Monday, 29 March 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Dr. Polly Taylor has just resigned.

No, I've not heard of her before today and I doubt that many other people will have, either.  She was a senior official from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the UK.  Why did she resign?  Apparently over the past six months five other members of the ACMD have also resigned following the dismissal of the group's chairman, Professor David Nutt.

Professor Nutt was, obviously an academic as well as the chairman of the ACMD and as such lectured on topics that he was qualified to... including the classification of cannabis and ecstasy in the UK.  A scientist, gave a lecture according to his views and one would hope reasonable scientific grounds, so far, so normal.  Only one problem:

The UK government didn't like his findings and he was dismissed.

So, you set up a group with independent scientific advisors, presumably to advise you and when it transpires that you don't like this independent advice you sack them?  What on earth is going on?  I'm sure that you can hire a bunch of people to agree with you and tell you want to hear all day long if you wish, but don't you dare go on and claim that your new "advisors" are "independent".

Dr. Taylor's resignation comes just as the latest "health-scare-drug-craze-that-all-the-kids-are-addicted-to", mephedrone is about to be banned, now I know very little of this drug, save what I've heard in the media (I'm kind of innocent that way!), but apparently the scientific evidence of this drug's supposed lethality doesn't hold up.

Now, whether or not mephedrone is, or is not the greatest cause of human suffering since Girls Aloud released their first album is not the point.  The point is that the UK government (and the media) have already made up their mind about it and it's going to be banned.  If they can find scientific evidence to back up the claims of the danger of this drug, then that evidence will be put to use.  Contradictory evidence will be ignored.

You call that "science"?

That isn't how science works, that's manipulating evidence to justify your personal beliefs.

Big difference.

So, next time that someone tells you that something is good or bad for you, you might want to stop for a second and have a little think about what you've just been told.  Who told them that this thing was bad (or good) for them and who told them?  Follow the chain, find out where it leads.  If it leads to an "independent advisory body" you might want to ask yourself if they really are independent...

Friday, 26 March 2010

3 Days of 3.3.3


I'm happy to say that I got what I expected with my Death Knight tanking buffs - it's made things a little easier, a fair bit more interesting and a lot more fun!

The main cause of this fun?  A very simple buff which was the threat increase that Icy Touch got whilst in Frost Presence.

Icy Touch is bound to the "1" key on my keyboard.  It's there because it's the first thing that I want to hit as a threat opener.  If I have to change targets, IT is the first thing that I'm looking to hit them with - even if I'm out of position, the 20 yard range means that I'm going to be able to put some threat on them and infect them with Frost Fever.  That's means ranged instant cast threat, a DoT and it slows the target's attack speed a little so I take less damage off them.  How much extra threat did we get with the buff?

A lot more.

This has made tanking fun and enjoyable (not that it wasn't fun before, but it's a little less stressful now and therefore I can enjoy myself more).  It hasn't really affected my 5 man tanking because the only risk that there was of people pulling aggro off me was if they weren't attacking my main target, this buff does nothing to my AoE threat so lunatic mages can still pull the odd mob if they don't behave themselves.  Where it really shines is raiding, it has its occasional downside, too...  I'll get to that in a minute.

Getting a nice threat lead after taunting on a tank-swap: easy.
Keeping aggro on mobs that you're having to kite: easy.
Not overaggroing the Main Tank  when you're sharing the same boss: a bit tricky.

Initially our MT thought that I was trying to have an aggro race with him when in reality I was just going through my old rotation at the same pace that I used to.  I've had to adjust and reign things in a little; getting carried away could end up causing a wipe in some situations... got to watch that...  I think that Blood DK offtanks will be making the MTs a bit more nervous in the future.

Kiting Big Slimy Dudes on Lady Deathwhisper (hang on, she doesn't exactly "whisper" does she?) is easy as I can spend more time concentrating on where I'm going and less time on shooting stuff at the target.  Same thing with Rotface's Oozes.

Another interesting gameplay change is having to choose what to spend my Frost Runes on.  Before the patch it was easy: use IT for an opener or when Frost Fever is about to wear off, at all other times use the rune as part of Death Strike.  Now I get to make the decision on whether I'd like a threat boost or some self healing; it's a great play-style change that means you have to keep more of an eye on the situation than before and adapt to what is needed.  In periods of low damage you can give yourself more of a threat lead and in periods of high damage you can focus on self healing, safe in the knowledge that you won't suddenly lose aggro.

Moodyloner reckons that it won't last past the weekend without a nerf... yeah, that's right Blizz... give me a few days of fun before you snatch it away...  I sincerely hope that she's not right, I mean it's not as if it messes around with PvP or DPS specs, all it does is give the tanks a bit more single target threat.

Will of the Necropolis...  I wasn't sure if I'd see a difference and I haven't so far.  There are so many variables that contribute to tank survival (or lack thereof) that I doubt that I'll ever notice the buff.  Maybe the healers will, but so far they haven't said anything to me!

The Abomination's Might change is quite nice.  Having a permanent 10% raid attack power bonus is always good, no matter what you do and having a buff icon sat on your screen, reminding you of it being there is pretty cool, too.  The best bit about it?  When I mentioned it to one of our hunters, he decided that he's my new best friend.

Just keep your smelly wolf away from me, will ya?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Ultimate Triage

So, me and the guild were working our way through ICC10 the other day, the raid had reset and we wanted our loot and badges right now!

Things were going smooth as silk up until the Gunship Battle, we had a few more wipes there than was good for my emotional state at the time.  I mean, this was the Gunship Battle... the nice little novelty boss fight where I get to pretend to be King of the Rocketmen and let Saurfang Senior hit me in the head a few times just so that he doesn't look over his shoulder and spot my esteemed colleagues giving his best Frost Mage a good kicking.  It was supposed to be fun, but all that happened was repair bills getting bigger and my patience wearing thinner.

We got it done eventually and moved onto Deathbringer Saurfang the Space Marine.  No way were we going to get this done after our previous performance, I was not looking forward to this fight at all...

We one-shotted him.

I honestly did not see that coming in a million years.  Respect where it's due, the guys seemed to get it done perfectly, not that I was in a position to notice; tanking Saurfang involves standing in one spot, using all your moves to keep the threat going, keeping one eye on the threat meter, another eye on your health bar, popping the cooldowns so that you don't end up lying face down and watching out for when the other tank gets this bloodrunemarkofdoom (or something) and taunting off him the second that he gets it.  Apparently there are things called "Blood Beasts" in this fight... I honestly couldn't tell you what they looked like...

Happily surprised and satisfied, I go strolling into the Upper Spire of the Citadel and remember not to run into the icecloud jets that are basically Frogger 3.0.  There are inevitable casualties, whether it's down to lag, stupidity or not playing the real Frogger enough when they were young, but you always lose a couple of people there.  Somebody clips a jet, their health plummets, but somehow they cling to life by a few hit points.

"Don't heal up!" I yell down the Vent.  "Quick! Somebody bandage them!"


Ultimate triage achievement!

The next few minutes were spent with people taking turns at trying to get themselves almost killed in the ice jets so that they can be bandaged up.  Much hilarity and rezzing ensued as it wasn't an exact science, but by the end of the silliness all of the raid had their Ultimate Triage achievement and a nice smile on their face.  Even in the middle of a stressful raid, we can still have a laugh.

That's why I love my guild.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Hey, A New Patch...

I heard a rumour that patch 3.3.3 was coming out tomorrow for us EU folk...


I've been looking forward to this patch since I heard about the Death Knight changes that were coming up and I'm trying to figure out why.  I'll admit that nothing but buffs for your main character is always a winner, but I'm pretty sure that this kind of thing has happened before - just without the Christmas Eve eagerness thing.

You know what?  I've think that the reason that I'm interested in this patch more that previous ones is that when the previous ones came out, I wasn't tanking.

When I was playing the DPS game, if they buffed or nerfed my class, that little number on Recount (or Skada if you're smart) went up or down by a few percent and that was it.  Okay, maybe you had to do a little bit of reading, change your rotation, maybe even pay a visit to your class trainer and tweak your spec here and there.  Not that big a deal, really.

Tanking... well... that's a bit different.  Now I have 9 or 24 people trusting that I'm not being an idiot, have specced correctly and that the patch changes haven't messed things up too much.  If the survivability has dropped, the healers have to compensate, if the threat has dropped then the DPS might have to hold back a little (yeah... I wish...).

Fortunately for DKs, it's all good.  Here are the changes:

  • Icy Touch: This ability now causes a very high amount of threat while the death knight is in Frost Presence.
  • Chains of Ice: The ability now innately applies Frost Fever to a target.
  • Rune of Razorice: Now stacks 5 stacks of 2% Frost Vulnerability instead of 10 stacks of 1% Frost Vulnerability. Proc chance changed to 100%.
  • Talents

    • Blood

      • Abomination's Might: This effect is now passive instead of being a proc on certain strikes. Rank 1 is 5% attack power and Rank 2 is 10% attack power. The self strength buff remains unchanged.
      • Will of the Necropolis: There is no longer a cooldown on the frequency at which this talent can be activated. In addition, this ability can now also be triggered by damage which deals less than 5% of your health.
    • Frost

      • Endless Winter: No longer causes Frost Fever to be applied by Chains of Ice, but instead grants 2/4% strength.
      • Icy Talons: The personal haste benefit provided by this talent is no longer exclusive with other sources of melee haste. This will allow death knights to always swing 4/6/12/16/20% faster when Frost Fever is applied. Windfury Totem and the party/raid component of Improved Icy Talons still do not stack.
      • Improved Icy Talons: This effect is now passive instead of being a proc. The self haste buff remains unchanged.
      • Nerves of Cold Steel: Now increases off-hand damage by 8/16/25%, up from 5/10/15%.
      • Unbreakable Armor: The amount of strength granted is now 20%, up from 10%.
    • Unholy

      • Scourge Strike: Now deals 70% weapon damage, plus 12% of physical damage done as shadow damage for each of the death knight's diseases on the target. The net result should be larger strikes with no diseases present, while maximum damage with all diseases applied to the target should stay the same.
      • Unholy Blight: In addition to its previous effects, this talent now also prevents diseases from being dispelled from victims afflicted by Unholy Blight.

Being as this is all about me, me, me, I'm just going to talk about the changes that will affect 95% of my Death Knight playstyle.

Most of the time, I'm offtank in ICC or ToC raids.  This involves picking up adds or sharing taunt-swap duties with the maintank the vast majority of the time, my priorities in talent choice are survivability and high single target threat which is why I'm using the current 53/8/10 Blood spec.  Yeah, some snap AoE threat would be nice, especially for the insane 5-man random dungeon runs, but I cope alright with them... just.

The Icy Touch threat change is going to be so much fun!  There's always this period of 3-4 seconds after a pull where you're waiting for the target to attack you, you (hopefully) dodging/parrying the attack, Runestrike proccing, you hitting one of your lovely macroed attack buttons and your weapon swing kicking in and hitting the target for a nice, big lump of Runestrike assisted threat.  Up until that point, I'm always nervously looking at the threat meter to see how much of a lead I have on Mr. Overkeen DPS No.1.  Let's see if my new and improved Icy Touch opening shot will lead to a little less stress!

Add to that the fact that a threat increase is a threat increase.  Got to be a good thing.

The Will of the Necropolis change... well... what can I say?  I take the talent because it seems like a good idea.  I couldn't tell you how often it kicks in and saves me because if I'm getting hit so hard that my health drops that low, I'm really not looking at my list of buffs at that moment in time; a more accurate picture of what I'm doing is staring at the monitor in alarm and mashing all the cooldown buttons in front of me, so I couldn't really say whether it's WotN, my healers or my cooldown mashing that saves me from time to time.

Still, a buff is a buff...

Lastly, Abomination's Might...  10% AP buff for all?  No proc involved?  Nice.  This is the real reason that you guys drag me along into those impressive looking citadels of death, doom and gloom, isn't it?

Oh yes, I'm a happy Death Knight alright...

- Keep your diseases up and move out of the fire.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Do I Really Like This Place?


Yeah, The Oculus.

I know...

I ran this place a few times before they nerfed it, I seem to recall spending an hour in that place because we managed to mess up so much.  This was back in the day that you did the flying bit in the nude - you knew that you were going to die twenty times, so why bother wearing gear that was just going to get damaged when you fell hundreds of meters to your death.

Why was it so hard?  A combination of people having to use a "vehicle" that they were unfamiliar with, coupled with having to think, move and fight in three dimensions (technically, four...).  It's not that the place is especially badly laid out, it's just that very few people ever spent the time to get to know it and as a result, people who were used to being channeled down dungeon corridors suddenly developed severe cases of agoraphobia and had to deal with the option of being able to fly everywhere.  This resulted in people getting lost, pulling half a dozen mobs and wiping.

Again and again...

Enter gear scaling.  You can't do it in the nude anymore, you need to be wearing your gear to be able to do anything.  If you were in Ulduar level gear at this point, The Oculus just got a bit easier, if you weren't, you just got big repair bills.

Then patch 3.3 and the wonderful Random Dungeon Finder arrives to the celebration of nearly everyone until they realise that "random" actually means "you're going to get The Oculus 45% of the time".  I still don't understand how that worked out...  This meant that you had to learn how to do this place or you were going to be spending a lot of time in Dalaran waiting for your deserter debuff to wear off, which must have been pretty annoying for all the DPSers who had to wait for a while to get the dungeon in the first place.

The good news is, everything in the place had been nerfed and hopefully you had better gear so you could blow through it with few problems.  Add to that the sack of loot that get at the end and The Oculus became tolerable.  Especially because I want that Blue Drake Mount.

People have got used to the place, don't get lost, know the mechanics inside out and this can result in brilliant runs where pulling packs of mobs on the ground turns into paratrooper moves - fly above the mobs, everyone jumps off the drakes, parachute into the mobs and unleash chaos - great fun.

Except on a run last week, only the healer and I seemed to have any clue what we were doing - it was like the bad old days again.  People getting totally lost.  People pulling half the flying mobs in the instance.  Pulling mobs and then getting off the drake on boss 2.  Not moving behind the pillars in boss 3.  Generally getting killed by everything that they even looked at on the final boss... now, I'm not the kind of person to drop group (unless people are being rude), but it was sooooo tempting.

Didn't get my Blue Drake, either... I swear that place hates me.

- Keep your diseases up and move out of the fire.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Rune Display Mods

Death Knights don't use mana. We don't use rage, focus or anything like that at all.  When Blizzard created the Death Knight class, they decided on an odd collection of runes and runic power to control the availability of our abilities.  Official statements from Blizzard have stated that the rune system is going to be overhauled for Cataclysm, until then we're working with what we've got.

Put as simply as possible, the Death Knight has six runes that act as individual mini-cooldowns that limit the use of many instant-cast abilities, which will require using one, two or three of these runes to power it.

But wait, there's more... runes come in three flavours: blood, frost and unholy - they're not interchangeable and different abilities require different runes.  Spamming one particular ability becomes rather tricky as normally, at most, you're going to be able to hit off a couple of shots and you're waiting for the runes to cooldown.  That's 10 seconds under the most common circumstances.

Add into that the wildcard Death Runes that you can have popping up all over the place (which act as blood, frost or unholy as you so wish) and you can see that to keep things flowing smoothly you need to know just what you've got available and how soon you will have to wait before you unleash more pain upon your target of choice.

Using your abilities will generate another resource, Runic Power, which functions fairly similarly to a warrior's Rage mechanic.  This allows you to unleash completely different offensive and defensive abilities and can smooth over those stagnant periods whilst you're waiting for those runes to pop back up.  Add to this an obsessive desire to keep your diseases up on your target and you can see that there are quite a few things to keep track of in the middle of all of the carnage of a 25 man raid.

Personally, I find this need to keep an eye on so many things at once rather satisfying.  Neglecting the constant juggling act of Runes, Runic Power and Diseases relegates you to the category of Deathtard.  You can have the right gear, gems, enchants and specs, but get the runes wrong and basically, you'll suck.

Blizzard Default.

This is what we're given as default to help us with our juggling act.  See those six little circles?  Those are your runes.  See those little clock-face, pie-style counters over the top of them?  Me either...  See that thin, blue line?  That's your Runic Power.  It's stuck up in the top left corner of your screen miles away from where all the action is happening.  "Don't stand in what?!  Oops, sorry... I was too busy squinting at this stupid little circle to see when I could press another button..."

So.  Not a fan at all.

Enter the Rune Display Mod...  I've got some requirements that I want out of my display mod.  I want to be able to put it in my line of sight so that I can focus on what I'm doing, I want the information to imprint itself into my brain, via my retinas without me have to do any of that annoying concentrating business.

I want to be able to still see the fire that I'm not supposed to stand in.

When I don't need it, I don't want to know that it even exists.

Having a built in disease tracker makes me smile.

Finally, looking cool and Death Knighty is a bonus.

This is my search for a UI mod that lets me get the job done, /follow me and see where we end up... Runes

Together with its best buddy Diseases, you get something that looks like this.

I used this for quite a while, it looks very much the part and it's very easy to see what's happening as well as what's about to happen.  Having runes a sliding bars lets you see what is going on without having to think about it.  A simpler graphical interface is available and it can disappear when you don't need it.

The only thing that caused me to look elsewhere was my inability to put it somewhere where I could see both it and the action going on around me.  Towards the centre distracted me from seeing the fire, too far away and my eyes were having to flick around too much and focus.

Magic Runes

All the information that you need in one place.  As clear and simple as you like with sliding bars, so nice and easy to see what's going on and when the runes are going to be back up.

On the downside, all the bars are a little too similar to each other for my liking.  I prefer the runes, RP and diseases to have different looks.  Doesn't make me feel like a resurrected, unholy killing machine, either...

Magic Runes - Icon Display:

Nice and simple.  As usual, lots of different setups to tweak. but no diseases and no sliding things.  Not bad if you want the minimalist approach somewhere that you can easily see it, but not really the thing for me.  It has as much flavour as you can pack into six little icons, but I like more!

Rune Watch

Ooh... Me like... shiny...

More flavour than a whole pack of Starburst... this thing is a work of art.

It's got runes, runic power, diseases and even a Horn of Winter countdown timer.  They all have differing appearances and it disappears when you don't need it.

Did I mention how pretty it looks?

The only reason that I'm not using it is because it relies on the numerical countdown for the timers.  If it had sliding runes and diseases, I'd grab it... might spoil the look, though...


Sliding runes? Check.  Runic power? Check.

Take a look at it!  It's flippin' Frostmourne!  Another work of art to remind you what your job is.

No diseases, unfortunately and the runes are a bit squashed up to make it all fit in.  Again, like its cousin Runes, it's a bit too tricky to put in a place where I can see it but not be distracted by it.

Yuri's Rune Display

Another simple one in the vein of Magic Runes - Icon Display.  Exactly the same pros and cons, but rather neat and tidy looking.

Acherus Runes

Named after everyone's favourite floating citadel with trainers to help you re-spec, it's Acherus...

Several different layouts, from the very simple to this one I'm using here.  It's got everything that I want (almost) from a mod.  Runes, runic power, diseases and all of them on sliding bars.  I can place it right where I want it, assimilate all the information on the go and it's not distracting me.  Out of combat, it's gone.  It even has proc watcher icons that appear when Rime and Killing Machine proc.

Whilst it may not have the artistic stylings of some of the others, at least it tries its best with the inverted triangle thing.

So that's what I'm using at the moment.


In the end, everyone has different needs when is comes to assimilating the information that you want quickly.  What works for one person may give another person a raging headache when they try to use it.  All of these mods have lots of settings and layouts to tweak, so try them out, play around with them, give yourself a bit of time to get used to them and move onto another if it doesn't work for you!

Keep your diseases up and move out of the fire...

Friday, 12 March 2010

More Random Starts

Well, I figure that I should probably have a go at putting something up here. Never had a blog before. Never set one up. Haven't got a clue as to what I'm doing...


So, why am I bothering with this? Well, I've recently written a few lengthy posts on our WoW guild forum and I decided that I kind of like it. People seemed to be able to read it and make sense of it. Laying things out properly and the odd bit of correct spelling and punctuation went a long way.

What am I going to put in this blog? How's about having it focus on the things I do in WoW? I'm sure that there are a few other things in life that could be put in here, but WoW seems like a nice start because it isn't real. Somehow, writing about something that isn't actually real seems easier.

This is, therefore, going to revolve around World of Warcraft, being a guild officer, Death Knights, tanking, whining about bad PuGs and anything else that takes my fancy.

Might need to take a look at sorting this site out, too...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Beginning of the End

Just a quick test to see if this thing works.