Monday, July 23, 2007

Fuck This Shit

Maaan...seriously...FUCK. THIS. SHIT.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Acid Test, Passed

A couple of night's ago, I got an invite to a heroic underbog run. The inviter was a mage from , one of the more progressed guilds on our server, and I figured that the group would be a strong one. I acquiesced, not entirely sure if my hybrid spec would be enough. I was most fearful about losing Light's Grace for the 2-second Holy Lights, mainly because the bog lords can pack quite a punch as they keep growing.

Turns out my fears were unwarranted. Of course, the tank's gear also helped. As did the dps capabilities of the entire group. First time I saw a survival hunter outdps a mage.

Just the 3 wipes. First one was the 2 bog lord pull before the first boss. I had Righteous Fury up (90% increased threat on holy spells) for some retarded reasons, so my heals pulled aggro, and I got critted into oblivion. The rest of the group followed, but not before taking one of them down, so then it became a standard bog lord pull. Then, the second boss got a thrash (extra hits, like a windfury effect) on the tank at the wrong time. The final wipe was due to the tank pulling 6-7 insects at once just before the third boss. We stayed up for a long time nonetheless, before they overwhelmed us.

This was the first time I healed for the 2 bog lords before the final boss. Tanks are often required to use Shield Wall just to get past these, and not without reason. I saw our warrior get hit for 8000 after only a couple of growths. The tank actually went down on the second one, but the group managed to finish off the bog lord.

Just about an hour and a half later, we all left the instance 4 badges richer. I also got myself a Cossack of the Loyal (finally able to discard the leather legs from Kara), a dps ring (meh) as well as the Argussian Compass, which makes AoE farming a lot easier. Very successful run.

I am regularly AoE tanking non-heroic 5-mans and breezing through them as a result. The healing stints categorically proved (if only to myself) that my hybrid spec is definitely where I want it to be. Not being shafted into a healbot role makes playing a paladin that much more enjoyable.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Fickle Friend

Let me first clarify that the eponymous friend is not a person.

The oft-mentioned warrior friend of mine (Narot's the name) came online last night, and we decided to get some 2v2 action going. We had ended the week before at 1607, down from 1625 as we tried to accomodate another not-as-geared player and get him his share of points.

We started off against lower ranked teams, and promptly decimated them. Had it not been for a slight misunderstanding where Narot thought he was about to disconnect and I left queue, we would have gone 5-0. 1650 plus for the first time led to a few passing comments about our uberness.

Alas, it was not to last.

If there is one thing that is my bane in arenas, it is elemental shamans in DPS-heavy teams. They have such amazing burst (especially with bloodlust), and since 800 bonus spell damage is also 800 bonus healing, their heals are very potent as well. With nature's swiftness, they can potentially do upto 12000 damage at the space of one global cooldown, which is only 1.05 seconds with bloodlust. And this is not considering any help from their partner. And it especially didn't help that all the elemental shamans we faced were wearing multiple pieces of arena gear.

Faced with such overwhelming brutality, our win:loss ratio dropped to a clumsy 5:5. Because of the arena rating reset last month, these teams were all lower rated than us, so we lost more points by losing to them, than we could have gained winning against them. We came back under the 1600 mark, finishing at 1576.

One of the highlights though, was when I almost took a warrior down from 50% after our partners died. I never got a chance to change into my tanking gear, or I am confident that I could have emerged victorius.

On a more positive note, I recently started a 5v5 team that has been doing very well. We went up 1520 in our first 5 games before we went up against a 3 warlock team 4 times in a row, and got decimated. This week, I am yet to play any of the games, but we are already above 1550. I have also got offers of 3v3s coming my way, and should see some action in that bracket this weekend.

Let's just hope the elemental shamans stay away.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Exalted with Skyguard

I have finally finished my Sha'tari Skyguard rep grind, slowing down substantially as I neared the Exalted mark. Now my Holy damage set boasts a Airman's Ribbon of Gallantry, while my Retribution set can say the same about a Skyguard Silver Cross.

And I just had to have a Nether Ray mount, so I handed out the 180g and picked the silver one.

Ain't it a beaut? My only complaint is that (not surprisingly) the rays don't have a 'on ground' animation, so they just fly, albeit slower. Still, this has taken over as my primary mount.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

On Crits and Crushes

The outcomes on the attack table used in WoW (refer to my earlier post about Blizzard's table-based combat system here) are, in order of dominance: miss, dodge, parry, block, critical hit, crushing blow, and lastly, normal hit.

The order of dominance is at the center of the table-based combat system. Simply put, the chance of any outcome in the table occuring depends on the cumulative chance of the more-dominant outcomes (those listed earlier in the attack table).

A couple of examples should clear things up. Being the least dominant outcome, the chance of a normal hit is dependent on the cumulative chance of everything else. If these chances add up to a 100% (which is not unreasonable), the chance for a normal hit will drop to 0%. If a very undergeared tank (with dodge, parry and block chances of only 5% each) is fighting a raid boss (~5% chance to miss and crit, 15% chance to crush), he will be receiving normal hits 60% of the time. The hits are not bad, per se, but the crits and crushes will make short work of him.

Now, let's say we have a tank with incredible amounts of defense, affording him a tank a 40% chance to be missed, and to dodge, parry and block. Miss, being the most dominant outcome, will happen 40% of the time. Dodge, the next dominant, will 40% of the time. That only leaves 20% of attacks that are parried. The rest of the parry chance is wasted. No attacks will get blocked either. Of course, with this kind of mitigation, the tank will have a very hard getting rage (mana, if its a paladin), and not be able to hold aggro. This time, the mob will make short work of the rest of the group. But such a scenario is too hypothetical to even consider.

Critical hits and crushing blows are very bad. Nuff said. The mob's weapon skill, which is always 5 times the mob's level, and the player's defense skill, which can be up to 5 times the player's level before bonuses from gear, affect the chances for these outcomes.

All mobs have a 5% base chance to score a critical hit (2x damage) on a player with the same defense skill as the mob's weapon skill. Each point of difference increases or reduces the chance by 0.04%, depending on which is higher. Raid bosses, considered level 73, have a 5.6% chance to crit a level 70 player with 350 defense skill. However, by increasing their defense skill by a further 140 (5.6/0.04), the player can effectively become immune to being crit. This 490 defense is generally considered the magic number that tanks aim to get. It also increases the chance to dodge, block and parry by 5.6% each. Note: The boss has its miss chance lowered from the base 5% to 4.4% by virtue of being level 73, and 490 defense increases it by a further 5.6% to give a total miss chance of 10%.

Ok, so crits are out of the way, rather easily, granting us a whole lot of extra avoidance in the process. Now for crushing blows.

A mob can only score a crushing blow (1.5x damage) on a player if it there is a difference of 15 between their weapon skill and the player's defense skill. A weaker form of crits, you say? The difference is that the chance to receive a crushing blow is always 15% as long as your defense is at the base cap (player level x 5), and increasing defense past this cap with talents or gear has no effect on this chance.

To eliminate crushing blows from the attack table, the player has to increase their combined chance to miss, dodge, parry and block to more than 100% (102.4% to be specific, to account for the level difference of a raid boss), literally pushing crushing blows (along with crits and normal hits) off the table, as the other outcomes are more dominant. The warrior ability Shield Block and the paladin ability Holy Shield help in this regard by substantially increasing their respective chances to block by 75% and 30(or 35)%. In fact, the huge boost from Shield Block almost trivializes the need for avoidance stats on gear, allowing warriors to focus on stamina instead.

Then why bother getting 490 defense to eliminate crits when it can be pushed off with high enough mitigation anyway? Primarily because Shield Block and Holy Shield have charges that might get used up before the skill has cooled down. This is especially likely when fighting more than one mob. Of course, the increased defense also has the secondary benefit of helping you get that much closer to the 102.4% mark by increasing your other avoidance stats.

Contrary to the example I used above of having 100% avoidance and having difficutly getting rage (or mana), the main outcome occuring here is block. Block is more of a mitigation stat, than an avoidance stat. Given the amount most mobs hit for, and the amount that gets blocked, there is still plenty of damage being taken, preventing said problem.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Table-based Combat

Much of the information in this post can be found here. I will present it in a (hopefully) more intuitive manner. This information only applies to white (auto-attack, not special attacks like Mortal Strike, Arcing Smash, Hateful Strike) damage taken.

Anyone who has paid attention to the combat log (or SCT) will know that incoming attacks can miss, or be dodged, parried or blocked (although not all classes can do the later two). At the other end, it can also be a critical hit (for 2x damage) or a crushing blow (for 1.5x damage). And then there's of course the normal hit.

Blizzard has confirmed that World of Warcraft uses a table-based combat system. Instead of going down the list, checking for one, and moving on to the next only if that check fails, there is only one roll to determine the outcome of an attack, depending on the respective chances for miss, dodge, parry, block, et cetera.

Because of the nature of the table-based combat system, percentages are absolutely true. A 10% chance to dodge means that you will dodge 10% of all attacks, not 10% of attacks that do not miss. The difference is clear. With the former (not used) system, assuming a 10% chance to miss for simplicity, 10 attacks out of every 100 would miss, and only 9 of the 90 going through would be dodged. This leads to diminishing returns on the stats that are checked later in the roll system. With the table-based system, 10 attacks would miss, and a further 10 attacks will be dodged. All stats give returns exactly as advertised.

This allows players to stack avoidance stats up to 100% and effectively eliminate getting hit, ever.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tryst with Protection

After finishing up this week's worth of arenas, I decided to give protection another shot. I am very comfortable with where my healing is (was) at, so I figured it was time to bring up my tanking set. This was influenced, in no small manner, by the facts that finding tanks is a major pain on my server, and that tanking is a lot more fun to do than heal.

I went with a hybrid holy/protection build that I used when I first hit 70, because I still want to retain potency at healing. This spec is particuarly special to me, in that it is my own spec. I could not find a true hybrid spec for the life of me, and came up with this all by myself. I realize that I would could be a better tank by delving deeper into protection with 12 points in retribution instead, but Holy Power, Sanctified Light, Healing Light and Spiritual Focus are too much to give up just yet. In September, when I have more time on my hands, I will start my own Kara group (by then, the guild would have hopefully stopped doing scheduled Kara runs) that I hope to tank, and this is the goal towards which I will be working. =)

So far, I am at 86% 'avoidance' (including Holy Shield with the heroic libram), meaning that I am not immune to crushing blows, yet. I'm not planning to start tanking in raids anytime soon, so I'm not too worried. I'll get there. I'll post a pic of my tanking gear (mostly 5-man blues and quest rewards) once I get my UI sorted out.

More on this protection respec, and the experiences it brings me as the week progresses.