Interfacing: Raiding addons

26 01 2010

Like tourists huffing and puffing to reach the peak we forget the view on the way up

It’s my intention to detail some of these addons further rather than simple recite lists. Should you not be able to wait however, you can find most of these at www.curse.com or www.wowinterface.com.

At 80 (or earlier should you so desire a particular function) the use of addons can change its focus. Gone are those used simply for the levelling experience, and enter many whose purpose it is to ease your passage through the Heroic and Raiding experiences. I tend to find that I enable more addons at 80; this can be counter-productive as you could argue that at 80, your gaming experience requires more of your computer and bandwidth. More addons means more demands on an increasingly utilised system. Most people should be fine, but with my ISP provider and location limiting my capacity, I’ve had to pick and choose those instance addons that are necessary and important:

  1. Atlaslo0t: Honestly, I could probably live without this item database addon. It’s great for convenience, but I don’t find myself using it to study loot. I tend to use websites like http://www.maxdps.com and gear-wishlist.appspot.com/ and build my gearing programme that way. However, if you like convenience, this is the way for you.
  2. Buffalo: Being able to move your buff and debuff positions becomes much more crucial for maintaining productive real estate. This allows buffs, debuffs and weapon buffs to be configurable. Be aware, it doesn’t have a nice menu system as it’s all based on chat instructions. /buffalo will get you started.
  3. BuffEnough: Analyses your group comp and tells you what buffs you are missing. Can be instructed to prioritise certain class buffs (like Blessings) and even checks for flasks and food. de rigueur in our raids now.
  4. DXE: Deadly Boss Mods just got served. DXE (Deus vox Encounters) is clean, fresh, lightweight and more informative.
  5. eZicons: You can set up macros or keybindings for mob marking, or just double-click (left mouse button please… no premature pulls πŸ˜€ ) and select from the radial icons.
  6. MSBT: Blizzard’s combat text is half-arsed. Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text is extensive, but spending a little bit of time gives you the information you need.
  7. Omen 3: Threat meter. If you need more info than that, go play Solitaire. Threat meters allow you to play with others… Solitaire?
  8. Omni CC: An extra signal to inform you about cooldowns.
  9. Power Auras Classic: I’m only just getting to grips with this involved addon. Any visual signal that can help my role beyond that which the encounter offers (like, I don’t know, big bubbling puddles of FIRE!!!) is well received here. You can copy and import other people’s settings as strings of code… this one is definitely a topic for future posts.
  10. Recount: Its value is both over- and under-estimated. If it’s for personal use, with training dummies and the like, then great. If not, and you run raids with it as your Bible, then might I suggest a game of cards… on your own. When used in groups, it is a yardstick, nothing more. It may be source for friendly competition, but it is not accurate enough to berate individuals. Including yourself.

A rushed post today, but one I was going to write anyway. More details on some of these will follow. If you have any specific requests, you know where to find the comments section…

/logout





Guilded: The cost of raiding

24 01 2010

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity

I intend for this post to start a series of linked topics on being ready to raid with your guild. It could of course apply to non-guild raiding, but it is targetted to my guild which I know very well…

3 hours of raiding =

  • 10 level 80s: an optimistic levelling time is 100 hours, just over 4 days of game time each. A month and a half of cumulative time.
  • Suitable level of gear: Even entry-level raids like Naxx require some gearing time. Let’s be optimistic again and say 10 hours each. Another 4 days.
  • Flasks: 2 tanks; 1 spellpower healer; 2 MP5 healers; 1 spellpower DPS; 4 rage DPS… 78 Lichbloom, 36 Icethorn, 18 Goldclover, 15 Frost Lotus, 9 Crystallised Life, 9 Pygmy Oil, 9 Enchanted Vial…
    • These require either gold to buy the mats and flasks, or someone to to train the appropriate professions, gather the mats and craft. Let’s say 10 hours of profession training.
  • Food: We’ll go straightforward… assuming you have the mats, 2 hours of training to make Fish Feasts… and a couple of hoursof fishing and cooking dailies to make 20 feasts.
  • Buff reagents: Just gold really. Which means time to earn…
  • Ammo: Hunter-dependent of course, but it means (if the hunter is half-decent) someone needs to level Engineering. 3 hours.

So, before the instance portal is even crossed, we have about a conservative estimate of over 900 hours of cumulative (wo)man-hours.

And now, the message…

Consider the time that our fellow guildies put into being prepared for each raid. Whether the guild is real-life (casual), progression or hard-mode orientated, 10- or 25-man, we all have a responsibility to be properly prepared and focussed on that group activity. In case anyone needs a list πŸ™‚

  • Punctuality
  • Repaired
  • Reagents/Buffables
  • Prepared for the role
  • Geared for the role
  • Gemmed and enchanted for the role
  • Specced for the role
  • Knowledgable about the run
  • Available for the run

Even real-life guilds don’t want to spend hours after hours wiping on trash or bosses. If the raid is cutting-edge content for your guild, you have a responsibility to those others who have also played hard to get ready.





Experience Points: Heroic Failures part 1… Tanks

22 01 2010

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The implementation of patch 3.3 brought with it the Looking For Dungeon (LFD) feature. Precisely 12.7s after that came the implementation of the cross-realm twat. No longer were ranting, inconsiderate idiots isolated to their own realm (or forums… or blog). The ease with which LFD allows us, particularly altoholics, to gear up our toons means that those who don’t use the LFD system miss out on the arms race. Maybe you’ve used them on the way up, but if you are new to 80, these heroics can be a daunting place, full of bile and vitriol. If you are a tank or healer, prepare for special treatment.

This is the first part of a triplet post about how to learn from these negative experiences. Kanye tells us that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If you can develop a thick skin against the fascists, you will come out of it more equipped to fulfill vital roles for your raiding groups and guilds.

Intro

Let’s consider the ideal 5-man PuG:

  • Group: all appropriate buffs given; tank set as focus for DPS to assist; each player knows the instance and the class abilities well; class utilities are considered, with relevant actions when needed should the unexpected happen (CC, threat reduction, etc.) or to assist the tank during tricky pulls; debuffs removed (anyone remember that Warlocks can use Decursive?); everybody’s position reduces party damage and accidental pulls
  • Tank: threat generation on multiple mobs is maximised; pace appropriate for capacity of group; situational awareness allows pro-active interceptions when things go awry
  • DPS: threat is managed to less than pulling levels; optimum dps per mana/energy is delivered
  • Healer: healing and damage prevention is almost prescient

Now, have a look at the opposite, the nadir PuG:

  • The tank runs off and begins to chain pull the instance before the crash of the buffs has finished or the dual-spec healer has finished switching specs…
  • The DPS runs off and begins to chain pull the instance before the crash of the buffs has finished or the dual-spec healer has finished switching specs…
  • The Healer runs off and begins to …
  • /p is full of rudeness, intolerance, impatience and elitism…

In reality, most PuGs fit on the spectrum between these two extremes (though I remember the ones closer to the nadir, but that may just be selective memory). How can we enhance our own gameplay so as to turn these negative experiences into something that can benefit your future groupings.

TANKS

The Pull: As a starting heroic, you are likely to get Utgarde Keep. Once the first pair of mobs are down, there is a set of potentially tricky pulls that can bring mobs raining down on your party members:

  • Mark the mobs – at the very least it gives you some practice, those who will follow kills orders have their trained routines triggered, and it may even prompt a gracious piece of help about which ones should be the first targets
  • Range and Line of Sight – understand the ranges of your abilities, how you can use chained abilities to build threat as the mobs progress towards you, and then what’s your quickest way of building AoE threat on multiple mobs.

Taunts: You must learn where your taunts are. Be comfortable with the taunts that pull single targets as well as those that intercept mobs on an ally. You should also understand how taunts work, when they can miss, and what they do with threat. Not all taunts are created equal.

Threat increase: Never become comfortable and relaxed with rotations. As a new tank, I’m hoping you’ve done a bit of research, found websites discussing tanking ‘rotations’. Stay on top of current thinking. Beyond that, make sure that you have the right self-buffs (Righteous Defense, the correct stances and presences, etc.). Also, on multiple target situations, think about spreading the love. Don’t wait until skull is dead before moving onto cross if your threat lead is large enough to switch early. Make sure other classes are using Misdirect effects… it all helps.

Threat reduction: Vigilance is useful just to help you get that little advantage over the top dps. Use whatever tricks your class has to increase that gap between you and them.

Stuns: There’s a group with a ranged caster that you just can’t pull into the group. If there’s no mage with Counterspell, what else can you do? Think about mobility, but look at how you can take it out of the fight for a few seconds. If DPS really want their own playthings, give them that one to drop.

Damage Reduction/Health Increase: Long cooldown life-savers. Know where they are. Using them wisely takes time, but you need to be using them.

DPS: If all else fails, and tanking just isn’t working right yet, see if DPS is an option. Sure, it won’t change the opinions of the sub-humans out there, but it will allow you to look at what’s going on from a different viewpoint. Maybe you can get some tips along the way, watching other tanks. If they’re over-geared, it may not be that useful, but at least the emblems will keep flowing, you’ll get some upgrades from bosses, and in time, you may feel you can step back into the furnace that is the PuG.

Do not forget the other resources you have; look at gemming and enchants, make sure you have hit the minimum requirements to start these runs, but most of all, ask around. Guildies should be more than happy to help, even those Friends you’ve added along the way. In time, you can become the one overgeared for the instance. And you can break the cycle…

Disclaimer: I loathe PuGs. I love them more than I used to, but that’s brought on by the necessary evil that is gearing up multiple toons. I have come to tolerate them a bit more, and those special moments when our random fellows are genuinely supportive helps to temper the anger brought on by anti-socials.





Interfacing: Cross-class addons

20 01 2010

A computer terminal is not some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. It is an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.

I’m an obsessive player. With 3 accounts, 7 classes at 80, and the last three in levelling in Northrend, I think that’s pretty obvious. It brings its own rewards and unique problems, but they are for later posts. What is does mean is that every time I log on, my User Interface (UI) must reflect the needs of my playstyle, the class, and for dual-specced toons, the role of my character.

Your UI can help or hinder. Understanding the boundaries of your interface with your computer, and the informational flow between you and the game can turn a limited player into one in a position to have a greater influence on the game and the other players. Consider a tank with the native UI and playing in first-person-boss-navel view, versus the ranged dps or healer standing 30 yards from the action, camera extended 20 yards behind them, with addons showing who has what threat, who’s standing in the fire, and who’s just about to become the grey-screened-audience to the rest of the encounter.

If you regularly play multiple toons, then you will know that some UI set-ups favour some classes and roles more than others. Hunters have little need for Decursive (certainly no need beyond informational), while Holy/Prot Paladins have a scaled need for Healbot. Bank alts have little requirement forΒ  Cartographer, but will all your toons really need Auctioneer?

Here’s my list of addons that I’ve found have improved my active (by that I mean activities like questing, raiding or PvPing) gameplay, or simply enhance the look and feel of the UI to a point that I believe improves its functionality:

  1. Altoholic: Provides reams of information about the toons on your account (bag and bank contents, professions and secondary skills, worn items, achievements, crafting cooldowns, and more), and feeds that into a central interface that is accessible to all your characters. A guild mate asks for an enchanter but you are on your JC? Simply open up Altoholic and link your alt’s skill in /g. For those with multiple accounts, it does allow (security-controlled) cross-account communication, though due to a previous incarnation of Altoholic making that feature a little clumsy, I haven’t tested this for a while. If others runs Altoholic, it will allow some information transfer between those toons, such as mail notifications.
  2. Autobar: Places class-common (such as food and drink, hearthing/porting, trinkets, etc.) and class-specific (e.g. lock spells, hunter aspects, paladin blessings) onto drop-down bars. Frees up an inordinate amount of action bar space.
  3. Autoprofit X: Automatically sells grey items, and can be set to auto-repair if you so desire.
  4. Badboy: Tired of gold-spammers whispering you? NO? Then you won’t want this addon that will block incoming whispers based on keywords used by GS, and then automatically reports them. Has an extra that prevents Level 1 whispers which can cause communication problems, but I think it’s worth the stress reduction.
  5. Bagnon: I will cover this at a later date I think, along with a few other addons that to me represented mini-paradigm shifts* in how I viewed the interface. It’s a sleek inventory management interface that offers a little overlap with Altoholic but with less fuss.
  6. Bartender: Another A-list player that requires further attention. Modify your action bars to improve your gameplay.
  7. Button Facade: This isn’t simply about whether you like round or square buttons. The clarity of the data you have about cooldowns or whether you have the energy to activate the spell all improves how you play. Find the style you are comfortable with.
  8. Free Refills: Do you want the be the ‘Druid who can’t’? Why ever run out of mats for your utility or buff spells? FR sets up stock replenishment for any vendor-sold item in the game, be it buff mats, food, drink, cakes, pies, flowers or motorbike mats.
  9. IceHud: What this offers you will be highly dependent on what other addons you run and what information you like to play with. My use of it has diminished over time to one simple module, the Range Finder.
  10. Mounted: Get rid of keybindings for all your different types of mount. Run Mounted, drag the icon from the macro menu to one spot on your action bar, change the Mounted Settings to accomodate your most and least favourite mounts, key bind it, and then never think about it again.
  11. Pitbull: Raid Frames are one of those UI functionalities that offer greater reward the more you invest. They also change based on what works and doesn’t work, and they are the part of the UI I spend most time on. Pitbull3 is my current RF of choice, but your mileage may vary. Not sure what we mean by ‘raid frames’? Think party bars, raid bars, target bars, cast bars… more at a later date.
  12. Postal: Bank alts especially love Postal. My scribe, the one who lovingly means I never have to worry about repair bills, receives around 1100-1200 returns from the AH every two days. One-click, and I have 50 mails returned. Wait a few seconds, and it’s ready again. It even tells you the total gold received at the end of a batch of mails.
  13. Prat: You may find this necessary or not; for me it’s a quality of information. Gives me a lot more control over my chat frames, and can alter the way that I receive chat-based information.
  14. SexyMap: Not just sexy, but a great mind and good sense of humour to boot. A customisable mini-map… and gives good massage.
  15. Addon Control Panel: Left this one to the end because it’s the boss. It allows you to manage your addons from within the game, so you never need to logout. The real winner for me is the ability to set up ‘Addon Packs’. Going raiding and need to disable 15 different profession-based addons that mean you dc on the whelps every. single. time? Activate your ‘Raiding’ profile, reload your UI and you’re ready for action. You’re in her lair and the RL forgot to bring flasks? Activate your crafting addon there and then without a log. (or just use the default interface… sometimes, just sometimes, the wheel doesn’t need re-inventing).

All of these addons are easily available through the major sites like curse.com, wowinterface.com, et al. Google is also your friend… but that’s for another post.

*Are these even possible?





An experiment in blogging…

19 01 2010

Virginity can be lost by a thought

… for me that is. I, like others, have opinions, resources, thoughts, play-skills, learning, teaching, and more still to deliver. So, Undecalt is the forum, the blank page to organise these opinions, resources, play-skills, learning, yadayadayada…

Here’s the plan:

Playtime: a post concerning the playing experience. Suitably vague, this could cover topics from raid tactics to achievements, playing solo or in a group, multi-boxing, courtesy… anything that fits around how we interact with the world and the players.

Interfacing: a post around improving the WoWarcraft playing experience. It may be focussed on Addons, UI theory, play-skill, or anything else that fits into this light, easy-to-think-about category. Sure, all of these are covered elsewhere on the blogonet, but everyone’s experience and understanding is as unique as the UI. This is the spot for me.

Experience Points: commentary. Having had a week of catching up on other blogs’ posts, this is where I’ll add my own thoughts… or just simply regurgitate others.

Guilded: a guild post. I plan to use this blog for a bivalent purpose. The first is to interact with the blogophile community, with the intent of contributing at least a smidgeon. The second is as a go-to site for the guild. Again, this is experimental. I sometimes enjoy reading about how other guilds have encountered challenges, sometimes I don’t. But several blogs manage to find a happy medium of balancing personal guild content with the wider issues. We’ll see how it works…

There may not be a post every week in every topic, but there will be a post every week.

And apologies in advance. I do love to overuse ellipses…