Friday, May 23, 2008

[Offtopic] Kael'Thas down!

We did it. Kael'Thas is down. Congratulations to Fire and Blood!

I feel a bit proud of myself; some of my analysis really helped out. People did use their staves more and put that into a macro. We did end up taking melee off of Thaladred and putting it on Sanguinar. We also switched up the order we had been killing the advisors, having Sanguinar die second instead of Telonicus; this made a really big difference in P4 on killing the eggs and interrupting Kael, and Sanguinar seemed a lot more dangerous than Telonicus to the raid once we started using our staff correctly.

Something we tried that seemed to work better as well was not doing as much AoE. We switched to focus firing the weapons, and that actually seemed to take them down more quickly. I don't know why, either.

Tanking wise, I had a fairly easy job of it. I didn't tank a single advisor; my roles were to:
P1: be hit by Capernian's conflagration
P2: Tank devastation - usually lasted into P3
P3: make sure telonicus tank has staff debuff & dps telonicus/run weapons as I can
P4/P5: pick up phoenixes

The hardest part in there was tanking the phoenixes. Devastation doesn't do anything special; the only annoying part is to position him so that he takes AoE damage while not instagibbing the melee, but that's not so hard. The phoenixes are pretty interesting to tank though. They can spawn nearly anywhere. They need to be dragged from wherever they do spawn to somewhere near the melee but not on the melee, and they need to be dragged so that they aren't running through the healers. If another one spawns, that one needs to be tanked as well - and they can spawn while you're killing one. (I learned that the hard way on a p4 try, where a third phoenix was running rampant through the healers while I had 2 tanked. It didn't end up mattering, as I was mind controlled shortly afterwards, but it could have.) And they have a giant knockback effect when they die. Our strategy was to not waste any DPS on them while they were alive and quickly down them when they were dead. This seemed to work pretty well. The fire resist gear was great for this; I mitigated 63% of all the damage from the fire of the phoenix. Now, one can kite them with ranged DPS, but it seemed to work fairly well this way and it meant that our ranged DPS could focus on Kael instead of kiting. And clearly the positioning worked well too, as melee was easily doing twice as much damage as ranged on the eggs.

Now that I think of it, this would fall apart if I did get MCed. It was fortunate that I did not. When we do this fight again, we should make sure to have a backup plan in that case.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

[General] Dissecting WWS for fun and profit

Another night against Kael. We did make progress, but we were somewhat hampered by having neither of our fire resist warlock tanks signed for the raid. That slowed things quite a bit when dealing with Capernian. Still, we are making it through the weapons fine at this point. It's just dealing with phase 3 that's the real issue. We did get one good try at phase 4, and the fire resist set against the phoenixes was excellent. It seemed a lot easier to tank one away from the melee and from Kael and the healers than it was to kite it, and the damage I took didn't seem particularly bad.

What I'm going to do now is check out our WWS for what happened last night, and where we can improve. Kael'Thas isn't any kind of DPS race; while good DPS is important, the most important thing is to execute. It's an encounter designed to make a person freak out at every turn, and there are plenty of things that each player can do to wipe the raid. So looking at how much damage a person did, or how much healing a person did isn't that useful. Instead we'll look at some common problem areas and who may need to improve.

For instance: I didn't put on my fire resist set (yes, the one I talked about working on) prior to one of our attempts. It didn't end up wiping the raid as the fire resist is useless against conflagration and we didn't end up getting to phase 4, but it would likely have wiped the raid when I took too much damage from the phoenixes. You can't swap gear during the fight either; there's no time when you're out of combat. So you absolutely need to do it before you engage. That won't show up in logs, but I did want to mention it just in case I'm coming across as not having made any mistakes.

First up, Thaladred the Darkener. He needs to be avoided at all costs in both phase 1 and 3. We did stellar in phase 1, but he killed a lot of people in phase 3. Looking at the breakdowns, we can see that dragonstryke took the most damage from him. That's not that big of a deal however; this is over time. What is a big deal is people taking those huge hits. In the second try, Ghillie took a giant hit which killed him. Baelor took one in try 6, and juliand, dragonstryke, kixsty and holypm took a few large ones in that fight too. In try 7,scelyde was nailed hard, as was Juliand. In 8, it was holypm, Invincibull and Aedarg.

Tries 9 and 10 were our best. No one was hit for more than 7k damage, and that went to Juliand and Dragonstryke. That's pretty good, and what we need to do. What's also interesting is how many melee you see there. There's only two ranged on the entire list (kixsty and holypm). Other ranged did take hits, but those were survivable. Part of that makes me think that melee needs to stay away from Thaladred. Thaladred does need to die fairly quickly, but if he turns and kills a melee or three we're simply not going to have enough damage output to get to P4 cleanly.

Another example is the Cosmic Infuser. Our best try was try 10; in that, the infuser only got off 5 holy nova heals. By comparison, in try 9 it got off 11 holy novas and 3 heals. That was a difference of 125k healing. This is something that I think we improved on tremendously as the fight progressed; the interrupts became great towards the end and the weapons went down smoothly, and tries 10-12 had no heals and only a few holy novas.

We did a lot better on avoiding Devastation as well. I was the designated tank for it, and in some attempts I was the only one that took damage to it. In our best attempt I had thought Tarts died to it, but it appears that he did fine and probably used it to get some mana back via spiritual attunement.

What's bothersome to me is another observation by Silena that she was getting hit by the conflagration effect or the arcane confusion effect even though Neoto was using it. In the logs this appears to be the case as well; in our last attempt she gains the mental protection field, then 30 seconds...ah. It has a duration of 30 seconds. So whoever used it to give it to her must not have used it in that time. This means that we need to get better at spamming the field, having it macroed into regular used abilities, and using it all the time. We see that happen in try 12, where she is affected by the field it but it doesn't hit her again until 2 minutes later; by then both her and her target are dead. Looking at his log, it seems like he didn't use the field enough. Why that's a problem: because the field works weirdly. When you turn it on or move into range of someone, it overwrites any existing field. If you die, turn it off or move away, the old field doesn't come back into place. It's very easy in that fight for someone with the staff to move in range of someone, overwrite their shield and then move away. That's why it's important for everyone to constantly spam the staff ability. (actually, after looking at the log again it's clear what happens; the remote toy happens about 15 seconds before Silena gets aggro, she fails to heal Neoto, Neoto dies and then someone else comes in with a staff. So the staff was either not being used or Silena was not in range of its use).

I'm curious if others have had some specific issues with this fight and how to deal with them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

[Druid] Intellgent powershifting macro

This was posted at EJ, and it's so incredible I had to share it.
Many thanks to Malthoreniel on Terrordar (EU) for this.

/run if pwx then local f="Cat Form";f=GetSpellCooldown(f)>0 or UnitMana('player')>pws or not IsUsableSpell(f) or CancelPlayerBuff(f) end
/cast [form] Mangle
/stopmacro [form]
/cast Cat Form


/run local c=DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME if pwx then pwx=false c:AddMessage("Powershift disabled",1,1,1) else pwx=true pws=8 c:AddMessage("Powershift enabled, 8 energy threshold",1,1,1)end

The first macro is put in for mangle, shred and rip - you'd need one for each attack, and it'd replace your buttons. (replace mangle with shred/rip in the above macro) The second macro enables/disables the other ones globally, which turns on/off the behavior depending on what you're doing (soloing/raiding, for instance).

What the macro actually does is that it will use the attack if you have the energy to do it. If you don't, it'll check whether you're on GCD, and if you're above an energy threshold (pws); if you are, it does nothing. If not, it'll automatically powershift you. The above ones are set to powershift at 8 energy or less, but you can change this around globally (in the second macro) or change it per attack like this:

/run if pwx then local f="Cat Form";f=GetSpellCooldown(f)>0 or UnitMana('player')>15 or not IsUsableSpell(f) or CancelPlayerBuff(f) end
/cast [form] Mangle
/stopmacro [form]
/cast Cat Form

In that example you will powershift at 15 energy or less if you use mangle.

Why I love it - because it takes all the pain out of powershifting and makes it automatic if you want to. The only drawback is that it may be hard to put in a use of a haste pot or trinket in there; I've not checked out the total # of characters it takes. But otherwise, spam, spam, spam away.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

[General] Using WWS to calculate TPS

From MainTankadin comes this little gem - a WWS parsing tool that will output threat per second based on the logs.

This isn't useful for e-peenery. I'll say that right now, in case anyone cares. What it is useful for is gauging how actual changes in gear affect your threat from week to week and what the actual source of threat is in fights, especially as your role changes.

For example: this is the WWS of a recent Morogrim fight that I tanked. And from that report, I apparently did 803 TPS. That's not so bad; that means melee can put out 900 or so TPS, and ranged can do 1050 TPS without going over - and of course, they're salved and have other threat reduction caps. From this parse you can see that Maul is a huge part of the threat, more than any other single source. In this fight it is 37% of all threat generated.

What's more interesting is to see the miss numbers. 30% of all mauls were missed! That's a huge chunk of potential threat, right there. I believe for Morogrim I was wearing my max avoidance gear, so that explains that.

This should demonstrate how good the brooch of deftness and other hit/expertise items really can be. For instance, just from maul, if I were using the brooch of deftness I would have reduced that miss percentage from 30% to 25%, roughly. And just from mauls, that would have increased my threat by 2.6%. Just from mauls.

It should also tell you how huge maul is for threat generation. Morogrim is an interesting fight in that you want to max avoidance and you will also often be rage-starved, because he will get big strings of misses or just choose to not swing for a while. Survivability is the big key for Morogrim, not threat. For a threat race you can look at something like Void Reaver. VR also wants as much avoidance as you can muster (so you can avoid the knockbacks) but also as much threat as you can muster (so you can hold onto him after them). In this fight I went for more of a threat-centric build, and it showed - my mauls missed much less (18%) and my threat was at 923 TPS. In that fight, maul actually made up even more of my overall threat - simply because I used fewer normal swings.

Up until recently I hadn't quite realized how large a threat value maul really is. This should show both the value of damage to your threat and the value of hit. It also shows how badly threat scales for bears; Maul only adds 176 damage per hit, no matter what, so as you increase in gear the relative threat that this produces becomes lower and lower.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

[Druid] Resilience part 3: tanking Illidan's flames

A second followup, because this has proven to be pretty valuable. Earlier I mentioned that the vengeful gladiator's helm is a good choice because it combined with the chest makes a great 2-piece set that takes care of your resilience needs and goes well with resistance sets. Here's one example of that. This is a set that takes care of all the fire resistance needs and makes you uncrittable, while giving close to 18k stamina unbuffed:

Vengeful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm with a steady talasite, Powerful earthstorm diamond and glyph of the gladiator (available for 1875 arena points)
Amulet of the Torn-Heart (the end of the cipher of damnation questline in shadowmoon)
The shoulders don't matter at all - any will do
Wyrmcultist's Cloak with greater fire resistance (bought from a vendor in blade's edge after you get a disguise)
Vengeful Gladiator's Dragonhide Tunic (available for 1875 arena points) socketed with solid stars of elune and enchanted with exceptional stats
wrists can be anything
Inferno Hardened Gloves with any enchant (I'd recommend a knothide kit) (20 badges)
Blastguard Belt with two solid stars of elune (3 primal fire, 3 primal water, 6 fel hide, 4 heavy knothide leather)
Inferno Hardened Leggings (30 badges) with clefthide armor patch
Inferno Hardened Boots (20 badges) with Fortitude
Phoenix-Fire Band (from the trials of the Naaru: Magtheridon questline)
Flask of Chromatic Wonder
The trinket slots, other ring slot, weapon slot and idol slot are open as well. This provides a total of 298 fire resistance and is well over the uncrittable cap. If you wanted to you could regem a bit and get more resilience, and remove the glyph of the gladiator in favor of more avoidance or the FR glyph - but it's not necessary. I chose this because the enchants on the VG set are likely to be used elsewhere as well, so your gear is not solely FR-specific. With a paladin fire resist aura, you will be over the 365 cap.

With T5-level gear in the other slots (either badge gear or T5 drops that are fairly commonplace), you could get over 18k health buffed only with the flask, 22k armor and 29% avoidance. In addition to that, you should be fairly good on threat as well given the VG pieces which provide some hit. It's not even that costly; 70 badges total, a few primals and some enchant mats are it. The costliest thing is the arena points, but these pieces are actually pretty good for cat DPS too - and if you're stingy you can always go with the gladiator or MG set versions, which will soon be available for honor instead of arena points.

Yet another reason to go grind arena points. :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

[Druid] Resilience part two

One item I forgot completely about yesterday is the Vengeful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm. It's much less easily obtained than the Vindicator's Dragonhide Bracers, but it is in a slot that is notoriously hard to upgrade, it is a big upgrade from the Stag-Helm of Malorne in terms of stamina, and it provides a ton of resilience as well. Using this will allow the same setup as yesterday save that you can now use the Band of the Swift Paw and Slikk's Cloak with only using one resilience/defense gem. I chose the helm itself for this, as it's likely you'll also be using this in your PvP gear set.

The helm, by itself, gives 470 HP over the Stag-Helm in bear form. It also provides hit rating, crit rating and armor penetration; it's very good for threat. For mitigation it is not as good as T5 or T6, but it is better than T4 overall and can provide 1/3 of the resilience needed for uncrittability by itself while being a better option than T4.

Even better, when you combine it with the chestpiece, you now have a 2-piece bonus that gives all the needed resilience for uncrittability. It also happens to perfectly work with a fire resistance set and will serve well for fights into MH and BT.

In general, I think you should go for this as your first piece of arena gear - especially if it is unlikely that you will be able to get the helm off of Vashj any time soon. The Vindicator's Bracers are excellent for the time when you don't have that helm or you want to replace it with T5/T6 (which you should). Given most guild's reluctance to farm Vashj, chances are that you'll have this for quite some time.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

[Druid] The value of Resilience for tanking

Summary: using resilience gear in the form of enchants and one or two pvp items will allow you to gain approximately 60 stamina at the cost of perhaps 1% avoidance and 200 armor and allow you to have more flexibility in other slots of gear.

Feral druids have some of the most aggravating itemization in the game. Almost all feral-specific gear has some randomly useless stat like intellect. The badge loot has haste, which is pointless for tanking.

But mostly, there is literally not a single piece of PvE epic leather gear with defense on it. Not one. There is one weapon that has it (Earthwarden, which remains the best itemized feral druid tanking item in the game), and then...nothing. Sure, the violet signet is good for druids especially. As are a few other rings and amulets. In general, a druid must get their 156 defense rating needed for uncrittability from the rings, trinkets, cloaks and amulets.

Which unbalances things in favor of the warrior, as they can throw in a couple stam trinkets, put in an expertise amulet (again with more stamina than a defense one) and some avoidance rings, and suddenly have a ton more stamina than a similarly geared druid. What to do?

The answer is resilience.

While you need 156 defense rating to reach uncrittable, you only need 103 resilience for the same mark. Resilience and defense cost the same in terms of itemization points, but the things with resilience seem to have more of them. For example, take the tanking glyph enchants. Glyph of the defender adds 16 defense rating; glyph of the gladiator adds 20 resilience. That one enchant is the difference in covering 1/5th of your uncrittability needs vs. covering 1/10th. Similarly for the chest defense enchant vs. the chest resilience enchant; both provide 15 value, but that resilience is 14% of your uncrittability, compared to 9.5% for defense.

What this means in general is that you'll have 53 points of ilvl to play with. What that could be, in general:
530 armor (before bear form)
80 stam
53 agility
106 attack power
53 expertise/hit rating

In practice this doesn't happen quite as much since you don't get to choose, but it gets close.

Now, what you lose with that 156 defense is avoidance. With 156 defense rating, you have 66 defense skill, which translates to 2.64% miss and 2.64% dodge. 5.2% avoidance is pretty substantial, and could not be gained back if the ilvl translation went entirely to agility or dodge rating. Unfortunately that's dealing with the notion that we'd have perfectly itemized gear, which isn't the case. What we have is compromise. And the best compromises are found in pvp gear.

An example: the best bracers for tanking druids are the Band of the Swift Paw, which with an enduring talasite provide 317 armor, 23 str, 22 agi, 37 stam, 10 int and 4 defense. Compare this to the vindicator dragonhide bracers with a shifting nightseye: 236 armor, 22 str, 22 agi, 35 stam, 19 resilience, 21 crit rating.

The big loss is the armor - you lose 81 armor. You also lose 10 int. But you trade 4 defense (2.56% of your uncrittability) for 19 resilience (18.4%)and 21 crit rating, which means that this item is 7 times better for reaching your uncrittability cap while adding more threat. The loss of armor does hurt, admittedly - but the uncrittability for this is huge, by comparison.

Comparing the other honor cost leather items is not as good. For the belt, we'll compare the Belt of Natural Power to the Vindicator's Dragonhide Belt, and the cost of that 26 resilience is 123 armor and 12 stamina (assuming shifting nightseyes for gems). That's a bit more expensive in terms of the resilience gained. For the boots, we'll compare the Footwraps of wild encroachment to Vindicator's Dragonhide boots. Here we get the same 26 resilience, but it costs us only 61 armor and 10 stamina. If you're wanting something different, you can also try the vindicator's leather boots, which makes the tradeoff 3 stam and 103 armor for 4 agility, 30 resilience, 19 crit and 40 attack power. That's a bit better in terms of what you're losing, though unlike the bracers and the belt, the boots do have potential upgrades.

If you go with the vindicator bracers and the glyph of the gladiator, you can take care of 37.9% of your total uncrittability requirement. This means you need a total of 95.3 defense rating - round up to 96 - to get uncrittable. If you enchant your chest, cloak and bracers with defense enchants, you get 39 more defense rating - leaving only 57 defense rating needed. The Violet Signet of the Great Protector is 19 defense. Slikk's Cloak of Placation is 16. The Greater Inscription is 10 defense if you're Aldor, 15 if you're scryer. At the very worst, this will give you 45 more defense, requiring only 12 more defense to reach uncrittable. This can be reached by a neck item or 3 enduring talasites, which isn't so hard. If you used the band of the swift paw instead, you'd have to get another 25 defense rating from somewhere. That's 6 more enduring talasites instead of 6 solid stars (a cost of 36 stamina), or not using the ring of the stalwart protector in favor of some other ring (for A'dal's signet of defense, that would be losing 30 armor and 12 stamina and about .5% avoidance). If you use the glyph of defense and the band of the swift paw, you'll end up needing another 40 defense somewhere (10 enduring talasites, or 60 stamina), will lose 18 stamina from the enchant, and will most likely be forced to use a neck and another ring or trinket slot on defense.

Is that worth it? For me, the answer was no. That one piece of resilience gear allows me to be able to swap out weapons without worrying, swap out necklaces for more threat or avoidance, swap out trinkets without worrying, use the two best rings in the game, use the best cloak in the game, and in general focus on gemming for stamina. I personally use the gilded thorium cloak instead of Slikk's, but I will likely upgrade in the future. Slikk's is a great example of the itemization that you can gain with; you lose 8 defense in exchange for 25 more dodge and 7 more stamina.

The big thing is that once you get this gear, you don't need to modify it all that much in the future. The bracers + the defense enchant can stay for the lifetime of TBC content. The cloak + defense enchant can also stay forever. The helm enchant is a glyph and can easily be replaced. The chestpiece won't be replaced often, but the enchant is easily redone. Enduring talasites are cheap and don't require a lot of changing anyway most of the time. And all your other gear doesn't have defense associated with it to begin with, so at best you may have to regem a bit here and there. This becomes especially true when you start gemming with epic gems; with epic gems every time you have to use an enduring gem you're sacrificing 8 stamina for 5 defense instead of 6 for 4. That's a worse ratio, so if you can avoid this you should do so.

Note that if you choose to use flasks of fortification all the time, you can gain another 10 defense rating. I don't like this; it means that I am crittable whenever I'm not flasking, which is quite often. But it's a personal choice.