Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cooldown Management

Warcraft Hunter's Union and OutDPS recently interviewed Kripparrian and wrote a couple posts about cooldowns as a result of that interview. The WHU post is here and the OutDPS post is here. These are some great posts, but they definitely create some difficulties for me. There is of course the obvious problem with taking Furious Howl off of auto-cast: that's sort of an annoying additional ability to manage for the length of a boss fight, especially if you're trying to match it up with greatness procs. It's also pretty much impossible to model something like that within the confines of a simulator like the spreadsheet or Female Dwarf, so it's hard to know how much - if any - benefit you'd see from the additional overhead. When you get down to it, though, cooldown/proc matching isn't really the thing I'm worried about.
See, I've been popping all my cooldowns at the start of fights, which is fine, but I've been using Berserking along with everything else. I've been well aware that I'm not seeing any benefit to my steady shots from using both at once - the fastest you can get with those is 1.5s, or the speed of the global cooldown. Auto shot will still see a benefit, though, so I've been thinking that the gains in auto shot damage would outweigh the wasted haste as far as steady shot is concerned. On the other hand, my trinket cooldown is shorter than my rapid fire/readiness cooldown combo, so it's conceivable that I could save Berserking for the second AP trinket use.
This possibility raises the spectre of the (for me) dreaded action bar and keybind bloat monster. The reality is that I already have three rows of action bars scaled down and tucked into a niche in my UI and I'm running out of keybinds I can conveniently hit while I'm running away from fire. If I split my cooldowns macro into two different macros, where do I put the second macro?  Maybe I should make one or more of my current action bars invisible to create space for more seldom-used abilities to be on screen, since I'm more likely to actually have to look at them. But then I need to figure out a way to solve the binding dilemma. I really do have almost everything on my keyboard and mouse bound. I could move to alt- and control- combos, but I often struggle to hit those during tense moments when I have to be running at the same time.
I guess what I don't want to admit to myself is that I'm probably going to have to spend the time to totally redo my keybinds. I'll have to re-think which abilities I use the most and put them on 1-6 and then re-train my fingers to use those keybinds. I'll have to finally get around to copying an intelligent macro that calls, mends, or revives my pet as appropriate. Sigh!  At least this might be the impetus I need to make my UI a little prettier.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Well, I was first in damage done for heroic Beasts and second (within a tenth of a percent of first) for heroic Faction Champions last night, so that's done a lot to restore my confidence in my ability to not suck.  I did, however, do terribly on Jaraxxus, especially compared to the other hunter in the raid.  Looking at abilities used over the course of the fight, I did less of pretty much everything than the other hunter, so I think my problem is excessive movement.  I'm not sure if I'm positioning myself poorly and that's causing unnecessary movement or if I'm just running too much.  We'll probably start tonight by clearing ToC25 normal real quick, so I'll try to keep myself from moving unless absolutely necessary and see how I do.
I also tamed one of the tan wolves from Mulgore today.  When wolves first became big I went to Terrokkar and got Ironjaw, but over time I've come to sort of dislike his tusks and coloration.  Leveling a new pet is mildly annoying, but will be worth it looking better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The curse of DPS

I think probably the most significant stressor for a DPS player, especially us pure DPS classes, is that we really have nothing to hide behind when we perform poorly.  Damage meters are right there on World of Logs after the raid, and unless you had a specific responsibility to take care of during the fight, there's nothing more to say.  You either did good damage or you didn't.  Tanks and healers have difficult, stressful jobs too, but I think it's fair to say that there's no single, objective measuring stick for those roles.  Evaluating a tank or healer's performance on a given fight is always going to be more involved and more complex than "this one has the biggest number!"
I am personally pretty disappointed about my November 10 performance, even though it was just a ToC25-normal farm night.  The new guild was nice enough to give me a couple nice upgrades before the raid, and my damage-done numbers didn't reflect those upgrades like they ought to have.  Looking at the logs afterward was pretty depressing, and it always takes my brain a bit to stop flailing uselessly and start trying to figure out what I could have done better.  Getting a handle on that flailing and coming up with solutions is an important part of things, though, so here's what I've come up with:
  • Most importantly, double-check my DPS assignments with the class lead.  The new guild does some things differently from the old guild, of course, and I think I spent time (for example) DPSing targets that didn't have melee debuffs on them.  DPSing the correct targets should yield improvement.
  • Remember that I've appointed myself the IHM/GoHM hunter, and as such, the other hunter can optimize his glyphs and spec because I'm covering the mark.  Assuming equal gear levels, he should be at least a little ahead of me.  I'm only really in trouble if he's way ahead of me.
  • Depending on fight, reign in my ctrl+1 reflexes.  By which I mean I have a really strong habit of having my dog attack whatever I'm targeting, even on Gormok or Jaraxxus, where it makes more sense for him to stay in melee and consistently DPS one target the entire time.
If I can keep this stuff in mind for the next raid, I should be more in line with the DPS I'd expect from a hunter at my gear level and that, in turn, should help me recover my DPS self esteem.  I think it can be important to remember this sort of stuff as a hunter.  I felt pretty bad looking at logs after a guild run where no one has said anything negative to me.  If you're a player that pugs a lot of raids, the sort of chest-thumping mouth breathers that like to boast about VoA performance can make things pretty miserable.  Keep in mind that you know your gear, class, and latency better than that warrior tank does.  Keep expectations for yourself reasonable, look for improvement where you can, and don't sweat the socially maladjusted troglodytes.  And if anyone would like to share their strategies or stories about confidence recovery, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Man!  It's been an exciting couple of days in terms of "woah my blog thing exists".
  1. I've gotten a couple comments!
  2. And an email!
  3. And been linked twice in one day on WoW Ladies!
The email was a short one asking for my thoughts on focus.  In short: I'm totally excited about the focus change.  Hunters are a physical DPS class, and having our mechanics depend on blue rage has just always been weird.  I've heard it rumored (although I can't back this up) that the original hunter design used focus or energy of some sort.  They couldn't figure out how to balance it (not that vanilla was balanced) before release and the use of mana was a kludge.
I mean, what other caster has a white-damage swing timer?  What other class in BC was required to DPS with a macro such that its casting-time ability didn't interfere too much with its auto-attack?  Who else had to farm and chain-chug Fel Mana Potions?  Which other caster mortal strikes its own damage as a mana regen mechanic?  It's all just weird.  Our mana management technique consists of "max DPS until you're out of mana, then viper for as little time as is possible".  It's not fun and it doesn't add anything to the class.
From what I've heard/read, they're thinking of maybe changing steady shot to grant you a short-duration buff that increases focus regeneration.  That alone is way cooler and bodes for way more dynamic DPS button-mashing than anything we do right now.   Like rogues and warriors we'll be able to blow our potion cooldown on haste or crit pots instead of mana  pots, while long fights won't punish us uniquely.  Resource management will be an ongoing mini-game for the course of the boss fight, rather than hitting a brick wall and having to awkwardly heave ourselves over it with AotV.
I am excited about the next expansion overall, and for me, the focus change is just another example of everything they're talking about doing right.  It's always possible to screw things up, of course, but so far it looks great. Here's a great thread with a bunch of posts from GC explaining the vision behind the focus change.  I agree with pretty much everything he says here and I think his posts provide a ton of insight.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More gear stuff + a quick tip

Does anyone out there know of a handy way to link or embed bits of spreadsheets - especially Open Office ones - into blogger posts?  Because it would be really handy.  I just finished comparing the gearset in this post to one that swapped the T9 chest and gloves for the crafted chest and the leather gloves from the previous post.  According to femaledwarf, the 4pc T9 bonus beats out the increased armor pen gearset by about 66 DPS.  This leaves me in a rare condition of indecision, because 600 AP for a Marks hunter's pet seems like an underwhelming bonus, while all that armor pen on the other gearset seems awesome.  Heck, I've got more armor pen in my current gear than my non-heroic BiS gearset has, and my current stuff is all kinds of out of date.  It really seems like I should be wearing the heavy armor pen stuff - it is all the rage, right?  And that T9 bonus is pretty bad.  But still, the spreadsheet thinks the bonus is worth it.  Mysterious!
Anyway, apologies for the short, fairly contentless post.  I have been meaning to mention the "stutter run" for a little while.  Stutter running is a technique to squeeze a few more auto shots out of movement-heavy fights.  A good example of when it's useful is legion flame on Jaraxxus.  A lot of people tend to run continuously for the entire time they have the debuff, but the fire only spawns every couple seconds.  So if you watch your auto shot timer, you can move out of the first fire that drops, wait for an auto shot to fire, then move again.  You can use this when repositioning around the moving worms in beasts, moving out of the way of predictable boss AoE, so on and so forth.  It's not really complicated or tough or anything, but it's something you can do to try to get a little more damage out of times you're forced to move.
If you're wondering why I haven't been putting as much time into the blog for the past couple weeks, it's because I've started a new job, and the hours are pretty long.  Hopefully I'll get into more of a rhythm and resume writing posts worth reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quick note before I go to work

I've been looking at the armories of other hunters, especially Marks hunters, and I think I'm going to be eating some of my words.  I do this pretty often, where I see a new piece of gear with a stat I don't like (in this case the haste on the Crusaders Dragonscale Breastplate) and denounce it.  Later I think about it more, and I notice that there are some nice leather gloves from ToC10, and reconsider my stance on the crafted chest piece.  I'm going to spend some time putting together more gearsets to compare tonight, but I'm thinking I could very easily be reversing my stance on the crafted mail and my insistence on 4pc T9 for hunters.  It's really beginning to look like T9 pants + hat with crafted chest and leather gloves from ToC10 may be the way to go.

Also, who knew this was going to turn into a gear blog?  I am a pretty serious nerd, I guess.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reposting a guest post!

Hi everyone!  I've got a couple ideas for posts kicking around in my head, and at the very least I can explain what people mean by "stutter-run," but I couldn't manage to turn any of them into a coherent post yet.  So to buy myself a little time, I'm re-posting a guest post I did for World of Snarkcraft.  It's awkward because, while I raided with them at the time, I moved servers and guilds recently.  But I don't have anything else written, so here goes:
At the end of August I had to move.  I won't go in to any great length about why I had to move, but one of the results was that I had to give up playing WoW until I'd settled some things.  Some things have now settled, so I renewed my sub last night.  I didn't do a whole lot – I said hi to the guildies that were on and did a quick heroic ToC-5.  WoW looked a lot prettier than it used to, but I'm not sure if that's innacurate memory or what.  It was mostly just nice to play a little again.
In a sad confirmation of stereotype, one of the things I've been missing has been upgrading my gear.  We all know and love that warm, internal glow from finally getting a shiny new purple.  It's a little bit like the glow a chronic gambling addict gets from their infrequent payouts, I think.  Especially because the longer you go without it, the warmer it is when you finally get another taste.  And man if it hasn't been a while since I had a taste, you know?  I've replaced two things since before the first time I killed Yogg-Saron in the middle of the Summer, both the rings, neither of which came from a 25-person raid.
I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to be able to return to raiding, but it's going to taste pretty sweet when I do.  Especially since I'm sure the rest of the guild is swimming in 245 gear at this point.  Imagine the situation like this: it's a kid's birthday, and he's in the back yard with all his friends.  There's a pinata full of his favorite candy – maybe some kit-kats – and all of his friends are stuffed full of hotdogs, chips, cake, and soda.  They're lying on the ground in a disordered, groaning semi-circle.  You hear the whoosh sound of him swinging the stick a few times, then a sharp crack followed by an avalanche of crinkling wrappers.  Giggling quietly, he scoops up the candy and runs upstairs to stash it in his room.
That's going to be me in the Coliseum.
Distinctly second in the list of stuff I've been missing is the people.  Ha-ha!  Just kidding!  As an emotionally healthy human adult, of course I value interpersonal relationships far more than I value pixels named with purple text.
Has anyone else ever heard a saying that goes something like “if you tell a lie to yourself enough times, you might begin to believe it”?
I'm not sure if that's true.  But, moving on!
I really have missed my guildies, seriously.  Reading Snarkcraft has been the cause of some occasional wistfulness, because it reminds me that I haven't been able to hang out with Seri and Jov, both of whom are pretty excellent ladies.  Axiom is just in general a really fun environment to raid with.  Making fun of the raid leader, making fun of Crutches (can I just say that the Hammer of Ancient Kings is apropos for him), misdirecting bombs onto the druid co-GM, pulling off the tank and wiping the raid in the first 5 seconds of an attempt (my specialty!), imagining the female Orc warrior Kerp speaking with the male Polack voice of her player, just on and on.  It has really been a drag missing out on all of that for a month.
On the other hand, there have been compensations.  This has been a really great way to get out of doing dailies and otherwise farming consumables.  Dragonfin Angelfish, for example, is pretty much never available for sale anywhere ever.  Saving myself the outrage over the prices for alchemy mats has also probably done wonders for my blood pressure.  And can I just say that I could happily live the tortured, immortal existence of an Anne Rice vampire just so long as I never, ever had to encounter the trade channel.  Sadly, that boat has sailed, so no lace and black velvet for me.
For real though, everyone: none of it is funny any more.  None of it.  Any joke you were going to make in trade?  It isn't funny.  Every time you say “anal” and then link an ability or item, it actually creates a hole in the universe.  These holes – and there are, by now, trillions of them – vacuum up and destroy the elementary particle of human joy, known as the “fabulon”*.  Relentlessly and forever.  They don't go away, people.  Now that we've made them, they're going to be here until the heat-death of the Universe.  And while it's true that kittens and puppies generate fabulons at a steady rate, we are rapidly approaching the point at which the holes will be depleting them faster than they can be replaced.  Please, think of the children.
*Entirely different from the god worshipped by the shadowy cult of Naga known only as “The Bravo Demographic”.