Monday, October 26, 2009

The Rules of Raiding

In my previous post I mentioned a reference to the Rules of Raiding. Here I'm posting what I see as the most commonly ignored Rules, even in mid-high end raids, in descending order of importance.

-Rules for thine Raide Group-
Thou shallt follow the commandments herein, unless one shall conflict with another before it.
If it shall improveth thine odds of killing the boss, thou shallt do it.
Thou shallt own up to thine epic fail; teabag unto others as you would have them teabag unto you.
Shouldst thou taste defeat, identify the cause, maketh all aware, and ensure that it may not occur again.
Shouldst the cause of thine defeat be incorrigable, thou shallt not waste thine raide's time and gold on a wipe night.
Shall it not help thine raide group, thou shallt not discuss it upon the sacred Ventrilo.
If it can be spoken to full effect in thine raide chat, officer chat, a class or spec channel, therein shall it be spoken.
Know which of thine loot is an upgrade, or be able to decide correctly at the drop of a hat.
Shall you stand victorious and it's a loot chest, thou shallt link every item inside as soon as possible.
Shall you stand victorious and it's a loot chest, thou shallt get the hell off the chest.

On Doing what is Required to Kill the Damn Boss

Every possible course of action should be considered by every player no matter what they do in order to beat the encounter.

This is the quote recently posted on World of Matticus. It was posted in reference to a fictional document, the Rules of Raiding. I'm reposting it here for emphasis; take it to heart.

This can only lead to WIN

Taken from the new tutorials on the 3.3 PTR for great justice.

Reading, Raiding and 'rithmatic: Why ignoring the math will get you into trouble

You know them, the people you always refer to as "that guy," the people who say things like "i wunt work for a game lol," the people who get called things like "Fail-Druid" as though it were their name. Well, I'm here to say that even decent raiders can be gimping themselves (I.E. reducing their effectiveness by doing something easily avoidable) just like that guy. Sure, it's not as obvious as the when someone needs this, but the things even 'good' raiders do can be losing literally thousands of DPS for your raid. I am talking about ignoring the math.

Let me tell you a story. On my previous ToC10 raid, two sets of caster boots dropped, which were upgrades for many players present. I won the first pair and stuffed them away for my shadow set since they were a sizeable upgrade to my old shadow boots. Then a boss later, a second pair of boots dropped with int/spirit/crit/SP on them. The warlock and I rolled on them, and the warlock won. In my case, they were a strict upgrade (same stats but more of them) over my old boots, in the warlock's case they were a different stat array trading haste for spirit, she rolled simply because the boots were higher item level. Another boss later, I got a whisper asking if I still wanted the boots; the warrior in our group that knew the warlock in real life had run the math for the boots; they were actually worse than her current boots. Luckily the mistake was corrected, but ignoring the math behind your class can lead to problems such as gimping your own DPS and screwing a guildie out of an upgrade.

So, how much do you need to know to know 'enough' about how your class works? Simply reading a set of stat weights should be sufficient for most purposes. However, I have two caveats: One, the stat weights you're likely to see listed on sites like Elitists Jerks or Lootrank are based on a set of assumptions about your gear, spec and playstyle that, if inaccurate (and they probably are,) will mean that the stat weights are similarly incorrect for you. And two, all stat weightings are relative, both between items and within them; never take the total value of an item to mean anything other than the item is 'better' than items with a lower value.

For those not interested in actually doing the math to find the perfect stat weightings for you, here's how to apply the knowledge once you pester a guildie to tell you yours. When you get your stat weightings, it will be a list of stats that you can find on gear and numbers. To find an item's value by typing the number of each stat on the item times the weight value of that stat into a calculator and adding all the products. For example:

I'm currently using the following stat weights for my shadow spec (assuming about a 5 minute boss fight, I'm hit capped, I don't run out of mana, etc, etc.):
Spell Power - 1.00, Hit - 0.00, Crit - .501, Haste - .506, Spirit - .220, Int - .216, MP5 - 0.00, anyting not listed here - 0.00

Note that Spell Power is exactly 1.00. This is not a coincidence; I defined these stat weights relative to Spell Power, the numbers are how much SP one point of the given stat is "worth". I could as easily chosen a different stat to be the 1.00, or I could use an entirely arbitrary scale, the point isn't the numbers themselves, but rather how they relate to eachother.

So to compare two items, I just calculate (Spell Power * 1.00) + (Crit * .501) + (Haste * .506) + (Sprit * .220) + (Int * .216) for both items. Whichever one is the higher number is the better item. However, sine I know that the stat weights I calculated are not perfectly accurate (Stamina is not quite worthless, nor is MP5, for example) I tend not to trust the numbers unless they're at least 5% different from eachother, and even then I tend to have a look at the items myself just to make sure there's not something dumb going on, such as me going under hit cap if I swap the items.

And that's all there is to it once you have your stat weightings. If you're just raiding pre-hardmodes, you probably don't need a great set of stat weights custom-made for you, and it will be sufficient to just ask a guildie or Google. If you're like me, however, read on, and I'll explain how to come up with your stat weightings.

First, identify what you want the stat weights for. Is it for DPSing a Sarth+3 zerg? If so, that would lead to a very different set of stat requirements from, say, healing Crazy Cat Lady, or even from just DPSing a "normal" boss fight. Things like fight length, spec, your current stats, which spells you usually use, etc. all affect the final stat weights, so make sure you know what you want from your stat weightings.

Then, you'll want to figure out how much each stat is worth, relative to some standard measure. For DPS weightings, I like to use 1 DPS as my standard, meaning the weight is how much DPS I would gain for one point of that stat. For healing, it's more complicated; recently I've been using "how much healing I can do before I go OOM on an 8 minute fight" as my measure. Clearly this is a bit more difficult to measure than the DPS standard since, on most fights, while I do go OOM, how early and whether I can keep running on mana fumes is mostly determined by how much fire my guildies stand in. Nonetheless, difficult or not, it's possible to find equations for these values.

To find such an equation, take what you know, and be ready to do some research to fill in what you don't. For DPS, you can use your spells' spell power coefficient divided by the spell's casting time (modified by your current Haste, of course!) to find the DPS per spell power. Similarly, if you know how much bonus damage you get on a Crit (which is based on the crit% modifier and how much damage you do normally, which is in turn based on Spell Power...), you can find a DPS equivalent for Crit rating, and so on for the other stats. If a stat doesn't have a connection to the standard you're using to measure the worth of stats, then it should probably be given a weight very close to zero. Also, be sure to take into account Use, Chance on hit, Set effects and similar abnormal abilities, while the math may be more difficult, the reward is often in the hundreds of DPS.

As you'll notice, the stat weightings for your stats are very likely to depend on which spells you cast, and how often, and what buffs your raid has (taking account of Kings is particularly easy to do; just multiply your base stats' weights by 1.1), and what gear you already have, and so on. Because of this, your stat weights will change, a lot. I would recommend re-calculating your stat weights every 5 or so new pieces of gear you get, or when you respec, or if a new patch comes out that changes your class. Do it more or less often to fit your taste. If you find your guild hitting a brick-wall to progress, it might be a good idea to find specific stat weights for the fight that's giving you trouble and prepare a set of gear custom-made for the fight (like I did for my OS+3 zerg; since the fight is so short I dumped literally all of my mana regen).

As always, use common sense; if a set of stat weights looks like it's giving you bad advice, it probably is. Sanity checking your results is the best way to know if you've made a mistake in your calculations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

/bow to the Hypnotoad

How dare you? You turned me, a priest into a toad? I shall have my revenge... a revenge of Mind Controlling goodness! /bow before the Hypnotoad! Muahahaha!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pimp My U/I: Thoroughput

Welcome to the first installment of Pimp My U/I! In this episode, I'll show you how to boost your thoroughput tenfold* without a single change in gear or talents.

*May not actually be tenfold.

The basic premise of increasing thoroughput via User or Interface changes is identifying what's using your time that's not actually casting a healing spell, and finding a way to work around or eliminate it. First off: Latency!


As most should know, the internet is not a big truck; it's not something you just dump something on, it's a series of tubes. Those tubes can be filled, and when they're filled, the internet will be delayed for you and me.

So, if the internet is being delayed for you and me does this mean it's slowing our heals down? Absolutely. You can find your 'ping' or 'latency' by mousing over the Game Options menu button on the default blizzard UI. It is also displayed on the top of Ventrilo (this is typically close to the latency with the game server), and several addons exist that can track your latency. The number is listed in milliseconds (ms), which are 1/1000 of a second.

You can speed up your heals by casting the next heal before you finish casting your current one by a time approximately equal to your latency. If you're a little early, the game server will remember that you want to cast the next spell, and will pop it for you immediately when your old spell ends. On 200 ms latency (like I have) this tactic provides a benefit equivalent to 500 Haste Rating. This is a massive difference and well worth the effort to learn and employ.

I use a handy addon called Quartz to help with this, Quartz is a castbar mod that replaces the blizzard one, making it easier to read, and marks the bar with the spot where you should send your next spell to nullify the effect of latency. Very useful, and so far has worked every patch without a hitch.


For many raiders, this is a basic thing that they've long-since eliminated. For others, it would never even occur to them that there's a better way. Simply put, moving the mouse around takes time, time that could be used doing something else, like anything else. I will admit, that I am still a clicker; I commonly click on other players or their healthbars to target them. This is mostly acceptable, because the only other thing I could be using my right hand for is uh... well, I don't plan on keyboard turning, but I just thought of a great reason to figure out how to free my right hand.

At any rate, the preferred solution is to either: eliminate clicking to cast spells, or find a way to select your spell without moving the mouse. The popular addon, Healbot, offers the option to bind spells to your mouse buttons, allowing you to left-click to Flash Heal someone, or right-click to Greater Heal them, for example. My current setup actually uses no addons to help manage my spells; I only use the basic UI. I have simply dragged the raid frames out of the Social tab. I click a health bar to target it and I have (almost) all my spells bound to my keyboard. Whether you choose to use addons or not, you need to find a way to avoid using your mouse to cast spells, because it's slow, imprecise and can make your buttons run away.


As a priest, I have somewhat more spells available to pre-heal than, say, a Holy paladin. Proactive healing isn't really an option on every fight or for every healer, but when applicable, it can make the difference between a boss kill with loot, or a wipe with ball jokes. The idea of proactive healing is to use some kind of pre-healing on someone likely to be taking damage when you wouldn't otherwise be casting. Typically the tank is a safe bet, but putting HoTs on the tank is something every healer knows to do; what people typically miss is other raid members who are likely to take damage. That warlock who can't control its threat? Shield it. The tree standing in front of a Deep Breath? Yell at him over vent while putting shield, mending and renew on him. Did you forget to grab the Dark Essence for the Dark Vortex? Guardian Spirit will actually cover your mistake for you! (Not that I'm speaking from last Tuesday's experience or anything...) Pre-healing won't always keep people on their feet, and there's some kinds of stupidity that you simply can't do anything about, but this skill has definitely saved plenty of lives, and routinely makes the difference between wipes and kills for me.

Although I'm sure some addons may exist that would help, I have yet to find one that can replace simply paying attention to your raid.