Archive for February, 2009

25
Feb
09

When all things are equal

Guestpost on BigHitBox on Feb 26, 2009

Blizzards view, according to the blue posters, is that pure classes, should “all other things being equal” do slightly more damage than hybrid classes.

I’ll assume that hybrid classes are defined as: “classes that can multirole (i.e. heal, dps, tank)”. If this is incorrect, please correct me.

The justification is that since hybrids can multirole, they shouldn’t do quite as much damage as the pure classes. Which seems fair enough?

However, what is the benefit of being a hybrid, if your hybridization is not needed in a raiding situation? In other words, am I to be penalised as a fury warrior, because I can tank? Is the elemental shaman to be penalised because they can heal?

Some will say: “Yes of course, because you can tank. At a moments notice, you can switch to tanking, and the elemental shaman can switch to healing. With 3.1 even more so, albeit out of combat.”

While that is correct, the inherent ability to do things, does not equate to actually having a need for doing things. You can argue that its semantics, yet if Blizzard insist on the hybrids-vs-pures line of reasoning, I, for one, would like to see the examples of it utilised as more than a simple argument for differentiating between damage output.

Taking an example in a 10man raid (I raid 10 mans only, due to being in a small guild). The agreed upon setup for entry level in a raiding instance is usually 2 tanks, 3 healers, 5 dps. How many encounters need 3 tanks, or 4 healers? None. However, you do need at least 2 tanks in most cases, essentially taking the offtanking position into the realm of fulltime tanks.

The main point is here: How is it justified to say that hybrid classes should do less DPS, if the utility gained from their hybridisation is nullified by the encounter mechanics, or not used by the majority of raiding groups?

Are we going to see encounters that need more tanks in Ulduar? Are we going to see encounters that need healing rather than DPS? Somehow, I doubt it, since it will grossly favour small raiding groups bringing hybrids rather than pure classes. Which isn’t fair either?

So if hybrids are not needed to perform their multiroling, because the risk of pushing pure classes out, why are they doing less damage? If you bring a fury warrior, fully intending them to do nothing but DPS, why aren’t they allowed to do the same DPS as a mage, all other things being equal?

Perhaps it is worth considering bringing back the viability of CC? Or even the need for it in raids. Currently, most CC is done by the tank, and consists of holding mass aggro while mobs are being nuked post haste. It’s a topic all of its own, so I’ll merely pose one question here:

Given that the pure classes are traditionally the ones with most of the CC, would it not make sense to let that offset the hybridisation ability of other classes?

In other words, let “…but you can tank!” be offset by “And you can sheep.” It will take a lot of encounter design, and will cause problems of its own. But seeing as most people would rather be of use apart from “just being there to bring the numbers”, would it not be a way forward? Let DPS be equal, but let people have a use for their class abilities, which in reality differentiate classes much more than the name or size of their nuking ability.

The above is of course taken from the perspective of a DPS warrior. From a protection warrior, or other mainspec tank, it would be quite a different position. Is it wrong? Is it right? Is it completely irrelevant? Is it just me asking silly questions?

24
Feb
09

Don’t scroll too fast through the 3.1 patch notes

You’ll miss the warrior notes. I did. Suddenly I was well into the professions instead. So back up I went, and found this entry (which you can peruse here or here):

Warrior
Arms

  • Blood Frenzy improved to 2/4% increased damage.
  • Heroic Throw missile speed increased.

Compared to the other classes, its eeeever so slightly underwhelming, what they’re doing to warriors. At least off the bat. Remember how ghostcrawler said things will come in waves, and that the initial patch notes aren’t the final ones? So no need to enrage.

Yet.

Plainly obvious are the missing notes from the initially posted patch notes. This can mean one of several things, and probably a mixture of several.

  1. They don’t want to change things
  2. The changes are far enough from working order that they wont test them yet
  3. None of the above

Re 1, I fear that’s the likely explanation for the stance dance change. Call me negative, but when Blizzard openly admit that they put them up to get a discussion going, and that they can’t currently see how it would improve things, then it’s not a good sign.

Re 2, I believe this is where most of the proposed arms changes are currently hiding. Its the old fiddly job of making sure arms are buffed, but without destroying balance due to too high bursts. 

Re 3, who knows what goes on in the hive mind of the Blizzard designers. They don’t share everything with us, nor do they have to. There may be internal bugs, there may be balancing issues with T9, all those kinds of internal and “under development” issues.

As a fury warrior, there is not much to be found in these patch notes, at least not yet. In fact there’s nothing at all. In its own way, that does leave me feeling a little underwhelmed. However, we are not broken, nor do we have any major dysfunctions, as a class. In fact, we’re pretty peachy just now, so I don’t believe anybody should expect anything major or exciting. However, if Blizzard truly intends to have us be a stance dancing class, which uses abilities across all stances, why not implement something that will at least make furies consider switching to Battle Stance.

Don’t know about you, but I enjoy new toys and a fresh challenge now and again.

23
Feb
09

Will they or wont they?

This was intended to be the next installment of the Rend discussions. As most of us have already

This may be the only Rend you're likely to see

This is likely to be the only Rend you'll see

read, it currently looks unlikely that the rage changes will take effect. Unlikely, but not impossible.

If it goes ahead, then I suspect that a lot of people, especially PVP’ers, will have a bit of a fit. Currently, in a low rage situation, all is well. You can swap stance, drop your hamstring/overpower/rend and swap back. Tactical mastery ensures you keep 25 rage when switching. Come 3.1 they’d lose 10 rage, no matter their current total. One may think: “But why is this such a horrific change?”

At least, I thought that.

It probably has to do with me being less than entirely interested in PVP. In a PVE situation, rage is sometimes in short supply, but in general you’re never rage-dry for extended periods of time (3-5 seconds is not an extended period, even if it feels like it). Rage starvation will hurt DPS to be sure, but with careful management of it, you can avoid most rage droughts.

Consider now the PVP’er. Apart from Piercing Howl, warriors have very few possibilities for stopping somebody. Theres Intercept, certainly, but it tends to be on a cooldown. And unless you can kill somebody in the couple of seconds you have, you really want a means of hindering them from running. Enter hamstring, which is Battle Stance only. Like Overpower and Rend. The trouble begins when our gallant PVP’er switches to battle stance and finds he doesnt have the rage to Hamstring. He should switch when he has more rage then, shouldn’t he. Enter the next problem: your source of rage (i.e. the other PVP’er) isn’t likely to stand still while you build up a bit of rage.

So we’re at the crux of the matter, nearly at least. The current mechanics benefit low-rage situations, whereas the new mechanics would benefit high-rage situations. From Blizzards perspective, there is the added matter of their philosophy for rage usage versus stances. We’re supposed to swap between them to use all our abilities, and we’re supposed to lose most of it when doing so. And the effects of switching should be easily calculable, as in REALLY easy. Percentage losses in rage are too complex, according to the crab. And to be honest, if rage loss when stance dancing becomes a longish formula, then its too complex.

The easiest solution is to simply leave the current mechanic in place. That will retain the status quo. PVP’ers will do their thing, and furies like me will never ever consider Battle Stance for anything. Which, to me at least, is a little sad. There are many warriors that never use one third of their abilities, and while it doesn’t hamper my ability to play, how many other classes have this? How many mages never use one tree? How many warlocks or rogues never use abilities associated with a certain tree? Granted, its a choice, and some people do mix it up, even raiders. But as a DPS class, fury warriors live on their DPS in a raid, and the benefits of stance dancing with the current systems are too small.

The second possibility is that Blizzard change to their proposed stance mechanics. That will cause forced changes to PVP tactics, as discussed above. Quite frankly, it may (or not) cause warriors to become hopeless in PVP. Notice how I shy away from a prediction. I would see this change as a benefit, because it makes stance dancing in raids viable, but if half the warrior population cheer while the other cries, then its not an improvement.

Numerous convoluted schemes come to mind inbetween these two models. One could be a glyph of Tactical Mastery, that lets you keep more rage, or even changes the rage loss into a percentage. Essentially a glyph that PVE’ers can use to make a PVP oriented ability into a PVE one. The precedent is the Glyph of Thunderstorm for elemental shamans, where the knockback is turned into mana regen. It has made a semi useless ability into a worthwhile PVE AOE. Another idea could be rage loss dependent on stance, possibly target stance.

At the core of the issue is: Is there a definite need for a change at all? Does Blizzard feel that fury warriors use Battle Stance too little?

To conclude something at least, I think there’s a very little chance of Blizzard changing the rage loss mechanics. Benefit versus cost just doesn’t make it worthwhile. Instead we might see stance penalties changed, to make stances more interesting. That, of course, is a topic all of its own.

20
Feb
09

The ten DPS commandments – Week 1

The ten commandments for DPS have made the rounds on the internet of late. They sum melee DPS up pretty well. I find it hard to add anything to them really. So why make a post at all, if the ten commandments are all that are needed?

Like the original 10 commandments, they are very general and non-specific. That is not to say they are poor, far from it. Rather, they show you the truth, but don’t tell you how to get to it. One may hold the truth in ones hand, yet not know how to implement it. With that in mind, I’ll offer my take on the meaning of each of the commandments in turn. Every week another post on the do’s and don’t of furying.

I. Do not die. Even if you can Ankh. Using your death as an aggro wipe is an abomination.

There it is, simple and straightforward. Don’t die. A veritable nobrainer indeed. Just avoid hitting 0 HP.

And yet, it happens time and time again that some melee dps’er gets themselves deadered by some mob or other. Usually, either because of overaggroing or because of not looking at the HP bar. Summed up: lack of situational awareness. If you don’t stay focused, if you just mash your buttons while oblivious to the world, you’ll likely end up dead.

The first thing is, don’t overaggro. Especially not at the beginning of the fight. Tanking classes vary, and tanks vary. While its undoubtedly the job of the tank to output masses of threat, remember that the tank also needs to keep themselves alive. So, their TPS curve might not be as steep as your TPS curve. Generally, a tank will out-TPS anybody after a while, but its essential to give them that little head start.

If you do catch aggro, stop your DPS, especially if its a nontauntable mob. You are already 10% ahead of the tank in threat, so the tank has enough of a problem getting aggro back from you without you adding more threat. If the mob is tauntable, the taunt might be on cooldown, in which case see below. It’s still a dicey game, since one is rarely uncrittable in DPS gear. Moral of the story, watch your aggro.

The next point is, use your health pots and healthstones. Don’t hesitate, thinking “But I only have one per fight. I might need it later.” If you die now, you can be sure that you wont need it later. So use your pots, use your healthstones. Thats why you brought them. If you’re hurting, but not immediately at risk, Enraged Regeneration is your friend. 30% of your health over 10 seconds can’t be bad. It’s no good against the mob hitting you, but it’ll help the healer keep the tank alive.

If you know you’ll take a pummelling, use your Commanding shout. It helps every other melee DPS’er too. If you’re really taking heat and no healing is in sight, defensive stance and a shield have been known to keep people alive. Shield Wall isn’t only for tanks. Yes, you’re desperate when you need to use it, but a live warrior still fights. A dead one is just ornamentation. And in desperate times, a few seconds might mean the difference between getting the situation under control and wiping.

The short of the long is: dying is the first and worst crime a DPS’er can commit. When you’re dead, you output exactly 0 DPS, and you’re being a hindrance rather than an asset to your raid. Sure, you may have the most awesome DPS when you’re alive, but fat load of good it does while youre eating the muck beneath the tanks feet. If your Omen screams at you, or if your healthbar looks distinctly empty, don’t rely on somebody else to save your sorry behind. Self reliance is what separates the living from the dead.

“I am the warrior. Death is my business, be it yours or mine.”

We all know which death is the right one, and which is the wrong one.

20
Feb
09

“I don’t tank, I’m DPS”

Prevalent mainly in places like Alterac Valley, but also seen in instances, even in raids. Generally adamant about tanking. It cannot be done, no way. What in blazes am I talking about? Or rather, who am I talking about?

Disclaimer: This is a rant. Nothing more, nothing less. If you think you might be offended, don’t read on.

From the shores of Tanaris, to the hells of Northrend, the warrior is a hardy breed. Born for battle, with a bloodlust second to none, these heavily armoured behemoths turn their enemies to bloody heaps. They wield fearsome weapons and armour. Their screams make their enemies shiver and fear for their sorry lives.

But hand them a shield, and these hardened veterans, these steely eyed grunts, these thundering titans…they go all “Oh is that the time?! I have washing up to do!” and scamper off, or they suddenly develop a huge interest in their toenails. Often have I heard the crickets chirp in Alterac Valley when somebody asked the raid “Who tanks?”

Stop acting like bloody schoolgirls, and start acting like warriors!

It makes me sick to my heart when I hear a warrior utter the magical words “I don’t tank, I’m DPS”. It makes me want to retch, and it makes me want to shout at them to reroll a rogue. Actually, strike that. Not a rogue. Rogues would make better tanks than those sorry excuses for warriors. Ever hear rogues boast about how they evasion tanked a boss?! Some of the warriors I’ve met could learn a thing or three there.

“But we cannae tank lass. We dunnae generate aggro enough, or have th’nice talents!”

Poppycock! You have all the talents you need. You are no main tank for a raid boss, but you are thoroughly able to generate more than enough aggro to tank adequately. As for panic buttons, granted, there could be more, but for most purposes we have enough.

“I say wotwot, I don’t have the gear hip hip.”

Then don’t just stand there. Go get it! It’s all over the place y’know. Seriously though, tanking gear is not hard to come by, especially with the crafted plate stuff. The BOE epics are more than adequate, and they’re not fiendishly expensive.

“Aren’t you just a little uptight about this?”

Yes. Live with it. And prepare to be kicked out of my party if I hear you say the magical words.

Granted, I can understand dps warriors reluctance to tank. Hey, I share it. If I can avoid it, I prefer to let a tank tank, and to each their own. People should do whatever they feel like. However, trying to pretend that the “other” class role doesn’t exist, is simply not on in my book. You’re a warrior, a berserking flurry of steel and spikes…but you’re also a tank, a shield carrying scratching post for the big mean things of Azeroth. If you prefer the title “protector of the weak and robewearing” thats also fine. But you’re still a tank, and no amount of denying, foot stamping, violin playing or other nonsense will change it.

When the need arises, I’m prepared to strap on my sword and board. Why aren’t you?

18
Feb
09

Uuuulduuaaaaar!

Blizzard released a sneak peek at Ulduar. Of course, not a lot of hard information, but what little was there was good. If you haven’t read about it yet, head over to WoW-Europe or MMO Champion for a quick rundown.

Concept art

Vehicle combat will return. People who dislike the Malygos and Eregos fights, prepare to dislike Ulduar too. It’s definitely going to be a gimmick fight, since we’ll be relying on the abilities of our vehicles rather than our own, but at least we’ll get bonuses based on our gear level. No more naked bossfights (Eregos, I’m looking at you, you filthy old dragon you) then, which is a bummer if you wipe a lot. Ultimately it’ll give us back some control however.

Freya, Thorim and Hodir will be making an appearance too. Well, it’s certainly nothing new that the big evil guys enslave the good guys, and make us fight them. It’s getting ever so slightly worn around the edges however. Yes, villains in WoW have a delightfully twisted humour, but perhaps we could have one of these beings remain unsullied for once? Of course, name dropping doesn’t mean they will be bosses automatically. And Blizz have had turncoat bosses before, that turned out to help the players (Majordomo Executus anybody?) in the end.

One question on many peoples minds is, will there be trash? And I think its fair to say there will be. You don’t have a dungeon without trash, even if Azjol Nerub proved that you dont need a whole lot of it. Is it a sign of things to come, a dungeon without much trash, but with long encounters along the lines of Rajaxx, Kel’Thuzad and Krik’thir the Gatewatcher? Of course, nothing is more frustrating than wiping on wave 7 of 8. But it’s yet another bit in Blizzards toolchest for instances.

One can hope that Blizzard incorporate some of the many storylines into the raid proper. The Brann fight in HoS might not be a favourite, but as far as lore goes, it’s a winner. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Brann inside the instance, in fact I think it’s nearly a given.

Ulduar is the spiritual successor to Uldaman, the followup to the hugely frustrating Uldum quest line. It tags onto Un’Goro and Sholazar. It’s been a long time in coming, but finally we will get to see the Titan place above all others, the pinnacle of what started as a humble story of dwarves seeking their roots. Finally, it’s coming.

17
Feb
09

Rendering a rotation

In this post, I discussed the feasibility of a Rend rotation. The following is an example of a rotation. It’s by no means the only one, and it may prove less ideal than others, but its my initial idea for a Rend rotation. The assumtion is an unglyphed Rend.

You will note that it’s only 16s long. The reason is, that two full CD’s of WW takes 16 seconds. BT comes off CD after 16.5, but due to the GCD, it cant be used before 17.5s, which is essentially the same situation as at 1.5s.

  • 0s: WW
  • 1.5s: BT
  • 3s: Rend
  • 4.5s: (Slam)
  • 6.5s: BT
  • 8s: WW
  • 9.5s: (Slam)
  • 11.5s: BT
  • 13s: (Slam)
  • 14.5: Free GCD
  • 16s: WW

Rend will be up for 15/16ths of this rotation, following the initial 3s delay. Bloodsurge procs that occur between 14.5s and 15.5s will run out, due to the application of WW, BT and Rend at the beginning of the rotation.

To be viable for inclusion in the rotation, Rend would have to make up for the potentially lost Slam. Since the Rend rage cost is double that of Slam, from a pure damage/rage perspective, it should do double the damage to break even.

Assuming an AP of 3300 and using the Demise (happens to be my current MH), furthermore assuming an unglyphed and non-improved Rend, we get the following values:

Slam: 1728 damage (115.2 damage/rage)
Rend: 1858 damage (61.9 damage/rage)

Not much of a competition really. But the Slam we are losing has only a 20% chance of occurring. Furthermore, we have to subtract the chances of it proccing off the subsequent WW and BT, both of which would negate the proc by overwriting it. Hence, the probability is 12.8%. So over a sufficient number of rotations, the resulting damage is:

Slam: 0.128×1728=221.2 damage
Rend: 1858 damage

This translates into the following DPS increase:

Slam: 13.8
Rend: 116.1

While Slams damage/rage ratio is still better than Rend, it translates into less dps due to the proccing nature of Bloodsurge. It is furthermore only relevant to procs occurring in the 1s window between 14.5s and 15.5s, which basically means it has to proc off a HS which hits at some point after 14.5s. If it hits earlier, there is a theoretical possibility of hitting Slam again at 14.5s without delaying the WW.

The keen observer will not that all of this discussion is based on a 1 second window at the end of a rotation. In practical terms, I think its fair to include any HS between 13s and 16s that hits. Even with flurry and haste, it is unlikely to be more than one however, given the weapons speeds of TG warriors.

The tentative conclusion is, that Rend is viable, from a dps point of view, given latencies and reaction times that support it without delaying the normal rotation. So far so good. The last step is to examine the viability from a rage generation viewpoint. So stay tuned for more rending madness.