Monday, March 30, 2009

Fixing Chain Disconnecting

Cadfael at Elitist Jerks has written a guide to fixing disconnecting in raids. It's long and detailed, with several fixes that can help if you are suffering from:

  • Sometimes disconnects after porting / logging in to Dalaran
  • Disconnects at heavy raid AOE damage and events like Thaddius, Gluth
  • Chain disconnects in general
  • Excessive disconnects at Sartharion
  • Excessive long phase of "red question marks" after a patch when the client's cache was deleted or you don't see NPCs and player for a long time or even disconnect seemingly unmotivated after a new patch often
  • Often disconnect after porting in or out of an instance

It's an extremely good article that has a lot of suggestions that can easily be implemented.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Email Scam

So I received this email today:

***NOTICE OF FINAL WARNING***

Account Action: 3 Hour Suspension

Account Offense: Violation of EULA and Terms of Service - Transfer of Account Ownership

Details: An investigation of your World of Warcraft account has found strong evidence that the account in question is being sold or traded. In accordance with EULA section 4, Paragraph B, listed below:

World of Warcraft -> Legal -> End User License Agreement

and Section 8 of the Terms of Use:

Blizzard Entertainment -> Legal -> Terms of Use

A 3-hour probationary suspension is pending on this account, awaiting confirmation from a specialist. A final warning has been issued. The investigation will be continued by the Account Administration team to determine the any further suspensions. If the account in question is found in violation of the EULA and Terms of Use, further action will be taken. Be aware that any additional inappropriate actions may result in the permanent closure of the account.

Thank you for respecting our position on this matter.

**In order to prevent an elongated suspension, we request that you verify your legitimate ownership of the account here:

[Address redacted]

Any disputes or questions concerning this account action can only be addressed by Account Administration. To learn more about how Account Administration is able to assist you, please visit us at http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowaa/.

Account security is solely the responsibility of the accountholder. Please be advised that in the event of a compromised account, Blizzard representatives typically must lock the account. In these cases the Account Administration team will require faxed receipt of ID materials before releasing the account for play.

Please visit the World of Warcraft Policies and Terms of Use Agreement: (http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowgm/?id=agm01712p) and (http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/termsofuse.shtml) for further information.

Regards,
Ezartial
Billing & Account Administration
Blizzard Entertainment
Account Administration Overview

This email is a scam. But I have to admit that it is very good. It looks professional, has lots of links to real Blizzard sites. Heck, it might even be a real Blizzard email, but with a couple extra lines added. It almost got me, I actually logged into WoW to check if my account was suspended. But the middle link (which I redacted) actually points to some *.tk domain. Thankfully I didn't click on it.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if you cannot trust your communication lines at all. Email is rapidly approaching that point. Phone lines have begun their slide, as anyone who's received those automated voice notifications of winning contests will know. Maybe we'll have to go back to imposing a per-message cost on communications, so scams like this become economically unfeasible. I don't really want to see the cost of email increase, but better that than having email/phones become completely useless.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Enough, Part II

Gevlon comments on the previous post:

My point was that the content defines "good enough". You are right that you can select the guild. However the selection goes for content and not for effort. Effort is defined by content.

This is true to a degree. But I think it's still a good idea to farm and exceed content requirements for several reasons:

1. Future Content

We are not just gearing for the current fight, we are gearing for future fights. Sure, if Patchwerk only requires 2.5K DPS, you're fine. But what do you do when the next fight requires 5K DPS? If you prepare beforehand, you're golden. Otherwise, you have to work on getting the required gear instead of trying the fight you really want to do.

The moment Ulduar comes out, we're going to drop Naxx like a hot potato and dive straight in.

2. More Options

If your gear exceeds requirements, it gives you more flexibility. You can do easy encounters or hard encounters as you choose. You can bring alts, because the mains can handle it. You can let a healer attempt to DPS Scions of Eternity for an Achievement, instead of needing her to heal 100% of the time.

It's like having a lot of gold. You don't need 50K gold. Personally, aside from buying my Epic flying, I've never exceeded 5K gold at any one time. But having more gold on hand makes life easier, because it gives you more options.

Additionally, it also gives you flexibility in recruiting. If a portion of your raid exceeds minimums, it allows you recruit good under-geared players and gear them up without having to go back and farm old content.

3. Greater Margin

Better gear reduces the probability of a catastrophic mistake. If you kill a boss in 5 minutes instead of 10, it's less likely that someone will make a mistake which causes a wipe.

As well, better gear allows you to be successful with less skill. Yes, Ensidia and the other top 10 guilds can probably blow through content with minimum gear requirements. But most of us are not Ensidia. If my time-on-target is 10% less than an Ensidia rogue--because she's better at movement--I'm going to need to hit 11% harder in order to do the same damage.

4. Raids are More Fun

Most of us raid because we enjoy raiding. But honestly, wiping on content we've already beaten is not fun at all. A high degree of effort leads to faster, cleaner raids which is more fun for everyone.

Wipes also increase the effort required. For example, my guild uses Food+Flask on all our Naxx runs, even though we probably don't need to. But wiping incurs repair costs and wastes time. The Food+Flask contributes to a faster run with a minimum of additional costs.

5. Expectation Management

If you expect more from people, they will respond to that, and rise to the challenge. If you expect the bare minimum, then the minimum is all they will give you.

Maybe Food+Flask is unnecessary. But it is a signal to the raid that you are willing to give 100% on this attempt. That you are willing to incur a cost, maybe even just a symbolic cost, to ensure success.

I think people respond to that, mirror the group they find themselves in. If you're in a raid where people slack off, often you will start to slack off as well. If you're in a raid which has high expectations, often you will rise to meet those expectations.

Conclusion

The most important part is to have the entire raid on the same page as to what "good enough" means. But there are significant advantages to having a higher standard of "good enough" than is strictly required for content.

However, it's also possible to take this too far, especially when looking at new content. By far the most important element in mastering new content is spending time on it, not gearing up for it. If Ulduar comes out, and you decide to spend a few weeks farming Kel'Thuzad instead of trying new bosses, you are making a mistake. But having a raid that chose to exceed the minimum requirements back in Naxx will help you greatly in Ulduar.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good Enough

Gevlon had a post up about gear and effort where he states that "hunting for best-in slots, grinding an ilvl 213 to replace an ilvl 200 epic is pointless." He is immediately taken to task for this attitude in the comments.

However, I'm much more sympathetic to Gevlon's view. We all have our limits, the things we are not willing to do.

For example, here's a list of things I'm not willing to do:

  1. Switch professions. I'm Enchanting/Mining, and I really have no idea why. But I'm not willing to switch and power-level professions to whatever the flavor of the month currently is.*
  2. Raid more than 3 days a week.
  3. Take time off work.
  4. Give someone else my account information so they could play my characters if I am not there.
A lot of these items are common practices at the very top end.

Everyone settles for "good enough", it's just that our definitions of "good enough" vary. One of the important factors when looking for a guild is find a guild with a similar definition of "good enough". If one person's definition is much lower than the rest of the guild, or much higher, it will cause resentment, and eventually drama and unhappiness.

If you food+flask every fight, and other people don't, it will grate. If everyone uses food+flask, but you're unhappy about spending the time to get consumables, it will grate on you as well. In both cases, you would probably better off in separate guilds (or at least, in separate raids).

Again, it's about shared expectations. Groups work best when everyone is on the same page, and has the same understanding about what "good enough" really means.

*Actually, I am thinking of switching Mining to Jewelcrafting or Blacksmithing. But I don't have a gatherer alt, so I'm procrastinating.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Evaluating Wrath Design, Part I

With 3.1 coming in the near future, it's time to take a look back at 3.0. However, rather than focusing on specific elements like raids or questing, let's examine some of the changes in direction that Wrath came up with. I'll keep to a very simple thumbs up or thumbs down system, and this will probably span multiple posts.

Bring the Player, not the Class

The concept of "Bring the Player, not the Class" has proved to be extremely attractive to the playerbase. It caught the imagination, and has pretty much been embraced whole-heartedly. As for execution, I think Blizzard has done a really good job. There's a couple of exceptions, such as Death Knight tanks with cooldowns, maybe Rogues in general, and Shaman Bloodlust/Heroism, but overall you don't really need to min-max raid composition anywhere close to what was necessary before Wrath. Just grabbing a good mix of classes is all you need.

Verdict: Thumbs Up!

Phasing

The new phasing tech, where how the world is presented to you changes as you complete quests, allows players to actually have an effect on the world, and is extremely cool. The Ebon Blade and Argent Dawn questlines in Icecrown are cited as a high point of the questing experience, and it is entirely due to their use of phasing. I am quite excited to see how Blizzard develops this further.

Verdict: Thumbs Up!

Championing

Championing factions, where you gain rep with a faction when running instances wearing their tabard, is a much, much better way of earning reputation than the previous methods. Breaking the link between factions and specific instances was really necessary. It gives you so much more flexibility in choosing what instances you want to run, and ensures that you are always working on the reputation you want.

Second, I think championing works very well on a thematic level, tying the current faction to the tabard you wear. Theres a nice visual and thematic emphasis there, that just makes the whole mechanic work. Wearing the faction's tabard really drives home the point that you are doing things in their name. As well, the tabard slot doesn't cause you to lose a gear slot, unlike previous versions such as the Argent Dawn trinket.

I like championing so much, I was very disappointed that the Sons of Hodir didn't have a tabard.

Verdict: Thumbs Up!

Glyphs

In the original incarnation of glyphs, they often had both a positive and a negative side. They weren't just bonuses, but they actually changed the nature of the spell. The classic example is the Flash of Light glyph, which cut the heal in half, but added a HoT.

That idea seems to have been mostly abandoned. Now most glyphs are outright bonuses to your chosen spells, and are far less interesting. To be honest, Glyphs seem unnecessary to me, occupying much the same space as talents.

Verdict: Thumbs Down!

Ask Coriel: Healing Mods

Mike asks:

I wanted to know if you use any mods to help in seeing who needs to be healed and who needs buffs. I don't plan to heal much just in those cases when my guild do old world runs for fun and I'm the only healer class available. well I take that back I might dual spec healing once it comes out :)

I use the mod Grid to see the healthbars of everyone in the raid. Grid can also be configured to show when a specific buff or debuff is on a character, and I have mine set to show Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield.

For paladin Blessings, I use PallyPower.

Those are pretty much the only mods I use. I do have all my heals use a macro so they cast on mouseover.
/cast [target=mouseover, help][] Holy Light

This allows me to just hover my mouse cursor over the person's healthbar on Grid and cast the heal, rather than explicitly switching targets.

That's about it for mods and macros that I use for healing. It's pretty much just Grid + mouseover macros.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sheath of Light and Paladin Scaling

I like the idea of Sheath of Light. But the way it has been implemented has contributed to some weirdness with paladin scaling. The purpose of Sheath of Light was to let heals cast by a Ret paladin scale in a small way, rather than remaining extremely weak all the time.

However, there are 3 types of paladin abilities:

  1. Abilities that scale with Attack Power only. These are mostly offensive abilities that belong to Protection and Retribution.

  2. Abilities that scale with Attack Power and Spell Power. These are baseline abilities that all specs use, such as Judgement and Consecration.

  3. Abilities that scale with Spell Power only. Heals, and Holy Shock.

The interaction of Sheath of Light and category 2 in particular is problematic. I remember that during the Wrath Beta, Seal of Righteousness was often the best Seal for Ret. Eventually it got nerfed down, but became very weak for Holy, and had to be buffed with a deep Holy talent. The reason this happened is because if the SP coefficient was high, Sheath would allow Ret paladins to use a lot of that SP coefficient, and the ability would outstrip Category 1 abilities. Balancing paladin numbers would have been a lot cleaner if Sheath did not affect abilities in Category 2. That way you could balance the AP coefficient around Retribution/Protection paladins, and separately balance the SP coefficient around Holy Paladins.

Even in Category 3, Sheath doesn't affect all abilities. Most notably, Sacred Shield doesn't scale with the granted Spell Power. This may have been an oversight at first, but now is maintained for PvP balance reasons.

When you get right down to it, Sheath of Light as it exists right now is overly broad. We don't really want to give Ret lots of Spell Power for general use. Most of the abilities Retribution uses scale primarily with AP, and adding extra SP scaling just complicates things. But we do want to give a Retribution paladin the option of increasing the power of her heals.

Sheath of Light should become a lot narrower in scope. The SP granted should explicitly apply to Holy Light and Flash of Light only. Then the coefficients of all the Category 2 abilities should be retuned so that each spec has an appropriate result. (The same idea would apply to Touched by the Light in Protection.) I think this would make paladin scaling cleaner and simpler. AP and SP scaling would no longer depend on each other, but would remain completely separate.

Of course, this would drastically change the value of Sheath of Light. It might come to be considered a PvP-only seal. But untangling AP and SP from each other would be an overall benefit for the paladin class.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Will the Last Hybrid Paladin Please Turn Off the Lights?

From the latest patch notes:

Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.

I don't speak for all paladins. In fact, at this point in the game I probably speak for very few of them. I belong to the Hybrid faction of paladins. It's probably because I created my paladin so many years ago, when the class was very different.

The Hybrid faction holds that the paladin should not overspecialize, that the baseline 0/0/0 paladin should be minimally compentent at healing, DPS, or tanking. Not raid-viable, but minimally competent. A Ret paladin should be able to heal a little bit, to tank at least the normal instances and group quests in the proper gear. In a pinch, maybe even play a small part in a raid. A levelling paladin should be able to handle all of these roles, regardless of spec.

I've tanked Tidewalker murlocs as Holy. I've healed as Protection. I've tanked all the normal Wrath instances as Retribution. To me, being able to do all this is an essential part of the paladin identity. I understand the need for specialization in the current game, but being a hybrid--being able to contribute to a role that we are not specced for--is still important to some of us. It's why we chose this class over all the others.

But for this to work, the baseline paladin must have access to all the necessary tools. For healing, we need Flash of Light and Holy Light. For damage we need Judgement and a damage Seal. For tanking we need Righteous Fury and Spiritual Attunement. By themselves, these tools alone will never make us raid-viable or preferred. But they allow us to try.

In the past, Blizzard has understood the Hybrid perspective. They gave us talents like Sheath of Light and Touched by the Light that allow the non-healer specs to heal more effectively. They reworked Fanaticism when the threat reduction was introduced, so that Retribution would still be able to tank.

Holy needs Spiritual Attunement to tank, to fulfill the hybrid nature of the paladin. Retribution at least has a replacement with Judgements of the Wise.

Maybe this doesn't matter in a world of specialists. Maybe dual-specs puts the final nail into the paladin-as-hybrid coffin. But I hope Blizzard reconsiders removing Spiritual Attunement from Holy's reach. I know that Spiritual Attunement is broken for a healing paladin and raid damage. But I think that there are other, better solutions.

My suggestion is to fold Spiritual Attunement into Righteous Fury and add a penalty to keep Holy from using it. Turn it into more of a true tanking stance.
Righteous Fury
24% of base mana
Instant cast
Increases the threat generated by your Holy spells by 90%, but the amount healed by your spells is reduced by 50%. When healed by other friendly targets' spells, the paladin gains an amount of mana equal to 8% of the amount healed. Lasts 30 min.

Alternatively, rather than a 50% reduction in healing power, maybe you could condition Illumination to only work when Righteous Fury is not active, just like Fanaticism. The baseline paladin could still tank if necessary, but the extra threat makes RF unattractive to a dpsing paladin, while the healing penalty makes RF unattractive to the healing paladin.

Even if you don't like my suggestion, I hope that you understand my perspective on the paladin class. It may not be a common perspective anymore, but I think it is still of value.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rolling On DPS Gear While Healing

Andrew asks:

Looking for your opinion, and if you choose to blog it, the wider community on whether it’s reasonable to run an instance (or potentially a Raid) as a healer (or tank) but request to roll on only dps items? I refer mostly to Pugs as guilds will have their own rules on this.

Background, been raiding as a Holy Pally for a while, geared with quite a few best in slot, probably only 8-10 potential small upgrades left from Naxx 25 and the Eye. Trying to slowly build an offspec rest set. I’m currently doing heroics/Naxx 10 pugs as holy and only rolling as offspec after main spec passes. I think I am going to start stating prior to each instance that I will only run if I can roll as if my main spec was dps.

I want to keep raiding with my guild as holy, which is 2-3 times a week at present, respect costs to go ret on the in between days would be 200-300g a week which is way outside of my budget. It’s always much harder to find healers/tanks to fill heroics/Naxx10 pugs, so I’m much more likely to be able to go when ever I want to. And this would seem to be providing a service to the community who need more healers (and tanks) to fill pugs for when they want to go.

In my ret set I already have 4 epics and the rest blue so I’m not going to be rolling on every item anyway. In giving up my roll on any healer items, the other classes which can spec healing would get a first roll on some offspec stuff. In a 10 man, the other 2 healers would get more rolls and it would be as if we had 1 more dps. But as I want plate with strength, while there would offset for pallies, warriors/DK’s would not get any level of exchange….

Am I just being greedy? Given that many doing heroics/Naxx 10 may ‘need’ the items more than I do? Still there must be others in my same position out there, and as before, providing service.

If you arrange things with your group beforehand, and everything is agreed to, then it's fine.

That being said, I'm not really sure how much time you will save. You can just pick up leftover DPS gear while healing. As you note, you already have four DPS epics, and as your DPS players gear up, there will be more leftovers for you.

Personally, I think trying to get groups to agree to unusual loot terms is a hassle, and has a lot of potential for drama. I mean, if it was flipped around, and you wanted [Torch of Holy Fire] from Kel'Thuzad, and a Feral druid demanded to be allowed to roll on it for his healing offset, you'd probably be unhappy. And if you were having a hard time finding a tank, you'd be resentful of the druid for forcing you to make that choice.

I know Gevlon the Greedy Goblin would probably be horrified by this attitude, as he would feel that a agent is free to demand whatever price he can get away with. But in my opinion, playing hardball like this just leads to unpleasant runs, and loot isn't really worth that.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dual Spec Predictions

There's lots of angst and concern going around in the WoW community over the introduction of dual specs. Here are my thoughts on who the winners and losers of this feature will be.

Big Winners: Healers and Tanks

Dual specs are pure and absolute win for healers and tanks. They get their main spec for raids, and then can do a variety of things with the second spec. They could go with DPS for farming and soloing, making that aspect of the game much less frustrating. Or run a PvP spec to participate in PvP. Or even run a second type of healer/tank spec, if absolutely crazy.

There's pretty much no downside for the healers and tanks. They get first choice of the healing or tanking gear, and can actually use their offsets.

Small Winners: "Pure" DPS Classes

For the "pure" DPS classes (rogues, mages, warlocks, hunters) dual specs are useful, but not game-changing. These classes will most probably end up using their second spec for PvP. You might see some of them using the second spec for Replenishment, depending on how popular those specs are. If Survival, Destruction, or Frost are popular in and of themselves, people may not bother.

I don't really see dual-specs changing the game significantly for pure DPS classes. Some of them might not even bother to purchase the option.

Big Losers: DPS Hybrids

DPS hybrids are going to take this hard. First, it's going to be expected that the second spec will be healing if you can heal, or tanking otherwise. No PvP specs for you!

Second, there still won't be enough healers/tanks, and lots of dps, so guilds will will pressure you into healing "just for now, until we recruit more healers." But they won't be able to recruit, or recruiting will suddenly become less urgent, so you'll see a lot of DPS hybrids get stuck healing.

Because the cost of switching will become so low, the norm will change such that switching to healing is the expected behavior, even if the player doesn't want to heal. After all, why spend all that time and effort trying to recruit scarce healers when one of your DPS hybrids can switch for zero cost?

Finally, because the hybrid still considers themselves as DPS, they'll won't get primary consideration on healing loot, as the healer mains will have that. However, adding insult to injury, I predict that many guilds will start giving the pure DPS classes priority on DPS gear. This will be justified on the grounds that the pure classes will use the gear 100% of the time, while the DPS hybrid spends a lot of their time healing. So obviously the pures will receive priority "for the good of the guild as they will get the most use out of the gear."

Conclusions

I think the healers and tanks will be very happy. The pure DPS classes won't really see much change. But I think there will be lots of drama surrounding the DPS hybrids.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Immortal and Undying

Like many of the guilds who have completed Naxxramas, we are working on the The Immortal and The Undying achievements. I find that I have very mixed feelings on these achievements.

First, I would like to make it clear that I respect these achievements. I consider guilds with Immortal (and Undying to a lesser extent) to be very skilled. In my experience, you almost always mess up on Immortal because you made a mistake, not because of randomness or factors out of your control. Especially as a healer, Immortal represents perfection. You get Immortal, you did the instance perfectly, and that is something to be applauded. In my opinion, a raid should always be striving for that perfection, even if they fall short most of the time.

However, on Tuesday my 10-man group went for an Undying attempt. Most of us had cleared Naxxramas together the previous two weeks, so we were pretty comfortable with each other. We went deep into Naxx, perfect on every boss up to Kel'Thuzad. Facing KT with an Undying on the line is a rush. We start the fight, go through phase 1 fine, KT comes alive and then the main tank fails to move out of a Shadow Fissure. Instant death. Achievement lost.

Do you know what I felt at that moment?

Profound relief.

I wasn't upset or angry or disappointed or even sad. All I could feel was relief that I wasn't the one who screwed up!

We actually killed KT that attempt. The OT took over tanking, and we battle-ressed the main tank. The poor guy was so flustered that he ended up dying to another Shadow Fissure. And this was someone who had done KT successfully the previous two weeks. The off-tank had to tank KT and the adds for the rest of the fight.

Why was I so relieved? Because the cost of dying was so high. You basically cost everyone else in the raid a week's worth of effort. If it was a mistake on a normal fight, you wipe, pick yourself up and try again. All you really lose is 10 minutes and some gold.

Secondly, the social cost is very high for a single mistake. In the back of your mind, you have to wonder if the group will ostracize you for that one mistake. Even if you think they won't, the weight of that potential ostracism is terrible. And you know, they might end up excluding you. If the raid leader puts together another Undying run next week, I don't think he's going to invite this tank. (The tank does have some connection issues that make the decision more understandable.) Despite the fact that this tank has run with us more or less successfully for the last three weeks.

And yet, I really enjoyed that run. People played skillfully. They concentrated hard, and that effort showed. The run was quick, clean, and efficient. If the Undying achievement did not exist, I would consider that to have been the best raid I have ever run in terms of sheer performance. This run was so much better than my usual experience for farm runs, where people start slacking off.

As well, I don't think I really like "altering tactics" for Immortal. Things like changing your spec to emphasize survival, or taking more healers than you would normally, or using Seal of Command instead of Seal of Blood. To me, Immortal represents perfection. And perfection is the product of execution, not something to be gamed. You play a certain way because that is the best way to play, not because it is the most survivable. Like, do I think my current 54/17/0 spec is the best spec? No, but it has the most survivability.

Perhaps an analogy will illustrate what I'm trying to get at. Baseball has a concept called a Perfect Game. 27 batters come up, and 27 batters go down without a single one making it to a base. It is the ultimate accomplishment for a pitcher, and something that every pitcher aspires to. But no pitcher wakes up and says, "Today, I'm going to pitch a perfect game." They just go out and pitch their best, and very rarely a pitcher is able to achieve that plateau of perfection.

Essentially, what I want is for Immortal to be a side-effect of playing perfectly, rather than a goal that is worked towards in and of itself. Something worth striving for all the time, but not something that requires playing in a different manner other than what you would consider your most effective.

Titles

Search the Armory for all characters named "Dora".

Check out the titles on the level 80s.

They must have been ecstatic when that Achievement was revealed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Updates

I really need to write more posts. I have a bad habit of not putting down ideas until I've "fleshed them out in my head." But then I never actually end up writing those posts. I need to just start writing, and work out the idea while writing.

In WoW news, I killed Malygos-25 on Sunday, though in a 20-man raid as we were going for the achievement. It's an interesting fight, apart from my utter and total failure on Phase 3. Seriously, the best thing I can say about my performance while flying the dragon is that I soaked up some damage which might have hit someone who was actually contributing. I do want to do that phase again properly. Maybe I'll try and practice a bit more with Aces High. I've done that quest several times before, but I now I know what I should be practicing, which is somewhat different than doing the quest solo. Malygos was the last kill I needed for my Champion of the Frozen Wastes title.

After Malygos, I got to do Sartharion-3D. Now that is a crazy fight. So many different elements make the fight very chaotic. I think a lot of the challenge here is learning to focus on the elements that only concern you, and trusting that everyone else will handle their part. But we killed him, and I have Twilight Vanquisher.

I'm using "the Seeker" as my title though. It's still my favorite title.

I've also gotten a fair amount of loot over the last two weeks, including 4-piece Tier 7 (and matching boots!). The shoulders are a terrible, terrible model.

So I've basically done all the content in the game at the moment, which is something I've never been able to say before. The one Achievement that I really want to do is And They Would All Go Down Together, as it makes the fight very different. We're still working on various Achievements, most notably Immortal. I've respecced to 54/17/0, to maximize survivability with Divine Guardian, Improved Righteous Fury, and Blessed Life. It's a pretty good build, but you can really feel the missing Crit talents. And Pursuit of Justice, I really miss Pursuit of Justice.

Ah well, good times.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bloodlust Timing

Here is a very interesting theorycrafting discussion on when a raid should pop Bloodlust/Heroism. Should you Bloodlust early in the fight, or should you wait until 35%, when a lot of the extra damage Execute-style talents kick in?

Surprisingly, the answer turns out to be that it doesn't really matter! So the final conclusion is that the best use of Bloodlust is:

  1. If there is no other factor, use Bloodlust early to maximize the number of people and cooldowns available.
  2. If one particular phase needs to be burnt through in the shortest possible time, use Bloodlust then, and match cooldowns to Bloodlust.

Honestly, this result seemed a little counter-intuitive to me at first, but the math looks good. If you're interested, check out the algebra at the link.

Here's a "real numbers" example. Let's say there's a boss with 1,000,000 health. You can do 1000 damage-per-second. Below 35% health, let's say you do an extra 20% damage for 1200 dps. Further, let's say that Bloodlust boosts your damage by 30% for 40 seconds.

Case 1: Bloodlust Late

If you Bloodlust at the end, you do 1000 * 1.2 * 1.3 = 1560 dps for 40 sec.
  1. Normal mode takes 650,000 Health / 1000 DPS = 650 sec.
  2. Bloodlust for 40 seconds, doing 40*1560 = 62,400 damage.
  3. Then you do the remaining 287,600 damage in 287,600 health / 1200 dps = 240 sec.

Total time to kill the boss = 650 + 40 + 240 = 930 seconds.

Case 2: Bloodlust Early

If you Bloodlust at the start, you do 1000 * 1.3 = 1300 dps for 40 sec.
  1. Bloodlust for 40 seconds, doing 40*1300 = 52,000 damage.
  2. Boss has 598,000 health until 35%. It will take you 598,000 health / 1000 dps = 598 sec.
  3. Then you do the remaining 350,000 damage in 350,000 health / 1200 dps = 292 sec.

Total time to kill the boss = 40 + 598 + 292 = 930 seconds.

Conclusion

It doesn't matter when you Bloodlust during the fight if you just look at the bonus Execute-style damage and the extra damage from Bloodlust!

There are two advantages to going early. First, everyone can line up all their cooldowns like trinkets or Avenging Wrath and use them for maximum effectiveness. Second, it is more likely that everyone is alive at the start of the fight. By the time you reach 35%, you may have lost one or two people.

However, if there is a specific phase of the fight that needs to be shortened, then you should Bloodlust at the start of that phase. For example, even though the total fight lengths are the same, in Case 1 you only spend 280 seconds in the last phase, while in Case 2 you spend 292 seconds in the last phase. If a phase does increased damage, or has a separate enrage timer like Phase 3 of Prince Malchezzar or Lady Vashj, you'd be better off waiting for that phase before you Bloodlust.

To sum up from the linked article again, the best rules for Bloodlust/Heroism timing are:
  1. If there is no other factor, use Bloodlust early to maximize the number of people and cooldowns available.
  2. If one particular phase needs to be burnt through in the shortest possible time, use Bloodlust then, and match cooldowns to Bloodlust.