Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You've got one fire extinguisher

...and five separate fires. The other day I landed myself in an AB with all dps classes except for two pallies.

Ihrayeep: Please, for the love of...whatever deity you worship...tell me one of you pallies can heal.
Pally1: Nope.

Quick inspect: sure enough, both ret. Seizing the opportunity to crack the inside joke against my guild's pally healer,

Ihrayeep: Ok so...I'll solo-heal this. Should be fine as long as noone gets hurt.
Pally2: I'll bubble the whole game.

We eventually won that game, though I was outhealed by a pair of horde priests (I believe the numbers went 260-240-200(me)k), and this I think is why: For heals especially, it's not about topping the charts in a BG (though I do that fairly routinely) so much as putting those heals in the right place. When you are called on to solo-heal a BG, particularly the three 15-man ones, positioning is important. You are responsible for EVERY SINGLE FIRE. AT THE SAME TIME. It sucks, high stress. Basically, if you are standing still you are losing the game. You have to be constantly moving, because *something* is always under attack, and if it's not where you're at then you need to move yourself somewhere else. You have to be everywhere at once. Frequently you have to make heartbreaking decisions about who to leave to die because there's more than one flare-up. Also this is the one instance where I would diverge from my usual dictum that it's ok to be a healer stranded guarding a node. Because you are *it* for your team, you can't do that. Better (in this case only!) to leave the node undefended. Seconds you spend not healing watching the node are seconds where people are dying from no healing backup. Remember that healers are a force-multiplier in battlegrounds!

Still, there is a plus-side: you get to take sole credit for winning. SOLE. CREDIT. Because if you won with only one healer, you deserve props. And I give you full permission to be an egotistical glory-hog for pulling that out against bad odds. But be a fun egotistical glory-hog, mmkay?

Friday, December 11, 2009

How To Heal a BG, Part 2

Time for part two of this series on how to heal a BG -- if you missed part one, you can find it here. Then, we talked about managing yourself, your addons, and your spells. Today we're talking about something more finicky and unreliable : managing group interactions with your friendly teammates. I am going to center this around a concept I call Battleground Inertia. Basically what that boils down to is: people are sheep. People follow whatever the prevailing mood, strategy, chat settings appears to be. If you are a dominant, take-charge person, you win what Richard Nixon I believe famously labeled the Silent Majority. It's important to remember that it was NIXON who coined this phrase because we all know Nixon was a crook, protestations to the contrary, and I think when he coined this particular phrase he was referencing the fact that he could pursue whatever policy he wanted and then claim that the people who opposed him were just a vocal minority and really, most people supported what he was doing. You shape opinion, by making an opinion. With that in mind, onwards!

Rule #4 : Setting the mood in chat

Conscious of the lack of promised pictures in the last post, I have endeavoured to make up that gap somewhat here, using an EotS match I did this morning. Step One is figuring out who your other healers are in the BG. I try to do something like this at the start of any BG I go into:

Sometimes this helps, and sometimes you get asinine comments like "I can bandage". So you have to be more proactive, for the people who are (remember!) sheep. Take a quick look at the people you have with you in the BG. In the case of my EotS match that went like this:

Now, this is where it becomes important that you have downloaded some kind of unit frames addon like I suggested (nay, ordered, even) you do in part one. Identify possible healers. Disregarding the straight-DPS classes, we have in this BG besides me (I heal, but presumably I knew that already) two pallies, a priest, and a shammy, all of whom could be potential healers. Pallies are easy: look at the mana bar. I don't have mana bars on my raid-frame, but when they're targeted they do. Each of those pallies had between 5-7k mana. That screams RET. Very rarely, they could be tanks, but you don't take tanks into BGs except maybe AV, and in any case, whichever it is, it's not a healer. A pally with 15k mana, on the other hand, definitely is. Similarly, a shaman with 10-12k mana is enhancement, not resto. Unfortunately they have a caster-dps spec (ditto that problem with boomkin druids and s-priests) and so you have no choice but to inspect them. This does not take long. Right-click, inspect, click talents. You don't even have to page through the different trees; the dominant one will come out on top. The shammy I was pretty sure was a healer, from

but I inspected anyway to make sure. Sure enough, he was. The priest, tenfour, also. If you look at my chat pic, you can see that by that point I had figured out who the healers were and had proceeded to

STEP TWO: Direct. Direct with a soft touch. People do not respond well to being ordered. I could have said, "tenfour, go MT -> FRR" but I don't find that works very well. Hence I just asked, with the intention that I would go somewhere else. There's a bizarre law of gravity that Cassandri over at Hots & Dots observed, that healers tend to clump up. It's not intentional, I don't think, but our mass causes some kind of gravitic interaction that sucks us together if you don't take strenuous efforts to avoid it. I regret to say that in this instance, tenfour did not tell me where he was going, leaving me to guess. But most people will respond to a direct inquiry with their name involved. I could have whispered him, I suppose, but I ran out of time here. Whispering is fine, it builds a sense of cameraderie.

Now you might ask : why ask who the healers are, when you can just inspect and find out yourself? This goes back to Battleground Inertia, and serves a secondary purpose beyond gaining knowledge. If you are in a BG where there is no bg chat, nobody will start it. If you're in a BG where there is angry bg chat with people blaming each other and telling everyone else how much they suck, then that will breed more of the same. What you are doing is hijacking the bg chat to serve your own ends. The end in mind here is "use BG chat to win the BG", which theoretically should be everyone's end, but frequently isn't. Set the tone right off: we are going to be helpful, we are going to coordinate. Also it helps reassure the dps, who tend to have bad self-esteem about things like this, that there are in fact healers here who are trying to keep them alive.

Rule #5 : Master the "Charge of Hesitancy"

Dilemma: How do you physically lead, without leading? I am firmly of the opinion that healers must be leaders in battlegrounds, for the simple reason that you stay alive longer than dps (generally) and so you tend to have a better overall view of the battlefield then someone who goes to point A, dies in four seconds, gets popped back over to point B to rez, and then wanders off to point C because point A now holds painful memories for him.

Given that, it is often your responsibility to lead the cavalry in a charge on another node (in AB/EotS/IoC), getting the flag back (WSG), or re-capping defensive towers (AV). However, as a healer, it is not good for you to be in the front because, well, we all know that the first one in is the first one targeted.

So how do you both? *Inertia*. People will rarely leave you to run off to a node by yourself, I find, and particularly at the beginning of one of those node-style games people tend to follow the ones who dash out the gate looking like they have a Serious Plan (even if they don't). So be the lead, charge forward. Here's the key part of this plan: when you start getting close to the node (crossing the bridge to the BS, or halfway across a bridge in EOTS, for example), take your finger off the forward key. Then charge again. Do this repeatedly, in quick, spasmodic stops. What this does is gradually put you towards the back, where all good healers should be, while gradually passing the lead torch to a DPS who, because of inertia, held down his forward key and doesn't know how to change directions or momentum. The point is that you STARTED the charge, and once the ball is rolling the other people will just roll with it even after you are no longer leading it. Like rolling a big rock down a mountain.

Rule #6 : Save someone's life

I generally do not advocate pocket-healing; it's too focused on one person at the expense of the overall picture. I do do it on occasion, as a fun change of pace and because I like people to hero-worship me *cough*, but overall, not recommended. Generally you can get the puppy-DPS to follow you with a short, sustained effort at the beginning. What you are trying to do is raise their awareness of you. To do this, an excellent tactic is to save someone's life, in a dramatic fashion. Standard healing here is not what you're looking for; people notice being healed from 70-100%; they will die for someone who just ostentatiously blew all their cds to bring them fom 1-60-100 (or whatever it is you do). Your healing of them can be subpar after that, or back to regular, but investing a burst of super-effort on someone once in a while goes a long way to making friends. And more importantly, encouraging cooperation. I had a pair of rogues in this game who basically circled me wherever I went like watchful puppies because I had heroically sacrificed myself to save them a few times. It also pays off more if you pull this stunt on classes who have NO SELF-HEALING whatsoever...they tend to notice it more.

Rule #7 : Be Situationally Aware

Use the M key. Seriously. Use it often, and know what you're looking at. Familiarize yourself with the maps, if you're new to BGs entirely. If you know the maps already, the next step is to build a connection between your map, and your raid frames. Particularly, try to keep tabs on where the other healers are, and try not to be there. Another good thing to do is to look for strategic places on the map that are poorly defended. Not that you have to go there immediately to defend it -- maybe it's poorly defended because it's in the back and doesn't need to be heavily guarded -- but mouse over the node on your map and see who exactly is there. Then close your map. Hunt on your raidframes for where that person (or persons) is. Try to keep an eye on that raid frame's health. If they start getting hurt, the node is under attack, even if they didn't call it in BG chat. Run over there and heal them up and protect the node. Call that it's under attack, obviously, since the original defence failed to do that. In this EotS game I was able to stave off an attack on two different occasions doing this. On another occasion I noticed that DR was being guarded by only the resto shammy. Since I knew he was a resto shammy from the beginning, I knew it wasn't smart to leave thim there so I politely asked in /bg for a dps to go back him up, even though he was not under immediate attack. He was attacked shortly thereafter, though I don't take credit for magically foreseeing that happening. The point is you are trying to keep control of the BG and see trouble spots before they develop. If you are not in a vent premade, reaction times go way down because you don't have that instant communication, so PREVENTATIVE action becomes more important, as well as anything you can do to speed up your (and others') reactions.


That's it for this section. Next time, how to fight the bad men!

An Interesting Blog

I found an interesting blog today I wanted to share:

BG PvPer

There was a nice post most of the way down the page about how Hardcore Arena players are not the shizit they think they are and can actually be a liability in a wider-scale confrontaion. Blogrolled!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Complex Thinking

A break from our regularly scheduled "How to Heal a BG" to tell a story. A story about strategic thinking. Like a baby opening its eyes and seeing the world for the first time, I have recently realized that you can introduce a whole lot of strategy into your game, and gain rewards for so doing. I recall reading an article a while back about eliminating the holy trinity tank-dps-heal mentality, and while that was off-topic from today's discussion, they did mention things about positioning that I found intriguing. Now, you just throw the tank at the bad man, and the rest of us stay at range and heal or dps or whatever, moving out of the bad goo on the floor. That article (and damn, that I can't find it now) suggested the scope of possible changes if they got rid of tanks would include positional formations -- putting the plate-clad guys on the outside, and the squishy ones inside. Etc.

Now most importantly, this strategic thinking is something I've noticed on my 2s team recently. When I first started doing arena, the gates would open, and we would blast away at the other team until someone died. Recently, we've been employing more complicated maneuvers. Attack the dps until the healer gets tunnel-vision, and then pull an abrupt swap and kill the healer. Attack the healer until he gets so pressured that he runs away, and then pull a swap and kill his dps when he's out of range. Or the same result by rooting/cycloning the healer and luring the dps out of range himself. Are these standard arena tactics in the not-bottom brackets? Almost certainly. But you never see that kind of complicated maneuvering outside of arena, and me and my partner certainly could not have pulled that kind of stuff off when we first started. It's a nice indication of how far we've progressed.

The story I want to tell takes place in Tarren Mill. Me and four 80 buddies (a surprising turnout for my guild, for pvp) were slaughtering the denizens of this Horde town in a desperate attempt to make them get their mains. Times like this that make me both miss my original realm (a PvP realm), and at the same time kind of alleviates that feeling of loss. Eventually, an 80 dk showed up, but, being sensible, decided not to flag himself with 5 alliance 80s in the area. He was joined by a mage and a pally, but they still would not engage. Goading them is not working so I come up with a plan. Our resident mage makes a portal to SW, very obviously right in the middle of Tarren Mill, then invizzes right as he comes up to the portal and hides. Me and the boomkin go kitty and stealth right as we "go through" the portal. Thus we have split our force, half "porting" to SW, and the poor DK and warrior sitting there. Sure enough, horde takes advantage of our exit to try and gank the tailing end of our escape. Then the druids reappeared, the mage came out of hiding, and we destroyed the now-flagged horde. What followed was a glorious running battle back and forth between Tarren Mill and Southshore; occasionally we had the upper hand, and occasionally they did, but even when we were losing it was lovely fun.

It's not always blasting away at a bad man in front of you. Use the ol' brainbox first, strategic thinking has more of a place in WoW than many people are willing to credit!

Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Heal a BG, Part 1

It occurred to me when I was thinking about the last several blogs that I've enjoyed reading:

cynwise on Wintergrasp
phaelia on Grid
cassandri on Alterac Valley
mortigan on Rules for Raiding

that there's a unifying theme here. Can you guess what it is? That's right, they're all helpful well-written guides. And, with the exception of grid, posts on something I already consider myself fairly well-informed in. So the key is this, apparently. Friends like to read about crazy things you're up to. Experienced players like getting alternative viewpoints, even on something they already know. And new players like to be told how to do things they don't know how to do. And yet, when I go hunting for guides on BG healing I see a collection of bad editing and/or forum flaming without a whole lot of help. Niche window? In one of Ihra's trademark phrases, POUNCE LIKE TIGER!

It is my humble opinion that success in a battleground is all about managing relationships. -- awkward silence, while you all say to yourselves, “But nobody uses /bg chat except to use Rule 69...” --. Bear with me, mmkay, while I walk through three different relationships in these posts: yourself, your friends, and your enemies. Up today, yourself!

Rule #1 : Managing your screen environment

All da lovey pvp stuff, in its own area

Addons. Know them, love them. I don't even care what you use, so long as it is not the original blizzard UI. Just as in PVE healing, you want people's health bars front and center, and – d'oh! -- blizzard puts them off to the side, instead prioritizing your action bars. I hope by the time you're hitting battlegrounds you know which keys do which things for you (or no keys at all, if you've got one of those more-buttons-than-Lolth-ever-intended-mice). Also, Blizzard's unit frames do not identify CLASSES, which means that besides rogues, warriors, and death knights, you have to guess at everything; or RANGE. A raid frame addon is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself out here. I adore pitbull; my wife (who, admittedly, raids and does litle pvp) likes xperl. I've heard some people razzle-dazzling about VuhDo but I've never used it. I would disqualify IceHUD, because it's primarily a soloing addon which is not very group-friendly, and Healbot. I'm a little sketchy on Grid as well but without a lot of experience with that latter, I'm not in a position to comment exclusively on it. I dislike healbot because of the click-casting approach; I find there are too many other things I need to be doing in a PvP-oriented fight for me to spare the mouse-move-click. YMMV, depending how you have things set up or are used to casting.

You do not need raid-centric addons like Omen. DeadlyBossMods, I am told can do some things for you in a BG relating to timers (on towers in AV, or win-timers in EotS/AB) so may be of limited use.

Rule #1b: Managing your spells

If you are just dipping your armor-clad toes into the Bgs, you should know one thing : you have spells you didn't know you had. Seriously, go look into your spellbook, I guarantee you'll find something you'd totally forgotten about. Blizzard has spells that are specifically PvP-oriented, and as a result you tend to mostly-ignore them while levelling, and near-completely-ignore them when healing a 5-man or a pve raid. As a tree, I'm going to pull out these examples : cyclone, and nature's grasp. Both of them are crowd control spells, which is not your role in an instance. I mean, it's not really anybody's role since blizzard gave up on TBC-era 7-pulls (sigh), but if it were anybody's role it wouldn't be the resto druid's. Both of those spells are critical to me in arena, and in BGs as well (though I tend to forget more in the latter), though I wouldn't dream of putting them on a cast bar in PvE. Since I've got an action bar addon (the incomparable bartender), I put all my PvP stuff on a separate little action bar...but if you've opted not to use a mod of that type, seriously consider changing what's on your bars before you go into a battleground. And not just those newly-discovered shinies either – you'll probably find yourself using the spells you already have with a different priority than in PvE. Take my mage, for example:

PvE : arcane blast x 4 (2.5s), missile barrage if it procced (0.5s), or else arcane barrage (instant).
PvP : arcane barrage (ins), slow (ins), arcane barrage (ins), frost nova (ins), arcane barrage (ins)...you get the idea.

Everything is faster in PvP...a LOT faster. Priority tends to go towards faster spells, or instant ones if you have them, even if they do less healing, or less efficient healing. This is because you're either getting beaten on, resulting in a longer time for you to reach the end of a cast, or because of the likelihood of being interrupted by a fearsome array of potential lockouts (listing just the rogue ones would take a page of itself). If you ever go OOM in a BG, celebrate. That means you just performed an incredible feat of endurance, or helped someone else do so...it is very rare that you will run out before you are killed, and that's another reason not to worry about faster, less-efficient heals.

Rule #2: Protect Thyself First

If you die, the heals die. So long as you're alive, the heals keep coming, and everyone stays alive longer. Perhaps it's self-evident and I'm just a selflessly sacrificing nobody, but I have many times gone into situations and heroically tried to save someone at the expense of protecting or healing myself. I believe that is an error; invariably whoever I saved will die a few seconds afterwards, and how much did those extra seconds REALLY buy? Not much, I don't think.

More importantly, and again I mention this because it's something I tend to fall into and I think many other healers probably do too, remember your OFFENSIVE skills. Here I am referring primarily to methods of crowd control. It is a hard-won recognition from my 2s team, that it is almost always better to lock out a dps, then to try to control the damage they're pouring out. I have, let's say, ulduar-level gear; I can heal maybe 2500 hps if I'm straining myself. Let's even improve that gear level and say I could somehow pull 3k. DPS in comparable gear will put out 4k+. Four is greater than three. Now, that's an oversimplification, obviously. Usually, if you're fighting an Enemy DPS, you have a Friendly DPS helping you by, you know, *killing* said Enemy DPS. Or interrupting them, or silencing them, or whatever else DPS does. I'm just a healer. But I know they do something useful for me because the above logic would indicate that people I'm healing should have health bars steadily heading down to zero (though maybe slower than their opponent[s]), and many times that is manifestly not the case.

Look at this another way, then. Say you have a 4k dps. For me as a druid, the cost of cyclone is 1.5s, and it locks them for 6s (at first, subject to diminishing returns). I believe the math equivalent there is 16,0000 healing per second, in terms of damage prevented, which nobody could possibly manage in terms of healing DONE. Yes, idiot pally in my guild who insists he can do that, I'm looking at you when I say it's impossible.

Rule #3: You CAN be Autonomous!

I am here going to rebut Cassandri's argument that healers are not independent and are reduced to being pocket healers for people like pallies or dks, Lolth bless them (or curse them). I think this stems from a flawed perspective about healers being a primarily defensive role. Not that that means you must always remain on the defensive, obviously, because a good healer backing up a roving death squad in AB or EotS can really dominate a match, but we are the counterpoint to dps who kill things: we stop things from dying. What this boils down to, in my mind, is this: DPS takes nodes, healers hold them.

Cass makes the point that a DPS by themselves can run around and cap nodes, and healers, by and large, can't. The missing flip side to this coin is that a healer can sit on a node by themselves and protect it much better than a solo DPS can. Frequently in AB or EotS, when a dedicated attack comes in at a node, your team is not going to hold it with what you have on-site. It's a simple reason -- you don't have a mole on the opposing team so you have to defend everything, whereas they can concentrate their attack. Therefore, successful defence of a node consists not of beating off the attack, but in buying time for people to react from other (quiet) nodes you're defending and send reinforcements. And who can stall longer than a healer? I would argue, the answer is nobody. Cheating death is our entire point in life. So long as you can throw an insta-cast spell every now and then to interrupt attempts at capping, you can stall an assault long enough for a well-coordinated team to come to your defence. If you're on a badly-coordinated team, well, nothing was going to save you from a loss anyway. We're discussing theoreticals in this paragraph, and theoretically there may be some BG pug out there somewhere that knows how to communicate ;-).


Fin, part one. Next time, working with your friends!

With Busy Apologies

For leaving the one-reading community in a lurch last month. I was much preoccupied with :

Finally, after five years of trying...success! Anyways, all that writing does tend to make other writing get...well...put to the side. Bit of a burnout, doncha know. Also I just dinged my rogue to 80 and getting massacred in arenas in my crafted pvp gear does tend to distract the eye. Note to self : how come I can't wipe people out like rogues are always doing to me? What's the deal with that?

But I promise I shall make it up to you : over the next couple of days, a ginormous, pictorially-delicious, three-part post on BG healing. Part 1 to follow immediately after this post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rules for Raiding

I don't raid much, leaving that category of stress to my wife, but having finally downed KT yesterday (in a pug, of course, not my guild...*loving eyeroll*) I feel in the mood to link you to Simple Rules for Raiding put up by a bloggy newcomer. And a lock, to boot...why does it keep turning out that all my blog-reads are locks when I don't even play one? *sigh*.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Redheaded Warsong Stepchild

Meanwhile, to nobody's great surprise, WSG bottoms the list of Holiday places to visit :

Winning : 54.9
Losing : 28.87
Overall : 41.33
Mark Honor : 22.49


This is a terrible number, consider that on a NON-holiday I could go to AB and pull out numbers in the mid-80s, and that's comparable across other non-holiday BGs (with the exception, of course, of WSG, which on a non-holiday is pulling about 60 at the moment). WSG is NOT the place to go, not even close.

For a better idea, look at the updated holiday chart -- WSG is pulling less than half of what AV does on a holiday. That ain't right, yo.

This got me thinking, what can blizzard do to increase honor in this BG to a comparable level? There's two things, I think -- they could increase honor for flag caps, or they could give us honor for returning flags. I've started tracking how many returns go in on a BG and it's coming to about 3.5 a game. On a holiday weekend, capping the flag gives you 124 honor; if you were awarded similar honor for returning a flag, there'd be an extra...what...434 honor every game, divided over the 21.6 minute average, giving about an extra 20.09 HPM for the BG. Then the total HPM chart (holiday) would read more like:

AB: 79.19
WSG: 83.92
IOC: 86.44
EOTS: 88.56
SOTA: 97.59
AV: 146.42

which is a much closer grouping (the beast that is AV excepted, of course) and I think more in line with what Blizzard is probably aiming for; I doubt it was their intention to make any one BG wildly better, or worse, than the others. NOTE TO BLIZ: PLEASE DON'T NERF AV BECAUSE I SAID THAT.

But let's not put too much faith in blizzard...this is the company that in attempting to make WSG shorter, made it longer. But this isn't the time to reopen that complaint, I suppose :-).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Updated Holiday HPM

ETA 4/2/10 : With the drastic revamp of 3.3.3 the old data is wildly outdated (except as relative values one to the other)! I have started a new chart, but kept the old one below it as a relic of bygone days :-)

The new, 3.3.3 Values:
Holiday BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPMOverall Percentages
Alterac Valley530.83123.2357.37100%
Arathi Basin241.3987.86171.2848%
Eye of the Storm283.92126.32204.7657%
Strand of the Ancients262.84106.55170.7648%
Warsong Gulch205.6592.41138.8439%

The old, 3.3.2 Values:
Holiday BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPMOverall Percentages
Alterac Valley110.7863.94120.37100%
Arathi Basin60.543.6481.6768%
Eye of the Storm78.2233.6888.5673%
Strand of the Ancients86.8639.8497.5979%
Isle of Conquest63.3743.9986.4472%
Warsong Gulch54.928.8763.8351%

Last Edited : 7/20/2010

Sunday, October 11, 2009

AV : The Smell of Win

Like wow, is Alterac Valley my friend on holiday weekend. I've done 12 games so far, and will update tomorrow with more b/c with numbers like this I'm certainly not stopping. I went 7-5, not quite a good representation as our battlegroup runs 48% win, and the numbers came out :

Winning HPM : 100.17 / 132.86*
Losing HPM : 95.41
Overall HPM : 97.69 / 113.36*
Mark Honor : 33.06

TOTAL BG HONOR, AV-HOLIDAY : 130.75 / 146.42*

A word of explanation is in order. The first number, in the places above where two are listed, is an unadjusted number using my standard mathematics elucidated elsewhere. However, two of my seven wins were turtles, which SHAFTED the honor per minute rate (down to around 40, even when we won). However, those were the only two games overall that went that way. Because I have a comparatively small sample size here (as yet) I modified my winning numbers by multiplying the non-turtle wins by 80% and the turtle ones by 20% to reduce the, IMO, overly prejudicial impact those numbers were having. Outstandingly noticeable out of this run, five out of my seven wins (the non-turtle ones) and two of the losses (!) gave in excess of 120 HPM, which is a ridiculously lovely number when you consider that other BGs on holiday you're happy to get 85.

My theory is that the way in which holidays give you extra honor is based on attaining different BG objectives (capping a flag in WSG is the easy example here), and b/c AV is so big that it has so many different objectives, there's lots of room to rack up tons of bonus honor. OTOH, to take one win that I did that was a scant 50 seconds from Stormpike Perfection, one of the turtle wins, we only did about 90 hpm despite keeping all our towers and burning all of theirs, keeping balinda, etc. So maybe I'm just full of crap.

I'll post a chart tomorrow after I update my sheet for the end of the holiday, but these quick percentage numbers should convey the magnitude of awesomeness that AV on holiday is :

Total numbers, bg + marks:

AV : 100%
SOTA : 67%
EOTS : 60%
IOC : 59%
AB : 54%

Only Warsong Gulch left and I can make a comprehensive post on holiday weekends...next weekend FTW, especially since my Sox just got swept out of the ALDS and aren't going to be starting the ALCS then :-\.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

All Wintergrasp, all the time

Cynwise has put up a very nice, easy to follow guide to Wintergrasp over at her blog. Complete with pictures and diagrams for those of you who, like me, are sometimes too lazy to actually read something.

Of particular interest to me :

"waves of siege should be sent against the walls with the intent of punching through and creating multiple breaches for the defenders to have to deal with. Generally, if the offense can split the defense inside the keep, any one wave should be enough to overwhelm one wall and courtyard."

but the whole thing is worth a read!

Holiday HPM Chart

I promised, and I deliver :

Holiday BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPM (inc. marks)Overall Percentages
Arathi Basin59.4849.2777.8380%
Eye of the Storm78.2233.6888.5691%
Strand of the Ancients86.8639.8497.59100%
Isle of Conquest63.3743.9986.4489%

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AB holiday HPM / arena

Ihra pushed his rating to a 900 today, scoring some very pretty pants. Resilience over 800, pvp spellpower over 2k, and my partner got her 100 ranked arena match achievement on the same one. So a nice nexus of win all around :-).

Calculated out AB Holiday hpm over the weekend, came up with interesting numbers --

Winning HPM : 59.48
Losing HPM : 42.97

Overall : 51.68 (53% win ratio)

I'll repost the updated holiday chart tomorrow, because I'm tired, but for the moment suffice to make this observation on NON-holiday hpm :

Winning : 57.9
Losing : 37.32

Overall : 48.18

So the HPM is only a tiny bit better on holiday weekends than otherwise. Why is that? The answer *seems* to be, time investment. Now, it IS true that the database is in its infancy, so to speak, but the non-holiday AB takes 14 minutes on average, and the holiday is 19.5. My theory : that on the holiday you see a higher percentage of smart / serious PvPers in the BG so the matches tend to be more strategic and therefore longer? The average honor on holiday/non-holiday for a match is 1064 / 695, respectively, so you ARE getting a lot more honor on the weekend for a game...but your games are also taking, what, 33% longer? So the gain is not very big, at least for this particular BG. *shrug*.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Something's rotten

...in the state of Isle of Conquest. Before getting to the meat of holiday HPM here in this BG, I gathered data on people's win/played ratios in my battlegroup, both by virtue of asking in the BG for people to whisper me stats (which I later double-checked) and by checking stats on high-ranking arena teams on our cyclone battlegroup. And they all tell the same story, to wit when added together :

Games played : 220
Games won : 81

In other words, alliance has a 37% win ratio here, which is drastically less than all the others. I'm used to losing slightly more (anywhere from 45-49 win, usually) but this is abnormal enough to raise an eyebrow. My initial response is the default one, to claim that alliance sucks, because that's usually as good a fallback reason as any...except I can't see why they would suck so much MORE in this bg than the other ones. It's the same people playing. And it's not like IoC has any "new" concepts -- it's recycled different things from AV, AB, and SotA, all of which alliance does significantly better in. So what gives here?

I do not have an answer, only a shaky theory. The map has rotational symmetry, much like AB, but not translational(?might be the wrong word) symmetry; ie, you can rotate it 180 degrees and it's the same, but if you flip it across the x or y axis, it's not. The docks, which in most of my games uniformly went to the horde, are not symmetrically placed, they're on the west side. Both keeps have a "vulnerable" side because there's a dropoff to the beach that impedes the ability to shoot down siege vehicles. Alliance weak side is on the left (west), horde weak side is on the right (east). So horde controlling the docks, feeds straight into the vulnerable point on the alliance keep, in a way that alliance controlling the hangar fails to do for the vulnerable horde east side. Therefore I postulate that, while maintaining my view that you should not rush one node and instead try to get 2/3, docks may be more important than the others, one to one. Not because alliance derives any additional benefit from holding it, but because it's important to deny it to the horde.

What I'm not sure on is, is this really an "unfair" map design? Or is it, as I suspect, a combination of luck (after the failure of the "blitz hangar" strategy, the new one favored horde so they keep doing it and succes is reinforcing them?) and idiocy (alliance may have a similar advantage in controlling hangar, but they're just not capitalising on it as well as horde are on theirs)?

The only games that I won this weekend were when me and a few other people grabbed hangar and held it, resisting the temptation to jump on the ship and leave the flag defenseless, in order to give our allies a chance to para-jump and try to beat the horde racing from docks to gate to keep to kill. Le shrug.

In any event the data here :

Winning HPM : 63.3
Losing HPM : 43.99
Overall HPM : 51.12

Total BG Honor (HPM + mark turnin HPM) : 86.44

How does this compare to the current leaderboard?

Winning HPM : 73% of SotA (current leader for winning)
Losing HPM : 100%. If you're going to lose, best to lose here.
Overall HPM : 81% of SotA.

Total for IoC (HPM + Marks) : 89% of SotA, still the overall holiday lead.

I am hesitant to apply this number only because the win/loss ratio is so different from the other BGs I've looked at. In other words, take a careful look at your battlegroup's track record in IoC before taking this at face value!

In other news, me and my frost mage partner Kitykat managed to push our 2s rating to 800, thus netting my first ever rating-restricted piece of gear (gloves, and aren't they delicious!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

SotA Holiday HPM

I don't generally care much for strand of the ancients...but as it WAS the holiday weekend, and I didn't want to have to wait 6 weeks to gather the data to post here, I intrepidly charged forward and did my ten games for stats. They went 7-3, which was better than average - horde has a slight winning edge here (51-49) as just about everywhere on my battlegroup. In any event the numbers I come up with for the holiday are :

SotA Winning HPM, holiday: 86.86
SotA Losing HPM, holiday: 39.84
SotA Overall HPM, holiday, my BG: 62.8

This compares favorably to the other holiday weekend I've picked up so far, Eye of the Storm, which to refresh your memory came out with:

EotS Winning HPM, holiday: 78.22
EotS Losing HPM, holiday: 33.68
EotS Overall HPM, holiday, my BG: 55.41

I'm not sure that you could conclusively say "Strand > EotS" because I know they award holiday honor on a kill-equivalency based on the BG ("capping a flag in WSG on the holiday nets you the equivalent of 4 HKs extra honor") and so the holiday honor may be worth different amounts to those BGs than the regular one is. Still, it's a narrow lead and one that makes me cry b/c I love Eye of the Storm most of all.

The other interesting thing that I found going on here was that I have to hand it to Horde people complaining about how the Alliance always used to go first. I had initially passed that off as QQing, except for maybe a small psychological advantage, but the numbers do not indicate that to be true. I think this is significantly because Strand awards you bonus honor the more gates you have intact at the end of a defensive battle (or, for that matter, destroy in an offensive one), so if you go first and can make a good race to the relic, the next team to go has much less time to destroy gates. By way of comparison, on two of my winning strand battles where we speed-capped the relic (about 3 minutes) our HPM rate was well over 100 (120 and 163). But when I had similarly awesome teams who capped in three minutes, but were forced to go on the defensive first, the HPM dropped significantly. Even though I tended to have a *lot* more honorable kills (because we outclassed the horde so badly), our HPM floated instead around the 75 marker. So kudos to blizzard on implementing a coin-flip over that one; for once the complainers look to have had a legitimate grievance.

Thoughts on WG Zerging

So as I've been trying to record numbers for Wintergrasp I've begun noticing a trend. Simple, deadly trend. It goes something like this:

When we attack in two places, we win.
When we try to keep forcing through one path to the keep, we lose.

I think that there's a certain merit in the One Path, One Win mentality, in that it groups up your force for maximum effort in the smallest space. I think it's also worth considering that WG changed a while back with the addition of the southern towers actually meaning something, and that the corresponding point to our maximum effort in one spot, is that it makes it really easy for the horde to figure out where to put *their* maximum effort. Almost every offensive game I've been in recently, even the ones we won, resulted in the loss of our southern towers, to the point where I think you can almost say that it's axiomatic that you have 20 minutes, not 30, to capture the keep. And whereas before you could overcome horde defenses by hard-pushing through two walls and getting to the keep, I am not sure that that remains a viable alternative. Time favors the defense.

But if you mount a secondary attack, even if that's only a diversion, you force the horde to split their defenses -- and if you THEN mount a concerted effort on one side, you may be able to break through before they can switch people back over off the diversionary side.

It's interesting that that seems to be at such a complete contradiction to strand of the ancients, the BG most like WG, where you *do* want to mass everyone at one place. I think that may be b/c the map is smaller on SOTA, and so it's easier for the defense to switch from one side to the next and cover a split-attack. I find that a good way to win strand against a split attack is to pile your defense on one side and wipe out the tanks there; you'll lose the other front-gate, but with only two tanks (and damaged ones at that) you can regroup and stop them at the second gate (or lolth forbid, the yellow gate) and the loss of momentum is often irretrievable.

Thoughts to think on *shrug*

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All of which means what?

So now there are two battlegrounds to compare, Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin. Comparatively, and hoping my table-making skills are up to par :

BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPM
Warsong Gulch47.822.7334.05
Arathi Basin57.937.3249.67

Now that is, as previously mentioned, specific to my battlegroup, and further, to resto druids on the alliance side, and we could throw tons and tons of caveats into that if we wanted to. My solution is to reduce this to a percentage; I am the same across all battlegrounds I do, and presumably you are as well. So I think if we put this in ratios that should be serviceable for anybody, at least for winning & losing. Your overall HPM will vary, because different battlegroups have different win/loss percentages. In any event,

BattlegroundWinning HPM (%)Losing HPM (%)Overall HPM
Warsong Gulch836169
Arathi Basin100100100

So the current Leader then is Arathi Basin...ie that it is better in Arathi Basin than Warsong Gulch for HPM; I suspected that might be the case, not least because there are more people in AB and therefore more potentials for killing. One might also observe that in overall HPM (which category is specific to my battlegroup, at pains to remind) WSG is about 2/3 of AB. Conveniently, say, the ratio of 10:15, the number of players. I may be leaping to conclusions here, with only two things to judge off of. Just an interesting hypothesis, for now...we'll see if that holds up on further study.

Arathi Basin HPM

I'm about as sick of cut and pasting as you are of reading it, so we're shortcutting this week. For references on the math that I use to come up with these numbers, please see my earlier post, Warsong HPM.

My ten games for AB came out 6-4, which fits since AB is a game that my battlegroup is apparently decently good at, though I am somewhat skeptical of the numbers. I had three five-caps in my six wins, which I suspect may skew the numbers. At any rate I do keep the spreadsheets updated so hopefully over time that will even out any potential irregularities.

The nuts and bolts:

Winning HPM : 57.9
Losing HPM : 37.32
Overall HPM, accounting for my BG's win percentage (54%) : 48.46

Adding the mark turn-in honor (36.91) nets a total honor for AB of 85.37.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Season 7!

And what a delicious season it is too. I got three new pieces straight off the bat, including an IDOL, which I didn't even know was an option, and which pretty much doubles the effect of my old idol. Hmmm lifebloom spellpower by 125...or 246...think think. These are the hard decisions, folks.

Spent most of the day trying to herd my stray cats of arena partner(s!) into play, but once I did my 2s went 5-2 to start the season, and I actually managed to find a 3s team, with a survival hunter and a frost DK that went 1-1...but the loss was a bogus lag loss where we couldn't get past the loading screen until we were dead. Frankly I'm just happy to HAVE a threes team, which I don't think I've ever had before.

And capitalising on the enthusiasm, I scheduled two days of battleground premade within my guild...and actually had people *sign up*! Hopefully those will go well, reports to follow.

A very good day yesterday, though like cyn I was unimpressed by the style of the outfits. I was very pro-druid-pvp outfits when they first came out but they're starting to wear on me how only the shoulders change and the rest of them just recolor the same thing (and sometimes just the little gem on it, not even the whole piece). Ihra wants something new!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Warsong HPM & Observations

Ta-da, time to calculate HPM for Warsong Gulch. Nothing to compare to as yet, since the EotS stuff was for the holiday weekend.

My numbers for WSG from the 10-game sample came out 4-6 which is again a close approximation to my battlegroup's statistics (47/53). Two very interesting observations came out of these ten games. One was that in nine out of ten games, the first flag cap won, which seems to bear out popular wisdom post-time-limiting this battleground. The other interesting thing is that 4 of these 10 matches were decided by the time expiry conditions, which indicates that Blizzard's plan to shorten the BG is actually backfiring. People's tendency to hunker down and turtle (and turtle well) may result in a cap on maximum time, but the *average time* has increased. Before there was a time limit, the average WSG was 17.56 minutes, but with my ten games here sampled the average is 18.6, a full minute longer. I mean I guess it's nice to not have epic hour-long WSG matches anymore, but those were a lot fewer and farther between than people seem to think -- understandably really, given the psychological impact of being locked in a brutal close game for an hour -- since the pre-limiting average time was more or less on par with the other BGs and this was a possible overreaction by Blizzard.

You'll notice some similarity b/c I'm cut-and-pasting and replacing numbers ;-), but he numbers here in straight honor for a non-holiday WSG, came out as:

Losing Honor per Minute (HPM) : 22.73
Winning HPM : 47.8

So as a formula here to apply on your own battlegroup, you could look in your statistics pane on the achievement and come up with

Total WSG HPM (F) = (X/Y)*(47.8) + ((Y-X)/Y)*(22.73)

X = "number of WSG wins" and
Y = "Number of WSG games played"

On my server, x = 28 and Y = 59, X/Y = 0.47 like I mentioned above, so that comes out to be

Total WSG HPM = (0.47)*(47.8) + (0.53)*(22.73) = 34.62


To calculate the Mark Turn-in honor,

Average Marks WSG (W) = (X/Y)*3 + ((Y-X)/Y)

In my case,

Average Marks WSG = 3 * 0.47 + 0.53 = 1.95 (b/c we lose very slightly more than we win on my battlegroup).

Every turn-in of marks is going to net you 1489 honor at level 80. Every BG you do is netting you some percentage of that honor, to wit:

Average Turn-in HPM for WSG = (1489*W) / (6*S)

where S = average time of a match. On my battlegroup it's 18.6 minutes, and I suspect you could probably use that as a non-variable b/c it's probably close to the same across all battlegroups unless your W/L percentage is dramatically different from 50/50 for whatever reason.

Again using my battlegroup:

Turn-in HPM (T) = (1489*1.95) / (6*18.6) = 26.01.


So the total you're getting here is going to be the turn-in HPM plus the HPM you got just for fighting there :

Total HPM = T + F

For me:

Total HPM = 26.01 + 34.62 = 60.63.

The TL;DR version:

The winning coefficient for WSG is 47.8 HPM, and the losing coefficient is 22.73. This should be standard across all battlegroups, by which I mean that if I transferred to a different battlegroup I would have a similar result. Other classes / roles may have varying numbers (rogues for example tend to have easily double my HKs in a BG), so the importance of these numbers are in comparatives rather than absolutes. In other words...YMMV. But I've got the formulas here you can plug in your battlegroup stats to and at least get comparative numbers once I have the other ones up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Grouping Up (or, "The Hangar Blitz, Revisited")

So it seems I may not honor cap myself after all, given my recent preoccupation with a) trying to bear-tank, b) levelling a horde alt to 20, and c) frantically dispensing arena advice to several guildies and pseudo-arena partners about what they should be doing with their week off (short answer: spend arena points if you have them. Otherwise DON'T BUY *ANYTHING*).

I have to admit I have not played the new BG as much as I thought I would, despite how fun I find it. Part of that's just lackadaisicalness...others, my desperate pursuit of the EotS meta-achievement which keeps driving me back into the maelstrom. But on both of my two most-recent forays into(onto?) the Isle I ran into an unpleasant retread of Cynwise's Hangar Blitz -- only now, we're calling for Everyone to the Docks and We Will Win Fer SURE. I would venture to guess this is the product of small minds who, after an initial euphoric rush of success with the HB, suddenly started running into the wall once the chaos settled down and people realised how to block it. Hence they now move to a different zerg target, while maintaining the same mentality that caused the problem in the first place. It seems to me that the 3 middle nodes all give you a way into the keep, and to zerg one is to lose the other two, putting you at a serious keep disadvantage. The only thing I ever found viable about the Alterac Blitz was that it was basically a race and if the other team went for it as well then it it was a fairly even run for both sides at who could kill the general first. In IoC that is not the case, and if you "zerg" one then you're allowing the other team to "zerg" the other two and it is no longer a Fair race with even chances to win it. That's applicable to any of those three middle nodes.

But I think the problem with the strategy goes deeper than that, and crosses several battlegrounds, with the notable exception of the two battlegrounds where grouping everyone together makes a halfway amount of sense. Deep down, people just don't like to be alone. There's a mentality about group-running everywhere that sacrifices space for mass. And that's a serious problem in places like AB & EotS -- which depend totally on space control -- and a lesser but still dangerous problem in AV/Isle where you need a mix of a strong strike team and control of strategic points.

In WSG and Strand, it makes sense to group up. Splitting the tanks in SotA will lead to defeat a lot more often than grouping them at the beginning. If you exclude complicated twink-WSG strategies that involve 3-4 different groups around the field, I find that the best success comes in grouping everyone on O at the beginning, and then killing the enemy FC on your way back across the field. And yet, paradoxically, it's in these two BGs that you most often find people scattering -- solo or two-man attacks on the EFC after he's made it back to their side of the map, or random, sputtering tank assaults on different gates without waiting for another tank to come up in support from a farther-behind spawn point.

I have a suspicion that the group mentality may stem from BC where there were no (or next to no) BG healers and so grouping up was your only way to increase your survivability. Nowadays, though that's not so much of a problem, people are still locked in their no-healers-I-must-rely-on-myself mindset. The solution to this I think is the same one that would solve almost all BG PvP problems:


I tend to take the lead on this because I am myself a healer but if nobody steps up then try to do it yourself. Phaelia over at resto4life had a post many moons ago about her brief foray into PvP and how it helped her in PvE. Borrowing a note from that most esteemed tree, I might suggest in reverse that there's an aspect of PvE that helps in PvP and that is

Make Healing Assignments

Do a quick scroll through your raid-mates in a battleground. Determine who is a healer. Politely whisper them and ask where they are planning on going. Wherever that is, go the other way. In EotS when they tell me they are going to MT, I go to DR, to make sure that there is going to be some healing everywhere instead of a boom/bust cycle where we're all clumped up everywhere.

Instill Confidence by Being Visible

Make sure the healing is visible and commented upon in /bg so that people know there are healers. And I mean that on both sides of the coin -- if you're DPS and some healer just kept you up for several minutes while the two of you fought off 7 people trying to take your node, comment on that in /bg. If you're a healer and some dps stopped what they were doing to come peel all the tree-haters off of you, make that comment in /bg as well, with subtle allusions to how much that helps the team. Ie, "Thanks for that; I heal everyone so much better when I don't have to be scrambling to protect myself."

Will it change attitudes over night? Probably not. But making sure that everyone knows there are healers present and working in a BG will in the long run, hopefully give people back some of that confidence which is so evidently lacking in persons who won't attack a node unless 2/3 of the team goes with them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Well there's an unpleasant surprise --

I thought we were still going to get another two weeks out of this season and it seems like this got kind of dropped out of the blue. Does anyone else remember "first week of September"? Or am I just hallucinating that?

Anyway I had been pushing my honor to buy some stuff for the end-of-season ratings push but now I question the wisdom. Clearly the wiser course would be to just save the honor for s7 but I'm only 20k away from cap and those 1000 arena points are getting converted to honor since I have the 5-set. My machiavellian plan is to save 5 of those arena commendations for next season but then what? Should I buy-and-use five? or just let the 500-points or so die away? I don't know what happens at cap but I would venture to guess that going into a BG would net me no honor, thus screwing up my stats. Or would it just give me the listing of honor I *would've* received but then not actually do it? Until I resolve this question I'm leery of getting too close to the cap :-\.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stats & Titles

First of all, RATED BGS AND PVP TITLES. WOOHOO! I always thought it was a bit corny and elitist that those who got titles in vanilla wow could rub it in our faces without us every having a chance to get them. As long as they're still competitive to get (and not, as someone said in the wow.com comments section, "ghostcrawler wants everyone to experience everything so all titles will be super easy") I'm delighted with this change. I'm a little sketchy too over how they're describing the rated BGs but Blizzard generally gets their feet solidly on the ground before they release things so I remain faithful that despite my initial skepticism it will probably be good when it sees release.

Anyway on to my favorite love, calculating stats for BGs. I was just getting my list started when 3.2 came along and messed everything up, stats-wise, for 3/5 of the battlegrounds, necessitating a wipe and restart. My first question I wondered was, it's holiday weekend. Am I better off zerging the holiday BG, which won't get any marks turn-ins, or rotating around like I usually do for the turn-in? After I asked this question, I realised that if I zerged the holiday BG every weekend then every 6th weekend I'd have a massive amount of turn-ins anyway, assuming I was willing to play the long-ball, and then I'd get the best of both worlds. So I reduced my question to, what kind of honor are you looking at, assuming you play intelligently enough to eventually be able to do turnins?

I am here collating the Holiday Weekend for Eye of the Storm, which was this past weekend. I sampled 10 games, which went 5-5 and I guess that's a reasonable approximation based on the server. Each game lasted an average of 14.4 minutes, which is interesting b/c according to my BC spreadsheet (where it was still 2000 points to win) the games lasted 16.45 minutes which means that cutting the points to 75% of their original did not have a similar effect on the game time. I mean yes, some shortening is occurring but it's more like 88% of the time. An interesting side note, anyway.

The numbers here in straight honor, on the holiday weekend, came out as:

Losing Honor per Minute (HPM) : 33.68
Winning HPM : 59.04

So as a formula here to apply on your own battlegroup, you could look in your statistics pane on the achievement and come up with

Total H.EotS HPM (F) = (X/Y)*(59.04) + ((Y-X)/Y)*(33.68)

X = "number of EotS wins" and
Y = "Number of EotS games played"

On my server, x = 61 and Y = 125, X/Y = so that comes out to be

Total H.EotS HPM = (0.49)*(59.04) + (0.51)*(33.68) = 55.41


That's your baseline for the holiday. But you do, as I mentioned earlier, also get marks. How many marks you get should probably be close to 2 on average, since you get 3 for a win and 1 for a loss and most BGs I've found split 50-50 despite people's skewed perceptions (including my own). If you wanted to be nitty gritty about it, you would use something like

Average Marks EotS (W) = (X/Y)*3 + ((Y-X)/Y)

In my case,

Average Marks EotS = 3 * 0.49 + 0.51 = 1.98 (b/c we lose very slightly more than we win on my battlegroup).

Every turn-in of marks is going to net you 1489 honor at level 80. Every BG you do is netting you some percentage of that honor, to wit:

Average Turn-in HPM for EotS = (1489*W) / (6*S)

where S = average time of a match. On my battlegroup it is 14.4 minutes, and I suspect you could probably use that as a non-variable b/c it's probably close to the same across all battlegroups unless your W/L percentage is dramatically different from 50/50 for whatever reason.

Again using my battlegroup:

Turn-in HPM (T) = (1489*1.98) / (6*14.4) = 34.05.


So the total you're getting here on the holiday weekend is going to be the turn-in HPM plus the HPM you got just for fighting there :

Total HPM = T + F

For me:

Total HPM = 34.05 + 55.41 = 89.46.


Someday, it is my dearest wish to take all my data and code a mod for it that will pull the data out of your stats pane and calculate it for you in a pretty in-game window. In the meantime...I'll be doing this for other BGs as well, so stay tuned :-).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Not To Get Healed

Excuse, rant/request following.

Had a lovely time losing Strand just now and thought I would share this snippet of conversation:

FYI, this is how you do not get healed in a battleground.

1) You do not have a personal special attention healer dedicated to your every little owie. I'm not even sure we would want that b/c then there's only like...7 dps in a sota battle. I can't watch everything and everyone, and um...fyi, it's a bg? Everyone's getting hurt? And I'm in the middle of it with people usually trying to pound on me too. I have to save me before I can save you ya know?

2) Also, real pro to insult me and then quickly put me on ignore so I can't respond to you. He was a boomkin too which upsets me on behalf of the whole class. Mind you he topped the damage charts so I'm sure he knows what he's doing dps wise but...dude. I'm doing what I can and I'm sorry that that didn't make you immortal and keep you from dying that time.

And in case you were wondering:

I was second and not by a large margin on heals...I am not a slacker. You are not a healer. Show some appreciation and remember back in burning crusade when you frequently didn't even have ONE healer in a bg...you should be happy you had three this time and leave it at that.


Monday, August 10, 2009

*Be* the team

So...there was a patch last week. And you're probably thinking that I'm going to talk about it at length. But you'd be wrong, because I know that if you're the type of person who hunts down blogs to reead about your class, then you've probably already had your fill of talk about 3.2 and are getting kind of sick of it. I know I am. So, I'll mention briefly in passing:

1) Resilience. I covered this already in a previous post but I haven't noticed a huge difference in battlegrounds. Arena I'm sure I'll see something but as my arena partner insists on not waiting for me and instead running with his idiot pally friend and going 7-12, well, I can't comment on that as yet.

2) LB had it's final bloom nerfed by something like 20%. This I noticed but not as much as I would have thought. Yes, it's less effective as an anti-rogue tool (crap, stunlocked! oh wait, LB keeps ticking and when it blooms it will save me!) but I usually let it bloom for the mana return more than the health anyway.

3) New BG. Very fun, a nice artful mix of several different BGs that takes the best of many worlds. I still prefer EotS but only barely. Also, boo to the 1600 nerf on time for eots / ab...games are way too short now. If you blow the opening your chances of recovery are much less than they used to be. I was in an eots this morning where we started shorthanded and even though we made a comeback late, there just wasn't enough time to finish the job and ended up losing for no reason we could control.

4) I didn't post last week and for this I apologise if anyone got knocked out of rhythm. Though I'm sure they won't be judging from the number of comments at this point (0).


Today's topic is about how to make a team. How many of you have seen the following advertisement in trade chat "LF3m [insert instance] -- need tank/healer" and mocked them in your head ("so a guy and his death knight buddy got together...")? Did that contribute to you rolling a healer? Let's face it : we're half the team, the tank is the other half, and the DPS is like the extra people that tag along but don't really know how to take care of themselves. Well it's better in a battleground : now instead of being half the team, you ARE the team, b/c nobody takes tanks into BGs.

There's a synergy in pvp between heals/dps which is similar to heals/tank in pve -- if you keep them alive, they will keep you alive. I'm sure we can agree that's more balanced than a pve situation which says "we keep them alive, and they...kill the boss so we don't run out of mana by having an epic forty-five minute heigan fight with just the tank and my occasional pathetic starfire for dps". Not that I'm saying that's ever happened to me. No sir! In PvP people will kill you, they will thirst for your sap, they will join in hate clubs whose sole purpose is to make your life a living hell. Fortunately, unlike our squishy priest friends, we have barkskin, natural perfection, and the improved armor in ToL form, which means we can effectively be the "tank" that everyone's pounding on while your DPS buddies pewpew on said hate club, at least for a good fifteen seconds which is a lot longer than it sounds like in the hectic environment of a battleground. Those 15s can be key in holding on to a node, or capping one, or allowing time for reinforcements to get to you (or to rez at a node you're defending).

So, you accept your role as a punching bag. What else do tanks do? They usually get given lead and marks and all that other important stuff. Guess what...now you get to be leader too. But since you took the initiative to roll a healer in the first place, I hope that taking initiative is something that comes reasonably natural to you. And that's my main point here : you have to be willing to take charge of a battleground, especially b/c you carry the "i can stop you from dying" ace that almost everyone will subconsciously follow. Which do you think gets better results:

Choice A: "Everyone rush FRR!"
Choice B: "I will heal an attack on FRR" / "I heal; Give me some dps backup and we can take FRR"

If you're still thinking about it, let me tell you the answer is unqualifiably B. Battlegrounds are not safe places. People die violent deaths, and they do so with a fair amount of frequency. I'm a healer and I die every 3-4 minutes on average, think what a tough time our dps compadres go through. If you give them the illusion of a safe haven, most players will jump at the chance to extend that mediocre life span.

There is a widespread belief that people check their intelligence at the door when they go into BGs, which is why there are so many idiot n00bs all the time. With the possible exception of non-pvpers trying Isle of Conquest just b/c it's new content, it's important to realise that this is not generally true. People check their *caring* at the door. People who go into battlegrounds are not stupid, they are LAZY. They do not want to come up with a plan. If you come up with a plan *for* them, they will by and large try to follow it, at least at first.

A secondary point to this : if you can get a premade together, it is not difficult to dominate a battleground. 5-7 people is more than enough for the 15-man ones, and I would venture to say that as low as 4 could make a significant impact in WSG. The reason for this is that you have NON-LAZY people in a BG filled with mostly lazy people and that cannot compete with people who have a plan. I have absolute confidence that I could win an Alterac Valley match if I could get four dps to follow me in a U-turn around the field of strife to recap defensive bunkers while everyone else mindlessly rushed drek. I was in my first attempt at a premade on my new server yesterday, and it fell apart b/c the leader couldn't get 30 people interested and wasn't willing to run with the 10 we had, which would have been more than sufficient to cause a serious impact on any BG we had attempted.

So when you go into a battleground, realise that your role is not just to keep people alive. It is implicit both because of that ability, and b/c of the psychological advantages you can employ, that you need to be willing to take a leadership role.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

PvP Threat

I defer anti-melee class arguments that were promised last week to a more general topic: how to lower your pvp threat. I know what you're saying; you're saying, Ihra, that's ridiculous and it's why you don't see prot warriors in battlegrounds. I argue differently. The definition of threat is, I believe, "the likelihood of a monster attacking you", and that definition is just as true in pvp as it is in pve content. The problem in pvp is that it's more dynamic and not set on some arbitrary set of numbers in Amount of Damage/Healing Done. What makes you threatening in pvp?

1) Anything huge and flashy. MC as an s-priest for example, as my wife observes, is going to get you targeted in a hurry as soon as that wears off. But in terms of being a tree, anything like Tranquility (or Hurricane, if you're thinking of doing some dps for some bizarre reason) that lights up the screen and draws attention to you. If you're multi-healing in a BG stick with spamming wild growth as soon as the cd is up.

2) That which draws attention to you as a healer. I don't know what that signifies to other classes, but for a tree it is very simple : being a tree. People see the tree, they know you're healing and they will jump you. Which is not to say, "don't be a tree", b/c there are fairly significant armor bonuses associated with that, but our mana efficiency from ToL form, as of some patch a while ago that I didn't even notice till it was pointed out to me, no longer actually requires you to be IN tree form. Just have the talent. Basically, if you're not a target, stay out of tree form. If you think you're going to become one (or if you are already), pop that tree like nobody's business. How do you not be a target to begin with? --

3) Keep your distance. I in particular have struggled with this b/c I like to RUN STRAIGHT INTO THE HOT ZONE. Lag behind in a fight, and stay behind. Many people in bgs (and to a lesser extent in arena) will stick on their first target, so just make sure that that target isn't you. Also,

4) Use natural obstacles to your advantage! Ever notice all those bushes in AB & WSG? Those are not for show. I know it seems corny, but hide in the bushes and you're going to be targeted a lot less. Some of those, especially in AB, are very close to nodes which means you're not going to be able to observe #3, but if you're in the middle of a fight you should probably be popping tree anyway...which here has an added bonus b/c what blends into a shrub better than another plant?


In other news, I had to ditch my arena partner b/c something went screwy with his account, but I hooked up with a warrior and we went 9-1, also giving me the [Hot Streak] achievement which was, well, hot. There's a hump here b/c his original team went 2-21 or something terribad like that so the System now thinks his team has a matchmaking rating of like 600. Lamesauce. Oh well, we'll pull it up eventually.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rogues can't kill me!

Two notes of interest --

1) A couple teams apparently hit 3k ratings last week, which is supposed to be impossible, but isn't. Response: some would claim the arena system is broken. Other more rational beings, and I would tend to agree with them, interpret this as meaning that in fact it's not just the players who don't understand the system. The designers also have changed and tweaked everything so much over the course of S6 that they too have no idea what's really going on.

2) I read somewhere, I don't remember where, that DK/tree is one of the best 2s comps ever, which is great news b/c that happens to be what I'm running right now. And World of Ming just confirmed it as one of the best ways to get to 2350! I guess that explains going 9-1 last week, but it doesn't really explain the 2-13 the week before unless you want to call that learning jitters from a new comp and a new battlegroup :-p.

EDIT: I remember now. It was in the course of checking up on those 3k teams, and one of them was a DK/tree combination :-).

Anyway, main course. Many people ask me, "WTF do you do about rogues?". Ha, I try to make myself sound more popular. Actually, one person asked me that b/c they were spamming dalaran general chat for resto pvp advice and I happened to be around so I answered his questions, thus feeling like a rock star while at the same time feeding him what I sincerely hope were good tips. I generally laugh at rogues, unless they're paired with good dps who ALSO simultaneously jump me, and even then it's not so much the rogue as the combination of the two. Three tips:

1) If you think you might be facing a rogue, or if it's been confirmed b/c they opened on your partner, PRE-HOT yourself. I read somewhere, from the rogue side of things, that a good rogue team will be watching to catch you with your pants down to do a quick switch onto you and bam-o. I sometimes pre-order Abolish Poison as well but it depends on how much of my attention is being absorbed at the time. At any event, don't give them the window they're looking for. Remember that HoTs are largely preventative in any case; we don't have a big heal for spiky rogue bursty damage so if they're hitting on you you better already be countering it, which leads to

2) for the love of all eight-legged deities, do not cast anything with a cast time. Yes, sometimes it's unavoidable, but as someone who has a rogue and their six billion stuns, you do not want to be locked out of your nature spells for six seconds. Do you. If you have the pre-hots rolling, you have a swiftmend available. If things get really, really dicey then you can do a NS+HT, though it's best to save that if you can for your partner. Obviously if you're gonna die though, you don't have much choice. Without you your partner is dead. My warrior partner over on ED once snapped at me after a match to watch my own health first and the rest would take care of itself. Exaggerated from his stress at losing, but the general point I think is valid.

3) Do. Not. Panic. Recognise your mortality, or immortality as the case may be. Remember the cardinal rule of most rogues (combat may be an exception but I don't think you see many of them in arena): opening burst. Again speaking from my (sub) rogue's perspective, you do not want to be anwhere near me the first six seconds after I come out of stealth, but if the mob's still alive after that then trouble ensues b/c my dps goes to hell and gone, at least relative to those first seconds. A lot of people get jumped by a rogue and freeze up / panic. If you must panic, save it for later, b/c doing it at the get-go you're feeding right into a rogue's strongest points. If you can keep your cool during a rogue's opener on you and react appropriately, you'll be much better off once he's blown his opening burst. I have found a wide discrepancy in rogue damage to me, so when he jumps me my first move is to watch how fast my health bar is going down. If it's dropping fast enough to be worrisome, remember that Barkskin is your best friend. If not, keep the hots (because you put them up preventatively...right?) rolling and use Abolish Poison where you would have popped BS.

4) Save the trinket. If you're hotted up a rogue should not kill you in the 4 seconds of CS stun. But he might if he goes straight from that into a 4-5 point KS; use the trinket then.

Next week, barring something more exciting coming up, counters to DKs/Warriors...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

3.2 Resilience And You

Today's topic: 3.2 Resilience changes and what that means for you. To quote the latest PTR patch note changes: "Resilience: No longer reduces the amount of damage done by damage-over-time spells, but instead reduces the amount of all damage done by players by the same proportion. In addition, the amount of resilience needed to reduce critical strike chance, critical strike damage and overall damage has been increased by 15%." A buff, and a nerf, in other words. Which comes ahead? I borrow heavily from wowwiki's formulas here, but currently as stands, the average damage that you take from a spell is as follows:

Average damage = [(Hit*[1.0-(C-res)]) + (Hit*(1.0+B)*(C-res)*(1-2*res))]

C = the critical strike rating of the guy wailing on you,
B = the bonus damage that they get on their crits,
res = your resilience,

all as decimal percentages.

I input an 800 resilience person facing some kind of caster doing 2000 on a normal hit and a 30% crit rate. 100% bonus damage, which is usual for melee, and most casters have talents that will bring their usual offensive spells to that level as well.

Avg damage on a 0 resil person = 2600
Avg damage on an 800 resil person = 2231

which nets to (2600-2231)/(2231) = a 16.54% damage reduction. All well and good. But with 3.2 we have to make two changes to this formula:

1) a resilience nerf. You need 15% more in order to get the same result, which means your 800 resilience is really going to act like 800 * (100/115) = 695.6, or 8.48% instead of 9.76%. Psh.

2) a resilience buff. Now ALL damage, not just crit damage, is reduced. I am unclear on where exactly this is applied, but I can see 2 different scenarios:
2a) It's across *all* damage, applying doubly to crit damage which is already currently reduced. IE, 1% resilience reduces non-crit damage by 1%, and crit damage by 3.2%
2b) It extends only in it's 1% form to the non-crits, leaving the crits alone with its 2.2% current damage reduction.

First considering 2a), the formula reads, if my math is correct,

Inc. damage = ([Hit*(1.0-(c-res))] + [Hit*(1.0+b)*(c-res)(1-2.2*res)]) * (1-res)

Using that formula in my excel sheet, with the new effective resilience, means an average incoming damage of 2077.15, or a 25.17% damage reduction. An extra 8.64% damage saved over the current model, so clearly you're being buffed here.

Secondly looking at 2b), which I think is more likely but you never know, the formula then would read:

Inc. damage = [Hit*(1.0-(c-res))*(1-res)] + [Hit*(1.0+b)*(c-res)(1-2.2*res)]

In our proposed example, that turns into incoming damage of 2136.53, or a 21.69% damage reduction. This is still a buff, 5.16% extra damage is not coming your way, though (obviously) not as much as if the crits against you are getting double-nerfed.

So : YES, you are getting buffed, and fairly massively. If you believe the folks over at World of Ming, and I have no particular reason as yet not to, 2A may actually be the more likely scenario. So hooray for that, now my tree is even MORE indestructible than before.

To bring you back down to the ground: apparently the final bloom on Lifebloom has been reduced by 20%. That's gonna mess with my anti-rogue plans but every buff's got a companion nerf, I suppose.