocombat,swimming,mod] Abyssal Seahorse; [nocombat,flyable,nomod] Swift Flight Form; [nocombat] Swift Zulian Panther; [form:1] !Bear Form; [form:2] !Aquatic Form; [form:3] !Cat Form; [form:5] !Moonkin Form; !Travel Form

As you can see out of combat the Abyssal Seahorse will only be used if you are swimming and using a modifier key, otherwise if you can fly it will use your flying mount and otherwise your ground mount. In the case of my Worgen I use a right click to use an alternative ground mount. Using a modifier will also use your ground mount over your flying mount, sometimes it comes in handy. In combat these macros behave just like the ability or abilities you combined it with.