Friday, January 21, 2011

PvP Chat Channels

I have recently come to the conclusion that PvP guilds are least on Normal servers. I make this sweeping generalization off of my own experience, YMMV, but I have generally found the following rule to be true:

When someone needs a group, they go to their guild for PvE content, and to their friends for PvP content.

Nobody says "Hey guys, let's all get together and go raid BH!" Well, ok, maybe they do and I'm just not seeing it, but I think by and large the first impulse is to go to your guild chat first. And it's a simple reasoning -- I think people are selective (reasonably) about who they put on their friends lists, and usually when you open that up you don't see 9 friends all online at the same time, in a capable level of gear, to go run something for PvE. But you can PvP with any number of people.

And precisely BECAUSE less organization is needed for PvP(on balance; rated BGs are a different animal), people are loathe to sacrifice their PvE guilds to join a PvP one -- how will they advance their PvE game, EVER, if they're stuck in a PvP guild? Especially when they could (or perceive that they could) meet both their PvE and PvP goals by being in a PvE guild? Speaking as someone who has both tried to create a PvP guild, and also someone who has been a part of (I think) most of the attempted PvP guilds on my server, all of which sputtered out and died, it doesn't look like a format which works. It is possible that rated BGs will change that, once they acquire a secure place in the community. In the meantime, I would like to share with you a story about me. It's a successful community story, and it's about PvP. Rare, I know.

Once upon a time, there was a group of friends. They liked to PvE together, but unfortunately they also all had a lot of alts and it was kind of unreasonable to try and have every one of them friended so that you'd know when they were on. This was before RealID -- I can see you with that suggestion on your lips -- and so we created a custom channel, joined it on all of our alts, and thus we could communicate together in that channel no matter who you were on, without having to devote 30% of your FL to one person's alts. Thus was born /KITTEN* chat.

*not the real name.

My wife was in a hardcore raiding guild at the time, as I recall, and their healing team used a custom chat channel to communicate during raids if they didn't want to clutter up normal raid chat with their healing nonsense. Or maybe they were using it to convey subtle healer-wisdom like "Person X is going to drop really low on this fight, but that's because he's an idiot who stands in fire, so don't heal him." One of the things that worked well with /kitten was that it gave us a way to communicate with several friends at once -- instead of whispering each individually -- who all happened to be in different guilds.

And I got to thinking...well that's an awfully useful device. And not very many people use it, I don't think. How could I use a channel to my advantage?

I think you can probably see where I'm going with this -- when you PvP with friends, or are trying to on a large scale, it would be nice if you had a way to grab them all up at once instead of having to whisper several people one at a time. So the next time I ran some premades (that went well, incidentally), I suggested at the end that they all type

/join pvppremade

so that we could join up again the next weekend. Which we did, and it was also successful. It started small, but the more we did the more people we got into the channel. Inertia carries! The real astonishment of the channel is that taking a two-month break from WoW, I came back to find the channel still in existence, with several people still in it. I don't think it was being actively used, but the point is the network was still there for me to pick up the pieces and start reassembling premades fairly quickly.

I highly recommend this strategy -- it's low-risk, most people will join a channel if you invite them. It's not like they're leaving their guild, after all. You don't need to do any special /create pvppremade -- just type /join pvppremade (or whatever you decide to call it), and if you're the first person there it will create the channel automatically.

The downside is that you can't control it; the "Owner" of the channel seems to be the person who's been in it longest, devolving to the next-longest once that person leaves. And you can't keep people out, except via the headache-inducing method of implementing (or changing) a password on it, and then informing everyone you want to keep in the channel of said password.

That's my method, and I thought it might help other PvPers out there struggling to find groups to run with. I'd be interested to hear what other people have done to cope with the general "I can't leave my PVE guild for PVP" sentiment!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leather Is Not Bark (and other stories)

I was healing in an AB the other day, and the druid who was topping me on the meter (I was #2, but by a comfortable margin) calls me out in BG chat to say something along the lines of

"You know Ihra, you should stay on the fringes...I keep seeing you getting pounded on."

He speaks the truth of course, and this is something I've always had a problem with. It's even more important now, though, since most of the time we are not sporting that pretty 120% armor boost from ToL. Standing in the center of a maelstrom of combat in a BG is the PvP equivalent of standing in Bad (tm) in pve...don't do it. Especially because

* People tend to tunnel-vision and hit what's next to them, so if you're in the back you're less likely to get hit.

* You have to use some cast times which renders you more vulnerable to being kicked, punched, slapped silly, mind-****ed (sorry, "frozen"). If Oombulance's guide is any indication, and it seems like a viable position, we'll be able to safely shift away from the cast time heals when the gear is sufficiently improved.

I queued into a BfG yesterday that had us down like 1300-400. We turned it around and won, qualifying us for an achievement. I think, on balance, this is easier than the AB equivalent -- AB requires you to wrest more bases from your opponent to turn things around (because let's face it, if you were down 500 resources you were probably being 4-capped), and in addition to that AB's resource count has been cut to 1600 so you have less room to maneuver in.

Anyway the point of mentioning it was to say...that I am once again on the back of the wagon, because I'm working through a Gilneas post only to find that Cynwise and Gnomeaggedon have gotten ahead of me and posted stuff already. /nerdrage. Oh usual, I'll let the Professionals handle the guides, and go back to providing helpful statistical numbers :-).

Friday, January 14, 2011

There are moar trees?

Apparently there are!

And one of them has posted a very nice resto pvp guide!

Show him some love :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Basic Resto PvP Tips

Aloha people, having been 85 for ... uh ... six days now, I am now totally knowledgeable and educatable about some PvP tips for trees. Although I guess they're not trees anymore.


I am running with 2/3/36 currently, as a minor modification from one of Lissanna's specs on her site. I am unlikely to change this when the patch hits. I pulled the point out of Swift Rejuv to put the last point into Perseverance.

There are points in Nature's Bounty already, which whill become much more valuable to our PvP once the patch hits. For PvP, faster is almost always better, and turning our efficient heal into a faster heal is big plus on my book. I think in BGs currently I'm getting kicked out of HT / Nourish probably a good...third to half of the time.

Malfurion's Gift I don't think is particularly valuable. OOC is nice for PvE, but over in the PvP area we've been dealing with gimped mana pools for a LONG time in order to get the resilience to survive, so use your tools you've always been using and don't worry particularly about getting OOM. In a BG, die. You rez with full mana ;-). In arena...get out of combat and drink. Those are standard tactics and they haven't changed. You are not locked into combat for an extended period of time like you are in PvE. The other PvP talents are more valuable, drop this for them.

Fury of Stormrage is, IMO, lackluster. Mana, again, is not really an issue we have the leisure to worry about, and wrath isn't a good thing to cast unless you're tree-formed anyway. It's the non-specced cast time that kills us on this (which tree form already fixes), not the mana cost. The 12% chance to proc an instant SF sounds like a lot but you're rather limited by RNG there to make this really worthwhile. Wrath is something you snag when you have a few spare seconds, not something you can generally afford to spam until you proc that off.

I'm jury-out on the T1 talent Blessing of the Grove. I can see the MF buff being useful for gunning down people running away in arena -- I specced 21 points into balance for that purpose back in wrath -- but I don't see where the viable points can come from. Possibly out of GotEM; what with *everything* refreshing our LB stacks (post-patch), the loss of the bloom buff may not be as yuck as it initially seems.


Ha, you people are silly...rotation in PvP. Cast what's faster. Staying back is more important in wrath than it used to be, what with our much-heavier reliance on cast times. Don't be in the thick of things!

ToL if there's a mage around. I discovered to my dismay in arena that druids no longer have immunity from can't shapeshift out of it anymore. I'm pretty sure if you're already IN a form, you can't be sheeped. But be wary! Mages are not your friends anymore. I am told reliably that the PTR patch notes have been updated to no longer confer sheeping immunity when in blizz... We do have a bit of vengeance in that we can cleanse the sheeps off other people now (<3 Nature's Cure!). I think maybe mage / tree may have finally reached its viability point in 2s... *hope hope*. Tangent: 5-10 this week to start the season, which was actually really good I thought considering that we were 2 months out of practice. And that between us we had a combined 1600 resilience (1200 for me, 400 for kity). You could almost call it 6-9, as I missed the queue on one of them and Kity in her glorious mageyness still managed to kill one of the opposing team without me there. IN SQUISHY CLOTH. So if I hadn't missed the queue...probably a win.

Also: if you are at a node, use Wild Mushrooms on the flag! I know they're practically worthless in PVE at the moment, but when you're sitting there waiting for people to show up and attack you, it's not like you have anything better to do...and they're an excellent emergency-flag-tag-stopper. They won't kill anyone, but they might buy you the time you need to get someone over to the flag who can. And you'll be healing that person as they do, right? RIGHT?

Stampeding Roar is useful in a flag-running situation in TP or WSG, but elsewise treat it like a second dash CD for solo-benefit only.


...are mostly the same as in PvE. I have a major glyph slotted for Barkskin still, but that's a personal choice. I think for PvP the major (pun intended) requirements are that you put into Entangling Roots for the insta-cast, and into Treant for the camouflage I mentioned in my last post. I know, I just said a minor glyph was required...that makes me a special internet snowflake, tell me you've read anywhere else that someone required you to pick up a minor glyph ;-).

Glyph of Regrowth is still not worth it, I don't think, though I may need to do some more experimentation with it. Despite PvP placing a higher value on regrowth than PvE does, the glyph retains the same trouble -- it will auto-refresh itself *during the period of the hot* if they fall under X% health, and the hot only lasts six seconds. Window's too narrow to make this one a good pick. You're still not going to be blanketing this around, and the gains are therefore less than using your more standard PvE prime glyph selection.

Gearing to be discussed in a later post :-). Also a foray into the Rated BGs this weekend which will hopefully go well *crosses fingers*

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back and better...though blind

85 has been attained. Quickly, run to respec reglyph etc. Accidentally hit my tree shapeshift in stormwind before I had picked up the proper glyph to use Old Tree Form. Now blinded, but still hankering to kill. Tactical note for druids : glyph this. New tree form shouts "I'm a healer kill me!". Old tree form still 95% shouts that...but you have the same model as boomkin treants. And those few seconds of confusion if you use it right (= when a boomkin casts force of nature)could obscure your presence as a healer long enough to do something useful. Grab any edge!

Incidentally, on that killing subject? Twilight Highlands is a great place to ding 85...because the whole zone is like HORDE ARE BASTARDS KILL THEM ALL NAOW. So I was frothing ready to do just that as soon as I hit 85.

Ran a Battle for Gilneas before being called to work. In two pieces of resto gear, the rest all feral pve levelling junk, and I did this :

That ain't right peeps...get it together. Especially when in addition to junk gear, I was basically hitting random buttons because the only heal I used levelling was lifebloom and that feral-procced free instant healing touch. Not a good training on the new differences between spells, btw.

Having a get-out-of-jail card is still king. I mourned its absence on at least six different occasions during the BG.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Announcement

No, not *that* announcement.

Active January 1st, Ihra will be back on WoW...temporarily. When it came down to it it was just too hard to make a decision between WoW & LotRO so my wife and I have decided to alternate on and off. So expect a fair amount of posting

Jan 1 - Feb 28

May 1 - Jun 30

Sept 1 - Oct 31

and a slim pickens of posting in those off-months when I'm back on LotRO. Hopefully this compromise proves workable...if not I guess I'll have to make an actual decision and it's so much easier to not do that.

Ihra will be 85 in a week or less and then there will be stat-whoring aplenty for 85 BGs, I promise :)

Monday, November 8, 2010


I don't know what an API Hook is, I'm just going to get that out there first thing. Today I'd like to talk a little bit about using our battleground scoreboard, as limited as it currently is, to pull out useful data when you're running a premade, or a fairly consistent rated-BG group. This is a thinking post, with the following caveats :

1) Right now, this is too much effort for too little reward, because it's nearly impossible to get a consistent group together, and the PUGs you're likely to be running with are not going to care about performance to the same level that you would hope out of a more dedicated cataclysm approach.

2) You currently have to gather this data YOURSELF, which is irritating. I'm not exactly sure what an API Hook is, like I said, but from the context of cynwise's post I'm going to assume that it means "addons can access the data from the scoreboard and manipulate/report it in various ways". So we can all dream and pray that that will happen someday, but in the meantime you have no tools but your vid-capping software of choice, and manual entry of the final scoreboard into a spreadsheet program like excel to manipulate them yourself.

Ok, those caveats out of the way, and being on hiatus and therefore unable to pick up a scoreboard screenshot myself, I have elected (with gracious permission) to analyse this WSG game that Cynwise participated in :

I have input that data into excel, and made the following spreadsheet:

Overall Competence

The most important thing here, obviously, is who won; hopefully you don't need a spreadsheet to tell you that much. But we are also looking for data on how efficiently you won -- I remember running a premade and having somebody quit after the first game (a win in EOTS, that we 4-capped) because we struggled a little at first and to him it was not enough that we win, we had to win smashingly and efficiently. It's an extreme example but people do expect that you will win solidly and efficiently -- if they wanted to grind out a 27-minute WSG that they won because they capped the last flag, they'd just risk it and queue normally. There are a number of stats that you can pull out from the data you're given that can help you analyse this:

Total HKs / Total KBs : You receive an honorable kill credit if you are within range of somebody dying, regardless of whether you contributed anything or not; hence there are going to be a lot more HKs than KBs. HKs are awarded to whoever is in range, even though it's all for the same kill, and that's the key to understanding this stat. HKs/KBs gives you a measure of group cohesiveness, as compared to the opponents' -- how well did your team move in a group, versus how many people wandered off alone? In this example, Cynwise's winning ally team had a "cohesiveness factor" of 6.40 compared to a Horde CF of 6.24. Statistically, a slight difference, but on a battlefield it's usually not a hugely disparate difference -- your victory (or loss) is the sum of a number of incremental factors, and here I would say that the Alliance was slightly better than Horde in this game at keeping together and moving as a group.

HKs Average : What you want here is to get an average of the HKs on your team, and find the standard deviation of it; statistically, assuming a normal distribution, 68% of your team will be within 1 of that mean. I would stress here that we are looking at a matter of cohesion here, not strategic placement. This is an individual indicator of how well that person stayed with the group, and passes no mathematical judgment on where that group is on the field (maybe they're all farming in the mid, for example). In this example, the Ally HK average +/- 1 goes like 36.85 - 48.94. There are two people who come out above that (a warrior and a mage) and one below (pally). The warrior and the mage are good at scenting where the fighting is and being on top of it. The pally *may* have a problem -- the numbers give you a guide to finding potential problems, you still need to use your intelligence to work out if it actually is or not. It could also mean that he was a latecomer to the party and only got the last 5 minutes of the game. One may also note that his HKs scored / deaths comes in at a very low (9th out of 10) 3.4 -- and that stat is independent of time spent in the BG. Gear is also not necessarily a factor here; it contributes to more deaths but it should not stop you from moving to get with a group. So if I were running this as a premade group, I might keep any eye on those warning signs and watch him more closely in future runs. Speaking of that stat --

HKs / Deaths : What does this stat mean? Obviously you have to take into account some considerations when you're comparing to the other team, but presumably everyone on your team suffers from the same limitations regarding surfeit/lack of healers, so it's something of a level playing field. It's also not unfairly balanced against aggressive players -- people defending a quiet node will get less HKs, but also correspondingly less deaths. In this game the ally average for this ratio was about 5.18, with a standard deviation of 2.06. I take an average/stdev of 9 here, because they had a mage with them in this game with a ratio of 49 HKs to only 2 deaths, which does tend to have a large skewing effect. So if we can all just acknowledge his greatness, and then calculate without it, we'll be better off ;-). I would like to observe here that being on the bottom of this list DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A BAD PLAYER, necessarily. As Cynwise reminds, it's about individual excellence *in a team setting*, and the #10 worst performer in this category, a shaman, also capped a flag and returned one. I would venture to guess, with little knowledge to go on, that this person knew the objectives of the game and was one of those people (like me on occasion, *blush*) who goes repeatedly running off to Return The Flag! without checking to see if they have backup before so doing. So they've got the basis for solidness, but maybe their patience / part-of-the-group mentality needs a little work.

Healer Tools

A point near and dear to my heart, obviously, is the performance of your team's healers. Cynwise used this example, I presume from the name of the file, to demonstrate that it is not heals which win a BG, and that is true to some extent. Notwithstanding that, here are some useful stats that you can pull out of the scoreboard --

Healing Done / Opposing Damage Done : This stat is a measure of your healers' effectiveness at gauging (and getting to) hot spots on the field. Alliance here managed to heal 25% of the damage done, whereas horde managed to heal 50% of alliance damage done. Considering that the alliance *had no healers*, 25% is a fairly respectable number. Looking quickly at the other two scoreboards mentioned in that post of Cynwise's :

Game 1 (twink WSG, Alliance victory) : Alliance with 4 heals covered 60.12% of the damage; Horde with 4 heals covered 54.98%

Game 2 (80 EOTS, tie) : Unfortunately I can only see part of the scoreboard but alliance with 0/11 heals covered 18.6% of the damage shown, horde with 0/8 heals covered 11.96%. Horde's low here b/c a greater percentage of their people are not shown -- and alliance is high similarly. Now with no way of knowing what those invisible people are, I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say that with no healers, self- /off-spec- / bandage- healing ~15% of the damage maybe would be appropriate with no heals.

So the 25% is quite standoutish! I would bet that there were a few people who were willing to heal even though that wasn't their primary job description, once they realised that their team had a significant lack. Another of those incremental factors.

Deaths / healer . Again, paucity of data prevents me from doing a detailed analysis of this but I would venture to say that a higher number here means either a) your healers were overtaxed and you needed more, or b) they weren't getting very good coverage (all 4 of your premade healers somehow ended up together at BS, for example). In our star example, the alliance number is undefined, horde had 67 deaths / 2 healers = 33.5 deaths per healer. One more piece of data I shall try to start tracking in cataclysm, I suppose :-).

A Last General Stat

Look at the number of objectives attacked (successfully or not) divided by the time of the BG -- this provides a rough measure (very rough) of how much activity there was. For example here,

Alliance : 2 flag caps, horde returned 6 times = picked up the flag 8 times in 27 minutes; there was *some* kind of activity around the horde flag every 3.375 minutes, in other words.

Horde : 1 flag cap, alliance returned 4 times = 5 flag events in 27 minutes, some kind of activity every 5.4 minutes.

See the difference? We can parse that out a little further actually, and make a general supposition that alliance was more aggressive on offense (they managed to at least pick up the flag, 3 more times than horde did) but that horde had a slightly stronger defense (they returned the flag 6/8 times which indicates a perhaps higher percentage of suicide 1-2 man grabs out of the EFR for alliance). But the alliance controlled the flow of that match -- they did more action, and horde was doing too much re-acting.

Welp, that's my story! Look forward in cataclysm to in-depth vid-capping / excruciating analysis of games such as this one; If raiders can spend hours poring over WoL to dissect success and failure in raids, there's no reason PvPers can't hold themselves to the same standard!

So what would you look for? What do various combinations of those stats suggest to you? I know I for one would love to see some kind of assist column for if you were within X yards of a flag capped, node assaulted / defended...but for the meanwhile we're stuck with what we've got!

And if cynwise shows up in the comments to tell me that my read of that game is 100% off-base then...I guess disregard everything I just wrote :-)