Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Learning

Learning styles vary between people. While I think many can learn from multiple methods and there is cross-over, it's good to understand the three primary learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile) and realize which you prefer and learn best with, as well as understand that not everyone else will learn from the same methods that you prefer. Myself, for example, I categorize as primarily visual, secondarily tactile. Others prefer auditory learning and discussion, and still others may find they have no problems learning by any of these.

Why is this important for gaming? Encounter strategies, learning your class, learning how to play: how information is presented to you will impact how well you understand the material, which in turn impacts performance. If you know you won't learn as well with one method, seek out material that is presented in a way that is easier for you to understand.

As a side benefit, understanding these learning methods impacts other areas of your life, including schooling and career. I'm a firm believer in "never stop learning," and even when a friend tries to explain something or you're trying to troubleshoot a piece of tech/equipment, knowing your own preferred learning methods can help you to overcome a frustration you may have in not understanding it.

You need to see it to understand it. Someone telling you verbally what to do--like those raid leaders who just ramble on in voice chat before a pull--don't help you. For some, even reading it in text isn't enough. You need visuals. Visual details also tend to stand out for you.
  • Diagrams, charts, videos with written instruction and visual pointers
  • Highlight, font changes, visual IMPACT
  • Illustrations, pictures, comic strats!
  • Symbols, icons
I am primarily a visual learner, myself. That's why I make comic strats and illustrate my points where I can: I want to see it, I want to show it. I need screenshots and stick figures. I need an idea of what something looks like in order for me to fully comprehend it. Space, distance, layout, positioning... all are important to me.

You prefer to hear it spoken to you. The words, vocalized, make everything make sense. Lectures and speeches can keep your interest (assuming the topic itself isn't boring), and verbal discussions are no problem for you. Reading something out loud often helps with comprehension. Conversations about the topic help cement things in your mind, and you are good at picking up sound effects.
  • Reading aloud
  • Discussions, conversations
  • Lectures, or podcasts, or videos with detailed verbal instructions
  • Songs!
For me, I tend to start zoning out and misunderstand when all I'm getting is verbal words (much to Scythe's dismay!). I also have trouble focusing on one voice over others: when multiple people are speaking at once, it can just become a wall of noise. You can pick out some of your visual learners based on their preference to type rather than speak aloud in ventrilo/team speak.

Learn by doing. Hands-on is a great way to learn from your own mistakes. Truly tactile learners need to participate. They can often see why something is the way it is only when they have it right in front of them: they need to play with it and experience it, manipulate it and see what happens.
  • Test Runs
  • Models: mock up a situation with your action figures or by positioning in-game, build it!
  • Labs, field trips
  • Experimentation
The problem is that you have to go and make those mistakes to learn anything, sometimes at the expense of others who already know not to make those mistakes, if it's a team environment like a raid. Games like the old BT Teron Gorefiend simulator game help these players immensely, as do periodic breaks to get up and stretch. Spending time at a test dummy will often help these players learn, as with soloing content and general practice at playing their class and using a particular ability. If worse comes to worse, drop them into large-scale pvp where it's sink or swim!

Raiding with them All
The take-home lesson for raid leaders/officers: your raiders won't always learn the same way that you do. Provide or direct your raiders towards different types of resources, and don't expect everyone to all understand just by watching the same video that magically made everything make sense for you. There are a lot of resources out there, and while it will take some research on your raiders' part, they can often find something right for them to understand whatever they're struggling with.

A note on Videos:
You might expect these to be an excellent resource for visual learners. They are, in terms of watching the playing field and seeing what the players do... but in terms of spoken instructions voiced over the video, they are better for auditory learners. A more visual learner may benefit more from a written strategy + a diagram than they will from an instructional video, while an audio learner will prefer a video with a recorded set of instructions. Some videos may have written instructions included, or arrows added to point out things: those are of benefit to visual learners.

So: beware labeling all videos as "good for visual" vs "good for auditory" learners. Each video is different.

The most difficult type to work with as a raider is the purely tactile, as they need actual raid time to understand a concept, at the expense of others' time. For them, patient preparation and review of mistakes is key. What did they learn from that wipe? Pre-emptive mockups of a room for positioning and use of flares can help these players understand, just as much as for the visual learners. Telling them to all physically get up and stretch during a mid-raid break can also have good results, rather than having them all just tab out to browse the web: physical activity is a great way for many to re-focus themselves, after a long session at the computer. If it's a class mechanic they need work on, practice practice practice!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tips, Notes, and Miscellany on Resto and Mana

So I hit 85 and started hitting up heroic modes. Here's a collection of things I've learned from healing the 5 mans:

  • Omen of Clarity is your Lifesaver
Use it for your expensive spells. It won't be consumed when you use nourish, though, so you don't need to cancel a nourish should it proc during a cast. Regrowth, Swiftmend, and HT will all consume OoC procs. Mana cost in order of expense: Regrowth (35%), HT (30%), Swiftmend (10%).

  • Roll that Lifebloom
Keep it going all the time; only drop it if you've got an extended period between pulls from explaining tactics or going afk. Especially if you get that Gale of Shadows trinket :) It not only provides replenishment for your party, but it also is our cheapest heal, which is ironic after the WotLK version. Other bloggers have pointed out that we can keep two stacks rolling using nourish or HT to refresh them even after our ToL has ended. If the tank is taking very light damage but dps/yourself are feeling kinda squishy (some circumstances of this HAVE happened for me) then pop your LB on them instead for a short time.

  • Innervate Early and Often
It's such a small mana return even in blues and greens that you don't want to wait until you're near-oom to use it. The longer you wait, the longer you're waiting on the cooldown when you're on your last dregs.

  • Leave the CC to the DPS
You will rarely be able to spare the mana and GCDs to keep CC rolling on a mob, and without much in the way of +hit on your gear, you have a high chance of your CC missing anyway. If you want to try to CC something during an initial pull, assuming your HoTs are running already on the tank, then it needs to be a CC that is not 100% necessary. If it misses, just ignore it and move back to your primary job healing. The time it takes to successfully get your CC on a mob is time that your tank may die.

  • Don't Cleanse Everything
Cleanses are expensive and can often be healed through. Some of them stack and these stacks are sometimes all purged at once with one dispel (ie: poisons in Vortex Pinnacle) or are cleansed one at a time... don't waste your mana and GCDs.

  • Don't Forget Tranquility
It is a super-powerful AoE heal that can and will save the party, assuming you have the mana to be able to cast it.

  • Take Care of your Gear
...and don't be like me and forget you can go buy iL346 blues from the points vendor when you hit 85. >_> Talk to your guild enchanters and feed them greens rather than vendoring them, so that they can provide you a few enchants that are also skill-ups for themselves. As for gems, while they are expensive at this point, you can, if necessary, socket cheap gems from earlier expansions just to net your socket bonuses until you can replace the gems with something better.

Run aggro towards them. LoS casters you have healing aggro on. Let them know if you need to drink; thank them if they're paying attention to your mana pool. If you need them to be popping more cooldowns, tell them. If they're being terribad and they're leaving mobs punching on you or casting spells at you in spite of your efforts to get them off (like standing right next to them and saying "HEY TAUNT THIS"), say so, or ask for CC on them. If all else fails, blacklist a bad tank and avoid having to queue with them ever again.

  • Play Triage
If the DPS pulls aggro, it's not up to the healer to keep them alive. It's up to the tank and the dps to manage their threat. If you have the mana, then certainly save them, or buy them some time, but a healer's mana needs to go to keeping themselves and the tank alive. DPS can always CC aggro that is on them, anyway, and most have some form of threat dump. In addition, if they're being idiots who stand in cleaves (flayers in stonecore) or fire, let em die. They need to learn from their mistakes rather than be carried by kindness. As one of my res macros says: "I simply found it more mana-efficient to res you."

  • Teach and Share
In spite of my above sentiments on the stupidity of DPS, it's only fair to give people a chance. A little note like "the flayers cleave, don't stand in front of them" and "if you jump mid-cast during quake, you avoid the damage" (both Stonecore) can go a long way to helping your sanity, assuming they listen. If they don't listen, that's when I take the "let em die" approach. With quests, sharing the limited quest spawns also helps lower frustration: if you're waiting for a spawn, take the time to toss a party invite to the players around you. Saves time and angst by lowering that competition, and engenders a more positive feeling of comaraderie among your fellow players.

  • WATCH.
That rogue that just took damage: was that a cleave, incidental AoE, or did they just get knocked back into another pack of trash and your act of healing would draw them onto you? Keep your eyes peeled on the environment. I have had this happen during a boss fight (hello, Stonecore again), and I was able to with-hold my trigger-finger long enough to watch him vanish the aggro off (letting the trash reset) before I healed him, and that moment's wait on my part saved us from a messy wipe as I would otherwise have gained healing aggro.

  • Thank those PuGs you Enjoyed
It will make them want to continue their good behavior. Things like a warlock saying "If I have aggro it's because I'm saving the healer," or a tank saying "Are you good on mana?," have stood out in my mind as PuGgers that I would love to play with again. Conversely, complaining about loot that didn't drop will make everyone else roll their eyes and think you're just greedy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quick Link

An online magazine made a post about the 7 most Catastrophic moments in WoW's history that was a fun little walk down memory lane. If you haven't been playing long, it's got videos, so it's a good history lesson on some of the big events--or rather, big problems--players have faced, in terms of bugs, lag, concerns, and "working as UNintended."

My favorite was the corrupted blood incident from Hakkar, which was somewhat replicated on a smaller extent from Vaelestrasz' bomb in BWL. KABOOM.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WTF I want my Cattakissems!

When I went to pick up my copy of the game, I did it over a lunch break. I was on a limited timetable, needed to still eat lunch and drive home and let River out to do her business, and I looked at the line in the pick-up section of the store and thought, "hey, it's short, this shouldn't take long."

I was wrong.

I stood there with my hubby, waiting. There were two lanes open and 2 people in front of us.

Lane one went through both of the customers ahead of us. Lane two was struggling with confusion over a request for a gift exchange, where in he'd already exchanged it for gift cards (the computer systems track these things, people) and was trying to get it exchanged again using the old receipt, ie trying to pull a fast one for free stuff. Thanks bud for lieing, getting caught, and closing up one lane of the customer support line for half an hour or more.

So, lane one. Slow-moving customer support desk. The 2nd guy is wrapping up his pickup of his own Cataclysm game, and I'm getting ready to walk up when some guy comes around the corner and, walking behind the desk, grabs a vacuum cleaner box and puts it on the counter. Coming back around to the customer side, he waits right next to the other customer, watches him wrap up his transaction, and then immediately speaks up to the young woman behind the counter. "Can I pick this up now?"


WTF I want my Cattakissems!!

You, sir, have just been thrown mental daggers at by a rather pissed off gamer on her lunch break who is channeling her inner rogue alt. Hope you like those iLevel 232 dagger hilts sticking out of your skull, you LINE CUTTER.

I set my jaw and glare at the back of his head as he goes through his pickup of his vacuum cleaner. Angry Kae WTF-tree powers activated. I stand there thinking, "If I were working here, I'd've told him to go to the back of the line. The staff are rewarding him for his rude behavior by letting him get it. What is the world coming to?"

He doesn't even hurry with the transaction. He takes his time.

Finally, he leaves, and I get to pick up my big ole collector's ed box next to the guy who's still arguing that he wants to exchange something he doesn't own anymore for more merchandise, and rush home and let River go potty and give her lunch and pick up a COFFEE NOM MOCHA and head back to work for the afternoon, my soundtrack tucked under my arm.

My spot in line got ninja'd, though, and it rankles me. Grr. Argh.

/moonfires the vacuum.

Things I wish I could speak up and bitch about in-person, but haven't the guts or the time to make a scene about. /sigh.

A New Expansion

I went and picked up my collector's edition during my lunch break, and took the soundtrack with me to listen to over the afternoon. There are some truly beautiful tracks, and as I type, I am listening to Nightsong and absolutely falling in love with it.

Beautiful. It resonated with some part of me, and called back to my mind my first character, my night elf druid, Kae. That emotional tie I have to her as a character, my concept of her, my experiences with her from the early days tumbling off of Teldrassil's branches all the way to her first piece of T1 cenarian, when she ran around with leafy shoulders and deer antlers, up to her last raids facing off against the waves of undead in ancient Hyjal. Her home, Moonglade, and her heart, the Emerald Dream.

While that particular character is but an alt now, the flood of memories is still present and washing over me, very much a part of my experience and history in the lore-rich world of Azeroth. It is an appropriate time to look back over the past expansions and our experiences with the game, just as we look forward to the new Cataclysm. What will Cataclysm bring us, as players? What will it bring you?

I look forward to:
  • exploring the new zones and incorporating new abilities into my hybrid toolset.
  • the challenge of having mana problems while healing.
  • having to make triage decisions again in 5-man instances.
  • having to worry about aggro, and CC, and positioning again, as that difficulty makes for an enjoyable challenge.
  • experiencing the wonder of exploring new zones and new dungeons, and new raids with the friends I have made across the world.
  • my worgen alt, my love of wolves and wish for playable worgen finally realized.
  • playing again with friends who had left Azeroth behind, but are returning to see the expansion. Friends who had brought me to Azeroth in the first place, all those years ago, and helped baby Kae learn to love this game.
Whether you're already playing around in the expansion or patiently awaiting your copy and the freetime to play it, I wish you a fun and enjoyable expansion.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Puppy + Snow = Squee

As a northern breed, she took to the snow as if it were... well, all the world was a snowcone.

She and I chased each other around the yard after dark, kicking up snow under the reflected orangy-pink glow of the clouds, slipping and sliding around the yard. I was giggling like a child, and she obviously had better traction than I did and would zip past me trying to be fast enough to not let me tag her. This game isn't fair when mommy's in heavy snow boots and trying to not slide down the hill... but so much more amusing :D

She is solidly larger now than all of her play pals... over 5 months old, she's still growing. She learned she's still not the biggest dog in the world when she met two Great Danes on Saturday. Followed by a Miniature Dachsund puppy. Then she wanted Santa to give her a belly rub.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Literal Cataclysm Trailer

...credits go to Sember for posting this to the guild forums :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trade Chat Awesomeness

Usually, I ignore trade chat. I even have a whole separate chat window set up that filters out trade and general, to save my sanity from the deluge of filth that plagues its text.

But, sometimes, there is a conversation there that gives me hope.

And amusement.

Thank you, Turalyon trade chat. You made my day.

Dance magic dance, magic dance...
Jump magic jump, magic jump...!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sand Kitten Bafflement

Kaeya refrained from stabbing the cat. She's a big ole softie inside, and stopped by to check in on it and give it a bowl of milk as she continually passed by on her mithril-farming route for Kotonni. But shhh... don't tell anyone.

Edit: what a horrible wildlife specialist I am! Sand cats are real desert creatures in Africa. Thanks for the comments! Mystery solved!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Druid Shifts and the Law of Conservation of Mass

I walk into these things way too easily.
Also, Alyae has not seen MASSIVETREEOFDOOMSHIFT, yet ;)

RP: Alts and Ore and Angsty Rogues

November 22nd
5:30 pm
Dalaran Streets

Kaeya leaned back against the sun-warmed stone, staring off over the worn walls of Dalaran to the distant, snow-capped mountains. The sun was dipping down through the clouds that shrouded the mountain range, and the rogue had a thoughtful expression on her youthful face as she studied the colors it painted the sky.

“Hello,” a polite voice came from beside her. She turned her green gaze, raising an eyebrow slightly to note the speaker: a young woman, blood elf like herself, with long, curled locks of red hair.

Kaeya tilted her head, wondering what she wanted. The last person who’d attempted to beg coin from her had ended up floating in the Undercity gutter, and Dalaran had a wonderful shark in its sewers here to dispose of corpses. “Lockbox?” she asked mildly, as that would be the only other plausible reason a complete stranger would be questioning her.

The girl smiled gently. “Oh, no. Kaelynn sent me… you’re Kaeya, right?”

Kaelynn. What was that druid up to? The rogue’s eyes narrowed as she studied the other elf: some mail gear, a crossbow slung over the shoulder, a faint smell of engine grease and… animal? A hunter. “Yes, I am Kaeya,” she replied carefully.

“Oh good,” the girl’s smile deepened. “She said you could help me with gathering ore… you see, I am trying to level my professions, engineering and jewelcrafting, and she said you were one of our farmers.”

The rogue grew still, staring hard at the hunter; only her hair moved, blond strands drifting in the faint breeze. “Our…?” She said after a long moment. Her gaze studied the hunter more carefully, eyes moving up and down, noting the battered boots and rusted gauntlets, and… that dagger. With lightening speed, her hand darted down and unsheathed the dagger from the hunter’s belt, flipping it deftly in her hand to study it. The hunter made a face and started to complain, but she held up her other hand to silence the girl while she looked over the blade. Heirloom quality. Agility enchant. Familiar grip. Nock in the blade, 2.3 inches up from the hilt, from…

Kaeya’s eyes narrowed to slits. Turning the blade in her hand to offer the handle back to the hunter, she sniffed. “A fellow alt. I see. So that’s why the cursor hasn’t been doing anything to remedy my weapon situation in recent weeks. Feh.” She looked back to the sunset, a dour mood now souring the view.

Looking over the blade herself with curiosity, the hunter now seemed skittish. “I’m… sorry? Um, well, I will be needing ore… starting with copper, actually. I had originally been an alchemist, but the shaman took over on that front…”

“The shaman, yes,” Kaeya said moodily. “At least she was able to farm for herself. Do you have epic flying?”

“Um, no—“

“Hmph. Suppose you’ll be plundering my hard-earned gold, too?”

There was a snarl to her right, and Kaeya just raised her eyebrows. Of course, a hunter, there would be a pet.

“Kisa!” the hunter chided her pet. A white leopard was just faintly visible, prowling up to Kaeya’s side with its lips curled up around its saber fangs.

Kaeya rolled her eyes: the prowling shadows were HER domain. “Down, kitty, it’s not like I haven’t dealt with feral druids more powerful than you. Hmph.”

“Kisa, come,” the hunter asked, pointing behind her. The cat hissed at Kaeya once more as it padded around her and obediently sat behind the girl, then began licking its paw nonchalantly. “I’m… sorry if I’ve given you the wrong impression… look, I don’t really care about the epic flying. I mean, I have two drakes idling in the bank, but for a hunter, that’s kind of expected, you know? Stables… pets…” she watched the rogue, noting her attempt at humor had failed. “I just need some ore is all, and I thought the alts were supposed to help each other.”

“Great. Well, I guess this means I may actually see some play time,” Kaeya remarked.

The hunter smiled genuinely, “See, there’s always a silver lining!”

“I was being sarcastic. Did you fall and hit your head during the opening character creation cinematic?”

The hunter blushed. “No…”

Kaeya gave her a sidelong glare, silent for a moment. Then she stood, straightening, and dug a whistle out of her pocket. “What’s your name? I have to mail the ore somewhere.”

“Oh! Um, Kotonni.”

“Is that Umkotonni or just Kotonni?” Kaeya said, rolling her eyes.

“Just… Kotonni.”

“Right. Ore. Copper all the way up. What a quest. You want it smelted to bars, or can I just lob chunks of ore at the nearest mailbox and listen to the mailman complain of rock dust and property damage?”

“Oh… half and half, I guess. I need to prospect some for gems.”

The rogue blew on the whistle, and after a moment, a large war-feathered raptor dropped down from its perch on the roof. It bent its head, sniffing predatorily at the hunter’s pet, and warbled to itself as Kaeya caught its reins. “Shinies!” Kaeya mocked, admittedly jealous as she swung up onto the raptor’s back. “Well, Kot, this will take a while. Don’t pressure me or you’ll be getting [Pocket Lint] in the mail.”

Kotonni grimaced. “Please don’t call me that…”

“What, Kot?”


“Fine. Seeya, Kot.” With that, the rogue urged the raptor forth into the busy streets of Dalaran.

Little did she know that that evening, as she pitched her tent under the stars in the red sands of Durotar, that the world was about to change.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Linkage: Fun Times

Between a lack of things to really occupy me in-game and a sudden pull into a co-op NaNo, I haven't had much to write about that is druidy, lately. No, my writing time has been thoroughly engrossed elsewhere, for the time being. For fun, though, I have compiled a list of links to all the wonderful things that have made me seriously LOL over the past couple weeks.


And for just the awesomeness that is this mashup:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wall Feast

The real reason why we got HLK10-strict down:

Wall feasts. This is what happens when you get superstitious with raiding. You spend 30 seconds of buffing time trying to get a fish feast stuck in a wall, and everyone waits patiently without complaint, because IT IS NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS.

Been a busy week. Scythe and I had been working on changing up the guild website and using different, integrated software for its front page, and it's finally up and running. We've had stick-figures in the margins on the forums previously, but now we get to have them on the front page, too. I like the personalization, it gives it more of the guild's character.



Has gotten big.

And likes playing in the bathtub.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Keybinds on Movement Keys

I had a warlock-induced epiphany this week.


4 keys I use to move around.
4 keys that could, potentially, be keybound.
4 keys I can bind using modifiers and tack on abilities I cast only when I am *not* moving.

If I'm moving around using WASD, I can't be using any spell with a cast-time, anyway. If I'm casting a spell that is cancelled by movement, I can't be moving anyway while I press the button to trigger it. So, cast-time spells can be bound to movement keys using modifiers to toggle them (ctrl, alt, shift).

Suddenly, my keyboard doesn't feel so cramped for space anymore.

Druid Spells that require you to stand still:
  • Wrath
  • Starfire
  • Hurricane (though you can target it while moving)
  • Cyclone
  • Entangling Roots
  • Soothe
  • Healing Touch
  • Nourish
  • Regrowth
  • Tranquility
  • Revive
  • Rebirth
  • Warstomp (racial)
Number of these that I did not previously have keybound: 7.

So how do you keybind your movement keys without loosing your movement? By having the actions be bound by the key + ctrl, alt, or shift. For the actual binding, I used Bindpad, though you could use an actionbar mod like Bartender and bind individual action buttons.
  • Ctrl W
  • Alt W
  • Shift W
  • Ctrl A
  • Alt A
  • Shift A
  • Ctrl S
  • Alt S
  • Shift S
  • Ctrl D
  • Alt D
  • Shift D
That's 12 additional keybind spots. If you use one of your modifiers as a push-to-talk button (ie ctrl for ventrilo) that's still 9 button combinations you can bind! Be careful with this, though. If you're running around while pressing modifier keys for other abilities (like shift to swiftmend) it can interrupt your directional movement. Personally, I use quite a few shift-modifier macros, so I'm keeping those as just movement so they don't trip me up while I'm using a shift-cast spell from another key, but alt is one I never use while I'm moving just because it's uncomfortable to hold down... that makes the alt-WASD binds perfect places for me to stick some cast-time spells. I've put Wrath, Soothe, Entangling Roots, and Starfire on them.

Note 1: I don't suggest putting HT on one of these as it's usually macroed to NS anyway, thus making it sometimes insta-cast :)

Note 2: If you unbound your strafe from q and e like I did, I do suggest keeping strafe left and strafe right bound somewhere in these keys, like as Shift A and Shift D, (Edit: or just as A and D) or even on mousebuttons. Strafe does come in handy from time to time.

Note 3: If you are a feral who uses ctrl/shift/alt macros for lots of abilities, like I do, and want to use them while moving, then I really *really* suggest making sure these movement-key binds are form-dependent. Otherwise you'll find yourself suddenly casting wrath in cow form when you should be tanking or clawing. /stopmacro [form:1/3] is your friend. So is [nostance].

Thank you, Naz :) Please don't incinerate me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surviving HLK: Beyond the Pixels

While these tips are directly from my experience working for 3-4 months with my guild to down 10-strict HLK, these also apply to any long-term, multi-aspect team encounter that is pushing the envelope and comfort zone of your raid.

There is more to killing hardmode Lich King (HLK) than what the game presents to you. The fight's difficulty tests your cohesion and teamwork as a guild: your ability to adapt, learn together, and not fall apart as your guild pushes the envelope in what it can do. HLK is a fight with many moving parts, and every player present is important and could easily wipe the raid with their own small mistake.

We lost one raider specifically over the stress induced by the fight in the five months we were working on it; other guilds lost far more, sadly. It is the unfortunate circumstance of a high-stress boss fight, and the most difficult part of overcoming a pinnacle encounter like HLK.

You must be able to own up to your own mistakes. If you and your fellow raiders are incapable or unwilling to recognize they made a mistake, your guild will not get very far on fights like this. I suggest this mentality:
  • You will, inevitably, make a mistake. Don't be ashamed of it: just learn from your mistake, and figure out ways to prevent it next time.
  • Admit to your mistake. It will keep others from grumbling behind your back or thinking that you don't know you messed up. Whether it's an apology, a curse, a simple admittance, a groan, or just a /facepalm, some recognition that you know you messed up will keep others off your back.
  • Even if someone else admits "blame," if you were a part of it or could have helped prevent it, speak up. Were you lax on casting a cooldown? Or a heal? Were the cooldowns not up, from casting them too soon? Were you out of range due to bad positioning? Did you zig when you should have zagged around that defile? Turn your back to the mob you were tanking? Misunderstand a vocal call? These things help prevent the mistake from happening again. Progress in teamwork development.
  • Someone else will also, inevitably, make a mistake. Don't corner them too often about it, if they know of the problem and are attempting to resolve it already. If it must be brought up in order to help them fix a repetitive mistake, avoid getting frustrated about it: defensiveness and frustration is stress your raid doesn't need. Focus on getting the problem resolved, and be sure to applaud when it's finally fixed.
  • Apologize when necessary. Recognize when it's needed, and make use of it to keep the group working as a cohesive unit. Your raid MUST be a team.


The strategy will change. Group makeups and individual player strengths will force your guild to approach the fight in, likely, different ways than others have, especially if few other strategy guides have been posted for the fight you are attempting.

Vortex's primary HLK discussion thread reached 11 forum pages. There were a few multi-page side discussions, as well, nevermind all of the vocal planning done in ventrilo or over whispers. Our tanks switched around, our healers switched around, our offspecs were tried and tested, melee were given an unfortunate shaft in favor of ranged dps, and we all had to smile and nod and try not to take things personally. I was shocked we ended up needing a resto druid: I was originally arguing that I should be sat out, feeling incapable of keeping the tanks alive by myself. We made it work, though.
  • Your strats will change, sometimes drastically. Be ready to try new things.
  • Trail and error. Don't just ram the brick wall hoping you'll eventually break through: there is more than one way to get to the other side, you just have to find the one that works best for your guild.
  • Keep up your spacial awareness. HLK has a lot of moving parts to it, so you will be shifting location from moment to moment and attempt to attempt.
  • Keep an open mind about others' ideas.

Along with flexibility, I firmly believe that all raiders need to have input on your guild's strategy development. One single person coming up with all of the ideas will make your progress move more slowly. Every raider should be responsible for looking at the strategy and finding ways to adapt it to your group's skills and makeup, both for the part that they themselves play as well as the parts they could potentially aid with, or have class knowledge of. That many more eyes with different perspectives of the fight provides that much more insight into how things work.
  • Think out of the box. Know your class' spells in and out, know your abilities, and find ways to make them work to the raid's advantage: this includes tank-saving cooldowns, stuns, knock-backs, and other CC.
  • Speak up if you have an idea.
  • Don't take it personally when your idea is found to be flawed, or if your idea just doesn't seem to work with the guild's composition. Focus on what's important for the raid to succeed, and not just your own personal bubble.
  • Don't read against the grain.
  • Judge your strategies not by how far you got with them, but how effective they were at solving the problem they were supposed to remedy. Can it be improved upon? Was it the fault of the wipe? Can it be incorporated into other ideas? Don't throw out a strategy or idea unless you really find a better method.
  • Mock up a quick sketch in MSPaint or a similar program if you need to show a diagram. "Picture is worth a thousand words," etc. Don't spend hours on it, though: spend less time explaining your idea and more time finding holes in it before you waste time wiping to it. For example, one from Halion is here. Our LK ones ended up not being used for the final strat ;)

If you refuse to believe the fight is possible for your guild, then your heart will not be in it, and you will make more mistakes and not even bother trying to fix them. You and the rest of your raid team need to be dedicated to overcoming a difficult boss in order to make it happen.
  • Don't panic.
  • Take breaks as a group periodically through the raid night for a breather, to keep your mind sharp and remove distractions like the need to bio or just stretch. Just don't waste others' time with unannounced AFKs or very extended ones, of course.
  • Remember that there is always something you and your raid can improve upon for the next attempt.
  • If you have a rough night, leave it at that: a rough night. Come to the next raid ready to rip the boss apart. That extra out-of-raid time is spent resting and reviewing what can be fixed.
  • Encourage each other. Even if it's jokes of ritualistic head-shaving and application of warpaint prior to attending the raid. At least, I think he was joking about that........
  • Find ways to make each other laugh: wall feasts, mini pets, fear ward on the tree to keep her from fleeing in terror. This is supposed to be fun. As long as these jokes do not get in the way of the raid itself (throw them when waiting for the RP to finish) or actual discussion of strategy adjustments, they're great for loosening you up.
  • Believe in your fellow raiders' ability to improve. Stay positive.


Ultimately, maintaining respect for each other in the face of mistakes and months of wipes will keep your raid going. Avoid belittling each other, and avoid reading against the grain as much as possible. More bluntly, just stick to the mechanics facts and try not to sound like an ass to others. If you're at each others' throats, your guild is more likely to fall apart or quit raiding than it is to overcome the boss. Don't let the Lich King win... and don't let Yogg's whispers come true.

...your friends will abandon you...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

About Vortex: The Structure of a 10-man Guild

Along the vein of guild management, there've been a few questions about how Vortex is run. As many players look to create 10-man guilds in Cataclysm, knowing what worked and what didn't for a 10-man guild is pretty useful information, so I'd like to share what we've done.

As a caveat, the format used for Vortex isn't for everyone: it's just what we have found to work for us. To better understand what it's like to be a 10-man guild, I will point back to my April post about what 10-strict is like, and how the raiding changes in Cataclysm will impact 10 man guilds.


Vortex formed shortly before WotLK's release by a group of gaming buddies who'd raided with each other before. Most of the founding raiders had had their hand at raid leading and, in many cases, officership and guild leadership before, stretching back into 40 man raids and across other games. Our decision for 10-strict was based dominantly on the smaller number of raiders we would have to manage, as we were rather burnt out from leading larger guilds.

We compiled what we liked and didn't like about our past guilds and looked to guilds we respected to see what we could take away from them for our own charter. Very little of our guild policy has altered since its inception two years ago, and we've steadily kept raiding from Naxx to Ulduar to ToC to ICC, until we ran out of content with our kill of hardmode Lich King, a rare kill for a purely ten-man guild. Our raiders are now preparing for Cataclysm, eager to see Vortex enter a new expansion.


The guild leader and two officers form a system of checks and balances with each other. We three have equal footing and yell and scream at each other when necessary. If we're torn on an issue, we use a majority two-on-one vote to deal with major decisions, including whether one of us was out of line on something (and to get after each other). These three leaders handle the bulk of running the guild, and together discuss any major changes to guild policies or personnel conflicts that need mediation. They also keep a finger on the pulse of the guild, both current and looking to the near future as raiders may have conflicts of interest that may require eventual recruitment and roster changes. And, so far, we've survived each other for 2 years :)

Officer duties include website/ventrilo administration, scheduling, raid leading, PR (news, forums, videos, blogs... *cough*), recruitment organization, bank maintenance, conflict mitigation (including both head-knocking and more delicate intervention), strategy research and discussion prompts, log hosting and review, policy review, attendance tracking, and more that I can't think of right now.

Once major policy topics have been discussed by the officers, they are tossed out to the rest of the guild (if necessary) for further discussion and ideas. We prefer having a transparent leadership and make efforts to hear out everyone's perspective on something, and explain our decisions and reasoning.

Vortex Code of Conduct:

We'd seen enough drama eat away at other guilds and our own sanity; drama drove our leadership to all quit the game at the end of BC before we formed Vortex. The very first thing we wrote up, beyond our raid roster outline, was a code of conduct we would expect every member of the guild to adhere themselves to while wearing our tag. It has resulted in a very good public image for our guild, though we have had to part ways with a few former members due to their odd wish to troll trade chat.

The gist of our code of conduct is such:
  1. If you have our tag, you are representing our guild. Please act as a representative when in pugs, public chat, forums, etc. This means no trolling trade chat or general ass-hattery that would reflect back on the rest of the guild.
  2. You are required to attend raids with the best possible enchants, gems, potions, and food that you can. This is expected of offspec, as well; alts and casuals get some leniency when they fill in, but we do push towards proper gear maintenance.
  3. You are expected to help other guild members in farming mats for resist gear and contribute to the guild bank when possible. With a small guild, everyone needs to pitch in. In return, we are able to offer guild repairs on progression fights, as well as stockpile consumables and materials for the whole guild to use (including alts and casuals).
  4. You are expected to treat guild members with respect. Even those that you do not particularly like. I hate that Scythe guy ;) On a real note, though, this is an important part of surviving a small guild community. We have had guild members who did not get along (or have simply butted heads over something) and it is so easy to read against the grain in text. Maintaining civility is a huge help in solving conflicts.
  5. You are required to adhere to the guilds "no drama" policy. See below.

No-Drama Policy:

Few people will argue that drama kills guilds, so we have instituted a no-drama policy. Anyone found to be causing drama that creates rifts within the guild or damages our reputation will be warned and potentially removed from the guild at the discretion of the officers. This does not mean you cannot disagree with each other nor does everyone need to get along all the time. What this means is that you must be conscious of your actions and be responsible for them. This does not mean you cannot discuss heated topics on the forums but there are right ways to go about things. We are adults. Please try to resolve problems with the person you are having a problem with. If that fails or is too uncomfortable, speak to an officer; if that fails then perhaps it would be time to take it to the forums. Think with your brain, not with your anger.

This is our take-a-chill-pill policy. Also, we consider our under-18's to be adults: it's a matter of maturity, not age :) This policy has given us a good outline for handling conflicts in the guild.

Raid Roster

Now we're getting into the more functional aspects of 10man raiding. Vortex has run with a 13-14 person roster, fluctuating based on class needs and current raiders' available attendance, as well as the presence of exceptional applicants we just couldn't turn away.
  • 2 main tanks. 2 offspec tanks.
  • 3-4 main healers. 2+ offspec healers.
  • 8 DPS, with a gamut of offspecs.
We have required all of our raiders, even pure DPS classes, to keep up an offspec for the purposes of composition flexibility. In cases of hybrids, we highly prefer that each spec fill a different role, rather than dps/dps or healer/healer, though some fights have required exceptions (particularly in the case of holy vs disc).

For the most part, each of our raiders fills a main, unique spec, with some overlap of dualspecs. This gives our raids a necessary flexibility to adapt to fights, and we have certainly made use of it: as recent examples, our first Sindragosa kill had the usually-resto druid as an offtank in cat spec, and our holy priest was shadow for our HLK kill. Whenever we received an application for a class/spec we already had, it took some intense discussion to determine if we could feasibly accept the player in their chosen class/role. Of course, our roster space also meant we did not have every class present: rogues in particular are something we've run without, as well as enhancement shaman and DPS warriors, in spite of past attempts to recruit them.

Rotations are used to allow everyone a chance to play. Rotation applies to everyone, though our two tanks are rotated relatively infrequently. Rotation is based on fight need (best group composition to get a new kill), gear/achievement need, showing up on time, and, when on a farm run and all else is equal, just rotating between wings/bosses to give everyone a chance to play.


In such a small guild, recruitment is weighed in on by all of the raiders. All of our raiders will read through applications and put their 2 cents in (or more) in a private guild forum, and based on the discussion and general yay/nay will an applicant be able to continue on to interviews and possible test runs. We have some very well-read guild members who will write essays on an applicant; we also have a very blunt interrogation squad who will question gear choices and talents and guild history. We take our recruitment very seriously, because once you're in, you're in, and we're relying on you to then uphold our guild tag and coordinate with the rest of us in our raids.

You can check out our application here. It is long, and we expect good answers from our applicants. It covers everything from gear maintenance, spec, interface care, personality, where you're coming from, goals, hopes, dreams, and general fit into the guild's community. As a note: we do not recruit for "the bench," nor do we accept applications for casual ranks. All of our casuals are of the "friends and family" variety and follow no formal recruitment process; they are simply reliant upon officer approval.

During all parts of the process, every raider has an opportunity to speak their opinion. Final votes on applications are done among all the raiders; they don't always choose to exercise that right, but they have it if they wish to use it. All applications are archived in a hidden underground bunker so no one has to see the trauma their application went through before being accepted. ;)


We choose to raid 3 nights per week, with a 66% attendance requirement (2 out of 3 raids). Most of our raiders are available all 3 nights, though we all enjoy or need a break every now and again, and some have class or work; we also allow exceptions for short vacations.

We expect all raiders to show up to every raid, unless they inform us otherwise. This is contrary to "sign up sheets" used by other guilds, where you don't have to show up unless you say you'll be there, which often caused problems when the "slackers" didn't want to go on a progression wipe-night or they finished getting all the gear they wanted. Instead, our raiders post if they CAN'T make it, as it's assumed they will be present otherwise. This has its obvious difficulties if a member looses power or internet, but that's no different than the sign-up method, and many of our raiders have exchanged phone numbers to combat this.

Those who dip below this attendance requirement for an extended period of time are called into question. We have had to ask others to either step it up, or step back from being a raider.

Loot Council

We officially use a loot council as our loot system. We have NEVER used it, though: there has never been a time when we've had to put together a tribunal of some sort to decide which raider should get a piece of loot. This is due to a couple things:
  • Small raid size. There are fewer people to compete with for drops.
  • Lack of greed. "It will drop again." In general, our raiders view loot as a means to an end, rather than the goal: they wouldn't've chosen 10-strict in WotLK otherwise, where the best loot they can get is iLevel 264 (compared to the 277 in 25mans).
Usually a quick discussion will settle things, if not a random /roll. "It's a huge upgrade for me," or "Eh, it's a sidegrade," or "Eh, I don't really care" are the most common phrases we toss around during loot time, along with "She's pulling trash, let's go," "Oops, I moonfired the trash," and "OMG I'm just going to shove this in your bag!" (aka "BLATANT ML POWER ABUSE!") or "If you want it, get it from [the disenchanter]" from the master looter.

The majority of our loot disagreements take the form of "You take it." "No, you take it." "It's better for you, you should have it." "Nah, it's not that big an upgrade, you can have it."


Rankings are not something we actively strive to achieve. We are proud of our accomplishments, but getting there first is not our driving goal. Just getting there, downing the content and overcoming the challenge it presents us (without beating our heads against the wall blindly): that is our goal.

For most of the expansion, we bounced around world ranks 30-15, but caught up in the last year of the expansion as other guilds began to fall apart and give up on HLK and his understudies, H-Sindy and H-Put. We won our spot more through persistence and strategical flexibility than speed. We also chose to play to the ideal of 10-strict: we disallowed all members from raiding any 25 mans once they joined us, even if they already had the achievements from their previous guilds. This did mean that our members' alts were often forced into side guilds for pugging, but it kept us on the strict charts.

We never expected to end up in the top 2 in the world for progression. I think it would be folly for us to think we can hold onto it in Cataclysm without making some severe changes to our raiding schedule, however: we just don't raid often enough. We have our pride and we push ourselves to be our best, but we aren't insane :)


This is the first expansion change we'll be riding as Vortex, but I'm not overly concerned about it. We've been discussing what each member is interested in doing, as some have been considering character swaps, and laying on the expectation that everyone put effort into leveling and playing together as a guild until we are raiding again at 85. It is, however, the first time many of us have run out of content in an expansion, so we've been trying to find things to do to keep us occupied without stretching our sanity.

I look forward to seeing the 10-man raiding scene adapt to the changes Cataclysm is bringing. To everyone that is working now to build their own 10-man guild, I wish you luck, and I hope that our policies, experiences, and ideas may be of benefit to you as you build your own guild.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

River the Squirrel?

"Look, Mom! I'm the Headless Horsedog! I don't need to actually WEAR a costume, right?"

"Wait, you're dressing up too? Well... I guess I can wear something, if you are..."

I tagged along trick-or-treating with my friends and their kids as Little Red Riding Hood (I carried dog treats in a basket, heh). The wolf dressed up as a squirrel. I so wish I'd been able to put together a grandmother type costume for her to wear instead, but I didn't think about it until last minute. -_-;

Saturday, October 30, 2010


The most baffling thing happened to me during a random dungeon run. The hunter was misdirecting to me. Me: the resto druid running around in cow form casting pretty green lights and efflorescence and moonfires.

Once? Must be an accident. I roll my eyes at the pug and continue on with a little laugh.

Twice? ...that's no accident. Eyebrow raised and growing irritated, I had to say something.

Yes. I had 6k more health than the prot pally, therefore the resto druid healer (who was not, incidentally, running around in melee at the time) must be the real tank and should be misdirected. This was followed by the resto druid casting /facepalm.

Lesson: the highest hp does not mean tank. Look before you misdirect, please ;)

Friday, October 29, 2010

LunarSphere alpha release for Patch 4.0

Since the patch, I have been missing my Lunarsphere. No res macros, no auto-reagent purchase, and certainly a lack of my wonderful button menus... makes for a sad Kae :( So large a mod is a difficult one to overhaul and update, so I've been patiently haunting the developer's forums and waiting for the eventual update to become available.

There is, now, an alpha version! As an alpha, there are still a few bugs and errors, but having most parts working is better than nothing, imo!

For further details and a download of the alpha, clicky here :)

*As a small reminder, if you have a bunch of custom graphics (like I do) in your LS Imports folder, make sure you don't delete them when you upgrade your files.*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Comic: Spell Rebellion

As I commented yesterday,
"Regrowth came out of nowhere and beat Nourish upside the head with one of our fallen tree limbs, and dumped the unconscious Nourish in the Undercity gutter. Nourish has not recovered from the traumatic experience, yet."

Meanwhile, Rejuv, Wild Growth, Swiftmend, and Lifebloom are out partying with the new girl, Efflorescence, and Tranquility is crying on Beranabus' shoulder.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Regrowth, Nourish, HT: a Short Analysis

Patch: 4.0

So I was playing with my heals last night.

You get one single 20% flat boost for having a HoT on your target
(trust me, I tried it with 1 vs 4). With HoTs,
Nourish crit for 9k.

Regrowth does this by itself on a shorter cast time.
Regrowth crit for 9k.

Healing Touch, same cast time, non-crit for 13-16k.
HT crit for 20-22k.

Regrowth (1.2s): 1223 mana/5k heal = 0.2446 mana/HP (not inc. HoT)
HT (2.0s): 1398 mana/15k heal = 0.0932 mana/HP
Nourish (2.0s): 349 mana/5k heal (if you have a HoT up) = 0.0698 mana/HP
(+ a renew on lifebloom timer)

There ya go.
  • Yes, Nourish is Cheap.
  • If you need a big heal to save someone's life, go with Healing Touch. It's far better HPS.
  • If you need a tiny heal and have nothing better to do than roll your lifebloom, toss a Nourish.
  • Lifebloom costs less mana than Nourish (244 mana). Use lifebloom to a roll a stack if you don't need the Nourish heal. If the Nourish is all overheal, you just wasted your time and mana.
  • If you are running OoM and your target needs regrowth-size heals, but you have time to cast them, use Nourish; however, let lifebloom do the bulk of the work and avoid overheal on your Nourish as much as possible. If you have to, cancel a Nourish cast in favor of a lifebloom before it triggers, if it'd be overheal.
  • Otherwise, ignore Nourish.
  • If you get bored, try using Moonfire, IS, and Wrath instead ;)

/sigh. They f*cked up my go-to heal. -_-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Comic: Earth, Wind, and Fire 10m

Took us a few attempts to work out how long Alyae could last solo-tanking an enraged Koralon. Panicking resto druid!

Yes, the maces look like shovels.
*I* thought it was funny. :3

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Not to Plagiarize

This post is in solidarity for my tree-buddy Keeva.

Plagiarism is defined as "the wrongful appropriation, close imitation, or purloining and publication, of another author's language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions, and the representation of them as one's own original work."


I wrote this all by myself. It is entirely my own work. Though, to cover my ass, I might claim there is some tiny chance someone somewhere in the world might have written this before me, verbatim. Just like monkeys with a type writer pummeling out Shakespeare.

Great excuses to use if you are caught stealing

1. It was meant to be private but I made it public by accident.

2. It was meant as placeholder text, it was a draft, I was going to change it (I don’t know why it said “I wrote this guide”).

3. Who’s to say what’s original on the internet, anyway? We all use the same words, it’s inevitable that we will accidentally use the same ones sometimes.

4. We came up with exactly the same idea, with exactly the same wording. Weird huh???

5. Someone else did something bad so why am I in trouble for this?

6. English isn’t my first language, I copied because I am not good at writing things from scratch.

7. Someone sent this to me, I didn’t know it was someone else’s work!

8. I was going to give credit, you just didn’t give me a chance!

That is plagiarism. I copy-pasted it from Keeva's site and then claimed I wrote it myself.
That is also what is known as a LIE.

Now, if I wanted to use her content in an honest manner without having to re-write the concepts in my own words, I would do it like this:

The following is from Keeva at TBJ:

Great excuses to use if you are caught stealing

1. It was meant to be private but I made it public by accident.

2. It was meant as placeholder text, it was a draft, I was going to change it (I don’t know why it said “I wrote this guide”).

3. Who’s to say what’s original on the internet, anyway? We all use the same words, it’s inevitable that we will accidentally use the same ones sometimes.

4. We came up with exactly the same idea, with exactly the same wording. Weird huh???

5. Someone else did something bad so why am I in trouble for this?

6. English isn’t my first language, I copied because I am not good at writing things from scratch.

7. Someone sent this to me, I didn’t know it was someone else’s work!

8. I was going to give credit, you just didn’t give me a chance!

That was copying another's work, but not claiming it as your own. It even helpfully linked the source to give proper credit. That is okay.

See the difference?

I'm sure most of you do. Because most people reading this blog aren't thieving idiots with no concept of what "your own words" means. If you want to claim something is your own work, then it better be your own work. People are more likely to respect you if you just say "hey, I got this content from this source," than to discover you're a liar and a thief. Sources. Cite them. Link them. Don't claim it your own if it's not.

/end rant.

Hey look, a puppy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Couch Melt

"You weren't planning to sit here, were you?"

or maybe,

"Give me another 2 months, and I can cover the third cushion, too."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Efflorescence: Know your Green Goo

By most reports and my own experience, projected textures is currently bugging to not actually show in spite of being enabled and graphics on ultra. I heard a little horror story about Hodir in a Ulduar run.

Fanthisa pointed out a fix for this, that worked for me and many of my guildies: interface->display->DISABLE the option to "emphasize my spell effects."

Regardless, you can still see the spell effects drifting lazily up from the floor in all their raid-eating glory. Except, now, some of those effects are not the notorious "bad," or even the fellow-raider consecrate or death and decay of neutrality. Some of them are good. Like the massive shiny domes of holy light, or the twinkling sanctuary of angelic aurora light.

Or the more easily mistaken green puddle of efflorescence.

Good green puddle:
  • Leaves flying up in the air like a reverse autumn fall. This is symbolic of resto druids loosing their tree form, as their leaves drift upwards into the digital ether.
  • Hazy green aura. The fact that it looks like many other poisonous, acidic, nuclear, or otherwise deadly hazy green auras is mere coincidence. Green is life. Green is nature. It's retribution for my complaints that our old tree form had wilted yellow leaves.
Bad green puddle:
  • Anything else.

Got it? It's not that difficult, is it? No, of course not.


Yeah, let's go with some pictures.

Pretty straight forward on this one. Big green puddle, vs hazy green leafy light. If you mistake the moving green oozling that's slurping around trying to eat someone to be an efflorescence puddle, you have some serious awareness issues that I can't help with.

This next one is more tricky.


Vinn diagram of hazy green.

If they add leaves to a bad green effect in a later instance, we're screwed. Let's hope we don't face off against the green dragonflight anytime soon. For now, if you see leaves falling up into the sky in your green puddle, you can assume it's safe.

Unless it's layered on top of a bad green.



Good luck!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

River: 4 months

...and 40 lbs. My little baby is still my "little" baby, but she's gotten quite a bit bigger!

She likes to eat out of measuring cups. I'm not sure how much longer her nose will fit.

She likes playing with my friends' dogs. She will shortly outmass them all. Her paws are at least three times bigger than this other dog's. Maybe 4 times bigger.

She doesn't quite fit under the dishwasher anymore when I'm doing dishes. But she still tries.

But... she's still as cute and fluffy and cuddly as ever!

...and her collar finally fits.

Monday, October 18, 2010

...as your pathetic reset point betrays you!

Once upon a time, rather than having to engage Sindragosa upon the death of her lesser winged comrades, we would reset her by pulling her through the gates into the gauntlet room, thereby giving us the opportunity to pull her at our own choosing and without prior combat engagement with another dragon.

Yeah. That's not happening anymore. I narrowly escaped doom by making it up the elevator shaft, and the guy beside me was no so lucky as she teleported him to her before she decided to despawn.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

HLK 10 Video: Priest/Pally

Our other set of guild filmers have completed the second half of their HLK kill video, complete with story-driven prologue and credits. For reference and posterity, I'll include Part 1 again. If your computer can handle it, I suggest HD :)

The videos swap between the views of a shadow priest (Kuchki, white health bar and TidyPlates) and a prot pally (Alyae, green health bar and ThreatPlates).

HD link

HD link

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Because Vidyala and Zelmaru are Awesome...

So, I've had a mild running joke in my years of play about using post-it notes to block out peoples' health bars in raids. I had noticed the addon GridStatusIgnored, but the "success of the raid/party outweighs my personal opinions of pugger assholes" has kept me from seriously considering downloading it. Maybe if I were still in a larger, more casual raiding guild I might consider it.

In a bit of wonderful satire, Vidyala of pugging pally has spoofed a guide about the (mythical) addon, GridStatusStupidity. You must go read it.

(Edit: Is a guest post by Zelmaru, but Vidyala is still awesome :) )

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spell Use Changes: Resto

While we haven't learned any new spells, many of our healing abilities have changed significantly. I'm not exactly pleased with what has happened to my quick-fire Nourish, but as Regrowth has sped up, I'm not going on a rampage about it ;)

It has a talented insta-tick when you cast it, akin to the tier 8 bonus. No major changes in use.

Talented, now applies a puddle of green goo under the target. It's like a light well they don't have to click. What this means is that, when WG is on cooldown but Swiftmend is up, you need to target your Swiftmend kinda like you do a Wild Growth, hoping to bomb a group of people with it. There is still the consideration of targeting the person who needs the direct heal the most, of course, so don't just treat it like a weak Wild Growth!

Wild Growth:
Longer cooldown. When you're in tree form, you can hit up to 8 targets with it (glyphed).

One target only, gone are the days of rolling it on two (or more) tanks regularly. When you're in tree form, though, you get that back: remember that, in case your ToL needs to be used to save multiple tank deaths. You can pop ToL and stack LB on two (or more) tanks. Lifebloom in ToL has a different spell ID, so these lifeblooms will continue to run even if your ToL buff wears off. Additionally, casting a lifebloom will proc replenishment on up to 10 raid members.

Quicker cast, but the HoT is now one of our shortest, on par with Wild Growth in duration. When you're in tree form, it is insta-cast. It costs more mana than it did before, though! It is one of our most expensive heals. IMPORTANT: by cast time, it is replacing the original use of nourish as our quick casted heal. If you're having problems with hitting nourish instead by habit, I suggest swapping Nourish and Regrowth on your bars.

Longer cast. This may take some getting used to, if you are like me and used it fairly regularly as a quick top-off heal. It's not really worth the cast time if there aren't many HoTs on the target, so remember to go to regrowth first! However, if talented, you can use nourish to refresh Lifebloom on the tank: at 18% less mana to cast than lifebloom, this makes it far more efficient for rolling a lifebloom stack and not going OoM. Just remember that you need to begin casting it around 3/3.5 seconds (haste/lag/talents all impact it) to make sure it casts before the lifebloom falls off.

Healing Touch:
Still super-long (3 seconds), and 38% base mana makes it our most expensive heal (note: tooltip incorrect on wowhead as of posting). NS+HT, macro it, use it as an emergency. Yes, I have talented NS still: I like my emergency buttons, I am not a blanket raid healer. ;)

Tree of Life:
Tree form is what will take the most getting used to. Think of it as an emergency button that lets you:
  • RAID EMERGENCY: Rapid-fire regrowth over the raid, rather than rejuv, in addition to giving you two more targets on Wild Growth. If mobs are overwhelming, your entangling roots is also now insta-cast as a tree, so use that CC!
  • TANK EMERGENCY: Quickly pop regrowth back on the tank(s) and then stack lifebloom on multiple targets.
  • BOREDOM EMERGENCY: rawr, I hassa Wrath spam! It synchronizes well with Fury of Stormrage's mana-reduction to wrath and free starfire procs.

Oh gods. Look at this. /facepalm. Well, we will be getting a remodel to it, but it's... decidedly "meh."
  • Kae's hubby: So...happy or not happy with the new tree of life models?
  • Kae: "Meh." They have more color than the old form, but only by race. They're still grumpy old tree men.
  • Kae's hubby: Well...I think they are less grumpy and more ummm...ambivalent?

Have any more tips/tricks on spell use, for our changed spells?

Kae's 4.0 Druid Macros

In an update from my PTR post, I have found that not only have they fixed the OP kitty death pounce of ravagey doom, but also fixed lifebloom for macro useage. Both good things.


The following macros are 4.0 updates to the macros I currently use. Healing didn't change much, in terms of spells, so most of these are feral. It is likely I'll be tweaking these macros as I grow accustomed to the new abilities and grow away from my old bind habits. It is also likely that you may find a different arrangement of abilities to be useful: feel free to hack these macros apart and replace things with your own preference. That's what macros are for :)

- NOTE 1: if you are not a primary-spec resto and secondary-spec feral, you will want to look at all instances of [spec:1] and [spec:2] in these macros to replace them with your appropriate spec.

- NOTE 2: I use an old-model G15 keyboard, which offers me at least 4 "easily reachable" extra keybind keys for pinky reach. You might be a little more pressed for keybind space if you don't have or use one of these, and have to rely more on mouse-click actions.

- NOTE 3: Bindpad has a working version here on WoWInterface.

Generic Macro Templates

Cut and paste in your abilities where you'd like. If in doubt, click them out of your spellbook to get the correct name.

Mouseover Heal or Cleanse:

/cast [@mouseover,help] [help] [@player] Spellname

Mouseover or Focus Harm:
(attack your mouseover, or otherwise your focus target, such as with CC)

/cast [@mouseover,harm,nodead] [harm] [@focus,harm,nodead] [@focustarget,harm] [] Spellname

Mouseover or Focus Harm Toggle:
(hold shift to attack or assist your focus target, such as with CC, otherwise mouseover)

/cast [mod:shift,@focus,harm,nodead][mod:shift,@focustarget,harm,nodead][@mouseover,harm,nodead] [harm] [] Spellname

Focus-assist or Target Harm:
(set a main tank as assist, for example)

/cast [@focustarget,harm,nodead] [harm] [] Spellname

Mouseover Help or Target Harm:

/cast [harm] DPSspell; [@mouseover,help] [help] [@player] Healspell

Modifier-toggled casts:

/cast [mod:shift] Spell1; [mod:alt] Spell2; Spell3

Modifier-toggled Helpful Mouseovers:

/cast [mod:shift,@mouseover,help][mod:shift,help][mod:shift,@player] Spell1; [mod:alt][mod:alt,help][mod:alt,@player] Spell2; [@mouseover,help][help][@player] Spell3

Custom Macros

My Skull Bash Key (G12):
Skull bash is our new feral-form spell interrupt. While the following can be done by placing the abilities on your respective stance bars (besides the mouseover portion of Wild Growth), I prefer to just macro it in Bindpad.

/cast [form:3] Skull Bash(Cat Form); [form:1] Skull Bash(Bear Form)
/stopmacro [spec:2] [form:1/3]
/cast [@mouseover,nodead,exists] [@player] Wild Growth
  • Cat: Skull Bash
  • Bear: Skull Bash
  • Caster [spec:1]: Wild Growth (mouseover)

My Stuns Key (G18):
This key used to be my remove curse macro; my cleanse has been consolidated and thus freed up this button. As above, the following can be done by placing the abilities on your respective stance bars (besides the targeting portion of Cyclone), I prefer to just macro it in Bindpad. You could throw warstomp in there, but I prefer having access to that straight from feral forms.

/cast [form:3] Maim; [form:1] Bash; [harm][@focus,harm][] Cyclone

  • Cat: Maim
  • Bear: Bash
  • Caster: Cyclone on enemy target, else on enemy focus target, else normal.

Mushroom Toggle:
Casting mushrooms (up to 3 at a time) and detonating them requires different casts. While we won't learn this spell until level 85, it is good to plan ahead and map out where you'd like to put this ability in your binds/bars, and consolidating the two into one toggled macro is a great way to save space.

/cast [mod:shift] Detonate Mushroom; Wild Mushroom

  • Shift: Detonate Mushrooms (boom them)
  • Normal: Wild Mushroom (place them)

    STAMPEDE (~):
    While we won't learn Stampeding Roar until level 83, I wanted to save a spot for it. While yet again the following can be done by placing the abilities on your respective stance bars, I prefer to just macro it in Bindpad. /shrug

    /cast [form:3] Stampeding Roar(Cat Form); [form:1]Stampeding Roar(Bear Form); Hurricane

    • Cat: Stampeding Roar
    • Bear: Stampeding Roar

    My feral AOE Key (q):
    Swipe gets spammed a lot, as a cat. Swipe has a cooldown as a bear, but it used to get spammed a lot. We'll be getting Thrash, another bear AoE, at 81, so we have to plan for that. I like binding tons of stuff to my q and e keys :)

    /cast [mod:shift,form:1] Thrash; [mod:alt,form:1] Mangle(Bear Form); [@mouseover,harm,nodead,form:1][form:1] Swipe(Bear Form); [stealth] Pounce; [mod:shift] Rake; [@mouseover,harm,nodead][] Swipe(Cat Form)
    /startattack [nostealth]

    • Cat:
      • Swipe
      • +shift: Rake
      • +stealth: Pounce
      • If you'd like to add [mod:alt]Mangle(Cat Form); then you'll need to kill the #showtooltip and some blank spaces to make room.

    • Bear:
      • Swipe,
      • +shift: Thrash
      • +alt: Mangle

    My feral "E" Key:
    Pulverize is an important new bear tool you need to include in your rotation. It is a "CP-user" of lacerate stacks, so binding it to your lacerate key makes sense to me. As for cat form, I haven't changed any of my old binds, but will probably replace Maim with something else down the road, once I get used to my new stuns macro.

    /cast [mod:shift,form:3] Ferocious Bite; [form:3,mod:alt]Rip; [form:3] Maim
    /stopmacro [form:3]
    /cast [nomod:alt] !Maul
    /cast [mod:shift] Pulverize; Lacerate

    • Cat:
      • Maim (because it's where I'm used to it. If you're using a combined stuns key elsewhere, you may consider replacing this with something else).
      • +shift: Ferocious Bite
      • +alt: Rip (you might consider making this the default by removing the red text, if you don't want Maim here)

    • Bear:
      • Lacerate and Maul,
      • +shift: Pulverize and Maul,
      • +alt: hold alt to not use Maul

    My T Key:
    An update to my "t" key. It's got a bunch of random but useful stuff in it, including my ToL shift. As a note, if you are feral, you might want to consider a cast-sequence instead for catform which is in the next macro down, as you can now use unstealthed Ravage after using feral charge.

    /cast [form:1,btn:2][form:1,mod]Enrage
    /cast [form:1,btn:1][mod,form:1]Frenzied Regeneration
    /stopmacro [form:1]
    /cast [mod,form:3]Savage Roar;[form:3]Feral Charge(Cat Form);[mod,spec:1] !Tree of Life; [@mouseover,help][@player]Nourish

    • Bear:
      • Frenzied Regeneration
      • Right click: Enrage
      • +Shift: both Enrage and Frenzied Regen, together
    • Cat:
      • Feral Charge
      • +shift: Savage Roar
    • Caster:
      • Nourish
      • +shift: [spec:1] ToL

    My Catform Charge+Ravage Key (t):
    The improved feral charge talent makes your next ravage usable while not stealthed, for a short period of time after charging in cat form. Note that if your ravage misses or is a failed attempt due to positioning, it still consumes the buff.

    /cast [mod] Savage Roar
    /castsequence reset=8 Feral Charge(Cat Form), Ravage

    • Feral Charge and then Ravage (two presses);
    • +shift: Savage Roar