Power Auras for Boomkins

This post will be about two versions of Power Auras – the one that is built in-game from Blizzard, and the addon that inspired it: Power Auras Classic.

A while back, I had installed the Power Auras mod and played around with it.  My raid leader had told me about it, and at the time my DPS as a feral cat druid was lacking, so I wanted to try whatever I could.  I loaded it up, and very quickly became confused with it and didn’t bother trying it again.  Not too long after, Blizzard decided to incorporate their own version of the system into the game itself, with not nearly as much customization.

Basically, Power Auras is an alert system that can tell you a number of things.  Things like a spell alert which is being cast on your target, when a cooldown is available to be used, or if a certain debuff is not on your target are some small examples.  By using these alerts, it can make you that much of a better player by being able to focus on what you’re doing without having to look at too many different places.

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I personally use a combination of the spell alerts from Blizzard supplemented by Power Auras.  I know many people who use one or the other, but out of sheer laziness I decided to go with what was given by Blizzard since it would be less work for me to set up.  To set up the in-game spell alerts, simply go to Interface Options, the Combat screen, and enable “Show Spell Alerts” (see graphic at right).  The opacity slider simply decides how transparent or not the alerts are.

There will be a number of pre-loaded things that will happen for certain events, such as Shooting Stars which procs and instant cast Starsurge.  If you haven’t used these before, it would probably be a good idea to use them for a bit so you know where they are on your screen and what they look like.  If you don’t like them then you can customize those events into Power Auras, and if you don’t mind them like me you can leave them.

The spells that are covered by the Blizzard spell alerts are:

  • achieving Solar Eclipse
  • achieving Lunar Eclipse
  • proccing Shooting Stars for an instant cast Starsurge
  • proccing Clearcasting for the next ablility to cost no mana

In my opinion, why fix what isn’t broken?

Power Auras - Boomkin setup

This is my Power Auras setup, which is nothing too fancy.  I’m a big fan of doing as little as possible to clutter up my UI.  Starting from the top middle and working clockwise, this is what the different elements mean:

  • Starsurge off cooldown and available to use
  • Insect Swarm is not on target
  • Force of Nature (treants) off cooldown and available to use
  • Starfall off cooldown and available to use
  • Moonfire or Sunfire (depending on which Eclipse phase I’m in) not on target.

Between the base spell alerts and Power Auras extra information, I rarely ever have to look at my action bar to see if things are off cooldown, unless I want to see how much longer until I need to use it.  I have other mods which tell me specific times on cooldowns that I have as well as duration left on the target, so between these different things I’m pretty much set.

If anyone has any suggestions on ways that I can improve my setup or things that I have missed, please let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking to improve, and would love to hear from you.

Screenshot of the Week – April 9

Spring may have finally arrived in Edmonton. I just got a car wash, so I hope that it’s true.

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Today’s screenshot of the week comes from the Goblin starting zone of the Lost Isles, going from the smaller island to the bigger one.  You go across the channel in style, by means of a slingshot-propelled rocket.  What can go wrong?

Rethinking Raiding

I mentioned previously that I was mulling the idea of switching from my usual melee DPS role to that of ranged DPS. Gradually over time, I’ve been building up my gear and getting to a raid-ready position so I wouldn’t suck too much. After all of my preparation time, Tuesday arrived and gave me the first taste of raiding from a new standpoint. Over three years of thinking from a melee standpoint is out the window, time to rethink and relearn how to raid.

At first, I forgot how much of a change that it was to change roles. Instead of staring at the rear end of the boss the whole time, I get to stay safely away from its cleaves and bad things. Over the past years I haven’t had to worry about anything that happens at range, so I was quickly educated on how not safe I actually was. The bosses we went through in just over two hours on Tuesday night gave me new perspectives of what I mostly knew already.

Continue reading “Rethinking Raiding”

Guilds and Responsibilities

For a great many people, a guild can be a very (if not the most) important part of their gameplay. What good is a MMORPG if you don’t have people to play with? Yes, there are features that help with this like the random dungeon finder, trade chat, official forums, and so on – but there is nothing like a close-knit group of people who spend most of their gaming time together.

A guild should do a number of things for the player, both in-game and out. Even though the reason that it exists in the first place is to facilitate gaming activities, many stories are out there that show how a well-managed guild can be support people in their real life world. Think of it like a workplace: if you’re going to spend a great deal of time with a group of people, getting along with them can be an important step.

Like a workplace, people don’t always get along. The kindest person might rub someone the wrong way unintentionally, and conflict is born. Depending on how this conflict might be handled could make or break a guild’s leadership. Reacting either too soft or heavy could make an officer or guild master lose any sort of respect that they might have.

This is why I personally enjoy a medium-sized guild. At the most through my WoW career, the guild has had a maximum of around 30-50 active members at any point in time. On an average night, there could be anywhere between 10-30 people online, but I knew each one of them. I’ve never been in a larger guild, so I don’t have the experience when it comes to large-scale management.

The guild master and officers should be respected members of the group, and able to handle the responsibility of leadership. Like anyone who is looked upon for guidance and direction, they must have thick skin and be able to be accountable. Someone in power who thinks they are above the law is a bad idea.

Members also have their own responsibilities. Most guilds have their rules and regulations posted in plain sight, so when someone joins a guild they agree to abide by those rules – there’s no pleading ignorance if something happens that goes against them. Members must respect the leadership of the guild, and follow the established protocol for conflict resolution, as I mentioned earlier. If there’s a raid signup, if someone signs up, they had better be there for that raid. Planning raid composition and people who may have to sit out is a tough job, and then if someone is a no-show you have people who miss out for no reason.

A guild is made up of every single member working together. People should have respect for one another, working with the established code of conduct, and being responsible for their position within that guild.

For a great many people, a guild can be a very important (if not the most important) part of their gameplay. What good is a MMORPG if you don’t have people to play with? Yes, there are features that help with this like the random dungeon finder, trade chat, official forums, and so on – but there is nothing like a close-knit group of people who spend most of their gaming time together. 

A guild should do a number of things for the player, but in-game and out. Even though the reason that it exists in the first place is to facilitate gaming activities, many stories are out there that show how a well-managed guild can be support people in their real life world. Think of it like a workplace: if you’re going to spend a great deal of time with a group of people, getting along with them can be an important step.

Like a workplace, people don’t always get along. The kindest person might rub someone the wrong way unintentionally, and conflict is born. Depending on how this conflict might be handled could make or break a guild’s leadership. Reacting either too soft or heavy could make an officer or guild master lose any sort of respect that they might have.

This is why I personally enjoy a medium sized guild. At the most through my WoW career, the guild has had a maximum of around 30-50 active members at any point in time. On an average night, there could be anywhere between 10-30 people online, but I knew each one of them. I’ve never been in a larger guild, so I don’t have the experience when it comes to large scale management.

The guild master and officers should be respected members of the group, and able to handle the responsibility of leadership. Like anyone who is looked upon for guidance and direction, they must have thick skin and be able to be accountable. Someone in power who thinks they are above the law is a bad idea.

Members also have their own responsibilities. Most guilds have their rules and regulations posted in plain sight, so when someone joins a guild they agree to abide by those rules – there’s no pleading ignorance if something happens that goes against them. Members must respect the leadership of the guild, and follow the established protocol for conflict resolution, as I mentioned earlier. If there’s a raid signup, if someone signs up, they had better be there for that raid. Planning raid composition and people who may have to sit out is a tough job, and then if someone is a no-show you have people who miss out for no reason.

A guild is made up of every single member working together. People should have respect for one another, working with the established code of conduct, and being responsible for their position within that guild.

Professionally Speaking

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

Of all the time sinks in World of Warcraft, there remains one that is not only a way to spend lots of time, but also lots of currency as well. People will debate until the end of WoW which is the best, which is the worst, which is the most boring, which is the most fun… which I will give my thoughts as well. I speak of our friends, professions.

There are a good variety of professions, as well as opinions about them. My main character is currently maxed in all of his professions except for archaeology, having: skinning, leatherworking, cooking, fishing, and first aid. Altogether, I have personally found these skills to not be too bad to skill up with, having decent rewards. Going from a pure min/max perspective, they’re not the best ones, but it comes to the laziness factor in certain things.

Here are my thoughts on professions in these categories: best, worst, most boring, and most fun. For this purpose, I’ll be defining “best” as looking at it from min/max standpoint, “worst” being the least beneficial, with “most boring” and “most fun” being self-explanatory.

Best profession: my thought for this is jewelcrafting. There are a great amount of benefits from this, mainly being the jewelcrafting-specific gems that have the bigger bonuses, as well as the bind-on-pickup trinkets that can be used to supplement them. These, along with the incredible resale value of the products made, make a very attractive profession to get. I find that it’s rough to get the skill up to around 300, but after that it gets much easier (or so I’m told, my highest JC is only around 150).

Worst profession: to me, this one is first aid. In the grand scheme of things, a bandage will do very little to help out in a battle. On my characters that have no way to heal themselves except through food and bandages, I still have found myself to rarely ever use bandages. If I’m in combat, I’m being damaged enough that the channeling will be interrupted easily, and if I’m out of combat I have food to heal me more efficiently. I’m maxed in first aid, but this is mainly for the achievements and nothing else.

Most boring: this is a no-brainer, of course it’s fishing. Though there is a great amount of benefits from cooking the fish you get, it doesn’t stop the skill from being tremendously boring. If it wasn’t for the daily quests, I doubt that I would have it maxed yet. The introduction of getting a skillup when completing the Orgrimmar (or Stormwind) dailies made this profession bearable. I’ve tried to watch movies, TV, read books, many other things while fishing to break up the monotony, but I’ve yet to find something that works.

A close second to fishing, however, is mining. It’s almost a requirement for certain other ones, and if you choose double gathering for your professions you’ll be able to make good amounts of cash. Yet, if you choose it along with one of the other professions that needs the smelted bars (blacksmithing, engineering, jewelcrafting) you have to go out and mine the ore, then wait for your character to smelt it. When you’re smelting hundreds of bars, you might as well go make a sandwich.

Most fun: it seems that many people have this same thought, which is engineering. In all honesty, how can a profession that allows you to create explosive sheep not be fun? One downside to this one is the amount of materials that are required to make certain items can sometimes get quite exorbitant. The rewards, however, are worth it – I remember back in Vanilla, many paladins would pick up engineering for the trinkets so they had something ranged. There are mounts like the flying machines and mechano-hog, the various types of engineers’ goggles, and now the cogwheel sockets for engineer-only stuff… among many other really neat things that can be made. It’s one of the professions that I have never maxed, but is high on my list of wanting to do.

The runner-up for this would be alchemy, out of sheer usefulness. Being able to make your own potions and elixirs is a huge benefit for any sort of use, whether it’s in PvE or PvP. There are the alchemists’ stones which are a great addition for any up-and-coming player, and the fun things like pygmy oil which will shrink you and eventually turn you into a sand gnome. Then there’s the pinnacle of them all, the Vial of the Sands – who doesn’t want to turn into a dragon?

Blizzard has done a great job of giving us a choice for things to waste time in. They created WoW in the first place, why not create something inside it to make it even more of a time waster?

Making Decisions

I hate making decisions with a passion. I truly do not like choosing something and being stuck with it, out of fear that it wasn’t the right thing to do. This ranges from the very small things like what to have for meals (ask my wife, she’d be more than happy to elaborate) and things to do, to very big things like buying a house, making a large purchase, or having kids. I like to think, think again, then think even more about all the options and choices that are out there. Even once I’m sure I know the right thing to do, I sometimes still hold off on making that decision.

Previously I’ve mentioned that I’m an altaholic. This definitely stems from my indecisiveness, as it gives me something to do that’s different without having to worry about making a big change for my main character. Even choosing a main character for myself was a very difficult thing to do for a while during the Burning Crusade expansion, as I was enjoying three different classes in different ways. I’m now faced with a similar choice as I was back then, which is how to enjoy playing my main character.

One of my favourite posts that I’ve written was all about my gradual shift from caster classes to melee classes over the years. To this day, a majority of the classes that I play are melee, and I’ve found that I have more fun with them. A shift in our guild has had me thinking about changing it up a bit, to try something that I’ve always wanted to do but never really had the chance to pursue it fully.

The mythical crit-chicken, the boomkin, the oomkin: the Moonkin.

Boomkin power!Over the years I’ve tried the spec a few times, with not the best success. The first time was due to the old eclipse mechanic and the rotation – I just couldn’t get the hang of it. The second time was at the end of Wrath after 4.0.1 came out and the talent trees changed, but my gear wasn’t very good and my damage suffered because of it. Now, with the updated talent trees along with better gear, I’m getting into the groove of it.

My feral druid damage is quite good. Not the best, but on a single-target DPS race I can get in the top three consistently. The problem with changing specs and gearing up again is that there’s the curve where the damage dealt is not nearly as good, and it can be quite disheartening. Fortunately with every heroic that I run, if I’m not getting better gear from drops I am at least saving up for more gear from Justice Points. Right now I still have a few green and blue quest rewards, and a few crafted pieces as well – nowhere near the best gear that I can get.

For the first few heroic runs, I find that I’m having fun with it. To be honest I was almost hoping that I would not like it, just so that I would convince myself to stay with the way things are right now. My overall damage and DPS is decent for the heroic tier, nowhere near ready for raiding, but enough to be competitive.

This means I have to make another decision. Do I help the guild out by giving them a boomkin, since we have no leather casters? If I do, do I keep my second spec as feral DPS or do I try tanking again? Making decisions truly is not my strong spot. Any advice people can leave in the comments is truly appreciated.

Situational Changes Only, Please

There are two major sides to World of Warcraft. Player versus player, or PvP, and player versus environment, or PvE. PvP is battlegrounds, arenas, world confrontation on a PvP server. PvE is dungeons, raids, world bosses that are around in Azeroth. They are two separate parts of the game, but all integrated into that same game as a whole.

However, the key is that these are separate. They are similar, yet very different to each other and have different goals, even within each area. One battleground might have you try to kill the opposing NPC leader, as in Alterac Valley, and another could have you capture the flag three times, as in Warsong Gulch. One dungeon encounter might have you kill a boss, whereas another might have you protect a NPC from waves of hostiles. Same game, different objectives and different rules.

This is the part that frustrates me at times: changes made to the game because of one of these parts that affects the game as a whole. We’ve seen it many times: abilities have been buffed or nerfed because they were overpowered in either PvP or PvE, and the inevitable forum screams because of it. There are times it’s justified, and other times that it’s not.

As a feral DPS druid, this is very near and dear to my heart for the coming patch 4.0.6, as two major abilities are being nerfed because of how they were overpowered in PvP. It has been a staple since WoW was released that a Druid shapeshifting would break all forms of root and slow effects, and the 31 point feral talent of Berserk would remove all fear effects (on a 3 minute cooldown). There can be no reason at all that these were nerfed because of PvE, since it would only help the druid survive longer. I realize that many other classes don’t have any escape ability from roots, but I just don’t see any reason for these particular nerfs to happen. Especially because they target feral druids only, and not balance or resto – both specs still are able to break roots with their shapeshifts, and it doesn’t take a key part out of their 31 point talent.

All complaining aside, this is just a good example for the point behind this all. What is so hard about making changes to PvP without it affecting PvE as well? We have seen Blizzard make changes to affect certain areas only like arenas, which are not able to use certain abilities. If it’s possible to disable abilities altogether, there should be a way to disable certain parts of it as well.

I don’t know which part of the game is used by more people, but I don’t think that it matters. Each side should be equally balanced within its own realm. As a feral druid, I am a sitting duck if I’m rooted – especially in PvP. I find it very funny that the other specs are allowed to break roots on shifts, since they can either do ranged DPS or are able to heal themselves effectively. I can cast heals on myself or attack at range for whopping hundreds of heals or damage.

In a perfect world, the game would be perfectly balanced. We wouldn’t have forums full of people complaining, blog posts with people complaining (such as this one), and so on. It’s not a perfect world, so we let Blizzard know what we think should happen. Constructive criticism is a wonderful thing.

Dear Blizzard: please don’t nerf or buff abililities across the board because it’s overpowered or underpowered in PvP or PvE. If it needs to be fixed in one of the areas, fix it in that area only and don’t hurt people who it doesn’t affect.

Life Getting in the Way

It can be quite frustrating at times.  I have everything planned out for a great night of gaming, and then something happens that I know will mess my plans up – life.  The great equalizer, it can happen to anyone: hardcore or casual, PvP or PvE, Horde or Alliance.  No matter what you do, Murphy’s Law will rear its ugly head at you.

Currently, our guild raids once a week on Fridays since most people can make it then.  Unfortunately in my time zone, it starts at 7, and I work until either 6 or 6:30.  Along with that, I have a wife and child that I want to pay attention to (since I don’t really feel like being a BAD DAD), so I made a deal with my wife that on nights that I work late I wouldn’t raid.  It just so happens that I really enjoy raiding.  This new schedule at work is a new thing for me, so I’ll have to see what it’s like in the long term before I decide to start working out a raiding schedule at home.

That brings me to the heart of this matter, is a good life/game balance.  We’ve all heard stories about people becoming WoW (or any other game, for that matter) addicts and completely shutting out their real life.  It gets even more sad when there are kids involved who suffer, or even die, because of it.  Games are a great way to escape life – I use that as an excuse all the time, but games are not meant to replace life.  We’ve all heard it before, but the truth is still the same whether it relates to gaming or not: if something is becoming more important than what’s happening in real life, it’s time to get rid of it.

People seem to focus on gaming quite often, likely because of how easy it can be to start with it and keep going.  Yet, an addict is an addict.  Obviously, someone addicted to something like heroin is in a much worse situation than someone addicted to WoW, but there can be times where the symptoms are the same.  Not wanting to go out because you have “something to do”, scheduling a date around your raid nights, not taking care of yourself, not eating well – basically keeping yourself away from everything and anyone else.

It doesn’t take a multi-year, multi-million dollar study to realize that it’s not healthy.  I am very fortunate to have a wife who is very good at kicking my butt if I start taking things too seriously or going back into the rut that I had been in earlier in my life.  I hope that everyone has a family member or friend who is around that can give you a smack in the back of the head when needed, and I hope that everyone can have fun and play responsibly.

Pain… lots of pain

At times, I seem to enjoy pain.  This is usually the case when I pull up StarCraft II and dare to try multiplayer.

It actually took me a long time to try it in the first place – only yesterday.  I got the game on release day, finished the campaign a few days ago, and have been playing either co-op vs AI or single player vs AI.  The fact that I was getting owned against a medium AI had me very worried.

I decided to take the plunge with a friend, and did a few quick match games of 2v2.  We played four games, and we won one of them.  Altogether a better result than I had actually expected, since I was expecting utter failure for everything.  After doing some reading I’ve decided to play Protoss for the time being, and my friend was playing Zerg (he also hates himself).

The first game didn’t go too badly, we had held our own for a while until they decided to push us… and it ended up that they had a lot of forces to push with.  We managed to stay alive for a while, and didn’t make it easy for them, but altogether not bad.  Learned from that match that I need to make more of an army.

The second game was the one we actually ended up winning.  At first, it looked a bit grim since my teammate was getting pounded early on, but I was able to keep him afloat.  For whatever reason they didn’t try to attach or harass me very much, thankfully.  Near the end, my teammate had almost all of his army decimated, while I had a sizable one: about 20-30 units consisted of Zealots, Stalkers, Sentries, Colossi, and a few Immortals.  It ended up that it was sufficient to tear up the other people, since I was able to catch them off-guard after he attacked my teammate.  Learned from that match that I am awesome.

The third game sucked.  Since these were still placement matches, we were against some platinum players, and I definitely showed my complacency.  I’d also like to add in that as much as I know they are legitimate tactics, I hate cheese.  Our opponents were both Protoss, and we got cannon rushed.  Learned from that match that I need to pay attention to the smallest thing, and not let anything get by me without checking it out.

The last game was a bit crazy.  We lost, of course, but it was just the fact that our opponents were able to make such a massive army.  Both of them were Terran, they did the MMM tactic – Marines, Marauders, and Medivacs.  They were probably supply capped with the amount of troops that they had, and they easily overwhelmed us.  Learned from that match that I need to attack or harass earlier, and not to skimp on my army size.

Altogether, I learned some good strategies and tactics.  I don’t want to play Terran right now, since I still think that they’re a bit overpowered, but I’d also like to win every once in a while.  We’ll see how it goes, maybe one day I’ll turn down the suck and turn up the rock.