Posted by: thakarron | February 22, 2010

Power Up with Power Auras

I’m sure a lot of you use Power Auras since it has gotten a lot of press from names a lot more reputable than mine. In this post I’ll go over my set up and how to recreate them, hopefully these will inspire you to play around a lot with your own auras and make some kewl stuff (and then show them to me of course) =]

So Power Auras is a highly configurable addon that can track pretty much anything that can happen to or be caused by your character (trinket procs, buffs/debuffs, low health, missing buffs, cooldowns, etc) the downside is that you’ll need to do a lot of work on your end to make this addon work to its full potential (out of the box it really doesn’t do much of anything). I won’t go into the simple stuff, instead I’ll talk specifically about the Power Auras I use and why I use them. Here are a few awesome guides to familiarize you with the basics or just get a nice refresher:

Ghadamon’s Guide (MMO-Champion) – A good introduction, as well as how to use some of the more complex functions.
Food Before Flowers (NoStock UI) – Slightly more general, but covers a lot of ground.
Aliena’s Tutorial (Tankspot) – Yet another take, good tips on setting up several basic auras.
Nibuca’s Power Aura Posts (Mystic Chicanery) (part 2) (part 3) – Several posts highlighting the diversity of Power Auras, as well as basics.
Rilgon’s Hunter Auras (Stabilized Effort Scope) – No basics here, awesome hunter specific auras showing off how deep you can really go with the configuration utility.

NOTE: There’s also a bunch of video guides on youtube, so just do a search for “Power Auras” or “Power Auras guide” and you’ll get a bunch of results to comb through.

Alright lets get down to business (to defeat the huns? O_O) here’s a few screenshots showcasing all the auras I use, I couldn’t put them all on one since they are practically never all up at the same time and they end up overlapping each other and making a big mess.

These are some very simplistic auras that show me real basic information. The little red triangles pop up if my target does NOT have a Hunter’s Mark on it (mine or anyone elses). The yellow parentheses tell me if I have the Improved Steady Shot buff. When the green arc at the bottom appears that means my target doesn’t have a Serpent Sting cast by me on it (another hunter may have a sting up, but I don’t care about that in this case). The little red circle in the middle pops up to let me know when my Kill Shot is usable (target under 20%, shot not on cooldown, etc). There isn’t much to say about these auras, they tell me basics so I don’t fuck up on something simple, like forgetting to use my Kill Shots as often as possible or whatever.

Since being in Viper for too long really sucks I have these 2 auras that are a little more complex and combine settings from several auras into one. The smaller set of blue squiggles show up when my mana is at 20% or less and I am NOT in Aspect of the Viper, this lets me know to either use my Mana Injector or to flip into Viper to regain mana. The large squiggles only show when my mana is at like 98% or greater and I AM in Aspect of the Viper, this means to get the fuck out of Viper and back into Dragonhawk so my DPS can stop sucking.

These 2 are long duration buffs that help  me remember that while I’m under the effects of these buffs I should try my best to stand still and pump out as many shots as I can as quickly as possible. The large light blue circle appears to track the duration of my Rapid Fire. The little red mask thing tracks the duration of Bloodlust (both of these are generally never up at the same time, since stacking these isn’t recommended). These are as easy to make as the basic auras, just with the timer function enabled and the duration of the buff plugged in.

This group of auras shows my short duration procs that really change the way I do my DPS. The inner symbol pops up whenever a certain aspect of my Deathbringer’s Will procs (blue = 600 crit, yellow = 600 agi, silver = 12000 AP). The purple symbols appear when my Needle-Encrusted Scorpion procs (temporarily capping my ArPen), this lets me know that I should stop moving, pop Rapid Fire (if its stacked with a DBW proc even more so) if possible, and squeeze out as many Auto/Steady Shots as I can. The big orange circle appears when my 2 piece tier 10 bonus activates, I tried to make this aura big and obvious because its super important that I refresh my Serpent Sting while I’m under the effects of this buff (so my Chimera Shot can continually refresh the 15% damage bonus). The best case scenario would be proccing both the 600 crit rating proc from DBW as well as my 2-piece bonus at the same time so I could constantly refresh a Serpent Sting that deals an extra 15% damage as well as a much higher chance to crit (this is where keeping 2-piece tier 9 is a big deal).

Anyway thats all the auras I use, I hope this was worth reading and helped you guys get into Power Auras if you haven’t before or think of a few new ideas for your already existing auras. If you want it I’ll post up the text files to import my settings into your Power Auras (once I figure out how O_o). I’d love to see any comments about how you use Power Auras, since I definitely wouldn’t pass up a chance to leech ideas off of someone else >:]

Posted by: thakarron | February 11, 2010

My Secret Love Affair with UI’s

Sadly, a big chunk of my in-game time is spent rearranging my UI, playing with the latest addon I’ve installed, or bitching about how this one tiny module won’t do exactly what I want it to do on my screen. To me tweaking my user interface or getting a new addon configured properly is equally as fun as toying with a new spec/rotation/piece of gear on a target dummy. A good UI can be as essential as the latest piece of tier or hottest rotation, sometimes even more so in my opinion. I’ll begin with a few shots of my UI and then explain the thought process I go through when designing it.

Everybody looooves to show off their hot new UI with crazy textures or panels or a ton of awesome doodads all over the screen. Unfortunately, my UI isn’t covered in gorgeous panes or home-made graphics, but it is very efficient and gets the job done in my opinion.

Click to Biggify

Chill-in-Dalaran mode

Click to Biggify

Warp-Digivolved-Raid mode (10-man is the same just with less people on Grid)

So after many redesigns this is what I’ve ended up with. Its not too flashy but it covers what I need to do as well as a few wonderful little extras in there. I’ve thought out a brief process to go through when it comes to designing (or redesigning) your UI.

1. Centralize! – I can’t stress this enough, avoid having any essential information in the far corners of the screen (notice I just have buffs, questhelper, and my broker plugins in that area). It may not seem like a big deal, but having to flick your eyes upwards to check on the status of other raid members or something important like that can really fuck up your situational awareness (and not to mention after a long night of raiding your eyes will end up more strained than they need to be). If anything be sure to put your own frame and target frame in the middle (I have the minimap in there too, not to mention the cooldown bar and cast bar) to always have an eye on their status while still being aware of your surroundings. For a healer/tank I would recommend making room to have your raid frames in the center as well, so you can maintain a watchful eye on the well-being of the entire raid while still looking out for number one. As a DPS if you have your raid frames displayed (which I would encourage, even if you can’t do shit about the people dying) try to move them down towards the middle of the screen on the sides, to minimize eye movement as much as possible.

2. Group similar addons! – Keeping addons with like functions together helps to process more information in less time. For example, I keep all my raid-related addons in the middle left area of my screen. All these addons combined display a huge amount of information (boss abilities, dps, threat, overall status), but since they’re all together they can quickly be absorbed and processed. Being able to quickly see things like that is a big help for any raider, and since they’re kept together and out of the way it doesn’t get in the way of the encounter. Addons should help to provide additional information while still having the player retain their situational awareness, not at the cost of it.

3. Find your gamechangers! – Every class and role has a couple addons that are a huge boost to their gameplay. For me, these addons are Power Auras, Forte Xorcist, and Quartz, for someone else they may be different. The point isn’t to have a specific addon, but once you do find “the one” use it to its full potential and capitalize on everything it offers. My Power Auras are always in the center right over my character to I know the instant something procs. Quartz is right below that so I can manage my casts and not clip any Auto Shots if I have to move. The FX cooldown bar is directly above my character frames, and closest to my action bars so I can keep a close eye on ability CDs as well as internal CDs on trinkets to make the most out of my skills. I keep the spell timer part of FX toward the right so I can have an eye on my DOTs without having to look away from the action. In short, once you find an addon you can’t live without hold on to it and try your best to build you’re UI around it. The main goal of an addon is to improve your game (in my case my DPS), not to make your screen look pretty.

Hopefully these simple tips help out, I’ll probably go in depth into my favorite addons or give reviews of a lesser known addon in the future. Also a full list of addons I use can be posted if you guys want it =] I’d love to hear about critiques you can make on my UI or tricks you learned while designing your own UI. Thanks again everyone!

Posted by: thakarron | February 8, 2010

Gearscore: Cry Moar

There’s been a whole mess of debate over the Gearscore add-on and its ramifications. I figure I’d throw my 2 cents into the pile of change already building up. I feel pretty strongly about this whole ordeal, so I apologize in advance if  I get a little fired up.

First of all, there are a ton of people hating on Gearscore because it keeps them out of heroics/raids/whatever, and is blamed for the general dickheadedness of many players. This is not the case. World of Warcraft existed before Gearscore did, and so did pricks. People will always want a numerical baseline to measure others against, and it can be any number of things apart from your GS. It used to be your DPS, then it was your acheivements, and now its your GS. This is not Gearscore’s fault, this the fault of the douchebags that abuse it. A lot of people don’t care about the people who are targeted by GS-Nazi’s since they’re already geared up, but I remember getting kicked out of groups when I was trying to build up because of low DPS/no acheivement/whatever. This will always happen, and this will continue to happen. Gearscore did not make people into douchebags, that guy that kicked you from his heroic Utgarde Keep run because your GS was under 5000 would still have been a douchebag and kicked you for some other reason if he didn’t have Gearscore.

I actually like Gearscore. (gasp!) It provides a good barometer for yourself and others. Of course it won’t tell you if someone is a total moron with a lot of nice gear or a brilliant DPS savant in crappy blues. But it will help you know what to expect from someone, in a good way. For example, before Gearscore you had to inspect someone, interpret if their gear is decent for their role, and maybe take a look at their spec to see how well they’ll do. Now you can just mouse over the tank and instantly know whether you need to work Misdirection and Feign Death into your rotation or if you can just bring the rain. This is great. This saves time. This makes the entire run a little smoother. This is not a bad thing. Gearscore is designed as a tool to make things easier for you and other people. A tool can’t be inherently bad or flawed or naughty, its all about who uses it. A construction worker uses a drill to make his work way faster and easier. But if he replaces the drill-bit with a large plastic phallus and sits on it he’s using the tool in completely the wrong fashion, but that isn’t the drill’s fault now is it?

If you’re complaining that Gearscore is ruining your game and that your 15 dollars a month are going to waste then you need to rethink things. There are certain limitations that a game designed around the items you have place on you. I don’t care how awesome you are, you won’t be doing well in a ICC run if you just finished gearing up out of 10-man Naxx. This is not Gearscore’s fault, late game WoW is designed to be about gear. And if it wasn’t we’d all be playing naked androgynous manikins with exactly the same abilities and strengths. I’m not saying if you don’t have gear you’re crap, but I’m saying there’s always a limit to what you can do. If you constantly run into doucheasauruses, then I’d suggest you find a guild or group of friends instead of cry about how Gearscore is ruining your life. Even with the awesome LFG system Blizzard did not design you to play this game alone (at least not at 80) if you intend to get into raiding. Having friends makes WoW exponentially better, and if I wasn’t as tight with the team I raid with as well as all my other friends I probably would have quit WoW a long long time ago, regardless of if Gearscore existed or not.

On another note, if you thing that Gearscore is so bad that you have to use “Gearscore Breaker” I can pretty much guarantee you’ll make way more enemies than friends, especially me. Someone put in a ton of work into making a (obviously complex) add-on and if you hate it so much that you wanna break it you’re being even more of a tool than the guys that won’t let you into their Nexus run. I’ve seen people running with this mod, which gives them a 6k plus GS until you get close enough to inspect them and see that they’re wearing questing greens and a smattering of PvP gear. This pisses me off to no-fucking-end. Thank you for taking the easy way out instead of working to grab some drops, make some friends, get in a guild, do dailies to buy crafted items, or anything remotely sensible. I don’t care if your GS is 90000 if its fake I’ll kick you out even if your real GS is higher than mine, just because I don’t want a human being in my group that thinks the best thing to do is ruin another person’s work and try to pull the wool over my eyes like I’m not clever enough to figure out that he’s a fucking moron. So stop with the Gearscore breaker and just man the fuck up. Please.

*huffs and puffs*

Yeesh, well now that that’s off my chest I hope that gave you all a little insight into the positive side of Gearscore (it really isn’t the ultimate evil or anything). And if you do hate GS this is no way targeted at you, I’m just trying to show you where I come from and get you to maybe see things from a little bit of a different perspective. Thanks for the read, I’d love any comments about your point of view on this whole Gearscore War!

Posted by: thakarron | January 31, 2010

Shared Topic: How to HELP Melee DPS Survive

Now that I’m back I thought I’d try and be more active in the blogging community, instead of just posting stuff I wanna write. Besides this is a big help since I often live in a non-creative loser doldrum. Well lets get down to it, this is the Blog Azeroth for the week of January 25th, hope you all like it!

So you may be wondering why I’m writing about melee DPS survival. No I don’t play a silly DK (at least not one thats raiding). No I don’t have a secret healer alt. And no I’m not some stupid melee huntard. Despite all this, there are still things a ranged DPS can do to help out the melee, whose job can often times be pretty tough (its hard to do other things when your stuck up Marrowgar’s ass).

1. Share your DPS – When effects that need to be DPSed down appear (bone spikes for example, etc etc) be sure not to neglect the melee that are affected by them as well, even if you need to run around a little. Freeing up a healer is of course a higher priority, but once the ranged/healers around you are all good don’t forget about your plate wearing buddy down by the boss’s feet.

2. Sacrifice DPS – Other mechanics require a ranged DPS to stay off the boss for a long time to handle special tasks (kiting Blood Beasts, handling adds on Jaraxxus, or what have you) and taking care of these things is generally a lot easier for us than for melee DPS. We don’t have to move to switch targets. Hunters especially have abilities that help on kiting (Distracting Shot, Concussive Shot, Frost Trap, etc). So be quick to use them instead of letting them get loose and smack on the melee (them getting hit makes them die more, and when it comes to Blood Beasts it makes the entire raid die more). They often have enough on their plates already!

3. Don’t  stress the healers – Generally melee DPS will take more damage than ranged DPS will, they’re closer to the boss and have less time to react to AOE effects (sometimes they even have trouble seeing them) and also may have to run away from the boss if he does a proximity effect. This means healers will be focusing more on the  melee than on ranged DPS, unless we’re being stupid and taking damage from EASILY AVOIDABLE effects. If a healer has to heal us its less likely they’ll be able to get the heal off on a melee DPS (or even worse a tank), this is bad. We have a lot of time to get away from shit (cold flames, fire/ice/goo/poison/shadow/what-the-fuck-ever patches) so we should rarely if ever take damage from such a mechanic.
Another way to take some weight off the healers is to control adds (we have Distracting Shot and Misdirect for a reason) to keep them from having to heal themselves or panicking and losing their shit. Pull off the boss drop a Misdirect on the tank and yank that add back into place, or if things are heated pop Distracting Shot, man up, and kite the damn thing yourself until it gets under control again. If we play better and worry more about situational awareness instead of DPS (getting off that one last Steady Shot is not worth sitting in a pile of flaming crap) it in turn helps the melee DPS play better, which continues to snowball and eventually makes the whole raid better. Shocking!

These tips are pretty simple, and even though a lot of them are small they really do help the rest of your raid team. If we can play with this mentality (and the melee DPS also play their best) it makes it a lot easier for them to stay alive and whack the boss with whatever big weapon they have. As I hunter I have as big of a rivalry with kitty druids, combat rogues, or unholy DKs as the rest of you do, but I still try my best to help them stay up (its not like they can top our DPS anyway guys so don’t worry about that >:])

Well this was my first BA Shared Topic, so I’d love any feedback on how to improve writing this kind of thing. Hope this helps some people, even if they aren’t hunters (melee DPS that can see what ranged DPS have to do from their perspective will probably be just as helpful as one of us reading this). Thanks for the read!

Posted by: thakarron | January 28, 2010

Thak Strikes Back

Hey everyone (what few loyal readers stuck around during my insanely long hiatus), I’m really sorry I’ve been gone but now that things have settled down I’m gonna try my best to be back and be better than before!

The holiday season was crazy for me, in a number of ways. Apart from the usual shopping/wrapping/gifting/partying shenanigans my girlfriend and I got into one of the biggest disagreements we’ve ever had. It really sucks to have things start to fall apart when everyone else is being cheerful and enjoying the season (which is what is supposed to happen). Luckily everything got sorted out and back on track, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Anyway, if that wasn’t enough at the start of the semester I got a terrible cold. My lovely girlfriend was once again the cause of my agony =P in reality she was encouraging me to get the H1N1 flu shot and I finally caved in and got it so she would stop bothering me about it. And the way my luck goes instead of getting immunized by the shot I got a case of H1N1 instead (the shot has the live virus in it and it has a chance to hurt instead of help you). So for about a week I was flat on my back (or flat on the toilet) with a 103 fever, terrible body aches, and a stomach more unstable than Tiger Woods love-life. What’s even worse is if you get sick from the shot you aren’t contagious so I couldn’t even try and infect my girlfriend as revenge!

So as you can imagine, all this really took me out of raiding and WoW in general. But after finally getting better (physically and mentally) I managed to get my ass back into the scene. Lately I’ve been running daily heroics religiously as well as doing dailies (yucky!) to get my gold reserve back in order, not to mention trying to make up for my absence and get back in the good graces of my raid team. For about a week or two I was way undergeared compared to the guys I was running with, and was generally pretty burned out on the game, but luckily I got over that and found a new lust WoW.

We’ve been consistently wrecking ICC, progressing cleanly to Rotface (so far we’ve had a handful of looks and we’ll probably have him down by tonight) and the gear has come! I picked up the [Njordnar Bone Bow] and my first piece of t10 (shoulders of course, comeon I’m an orc!) a while ago, and on last nights run the stars aligned and the loot flowed in! I nabbed the [Handgrips of Frost and Sleet], [Taldron’s Long Neglected Boots], [Saurfang’s Cold-Forged Band], and the [Needle-Encrusted Scorpion] (ZOMG FINALLY!). Obviously, I was pretty motherfucking stoked >:] so I’m happy to say I’m all caught up gear-wise (therefore DPS wise), and it feels damn good.

So the TLDR version is: I’ve been busy with a lot of shit (some good some bad), got sick as hell, and was away from the game for a while. But now I’m back in, newly inspired to blog with a more personal touch as well as go balls-to-the-wall in-game. I’m happy to be back and I’m really sorry for vanishing for so long. I didn’t blogfade I promise!!

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