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The Three Catagories of Play

06/22/2010

Before people start worrying that I’m going to delve into “hardcore” or “casual” or whatever, be at peace knowing this has nothing to do with that.  This is more directed at specific characters and roles.  Most people will find that they have fallen into each category at some time in the game or, like myself, coexist in all three at the same time.  I label the three categories as “The Cookiecutter,”  “The Supervisor,” and “The Mad Scientist.”  (Yes, I am sometimes far too amused with myself.)  The major difference between them is what kind of work is put into learning a class/role.

- The Cookiecutter -

This is the category for when you just don’t care to learn the specifics of a class and just want to get on with the playing.  You look up a spec, rotation and gearing strategy from somewhere online or perhaps ask a friend who you feel should know such things.  Falling into this category isn’t at all a bad thing and is fairly common when you’re looking to play an alt or off-spec.  I know that this is exactly what I do with my hunter.  I don’t really care -why- doing things a certain way makes my DPS better, I just want that good DPS.  This style of play is most useful when doing pre-raid content, as raiding in this style will cause you to run into the cons more often.  When I’m on my hunter, it is all about focusing on shooting things until they are dead.

Which is one of the major pros of this kind of play; there is no mucking around behind the scenes to impede your fun.  It is the “plug and play” of the WoW world.  Another pro is that you don’t have to worry if you have no real idea what you’re doing.  Listening to someone who does and doing what they do can make you seem like you know your class really well.  As long as you implement what you read decently, your DPS/healing/tanking skills will at least be passable.

Of course, a major downside to this is that you need to make sure your information is good.  The internet is a double-sided sword when it comes to finding accurate information and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the good and the bad.  This sort of play also has the problem of not having the knowledge that makes working with class changes easy.  For example, when the major changes to Survival Hunters went down with WotLK, I was pretty much lost as to how to deal with them.  And these sorts of changes happen far more often than you might think.  Even small tweaks can change things to a large effect.  This means either trying to find someone to tell you how to changes things with each tweak or else falling behind.

- The Supervisor -

The name of this category comes from the fact that you will be taking raw information garnered from others (the Mad Scientists) and then decide how best to implement it yourself.  This is likely the most common form of play for raiders, as it implies a certain amount of class knowledge without having to delve into the data.  This can also be thought of as taking a Cookiecutter spec/gearing/rotation and then breaking it down to learn about it.  When I PvP, this is exactly how I play.  I listen to the advice of other players in my class (and my teammates) and use their experience to build up my own way of doing things.  I don’t need to know exactly how hit works to know that I need 5% of it.  Another example would be a healadin who reads someone else’s numbers on the mana regen from INT and uses that information to gem her/his gear.

One of the major good parts about this style of play is the customizable nature of it.  When new information is reveled with patches, you can adapt and change things around with minimal effort.  You get to save time by using the raw data gathering of others, which is also really helpful if you don’t feel you have the ability to work with the raw numbers yourself.  While there is a small delay between the changes being made and the knowledge of how it affects play being disseminated, a skilled Supervisor knows where to get her/his information and has a keen eye towards making changes for her/himself.

Cons for this category follow those that plague the Cookiecutter, namely that information gathered may be incorrect.  It can be very hard to distinguish between a good source and a bad one.  Even generally good sources of information can make mistakes, too.  There is also a potential issue with comprehension of the data being given, in that not having full knowledge of how things work can lead to incorrect conclusions.  (ex. paladin tanks have the highest threat generation of tanking classes, so you never have to worry about threat stats)  Another pitfall can be reliance on old information, either through seeing misleading data from previous patches or else in not keeping up with changes due to stubbornness.    Most of the cons, though, can be balanced by someone with an ear to the ground and a good grasp of their class.

- The Mad Scientist -

My favorite!  Feel the need to work out all your numbers yourself?  Delve into every parse to see if there are any bugs or inconsistencies with your data?  Find yourself standing around and casting your spells on yourself hundreds of times to work out the spellpower coefficients?  You are, indeed, a Mad Scientist.  This is not just wanting to know -what- works the best, but -why- it does.  While some people consider the Supervisor a theorycrafter, it is the Mad Scientists who provide the information to him/her.  For some, it is the thrill of discovery that makes this category appealing.  For others, they simply want to know for a fact that they are doing the absolute best they can.

Which is one of the pros.  You never have to worry about the sources of your information, because you are that source.  Being able to double-check your work against the work of others means that you can make sure your data is sound.  This also gives you the background information you need to apply what you gather into your play.  The level of detail and accuracy when applying your work is very high, as you know the intimate details of how playstyle and mechanics meet.  When changes to the class occur, you are at the front lines, conducting experiments and running the new equations.

For most people, the major downside is that it can be difficult to wrap your head around the math and its implications.  It sometimes isn’t apparent how to turn a question into a workable equation so you can find the solution.  There is also a matter of not wanting to put the time into the experiments.  Actually, I’d say the greatest drawback is how much time and effort that people -think- it takes, and the fear that is associated with it.  Human beings hate to fail and there will always be failure in these sorts of endeavours.  Another serious downside is that sometimes the line between theory and reality can get skewed.  (ex. just because Greater Heal yields the most HPS and HPM on paper, that doesn’t mean it is the best spell to use always)  A Mad Scientist can get so wrapped up in the way things -should- be, that they forget how things -are.-

- Variety is the spice of life -

This was a fun exercise in thinking about how we play the game.  I rather like that I can see myself in all three categories and I do think that most other people will be able to do the same.  It makes me laugh to think that I, Mad Scientist as I am with my healing, fall so completely into being a Cookiecutter with DPS.  Some guide tells me to use Explosive Shot on CD and I do it, no questions asked!  If someone were to say something like that to me in regards to healing, I’d probably be pretty unhappy with them.

It does make me a little sad that there aren’t more Mad Scientists out there, at least in the healing community.  Or at least, not that I’ve seen.  Dip your toes in, fellow healers, the water is fine and peer-reviews keep the sharks away!

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New 80 Healadin List(s)

06/17/2010

This has been bopping around my head for a bit, so I thought I’d let it out into the wild.  It actually started because I wanted to think about what sort of gearing strategy I’d use if I were to take part in Gevlon‘s Blue Project.  I can’t actually join, since I’m a US-server account, but it was an interesting exercise.  It moved on from that to “what would I suggest a new 80′s pre-raiding list look like.”  Couldn’t hurt to share them?  If you disagree or have suggestions for either, do let me know!  I am -utterly- open to such.

- First there were blues -

The profile for this one can be found here.  I am pretty unhappy with the amount of haste I was able to scrape together using blue gear, but I had to keep an eye on having at least some MP5 and crit, as I can see mana being a huge issue at this gear level.  Not being able to use -any- purples really put the kibosh on my libram choices, too.  At first I was leery of including anything tradeskill-wise, but I just can’t see not being a jewelcrafter for this.  I would probably replace the Soul Preserver with the INT owl trinket.  And I would probably be a blacksmith, too, for the two extra gem slots.  But as it stands, here is my take on it without tradeskills.

Head: Battlemap Hide Helm
Neck: Choker of Betrayal
Shoulders: Dark Runic Mantle
Back: Ancient Dragon Spirit Cape
Chest: Drakewing Raiments
Wrist: Bands of Fading Light
Hands: Traditionally Dyed Handguards
Waist: Girdle of Ice
Legs: Frozen Forest Kilt
Feet: Sabatons of Erekem
Finger 1: Ring of the Traitor King
Finger 2: Solitaire of Reflecting Beams
Trinket 1: Soul Preserver
Trinket 2: Spark of Life
Libram: Savage Gladiator’s Libram
Shield: Facade Shield of Glyphs
Weapons: Gavel of the Fleshcrafter

- And then there were purples -

The profile for this set-up can be found here, but of course.  I was going for high INT with as much haste as I could get, but on the whole it is much heavier on the crit than I’d like.  You’ll note that I don’t have any of the expensive BoEs for this set, nor any Frost badge purchased items.  I wanted this to be easy for anyone just farming 5-man heroics to get, without having to set foot in a raid.  Likewise, putting items on here that cost thousands of gold just seemed cheesy, so I omitted them.  Yes, there is a single piece of PvP gear on there, but it is one purchased with Wintergrasp marks and very easy to get.  The best gems and enchants are listed in the profile (as well as what I’d consider a “new healadin” spec and glyphs set-up), since there is just no excuse for not having the best available in those.

Head:  Helm of Inner Warmth
Neck: Arcane Loops of Anger
Shoulders: Pauldrons of the Cavalier
Back: Titan-Forged Cloak of Ascendancy
Chest: Chestpiece of High Treason
Wrist: Bracer of Worn Molars
Hands: Rusty Frozen Fingerguards
Waist: Strip of Remorse
Legs: Legguards of Frosty Depths
Feet: Mudslide Boots
Finger 1: Oath of Empress Zoe
Finger 2: Heartmender Circle
Trinket 1: Talisman of Resurgence
Trinket 2: Tears of the Vanquished
Libram: Libram of Renewal
Shield: Protective Barricade of the Light
Weapon: Bone Golem Scapula

This isn’t a BiS list, obviously, seeing as there are at least 9 items up there that can be upgraded nicely by laying down hefty amounts of gold.  (If you can find someone selling, of course.)  But this is a decent list.  This sort of gear in the hands of a skilled healadin will get you into ICC-10, a good place to start grinding out Frost badges.

- What I learned -

You can almost think of this as “old pre-raid gear” vs “new pre-raid gear.”  I remember gearing up in ilevel 200 blues to get ready to raid Naxx back when the expansion first hit.  I liked knowing that I would be replacing those blues with shiny purples.  There just isn’t as much of an “ooo, aah” element when you’re going from epics to better epics, frankly.  5-man heroics are now just something to farm for badges with a bunch of way over-geared people.  It makes me want to shake my cane and tell stories about how things were in -my day.-  Darned kids!

And of course it makes me remember that New Year’s Eve when I accidently sold my boots (ilevel 200 blues, but they were still my raiding boots at the time) to the vendor, which proceeded to not let me buy them back.  I still get crap for that, even from people who weren’t even there!  Don’t log on after parties while smashed, I guess.

I still have the BWL boots that I used for a month after that in my bank…

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what is this i dont even

06/16/2010
what is this i dont even

That low part? 150-ish views per day.

This is what happens when WoW.com links you two days in a row.  Part of me wants to say “thanks” and part of me is laughing hysterically at the thought that so many people got to hear me positively -blather like a fool.-  Or, well, read me blather like a fool as the case may be.  This is still less scary to me than the whole podcast thing I did.  At least I can control my tone when it is in writing.  I sound like a bloody princess when I talk!

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Explosions!

06/15/2010

Er, hello all you people from WoW.com.  I just happened to look in on my blog stats to see that I had well over 1200 views yesterday and am already approaching 800 today.  It almost makes me wish I had something wonderful and informative to write about today.  I suppose the best I can do is to make sure you all know that you’re invited to start any conversation with me that you’d like or to ask any questions you feel like.  Mi casa es su casa.

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Is there such a thing as too much mana?

06/11/2010

After reading a blog entry by a healadin who says that she doesn’t like using glyphed Seal of Wisdom, I felt I should touch on this subject.  It’s a bit funny, how Blizzard claims that mana regen is currently not something that healers take into account, yet I always seem to be bringing it up on my blog.  Sure, I’m not biting my nails during every fight to make sure I don’t waste a single drop of my blue bar, but all healers who are trying to progress should be thinking about just how much regen they need before going into the raid.

The question “is there such a thing as too much mana?” is an interesting one to me, as there is only one healing class right now that currently gems and enchants strictly for regen.  Some may view it as a necessary evil for keeping up in HPS, but I find it is actually more a case than gemming for anything except INT just doesn’t give the returns I’d like.  Priests and druids get to gem all those reds to see their healing go up across the board as they blanket the raid.  Shaman have that really run time gemming into haste and more haste, letting them spam those slow casting Chain Heals faster, faster, faster.  Those classes get to see a direct increase to their healing with their gem choices.

Healadins don’t get to have that.  By gemming any sort of throughput, we generate quite a bit of “waste.”  Spellpower will simply up the overhealing.  Haste would drop us below the 1 second mark and cost us way too much mana to sustain.  Crit is laughable with how little it gives us, especially with the amount we have with proper gearing.  All of these stats just produce a very “meh” feeling, in that in the end we get very little out of them.  But INT?  That stat gives us exactly what we need.  More casts mean more healing.  Being able to sustain Holy Light for longer will up your HPS far more than gemming any sort of throughput.

Let’s just be honest:  If you have too much mana when you are gemmed/geared correctly, the problem lies with how you are healing.

People hate to hear that.  We all hate to be told “you are doing it wrong” and we like to scowl at those doing it, trying to make the person saying it sound like the villain.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t -true,- however.  If you are considering switching from glyphed Seal of Wisdom to glyphed Seal of Light as a healadin, you are, in fact, “doing it wrong.”  (Dreamwalker and PvP excluded, of course.)  What I mean by that is that you are doing a huge disservice to yourself, your raid and the other healers.  You are not holding up your end of the bargain and trying your hardest to keep people alive by using every ounce you have.

Cast more.  I keep trying to drill this into people’s heads, but it is absolutely true.  Cast more, cast more, cast more.  If you’re gemmed/enchanted/geared correctly, you must cast more.   Even if you’re -not- maximized in your gear, just cast more.  (And then go fix your gear after the raid…)  Never stop casting!  Every GCD used is one less thing you’re putting on the shoulders of your compatriots.  This isn’t about “I don’t want to step on the other healers’ toes,” it is about “what can I do to make things easier for everyone else.”  The answer?  -Cast more!-  Mana problem solved.

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I’ve gone casual?

06/08/2010

So, my posts have been few and far between lately, which I apologize for.  I have at least two bopping around in my head, but I’ve not had the time to get them out yet.  This is due to the fact that I have a new job which is sucking both my energy and my time away from my blog and from the game.  For almost two years, I’ve been a homemaker.  The sudden change to working for someone is a larger one than I thought it would be!  I’ve suddenly lost all my old skills of working and then coming home to raid.  It really is a skill and I’ve completely lost it.

This blog isn’t going anywhere, as I -do- plan on playing during the expansion and I still have a large quantity of knowledge about healing I can share.  I’m just going to be more of an “armchair general” than I’m used to.  I’ll be raiding less often, playing less often and being a healing lead not at all.  (Probably the saddest part of it all…  I just cannot keep the post when I haven’t the time to do outside research like I used to.  The section deserves better than me being “half ass” when I’m even able to be there at all.)

I really have to question, though, if my new scheduling issues means that I can now be considered a “casual?”  One raid a week, if I can manage it, and little real playtime logged will be all I can manage.  Or does it take more than that?  I’ll certainly not be throwing random gems into my gear or running with a less than optimal spec.  Does that mean I’m going to be “part-time hardcore?”  Do I get to make my own label up for myself?  “Temporally challenged formally progressive armchair general” sounds rather nice…

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I’m a PvE Hero

05/27/2010

No, the title doesn’t refer to my performance in PvE encounters, but instead to my performance in PvP ones!  Due to some serious pushing (and guilt), I’m trying to gear my paladin for PvP.  What this means is that I am running battlegrounds on her in all PvE gear, making me one of those hated “PvE Heroes” that we hear about.

I know I should craft myself some of the blue PvP gear, but it is so hard trying to force myself to put away my 277 gear for it.  And I know I should change my secondary spec so that I have necessary talents like Sacred Cleansing.  I -know- I should!  I grumble and bitch about other PvE Heroes in battlegrounds while I’m on my priest, trying desperately to keep them alive as they eat damage like it is cake.  But… I just can’t.  I don’t want my 10k FoLs to go away, I don’t want my Sacred Shield to become a weak imatation!

When I started gearing my priest, I had no issues stuffing her into the craft cloth PvP gear.  I was beyond squishy and her PvE gear wasn’t all that much to write home about.  I rushed into arenas in the stuff, even, perfectly satisfied knowing that my throughput would be crap, but at least I had some resilience to keep me from becoming a schmear on the floor in a single global.  I went about gearing her in the time-honored tradition of “survivability first, then throughput.”  Heck, I’m still working on her gear, since I’m such a PvP noob.

My paladin is a whole different matter.  My throughput is so incredibly high (for PvP, at least) that I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice it for such little return.  (Because not getting destroyed is such a -small thing,- obviously!)  Even swapping out my mail PvE chestpiece for a Furious one made me frown.  It is utterly illogical, but it is entirely true.

I am a PvE Hero.  Don’t be like me!

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