Thursday, January 31, 2008

To macro or not to macro: that is the question.

The question of using a shot rotation macro is one that all hunters face and I've read up on all sides of the argument. I first learned about the macro from reading BRK and the discussion that was carried out there. Sometimes the pro-macro squad would put me off with their "L2Macro nub lolz" comments but after some discussions with intelligent hunters on my guild forums and reading some more measured commentary within the hunter community (both at BRK and Elitist Jerks) I decided to give it a go. I mean it couldn't hurt, right?

About this time we first started raiding Gruul's and since it had been touted as useful when learning a new fight (apart from allegedly making your DPS godly) I figured now was the time to try it.

This also meant trying to get a clearer understanding of the impacts of weapon speed, the global cool down, latency, clipped shots and etc. I kind of grasped the principles. As much as my inability to decipher all the formulas allowed me to - no math fu here.

I dutifully got hold of 'the' macro:

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide() /castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, !Auto Shot /castrandom [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command /script UIErrorsFrame:Clkear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

added it in game and then set up a hotkey for it. Note: since the latest patch means that ! needs to be added to cast sequence macros where you want a cast to keep firing (casting, whatever I'm a hunter!) without needing to press a button the above macro is corrected to show this.

I also downloaded the recommended mod Quartz and voila I was all set to become the most awesome DPSer EVAR.

So I've used the macro for I suppose 2 or 3 months roughly. I actually used a variation of the macro which had stop-casting built in to assist with high latency. However since the changes to how client and server communicate re client actions as of the last patch it's not really relevant anymore.

So did the macro help with learning the Gruul's fight? Yes it did. Less time concentrating on getting shots off meant more time learning how to avoid cave-ins and shatters and etc. All said and done though I've reached the conclusion that ithe macro really doesn't do that much for me.

/semi tangent alert
I didn't see a massive increase in my DPS at any rate. In fact my DPS or lack thereof is often to do more with deciding not to blow all my cooldowns all the time. I figure if we're not dying because we are taking too long to kill mob X then there is no need to. When I put in a concerted effort I can top the damage meters in an instance. But I'm not there to outdamage people I'm there to do my job as part of the team.
/end semi tangent alert

When I was first reading up shot rotations and the macros and so on I didn't really know or understand much about it. I felt like I had a pretty good rotation going but was confused by what was meant by clipped shots and weapon speed and etc so assumed I must be doing some thing wrong.

Now after using the macro and getting more edumacated I'm more confident that I in fact wasn't doing something inherently wrong and now that I'm using Quartz it's easy for me to time my shots manually, something I was doing in a more instinctual and zen way pre-macro.

So last night I removed the macro from my hotkey and instead linked it to steadyshot. I set up a hotkey for Kill Command on the key next to it and farmed some ethereals to see how I did. What I found and liked was that as Kill Command is not included in the global cool down I can stab the hotkey everytime it procs and still continue casting my steadyshot without having to wait on the cast sequence.

Now maybe I'm getting this all wrong, but that's how it seemed to me. Maybe I was using the macro wrong all along :P Enlighten me!

Now this post has been brewing in my mind for the last week and in another case of happy blogging serendipity I came across a fantastic explanation of shot rotation by Drotara over at Less QQ More PewPew. It is far and away the best explanation I have come across to date - and with diagrams! I'll also note that I discovered the blog via the new Blog Azeroth site which is a great forum for people blogging about WoW.

Another reason I think I have turned off of the shot rotation macro is running more bgs and arenas. There is simply no place for this macro in a PVP situation in my opinion - you need to be able to change up gears at any moment and the macro doesn't require you to do anything but stand still and 'push butan'. That will get you killed dead before kill command can even proc in a bg and even more so in arena. So now I understand more fully what Shifttusk was talking about in his comments on BRK's blog.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The art of Warcraft: my zen gaming philosophy

I apply the same philosophy to playing WoW that I did to playing Pirates . Yes there will doubtless be many comparisons and references to that game in my blog.

The way I play WoW has changed over time, mostly due to the way my interest in pirates decreased as my interest in WoW increased. The increase in interest was motivated by by further delving into the deeper aspects of game play in WoW. Initially as should be obvious from my previous post I was playing in a fairly casual manner.

I'm a reasonably competitive player, I like to try and play my class well and to that extent I will spend time researching how I can improve. However I'll only do that to the point that I am still having fun. Spending hours poring over spreadsheets so that I can squeeze a little more DPS out of my spec+gear is not really my idea of fun. I will take the information I glean from various places on the interwebs and in game and use that sure and that's why I really appreciate all the theory-crafters out there who really get off on analysis. A big thanks to all of you out there!

So I like to believe my play-style is pretty zen - for the most part. Fun should always > theory. But an important part of that statement is that theory = a portion of fun. There is also a high percentage chance that I am talking absolute crap, but if you've read a few of my posts now you should know that I'm ramblomatic ;)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Confessions of a Huntard

I wasn't always the uber hunter that I am now *cue hysterical laughter*, no once upon a time I was one of the many many huntards that infest the worlds of Warcraft (worlds because we have both Azeroth and Outlands amirite?).

I like to believe though that while I may have displayed some huntardation there were things I got right pretty much from the start.

I was lucky enough to start playing at the same time as *cue further hysterical laughter from Morn specifically* the manbeast. But we'll call him Broichan now because that was the first toon he leveled and who Jez began her adventures in Azeroth with.

Do you still remember what it was like when the world was all new and fresh? When you'd enter a new zone and oooh and aaah at the lovely environmental graphics? Maybe you didn't ooh and aah. I did, because it was the first seamless 3D world MMO I'd ever played and it was a pretty exciting experience just inhabiting the world let alone all the cool things I could do as a hunter.

So Broichan is a drood and as anyone who has leveled a drood knows you get your first shape change ability at level 10 which is happily when a hunter can first train a pet. I think this is the reason that I never became a melee huntard. I had a nice fuzzy bear tanking the mob whilst I pew-pewed happily away. And yes I did send my lovely Azrael in to do battle as well. I had a pet and they were supposed to do the nasty up close fighting for me. I grasped that early on.

I adventured away, often with Broi until level 45 where I suddenly became bored with the game and stopped playing for about 6 months. I started playing Pirates again and Jezrael languished away. By the time I started playing again Broichan was 60 and Emelin the soul-destroying Warlock, the new toon of the manbeast, was almost there too. So I leveled my way mainly solo up to 60. My huntardiness therefore showed itself mainly with instances. I still remember the first time I was asked to lay a trap to CC a mob in LBRS. I had no idea what was being asked of me. This was back pre TBC and before we could lay multiple traps in battle so trapping was really just a tiny bit of CC to help with a multi-mob pull. Ditto on being asked to pull a mob to my assigned tank in Molten Core. You want me to what?! Ah yes I had much to learn about the ways of the hunter.

But probably my greatest transgression? I had an icy enchant on each of my Assassination Blade's .



I'm glad that through intensive therapy plus deciding to really understand what makes my class tick I learned better.

Any publicity is good publicity...

We run several Kara groups within my guild. Sometimes due to a guildie being unable to make it we grab a pick up player or 2. Our Kara D group had a PUG hunter along on their most recent run. Kara D is mostly composed of the alts of mains who have moved beyond Kara into Gruuls & ZA (and coming soon Mags! Woot!).

Before we go any further I'll explain the way our raid loot rules work because they are extremely complicated.

I'm totally lying. The Drunken Badger way (apart from massive quantities of sustained beer drinking - or MQOSBD) is to keep things as simple as possible. To that end we don't use DKP or anything like that for raid loot. Rather we have a social ettiquette which is explained to anyone joining one of our raids for the first time. Loot is set to group and for boss loots if you need it then roll need and if you don't need it but would like it for an offset you can greed so if no-one needs it you might get lucky. If you have already won one item do not roll need again unless no-one else wants the item at all. We also allow any person pugging with us the opportunity to get loot on their first run - unlike many guilds out there who only allow pick-ups to roll on attendance at their second raid (at a minimum).

So I'd say we're pretty generous eh?

Well this pick up hunter ran with the Kara D group and as the only hunter scored 4 epix including the Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix which drops from Prince.

He then had the gall to post on the Blizz Feathermoon Realm forums QQing about how the bow was almost given to a rogue in the group. This was after ignoring our loot rules after being repeatedly reminded of them and already scoring three, COUNT THEM THREE, epics in that one run.

Thanks for the Kara run and for the bow. If you had given the bow to the rogue I would've posted the screenshots I took.

I still can't believe you have people in your raid who think like that and said what they said to me in whisper over that bow. That bow is a hunters weapon and the fact you even considered giving it to the rogue over a hunter shows you do not have any respect for the hunter players and that class.

I won't be raiding with you guys again. You did have some nice members and I'm really sorry it ended that way on that fun run.

PS: Yes I was the only hunter there, and I got 2 other hunter pieces that dropped... the belt and shoulders. That rogue also got 2-3 pieces... those boots and something else and he also rolled need on that ring that the curator dropped. Guess since he has a perm spot and is a friend of yours you have certain people trying to play favoritism.

I also found it funny and alittle sad that even though I died during the opera event (big bad wolf) right from the start... so was dead that whole fight.... I was still in first place on the damage meter with my pet added to me by almost 3% and was in 2nd place without my pet and only needed 40k more dmg to be in first without my pet.

Good day and thanks for the bow and that kara run.

Unbelievable! I'm pleased to report that the dude got pwned in the comments that followed.

The Badgers, deciding that discretion is the better part of valour and all that, have opted to stay well out of it, well except for reading the thread and giggling anyway. Besides this guy is doing a good job of giving us publicity for being a good generous guild to run with. Guess his plan backfired huh.

Onto better things
While I'm on the topic of publicity:


to Mr BRK for the linkage. Foshizzle!

Friday, January 25, 2008

PVP nub + tangents galore.

You know how you'll hear a word somewhere and then suddenly find yourself noticing that word a lot more? Or a song or whatever? Well lately PVP has been that song for me.

I'm no leet PVPer by any stretch of the imagination so let's just get that establishment of credentials (or lack thereof) out of the way up front. I do however really enjoy it. There's nothing that gets my adrenalin going quite as much as testing myself against a human foe.

Raiding, sure I like it a lot. I want the shiny purples yes but it's the team work aspect I enjoy the most.

In fact...
/wailing sirens
/end wailing sirens

My intial objections to playing WoW back when I was a pirate-head was that WoW was

1. A level grind
2. Based on gear accquired through level grinding rather than skill per se (yes I was wrong there is a lot of skill but there is still the level thing)

which differed significantly from Pirates where your 'leetness' factor was based purely on your skill at the different puzzles and navigating as opposed to having killed x/y annoying screech making spiders ad nauseum to get to the level cap and the fat lewtz. Remember I hadn't really played at this stage.

So I've played for, well, long enough to have a considered opinion I think, and the point I am laboriously trying to make is that raiding is really ultimately learning a script. Let me expand on that by a comparison to pirates. No wait let me not because that is a post topic all of it's own. Let's just leave it for now at: raid - script and therefore markedly different from PVP.

Which is, no doubt, at the root of the tension in WoW between the PVEers and the PVPers (there was this tension in Pirates too.. but that was more about the carebear factor). I've never thought about it before but maybe I'm a PVP style player at heart who just hasn't realised it yet? (And is pretty damn noobish about PVP lest we forget).

It's amazing what a few well timed comments can do to educate you though. And this is where we heave this massively derailed post back on track.

So PVP yeah. I did a bunch of PVPing in the last month or so before TBC came out, mainly because there was no point running instances/raids for gear that would shortly become redundant. I don't think I was very good at it though. I was pretty huntardy at that time too but more on this another time. At any rate in the last month I have a renewed interest in PVP and also arenas. It seems there has been a massive jump in PVP interest generally in WoW although I'm not really sure why. I can only speak about myself and I think the influx of some new players into the guild who are into PVP has piqued my interest. Also the gear is pretty sweet!! Maybe it's the realisation of raiders that you can get good as, or better gear, via PVP more easily than lots of raiding and DKP and etc. Then there's the whole 'welfare epics' thing which people have even written (hilarious) songs about.

I don't really care if I'm on Welfare. I play to have fun and that includes both PVE and PVP.

So I'm no BRK with a shizload of PVP kills under my belt (well they were pre TBC so do they even count? hehe) but I've got some comments on PVPing as a hunter too. More about play style than gear or talent spec though. I'm still working out the gear/spec thing.

See your shots are completely different in PVP. In a raiding or even general PVE situation as a BM you're probably going to be doing something similiar to a 1:1 shot rotation of auto shot, steady shot throwing in some specials like arcane, multi on cool down and stings when needing to be refreshed, and of course those lovely Kill Commands every time they proc.

In PVP you'll be loving concussive shot, arcane shot, stings (to a lesser extent) and aimed shot. And of course, my favourite - multishot. TBW is your best friend and Intimidation is also really useful for the 3 second stun (thanks for the tip on that one Eszti!). Kill Command is just as wonderful in PVP as it is in PVE too, but if you're using 'the' hunter macro you're going to have to get used to executing the action yourself rather than letting the macro do it for you.

See the way I see it, in PVP the hunterly role is to slow up your target enough that a) they can't run out of range or into your dead zone and b) can't get off a cast (in the case of casters) so that you and your pet can chew them up as rapidly as possible.

I don't have a particular preference for who I fight against in a BG - mostly it's circumstantial anyway.

Kiting ability is definitely a must. It has given me great pleasure to have successfully kited an annoying rogue or warrior while Sooty chews them up. Ditto on jump shots - being able to kite and keep firing off shots is important - concussive shot to slow em then throw in an arcane once you get a bit more range again is nice.

Feign death. I only just learned this myself through a few arena encounters with other hunters - FD is really useful to make whatever is attacking you lose focus. I'm still working on remembering to use this ability in PVP but it is definitely a useful one.

Traps. Really are a hunters best friend. Depending on the situation frost, freezing and snake are all great options. In a BG like WSG I'll use a frost trap for it's slowing purposes whereas in Arenas the freezing trap is great. I always drop a freezing trap as my first move in an arena match. Either it will stop someone attacking me OR it can be used by my squishier team mates to kite someone attacking them into it.

Hot-keys. Reaction time and attention to the action are extremely important in PVP. Clicking is favoured by some but precious seconds are lost while you mouse over to that particular icon. Also clickers generally use the WASD keys or similiar to move and this means not using the camera to the best advantage.

So there's my take on PVP as a hunter thus far.

As far as speccing for PVP - well I know that there are talents more suited to PVP in the various hunter trees but personally I am not taking my PVP seriously enough to respec all the time (unlike some of my fellow guildies!). Maybe that will change, we'll see.

As I learn more through experience and research I'll share here.

20 Minutes. Out the front. Pufferfish.

Warning non PG/work safe content *gasp*

Words cannot fully capture how much I love Zero Punctuation

Yahtzee is my tiny god. Sadly I don't think he's done a Warcraft rant for me to giggle like a loon at.

There is such a thing as RL

Sometimes it's a good thing to 'un-plug'. Well so I've heard anyway. No wait, seriously real life really does need to take precedence to WoW life and I like to think that I maintain a decent balance. I mean I hold down a full time job and have friends that I don't only interact with via the interwebs so that counts right? We won't talk about the 'job pays for WoW subscription motivation' ok? Perhaps my friends would disagree with my statement about balance. Yeah I play everyday and spend most of the weekend playing but I'm not even hardcore! Personally I'd much prefer to play WoW than go out and get schickered every weekend. Then again I'm not adverse to the odd night of debauchery either!

This weekend the manbeast and I are going away to the family shack with his parents and sister and her partner. It's the first time we've been to the shack in several years and I know his parents are looking forward to us all spending time together. Is it ok to admit that we're a little saddened to be missing our regular Gruul's and ZA raids?

I bet the Dragonspine Trophy drops again this week too!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Back Story - part the second or - No WoW widows here!

So I kinda skimped on a little detail in part the first. I didn't buy WoW straight off the bat... oh no.. I fell to the old 'free trial' gambit with the crack being supplied by the aforementioned co-worker. He hooked me up with the trial disk and with curiosity but no massive eagerness I fired up.

And loved it. The first hit's always free baby and I was hooked from the get go. I remember turning around to the manbeast and saying "I'm going to have to buy this and sign up for a subscription" after about 30 minutes to an hour of play.

So I should supply a little bit more back story to the back story here I guess. I'm of the female persuasion and have been in a relationship with the manbeast for a good long time. He was the one who first turned me on to PC gaming by introducing me to the wonderful Starcraft. I'd played PC games as a kid on the Commodore 64 but for a long time I played consoles, mainly due to having no PC and no money for one. I can tell you that shortly after we moved in together our first joint purchase was a PC. A crappy off the shelf PC but a PC none the less. Let's do the math on that one. Boy introduces girl to PC gaming, boy and girl only have one computer. Much fighting and tension ensue as computer time is contested. You bet your britches we got a second PC stat! Well as soon as we could afford it anyway.

So if we fast forward in time a few more years you will find us happily gaming away each on our own custom built PCs (we never made the mistake of buying off the shelf again). He was still into the stand alone games but I'd made the foray into online gaming with Puzzle Pirates . The manbeast just didn't get the whole MMO gig and became somewhat of a "Pirates Widower" bemused by my willingess to get up at 2am in the morning to attend blockades (sort of the piratey equivalent to raids) and the notion that you could become good friends with people you'd never physically met.

WoW changed all that, like a terrible link in the addiction chain I bought the game and passed my free trial disk on to him. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Back Story - part the first

I've been a gamer since year dot. Card and board games were a big part of my childhood (and books but that's another post). I play console games, stand alone PC games and MMOs. Before WoW I played another MMO for over 3 years. It was (and is) a great little game called Yohoho Puzzle Pirates.

When WoW was first publicly released I was heavily into YPP and the community there and resisted the urgings of my co-worker at the time to get on board with WoW. For a while that is. I started playing WoW in October 2005.

I still remember riding the train home from work (a 45 minute trip of pain, public transport = teh devil) clutching my shiny new WoW game box and perusing the game manual as I thought about what character I might choose. So I might as well confess right here and now that with absolutely zero knowledge of the game beyond having played a bit of stand alone World of Warcraft 3 I made the most stereotypical choice possible. Yes I chose a Nelf because I thought they were pretty looking (and I always liked elves in the fantasy fiction I favour as a genre) and to be a hunter because ZOMG pets!

Jezrael was created as soon as I had installed the game that night and has been my main ever since.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

*tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Widgets are fun! Widgets are cool! Especially when they use javascript. So I went off and searched (and searched and searched) BRK's archives till I found his post on adding the javascript that allows you to link to items in the Wowhead database and get some nifty roll over action plus pretty coloured text. Let's see if it's working shall we?

Tonight I finally amassed enough arena points to get the lovely Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe huzzah! Now to ponder whether to spring for the Savagery or Major Agility enchant? I suspect being the not so theory crafting huntard that I am that some pestering of my fellow guildie hunters will follow in short order.

@#%#$%#! Who left these unpacked boxes in the hall!?

Starting a blog is a lot like moving into a new house I've decided. There is a settling in period. One needs to make decisions about the decor.. will those curtains match the feature wall colour and so on. Things are always a little uncertain at first and liable to change, plus there is a good chance of unpacked boxes in the hallway presenting hazards to travel.

I'm still getting to know my way around the blogger interface and options and I expect will be tweaking and what not as an ongoing process. For starters I definitely need some kind of header image! The blogger templates kinda suck but I am also lazy lazy lazy and this is an aside to WoW not the new focus of my free time so, well, you know.....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting my blog on

Been thinking about blogging for a while now. Usually when I feel a particular urge to rant about something WoW related that I'm too kind to inundate my manbeast (also a player) or my guild forums with. So lucky interwebs I shall offer my rantings unto you.

I make no promises to be a regular, witty, or intelligent blogger. I'm really writing this thing in the same vein as Mr BRK got started - as a place to talk about playing a hunter in World of Warcraft although I'll probably deviate into various excursions into altaholism and one or to non WoW rants.

So if anyone makes it here: