Monday, March 28, 2011

Heads up!

Since November, I've been compiling notes and comparisons on the subject of HUDs.  I’d like to take a few moments of your time to discuss the subject of HUD addons for WoW, the merits of each available, and what, if any, recommendation I can make.

This is part 1 of a five-part series.

  • Part 1: Introduction – What they are, what my methodologies are, and a brief recommendation for the attention-span-impaired.
  • Part 2: The Lightweights – I look at the low end of the spectrum in terms of size, but not necessarily, as you will see, short on usefulness.
  • Part 3: The Middleweights – I compare the various virtues of those apps that try to ride a line between features and efficiency – and how well they pulled it off.
  • Part 4: The Heavyweights – I look at the big guns, the ones that bring it all to the table – hopefully!
  • Part 5: Summary and Conclusions – Here there be charts! I also take a shot at naming what I, personally, consider to be the best of the three categories, and why.

So, let's get started!

Want to see the rest?  Well, this was posted at my new blog location, so set your browser to go over there and read all about it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Effing progression

Writing this in the moment, before I go to bed and pass out.

Progression takes place on many fronts.  The two that come to mind immediately are raid/guild progression versus personal progression.

As a guild, we’re 3 out of 12 for T11 content.We are five or six weeks in to this, and the going trend seems to be that we take around three weeks to really get the dance for a new boss down. If that be the case, we could down Maloriak in as few as one and as many as two weeks, except we’re concerned that our gear isn’t up to the challenge.  We are studying Atramedes now.  We return to Halfus tomorrow and then contemplate fabulous dragons. 4/12 seems unlikely this week, statistically, but one never knows what the element of chance might bring.

On a personal level, I am very happy with the improvements I’ve been able to effect in my damage output. To bump it up a notch, I am considering MM as an off spec to see how it fares. BM did not do very well on the test dummies. Oh, it was close enough, but down by 1K to 2K, and the BM-specific pets did not bring anything to the table that would cause me to not use my highest DPS pet.  So, Survival it is, for now, and we’ll eval MM for a while on the side.

Right now, my Achilles heel is awareness.  For example, I died once to a poison bomb because I didn’t realize he was right where I was planning to run when I got tagged. Execution is sometimes a weak spot, though I am also improving there. For example, I was the only hunter this time on Magmaw, so all trapping was solely my job. I missed that once, and we ate some larvae.  Thankfully, we were able to recover. But still.

On a personal level, I am pleased with progress, both as a guild and as myself. Progression does not mean perfection. But we are showing signs of improvement all the time, and that encourages me in what the future may bring.

Well, done, you effing raid team!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just a little heads-up

Next weekend this blog will move to a new host, and the URL will change as well. It will change to

http://wowblog.grimmlabs.com/

Which, you may recall, is where the blog used to be as well.

This time around, I am not taking the posts from the blogspot blog over to the new site. There is too much fussy work to be done to get that to all merge, and more times than not, the so-called power of XML fails us miserably. Again. (Schemas, guys, they’re a good thing. How about not rolling stuff out to production until it can validate on a common schema. I would be ever so grateful.)

Anyway.

While the new blog will be a fresh start as far as old posts go, this blog will remain up and viewable.

You can visit the new site already, but there’s nothing there to see yet. I’m still paying with themes, etc.

The RSS feed will not be affected – thank you, Feedburner.

Friday, March 11, 2011

That’s how we roll


I should be going to bed instead of typing this in, but I prefer to write it in the moment rather than sleep it off, as it were.
I served aboard a US Navy frigate in the Persian Gulf before we had an “official” war out there. Even though we were not at war with anyone there, we still maintained a full battle-ready stance while within the Gulf – live ammo loaded, the whole shebang.
Occasionally, the Captain would wander into CIC and declare, “QUICKDRAW, 300 YARDS AT 33 DEGREES RELATIVE, GO!” (with the numbers varying, of course). He’d then start a stopwatch and observe how long it took for the ship to lay three 76mm rounds on the designated target area.
Kept us on our toes.
Tonight reminded me a lot of that.
One thing that makes Eff the Ineffable work so well is that we have a solid core of people that can put on the raiding hat on a dime. That came in really handy tonight as we realized that there were nine 85s on and we controlled Tol Barad.  When the 10th appeared, we suddenly shifted from doing whatever it was that we were doing to getting to TB, getting in position, and then raiding.  At 23 minutes remaining when we stepped through the portal, it was cutting it close, Our first pull was at the 15-something mark, more or less.  And yet, the boss was down, we gathered our points and loot, and went about our business.
That’s pretty awesome.
We also had a bit of excitement as an influx of familiar faces swelled our ranks. I won’t out anyone here, but suffice it to say that there was much excitement and occasional squeeing. We main gain a few new raiders out of that, which would be just dandy. Mister K has already outed himself, so here’s a shout-out for him. “Is this where all the burnt out bloggers come to hang out?”, he mused, seeing the number of, well, burnt-out bloggers we have harbored within. I was amused.
Sometimes a change of venue makes a bit of difference.
My boss and I were discussing his exploits in Rift; it sounds like they did a marvelous job and I wish I had the bandwidth to check it out. He was really enjoying his Necromancer, and as he described how it worked, I really missed getting to play Flora.  WoW warlocks and Rift Necros have a lot in common.
Well, Flora’s going to have to wait. I have so very far yet to go.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You can take the boy out of Azshara, but you can’t take Azshara out of the boy

In what has turned out to be a blogosphere-wide scandal of the deepest proportions, Ratshag has blown the doors off of one of the undersea world’s deepest, darkest, secrets. Taboos broken. Neighbors scandalized. Bait stores vandalized.

No Comment Lady Vashj has stepped forward to utter a complete denial of these events, claiming that the Naga’s milt is reserved exclusively for their own kind.

But in this revealing photograph, Lesser Creature Overseer (5th class) Kil'ssarrass is seen enjoying a night out in the lesser-known areas of Vashj’ir.

Mountain Glory Dew will put starch in your pelvic spurs Neither Kil’ssarrass nor Mrrlrrgrrlrr could be reached for comment (nor, in fact, discerned from every other of their kind in the area), but one claiming to be Mrrlrrgrrlrr’s close confidant has explained (on provision of anonymity) that Mrrlrrgrrlrr has been sequestered away, as is the custom, until the roe either hatches, or is deemed suitable for caviar.

Watch this space, as well as other blogs in the Blogosphere News Network, for further developments on this story!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Failing in pieces

Week 4 of our raiding debut, and Eff the Ineffable continues to focus on progression. Omnomnomitron is our current BWD nemesis, and Valiona and Theralion are scheduled to make our lives miserable in BoT.  The RL decided to keep us on our toes by proclaiming that one of us would explain positioning on each of that pair, and he’d select randomly.

In between studying for that, I’ve done what I can for Heroics, rep grinding, outfitting, rotation practice, and whatever else I can do to improve my performance. My DPS on the dummies this week is around 3K higher than when I started, so if I end up on the bottom of the pack, at least it won’t be so blatant.

Jasra’s our most recent veteran of ICC, so I often run things by her as a sanity check, assuming we catch her sober and awake. ::ouch! Kidding, Jas!::

Jasra: Okay, checklist. Flasks?

Yep!

Potions?

Healing and crit, yep!

Enchants?

All done. Rhii even replaced my foot one with a run speed one, just for Magmaw.

Fishing pole? Put away?

:: laugh :: I left it in the bank!

Gems?

All epics, all slots except the Meta.

Epics?

Yeah, epics.

Epic gems. You have epic gems in all your slots.

Yes! How can you be deaf with ears like that?

:: stares ::

What’s wrong with epic gems in Cataclysm gear?  I' --- Oooooooooh!

:: nods ::

OK, what my surly priest friend was getting at is that the new Rare gems in Cata are far better than the Epic gems in Wrath, and, furthermore, there ARE no epic gems in Cata yet.  Possibly next content patch, but don’t hold your breath.

So, I went off to the AH and did a mass swap-out for Cata blues, then reforginated to rebalance all the stats that got skewed, and, well, eased up another 500 DPS on the dummies.

/facepalm

* * * * *

So, we only did one raid instance (besides TB, which still refuses to drop my pants) because there were too many people that couldn’t make it Friday. Our RL suggested that we do something as a team, anyway, so we went achievement hunting in Naxx.  This is great for me, as I was pretty much never able to complete that instance.  Every time we hit Sapphiron, it was “hey, can Jas come in and heal?”  So I was denied. It was nice to finally get that achievement, plus a few others.

It was a little odd doing it without any boss mods, though. I failed to notice that DBM now only ships with current content – if you want the old content, you need to go download it seperately. This is actually a good idea.  I just hadn’t anticipated setting foot there ever again, is all.

Saturday we headed straight for Magmaw. I had rejiggered my spec a little due to a guildy’s advice, to give my multishot and traps some more punch and utility, and it really helped. We didn’t roflstomp him, but on the third try Magmaw was being basted in cajun spices.

Omnitron is, as I said, our new nemesis.  It is, however, becoming less confusing as we go along. It looks like we always get them in the same order, and Team Heal is adjusting to the style of the bosses to keep us up better. We had a couple of great tries in there, and one that was outstanding. We got it down to 10%, and, well, it’s hard to say. It might have partly been “go fever”, starting that victory lap just a little early, or we may have just hit our mental and mana walls at that point. We’re all feeling a lot better about that encounter than we were last week, though of course we know we have a lot more work to do to close the deal.

I’ve been gimping my DPS so as to try to keep both eyes on the situation around me, as I tend to zone out on shot rotations WAY too easy. I’ve also removed my DoTs from the button bar for this fight since that can make for a Bad Day. I’m learning new thngs from looking at our logs.

So, next time.  Scrap metal.  /gruff

* * * * *

A final note for our raid leader, who is stepping down to let others take up the mantle. 

It seems that in an earlier post, I gave the impression that he was making me unhappy. This was not my intent. He was a tough raid leader and set the bar high, and my navel gazing has been along the lines of sorting out how to do my job right. I say here for all to hear, I appreciate the burdens of the job, and appreciate his willingness to step up and try to lead us through the raiding regimen. If he continues to raid with us, nobody will be more pleased than I.

(PS: no, he is not stepping down because I was Emo Dwarf, so don’t go there.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

HELP WANTED: RAIDERS

No, this has nothing to do with my bemoaning my decrepitude in earlier posts.  Rather, I’m shilling for our esteemed raid leader, Alas, and our most excellent guild, Eff the Ineffable.

We’re a small guild. We do, however, have ambitions of adequacy in the field of raiding. Not particularly aiming towards server firsts here, you understand, but nobody would complain.

What we are is a group of adults that take great pains not to stand in the fire while serving pwnage on miscreant bosses. We recognize that real life > WoW, and plan accordingly. Thus, our two raiding nights (plus short-shorts on Tuesdays) are reserved for raiding like we mean it.  The rest of the time, we hang out and do heroics, farm herbs, and play WoW Jeopardy.

This is an officer-less guild. The expectation is that everyone here is a grown-up and is expected to act thusly.

We are looking for: all roles, best I can tell. Our current raiding body has enough switch-hitters to make up for shiftage.  If you happen to be a warlock, be warned that Zel will probably try to adopt you, feed you, and keep you safe and warm. Fairly warned be you, say I.

We have a LOT of bloggers. Expect to be blogged about, in aggregate or in particular. In fact, I’d say that this is the guild that blogging built.

Note that if you are accepted, you may still be on the bench from time to time. Our goal is to always have enough people for a 10-man raid, which means that some nights we’ll have enough, and some nights, more than enough. DPS especially should expect to be placed on a rotation, which means that not every raid night will be for you. Hey, I’ll be on the bench right there with you, so don’t fret. It’s just a thing to make sure everyone gets the same number of shots as others in the role. If you happen to be dual-roled, of course, that can only work out well for you. :)

If all the above did not send you screaming into the night, feel free to drop by our message board and post in whatever fora are available to obtain more information from our esteemed and fully posse’d GM.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Impending DING

In conjunction with some fairly recent navel gazing, I see this bit from Calli via Larisa today:

"The problem is, I’m 41 next month. My reflexes aren’t what they used to be, there are youngsters in our raid who act like they have the reaction times of rattlesnakes on crack and they handle fights like this with ease. Me, I need time to process things, time to let muscle memory take the slack that my reflexes can’t handle and my brain can’t process."

… and I went, “well, yeah.” 

I’ve been evaluating my performance in raids over the past three weeks. I’ve been improving. I strongly believe this. But I also have a propensity to fail in situations that require me to react quickly to sudden events.  As Calli says, instead of reflexes, I have become more and more dependent on muscle memory and experience to get me through a fight.

I don’t feel particularly happy with that reasoning on my own part, though, because it feels a bit like I’m making excuses for being a failbot.  On the contrary, I’m trying to find ways to compensate for what is becoming more and more a concern to me. The first part of improving is to identify what CAN be improved.

In my old guild, we progressed more slowly. I was pretty much middle of the pack, for the most part (except Kara, which was my first EVAR raid and all-new experience). The demographic of that guild tended towards my own age bracket. But the Effers are a bit more ambitious. They get impatient if it takes us more than two weeks to pick up on a new boss. And dying to the stupid really doesn’t help attitudes. Where being a bit of a doof was once considered a moderately charming idiosyncrasy in the past, it’s a serious hinderance now. I have to find ways around that, and fast.

Age and guile. Gotta work that.

If only being 41 was the problem. Next month I ding 50, and, unfortunately, I can’t get back to 41 without a few souls and a fifth of Yukon Jack, and voluntary soul donors are hard to come by.  So, again, we go to raiding with the Dorfs we gots, not the dorfs we wish we had.  I look at Calli and consider 41 to be good times gone by. :)

Also.

With all this beardy naval gazing going on, it didn’t help that the AARP mailed me my membership card in advance.

Oh, yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.

Well, onward and upward. If we can field bodies we may even get to Valona and Theralion and thier FABULOUS flames. (ORLY.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Let’s Posse!

Contrived WoW Model Viewer shoops are one thing.

Lava worm onna platter is another.

Eff_Magmaw_10

We tried a few variations before settling in on the most basic, the one that we started with. And then we tried, tried, and tried some more, to get the rythm down, learn the patterns, learn the signs, and learn how to react without having to ponder each one in turn.  The final attempts on him went from learning experience, to drill. We drilled, and we drilled, and we kept on our toes. Once we saw improvement on every pass, the RL felt we had the right mix, and we stuck with it.

So that’s how we do Alas Appreciation Day hereabouts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday wrap-up

I have two blogging projects going at once, one is a bit of fluff and one is a very in-depth bit of research. I need to get back to them, but the past two weeks have been pretty hectic, despite having a holiday in the middle of it all.

My gear sucks

But it sucks less now than it did two weeks ago. One thing that was painfully obvious in our Magmaw fight was that the adds were not getting burned down a lot. All sorts of strats were tried to get around that basic shortcoming, but in the end that's what it's all about. It's like the Curator fight, in which you have to get those adds down in time to burn him hard during his Evocate phase.  So I know what that looks like.

I'm still not happy with how multishot works, or its ability to do what it needs to do, but with improved gear it may suffice. We'll see. Thanks to some generous guildies, a lot of grinding, a lot of Heroics, I'm getting closer every day. My damage output on dummies and raids keeps inching up. 

Progress is being made, and that is all that matters as long as we bring down the bad guys in the long run. I just hope for patience on the part of my fellows.

Traditions were meant for breaking

I've been a Leatherworker for all of Vanilla and all three expansions. But this week I dropped it and took up a dual-gathering 'spec' – flowers and metals. There are a few reasons behind this.

  • On Alleria, I had the skills and contributions from nine other alts to ensure that nothing ever went unused. As such, were had been able to sustain Illume grinding up to maximum as a Scribe, and then start making and selling glyphs at a profit, all without buying anything but paper.  This was good for 3-4K per week into our collective coffers.  That's gone now, on Azurmyst. Just me, my leatherworking, and the charity of others. As much as I like my new guildies, I just cannot abide being a burden. 
  • Leatherworking is NOT a high-profit income source without some major, major grinding.  So I've discarded it for something that is more clearly aimed at getting money into the coffers and keeping me in flasks. In fact, once I get to a certain point, I can get flasks made for cheap supplying my own mats. That's cool.  
  • The mats from these two professions do really well on the AH, so I'll generally split my finds between the guild and my pocketses, thus gaining the benefit of helping my guild out, AND having the means to sustain myself.
  • The crafting professions have just lost their luster. They feel stagnant, grindy, ridiculous.  By the time I get what I want out of Leatherworking, I should be wearing superior gear anyway. So, really, what's the point?
  • You might say I've become a "farmer".  Sure, fine, whatever. Whether it's rep, mats to use, mats to sell … it's all farming. Plus, I might be your supplier, so, be nice. :)

BM Ain't all that

4.0.6 allegedly improved matters for BM and MM Hunters. Our lead Hunter certainly likes MM a lot, now, but my experiments with BM show that it still lags around 2K behind SV at my gear level. BM is very sensitive to Mastery as that directly impacts the main nuke, Kill Command. Right now, all my reforging goes into Hit first, leaving very little for Mastery.

You're on, Alannis

Holy crap, what a week in the world o WoW blogs. This week is the latest flash on some major blog drama, but it's been accumulating over the past few months, I can tell. A lot of stored-up bloggy angst is finding new outlets to express itself.

The ironic part is that a lot of people have used posts linking to this post as entre to carry out some heavy slagging, regardless of the intent of the original linker. Talk about not getting the point. A post I intended as a plea for moderation on hateful rhetoric is in fact planted like a land mine over a nest of angry fire ants, under a tree filled with angry hornets. (And when it blows, we end up landing in the bee pit). The people linking almost invariably have good intentions, but they can't control the ebb and flow of the conversations that follow, and there have been regrettable consequences. 

The worst part of all of this is that I see people I consider to be my friends going after other people I consider to be my friends.  To paraphrase one other blogger who's identity I have misplaced (sorry), I just wanna keep liking my friends.

I'm going on record now to say that the elephant is still in the room.

What I did instead of rep grinding

Having said all that, one of the people that linked back here to that post is in fact our Effing GM. She put her feelings out there on a topic that was bound to draw fire. No matter what, it was brave and commendable, and she's handled the feedback well, but it no doubt has taken an emotional toll, as well. Negativity does that. Sometimes you can feel a bit isolated, alone, amid it all.

So I did a little something to hopefully help out a little. Well, it helped me, anyway. :)Alas Has A Posse I think I speak for the whole Effing guild when I say that this is from all of us Effers to you, Alas