Archive for December, 2008

Addon Review: Bartender 4

December 22, 2008

Way way back, I realized my UI was ugly. Like, really ugly. Crowded, clunky, and just overall barely manageable. I needed something new. BRK recommended Bartender 3 and CyCircled, so I grabbed them both and fell immediately in love.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, as Bartender 3 and CyCircled crashed and burned at patch 3.0.2. But Bartender 4 rose up from the ashes and found its way into my addons folder.

At its core, Bartender 4 is just like its predecessor – it lets you fine-tune your action bars and display up to 10 on your screen at a time. You can dictate how many buttons show on each bar, how big the bar scales, and where exactly you want it to sit on the screen. New (at least to me) features include nearly the same amount of control over your menu bar and backpack buttons.

So I’ve got my backpack in the bottom right corner, plus I made sure that it shows the keyring for good measure. Right above it is a scaled-down version of the menu bar, set to fade to invisible when I’m not moused over it. Bottom center of my screen holds an empty Bar #1 – the original action bar that you’d see with the default UI. I keep it empty for two reasons: firstly, so I can put temporary buttons on it (like an item I’d need for a quest). Secondly, so that it sits there invisible until I hop into a vehicle – at which point it switches over to the vehicle action bar and everything transitions without a hitch.

I use another bar for abilities I want easily accessible outside of LunarSphere (in Tchann’s case, all her aspects), and another for food and other handy consumables. I keep a bar on the far right for a lot of addon and macro things, and a bar tucked underneath my chatbox for easy professions access. I have to say that overall, I’m really happy with my interface now. 🙂

The downsides to Bartender 4 have been somewhat minor. CyCircled, the mod that turned all of the default square buttons into lovely circles, was busted, so I had to switch over to ButtonFacade, which at the time had yet to be updated. For a few days I had to deal with it causing errors in the background before a new version cleared that all up.

The second downside still bugs me. Bartender 3 came with a button on the minimap. With the advent of 3.0.2, however, it appears that minimap buttons for addons were the exception rather than the norm. While the old Bartender button would let me easily unlock (i.e., make it possible to move) the bars with a simple shift+click, Bartender 4 comes with no such functionality, and forces me to go into the configuration window to move a bar even a pixel aside.

Still, I can’t imagine my UI without Bartender. My screen is clean, organized, and well-tended – everything my apartment is not. ^.^;

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Focusing on Focus

December 19, 2008

I like math.

Each problem is a little puzzle to figure out, something to work on and solve to discover the answer. Simple math, even somewhat more complex math, is something I throw myself into. But the complicated stuff? Yeah, I leave that to the people who are crazy about it.

But for my own small amount of crazy, I come up with stuff like this.

I cracked open a brand new spreadsheet and threw a few of my pet, Mijikai’s, abilities onto it for reference: Monstrous Bite, Bite, and Charge. I didn’t look at most of her Ferocity tree talents because they don’t take focus and are being moved off the global cooldown.

Then, starting from second 1, I went through what Mijikai would theoretically be casting with my current spec. I realized right away that the point in Dash should probably be yanked and put somewhere more effective, since Charge will take care of getting her to the mob in the first place (with better results). So Dash will be gone as soon as I can get to a pet trainer.

I went through thirty seconds of theoretical attacks on Mijikai before my attention span gave up and wandered towards flaming bunnies. Then I jump-started it to redo the thirty-second chart for every combination of Bestial Discipline and Go for the Throat that I could think of. Then I actually did some of the work I’m paid for before tallying up the results.

My concern that spurred all this on was a fear that Mijikai was focus-starved, which was hurting her dps. I noticed far too often in fights that her focus bar was sadly low – not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but definitely something to look into nonetheless.

A problem I ran into with working the numbers with Go for the Throat was that it’s based off my ranged criticals. I have a low crit chance right now, just over 17%, but that’s something that will get better with gear. I decided to err on the side of smaller numbers and list Go for the Throat as occurring once every 10 seconds – with an Auto/Steady rotation, one crit every ten seconds is a safe assumption.

So in total, the focus sources are the standard focus regen every 4 seconds (24 base, 36 with BD 1/2), 48 with BD 2/2), and the GftT once every 10 seconds (25 at 1/2, 50 at 2/2).

Me and Mijikai as-are ended up looking something like this, for a theoretical 30-second slice of time:

Charge
Monstrous Bite
Focus Regen
Bite x 3
Focus Regen
Bite
Monstrous Bite
Focus Regen
Bite x 2
Focus Regen
Bite
Monstrous Bite
Focus Regen
Bite x 2
Focus Regen
Monstrous Bite
Bite
Focus Regen
Bite x 2

After the first couple seconds, she falls into a pattern of hitting twice with special attacks, then waiting for a focus regen so she can resume. This explains why I noticed her focus bar so low so often – she’s not necessarily focus starved, per se, but she’s definitely hungry.

In thirty seconds, a spec with only BD at 2/2 garners me 12 Bites. But I played this whole scenario out with each combination of talents, so I ended up with the following:

GftT 2/2 – 10 Bites
BD 1/2, GftT 1/2 – 11 Bites¹
BD 2/2 – 12 Bites
BD 2/2, GftT 1/2 – 14 Bites
BD 2/2, GftT 2/2 – 15 Bites²
BD 1/2, GftT 2/2 – 15 Bites³

¹Not only was this spec on the low-end of the Bite charts, but it also put off the third Monstrous Bite until 20 seconds in. All the others placed it at 17.5 seconds, meaning that this spec was almost three seconds slower in maximizing Monstrous Bite’s damage buff, and could potentially keep it from getting refreshed in case of a bad situation.

²Since focus caps out at 100, any focus generation that goes over 100 is therefore wasted. This spec had 20 wasted focus, and ³ had 17 wasted focus.

Lastly, all these specs had Monstrous Bite cast four times in 30 seconds, getting the maximum dps buff (9%) up and refreshed as a good start to the rest of the fight.

So what does all this mean? It means that if Mijikai needs more focus, and I get enough hit to yank a point from Focused Aim, I’m going to go ahead and toss it into Go for the Throat. I probably won’t put any more than one point into the talent, however, since an increasing crit rate would probably result in even more wasted focus, thus wasting that point. With two points in BD and one in GftT I should be good to go, especially once my crit gets over 20%.  If it climbs to insane levels I might re-evaluate putting just two points in GftT and leaving it at that – but that’s a calculation for another day.

Re-introduction

December 18, 2008

Since my focus has shifted a bit, I’ll go ahead and re-introduce myself: this time as a player and a hunter, instead of just a Customer Service geek. 🙂

Hi! My name is Tchann Thundercleave, and I’m a hunter on the Thorium Brotherhood US server. It’s a roleplaying server and one that I’ve found myself firmly attached to. I do enjoy roleplaying, but I also love raiding and other PvE activities. I actively despise PvE and dailies.

When I first started playing, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I just enjoyed running around, questing and killing things. I did know that I loved playing a hunter and having a pet companion by my side that I could trust and work with. Despite also having a warlock, the hunter class is what really endeared WoW to me.

For almost a year and a half, I was convinced that meleeing was perfectly acceptable for a hunter to do in all situations. I was determined to prove this to other people until a friend (metaphorically) slapped me upside the head and told me to grow up and play my class right. That began a long process of me learning numbers, theory, and generally working towards actually being as awesome as I could be.

So now I’m here. I have a tendency to be somewhat lazy, enjoy melee, and like pumping out the big numbers in dps. With all that in mind, I put the points in my spec at 80 like so.

Things that are different from the norm:

Endurance Training: the longer I can stay up, the better. The longer my pet can stay up, the better. Being alive = dps, end of story.

Spirit Bond: +healing for me and my pet is fantastically wonderful (especially a with a pet who has Lick Your Wounds), and the periodic regen is great for soloing. The only downside is that each tick seems to generate aggro when a tank is pulling, leading all his mobs to come chasing over to me before I can jam on the FD.  😦

Focused Aim: Who cares about the pushback? It’s all about the +hit. This is where my laziness shows. I’ll yank points out of this as my hit rating goes up significantly – it doesn’t affect pet hit, so I need to be going overboard on hit in the first place. Not to mention the whole 8% or 9% mystery is still not completely solved.

Efficiency: Hi need manaz yes. Even with AotV, having more mana upfront means higher dps for longer before I need to bust out the mana regen. As my mana pool goes up,  I might start pulling points from here, too.

Things I’m reconsidering:

Improved Revive Pet: I had this for raiding at 70, in case my pet went down mid-battle (causing my dps to crash down with it). But with HotP, I’m not sure how useful it really is anymore.

Cobra Strikes: Looks like a nifty pet dps boost, but it seems to me like it’s best paired with Invigoration – something that is just too underpowered for the point cost right now. Then again, the dps boost might be necessary with the impending nerf.

Frenzy 4/5: Need to take a look at BRK’s 9-8-7 theory and see if that applies to me.

Go for the Throat: Poor Mijikai has been focus-starved. We I need to fix that.

Overall, I’m happy with my spec at the moment. I just need to get past my inherent laziness to do some number-crunching and work out the kinks. Either I need to give my pets more focus, or manage their abilities better to maximize their effectiveness with their current focus.

I also need to raise my crit, work on figuring out what the hit cap is, and overall crank it up.

It would also help if I could post a WWS log that didn’t have glaring errors pockmarking it.  -_-;;

Thawing Out

December 16, 2008

Northrend has swallowed me whole.

My Rock Band drums are gathering dust by the television set while my plants slowly start to wither on the windowsill.  My husband and I return home every evening to lock ourselves in the computer room and only leave to acquire food or maybe feed the cat. And the cat only really gets fed if he starts biting us.

After hitting 80 a few weeks back, however, I’ve started to emerge from the frosty northern regions. First I noticed that there was an expansion. See, I’d been too busy leveling and immersing myself in lore and gameplay that I (somehow) forgot that all of this was new. Then I realized that if things were new, that meant people had things to say about the new things, so I went off to read and listen to these new things. I made about three comments on Pike‘s post today and have BRK‘s latest podcast in my mp3 player waiting for my walk home.

I’ve also begun to realize that I have – gasp! – different opinions than a lot of the people I’ve set as standards for the huntering world. This confuses me. Very rarely do I ever truly count myself as knowledgeable in a certain field, and this blog is one of those rare exceptions. I’ve gone out of my way to learn the rules of this game as they pertain to use outside of Azeroth, and I want to share that knowledge with people who don’t want to go to the same amount of trouble. But now…I have opinions on hunter-y things.

Am I an expert hunter? Hell no! I make mistakes, lots of them, and I try to learn and make myself better. I’m in the process of doing so right now, trying to adapt to the new hunter abilities and the impending nerf, while excelling as best as I can in the game without going overboard. So maybe, I’m thinking, I might be sharing all these things here.

I’ll still have plenty to say on policy changes, I’m sure. But I need to reinsert myself into the CSF to make any headway on what may or may not have changed in the first place.

In the meantime, however, it’s time to go do some testing with Freezing Shot. This thing has to be useful for something, right? 🙂