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Machinimation and the dreaded CASC System

potayta

aced

As some of you may be aware, I make the occasional video over on youtube.com/acegamestv, and on certain occasions I get the urge to express my thoughts and opinions from my time playing and working around the World of Warcraft community. Usually I do this through the means of Machinimation, or my terrible version of that term in any regard.

I have found myself eagerly awaiting the ability to access the new models brought by the Warlords of Draenor expansion, yet I feel daunted by the prospect of recent changes to how the file system will be organised with the new expansion, because before long it will be changed for ever, but what is it changing too? and why?!

The ‘CASC’ system or ‘Content Addressable Storage Container’ is essentially what it says on the tin, a storage system. How it differs from current WoW; which uses the ‘MPQ’ format, is that ‘CASC’ essentially allows for better file organisation and reduced need for future game patches to neither be as large nor take as long to apply as the current system. This all sounds wonderfully exciting I know, yet it has some underlying issues with the current accessibility of manipulating those models in a sandbox-like state; such as ‘WoW Machinima Studio’, or even ‘Model Viewer’.

lolsgayCurrently a budding film-maker / ‘Machinimator’ need only to film the content by layers through a model viewer and then add subsequent layers for other elements additional to the character; such as location, props, etc. This method has been used by ALL the most advanced Machinimation out there and provides a virtually endless amount of creative room. This change of file type then is surely a temporary situation? Well from the sounds of it, the file type and the method of organisation makes it particularly difficult for a program to access the areas it would need for a similar process to be possible.

Currently ‘CASC’ models are being shown on certain fan sites own online ‘model viewers’; such as WoWHead.com’s own, however those models have been converted back to MPQ from CASC using a fairly complex and time consuming process, then hosted on the site as a rendered mesh. This is not something you could access independently for Machinimation and this is mainly why I first feared the news of change.

In the past with the current and older models, I record a character model transparent or against a green screen on model viewer and export the video onto a pre-recorded scene within the actual game in my editing suite, then I applied the various scenes and added vocals and a audio bed in post much later, but more recently I was able to gain access to the Warlords of Draenor Alpha Sandbox though means I will not explain.

Within the WoD alpha sandbox, I recorded footage of a freshly created character to create a very basic video with emote animations, which I couldn’t believe how good it looked for what it was, despite the model itself being practically naked and without any items or equipment present, with The quality of the models and animations attached to those meshes fantastic. If you remember back to the recent trailer that Blizzard Entertainment brought out with the Gnome using the new LvL 90 Boost service, you will remember that the new Gnome model and animations were used. The video was almost breathtaking to someone like me. The very idea that those animations could look as realistic and smooth in transition as they did is truly mind-blowing. I really want to be able to make my own videos with this technology as soon as possible, but will ‘CASC’ make that impossible?

awesometaurenmodes

‘CASC’ isn’t just being implemented to make the patching time shorter, but a quantity of other benefits. The first major benefit is that the system will maintain a constant build, and upon detecting a fault or corruption, the automated service will simply re-download those broken parts immediately in the background. This is also a great way of preventing modified files being used in game, such as exploitative injection processes, or botting technology. Exploitative aspects of the gaming industry are ever present and to me it feels like this is an in-direct assault on that front without really understanding the implications to legitimate ventures through the game files.

The process for re-packing WoW files as MPQ’s and essentially reverse-engineering is something that currently has been possible to the extent of emulating private WoD Alpha servers, I of course will not give links to such sites where you can obtain such a program, yet those responsible for that effort used a conversion method to re-host the files in the old methods used for MPQ emulation. The short of it is that there will be programs in the future that will allow for Machinimation to use the next gen models and environments, but for now you will be limited to in-game filming for quite some time whilst programs are literally re-written by developers and then openly hosted for the general public (something that usually is not for free).

The point to address here more than anything is that Blizzard Entertainment award Machinimation in contests each year they host Blizzcon and other events online, so why not create a sandbox model viewer of their own? Surely it would prevent people from so frequently exploring potentially ToS breaking activities and other frowned upon methods to get the shots that are needed for a particular scene. It would both make Machinimation and fan-art more accessible for more people, and ease the minds of those who wish to remain un-banned from the videogame itself that do already make these videos.

The community of World of Warcraft is enormous and the creations of individuals world wide always never fails to impress me, others I know who do not play the game still check fan sites weekly to look at the artwork people have created for the game. If ever there was to be a community that deserved official assistance in this matter, World of Warcraft is certainly the most ideal.

“Raiding Systems Changes” Announcement – 6.0 Pre and Post WOD!

Raiding Systems

Recently, we have seen two very important pieces of information come out on the topic of WoD Raiding Systems. There were essentially two main sub-topics discussed via:
6.0.1 Launch Raiding Systems.
and
6.0 Pre-launch SoO Changes.

6.0.1 Systems Announcements

As the WoD and forward changes ultimately matter more, let’s discuss some things we learned from the interview and discuss potential for each.

Probably the greatest news that we received across both sources is that 30 player flex is confirmed. This is without a doubt the best news that could come out for Raiders like myself, give our guild’s position. Having that flexibility to try out 10 more people than the highest difficulty allows, makes gearing up early a really easy task. Consider the fact that gear amount will scale per player as well, or even the option that you can choose all personal loot, makes this sooo much more approachable, especially if they continue the “Lesser charms of good fortune” concept.
If it remains as such, we have potential to see what 7-8 pieces of loot off a single boss? This makes funneling gear to those who will make the cut to 20 Mythic incredibly simple, as well as gives the other 10 a chance to prove their worth and earn a piece from a token! Not to mention that large group raiding is far more fun! The more the merrier! Either way, being able to take every member of the guild into the first few weeks of raiding and subsequent clearing is an A+ in my book!

The second most intriguing thing to note is that Mythic will not have the tethered requirement from a completion of Heroic to begin progression. I don’t know how I feel about this, especially depending on how gear plays out, but it makes sense, as they are also removing locks across the difficulty spectrum. To prevent mad rushes for world first’s based on leveling exploits, they will release the raid difficulties for 6.0 in a staggered state as well. This means Mythic won’t be unlockable until week 3 of WoD, but any group can go right in!
That does pose me the conundrum of what route to take though! Should we wait until we have fully cleared Heroic anyway just for loot chances? Is it unfair to immediately discard those 10 extra people for the sake of progression? How hard with Mythic actually be in blues? Will it be likely that only cutting edge groups that intend to 2-3 heal will have enough DPS to complete the encounters? Only time shall tell!

There are also subtle reminders of important topics such as the raid key allowing you to skip some bosses, as well as the fact that the second raid with the bulk of the tier bosses wont release until “a number of weeks” have passed. Does this mean that most guilds will have a shot at clearing Highmaul before that, or will it be like MSV where only 3 weeks of the actual difficulty will be attainable before the real content comes out? More ponderous notes!

6.0 Pre WoD Announcements

Despite some really cool news coming out for the expansion’s content, we also learned some really interesting things about SoO’s final month and a half, especially surrounding heirlooms.

First off, we learned that 6.0 will be out for about 4-6 weeks prior to the actual expansions’ release allowing for adequate testing windows. This alone is exciting, as most pre-patches are not nearly this long. After you hear of all the features you will really be exited about this news as well!

Another insane change we are getting is a massive boost to the Garrosh Heirloom chances. Its a bit silly really, and makes me think that they just gave in to the crying children, but realistically its good that they waited. These weapons were actually really good pieces for a very long time, so if everyone was able to get them it could really make an impact. Now, with 6.0 prelaunch patch’s deployment, anyone who has not already gotten an heirloom will immediately get one upon killing Garrosh. Also, the subsequent ones have been dramatically increased as well. But with this, there is a caveat! The winged concept of Flex difficulty as it is now is going away with 6.0 as well! This means, by my assumptions, that in order to get a chance at Garrosh you will need to complete a full clear on the new “Normal” difficulty. Maybe I’m wrong though, we will see.

With that news on the table, its then important to note that these heirlooms as drops will be removed come WoD Launch, making them available at this intense drop rate for between 4-6 weeks as noted earlier. Its important that this happen, but I’m sure many don’t understand why. It is rumored that these weapons may potentially be BIS pre Mythic for any players that have them, making SoO something people would want to do at 100 as well. This is NOT something that needs to transpire, so therefore they are removed.
As you also would expect, the Korkron Juggernaut will also change from a certain drop on Heroic to a small chance, akin to Invincible’s Reins or Pureblood Firehawk.
It too should be noted that the Ahead of the Curve achievements will be gone once 6.0 drops, meaning the Kor’kron War Wolf will be unattainable. Hopefully everyone has that by now who wants it though.

The final big piece of news we received is that the new Group Finder tool will indeed be in and work for anything you wish it to. Unfortunately, Challenge Modes will be gone, but it can be used for organizing groups of all different sorts, including Normal or Heroic SoO… or even Mythic if you have the stomach for that! Of course, since they all now have exclusive lock outs, it will be much tougher for pugs to mix and match boss kills as they used to. Regardless, this will be an AMAZING change for the game, and should work extremely well, especially for when WoD comes out with new Challenge Mode dungeons.

 

Anyway, that is that. In terms of news, it was a happening weekend, but hopefully it continues along this trend and we get even more shortly! If you keep hoping for Beta it will eventually come true :D

WoW Stratics Podcast #5 – UK WoW Service Price Changes

wowthumbpotato

Recently Blizzard revealed that World of Warcraft would see price changes to services for players living within the United Kingdom. With many of the prices going up by one or two Pounds (GBP), we thought it would be a good time to address this change and what it means for both those affected AND those in other regions. It’s a change that could affect you in the near future and ultimately be a vision of things to come. For a full list of the changes please check it out the following link :

http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/10368429470?page=1

 

Do YOU want to be a guest on the show? Have some questions that you want answered on the Podcast? Drop us a line @ Meoni@stratics.com. We are currently working towards making the podcast a much more focused venture and would like to include the community we do reach in this building process. With your help we can shape the WoW.Stratics podcast into something tailored to what YOU want to listen to, and grow it to new audiences. So don’t hesitate! Ask away.

Is ‘Azeroth Choppers’ a Waste of time?

chopthis

amazing

By now you will have all probably seen Blizzard Entertainment’s recent venture into reality television; Azeroth Choppers. A show with one goal in mind; to create a real-life motorcycle based on in-game themes for both the Horde and the Alliance. The bikes will be voted on, presumably towards the later stages or end of the show, with the bike generating the most votes by viewers getting immortalised within World of Warcraft for the winning faction as in in-game mount.

So, as the title may reveal, im worried if this is in some way a distraction for a much greater issue ahead of us. The estimated time between now and the next expansion / patch will surely prevent the game from being as enjoyable for those who have already cleared progression bosses by this late stage in the expansion. We get information at Blizzcon that Warlords of Draenor will be arriving “a lot sooner than many people expect.” Well, that’s great news, but honestly with a possible October release of the expansion and the testing process not even past internal company Alpha stages at this time, it could be a very long wait and ultimately tedious time to play.

The major lack of content has previously been my one major complaint for World of Warcraft, but then on the other side im trying to be patient. If you remember, or are unaware, the previous attempt to create filler content between expansions resulted in Ruby Sanctum. The Ruby Sanctum was arguably a good raid instance, however provided only one boss for raiders to encounter and definitely felt ‘tacked on’ to an expansion that had previously seen one of the most memorable and enjoyable raid instances; Icecrown Citadel. Where my patience runs out somewhat is when we have a lack of information on the project that matters and instead see a reality television show with questionable intentions brought out of nowhere instead of the information we all want to hear.

Azeroth Choppers is a very high production value piece of media entertainment and that comes across clearly in each episodes editing. The opening scenes are fully animated with bikes roaring through Azeroth to a ‘bad-ass’ rock soundtrack, the camera cuts are akin to those seen on high-end reality television shows and the general idea on paper at least is actually quite a cool concept. The problem then comes with both the length of each episode , the understanding that this is a concept brought to light to fill time AND how the ‘contest’ itself will be received by the actual players of the game.

product

Firstly lets evaluate the time aspect of the show, since this is the more irritating aspect of the show for me personally. The latest episode reached just over seven minutes, which would ultimately be acceptable were there actual content portrayed within each minute, however it consisted of endless recap of the same question or situation played over and over. It was almost as if every full minute of video there had been some unseen AD break and the show was recapping for those who had just tuned in. As far as I can tell, the show is published only on youtube and embedded as an internet tv show via episodes on the official Blizzard website. The whole ‘series’ if you want to call it that will presumably continue this timeframe for each episode, with the list of all the expected episodes shown on the official website, numbering only 8 episodes. Maths has never been my strong point, and im infact numerically dyslexic yet even I can calculate that would only mean on average, even if every episode was as long as the longest out so far (9 minutes of length) then we are only going to see 72 minutes of actual series. Another aspect which was brought up recently in discussion with people in my WoW guild was that this is already pre-filmed. Clearly in the previous episode you can see snow on the ground in the area of the workshop, however the snow has been vacant from that actual area for over a month. Considering they only had ‘5’ days to build the bikes, that would mean that they have both already been built. So the question is, why string it out into such small episodic content? Why not just put 3-4 episodes up of a decent length. The show itself suffers from over-editing and definitely would benefit from being 15-20 minutes in length, then perhaps we could avoid the speculation on what the ‘good news’ and ‘bad news’ actually is in the same episode, instead of asking that same question for 9 minutes only to find out in the first 2 seconds the following week.

lolstore

Imagine If This Happened…

Next lets look at the actual concept of the competition, or contest part of all this. The idea is to create in-game mounts which players will get presumably for free as a result of that particular bike winning enough votes, and the other bike will NOT be included in the game. These two bikes are faction based, so If I play Horde and the Alliance chopper wins the contest I cannot get that bike for my character in game. Here’s the problem with all that; The community in and around World of Warcraft like to be vocal about many aspects of the game, more noticeably than anything else is the endless “Blizzard favours Horde over Alliance” or similar biased statements that usually result in a preverbal ‘Shit-Storm’ on the official game forums and affiliate fan sites. If then you take that into context, and expect the community to react well to the winning bike going to either faction, and not their own, im pretty sure I don’t have to break out the calculator again to tell you what will happen. Now I have talked for hours with fellow guild members and other Stratics members to guage their opinions and predictions and I think its fair to say that everyone predicts significant whinging and a fairly negative atmosphere in response to whoever wins. One such thought is that perhaps the winning bike will be put into the game for the respective winning faction for free, and that the other bike WILL also be put in, BUT will cost people of that faction IRL money to purchase from the in-game store. How better to increase profit from such an expensive and time consuming project than to sell the losing teams bike alongside other designed store mounts.

Finally there is the filler aspect, and the fact that this is taking attention away from the game itself. The Mists of Pandaria expansion is all but over, with no plans to make new raid content between now and Warlords of Draenor’s release, the following months are going to be fairly unproductive for many players, and could cause numbers of subscribers to drop again quite significantly until the next expansion. Personally I feel that no matter how little in size the show is, or however stretched out and terrible it actually is, can actually be seen as nothing more than wasted assets and time that could possibly have been used to expand on something more fitting in-game. Seeing a 7 minute long show each week for 8 weeks doesn’t make me any more interested in logging into WoW, but then im not sure if anything would, short of something fantastic in game that the whole guild could do, like say old scaled raids or something. Either way, I feel that the idea, concept and execution of Azeroth Choppers is not ideally suited to the game we play, nor is it something that I would like to see repeated in the future. Whats next?! ‘Azeroth Zoo Keepers’?! ( A show where Blizzard staff try to breed a new form of animal IRL and add it to the game) or even better, how about ‘Azerothian Cupcakes’ ( A show where Blizzard staff design their own faction related cupcakes, the winning faction gets customized mana food for mages and food buff tables for the tier.)

I decided to create a piece of Machinimation, a parody based on Azeroth Choppers. I think the result is almost as good, if not better than the real thing. Enjoy! :)

If you have enjoyed this article or have YOUR OWN ideas for the next big Blizzard waste of… I mean.. Contest, drop by our forums and drop us a line!

LFR Loot Changes – Are you FOR or AGAINST?

LFR changes

I wrote about this topic as news a few days back and thought nothing of it. When I read the change, I immediately thought “Hey that’s smart, its better for everyone involved now!”
I then went on my merry way, made some lunch, drank a beer or two and never thought about it again…

Until recently, that is. Then I opened my eyes and saw alllll the massive posts on the official forums, and on every fan site under the moon. That is around the time that my confusion began.

So how do you guys feel about this? I’m typically not one to bash on LFR because I recognize its place in the game, but the fact that so many people suddenly want its purpose to be more than it should really gets my blood hot.

To recap, LFR will now have gear that is not equatable to the actual raid drops, meaning no tier set bonuses or trinkets or the like. Instead, it will be an alternative to 5 man heroics for the casual players looking to see the content, but still faceroll it and get some gear on the side.
When I say the word “faceroll” along side the word “gear,” do you think this change is bad? How could you? This is the way it should have been from the start, and here is exactly why.

When you have tier set bonuses and trinkets in LFR it opens up a lot of player’s eyes towards their availability. Imagine the first month of WoD, the four set for Resto Shaman is just mandatory. So good that it makes everything else seem weak, as is often the case for the first tier of a new expansion. People will then be near forced to run every difficulty under the sun just to get the set bonus, no matter the item level of the pieces. This creates the constant instability that rests with the first month or two, as people are scrambling to replace blues as fast as possible in order to push Mythic progression, and growing frustrated with many of the game’s systems. (A clear example of this was with Dailies in MoP!)

Another evident benefit of this change is funneling more people into Flexible difficulties now known as “Normal” and “Heroic.” The goal of the end game PVE model has always been progression, and LFR had its role in that until Flex came out and usurped it. It made it so LFR’s item level gear was completely by-passable and people would simply start with Flex when gearing up, but continue to do LFR to control their fate a bit more. This led to more petty grievances with LFR popping up by the week, chock full of the typical name calling and flame that you would expect. The more LFR goes down this path, the worse it gets, essentially being devoid of its true purpose, which is to help casual players see the content as their own pace. When a majority of the players in there are all immature self-entitled children, who really wins with those arguments?

So realistically, funneling people into Flex will be of great benefit to everyone involved, at least in my eyes! Now, players who only care to see the content, not have any challenge associated with it, can continue to spend their time in LFR. Those who are interested in good gear and character progression will work towards doing the new “Normal” difficulty, and likely fuel interest into further progression. This helps everyone involved, by adding more pool for recruitment for guilds building from 10 to 20 for mythic, as well as revitalizing the raiding scene and eliminating the stigma that its become too easy just because of one difficulty.

So if you are actually upset about these gear changes to LFR, what is your argument? I really can’t even think of one that makes much sense to me.

Facts are, if you are doing LFR weekly, you are doing it because you want to. If you are choosing to do this difficulty at the moment you know what comes with it. Near irrelevant gear comparatively, essentially no challenge, and a lot of impatience.

What changes in WoD? I’d imagine they make it even easier now. But what else?
Slightly less relevant gear? Marginally so, but even if that’s the case, does it actually matter? Even now, if you want good gear, you do Flex. It drops significantly higher item level gear and really is in no way challenging unless you have your brain on the table instead of in your skull.
I just haven’t seen a single facet of any argument have anything relevant to say here, yet soooo many people seem to be up in arms about this topic.

You can still do LFR friends, no reason to get so upset! Really, nothing changes except a small quality of life concern for those raiding at the highest level.
There are no even unique models for LFR gear, something that could not be said with SoO!

But anyway, what do you think? Let’s hear about your thoughts in the forums!
Get the conversation started over at http://stratics.com/community/threads/lfr-loot-changes-are-you-for-or-against.315398/

 

25H Paragons of the Klaxxi – Metro’s Healing Guide!

paragonsoftheklaxxi

Welcome to Metro’s 25 man Heroic Healing guides for the Siege of Orgrimmar!
It is important to understand that these guides are first aimed at helping healers understand their role, and then helping them maximize their play.
Each will feature a general overview of the mechanics that matter to the healers, and conclude with a class-specific discussion. Let’s begin!

I wasn't joking, its really quite buggy.

I wasn’t joking, its really quite buggy.

Understanding the encounter –

Before we go anywhere, understand this fight is nuts. I’m going to explain all the mechanics, because none of them really effect healing directly, but everyone needs to be aware of them, especially the healers. If you don’t know exactly what one does, it will wipe you, so as a player who chose the healing role, it’s also your job.
Also, this guide will be extremely long, so feel free to skim through each section on the bosses and ask questions on the forums if needed. This fight is difficult because how everything pieces together, so it’s important to know it all.

To understand this fight is to realize that there are a LOT of different mechanics. I mean an absolute ton. Literally dozens and they can all kill you. Luckily, you’ll quickly realize that they all happen on very strict timers, so if you handle things properly this fight will appear a lot more basic after some progression.

The most important piece of wisdom I can lend is to make sure all 25 members of your raid are alert and aware of each combination of mechanics. They often overlap and happen 2 at a time, so if you aren’t paying attention to both you will certainly die to one. It should be stated again that with this enrage, if you have to blow 3 rezzes early, you might as well just wipe it, once you have completed the learning progression of course. There are just too many ways to die late to afford those early deaths!

Understanding the Healer’s Role –

The healer plays the innocent bystander on this encounter, much to both my dismay and enjoyment. It is a REALLY easy encounter as a healer, and I’d go so far as to say the easiest of the entire last half. I mean compared to Thok, this is snooze mode. But I suppose that’s a horrible way to preface the second most difficult encounter in the expansion, huh?

Let’s talk truths now. There are a handful of mechanics that can be survived if healed up, and there are handfuls that cannot be survived no matter what you do. In order to properly address this encounter and account for all different strategies, it will be best if we break down each mechanic, discuss how its handled by our group, discuss how its effects healers, and then conclude with ways it may interfere with other mechanics. Feel free to skip around to the difficult parts if needed!

  1. Skeer the Blood Dude:

Is our first target. Only real mechanic is Bloodletting. First set has to be forced to another boss, and second set needs to be controlled before they get to him. Paladin, Shaman, and Monk healers can all play a role in this by stunning, slowing, or rooting them. He dies first so nothing else matters. Just heal the tank.

  1. Rik’kal the whatever:

Rik’kal is the second target of our raid, and this means is mechanics will happen for two boss lives as he is down from the start. The Mutate: Amber Scorpion is the most important so let’s discuss that first. It’s going to pick three players each time to transform into a scorpion. As a healer, we are immune, luckily, but not immune to its downstream effects. When a player is turned, they deal a small pulse of damage to every around them, and often times this deals a TON of damage, especially if it picks 2-3 melee. If it picks 3, its near death every time. It’s so difficult to avoid, it’s really frustrating. Hopefully your health pools are quite high by now and it can be mitigated with random shielding, but either way, be prepared to heal the three targets up, as they will continue to be susceptible to extra damage.

Next mechanic of his is the Injection and subsequent Amber parasites. They come out three times for us, and this means that 6 people will be taking high physical damage quite often. The best way to handle this as a healer is to prevent the damage instead of heal through it – a theme that this raid has done well on capitalizing on. You can stun, interrupt, fear, root, or knock back and you will have relieved a LOT of damage. The most important thing to do is to prevent their channeled Feed cast. If you have a way to do it, you must. Otherwise, add Feed to your UI’s buff watch.
Spell ID: 143362
This will let you know when someone is taking the damage, then you can prevent the cast in some way.

Since Rik’kal is the second boss, none of his abilities actually interfere with others. Only thing you need to be aware of is the potential need to stop DPS and prevent as much damage from the scorpions and feed as possible.

  1. Korven the Lame:

This will be the third target, but comes down as soon as he is killed, so his mechanics will only happen for one boss life. He has two abilities that effect the Healers, but it’s important to make sure your group knows how to split damage to handle the Encase in Amber mechanic. If it’s the first time you are hearing this, make sure you bring it up!

The first thing you need to worry about is Shield Bash and the damage it will present. Its tied in with Vicious Assault so in terms of tank damage, let’s examine them as a whole first. The way we handle the mechanic is simply to eat the damage, and then swap tanks afterwards. Otherwise, he is cleaving in random directions and it turns quickly into a big mess. In order to facilitate this, it’s just big heals. Our tanks use their CDs and then call for external if they need.

The Vicious Assault also has a complication with it that, to my knowledge, it not intended. For some reason, this mechanic CONSTANTLY hits the melee who are behind the boss. I know what you are thinking, and trust me we have tried. Everyone is at max melee hitbox, and allll stacked up, yet every pull, 1 person gets hit while all the other melee do not. It’s obviously some type of glitch, but it’s something you should prepare for if it’s unavoidable. The way I handle it is simply to spam the melee with shields before it’s about to happen, to pad the damage. Otherwise, you can actually coordinate CDs like spirit shell or bubble if it’s an issue. These abilities will be up before you need them again

The boss is only out for one life, but his mechanics can result in a complication between Hisek, who has yet to be discussed. When Hisek chooses an Aim target, if its melee, and they are attacking Korven while he is doing his assault, they will die 100 percent of the time it lines up this way. There is no saving them, as they will take all 6 slashes, not just 1 random one. The best option to resolve this is just have them stand to one side of the boss and have him pointed the other way. It’s all very luck-driven though, so just be ready for it.

I'll think twice before helping random quest mobs!

I’ll think twice before helping random quest mobs!

  1. Hisek the Sharpshooter:

Hisek is our fourth target, but starts the encounter active, therefore his abilities will happen for the duration of 4 lifes, the most dangerous being his own. He has three abilities, one being Multi-shot which cannot be controlled, but will put pressure on the group as its very likely that everyone will be clumped up in the start. Just always be AOE healing, and it’s a non-issue.

The next mechanic is Rapid Fire, which really gave our group fits, but realistically should also be a non-issue. It’s heavily complicated by other mechanics, however, but from a healing perspective this is one that if the player gets hit they die. There is no saving. We will discuss the complications after we examine Aim.

Aim is without question the most disruptive mechanic in the first 4 boss’s lives, and will REALLY pressure your healers if not handled properly. It chooses a target, and will do an INCREDIBLE amount of damage to them, but will be split to anyone standing in the line connecting the two. Five people + the aimed person are recommended as a minimum to split, but it can’t just be any players. Even with 6, that still means 700k+ damage to each, therefore they need to be certain classes that can take that damage. Mages, Warlocks, Rogues, and Monks are the only real options, but Shadow Priests can go as well if they have dispersion available. This is extremely important as the healer to recognize, because you need to be cautious of each effected player and give them some pre-shielding to pad, or heal them to full before they go in, then heal them up again quickly after it’s over, especially if they Cauterized as Mages. Another huge issue is the likelihood that one of these people will get selected, or die. Because of this, we have around 8-9 people responsible for it, but that’s on your general strategy, just mentioning it to alert healers to the potential.
Before we finalize the discussion, also be aware that you can use any ability that takes you off the combat table to escape the aim. Spectral Guise for Priests is the only healing spec that has one, but between mages, rogues, and hunters, you should have a large portion of your raid able to avoid ever having to soak it.

Both Aim and Rapid Fire can become extremely complicated by both mechanics Ka’roz does. He is the final kill, but has some really important mechanics, so make sure whoever is calling these things out is loud and clear. If Aim happens with a Whirl, be prepared to see some ranged get in serious trouble. If Rapid Fire happens with Hurl Amber, be prepared to see some ticks of magic damage go out from the puddles! They both overlap once each with our current strategy.

  1. Xaril the Colorful:

This is our fifth kill, and he is killed as soon as he is down so his extremely dangerous abilities will only happen for one boss life. Also, you should note that this is where we use Bloodlust, Second potions, and line up Skull Banners with Hisek’s death gift known as Compound Eye. If used by a ranged DPS, it makes the boss take 15 percent more damage for 10 seconds as well as doing a lot of damage. Use all these things to your advantage, and if you are lucky, you will only see one mechanic.

The mechanic set he possess is simple, but its combination is what makes it absolutely lethal. The mechanic is known as Catalyst, and happens in two steps. Firstly, he assigns each player a color. The next step is the toxin that is distributed, but it’s COMPLETELY different than it was on Normal, so let’s take a moment to learn each now.

Purple Reaction – Least deadly, should do zero damage unless player is DCed or colorblind. Have them run in a small circle and then make a Q shape at the last second. Only healing complication is that it should be ran far away from the other mechanics, so you may be out of range of tanks. Effects players with Red or Blue selection.

Orange Reaction – Middle of the pack, worry-wise, but if handled should also do zero damage. Expands a ring of death a few yards in a 360 degree area from the target when the toxin reaches them. Need all players to run far away so the whole raid isn’t in jeopardy. Melee have it the hardest, so be ready to heal them up quickly, especially if a tank gets it. Effects Yellow and Red selected players.

Green Reaction – Most retarded idea for a mechanic ever, and if you get it on this encounter, you are really pressured for the remainder. All targets effected place a small green cloud under them, which roams randomly and deals damage over time to anyone who gets in it, even for a second. This is the only one that should be an issue, so if you see it go out, be ready to heal the life out of the melee. The clouds do as they please, especially later on, and will just wander right into the tank or melee pile and make things ridiculously harder. Soaking them really isn’t an option, despite the journal entry.

We are fortunate to have enough burst dps to only see one set of mechanics, if everyone utilizes Lust, banners, totems, and the Compound eye along with their second potion. We 6 heal as well, while many groups want to 5 heal this fight. If you are lucky, you will never see green.

Since this only happens once, it’s unlikely it will be complicated by anything else, but it is possible the Hurl Amber may do so. If this is the case, you just have to hope you are in good position to dodge both at once, especially if it was just Orange reaction. This is why this phase is so difficult though.

  1. Kaz’tik the Bug Gym Leader:

KOOCHONGS! Actually, its spelled Kunchongs, but regardless, this is our 6th kill. He does nothing. His bugs do a LOT though. Obviously, if someone is too close to the bug, they die and it’s a wipe pretty much, as not only did you lose a player, but now you have to quickly burst down a bug before you lose more. Just don’t let this happen. Call out players that aren’t paying attention.

We will mention Sonic Projection, as it says in the journal that it picks a random player to fire at, but to my experience, it certainly does NOT. It just fires in the direction he is facing. If he turns to do something else, it will fire at the group, but otherwise, it just shoots at the tank, and they can dodge it if they are active. Either way, if it hits a player it will nearly 1-shot them, so be ready to heal them up quickly.

The only real mechanic is the Mesmerize that forces you to fixate on a bug and walk towards them. Once again, Spectral Guide etc can be used to break this. However, it you should have to deal with it, be ready to pump all healing into that target asap. They will immediately be marked with a star, and could use anything you can afford to give them, even an external.
Another really useful trick is to life grip them away if they are too close. Since there are three bugs and we are all spread out, it’s pretty likely that the one you target may be one closest to you, but if you get lucky, it will always be one across the room. Either way, heal em up!

The only real complication here is blindness. When the Hurl Amber comes out, you just see people moving for no reason, and quite often, this causes them to run into a bug and get eaten. Just stay calmmmm guys. Nothing about this is the healers fault though, so hopefully you don’t have to worry.

  1. Iyyokuk the Mentally Unstable:

It’s the finallll count down! WOOO you have reached the last three bosses, as this is our 7th kill, but is out for three life spans. This seems dangerous at first, but we found we had way more issues with the Kunchongs than we did simply healing through the fire, so we just elected to make a healing rotation, and worry about him later on.

Paragons

Our Spread. Feel free to edit as your needs see fit.

I have no idea what any of his mechanics mean or how the whole selection process works, but it really doesn’t matter. Refer to the chart to see how we handle our Fiery Edge phases. We account for 9-10, but if you have strong DPS you should only see 8 using this strategy.

Also, account for Diminish. It can ruin you, but realistically, it shouldn’t be a concern. It will execute anyone low enough, so if you ever see someone sitting low, do anything in your power to heal them up immediately.

The fire complicates every other mechanic, and the Whirl, Amber, and various forms of spreading out make this even more difficult. The main reason, is people are trying to avoid the beams if they don’t have them, but forced movement forces even more movement. Just be preemptive with raid CDs and you shouldn’t have many issues. Hopefully this is where you will use your rezzes, so realistically, a few deaths aren’t that big of a deal.

  1. Kil’ruk I’m so Sick of Abilities that Force me to move:

If you are on this boss, it’s pretty much over unless you have like 7 people alive. This boss will still present some issues though, so let’s examine them.

Long story short, at this point, the tanks will be getting absolutely obliterated. Luckily, with Iyyokuk dead, there shouldn’t be any other damage going out aside from him. Keep the tanks alive at ALL costs here, because if they don’t survive, and you do hit the enrage, you probably won’t survive it.

Death from Above is tough to dodge, but shouldn’t 1-shot you. The only real option is to anticipate it and run before he jumps. Otherwise, it’s a non-factor. Just keep moving and hope players live.

Reave is the only thing that really sucks here. It does do a lot of damage, and can be a big pain if you aren’t noticing it. He will be down from the last few kills, so just be careful of the other mechanics out and don’t get dragged through them.

  1. Ka’roz the Pest:

This boss is the last kill, but is actually out since the first boss goes down, like 45 seconds into this 12 minute encounter. Because of this, his mechanics are extremely potent by the end, but luckily they are all 100 percent avoidable. They do, however, cause the most disruption with other mechanics, so its important we are aware of them and how they work.

The first one is called Flash and Whirl, depending on which you consider the actual mechanic. He will charge around at players and leave some greenish trail behind him indicating how insanely fast this man is, or something like that. That trail, if stood in it, will stun you next time he charges, which is just a second after. So all you have to do its move out of it, by strafing left or right! Easy!
Problem is, it’s extremely common for him to simply charge the same direction, just back the other way this time, meaning there are two lines right next to each other, causing you to move from one right into the other. This means you have to move again, and by that time, another mechanic has likely happened, and now you are either stunned or dead. RIP

Luckily for you, the debuff you get from being stuck, can be removed with Blessing of Protection! In order to make this easier, add the spell ID – 143701 to your frames, and then you will see when anyone is hit by them. Even if you aren’t a paladin healer, you should still be aware of this. Not knowing means them dying likely, but being aware may mean saving their life!

This mechanic is the main complicating factor in the encounter, and will happen with pretty much every other one out there. The biggest issue is after Korven dies, he does a flash and Hisek does Rapid Fire while everyone is heading to their spread locations. We almost always lose some one here, but the more you do the fight the better you’ll get at it. It’s also really handy that Rapid Fire is physical, because if someone DOES get stuck, they can be bopped and wont risk dying to either. This also complicates Fiery Edge and Aim quite severely, as already discussed.

The other mechanic he does is called Hurl Amber. It’s highly telegraphed, as he will fly up in the air, then leap down and throw the amber at a spot on the ground. This spot will also have a tell, a spurt of orange goo from the location. There will be three of these, so make sure you move as a raid when stacked up, and individually when spread. This mechanic will eventually grow so strong that 1 tick of it will be near instant death, especially if you aren’t prepared, so towards the end if you aren’t paying attention to it, you will wipe the group.

It’s complicated once again by pretty much every other mechanic, especially Rapid Fire and Reave, but also the Colored Reactions from Xaril. Having to move from two things at once is always tricky, especially when they are both in separate patterns.

TLDR Recap

Well that’s it, that’s the entire fight. I’ll try to quickly summarize everything you need to know as a healer.

parangonHDTanks will get trucked, throughout entire encounter. Use stuns, interrupts, fears and roots to help handle the parasites and the Bloods when they spawn. Every time Aim happens, focus healing on the soakers. Use pre-determined healing CD rotation to make Fiery Edge a non-factor. Focus healing on target of Mesmerize to prevent them from dying as they head towards kunchong. Don’t panic, and keep the tanks alive at all costs until the end!

Only other thing to remember is using BoP on those stuck in Whirl, Lifegrip those with mesmerize fixation, and use Spectral Guise if you are targeted with aim or mesmerize yourself. Otherwise, just heal people who need it and pray everyone dodges all the mecanics!

As always, this guide is from the perspective of a Holy Paladin in 25 man heroic raid leadership perspective. Experience is limited when it comes to priest and monk healers, so if you have input feel free to join the conversation! Otherwise, if you have any questions feel free to ask! Enjoy SoO!

 

 

Play Like a Pro! – Prot Warrior Weak Aura / Information!

Z57ril

Hello and welcome to our newest series inspired by our third Podcast (http://wow.stratics.com/interviews/wow-stratics-podcast-3-spotlight-disadvantaged-gamers/) where Metro discusses how simple UI elements can make a world of difference and helps players looking to take their character to the next level do just that. As mentioned in the Podcast, if you aren’t playing with proper Keybinds, Macros, or Addons, you might as well be missing a hand compared to players who are! These guides will be focused on players who already understand the class/spec and are looking to elevate their game to the next level. The experience I have with each spec is almost purely through Challenge Mode dungeons, and can say these design elements can make or break your play and will tell you if / when you are ready for that next step. Let’s get started!

Today we venture into the iniquities of the Protection Warrior Spec and discuss how a few simply, but incredibly useful Weak Auras can do WONDERS to improve your awareness and play overall!

Now let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. The first thing some one like you needs to understand about this spec is that is it NOT the prot warrior from Classic and TBC. By no far stretch are the two even similar, other than names of abilities. Everything back then was about keeping threat and dumping rage to do so. Now, its the exact opposite. All your threat should be managed to keep your self alive, and your CDs will do the rest of the work. The life of a Protection warrior is still very versatile, having options to do INSANE amounts of damage, but sacrifice survivability resource-spending. Both options have their merits, and regardless of which line you walk, this set up will help you do so.

With this in mind, let’s examine the screenshot below.

Click to Enlarge!

You’ll see a lot of action immediately here, but unless you are completely new to the class, it should be pretty obvious what most things are pointing towards. I’d equate this one similar to the Frost Mage guide I published earlier in that its goal is to help you track your many abilities, allowing you to keep your eyes on the more important aspects. Let’s break things down on a macro scale to help you understand each part.

Before we do so, understand that with this set up, it is all part of one big group. Take a moment to read through the description, and return here to import the string once you are comfortable. Once you do, the entire set up will appear as it does in the image above!
Import from Pastebin: http://pastebin.com/eDHxvbSw

Individual Component Explanation -

Main Bar:

Main Bar

If you only pay attention to these icons, you will still be doing a great job. Understanding why is hopefully obvious once you play the class, but if not, let’s walk through it.

On the further left, we see the Skull Banner Icon. Unfortunately, this ability will be removed in 6.0, but until then, its extremely important. The set up details not only the CD and usage of the icon, but WHO in the group or raid dropped it. This is extremely important, as if you have more than 1 warrior in the group, you should regard this as mandatory. Otherwise, expect to be overlapping, and that simply will lead to intense sub-optimization.  If you’d like JUST this string for your own set up, feel free to do so.

Skull Banner Single Aura + Raid Member Text: http://pastebin.com/TishvDjV

Next to the skull banner icon, we see the CD and timer for Commanding Shout. This should be used on CD as a rage generator, or saved a few seconds to line up a full rage bar when expecting big damage. If you only ever use it when its on CD, you will still be doing just fine in nearly all content.

In the middle, we see two large icons. These are your Go-to rage generators and have CDs that procs refresh. Because of this, the icons are extremely important, and will flash to alert you of their refreshing. These abilities also need to be used on CD. Avoid saving them, as its very possible you may be wasting another potential proc if you sit on them.

On the right side, the first icon we see is currently Bladestorm’s CD, but has the potential to change dynamically based on which talent you choose. This is incredibly important, as in 5 man content, you NEED to be using Shockwave on CD, or around other diminishing returns. You can also benefit from seeing Bladestorm’s CD so you know when to spin to win!

The final one on the right is the CD and usage of Demo shout. This is essentially your best reduction CD as it reduces all damage taken by mobs within 10 yards by 20 percent. Realize this has to apply to the mobs for it to work, and if you just use it with nothing around, the CD will incur and tick on the aura, but no benefit would have been achieved.

Bottom Bar:

CD Bar

This bar is simply for your benefit, and will provide a few key timers to help you improve your awareness.

From the left, we see the Enrage icon. Remember, its important to understand that enrage procs from crits of Devastate and Shield Slam, which gives you even more rage and makes you do more damage. A great warrior will use this to his benefit, as riposte gives crit, crit gives enrage, and enrage gives rage + damage. Maximizing this can lead to you doing millions of damage, all while easily staying alive with rolling block and shields.

Next is the Second Wind icon, simply to indicate when it is healing you. This means you are low health, so it doubles as a health indicator.

Third from the left is the CD and usage for Rallying Cry, followed by its partner Last Stand. Just another cd tracker, so pay attention to it!

Second on the right is the Recklessness usage and CD, once again as basic as it gets. Just for your benefit of knowing! The more you play this character though, the better you’ll get at understanding exactly when you doing damage is good for the group.

Final one on that line is for Shield Block, a useful icon that helps you know when the usage is expired or available again.

Rage + Bar:

Rage +

This one is a bit less obvious, so let’s delve into what we are seeing here.

First of all, this is four auras put into one small area for your benefit. There are three colored bars total, but you only see 3, for a specific reason.
The easiest to identify immediately is the White bar at the top. This shows the duration of your Block coming from Shield Block usage, and will help you manage your down time around it. Pretty easy to lose track of, and if you never do this, don’t feel you are letting anyone down. Just a level of optimization that can go a long way if noticed.

On the bottom, we then see the Green bar. This is your vengeance, and will help you track how much you have. This is also a level of optimization most players won’t conceive, and without much loss. It can help if you use it to your advantage though, thus it is there.

Now in the middle there are two bars. In the image, you see the Blue bar, which is the amount of your Shield Barrier ability. When not active, the bar is Red, and indicates your rage. The goal is, to never see it red! The reasoning behind this, is typically, you want to use rage on Barrier constantly, so in a time of burst damage and incoming damage, you simply keep it rolling. In the few seconds the absorb lasts, you can build enough rage for another supplement. Not only does this track the numbers and progress, but it gives an amazing visual indicator to help you know when you are doing things well. This is one of the finer points to mitigation as a warrior, so if you are struggling to keep spikey damage down, get better acquainted with this mechanic and Weak Aura.

Extra Procs:

Other stuff

These featured are regarded as a catch-all wrap up of other procs that might not fit elsewhere. The one on the left of center is to track Impeding Victory or Victory Rush. Extremely useful in 5 man content where there are lots of adds!

On the far right, you see Ultimatum proc, which helps you track and understand when to use your free Heroic Strike or Cleave. Should be looked at as free damage, no point in passing it up!

In the middle / bottom, you see the Meta gem proc. This can be pretty useful to track, but if you do not possess it, it simply will never appear.

Finally, the top of the image portrays the word “Reflected”. This helps indicate when you successfully reflect a spell with Spell Reflection. Can be very useful, if only for peice of mind. One area it immediately comes to mind for is the first pull in Shado-pan Monestary Challenge Mode. You can reflect the stun they do! What a great feeling that is!

Level 30 Healing Talent Discussion:

One final thing that we should discuss before we go our separate ways is the different options in this tier. Many people see Second Wind as mandatory, and others see it as useless, but I’ll explain the pros and cons of both sides, and weigh the choices that remain.

Its actually quite simple, at least in my eyes! Second Wind is a raid talent purely. In raids, its really not uncommon for the tank to sit at 50 percent or lower heath, often dropping even lower to 30 percent. Second Wind can very often save the life of the tank, without any effort put in.

However, in 5 man content, this should be quite the opposite. Especially in Challenge Modes, if you are that low, you are either dead, or saved back to full immediately. There is no spread healing, so every second you should receive attention. From my personal experience, I have never once been that low that I couldn’t immediately heal my self back up with Impending Victory, or could of survived no matter what healing I had. Because CD usage is much more preventative than reactionary, I find no need for Second Wind in Challenge mode or smaller group content.

Its then down to Enraged Regen and Impending Victory. I choose IV because of its ability to be used as an on demand heal on a moderate CD, something warriors need very badly. You’ll find it really useful when doing Challenge Modes, especially on bosses. The spell turns into another reliable defensive CD, much like a Paladin would have!

Enraged Regeneration is quite useless to me, at least from what I’ve seen. Its strength is the potential 20 percent regeneration over time after the intial, but once again, you either need the healing now or death, or you are over healing with this. The only time I can see it useful is in 25 man heroic raiding, but once again, Second Wind gets my vote there because of massive health pools and saving power without button usage.

 

Well that’s everything, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the forum attached to this topic, or contact me in game.
As always, I am not fluent in the program, and usually find people who ARE fluent and modify their work. This Aura string was devised by a brilliant person and moderator over at MMOchampion, known as Clampy. I encourage you guys to check out his thread on the topic and let him know you were referred to him by Metro from WoW Stratics!

It’s important to remember that you are the best person to help yourself improve, but with tools and help from those already experienced you can transform yourself into a top-tier player near instantly.

Discuss this Topic at:
Stratics Forums Thread!
See the set-up in action:
Youtube Video!
Check out my Warrior’s Armory:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/firetree/Precussion/advanced
Download Weak Auras Two:
http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/weakauras-2

@BlizzHeroes Announces New Hero Week

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 11.06.18 AM

Heroes of the Storm (HotS) Blizzard team announced via their Twitter handle (@BlizzHeroes) that this week will feature the new hero Li Li. Labeled, #LiLiWeek, HotS will release all news based upon this new hero.  I will be breaking down the unveiling of Li Li all week, so check back later this week for more information!

~Krushed