• Bares mostly like the taste of fase!


TiB in 2017

January 2, 2017

Hello Guardians!

It’s obviously been a very long time since I’ve written anything on the main blog. There’s a couple of reasons for that which I’ll go into shortly. Further, I wanted to set some expectations for the blog going forward. Much of this won’t come as any surprise, and is probably pretty obvious to be honest. Still needs to be said though.

What Happened

The short answer why I haven’t been posting much is that being a GM in Legion takes a fuckton of effort. I’m sure there are ways that I could be delegating more or doing less, but the truth is I invest a lot of myself into the guild, and that doesn’t leave much to go around for the rest of the stuff I’ve historically been doing. In Warlords there was only one thing to worry about, which was raiding. Now we have a lot more.

I’m not trying to give the impression that I dislike the expansion, I actually quite enjoy it. I don’t really have opinions on most of the systems since almost none of the negatives have affected me in any way. I understand that a lot of people don’t like the legendary system, but at least Guardians mostly don’t have the problems of other specializations.

The long answer is, “I’m bored with the questions people are fixated on.” Or more accurately “I don’t really care about stats.” My attitude can be attributed in no small part to Sunnier’s “Stat Apathy”, but to be honest she’s right. Stats on a single item are going to make an almost inconsequential difference to your success. So small that it will – in 99.9% of cases – be overshadowed by individual performance. Stats start to matter when you consider them on a macro level, or which you start counting them in large amounts. But the sad truth is you’re only really going to have one or two options for a slot in a raid instance, so you’ll pick whichever one has either (a) the highest item level or (b) your preferred choie of secondary stats.

The biggest reason I stopped hanging out in the Guardian Discord channel is I was getting to stressed from having to justify my responses to questions about personal preference between two items whose differences are compeltely trivial. I just don’t care enough about the question to devote my cognitive resources to answering it. I like Discord in some ways, but I think it has also fostered a culture of “I’ll just ask instead of thinking for myself” for the most trivial things. That scares me.

So when I become disinterested with a subject, I don’t care about devoting effort to supporting discussion about it. There are others who can and will do that instead, and that’s fine. Power to them.

What’s Next

We’ll start with the things I will no longer be doing:

  • Stat Weights
  • Maintaining SimC
  • Video Guides
  • Written Boss Guides
  • Loot lists

Basically anything that involved day-to-day work or adjustment is thrown out. I don’t have the time or the effort to care about things that are in the end meaningless, done better by other people, or I no longer have the capacity to produce. That means once Khaelyn completes the ToV guides (if she even does, it doesn’t matter at this point) there won’t be any more. I’m fine with that, and it’ll remove a sense of obligation to do things that honestly, other people are doing way better to begin with.

If that’s what I won’t be doing, what will continue to happen?

  • Guardian Guides (here and WoWhead – and I swear if you post something about malware I will punch you)
  • Gameplay Analysis (things like talents, set bonuses, legendaries, cool trinkets, etc.)
  • Patch Updates
  • Podcast

All of these pieces of content are fire-and-forget, with little maintenance required. The podcast especially is where you will find most of the ongoing discussion of week-to-week things since it’s much easier to simply word vomit than type something coherent for people to read.

The last thing I wanted to mention was the forums. Maelfus and I need to sit down and talk about their future and what I want to do with them. I don’t know yet. Maybe they’ll simply be a way to host the guide, or maybe I’ll use them to post TC work when doing gameplay analysis. Either way, I expect something will change.

I also want to remind everyone that I’m not making any commitments about how often I’m going to post or anything like that. When I have something that I think is useful to say and I want to talk about it, I’ll put it up. Otherwise I won’t. I’ve been paralyzed by the sense of obligation that Legion thrust upon me intially, and it’s only really since Blizzcon that I’ve come to understand that it’s not really my problem.

So really, thank you Sunnier for reminding me to do what I want to do first.

10 Years 10 Questions

August 10, 2014


So here I am, sitting at Sunnier’s dining room table, writing this blog post. I feel like this epitomizes one of the questions I’ll answer here in a second, but really I just thought it would be a fun thing to do. Plus hopefully I’ve convinced her to do it too (it takes a lot of prodding with that one). Anyway it’s 9pm here (only?!) and I felt like writing.

Plus Dayani did it too, so now I feel kind of obligated. Therefore here’s my version of 10 Years 10 Questions.

Why did you start playing Warcraft?

My brother told me in April of 2005 that he had found a new Warcraft game at Wal-Mart. Given that we lived in the boonies at the time (or pretty much anyway) I hadn’t heard a peep about this new game. However we had both played the ever-living-shit out of all of the previous Warcraft games – in fact I used to spend hours playing UMS games in War3 – and loved the lore and the universe the games were built on. So we were both pretty excited and started playing together. He had a Rogue, and I had a (Protection) Warrior.

These days he’s still a melee DPS, and I’m still a tank.

What was the first ever character you rolled?

The first character I rolled was a human Warrior on Suramar named Katarn. Bonus points if you get the reference. I levelled him to 60 as Protection (horrible, horrible idea at the time but I didn’t know better). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to start raiding until I started university, but I did do many a 5-man dungeon on my horrible dial-up connection. Rather well I might add.

Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

I can’t speak for my brother, but we did want to play together and neither of us really liked any of the orc characters from the previous games. So Alliance it was.

What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

Singular most memorable moment in the game? This is going to sound silly, but probably when we killed Heroic Garrosh. It was the first time I had successfully cleared a tier while it was current – Dragon Soul doesn’t count – and I did it with some of my very best friends. While you don’t get that feeling every day, I hope to have more, similar moments in the next expansion.

What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Inside the game the obvious answer is raiding. The fact that I can connect with a bunch of my friends from across the continent and kill dargins is still so cool to me.

Outside the game there’s another obvious answer: Theorycrafting. I absolutely love it, and I’ve made even more friends through TCing than I otherwise would have if I had just stuck to raiding.

Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Not really, no. I mean I like to imagine that Ari hangs out in Stormwind a lot with her friends (Sunnier, Silanah, Thurne, and Lissanna), but there’s no special spot to me as a player.

How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

None of them have been continuous, although Ari has by far the longest continuous streak.

  • Arielle: 208 Days, 16 hours.
  • Katarn: 59 Days, 1 hour.
  • Mdnite: 50 Days, 10 hours.

Those are the top 3. Nothing else breaks 25 days. All told it’s probably close to a full year of continuous play.

Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Fuck no, are you kidding me? Well, at least not when I’m levelling Ari. On whatever my 2nd character is I usually will though, because by that time I can stop and smell the roses.

Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Not a one. I mean sometimes I think I could’ve spent my time more productively, but then I realize that the sheer amount of things that I now have means that I don’t think about it twice.

What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

I figured the intro would’ve made this really obvious, but I’ve travelled to places that I wouldn’t have otherwise visited. This year alone I went to Colorado, Texas, and Toronto. All places I’ve never been to before. Why?

Because that’s where people that I met in the game live. They’re my friends and I wanted to visit them. So I did. Next year I might go to even more crazy places like New York, or Edmonton. All because of people that I’ve met through this game, and are now friends with.

Here we are wrapping up this series. It’s been fun, and we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming on Monday.

Second day of favorites! Favorite comfort food, favorite vice, favorite outfit, favorite hot drink, favorite time of year, and favorite holiday.

Ooooooo more favourites!

  • Comfort Food: Freshly caught salmon from the river. In Bear form.
  • Vice: The only thing that she might consider a vice is enjoying combat too much.
  • Outfit: Easily her robes that she earned from time-trial (Challenge Mode) dungeons.
  • Hot Drink: Arielle doesn’t enjoy hot drinks.
  • Time of Year: Winter. She enjoys the cold, probably because she spends most of her time in an animal form.
  • Hohliday: Lunar Festival.


Pick two songs that describe your character at two different points of their life, and explain why you chose them.

I’ll be honest here, I’m really terrible at songe. I’m going to have to pass on this question because I can’t think of anything relevant :|

If your character’s life was a genre, what would it be?

Action-Adventure. Easy.

How does your character smell? Do they wear perfume or cologne?

Arielle typically smells like either a freshwater stream or a coniferous forest. In genereal some kind of “nature” scent. She doesn’t “wear” anything per se, but since she spends most of her time in the forest it tends to permeate her skin.

And finally: Write a letter to your character, from yourself.

Dear Arielle:

Thank you for all of the friends you’ve allowed me to make over the years. Don’t worry, you’ll always be playing with your friends for as long as you live.

<3 Nolan

Getting Into Theorycrafting

January 15, 2014

The idea for this post came from a Twitter discussion between myself, Poneria (author of the Warlock column on WoW Insider), Dayani (author of Healiocentric), and Theck (author of Sacred Duty) about how someone should start theorycrafting. Something that was brought up is that noobie theorycrafters find it far too daunting of a hobby to get into. So I thought I’d share with you how I got started, and maybe you can take some inspiration from it.

In an Expansion Far Far Away….

Some (or most) of you may not actually know this, but I only started seriously “theorycrafting” at the tail end of Wrath. As you may or may not remember when the pre-Cataclysm patch hit, Swipe was doing basically no damage. It was actually causing some pretty significant problems for Bear tanks (including myself) that were still dallying around in ICC. I looked around the on the forums, and didn’t see anything that would explain why this had started happening. Since nobody else appeared to be doing anything, I took it upon myself to do some digging. Back then I didn’t do any sort of empirical evidence gathering – or turn out to be right even – I did dig deep enough to get a response from a Blizzard CM. That got me noticed by a couple people you might know. Reesi and Fasc.

I had gotten a taste of what it felt like to be recognized…..and to be honest I liked it. I wanted to pursue it a bit further. So naturally the first step was to learn more about combat mechanics. I had a bit of an understanding based on the years of experience already playing the game. I knew what the various stats did but I didn’t really study them in great detail. So I took the next step.


I took Fasc’s spreadsheet (at the time) and started playing with it. I learned what each of the stats did, how they interacted, coefficients, ratios, the list goes on. This knowledge helped me find defects in the spreadsheet and help Fasc fix them. Not only that, but once I understood how Armor worked, I moved on to what would be my first serious bit of theorycrafting.

Back in Catactlysm beta Astrylian had started a thread on EJ for basic storage and updating of Guardian information. During Cataclysm beta it quickly became evident that this information was not being kept up-to-date. I found that abilities were not doing the amount of damage they should’ve been doing, at least according to the listed AP coefficients. Since Astrylian was no longer updating his post, I decided that I might as well start doing tests myself. This lead to what is now known as the DPS/TPS Spreadsheet which you can find in the menu above. Not only that, but it would also lead to determining what the ideal DPS rotation was for Bears in both Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria. Tangedyn and Yawning would go on to use this information in Mew, and most recently Pawkets has been using it to keep SimC updated.

None of that would’ve happened if I didn’t first take the time to learn WoW’s combat system, and how it affected my class. Pretty much all of that information is available somewhere on the internet nowadays for your particular class and spec. A quick Google search is usually all you need to get started.

It’s All About Accuracy

One of the things that will make or break a serious attempt at theorycrafting is accuracy. I’ve previously mentioned that my first attempt wasn’t even remotely accurate, primarily because there was no practical way to gather the data to make a diagnosis. For most of you out there, this is not the case. There aren’t any ambiguous mysteries left in this game, and any that are introduced are swiftly clarified by Blizzard themselves. Therefore it comes down to making sure that the data you’re presenting is actually accurate. The two methods that I use the most to ensure accuracy are In-Game Experimentation and Peer Review.

In-game experimentation is actually relatively simple, and usually involves things like target dummies. For example the method of verifying the AP ratio on a physical attack reduced by Armor:

  1. Strip all gear and buffs.
  2. Use the ability on one of the respawning target dummies in a starting area (I used Stormwind). These dummies have 0 armor – verified by testing for a difference in damage between a dummy affected by Weakened Armor and one that wasn’t).
  3. Add various levels of gear and repest (2).
  4. Compile the results and determine the slope. This is your AP modifier.
  5. Check the slope by calculating the damage value from AP at various levels of gear. If all have the same base damage, you have the correct slope and your damage equation.

Of course, when you’re presenting your information it’s a general rule that you will include your data and your methods so that they can be replicated by others. That way they’ll know you’re right.

Peer review is the act of asking someone to look over your work. For the information I compiled on trinkets in ToT, I asked Theck and Hamlet to look over it to make sure I had done it right. Since they were the ones that did the original proofs (one of them even at my request – remember Talisman of Bloodlust?), it made sense to ask them for a little help. It’s worth pointing out that asking someone in private – in game or a DM over Twitter – is much different than doing it publicly. Most theorycrafters are actually quite nice, and are very willing to help out when asked. However when you do ask for peer review, don’t harass the person you’re asking. We’re typically a very busy bunch. Here’s a general overview of the projects I have going on right now:

  • Writing Blog Posts for TiB
  • Hosting, Scheduling, and Recording TWP
  • Moderating and Responding to TiB Forums
  • Checking in on the Official, MMOC, Icy-Veins, and EJ Forums
  • Running a Heroic 10m Raid Team
  • Creating Video Guides
  • Streaming

And that’s just the WoW related stuff. We’re very busy people. Nice, but busy. We’re happy to help, but if you ask us you can’t harass us to get it done for you. If you don’t hear anything in a week or so, it’s fine to just check in and see how things are going. But if you nag us daily or something else equally ridiculous, you will swiftly become ignored.

Remember if you want anyone to take you seriously – be it your audience or someone reviewing your work – you must be professional.

I didn’t mean to leave it until I had four, that’s just the way it worked out.

If your character could time travel, where would they go?

When she was born. While Arielle made peace long ago with the fact that she’s an orphan, she would still like to know who her parents were.

Is your character superstitious?

In the biggest possible way I can say this, No. Arielle is a creature of logic and rolls her eyes at superstition. If something hasn’t been proven to be true, she doesn’t behave as if it is.

What might your character’s ideal romantic partner be?

Not even Arielle knows the answer to this. She has no desire for children, and has no time for romantic nonsense. She spends far too much time fighting evil and learning from Ursoc to be concerned about such things.

Describe your character’s hands. Are they small, long, calloused, smooth, stubby?

Her hands resemble those of most Night Elf warriors. Long and slender, but with a strength that belies their appearance.