Friday, July 30, 2010

But, the Meters!

If you want to get silly and see what currently-geared raiders can do if they don't worry about fight mechanics at all, try running your 277-geared raid through some old content.

We started the night 3 short of a full group, and with Lich King and Halion left, we were left to call the raid early, or do alternate stuff. We did the weekly raid (Patchwerk) and silly melee pulled some hatefuls and died. Still, with live streaming of our parses, several of us were in the top100 on that fight.

Raid still not full. We went to do Toravon, and a good number of us cracked the top50 for our respective classes.

Raid still not full. What the heck, let's clear VOA. So, we hit Archavon, then Koralon, then Emalon. By the time we got to Emalon, we were simply having fun. We grouped the adds on the boss and I saw cleaves, fan of knives, and volleys going off. I kept myself to 'merely' pestilence, and yet the boss died before I could say 'boo.'

After the carnage and boss body parts settled to the ground, we examined the meters.
It was a good laugh on an off night.
We had three raiders finish as the top dps in the world on WOL for their class on the Emalon fight, with Massakur the furious warrior #1 for any class by over 7,000 dps (he was over 31k for the fight). I was merely around 23rd for unholy DKs. Laughing, I said I'd have to Death & Decay and we should come back next week for the fun of it and flask.
On the night, I was ranked in the top 50 for 4 of the fights, and pretty much every raider cracked the top 200 for their spec, worldwide.

Want to have some fun? Convince your raid lead to take you through some old content and run a log. :)

Fortunately, our raid did fill and we did one of the Lich King achievements. (Hopefully a drake awaits in the near future).

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Forming a raid Redux (x2)

Remember how I stopped leading a regular ICC10 because I couldn't commit to a regular schedule, and because a consistent group had never shown up?

Well, looky here!

1) In which I was once again a reluctant RL - but got lucky

So, on Saturday I found myself at home (as opposed to out of town), not busy and able to log on. I decided to hop on my shammy and maybe do a VOA or something low key. Moments after logging on, a couple of guildies whispered me asking if I was going to do anything or form a group. I replied, "I really don't want to lead anything, so I think I'll just mess around a bit." I heeded the Dalaran call for a healer for VOA 25, and while preparing to kill Toravan more guildies /whispered me that one of the newer mages in the guild was putting together a group for ICC10. They said, "it looks pretty good." I said I'd be willing to heal it after Toravon, and joined a full group as soon as Mr T was dead.

Group composition:
Heals: shammy healer (myself/alt), holy pally (pug), holy priest (pug)
Tanks: bear (guild raider/offspec), protadin (pug)
DPS: rogue (guild nonraider/alt), rettie (pug), mage (raider/main spec), warlock (pug), spriest (pug)

Well, I've seen this before. One main raider, the rest alt/offspecs/pugs, and it usually doesn't end well... still, I'm here on my resto shammy, just gonna have fun.

Zoning, in, getting asked for vent info. I hit my macro button, and see who hops on vent. Eventually, the mage who formed the raid gets in vent, but no one can hear him.... uh oh. He rages in /raid about his new $50 mike, and silence ensues.... who's gonna RL now?

*eyes swivel to Hine*

Oh no. I said I didn't wanna *cry*
Oh, okay. *sigh*

So, we clear trash uneventfully, and after brief discussion decide to just do normal mode ICC10 given the pug nature of the group, fortunately inspection reveals that at least everyone is reasonably well geared.

Surprisingly, Marrowgar is one-shot, nobody dies, everyone seems to know their role, and even the dps all seem competent! (all over 7k dps for the fight). Hmmm, might not be so bad after all!

Lady Deathwhisper was smoooth, even when half the group hadn't heard of the initial strategy of starting on the stage behind LDW.

Gunship? We toyed with doing On a Boat before cooler heads prevailed and we toyed with the Lootship normally.

A couple of hours later, we sat in front of Sindragosa, having one-shot every boss. Wow, everyone was commenting on how this pug was better than most guild runs. But, I thought, Sindragosa is where pugs come to die. Especially when the tank admitted he hadn't completed the fight. Taking a deep breath, I explained the fight to those who hadn't done it before. Then, we killed the mini-drakes and pulled Sindra...... and one-shot her too!
I think most of us had trouble scooping our jaws off the floor for 5 minutes afterward, even as we ported to the room of the infamous Lich King.
Now, here is where the happy story ends, but make no mistake. It IS a happy story. Just because we came back the next night - replacing only the warlock - and wiped on LK for the duration, it felt good to clear 11/12 ICC in a pug, and even have the confidence that this group can kill LK next time around.
I clearly had very little to do with it. The group somehow had a full complement of competent and decently geared pugs, and everyone quickly adopted their assigned roles even if they hadn't done it before. I can claim very little credit. Maybe the mage has some raid-forming mojo. I don't know, but in any case it was fun. We'll see what happens next week.

2. In Which I get Lucky Again.

Over the past week there had been several threads in guild forums by newer members looking for a regular ICC10 group. Unfortunately I still find myself unable to commit to any raid times outside of what is already scheduled. And then I had an idea. We're still raiding 4 nights a week, and it's an unusual week where we don't call a raid or two early, or even have Monday off when we're done with all current content. So, why not plan to run a 10-man ONLY when raid is called early? What a concept! In forums, several had trouble with how this might work. I clarified that mains and alts are acceptable, as long as the alt is well-geared. These raids would not be about getting gear. They would be about getting the achievements required for the mount. Enthusiasm was surprisingly relatively high.

Monday, the only thing left was TOGC and that lasted about an hour. So, announcing in vent I would be doing the 'standby' 10-man (I'll have to come up with a good name for it - but this won't be the Tard Ten reincarnated), I quickly had more people than I could take along, competent raiders all. In fact, the co-GMs, an officer, and several of the more-skilled raiders brought toons. Thus, it was with confidence that we entered ICC10, and proceeded to fairly quickly and efficiently kill most of the first two wings on heroic, while doing several achievements. Not bad for 'filling in' a raid during regular raid time!

3. Maybe, just maybe.....

This might work. One can only hope.... :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DPS Scaling in ICC: Another Angle

Curiosity struck again as I was wandering around in World of Logs, so I thought I'd do another post on dps scaling. My previous posts on the subject can be found here, here, and here.

One of the comments (among many good ones) was that looking at only the top 10 of a class didn't get at what was the 'typical' dps in a raid situation. To which I replied: I don't care about 'typical' dps, I'm interested in what can be accomplished under ideal conditions. I'm still not interested in 'typical' dps. I want to know what is the best dps each spec can do and how each class/spec has fared in regards to max potential as we gear up in Icecrown Citadel.

Another angle at the top end of dps performance is to look not at the average dps of the top 10 of each class, but to simply look at the top 100 dps overall, and see what the class composition for each boss fight in ICC is. If 50 of the top 100 dps on a particular fight are, say, arcane mages, then that suggests a couple things: 1) arcane mages do good dps on that boss (relative to other specs), and 2) that particular fight is very arcane mage friendly. If arcane mages are very well-represented in the top 100 for all the bossfights, that suggests that mages do very well overall compared to other specs, and that they have scaled well in current content.
My numbers aren't perfect, because there were a few scattered arms warriors that hit the top 100 here and there, and a couple of survival hunters or destruction warlocks on a fight or two. There were maybe a total of 7-8 of these specs combined, so when one of them was in the top 100, I just moved to the next dps below them to include in the chart.
Something else I glossed over last time was the sample size. In general, this 'sample' is fairly small - only 100 players for each boss, for a total of 1100 players on each difficulty. However, the number of potential players ranked - that is, how many rogues/shaman/druids/etc are parsed on WOL - is in the tens of thousands. There are typically 125 pages (40 each page) of ranked players for each bossfight. So, while my sample is not representative of what each spec 'typically' does, I think it's fairly safe to say my sample is representative of the 'best' each spec has to offer.

The number crunching for this post was, thankfully, far easier than for the last one. All I did was count how many of each dps spec was in the top 100 dps for each bossfight. The results are below:

As one would expect from this slightly different take on the same question, most of the same basic conclusions of my previous scaling examination remain the same. Still, take a look and see what your thoughts might be with this variation on the theme.

Looking at the 25 man normal difficulty, a few things jump out at me.

First, of course, is that fire and fury are just as dominant as the previous post suggested. 43% of the top 100 dps over all of the ICC bossfights was one of these two specs.
Combat rogues, in third place, didn't even make up 10% of top dps, and it went downhill from there.
Two specs, 43% of the top dps. The other 14 'viable' dps specs? 57%. Ouch.

And that's only on normal difficulty. Let's take a look at the heroic chart, where scaling really starts to take hold.
1) Fury is back on top by an incredible 2-to-1 margin over its nearest competitor.
2) Fury and fire now account for almost 67% of top dps for all of Icecrown, leaving a mere 33% for the remaining 14 specs. Um, something is not balanced in the State of Denmark.
3) On heroic Marrowgar, a whopping 79 fury warriors were in the top 100 dps. 11 specs didn't have a single player ranked. That means that the 79th-best warrior did more dps than the best hunter, warlock, DK, shammy, priest, .... well, you get the picture.
4) Overall, fury has more players in the top 100 than all 14 non-fire specs, combined!
5) Interestingly, it appears that unholy DKs and shadow priests did fairly well - as opposed to their showing on the previous examination. It's clear, though, that this is entirely due to the fact that both specs have 'specialty fights' - fights where they seem uniquely suited to a good performance (spriests on Valithria, DKs on Sindragosa and LK). Take away their specialty fights, and they combine for about 3% of top scores.
6) Six specs couldn't even manage an average of one score in the top 100, and poor enhancement shammies didn't have a single top-100 score in all of ICC.

EW. Dead horse. Beaten.
I'll continue to do the best I can  in my role as a dpser, and focus on competing with my spec peers, rather than bashing my head against the wall of superior warrior scaling.
That's all the have nots - everyone but fury and fire, really - can do.
And keep our fingers crossed for Cataclysm.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good News! The Guild Talents are Flowing Again!

I had been concerned that Blizzard was rushing to get the next expansion out the door and was struggling to make things work (still am).

Many things promised have either been dropped completely or changed/cut back dramatically.

I had thought that the guild talents was going to end up in the trash heap as well, but it looks like Blizzard will be implementing it after all! MMO-Champion among others has presented us with the list.

And they suuuure to look purty!

The talents listed provide plenty of 'spice' to look forward to as an incentive to participating in guilds. They will be very very useful without providing any actual assistance in killing raid bosses. Just the right balance. Extra experience, increased mount speed, raidwide summons, all sorts of wonderful goodies! :)

Blizzard has said one of their main intentions is to encouraged players to show more loyalty to guilds and it certainly seems to fit the bill - players will want to have these 'buffs,' but won't be crippled without them. And losing them will make players think twice about casually gquitting, but if they really need to make a change can still do so.

Of course the question on our minds now is what actions will be required to level guild talents, and how long it will take to progress. I'll be waiting eagerly to find out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Best in Slot: Final Answer (ICC)

As most of you know, for the current level of content I've concluded that Unholy 2H is the best spec for dps DKs unless your raid doesn't have the haste buff.

As is the case with every tier, one looks at the 'new' stuff that's available and slobbers over the nice, bright shinies and hopes to accumulate as much of it as possible. Why? It's fun of course, and more importantly puzzing together the jigsaw puzzle of gear helps us do our job that much better.

At any rate, with things pretty well-settled in terms of stat valuation, I've settled on my 'ideal' gearset that I'm hoping to end up with now that I've obtained Shadowmourne.

For those not accustomed to the practice, I've assigned a value for each stat in terms of how much attack power it's worth (AEP) and then calculated the total value of each item. These values are based on simulators such as Kahorie's or Mr Robot. As you can see, in best in slot gear, haste is very good, second only to strength. With the Icewalker enchant on my boots, I can cap my hit (as a Draenei). For gem slots, I assigned a flat 60 AEP based on gemming for strength.

Strangely enough, the thing that immediately jumps out at me from this list is that it completely lacks expertise. Now, I'm usually a big advocate of capping stats like hit and expertise, but before you go getting all upset, here's the thinking. First, all the simulators I've used are currently rating expertise as a very poor stat, on par only with agility. I think this is mostly due to the fact that haste is so good. Haste scales extremely well, while expertise.... doesn't. Thus, if you can get enough haste on your gear or with gemming (around 250-300 rating seemst to be the break point), expertise becomes irrelevant. With enough haste, those dodges won't cripple your rotation. That is, as long as hit remains capped. Sims actually rate hit much higher prior to the hit cap, but I put in a semi-random number just to ensure I am capped when all is said and done. If you DON'T have a lot of haste, then you should try to keep expertise up a bit.

As you might have guessed, any time new content is released, I add to this spreadsheet to help me prioritize gear selections. In any case, for those of you who are interested, here's the BIS list I came up with. Arguments can be made for the gloves over the legs for non-set piece, but I think the legs' greater haste wins out. You'll also notice I find Halion's leather bracers to be the best, although the plate ones are quite nice, too, but the itemization is better with the leather piece.

Good luck to all in gearing up your Death Knights!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Template change

They say black is a terrible background for a blog.

I suppose even Death Knights can't be Goth all the time.

So, let me know if you like the new theme, or the old one!

Oranje!!!!! (Orange)

In honor of the Netherlands football team which came so close to a World Cup title (and congratulations to a well-deserving Spain), I finally have some ORANGE of my own!

As I wrote about last year (and here), I've always been late to the party or in the wrong place at the wrong time for a legendary. I didn't play Wow until a few weeks before the first expansion, so the vanilla legendaries weren't an option. I started raiding just a little too late (and bounced around a few guilds) into the raiding cycle for Burning Crusade so my at the time main rogue was on the outside looking in. I gave up my head-of-the class position in my last guild in search of a more successful raiding experience, and thought I'd lost the opportunity to get Frostmourne before the next expansion when I joined Insomnia. However, I plunged ahead and got my Shadow's Edge, did the quests, and due to some turnover and lack of competition, after Masskur got his weapon, I was able to start building mine!


And there was much rejoicing!

Hine nearly cried tears of joy at being entrusted to carry the legendary weapon into battle on behalf of the Alliance and all the free peoples of Azeroth!!!

Now, we'll get to see how this DK can do with this baby. I'm grateful and happy to have a chance to use the legendary while we still have a few 'progression bosses' left (heroic Sindra, Halion, Lich King). It's unfortunate that one has to have this weapon to be competitive on the world meters, but I look forward to seeing if I can earn my place there now that I have the gear to give it a go. :)

Oh, screenshot plz you say? Ok, done. Apologies that it's not all that great. I'll try to get a few more and see if I can improve on it. But at least you can see Massakur and Hine standing joyfully in a mostly sleepy Dalaran last night.

So there you have it - Oranje!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Still Undead and Kicking

Sorry guys for the long absence!

The job required a trip to Alaska where the access was not conducive to blogging, and the family peace and happiness required a camping trip where the access was.... not. :)

Hine is still Undead and Kicking though, back to raiding and closer than ever to Shadowmourne (good chance of getting it this week). More Wow and DK-related stuff to come this week - I've had about 5-6 articles all bouncing around in my head for a bit, we'll see which one(s) spill out.

In any case: Anchorage was a good experience and I'll leave you with a few impressions from my RL 'raid' there:
1) Moose's Tooth is one of the best pizza and microbrew places on the planet.
2) The glaciers ARE worth seeing in person.
3) Don't get lost anywhere outside of town.
4) You can get liquor delivered via 'bush plane' to just about anywhere.

And from my camping trip to the shores of Lake Roosevelt (Columbia River above the Grand Coulee Dam):
1) Having a HUGE camp area for the family and friends is priceless (including our own little cove for our watercraft).
2) wake surfing isn't hard, but it is a rush!
3) DO tell your noob-to-camping children to pee outside the tent.
4) DON'T bring 4x the amount of food you need for a one week trip. Although the squirrels and ants will be happy if you do.