Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Have you ever heard of a book called The Slight Edge? No? That's ok, most people would probably never pick it up...and even if you did, I doubt you would see it's direct connection to WoW. But, if you happen to be a reader, this book could certainly make you dangerous in a game like WoW.
The essence of that book is this: small, consistent actions, multiplied by time, yield success. This principle is exactly why my priest, seemingly "overnight" began accumulating gear that seemed unobtainable only 2 weeks ago. I persistently and consistently ran heroics, amassing hundreds of Emblems of Triumph and a meager supply of Emblems of Frost. I began making incremental upgrades, and I capped out at an average item level of 232. But, because I did not quit and continued to accumulate Stone Keeper's Shards, honor, and emblems, I also gathered a modest PVP set (even though I couldn't use it at the time). However, in two days, in a matter of hours, I began accumulating frost emblems at a seemingly unbelievable rate, killed 6 bosses I had never killed, completing 3 weekly quests, and purchased my Crimson Acolyte Raiments! (I also almost got a great healing staff, but a shadow priest rolled over me...QQ)
I also want to point out that I was really "floating the raid!"
And, on top of that, all that consistent effort, which is basically what passively enabled me to join a group that successfully ran as far as we did, also led to some new achievements. So, if you're moving slowly toward your gear and progression goals, keep in mind that your small, incremental movement ultimately culminates in seemingly large "leaps" eventually.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
1. I am lvl 449 enchanting!
2. I have re-macro'd EVERYTHING in my arsenal!
3. I have created a new UI that I am play-testing when I get time.
Here is a screenie of my new UI:
OK, it's not perfect, but I am very pleased with it so far!
What am I using?
1. Viewport provides the black background.
2. Dominoes provides the action bars, which include macros for literally every spell a priest can use. Shift 1-5 on top. 1-5 on middle. F1-F5 on bottom. Then all the other keys I can easily reach with my left hand.
3. Forte provides the cooldown monitor at the top of my screen. I have found over the past 2 weeks that this mod has helped me double my usage rate of 2-3 minute cooldowns across the board.
4. Grid: Awesome raid frames, and I have included the GridStatus addon to it as well.
5. Quartz: A good castbar with a lot of options...I use it very basically.
6. Pitbull: Unit frames, which I have configured to show me the info I can process quickly. This is one area where I will make improvements over time.7. Skada: Damage/healing/ABSORB meter, which I love because I can more accurately see my disc do-gooding.
8. Minimapster and MinimapButtonFrame.
9. WIM (WoW Instant Messenger): I use this for tells, because I seem to miss them otherwise.
11. Bagnon for a single bag.
12. Prat: A better way to chat frame.
13. Gearscore: I don't use this as a crutch, but it is still useful.
14. DBM: for raid encounters and timers.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Some are SO important for high-latency players that I just have to list them:
1. If I’d known it was that easy: I would have been doing the weekly raid quests every week! I accomplished both Ulduar and Naxx and even with my latency in Iraq I would have had absolutely no problem succeeding in those instances! I’d definitely have enough Emblems of Frost for the chestpiece and I’d be halfway to the helm or shoulders by now!
2. CT_Mailmod is a MUST.
3. AltClickToAddItem is HUGE...because of latency, this addon makes literally any player-to-player or player-to-AH/Mailbox interaction SO much smoother. Do yourself a favor and stop clicking dragging and dropping.
4.Auctioneer scanning is ftw! Everybody with bad connectivity knows there are simply going to be downtimes when you can't party up, you can't hang out in Dal, and you definitely can't raid. There are times when you probably have too high latency to even farm your gathering profession (if you still haven't woken up to where the real $ is). How about letting the AH scanner collect useful data that can make you a ton of gold? It's easy and automated, and it's something you can do even if your ping gets up to 4000, which happened often to me over there.
5. Leatrix Latency Fix (also, google for a similar command line function for macs - I used both and both worked!) This made WoW much more playable! You can also use an http tunnel...I used Socks2Http to be able to play in the USO, where they "locked out" the WoW ports. (I used to use that trick when I was at the Air Force Academy too.) So, if you're over there, grab some latency fixes and you'll find that your latency will drop from 1900ms to about 900ms, which is a noticeable difference.
DISCLAIMER: simply improving your latency won't help with bandwidth...I have no idea what to do about that, sorry.
6. Blogs are a great way to enjoy the game even during downtime, which can be much more often over there than just Tuesdays.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am thankful to have had the perspective on lag, latency, and low bandwidth, and I'll continue to post in my normal fashion on healing-related observations.
So glad to be almost home! The sodas don't have Arabic writing on them...it's going to be a great day!
I even spent about an hour sketching out ideas for improvements to my UI, so I'll be reconstructing it and I'd like to start a great conversation with other healers about what they feel is important in a raid healing UI in WotLK.
Btw, you know what's a great feeling? Knowing that when I click Publish Post, it won't take 15 minutes to do it. I'm back baby!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
In the pilot world, if you hear your stan-eval guy (standardizations and evaluations office) tell you “Changes are posted” it means that the powers-at-be have updated something and officially changed the text in one of our volumes, and that we need to go review it and make sure our personal copies are updated as well. And, we need to incorporate those changes into our daily flying if they apply to us. Well, you can find the new priest changes posted (pre-Alpha OMG Cataclysm iz coming /rant time!) on many of the best priest blogs. I’m not a subject matter expert as much as I am a comparative analyst.
I just want to point out a fantastic parallel between WoW changes and expansions and my job as an AF pilot.
On almost a yearly basis the Air Force updates our “pubs,” the governing publications that have information on our aircraft, tactics, rules and regulations about flying. There are more volumes of official publications than you can possibly fathom, but each time something new comes out you can hear all the nerds talking about every inconsequential change. “Oh man, did you hear how they changed the procedure for an ITO on the H-model?” or “Dude, they are updating the Pen-Descent charts to be more in-line with our actual descent profile!” or “They changed the checklist response and now the engineer answers first when we call Oxygen!! OMGWTFBBQ”
Bottom line: WHO CARES. I’ve come to learn that changes to any institution always appear more abrupt and revolutionary than they ever are, because in WoW just as in the Air Force, there is always a natural process of balance and remodification.
We have a saying: “Resubmit in 30 days for further disapproval.”
I’m not being a pessimist, btw…that would be someone who assumes that the changes will not be good. I’m just pointing out a fantastic parallel…the attitude that most have about change is the same. “People innately fear that which they do not understand” and “people have an inappropriate sense of what is good and bad.”
My own opinion on the changes so far is: I love gaining passive benefits to the healing I already do. Most priests would agree in principle…we all stack spell power first, and even crit, haste, and mana regen are all innately PASSIVE bonuses to the job we’d do either way. So, I like the concepts of Chakra. Now, as far as adding a whole lot of new heals and spells…there is a principle that serves me really well from the military: KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid). Might sound dumb, but that simple principle is a valid foundation for most of our elite combat specialists and most of the truly great players in WoW. Like the rest of the blogs, as we find out more I’ll comment more!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
So, why enchanting? For 5 years I'd been exclusively alchemy and herbalism.
But while I started gearing up here in Iraq, I made a big mistake. I maxed out herbalism and skinning, thinking that it would be easier to make gold with gathering professions, because they are easier to level. The cold hard truth is simply that you have to do something gameplay-related to gather something. In an instance if you are high latency, you DO NOT HAVE TIME TO SKIN THE DRAGONS...your party will die or the other skinner will beat you to the punch every single time. In the world, with high latency and low bandwidth, you will miss a lot of herb spawns because they won't load before you fly out of range! And then, it takes you a considerable amount of time to demount and remount. And what if you have to kill a mob and you aren't in your shadow spec? Trust me, I would have been better off farming low level instances for greens to DE and sell rather than riding around indefinitely looking for herbs.
Also, look at the benefits from enchanting vs herbalism for a priest. Lifeblood? I know I'm not running ICC right now, but I'd rather have the ring enchants, which are a passive bonus to performance, than another ability that I could use to save my butt if I got in serious trouble but had a lot of time to get healed back up...wait...I could just shield myself and hit desperate prayer.
Plus, I've always been jealous of those healers that had that extra spell power on their gear when I didn't even have that option myself. And, be honest, isn't it SO much better to be in a 5-man group when someone can DE all the crap that nobody is going to use.
From an economic/latency standpoint, disenchanting plus auctioneer equals excellent income potential in game. I actually played for years with Zuggy of zuggaming, who has put together some excellent gold guides for WoW. Zug's best advice has always been to learn how to use the auction house to generate gold. Trust me, if you are playing on a limited connection, the AH can be your best friend and some of the most productive time you can spend in game! You can buy sell, scan, DE, re-sell, and really accumulate a ton of gold through the AH, regardless of your lag. If you only have herbalism, your main venue of making gold is spending tons of time, hoping you find a good number of herbs, then selling them on the AH for a very marginal profit. I know this because I've DONE this. It's simpler to mindlessly fly around looking for the yellow dots, but not easier or faster. And you can be an all-star at the AH with a really crappy connection. This comes down to playing to your strengths, once again!
A good parallel in my line of work? Oh, this is good. Most people would think that the most valuable skill to have as a pilot are spatial orientation, hands-on, active flying skills. Or, maybe, knowledge about your aircraft, the tactics, and the specific execution of today's mission. After this deployment, I am CONVINCED that the most valuable skills you can have are not the "active" skills I just mentioned, but rather people skills, leadership skills, teamwork, and a broader perspective. Why? Well, the obvious skills can get you from point A to point B, just like farming herbs can get you a predictable, linear ROI. But those less objective skills come with a "passive bonus." At the end of flying with the same 6 people for 120 days, you have improved each of those people, got along with them, fostered an environment for a team, and created a productive atmosphere for a long-term deployment. The Return on Investment in that case is considerably less predictable but greater, both immediately and residually.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Healing, practically (brand new tanks): Ok, I have developed a new pet peeve in this game in relation to healing. When a “tank” decides to queue up for heroics after they have literally just hit 80 and have not a single piece of item level 200 gear. What does this mean to the healer? This individual is trying to skip normal instances and lean on completely random players to provide dps and heals. And, on top of it all, there is no way the player can be def maxed whatsoever, he has less HP than my priest Smoogee, and he absorbs more damage while having LESS health. It is simply irresponsible to queue for heroics unless you have a pocket healer, when you do not have the gear to sustain a party as a tank. So, today, without so much as a twinge of hesitation, I made a “command decision” and when I saw 2200gs under my tank after he nearly got one-shot by the first trash mob…I asked him if he just hit 80. He said yes. I right-clicked my player frame and hit “Leave Party” and happily incurred a 30 minute suspension from my daily grind of heroics. Worth it? Even though I don’t get to play much between flights here in the desert and Iraqi network downtime each day, you better believe it. When you play on a limited connection, you have to know your limits. It’s kind of like knowing your “operating limits” for an aircraft. For example, I know what temperatures and torques our 4 engines are limited to, so that we can shut one down before it becomes a catastrophic emergency if necessary. In a 5-man instance, I have some similar “operating limits” and I know when to pull that metaphorical “fire handle” to prevent my temper from overheating.
Also, I downloaded the addon Prat, so I will take screenshots of such conversations and situations to spice up the blog from now on. For now, you get more ppt editing.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Ok, sports fans! First of all, thanks to Miss Medicina, I have discovered how to do a feedburner RSS feed. And, again, thanks to M for the shout-out. She is the first healing blog that I stumbled upon, and if you have any priest questions, I highly recommend you start with her site.
Also, Daffnae from wowsanggrail pointed out that I needed the Name/URL option in comments, so it has been added. I have updated the blog! Yeah! Now it has a "chicklet" and a picture, which I cleverly edited in powerpoint (lol), as well as an updated profile.
Now, to the point: There are astonishing principles that carry over between distinct areas of your life.
For example, yesterday I had quite the run-in with my "aircraft commander" (the more experienced pilot on a C-130). Well, has anybody ever had to contend with immature, abrasive, or criticizing leaders in a guild or raid environment? I imagine that most of us have. Well, in my profession, we don't get to pick our leaders. Much like you might stick with a guild for the raiding, despite terrible personalities, I get to stick with my particular aircraft commander (like it or not). Now, I'm still fuming IRL from the confrontation, because I hate confrontation...BUT I was amused because I have some similar memories from WoW. Military or MMORPG, everybody has an ego that can be trampled. Leadership is a valuable trait that you should appreciate when you find it in your "chain of command."
Some other time I'll make a full post on the organizational parallels between the military and a guild.
Today I want to draw a parallel between my job and my class! My IRL role as a copilot on a C-130 Hercules is to help get our bad-to-the-bone 1960's era trash-hauling machine from base to base. Our operations directly support, supply, replenish, or relocate troops anywhere and anytime (literally...I was flying last night on NVGs in the middle of the night and last week I was flying in the middle of the day). SO...what does that sound like on a macro level? To me, that sounds like we are major support players in this "game" we're playing here in Iraq. Now, what do I do in WoW? I replenish, support, and enable players and groups in whatever goal they are trying to accomplish! I think the reason that I've enjoyed playing a singular class for 5 years (or more) is that I truly derive pleasure from supporting, enabling, protecting, and working "behind the scenes." I could have been a fighter pilot (I could have played a mage) or I could have opted for special ops aviation (I could have been a rogue). I could have gone helos (those guys are nuts, so I think that's a lot like a warlock) or I could have flown UAVs (/spit) (that's like a hunter pet LOL).
This whole gaming vs personality vs career concept was introduced to me through a book called Now, Discover Your Strengths, which I think most WoW players would thoroughly enjoy.
Also, I want to say that sustaining operations in Iraq takes constant, planned, air-land schedules. Our daily schedules are incredibly paralleled to the way that a healer might queue up heals, shields, dispels, and HoTs. There are proportionally a lot more "dps" players in the military...AKA the Army, Navy, and Marines. Not a lot of "healers" though! And you can't kill the Lich King without healers can you? No, and you can't succeed in a major military operation without the same kind of support. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoy the role that we fill here...and I LOVE healing people in game.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
OK, I don’t know how many people have been deployed or maybe moved to the country and had to contend with dial-up quality (or slower) connections. Here in Iraq we’ve got satellite internet provided by a civilian contractor called “Babtel.”
For a guy who likes to multi-task, research, talk, link, post, and play—all online and generally all at once—this is a bummer of a connection. Our connection runs about 850 to 1500ms latency during the day when it’s playable. During prime hours, from about 7pm to midnight (zulu +3 hours), it’s unplayable. Our bandwidth during the day is about 18 to 38 kilobytes download, and considerably less upload.
For normal internet operations, this means that it takes well over a minute to load a single profile page on armory or arena junkies, and considerably longer for forum posts or blogs that have pictures or screenshots. Watching videos is completely out of the question, regardless of the time of day. Podcasts? Not a chance. Streaming of any sort? Keep dreaming. Torrents? Oh, now you’re just teasing me. (To download a few megs in WoW patches over here takes hours or all day)
And in-game, apply that same connection…healing becomes a guessing game because you have a lot of stuff happening while your computer gets the data from the server and sends your inputs. Disc healing is better than holy, because you can pre-shield and mitigate damage. (This was a HUGE realization for me, and it allowed me to successfully heal decent groups through Halls of Reflection.) The toughest part of playing here is that what you normally experience as a “global cooldown” is extended based
As for PVP, I haven’t even bothered. Never mind the process of accumulating gear…I have most of the pieces now to at least be better than the average bg scrubs that annoy you, and I have the gold to put epic gems and appropriate enchants on each piece. I need about 100k honor or less more to have a complete PVP set. BUT, with my latency I can’t really enjoy PVP…I can sit in BGs (or even arenas) and throw a heal here and there, but I can’t perform at the level that I would have formerly considered “a bad day for Smoogee” because of our aforementioned connectivity.
This entire deployment has been a fantastic lesson in “delayed gratification” for me. Certainly, looking forward to getting married foremost, seeing family, a promotion to captain…those things are real, and important. And one of the small things that people take for granted is that wonderful DSL or cable modem back home. I can’t even call my wonderful fiancé when I want, much less be on skype while running a bg or instance. I found out the hard way that I can not run 25-man ops, because of bandwidth of all things. SO…you know what sounds really good to this pilot? Taking my fiancé out on a date, treating ourselves to a steak dinner, a good night’s sleep in my own room, spending some time with my family, and having everybody on our business team over for a barbecue. And after that, a 25ms connection, skype, multiple monitors, external speakers, and a 4-hour block of time to raid and pvp once or twice a week! I honestly can’t even REMEMBER what it’s like to be able to play WoW in what I call “real-time” or to be able to press a button and have the corresponding action occur in less than a second.
I find the irony in the fact that my primary soapbox while I’m deployed as a military member is the gaming potential of the Iraqi satellite connection. But, I always keep first things first…this blog simply isn’t about those things, it’s about the gaming potential. Ironic or not, I am really, sincerely looking forward to that beautiful “average” unremarkable cable internet that over 25% of households now have in the U.S.! It’s not the first thing I’m looking forward to by any stretch of my vivid imagination, but when I’m able to catch a little time here to play WoW, that memory of a real-time connection with voice-over-IP, and the ability to surf through web pages with almost immediate loading. The computer geek in me is really looking forward to that again!
Edit #1: This post should be titled "crit, regen, or haste...which one works best for a PVP Priest?"
I have pulled up the profiles on many of the top arena and BG disc priests. Here is what I've found from a pool of the top players:
Crit ranges from 11 to 19%, the average is about 11 to 13%.
Haste ranges from 150 to over 1000. The majority had well over 300 haste, but did not exceed 650 haste.
Regen ranges from 105 to over 600. (Spirit ranges from 100 to 900.) The average was 580 to 700, but not much lower than that.
The "average priest" leaned towards the items with haste. Every single one chose at least one of the hit items, which I didn't even think to link! I think this is likely for dispels.
OK...I had a couple thousand stone shards that I just converted into honor. It came out to about 130k honor, enough to make a few honor purchases in Orgrimmar.
I had no idea whatsoever which pieces I should be focusing on! I mean, there are at least 3 viable options for each slot, ALL of them are item level 264:
Wrist (ilvl 264, cost 43400 honor)
Wrathful Gladiator's Cuffs of Alacrity has haste
Wrathful Gladiator's Cuffs of Dominance has crit
Wrathful Gladiator's Cuffs of Salvation has spirit
Cloak (ilvl 264, cost 52200 honor)
Wrathful Gladiator's Cloak of Deliverance has spirit
Wrathful Gladiator's Cloak of Dominance has crit
Wrathful Gladiator's Cloak of Subjugation has haste
Wrathful Gladiator's Cloak of Salvation has MP5
Neck (ilvl 264, cost 52200 honor)
Wrathful Gladiator's Pendant of Deliverance has spirit
Wrathful Gladiator's Pendant of Dominance has crit
Wrathful Gladiator's Pendant of Subjugation has haste
Wrathful Gladiator's Pendant of Salvation has mp5
How do I know which Wrathful Gladiator's pieces are best for me as a Disc Priest? I am going to ask priests and read up on it, but I already believe that I am going to accumulate some more haste-centric pieces based on my research. So, today I'll be purchasing the Cuffs of Alacrity and the Cloak of Subjugation. I'll also pick up the ring.
Friday, March 26, 2010
OK, so, how about some lessons learned from 5 man healing thus far:
1. A tank with a gearscore under 3000 on a heroic is a disaster. If your tank opens up with "I just hit 80 today" you are wasting your time, and you will soon find out why.
2. The only 2 instances that will give the average 5 man any trouble whatsoever are Halls of Reflection (HoR) and Pit of Saron (PoS). This doesn't mean they're "hard" but if you have an average group where your 5 players average about 4500 GS (gearscore), those instances are going to be some work for you as a healer.
NOTE: In PoS, Forgemaster Garfrost and Scourgelord Tyrannus will typically have more damage to heal, as well as the 4 pulls leading up to the tunnel. Garfrost has been significantly more difficult as disc than holy, imo. Tyrannus significantly easier as disc.
P.S. If your group in HoR isn't high on dps, that actually will wipe you. It might look like a healing problem, but dps makes a huge difference. Once again, I've found the 10 waves in the beginning to be significantly easier as disc.
3. I love knowing who is getting us killed. If you don't have Recount, I recommend it as a reasonable way to track who might be failing epicly. If all your dps is doing great, it's never a bad idea to look inward! THERE IS NO INSTANCE THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HEAL ONCE YOU HAVE A 5000 GS. If your average itemlevel is 219-232, you have all the gear you need to successfully farm any heroic 5 man, and you are well-geared enough for normal 10 man instances, without question.
4. You don't have to take crap from a tank who criticizes you. BUT...don't make the same mistake I have made a few times today and criticize people in your party if they make a mistake. About the time I get all high-and-mighty and feel bulletproof is when our Iraqi satellite connection will drop and I'll wipe another group in HoR.
5. USE COOLDOWNS. Specifically, if your tank pulls 3 groups and proceeds to hold aggro on most of them, do everything you can to keep the group alive. After that, call "mana" and make sure to message the tank and let him know that it was too much and to slow down a tad.
NOTE: on this note, it is one of the most common mistakes of new players to rarely use something that has a 2 minute cooldown or more, such as Pain Suppression, Power Infusion, Divine Hymn, Inner Focus, and Shadowfiend. Use these things! Be aware of your healing threshold, have an idea of what qualifies as "oh snap!" and USE THOSE.
6. Keep yourself alive!!! As disc, you have no excuse. Shield, Desperate Prayer, and yes, use POTS if you need them. In a 5 man, I use Pain Suppression on my tank or my self, pretty much exclusively. I have started using Clique to spam bubbles on my party, and I have Grid set up to simply show when someone has weakened soul on them. I almost ALWAYS have a shield up on me, and I never have mana problems in 5-man instances EVER. Keep in mind, ALL of my gear is from 5-man instances/emblems so far!
7. Binding heal makes a lot of sense. I am trying to find a good button for it that is more accessible than "shift-1."
8. As disc, I gain haste from casting a shield...I LOVE shielding and then ripping through a Prayer of Healing at reduced cast time right after that if 4 or 5 people need to be topped off.
9. In 5 man instances, you don't "dedicate" heals to your tank as much as you might in a raid. It's great to tag a flash heal on someone before a penance so that they have the faith proc...BUT, sometimes you need to use that penance on player other than a tank. Maybe nobody else will have this inclination, but I began using penance almost exclusively on the tank, almost saving it. I LOVE this spell and I now use it on just about anybody. I have also been leaning more toward flash heal now too.
10. If you are playing wow with high latency, like I am (I am usually seeing 900ms to 1500ms in 5-man groups), I recommend playing a class or spec that is not reactive. Holy is TOUGH when you are constantly reacting and you're already at a disadvantage. Disc is a fresh breath of air because much of it is pre-casting shields and Prayer of Mending.
11. 5 mans became healable ONLY after I used the Leatrix latency fix OR when I used an http tunnel...I could NOT heal with 2500ms latency, try as I might.
12. If you need a piece of loot, ROLL...you will likely not encounter those players for the rest of the day, and they would roll if they needed it. On this note, if you are a new level 80 and you are pulling some of the weight as a dps player, ROLL...you need the gear!!! This is how I got decent enough gear to be around 5100GS (average item level 238).
13. If you want really rewarding gameplay, dish out complements to players and if you party with someone from your own server via random queue, add them to your friend list if they are decent! I admit I'm currently reading "How to have power and confidence in dealing with people," but I can definitely tell you how good it is for someone to thank you by name in party chat for healing. Pay that forward and you'll get more recognition for doing some of the hardest work in the instance.
OK, this is the beginning of a list of lessons learned from hours of 5 man play every other day. I typically fly every other day, so I love to log into wow and blow off some steam after a long day of flying in a real warzone.