Damn movie trailers, grumble grumble

Rarely do I watch any trailer for a film anymore, and say to myself, “Damn, I canNOT wait to see THAT!”

Truth to tell… yeah, I can wait.

Guess I’ve reached that age where I DO want to see the movie, but I don’t really care if I see it when all my friends do so we can all chat about it at once.

Okay, I guess I’d have to have friends for that to happen, right? Do friends count if none of them live within 50 miles of your local watercooler for BS sessions?

Anyway, trailer, trailer, lots of summer films coming out…

So why in the hell, when I finally see a trailer for a film I just HAVE to see, and I mean right now…

Well, see for yourself.

Now that you’ve seen that… here’s the bad news.

It’s a fan made trailor. Here’s the link.

Why, oh why can’t I see it for reals?

/cry

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Zen and the Art of Pwning Face

Just to give you something fun to chew over;

Do you have that character in the game, the character that you play instinctually, without having to think of what buttons to click or keys to press?

You may play other classes, and enjoy it, maybe even enjoy those classes more than this class. You may even be a master of those other classes, and hold the admiration of your co-raiders or dueling victims.

But is there that one class that, when you play it, you don’t spend your time choosing which buttons to click. Instead you’re manuevering and fighting, changing tactics on the fly, and seeing your thoughts translate into action on the screen before you.

It’s a truth that, the more you practise the mechanics of motion and physical technique, the more natural and automatic those motions become. The more automatic the basic movements and actions become, the less your concentration is given to initiating and controlling these actions, and the more your attention is freed up to pay attention to the world around you, to see what is happening, to choose to react or even to anticipate, and to plan out your own possible responses in advance as you go. 

At one remove, I’ve often suspected that people play or physically control their character better or worse depending not only on skills, but on attitude.

I think that some people may play a character stiffly, it may feel stilted or uncomfortable, if the person doesn’t like the basic concept of the class, or doesn’t understand anything about the class’s playstyle when they pick it up and it turns out to be a playstyle that doesn’t suit their personality, doesn’t lend itself well to their instincts. 

I see this once in a while, when someone starts playing a class because they think they’re supposed to. Maybe their relative or friend chose a tank or DPS, so they choose a healer to complement it in teams… but don’t like their chosen character, so they are mentally blocked against ‘getting into the groove’.

Maybe you’re the kind of person that instinctually likes to close with your opponent and get your teeth in. Choosing a ranged DPS is going to fall against your instincts. Likewise if you’re the ‘go for broke’ berserker, an in-your-face kind of DPS player, and you play a class where you are told you really should go slow and stealth in behind your opponents to do the most damage. The numbers may support their reasoning for playing that way, but the dagger between the ribs from behind ain’t your thang, and it doesn’t feel smooth.

Maybe you’ve seen or felt the other side of the coin. You chose a character when you first picked up the game, not knowing anything about it. The character concept sounded cool, you liked the race you chose, and you played it doing your best and having fun… but later on, once you had (without even realizing it) learned what all the various playstyles were, you chose a new toon as an alt for fun, and suddenly found that things just ‘clicked’, and you discovered a brand new favorite toon, a character that you loved and just started rocking the house with.

Maybe suddenly you found yourself soloing things you had trouble with or found impossible on your first character, and you decide that the new class is more fun, because it is obviously more powerful than your old one, right?

I think in a lot of those situations, it’s that you played and learned the game on your first (or even second) character, but now you’ve found a class and spec that suits your personality very well, you’re mentally psyched up and loving the mechanics and playstyle, and so you’re playing with confidence and feeling everything come together. Your own attitude and comfort level with playing the character helps make it seem so much less stressful, and much more fun.

Attitude is huge in playing your character well and enjoying what you’re doing, no question.

But above this factor of attitude, is that next level of mastery.

The game has been out now for a number of years.

Many years, years spent playing a character in very intense, fast paced, light speed combat situations where you are rewarded for being able to think fast about other things, your overall situation and environment, while playing your character.

Years spent growing with your character, learning the intricacies, mastering the mechanics and moving on to the higher level tactical play.

Are you the one that has the positive attitude, has gotten ‘into the groove’, loves playing your character and everything about it, and has played for so long and worked so hard at getting better that you’ve actually gotten to that state of no-mind that frees you from worrying about something as mundane as a button click, and opens up an entire world of pwning face?

I’m just curious.

How many Zen Masters of the Art of Pwning Face are out there these days in WoW?

And are there more Zen Masters from the PvP devotees than the PvE?

Does striving against other players lead you to master your skills faster than fighting the AI?

I’m just curious. We’ve never really had an opportunity to see what the long term effects are of playing the same computer game for 4 or 5 years, or even the same class or character, and now there might be hundreds of thousands of people who have done just that, and devoted thousands of hours of game time to do so, more time than many black belts breaking bricks all around the world have devoted to their art.

Will there someday be martial schools of pwning face, where the skills of cyber war are distilled and refined, and the colored belt is awarded once the elite is soloed effectively or the large group is kept successfully alive through a vicious long battle agasint multiple waves?

Will a watching class groan in sympathy when a student fails to get off his self heal in time, and dies in the examination?

Personally, I have an inner smile at the thought of wandering players in the game having mastered their skills and gone far beyond them, Zen Masters exploring the World of Warcraft in peace, their bunny pets at their side, quiet masters in simple robes suddenly jumped by a force of 4 or 5 opponents who intend to gank them hard on a PvP server… and getting their butts handed to them by that lone master wielding a grey quality weapon, moving in a blur of flashing pixels and hopping in intricate bounces around the screen.

The manga generation of my youth had Lone Wolf and Cub, (great movies, btw), but maybe this new generation of WoW players could have the Fuzzy Bunny Bandit, or the Stoppable Force Warrior.

Or maybe even… the Butt Kiting Bear?

Just kidding, just kidding. 🙂

Have a good morning!

What a wonderful Anniversary it was

Since Cassie tells me she did her one quarterly post yesterday, it falls on me to decide whether to mention our Anniversary celebration last night.

What the heck, I’d like to do a quick recap, because it was a most wonderful Anniversary indeed.

The afternoon started when I arrived home, roses and card in hand, and got cleaned up because Cassie had made dinner reservations for us at one of the ‘foodie’ places in the Twin Cities, The Saint Paul Grill.

Now, I know that you folks come from all walks of life, and the idea of eating dinner at a ‘fancy’ or exclusive restaurant may be so familiar as to be boring.

For myself, it’s something I have only ever done when single and traveling in foreign countries. I don’t know why, but we have never actually spent any time together in an exclusive or upscale restaurant in the states, not at this level.

We were going to eat dinner there on the evening that we went to see Jim Brickman in concert last month with the St Paul Symphony Orchestra, but they were booked solid.

This time, she had managed to snag a 6 PM table for us, and off we went, giddy as can be.

Let me be more specific about our dining habits. Alex likes McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and, for SUPER fancy eating, a nice Mexican resteraunt where he gets to eat nice fresh warm tortilla chips and salsa, followed by chicken nuggets and fries. So that is our dining out experience, unless it’s a night out, just the two of us… when we go super upscale… at TGI Fridays or Chili’s.

Neither of us has the ability to eat a single meal out without continuously thinking about what we could be doing with that money instead.

We both love the Food Network, we both like Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, the Food Challenge competitions, Alton Brown, Emeril, Chopped… we love watching fine food being made. It’s the personal spending of the huge sums to buy it for eating that makes us stop and give a Keanu-style ‘Woah’.

So this was not a normal occurance, it was a most special occasion. A totally different experience for both of us.

My darling wife had the 10 oz Top Sirloin, with a side of Mac and Cheese. This was, of course, not simple pedestrian Mac and Cheese, but had the little au gratin crunchy sprinkles on top, and bacon mixed in.

Mmm, bacon.

I had, for the first time in my entire life, true honest to goodness Pan Seared Scallops.

Yes, I know. I grew up in South Florida along the coast, I worked a summer on a deep sea fishing boat working the tourists, I spent a lot of time working with, living around, and eating fresh fish of all kinds.

I ain’t never had fresh pan seared scallops before, and I’ve gotten quite tired over the years of watching people rave about them on the cooking shows.

Now, in my mind, this food was being judged quite severely. I cook steaks, I know what steaks cost, and by god I want to know what makes this steak worth $20 bucks.

$30 scallops, I have no problem with that at all. I consider myself getting a bargain, fresh scallops in Minnesota.

But for a steak.. and the $20 top sirloin is the cheap, bargain basement cut at the Saint Paul Grill. You can go up to a $60+ steak if you so desire.

I have to know, what the heck makes this such a special steak. The ambiance? I brought my wife, the Grill can’t top that for ambiance.

So Cassie let me try a bite of her steak.

Okay, that was a mighty fine steak. I give credit where credit is due, that was a wonderful steak. Boy, howdy. I’ll give it to them, my grilled steaks, no matter how I marinade them, never come out that insanely fork tender or delicious.

My scallops were simply divine. There is no other way to describe them.

However, I made a teeny mistake in eating them. I tried to make the meal last as long as possible, knowing that I would probably never have scallops again.

Nice, fresh, piping hot scallops are divine… but when they cool to lukewarm? Not so much. Kinda wasn’t really enjoying what had been ambrosia, once I let them get cooled.

Note to self; that habit I learned in the Marines of wolfing down my entire plate of food in under 30 seconds? Yeah, sometimes that’s not such a bad plan after all.

The memory of that first perfect scallop will linger on for quite some time. I could almost… ALMOST consider doing that again. But so many of their other courses also sounded yummy, so I think on a return trip… well, that was a mighty fine steak.

We finished the meal with dessert, of course.

For Cassie, the Banana Cream Pie, and for myself, a half order of the ice cream sundae with chopped walnuts, whipped cream and Ghiradelli chocolate sauce over Izzy’s vanilla bean ice cream.

Cassie’s pie was tasty… yes Cal, she liked Pie… but that sundae?

Okay, I don’t know where in hell you find Izzy’s ice cream, but that vanilla bean ice cream?

I could see killing, or at the very least maiming with intent, someone for another shot at that ice cream. And you can keep the damn chocolate and stuff off next time, stop messing with perfection.

Yes, it was a fine meal, two hours spent having a wonderful time together, pretending to be the kind of folks that eat out like this all the time, nothing special to it… and most likely the only couple in that crowd discussing the fine points of WoW over a $110 dinner.

When we got home, we then did what all happily married couples do on their Anniversary.

We logged in, and I tanked while Cassie took her brand new level 80 Retribution Paladin on her first Heroic run, a fast spin through The Nexus.

Afterwards, basking in the afterglow of a fine Heroic run, she showed me the gift she had gotten me for our Anniversary.

This wonderful wife of mine, she gave me a gift, a gift that told me just how much she loves me.

She got me Guitar Hero: Metallica for the Playstation 2.

Now that’s true love, right there.

And my gift for her?

I promise not to SING while I play it.

I love you forever, sweetie! Thank you for a most enchanted evening!

Threat generation – A (brief) discussion

I think one of the most frequent questions I’m asked concerning Feral Bear Druiding is how to generate threat.

Often, I’m told that the person plays a Feral Druid, and has a hard time generating and holding aggro in group situations, but I don’t really get any specifics to help narrow down what might be wrong.

I’d like to help folks, I really would. But sometimes, talking about numbers of threat generated per second by ability and breaking down rotations and such doesn’t reall answer the question, which is… “what am I doing wrong?”

The answer may just be, “Nothing. You’re fine, it’s your group that needs to lrn2play.”

No, I’m not saying that IS the case. But it may be that you are doing everything to generate threat in a good, solid fashion, but your group, especially in a pug that is unfamiliar with your particular style, doesn’t understand how to work with you or what their timing should be without some suggestions.

First, let me remind folks who might be starting to play a tank class or spec for the first time, or are getting back into it for the first time since before Wrath of the Lich King was released, that Blizzard’s philosophy on choke points and group stress has changed.

I just use the term group stress to describe in general the concept that mechanics of group encounters are intentionally designed to have a team have to learn to overcome various choke points to succeed.

A choke point, of course, is one of the various specific things in an encounter that are made especially difficult, things that you have to overcome to succeed. Healing, Movement, Maximum Tank Survivability, High DPS in a short amount of time to beat an enrage timer, etc.

Once you learn how to handle the choke points reliably, the encounter usually gets put on ‘farm’ status.

There are role choke points, and there are situation choke points.

An example of a role choke point can be as simple as having enough DPS in the group to be able to kill Emalon before he hits the enrage timer.

An example of an encounter choke point is Thaddius, being able to sync your two teams’ DPS so that both mini-bosses die at almost precisely the same time, and then on Thaddius himself, having everyone in the raid be able to coordinate their movement so that they are aware of charge potentials, run to the appropriate spot once they switch, and still tank, heal and DPS well.  

People talk about Heigan and the safety dance, but the distinctive thing that makes that encounter difficult is the sudden requirement of synchronised movement from everyone in the raid. There is no enrage timer, so I’ve heard of teams of two people taking 30 minutes or more as the last two left alive, doing the dance and winning in the end.

Thaddius has that same movement requirement, but not as intensely. It reduces the movement difficulty, but adds the enrage timer so even if you have great movement skills as a team, you still need the DPS to beat the enrage timer.

My point is, prior to Wrath of the Lich King, one of the primary role choke points was threat generation.

In the game before Northrend, you had to learn how to generate as much threat as possible, and stack your gear appropriately, because individual player DPS was often capable of putting out far more damage/threat than what the tank could generate, even with threat multipliers.

From encounters as far back (and well known) as Onyxia, when everyone was required to wand and do white damage only to allow the main tank (usually a Warrior) to get 5 Sunders on the target before being allowed to ‘open up’ with the big guns, so that the tank had a big lead on threat, to as recently as Karazhan and other Outlands raids where DPS had to watch their Omen threat meter like a hawk because it was absurdly easy in the middle of a fight to blow past tank threat, it was something we all had to adjust to.

Tank threat generation was a role choke point. Not the only choke point, but certainly one of the most frustrating, because the better your DPS as a group got, the easier it was for those players to surpass the main tank’s threat. Suddenly, how much damage the entire group could do was throttled purely by a main tank’s threat generating capabilities.

Yes, this is why skills such as a Hunter’s Feign Death shone so highly, and became such a standard part of a rotation. 

Hopefully I have refreshed your memory on this issue? Very well then.

A lot of talk has been made about how crowd control pretty much died out in Wrath of the Lich King, until Ulduar was released. Now teams are rediscovering the joys of CC while tackling the hardest new content, after several months forgetting what CC stood for. What fun!

But what hasn’t been quite as widely talked about is that the choke point of threat generation was also pretty much killed off in Wrath, by design.

Blizzard immensely buffed specced tank threat generation in Wrath, to the point that you really should no longer have to worry about an optimized threat rotation, a serious tick by tick rotation, in any 5 man run or even a larger raid.

Instead, Blizzard chose to put the new main role choke point squarely on the shoulders of the healers.

As a tank, your new focus should be on maximizing your health, dodge and damage reduction first, because you need to give your healers every possible advantage you can in keeping you alive… and more importantly, giving them a chance to be able to ignore you while they heal party members that take ever increasing splash damage.

Most of the new encounters in Wrath involve widespread party damage, to stress the healers. Healer skill and gear and multitasking are, intentionally, what Blizzard wanted the new choke point to be. They have stated in blue posts that they wanted to get away from a single tank’s threat generation being the limiting factor, the choke point, in a raid.

If you have a very high health cap, great Dodge, good physical and magic damage mitigation, and a bunch of ‘oh shit’ abilities, using them at key moments can free your healers to spend that time worrying about healing up the group, and not babysitting you.

I do not do this well myself, at times. I’ll be up front about that. We always have slightly different healer composition on our guild runs, and I’m never quite sure who is doing what. They have a healer channel they communicate their strategy across, and often I ask if the healers are ready, and get told “we’re ready”. And I trust them. I don’t ask the details.

I have tried in the past to call out “Using SI and Frenzied Regen, you can ignore me for now” at key moments, but hey… I get wrapped up in that raid leadering thing way too much while I’m tanking. I forget to articulate what I’m doing to help the healers far too often, and it’s something I need to work on.

You should be focusing on increasing your survivability, and then afterwards buffing your threat generation, not because you have to, but because it will help ensure your attacks hit precisely when you need them to as your main DPS dealers go to godlike levels.

Nowadays, if your gear for tanking is fairly solid from Crafted, Reputation, Heroic drops and Emblem of Heroism rewards, you should never have to worry about the specific quantity of threat it is possible for you to generate.

On a single target fight, your threat should soar into the stratosphere compared to even the most insane DPS… provided everyone is working together with a certain basic understanding of how threat is generated, and by who, and when it’s appropriate for them to get going.

And that is the crux of the problem, I think. It’s not about how much threat YOU generate anymore, it’s about making sure everyone with you understands how they generate threat, and how to handle it.

Let’s assume a normal pull, 3 or 4 targets. As much as I enjoy playing with fancy pulls, they really are no longer necessary.

I once described pulls using a long cast Starfire on one, an instant Moonfire on another, shifting to Bear and throwing a Feral Faerie Fire on yet a third, and then getting ready to start some serous threat generation once they all get within range.

It’s just not necessary anymore. Fun, sure. Hey, the game is supposed to be fun, knock yourself out. Okay, starting on your main target with a big damage spell can be helpful, but if the group is working well together, it shouldn’t really make a difference.

For a regular pull these days, I usually throw down a Feral Faerie Fire on one mob to draw them all to me, and then once in range open with Swipe to generate threat on all mobs.

Once all mobs are within my range, and I may have to do some ranged Taunting, some ranged FFF, etc, maybe a Feral Charge to bring myself into a caster’s range, it all comes down to priorities.

As long as there are multiple mobs, Swipe is my first priority to counteract any direct damage threat generation caused by people being on the wrong target, or global threat from buffs and healing.

Mangle is my second priority, on my main kill target, because of the threat it causes, and because it adds the Bleed effect that Cassieann the Rogue loves.

Maul is my third priority, using it every time it’s available AND I have comfy rage levels (which, when tanking multiple mobs, should be NO issue because your Dodges and Crits are generating rage, and when you Swipe usually one or another thing is a Crit) because it does awesome damage, and when glyphed is nailing two targets for the price of one, adding even more threat on one of the extras.

My last priority is Lacerate, tossed whenever both Mangle and Swipe are on cooldown. Lacerate does reasonable threat, provides a nice DoT, slows my target’s attack speed, and with my current spec each DoT tick has a chance to Crit, which, again, adds to Rage generation and to the new Bubble procs.

That’s it. That’s all of it. The rest is ‘oh shit’ buttons and situationals, when I’ve got the luxury.

If your gear follows some of my previous posts on where you should be at for Heroics, and if you are specced properly,  and if you understand why this is the rotation priority I use… then you should have no problem generating and holding single target or group threat… provided your teammates are working with you, and not against you.

Threat control is not solely your job. Yes, you can put a ton of threat out now. There are times when, no kidding, I know ten seconds into the fight I’ve already dealt all the threat I’ll need for the rest of the encounter before the mob is dead, and can freely go get a Mountain Dew or, realistically, switch to a different target if there is one to build up more threat, or simply sandbag it with auto attack for a few seconds to let rage build up to max in anticipation of the next pull in the chain. 

No, I don’t recommend walking away and getting a Mountain Dew mid-fight. That was a joke. You never know who might be reading this from my guild, and I wanted to make sure you know, I’d NEVER, EVER, walk away from a fight and get a nice, frosty cold beverage. Nuh uh. Nope, not me.

Umm, okay. Moving along….

Yes, if you are prepared and know what YOU are doing, you can generate a lot of threat now. But the rest of the team has their own responsiblity for understanding what threat is, and how to manage it.

For example, if the DPS opens up on your main target when all you’ve done so far is pull with Feral Faerie Fire… the mob will go straight to them.

Yes, I promise! No, I know you’ve NEVER seen that happen before… you’ll have to take my word for it.

A long time ago, I wrote an article for WoW Insider on the Shifting Perspectives column concerning threat generation, and how the actual mechanics of threat works. I probably went into too much detail on it, but I wanted to write a basic primer on how, exactly, threat works in a group, and I think I nailed it at the time. I’ll try and dig up that link and post it here, but in the short term, threat generation works like this;

If you deal direct damage to a mob, there is threat associated with that damage, on that mob.

That mob may be alone, or may be tied as a group with other mobs. If you deal damage to a mob tied to a group, you have generated threat with the mob you damaged, and you have gained the attention of, but generated zero threat with, the rest of the mobs in his group.

At this point, every mob in that group will have their attention focused on you… but only the mob you damaged and generated threat with is actually tied to you. The others are coming after you, but just out of a spirit of camaraderie and goodwill towards their buddy. If anyone angers them, in any way, they will choose enlightened self interest and go racing off to get revenge on whoever pissed ’em off.

If nothing angers the rest of the group, then once they get within your range you can Swipe once, deal damage to all of them (assuming you hit each of them), and generate threat with all of them. NOW they are all tied to you, and as you continue to hurt them all, you will continue to generate threat with them all.

One way many tanks ensure they can quickly generate this group threat is by using Feral Charge to get into knife-fighting range of all of them immediately, popping two Swipes back-to-back to build up fast group threat, and then settle down into single target threat/group Swipe rotations as I described earlier.

Another way, of course, is by doing a line of sight pull, especially with groups of mixed caster/melee, or with groups that start spread out where a single Swipe won’t tag them all. In this case, you choose one mob of the group, use a ranged attack (like Feral Faerie Fire or Starfire or Moonfire), and then turn around and run like hell to get around a corner or other terrain feature so none of the mobs can see you anymore. Once they cannot see you, they all run forward until they can… and that gets them right into your knife-fighting range as soon as they pop around a corner into your snarling face.

Another similar method to accomplish the same thing is to sit your butt behind the terrain feature, let a Hunter put his pet on Passive/Stay, and then let them Misdirect a single mob onto you, sending them all running your way. This works better when mobs do a chain pull effect similar to the Death Knight Death Grip, such as some abominations do, or if some of the mobs have a ranged charge that can stun you in place before you reach the corner.

The key to all of this, is that you are the only one doing any damage or attacking these mobs, until such time as you have established threat by using a threat generating attack. The Hunter, for example, must stop his attack as soon as the Misdirect is done.

The rest of your party generates threat in one of two ways; direct threat, and global threat.

Direct threat is caused by direct damage. If someone does damage to a mob, they generate threat on the mob. The key to direct damage is, only the mob they are doing damage to has threat generated. The rest of the mobs, EVEN if they have zero threat with the tank, will not be pulled away because none of them have any threat from the direct damage attacks.

If you mark a single mob as a kill target, you pull with a Faerie Fire, and everyone opens up on it and only it the millisecond after you nail it with Mangle… not a single other mob should get pulled off of you, because nobody generated any other threat through damage.

If someone opens up with an area of affect damaging attack, however, they are now hitting everyone… and may be applying damage and generating threat with mobs you have not, as of yet, hit.

Thus, why I recommend opening with Swipe, twice in a row, to counteract the tendency of most groups I’ve seen where the Hunter and Mage love to start with AoE. As long as you’re prepared, you should be able to get in your hits before they do… as long as they actually can wait for that first Swipe to go in.

If they want to hit the entire group before there is any remote possibility you could have Swiped them… well, repair bills will either teach them the monetary value of patience, or you’ll get told you suck as a tank.

Now, the other kind of threat is Global Threat. This is caused by all healing… and by all buffs that change your stats.

Global Threat is based off of who is zooming who, who is aware of whom in the fight.

If you have not pulled, and you’re just sitting there, rebuffing and healing and eating food causes no threat with anyone. Nobody knows you’re there.

If the tank, and only the tank, has pulled a group and is fighting, then the mobs are utterly unaware of the rest of the groups’ presence. They are not yet in combat. They can begin to eat food, whatever. As soon as a person does any kind of damage to a mob in the group though, that player is now known to exist by the entire group of mobs.

If a healer then heals that person that had just done damage, the entire group of mobs is now aware of the presence of the healer… and Global Threat will be generated with each heal the healer does, spread out amongst the group.

If the healer then tosses a heal or buff to someone not yet in combat, the group of mobs knows about that person… even though that person has taken no action as of yet. It’s all a chain of whos zooming who.

If someone drinks a healing pot mid-fight, that generates global threat. If someone rebuffs mid-fight, that deals global threat.

If, say, the tank pulls with a Feral Faerie Fire, and as the group is coming towards the tank, the healer casts a minor heal or HoT on the tank, and the tank was NOT at full health at the start? As soon as actual healing is done to the tank, as soon as REAL damage, whether pre-existing or not, is healed, then all mobs that were aware of the tank are now aware of the healer… and threat is being generated by the amount of damage healed, and those other mobs will peel off and head for the healer if they haven’t been directly hit by the tank yet.

You see? It’s all about situational awareness, and knowing when it’s safe to start doing your thing.

For a healer, the first time to cast any spell is after every mob in a group has been tagged by the tank at least once. Because your threat is generated by the amound of actual damage healed, not the POTENTIAL amount healed, then HoTs generate less up-front threat than a Greater Heal on a critically low tank would.

But your threat caused by healing is also spread out over the entire group. If you are healing a target that is fighting 5 mobs, your threat is divided by 5, applied to each mob. It lets the tank quickly build up so much group threat through AoE like Swipe, that there will be no normal way for you to ever pull aggro, if you just wait a second or two.

For DPS, the first time to attack the main target is after the main tank has done at least one initial solid attack. Once the main target gets within range of the tank’s serious attacks, it should quickly become impossible for you to pull threat off the tank on that one target.

For DPS on a group of mobs, the first time to use AoE is after the main tank has had a chance to use an AoE threat generator, like Consecration or Swipe or Death and Decay on the entire group. Only after that point is it safe to throw down on the entire group, and even then be careful of the damage you do, because the group of mobs only gets AoE threat (and Mauls), the main target is the one that’s really getting all the main tank’s love. Your threat from AoE damaging attacks is Direct Threat, and is NOT spread out… each mob is gaining a lot of threat, and you WILL pull aggro from the tank a lot faster than a healer ever will.

So… why are tanks having a hard time holding threat in groups?

I think that, after breaking it down, you can see many potential areas where aggro can be pulled.

Are the healers and DPS waiting long enough for the tank to establish a little threat on the entire group?

Did the tank manage to get ALL mobs in a group in his range to generate threat?

Are the DPS unloading on group AoE before the tank has grabbed threat on them all?

Is one of the DPS targeting, and going all out, on a target OTHER than the tanks’ primary kill target (the mob he is focusing all of his non-AoE threat generating abilities on?)

Is the tank opening up as soon as possible with AoE to generate threat on everyone?

Is the tank gathering the mobs in so everyone is in range, or so that those not in range get CCed so as to not be free to hit the first healer to generate Global Threat?

It doesn’t all come down to ‘the tank sucks’, as much as a group might like to think so.

Responsibility for threat control is in the hands of every member of the group. That’s why everyone is supposed to use a threat monitor like Omen, so you can see the main tank’s threat on the target you are fighting, and make sure you do not go over.

That is why Omen has settings for watching your threat on all mobs that are aware of you, so if you ARE generating global threat or AoE threat, you can watch to make sure you’re not overtaking the tank on group threat on any one particular mob.

And finally… it is why there is so much room for fun when it comes to Taunting abilities.

The core mechanic of a Taunt like Growl, is that it generates zero threat of  it’s own… it only raises your threat level on that target to suddenly be higher than anyone else’s.

This can be fun to play with.

The warning, of course, is it makes no sense to pull with a Taunt like Growl, because while it did get the mob’s attention, it did zero threat. The slightest breeze of healing from a caster and the mob is running away after them.

Taunts are for using in the middle of a fight, when a mob runs free and you need to pull it to you NOW… by jumping your threat above everyone else.

If you have two tanks and one mob, you can totally ping pong the poor mob by Taunting to you, whacking it a few times, and then having the other tank Taunt and whack a few times, and back and forth. The key is you have to generate more threat while it’s on you, and then the other tank has to generate more threat while it’s on him. Gives you something to keep topping when you Taunt.

It’s what the bear boss in Zul’Aman was all about. Timed Taunting.

Another thing, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is that your Taunt is now ranged.

If you have a single mob at range, and the rest is in your face, and you don’t want to physically go to where the ranged mob is for fear of pulling extra mobs or groups, you can have one ranged DPS attack that ranged mob, generating ranged Direct Threat (and yes, taking damage from that mob), and then as soon as the mob has some serious threat built up on it, you can Taunt it, and the ranged DPS can immediately switch to one of your melee targets.

That leaves you with a lot of threat on that one ranged target, because your threat was immediately jumped ABOVE whatever the ranged DPS had caused. The ranged DPS is no longer causing threat to the target because he’s moved on to your main kill target, and the threat you have on the ranged mob will EASILY counter the global threat your healers will generate, until you get the chance to go after him.

No, you don’t have to rely on Misdirect all the time. You’ve got your own options.

Of course, some mobs are immune to Taunt. God, I hate that. Knowledge is power, and knowing which ones are immune helps your life immensely.

The last thing to remember, the very last thing, is to know that you do not pull aggro away from the tank just by being 1 tick of threat over the tank. You have to surpass the tank by a certain percentage before you actually pull the attention of the mob away.

And the percentage you can go over changes based on how close to the mob you are.

If you are in direct knife-fighting range of the mob, it takes much less threat over the tank to pull aggro than if you were at a distance. 

If you are a ranged DPS class, you want to be at or near to your max range, so that you have plenty of cushion before you go over the tank’s threat.

If you are a melee class, then you want to be aware of what skills and spells you have to dump threat, like a Feral Druids’ Cower, so that when your threat is peaking you can dump it down as you go.

Hunter’s, this is why you want to turn off Growl and turn on Cower when in group situations. Your pets, especially for Beastmasters, do a lot of damage, all in melee range, and your method of reducing the threat caused by damage is by turning the pet’s Cower on Auto.

If Growl is on, obviously Cower should be off, and vice versa.

Okay. I think that’s it. Hopefully, Cassie will have a moment or two to look up and add the link to that old WoW Insider post sometime today. I went into the actual numbers and percentages for all of this in that post, and I just don’t see the need to go into all of that again. Threat has been changed enough that it should be enough for you to know how it works (or be reminded), and to know what to watch, and you’ll be JUST fine.

Feel free in the discussion to go into a lot more detail as to how you like to generate your threat, how you like to pull, what stats you like for getting ‘enough’ hit and expertise to make your shots count when you need them to, and by all means don’t limit it to just Druids.

The main thing I hope for is that post helps answer a lot of the questions that I get about threat generation, and if it doesn’t, by all means ask your question in the comments as well. I figure if I get that many emails about it, there just might be a lot more folks that wonder but don’t ask.

Happy Anniversary to My Bear!

As you can probably guess, this is a non-WoW post from Cassie 🙂

I wanted to say a quick happy 8th wedding anniversary to BBB (10 years together now) and share a few photos from that special day with all of you (keep in mind we have a child now and no longer look as young, relaxed or peaceful as we did that day, lol).   🙂

Here’s the required formal shot (that we’ve shared before):

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One of my favorite pictures (the one we used for the 16×20 mat that we had guests sign (instead of a guest book), which now hangs next to our front door in the living room:

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BBB and his best man, the famous Mannyac:

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BBB and the Mannyac at the wedding rehearsal (yes, this is what I saw as I processed into the church from the back room and had to practice walking down the aisle toward – I probably should have run then) 🙂

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One of my favorite pics of myself from that day (humorously enough taken in the boy’s bathroom at the school where I went from K-8th grade because it had a better mirror that the girl’s bathroom):

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Here’s to lots more years together!  I love you Bear!

Cassie

Just pimping a few blogs

My bloglist is ancient, and since I use a feedreader, it never gets seen by me. Or updated.

If I was smart, I’d simply list all the blogs in my feedreader and you’d see what I see on a daily basis… but the list is long and distinguished, like my johnson.

Some free bear points for the first person that knows which movie I stole that line from.

Yes, a dick joke. Ah, the things you never expect to find on the Big Bear Butt. Always a surprise lurking around every pageturn.

Next thing you know, I’ll be making poop jokes and talking about my lengthy stays in the bathroom at work, and you’ll start thinking Doomilias stole this blog.

I miss Doom…

Anyway, moving on….

I’m sure they will be VERY flattered to be highlighted in this post, considering the aforementioned dick joke, but  I wanted to take a second to share with you just three of the blogs I read frequently, and find absolutely wonderful.

The first is the blog that I started reading once I started playing my Ret Paladin, Eye For An Eye.

This may seem in doubtful taste considering the nature of the post he made today, but I wanted to let folks know that there is a very good, very thoughtful blogger who has written about Ret Paladins, he is very enjoyable and informative, and I encourage you to go visit if you haven’t already, read through his archives and let him know if you enjoy the wonderful posts he has made as much as I have.

I hope that Eye For An Eye is merely going to rest a bit, and will someday return to share some more Retribution thoughts again in the future.

The second blog that I wanted to mention that I enjoy a great deal is Naissa’s Rage, and I hope that you will go over there and read her writings and let her know you appreciate her as well.

Yes, I know, I don’t have a warrior. Give me a break, how many of you don’t have a druid? She writes great, fun posts about many different topics, and let’s you know just what she thinks. You can ask for more than that, but you really shouldn’t expect it.

Last but certainly not least is the inimitable Lady Jess, a fine lady that has long been open and forthcoming with her life and loves, both in the game and out, and if there was a person that was more honest and true to herself and brave enough to come out and share exactly what’s on her mind with a smile and a heart of fun than Lady Jess, I simply don’t know who it could be.

A wonderful writer who somehow is able to make you feel the excitement and enthusiasm she has for the things she loves, and have you clapping your hands in /glee along with her when the new pet drops or Achievement is earned.

Oh, and her husband, the silent one of the two, is an active member of the armed forces, so a pagehit for Lady Jess is a pagehit for America! 

You do want to do your part, don’tcha?

All three of you are admirable bloggers, and I have long admired your writing.

To all three of you, I hereby offer my most sincere appreciation, and tell you that I hereby grant you the most coveted Award any blogger can earn from me (whether they know it or not), the True Blogger Award, for being honest, sincere, telling it straight, and at all times being true to yourself.

Thank you, this song is for you.

Professions, can't live without 'em!

I am the most boring profession person around.

I tend to pick professions that sound good at the time, and then dump them after many hours and thousands of gold invested in recipes and leveling in favor of some other whim that takes me.

I don’t have a single toon that still has the same two professions they started with!

I had the following going into the weekend;

80 Druid – Max Herbalism/Inscription
80 Hunter – Max Miner/Engineer
72 Priest – Max Tailor/Jewelcrafter
71 Shaman – High level Skinner/Jewelcrafter

Multiple Jewelcrafters? It’s embarassing.

I felt I was doing well with the Druid and Hunter recently. Herbs feed Inscriptions, and Ore feed Engineering. A little nice synergy between them, right?

My Herbs also give me Lifeblood on my Druid for an extra ‘oh shit’ button and the ability to farm my own core mats for Cassie to make me flasks and pots, and Inscription let me have the awesome Shoulder enchant without grinding boring Hodir rep.

While Skinning would give my Hunter some tasty Crit, I prefer the Mining so I can feed my Engineering, and make myself ammo whenever I desire it. Also, being able to have the helm early and being able to farm clouds has been priceless.

That Mining now lets me also feed my dual Jewelcrafters raw ore pretty much means Mining is my key gathering profession.

But after that, it just kinda breaks down.

A Jewelcrafter, yes, by all means. A Tailor, sure, no sweat. Both on one toon? Well, neither helps each other, but it’s nice to be able to make 20 slot bags for as close to free as makes no nevermind, it just takes time and mailing all my cloth to this toon. And having a max Jewelcrafter has long been a cost savings. Extra ore? Mail it to my JC and get some gems stockpiled. Craft some nice epic rings or necklaces whenever I’d like. Works for me!

After that, A Shaman with Skinning AND Jewelcrafting? WTF?

Well, I had no idea what to do at this point. I had run out of profession ideas.

I leveled with Skinning thinking to be a Skinner/Leatherworker… and after hitting 70, realized Cassie already had a max level Leatherworker, so why should I spend all those Arctic Furs getting recipes she already had? It’s not like I needed the gear, it’s all BoE. So I dropped Leatherworking, and decided, hey, there are some nice looking BoP trinkets for Jewelcrafters, and you can socket those powerful gems… why not. And with two Jewelcrafters, I could get two Dragon’s Eyes per day if I needed ’em fast for something.

Okay, fine. Whatever, but all right.

Totally ran out of ideas.

Now, here I am. A brand new level 70 Paladin, and no bloody idea what professions I’d take this time. 

Saturday afternoon, and a blank slate as far as professions are concerned.

What to do, what to do. What, play? But I’m in Northrend with no bloody professions! How ni the heck can I just continue leveling, when there are herbs, ore or skins that could be mine!

Anything that I could possibly want that is BoE, somebody in the guild can make, somewhere. So what kind of professions could I want? Just dual gathering?

Nahhh…. I have Mining and Herbalism already, I’ll probably take a gathering one right now to help the old wallet, but I want to be able to buff my little pile o’ pixels. So some kind of crafting is mandatory.

So, what do I want to do that is worth spending some time leveling a profession, that only a person with that profession can use?

So, what are my favorite choices?

Leatherworking would seem to be silly on a Paladin, the benefits to having it would be a Bracer enchant. It’s a bloody good enchant, but still…

Tailoring would let me have cloak spellthreads… hmm… I don’t know. Could be nice, but then it would only be for the spellthread, I’ve GOT a max level Tailor already.

Blacksmithing gives two extra jewel sockets. So the benefit comes from how much stat value you can get from a gem or two. Bold Scarlet Rubies are 16 Strength. That’s +32 Strength for Blacksmithing. Not too bad, but I’ve heard Blacksmithing is an utter terror to level.

Jewelcrafting gives you three bigger gems, and an order of trinkets on the side. Hmm, I like trinkets as much as the next person. But three Jewelcrafters? Good lord, let’s get serious. Three gems, and again going with Strength… normal is +16 Strength, the bigger size is +27 Strength. That’s an extra +11 Strength per gem, +33 Strength if you use all gems…

…and that makes the benefits of Jewelcrafting in terms of Gems equal with Blacksmithing, but JCs get the bonus of BoP Trinkets, too.

Okay, moving past that, what about Inscription? Being able to have a great shoulder enchant without doing Sons of Hodir is one heck of a draw. Other than that, nothing really that my Druid can’t do for me.

And then there is Engineering.

Ah, Engineering.

Mining clouds, and BoP goggles. Goggles that are equivalent to Tier helms from ten man Naxx Kel’thuzad. Equippable at level 72. One per spec, at that!

Hmmmm.

God, I love having powerful gear. I know the gems are very good, but having the goggles… I always love the appearance of goggles. Nothing says deviant quite like a red-headed dwarf wielding a giant two handed battleaxe wearing rose colored techno goggles.

Yeah, I’m lazy. I can see now that I SHOULD do a combination of Engineering and Jewelcrafting, get myself goggles, trinkets and three gems.

But the thought of a third Jewelcrafter… oh, heck no. Thats just wrong.

Yep, you guessed it, I’m sure.

I went Engineering and Mining, from zero to Northrend, all this weekend.

My goal was to get to the point that the only Mining I needed was in Northrend, and the only mats I needed for Engineering skillups were from Northrend ore and eternals. And I made that goal, and still almost finished Borean Tundra.

I swear, I’m never doing that again.

Can I just say, I am SO sick of leveling Mining and Engineering through Azeroth old world?

I’ll grant you, leveling Mining all the way up to Northrend first, saving all of my Runecloth and some stacks of other cloth as I leveled, and saving everything from mining in anticipation helped.

Once I started on Engineering, I was able to just sit in Ironforge, and make stuff, run to trainer, make stuff, run to bank, etc. A few times I simply HAD to use the AH, I didn’t quite have enough Iron Bars at one point, you use a LOT of Iron in various recipes, and then right when you think yo’re done with it you need more to make a bunch of Steel, but once past that and into Mithril, it went a lot better. And once you hit 275, thank god, you’re done and can go to Dalaran, hit up the Engineering trainer there, and go through your saved Fel Iron, Motes of Earth, Motes of Fire and Adamantite until you hit 350 and can train to use Northrend ores. 

Once you hit 275, it’s smooth sailing. But getting to 275 is such a mishmash of running around for bits and pieces… sigh.

Far better than leveling Blacksmithing, from everthing I’ve been told, so don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about leveling Engineering normally.

It’s leveling it four bloody times that I’m tired of.

That’s right, I leveled my Hunter as a Engineer up to 375 once… and then dropped it. And then picked it up again and leveled all the way up to 450… oh and by the way, once you drop your Engineering after you did the quest to learn how to make Zapthrottle’s Mote Extractor, you can never redo that quest to learn the recipe again. Fortunately, the Mote Extractor itself is not bound in any way. Any Engineer can make one and mail or sell it to ya.

And of course, my Druid had once been a 375 Engineer…. and then dropped it, prior to Wrath, to dual-gather. And then dropped Mining for Inscription…

And now, here comes my Paladin, Engineering leveled for the fourth bloody time.

/cry

I can now Mine Cobalt (yay!) but not quite at Saronite yet, I went back to Zangarmarsh and did the Zapthrottle quest, and then went and got the Delicate Arcanite Converter recipe and made the Mote Extractor, and I can now mine clouds I see as I pass them by.

And in two more levels, I’ll be able to make myself Goggles appropriate to both of my Dual Specs.

Maybe someday, after I’m done leveling, and I hit 80, and I’m bored, I’ll think about dropping Mining and taking Jewelcrafting just for the three upgraded gems and the Trinkets.

Or maybe my Hunter will drop Mining and take something else…

Maybe.

I AM freaking crazy, after all.

Somebody, stop me before I craft again!