Lag Comes With a Cost

In spite of being an avid gamer for a number of years I’ve never owned a true purpose-built gaming system. The systems I’ve owned have generally been mid-tier (performance wise) desktop workstations, though I have almost always upgraded the video cards. And at least in the past 15+ years those systems were off the shelf purchases. It’s been three years since my last purchase, which I actually made because of SWTOR. The system was at the minimal level for running SWTOR but ran WoW just fine until MoP.

Prior to MoP I experienced no lag or frame rate reduction while set to “Good” video settings. I used to regularly record various activities with FRAPS, and even large fights were no issue while FRAPSing. But in MoP things changed. I found FRAPSing always caused noticeable frame rate reduction, and FRAPSing during any significant activity was simply out of the question. Even when not recording I had to set my video settings down to fair, but even then still experienced some lag and frame rate reduction on many boss fights or during large PVP encounters like the workshop on IoC. The initial Malkorak and Ordos encounters (and even more so with heroism popped) were just killers. I’d be playing along in a slide show.

And frankly the plan to dramatically increase polygon counts in WoW models in WoD had me worried about my ability to continue playing with my current system. I’d been looking at upgrading or replacing my system outright for a number of months and finally made the decision a couple weeks ago that I’d had enough. I finished putting the remaining touches together on a new system yesterday and I’m completely happy I finally made the decision to move on from my old system, which is now relegated to file storage, processing, and other menial tasks on my home network.

Instead of buying a system off the shelf as I normally do I opted to piece one out. I went with an Intel I7 4790 based system with 16 GB of SDRAM, an ASUS Z97-A motherboard, GTX 770 video card, and a split SSD/SATA drive system. I loaded Windows 7 on it because, frankly, wild horses couldn’t drag me toward Windows 8. After a number of streams and recordings, with my video settings set at Ultra, there’s simply no lag. It’s wonderful and cost a lot less than every similar “gaming system” I reviewed. Frankly the cost of those gaming systems is why I balked at upgrading for as long as I did. It’s not that I couldn’t afford the systems I was looking at, but I just didn’t feel the value was there. I couldn’t justify paying that kind of money for a system I felt should actually be much cheaper. In the end I may not have every bell and whistle that some of the gaming rigs have, but I have every bit the performance. And frankly, that’s all that matters.

I’ve commented in the past on Twitter how the other Feral in my raid always seemed to be 30-50k+ DPS ahead of me even though we have similar gear and are within a few ilvls of each other. I know he does some snapshotting, which I don’t generally do, but I couldn’t put my finger on anything else really tangible that would contribute toward such a spread. Until I recently started to regularly reload my UI, and with my video settings on fair, began to notice a decrease in the separation. On some fights I was even ahead of him. Over the course of a night I could see a dramatic swing in my DPS as my lag increased or decreased.   In the week I’ve had my new system I’ve seen a 30k DPS increase on training dummies. I haven’t been able to compare my DPS on Heroic fights yet, but the lag is gone so I suspect I’ll see a similar DPS increase in real fights as well.

The moral of the story here is what I knew it to be. While there are definitely limits involved, you get what you pay for.

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Malaise and its affect on my blogging

I haven’t been very active on my blog in recent months, I know. The drudgery of more than half a year of Siege of Orgrimmar, the prospect of a full year of it before Warlords of Draenor is to be released, our raid leader’s unwillingness to take a break from raiding, and little to do other than PVP in WoW has largely robbed me of the mood to write. Couple with the fact I don’t follow the WoD Alpha news all that closely, I haven’t been very active in other games, and that I’m still reeling from my Super Bowl loss, it’s been a pretty boring period for my blog.

It’s not that I absolutely haven’t had things to discuss, just that I haven’t been all that motivated to talk about anything. Recently though I did start playing Wildstar. As MMOs go I was surprised how flushed out the game was at release, so high marks to NCSOFT for that. It’s a refreshing break in a trend from major MMOs in recent years which should help to maintain subscription numbers. Unfortunately I haven’t reached the level cap yet and can’t speak to the other major issue that regularly dooms new MMOs – lack of end-game content – but I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about that soon enough.

However I’ve already decided to eschew spending much more time with the game. There are many very interesting things about the game, for one it’s the first MMO with the ability aiming system I’ve played, but it just hasn’t elicited the excitement in me I would need to keep me long term. I’d probably spend more time in the game if it were free to play, but not if I have to pay a $15/month subscription fee. In spite of my current level of boredom in WoW, WoW continues to be the gold standard in my view and serves my fantasy MMO needs quite well.

I also started playing SWTOR again several weeks ago but quickly recalled why I’ve previously only played the game for short periods before quitting again. Bioware simply hasn’t addressed the plethora of issues surrounding the game, which I won’t re-hash now. Of all the MMOs out there today, SWTOR was the one I wanted to succeed the most, the one I truly wanted to invest in, and the one that has most disappointed me. Such a shame considering what could have been.

Which leaves me with my other perennial fallback –EVE Online. EVE is a game I play for several months and get bored before heading back to play WoW full time. Not because EVE is a boring game, because it’s certainly not. But EVE is a game you don’t play solo. Every time I start playing EVE again I tell myself I’m going to find an active Corp and dive in. Last Fall I thought I had hooked up with an old Corp that used to be active but at that point had migrated out of Nullsec and became very inactive. By last November things were so inactive and I had become so despondent I quit again. And yes, in spite of also telling myself I would never again let my accounts lapse, I did in fact allow them to lapse again. Consequently I’ve made no training progress in the intervening seven months, something I’m kicking myself for again as I look at the state of my character my training plans.

My goal in EVE this time around is to stay away from industry (at least for a while), and to do no mining. I want to get involved in combat. I really enjoyed flying Bombers last year and will finish that bit of training I have left on my main account before finishing up the remaining training I need for Marauders. After that I’ll see what I need to train. But on my second account I intend to interrupt my Carrier training to finish up the skills I need for Logistics. I’ll take both toons with me out into Nullsec as soon as I can.

I know I don’t yet have the skills for a lot of the doctrines I’ll find out in Nullsec, but I figure I can at least participate as a Bomber and in most of the missile boat doctrines now with my main, and can start training Amarr and Minmatar sub-cap doctrines after that. And I would have to think logi is always in demand, and if I can fill that on my second account, I’m glad to do that too.

When I joined my current corp a year ago I was really looking forward to getting back out to nullsec space, but it just never worked out. The corp had just recently left nullsec but did rent other space. Unfortunately there was never a large presence in that rented space. It was basically just a couple of guys ratting and some ice mining ops going on. There was no real supporting infrastructure to help with neutrals, which led to periods of days where nothing happened in the space as well as a high level of frustration amongst those few that did venture out to the space.

Even with that I had been working toward moving some equipment out to a system where it could be jumped over to our space, but that happened to coincide with the corps implosion and so I never made it out. Then a few weeks later I stopped playing also. I could have put more effort into finding another corp at that point, but guess I was just too disillusioned to do it. But the prospect of finding a bustling corp is very appealing to me right now, so with that motivation in hand I’m sure I’ll find the right fit before too long.

Where normally the rest of my free time would usually be spent watching basketball or watching/playing golf during the Summer, I just haven’t been that motivated. I didn’t watch a single basketball game all season long, and haven’t even watched a full playoff game yet. Though I have now watched parts of three games, including just last night. But with Tiger out of the running this year I haven’t been that interested in golf at all. Tiger’s influence on ratings is well documented and his absence this year has had a pretty decided impact.

I’m sure my sport malaise won’t last much longer, as I couldn’t imagine the NFL season starting in September and me turning my nose up to it. Whether I’ll get the enjoyment out of this season as I did last season is yet to be seen however. How do we top a season like that when everything was seemingly going our way, and lose so badly in the Super Bowl?

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EA Commits the Ultimate Sin

I’ve mentioned I’m starting to get bored in WoW because its that point in the expansion where very little is going on, although has filled some of that void for me admirably.  Yet there are still large gaps of time where I’ve got essentially nothing to do and I hate leveling characters for the sake of leveling.  And so I’ve been considering playing EVE Online in my spare time but instead opted to play SWTOR again.  It’s been a year since I last played and there’s been a some new content added so I figured I could easily play a few hours a week with a couple new toons.

But the F2P model has some restrictions I really dislike — kind of the point I’m quite sure — such as an inability to transfer credits between characters.  Under F2P you must wait until level 25 to get your speeder, but I’m legacy so that skill opens up for me at level 15.  But since the skill still costs 35k credit I’ve had to transfer credits from my higher level character to my alts previously.  Legacy or not, I’m not a paying customer currently and therefore can’t transfer the needed credits.  I was going to sub while I played anyway, but I’d sub for this issue alone.

But unfortunately I can’t.  Literally can’t because there’s a technical issue with the SWTOR website that causes an inability to log in from the United States.  If not the entire United States, large enough areas of it where it’s affecting a lot of people.  I tried several browsers on two different computers, my iPad and my iPhone and finally called customer service this morning to find out the problem is a known issue with no current ETR.  I just have to keep trying to log in.

Being in the IT industry I understand things sometimes happen, but this problem has apparently been a known issue for a week or more.  Gaming companies are service oriented, and money is the lifeblood of all service oriented ventures.  I don’t know what the issue is specifically, but when you’re a company that spent a reported $200 Million on a game that ended up going F2P within a year of release and has been eking out an existence in the F2P marketplace ever since, you fix problems that cause your customers an inability to spend money like yesterday.

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Boomkin, or why we do things for our guilds

Its not a new phenomenon that attendance in a casual raid guild fluctuates, or that regular raiders periodically disappear for whatever reason.  So it certainly hasn’t surprised me over the last couple months that I began to notice some of our regular raiders begin to raid less, and then suddenly stop attending all together.  We’re now down to zero Mages (can you believe that??) and our raid team has definitely tilted to the melee heavy side of things in recent weeks.  So much so recently that our raid leader has begun to specifically point out to the ranged we have that they need to exercise extra care on some fights, like Malkorak.

I’m one the melee, playing Feral as my main spec, though occasionally I’m called upon to heal as one of the guild’s official off-spec healers too.  Although I leveled as Feral back in Vanilla, I’ve done everything you can do as a Druid.  I main-tanked through most of BC, switching to Resto as my main spec toward the end of BC.  I split Feral and Boomkin in WotLK , and mainly back to Feral in Cata and MoP.  My main spec was a fairly static choice but until quite recently I used my secondary spec for whatever I needed it to be.  I’ve been very happy with Feral and had intended to raid as such for the foreseeable future, but sometimes we feel obligated to do things our guilds need us to do.

In my case, since I’m such a serial secondary spec hopper and having suits for all four Druid specs, that means probably switching to Boomkin as my primary raiding spec and dropping Feral all together.  My Balance suit is 548, so no where near as good as my Feral suit is but also not very far off either.  I would be a relatively painless process for me to switch, run some Flex’s to get a few upgrades and be able to carry myself in our normal raid without embarrassing myself.  But naturally I’m rusty with the spec, not actually having played it in a few years.  Not sure I really dig the Eclipse mechanism and I know I’m going to miss Feral if in fact the change happens.

So why make the change if I really love Feral?  For one, there are only a few players in our raids that even have the ability to switch from melee to ranged, two of which are healers and aren’t going to switch to DPS, and the other Feral in my raid doesn’t have a balance suit.  Secondly, when you’re in a guild that truly feels like home and is as friendly and as helpful as mine is why wouldn’t you do whatever is necessary for it to succeed?  I’m more interested in the guild succeeding than I am in raiding as Feral.

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No arrogant tank we don’t need you

no gems, no enchants, no reforges and not ready for tanking

no gems, no enchants, no reforges and not ready for tanking

Sometimes you have to publically point out an example of what is wrong so that it can be corrected.  I’ve made no secret that I really hate LFR since Flex was released, and honestly raid finder Flex raids are nearly as bad these days, but I digress.  I need some additional off-spec pieces and I’m bored and sadly none of my friends are running Flex groups any longer, so LFR is the fastest way to potentially pick those pieces up.  So there I was in a fresh LFR SOO wing 1 run, healing and minding my own business when WHAM one of the tanks gets killed by Immerseus before I could blow a cool down on him.

He went down like a ton of bricks but I battle rezzed him, then waited a good minute before he accepted the rez so I could top him off.  I worked fairly hard to keep him alive the rest of the fight, but I did it.  It was only after the fight that I had a chance to inspect him when I saw the problem.  Not only was our friend the “tank” not enchanted, not gemmed, and not reforged, but turns out he was a huge creep when you pointed out to him that the easiest boss in the place smoked him and that he wasn’t ready to tank.

We kicked him and went on to finish the wing with no further problems.  But out friend, Nobiscuit, is an example of the entitlement players now feel when playing WoW.  Blizzard has engendered it, and though I know why, we’re all left to deal with it.  Players don’t want to have to work for anything and want everything to be handed to them; they want to be carried no matter the cost to those who have to do the carrying.  Honestly I would have been totally fine with healing Nobuscuit had he just taken the effort to gem and enchant.  Encouraging new players to take on key roles like tanking and healing is something we should all do, after all.  Green gems would have been fine and are dirt cheap, but even dirt cheap gems are too expensive for our friend and his attitude really set me off.

I have to admit it really bothers me when I run across people like this.  I’ve been right where he is now.  I’ve leveled many alts, but it has never crossed my mind to pick up a tank spec on any that could tank, just for the quick queues.  And most especially if my gear wasn’t ready.  The real difference between me and those like Nobiscuit is that I hold myself accountable and they don’t.  Hey, it’s just a game remember?  Forget that its not a game that we’re really talking about, but rather the time and effort that everyone is investing in the run people like Nobiscuit are ruining because of they’re arrogance.

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Real boredom is beginning to set in

I hate this point in an expansion.  A point where I’m significantly geared, there either is no further content coming or if there is it’s still very far off, and consequently I have very little to work toward any longer.  In this case there reportedly is no new content coming until Warlords and since I’m significantly geared  in two of the four Druid specs and have decent suits in the other two I feel the boredom beginning to set in.  The allure of LFR and Flex raids has long since faded and I find the thought of trudging through either on alts to be less and less appealing.

If I had an in with Blizzard I would force them to better map out content in succeeding expansions rather than constantly redesigning abilities, talent trees, professions and all the rest.  It isn’t disapproval with the talent system that causes players to unsubscribe to WoW, it’s the boredom that sets in with lack of regular content patches that does that.  A boredom that will reach a feverish pitch if the next expansion isn’t going to see the light of day until this Summer as many expect.

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My first 24 hours with Hearthstone

Hearthstone BetaMy experience with TCGs is somewhat limited, having last played a TCG in 2003 or 2004.  I played Magic the Gathering and the Marvel Trading Card Game for a short while before I got very serious with WoW.  To be honest, TCGs haven’t really interested me in a many years.  Not even the WoW TCG, which you would think would have piqued my interest at some point considering how much into WoW I am.  But it didn’t and I very easily could have gone on for rest of my life having never given another passing thought to the entire TCG space.

Except then Hearthstone was announced, entered closed beta and has been talked about and written about by countless players.  Many of which I follow because of their association with WoW, so I’ve received a thorough dose of Hearthstone news over the past few months  including from my son who got a beta invite what seems like eons ago.  I’ve watched him play and have talked with him about the game when I had the opportunity, and have caught a lot of the news from the many WoW podcasts I listen to.

The more I heard, the more interested I became and yet I hadn’t received a beta invite of my own.  I signed up weeks ago and have been waiting for the invite that would never come from Blizzard.  Instead I got one yesterday from @Shamonrongar of Blizzpro fame in an incredible display of kindness.  His gift gathered very little dust I assure you!

So here I am 24 hours later having completed the tutorial, leveled the Mage and Warrior to level 10 and unlocked every other Champion.  I’ve even played a few matches in Play mode against other players this morning using the standard starter Mage deck.  Found that to be quite fun, having almost won two of the three matches.  The third match was against someone playing a custom Paladin deck and that wasn’t even close.  Thought I had the last match I played against a standard Shaman deck, but then I got hit with a huge Windfury attack followed by another attack that utterly destroyed me.  I think I must have felt a lot like one of the Kansas City Chiefs fans yesterday having been out to a commanding lead, only to see it disappear and ultimately lose.

I’m having great fun learning the game, and in my first 24 hours I’ve already learned two important lessons.  First, the started decks just are not meant for anything other than practice.  And secondly, decks without lots of minion control or at least extremely strong direct champion damage are doomed.  I lost the match against the Shaman deck because I hadn’t pulled a single Arcane Explosion card and while I was dealing with his little peons he dropped two big thugs on me, one of which decimated me with Windfury.

I’m going to look into building a custom Mage deck to play with until I learn the other classes.  I already have a good number of cards from those I’ve accumulated from playing, from the packs I’ve won today and from the several packs I purchased.  Yes, Blizzard has already wrung some dollars out of me today!

One question out there for those more knowledgeable.  RNG seems to play a large part in the game, obviously so I’m thinking I want some additional “Draw Cards” cards.  Standard Mage deck has a couple Novice Engineers in it already but is there any reason why I shouldn’t add a couple more of Draw Card cards to supplement?

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Why are the Horde so bad at the largest BGs?

Isle of ConquestI love Isle of Conquest and Alterac Valley Call to Arms.  Thanks to Isle of Conquest this weekend I Conquest capped my main yesterday afternoon and I’m working on an alt today.  Its something that is nothing if not predictable every IoC or AV Call to Arms where the Alliance dominates these two battlegrounds, whereas the others are arguably tossups?  I haven’t lost a single IoC match all weekend long, though there were two matches where I thought it might happen but didn’t.

The question always comes to my mind, why?  Why does the Alliance dominate these battlegrounds when they do not any of the others?  I’ve seen all of the “reasons” which mostly center on physical inequalities of the maps.  But look above at the IoC map, do you see any inequalities there?  Its arguable on the AV map, though I disagree that any physical differences with the AV map equate to any real advantage for the Alliance.  But that the Alliance dominates IoC as well I think speaks much louder to the AV question than anything else.

No, I do not believe there are any physical advantages in IoC or AV that would cause the Alliance to dominate either BG.  Instead I think it boils down to tenancies.  Anecdotally I believe Horde players are generally better PVP players, 1-v-1, or better stated that the Horde faction tends to attract the better PVPs generally.  The Horde esprit-d-corp (For the Horde!) and the racials are highly attractive to certain players and in smaller scale battlegrounds the player advantage can come to bare.  But in larger battlegrounds, like IoC and AV the 1-v-1 advantage isn’t nearly as important as are numbers.

In IoC, where you really only need one of three major offensive bases to win, we (Alliance) regularly capture two.  Why is that, with both teams being equal in size?  Tendencies.  Occasionally the Horde will send enough to one base to take it but I can’t recall any IoC match I’ve played where the Horde captured two like the Alliance does.  Its a question of commitment, whereas the Alliance heavily commits to the Workshop and even more so to the Docks but ignores the Hangar.  Its been my experience that the Horde splits between the three bases in some fashion, leaving themselves out numbered at the Docks and the Workstation most of the time.

Tendency; If the Horde would commit as the Alliance do and most especially commit to the docks I believe they’d win a lot more of the IoC matches than they do.  If the Horde do take the docks there are calls that go out in the Alliance group for defenders to drop back and Rogues to take out the Glaives.  But when the Alliance takes the docks I rarely see any Horde defenders in their keep.  Horde end up with the Hangar, leaving the Alliance with the Workshop and the Docks and an ability to make very short work on the Horde keep door.

One has to wonder why the Horde never learn through observation but then again we have years of AV to point to on that regard as well.  Its not that Horde players are any less intelligent than Alliance players, its as if Horde players have an accepted game plan and refuse to deviate.  With literally thousands of factional players in any given battlegroup that’s saying quite a lot.  Yet I see the same story unfold match after match after match.  In AV that story is just as stark.

In AV the Alliance rushes Frostwolf Relief Hut, with perhaps half of the team stopping at Galvanger.  Some of those rushing to Frostwolf stop and take Iceblood Tower and Tower Point.  Often the Alliance already has all four towers and Frostwolf graveyard under timer before we kill Galvanger.  Yet most of the Horde team rushes strait to Balinda every match, and only then rushes on to Stormpike after.  The Alliance almost always has a two tower and Relief hut advantage over the Horde team every match, which in terms of a 15 minute match is incredible.  I more often see the Horde team attempt to kill Van with two towers still up than I do seeing the Horde rush Stormpike like the Alliance rushes Frostwolf.

When I play on my Horde toon I try to explain how a significant portion of the raid needs to rush Stormpike but after being shouted down and told to shut up repeatedly I pretty much give up.  As I said, there are tendencies involved and people will not be swayed.  Not that I mind, as AV and IoC give me two decent periods where I am normally able to earn significant amounts of Conquest and Honor.  Thanks Horde!

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The problem with LFR is the people

Another week is coming to a close and another week of LFR failure.  I try to run three characters through LFR every week, to cap Valor and in the case of my two alts, to get secrets and rune stones.  I’ve been able to down Garrosh on one of my alts once, but have yet to run in an LFR group on my second alt that has been able to.  This morning I spent nearly 3 hours on SoO wing 4 before I finally left the group due to frustration.

The group started off with what looked to be some promise, though we did have a couple wipes on Blackfuse.  But it was smooth after that until we got to Garrosh.  After a relatively quick wipe on Garrosh one of the tanks left and we sat in the queue for 40 minutes waiting on a second.  And when we started our second attempt on Garrosh the new tank proceeded to tank him by dragging him all over the middle area of the room instead of centering him in the circle.  The adds weren’t dieing and the hunter that was on Engineer duty decided it was too chaotic to release any more stars.  The tank made no attempt to move the boss out of the path of the first star and it ended up killing a healer who didn’t move for some reason either along with a few DPS.

This after working all day yesterday on my second alt to clear SoO and never even getting to the 4th wing.  I’d simply had enough and logged back over to my main to PVP.  That’s pretty much my experience every week and why I’m probably not going to bother with LFR any longer.  Not because of what LFR is, but because of the people LFR attracts.  I have been a proponent of LFR and would love it to continue as I think its important to the game for there to be some mechanism for a majority of players to experience raid content.  But let us be honest about it.  In large part, the people who run LFR are those who can’t find guilds to run normal mode or those who have been rejected from other raids because of low performance and skills.  There’s also been a relatively healthy portion in the past of Normal raiders who were just trying to cap valor or who were perhaps looking for off-spec pieces.  And when there were enough of them in the raid it was generally enough to overcome any deficiencies of the rest.

LFR has been a quick and easy way to get Valor and off-spec pieces but the problem with the current raid tier is that with the introduction of Flex that proportion of Normal raiders in LFR has dwindled. Flex runs can be choosy about those who are invited and the loot is personal.  So the proportion of Normal raiders in LFR has dwindled leaving the proportion of non-Normal raiders in LFR on the upswing.  With fewer Normal raiders to overcome the deficiencies LFR has become a much more frightful place than in the past.

Blizzard has uniformly blamed LFR woes on “players not knowing the fights”, which of course is indeed part of it.  But also completely ignores the larger reason why previous raid tiers were largely successful in LFR, and why SoO is not.  I harbor no illusions that a preponderance of players will wake up one morning and decide they actually need to be responsible for themselves; that they actually need to read about the boss fights before they walk into an LFR raid.  Or that those queuing for Tank or Healer roles are actually geared to perform those special raid roles, and are capable of performing them.  But unless more players do those things LFR will become such a stagnant wasteland that the players who depend upon it for access to raid content will end up strangling the one thing that gives it them.

To date Blizzard’s only means of combating the plagues of LFR has been to severely nerf the encounters.  As Ghostcrawler commented at Blizzcon this year, LFR is “tourist mode”.  Which is fine as far as it goes, and yet we continue to experience LFR raids that run on for hours and never finish.  I literally spent 11.5 hours in a SoO Wing 2 run a number of weeks ago.  Yes, you saw that correctly — 11.5 hours.   We did finally finish the wing but I couldn’t tell you how many Tanks or Healers we went through to do it.  Dumbing down and nerfing the encounters simply isn’t enough as I doubt Blizzard could ever overcome the ineptitude and ill-preparedness of the combined LFR raiding population.  Instead I think Blizzard needs to do what they can to engender those skills in the LFR raiders they currently so utterly lack.  You can’t separate raiding from personal accountability, and in trying to do so Blizzard has done a disservice to WoW and the very players LFR is designed for.

I have no idea how Blizzard could correct the many issues in LFR — perhaps through the Proving Grounds — but unless or until they do LFR simply is no longer a place I wish to visit.

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Ruining the enjoyment of others is cool

This isn’t new by any means, but I will for the life of me never understand people like this.  People who intentionally set out to ruin the enjoyment of others. Its a concept and thought pattern completely alien to me.  But apparently not to several players in WoW.  All you can do is sit and wait for these cretins to get bored or be removed by GMs but in the mean time players like these are on many servers right now, sitting around on their mounts blocking access to the tree.  Merry Christmas everyone.

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Auction House Update – 12/14

Since my last Auction House update was a month ago, and today is exactly two months since I started my auction adventure I thought I’d give a quick update.  In short things are going very well, though there’s been a noticeable increase in competition on my server of late.  Listing – Kargath is still hanging around, managing his auctions for 20 hours a day, but there are now several others that have come online in recent weeks that are as aggressive as he is, though perhaps not as online as much.  In fact Listing – Kargath should be coming online in the next 30 minutes or so, if he continues to follow his normal routine.

The only real addition to what I’ve been doing, since the last update, is that I finally dipped into the gem market. I saved it for last because the competition is the highest in that market and I still had a significant amount of training to do on my Jewelcrafter.  I’ve perhaps not pursued my auction endeavors as much recently because I’ve been busier than normal, but you can see from the chart below that I’ve picked up considerably over the last several days.

Start: 10/14 5,000 gold
Gold earned to date:  398,870.16
Gold spent to date:  184,587.37
Profit:  214,103.24



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First healing of SoO Normal

I had intended to finish up LFR wings 3 and 4 before trying my hand at healing SoO Normal mode for my guild, but things didn’t quite work out that way.  Instead we found ourselves short two healers last night on a fresh Normal run and I and one other off-spec healer were tapped to fill in.  It went about as well as I thought it would, which is to say that I didn’t beat any of the main-spec healers but as the healing lead told me after it was over I acquitted myself very well.  On most fights I was right behind the main-spec healers and was ahead of the other off-spec healer.

Of course we tend to be a little more critical of ourselves than others tend to be with us, so despite the praise from the healing lead I know I didn’t do as well as I could have.  Yes I’m sporting a 496 PVP ring, and a 502 ring but the rest of my gear is Flex or higher level gear.  I did beat the other main-spec Resto Druid on a couple fights, but only just barely and I know I forgot to use abilities like Nature’s Vigil and Incarnation on a lot of fights.  I was also left thinking that I was perhaps not using Tranquility as efficiently as I could and perhaps Soul of the Forest might be a better fit for me than Incarnation.  The main-spec Resto Druid used Tranquility a lot more than I did last night, so that’s something I think I’m going to have to research to see when the optimal times are for its use.  I was using it only when it was available on big raid damage, and was alternating blooming Mushroom as well.  I probably should have coordinated with the other Resto on the use of those.

I also found out that Genesis didn’t seem to work out as well as I hoped it would either.  Keeping enough Rejuvs up in the raid to make it matter, in my opinion, isn’t a non-trivial process.  Lots of globals, and having to essentially burn them all again to re-rejuv after Genesis burns them all off probably isn’t the best use of those globals as I look back on it.  I can definitely see some situational use for it, but not as I was trying to use it last night.

Sad to say I also healed without swapping out my PVP healing talents.  Did the entire raid without Ysera’s Gift for example!  Nubbed it up a bit last night, yet I know I’m still rusty and will improve with more practice.   Despite the obvious things I need to keep in mind for next raid I did a pretty effective job of healing.  And that with being one of the least geared healers in the raid.  A year or more ago I wouldn’t have thought for a second that I’d be thinking this, but I may want to switch roles in the raid.  We’ll see how I feel about that in the coming weeks.

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First healing of SoO LFR – Wing two

I didn’t get all of SoO done today but after having healed the second wing in SoO LFR my impression is that Thok and Garrosh are likely to be the only fights that stress me to any real degree. I got through Dark Shaman and Iron Juggernaut very easily, both of which feature fairly heavy raid damage. I found I had no problem healing the tank and the raid at the same time, though of course I wasn’t the only healer doing both. The only appreciable difference between these fights and those of the previous wing for me was that I made sure to keep Harmony up. I did specifically use Nourish as much as possible in this wing, so I know my HoTs were ticking as high as possible.

All in all I consider LFR to have been a very good test of my mana efficiency and healing ability.  I’m quite aware that Normal mode will be more difficult, but its all relative as the other healers I’ll be with will step up as well.  I won’t actually have to do anything differently in Normal mode than I did in LFR, other than more of it of course.  And since I pretty easily found the correct rhythm for using Innervate (and even giving it to one of the healers I rezzed tonight on Dark Shaman) I’m sure I’ll be just fine.

Screen caps of the healing meters for second wing are below.

105k HPS on Galakras

105k HPS on Galakras

128k HPS on Iron Juggernaut

128k HPS on Iron Juggernaut

88k HPS on Dark Shaman

88k HPS on Dark Shaman

98k on General Nazgrim

98k on General Nazgrim

Other Wings:
First Healing of SoO LFR – Wing One

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First healing of SoO LFR – Wing one

As promised, I healed SoO LFR today and experienced pretty much what I experienced healing ToT LFR.  Which is to say I had zero mana issues and did pretty well.

111k HPS on Fallen Protectors

111k HPS on Fallen Protectors

I’m not counting Immerseus because I was within range of only 4 players on that fight, so my healing was very out of whack compared to the other healers. So I’m posting the Fallen Protectors as my first boss in today’s SoO LFR run. As you can see there were two other Resto Druids in the fight with me, and while I didn’t look at their gear, talents or Glyphs we were all pretty close to one another. I Rejuved judiciously, kept Lifebloom rolling on one or other of the tanks as needed, and hit Wild Bloom on the largest clump of players that needed it when it was up as well. And I used Tranquility when it was needed. I’m actually under the Haste soft cap, so I used Nourish very little.

This is a great fight for healers with strong AOE heals, and thanks to the changes to Mushroom and Efflorescence Resto Druids are again a very strong AOE healing class.  The ability to pick up my Mushroom and place it wherever I need it (when Glyphed with Glyph of the Sprouting Mushroom) and maintain its healing power is totally great.  I wish Blizzard had done this with Mushrooms from the start, but at least we’re here now.

134k HPS

134k HPS on Norushen

Of the first wing, this is the fight I was most curious how I’d do as its rather chaotic with players usually spread out on the adds. Sure there are times when everyone is stacked, and on Normal mode things can be quite choreographed. But in LFR I fully expected the fight to look like an explosion; and I was not disappointed. Bit more differentiation between the healers on this fight, but I healed pretty much identically to how I healed on the Fallen Protectors. Though I kept hoping people would get the hint to regroup wherever I placed my Mushroom. Didn’t happen quite as I had hoped, so I think I actually used more cooldowns on this fight than I did on any other fight.

116k HPS on Sha of Pride

116k HPS on Sha of Pride

Of wing one, Sha of Pride is the most boring to heal in my opinion. Other than the tanks, there isn’t much healing going on for a majority of the fight. There are only a couple of points in the fight where there’s any real raid damage going out, and its a perfect point to use Tranquility, Bloom Mushroom, and Genesis. Other than that, I healed the tanks and rejuved everyone else.

Overall Impressions:
I have always loved the Resto Druid healing style, and up until this point I considered the healing paradigm in WotLK to have been the best experience. But after healing only a couple raids, several Heroics and Heroic Scenarios I can honestly say I like the new Resto Druid paradigm quite well. Maybe a little more than quite well. Blizz has kept much of the feeling of the old tried and true healing style I liked so much and added several key capabilities to the kit. I absolutely love the way Mushroom works right now and consider the ability to strategically place it wherever I need it as essential. The ability to do that requires a minor Glyph, otherwise the default action targets a specific player.  Placing it requires a global you otherwise wouldn’t have to deal with, but in my view that’s more than offset by the ability to place it specifically where I want it.

I feel the addition of Nourish has kind of made Regrowth superfluous, and since Regrowth is now a mana hog I barely use it.  This is probably the one healing change I still regret Blizzard has made, and think I’d like to see Regrowth again fill the role as a usable HoT we maintain.  Since I haven’t Glyphed it, I don’t get the big Crit chance boost I would otherwise, so it heals for a little more than Nourish does on initial and a modicum of HoT after.  Maybe I just haven’t seen all of the situations where a fast heal like Regrowth would come in handy vice Rejuv/Genesis, Rejuv/Swiftmend, or Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch?  I make it sound like I don’t like Nourish, though I actually do.  However, with my lower than needed Haste its use in my healing is less than I know it otherwise would be.

Blizzard hasn’t impinged on Resto’s mobility one bit.  Fights like Norushen in SoO, and Durumu in ToT are no problem for Resto as we can still heal very effectively on the move.  If anything Blizzard has actually made our mobility healing better through the Mushroom change and decoupling of Efflorescence from Swiftmend.  In expansions past that mobility has been offset by weaker healing (HoTs) when compared to the very strong base healing of some of the other healing classes.  I used to complain bitterly about that in BC when most of my healing would end up being over-heals and a waste of my Mana.  But I certainly don’t have that feeling now.  I’ve watched the healing meters of some of my Resto Druid friends and they’re very competitive with the other healing classes, and our single target heals are equally as powerful.  I definitely feel I could competitively raid heal, or tank heal without any issue.

Even though I have several years of raid healing experience, most of it is now years behind me.  I know I have lots to learn, and re-learn but this first foray into current raid tier healing has me quite happy.

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Healing is different than I last experienced

It’s been somewhere close to three years since I last did any serious PVE healing on my Druid, though I did start off MoP as Feral/Resto.  I was primarily Battleground healing but did a fair amount of dungeon healing as well.  I stopped doing even that a year ago because of mana regeneration inefficiencies in PVE and the lack of survivability and general squishiness in PVP.  I’ve been pretty vocal about my disdain for the direction Blizzard has taken healing since WotLK, however I dipped my toes back in the healing pool this weekend and I kinda liked it.

I started off healing ToT on my Monk, which I recently re-specced back to Mistweaver.  He’s wearing a fairly crappy suit, with a mix of 480ish and a few higher ilvl pieces but I did a very respectable job of it.  Although I’d previously BG healed with my Monk I’d never raid healed, so I came away with a couple primary impressions.  First, Mistweavers are extremely mana efficient and despite an admittedly bad suit I performed very respectably and only ran into mana problems on a couple bosses when I know I made some mistakes.  Secondarily, I walked away thinking I’d like to see some changes to renewing mist.  Although the renewing mist /uplift combo is pretty potent, renewing mist hits a relatively limited number of raid members and I found it tedious to spread my renewing mists around the raid on a continuous basis.  Also, healing on the move is relatively mana inefficient.  If you can get away with renewing mist/uplifts that would be preferred, but if you feel the need to supplement with spinning crane kick you’ll end up eating up a lot of your mana.  I’d love it if Blizzard could find some kind of happy middle ground in there somewhere.

With ToT under my belt I was very curious to see how I’d do on my Druid.  I have a habit of putting together suits for all of the specs, just in case I eventually wanted to use them.  Since I also have a habit of re-speccing my off-spec to whatever I need or want to do at that particular moment, I’ve actually been working on the Resto suit for a couple weeks now and needed just five pieces to complete my set yesterday morning.  As of last night I needed just one ring and a healing trinket, although I was able to pick up a PVP ring and filled my last slot with one of my Boomkin trinkets.  I healed ToT earlier this afternoon and almost laughed. I didn’t even have to look at my mana pool and used Innervate only once.

Of course it wasn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison.  My ilvl is higher on my Resto suit and the other healers in this group were better than those on the run my Monk made so I only had to use my mana intensive heals a smattering of the time.  I’ll heal a SoO run next week to get a better feel, though I’m sure I’ll use more mana there than I did in ToT.  I’ve always loved the mobility of the Resto Druid healing style.  As my first healing experience I’m not only biased, but also have certain expectations of my healing classes because of it.  And honestly I just haven’t met them all with any of the other classes.

I hadn’t kept up on the changes to the Resto spec and talents, so I don’t know what if anything other than the Efflorescence and Mushroom changes Blizzard has made.  But I could tell right away that I was a whole heck of a lot more mana efficient than I remember being a year ago.  Some of that is most certainly I have a lot more Intelligence and Spirit now, but that can’t be all of it.  I pretty much healed today as I always have, but whatever the real answer is the most important take away from me is I just might have find time to play Resto more often.  Its hard being a Druid, where you can perform all four of the group roles.  But especially so if you actually like do them!

Ran Proving Grounds Silver this morning before ToT to knock some rust off.  Its coming back to me.

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