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Threat

I thought I’d cover something so widely recognized by players, but not completely understood. This is of course, threat and aggro.

We’re all used to the idea of making sure the tank keeps aggro in our raids. On the face of things it seems quite simple: make sure the tank has more threat than everyone else. However, this isn’t actually 100% correct, as there are a few more details behind the curtain than you’d first suspect. But firstly, let’s talk about how threat is generated.

For damage, it breaks down to a very simple 1:1 scale: 1 damage equals 1 threat. If you hit an enemy for 3,000 damage, that’s 3,000 threat. As a side note, Patch 3.0 changed it to 1 damage = 100 threat. The reason for this change was to avoid slow floating point computation and instead use less computationally expensive integer calculations. However, this change only changes the internal workings and a 1:1 ratio generates the same results and theory.

For healing, it breaks down to 2:1 (or 1:0.5). This means that for every point of healing done, the healer will generate half that as threat. A 5,000 heal will mean 2,500 threat. This threat is of course spread amongst all the enemies in the current combat. If there were 2 enemies with the previous example, the healer would get 1,250 threat on each enemy. Although this sounds like the healer will have a lot less threat because the coefficient is much lower, healers are generally healing a lot more than you are dealing damage. Of course, there are class and spec specific modifiers to these threat calculations.

This all sounds simple enough, but there is one more thing to consider. Most people assume that having more threat than the tank will cause you to pull aggro. This isn’t actually true. To pull aggro from a tank, you actually need 110% of the threat of the tank if you are in melee range. To pull aggro at range, you need 130% threat of the tank. This is one reason why classes such as Hunters and Mages should always use their threat clearing abilities often, and not just when you’ve pulled aggro. Here’s a simple scenario to illustrate why:

We have the following threat table during a boss fight:

1st Warrior Tank 1,000,000 threat

2nd Hunter 1,250,000 threat

3rd Elemental Shaman 1,220,000 threat

4th Priest healer 1,150,000 threat

etc

Although the Hunter, Elemental Shaman and Priest are above the tank’s threat, they are still under the amount needed to actually pull aggro. Now, if the hunter pulls aggro, the boss is going to come to him and munch his face off. No problem, the hunter has feign death. The problem however, is that the boss is now in melee range of the Elemental Shaman and Preist. To pull aggro in melee range, you only need 110% threat. This will cause the boss to aggro to the warlock and the preist, munching their faces off and in all likelihood, cause a wipe.

This is one of the main reasons why you need to be aware of pulling aggro. You may well have a threat dumping ability, but it can still cause the boss to destroy the rest of the raid should they come into melee range.

Of course, in a raid you shouldn’t ever pull aggro as you should threat dump early and often.

It’s been a while

Well, it’s now been quite a while since I last posted here (over 2 months in fact). I don’t really have much of an excuse for my absence other than laziness and possibly, being busy with the start of my second year at university. Even still, neither can excuse me from not even just dropping a quick post. This however, is going to be a quick post, with the promise of more to come in the very near future; maybe even tomorow. I am going to start work on a end game Hunter guide, primarily focused on the Survival spec. Parts of it will apply to MM and BM, but since I’m most versed in the Survival playstyle, that’s where most of it will be directed.

 

That’s enough groveling from me today, I hope to have that guide up sometime tomorow.

Trial of the Champion

Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to wow.com and all the other blogs that linked to this blog about my Emblem route. I didn’t expect to see my post on wow.com and it’s nice to be recognized. Also, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posting. The patch has somewhat occupied most some of my time. Anyway, on with my post.

tirion1After having to wait an extra 11 hours of maintenance on patch day (I hate being on Cyclone), I was finally able to log in and see the Coliseum in all its glory. There’s a real sense of buzzing activity at the Coliseum; not only from the large amount of NPCs there, but also the hordes of players. It’s been a good while (since the Sunwell) that there was an added quest hub that also housed the latest end game dungeons. One of the first things I did when I logged on (other than spending my 72nd talent point), was to get a group together for the Trial of the Champion.

Seeing that my guild is Ulduar geared, we went straight for the Heroic mode without reading any tactics. I had read about the bosses in passing on wow.com and other blogs but I never delved deep enough to look for the tactics. I’ll say now that it was because I didn’t want it ruined; not for the fact I’m lazy. We got a group together and headed in (once we realised which entrance was the right one).

I already had in my mind that it would be on par with how Magister’s Terrace was when it was added late in TBC. I was expecting something challenging but also some creative boss fights. I was expecting it to be a step up from the current Heroics and dungeons and give us competent raiders something complicated to enjoy. Oh, how I was disappointed.

To actually get the instance going, you have to endure a 3 minute or so introduction of your group to the on-looking crowd. I wouldn’t mind if it did this on your first time there, but doing it every single time gets a bit wearing. The first boss is a jousting related boss. You first have to fight 3 waves of 3 adds on horseback. Once dispatched, you then have to fight 3 of the opposing faction’s Champions, also on horseback. A lot of people moaned about the jousting boss but to be fair, it is the coliseum after all. What would the point of those dailies had been if we never had to use them in a dungeon of some kind? Once you have bested them on horseback, you then have to make the transition to normal combat of tanking, healing and dpsing. The transition is actually the hardest part of the entire fight as even good groups can make a sloppy transition. This phase is mostly a tank and spank and even if you do wipe, you can run in, buff up and start from the last phase.

The second boss/bosses starts with 3 sets of 3 adds. You can also get one of two bosses; either Eadric the Pure or Argent Confessor Paleteress. Once the 3 waves are down you then enter combat with the boss. Eadric the Pure is a fairly easy boss and is mostly a tank and spank fight. He does occasionally cast a radiating light that requires you to turn your character away from looking at him. If you do see the light, it dazes you and causes you to lose control of your character for a short while. He can also throw his hammer at you after stunning you. Other than those 2 abilities, he’s fairly easy.

Paleteress however had so much promise to be an interesting encounter. After you get her low enough, she casts a memory and makes you fight one of the many (25 in total) previous bosses in WoW. When I read about this boss originally I thought that we would have to fight a scaled down version of that boss with it’s abilities and use the appropriate tactics. If for example you had Hakkar, there would also be some Sons of Hakkar in the room and you would have to get yourself poisoned for the life leech. However, instead of doing this, Blizzard essentially just gave us a boss with the same abilities but with existing skins. No matter what the nightmare looks like, it requires the same tactic of nuking and not a lot else. Once killed, you just need to dps her down.

The last boss in here is the Black Knight. If you’re familiar with the Coliseum, you will probably have already done the quests involving the Black Knight. Well, he returns in this dungeon and interupts your applause from the crowd to be one final unexpected test. Of course, he’s actually fairly easy. There are 3 phases and none of them are particularly difficult. Once he’s finally killed, that’s it.

I know for sure that I’m not the only one feeling disappointed by this instance. It’s incredibly short and nothing in it stands out as particularly different other than the jousting, and that’s just a bit of a gimmick they had to include. The Paleteress encounter could have been so much more interesting rather than a fairly pathetic boss. I feel a little let down by the whole thing considering the amount of hype that was built around it. After doing the 5 man dungeon, I wasn’t expecting a lot from the 10 and 25 man raid. However, they’re a great deal better than the 5 man dungeon and I’ll be writing about them later this week.

EDIT: When I logged yesterday morning, Hunters had a talent reset so that everything is now working as intended.

Well, if you are a Hunter on one of the Cyclone servers, you may find that you have a 72nd talent point to spend. After the 9 hour extended maintenance, I finally logged in to find that I had an extra talent point to use. I was 4/14/53 but it said that I had an unspent talent point to use. I also had an unspent talent point to use on my offspec which I have yet to spend. Here’s a screenshot of my armoury at the time. I know I’m not the only hunter on my server (Terenas) to have this extra talent point either. Let’s hope it stays this way :).

Weird or what?

I’m not usually a big house music fan, but this really is good. Daniel Eriksson has “laid down a phat beat” and used the sound clips of the God of Death to go with it. It genuinely gets across the menace of old Yoggy. I look forward to hearing some more of this genre.

Halo Wars

HaloWarsCut2

Halo Wars is a rare breed. Real Time Strategy games have generally fallen short on the console format which could explain why they are far and few between. However, Halo Wars shows us how it could be done and definitely goes a long way at setting the standard.

Firstly, the controls are nearly perfect. Controls in an RTS can make or break the game. There’s nothing more frustrating than having your arse handed to you by the AI purely because they don’t have to deal with dodgy cameras and jarring controls. Ensemble have done a great job in making the controls feel consistent and simple. Although this is a great thing for simple play on the lower difficulty settings, some more complicated controls for ordering specific groups of units wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Whilst playing through the campaign I repeatedly got annoyed from not being able to select a group of units, bind them to a key and then be able to select them on the fly. With that aside, the controls are tolerable and efficient.

The campaign and main story of the game isn’t terribly exciting or revolutionary, and can sometimes even feel a little disjointed. The variation in different units you are allowed change from mission to mission, leaving you feeling agitated by the fact that you aren’t allowed Grizzlies, air units or even ODST units. On occasion it allowed me to upgrade my infantry to full only to them let me know that it was mostly wasted as the ODSTs weren’t available. In one mission you are allowed to control a pair of Grizzly tanks that are seriously awesome, but they aren’t available in any other missions. It’s like they’ve let me sample the finest wine but then not brought me the bottle.

The actual story of the campaign is fairly generic. The characters are mostly copy and paste from other titles, with the main character being a complete douche. I honestly felt a stronger bond with my lunch than I did with Sergeant J. Forge and actually smiled a little when he dies at the end (whoops, spoiler); like “a true hero does”. The romance between him and Anders was completely shallow and never developed on, nor were their backgrounds or personalities. But hey, at least the missions actually make up for the story.

The missions are widely varied and it never feels like you’re playing the same mission twice. Each and every mission has a unique twist on it that makes it feel different to the others. Whether you’re deploying and defending tanks to disrupt a laser, destroying a half built scarab or simply cleaning the hull of the ship from the Flood, they all bring something different to the table. But like I said before, the only problem with this is that they keep introducing new units for a specific mission and then take them away as if they never existed, only to appear in Skirmish matches. But what also makes the single player re-playable are the skulls that are scattered throughout the missions.

The skulls; once collected, act as game modifiers. They can affect the game by making the enemies harder without upping the actual difficulty by giving enemies more health or by removing your minimap. They can also be used to make the game easier by giving you more supplies or lowering the time it takes for you to build units. They can also be used purely for fun, such as having scarabs shoot rainbow beams of love. The skulls that actually affect gameplay also affect the multiplier on your mission score, giving you another reason to play through the campaign. The skulls add a lot of re-playability to the campaign and can make some annoying missions (I’m looking at you Arcadia) really fun.

Like with any good RTS, there’s a Skirmish mode in which you can play against other real players or AI. XBox Live enables you to be beaten over and over by random people you don’t know, or you can always get beaten hard by your friends. The Skirmish mode also brings consistency to units available and lets you also take charge of the Covenant. Although you do get the choice between these two sides, I would have liked the oppurtunity to play as the Flood. I don’t think it would have been an unreasonable task as there are already a variety of Flood units in the game.

Although the story is lacking, this game is definitely fun. The cinematics in the game are some of the best I’ve seen. It’s rare for me to watch through cinematics a second/third or even fourth time whilst going through a game, but I still find that cinematic with the Spartans at the end breathtaking every time.

The cinematics are great. The controls are great. And most importantly, the game is fun. It might not be the best RTS ever made, but it definitely shines through as one of the best console RTSs made. Amazingly fun and enjoyable… even if it could be improved with a keyboard and mouse.

Hunter Q&A Analysed

I said a few days ago when the Hunter Q&A was out that I’d be doing a piece on my personal take on it. I should have wrote this a few days ago but alas, here it is.

There are certain aspects of the Hunter class that are really emphasized in the Q&A. A lot of the issues brought up are ones that I and a lot of other hunters are aware of and are concerned about. For a start, Beast Mastery is too low at the moment even in regards to it’s more simplistic play style and that needs to be addressed. The concern however is that if a signature shot is put into the BM tree, it will just play similarily to MM and SV with just swapping Chimera Shot/Explosive Shot with BM Shot. The other route to take would be to buff BM pets, but then that raises the concern of them being too tough in PvP but also gives the problem of losing most of your dps in PvE encounters when your pet dies. A tough one to call indeed.

Ammo is also another item of keen interest at the moment so it’s not surprising to see it raised in the Q&A. It’s nice to find out that the delay is a technical issue rather than a design issue. I think they have very clear ideas about what they want to do with Ammo (something extremely similar to something myself and many other hunters suggested nearly 3 years ago on the main forums (I would link the post but it’s been buried and lost to the nether)) and it’s a change I welcome. I can understand why they’d be reluctant as it would be another Hunter only item. Most ranged weapons are itemized just for Hunters, so to include another Hunter only item on loot tables could be a concern. With that said however, many other classes whore the loot tables with stuff that can only be used by them (I’m looking at you healy Plate gear). I’m looking forward to the change so it’s nice to see it discussed again.

The Hunter “Dead Zone” was brought up aswell. I personally don’t know why they brought this up because it’s not a problem. Like Ghostcrawler mentioned, there used to be an actual dead zone of 3 yards where we couldn’t melee or do ranged dps. Now however, it’s ranged or melee. I think the solution isn’t to let us use ranged attacks in the melee zone, but rather give us a few more melee attacks centered around escaping and getting to a more comfortable distance. This is purely in the interests of balancing us for PvP and Arena, as there’s a serious under representation of Hunters there. An interesting idea might be to give us a skill that removes the lower bound of distance required by ranged attacks to 0 for our next attack or 10 seconds. Give it a minute cooldown or something and it won’t affect the PvE game.

One of the question’s response did surprise me a little. When asked about the possibility of moving Hunters away from mana, it seems like there’s going to be a discussion on this at Blizzcon. Mana has been an issue for Hunters for a very long while and this isn’t the first time Hunters and Energy have been discussed together. Back before the game even shipped and was on beta, Hunters were originally planned to have Energy. As we all know however, Hunters were given mana. I’m looking forward to the Blizzcon discussion on this subject.

They also skip over how they feel that Hunters are too cooldown limited. As a Survival Hunter, I know this more than any of the other specs so can certainly agree. Haste really only affects Auto Shot and Steady Shot so it can feel like a wasted stat at times. With that said however, it’s needed to hit the soft cap on the Steady Shot to allow room on the Explosive Shot cooldown, inadvertantly propping up our dps. Haste feels important but also rubbish at the same time. This is another thing that’s getting discussed at Blizzcon.

One final thing that does look good is that they’re finally going to revamp the Pet bar. They should be adding in a lot more available slots on the Pet bar which will be extremely beneficial. They also plan on sorting out abilities that are swapping to auto cast (such as cower) that made leveling extremely annoying. They also discuss the possibilities of doing away with the Stables and having a more Warlock based pet system, something we’re pretty close to already anyway.

I think Blizzard have done well with the whole Q&A series, and I think it’s been beneficial for both Blizzard and the players. I feel like there’s a more distinct direction with the class and it’s nice to see that Blizzard have the same concerns as many of the players. I think Blizzcon this year will be exceptionally interesting.