Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rhyolith Video Done, but...

I've been having a lot of trouble even viewing youtube videos recently, so I wasn't surprised to see that the upload last night failed. I'll just keep trying every night and I'm sure it'll successfully upload eventually.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Target Dummy Bosses

I'm not really a fan of the design of the Baleroc encounter, but I get why it's in the tier, and I think I would actually like it quite a bit if I were still raiding on my priest as my main character. It would be fun to really feel like I had the healer rotation down, was building stacks of vital spark, and seeing really hugely big green numbers on the tanks (our resto druid was getting 40k lifebloom ticks, for example).

As a hunter, however, I don't even have to watch the rotation on the purple crystals - I just stand motionless, 40 yards out, and cycle through my DPS abilities. Even our melee don't have too hard a time of it - once they'd had a few pulls to practice, they didn't even have to say very much at all on vent. It was a very silent boss kill, just the occasional tank notification of a taunt or me asking for bloodlust at 40% (next week I'll wait 'till 30, I think).

The very simplicity of this boss makes it popular amongst the more epeen-conscious DPS players, though, and I'm sure that there's a thread in the DD forums right now asking for peoples' Baleroc DPS. Within that thread I would imagine there's a range of claimed DPS between 20,000 and 35,000, in addition to a number of people making fun of the 20s and calling the 35s liars.

I felt pretty good about my number from last night, even though it's 4,000 DPS behind the median MM hunter DPS from the top 100 Baleroc 10-normal parses on raidbot. I think that for my gear and raid, it was pretty good and probably the best Baleroc hunter parse on the server. And that, of course, is why people like the target-dummy bosses that pop up every so often: they like to be able to compare themselves. Shannox DPS is going to vary widely depending on how much target-switching you have to do, Rhyolith and Beth have a lot of AoE and/or damage reduction, Alysrazor has the flying buff that hunters will probably never get, so on and so forth. People like to say "I can do this much DPS when nothing interferes with it." So, you know, I get that. I'm still not going to look forward to the encounter every week.

I'm going to try very hard to get my Rhyolith video done today and uploading over the night tonight. No promises, though! Those things take a while.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gosh, I'm so glad I have a supportive boyfriend

In case it's not clear what's going on: our whimsical restoration shaman was spamming bind elemental on the current kill target during some trash. This caused Enveri's "someone broke CC" mod to go nuts. Melantha is my boyfriend's shadowpriest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back from vaction

I just got back from a few days spent up at the cabin one of my uncles owns on a Northwoods Minnesota lake. I had a pretty excellent time, did some swimming and some fishing, saw some loon families with their fluffy gray chicks, too big by now to ride around on their parents' backs. It's always very nice when I'm able to get up there for a few days.

WoW-wise, I've got videos captured for Shannox and Rhyolith, but I don't think Baleroc is going to get a video, since that encounter amounts to "stand there and do damage". We've got enough DPS without a minimum range that it seems like it would just add extra difficulty to the encounter for no real gain.

The guild has had a couple bad wipe nights on Beth'tilac and Baleroc (as well as previously on Cho'gall) that are collectively resulting a guild meeting that will hopefully come together tonight. We basically have to decide, as a guild, how strongly we're going to push performance, and what we're going to do when people fall behind on performance. This obviously has the potential for a lot of drama, so I'm going to be stepping very carefully.

I also think that any problems we may have are exacerbated quite a bit by the current size of the raid team, which is such that on weeks when everyone signs up, we've got 3-4 people benched every night. This drives me nuts because we're also still struggling to fill the raid on weeks when the stars align and 3-4 people can't make it. I'm doing my best to rotate raiders fairly, but "fair" can be understood differently depending on what criteria you use.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

0.1%: the cruellest wipe

It's an off week for the guild this week. On both of our raid nights we've got not one, not two, not three, but four people who can't make it. This has meant people playing offspecs, people that don't usually raid coming in to raid, and even a pugged-in DPS whose performance was fine for heroics but whose DPS wasn't really sufficient for Firelands, especially going for first kills. We did manage to get Beth'tilac down again (and I'll have a little more to say on the spec I used for it in a moment), even with a seriously wonky raid, but it took a few pulls.

We brought Shannox to 0.1%, but our healers had all run OOM a few seconds previously and people were falling over dead each time he AoEd the raid. There were a few things that were especially heartbreaking about that:

  • Personally, I'd forgotten to swap out my practice/heroics cooldowns macro for my "real" one, so I didn't use an agility potion on that pull. Maybe that 1200 agility during a rapid fire would have made the difference
  • I was taking video of it and I had a REALLY COOL raid-saving moment when the first tank died and I deterrence-tanked for a bit, giving people time to dump threat so our Riplimb tank could pick him up (he's immune to taunt). It was really neat and would have made for an exciting first-kill video!
  • No replenishment. Wiping to OOMed healers makes me really sad when it's due, in part, to all of our usual sources of replenishment being gone. Not only that, but our shadow priest and our ret paladin are both pretty excellent DPS, so in addition to more mana for the healers, everything would have died faster. With our usual raid team, Shannox would absolutely 100% positively been dead.

Tonight we're still going to be without our usual raid team, but we'll at least have replenishment, since our resto druid will be back again. And instead of healing - even though he's a great healer - my boyfriend will be back in shadow, and I'm sure multi-dotting on Shannox will have him in the 25k DPS range, which will be a huge help. Shannox should die pretty handily, and then we'll be off to see Rhyolith.

Going back to Beth'tilac, though, I was trying out a spec that I was introduced to by the WoW hunter forum. It's a marks spec that's really great for kiting lots of little adds, like the spiderlings on Beth'tilac. For me at this moment, it looks like this: 3/31/7.

Dropping silencing shot is easy, since any time I'm using this spec I've definitely got more important things to worry about. The points in improved serpent sting are kind of a bummer, but the only other option is more stam. I may end up doing that anyway, just because imp serpent is so, so crap for Marks, and having a little longer before I fall over is never too terrible. Finally, the single point in Rapid Killing (which I've got in my normal spec as well) means that any time I get a killing blow, I get 50 focus, and that translates to infinite multi-shot spam on spiderlings. It kills them really, really quickly. And having the daze from concussive barrage on there means that I can reserve my traps for emergencies, and that means that not having the reduced cooldown from resourcefulness isn't as big a deal. Yay!

Finally, since it's Marks, it still does better single-target DPS in phase two than Survival does, making things easier for everyone. Awesome!

The only problem now is that I need to figure out if this spec should get it's own mini-post or if I should try to cram it into my ever-more-bloated MM guide post? I did a quick edit of that yesterday, and it's getting really long. Ideas or preferences? Add another paragraph to an already-long thing, or start splitting up the guide into different posts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh RNG loot. Sometimes I hate you a lot.

It's true that I got bracers and a crossbow on the guild's first night in the Firelands, but I'm also getting really, really bitter about T11 shoulder tokens. Last night we'd organized an off-night T11 raid to try to clear the tier to get people credit for that and maybe those last couple drops that people might have wanted. Hunter T11 4pc is good for MM hunters. Really good. Like, so good that you don't even replace it until you've got 4pc T12. I was hoping that Cho'gall might drop a protector token, now that the content is no longer relevant. You know, maybe he'd finally relent, since he didn't drop one single solitary protector token before 4.2. But nope, he just keeps dropping conqueror. One of our conq people picked it up for her OS, which is I suppose nice. Sigh.

Wanna know what Al'akir dropped?

A conqueror shoulder token.

I think it went to someone for a third spec they were thinking about trying at some point. Or something. Sigh.


I'm not sure how FL is going to go this week. We have 3-4 of our core team that can't make it both days, which means bringing people that don't usually come, raiding in offpsecs, raiding on alts for progression stuff, and maybe even pugging. None of these things lend themselves to success. But! Hopefully I'll have opportunities to do video of Shannox and Rhyolith.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beth'tilac video uploaded!

Hooray! The upload last night went through ok, and there it is! It's.... a little strange, because not only did it end up getting put in a letterbox to make it 4:3, but it also added horizontal black bars that serve no purpose, making me frownie. I think this might have something to do with the fact that I recorded it at half-size just to save space and to make sure my computer could handle the recording. It might also be because I'm using Windows7 Movie Maker. Ugh. Still, I think you can actually see what I'm doing, which buttons I'm pushing, and when I target various things, so I think most of the useful information made it. Well, at least you can if you watch it on Youtube at 1080, this little embedded postage stamp not so much. Any comments are welcome!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Sort of!

I took a video of our Beth'tilac kill last night and wrote myself a little guide script explaining what I'm doing as a hunter, but I'm struggling with getting it on Youtube in any sort of decent format or quality. I've never really done the whole video editing thing before, and while the free tools out there do a decent job and are in some ways easy to learn, it can also be kind of tough to get them to do what I want. I've had to compromise, for example, with audio tracks. I wanted to have a background music track that just played for the entire time. Unfortunately, Windows Movie Maker doesn't let you do that, so I have to sort of abruptly fade into music when I run out of things to say for a little bit. And then the first time I tried to export it the quality really tanked, to the point where once it was on Youtube it was a blurry mess.

I'm re-exporting it right now, and then I'll have to tackle making Youtube's advanced uploader thingy actually work so I can get it uploaded at a high enough quality that you can actually see what's going on. I think it will probably be tomorrow at the soonest, since I think what I'm going to end up doing is trying to leave it uploading over night.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And now for something painfully earnest

There have been a few moments in guild chat recently that, combined with some other things I've read on the 'net, have combined to make me feel proud of what my guild has created, but in some ways it's difficult to articulate. We recently recruited a new shaman (because we needed more people on the protector token, hah!) and at one point she said something along the lines of "I can't tell you how glad I am to be here."

What I sent in a tell to my boyfriend was: "we have a place that is a place people like to be." I should note that I'm not saying "we" in the sense of "me and my boyfriend," but "we" in the sense of "everyone in the guild."

I think it's easy for people to underestimate how neat that is, but I really think it's important. WoW is a hobby, and we all keep up with it for different reasons. For me, while raiding is fun and I like killing new bosses, I have realized that good progression is not actually one of my personal criteria for guild success.

What keeps me coming back to the game is people and relationships. Some of them I knew offline before I even played WoW, and some I've met in-game. And I love the fact that everyone in the guild is happy to log on whenever.

No one feels threatened by anything in guild chat.
No one feels unwanted.
No one feels ignored or dismissed.

I guess the best way to think about just why I'm so proud of being able to say those things is to contrast it with the real world. In the real world, I'm afraid to hold hands in public with my boyfriend of over 4 years. In the real world - and even in other guilds in-game - our female members have been ignored because they're women. In the real world you can't make a suggestion to Corporate and have them implement it.

This begins to sound weird and unhealthy, like I'm escaping into WoW to get away from the real world, and that's not true. In fact, I think that the real world shades into WoW, in that a lot of the cultural baggage carries over. Stalking is a one of the worst problems that WoW GMs have to try to correct, and people have permanently lost their accounts over it. Things like that. What VA has done is work together to create a space that's better. We've made a little bubble where things are Better, and that's something that not every guild is able - or even wants - to do.

Friday, July 1, 2011

More thoughts on Beth'tilac

My computer seemed to be able to handle video capture during the Beth'tilac encounter just fine, so maybe next week I'll have hunter POV video of a Beth kill. We were close this week - 15% - but didn't quite get there.

It's a troublesome encounter as a hunter. Having entrapment and reduced cooldowns on traps is really, really, really nice during phase 1, as is having serpent spread.

I guess I should maybe back up and explain the encounter for the folks that haven't necessarily had a look at it. There are a couple phases, with phase 1 being all about controlling and killing a lot of adds very fast. There are drone, which are big hard-hitting melee mobs the tank has to pick up. There are spinners the hang from the roof on threads - you taunt them with distracting shot to get them to fall down, creating the threads that other raid members can climb up on (the roof is a web that Beth'tilac stands on, and you need at least a tank and a healer up there with her). Finally there are spiderlings that have to be slowed and killed before they can reach the drones (and the drones, of course, should be kited away from them). Beth herself will periodically use an ability that kills anyone that stays upstairs with her, causing those people to jump down, let her cast it, and then climb back up. Once she's cast that three times, she hops downstairs and gives herself a stacking buff to her own damage, so you have to kill her before she wipes the raid with unhealable amounts of damage.

Guilds that had cleared 13/13 T11 are laughing at her and calling her undertuned, but for an appropriately geared guild (i.e.: 359 stuff), she's tough. I feel like she's also perhaps more difficult for a 10-person raiding guild, as it's harder for us to distribute enough people around the encounter space. In order to feel really comfortable with our control of the adds downstairs, we haven't had any DPS upstairs, which means we're trying to bring her from about 95% (or 100% if she eats a spiderling when she lands, which can happen if some happen to be right under her when she jumps down) to zero, and that's just not happening.

So I'm not sure where the issue lies. If our people killing drones were doing a little more damage, maybe drones would die faster freeing those people to help me clean up the crowd of spinners that accumulates on the ground. Or maybe we should be two-healing it? Or maybe I should be sending the rogue instead of the warlock upstairs.

I think that last option is going to be the one I'll try next Wednesday. I also think that Shannox isn't going to be as difficult to get down, since the apportioning of DPS will be a little more traditional. The up/down split really makes it sort of difficult to guess at the right places to put everything.

Personally, I think that with the rogue going upstairs I'll stick with survival for the encounter. It gives me really great control on the spiderlings and means I almost always have a trap available. I'm doing less damage during the burn phase, but if my being survival lets me have a rogue upstairs the entire time, then that should more than make up for the personal DPS loss. I think I'll also change DPS priorities - I think all of the downstairs DPS are going to be concentrating on killing drones ASAP, and having bigger time windows where 0 drones are alive should make it easier to clear up and kill the accumulated spinners, who after all only melee for under 3,000 damage.


Talking this through in a blog post has been helpful. It can be difficult in the middle of attempts to step back and see what needs to be changed, but I'm feeling pretty good about this plan. Beth'tilac and Shannox will die next week for sure! And hey, maybe I'll even have a video of it to post.