Friday, March 19, 2010

You can't spit shine velcro sneakers.

While this isn't a real post in terms of quality, I think it's been long overdue. I don't want to call myself any sort of great creator, but this took a good deal of time and effort, and I couldn't have done it without my barkskin-popping wife. This chart has been floating around in my head, and it probably will only make sense to those from Bladefist, or in my guild, but I wanted to show it off. I'll provide a key below, but this guy more or less describes how I've seen my guild for the past month or so. The names haven't been changed to protect the innocent and I pull no punches here. Oh, and you'll probably have to click the picture. It's a big chart.

Now then, the key, so that you might better understand how this all goes together. Most of it should be pretty explanatory: green arrows for yes decisions, red arrows for no decisions, and black arrows for process movement. Those are typical of any flowchart that I've seen. Some of the other stuff will take some explaining, but I'm okay with that, it's part of the fun.

Parabola, and the joining of said guild: is the guild I am a part of. We are a ten man guild. We like it that way. We have ten people, therefore we aren't recruiting...ever. As soon as we killed the Lich King on our server (we were the first ones by a good long while), we were almost immediately swamped with people that wanted to join. Not good people either. There was also a lot of guild shake up going down on the server, Alliance and Horde, we didn't much care for it.

Recruiting and realm forums: On the off chance that we ever were recruiting, we'd be sure to put some sort of post on the realm which case the post would be up for about two days before it got deleted. As part of a social experiment of ours, we seriously put up a recruiting thread on the realm forums, looking for 25 man raiding. We didn't ask for much, though we did require all serious applications to leave their current guild in order to be considered. We knew nobody would do it, but given the general fragility of guilds on Bladefist, we were trying to crash the market. Our social experiment would have worked out well, had the trolls not gotten hold of the thread and had it deleted in less than 48 hours. Some of us went to the CSM forums to complain, they laughed at us. Apparently Blizzard moderators want to keep us down--they won't even let us recruit. Coincidentally, every post on the realm forums that pertains to Parabola gets deleted. No joke.

Raiding and snack time: This is probably one of my biggest annoyances since coming into the raiding scene back during the MC/BWL days. Well, aside from the five minute paladin blessings. We never set our raids to go longer than three hours. We're inherently lazy. Three hours or so is a good amount of time, and we can usually clear through what we need to do in that span. This doesn't so much happen on ten man stuff, but I see it plenty in 25 man content, especially in the ones that we aren't running. In our joint 25 man runs we would blow through the first four bosses of ICC in 45 minutes or so, maybe an hour at most, and then people would be calling for a break either before, or directly after Saurfang. A FIVE MINUTE BREAK. Are you kidding me? You can't sit in a chair for more than an hour without getting up to pee or move around? Is your bladder that small? This couldn't be more true than in some random 25 man PUG I somehow got roped into. We pulled Marrowgar once, and died. Yeah, I know, let's just say that I ended up doing 14% of the total damage for that fight once all was said and done. Immediately after dying the raid leader gave us a five minute break because "the smokers in the group really needed to go smoke". LOLWUT? This isn't kindergarten. Handle your own snacks.

Vicarious: The guild that we had originally planned to run 25 man ICC with. It worked well, actually. Granted, most of them were terrible, okay, all of them, but we needed bodies, and they needed people to lead. It was something of a mutual benefit at the time, but hey, things can't last forever. It was the GM of Vicarious that ended the relationship, Everkill. A lot of it came from internal guild strife from his end because he thought he was big and bad, and told his guild as much. Some of them didn't like it, and consequentially left. Some of those that left were also part of our 25 man joint runs. He gave us the ultimatum that if we were to take those that left on the 25 man run, he'd pull all of his people out. Fine by me, because there was a catch. Long before any of this was set up, a number of rules were in place to keep attendance high, namely: should you not have a member show up to the raid and you can't supply a sufficiently-geared raider as a replacement, then you owe the other guild 2K gold. We had to pay it to them at one point because one of our healers couldn't make it, so we figured okay, if he's going to pull some 11 people out, we'll take our 22K gold and be happy. As was part of the agreement and all. To this day we haven't seen our money and Vicarious as a guild has harbored nothing but ill will toward us because we're jerks. Well, at least my playtime doesn't automatically cut off at 10:30PM server, kiddos.

Dalaran and the fountain: Parabola was the first guild to kill the Lich King on Bladefist. Granted, it was only in ten man, but hey, it still threw up the fountain. It's our fountain. We hang out there when we're bored and blow kisses to the level 77 people that spend hours watching the ending cinematic.

Texa$: While originally this was part of a Saturday Night Live skit, this has, for us, become one of the general measurements for "a whole crap ton". In this case, it refers to a whole crap ton of money that Everkill and Vicarious owe us for their sudden departure and breech of contract. We'll go to Judge Judy if we have to.

Keybinds and bads: I honestly don't know people can raid without keybinds, though I am continually amazed by just how bad some people are. How one could ever play WoW by clicking on every item/spell/ability and actually think to raid seriously makes my head want to explode. Coincidentally, we happened to pick one of said individuals up to fill a raid spot (without us knowing) and it's been nothing but headaches. Use both hands. Move with your WASD. Move with your mouse. Figure it out. Stop dying on Sindragosa because you can't run out when she sucks everyone in.

Breaking my balls, Mario: While I could explain it, sometimes a video is better.

Beasteater: See the section related to keybinds and bads for more information.

Ducktales, Tailspin, and age: This came about during one of the 25 man raids with Vicarious wherein I tried to explain how the hunter should range tank the shadowbolt-tossing Blood Prince. The hunter in question was Everkill, the GM of vicarious, and my analogy went as follows: "Alright, you see all those little shadow orbs floating around? Well, you want to be like Scrooge McDuck and those shadow orbs are coins that belong in your money pit. You want to be swimming in them, got it?" The response from Everkill was, "Who's Scrooge McDuck?" This then led to half of the raid over the age of twenty to have their eyes fall out. Long story short, it turned out that Everkill didn't even know what Ducktales was, even while half of the raid was singing the theme song over vent. This then shifted into a discussion of Tailspin, another Disney show, while we got my barkskin-popping wife to tank the shadowbolt boss instead. My conclusion? If you don't know what Ducktales or Tailspin are, you have to be, honestly, thirteen years or younger. Funny story, I hear Everkill is 15. I was close.

Amath tell me invite you k?: This gem of a line came from a shaman in Vicarious. Said shaman also has a really bad time with English. Said shaman also can't follow instructions. Said shaman also took the healing trinket from 25 man Saurfang for his resto set and then the next week announced to the world that he was going to be going enhancement from there on out. I'm fairly certain that our resident priest still grinds his teeth over losing that roll.

Lopsirio: The name of said bad shaman mentioned above.

Drakes and Algalon: We sell these, by the way. It's become something of a running joke with our guild. Somehow we always find ourselves getting people titles and drakes without even trying. The most recent drake and Algalon kill went to Beasteater. She's a hunter. We took her from Vicarious. She says she's learning to use keybinds. She keeps dying on Sindragosa. She fills a raid spot. She also helps us to piss Vicarious and Everkill off because she's seeing content they will never see. I think it works out in the end, even if it does cause me to grind my teeth.

I think that should just about do it. If any of it doesn't make sense, feel free to drop a comment and I'll see what I can do to better explain things. Saurfang hard mode went down last night. Good times for all.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Divine Sacrifice is my L-pill.

Dear Divine Sacrifice,

I'm writing this to you because I feel that there's something that's been bugging me. It's nothing big, but it's just an annoyance, and I worry that if I don't get this off my chest soon, it'll just fester and become one of those terrible things that we get in fights about all the time. You know those fights. The ones where we are mad at each other, but won't tell each other why we're mad? Yeah, so...I'm trying avoid that from happening. Now, I'm going to say some painful things here, and I'm pretty sure you'll have plenty to say back, but hear me out. This can really be therapeutic...for the both of us. So, here I go...

I remember back when I was looking over my three talent trees for the first time. Hell, the very first time you weren't even there, but they added you in, and I'm happy for it--for the both of us. But we both know that's not where we started. It took some time, I had to get all of my points in the retribution tree squared away, and we both know how picky I can be about those sort of things. A few patches came out and I had to shuffle some stuff around, and looking back on it, I feel bad for what I did. I shuffled five points around and slotted them into some first tier holy talents. Was I selfish in doing so? Probably, but you know me, right? 15% more damage on my raiding seal, hon. I really couldn't pass that up, not by a long shot.

You knew. You knew all along. In fact, I bet you were smiling there, in your third tier spot. I had passed you over a few times, but you knew it was coming. Don't try to hide that smirk, believe me, I've seen it too many times for you to hide it from me. With all of my talent points set: five holy, ten protection, fifty-five retribution you had to have known what was coming. Hell, I bet you were looking pretty smug, I would have. If anything, I bet you were pushing out your chest just a little, tugging that plunging neckline down that tiny bit, trying to entice me. Babe, you didn't need to. Not in the slightest. I had one talent point left to spend and my OCD had me filling you out like a single mother signing a freshly-minted welfare check.

Others out there said you were a steal at just one talent point. Others said that Aura Mastery was the new hotness, and that you were old and busted. I didn't much listen to what they all had to say. Sure Aura Mastery was pretty slick with a nice set of lips, but babe, you had it going for miles, or at least my OCD compelled me to believe as such. I'm happy so say that I was right.

The whole time you must have known I'd end up picking you, but I want you to know it's not because you're the fat kid getting picked last for the kickball team. I know that's what some people say, but they're wrong. It's just that you're...well...situational. Christ, that sounds terrible, but I don't know how else to explain it, and I think that if you sit down and give it some thought, you'll agree with me.

And well, that's sort of why I'm writing this. Being as situational as you are, babe, it's like playing Russian roulette when I use you, except all of the chambers but one are loaded. You know I like to gamble, but honey, those aren't my kind of odds.

I know you've had some bodywork since when you first came out, and that's fine. Hell, I learned to live with you then, now is no different. But honestly, you're getting me gibbed when I use you. Now I'm not talking minor gibs here, I'm talking Solider of Fortune ludicrous gibs here. When I click your glowy fisty halo thing I'm not even getting a chance. It's been so bad sometimes that I've begun to wonder if I'm hitting Divine Intervention instead, but I know I'm not, so please don't bring your sister into this we both know how you two act around one another.

Really, though, remember Festergut two weeks ago? And then the week before that? You're supposed to break the damage reduction if it drops me below 20% health, babe. Remember that? If you don't, that's okay, we can work on it, but if that's not the case...stop being such a vindictive bitch. Don't you go giving me that "l2bubble" crap either. We both know that I don't like using it. It's like wearing a just doesn't feel right. So just forget about that bit, alright?

Okay, I'm just going to stop there, this is starting to get into venting/ranting territory. Hopefully you can work through what I've written here and respond accordingly. If not, well, just read it and hopefully some of it will make sense. I'm not trying to push you away or anything, but if you keep gibbing me like you have been, I'll just have to go see what Aura Mastery is doing on Tuesday night.

Love and kisses,


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.