The elements of questing (combat), from a DPS trying to quest as a healer

troll-shaman-raptor-riding

I guess I’m a masochist, for I like making my own challenges within the game with custom limitations. I’ve leveled a Shockadin (Holy Paladin DPS build) and regularly played her as a Shockadin when questing. After one of my guild masters complained about questing as a Holy Priest, I leveled a Priest as Holy from 1-100 using nothing but questing. I get flight as late as I can because, well, I like the scenery from down below, and also as a person suffering from depression, there are psychological mountains in my way every day, so it’s relevant and important to me to be working my way around and conquering those rather than rendering them nonexistential. (That is, I don’t want to pretend to be a me without depression, but I want to pretend to be a me still with depression who is stronger than depression.) I also like soaring above at max level, but at max level only, when going anywhere is truly possible.

When it became apparent that in Legion healers were going to have mini DPS toolkits in order to be able to level by questing (but also to do world quests, presumably), I thought that was the perfect thing for me to test. Leveling via quests is my jam, even if it’s a little nonoptimal.

Of course, I’m a bit of a different perspective than a player of healers is. My background involves years of having been a pure DPS class that can often solo things well. I also think how I’m a multidotting spec/class is relevant, because I have a tendency to pull multiple mobs at a time and chain-pull around a quest area, because I can handle multiple mobs at a time. I get to have a bit of a flow when navigating a quest area, rather than having to pull one mob at a time to take forever to kill. Despite my ability to get through a quest area faster than a healer, because I’m focused less on trying to kill this one mob, I have more mental time as it were to look up and around, to focus on what’s in the environment, where I can go, what I can do, etc.

Questing as either a DPS or a healer quickly becomes about efficiency, about killing what you need as fast as possible, eliminating as much downtime as you can. Healers and DPS tend to do this differently depending on player, with some picking the most efficient path to gather all the mobs at once or in succession with packs, whereas others will pick off the loner mobs on the edges of the questing area. This is due to trying to avoid many different types of downtime going on — some types that DPS have advantage over healers for, some where we’re all in the same boat. Continue reading “The elements of questing (combat), from a DPS trying to quest as a healer”

The elements of questing (combat), from a DPS trying to quest as a healer

Caster/Ranged comparisons

brf-jumpwings-675

Warlocks have never been a typically primary class when it comes to World of Warcraft, as they’re usually said to have derived from some other core Warcraft class. We’re either corrupted Shaman or corrupted Mages, for the most part, or we’re corrupted Hunters with our pets. We pull demons from the Void and deal Shadow magic, but we’re more of a chaotic fel kind of shadow, not Old Gods kind like Shadow Priests. On the gameplay mechanical side of things, we also have had a lot of spec-to-spec comparisons. Affliction is like Shadow Priests (shadow + DoTs + channels) or Moonkin (DoTs), Demonology is like Beast Mastery Hunters (special pets + pet damage focus), Destruction is like Fire Mage (fantasy) or Arcane Mage (buttons), Grimoire of Sacrifice is like Lone Wolf play, etc.

Although it’s impossible to avoid any comparison whatsoever, I think it’s interesting that all three Warlock specs can be directly compared to different class specs in similarity of gameplay mechanics. I also think that looking at how other specs do their damage is a positive aspect of learning theorycrafting, as you get to know other theorycrafters and guide writers and you get to learn about other complex mechanics in the game. All of this gives you a better footing and understanding when it comes to providing feedback and possible brainstormed solutions when testing new game features, especially when you talk about grouped endgame content which often involves cross-class thinking.

legion-alpha-screen

So one of the things I’m doing is testing not only all three Warlock specs, but also all of the other caster specs, including the two ranged Hunter specs. I’m not testing these specs in-depth like a mainspec player or theorycrafter might be, but I’m approaching them from a broad and general perspective like a newbie or a long lost alt. It started as a project to learn about the Warlock-comparable specs — Shadow Priest, Beast Mastery Hunter, and Fire Mage — and then once I found that Shadow Priest is more like current/old Demonology than it is Affliction anymore, I opened it up to Arcane, Frost, Marksmanship, Balance, and Elemental to see if any of them remotely compare to Affliction’s new playstyle.

For the most part, these will be my own first impressions and thinking through of mechanics. When I reference mainspec player commentary and feedback, I’ll note it. Builds change things more quickly than I can level and swap toons, so some of my feedback may be quickly outdated. I’ve already mentioned that I’m not really an expert in these non-Warlock classes as I don’t play them regularly enough, even as alts (my main alt is a Guardian Druid!). I also am not as motivated by my personal opinion of how I want a spec to be as I am with Warlocks, so I feel that I can’t truly speak on “how well” Fire Mage (etc.) is doing, I can only just tell you the parts I find fun or not fun.

frost-mage-icicles-casting-artifact

Because of the how the alpha realms currently restrict play, I have to do some rerolling in order to play all of the specs I want to see. The max-level PvP realm includes spec switching with all specs’ full artifacts in bags, but it won’t let you go out into the Broken Isles for questing and it won’t let you queue for dungeons. Since my primary focus is PvE content, this is rather useless for me, unless I just want to hit a training dummy with a fully artifact’d out character. The leveling realm has templates only for level 100 characters that have yet to choose and acquire artifacts, so rerolling implies starting all over. There is currently as of writing no way to acquire another spec’s artifact in your class, so if you want another spec, you need another character. There are eleven character slots on the leveling realm right now, and six are given to Warlocks for me (one for each spec 100-110, and then one for each spec to look at 1-100 leveling). That leaves me with five spots for caster/ranged testing. I’ve arranged it like so:

  • Ponsanity (Shadow Priest)
  • Ponboom (Balance Druid)
  • Ponele (Elemental Shaman)
  • Ponter/Ponmarks (Beast Mastery/Marksmanship Hunters)
  • Ponblast/Poncinder/Poncicle (Arcane/Fire/Frost Mages)

I’ve tried to alternate races and factions for a few reasons: one, I don’t get bored of same factional storylines or casting animations; two, I have a diverse screenshot arsenal; three, I can tell them apart easily!

solar-moonkin-stormheim

I’ve always been curious and often on live realms I have at least one of every ranged class to max level just to try them, even if I don’t regularly play them. But I’ve always kept my opinions to myself and never really tried to write them down thoroughly.  So this is a bit of an experiment, but I really need to stop being so terrible on myself and try more things out.

As I just finished looking a little at Beast Mastery and Shadow for my latest Blood Pact column at Blizzard Watch, I’m going to set those aside for now (even though I have more thoughts on each that what’s in the column). I’m currently working my way through Balance, albeit with the camera shapeshifting bug, and I’ve rerolled the Fire Mage into a Frost Mage, which was recently released for testing. I’ll probably try writing those thoughts down first.

Caster/Ranged comparisons

How Poneria is looking at Legion

I haven’t been posting here. I can blame some of that on writing Warlock things at Blizzard Watch, but most of it is that I don’t like publishing unfinished posts, especially since Blizzard Watch has gotten me used to having to put images in to break up text, and I often don’t have amazing images lying around to use for random posts here. (I’m also writing on my tablet right now, and the tablet app for WordPress is …not well designed for actually writing & formatting start to finish. >:| *grump*)

I also feel bad about trying to get my feet wet with theorycrafting and then posting of my adventures with testing Legion alpha. I feel this pressure to post only polished theorycrafting, and it never happens largely because I start to research my stance and opposing stances and then halfway through it, I realize I actually know fuckall, and then I get super anxious and embarrassed that I’ve attempted to post anything at all (it must be stupid! I don’t know anything!), and …I end up not posting anything aside from rambling on Twitter.

But the lack of activity on the blog post front doesn’t mean I have a lack of stuff to do with Legion alpha testing.
Continue reading “How Poneria is looking at Legion”

How Poneria is looking at Legion

2016 Blogging Resolutions

I laughed at my “2015 in blogging” WordPress email. I published only five posts in 2015. WordPress thinks I wrote six posts, but one was just a bunch of picture references for Vidyala who did a badge picture for me (even though I wasn’t going to BlizzCon). So that one doesn’t count. The most-viewed day was back on January 6th, involving a post that was written back in August of 2014.

One post in 2015 was fluff, partially because I missed posting random stuff like that. One post was on how to read a raid parse for a particular spec, which was really more a thing of me going, look, I’m not perfect, but reading a raid parse isn’t hard, and this is perhaps how you can do it with some concrete examples.

The other three posts were my thoughts on how to write or otherwise learn & explain things without needing to require a degree or several hours in the subject. This doesn’t surprise me, because this is my thing that I do all the time. Thinking on how to organize, arrange, & present stuff such that stuff makes more sense than it did before.

Five posts in the entire stupid year. What the fuck was I even doing.

I was writing 55 things for Blizzard Watch, is what the fuck. I get paid for those things and not paid for anything over here. Over here, I have diddly-squat for visitors and over there I have more reach. So. That’s obvious. I don’t think I can share my exact stats from over at Blizzard Watch, but I wrote 21 Warlock columns, 29 things on D3 (mostly columns), and five WoW-related short posts.

A grand total of 60 posts isn’t anything to get excited about — I didn’t write novels or anything. But most of those columns take a week or two of research or other work to put together, so I have more than a year’s worth of work done in a year. I don’t feel so bad now about my writing that’s out there on the Internet medium.

It’s A new year, & we know what that means.

I think too much. I scribble a lot, by which I mean I don’t do the complete sentences thing, and I have a few too many grand ideas being rolled around in a Field Notes notebook than any grand ideas that I’ve actually executed (…zero?). I don’t like showing my failures to people, and although that’s a natural feeling, it’s constricting me. I feel like if I’m working on a thing for shits and giggles rather than a Grand Purpose like publishing for others to use, then it’s less important somehow and I should stop working on it. Following that rule led everything to feel like work and nothing like a game. Warlords as an expansion didn’t really help, and it feels like I’ve had to relearn again how to relax and how to tinker without judging myself for not tinkering perfectly the first time.

I’ve also turned a little corner, I think. Fel Concentration started as a Warlock blog, and I unfortunately feel like it has to remain a Warlock blog. But then I see Jasyla’s Cannot be Tamed, which started as a WoW blog, and I started reading her when she was a Resto Druid, but then her blog became a much-more-than-WoW blog. She may have ventured off into the video medium, and I might stick to my strengths in wordy posts, but she gave me a little more confidence in turning this blog into a Warlock-and-then-some blog.

I’ve never been good at tagging intelligently — look, I’m too impatient, and also there is no mass-tagging system in the freebie WordPress underhood that evolves well with different topics bending into other topics over time. I will try to tag things that aren’t about WoW or Warlocks or whatever if you don’t want to read that stuff (or, I guess, tags are also useful if you particularly want to read that stuff).

2016 likely topics

Warlocks. Duh. I’m in Legion alpha, and hope to continue walking into crash errors and testing various Warlock things. In the thought of being more open with my incomplete feedback and tinkerings, I’m keeping a sometimes spoilerific bugs/feedback log for when I test things in Legion alpha/beta. I also want to test things like Fishing, particularly since it’s not known if El’s Anglin will come back at all.

I’m interested in theorycrafting. I always was, but I’m more interested now in producing the meat of it, rather than just organizing blog guides on work that was already done on the EJ forums or whatever. Scary as it might be, I plan to reach out a little more to existing theorycrafters to ask them stupid questions like how increased critical strike damage influences an average of combined hits and crits given a critical strike chance. Even scarier of an idea is posting some of my progress on looking at how Warlock spells work, particularly looking at Legion, and trying to figure out the best way to document all this so others can follow and learn theorycrafting, too.

Some grand ideas involving Warlocks are raid parse reading guides and soloing tours/guides. What I want to accomplish with them involves a lot of work that is just for shits and giggles in the end, and I don’t know how exactly I will convince myself to stop whining & just do them. Another grand idea involved the Warlock heroes or role models in World of Warcraft, or perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof. But I am not the most confident in my grasp on lore, so that one is also just rolling around in notebook scribbles for now.

I’m interested in writing. Duh. The organization of information and formats and language and all sorts of sub-topics. The storytelling and characterisation in games and other media is also interesting, but I’m mostly interested in the nonfiction and often freelance side of things rather than the fiction story-writing side of things. In terms of gaming, this mostly comes in the form of how to write guides.

I’m interested in perhaps spreading my guides over both the Warlock column at Blizzard Watch and here. Maybe some of putting the grunt work over here and the summary over there or something. Perhaps a spread to put the details over here, where I have less restriction in tone and word limit, and the TL;DR over there, where I likely have more visitor reach that just wants the TL;DR not the full behind-the-scenes theorycrafting text wall. I don’t really know yet what I’ll do, but I’m always up for experimenting with my column writing (within editorial bounds, of course).

Actual goal-making

I don’t think that I can write a blog post every day. Sure, I write every day, but I sure as hell don’t publish every day. Who wants to read that shit?

I am not a fan of [verb] every [period] goals. They assume some sort of constant ability, I feel, and that is just not how my life works. Anxiety likes to creep up on me at the worst times, and while, yes, I can get myself through it, having a [verb] every [period] goal deadline hanging over me while I’m trying to destress is just not helpful at all. It also tends to become a thing I hate to do, when I’m forced into doing it just for the sake of doing it.

My goal is to lessen my fear that anything I’m doing that’s currently in-progress is not worthy to share or even continue. I often think best when I let myself roll with it, and when I’m writing, I do just that. So I want to write more here as an excuse to get more comfortable with myself again, as I’m coming out of one of the darker periods of my mental health.

I do like the goal framing of do [number] things this year. Read ten books this year. Cool. That’s a finite goal to work toward, but I can do it on my own time, navigating around bad days and good days. It’s a bit of the argument about the increased valor points for doing a random heroic dungeon every day versus the points for the first seven or so. In the every-day model, I have to do that EVERY DAY, which I get from the business standpoint of Blizzard, but personally, I think that’s a crap system. Eventually it just becomes another thing I “have” to do, and when I don’t want to do it or can’t do it, then I feel negative about myself. Look, I have depression, I am already really good at feeling negative about myself, so lets not add routines where I increase that negativity. Being able to do some things at my own pace is important to me.

I don’t really know what a reasonable number of blog posts for 2016 is. I don’t want to overchallenge myself. I don’t want to post random shit just to keep a counter happy. I almost feel like doing a Patreon-style or achievement-style goal-making where I start low but then get to reward myself if I make it to certain tiers.

So, let’s start at ten posts. I didn’t do that last year — in fact, that would double last year’s post-making count. Usually the first achievement is free, so maybe I’ll just let myself cheer really loudly when I hit this one. (I think a reward like getting myself a BattleNet store pet is too much for just ten posts.)

So uh…nine posts to go, right? Yes.

2016 Blogging Resolutions

Items that are special to me

Every since the wardrobe was announced as a transmogrification feature for Legion, I’ve thought of going through me void storage and banks to see what I would keep and what would eventually get vendored or disenchanted because I just wanted it for its looks.

Then @roxiqt was wondering about special gear items on Twitter, and I’d already answered two things, and wanted to answer more, so here we go. It’s more or less in WoW item history order.

Dreadsteed

It’s not a gear item, but I got my Warlock-mount Dreadsteed the old way, through the long questline with all the items. TSR helped me out with most of the items at the time, and even did the paladin Charger questline at the same time, so I got to see both questlines before they went away.

I’m a little sad that Gorzeeki Wildeyes isn’t a Warlock class hall NPC for this reason.

Onyxia Scale Cloak

Back on Eonar, I remember that my first guild, <The Scarlet Robes> took me to Ony and then made me an Onyxia Scale Cloak when I hit max level (at the time, 70), even though Onyxia wasn’t really current content anymore. Later, when Onyxia was updated to 10-/25-man in Wrath of the Lich King, we did our first new Ony raid with our original cloaks on.

Muramasa

I got it in an end-of-expansion-so-who-cares run of Sunwell with TSR. It’s a 1H Sword, thus equippable by Warlocks, so I can use it in transmog if I want to. This is mostly the reason I’m annoyed when I can’t get a sword with nice secondary stats in current content (so I can transmog it) and also why I’m mad that for whatever reason, Blizzard won’t let Warlocks transmog between daggers and 1H swords (and wands, but wands are class-specific, so maybe that’s why wands don’t work).

My Felguard’s second cosmetic weapon option is usually Apolyon, because it looks closest to Muramasa while being wieldable through the minor glyph by my Felguard.

Wispcloak

This cloak was the first “raid-ready” item I made for myself, and it’s also one of the cloaks I actually like wearing as a transmog because of its design.

Abyssal Bag

This soul shard bag was first thing that was not wearable that I saved up cooldowns to make for myself. I was rather upset when it got converted from 32 slots to 22 slots in Cataclysm when soul shards as items went away.

Mastercraft Kalu’ak Fishing Pole

I love to fish. I even wrote about it sometimes when my guild really hated to do it. I still fish with this specific fishing pole, because I worked to get the reputation to get this pole, and I’ve done most of my for-the-hell-of-it fishing with it.

“of the Nightfall” + the Twilight Drake

Again, not an actual gear item, but “of the Nightfall” was the first title I really ever chased, because as an Affliction Warlock I thought it fit perfectly. The drake was the first raid-drop mount I really wanted, simply because it was blue and more or less guaranteed. I would later go on to want really badly the Azure drake (from Malygos), which I eventually got expansions later.

Quel’delar, Lens of the Mind

I got Quel’delar with TSR by joining a guild group that was trying to farm the sword. I just joined to help, but they let me roll, and I surprisingly won the roll! As I’d joined WoW just as Sunwell came out, I never really got to see the Burning Crusade instances except in really fast-paced retro raid runs where I was easily lost. Getting to do Quel’delar meant I could go at my own pace and opened me up to more retro soloing options (other than dungeons, which I’d been doing to learn how to tank).

Gunship Captain’s Mittens

I got these from Gunship, obviously, but they’re special because of what happened after I got the item.

I’d just transferred to Elune after my Eonar guild split, I was in this new guild, I’d never really progression-raided before, my computer was shitty on the graphics, … I was basically a little newbie to serious raiding and had no friends on Elune outside Lissanna (of Restokin), who had recruited me there through blogging/Twitter. A shadow priest in the guild offered to enchant my gloves right there, and then challenged me to a DPS race on the next boss, Saurfang.

I didn’t beat him, of course, but the race was thrilling and it felt really good to see someone have confidence in me and push me to my better limits in a fun way when I was previously afraid or too unsure of them myself.

Incineratus

This was the dagger from Magmaw that evaded me for almost the entire tier. I swear I was the last one in my current guild (<Undying Resolution> on Elune) to get it at the time. It always dropped when I wasn’t there or when I didn’t have the loot system priority for it, and never when I would have guaranteed gotten it.

Nevertheless, I did pretty good damage without it, so it helped prove to myself that I’m good regardless of important gear or even crappy class balance.

Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest

I got to be my guild’s only Dragonwrath in Firelands. So I got to do a legendary when it was current and that was awesome. I wrote about the journey that lasted the entire tier, here.

I use Dragonwrath a lot in Timewalking, and I’ve carried it around in my bags ever since Firelands because who doesn’t want to occasionally mount up as a pretty blue dragon?

Gurthalak, Voice of the Deeps

So in Dragon Soul, UR had ridiculous luck in looting Gurthalak from Madness of Deathwing. By “ridiculous” I mean, we started as a joke handing one out to every Hunter we had (it’s “Hunter loot,” right?), but then we kept getting more, so we ended up just handing out Gurths to random raiders, including healers, just because. To top it all off, we couldn’t get a Warrior — the class that had Gurth as its BiS — to stick with us at all; every app fell through in some way or another. And, to make matters funnier, every time a Warrior was in raid with us when we killed Madness, Gurth refused to drop.

So I have Gurthalak, and you see it mostly when my Felguard is out.

Items that are special to me

On Theorycrafting

UPDATE: Haileaus tweeted on 30 November 2015 that they would prefer to use they/their/them pronouns instead of he/him. They also wrote an explanatory blog post. You’d edit a misnamed or mis-titled person in a news article, so I feel I should change all the pronouns in this article to reflect their wishes. Let me know if I missed any.

Haileaus is a rogue (with far too many vowels almost in a row in their name) and they “barely consider [themselves] a theorycrafter.” Well, that’s fine, Haileaus, because I also barely consider myself a theorycrafter. I’m much more a wordcrafter when it comes to theorycrafting, as in I can read theorycrafting (…mostly?) and convert it to plainer English with some of the unmentioned context for the wider playbase.

Haileaus wrote a post on theorycrafting’s role in World of Warcraft, challenging readers to “legitimately question the role theorycrafting plays in the game.” I don’t quite grok what they mean by legitimately question — I’m not sure if they’re arguing for theorycraft to disappear or whether they’re telling us to save this valuable resource that might fade away. But it doesn’t really matter, because I have thoughts on the subject anyway.

warrior-pose

Indalamar versus the masses

Hey, this scenario Haileaus describes about early warrior theorycrafting impacts sounds a lot like that Warlock problem in Cataclysm. Y’know, the one documented by Cynwise’s Decline and Fall. I’m not just saying this because I used to put Cynwise on a pedestal. It’s more, Cynwise was the first in a long time (not necessarily the first ever) to publicly point out a disparity between the doing-well higher end and the life-sucks lower end player worlds of the class.

That “everything that has happened will happen again” isn’t just a Battlestar Galactica or Gul’dan & Khadgar thing.

This is part of my love-hate with SimulationCraft stack charts that get published and cited by players. It’s not necessarily the SimulationCraft is wrong, but more that players are just citing without thinking about the context that goes into and comes out of the SimulationCraft numbers. Is it Mythic gear? Is it requiring the legendary? Is it just Patchwerk? Does the fight change when you add more targets? What about movement? What talents is it using? Is this module even correct?

Cynwise was reluctant to publish his Class Distribution graphs because graphs can mislead a great deal if you don’t label things correctly or don’t even know what the graph is displaying. But graphs, like stacked SimulationCraft charts, are easier for players to visually pick up what’s going on rather than reading an academic-paper-length blog post or a ginormous forum thread.

You’d think as a guidewriter I’d be advocating that putting together the visual-verbal picture of a topic is important. It is, but sorry, that part is mostly window dressing. Organizing the information so the reader can comprehend all the included details without being overwhelmed, confused, or bored is the hard part. When constructing a post or guide on something that hasn’t even been figured out yet? Asking the right questions is the hard first step, and the subsequent hard steps involve documenting all the circumstances of both question and answer. This usually involves forgetting relevant things or outright ignoring relevant things because you didn’t quite realize yet just how relevant they were, and you have to go back to knowledge you’ve already explored, armed with yet more questions to answer.

And there you go. That’s the definition of theorycrafting.

Perhaps it’s my generation of culture & education, or perhaps it’s this era of gaming, but we’re rather stuck in the whole mindset of filling out to-do lists. Whether it’s dailies, achievements, or balancing class performance, people are far more content to just do the required things or to just answer (correctly) the required questions, and that’s the end of thinking. We’re very much focused on just getting the objective over with so we can covet the reward, rather than finding the reward in the pursuit of the objective.

So what happens is I find myself in a playerbase that far prefers answering questions as quickly as possible (rather than as thoroughly and accurately as possible) and doesn’t like having to come up with all the questions. When the old theorycrafters decide it’s time for them to move on from the game, there’s few or no one there who wants to step up and ask the questions.

pon-flying-mists-tower

Elitist Jerks

“Modern theorycrafting started in Wrath of the Lich King when raiding and the math that accompanied it were opened up to more casual audiences.” — Haileaus, “The Fall of the Giants: Theorycrafting’s Just Demise?

This is the line where I both agree and vehemently disagree with parts of the statement. As a forum, Elitist Jerks (EJ) by its nature opened up theorycrafting to discussion from around the playerbase, rather than keeping it to individual minds’ like Indalamar’s. And while anyone could sign up for an account and technically anyone could post, the social rules of EJ heavily promoted a garden walled with spikes. I myself lurked there for all my years, too afraid to post any questions I might have about theorycrafting. I was afraid that my inability to pick the correct search term to weed out what I wanted from the 100+ page forum thread would land me in the Banhammer forum section where EJ mods liked to mock those who received too many infractions for asking stupid questions.

My dad was a physics teacher. He always used to say “There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.” As I’ve watched theorycrafting over the years and have recently dipped my toes in, I find this is more the case than EJ’s banhammer-happy world.

Another Cynwise piece keeps haunting me: On Snow Crash, Virtual Avatars, and Warcraft’s Social Network Appeal. Cross-realm has happened all over the place, both in instances like LFR and LFD and in the open world through CRZ. The ignore function has expanded and encompassed at least part of account-wide. Cross-server item mailing has happened for your alts, but you can also transcend servers in a way Cynwise didn’t mention — through account collections like the pet journal, mount collection, or heirlooms tab. Integration with other social media — Twitter! S.E.L.F.I.E.s! — happened.

I keep thinking of this Snow Crash post because of guilds — because of the guild BoE versus Personal Loot problem, because of the ever-growing drought of guild recruitment, because of guilds finally becoming cross-server (to the extent of guilds on merged servers) which was a proposal of Cynwise’s. (His other was being in multiple guilds, much like Guild Wars 2 already has.) Cynwise stated that guilds were the last obstacle for the WoW social network … and they’re slowly dying. (P.S., He wrote all this…3 years ago. Hold the phone.)

What does this have to do with theorycrafting?

The internet’s evolution and WoW’s social network evolution both involved heavy technological limits, namely how to connect servers to other servers without making any of the involved servers explode in computronic confusion. I said: EJ heavily promoted a garden walled with spikes. It wasn’t technologically hard to join the Elitist Jerks forum — all you had to do was sign up for the forum account, maybe verify your email, have a working internet connection and browser, and maybe have a good enough understanding of the English language.

But, as Haileaus mentioned, the expectation bar of the playerbase were growing higher, and theorycrafters were not immune to such hubris. While I guarantee most of those actually doing the number-crunching grunt work were probably some of the nicest and more encouraging people you’d ever meet, there was always that air of Banhammer lurking around anyone who dared to take their first wrong step inside the EJ forums. Many like myself who wanted to become theorycrafters didn’t because we had too much trepidation about being accepted socially within in the forum despite our lack of hard class knowledge.

Elitist Jerks opened up theorycrafting to the masses, but I wouldn’t say it was for casual audiences. It was clearly meant for the hardcore only. The only problem was that everyone wants to be accepted, and to be accepted meant you had to have the “hardcore” attitude — or, at least what we general players thought was supposed to be hardcore.

druid-resto-pose-books

Organizing information to be read

On the one hand, Elitist Jerks was very organized. One thread for one spec. Done.

On the other hand, who the fuck wants to dig through a 90+, 100+ forum thread to see if your question has already been answered?

Using the search bar doesn’t quite help — you have to already know how to search keywords decently, and it’s very easy to follow from there that if you’re good at coming up with search keywords, you’re probably also good at coming up with questions, and so you’re probably already doing the theorycrafting yourself anyhow. The keyword search bar is not a newbie-friendly tool.

And this is even before we get into how theorycrafters like to talk in acronyms rather than in spell names. So the thread might actually be talking about Drain Soul but you’d never know from searching “Drain Soul” because every mention of it is as “DrS.”

You’d think that I would have learned the no-acronyms lesson at WoW Insider as I wrote for Blood Pact, the warlock column. The rule there (as is at Blizzard Watch) was to spell everything out. You can include acronyms as a teaching thing, but you have to say the whole spell name first. It was Grimoire of Sacrifice (GoSac) first, not GoSac ad nauseum with no explanation. I thought, Mists of Pandaria is the Warlock revamp, surely we’d get all our acronyms straight by now. While yes, those of us playing from the beginning knew what GoSac meant, I forgot about the newer players, the untouched alts, those who don’t want to dig through a year’s worth of blog posts just to figure out what exactly the fuck GoSac stands for. To me, it was obvious — there’s really only one thing in the Warlock arsenal that can possibly be called GoSac.

But then, that’s the point — I know all about the entire Warlock arsenal, but new players don’t.

After two years of writing the Warlock column, I finally learned the lesson, as I was then writing episode summaries for Final Boss TV. I would take live transcription-like notes during the live show, and then later turn those notes around into something involving actual English sentences. It took me until the enhancement shaman episode to figure it out, because Bay, the host of Final Boss TV, plays an enhancement shaman.

See, Bay is actually good at interviewing — he draws up the questions beforehand, the questions have a logical order, he pointedly asks a specific guest a question and then rotates around so everyone gets a word in, and he knows how to explore a question on the fly or otherwise separate out the really arcane parts of the question so the guest actually answers something both intelligible and interesting to the audience. Final Boss at the time was interviewing top raiders of each class and spec, with the purpose of exploring things about that spec at the top levels of raiding, hoping that those lessons would trickle down. So it was naturally a slice of media that was top players with knowledge talking down to lesser players who didn’t have this knowledge.

(Gee, that sounds a lot like guidewriting to me.)

In previous episodes, if the guests used an acronym term, Bay would be like me, kind of going “what is that (again)?” So the guests would be almost forced to talk about spells by name so that Bay (& by proxy, the viewers) could understand what they were going on about. But in the enhancement episode, Bay knew what they were talking about, so he didn’t need to prod for what an acronym meant. I was suddenly having to keep up with a fast-talking spec that likes to make a lot of its acronyms out of 2-letter combinations of U, E, L, B, and S.

I quickly became so confused. I lost my place in quite a few areas. And that’s when it hit me that those unfamiliar with the class/spec glossary must be so goddamned confused whenever they try to read either a written spec guide or any theorycrafting lying around, simply because it’s so riddled with specific acronyms., Or you get to put the burden on the guidewriter who needs to keep a running glossary going so you can tab back and forth, post to post, to understand what the wordy post means.

C’mon, now, you’re making the reader work way too hard because you want to be a lazy guidewriter.

As a human being, though, I didn’t want to be caught causing harm to others even if it was the slightest wrong such as writing a rather unreadable guide. I had that excuse ready — it was for wordspace!

…No. It turns out that it can’t be for wordspace. It might start because the various spells are being used in math, so you use the acronym like a coding variable. It might start because you don’t have enough time to type out Grimoire of Sacrifice but GoSac lets you get back faster to killing things in-game. It might be because you can’t fit Grimoire of Sacrifice advice on Twitter but you can fit GoSac advice.

But it’s not a wordspace thing. I took a very spell-heavy Blood Pact column and performed a simple experiment. I counted the words in the column when all spell acronynms were used and when all spell names were used. The difference was about 100 words (in an already 1500-ish word article), which is pretty negligible in wordspace. Most short news items are at least 150-200 words, if not 250-300. I saved more room by learning to write more concisely and with more clarity than I did by converting a spell name into its acronym.

So word of advice to aspiring guidewriters: know what the acronyms are so you can read the relevant theorycrafting math, but don’t use them profusely in your guides. I mention them to teach others what the acronym is — let’s talk about Grimoire of Sacrifice (GoSac) today! — but I use the full or partial spell name. “Army of the Dead” or “Army” is fine, but “AotD” and I’m spending more time like “wha–oh yeah, that thing” instead of concentrating on where the sentence is actually leading me.

qiana-in-training

Theorycrafting is an apprenticeship

A thing Elitist Jerks tried to have was a theorycrafting concepts wiki it called the Think Tank. When I learned about it in Wrath of the Lich King it was already outdated as it had been written in sometime Burning Crusade and EJ killed it off from inactivity as Wrath came to a close.

That saddened me. Here was the potential for all this knowledge that I could absorb on my own without having to bother the gods on their high heavenly pedestals of theorycrafting know-how. And it was simply wiped out due to lack of upkeep. Add in the toxic cloud hanging over me that stupid questions were not accepted in the EJ forum space (even if I was trying to learn!). Learning to theorycraft came down to either being born knowing all the class knowledge or silently trying to reinvent the theorycrafting wheel myself because those who knew things can’t be bothered with my stupid questions.

I realize now that this is a lot of assuming that theorycrafters are hateful people who don’t want my unclean lesser player hands grabbing for knowledge, and that really, theorycrafters are just normal people with real 40-hour-week jobs like me who just do this for shits & giggles and why, yes, of course, if you want to see my spreadsheet of gear, here you go, have fun with it & tell me about what you do with it, please. But it took me a few years of guidewriting and later mingling online with theorycrafters who eventually became their own class guidewriters to realize the normalcy of people.

But when you have old theorycrafters hanging up the hat, there’s a problem with new theorycrafters coming in: there’s no theorycrafting textbook. I can’t go to the virtual library and find a consolidated source that tells me what the formula for a spell’s damage is. Instead, I’m left with Google searching, sometimes forum searching, and sometimes those websites aren’t around anymore because the domain expired or the site was taken down or Youtube won’t let me see that video because I live in the wrong country. Or, even worse, the information that I do find is outdated but I don’t realize it because I don’t know what patch it is or when it changed (or when it changed back! or when it changed back again!). Even when theorycrafting is written down, it ends up much like the Think Tank did — it stagnates out of uninterest in keeping it updated. There is no Introduction to Theorycrafting for Questing Alts, 8th Edition lying around for newbies like me to pick up and begin theorycrafting.

Theorycrafting is very much an apprenticeship where you have to have already joined the theorycrafting community in your class and spec and tagged along in its contributions. It’s like memorizing the periodic table — you could sit there and flat-out memorize each element and its properties, or you can go the easier and longer route of just using all of it over and over again until you’ve straight learned what the properties are. And while that’s fair to the people who are currently theorycrafting — I mean, how do you think they learned it? — it’s a big leap from passively reading class guides that lay out absolutely everything you need to know to play from gear to spells, to having to do the work of asking questions yourself and designing experiments to test your assumptions.

Now, one solution is to create a textbook and keep it updated. But that’s failed in the past, and since we’ve already explored the cycles of human behavior, I doubt it’s going to win out just this one time.

So the solution I’m thinking of is we must teach others how to learn theorycrafting on their own. I think this is the stronger solution, too; it teaches a man to fish, rather than just giving him one day after day. Now, I’m sure you can debate about the definition of “teaching,” whether that means refusing to do so because shouldn’t people already know how to do the Scientific Method since what grade 5???, or whether that means you simply tell them what to do and eventually they’ll get it, or whether that means simply providing them with the environment in which they can learn (yeah, that’s an Einstein quote).

I’m personally a bit for the last one, for a couple reasons.

For one, it doesn’t change the theorycrafting environment as it is now. You just join up, usually through an IRC of your desired class or coding project, and you …contribute. What does contribute mean? Well, people doing the coding or doing the guidework are probably asking questions — hey, it’s part of the job. You can help answer the questions, though, by simply going on the PTR, testing things out, and reporting back. If you don’t know how to test a thing, that’s a good question to ask! Haileaus links a rogue class mechanics thread for patch 6.2, which has been out for a couple weeks now but still has some things that aren’t marked off. Just ask “what can I do to help?” and I’m sure the current theorycrafters can find you something to do.

For two, going the providing a learning environment route helps counter what I feel was EJ’s biggest turnoff: the hostile starting atmosphere and the idea that players should know everything simply because a guide exists for it. Hey, Schroedinger: does an unread guide contain useful information? You don’t really know until you read it, and if you can’t read it because it’s too difficult to keep up with because of acronyms or jumps in logic or math that you missed before, then, well, it might be correct, but it’s not actually useful to the reader since they can’t take it and apply it to things they do.

But while a truly open theorycrafting community would be nice to learn in, with the breaking of walled gardens comes the broader pool of players, some of whom aren’t nice about mistakes, or really, they aren’t nice about anything at all. You get the crap you have to wade through in popular forums of people who want to get the credit of contributing without doing the work. There’s useless information; there’s conflicting information; there’s information with missing, mislead, or even made-up pieces.

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Environment of examples

Wanting to contribute to theorycrafting really got going for me when Theck posted his Theorycrafting 101 posts on the blog Sacred Duty. Although the post example was something simple like figuring out how much primary stat I’d have, the post itself illustrated the question, test, and answer cyclical process that theorycrafters go through in testing things. I found it really awesome how Theck walked us right into a wrong answer so he could show us how to check that answer and eventually reason out the right way to go about things.

Being able to look at myself and my mistakes and instead of getting mad, just realizing that not only mistakes happen, but you can work through them? That was a learning environment I could dig.

But this all rather comes down to the idea that theorycrafting is an apprenticeship — you have to do it to learn it. Theorycrafting communities could keep some semblance of a walled garden with specific users contributing specific things in a specific manner, if only there was some form of passive content that beginner users could consume to catch up on.

So my theory goes that we need to teach people how to ask questions again. How to figure out what’s important to ask, how to form goals with testing, how realize specific or general biases that could tip the results in a certain favor.

I see often that in order to dispute some theorycrafting conclusion, well, you need evidence. And yet, it’s really hard to find the theorycrafting evidence that started the conclusion, unless you already know where it exists. The theorycrafting community — to me, anyway — has a bit of a closed loop going, where I understand that they have better things to do than to answer questions that have already been answered elsewhere, but then don’t be so confused as to why new people won’t step up when old people leave. Y’know? Why can’t we just look at the information that is already available to the theorycrafters? Well, it’s that old search bar problem again — it’s a bit of a catch-22 in that getting at the information as a newer player requires the same critical thinking skills that got the information there in the first place.

As a guidewriter and blogger, I feel all I can do to help the situation is to maybe help contribute myself in some of the IRC chats, and to liveblog some of my theorycrafting attempts, which includes writing down all my mistakes and showing how I backtracked through to get to a conclusion. But I’m afraid to post these things because, as I said before, the playerbase is extremely toxic right now when it comes to information that is clearly in their eyes bloody wrong or missing the slightest detail. I suppose I should just muster some confidence in my writing skills and hope that journaling my steps into testing game concepts will help guide other players on their paths to learning theorycrafting.

Theorycrafting contributes massively to the World of Warcraft, and you should thank theorycrafters for their work and help contribute so they can continue doing it in the near future. But players — both theorycrafters and not — should also think about the far future where the current theorycrafters aren’t here anymore (because life happens). Should theorycrafting leave our game world with them? Or would you prefer the torch be passed on to the next generation, to burn just as brightly if not more?

On Theorycrafting

You found a warlock blog!

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One that’s written by Megan O’Neill, aka Poneria. Grats?

You can’t kill me for loot, though — I’m friendly. Plus, the warlock columnist curse already tried and failed…twice.

I’ve got the usual About Me page, and you can read my resume of things I’ve written since I started blogging at Fel Concentration. Or you can skip straight to the blog below to read some more current(-ish?) writing. I might write Diablo 3 things.

If you’re looking for a general introductory warlock guide, Wowhead’s Warlock guides for patch 6.2 have been split into the three specs — Affliction, Demonology, Destruction — and the guide has been taken over by Ryndar of US-Sargeras’s Bear Retirement Home.

You found a warlock blog!

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Healthstones

Self-healing is a weird and intricate balance for warlocks because we tend to use our health as a semi-resource bar often enough for healing to matter. There’s the obvious Life Tap that we’ve had for many years, but more recently, Mists of Pandaria brought abilities that cost health, like Unbound Will or Burning Rush.

I feel like this is a subject that the devs still don’t know how to balance correctly yet. The changes tend to swing from not enough to far too much/overpowered, as we know well enough with Drain Life’s evolution, or even with how Harvest Life evolved in MoP beta. We had the Life Tap fiasco in MoP beta where our self-healing was so nerfed so far such that we couldn’t recover from Life Tap, so we eventually either went OOM or dead. So we warlocks have this weird balance where we need enough self-healing to make up for the health-costing abilities, but not so much self-healing that we can basically ignore boss mechanics when we feel like it or an otherwise lack of outside healing.

The major change for Healthstones is that it’s going to be a 1-use per fight (down from 3-5 use) and that it’s tied to the same CD as a healing potion (in Warlords, Healing Tonic). Additionally, the amount a Healthstone heals for also got nerfed.

Better-Good Design

When the newest build came out, Zinnin () asked Celestalon if Healthstones needed to be nerfed further, because they were already below the potion’s heal. Celestalon replied that the Tonic-Healthstone relationship was supposed to be more like the 300-275 stat food relationship, where one is technically better but the other isn’t absolutely terrible.

The difference between 275 & 300 stat foods is 25 stat,. If you represent this in a ratio, 300:275, then we get 1.09:1. It was further of a minor difference because in Mists, 25 Intellect (e.g.) was almost nothing of a boost compared to what you’d get from a gem or an enchant.

Let’s see how healthstones & tonics compare.

Healthstones: Build 18738

I got to thinking about the influence of Versatility and Blood Pact’s healing increase component, so I asked around on Twitter for a body to eat a handful of cookies for me and Dayani (@healiocentric /Healiocentric blog ) volunteered. After doing some gear switches to play with Versatility a bit, with both of us eating cookies and sharing numbers in party chat, we figured out that the tooltip takes into account the Versatility the user has, but not the Blood Pact passive. The total heal takes into account both.

I’ve unfortunately lost all the exact numbers because I didn’t record our party chat until half of it was cut off by the chat log’s limit. But the important thing is that I can replicate them!

The flat Healthstone heal is 15%.  My maximum health will always be 289,740. (Unless I exchange some gear or drink a stamina flask, but warlocks always have the 10% raid buff due to the Blood Pact passive.)

Then you take into account your Versatility. On my premade orc in 660 PvP gear, I have 1.63% Versatility. 15*1.0163 = 15.2445%. The tooltip still says 15%.

Then we need to factor in how I’m a warlock who is at least level 80, which means I have the Blood Pact passive. Blood Pact is a complex passive in Warlords that has 3 parts, but the important part here is that line about “increases all healing you receive by 10%.”

So we take our 15.2445 and multiply it by 1.10, which gives us 16.76895% of max health, which is 48,586.35573 health. When I take a health dip (by using the equipment sets feature to go full nude then fully geared again in one click), then use a healthstone, I receive a heal for 48587. It’s off by 1, so I know from Theck’s lessons that there’s some rounding going on in there. But I don’t care enough about 1 health point to go find out where.

When I put raid buffs on with a cauldron in Shattrath, my theory holds.

Base heal (15%) * Versatility (1.0463) * Blood Pact healing passive (1.10) = 17.2% heal. I should get something around a 50020 heal and I got 50021.

Dayani’s cookie-eating corresponded — on a shaman, her Versatility affected her cookie heal. (Also A’dal’s pesky Shatt buff affected it!)

Healing Tonics 

At level 95, I’m still in my raid gear when I got copied over, which gives me a max health of 148,980 and some Versatility of 1.22% (because I’m human, so I get free Versatility). I also unglyphed Healthstone and didn’t have Grimoire of Sacrifice buffed when I logged in. I was buffed with Dark Intent, but that’s spellpower and multistrike, so who cares.

My crafted Healing Tonic says it restores 56,681 health. When I actually drank the Healing Tonic, it healed me for 62350.

That’s accurate, because 56681*1.10 (to account for Blood Pact) = 62349.1.

The tooltip for the Healing Point takes into account Versatility, as it turns out. The Wowhead tooltip scaled down to level 95 for Healing Tonic is 56000. 56000*1.0122 = 56683, which is close enough for government work. Same thing when you apply it to the level 100 version — 68000 — though the Versatility % tooltip must do some rounding. Eventually you do it the long way through rating and Dayani is amazing again with math and figuring out the rounding spot, and you get basically the correct answer where the 68000 Tonic heals a warlock for 68000*1.0163 = 69109 on the tooltip, but effectively 76019 when we include Blood Pact.

Comparison: Tonics & Stones

So here’s the deal. Give or take some rounding errors, Healthstones work like this:

% max health heal =15% max health * (1+Vers) * Blood Pact

And Tonics work like this:

# heal = 68000 * (1+Vers) * Blood Pact

Assuming a warlock standing around, you get Blood Pact; if you’re some other class or situation, you can get some other healing done/taken effect going on (like A’dal’s Swiggity Swattrath Buff).

It comes down to whether a 68k heal is better than 15% max health. If 68k was 15% of your maximum health, you’d have 453,333.3333 repeating health. So maybe when we get to the end of the expansion and you’re sitting at 453,334 health, your Healthstone will finally match Healing Tonic.

Right now, in 660 PvP gear, we have 289,740 max health (15% = 43461). Even if I use Shadow Bulwark off a voidwalker sacrifice, I can only get up to 376,662 health (15% = 56499.3).

68k right now is about 23.5% max health. That’s almost 1.5 times a Healthstone’s heal. That’s not a better-good competition, that’s a good-crap competition.

At 1.09, Healthstone heals 62385 health, or 21.5% max health.

At 1.10, Healthstone heals 61818 health, or 21% max.

At 1.15, Healthstone heals 59130 health, or 20% max.

At 1.20, Healthstone heals 56667 health, or 19.5% max.

At 1.25, Healthstone heals 54400 health, or 18.8% max.

If I take a look at the Shadow Bulwark situation, where I increased my maximum health without touching my Versatility, where I increased my healthstone’s heal without increasing the tonic’s heal — the tonic is still better, 68000 to 56499 being 1.20 ratio. You’re only going to get to a stamina-only increase like that through a temporary raid CD. Stamina flasks don’t even begin to compare to that (30% max health is in the realm of 85k; a stamina flask is 18k health).

I don’t feel like or think that’s balanced. 15% is way too low.

If 68k is the accepted base heal for a potion, the Healthstone should be brought back up to a 20% max health heal, to at least give a little choice. To go to the 1.09 ratio of the stat foods, Healthstone would have to be buffed from live realms to 21.5% max health.

Otherwise, if we’re tuning to Healthstone’s 15%, the Tonic needs to be nerfed to something like 48k to get to a ratio of 1.09. The compromise 1.20 ratio would be a 52k heal.

TL;DR

Buff Healthstones and/or nerf Healing Tonics.

Edit: Already Changed

I @’d my post to Celestalon, and he replied that Healthstone has already been changed in the next build to be a flat base heal of 50k instead of based on max health percent. So now both warlock formulas for Tonics and ‘Stones are: # heal = [68000 (Tonic) / 50000 (Healthstone)] * (1+Versatility) * Blood Pact.

I’d reasoned out a 1.20:1 ratio as fair, which left me at thinking buffing Healthstone to heal 52k. Not too shabby for speculation!

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Healthstones

Spell spreads and quest mob learning

Yeah, it’s been a while, but I have ideas floating around.

After discussion with Catulla & Cynwise on how to destro, I was describing how I think the various warlock specs play across their spell toolkits.

In short: Affliction tends to divide based on how long the target takes to die (aka, health pool). Demonology depends on the number of targets available. Destruction plays across not only how many targets are available but how they are spread in the field of play.

I described destro as having a unique toolkit across all the number-differentiations of mobs: single target, dual (2 targets), multitarget (3+ not necessarily clumped), cleave (tight clump around central target), and area of effect (loose clump within a target circle). As contrast, affliction and demonology both have single target toolkits and AoE/cleave toolkits, with the middling “multitarget but not AoE/cleave” being simply the single target toolkits on multiple mobs (aka multidotting).

Destro is unique because it ports its single target spells to nearly all of the target number situations, and it also differentiates between cleave and area of effect (though destro’s cleave methods and AoE methods do overlap in use quite often). Cynwise pointed out that you can almost think of Fire and Brimstone (FnB) as a stance, a la Metamorphosis. I agree, especially now that FnB is a toggle rather than an outright spender.

Cat then asked if I could provide an example for each type for destro. So I sketched out destro’s spells according to how you differentiate multitarget and single target toolkits. Someone else asked for affliction after I posted the destro spread, so I did affliction and demonology as well. I’m probably rusty on the demo one, though; it’s based off what I remember using in Throne of Thunder, particularly on Lei Shen.

I was Frapsing myself trying to solo things on the Timeless Isle, just talking randomly through stuff with the examples I find on the Isle (mainly Kilnmasters as being good Havoc examples and Chanters being good RoF-as-aggro examples). I thought about making these spread notes into a video with examples of mobs in-game in soloable places (read: Isle of Giants, Isle of Thunder, Timeless Isle — the Isles are really good for practice), so maybe newer warlocks can see how to practice on their own.

(It’s also pretty general knowledge on how to approach world mobs and instance trash packs, which leads to figuring out which spec might perform best on an encounter without having pulled much on a boss. It’s only warlock-specific in using the warlock spells.)

I’ve ground out exalted Emperor Shaohao rep relearning (& re-enjoying) destruction, and I previously ground out my Bone White Raptor on the Isle of Giants when I learned demonology for tier 15. I do believe there are plenty of practice examples for players out there in dailies or general max-level world content for the various specs and minor tricks. Video editing allows for me to put a static slide of a spell toolkit (or major chunk of spell chunks), and then demonstrate it with footage of a quest mob or elite.

I’m not sure if that idea is too ambitious or if it’s even useful at all for players.

Spell spreads and quest mob learning

World of Logs series in Blood Pact

Originally, I envisioned this long series going step by step through a warlock parse — well, three of them, since there’s the three specs — and it would make everything super-clear. Then I realized that would soon be outdated if major mechanics were changed in patches. Although warlocks were totally reworked for Mists of Pandaria’s launch and we haven’t seen anything spec-breakingly change yet, it could happen later down the expansion road.

So instead I started to write a How To Read World of Logs series, with both veteran warlocks and raid leaders in mind, just with a warlock/caster DPS’s focus and examples. It is still the warlock class column, after all, but you might have noticed there aren’t many class columns still regularly active on WoW Insider. Blood Pact is really the only ranged DPS one left at the moment (sometimes there’s a hunter column every once in a bit). So I’m not bothered if something I write turns out to apply to most DPS in general — what helps people, helps people. Plus, not only are warlocks reading my columns, but warlock alts who might not know everything yet (especially with the MoP revamp).

Hopefully, these posts will help you decipher a log parse for a warlock in future patches, not just this one. There might be a few details to change, but I would prefer to teach method and a little common sense rather than to have you all come back patch after patch. The latter might be better for business, but I don’t think it would be better in the long run for your game play. Yeah, I do get paid to write a column, but I would prefer to help other warlocks learn and love the class.

So here’s the series, just five posts, though they total 7742 words, and only the Introduction is actually under the 1500-word limit! They’re all summed up in the last post anyway, but here it is again:

  • Introduction: types of warlocks, pets, and rankings 101
  • Graphs & Tables: Analyze Damage Done, Player details, Damage done by spell
  • Buffs & Debuffs: what is says + favorable stats from procs
  • Combat log kung fu: digging into the expression editor/combat log with two warlock examples
  • CompareBot: using CompareBot (part of RaidBots) to compare WoL tables for 2-3 warlocks

Unfortunately, as @snack_road pointed out to me, it’s possible what I’m trying to do isn’t going to work in the 1500-wd per week column format. Five posts is bordering on too long; on a regular blog that would be something like a week or two (a post every day? every other day?), but on WI it’s over a month of the same flipping topic. So before I try to do a SimulationCraft series, I want to write it out first (at least, most of it), and then try to present it in less than a month. It might be insane to try, but you never know, it might work.

I realized one problem with my quality too late in the writing of the series — I was writing it one post at a time. I think if I had written it all out ahead of time, maybe I could have grouped it together a little better. Did I really need the rankings in the 101 post? Probably not. Should I have instead gone over what specs tend to crop up on what fights? Maybe.

The last post for WoL was going to be a DPSBot/Rankings population comparison, because ranking can really be misleading sometimes. If you play demonology on Horridon, you’ll likely rank because hardly anyone plays it on Horridon, but if you play destruction, you’ll need to be actually good to rank. I also hadn’t done much of the spreadsheeting to compare the RaidBots to WoL ranking DPS limits, and then Cynwise posted his Class Distribution Data for Patch 5.3. So I realized, I ought to look at this over an entire tier (sayyyyyy Throne of Thunder), and then I could show things like how a class changes over a tier, since as we get more in stat budget, the order of top DPS naturally shifts a bit.

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Maybe you’re figured this out already, but I’m usually experimenting with format or topic in one way or another when I post a Blood Pact to pending. So far, the more I experiment, the better I get and also the more fun I have, so I’m going to keep doing it. Some people might not agree with how I’ve been doing the column compared to past writers. But after a year I finally realized it’s better in the long run to go do my thing the way I want to rather than trying to please all the critics all the time. It’s exhausting trying to be “correct” about everything all the time, and it’s much more relaxing and really exciting to just be in a discussion with other people. So I’m trying to provide discussion jumping-off points for topics rather than trying to list out what you should be doing this patch.

I’m still working on how to get lots of specific details on “heavy” topics like SimC or WoL into that 1500-wd space, but even the “lighter” topics like stories or soloing are meant to inspire rather than dictate. Hopefully it all works in the end. As always, if you have any ideas or topics you want me to explore (or any screenshots to show!), you can always send them to me: megan at wowinsider dot com.

World of Logs series in Blood Pact