Hello Guardians!

In lieu of a news post today (since there isn’t any news) I wanted to discuss a topic that can be almost universally applied to any game: How to Provide Feedback to Developers.

Unfortunately this is something that apparently a lot of people on the official forums don’t understand. While they may have an important point to make or topic to discuss, quite frequently what actually ends up in a forum post is almost worthless. To help other people understand how to provide good feedback – and thus improve the game as a whole – I’ve decided to write this little “guide”. For the past year and a half or so I’ve actually been kind of “cheating” in the sense that writing requirements documents for developers is my actual job. So theorycrafting and providing feedback to game developers is essentially the same as what I do for $$ – except for games. In this case WoW.

Basically I know what I’m doing.
 

Types of Feedback

There are two basic types of feedback a user (or player in this case) can offer: Subjective and Objective. Objective feeback will always be determined using the Scientific Method. That is anyone should be able to replicate the same results that you arrived at using the same variables. Some examples include:

  • Derivation of AP/SP forumlae
  • Combat Logs to show raids with DKs getting obliterated in heroic Gara’Jal
  • Calculation of the effectiveness of different abilities (Savage Defense, Frenzied Regeneration)

When providing objective feedback – “OMG GUARDIANS SUCK” – you must provide supporting evidence. This (for most people) will typically be in the form of combat logs. If you don’t know how to record or parse combat logs, head over to World of Logs to find out how. Without this evidence it is extremely likely that your arguments – however otherwise sound they may be – will be dismissed out of hand, not only by the player base but more importantly by the developers.

Subjective feedback is quite different. By its nature it is expected that not everyone will share the same point of view that you do. However that doesn’t mean you can’t still provide valuable feedback about how something “feels” to you in-game. Some examples are:

  • User Interface
  • Theme or Feel of a character/item/place/thing
  • What you as a player do or do not like about something

The most important note about this kind of feedback is that the efficiency or “math” is never in question. It’s all about how something in the game makes you feel as a player. Note that it is possible to have an objective analysis of something that then implies a subjective response. However you must remember that the reverse is never true. Just because something “feels bad” in terms of efficiency (usually in terms of “X”-per-second) does not mean that you can say so in an objective manner without performing some sort of actual data analysis.
 

Feedback Tips

So what should you do when providing feedback of any kind? I’ve put together a short list below:

  • Use proper spelling and grammar. Nobody is going to read your post if you can’t articulate your arguments in a way people can actually read.
  • Be as descriptive as possible. Explain to your audience why are right using supporting evidence like combat logs, math, or how you think something should work.
  • Whenever possible, don’t try to build your own models. For WoW specifically there are very, very few people qualified to do so as it requires a combination of calculus level math and intimate knowledge of game mechanics. For Guardians specifically there is already a wealth of options available to do analysis.
  • Doublecheck Everything. This is extremely important. Nothing will get your feedback dismissed faster than using information that is completely incorrect. If you’re not sure, double-check with someone else first to confirm. I cannot count the number of times I’ve dismissed posts or discussion out of hand because it was based on incorrect assumptions, knowledge of game mechanics, or just plain wrong. I’ll admit that I’ve made this mistake a few times over my career ;)
  • Don’t take criticism personally. If someone points out mistakes in your feedback most of the time they are just trying to help you.
  • Ignore trolls. They are a waste of your time.

What about you? Do you have any tips on how to provide feedback to game developers?

Hello Guardians!

I wanted to take a few minutes and do a quick review of MSV 10man. A lot of you will probably know this stuff already, but whether you are just starting MSV or you’re stuck on a particular boss, you should find this useful. You’ll notice that I covered a lot of this content on the Team Waffle Podcast yesteday, but some of it should be new.

Please note that if I don’t specifically mention a talent, glyph, etc. then you should assume that usage of such things is up to your discretion based on group/personal preference/full moon.
 

Stone Guardians

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Make sure you (or your other tank) pulls the big dog out of the group so you can actually kill the trash. Don’t pull the two big patrolling dogs together.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul. Stampeding Roar can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • If you start off by tanking 2 dogs, remember to pre-pot (Virmen’s Bite) and use Berserk on the pull for maximum threat and burst Rage.
  • Decide between you and your co-tank who will be calling swaps. Remember you want to swap the dog that is currently petrifying, because that is how you have to do it on heroic.
  • Don’t bother using Savage Defense at all. Use Frenzied Regeneration to heal yourself when you get down to around 50-60%.
  • You likely won’t have any excess Rage, but if you do dump it into Maul when tanking more than 1 dog for the extra cleave damage.
  • I found it helpful to have taunt macros for switching dogs. You may or may not feel the same way.

 

Feng

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Nothing special. Feel free to AoE tank it.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Use Savage Defense when tanking, Maul when not.
  • I found Shroud of Reversal really hard to use, especially with a DK co-tank when they don’t take damage from Lightning Fist. Probably easier for everyone if you just take Nullification Barrier.
  • There’s no burn phase or DPS buff, so feel free to use Incarnation / NV at the start of the fight.
  • Since Nullificaiton Barrier is a channel, you cannot attack while using it without cancelling the spell. So don’t do that.
  • Use Stampeding Roar to help your raid run from Epicenter and into Arcane Velocity if necessary.
  • You can use Tranquility during Epicenter or Arcane Velocity to help your healers out. Switch in a caster weapon for extra healzzz.

 

Gara’jal

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Trolls! Don’t stand in bombs.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV/HotW.
  • Glyphs: Anything you want.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Pop your cooldown(s) at the start of the fight. If you go with Heart of the Wild you can get a full duration use off at the start of the fight.
  • Keep Savage Defense up as much as possible while tanking.
  • The Severer of Souls dies stupid easy, so don’t be afraid to hit a couple other spirits while you’re in the spirit realm.
  • Make sure you have Incarnation available for the burn phase since it’s incredibly important to keep SD up as much as possible.

 

Spirit Kings

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Make sure your raid stacks for the lizards.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Anything you want.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Pop your cooldown(s) at the start of the fight. Don’t bother using Savage Defense for Qiang since you will be getting AoE heals anyway. Just dump all of your Rage into Maul.
  • DO NOT EVER USE THRASH DURING MADDENING SHOUT.
  • As a Guardian you don’t care about Cowardice. Just keep attacking the boss.
  • Make liberal use of Skull Bash.
  • Use Savage Defense for Meng, Subetai, and Zian.

 

Elegon

The Rundown:

  • Trash: You can wipe the raid to the trash if you don’t tank it properly. Face the guys that throw stone slabs away from the raid so they don’t get smushed. You can powershift the debuff if necessary. Kite the Wardens by letting them punt you away, and then running until their buff falls off. Turn around, repeat until dead.
  • Talents: WC, Typhoon, Incarnation, UV, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar. Survival Instincts can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Use Barkskin and/or Survival Instincts during a Total Annihilation when you’re at high stacks.
  • Make damn sure you reset your stacks when dragging the Guardian outside the ring.
  • Try and land a Thrash on everything during Draw Power.
  • Wild Charge back to the boss after your spark is dead for maximum uptime/dps.
  • Use Savage Defense when tanking the boss, but use Frenzied Regeneration to recover from a Breath/TA.
  • Spam FR during Draw Power so you don’t have to drop stacks.
  • Get aggro on the Sparks but don’t let them hit you. Use Typhoon / UV to keep them at a distance.
  • Use Tranquility as soon as you can in Phase 3.
  • Make sure you have NV, Incarnation, Potion, and Trinkets available for the burn. There’s no reason to reset your stacks.

 

Will

The Rundown:

  • Trash: You can wipe the raid to the trash if you don’t tank it properly. Face the guys that throw stone slabs away from the raid so they don’t get smushed.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar. Survival Instincts can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • It might be tempting to try and help your raid out with Typhoon and UV. Don’t. You’ll just end up hurting or killing yourself.
  • Dancing is incredibly easy as long as you have Feline Swiftness. Don’t over-run any of them and don’t be afraid to take a second to make sure you’re travelling the right way.
  • Keep Savage Defense up 100% of the time when the boss is meleeing you.
  • Save cooldowns for Titan Gas. Alternate Incarnation and Berserk on Titan Gas phases.
  • Make sure you bind the “extra action button” to something or else you’ll miss Opportunistic Strike every time.
  • If you get caught in a stomp, use Stampeding Roar to give yourself enough speed to not get caught in a slash right afterwards.
  • Get aggro on the Sparks but don’t let them hit you. Use Typhoon / UV to keep them at a distance.
  • Make sure you zoom your camera out pretty far so you can see the boss during DDR phases.

 
What about you? Do you have any tips to share?

Introduction

I know it’s not Friday. I had planned initially to write this post on Friday, but then I went out and got drunk with some co-workers. Then I planned to write this yesterday, but I spent the whole day watching MLG Dallas. Now it’s Sunday night.

That’s what I get for being such a big e-sports fan I guess.

In any case what I wanted to do was take a look at how Guardians stack up against other tanks in terms of DPS in 10m normal MSV. Tank DPS is incredibly important in 10 mans on fights with DPS checks, so making sure Guardians are competitive with other classes in this regard is very important. Unfortunately there a number of things that can affect tank DPS which aren’t really under the player’s control:

  • Vengeance: Since Vengeance is gained via unmitigated damage, the encounter itself will overwhelmingly dictate how much damage you do.
  • Encounter Strategy: Things like deciding who gets Shroud of Reversal greatly influence the damage done.
  • Encounter RNG: Randomness in the encounter.
  • Gear: The better your gear gets, the more you can ignore your AM buttons in favour of extra damage.

However all of these things should in theory be negated by the sample size. It’s highly unlikely that no Guardians would be given Shroud of Reversal on Feng for example. So how does one achieve this comparison? By using a site called Raidbots. Raidbots is a tool that was written to aggregate World of Logs data into something that could be used for trend analysis. Like with any tool, you need to make sure you use it correctly in order to get accurate data. For reference these are the settings I used:

  • Data Set: All Parses
  • Timespan: 1 Month (I would have like to make it smaller, but this is the shortest it goes)
  • Sample Period: 1 Week (This is important)
  • Measure: Median

With regards to the sample period, I only looked a data that did not include any parses from before October 20th. If you follow patch notes at all, you’ll remember that Vengeance was hotfixed to prevent abuse of spike damage from boss abilities on October 19th. Since this was artificially inflating Tank DPS, it’s important to completely ignore any parses from that period.

But enough of the tehcnical nonsense.

The Stone Guards

Raidbots – 10m Normal Stone Guard

This may look bad at first glance, but the difference isn’t that significant. That being said, Guardians don’t have great cleave damage. The only ability that’s in a 2-target rotation that actually hits more than one target is Thrash. While Thrash actually does some pretty decent damage, it doesn’t compare with what Brewmasters or Death Knights can do. It is interesting that Warriors are so low though.

Feng the Accursed

Raidbots – 10m Normal Feng

We can clearly see here that Guardians are much closer to the top two (Brewmasters and Blood DKs again). So it’s clear Guardian’s single target DPS is pretty much in the right ballpark – or at least within an acceptable variance given the variables at hand.

Gara’jal the Spiritbinder

Raidbots – 10m Normal Gara’Jal

Again Guardians turn out to be pretty much smack in the middle, vithin variance. Monks are really high for some reason that completely escapes me. Then again I don’t follow Monks so it’s entirely possible there’s a completely valid reason for this.

Spirit Kings

Raidbots – 10m Normal Spirit Kings

We’re beginning to see a trend here. Guardians are definitely very much competitive with the other tank classes, although for some reason Monks are still way high.

Elegon

Raidbots – 10m Normal Elegon

Blood DKs move up a bit compared to Guardians on Elegon. This could be of their superior ability to handle the incoming damage as their debuff increases (ergo they stay in for longer). In any case, the margin is still not big enough to make or break the encounter assuming correct play. The trend of shield tanks being on the bottom also appears to continue.

Will of the Emperor

Raidbots – 10m Normal Will

Will is easily the best encounter to evaluate tank DPS. Both tanks have essentially identical mobs attacking them for identical amounts of time. This means that assuming proper execution all DPS should be extremely close. And, it is. Monks again are significantly higher.

Conclusions

After looking at the data after the Vengeance hotfixes it’s pretty clear that most tanks are mostly within an acceptable variance for DPS. Shield Tanks seem to be a bit low on swap or 1 tank fights, but on encounters where both tanks are exactly equal everyone within a very small range.

Throughout the analysis above I was noting that Brewmaster’s are consistently trending higher than other tanks – and then I realized a possible cause. World of Logs treats Stagger damage (Brewmaster’s primary mitigation mechanic), as damage the Monk actually deals and therefore counts it towards their DPS. I emailed the author of Raidbots, and they only receive the total damage done so it isn’t possible to strip out Stagger damage. If WoL eventually removes it then the numbers will make more sense.

Our only real problem is when we have to damage two targets at the same time. However that’s such a rare encounter mechanic that I’m not going to raise a fuss about it unless it becomes a major issue in the future.

What about you? Are you seeing different things? Let me know!

Happy Halloween Guardians!

Welcome to yet another installment of 25 Man WENSdays here at IncBear. This week we will be talking about our level 90 talents. For all intents and purposes I will be totally ignoring DoC, as it honestly has no practical benefit for us, and probably will not unless they allow it to affect Frenzied Regeneration heals. So when we cross out DoC, we are left with the difficult choice of HotW vs. NV.

General Information

HotW and NV are two very fundamentally different CDs and are optimal in very different situations. Heart of the Wild allows you to assume another combat role (healing, melee dpsing, or range dpsing) for 45 seconds out of every 6 minutes. It also gives you a passive 6% Stamina, Intellect, and Agility, as well as granting you the ability to cast Rejuvenation in any shapeshift form.. Nature’s Vigil, on the other hand, is a flat dps/healing bonus (20%) that also converts healing (but not FR healing) into damage and damage into healing at a rate of 20%. 30 second duration on a 3 minute CD.

Right away you should be able to tell that HotW is strongest when you can take advantage of the entire 45 second duration at least once (hopefully twice) throughout a fight. This is (almost always) true. HotW can be very powerful if you think of it as a small healing or dps CD in a time where otherwise you would just be attacking away with no vengeance.

Nature’s Vigil is very strong on farm fights, for the simple fact that you don’t need the extra stamina, and a dps CD is never a bad thing to make the fight go faster. NV also shines in encounter specific periods of high damage output/input.

Heart of the Wild Details/Subtleties/Tips

  • If you are using HotW as a healing CD, ALWAYS pair it with a Tranquility (and a Barkskin for no casting interruption).
  • In that same vein, when using as a healing CD (or range dps) always pair with a weapon swap to your best caster weapon.
  • If healing the raid, stay in bear form and use Rejuv on lower health targets. If healing the tank, then keep Rejuv on them and spam Healing Touch.
  • If using HotW as a dps CD, then cat dps tends to be a bit better than Wrath-spam, but only if you can pair it with Berserk (make sure to cast Berserk after you shift to cat form). If you cannot pair them, then go for a weapon swap and Wrath-spam.
  • For burst AOE dps, a weapon swap + Hurricane is obnoxiously powerful.
  • HotW can also be a semi-CD in the form of maintaining a Rejuv/spamming Rejuv on yourself while tanking. Not good in every situation, but very powerful in some.

Heart of the Wild Pros

  • 6% stamina and agility give a hefty chunk of EH and mitigation.
  • Powerful raid CD if used correctly in the encounter.
  • Much more flexibility in terms of application.

Heart of the WIld Cons

  • Requires a significant amount of tanking downtime to fully utilize (very encounter specific).
  • Requires a caster weapon to fully utilize.
  • Only a dps increase on certain fights.
  • Long CD and long duration makes for somewhat awkward usage.

Nature’s Vigil Details/Subtleties/Tips

  • Healing created by NV is smart healing, that means it rarely overheals and will usually be on yourself.
  • It cannot proc off of itself (the damage caused by healing done doesn’t proc more damage).
  • The 20% healing increase does affect FR, but it does not create extra damage.
  • Perfect time to use this is when you are both doing and taking a lot of damage at the same time. Fortunately, due to vengeance this happens a lot.
  • Pairing with a rage-gen CD like Berserk/Incarnation is very very powerful.

Nature’s Vigil Pros

  • Higher uptime with a shorter CD leads to more uses and more efficient usages over the course of a fight.
  • Much more reliable personal CD.
  • DPS increase if correctly timed with encounter mechanics/other abilities.
  • No need for a caster weapon.
  • No need for tanking downtime to fully utilize, in fact it works best WHILE tanking.

Nature’s Vigil Cons

  • Loss of EH/mitigation due to loss of passive 6% stats.
  • Your Tranquility is significantly weaker.
  • Less flexibility in terms of reacting to bad situations.

Fight Specifics – Which One Should You Use?

So now that we have all that information out of the way, we can talk about which one is optimal for which encounter. Remember, this is from a 25 man perspective, but some of it still applies to 10 man.

Mogu’shan Vaults

Stone Guard: NV all the way. Especially when tanking two of the Guardians, the combination of Berserk and NV is incredibly potent. Combine that with the fact that you will be using FR the entire fight and you have zero downtime, NV wins every time.

Feng the Accursed: HotW on progression. NV for farm kills. The extra passive stats are really beneficial when working on Feng, and you have lots of downtime during which you can utilize off spec roles. Once you outgear it a bit, go for NV and the extra dps output. If you are doing heroic mode, save NV for AOEing the shadow adds and watch your dps skyrocket. As a side bonus, NV also affects abilities granted by Shroud.

Gara’jal the Spritbinder: HotW wins every time. The name of the game is damage mitigation, so that extra agility is a godsend. Combine that with plenty of downtime and HotW is very strong on this fight. If you are struggling with the enrage on heroic, make sure you won’t be tanking during Bloodlust/Heroism and go nuts with Wrath for some pretty decent damage.

Sprit Kings: NV is best here. Since there is very little tank threatening damage, the extra stats aren’t that amazing. There is also zero tanking downtime, so use NV to help increase your dps and get through those bosses faster.

Elegon: Personally I am a big fan of HotW here, but NV is also super good. If your guild is struggling with Energy Charge damage, then go with NV and use that to help burn down some Charges. If not, then save HotW for AOEing down Cosmic Sparks (gogo Hurricane). No real wrong choice here.

Will of the Emperor: Another one where the choice is very close. NV has the added bonus of affecting Opportunistic Strikes, so it can dramatically increase your dps if timed correctly. However, if you notice that your health is spiking a lot, then HotW might be a better choice for you.

Heart of Fear

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok: I prefer HotW, as you can pair it with a Tranq to help counter a Force and Verve. That being said, NV could definitely be of use to help alleviate the spike damage of Exhale.

Blade Lord Ta’yak: Again I prefer HotW, because the extra stamina helps a bit with the Overwhelming Assaults. Also I found that popping it in the final tornado dodging phase helped because I could RJ the raid while moving and help the healers out a bit.

Garalon: Probably one of the best HotW fights there is. The stamina is great, but since you don’t deal much damage due to low vengeance, and you spend a lot of time out of range of the boss, the ability to spam RJ yourself and your co-tank/the raid is invaluable.

Wind Lord Mel’jarak: Actually one of the better NV fights. Use it once when tanking the big AOE pile at the beginning of the fight for massive dps and healing, and once again when Wind Lord is all buffed up at the end and taking/dealing more damage.

Amber Shaper Un’sok: Either ability is pretty strong here. NV is pretty nice for the final burn when he is taking a large amount of increased damage. But HotW is really nice for the extra passive stats. Another personal choice boss.

Grand Empress Shek’zeer: I haven’t actually seen this boss yet, so my gut instantly tells me that HotW is the better choice, and there is a tank swap you have time to utilize a quick HotW+Tranq to stabilize the raid, but NV could also have its uses to make the burn phase go faster and to burn down the P2 adds a little quicker. Probably another toss up fight.

Hello Guardians!

Welcome to the Monday Round-Up! We’ve had one pretty big thing drop on the PTR, plus a couple of smaller changes here and there. So what has happened in the past week?

Tooth and Claw!

A new ability appeared on the PTR in the last build called Tooth and Claw. Every auto attack has a 40% chance to grant a 10 second buff to the Guardian. This buff causes your next Maul to debuff the main target (extra target via glyph is unaffected), causing them to deal X less damage on their next autoattack where X = 0.4(MAX(2.5(AP – (2xAgility)), 2.5(Stamina))). More details on exactly how this functions are included in the links below:

TiB: Empowered Maul
Official PTR Forums: Tooth and Claw Feedback Thread

Thrash Nerf/Buff?

Another change datamined by MMO-Champion was a tooltip update of Thrash. The thread claims it’s a nerf, but it’s actually a buff to the base damage of Thrash. The AP coefficients have also finally been updated to match what is currently on live servers.

TiB an Official Resource!

On Wednesday of last week Zarhym posted a list of fansites and resources in a sticky on the offical General Discussion forums. I looked at it, and noticed that he had included a Priest site – How To Priest – in the list. So I tweeted him:

And the very next day, TiB was added to the list. This is obviously thanks in no small part to all of our fans and the theorycrafters upon which this site was built. <3<3<3

PS. I’ll be getting drunk with Zarhym next year at Blizzcon.