Dear Wintergrasp Rogue Gankers

February 27, 2010

I realize you probably feel about paladins in general the same way I feel about frost mages, and yes, the paladin standing motionlessly in front of the quartermasters probably is not paying much attention and generally not ready for a fight. However, in the future when choosing your gank targets, you may wish to pay attention to the big, obvious gnome-coffin shield and the less obvious but equally telling face-smashing one-hander.

If you should choose to proceed apace, in the time it takes her to notice you, close her inventory window, close the vendor window, and put on a seal, not only will she have recovered from the stunlock, not even half her health will be gone and she will be very annoyed with you indeed.


Tanking Addons

February 25, 2010

Do Want:

Tidy Plates and Threat Plates. These are a replacement for the standard Blizzard unit frames for enemies, and in combination will visually indicate how much threat you’ve got on each mob. Go into the interface menu and set whether you are tanking or healing/DPSing; this will invert whether the threat plates are “menacing” or “no need to worry”, so that if you’re tanking mobs you have solid threat on their nameplates will appear small and green, whereas mobs that aren’t much interested in you will be big and red, with an intermediate state between. If you’re not tanking, mobs you have minimal threat on are small and green and mobs about to come eat your face are large and red.

Right now this addon is slightly broken for me; it still works basically as intended, but there’s some sort of font error that causes plates to be greyed out entirely for me instead of displaying their normal optics. I can still tell threat levels just fine, just not any of the other Tidy Plate information. I am a master of mysteriously breaking stuff, though, and I’ve not heard anyone else complain. The nameplates can also cause problems in cases of lots of little mobs, like the roomful of snakes in the first area of Gun’drak and the Onyxian whelps, but nothing insurmountable, just annoying. Invaluable overall for newbie tanks that haven’t yet internalized tabbing around and spreading the love, or are learning a new pull.

TankPoints. Being a plate tank is a rough life sometimes when it comes to gearing; read Maintankadin long enough and you start to wonder if you need to have picked up a math minor in school when it comes to even beginning to discern among your gear choices. Enter TankPoints, a nicely sophisticated gear rating system that gives you a single number that indicates overall survivability factor and a complex suite of information available in your character pane. I like to couple this with a tankadin string for Pawn in order to get a little more information.

A healing addon. I personally use Grid and Clique, but I used Healbot in the past with success and Ossifer Bear uses VuhDo. The usefulness of something like this varies a lot from tanking class to tanking class, but for paladins, who get a zillion helpful spells to apply to other players in the raid, it has a great deal of potential value. Right now I have Righteous Defense, Hand of Salvation, and Hand of Protection bound to various mousebuttons, and will probably add others the next time I upgrade my mouse to something with more buttons. Either way, make sure whatever raid frames you’re using indicate aggro- I find Grid’s little red dot to be easier for me to quickly see and react to than Healbot’s red border, for whatever reason.

Skada. This seems to be sometimes prone to bugginess, and doesn’t always shake out with Recount, but the screen real estate saved by having my threat meter convert to a DPS meter when out of combat, and my DPS meter convert to a threat meter when in, is more than worth it to me. Really though this addon is mostly valuable to tanks if you can make your DPS use it…

Do Not Want:

Any addon that automatically yells or tells that you have taunted something. There are only two people in the room to whom your taunting is relevant, and believe me, the other person is going to notice whether it succeeds or fails. This just creates unnecessary clutter and rest-of-party irritation.

Skull Me. It’s somewhat handy in heroics, but mostly it will aggravate the living hell out of any raid leader trying to mark a specific target for the DPS to burn down, which may or may NOT be YOUR target. Instead, bind the following macro to an easily reached button:

/run if GetRaidTargetIndex(“target”)~=8 then SetRaidTarget(“target”,8)end

This will skully your target at the press of a button, when marking on the fly, rather than automatically unless you remember to enable or disable your addon.


Odds, Ends

February 24, 2010

– It’s interesting how, due to just being a fairly small guild, the nature of problems experienced can vary from week to week. Week before last we had way more qualified raiders wanting to raid than we had slots and were starting our first serious effort to build up a second team. Last week we got crit hard by real life and had to go to ToC because the only other available tank was only geared for ToC at best for one night, and cancel the other. What happened? One of our core DPS was apparently hospitalized (we still don’t know the whole story there), another’s on a new and punishing work schedule, Holy Terror and Ossifer Bear had sudden family obligations and the same thing happened to Suicide Dotter and Raid Array, our backup healer has a work schedule that means he can’t make almost all regular raid nights, our backup backup healer got snared by work and is now moving across the country and is only spottily available, and our backup backup backup healer has acquired an offline social life, which wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t raid mainly on weekends. Whew. Priority has suddenly changed from “form second team” to “figure out if we need to completely reorganize the raiding schedule”.

– I’m going to have some adjusting to do when we eventually do form a second team. It’s seriously disorienting to me to tank with someone other than Ossifer Bear. I kept wanting to say things like “No, this is all wrong, bear stands on my RIGHT during this part!” I could not more thoroughly fill a “tanks are control freaks” stereotype if I were actively trying. This is one of many reasons I always have Vent on push-to-talk, though the main reason is that the raid does not need to be subjected to my constant muttered litany of profanity. Holy Terror is PTT for the same reason. Comparing notes with her as to who’s getting cursed about was interesting.

– The minor kerfluffle regarding single-gender guilds was interesting. (I’m linking to Cranky’s roundup so I don’t have to do it myself. Look at the bottom.) For the record, I don’t care if people want to form a guild around the concept of thinking Kirk was better than Picard and only want to associate with other Kirkians, let alone if they want to be in single-gender guilds. What amuses me is mostly the defense that Tristan of the male-only guild advances, which is that men are such cave trolls they have to isolate themselves, lest they inadvertently abuse the female players. I didn’t listen to the actual podcast in question, but apparently the corollary defense is that male players are so disconcerted by working with people that have boobies (which they can’t even see) that separating results in better performance.

Both of these arguments are, to me, like listening to transmissions from the planet Zongo. What the hell kind of maladjusted little boys are these people playing with and why do they tolerate them to the point that they’ll keep themselves hermetically sealed from the opposite sex in order not to set them off? Granted, it could just be that they’re saying this because they think just saying “we like to keep it guys’ night out only and we can’t do that playing with girls” will get them flash-fried, but if you’re going to be in a men-only guild that’s kind of going to happen anyway and it seems oddly nutless to employ such weird logic that inherently disparages their members.

Then again I don’t get a lot of these issues in general. There’s plenty of “girls don’t play WoW” type jokes in our server’s tradechat, and a few female players always bite on it, but it always struck me as being as standard a /trade trope as Chuck Norris, murloc-themed movies, and anal [skill] jokes. We once pugged the raiding alt of SWC’s most notorious tradechat troll*, whose standard repetoire includes plenty of jokes about women and stoves and making him sandwiches, and he didn’t say boo to the female raid leader or any of the other female voices on Vent. Either he’s a coward vocally or, more likely, he just trolls to get reactions from the reactive. It seems incredible to me that anyone actually believes this stuff.

Then again, any male or female player that behaved like either of the stereotypes that both male and female only guilds justify their existence with** would be g-kicked immediately no matter how leet their skills and gear, so maybe this is only more reason why we’re not the top progressed ten-man guild on the server.

*This was *not* when I was in a position to have a say about it, for the record.
**To re-clarify: I think they should exist without having to justify it at all.


Chocolate Bar

February 21, 2010

Anyone use this thing? I’ve been a Titan Panel user since I started playing the game, but for some arcane reason it stopped working on the last patch and hasn’t resurrected since. It didn’t break Titan for Stingray or anyone else I know who used it, but it did for me, and now I’m after a replacement.

Chocolate Bar seemed perfect, but I can’t get it to display any of the information I was actually after. It works great as a LibDataBroker addon launcher- and would be even more great if I could figure out how to nuke my forty skillion minimap launchers that I no longer need- but it doesn’t do what Titan did and what I was given the impression it did, which was display information about gold, bag space, map coordinates, and so forth. The documentation is exceedingly unhelpful and seems to be along the Mac “just works” attitude.

Am I just missing another addon? Does it not display for the same arcane reason Titan stopped displaying? Am I missing something obvious? Can anyone reading this help me out or should I take my whinefest to EpicAdvice?


Communicating With The Monkeys

February 19, 2010

A bit back Svenn posted about communication with strangers, information versus communication theory, and a certain attitude prevalent in certain circles that whether you’re “nice” or “mean” should be completely irrelevant to the actual content of communication.

Now, I have written before on the subject of the social contexts of online communication and why manners still matter even when you’re communicating in a medium that’s essentially composed of pure information, but that was basically a very long and scholarly way of saying “if you’re an ass in my comments section I’m still going to ban you even if you’re factually correct about whatever it is you’re saying because your bullshit is still bullshit. Here’s why, logic troll.”

Anyway. How we look at a problem tends to be heavily colored by whatever our field of expertise is; I don’t know what Svenn’s player does for a living, but I do know a lot of theorycrafters and people heavily into the mechanics of the game fall under some kind of engineering or technology heading, and thus have a strong math background. Putting social interaction under the lens of information theory from that perspective is only natural. (And interesting reading to boot.)

Me, my educational background is all biology- mostly evolution and ecology. When I look at a complex social interaction, I don’t see information exchange, I see social primates. I don’t think so much about the content of communication, I think about what social animals do in order to actually function as an effective group even when they’re composed of a bunch of self-interested cranky apes with high background aggression and an obsession with sex. Chimps do not care much about who is right, but they’re still better at working as an effective team when they need to than a large number of the PuGs I’ve been in.

One of the things that people who study sociality and specifically social cooperation in animals are coming to understand is that the real cornerstone of their behavior is not degree of relatedness, as the first theories aimed for, but the ability to make distinctions between cheaters and cooperators. As it turns out, just about any vertebrate animal with a complex social life has tremendous power to identify and remember individuals they encounter that take the nasty approach to the Prisoner’s dilemma– and a surprisingly high degree of instinct to not only avoid cheaters, but go out of their way to punish them. As it turns out, both a baboon and a human would prefer to have the satisfaction of punishing a cheat even if it costs them further to do so. While the memory for cooperators is good, the cheat-detection systems are much stronger; the behavior appears to model along the lines of cooperation being the expected default, with cheat behavior being therefore highly necessary to extinguish even at cost.

This is so fundamental to our existence as social creatures that you can even see this evaluation on an MRI. Since entirely holding off on an evaluation of someone until the ninja has walked off with your purples or the chimp you were hunting with whaps you over the head with a rock and takes your baby gazelle is a bad idea, social animals also have a lot of behavior that’s associated with advertising that you’re a nice guy, or that you have no intention of cooperating with someone and trying would be foolish. (We tend to not hold so much of a grudge against someone who told you outright to fuck off rather than stabbing you in the back.) Ethologists have a lot of words for these behaviors, most species-specific and opaque to people not familiar with behavioral science. Modern humans tend to refer to our library of behaviors that advertise cooperator status as “manners”. We tend to refer to advertising non-cooperator status as “being a douchebag”.

This is why I don’t think the informational content is the most relevant element of communication and pretending otherwise is a waste of time. English is new and text is newer, and expecting to circumvent every inborn and cultural sense of making evaluations of someone else’s intent just because the facts are on your side is foolish. Putting accurate and helpful information in an abusive package will, unless that person is long familiar enough with you to know you’re really a cooperator (like a guildie within a hard-hitting guild culture), trip all a person’s learned and natural systems for “he’s not going to cooperate, ignore what comes out of his hatehole”. Ignoring or abusing back is as nearly as inevitable a response as putting up your hand to catch a ball coming at your face. You’re using a form of communication older and more primal than language- so it will almost invariably override the informational content in the language itself.

We work and play with other primates, not with computer programs. Until the singularity happens, I pretty much read all assertions that your manners shouldn’t need to have anything to do with how your information is recieved as “I find it emotionally satisfying to be a dick to people that frustrate me, I will defend this by saying they’re just irrational for objecting”.


Thundering Herd

February 17, 2010

A few days ago Big Bear Butt posted about people who fall in love with the look or mechanics of a particular class or race and put out a call for responses.

I don’t think I’m particularly hung up on any one class. My two 80-level classes were both chosen because I heard they were easy to level, and I quickly grew bored with being a hunter in an end-game environment. I’ve got a case of altitis that I can’t really support because I don’t have that much time to play that wouldn’t be more productively spent playing on my main raiding character and spec; nonetheless, my shaman is now 70 and I hope to get her up to 80 and play with her, if only because I’d like to try life on the healing end of things and devoting Juujube’s second spec to paladin healing would be impractical for a number of reasons. (Mostly because Reprisal is very healer-heavy and when I’m needed to do something besides tank, it’s almost always DPS that’s required. We’ve had five-man runs that were two main-spec tanks running with three main-spec healers.)

As I beaver away through trying out at least a little of every other class- the only ones I haven’t played at all are priest, warlock, and rogue- I find what I’m really drawn to is versatile, reactive classes. I like playing with my shaman because her totem collections and healing options make her a Swiss Army Knife of a class, and I like playing a warrior tank so well I have two of them at various pathetically low levels. I really enjoyed Death Knighting, and plan to either recover my little gothgnome or roll up a new one on the Horde side- I could see myself spending hours happily designing situational specs with those tinker-toy talent trees they have. I really like the sheer flexibility of levelling a druid, but I could see myself easily getting bored with sticking to a single spec and specialty. I found my mage so mind-numbing I abandoned her at level three. I’m sure it gets better, but the only end-game mage spec that looks at all interesting to me is fire, and I’m told it’s a pain to gear for. Either way I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a pure DPS class again.

With race, though, I have some extremely definite preferences. The first thing I wanted to make was a tauren druid (I made a Night Elf instead since my friend who got me into the game is Alliance), and half my alts are tauren. Once the new race/class combinations go into effect, Juujube will be immediately turned tauren, and I’ve toyed with race-changing my orc shaman to a tauren because the whole orc thing just doesn’t seem to fit well on me. I don’t think they’re the most interesting Horde race available- that would be the Forsaken- but as much as I enjoy Forsaken NPCs and quest chains, I’ve only ever rolled one Forsaken and that was the misbegotten mage. I just don’t seem to have any inner spiteful zombie, while the level-headed tauren fit quite well. (Stingray, meanwhile, would roll nothing but Forsaken if not for the sake of experiment.)

When I was Alliance, dwarves fit as well if not actually better, which is why Juuju, who leveled to 80 as Alliance, was one. She had a very basic character concept- all of my characters have at least some concept and backstory just because I can’t not do that for some reason- and that was she was a person whose main joy and fulfillment in life was hitting things with large hammers, then getting hammered. This fit well for a dwarven paladin with blacksmithing and mining tradeskills. It does not fit AT ALL on a blood elf, and right now she’s the only character of any level of mine who I wouldn’t know how to roleplay if the urge ever struck me. This bothers me.

What bothers me even more is that she doesn’t look like a tank to me. Her arms belong on a fashion model with a heroin addiction. Hamcrusher the dwarf looked like she could take a hit with her shield and dish it right back; Juujube the blood elf looks like the same action would shatter her entire upper body. The crazed coke whore look would work great on a rogue, mage, or warlock, but it’s just not doing it for me paladin-wise.

I simply can’t wait for the day she’s a big, fat, sturdy cow.


Rocket Bear

February 16, 2010

Screenshot by, and of, Ossifer Bear. Improvised lyrics by Stingray.

Only his absurdly high armor score keeps this thing from neutering him.

Rizz packed my shirt last night pre-flight
Zero hour 8:45 server.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss Thunder Bluff so much, I miss my heals
It’s lonely on the Skybreaker
On such a timeless fight

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no…
I’m a ROCKET BEAR!

ROCKET BEAR! Watch my fuzzy ass sail through the sky!
ROCKET BEAR! If I’m quick Thraps & Laedi might not die!

Icecrown ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s traps all over Thraps misses if you did
And all these fights I don’t understand
It’s just my job three days a week
A rocket bear, a rocket bear.

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no…
I’m a ROCKET BEAR!

(Thraps would be Stingray. Rizz is Holy Terror, lead healer and Ossifer Bear’s wife to boot. Laedi is our kitty too new to have a nickname.)