The Art of Chaining Cooldowns

The Art of Chaining Cooldowns

Want to increase your raid’s overall DPS?

How about expanding it’s survivability?

Or keeping enemy packs incapacity and stunned for longer than usual?

This is one of the basic raid tactics you can use. Chaining cooldowns refers to players using similar abilities one after the other. Stacking cooldowns means to use them simultaneously. How exactly should a raid chain their cooldowns together?

Offensive

As a DPS player, you have your own personal DPS increasing cooldowns. In most cases they’re fired off all at once to raise your damage for those brief seconds that the abilities are active. It’s kind of a no brainer isn’t it?

But when you’re dealing with many players, you may not have that luxury. What happens if two players stun the target at the same time with two Hammer of Justices? The target still gets stunned for 6 seconds (too bad the other stun doesn’t carry over and add 6 seconds on top).

(Un)Fortunate enough to have 5 shamans in raid? You can use their Stormlash totem one after the other for 50 seconds worth of extra lightning DPS. Bonus marks if you pull this off during a Heroism.

If you’re working on challenge modes, then you’ll have to chain your cooldowns together to get through various trash packs. In some cases, you may need to combine both offensive and defensive ones based on your group composition. My challenge mode group is stun heavy with a Death Knight, Monk, and a Shaman. Like clock work, the Monk opens with a Leg Sweep while the Shaman drops his Capacitor Totem at the same time (the stun detonates after 5 seconds) before the Death Knight finalizes with Remorseless Winter. If we still needed more time to finish off a pack, I dropped a Power Word: Barrier to help. Like any form of crowd control, targets will be affected by diminishing returns.

Defensive

Structuring healing cooldowns does need a little more thought. Should you use more than one at the same time or layer it one after the other? Bosses tend to have signature mass DPS abilities which affect the whole raid. Your decision on stacking or chaining all comes down to how intense the damage is and how long that boss ability lasts.

Jin’rokh’s Lightning Storm? We started chaining two cooldowns one after the other (example: Smoke Bomb followed by a Power Word:  Barrier).

Iron Qon’s Fist Smash? We stacked two cooldowns at a time as Rising Anger continued to increase.

Addons

If you don’t have it installed yet, get RSA downloaded and set up. It’ll help you and your fellow raiders as it announces when you activate your own raid cooldowns and when they end.

rsa-config

Bring up the configuration and go into the General Announcements tab. The drop down on the top right let’s you adjust which spells and abilities you want to use. The checkboxes let you choose where you want the start and end points broadcasted. In most cases, it’s going to be either a Smart Group or a Whisper. You can choose to override the output channel if you wish.

In Conquest, there’s a dedicated shaman channel where they organize their own Stormlash Totems and that’s where they set their macros and announcements to.

This simple technique is going to help you shave time off your kills and help you beat enrage timers. A little organization and communication ahead of time with your players is going to be needed, but it’s well worth the effort! To really stretch this out though, look through each boss and find out what the best time to chain cooldowns will be. Look for periods in a fight where your raid can stay still and unload their arsenal!

Skewering Vizier Zor’lok

Skewering Vizier Zor’lok

Wikipedia states that A vizier […] is a high-ranking political adviser or minister in an Islamic government.[3][4] The word is derived from Middle Persian[5][6] and then adopted into Arabic root. The vizier stood between sovereign and subjects, representing the former in all matters touching the latter.

Well, today I learned. Not exactly the voice of Psy, but he’s fun and engaging nonetheless.

Healers looking for pointers can visit this page.

We got trolled. For the longest time, Vizier would always run to the Attenuation platform. We would routinely trigger the boss from the middle and then run to it. We figured he’d go there everytime. Sure enough, the one time we set up at the Attenuation platform, the Vizier runs to the Force and Verve platform instead.

I was never able to take down the Vizier during the beta. Either I ran out of time or the gear or skill just wasn’t there for the groups I was in. I knew the Attenuation platform was going to be challenging for players (especially those who use the keyboard to turn instead of to strafe). Pay attention because Attenuation rings can go clockwise or counter clockwise.

Pro tip: Rebind your A and D keys to strafe left and strafe right respectively. It helps with moving through discs. Point your camera so that it’s from the top down. Paladins with the Relic of Chi Ji are instructed not to use Light of Dawn.

Look how blinding that can be. My guild likes to joke about it and call it the vagina of light.

With all the movement that’s going on in the Attenuation phase, I switched up my glyphs and used the Glyph of Shadow Word: Death instead. When I’m dodging discs, there’s situations where I’ll get lucky with Mind Blast, Mind Spike, and Devouring Plague procs. It’s possible to stand in one place and get a 2-tick Mind Flay through before interrupting it. Shadow Word: Death just gives you an extra spell for to to use on the go.

During the Convert platform, pop your Psychic Scream and Halo spells early and on cooldown. People get pissed off at you if you’re Mind Controlled and dropping fear bombs all over the place. Halo if used at the wrong time will chunk or even kill players.

On the Force and Verve platform, I’d activate Vampiric Embrace while under the Noise Cancelling shield. We assigned all the ranged players to the bubble furthest away. Healers would take the next closest (or middle) bubble. Melee DPS and the tank would secure the closest bubble to the Vizier. Any bubbles that had more than 9 players would have extras reassigned to the healer bubble.

Heroism was used in the final phase during the first Noise Cancelling bubble. It was used defensively to help the healers keep up with the healing without activating their raid cooldowns.

It’s not the greatest fight for a Shadow Priest with the amount of moving that’s going on. I’m still struggling with maintaining meaningful uptime. 80.5% on my Vampiric Touch just isn’t quite cutting it. The DoTs just keep falling off and I’m not able to refresh them fast enough. I try to reapply them with anywhere from 3-4 seconds left, but I’m not all there. Shadow’s fun this expansion (compared to Cataclysm where maintaining 3 different DoTs was a chore).

I’m using Fortexorcist to help track my DoTs but I think I need to find a better place for it. Maybe underneath the target on the top right? Where do you Shadow Priests park their timers? Should I just clip more and throw it up earlier?

Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.

Tanks

Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.

Healers

Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:

Melee

  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)

Ranged

  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

The Life of a Confused Priest: From Healing to DPS and back!

This is a guest post from my friend Synysta about breaking stereotypes and enjoying the game. -Lodur

My main Synysta is a Priest. She’s been many races and factions, but currently she is a Blood Elf. I think I can see the rotten tomatoes flying in my direction from the Alliance- I must duck! /cast Power Word: Shield

I’ve been playing a Priest for several years now as I rolled her at the beginning of BC and back then I did it just for kicks. The guild I was part of at the time was in desperate need of a healer and as we all know, the Priest is the archetypical healer in World of Warcraft. Was I aware of what I was letting myself in for, or was I aware of how much fun I was going to have? Absolutely not. I was a total newbie in the beginning, I hadn’t got a clue how the game worked and my experience with the universe of Azeroth was limited to Warcraft II and Warcraft III. So in I jumped, feet first and grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns. How hard could playing a Priest be?

I can hear all the Priests laughing as I typed that. As I have found out in my few years of playing the class, there’s a lot more to a Priest than you would imagine on face value. So I rolled the toon, picking Draenei as my initial class and starting as a Level 1 on the island of Azuremist. I did a few quests till level 10, smiting my way through the mobs and casting Renew and Gift of the Naaru on myself. Of course, I never realized how useful the shield could be until around level 65. Dumb? You betcha. I soon discovered dungeon healing and found I actually had a talent for healing the unclean, unwashed masses. The levels flew by and I was soon standing in Borean Tundra, dinging Level 70. Then I discovered ‘The Dark Side’.

Shadow DPS was an absolute riot and a half for me. I found that not only was I a capable Holy Priest but also a capable Shadow Priest. Now, I am aware that this is World of Matticus and I know that this is a Healing blog…but as someone who has played both sides of the coin as a Priest, I just want to say that no one should ever feel pigeonholed to heal- just because you are a Priest. It’s like saying a Warrior should only tank or a Paladin should DPS. It’s the stereotypical choice to go that path, sure…but it isn’t your only choice.

As a Shadow Priest, I was constantly bombarded from all angles about how I should heal and constant pressure was ladled onto me as I fought hard and strong on staying Shadow. Sadly, I was constantly forced to be a healer when Dual Specialization was introduced. From my early days of raiding Naxxramas through to Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel, most of my raid leaders or Guild Leaders were okay with me being a Shadow Priest but the more I held onto my new identity, the more people would try to shove me in the opposite direction. From here I decided to bite the bullet and learn to be a healer again. I leveled as a Holy Priest and had so many years of that I decided it was time for a change. So Discipline was the chosen way of the Light for me.

Having fun with Discipline has been a challenge for me. It took me a very long time for me to master it and then when Cataclysm came along and turned Healing on its head, I found myself struggling and gasping for mana like a fish out of water- flipping and sputtering around on its back. I soon learned that it was because of my gear. In Wrath of the Lich King, Discipline Priests would get mana returns through crit based heals and the use of Power Word: Shield. I never once had to sit to drink or use Shadowfiend, or even Hymn of Hope. I would watch Holy Priests seem to have a lot more issues with it than I ever did. I suppose that I really took it for granted as when Deathwing blew a giant hole in the side of the world…he seemed to blow a giant hole in the side of my mana pool too. Starting off with a 42k mana pool in my 25 man ICC gear, I thought that I was pro. I thought that I could stroll into Blackrock Caverns like the cat that had gotten the big bowl of cream. I soon found out how very wrong I was. Lets just say that panic was definitely the order of the day when 42k mana would vanish in a matter of seconds before my very eyes. It was like Pacman attacking my blue bar, OM NOM NOM NOM. I screamed. I panicked. I thought it was me. So I asked Matticus what to do. He told me to use the Heal spell more. And actually that seemed to work.

As my gear got better, I found that my mana pool doubled in size and with the added intellect and spirit, my mana gains seemed to return to normal and my anxiety levels seemed to drop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no superstar healer but honestly- practice really does make perfect. I’ve seen Priests get so many changes since the early days of BC and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Sure, I’ve pulled out my hair in clumps and given myself heart palpitations but I really do love the challenge of relearning my character and class.

I recently leveled a Holy Paladin up to 80 too. 85 and healing though? That could well be for another time. Same place, same heart attacks. But as for the Priest? I still love DPS. It’s a nice change for when I can’t be bothered with the PUG’s ;)

A Must-Read for the Cataclysm Player

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying a nice little break from WoW before Cataclysm. Spent time with family for Turkey Day, beat Mass Effect (never played it before), and I’ve been looking forward to the new expansion for the WoW TCG–not for the loot card but to actually enjoy the game.

I came across a great post on the MMO-Champion forums which let me reminisce about my original post here when I was still a guest. I’ve tried to focus a majority of my blogging on how everyone can help each other. The name of the guild I’m in is Team Sport, and that’s what I believe this game is. Hence, when I read the forum post by Daetur, I felt like a proud father. Not because I had any direct impact on him/her but because it goes along with everything that I believe this game should and could be. Instead of making a small link to it in the midst of this text… I’m going to make sure you don’t miss this:

DAETUR’S CATACLYSM FORUM POST

Daetur discusses what each player (Tank, Healer, DPS) can do to ensure the success of any dungeon or raid. He takes the stance that many of us have gotten “complacent” in WotLK with regard to raiding and dungeons. Through my experience, I have to say I agree. We’ve come to expect AoE’ing down 3 packs of mobs, healing through debuffs, and risking death to get a few more casts in. According to Daetur, we’re in for a rude awakening. I’m excited! A few things he mentions:

  • CC is key. We are going to need to CC mobs, and avoid breaking them at all costs.
  • Defensive cooldowns are key all around. Tanks, Healers, and DPS are going to need their cooldowns to help stay alive.
  • Healers need to manage their mana, since it’s now at a premium and no longer infinite.

I can’t help but feel like the whole thing meant to make the job of the healer’s more manageable. Well, it’s true. The goal of any fight is to kill them before they kill you. We may be able to burst to high hell, but if we can’t stay alive doing it, then what’s the point? I’m already bracing myself for the backlash of the “uninformed”: “L2Heal noob.” We no longer live in a world of invincibility. Everyone is reponsible for helping everyone else stay alive and do their job easier.

Remember, I only lightly summarized the forum post by Daetur. I implore you to please read the entire post. You may not disagree, and all of it may not be pertinent to you, but you’ll know what everyone is up against in Cataclysm. Help each other out.

How to Melee DPS Without Making Healers Cry

This is a guest post by Shazrad of Zul’jin. One of the best players I’ve ever had the pleasure of raiding with. ~Lodur

As DPS it’s our job to do as much DPS as possible.  We can’t do that if we can’t stay alive. We can’t do that if we are irritating our healers to the point that they think it would be more mana efficient to res us rather than heal us. In truth, nothing irritates healers and raid leaders more than DPS who have little or no situational awareness.  With that said lets break things down a bit.

To start with let’s break down what DPS really is. I know what some readers are thinking.  “DPS means DAMAGE PER SECOND dummy!” I’m sorry but you are wrong.

It stands for this:

  1. Don’t stand in things that damage you
  2. Placement, placement and placement
  3. Stay alive

Any raid leader will tell you I am right.

Matt’s notes: He’s right.

Those 3 things are the most common obstacles that melee DPS face. Your rotation can be perfect. Your spells can be up without missing a beat. Yet if you fail in any of those 3 areas you become useless to your raid. In order to help you better understand what each item means I will break them down for you.

  • Don’t stand in things that damage you - This sounds easy. I guarantee you that almost every raid leader will agree that standing in fire/defile/desecrate/ (insert random boss ability here) causes 90 % of raid DPS deaths. Standing in things that damage does not just mean health dropping. Some things cause your attacks to slow, some cause you to miss more often and so on and so forth. There are rare occasions where standing in something will give you a DPS boost. Those instances are so rare, it’s best to just not stand in anything that appears on the floor during a boss fight. If you’re not sure, ask. No good raid leader will be mad at you for asking but you can bet that you will hear it if you don’t ask and die repeatedly to the same thing when all you really need to do is move.
  • Placement, placement and placement – Where you stand is just as important as where you shouldn’t stand. This typically means that unless told otherwise melee stands BEHIND the target, casters stand off to the side or behind the target. DPS who stand in front of the target are dealing with cleaves, parry, and everything else the tank is dealing with. It’s not somewhere you want to be on most fights. Always know where you need to be and be there and you will be loved by all. (Disclaimer: I probably still won’t love you I’m anti love unless you’re a chicken salad sandwich.)
  • Stay Alive – No matter what you must live. Dead DPS is not DPS; it’s a corpse. Corpses (unless you’re a ghoul) sit there and rot. So do whatever you have to do to NOT die.

If you can do these three things you are already a step ahead of the game.

Tips and Tricks:

In this section I will go over some basic things that will help you survive.

  • Keyboard Turning – Its bad! Do not do it. Keyboard turning is using your arrow or A and S keys to turn. This method of turning is to slow. Instead use your mouse to turn. Right click your mouse and move it to the left or right. It’s about 100000 times faster. Keyboard turning is just too slow for raiding. The abilities that bosses throw when you need to turn and burn hit so hard that if you keyboard turn you will most likely die. Dead characters are useless.
  • Jumping out of Damage – Its bad do NOT do it. Jumping in World of Warcraft is not like jumping in the real world. When you jump the game records your position. When you land it updates your position. So when you jump out of damage the game registers you in the damage until you land. In most cases your jump is farther than you actually need to go. This means you are taking damage the entire time you are in the air. It’s bad. Don’t do it.
  • Strafing – Is useful. When fighting most bosses they have a tendency to throw stuff right at your feet. Try to get in the habit of strafing left and right to move out of the damage. Moving this way is easier and faster than turning and moving.
  • Zoom Out – Zoom your camera out as far as you can. This allows you to not only see what you are doing but you can also see what’s going on around you. Knowing what’s going on in a fight is the key to winning.
  • Situational Awareness – Without this you might as well go back to soloing Dead Mines. Get yourself a good boss mod. Set it up so that the information it provides is easy for you to see. I try and keep all my important alerts right around my character. This way my eyes are always on what my character is doing. Try to avoid sticking it way off in a corner somewhere. With it up there you are having to constantly take your eyes off the action.  Also make sure you enable the audio alerts. These sounds will draw your attention to important details even if you’re focused on something else.
  • Stay Behind – Unless your raid leader tells you to specifically stay in front of a boss attack from behind. Attacking from the front causes you to miss more often (except in certain special boss fights).  Bosses also often have cleaves and other nasty effects that will usually kill you in a single hit.
  • Ask Questions – Do not be afraid to ask your raid leader a question. I know this is cliché but “There are no stupid questions unless you don’t ask them.” So ask. Even if you have asked before. Do not go into an encounter with a question. Unasked questions are the same thing as not knowing what to do. You will likely die or even worse you may wipe the entire raid out because you didn’t know what to do and didn’t have the guts to speak up.
  • Get Some Mods – There are plenty of mods out there that will help you with every aspect of a raid. Mods like Power Auras Classic and GTFO can be set up to let you know when you are taking damage. Deadly Boss Mods and Big Wigs are extremely good at letting you know when to move. These are just a few examples of mods that can help you know when to move.

Final Thoughts:

In closing there are three things I would like to stress:

  1. Anything on the floor be it fire, funky red glowing circles or a big fluffy blue line is probably bad. Get out of it unless your raid leader says to stand in it.
  2. Know the fight before you start the fight. Watch a video, read a strategy, ASK YOUR RAID LEADER! Know when to move.  Don’t be that guy…
  3. STAY ALIVE NO MATTER WHAT. If you die you are useless to the raid.
Making Dungeons Fun Again

Making Dungeons Fun Again

notank

Want to know a secret? There’s a simple way to make WoW more fun.

Last night I had more fun in a random dungeon than I have for a long time. I was in Stockades, of all places. A Stockades run is usually a pedestrian half hour filled with enemies which aren’t challenging but have vaguely annoying abilities and no loot to make up for it.

The dungeon didn’t magically morph into a Lernean Hydra spitting epics at us. What changed was the group. The tank suddenly left. We were left with a lowish level party of three mages and a priest healer. We also had prison cells full of bad guys cracking their knuckles and asking whether our relatives could stitch this.

We carried on. The three mages had fun using every trick to play mage tennis and help the healer ensure we didn’t become wallpaper paste. The priestie sat there cheerfully swearing as he healed and cackling maniacally every time he physic screamed because he could it saved our clothie hides. Lots of conjured water later we finished the dungeon, all in great spirits.

What does that mean? We don’t need tanks. Nope. Not in 5 man instances.

Right now WoW is based on the ‘holy trinity’ of three roles; tank, healer, DPS. It’s a tradition going back through the MMO and RPG genres. The nay-sayer in me mutters that removing one of the roles would shake the very foundations of the games industry. It wouldn’t; it’s already happening.

The complexity of the roles has been simplified over time. Back in the day groups had to be pristinely organised. Each person performed challenging tasks. Support classes were necessary. Contingency plans were useful if the battle went awry.

It was the case for WoW as much as any other game. It wasn’t long ago tanks alone were juggling single-target tanking on four monsters whilst anxiously watching the one nursing a headache and herding the battle round the confused sheep. Before TBC, I gather, it was more tricky. That type of game play taught players to be creative strategists. It’s in that kind of situation that I met and bonded with my guildmates over hours of wipes and brainstorming.

Things are more straightforward now. More generalised; each of the roles is cut-and-dry in WoW. Tanks are there to hold the monsters’ attention. DPS are there to take them down, usually with little mind of what dies first. Healers are there to keep everyone topped off with heals so huge I’d not be surprised if characters feel like they’ve been dunked in the fountain of youth. Of course, there are fights where there are exceptions – sometimes healers get to top the boss’ health off instead, The roles are plain and appear interdependent.

But the roles don’t need each other to function. Last night my group’s DPS did its job – to deal damage – perfectly fine without a tank regulating us. We just had to be a bit more creative, versatile, and able to think on our feet. These are qualities which haven’t really been challenged in Wrath’s standard system but I’d go as far to say that the creative strategist in me opened one drowsy eye while my mana’ed out mage watched the cooldown on frost nova with her robed back to the wall.

Dare I say it, we also had to work as a team, rather than just have the tank glue everything to himself and everyone else sedately press the usual buttons to floor the next pack. We functioned much better as a social group. Usually the members of a group each have a set task and if something untoward – or just unexpected – happens it’s easy for a group of strangers to feel justified in laying blame on a person who failed or made a mistake with their individual task.

Last night, without a tank and with the group’s tasks shared equally, the potential for blame was removed. Everyone could contribute to everything. Even the healing! Us mages didn’t just sit in the fire expecting the healer to keep us all, four clothies, up AoEing 10 mobs at once. I don’t know if any of us would do that under the standard roles but with that jot of creativity and freedom allowed to us, we did what we could to help tank and heal. And when we did wipe? We all laughed and congratulated each other on a good fight.

So there we go. The roles already look a whole lot different to how they did when they were originally conceived in EverQuest or even Breath of Fire. We just need to take the plunge and get rid of one of the canonical roles. Not much to ask, right?

We’re only talking as regards 5 man groups, here, but just think of the ramifications for raids. What would they be? More creative players graduating from instances and more chaos and raids unlike anything we’ve ever known – I wonder if the outcomes would offset one another. I wonder if WoW could even support such a change, or if it would require a whole level playing field.

What do you think – is this a terrible idea which would do irrevocable damage to WoW, or a great one, with modifications?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image originally on flickr, by id-iom.

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

tentacle unicorn

Tobold’s post today is a refreshing look at how the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPSers might be re-balanced. His basic concept is that it should be made more rewarding – more useful – to players to play a tank or a healer, for their own interest. Rather than developers assuming that the laws of odds and sods means that some players will play them because – well, someone has to.

Tobold’s correct in that tanks and healers could benefit from their ability to mitigate being more useful in solo combat. I’m not sure that in order to achieve this it would be necessary to make DPS classes “feel more like the proverbial glass cannon”. Combat could be customizable so that DPSers can still enjoy doing what they do best but tanks and healers can make their mitigation work for them.

Without giving it too serious thought early on a Monday I can think of some brief examples; there could be a mechanic whereby tanks reflect an increasing or scalable amount of monsters’ damage back at them (RPS – reflect per second?). The irritation here is that those monsters who are less damage oriented themselves would take longer to kill. Or there could be an improved “thorns” like mechanic – the idea behind thorns at present being that it does damage when thorns’ beneficiary is hit. The improved version (and the mechanic could be given to any class) could mean that effective use of a tank’s abilities gives him a stacking buff which then accordingly deals damage to the monster – which would stack all the more (and slightly insanely) in aoe/quest situations, probably making it great fun for tanks to quest by gathering all of the monsters on the continent at once. I exaggerate. Slightly.

But what are us healers going to do with our mitigation abilities? Ours is not so much mitigation as reparation. So what, we’d heal ourselves at monsters? Now we get to a deeper layer of difficulty for balancing the roles.

This is where the aforementioned concept of “their own interest” comes under scrutiny. In my mind a fighter’s – therefore a tank’s – interest in surviving battle is entirely different to a healer’s. The fighter charegs into battle wanting to smash those monsters in. Those fighters who are tanks also happen not to mind being smashed back by the monsters. A healer’s interest on the other hand is to hoppity-skip around the battlefield amidst volleys of arrows and magic from both sides in order to patch up their teammates.

The point at which their interest intersects is in doing what they are good at; and, trickily, those skillsets shine most in group situations when there are other people around to benefit from them. Not everyone can get hit over the head with as much class as a tank; and fighters going into battle alone traditionally aim to kill the betentacled unicorn quicksmart rather than let it try to tear their guts out for longer than is comfortable. As to healers – how many rogues do you see prancing around with happy light beams streaming from their fingertips? Healers like stapling peoples’ guts back in, and not just their own.

The difficulty here is reconciling two different experience types. First, redressing the game mechanic practicalities of playing a tank or healer to make it intrinsically self-rewarding for players choosing to play a tank or healer. And secondly, not amputating the traditional ideology behind the role types. The ideology which makes roles what they are; antecedents of cultural mythology celebrated through oral story telling, written classics, and role playing.

One way to approach this may be to remember that it’s not all about the roles. You can take the mechanic to the water but to make it drink from it – make the water more interesting. Perhaps the quest system could be overhauled – it’s overdue anyway.

Instead of quest givers parroting the a-typical “kill fish because I want their feathers to make a pair of sandals”, they could have a wider, more imaginative range of ways we can help them. Something like, “get from here to there in <insert arbitrary time limit> because, er, I dunno, how do you feel about couriering misunderstood baby murlocs? And do it the way that best suits you. You look healery, maybe hoppity-skip along and do your nature thing. You don’t have to slowly attack/tickle everything to death.”

Tell you what though. I remember several RPGs where us healers were the big guns when our band of heroes were wading through undead. Back in my day, undead monsters really didn’t like being healed at.

What do you think? How do you think class/role mechanics should be rebalanced on the ‘experience type’ graph, and why?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article images originally on flickr, by Don Solo and merwing little dear.

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Can you hear it?

There’s a gentle hum in the ether. It’s a grinding of cogs and a rattlin’ of nuts and bolts. It’s the sound of the WoW developers thinking about us healers. Yay, they’re showing us some development love! Ah, but this time, they’re thinking about getting us to DPS. Wait, wut? I’m a healer, not a DPS! That’s like the antithesis of healer, right?

Well, that was my first thought when I read Ghostcrawler’s musings, over on MMOChampion. I’m not going to regurgitate the blue tracker verbatim here as you’ve probably already read it, but for reference the basics are that the devs are thinking about giving us healers some DPS utility. It sounds like their current plane of thought keeps healers away from having a duty to do X damage in a group setting but enables them to do some damage if they want to. That is, enabling us to damage things might make things a bit faster for the group in a Heroic, say, or fun for us if we fancy it.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage, and there’s nothing  concrete now or definitely going to happen in the future. But if it is an option then it got me thinking. How would I feel, as a healer, about having new and improved DPS options?

The power! Now that you mention it. I mean, we don’t know any details of how much damage they’re thinking we might be able to do. But come on – having your group’s cute, fluffy priest patch the team up and then turn round and smite ye monsters seems a bit well, Heroic. The fluffy priest would be worth the utility of two single-role players. That sounds a little over-powered to me, or at least like a back-door into Hero class status. “Uber-healer” perhaps.

I’m sure the devs have already thought of the potential of too much power, too much utility. Powerful healer class also able to kick out a believable impression of another role? Surely not. So perhaps we’re going to see some kind of power trade-off. A glass ceiling on our healing capabilities to make room for DPS utility, so we’re not too good. Perhaps that ceiling will even be customizable, so that you can decide how much or little you fancy being able to DPS – in return for being a slightly less capable healer.

I wonder whether this could lead to a whole new breed of hybrid. I’m not just talking about a hybrid class, or role, made by Uber healers – although that could happen, exponentially more if it were to be customizable. I’m talking about a hybrid player type. I’m willing to bet that not all healers want or much care to be able to DPS. I know I don’t, for one. Personally I think that healing classes should be about restoring health, not subtracting it. I also think if that’s what the class’ or spec’s lore is centred around, a lot of healers might have a problem with doing damage. Mimetir herself would, as tree. Zap the enemies? No, that’s what lazer-chicken form is for.

Saying that, I’m sure it’d be fun for some healers, and there are probably healers all the way along the spectrum from “meh” to “w00t laz0rtree here I come!”

Either way we’re getting into the battle-lines drawn up between “spec ret if you want to DPS” and “healers should contribute as much as they can”.  Both are fair sides, and the latter gets me thinking about mechanics. An Uber healer putting out twice the threat to usual? Think of your holy pally dropping some huge heals and then nuking the mobs with something suitably vengeful. That’s either going to be one dead Uber-healer, one twitching tank or one game play mechanic in need of serious tweaks. So that the players don’t, you know, break.

Not to mention the brief fate met by a PvP mage who’s missed the patch notes and has just met his first Uber healer in Warsong Gulch. Or team of them in the arenas. I know I wouldn’t be amused if I was that mage, particularly if I then found the battlegrounds were overrun by these new Hero classes. Oops, Uber healers.

It also occurs to me that whatever it does or doesn’t do to healers, cataclysm does bring with it a drive to get us all to start new characters. Do we really want the capital cities to be filled with fluffy but overpowered priests months down the line? Imagine the looting.

So what do you think? Do you want to be able to DPS as well as heal? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or do you have anything you’d really like to see done with it?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Guest Post: Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards

This is a guest post from We Fly Spitfires.

Tanks and healers are the most important classes for any group. Tanks set the pace of the group, the flow of experience and man the vanguard as they lead the team into battle. Healers mend the broken bones of their companions and keep the tanks a live – without the healers there could be no tanks and there could be no group. These are the two most important classes that exist in any MMORPG. But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.

Look at it in terms of supply and demand and stress and responsibility. Tanks and healers are in consistent short supply whereas DPS are a dime a dozen. And there’s a reason for that. Tanking isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Do it right and the group will sing your praises for days to come yet do it badly and you’re on the receiving end of every criticism and jibe. Healing is much the same and also comes with it’s own set of stresses and strains. If the tank dies who gets the blame? Not the DPS classes that didn’t burn the mob down fast enough but the healer who didn’t heal well enough. They carry the heart and soul of the party on their shoulders and all of the difficulties that come with that.

And raiding? That’s even more stressful. Not only do we even already acknowledge the importance of tanks and healers in this situation. We have Main Tanks and even Main Healers but who’s ever heard of a Main DPS before? There’s a huge amount of pressure to do these jobs right. Sub-par DPS can join a raid (even if it’s not desirable) but sub-par tanks cannot tank one and poor healers cannot heal one.

All of this stands to reason that tanks and healers should get bigger rewards than anyone else. I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right? Call it a Tank or Healer Bonus, and a well deserved one at that. They are more important and necessary than anyone else, rarer to find, and they’re jobs are a lot tougher and far more stressful. They’re like the mommas and papas of any group, bringing the necessary order and structure. Without a tank there is no group, without a healer there is no group. DPS can just be picked up randomly as required.

I’ve got nothing against DPS. It’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with that but they simply don’t deserve the equality of rewards. Tanks and healer should get a little something extra on the side (maybe a nice ‘Thank You Drop’ from the boss mobs they fell) because they have the hardest and most demanding jobs and are traditionally the slowest to level up (unless you turn them into DPS). They require the most effort and who can argue that as a result they should get the biggest rewards?

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?