Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spirit Mend

Updated for Mists of Pandaria here.

Because of talk of a cross-realm all-hunter raid, I started asking myself, "How good is Spirit Mend?"  I have four of the exotic spirit beasts that provide that pet ability, so I did some experimentation.

First off some basics.  I had my normal raiding gear on without any buffs.  I was of course BM-talented so there are a few tweaks there.  Most notably the BM bonus of Animal Handler, the BM-only talent of Longevity and the trans-tree mandatory talent of One With Nature.  This gives me 22,771 Ranged Attack Power (RAP) and makes the cooldown of spirit mend 28 seconds. The formula for Spirit Mend is:
(1237 + ((RAP * 0.35) * 0.5)) plus an additional (475 + ((RAP * 0.35) * 0.335))

So filling in for 22,771 RAP we get:
5,222 plus 3,145.
Now of course I did some practical tests.  Those tests demonstrate that I am missing a few components and that I don't understand HoTs.

I consistently got more than the initial 5,222 heal on random people in the city.  (Specifically, not me or my pet.)  I got 6735, 6469, 7200, and 6546.  They are around 30% better than expected. The only thing that I can think of is that the RAP shown on the character sheet doesn't include Animal Handler or One With Nature, or they are double-dipping somehow.

The HoTs I got were 4159, 3945, 4436, and 4033.  Again more than expected.  What I don't quite understand is that those numbers are per tick and it ticks every 2 seconds for ten seconds.  So five applications of a 4K+ HoT.

I was able to go a bit nuts.  If I popped an agility trinket (worth +2290 agility) and cast it on myself (with the healing talent buff Spirit Bond, I got a nice crit for 14402 + (4435 x5).  The initial heal appears to be a crit and the HoT is not.

When I added in roar (+549 agility) on top of casting it on myself, and popping a long CD trinket I got two decent numbers and a crit (exactly double one of the values):
18028 + 5650x5
7552 + 4671x5
9014 + 5650x5
In the best of circumstances and pulling all the plugs, Hunters have very very weak heals.  If the heal is applied to a pet-tanker pet they'll get +10% from Spirit Bond and +40% from Blood of the Rhino.  Those are nice bonuses and mixed with Mend Pet will keep a pet-tank up for a nice long time.  The problem is that a Spirit Mender will only kick out those heals once every 28 seconds.  So they will usually be on the pet-tank or themselves.  The rest of an all-hunter raid will need to be self-sufficient with Marksman self-heals.  A 6.5K heal with a 4K 5 tick HoT every 28 seconds will not be helping much at all on a raid-damage fight.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Heroic Hagara for Hunters - with macros!

Heroic Hagara presents a lot of good reasons to bring a hunter.  But it does take a lot of work.  As a hunter you can do things right and make the encounter a lot easier.  You can also do things wrong and wipe the raid.

Speaking generally, she took us more work to get down in 10man than she should have.  (She was our fifth heroic boss downed.)  We had two fundamental strat issues that we didn't have right and that made it incredibly difficult.  (More about those issues at the bottom.) Of course along the way we did a lot of things right.  So while I have only been killing her for three weeks I have a lot of practice with the hunter pieces.

Hunter Duties in the Boss-Tank Phase

In this phase you should be a normal ranged DPS.  You still have to think.  Spread out for better beam coverage.  Coordinate and do a beam dance with another ranged.  Get out at 2 stacks.  You'll likely pick up 1-3 more as you're trying to escape.  Get back in immediately when your stacks drop.  If you're targeted by all the beams, move to minimum range of the boss so others can more easily cover beams targeting you.  If you're targeted for an Ice Tomb, move to the assigned position for tombs.  This is normally not right behind Hagara.  It is often to the side.  You want melee to easily free you and still dps Hagara.  But Ice Tombs create a line-of-sight block and you don't want to make healers move 30 yards just to heal the tank.

Hunter Duties in the Frost Phase

When the frost phase starts you should flip on Aspect of the Pack.  It's also nice if you have the  Glyph of Aspect of the Pack which extends the pack by 15 yards.  Pack aspect will not cause stuns in this phase.  Your group will love you.

You also need to do two things with your pet.  First, you need to call it back to you.  I have the default setup and hit control-2.  If you don't then your pet will die from watery entrenchment while attacking Hagara.  You also don't want it going back to attacking Hagara after downing a binding crystal.  The second thing you want to do with your pet is to have it always attacking a binding crystal even if you can't.  Your pet will not be affected by the ice wall and can survive cutting through the middle zone of watery entrenchment.  The pet just can't stay in there.

Generally we will have melee start on one binding crystal and have range on the next one out, but we keep everyone together.  We move as a group and have people affected by the frost flake stacking slow debuff dip into the middle area.  Once inside we cleanse them.  If they are cleansed while they have the watery entrenchment debuff that you get for stepping in the middle then no slow trap area is created when they're cleansed.  If you have the stacking slowing debuff and it's not being cleansed and you have entrenchment, then you can cleanse it yourself with Master's Call.  You can do this for others if you're handy with Master's Call.  Generally, you want to leave this to healers.

You want to always be DPS'ng crystals.  Use kiting angles to move and fire.  You are the leader and make sure that the rest of the raid keeps up with you.  You'll want to stop and fire steadies or cobras.  Make your movement clear.  Melee tends to want to stay on a crystal too long.  Yell at them.

Various times you may find it useful to hang back.  If you only have one crystal or if too many people have fallen behind.  It is fine to dip into the middle to dodge the ice wall.  You just don't want to do it too often.  You can also disengage through the ice wall.  This is pretty dicey and unforgiving though.  Neither your start or end position can be in the wall or you'll take the massive damage.  You also have to factor in the latency of your connection.

After the frost phase ends you really really want to flip out of Aspect of the Pack.  I hit my DPS power-up while she's stunned with the 100% damage bonus.  This includes a flip to Aspect of the Hawk.  Here it is:

/use Kiroptyric Sigil
/cast !Aspect of the Hawk
/petattack [@target,harm]
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Rabid
/cast Roar of Courage
/cast Furious Howl
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Hunter Duties in the Lightning Phase in 10 Man Heroic

The lightning phase is boring if you're not chaining lightning.  Chain lightning!

When the phase starts you need to do some pet micro-management.  You do not want your pet by your side or anywhere near the elemental or charging conductor.  You also want to flip to Aspect of the Wild to lessen the damage from the lightning.  Attacking Hagara will not cause her any damage but it also will not cause any damage to your pet.  It's a good way to get the pet out of the way.  I was surprised that I could reduce it all to one macro (which I have some crazy lightning as the icon):
/petattack [target=Hagara]
/cast !Aspect of the Wild
This switches your pet to passive so the pet doesn't attack your target or attack any target that is attacking you.  It also has the pet get out of the way by attacking Hagara.  And of course flipping on some protection from lightning.  It does work in only one click.

Click the macro and DPS the elemental.  Make sure not to be in the path of the chaining in case one of the storm pillar AoE [missiles] comes down on you.  You'll need to run that path.  After the storm pillar lands move into position to chain the lightning.  You and your teammate keep a good spacing and chain half of it and keep going until you meet the other team.  You can use deterrence for some meager damage reduction. It doesn't affect the chaining.  Your pet can chain the lightning as well, so you really want it out of the way.  It's not an efficient way to speeding anything up.  It will just add damage to you.

After the chaining is done and Hagara is free to be attacked, reset your pet and your aspect.  I do this via my DPS power-up macro (same as above).

Fundamental Strat Issues in 10 Man Heroic

Our first fundamental strat issue was that we originally never tanked her towards the edge with the only thing on her front 180 degrees being the tank.  (With the beams to her rear of course.)  We had tanked her in the middle. We do the beam partner dance okay but stacks of 5 and an Ice Lances will often kill.

Our second fundamental strat issue was how we linked the lightning.  In heroic 10man there are EIGHT crystal conductors.  In normal 10, normal 25, LFR, and heroic 25 there are only FOUR.  So there weren't many strats for this that we could look up.  You do have to run a lot to chain it.  What we had been doing was using four teams of two linking the lightning.  We'd pre-position two groups at the left and right back second set of conductors and have two groups chain the first four conductors.  Then the second teams kick in.  The theory being they'd take too much damage if it was the same.  Well it turns out that it's a lot easier if you just have two groups of two work clockwise and counter-clockwise respectively.  Healing can be more concentrated on those four and if you want, you can use three healers and let them focus on healing instead of chaining.  There are many tricks here (blink, sprint, heroic leap, disengage), but you don't need tricks to get it done very quickly.

Our third issue -- though nothing we did wrong in particular -- was that we would often have different tanks with different abilities.  During Hagara's focused assault it is nice to GTFO of it.  In heroic you can't just back up.  So with our warrior tank, she'd have a heroic leap, intervene, and defensive CDs.  Our feral would generally just have the defensive CDs.  Our DK would have a huge blood shield and defensive CDs.  The warrior had lots of options, but re-positioning after was an issue for the ice lances.  Additionally, we'd have help from the raid.  Beyond the normal bubbles and what-not, we'd have a priest pull them out of it and have a holy paladin taunt.  Spam heals in 10mans just don't guaranty the tank will live.  So far it seems like the DK tank is the most easy to keep up.  Raid support is just gravy.


You can tell which phase (Lightning or Frost) she will send you to by the magic on her axes during her normal tank phase.  They'll either crackle with lightning or a cool frost.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cataclysm Raiding: Tired or Wired

Wednesday night we kicked off our raiding week.

I picked up "OS" off-spec gear.  I take it when nobody else needs it for their main spec or off-spec.  I got three pieces.  Heroic pieces.  I am upgrading 397 tier pet-tanking gear to heroic 410 pet-tanking gear.  /face-palm?

We raided and one-shot the first three bosses on heroic and then two-shot Hagara.  It was only our third kill of her.  We had previously done everything right except a for two things that seem like they shouldn't be an issue.  1) We didn't previously have the boss positioned on the edge facing away from everyone except the tank.  Ice lances used to shred us.  2) We used to have eight people chain the lightning (in four groups of two).  It is far, far, simpler to have two groups of two chain the whole thing, one working clockwise and one working counter-clockwise.  I'm always one of the four and enjoy when my group does one or two more than the other group.  Oh, and your pet can help or hurt chaining you.  I have a how-to I need to share for heroic Hagara.

After Hagara and Ultraxion, we realized we only had 45mins to try hitting heroic Blackhorn.  We also realized the other two raid nights had no tanks available.  So we all logged onto our alts and finished the instance in normal mode.

I have to say it was quite fun and enjoyable.  But I'm not sure if I'm tired or wired.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tame Beast

Tame Beast is how hunter get new pets.  The channel time is ten seconds.  This is the challenging part and it's what makes some pets challenging to acquire.

In theory it could be used as a [bad] form of CC.  Yes, let me state that again with more specifics.  Before a pull a hunter could not have an active pet out and could have a spare stable slot.  If one of the mobs was a beast, she could in theory tame it and use it like a normal pet.  The issue of course is that Tame Beast doesn't work like CC.  The start of the very long channel initiates combat.  That channel is broken from any damage.  It is also broken if the pet focuses its attacks on someone else.

So in theory, a hunter could start a tame, lead it to a trap and then once tamed, use it to finish off the other mobs. (Or immediately dismiss it.)  The problem is that this theoretical and not

Let's pause for a moment and think about heroes from movies who were "hunters" or "beast masters".  They could soothe pets to sleep.  They could exert mental control over beasts and get them to do things.  They didn't simply tame one and "train" it or "tame" it and keep it forever.

Priests can Mind Control humanoids.  Druids can Hibernate Beasts and Dragonkin.

Hunters need a Control Beast ability.  What should it look like?