Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Christmas Tree Effect

I'd like to start this entry out with something of a disclaimer: I love movies. I live by them. Really, I do. I've been told I'm little more than a series of movie reels looped together. That being said, the real humor of this post relies on knowledge of the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic The Running Man. So, if you have absolutely no idea what the movie is, first go cane yourself in a dark corner for a few hours and then go download it, or whatever else you lawless hooligans do to get movies these days. If you need more of a reason to watch it, it's based on a story by Stephen King, AND EVERYONE LOVES HIM, RIGHT?!? Well, minus that guy that ran Stephen over with a car...he was probably a right-out malcontent. Oh, it was also Richard Dawson's last real acting role. Some of you older types might know him as the host of the original Family Feud. Just go see it, it's good stuff.

Now then, if you have seen the movie: sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Right, so the random cross-realm LFG dungeon thinger has been, by most people, lauded as a great success. I'd agree with that statement, with the implementation of frost emblems as part of the reward, plus extra emblems and cold hard cash for continued instances there on, it's really put some life back into the game. I recall running certain heroic instances back during the BC days over and over again for one drop, say for example...a set of plate shoulders...YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. Once said piece would drop, there would be much rejoicing, but save for any attunements or other pieces of gear that were dropped in the instance, the dungeon could and would be effectively crossed off the list of "cool places that I spend my time". I mean, honestly, did anyone out there ever really want to go back to the heroic versions on Durnholde Keep? I'm fairly certain only masochists with a death wish greater than the aggregate sum of all of Charles Bronson's popular movies spent their time in that dungeon, and nobody really likes those people, they're weird.

The random cross-realm LFG dungeon thinger has even gotten me back into instances. Christ, I know, it's terrible. I don't even remember half of these places anymore since I spend every waking moment in ICC as it is, but you know, Daddy needs his frost emblems, and I'll take them anyway I can get them. So, I toss my name into the hat, juggle said hat about for a good 15 to 20 minutes, and then pop out on the other side of an instance with some trash to vendor and a few emblems in my pocket. It's not such a bad trade.

This, of course, assumes that everyone has decent gear, or at least cares about their gear.

This, of course, is not always the case.

I made a post about it a few weeks ago, maybe even a month by now, about my Halls of Stone escapade. I often forget that most people these day that run the dungeons are in i-level 232 gear, with maybe some 245's at best. I am not one of those individuals. Now, I've come to realize this, and I've also come to the realization that more often than not I will end up tanking at some point during most runs. I'm fine with this. It's one of those inevitable sort of things. I've moved on. Though, that's not to say that I don't like to know when it might be happening, be it midway through a trash pack of AoE mobs where my Divine Storm with Seal of Command spam just becomes too awesome, or on a single target when the tank goes AFK at about 56% because he's suffered some sort of massive aneurysm and is drowning in a puddle of his own saliva while the "R" and "T" keys of his keyboard imprint themselves on his forehead. I like to know. While it might be inevitable, I can still prepare for it: clench jaw, grind teeth, flex throat muscles, and emit loud "HNNGGGGGGGGG" sound while watching Omen literally disembowel itself across my screen in a cascade of crimson flashes and Red October-esque collision alarms...or squeaky rubber duckies if I'm in the mood for that.

I am Johnny Rico. This is my TANKING FACE. Yes, I know it's in German. When I tank, I tank in German. It makes me angrier.

Since most tanks these days just won't come out and say "Hey, I just started tanking on this toon, give me some threat before you blow stuff up", I've begun to let their gear do the talking for them. I inspect tanks and healers liberally, and I've come to the following conclusion: if the tank looks like a patchwork pinata, he'll probably get broken open like one, except instead of delicious candy pouring from his internal cavities it'll be his liver, and in turn, my hard-earned gold. It's that whole Occam's razor idea that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. If the tank you're running with looks like he's being held together by two pieces of duct tape and some bubblegum scraped off of the healer's shoe, chances are he's worth about as much as that gum and the roll of duct tape, and that's being generous.

Now, this is all getting rather long-winded, but I think it's important for you to get into the mindset I carry. It's like being a defensive driver, except being a defensive DPS'er. Everything is out to kill me. EVERYTHING. Does this make me a tad paranoid? Sure does. But I also scrutinize things a good deal more than most because of this, and that leads to what I have dubbed "The Christmas Tree Effect".

As of late I've seen this happening more and more, but there are people that are going out of their way to meet socket bonuses on their gear. Now I'm not talking about meaningful socket bonuses here, I'm talking about +4 stamina or +12 critical strike chance on a pair of plate pants with sockets that require two blues and a yellow. Maybe I'm just not OCD enough for some people, but I'm pretty old school when it comes to gemming. I do what's required to meet the meta-socket, and then any bonuses that come after that, well, they're just that. A bonus.

Maybe people just aren't understanding the semantic difference between a requirement and a bonus. Meta-sockets have requirements. You NEED to have certain color gems in place in order to make it work. Your standard socket bonuses, though, aren't nearly as game-breaking as meta-socket bonuses, and you usually spend more time trying to jam the correct gems in there than actually hitting things.

I might just be wrong here, but I'd like to think that I know how retribution paladins work, as well as a few other classes work in terms of gemming. For melee, or DPS, anyway, every class or spec seems to have some major attribute that they rely heavily on. Retribution paladins rely heavily on strength, warriors seem to rely heavily on armor penetration, and hunters to some extent seem to be stacking agility or armor penetration. Regardless, there seems to be some sort of dominant stat for most classes. What I don't understand is why people aren't trying to maximize said preferred stat? After you meet the hit cap/expertise/haste/whatever cap and your meta-socket requirements, why bother trying to pick up +4 critical strike? Just force whatever gem will best maximize your preferred stat into that socket. Now, I know it might hurt some of you OCD types out there, BUT CRAM THAT SQUARE PEG INTO THE ROUND HOLE. YOUR DPS WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT.

If this outrageous socket bonus meeting sounds familiar to you, get up, go look at yourself in the mirror. You may discover that you look something like this:

That's right. You're a Christmas tree.

Let's look at a fairly typical ICC-level 10 man piece of plate DPS gear: the Blade-Scored Carapace. Alright, strength, critical strike, haste, and three delicious sockets. One blue socket, two yellow sockets, +8 strength socket match bonus. Assuming that hit and expertise caps are already met, what does the breakdown look like?

The Christmas tree approach is trying to meet the socket bonus at all costs, but we'll play it nice and still try to get strength in there. One blue and two yellow sockets? Alright, so a 10 strength 15 stamina purple gem and two 10 strength 10 critical strike orange gems. What's that math add up to? 15 stamina, 20 critical strike, and 30 strength plus 8 from the socket bonus, 38 total strength. Baseline we're looking at 76 attack power, some extra critical strike, and 150 or so health. Great.

The opposite to the Christmas tree approach is what I like to refer to as the BEN RICHARDS B.A. STOMP gemming strategy. I'll pass on the 8 strength socket bonus and instead jam three of the 20 strength gems into the sockets. Baseline I'm looking at 120 attack power, no critical strike, and no extra health.

While some might argue that critical strike is an important stat, I'll just say you're probably wrong there. Given the crazy modifiers on most abilities combined with raid buffs, a raiding retribution only needs about 25% critical strike unbuffed just to keep up the three stacks of OMG I DO MORE DAMAGE NOW, K? I think when I'm fully raid-buffed I have something stupid like 47% crit. Honestly, I'm writing off critical strike as a worthy stat there. 150 extra health? Probably not going to break the bank there. Maybe if you're trying to meet a meta-socket requirement, but otherwise no thanks.

Right then, so...

120 attack power versus 78 attack power.

BEN RICHARDS B.A. STOMP versus The Christmas Tree.

I don't want to spell it out for everyone, so I'll leave it in the capable hands of The Running Man:

P.S. You don't want to be ^. Gemming for every socket bonus gets you killed.


  1. YESSSS GIVE ME MOAR!!! hahahaha

    Again. I love it. This has to be the best kept secret among wow blogs. Keep it up.

  2. I forgot how the hell I got on your blog,
    but it sure as hell was a good thing!