Friday, April 23, 2010

It's All About the Damage Baby

Maximizing your DPS
There are a few things I have learned relatively recently that I'd like to share. Some of these will have a decidedly warlock twist but you'll just have to put up with it.

Clipping DoT's is the term for casting a damage over time (DoT) spell or ability onto your target before the previous one has finished its complete damage cycle. I was amazed at the change I saw in my dps when I started paying attention to my ticks. A tick is how often a DoT does damage or when a DoT does damage. Not allowing your spells to fully complete a cycle on your target wastes your time and mana, and stops that spell from getting that last bit of damage out. It can also take valuable time away from casting other spells or abilities in the interim, or stacking on what you've just started.
Optimally you want to place your DoT back on the target just as it's wearing off. I am using a mod called in-line auras along with the built in bar timers that come with Bartender, and can see how much longer (in nice large easy to read numbers) each spell has left on it. The number displays right over the spell on my bar along with the GCD timer. Taking into consideration casting time, I will begin casting my next spell as the one that's on my target reaches 2 or 1 second left. For instant cast the time will differ of course. That will insure I get all the ticks out of my DoT and, if done correctly, will keep the damage flowing without missing a beat.

I had always heard about and looked at rotations and tended to follow one myself. Lately, while investigating more in-depth, I have seen a lot of information that leans more toward priorities rather than rotations. I first encountered this when I was looking for prot warrior information.
Since then I have seen it quite a bit and have come to believe that everyone functions on this system. Based on your spec, glyphs and what you may be wearing at any given time, spells and abilities change and fluctuate. Every change in gear can mean your timing changes. Perhaps you have more haste than hit or vice versa. That can make a big difference in how your rotation FEELS. And that is the key. Have an understanding of your spells enough to be able to make those subtle changes as you adapt to changes in your gear or your environment. This is where priority comes in. Priority becomes important when you get into the maintenance phase of your dps. What I mean by that is you're in the middle of a boss fight. You have applied your openers and are now in a state in which you maintain and increase your dps for the remainder of the fight. As DoT's end and fall off you are re-applying and then using some sort of maintenance spell in between your DoT's and your major abilities while they are on cool down. You make that decision based on what ability becomes available next and if more than one does, what priority those need to be re-applied in. Basically, your rotation is your opener. Your priority will determine your maintenance during the fight. This is of course barring other elements occurring during the fight such as moving out of the goo on the floor. Those elements will cause you to reevaluate your priorities during the fight.

This is twofold. First, if you have spells or abilities which benefit from each other you should know what those are and how they work. It is like buffing your spells. As an example this is my opening rotation for my lock.
Life Tap
Hit my trinket
Curse of Doom
And then I begin my maintenance with Incinerate
I have Glyph of Life Tap
Looking at all these elements you can see how they stack on top of each other. Life tap with the glyph converts spirit and buffs my spell power followed by popping the trink which adds even more. I then cast my DoT's which will tick with a greater intensity and CoD will time out with more damage. This will also boost my Immolate. Conflag damage will then get a boost off my Immolate. I have Glyph of Conflagrate which allows my Immolate to keep ticking, while the Conflag itself gives me burst damage and causes Backdraft to start. Backdraft gives me a haste boost going into the beginning of my maintenance phase. Basic priority then becomes which of these come up first, but stacking them correctly as they time out is what makes the difference. Usually this specific casting list comes up in my rotation every 2-2.5 minutes (taking into account reaction time), when my trinket goes off CD. In the mean time it is balancing which of these elements becomes available and stacking them appropriately. Life Tap is kept up continuously, as well as Immolate and Corruption (no clipping). In between is Conflag, Incinerate and Chaos Bolt when it becomes available. In that order to get the most from each spell.

The second part of this is the finish. If you've run in any kind of raid or large group and have been on vent you may have heard your Raid Leader suddenly shout out "Blow all Cool Downs!!". For the longest time I would look down at my spells and think "what cool downs, I'm in the middle of them all already.". For the most part this is true but I have begun potion stacking during the more intense portions of a boss fight or towards the end when your raid partners are dieing and you are racing against an enrage timer.
Once that call is made, as soon as I can I begin the above rotation again with the intention of maximizing everything available. This time along with the Life Tap and trinket I will also pop one of these potions; Wild Magic or Speed. I carry both with me. I also have begun stacking in Flame Cap. Since you can only pop one potion per fight I try my best not to use Health or Mana potions and when in a bind go for my Healthstone first. A Warlock should NEVER be without one.
Throwing in all 4 of my spell buffs; LT, Trink, Pot and Flame Cap followed by the additional haste and damage bonus with Conflag can be awesome. If you can time it on top of Shammy Heroism/Bloodlust you have a winning combination.
The "trick" is to get all the boosting items you can that will stack on top of each other. Flame Cap is a BC herb that I used to use but had dropped a long time ago thinking it was outdated. Truth is it still offers an additional 80SP that I didn't have before. Considering that my large damage spells are all flame based this was an obvious choice to include. It probably would not help anyone else except a Pyro Mage or possibly Elemental Shaman. In addition it is good for 1 minute and can be used again during a single fight after the CD. I can pump out a lot of spells in 1 minute :)

How do I do this?
Regardless of your dps class or spec these tips will help you get more out of your abilities. The first thing to do is to look at your talent trees. Read up on what tree you would like to pursue, then do some research on what talents will help you get the best out of that spec. I have always enjoyed Destro so I had to go out and find the best way to talent and play that spec.
A helpful beginner site is WoW Poplar. This site not only provides the most popular specs but the most popular glyphs, enchants and gems for each one. If you want to get into the number crunching try Elitist Jerks (EJ). If you want more class specific websites go to WoW Wiki. In the search box type in your class/spec such as Arcane Mage or Combat Rogue and down at the bottom of the page is usually a list of websites dedicated to that class or spec. I use The Warlock's Den to get into more class specific discussions.
Second, open up your talent tree. Mouse over and read what your talents do. Moreover, have an understanding of them. So often these days we race to 80, grab a spec that works and then expect to just play it. Without a basic knowledge of what you're doing and how each ability works and is applied you will fail. Case in point, I am horrible on my ret pally. Why? Because I have not taken the time to understand what I'm doing, I just hit buttons. Yes, I admit it. That's her off-spec so I don't pay much attention where I should.
Third, understand your rotation and priorities and why. You have to know what ability benefits from another before you can apply them correctly. Again, refer to my ret button-mashing mentioned above.

I know some of this is basic information, and perhaps common sense. I am one of those people that has to understand the pieces to see the whole picture so it took me a while to really get it. I only hope that some of the knowledge I've gleaned can help someone else along the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ain't I Pretty? Gemming your Destro Lock

I put this together because I was losing track of what I had and what I needed. It started as a rather strange looking outline lol.
This is by no means the end all be all of gemming, but I have found this works for me. It's a little clunky in this format but it works well enough.
As with anything WoW, as your gear changes you will have to re-evaluate all your gem choices and slots seeking the best combination.
While Hit is normally my #1 priority followed closely by Haste and Spell Power, I have found I'm giving up some Hit for Spell Power lately. I guess it's all about the burn ;)

This will of course change when Cataclysm comes out. But until then...happy gemming!

For Meta socket --> Chaotic Skyflare Diamond


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Warlock Preview - Cataclysm....The Wait and See Approach

All right... so being a warlock I feel like I should have something to say about the preview that was posted. (click the header for direct link to the forum post) Albeit a bit late.
Truth is, I don't have much to say.

Let's see....
New spells;
Fel Flame, looks kinda cool. I love the fire ;)
Dark Intent, sounds similar to the focus a mage has. Might be interesting and another proc to work off of. I've always been interested in contributing more to a group in terms of buffs so this might be something to play with.
Demon Soul...ok I have a beef with this. First, the Demon Soul was an item in many of the WoW books that the orcs used to control the red dragonflight and Alexstraza. It was created by Deathwing himself to take over and rid the land of all but the blacks. Seems like a terrible waste of a name for a class spell. Second, the explanation doesn't make much sense to me. I guess until they release what demon will provide what type of "self burst cool down" (whatever that means), we will just have to wait and see.

Soul Shard Overhaul.  Pfft. Until I see it and exactly how they implement it I really have no idea. Right now it sounds like a version of the DK runic system. This makes me unhappy. So I'm going to pretend I don't know anything and wait and see.

Curses turned to Banes?? Ok yea I guess.
Demon mechanic changes; Sounds like that combined with the dev chat from last night means more CC. I'm good with that and hope it's interesting.
New Talents; some interesting stuff but nothing great. Shortening CoD would be pretty cool since I use it during all large boss fights.
Mastery; nothing more than I expected.
Fire Direct Damage Increased. Sounds good to me.

Really, in case you couldn't tell, I'm just gonna see how it turns out. All I wanted was stacked soul shards and they're changing the whole damn system around! How happy I am with it will depend on how it changes my game play. I am really worried about being a mage with a pet. I want it to continue to have it's own distinct class feel and all I can do is hope that Blizz will make the right choices.
Only having seen bits of info here and there I hesitate to make any guesses about how it will all work out.

Twitter Dev Chat

Twitter Dev Chat from last night is posted. Here is the forum link. Not a whole lot of new info but some insight into what they're trying to get out for Cataclysm.
(click on this posts title to go to the site)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Busy Bee

Hey! It's been way too long but life has happened with a vengeance.I have had relatives visiting and then out of town to visit other relatives. Not to mention work is a bitch and is driving me crazy.

In game our guild has gotten all the way to Festergut and we should be downing him tonight. yay KG!!
We seem to be having issues with raid combination for Saurfang. Since we are normally melee heavy we have been having to swap out people for the Saurfang fight. I am not happy about that. I don't like to bench people or bring in people for just a fight or 2. The problems we face are that we don't have a usual raid group. We have a core that is almost always there but there are about 4 spots that end up rotating depending on who shows up. The bane of being casual I guess. We just don't have folks that can show every night. That means that the raid composition changes nightly and sometimes we are having to start from scratch explaining fights.
I am trying not to be too annoyed because really I'm happy we're going at all. But it is hard to stay focused and not get frustrated when we are explaining a fight for the 10th time and wiping on something we should have down better by now. Maybe my expectations are too high? I don't know...I do know that some nights I am part of the problem, so who am I to talk. It's always easier to point fingers at other people or factors right?

It feels like I haven't had much time to do anything but raid and prep to raid these last few weeks. I can't wait to have a Pajama Sunday this weekend. It's been like 3 weeks. Get some farming done, level some stuff, do some JC on my warrior. Yea yea, that's the ticket. :) Have some fun with the guildies...though I have to say that raiding these past few days have been the most fun I've had all week with work being so shitty.

Future plans:
1) Spend some time with the TNB Wiki and get some work in.
2) Start guild info blogging stuff....still formulating plan
3) Review warlock cataclysm preview, though really I don't have much to say but I'm sure I'll find something

Oh hey, I have found a WoW meet-up group in my area. Totally awesome way to find others in the community I think. Looks like someone is trying to plan a Blizzcon meet-up as well.

Here is the Orlando Meet-Up group site. WoW Meet-Up
All I did was Google WoW, my area, and "meetup" to find them.