Archive for the “How to huntard” Category
While I haven’t really been inclined to get my wookie on and swing a lightsaber, I do follow some aspects of STWOR if for no other reason to have some inkling about what people are getting uptight about. Usually I end up nodding and saying something like "Some things never change."
One recent controversy did raise my eyebrows, though. There was rumblings about enrage timers, but then a more interesting twist emerged: no damage meters, no combat log. As so many experience DPSers will tell you, this is pretty stupid. Here’s one now:
So I’ll come down in favor of DPS races and enrage timers, but only if there are combat logs (and the subsequent parsers and DPS meters) so you can actually FIX the problem if you’re not beating the content. The problem generally isn’t with DPS meters themselves, anyway; it’s with the way some players choose to use them to exclude their "inferiors" from participating in content, and the fact that they often broaden the definition of "inferior" well beyond the needs of the content.
If you think I’m shallow enough to link to this to say I-told-you-so, you’d be completely accurate.
The DPS role is dependent on its numbers, whether you take them subjectively or absolutely is irrelevant. But of the two, an absolute reference is much better than a relative one. Numbers are absolute. You can feed them into spreadsheets, save them off, compare them to each other. You can make multiple passes and chart your progress or lack thereof. Your damage meter is your friend. If you were doing 20K last week on a particular boss, and only 18K this week, you have something to look in to before you’re the cause of an enrage-timer wipe in the future.
Smug mode: engage.
I’m sure Bioware or whoever will address this to everyone’s satisfaction at some point. I’m not sure if WoW came with a working addon API out of the box, but given how late it was announced for STROW I’d venture that it was an afterthought and still has some work to go. I’d advise patience, but that’s not particularly the hallmark of your average STWOR player. So, good luck with that, I guess.
That’s not actually what this article is about. Well, peripherally, it is, but only in that damage meters and combat logs are involved and it deals with DPS. Namely, mine.
A couple of patches ago, we got changes to the Beast Master Hunter spec that promised near-parity with other specs. Then the guild got gutted of over half its overall raiding roster and it became more difficult to judge my performance against those of my fellows. Then there were more adjustments in the last patch, including some buffs to both SV and BM. Then we started inviting some people from another guild to raid with us regularly, which included a SV spec hunter.
I saw that BM wasn’t doing that great at all. He was topping the meters, I was bringing up the rear. My best choice at that point was to focus on utility. I’ve had to do this before, many times, as far back as Kara. Hoping that being useful (rather than deadly) would keep me in the rotation.
Or, I could change specs. Give it a go.
Looking at gear and gems and reforges and enchants, I realized I only had to change one enchant – agi to mastery – to optimize my armor for SV. Stat-wise, there was virtually no difference. So, I left myself geared for BM and greased into SV mode.
After looking at the meters, after looking at the combat logs, in all respects, my performance improved. On average, a 3K difference in output, and I’m not really used to the rotation yet.
So here we are at the end of the expansion and I’m having deja vu all over again. Because this is exactly where I ended up as I started crawling the passageways of Icecrown in the final patch of WotLK. Survival. BM was the red-headed stepchild of the team; people like me ran it if we had to, but otherwise we used one of the other specs because they delivered what our class is expected to: ranged damage, and lots of it.
So that’s the upshot of my weekend: I guess I’m shifting to SV and swapping my BM pets for a stock of SV. Alas. BM is, by far, my favorite hunter spec, because it’s so darned fun. But sometimes you gotta give up some funsies to get that boss down. And that’s a sad thing. Of all the issues about talents and specs, that is the greatest one of all – that one cannot just play the spec that one enjoys the most and still expect to perform the same as others. Maybe you get lucky and it works out. Maybe you don’t.
In my case, not so much.
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After my unsuccessful turn at the wheel in MM spec, I elected to return to the spec of my heart, Beastmaster. The first thing I wanted to do after that was to review my pet options. The world-renowned Big Red Kitty has stayed with BM and has deployed a Spirit Beast kitty named – of course – Hobbes, and the two of them pwn the charts righteously.
He proves an important point, without preaching it, that expertise and execution trump spec and gear. So, yeah, I’m in trouble here.
In my research (and much plinking at the target dummies) I found that my kitty was in fact my best non-exotic DPS option, and that my ghost kitty was my best exotic DPS option. I was a bit surprised at this. Back in the Wrath days, be complained to Blizz that the Spirit Beast was low in DPS – far lower than the difficult in attaining would indicate. Blizz responded that they didn’t intend the spirit beasts to be serious raid pets. More of a mark of Hunter – and BM – pride. We didn’t like the answer but at least we had a straight answer.
So this puts my surprise in context. Cat is best – not wolf, not stompasaurus, but kitties. And since pets were turned into portable buff machines in 4.0.3, spirit beasts attained more or less the same damage profile as kitties.
As surprises go, this one is one of the more pleasant.
I also ran this lot through Female Dwarf and got confirmation of the concept, if not the raw numbers.
Thus armed, we set foot in the front half of Firelands last night. The first three are fights I am well acquainted with, so inexperience is less a factor, and I have a comfortable set of reference runs to help me gauge my performance.
So, in the straight DPS fights, I did better than I expected. Even got off the bottom rung of DPS on a few occasions, a pleasant change. On Beth and Rhyolith, though, I think I need to change to SV, and that means bringing something besides just exotic creatures. Getting the right mix in the port-a-stable will be a challenge.
On Beth especially, I felt useless on the spiderlings because my trap cooldowns were much longer than they would be on SV. On SV I could lay down traps at every spawn, with BM I needed to meter out my traps more carefully. Focus regen was also a problem, even with the BM abilities that give you focus gifts. Poor Alas had her hands full, I’m afraid. We one-shot Beth anyway, but I felt pretty bad about the spiderlings. Well, next time we’ll do better. Lesson learned.
Rhyolith was a different thing. I was also involved in add control there, but hit no hard failures. However, I think I would have been able to perform better in SV for the multi-target buffs I get. So we’ll give that a try next time.
Overall, however, I’m happy with BM. I did as well or better on most fights that I did as MM. Which highlights that theory is a fine thing, but execution is equally important. Oh, I may not be able to execute BM as well as BRK, but I do a better job of it than I do at MM. Rather than blame gear or spec or talents, I’ll just go with what I’m better at.
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Last couple of weeks there was a minor dust-up in-guild over performance in T12 raiding, and part of that bled out into the blogosphere. Zel had her say regarding two-healing at Murloc Parliment, and then Lono had his say over at Screaming Monkeys, and then things got interesting.
The thing that most people didn’t understand was that both are in the same guild, raid together, and generally spar with each other in a light-hearted way. There is mutual respect all around between them, as well as between them and fellow guildies and raiders. Oh, sometimes the humor’s dryer than even I am prepared to follow, but it’s humor nonetheless.
Unfortunately, someone walking in from the outside – say, linked from a widely-read omnibus WoW site – didn’t have this background on the two. And some of the reactions were unfortunate.
The biggest shock, however, were the comments from people that know better. Lono actually had to post something chiding readers about personal attacks, and Zel certainly backed him up on that. It’s not cool, and some of the not-so-cool ones really have outlived their welcome in my eyes. I don’t care how popular they are.
Here are the issues in a nutshell.
- On Baleroc, we’re having problems with the enrage timer. We are five-DPSing the event, three-healing, two-tanking. There is a dance, but once you get that down, it’s more or less a DPS race.
- The suggestion was made that we try two-healing it, because the one time we DID get him down, was when we two-healed.
- Team Heal, that heavily unionized group of healers in our guild, sees this as punishment for doing a good job. Zel has voiced her objections in guild and I believe she speaks for
her union the rest of the healers on this matter, so move along, we’re done here.
- Zel also blogged about it because, hey, it’s a good topic and she happened to need one.
- In return, Lono posted (IMO) a good-natured rebuttal.
Okay, first of all. Two-healing.
Jasra, Clan Grimmtooth’s resident healer, two-healed all of ICC that we ever saw, except that one fight where you heal the green dragon. So, drawing from her experience, we are no strangers to two-healing from an intimate perspective. And, frankly, it sucks. One healer goes down, you’re going to wipe. Or you’re going to have to carry out triage to determine who lives, who dies, when things get dicey. So from a healer’s perspective, three-healing seems to be a great idea. I prefer knowing the team has no worries about heals.
I’m not saying that Jasra would still be an active raider if we had three-healed, but she’d've been a lot further away from the breaking point.
While flexibility is a good thing, and dual specs give us that ability more than ever, I think two-healing this would make it a miserable experience for our healers. And surly healers give surly heals. Penance even has a sharper sting.
So I agree with Zel (sorry, Lono), two-healing to free up a slot for DPS is not a great idea, in this case.
Besides, it ignores the real problem
The real problem was already stated clearly. This is a DPS race. If your DPS isn’t falling over, and the boss enrages, then the DPS just isn’t bringing the pain in sufficient quantities.
Mostly, I’m the problem here.
First, as a hunter, I have range issues. We HAVE to group up tight to control where the crystals spawn, and then I need to scoot back to be able to fire. This eats a bit of time, but hardly enough to make that much of a distance. If I’m charitable it’s 1-2K DPS that it accounts for.
That leaves around 5-6K difference between my performance and where my performance needs to be. I’ve been fighting it for a few weeks, now, even being as desperate as to shift to MM. No matter what, though, I still come in a lot lower than I should.
It’s not gear, either. I first thought it might be, but I’m seeing MM hunters with lesser gear and similar talent specs pull at least 5K more than me on a routine basis.
I’m forced to face the probability that I’ve hit a wall here. In T11, I was upper bracket DPS for our team, but in T12 I have been bottom of the stack routinely.
So my current task is to figure out what I’m doing wrong and remedy it, if possible (and if it involves a macro attached to the scroll wheel – sorry.).
Et Tu soon, Executus?
The other possibility is that we’re just ahead of the curve a little bit. Shannox and Beth were both difficult at first but as we’ve learned the tricks, we’ve more or less got them to one-or-two-shot status. Obviously, they’re not going to put a boss that so clearly outclasses the rest unless it’s a gating boss (which I believe he is). So maybe we just need to focus on the others for now, get them down, then come back.
This keeps occurring to me but it has the foul taste of excuse-making for myself. Raid leaders can read the strats same as I.
People are too nice
My guildies are a bunch of awesome people that are supportive and encouraging and, for the most part, fairly patient. But maybe there’s times when we have to say, "we can’t take you until you improve." Certainly, I feel bad that we’re held back on this boss on the raw numbers. But numbers don’t lie. If boss has X health, and you have Y minutes, then you need to bring X/Y/60 DPS total, or X/Y/#DPSers/60 per DPS. And we’re not there. To say otherwise emphasizes the fantasy element of this game a little too much.
While two-healing may make it easier on the DPS to get the boss down, bringing the *right* DPS is probably a better solution. Barring that, we go off and beat on something a little more beatable.
There are no pushbutton solutions
PvPer wisdom to the contrary, every raid encounter is different, even when it’s the same boss on two different nights. My situation is a good example of that. I have what are considered all the recommended spec and equipment and gemming and enchanting and reforging steps covered, and yet I’m doing worse, relatively, than I was when I was an undergeared noob in T11 raiding. I’m going to have to find my own way on this, make it work for me, and unfortunately it takes more time than a leetsauce contingent might like.
Well. Don’t have to invite me. No reason we both can’t own our mistakes here.
The Goddamn (Nerf) Bat Man
In a way the upcoming nerfs make me sad. I suppose I’m one of those wannabee leetists for wanting to overcome the content through hard work and patience, rather than the hammer (or nerf bat) of God.
On the other hand, Blizz has access to numbers that we don’t. If they say that they don’t feel that progression is where it should be, they may be doing so because that’s the truth. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m going to accuse anyone at Blizz of lying about it. They didn’t, after all, have to say anything other than "making some changes to tune some encounters to more appropriate difficulties".
I’m not going to lament the change. I’d've preferred a thing similar to the ICC buffs, so we could tell the crybabys to STFU and turn off the buff, but it is exactly what it is. Either adapt, or find a new hobby.
But, I know many in the guild will feel that the whole thing will be cheapened if we march in there and roflstomp the guy next week.
On the other hand, as Flora and Illume remind me, my old guild, the Vorpal Bunnies, just downed Mags for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and they were absolutely bursting with pride over that. This week, Flora went in with the group and they got Omnitron down to 23% on our second try ever. Even nerfed, satisfaction is there to be had, if you work for it and put in some honest effort. The Bunnies have a lot to be proud of – that was an amazing second try. My second attempt on Omni, we died on the third Tron.
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Here’s an update on the whole Beast Master experiment.
When last I talked about this, I had done all the theory stuff I was going to be able to do, and done as much as I could with target dummies to optimize my rotation and pet selection. This is all a part of my plan.
The Plan looks a lot like this.
- Set up talent spec
- Re-gem appropriately
- Re-forge appropriately
- Practice rotation on training dummies until stable.
- Test different pets for best damage / buff compromise
- Try BM in the wild.
- Try BM in a party
- Try BM in a raid.
So right now I’ve completed step 7, and am suitably impressed at the difference it makes. This was a Troll Heroic, with guildies, but of course not raid buffed. The difference between Survival and BM using my current gear is on the order of 3-4K DPS.
Step 8 – raiding – may add another 1-2K.
So, yeah. This is looking very good for single-target fights.
The next question will be, if it looks good in raids, what will it look like when I gem, gear, and re-forge again to maximize my damage output?
And the final question will be, will my SV build be viable in that situation (aside from gear, which can be swapped out).
The final question is a big one. I want to be able to keep SV viable as an AoE spec for fights like Magmaw and Cho and whatever 4.2 brings with it. If I have to gimp it too badly to maximize BM, I have to decide if I should gimp BM just enough to make a difference for SV.
So, sometime after our next raid, I’ll have enough data to make a solid decision. Until then, the plan is to keep practicing this spec daily until I am comfortable with all of my shots and cool-downs.
Further bulletins as events warrant.
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The 4.1 patch is upon us and we have many, many changes to the Hunters’ life. Most of these are reason for great joy and celebration.
The complete removal of the pet happiness system does not qualify for that description in casa de Grimmtooth, however.
No, I’m not being contrary to be contrary. I have long appreciated the little nuances, the "flavor text", if you will, of being a Hunter. The complex and involved pet training regimen. The agonizing decision as to what pet to bring out of the stables. The constant care and affection required to keep your pet happy.
All of these, of course, are gone.
Pet training has been revamped, and, at least, is relatively interesting in that you now get a talent tree instead of a list of things to train. Still, for each pet tree there is one, and only one, "correct" talent template (two counting the extra talent points that BM hunters get) – at least according to the usual suspects.
Stables have evolved. Addition of the remote stable started the journey towards thoughtlessness, but the current "five pets in mah pocket" changes for 4.0 pretty much made it a non-issue. Plus, it’s kinda ridiculous. We’re hunters, not mages.
Now, the pet happiness system has been scrapped. A lot of people have used the mindless rubric, "well, the glyph pretty much made it pointless", but that statement makes a dangerous, and totally invalid, assumption. I never said that I though that the changes to happiness in 4.03 were good. Quite the contrary. I’ve been silent on the topic because I didn’t have anything nice to say. And I still wouldn’t have said anything except some relatively vocal supporters of the 4.1 changes have continuously trotted out this flimsy excuse. I’ll say it now, loud and clear. I thought it was a bad idea then, and I think it’s a bad idea now. For no other reason than to give Hunters a little bit of flavor, to set the bar at a minimalistic third-grade reading level, and illustrate the difference between a casual huntard, and a real pro huntard.
Obviously, my opinion changes nothing. Our pets went from being meaningful to portable buff machines in 4.0.3. In 4.1, it’s moreso, but now you don’t have to maintain them, either.
I find it interesting that Frostheim’s description of the Hydra family focused on the buff first, is all I’m saying.
In many ways, it seems, hunter pets are lesser than Warlock demons in terms of how interesting they are, now.
And, all due respect to my Warlocky friends, that is an extremely sad state of affairs.
There may come a day soon in which you buy your pet from a store, rather than use the Tame ability. On that day, Hunters and rice cakes will have something in common.
This is a recurring theme in WoW. Things that are moderately difficult, get removed. Remember night? We used to have it. Where’s the weather? Used to be, you had to be level appropriate to fish from specific areas, much less pools. 310% flight speed was earned, not bought. And so forth.
I feel it diminishes us all, in one way or another. There are obviously people that disagree, and Blizz wants their money.
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