Saturday, January 12, 2008

What will the Totem of Wrath do?

After posting the previous article about the Totem of Wrath, I realized I had done some bad math. But instead of simply changing the math in the post, I figured I could use the opportunity to talk about, and hopefully explain the difference between Melee and Caster damage, crit and hit.

First, lets talk briefly about melee. When you attack something in WoW, the server has to decide the outcome of that attack. Assuming you're attacking from the front, and hitting with a melee weapon, you have 8 possible outcomes:
  1. Miss
  2. Dodge
  3. Parry
  4. Glancing Blow (only players and pets versus mobs)
  5. Block
  6. Critical
  7. Crushing Blow (only mobs versus players and pets)
  8. ordinary hit

Blizzard chose (wisely) to utilize an "Attack Table" to determine what happens when you attack with a melee weapon. This is how it works:

For the sake of keeping it simple, we're only going to talk about Hit, Miss and Crit.

Lets say we have a 5% chance to miss, and a 10% chance to crit. The server will then create an Attack table with every possible outcome on it, then roll a single random number. Whatever that number lands on, is what happens.

Lets illustrate it. Below we have a table of 100 possibilites. 5 Boxes are colored to Miss, 10 boxes for Crit, and the rest to hit.

After the server rolls a random number between 0 and 1, and gets .79, it would be like hitting the #79 box on our chart, and scoring a normal "Hit". The reason this is important to know, is so you understand how +Crit and +Hit items work for Melee players.

If you put on a hat with +1% to Crit, the new crit box REPLACES a HIT box. So the change looks like this:

+1% to Crit
-1% to Hit
+0% to Miss

You're chance to miss stays the same, while your chance to get a normal hit is lowered to match your new chance to get a crit.

However, if you put on a hat with +1% to Hit, the new Hit box REPLACES a MISS box.

+0% to Crit
+1% to Hit
-1% to Miss

Now for the pain-in-the-neck part. Melee and Spells are handled COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

When you cast a spell, there can only be 3 outcomes. Hit, Miss, or Crit. No dodging, perry, crushing, etc. That's not a big deal. The real difference is the Attack Table. There isn't one. (note: After a hit/crit is landed, resist is calculated, which can lower the damage, but that's another conversation.)

Spells are actually handled with TWO rolls. First to see if you hit, then to see if you crit. This sucks. Why? Because my current 6% chance to crit is really only 6% of the times I hit, and I don't hit all the time. So my 6% is really 5.64% when I have a 94% chance to hit.

Now on to the part about my math being wrong in my last post. I want to warn you that this is going to get very nerdy, so if you don't care about numbers, skip the rest of this post, and just know that having 5 Totems of Wrath is worth alot more to me than I thought, as it's value goes up significantly when I'm fighting mobs 3 levels above me, as I am in instances and questing.

When I first posted my numbers, they were based on fighting an equal level opponent. This is what it looked like:

(I'm assuming 100 casts, each doing 100 damage base, while crits do 200 because of talents)

First, my toons with their current 6% crit.

Before against equal mobs
6 (miss) 0
88.36 (hit) 8,836
5.64 (crit) 1,128

Total 9,964

ToW against equal mobs
1 (miss) 0
78.21 (hit) 7,821
20.79 (crit) 4,158

Total 11,979

This equates to a 20.2% increase

You see, I only had a 6% chance to miss in the first place, so adding +15 Hit can't improve things by anymore than 5% due to the cap of 1% chance to miss. You can't do better than that. But when I go up against a mob 3 levels above me, this all changes. Because I start with a 17% chance to miss, so the ToW drops that to 2%!

Before against 3+ mobs
17 (miss) 0
78.02 (hit) 7,800
4.98 (crit) 996

Total 8,796

ToW against 3+ mobs
2 (miss)
77.42 (hit) 7,742
20.58 (crit) 4,116

Total 11,858

A dps increase of 34.8%!!!

Blizzard keeps you in "level" check, by using the hit/miss mechanic. If you try to quest too high, you miss too much to be effective. 5xToW fixes that. There's no reason I can't do level 54 quests right now, and get full quest xp! (sometimes up to 11k xp per turn in) All because of one little talent point. WOOT!

So to sum up, the ToW is a nice stackable totem, and helps alot against equal level mobs, but the further you go up in mob levels, the more return you get.


To Ding, or Not to Ding

Alright here's the thing.

My guys are all 49, and about 10 mins from 50. I stopped running quests in Felwood just before I rolled over, and went back to the battlegrounds.

I had another great night of pvp, and decided I liked AB better. I won my first match (WOOT!) then lost the second because I had 4 (FOUR!!) Oooglers following me around on their mounts taking screenshots. It was painful.

But I'm starting to feel like there's not alot more to gain from pvping in the 40s. I got each of my boys their Battle Healer's Cloak from Warsong, and they're about half way to their Insignia of the Horde pvp trinkets. But there's something special dragging me closer to 50. The Totem of Wrath.

The Totem of Wrath:
Summons a Totem of Wrath with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem increases the chance to hit and critically strike with spells by 3% for all party members within 20 yards. Lasts 2 min.

If you're read my Stackable Totems Guide, you already know why this little totem is so desireable. IT STACKS.

That's right... the 3% Crit and 3% Hit is applied to each member of my party, PER ToW I drop. Therefore, when I drop all 5, each Shaman will gain 15% Crit and 15% Hit. Just typing that makes me want to quit my job, get home and level to 50 asap.

Lets talk about just how good that is. First, lets focus on the +Hit. If you take a look at this Spell Hit Chart I grabbed from WoWwiki, you'll notice we have an inherent chance to miss of 4% when fighting either players or mobs our own level.

Seeing as I quest and raid against mobs up to 3 levels above me, my chance to hit them with my spells is dropped to 83%. So by dropping 5 Totems of Wrath, I've instantly moved them to a 98% chance to hit. Bam. That equals DPS kids, pure and simple.

Then there's the crit. My guys are all hovering around 6% chance to crit with "decent" blue gear for their level. The ToW will put them all at 21% instantly. After doing a bunch of really ugly math I'm sure you don't want to see, I came up with these numbers.

The increased hit and crit, will add 21% damage to my group. That's like adding a 6th Shaman. That's nuts. Just from one little talent point. And that's not all.

Each of my Shaman have a Talent called Elemental Focus. The description reads:

After landing a critical strike with a Fire, Frost, or Nature
damage spell, you enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next 2 damage spells by 40%.

So with crit going from 6% to 21%, I'll have Clearcasting up more often, reducing the cost of my spells. After some more ugly math, I figured out that I'll essentially gain nearly 20% more mana on my Shaman.

So you see why it's so tempting to roll over to 50? 21% damage and 20% mana. I'll be storming Mauradon in no time. Up to this point I haven't been able to get past the first boss without Boom. But this would mean no more PvP for a while. Then again, AV becomes available at 51... oh man I am SO going to level when I get home.

Think I'm making a good choice?


Friday, January 11, 2008

Struggling to Multibox in Battlegrounds

A few days ago I told you all about my first real attempt at Battlegrounds since the disaster in the teens. I mentioned that my first WSG was a rousing success, and that I couldn't wait to go back in.

I've since run around 10 more matches... and have yet to win again.

First off, I'm a good player. I don't claim to be the best of anything, but I feel I can safely say "I know what I'm doing". I was a successful FPS (First Person Shooter) player and I held spots on several respected Counter Strike teams. WoW PvP, being significantly easier than FPS, is very within my range of ability, and I truly enjoy it. Multiboxing however, is taking time to learn.

Rarely are you picked out by the entire other team and rushed over an over when you play one toon. Once you're playing 5, you are SO worth it. :)

But there have been other issues. The "oogling effect", where players simply stay mounted and follow you around to take screenshots. It's terrible. Because the rest of the players blame me for them not helping.

Then when one of your toons die, you can sometimes spend alot of time recovering, trying to get your toons back in a group.

I was also victim to the terrible "Fear Bomb". As a multiboxer, FBs are your worst enemy. Demending on which directions your guys run, and how fast, you may never recover. As Shaman, we have two defenses to this.
  1. Always have a Tremor Totem or two on the ground to break fear as soon as it hits.
  2. Use your PvP trinkets.
The PvP trinkets are seriously expensive (2000+ Honor) which is easy to farm at 60, but takes much longer at 48. So my guys don't have the Honor to buy them just yet. The Tremor Totems have GOT to be a hotkey. And for whatever lazy reason, I still haven't set that up. I have them in my Totem dropping macro, but when you see a Priest or Warlock rushing you, you may not have 6 seconds to cycle through all your totems.

So tonight I'll put Tremor Totem on my Nostromo in a slot of it's own... then again, maybe I just need two different Totem macros.. one for Tremor and Grounding Totems (my panic defenses), and one for the rest. That way I can switch up the order as needed, and still only take up two slots... yeah. I dig that. I'll let you know how it goes. (can you tell I type as I think?) :)

Anyways, as I said, I did terrible. I tried to get a group of 5 buddies from my guild to come with me, but there just are not enough players who have lvl 40ish toons sitting around. There's not a whole lot of reason to keep a toon in the 40s.

Dispite the hate tells, I persevered. I kept going back in, and kept modifying my macros. It was tough to keep going, but I wanted to pvp.

Last night I decided to queue up for Arathi Basin, to see if my pvp improvements would show up where they failed me before. I was pleasently surprised. I took some advice I got on the forums over at Dual-Boxing, and I spoke before the match started. Here's what I said:

"Hey all. I'm multiboxing 5 Shaman. I'm new to this, so I may make mistakes, and I apologize ahead of time. Just hollar and tell me where you need me."

I was suddenly surrounded by players, saying "Cool!" "Holy crap check this out!" and even a "Don't worry about it bud, you'll get better. Just keep trying!". I was shocked. With this new team behind me, I set out and had a GREAT match. I was playing significantly better than I did before.

After taking the Mill myself from 4 other toons, they decided to rush my guys. But this time I was ready. I managed totems, I kept Bloodfury and Elemental Mastery up, I targeted the right players, and my boys only died once each the whole match. It was incredible.

I was multibox/pvping. I found my groove and was feeling success. We actually ended up losing the match, but only by... wait for it... ONE TICK. (10 points. 2000/1990) It was a fantastic game and great fun.

I unfortunately had two "Oooglers", which didn't help. So I did alot of traveling to keep up with the Alliance surge. Several of their players were either pissed, or just found it fasinating to attack me. After I'd swoop down and take the Mine from 3 players, they'd come back with 4 or 5, over and over, no matter how many times I'd kill them all. (I had a helper)

They kept trying new strategies, but I'd simply adapt. After they gave up, I ended up traveling around to find the action.

The point of this post is to encourage you. First off, avoid the BGs till the 40s. Second, avoid the BGs unless you have excellent blue gear on all your toons. (carebearing will do this for you.) Last of all, don't let the jerks discourage you, like they did me. Stick with it, and get in as many matches as you can. You'll figure it all out eventually, and when you come out, you'll be shocked by how easy PvE is. :)


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blizz Cast Episode One Online! (blizzcast)

The very first episode of "Blizz Cast" (blizzcast), the official Blizzard audio podcast, was released today. It starts with an excellent interview with Samwise Didier, one of my favorite Blizzard artist. He's currently the Art Director and Concept Artist at Blizz. The Transcript includes several examples of his artwork.

After the interview, Drysc (Community Manager for US forums) and Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan (Blizzard Lead Designer) both discuss the next (and assumed final before WotLK) patch, 2.4 featuring the Sunwell Plateau Raid Instance. SP will include a new, top end 25 man raiding instance, as well as a 5 man instance.

Click the image above to listen in, read the transcript or to see some of the new screenshots.

I can quit anytime I want.

I swear. I can. Look at that pic... what's in the middle of all that WoW crap... that's right... a pic of me and my beautiful girlfriend. HAH! Told you I'm not addicted. Multiboxing is a totally normal addiction...


Edit: WAIT! Not addiction! I meant to say it's a totally normal addiction. /phew

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ellay Quad Boxes Eye of the Storm

Ellay, of Dual-Boxing, posted one of his multibox pvp videos. He shows us a complete round in the Eye of the Storm, and it really gives you a good looking into what mass pvp looks like with multiple Elemental Shaman.

Thanks Ellay!



Well, I hit 48. With all five Shaman. It's time to PvP.

As you may remember, I first attempted to multibox PvP back when the boys were 19. I headed into Warsong Gulch with 4 of my Shaman, lead by my 19 Twink Rogue. It was a disaster. Here's a quick recap why: Twinks.

A Twink is a low level toon that has been maxed out on gear and stats. This is done by strategically dragging him/her through instances, getting them the best gear possible, and then abusing the hell out of the ability to enchant low level items with high level enchants. The end result, super powerful toon for their level.

This effect is magnified the lower you go. So a level 19 twink may actually have nearly triple the health your 19 does, and the melee twinks can likely kill you in 1-2 shots. Melee, is actually where twinking shines at low level. So seeing as my Shaman are casters, I was tossed around WSG like a bunch of beanbags. This twinking effect becomes less of an issue as you go up to higher brackets.

The 40s, I figured, would be a good place to try PvP again. I wanted to wait until everyone was 48, because that's when we get Chain Lightning Rank 2. So here I am. Before I headed into combat, I knew I needed to look at my interface and macros a bit closer. But I didn't. I wanted to PvP, so I queued up.... wonderful.

After 28 minutes of getting my bearings, we won 3-0, and my boys held 5 of the top 7 spots on the killing blows charts. I was freak'n out. This was what I was waiting for. Bliss.

The actual gameplay was rather interesting. When players first saw me, they wouldn't hesitate to attack. I don't think they could tell how many toons were there. But after dying to 5 simultanious Chain Lightnings, they learned their lesson. Most folks simply ran the other way when I came up a ramp. Hilarious.

At one point, I followed a teammate into the Alliance Flag Room. There were 4 guards. I killed them all within a few seconds. I did so by first coming in to "Tier 2", the level between the flag room floor, and the roof, and dragged my guys along the edge of the drop off. This allowed me to target one of the Alliance standing guard, and send 5 Chain Lightnings down into the room, which proceeded to kill the first guy, and seriously mame the two next to him. A few Lightning Bolts later, everyone was dead, and my guys were left untouched. Beautiful.

As I followed the flag carrier outside, he headed towards the Alliance Ramp, and I followed. I noticed that all the guys I had just wiped out were rezing, and two mounted to follow us. I dropped off my own mounts at the top of their ramp, and started dropping totems. I fanned my boys out into formation, and we were quite the sight... if I do say so myself. The two mounted pursuers stopped dead in their tracks... walked backwards for a few steps then turned around and ran. Joy.

Everything just seemed to work out. As with any WSG match, you'll be more effective if you pick your fights, and avoid rushing into a melee fest. So I did. I stayed back, and went in when I knew I could safely unleash some damage. When one of my boys would die, I'd leave them at the GY until I was done with the current fight. Then I'd have the one at the GY mount, then autorun forward. I'd meet them half way, tell them to follow, then head back to the battle a full team again.

My Totems were all wrong. I was still using a group macro which was dropping totems designed for PvE, not PvP. So I decided to setup a new PvP Totem Macro. I started dropping Grounding Totems first, as they wipe out any and all casters by absorbing everything they cast. Then my healing/mana totems, to help sustain me. Then Earthbind, Tremor and Stoneskin totems. And finally some Searing Totems for good measure.

This worked ok, but it became evident that I need quick and easy access to Earthbind for catching those who choose to run away, and Tremor because sometimes you need it to stop those kamikaze Priests who figure they can just aoe fear me to death. So I added these to my Shift-x keys on the Nostromo.

Then I headed into Arathi Basin... it didn't go too well. For three reasons.

1. Killing a Multiboxer is fun.

Why? Because if you're playing against one, you've likely died to him several times already, feel he's cheating, with you were him, and seeing him die just might make you feel better about being you.

The problem is, you need several guys to kill one, and it's hard to organize enough when you're playing with only 9 other pugs. But in AB, you're playing with 14, so it's easier to form a lynch mob and head after the multiboxer.

2. Multiboxers are cool.

This guarantees you have at least 2-3 fans follow you around to watch the magic. Therefore, at any given time, I'm responsible for 8 of 15 players being in the same spot. It's just too hard to hold 3 flags.

3. Rotating Graveyards.

In AB your spawn point is rarely the same, and if a flag is captured while you await resurrection, you may even move to another yet. At one point, I had guys at 3 different GYs, and it took a LONG time to get them all back together again. That means we have 3 players out of 15 that aren't doing anything for the team until I can get to them. It sucks.

So we didn't win, and I decided AB can wait.

I went back into Warsong late that night, fully expecting to rule the roost again... but it didn't turn out so well. But that's another story... stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Patch 2.3.2 Goes Live

Yesterday, the Public Test Realm was closed. And today, Patch 2.3.2 goes live on US servers!

The only real changes for Shaman are to our elemental shields. Here's how the patch notes look:

  • Lightning Shield mana cost reduced.
  • Water Shield now restores mana periodically regardless of how many charges remain. Duration increased to 10 minutes.

The Water Shield change is the most significant to us Shammieboxers. But before we get to the changes, lets review it's history.

There are two ranks of Water Shield, one found at level 62, and the second at 69. For the same of comparison, we'll be only discussing the full blown, rank 2 at level 70. (the returned mana would increase with level.)

In the beginning, it was a 10min shield, that held 3 charges. Each time you got hit, you got some mana. Woot. Mind you, at the time it cost mana to cast.

Shortly after that, it was upgraded. You would get nearly 200mana when hit, and it only lasted a minute. If at the end of the minute, you had any charges left, they each paid off at once. (ie if you never got hit, and the shield expired, you'd instantly get 600+ mana.) Bliz looked at what it had done and said, "This is mediocre."

The bonus to mana was a welcomed change, but the need to refresh this shield every 60 seconds was quite frankly, rediculous. So in 2.3.2, we're getting a buff again, and I think they finally got it right.

In the new version, we now get a buff that grants 50mp5 simply by having the shield up. PLUS, we still get 200 mana when we're hit, up to 3 times. PLUS, now the shield lasts 10 mins! So now, it becomes a 10 minute blessing that continues to make it easier for Shaman to maintain mana levels.

The only thing that sucks about all this... my boys are still 14 levels away from it. :)


Don't worry Princess, I'll kill you!

Zul'Farrak was fun. It was quick. Some of the lewts was good. But I figured I could do better. So I packed up the boys, and worked our way to Maraudon.

Maraudon was actually the first instance to be added to WoW after release. It came in patch 1.2. (12/18/04... good lord we've been playing this game a long time.) I remember the release. At the time, I was hardly high enough level to go there, but I remember watching some of the hardcore players post the gear they got from it.

Maraudon was a fairly creative design. As you can see in the map, it's broken up into 3 major sections. The Orange Zone, the Purple Zone and Lower Maraudon. Both Orange and Purple are on the same level, each has it's own entrance, and they eventually meet as you head toward the Earth Song Falls. After completing a quest, you can obtain The Scepter of Celebras, which allows you to warp from the entrance, directly to the falls, and essentially start at the half way point.

When I went in, I was still 45, and I took Boom. The mobs were still easily dispatched, and the xp was wonderful. The gear was fantastic, as most of it required level 48, so it was something to look forward to.

I've been trying to loot most mobs, if anything, for DE material and enough cash to train these 4 financial black holes. Ever since I started that, I've found 3... THREE world drop Epics. This blows my mind quite frankly. The first, the Fiery War Axe was actually a great find, and gave me 200g towards the lvl40 mounts. The next two, The Ring of Saviors and the Icemail Jerkin you see here, are worthless. But fun finds none-the-less.

By this point, my boys are actually putting out some real damage. So I found myself contributing to boss fights, and even some mob pulls instead of just watching Boom beat them down. This is turned out to be really fun, and gave me a peek into what's next... instancing with all 5 Shaman.

The bosses all dropped really quick, and I was able to complete three different quests, including Corruption of Earth and Seed, which gave each of my boys their Resurgence Rod. The regen stats are fantastic for PvE and PvP both. That, and they look pimp, which is by far the most important thing.

I found myself actually enjoying the grind through. The bosses are fun, but so are the mobs. I started having some hilarious flash backs to the first time I came in here. I was with a group of low levels (my friends) and one guy who was a high level warrior (think 52ish) who was essentially twinking us through. Anyone else remember the giant slug butt that constantly gave birth to more slugs? :)

We eventually got all the way to the end of the entrance, and were granted audience with the Princess.

About the Princess... um... HOTNESS!

I almost couldn't kill her. My boys found themselves in a trance as they watched this thing of beauty strut her stuff. (Those hips... Those Thighs... They've got me Hypnotized) Despite her obvious beauty, she's actually quite the pain for a normal group at a normal level. She has this ridiculous ground stomp that sends your group bouncing backwards, and if you're not careful, over the falls. But Boom slapped her around pretty soundly, and loot was had by all. (well, it was had by one, but that doesn't sound as cool.)

Maraudon is such a beautiful instance, that it's almost relaxing to run. Everything is bright, pretty and huge in scale. This makes for some plesent grinding. But the XP almost came too fast... Before I knew it, I was 46. That's good right? Well, sure. But that also means all 5 of my Shaman are the same level. I had to face the fact that Boom was going to have to step out. It was time for the Twenty Totems to unite like a green, magical Voltron, and take on the world.

Hey, this means we get to try PvPing again! WOOT!


Monday, January 7, 2008

Shamans come in last in Arenas recently added a "Global Player Ranking" built with data pulled from the Official WoW Armory. They do an excellent job of manipulating the data into some useful info. Something that stood out was the lack of Shaman in the top 100 players group.

3 percent.

I read some more about Shamans in the Arenas, and I'm starting to understand why. First off, these numbers are based on the average Arena Rank of a given player, including their ranks from all three Arena Brackets. (2v2, 3v3 and 5v5)

While just about every top Arena Team in the 5v5 bracket has a Shaman in it, the 3v3s and 2v2s are a different story. Shamans can either head into an Arena ready to heal, or drop crazy burst DPS. Healing isn't normally an option, because the other healing classes simply have more to offer.

That leaves burst DPS. While Shaman can do this well, once again there are much better choices for DPS when you have such a small team as you do in 2v2 and 3v3.

I plan to play in all three brackets when I hit 70. I'll likely follow in Alley's footsteps and take 4 of my boys in at a time, and bring a 5th dedicated healer. But I hope to run 2v2 and 3v3 on my own, and see if I can't make some progress.

I don't intend on even hitting 1800 in the lower brackets, but I plan on having fun. :)


Ding! (48)

Why choose to Ding at 48? Well, several things happen at 48. The most notable would be rank 2 of Chain Heal,(actually came at 46) and more importantly, rank 3 of Chain Lightning, both important in PvP.

The next reason... you guessed it, PvP. Ever since I stepped in WSG at 19, only to be cut to tiny shreds, I dreamed of hitting 48 where I figured I'd be able to compete with the twinks. And as you'll see later this week, I do.


Happy New Year!

Well, the break is over. Back to work. :)

Ok, this isn't exactly work. But I do have alot of grinding to do. This week we'll be covering a few different things, and along with that, will come a new format for Twenty Totems: The Blog.

Starting this week, I'll have a new post every morning. Instead of trying to fit a post into my normally busy workday, I'll be building a weeks worth every weekend, and post them daily throughout the week. This also means I can give you a sneak-peek each Monday, into what we'll be talking about that week.

Here's what you have to look forward to. We follow Boom deep into Maradon, and fall in love with a Princess... We own WSG, then it owns us... I pause, look around the room and wonder if this hobby is actually an illness... and in our Friday "How to Multibox", we'll be looking into basic Formations.

Woot! Amirite?

So come back every morning for more Shaman/Multiboxing/Egotastic/Spectacular!