Epic Gemming Fail

Epic Gemming Fail

What works for Priests are not as effective on other classes.

Woopra: Not Your Mom’s Google Analytics

Woopra: Not Your Mom’s Google Analytics

Note: Not a WoW related post. You may mark as read. If you’re interested in learning how to stalk your readers, you may continue.

One of the few pleasures a blogger can take is to simply stare at their stats as they go up (or down). Think of it as damage meters for bloggers. In the past, I’ve used Google Analytics to examine and watch for trends on my blog. There’s a lot of useful information you can gather if you know how to make sense of it. I know there has to be some bloggers out there who have all these details statistical tools at their disposal yet have no idea how to utilize it and make sense of it.

Don’t worry! I’m here to teach!

Enter Woopra

Woopra is a program that allows you to track all sorts of crazy stuff about your readers. I caught wind of it several weeks ago and I didn’t believe it was true. Naturally my curiosity got the best of me and I grabbed it and installed it.

The installation process consists of two parts:

  • Installing a script or plugin on your blog
  • Downloading the software

After that, you need to set up an account with Woopra and twiddle your thumbs until they approve of your blog. There doesn’t appear to be any criteria. The limitations are purely technical. They’re slowly expanding their servers to handle the load, however.

Anyways, lets get more indepth into what this sucker can do. Click the images to expand their size.

woopra-1

This is the dashboard. It’s the first thing you see when you login from the client. It gives you a great overview of things that you want to know right away. The line graph on top shows you unique hits (in green) and page views (in yellow). If you’re interested in the hard numbers, the top left window shows you what your hits look like in the past few weeks. The window on the right displays the pages that have been viewed today. The windows on the bottom show your referrers, searches that people have used to find your blog and geographical locations of your visitors.

 

woopra-2This is the live portion of your blog. You can track in real time who is visiting your blog and what pages they are going to. It also shows the specs and platform of what your visitors are using when they view your blog. Here’s an example of me visiting my blog. It shows country and city of origin, OS language, local time, browser, and screen resolution. This information becomes important later on. I’ll explain why in a moment.

 

This is the analytics portion of Woopra. This shows traffic levels on a day to day basis. It’s a brief overview of your hits. It tells you the amount of time spent per page, how many new visitors you’ve picked up, unique hits, and total page views. It even tags your visitors with the names they leave when they comment. There’s even a systems section which tracks what your users are using to view your blog in bulk.

For example, if you know that over 85% of your visitors view your blog on a resolution 1024 x 768, you can factor this into your blog’s design – namely that your blog’s width should not exceed 1024 pixels to ensure maximum readability.

It also pays to ensure that your blog is useable on different browser platforms. 45% of readers to World of Matticus read on Firefox 2 and 43% read on Internet Explorer. The rest use a combination of Opera, Mozilla, or Safari.

This section is where you can start making some generalizations and realizations about your blog. The tab here shows information like your most popular pages, landing pages, exit pages, and outgoing links.

What can I learn here? I can tell the most popular pages I have are ones involving stats. They’re great for drawing search engine traffic to your WoW blog. No one really wants to go through the effort of cross referencing WoW DB and their character to figure out what gear they should shoot for. Instead, they turn to google hoping that some other poor sucker (a la me) has done the work for them.

Landing pages refer to the first page that your visitors land on when they load your blog. It’s not always the main page. It could be a link to one of your posts from a different blogger. Knowing this, you can spend a bit more time on what people seem to land on the most and develop and make it more attractive. I could add a little note to my Holy Priest gear page and ask new visitors to subscribe or "if they like this, why not check out my Kara requirements post?" kind of thing.

Exit pages are the exact opposite. They refer to the page your visitors are on before they navigate away. You might want to stick a note at the bottom of the post that says something like "thanks for visiting, please come again!" or some such.

Outgoing links are fairly self explanatory. It measures what your visitors seem to click on the most when they want to escape from your blog.

Here’s a graphical interpretation of referrals. There’s different sorts. It can track referrals by direct links, search engines, feed readers, emails, social bookmarks, and social networks. A funny note is that I appear to have gotten more hits from Master Ratshag and Egotistical Priest individually then WoW Insider today. It’s a neat way of realizing where your traffic is coming from so you can reciprocate in kind.

I like the social networks part because I think this is the first tool that tracks inbound links from my Twitter and my Facebook.

Lastly, you can see what your readers are typing in search engines to find your blog. From this list, I can see that most of my traffic comes from people looking up Priest gear or raiding requirements for Zul’Aman and Karazhan. Sure enough, a quick search for Holy Priest gear ranks my list as the top result.

In summary

If used properly and strategically, Woopra can be a tremendous asset. It can tell you key information such as:

  • Best time to publish a post
  • Visitor information that can be useful for your next redesign
  • Search engine trends
  • What your visitors deem popular
  • Which sites to suck up to ;)

Mind Control in BG’s Forcing Opposing Players to "Lose" Out on Tokens

Want to have revenge on that one player who keeps dogging you in Arathi Basin? Fear not! There is a way! I believe it’s a bug but props to Aylii for bringing it to my attention. I thought this was fixed a while ago but apparently not.

You can force opposing players to only get 1 token instead of 3 when they win. I haven’t exactly verified this myself but this happened to my Guildmate last night. When it’s assured that you’re about to lose in your BG, what you can do is Mind Control a player of the opposing faction and hold onto them until the BG ends. I think the game treats them as a part of your faction when the BG ends. As a result, it awards the amount of tokens based on whether your side wins or loses.

However, it’s a known exploit. It’s been around for a while but I figured I’d reshare it again.

Plain and evil, no?

Why I Always Care About The Meters

You’ll frequently hear raiders knowingly make comments about “the meters.” DPSers who have to crowd-control or dispel have a bit of a case; it’s harder to be #1 if you have more to worry about than standing still, popping pots, and hitting your spells in the right order. Healers occasionally have a point, too: Purge, Dispel, Cure, BoP, PW: Shield, and buffs all take not only mana, but global cooldowns out of our resources to be the “best” healer on the charts.

Here’s the thing though: you will rarely, if ever, find someone complaining about the unfairness of the meters when their name is consistently at the top. Here are a few reasons why I never forget to check the meters:

Supervisory

Whether you think a player is afk’ing trash, throwing out the wrong heals, or making a serious contribution, it will show up on the meters. Add-ons like Recount or WWS allow you to access your players’ habits with an unbelievable level of detail. If you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t make it better. If you don’t know what’s right, you can’t give meaningful encouragement. Especially when making quantum leaps in content, (10-mans to 25-mans, or jumping tiers) being able to coach your players effectively through the transition is important.

Consistency

This works a couple of ways. On a micro-level, some classes are better suited for certain fights than others. If your Druids typically own highly-mobile fights like Leotheras or Supremus, and a new Druid isn’t keeping up with their peers, it’s a good indication that they need some help. On a macro-level, if, week after week, no matter what the fight, a certain player is always dead-last or near to it, there’s either a gear, hardware, or player issue. The raid leaders need to be able to address underperformance quickly. Why give a raid spot to a 9th healer when you’re effectively only fielding 8? Bring in another DPS, and make the fight shorter instead.

Personal Benchmarks

The first time I consistently broke 1,000 HPS was on Illidan. At first I was proud, but then I realized that I should be pushing my limits that much on EVERY fight. The first screen shot of me breaking 2,000 HPS serves as a constant reminder of my capability, and pushes me to work, heal, and fight harder; every boss, every time. It’s also fun to have some small competition to wake you up when farm content gets boring. Personally, if my favorite resto Shaman gets within 1% of my heals, I start working harder to keep my #1 spot – and he’s not afraid to point it out when he’s gaining on me.

Comparative Benchmarks

I’ve heard the arguments that the meters are skewed: AoE healers always win, healers assigned to players taking the most damage always win, healers that can hold still always win, healers that don’t have to Dispel, Cure, etc. always win. It’s not about winning. It’s about proving to yourself and your raid that you’re doing the best you can. I’ve fought for the top spot with Shamans, Pallys, and Druids. Every guild and healing corps. is different, and the sooner people stop making excuses and start pushing themselves to be their absolute best, the faster the bosses all die.

Accuracy

No meter is perfect. Some of them don’t ascribe things like the last tick of Lifebloom, or the ping of a ProM to the caster. I haven’t seen one yet that records the absorption of PW:S as the life-saver it is. You can tweak some of them so that overhealing or out-of-combat heals show up as effective healing. They all have their quirks, but any data collected over time irons out a lot of the inaccuracies and shows you real trends. I would never chew a player out over one bad night. But if that same player has nothing but bad nights, it’s important to have specific concerns to address with either them, or their class leader.

Timing

Even if the quantity of healing going out is enough, if the timing is off, it doesn’t matter . A tank taking hits for 10k needs an 8k heal. Unless they’re already topped off. Or they’re already dead. Overhealing is sloppy and wasteful, sure, but it’s also unavoidable to an extent. And to be completely honest, if no one’s dying it doesn’t matter much. But if they ARE dying, you need to be able to identify the problem. Grim-meters let you know if poor timing (and inattentive healers) were the culprit, or if the tank needs to put Shieldwall on their bars and learn to move out of fires.

Fairness

Let’s face it. No one wants to be stuck working on the same boss for weeks on end. If the definition of insanity is performing the same action but expecting a different result, it can’t be far from madness to randomly change set-ups without any data behind the decision. If you need to replace a player, you have to know whom to replace. The last thing good leaders want to do is pull a player that’s really doing their best, and keep someone who’s not working hard. And if you’re the one on the cut list, having some data to back up your desire to stay is always a good idea.

No metric is perfect. You can nitpick any measurement of success as biased in any number of ways, and healing meters are no different. The meters are absolutely not the end-all, be-all identifier for the “best” healer – but they are an invaluable tool for improving overall raid performance. My bet is that if you watch them for yourself, and for your raid, and make some key decisions based on the information you learn, you and your guild will progress further, faster, and with better players.

Why I Stopped Caring About Healing Meters

When it comes to healing, in my eyes there is only one true goal: Keep your targets alive. Use whatever means necessary within reason. Sometimes a Dispel or a Cleanse is the better way to go instead of trying to out heal the damage sustained over a period of time. As the healing captain, I take the information received about healing in meters during raids with a grain of salt. They don’t mean much to me at all, and here’s why:

Inaccurate measure

While it’s true that these tools are great for measuring the overall output that a player contributes, is it being spent wisely? It also doesn’t accurately account for players that are on full time dispel duty. AoE healers will have an edge over single target healers like Paladins on fights where the raid sustains major damage. It’s hard to compete against players with the ability to heal 5 players simultaneously as a Paladin. Therefore, even though a player’s heal output seems lower, it doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable.

Does it really matter?

You’ll find out early on in your WoW raiding career that it takes 25 players to down a boss. The ones that slack off in DPS, tanking, or healing weed themselves out fairly quickly. You’ll reach an equilibrium at some point where your healers will be able to keep the raid alive long enough to down a boss. That’s your results right there: A dead raid boss.

Different jobs, different heals

Healing is an art. It can come in many different forms. Assigning heals is a delicate balancing act to ensure that you don’t overload too many players on one person. The consequences of doing so means that another player in a different part of the raid isn’t getting enough. It’s common to have multiple healers stack up on the main tanks. No encounters in the game are built the same (hey that rhymes). You end up having your healers working on targets that they’re better suited to heal, anyway.

So in conclusion, healing meters are useful. But in the end, they don’t really matter to me. All I care about most is my people surviving. I don’t care how much mana is expended doing so or what resources were needed to pull it off. I trust my healers to use their smarts and judgments to keep their guys alive at all costs. If they can do that, then meters are just another resource hog.

Obligatory Female-Perspective Post or Introducing Wynthea

Obligatory Female-Perspective Post or Introducing Wynthea

Urban legends and media coverage both paint the stereotypical WoW-player as a pale, socially-stunted, acne-prone guy in his twenties. He might be in college, or live with his parents, or both. If he has graduated, he probably works in a computer-related field. Either way, the closest he’s gotten to female companionship is his level 28 NE-hunter alt and some lipstick on his hand.

Hi, my name is Ariel. You can call me Wynthea. I work in the finance industry, and live in a chic apartment of my own. I like to cook, swing-dance, pump iron, and watch obscure films. I speak three languages. I think that my red hair should serve as a warning to others. I play WoW. Better than you, and better than your boyfriend.

A girl playing Warcraft for her own reasons is unusual – most of us play to spend time with a boyfriend or family member. I’ve been told that we bring a different perspective to the guilds we lead and the raids we run. As is true in every competitive social and professional setting, we face a unique set of interactions and challenges, which has been well-documented elsewhere. I won’t bore you with tales of harassment, discrimination, or disappointment. It suffices to say that I’ve been called worse, questioned more, and respected by better. And I’m still here. Still playing, still progressing, and still learning.

Occasionally, I like to share a bit of what I’ve been taught, but more than that I like to brainstorm with like-minded players. Through a few lucky clicks, I found the World of Matticus, and started commenting. It was an ironic coincidence when eHarmony’s blog-buddy finder matched us up as sworn enemies. We had a good laugh about it, after the pirate gremlins saved me from his death-ray. Mostly, I sit on vent and listen to Matt whine about not having enough reagents, or forgetting where he hot-keyed Stoneform and Desperate Prayer. In return, he keeps me from screaming at my raid leader and catching a fast G-kick. I’m honored and flattered that Matt has invited me to add a little bit of my perspective to his World. He needs my presence so his sanity doesn’t get lost.

Street Cred

I have two level 70 Priests, one leveled Holy, one Shadow. Both are now Holy-CoH spec.

Renwein of Darrowmere (Human) – moth-balled since 2.3; made it 3/4 TK and 5/6 SSC, runs an occasional weekend-ZA.

Wynthea of Nazjatar (Troll) – Slayer of Illidan and countless gnomes. Red mohawk of DOOM.

My true love in this game is PvE, but I’ve dabbled more and more in PvP – the quickness of an arena match is a good nerve-soother when hours in a raid get to be too much. I have no real PvP claims to fame, but I’ll brag about them when I achieve them.

Going All In on the Crystal Spire of Karabor

Poker is one of my favourite non-WoW activities and I know I’m not the only one. One of the cardinal skills you pick up as you play the cards is knowing when to go all in. My guild utilizes a DKP system (chips) and now that we’ve started to work on Illidan in order to take him out and get his phat loot (pot).

One of the items Illidan drops is the infamous Crystal Spire of Karabor.

Seeing as I know next to nothing about the supremeness of this mace, I’ve had to turn to my newest mentor, Wynthea, and ask several questions

Why is this weapon so good?

Basic Stats:

15 Int
22 Stam
486 Healing
6 Mp5

The stats would make it a good, well-rounded main-hand for any healing class, but nothing special. It’s roughly comparable to the Lightfathom Scepter (Vashj), Dark Blessing (Zul’jin), or the Gavel of Naaru Blessings (150 Badges from the 2.4 vendor). What gives this mace "Holy Grail" status is its additional effect:

If your target is below 50% heath, your direct healing spells will cause your target to be healed for an additional 180 to 220 health. 

I’ve always been adamant about using staves because I’ve wanted to spread the healing loot around as much as possible to the Paladins, Shamans, and Druids. I’ll make an exception here, however.

For a Paladin single-targeting a Main Tank, an extra 200 health points when their health is below half is nice, but not awe-inspiring. However, if you’re a priest charged with raid healing, an additional 200 health to each recipient of your Prayer of Healing or Circle of Healing when they need it the MOST is tremendous.

Bear with me for a short explanation (warning: MATH!):

The impact of bonus healing on the amount of output for a particular heal is not random. If you have 2000 bonus healing, it doesn’t mean that a Greater Heal with a base healing amount of 500 will heal for 2500. It also doesn’t get a random number up to 2500; there’s a coefficient.

This is where I grab an Asprin. But it’s because I’m mathematically challenged.

For Circle of Healing, that coefficient is 21.4% per target. At rank 5, CoH heals for a "base amount" of 409-451. So, if a priest has about 2300 bonus Healing, fully buffed, the equation looks like: 2300*21.4 + (random number between 409 & 451).

So, their CoH on a non-crit will heal for around 900-1000 per target. (CoH gets 492.2 from 2300 bonus healing) With the Crystal Spire, a target below 50% health would now be healed for 1080-1200 for a non-crit. It would     take around 3300 bonus healing to get that result without the spire, (x*21.4 + (random number from 409-451) = 1150. Solve for X) so the use-effect is worth around 1000 +healing in that situation. When it crits, it’ll hit for around 1500-plus. Just for comparison, that’s like 5 people getting instantly flash-of-lighted by a paladin all for less than 400 mana.

The effect is slightly less dramatic with Prayer of Healing, because Prayer gets a higher benefit from bonus healing – so the fact that the Spire contributes raw health points is a little less critical. That said, it’s still worth around 460 +healing.

Which classes benefit the most?

Shamans do benefit from the Spire, since Chain Heal qualifies as a direct heal, and hits 3 targets. Both healing waves would also receive the benefit to their single targets, which could help in certain situations. Most shamans I know, however, find more benefit from simply casting Chain Heal faster and opt. for Dark Blessing, from Zul’jin in ZA.

Great, so Shamans get overpowered again. It’s a good thing I have a higher chip stack than my Resto Shaman.

Paladins would see the increase to their properly-timed Flash of Lights or Holy Lights, but since Paladins are the work-horse single-target healers, they would see less advantage to equipping this mace than the bonus to spell crit given by the Hammer of Atonement Kazrogal drops in Mt. Hyjal. This is mostly due to the fact that Paladins are usually assigned to main tank healing. Given a single-target with something like 20k health, 200 additional points when they’re already below half and receiving damage hits in excess of 5 or 10k is not wholly worthless, but just an inefficient use of resources: a priest with the same mace in the same raid can get that SAME 200 extra health points to the Main Tank and everyone else in their group at the same time.

Hah. It’s no Benediction, but it’ll do.

For Druids, the extra bonus is almost completely worthless; it stipulates that it can only be triggered by a direct-heal, so Rejuvination and Lifebloom, need not apply. Swiftmend would get the benefit, but because of its cooldown, just doesn’t have the same utility as an always-available direct heal.

However, seeing as we are non Druids, we may not be correct in this assumption. Might there be a Druid of Restoness that would be willing to shed some light?

Priests see gains to Flash Heal or Greater Heal, as well as Binding Heal, CoH, and ProH. Prayer of Mending and Renew are NOT considered direct heals – although there is some question of whether a ProM bouncing off the priest with the Crystal Spire equipped would.

The idea here, though, is not what impact 200 HP might have on one single heal, but how much can we eek out of that 200 HP bonus. The answer is simply get as much use out of it as possible by hitting the highest number of targets that are below half health as quickly as possible. Priests, with a good ProH-CoH combo can hit 15 people with this proc in the space of 4.5 seconds or less.

Clearly, the mace was designed with the CoH priest in mind. Gimme. It also looks BADASS with our T6 gear.

What offhands can it be paired with?

Currently, the best healing off-hand in the game is the Scepter of Purification from Archimonde in Hyjal. Fortunately, though, the 35-badge Voodoo Shaker is comparable, and arguably 2nd-best in slot. There is no reason to NOT take the mace on the supposition that a weak off-hand would compromise its value in comparison with a staff.

Other good off-hands include:

Touch of Inspiration (Reliquary of Souls, Black Temple)

Talisman of the Sun-King (A’lar, Tempest Keep)

So after all that, it appears as though there is an item in the game worth going all in for. But I do know my Guildies read this.

On the other hand, I could be bluffing.

4 Smart Studying Lessons to Help Get an A in Your Raid

4 Smart Studying Lessons to Help Get an A in Your Raid

For the few of us unlucky souls who are undergoing a summer semester in school, it serves to have a helpful reminder of what we students can do to get ahead and get an A. The flip-side is that some of these lessons work both ways and can be applied in WoW.

Do your homework

In math class, you derive equations from problem solving questions in order to find a solution. Practice, practice, practice. The goal here is to continue killing bosses like Tidewalker, Leo, Rage, Gorefiend, and etc to keep your skills sharp. Before you expect it, you’re going to get hit with an examination (who happens to be known as Illidan). The end-raid bosses serve as a check to see if you’ve learned anything from earlier bosses .

Make friends with the A-level students

Hint: They’re usually the ones that sit in the first two rows of the class. They have a good work ethic, they always pay attention, never miss a lecture, and they know what they’re doing. Typically, these A students won’t mind helping you out. They’ll give you a few tips for homework or help you study by giving you easy ways to remember certain facts. They help isolate your weaknesses in the subject, so you can recognize and prepare for them. In WoW, this might be someone in a slightly more progressed Guild. This is a player that’s already done what your Guild is working on and it pays to make friends with them so you can call on them from time-to-time for some advice on what they’ve done at certain points of a fight. If you happen to have your own blog, you just might discover that one of your readers has gone through the same experience that you’re going through right now and can help you get through the proverbial hump.

Get sleep

sleeping

Before every major exam or test, get a full night’s sleep. It’s been shown that sleeping is the most important thing a person can do to prepare because it allows the body to fully recharge and absorb materials from your studying sessions. The same holds true for WoW. There have been some raid days where I’ve been exhausted from lack of sleep. Raid time comes around and as a healer, it’s hard for me to keep my attention level high (because it can be boring on trash).  I typically counter the effects with a combination of coffee or tea (and at one point in time, caffeine pills but you shouldn’t do that), but the results are no substitute for the real thing. A rested raider is a happy raider.

Stick to the schedule you set for yourself

schedule

More importantly, make sure the raid leader follows this. There should be a 30 minute invite grace period allowing people to scramble in, get repaired, purchase reagents, create potions, etc. During this time, they should also be in position for the first pull the moment the 30 minutes are up. A late start is never a good sign since people will get frustrated. Figure out your goals for the evening and what to do if they’re met early. Will you give everyone the rest of the night off? Or push on and get some attempts on the next challenge? Decide out what you want to do, how to get there, and what can be realistically achieved with the time left. There’s a time for WoW, there’s a time for studying, and there’s a time for Wii Fit. Just as crucial is knowing what to do when you run out of time When there’s a scheduled end time, make sure that is followed. If it looks like the attempt is going to go over, kill the raid there. Don’t fall into the "just one more" trap. It’s best to come back the next raid day full of energy and life, and this ethic continues to reinforce your commitment to starting on time by ending on time. Respecting that 24 other players have set aside this time specifically for raiding, and they’ll be more likely to show up and push through the entire raid whether you succeed or fail.

Hopefully these four lessons can help you when you’re raiding. If not, maybe they’ll help you outside of WoW!

Any other students or retired students? Might there be some more sagely advice that can be added?

Be back later

Need some time off. Will return at some point, maybe.

Council Down, Crosshairs on Illidan

Council Down, Crosshairs on Illidan

council

It was certainly quite the intense campaign. The first several wipes of the night were my fault. 3 wipes, and I suffered 8 deaths. Why? Because I’m way too slow and sluggish and I got suckered by the Rogue several times. No big deal before I repositioned myself on the far right on top of the stairs and just did laps around the area.

Highlights of the Night

Our first kill involved one of our Warlocks being locked out because he was on the wrong side of the door. Ergo, we had no choice but to 24 man him. I thought we were going to wipe because we had one less DPS but it turns out I had nothing to worry about.

This is nothing more than a straight up survival and endurance fight. As a CoH Priest, I was uniquely suited to run around and heal ranged DPS or melee DPS if it was needed.

After the kill, we paid a quick visit to Hyjal…

…and wiped to Rage. After being in BT for so long, it seemed as if we had lost our raid legs in Hyjal. No worries! Got him down in the next attempt after our Holy Paladin randomly DI’d a Druid. Thank goodness it wasn’t the main tank.

And now it all ends here. I started Karazhan last year around February. I did not expect to see Illidan at all. I’ve trained long and hard for this opportunity. Every boss up to this point had a lesson to teach. It won’t be easy, but we’ll sure as hell give him a bloody nose.

I want to give a very special shout out and thank you to reader Wynthea. She stayed up late last night helping me plan the different healing roles. She talked me through the encounter as it was happening ensuring I didn’t lose my cool. Without her help, Illidari Council will have taken another week or two. I’m in your debt.

So. Whose got some Illidan Priestly pointers?