Saturday, 9 May 2009

Quantum Butterflies downs Malygos

Quantum Butterflies on Aman'Thul have now cleared all normal 10-man content pre-Ulduar.
After an exhilarating 2 1/2 hours of serious encounter progression, in what was for most people their first trip into the Eye of Eternity, we finally downed the Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight.
Each attempt saw us get progressively closer to the kill, as we worked out healing rotations, dps placements and co-ordination and making it to the drake phase alive. We hit his enrage timer multiple times during the third phase, and on the final attempt were left with only two of us alive (myself as a healer and the main tank ^_^). For our troubles I picked up some snazzy Focusing Energy Epaulets which may or may not replace my T7 (breaking my set bonus until I can get the helm, but then I don't really use Holy Light that much), and a mage got Greatstaff of the Nexus.

Being part of a team tackling such a difficult encounter, and seeing our rapid progression was a really cool experience, and I dare say quite a few of us were surprised when we did get him down on the first night.

Great job guys, time to head to bed (have to get up for work in 4.5 hours, ugh).

PS: Damn, forgot to take kill screenshots. But then giant hearts floating in the middle of empty space aren't nearly as impressive as a bunch of naked hordies desecrating a corpse ;).

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

[Notwow] Udder Madness loves whiteboards

Well, quite evidently I'm blogging at work. And while this isn't necessarily unusual, I don't really have a lot to do.

Following on from the critical license failures mentioned earlier, I have since been contacted by the Australian-based support with three separate solutions, none of which worked, and the problem has now been escalated to the developers in the UK. Of course, as of posting, it's roughly 3am for those hat-tipping, tea-guzzling chaps over there (hope Ark and Beks got over their jetlag and are happily sleeping), so this application probably won't be working anytime today. Basically turning a planned 10-hour day into a 3-hour day. I should probably just go home.

Instead, here's a PXT of the whiteboard in my office in it's current state (apologies for the terrible quality, my cheap cellphone camera isn't good at dealing with the reflective surface):

This is (hopefully) the solution for the PDE: x'' - 3x' + 2x = 1, with boundary conditions x(0) = 1 and x'(0) = 0, using derivatives of the Laplace transform. Yay, maths. The final answer I got was x(t) = 2 - t - exp(t). It was written on the whiteboard after I was unable to finish the question in a test, and, frustrated, spent an hour completing (and often reworking it).

Yes, sorry, I'm bored. I'm going home. Please remember:

For Great Justice: Arena healing as deep protection.

Healing as a paladin in Season 6 is proving interesting. As previously mentioned, I find that paladins seem to have a lot less utility than the other healing classes (lack of mobility, drain, cc and instant casts), and particularly vulnerable to lock-outs and mana drains.

Until recently I’ve healed only as deep holy: either 51/20/0 or 49/0/22 (S5 only, since the ret talents were changed in 3.1.0). Recently I’ve looked at other specs, mostly to address the aforementioned issues of utility and mana regen, and since deep Holy gives very little to 2v2 and 3v3 healing. Two alternative specs are popular: ret/holy and deep protection. Of the two

Retribution/Holy (e.g. 32/0/39): has Repentance for control, and infinite mana with Judgements of the Wise, plus trading the Art of War for the loss of Infusion of Light. Additionally it has stun removal, Pursuit of Justice and increased crit %, as well as improved damage output.

Deep Protection (e.g. 19/52/0): infinite mana via a refreshable and undispellable Divine Plea, increased survivability from various stamina bonuses, considerable increases to FoL and HL healing due to increased crit coefficient and a stamina to spellpower conversion (in my mediocre gear I now get 3.7k FoL’s, with 7k crits, and 21k HL crits), as well as a 20 second (!) Hammer of Justice cooldown, and the 3-second silence of Avenger’s Shield (including a daze, and affecting up to 3 targets).

I’m currently trying the deep Prot version, and have to say that it’s interesting and fun to play, a lot more so than deep Holy. The control offered by the 20 second Hammer of Justice cooldowns is impressive, as well as access to Avenger’s Shield. A 6-second stun every 20 seconds is highly entertaining. Against healer/dps we play very aggressively, and mana regeneration is excellent, and means swapping glyphed Seal of Wisdom for the 3-second RNG stun of Seal of Justice for more stunning entertainment (the controlled stun from HoJ is on a separate cooldown to the uncontrolled SoJ stun).

However without the combination of Holy Shock, Divine Favour, and Infusion of Light, double dps does tend to sh#t all over us once Divine Guardian runs out, plus silences/interrupts are even stronger against me without instant heals. Lack of Light’s Grace and Judgements of the Pure also means that healing through Mortal Strike becomes a pain (especially after the stupid damage from a Bladestorm), and the spec requires a dps partner with decent survivability (i.e. a plate-wearer). But overall it’s a lot more pleasant to play than the fairly dull reactivity of deep Holy.

Further thoughts will probably follow as I play the spec more, yet one thing does occur:

The Holy tree is in sad shape when delving deeper into Protection or Retribution can prove more beneficial for 2v2 arena healing.

[Notwow] This post is dedicated to cats

Because cats are awesome!

This is my parents' cat, Ambra. Isn't she cute?
(Shortly afterwards she reached out with a single claw and scratched my eyelid, it was adorable. I think she still hasn't forgiven me for leaving home.)

A short digression (cats are more important):
So here I am at work. Working. Entering data and configuring the software package that will manage... anyway, I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing. Gradually falling asleep, because this part of the job is really f#cking boring, but hey, it's being done. I'd just come back from getting a Cornetto and was making my way through a (now empty) 500ml can of V Black (gogo caffeine), had saved the work I was doing and was recording my progress on paper, when my coworker walks in and says "hey, are you using the software at the moment? I'm getting an error".
Load up application, wait, yep... that doesn't look right:

WTF? We haven't even started testing the software and the license has already expired, not to mention the fact that all the license files were moved to the server two weeks ago. And I've already done almost three hours work in the application today, and the licenses were working fine.

Oh well, guess it gave me something else to do. Currently waiting for tech support to get back to me. May soon be making phone calls to Australia as well. Cats don't have this problem:

Cats > applications.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Early Impressions of Season 6

There may be readers out there who are interested in the perspective of the enthusiastic but consistently mediocre player, the one who has trouble breaking 1500 rating in every bracket. The perspective of the player who plays with like-minded guildies who are also (for the most part) IRL friends, and bases teams around their characters, rather than the FotM comps. For those readers, this post is for you.

Season 6 is proving to be interesting, at our level (MMR of around 1300 in 2v2 and 3v3) both double dps and healer/dps are popular. I play a healer paladin, partnered with a destruction warlock and a frost death knight in 2v2 and 3v3, and messing around with two more death knights and a resto druid in 5v5 for the points.

I personally like the new system of matches based on MMR (matchmaking rating), even if a lot of people still don’t fully understand it, means we get a much better selection of matches and our win/loss ratio doesn’t look abysmal. Our 3v3 is currently sitting at 15-15 (5-5 during the first week, and 10-10 during the second) so our MMR is exactly where we should be.

Following patch 3.1.0 a few changes to arenas are apparent, even in our brackets:
Paladins appear to be the worst healers now, especially against priests (in Ring of Valor, my mana disappears at the same frightening rate as whatever pillar I happen to be hiding [cowering] behind). Priests live forever, PvE resto druids can tank DKs even when on basically 0 mana and shamans don’t seem to drop below 6k mana.

- Arms warriors are really good again (and Bladestorm does a stupid amount of damage). In combat charge also negates the advantage of 40 yard Judgements.

- Rogues can do scary amounts of burst, as can mages. And with even more control tools between them, they make a similarly formidable combination as in previous seasons; RMP is once again very impressive if coordinated well. The double rogues we’ve seen so far do seem to have a bit of trouble with DoTs and a paladin healer.

- Feral druids make good dps partners with a healer, since in Bear form they can turtle for ages, at least against a DK, and have good control to boot. Oh and somehow we always lose to Moonkin. Like the memorable 3v3 against double Moonkin and a paladin (the AoE damage was too much to heal through, and double Typhoon sucks when you're trying to Holy Light someone).

- Season 6 is shaping up to look a lot like Season 3 and 4, except that hunters, ret paladins and warlocks can do ridiculous damage in very small amounts of time, as can resto shamans and priests. I predict that druids will once again become the dominant healers, giving them a 5th season of being at the top, maybe I should level Beathooven…

My personal experience after healing 50 2v2 and 30 3v3 games so far is that I’m not a big fan of paladin healing, especially compared to playing a resto druid in S3/S4. Lack of mobility and instant heals leaves me feeling very vulnerable to cc/burst on partner vs. double dps, and mana draining against healer/dps.

- Mana can disappear quite quickly when I need to resort to using Holy Light (which is so easy to interrupt/cc), and with BoW and Divine Plea both being dispellable regaining mana is a real pain (especially due to the vulnerability when needing to stop drinking to bring partner back up). Holy Shock crits into instant FoL are still really nice, and the 60 second improved Sacred Shield in the 49/22/0 build is also helpful.

- While my survival against melee is better than either priests’ or shamans’ (and thus I spend a lot less time having to kite than as my BC druid and my DK partner in Frost Presence can absorb a tonne of damage), I can’t exhibit anywhere near as much control or kill-burst as any of the other healing classes.

- Warlock/healadin seems to have serious issues with Arms warriors, death knight/healerdin has issues against drain, druids (resto and feral) and resto shamans. Rogue/mage, properly played, facerolls us regardless of composition.

- The DK and I have played one game that lasted the full 47 minutes (we didn't even know there was a time limit) against a Frost mage and an unkillable T7.5 resto druid (who was outhealing our dps in treeform even when on 200 mana), but was one of the most intense and fun games we've played. We also played against a Resto shaman/Feral druid which we managed to RNG kill during the very last minute. Both of those happened at around 2am, which was mildly irritating, and we could possibly have won both (sooner) if we'd been more awake. Thankfully 3v3 matches don't take long, since healer mana doesn't last nearly as long (more dps to heal through, and less drinking), and we decimated the single double healer (+ Arms warrior) pretty quickly.

- One thing that does annoy me is my inability to decide which stats to stack for PvP healing, since resilience, spellpower, stamina, MP5, crit, int, and haste all seem to be situationally great. Guess I need to do some theorycrafting. Although that probably depends on which spec I’m using (more of this in another post).

My hopes for the next few weeks:

Reach our MMR in 2v2 and 3v3, giving access to some nice rating rewards (relics, Deadly legs and maybe Furious wrists) – our first rating rewards ever, since the one time we hit ~1570 in S4 we didn’t have enough points for anything. Hopefully the DK can pick up an Ironsoul from Ulduar (not being in a 25-man guild does have a serious impact on our chances of doing well).

Monday, 4 May 2009

Introducing Udder Madness 2.0

Hi again. I’m still alive. /waves.

One thing to note about blogging, especially if you’re focussing on something like WoW, is that the blogger needs to be interested in both the game, and feel that they have something to write about. Blogging can be quite a drain on one’s time, and at some point I lost both interest in the game and the blog, and as my life was undergoing several radical changes I just sort of … stopped writing.

And while I was...AWoL... a number of other renowned (and personal favourite) bloggers also left:
Daniel Howell from BigRedKitty
Megan from Out of Mana
Phaelia from Resto For Life

They're already sorely missed from my reading list, although Daniel Howell's new blog, Brain Needed Space has already been a source of much amusement and entertainment.

Anyway, I’m back in the game now, finally got The Fall of Naxxramas (last saturday) and my arena partners together (to continue our mediocre and unimpressive track record), so I figured I might as well revitalise this blog.

So welcome to Udder Madness 2.0, now at