Monday, 25 January 2010

Holy Paladin meta gem choices


Warning: There be theorycraft and numbers involved in this post

I've just recently upgrade Keluin's helm to the non-set EoT one - Heaume of the Restless Watch and a post by the new Disc/Holy priest columnist over at wow.com got me thinking about my meta gem choices. What a paladin reading a priest column... especially when his highest priest is level 22? Actually the title sucked me in because the holy paladin meta of choice is Insightful Earthsiege Diamond.

Summary of the post is this: although the on chance effect of the meta looks attractive it only works out as about 60-75 mp5 and at current gear levels 2% Intellect from Ember Skyflare Diamond is likely to be worth more than the static +21 int (I'm ignoring Beaming Earthsiege Diamond because int provides more than just mana for paladins).

On the surface value you only need
21*10%/2% = 1155
intellect to already see the benefits of the Skyflare meta (the 10% multiplier is because of Divine Intellect). My paladin currently has 1342 intellect unbuffed - looking at this at surface value I would therefore see more benefit from using the skyflare diamond gaining about 26 int unbuffed.

However, what isn't factored into this calculation is the activation requirements. The Earthsiege can be activated with one gem - a Nightmare Tear leaving the other two gems be the standard +20 int gems. The Skyflare however requires 3 red gems, which means that you will have to use alternative gems in other locations just to meet the meta. At best this means that you will only be able to gain 30 int total from those gems when using a Luminous Ametrine. So if you add those numbers together the value of the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond is:
21 + 10 + 20 + 20 = (int*2%) + 10 + 10 + 10
int = 41/2%
int = 2050*10% benefits of Divine Intellect
int = 2255
So that is a base requirement of 2050 int before you'll see the benefit of the Skyflare diamond purely in terms of int gained.

The other benefit of the Skyflare is the gain of spell power - 61 in total assuming you use three Luminous Ametrines. Again looking at my paladin's stats I have 2325 spell power all from gear - so this is just a 3% increase in my spell power. (Note I haven't taken into account the spell power gains from Holy Guidance but the difference is going to be somewhere between 1 and 2 spell power).

Finally, the one thing I haven't calculated in this is the difference in mp5. Combining Divine Plea, Replenishment and Arcane Torrent usage results in 65.5 extra Mp5 per 100 Intellect (I got that figure from this post over at HolyPaladin.net). The 60 - 75 mp5 from the on chance use therefore would require your int to be in the range of 5000 int to see equivalent mp5 (and be a blood elf...). The difference here is that mp5/mana is a throughput stat for Holy paladins - therefore the value is somewhat higher than that of priests (have a look at this thread on the wowhead forums for an interesting discussion of disc priests versus holy paladins and mana/spellpower requirements... if you just wade through all the flaming).


My conclusion: stick with the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond for now unless you are gearing for spell power and going with a Flash of Light focus then it might be worth it (I'm not sure what the base stats of the FoL gearset would be like - I currently have 180 int coming from gems so I would still be above the initial 1155 int mark). Once your unbuffed int is somewhere is the range of 2255 then it might be worth looking at the benefits of more spellpower instead.

Monday, 18 January 2010

WoW in an Hour: Playing with Interruptions


The mercury hit 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) on the weekend here in (awfully) hot and sunny Perth... which resulted in a hot house (even with air conditioning) and therefore questionable sleeping habits for my kids. And that meant me getting up and resettling and trying to keep them cool etc... which in turn means interruptions to my WoW playing time.

When I'm at home, I'm always Dad - which means that I do my share of looking after the kids - particularly as their sleep time is the chance for my wife to catch up on her rest too (sleep is particularly precious for her... I'm quite happy with relatively little sleep). This means I expect to play WoW with interruptions - and hope for the best.

How do I handle it? Basically I assume that people are pretty forgiving - and I also try and choose what I do depending on how much uninterrupted time I expect to have on my hands. However that isn't an exact science...

Handling interruptions while playing highlights one of the downsides of the random heroic part of the Looking for Dungeon tool - the current heroic dungeons allow for (brief) breaks with the exception of The Violet Hold. Since the instigation of the new LFD tool I've popped the Violet Hold three times (The last time was an amazing run with all the DPS running in the 4k region and one cracking 5k... I think we saw one add on the first Portal Guardian portals and that was because we started with 4 people as the hunter disconnected immediately).

One time we had just got the 'Incoming Boss' warning from DBM when I hear the crying starting from my daughter... my wife was asleep and would not have been happy with the prospect of being woken up because her husband was too busy playing a game... Thankfully the DPS were good and we quickly had the funny ugly eye beast down and I bolted down to the other end of the house - tried a quick resettle and came back to the computer... to find the Death Knight in the group on low health and Grid all lit up with little red blips that indicate that others have aggro which was quickly fixed by a Righteous Defense and we went on. Thankfully my daughter (to her credit) settled down and I was able to finish the run without any further interruptions. I really should have mentioned I was going AFK quickly but I was rushing too much.

Being the tank or healer I am really conscious of going AFK - generally DPS can AFK for a bit and it doesn't matter too much (but I rarely play DPS). One other Violet Hold run I did with guildies did let me go AFK - but that was thanks to Dual Specs - a quick 'umm gotta go AFK - druid you need to switch to your resto spec' fixed that and I came back to my corpse to watch Cyanigosa die. My guild have always been good about it, many of them being parents themselves (or generally just reasonable adults)... but I do have lingering guilt about afking or having to quit in the middle of a run - none more than the times I had to leave the others in the lurch back in BC trying to complete normal The Black Morass on Gameldar. I think I only tried 3 times and 2 times I had to quit because my son woke up (the first time was with a group that was over zealous after we completed Durnholde before I hit level 70 and I was getting hit with crushing blows left right and centre and we abandoned it). The other puggers and my guild mate were not impressed.

So, in general, I try and work out the best time for me to do my random heroic so that I'm least likely to be interrupted... and hope that I don't get Violet Hold. Thankfully, up to this point, my daughter has been a better sleeper than my son - so usually the evenings are a safe time to play. But, if I think I am going to be interrupted (like on the weekend) I'll tend to stick to doing my dailies (to finally get my Crusader title) or work on one of my alts (my DK got some love this last weekend - about a third of the way to level 62 and on to about my 5th respec trying out unholy again). Admittedly playing on an alt is generally a better idea - because it is less tempting to queue up for a random dungeon, or try and join a raid!

How do you deal with playing with potential interruptions?

Monday, 11 January 2010

WoW in an Hour: Tools of the Trade - Part 2


In part 1 I looked at the class and race that form tools of the trade for playing WoW in an hour. This time I'm going to look at some of those technical thingoes... add-ons, macros, and resources outside the game.

Add-ons

Questing/Leveling/Doing Stuff
Tour Guide - get it, use it, love it. Combined with Jame's leveling guide - I think this is leaps and bounds ahead of any of the quest helpers - and does not slow your interface down or clog up the screen with anything other than the tomtom pointer. If you're already at max level there are also guides for doing your dailies, and doing the holiday achievements - less time spent traveling and more time killing is the key. Jame's leveling guide has been developed by analysing where you need to go and what you need to do to optimise the time spent traveling back and forth. I've used it with all my characters now at various stages of leveling and questing and having it as part of tour guide is fantastic (no more alt-tabbing)!!

Lightheaded - the power of wowhead from within WoW. This basically exports the quest information straight from www.wowhead.com into an add-on that is visible from the in-game quest log. Useful for reading tips on how to complete quests or finding people/things involved with quests that sometimes are missing from Tour Guide. It is pretty hefty in terms of download size and memory usage, so I would place it under the optional category... but again it should stop you having to alt-tab to read a website.

A bag add-on
I'd call this a must because less time searching for those little things is time saved. My pick for an ease of use and easy setup bag add-on is Combuctor. The extra tabs that provide sorting is fantastic for quickly finding that item you can never see in your inventory when you need it - and includes a quest item tab, and being able to view items by quality (I most often use this for finding those BoE greens to send to my disenchanter). For a more comprehensive look at bag add-ons have a look at this post of No Stock UI. One thing I learnt from reading this article is that I was never using all the advanced features of ArkInventory (I'll have to go back and have a look at it again).

Shopping
Auctioneer - if you need to use the auction house to sell things Auctioneer makes it a (relatively) quick task. Playing the auction house is a mini game in itself... one which I've only ever dabbled in... but I like auctioneer also for the statistics that it provides in the tool tips (that come from the Meta package that is Auctioneer - this includes Enchantrix which provides disenchanting values for items as well). This can be a meaty add-on - so often what people do is have a bank alt that uses Auctioneer and then their mains don't have it enabled. I've not really noticed much slow down (particularly since upping my system memory to 4G) so I just leave it enabled, but if you are having trouble in instances/raids then try disabling it.

AuctionLite - I also use this one... because I prefer its interface for buying items. You can choose what you want to buy and the quantity and it'll go off and list the best price (including resale of excess if need be) amongst all the entries listed on the auction house. This makes buying a quick and painless process. I haven't yet, but should also install a good add-on to get all my mail from the mailbox... I used to have one (I thought it was part of Auctioneer) but haven't in a while (/emote makes a mental note to self).

Add-on for Add-ons
LoadIt - because logging in and out takes time. I always cringe (and then recommend LoadIt) when I see guild/party members say 'brb just need to (en/dis)able an add-on'. LoadIt makes this a breeze by actively enabling/loading or disabling add-ons without having to restart WoW. Still I have some guildies that persistently ignore me...


Just a note with add-ons - it is worth looking into a tool for keeping your add-ons up-to-date. I used to use the Curse client until they switched to a premium/non-premium model and then I switched to WoWInterface's MMO Minion which I had great trouble installing (I basically had to work out where to put stuff manually because the installer borked after trying to download things). When my laptop died and I had to install again on my new one I didn't bother with MMO Minion and switched back to using Curse - if you keep your add-ons generally up-to-date it isn't a big task to manually update two at a time with Curse. Additionally, I have just been given a complimentary subscription to a premium Curse account because I'm 'a valuable member of the Curse.com community' - I'm guessing because I have written an add-on (MTarget... must finish version 2 at some point) that is hosted by them (well I develop it on www.wowace.com and they are now one and the same thing).

Macros

Macros are immensely useful for all areas of the game but in terms of saving time I really only use one macro... this one:

/script for bag = 0,4,1 do for slot = 1, GetContainerNumSlots(bag), 1 do local name = GetContainerItemLink(bag,slot); if name and string.find(name,"ff9d9d9d") then DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("- Selling "..name); UseContainerItem(bag,slot) end; end;end


when you are talking to a vendor and you click this macro it will go through your bags and sell any grey items you have.
Note: be careful if you cut and paste this - that all needs to be on one line in your macro. Also - add it to your 'general' macros tab and then you can use it on all your characters.

I might do a more detailed post about macros in the future - but for now have a look at WoWWiki - Making a Macro for an introduction (the macro above is more complicated than most as it is actually running API code).

External Resources

News/Tips/Reading Stuff
Knowing what is going on in the World of Warcraft from a general level really can help you get the most out of your time (and can consume a lot of time too - but perhaps time you have available that can't be used for playing). I've culled my reader a lot, but I still read a number of blogs and read wow.com to keep up-to-date with what is happening. News sites like wow.com are useful for disseminating the useful bits of info from the trivial ones, but one thing I particularly pay attention to is the patch notes - to know what changes are coming up and how that might affect my game play. The amount you read really is up to you - I love being a know-it-all!

If you are sticking with one class (and even one spec of a class) - I'd recommend finding a blog that focuses on it, particularly one written by someone who has more time to test out the best way to do things. You don't have to be a cookie cutter, but it is useful to know the ins and outs of your class - to be able to know what gear to look for, what helps with problem x, etc. Finding one might be the tricky part - but have a look at the twisted nether wiki, have a look at the Author Introduction thread at Blog Azeroth or just see what Google turns up for your class and spec (or post a comment here with recommendations and I'll see about making a list).

Databases
www.wowhead.com - this is the database I use. There are others out there (I used to use thottbot and Allakhazam back in vanilla days) but I haven't found them to be anywhere near as good. If something is lacking there - then I tend to check it out on WoWWiki.
What do I use it for? Primarily finding out what drops from where, and what I can craft/buy, reading peoples comments on how to do achievements/bosses, reading up on spells, talents and anything else that might be useful information that I could potentially get in game... but when I'm not in the game. Making the decisions outside the game means I can get on with the doing when I'm playing. Also - the compare feature is invaluable for comparing two similar items and seeing what works best.

wowecon - auction house price database. Although I find that the amount of data is lacking for my server (I should really contribute myself - but I rarely scan the auction house these days... 15+ minutes is too much play time chewed through) - it is useful as a general guide for the cost of items on the auction house. I used this recently to calculate how much it will cost me to power level alchemy and engineering to max level.

Character Development
As I mentioned above - part of what I do on the database sites is look at what gear drops from where. At the moment apart from running my random heroic for the Emblems of Frost I tend to go places where I know I'll get upgrades. So I try and plan out what I'm going to buy and how that will affect my character. This is where the character development tools come in...

WoW Armory - mainly I use this to check up on my character when I'm not logged in. Seeing how far I am from a reputation requirement, or how far along I am with an achievement, and also just seeing what gear I do have currently (and is currently equipped).

wowhead profiler - this is the one I use most mainly because it is also the database I use - and it is easy to look for better gear. Like most of the character development tools then numbers don't necessarily equate to the real numbers in game (dodge for example) but for checking that hit/expertise/defense requirements are met it is a great tool.

CharDev - I've also used this one in the past. The main advantage here is that it also lists the materials required for crafting items - so if you are about to hit max level and want to make use of some crafted gear (and also enchant materials) to boost you into heroics and raids then this tool is great! (Looking at the current version it seems like the materials section is not working). It also allows you to set the buffs that you would have for a more accurate perception of your stats when in a group.

Edit to add this in:
Rawr - I've just been playing around with Rawr (yes I'm a bit slow on the uptake), but it is the tool I've been looking for for gear upgrades and also optimizing what you already have (I should really regem some of Keluin's tanking gear for example). It pulls data from the armory and/or wowhead and does some fancy maths to work out the best upgrades for you and ranks them. I particularly like the option under the Optimize tool that builds the best upgrades for your character and ranks them - so for example when looking at how to spend my hard earned Emblems of Frost the upgrade I get from upgrading my belt is worth more than the upgrade of the cloak. It provides a useful way of prioritising upgrades - although obviously it doesn't weigh in the 'but I might just get a good drop that will do for now' part of the equation. The one downside is that is is an application (and given the amount of number crunching it does, this makes sense) so it is not quite as accessible as a website.

Guides

Leveling guides
As I mentioned before Leveling guides are great for helping you level most efficiently. Jame's Leveling guide is the only one I can recommend from personal use.

Profession guides
WoW-Professions.com - guides for leveling your professions (primarily from the auction house) - it basically lists the most efficient way to level your professions. I'd also recommend having a look at an add-on I just found LilSparky's Workshop and combine this with a profession leveling guide. The advantage of the guide is two-fold:
1. It tells you where you need to go for quests and training
2. It tells you about the recipes/plans you have to buy rather than learn from the trainer that might be cheaper to craft

Raid bosses
Guides for the raid (and dungeon) bosses are useful to help you be an effective team mate especially if you are having to PuG them. I tend to read the strategy guides from wow.com, but there are specific sites dedicated to the task.

Bosskillers - I find the quality varies here, but it is a good place to start for looking at the mechanics of each boss and what you need to do.

Tankspot - Project Marmot - fantastic guides to all the raid bosses in video format (with appropriate commentary). I find these are fantastic, particularly as a tank (but also as other members of the raid) because it means you aren't going into a fight completely blind - you can see what it is going to look like before you get there. It certainly takes some of the raw edge of fighting bosses for the first time (I look back fondly at the time my guild tried Northrend Beasts for the first time - I had done the most reading about it and spent a good while explaining what I thought I knew on vent, but basically we had no idea other than the basic mechanics... and not to mention we were severely under-geared for it... after about an hour of wiping we managed to see Dreadscale and Acidmaw once and then promptly wiped - I'd love to have the time to be in a progression raiding guild to have that experience more often), but ultimately useful for those without a lot of time for playing.


So that completes my thoughts on the tools of the trade for playing WoW in an Hour. There are plenty more tools out there, so if you have more suggestions please leave a comment!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Time-To-Emblem Ratios

Just a quick post to link to another blog post I was reading today (which I found out about by reading a Righteous Defense post... how is that for some indirection).

Cold Comfort has a look at the Time-To-Emblem Ratios for the Heroic dungeons. And interestingly enough - in light of the changes to Oculus that went live today puts Oculus at the top.

Certainly some interesting data for us limited time players and good to see another players take on the time to complete the instances - even with some waiting time it does confirm my thoughts that all the heroics should be doable in an hour (with a good group).

Monday, 4 January 2010

Wow in an Hour: Tools of the Trade - Part 1



As I wrote in my Kris Kringle over at Righteous Defense (to see links to all the presents have a look here over at Ankh=Life) I was planning on writing a post about the tools of the trade for playing in an hour - and here is it (part 1 at least).

First and final Caveat


The suggestions here are purely from my thoughts taken to a logical extreme (warning warning ... logic is not my strong point). In reality what will make playing WoW in an Hour possible and enjoyable is doing what you enjoy (and who you do it with).

Tool 1 - The Class


Depending on what you want to get out of your time - in general you will need to focus on one character (although having an army of alts is a great way to experience a lot of what the game has to offer... in the past I have been guilty of that). From that perspective if you had to choose one character to focus on, or you are starting afresh then the choice of class can make a difference.

The short answer: choose a hybrid class.
The short short answer: choose a paladin.

My reasoning is thus; there are 3 main factors versatility, soloability (survivability) and demand for services.

Versatility: choosing a hybrid gives you greater versatility in what you can do - if all you want to do is blow things up then sure choose one of the pure DPS classes (rogue, mage, hunter, warlock) - but if you choose a hybrid you can try your hand at different things. From a pure versatility perspective druid wins out as you can play four different roles - tank, healer, melee dps and ranged dps. However moving onto

Soloability/Survivability: is where the paladin shines. You can read more about this in my rant over at Righteous Defense - but basically the self-healing of Seal of Light and Judgement of Light combined with the big heals of Holy Light and emergency buttons of Lay on Hands
and Divine Shield (and if you are protection - Ardent Defender) make a pally a hard beast to kill.

Druids also have lots of tools at their disposal - but have the issue of having to switch forms out of their tanking form to be able to make use of heals. A lot of the soloing achievements have been done as druids, but I would say they fit a special class of player to do it well.

Death Knights also rank well for soloability being plate wearers and having some good forms of self healing (particularly in blood spec). They lack the big heals of Holy Light however, but do have a number of great cooldowns that make them viable.

Lastly, if you wanted to sit in the pure DPS realm - for soloability hunters generally are the best - get yourself a tanking pet and some good stamina gear and you can achieve wonders from a distance while your pet takes the hits. Warlocks can also do nicely with a number of heals available to them but remember they are a cloth wearer, not a mail wearer like a hunter.

Demand for services: If we used the new Dungeon Finder as a litmus test it is showing that there is the highest demand for tanks, followed by healers, and then a significant jump to DPS. From my own experience I will find a group instantly if I sign up as tank, it might take up to 5 minutes if I sign up as a healer... and I've never signed up as DPS - but other reports are saying it can be up to 20 minutes (this is for random heroics and will vary from battlegroup to battlegroup). From that perspective - if you want to have the least amount of time waiting you are best off choosing a class that can tank. This is one reason I switched my pally back to having protection as the offspec - so that I can jump into an instance straight away and get on with the killing (as a minor aside it does mean that I've done less dailies and mining as a result). Since doing that I always queue as tank/healer roles... but have never actually entered as a healer (I have been healing, but only when I've joined group with a guild mate who is tanking).

However if you want to get into raids, from my experience, being a tank is not the best way to go - because there is greater pressure on the tanks to have the better gear - and there is less need for tanks as they take up the smallest proportion of the raid. In which case healing or DPS roles do win out. I always said I wouldn't go and gear up another tank - but I've eaten my words here (and Keluin is now a capable tank for 10 man ToC according to wow-heroes) and I'm starting to think I was just particularly unlucky when it came to drops for Gameldar (for example I've tanked The Violet Hold twice now with Keluin and the Bolstered Legplates dropped on the second run - compared to the 14th with Gameldar who tanked the whole time - amusingly they also then dropped on the 15th run and he now has two versions gemmed for different purposes)

The gear caveat: the one thing to note here is that the downside of a hybrid class is that you have greater gearing requirements and associated costs (I blew about 1k gold on gems and enchants last weekend). You can overcome this somewhat by focusing on one role and just grabbing offset pieces where you can - but eventually you'll need to make decisions about what to buy and what to spend money on. I collected enough tanking stuff with Keluin, liked finding groups immediately, and lets face it - my preferred role is tanking (I don't get the same warm fuzzy feeling for healing drops for some reason - perhaps because of all the pain I felt trying to gear Gameldar) - that I ended up spending some of my hard won Emblems of Triumph on tanking gloves and shoulders when I still have lots to do for my main spec (will I go so far as to spend my first Emblem of Frost on tanking... maybe the Corroded Skeleton Key is just so attractive and I think the Triumph healing trinket is a better trinket upgrade. My tanking gear is good enough that I should now be selected by the random dungeon finder to tank the Icecrown Citadel dungeons as well (and I have successfully tanked Pit of Saron... and almost successfully tanked Forge of Souls - the healer keep dying to the souls that the Devourer of Souls releases - that is another PuG story in itself).


Tool 2 - The Race


It's not longer too late to change your race given the new race changing service. That said, race doesn't really factor into it too much. There are probably two racial abilities that play a role:
1. Diplomacy - although reputations have been sped up recently, I still consider this one of the best racials out there - especially when time is limited. It was the reason my Death Knight was human... until I decided there weren't enough gnomes in the world and rerolled.
2. Gift of Naaru - a little bit more self-healing to help the survivability of any class (well that Draenei can be)

Again - the differences are minor - but if you want to min/max your WoW in an Hour go ahead!


So in summary - my pick for the best class is a Human (Prot/Holy) Paladin... yes you can say I'm somewhat biased... but then again the above factors are why I chose to focus on Keluin.



This has got a bit long, so I'm going to split this into a second post to come later - where I look at some of the other sides of the Tools of the Trade, namely add-ons (and one macro) and some external resources.

>> Tools of the Trade - Part 2