Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Training Dummies Podcast is Live!

Two guildies and myself fired up a podcast. It is in the same spirit of More Cowbell but with the help of two people it should technically be a lot easier to keep things fresh, overcome writers block and in general be a more fun thing for people to listen to rather than reading only the thoughts of one individual.

You can check out our combined efforts at: The Training Dummies Website.
We're also on iTunes too!

 This is going to be a journey, so hang on there us as we get settled in and figure this out. It's a learning process for us, and hopefully it will still be a fun journey for you while get refine our podcasting prowess.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Legendary... Fail

Now, I wouldn't subject my guildies to this if we all didn't have a sense of humor about it.
This is a special occasion, our guild's first legendary item completed, the Fangs of the Father daggers for Rogues.

We have been anticipating the completion date since the day we got Dragon Soul on farm knowing we'd get it done, give or take a week or so (attendance) in May or June. So when the day finally came, and our Rogue got his Legendary Daggers, the raid said "Hoof.. you got to capture him using the On Use ability for the first time" (The on use is like a mage's Light Fall or Priest's Levitate.. but with Dragon Wings!... but you probably already knew that).  So, I figured, Ok, a quick 15 second video that we can look back on later will be fine.
What we got was SO much more (and took SO much longer than 15 seconds).

This isn't your typical victory video though, this....  is just awesome.
I present to you, Killsforu, our Rogue (Who's main has been a mage for several years), who may have hit the drink a little earlier than he should have in celebration.


Congratulations Kills, and now we really do have something amazing to look back on and tease you for years to come!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Asked Mr Robot

I'm going to cover a little bit about Ask Mr. Robot.  This post is two-fold.  A Quick Start guide and a slightly more Advanced section.

What is Ask Mr. Robot?  Mr. Robot is a character optimization website.
Before you skip down to the good stuff, if you've never heard about Ask Mr. Robot, you might be missing out on some potentially powerful improvements.  What A.M.R. does is look at your character from the armory, Checks some filters (these are built in, but you can also customize anything you want), and then gives you data showing you how you can really optimize your character via reforging, enchanting and gems at the click of a button.

While there's many alternatives for optimization, I'm going to cover how to get the most out of A.M.R. for now.

At first Glance the AskMrRobot site can look quite intimidating, but it isn't as difficult as you might think. I wrote up this guide for a quick, easy visual tutorial to get you right into optimizing your character the right way, and fast!

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More detailed information at the AskMrRobot Primer and FAQ
and also detailed info on "How does Mr. Robot's Optimizer work?"

1: Go to http://askmrrobot.com
2: Enter your Server and your character's name then click "Load".
3: Once your character is loaded you'll see it below. Click the character you want to optimize.

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4: Click Reload
5: Make sure you're in the right Spec and gear!! (If you are not in the right spec and gear, log out of WoW while in the correct spec and gear, then repeat the above steps). This is your character as seen in the Armory.
6: Click "Optimize!"

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7: A new tab appears, and Now you see what Ask Mr Robot is suggesting.
So: My Gear Optimized Score% - My Gear Score% = Difference%, the larger the Difference percent, the more you should reconsider optimizing. 

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8: Gear Optimization: Clicking on the Best In Slot button will show you your best in slot gear,but based on the options you selected.
It may suggest gear out of your current reach, so it is best to adjust your most realistic level of obtainable gear first in the options so that you have a realistic goal.
See Options below for adjusting these settings.

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Any time you've equipped new gear, gems and enchants, Check A.M.R. to make sure you're still optimized (Make sure you didn't drop below any important stat minimum requirements etc).  I don't recommend worrying too much about optimization until you're at level cap since you will be constantly replacing many, many gear items frequently.

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There are two places you can adjust more advanced choices.
  • Set Options and Filters
  • Edit Stat Weights
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Set Options and Filters: (The Gears / 'Change' button)
  • Did you just ding max level? Are you trying to prep for raiding? Are you already decked out in the latest and greatest?
  • Maybe you don't have the cash or materials for epic enchants...
  • Maybe you don't like to run fast because you have alternatives and would prefer pure stat enchants.
  • Maybe you aren't quite in the latest tier gear yet so using epic gems too soon is a little silly.
  • This is the place you want to set these filters and options!

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Editing Stat Weights
  • Target Level Choose your target leve from the drop down.  This determines a few things in the AMR calculations.
  • Edit Boxes can be manually edited or adjusted to Your specifications if you want to try something different.

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Thanks for checking out my Ask Mr Robot beginners and almost advanced user guide!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summertime Strategies

Summer is creeping up, things begin to slow down in game, it's not unique to anyone, it just happens every year, and definitely more noticeable before a new expansion is on the horizon.  Rather than let yourself be bummed about it, there's still a lot of opportunity to keep things interesting. 

Changing things around with what you have:
It's a great time to check out those macros you've been a little nervous about trying out! You've heard someone talk about it here or there but maybe have been a little too nervous to break old habits yet.

Trying out some new hardware:
If you're feeling really adventurous it could be a great time to try out some new gaming hardware.
Maybe you've had your eye on that Gaming mouse but have been a little nervous about what you're going to do with all the extra buttons. 
Maybe you're looking at a gaming pad, or a new gaming keyboard.

Trying out a new Role:
Maybe you've done all of those things above, and instead, you want to try out a new role. Inbetween expansions can be a great time to get into a group in a new role as people take their breaks and are missing a given role for their group. It could even be a good time to secure that new raid spot and role by showing the raid leaders you're reliable, always there and ready to go.

Why is "Now" the time?
By this time, you're probably already pretty familiar with most or all of the current content.
At this point of an expansion there's very little difficulty in obtaining some potent gear for a new character.
Because of this, there is often a lot more room for error while you're learning, giving you more room to breathe while you adapt to a new kind of play regardless if its Trying out macros, new hardware or new roles.

Even if you're just into running fairly casual stuff, Break out of that mental autopilot mode and try out something new! By changing just a couple of things can often open new doors in how you play and new perceptions on ways to do new things and even improve your performance. Sometimes those little changes can feel like you're playing a whole new game.

Now is a great time to experiment with new things while the waters are calm.
The penalties for a learning curve are low, and the ease of acquiring some competent gear for your character is very accessible.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Raid Finder Loot Concerns!

After being witness to lots of disgruntled players in regards to the looting system and how people use it in Raid Finder, I thought I'd post some things of note:
(You can also check out the discussion of this topic at Hearthcast.com's Podcast, episode 117) 

Bearing in mind that the Mists of Pandaria Raid Finder loot system seems to eliminate most or all of these issues, and None of this applies to actual raiding proper (normal mode, heroic mode, pugs or guild runs where there is usually a loot rule or system and a group-agreed upon designated master looter) here's my thoughts on Current Random Raid Finder (Dragon Soul) looting:

1) The Raid Finder system is currently flawed by design both by blizzard and ALSO by many of the players' expectations. 

  • Blizzard admits design fault, they are revising Raid Finder looting in MoP.
  • Blizzard's roll design allows for engineering odds in your favor.  it does not guarantee you anything at all, but it does help your odds.
  • Some players expect an etiquette to be followed, this is also a flaw, because the larger the pool of people, the more diverse this becomes and etiquette can differ greatly the more people you throw into the mix.
2) The RF raid almost always isn't just the 25 people you started with.
When i'm done with a RRF Dragon Soul, often my recount will show 40 to 60 players total.  this means that people are after 1 thing and leave., Even if you're queueing for RRF by yourself and not with the aid of a guild, this can still feel just as unfair.

  • Let's say by some stroke of luck you are 1 of 2 people in the entire raid that can use an item/token.  This token drops. "Hey, i have a 50/50 chance!" you think.  You lose the roll.  "Ah well.. the next one that drops is surely mine!" you think, except the person that just won an item leaves the group.  RRF inserts someone else that can use the same item/token you're after.  Now your chances effectively went from 50% to 33%.. if this happens again it just dropped to 25% and so on.
Based entirely on the current and soon to be outdated system allowed in Raid Finder, The BENEFIT of rolling need on what you're allowed to, is that you can use any won item as any of the following, in no particular order:
  1. Repair
  2. Disenchant for Materials for your own/guild's enchant or sell materials for AH
  3. Use the actual item for an upgrade
  4. Trade it to an friend/guild mate for an upgrade (They still had to be there for the kill)
  5. Use the won item for a later trade or barter for a different item someone else wins from a different boss either for yourself or for your friend(s). In some cases this can actually even out loot distribution instead of it being very lopsided, which it can be, naturally. 

3) The path of least resistance.
The only way possible at all for a "Fair" system to work in the current form is to assure that all 25 (Minimum) PUG members in a RRF group are all on the same page.  In a 5 man this is much easier to agree an upon an etiquette.This still does not guarantee anything in either a 5 man or 25 man since there is nothing at all to enforce it in Raid Finder. 

  • The easiest thing to do, regardless of how "You" think things should work or not, is to use the system to your advantage without exploiting the system.  Exploits are not allowed.  Using the game's system is.  The game allows you to roll, you roll.
  • Needing on something you don't exactly need can still benefit you, and someone else later.  An item can be traded later on, assuming both players were there for the kill.
  • Maybe you've needed on something for future trading/bartering, but the item you really wanted never dropped.  It's completely the players discretion to give the unwanted needed item to someone else or not.  Maybe it will pay their repair bill.  Maybe they can disenchant it and sell the mats or use them for their own enchant. 

4) The problem with "Fair"
"Fair" is subjective.  What's fair to one person is not fair to another.  A hard core raider running raid finder might be trying to match up his 4 piece bonus because he's not having any luck in normal raids, this is his second chance in raid finder. To simplify, lets say there's 2 people rolling on this token.  The Raider who is leading, instructing and carrying the raid and the Inexperienced First Timer who is barely showing up on the healing/DPS meters and possibly causing trouble by not following instructions.
  • If the Raider wins, the I.F.T. thinks it's unfair, because the raider already has loads of high level gear and he doesn't.  gee, what an unfair system.
  • If the I.F.T. wins, the Raider is upset because "this guy isn't doing anything to help out" and probably would have little trouble completing the content without the person entirely, and darn it, that 4 piece would really help out my normal mode team progression! gee... what an unfair system.

By trying to play by "What one thinks is fair" you leave yourself open to a very subjective array of opinions on what is fair by a MINIMUM of 24 other players, probably more by the end of the raid as people leave and even more players fill their departure. Use what the Raid Finder gives you to your best advantage, doing any less will only cheat yourself. Always roll "Need" if you can, even if you don't need that particular item, because you can always use it as "currency" to trade for an item later if someone out rolls you on that... and they probably will. 
** If by the end of the run there's nothing to trade if for, and you still don't need or want it, Make note of the other rollers or other nice people and give it away!
I could go on for pages about other ways players 'unfairly' troll raid finder (sometimes it's not even loot, they want a reaction) to get what they want , such as the AFKers that roll need. Effectively, the debate about Guildies rolling for other guildies, is as valid an argument as complaining about allowing people able to leave. Or new people to join in which increases or decreases your original odds in the first place of winning something. Or the people that continuously start combat/boss fights so they can't be booted and still will be allowed to roll on the loot. Or that you suffered through a bunch of Ultraxion wipes, beat him finally and some new person joins in at Blackhorn and wins an item right off the bat over you which you might also think is unfair. None of this is a valid argument.  
You need the rest of the people to complete the raid, just as they need you.  You're entitled to roll on anything you can roll on, just like they are.

5) What Blizzard says:
Blizzard stated that Raid finder is there for people that would otherwise never get to SEE (experience) current/end game content. They have now enabled the otherwise unable. The gear and valor points are added incentive for people of varying skill levels to keep queuing up.  Of course the gear helps boost you up and can be a great aid in normal mode progression, another incentive, but not it's originally intended purpose.

- It is IMPOSSIBLE to Ninja anything in Raid Finder. You cannot set it to master looter, which is THE only way to truly ninja anything.

- There is no exploit by TOS definition for teaming or pairing up with a friend to increase either of your odds of winning an item. It might be disappointing to you or others if you win/lose but it is not an exploit.

If you are truly interested in the loot, and not just the experience of the dungeon, The game allows you the freedom to be in a guild that does the content you want to do and has rules you agree with and a loot system you are on board with. That's where "Fair, etiquette", more often than not, comes into play, not in the current PUG system. Thankfully the MoP PUG Raid finder loot system is entirely based on You VS the game's dice, and not you VS another player's Dice, your fortune or misfortune will be entirely your own and not impacted by anyone else.

 I'm not trying to convince anyone to do anything special, and this only matters for a few more months anyway, but you may need to open your mind in the future to this type of thinking, that you should play by the game's allotted rules, and not simply trust complete strangers.  That's just asking to be taken advantage of.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Horderlies Dragon Soul Chronicling Complete

I've finally gotten all of the videos uploaded to YouTube.
The previous post was updated to include all of the individual video links.

Or you can go straight to the Raid playlist and watch the Hagara & Zan'ozz videos that were added.
Horderlies Dragon Soul Raid (YouTube playlist)

I know this is not cutting edge, but I do hope that this slightly different approach to a "Strat Video" will help people out there.  Sometimes seeing a video set to a funky beat isn't enough, so ours includes all the game sounds & voice chatter and how our group communicates to each other so that if you ARE a new raider you not only know what to look for, you know what to listen for, and maybe know what to call out to your team!

Enjoy.  Please like them.  if you have any feedback good or bad I'd love to hear it, but please be constructive and leave feedback I can work with.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

YouTube Spotlights with Horderlies!

More Cowbell lives on, just not in any regular scheduled releases it seems.

I have some goodies for anyone looking for some tips in raiding Dragon Soul (Normal 10 man).
These videos are on my YouTube channel, but here's the links specifically to them.

Zan'ozz (added later, original recording didn't come out well)
Haraga the Stormbinder (added later, original recording didn't come out well)
Warmaster Blackhorn
Spine of Deathwing
Madness of Deathwing

All of these videos are from a tanking viewpoint, however I've tried to include everything I can think of for the entire encounter for any role.  These are basic strategies and ones that we use in guild on a consistent basis.

I've left most of the Voice chatter so you can see how everyone communicates things to each other.  Some of the really long or repetitive fights are sped up though and do not have that audio, but it is only sped up after the explanations before it begins to repeat.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Horderlies Raiding Update

While I have not been making new audio segments, I have been experimenting around with video segments. I don't think I'll end up blogging about these or use them as a way to feed content into a topic though. If you're interested I've created a YouTube Channel with some test samples (nothing crazy or very original YET, just some clips of me using some addons, mostly figuring out the software for recording and editing).

I've been pushing our guild through normal mode, 10 man dragon soul and at this point we're on Madness of Deathwing. Our progression, though it is slow, is thwarted mostly by Real Life issues of our raid team. Because of our guild type, we're not ones to punish our members for such things. We will take sub ins if folks are available, but sometimes you get the perfect storm of everything that could be bad news all at once.

All that aside, we're finally looking like we're going to kill Deathwing very soon. On our current sporadic and inconsistent attempts, we've just about gotten to phase two of the fight. A large part of pushing through this will require us to attempt this fight with some kind of regularity. Currently we're just getting there too late in the evening, so we're considering extending a raid lockout to get that punch on Deathwing in with a fresh start at the beginning of the Raid Night.

Until very recently we only raided 1 night a week for a couple of hours. Several weeks ago we've decided to split up the raid night into 2 nights. This move, combined with the same members showing up for 5 weeks in a row, gave us some of the fastest and most raid progressive play we, as a guild, have ever seen.  We will clear Morchok through Ultraxion (or however far we can get in 1 hour) on one night, then the next night begin on the content that we're still not sure if we have on Farm status or not, end up on Deathwing and do a few attempts before going to bed.

But, yeah... To kill deathwing, we need to consider a lock out extension the same way we considered opening up a Pre-raid night to clear the easy stuff and save some time for progression night. Once we kill him I'm sure the fight will suddenly seem so much easier and we will end up clearing the entire raid in a night. 
When it happens, I'd like to record our Deathwing kill with the guild voice chatter included, I'm sure it will be a good time :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What a short strange trip it's been!

More cowbell is taking a break, possibly permanently.
I hope that anyone that listened to the segments gleened some useful information and advice.

I am not quitting WoW, rather, I'm not sure that I can keep up advisory segments long enough without keeping it as original, loose and fun as possible and also beginning to step on other segment producer's toes that may cover duplicate topics. 

Thanks for the visits and the listens guys!

#06 - Turn it around!

It's habitual for me, generally, when fighting a boss, to turn it around.  If other melee DPS classes are soft hit/expertise capped (capped when only attacking from behind), by doing this, the DPS are already in position for their maximum potential.

Additionally, Many bosses may have abilities that can be detrimental to your group if they're facing it.  Turning them around is a sure fire way to make sure you don't subject your group to the bosses that have these abilities (like a cleave damage, Fiery breath, or other frontal only AoE attack).

Watch out though, some bosses also attack from the rear.. and with things that hit harder than flatulence!