Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Min/Max, Skill, and Performance

Originally I was going to tie this article in with Cookie Cutter Builds, but I decided I wanted to do a completely separate article on it. This article is going to look at the differences between min/max, skill, and performance in raid situations and wipes.

Most all of us want to achieve the highest min/max we possibly can, whether looking at dps, hps, or tps. We want to strive to be the best so we go out and find what other people are using, or see what the computer says is best to do. We all know that is takes more than just the best gear and the best build to be the best player.

The best players have the ability to react and adapt to adversity. They are able to multitask and understand everything that is going on around them. They know all the bosses moves and what each of them means and how it effects them and the raid. If players come to raid prepared, know the fights, and the mechanics it can help themselves and the raid extremely.

Another thing is skill. We have all seen all the debated and jabber about the add on GearScore. We either love it or hate it. The phrase "GS does not equal skill" has been thrown around plenty. Skill comes into play in a variety of different manners. Knowing your classes mechanics is one of the biggest keys. If you don't know what things mean or do in your class then you need to take time out to research them. It could potentially hinder a raid. As I stated above, you need to be able to adapt to adversity. When that red circle is under your feet you need to know to run. If you are targeted by a bosses spell you need to know what to do. But, to be able to distinguish yourself from a good player to a great player you will need to know just how far to run and just how hard to need to go to a place when your targeted by a spell.

The last thing is performance, this can be anything from latency, distractions, or anything else that hinders performance. Latency is basically the reaction time between your computer and the server. There really isn't much you can do to combat latency issues. One thing you can do is to try and stay away from having open windows that use internet connection, this can free up space and allow your computer to be more responsive. Another thing, if your a serious raider is to try and limit distractions around you. If something happens around you and you have to look away from the monitor for a few seconds then something drastic could potentially happen. I don't mean this to sound like a "don't have a life" while raiding sort of mentality, but a boss fight is typically around 5-8 minutes or so. It shouldn't be hard to concentrate for that long.

I would like to changes directions now and talk about all of this and how it can affect wipes. Most of the time you will probably hear that dps simply needs to step it up and that if there were more dps then they wouldn't have wiped. In my opinion this is very rarely the case. The only time it can really be said that there wasn't enough dps is when absolutely everything goes right but you still hit the enrage timer.

To give you an example, my guild was doing Festergut in ICC. We had done the fight previously with all raiders. We had people calling out where spores needed to go. Everything went fine, no tanks died, no one missed spores or had to many spores. In the end, we had done everything right but missed by 1% do to the enrage timer. In this situation you can go back and look at who was struggling at dps to determine where the problem was. In that particular fight melee should be doing the most damage as they don't have to move at all unless 2 get a spore in the middle. Ranged have to run a bit due to spores so that will affect a little bit of their damage.

This isn't true for all fights though. A lot can go wrong during the fight such as a tank dying causing a bit of panic where dps might have to stop and the raid needs to quickly regroup. Another might be a dps dying, as they say, "you do 0 dps when you're dead." There have been plenty of times where you can look back on a wipe and say, "if player X wouldn't have died then we would have had enough damage to kill the boss." I would say the biggest reason raid groups wipe is simply lack of knowledge about the boss mechanics. If you know and understand what the boss does then you should be able to adapt to any situation. If players are able to adapt and regroup quickly then there is a high probability of killing that boss.

To sum up I would like to say that while it is good to min/max, it is not as important as knowing your class mechanics and how to use them to their fullest. Just because someone didn't get that 1% increase in dps talent doesn't mean that they are the reason that your raid didn't get the boss down that final 1%. Many other factors determine the cause of a wipe.

If people want to strive to be the best player they can they need to learn their class mechanics, come into fights knowing the mechanics they will be facing, avoid latency and distractions as much as possible, and be able to adapt and adjust to adversity. Late note, make sure you have fun. In the end it is just a game and if it gets to stressful just step away for a bit and regroup yourself.

Cookie Cutter Builds

Cookie cutter builds have always been a part of World of Warcraft. Recently Ghostcrawler discussed some issues players were concerned with. Quoted below is a little bit about these builds along with some min/max discussion.

Even many of the so called cookie cutter builds today are honest about those talents that are a toss up. Picking talent A over talent B may be a theoretical dps benefit in the sims or even for the author of the cookie cutter build, but that doesn't mean it will work for you. I have deviated from these sacred builds often on my own characters because I found that I don't rely on certain abilities or mechanics as much as the build assumes I should. Now maybe my dps (healing, etc.) would improve if I could manage to do that, but in the interim using a build that is bad for me just because it's the anointed one doesn't make sense. A- dps with the "bad" build is superior to C+ dps with the "good" build.

If it's a talent that provides a 10% dps increase or offers an ability you'll use constantly, fine. It's hard to argue that won't benefit most players. But when I see players obsess over talents that provide a theoretical 1% dps increase that is vastly overshadowed by the noise of their own performance, I shake my head a bit. Want to see what I mean? Compare a parse of yours on the same boss from week to week. You'll probably see a dps variance of 5-10% or more. That's the role of your skill, latency, bad luck, lacking the perfect raid comp or whatever else. Worrying about that 1% dps talent was a rounding error. Let's not forget that what may be 1% on one boss probably is not on another.
 This sparked a thread on the ZAM forums.

With the new 41 point talent builds we are going to have to make sure we place points carefully. This doesn't allow us to go as deep into other trees as we currently can. With being forced to spend 31 points in our primary tree we can only go 2 tiers deep into any of the remaining trees. Ultimately there are going to be builds that trump all the others in dps but they also involve the best gear that a player could possibly obtain and assuming all factors fall right into place. Now we all know this is never what happens.

I have to start to agree with Ghostcrawler on the bit about using a build you are comfortable with that might be suboptimal as opposed to the cookie cutter build you aren't comfortable with. This is where these last 10 points are going to play a big role.

For example, if you are using a beast mastery build. Your last 10 points will probably go into; Efficiency, Improved Tracking, and Improved Serpent Sting. If you are having issues keeping up serpent sting, or using the haste bonuses to your advantage you might want to stick with whats going to be strong for your build, that is, your pet. You might choose to put your points into Sic 'em and Go for the Throat. This will allow you to get the most out of your pet with out hindering your dps all that much.

So while there will always be a build that is technically "the best," it might not always be the best to follow it. Play to your strengths and when you feel you have learned more and are performing better you can always try to move up to those top end builds.

Reading guides and forums aren't going to always teach you how to become the best player you can be, you have to practice. If you are struggling you need to figure out whats going on. If you use the spreadsheets, which you should, then you can compare where you are to where you could be. Go the the practice dummys and work on your rotations or priorities or whatever system you use. Figure out what works best for you and practice it until it comes naturally and hopefully you will see some improvement on your performance in raids.

In the next article I will be discussing how just because you are trying to min/max there is always going to be a reason why a raid wipes on a boss, and how it's rarely because someone else didn't min/max their character.

Pet of the Week 9/22

It's time again everyone for the pet of the week. This weeks winner is the White Spiked Wind Serpent.

With the new abilities. The wind serpent brings an increase in magical damage with its Lightning Breath ability.

With its spiked wing tips and black spikes on its head and body it's sure to make any monster fear for its life.

The white spiked wind serpent can be found in Zul' Drak, its name is Scion of Quetz'lun, it's a 76-77 elite. It is located by the Alter of Quetz'lun.

That is the pet of the week, check back for next weeks winner. Don't forget about the template contest I am hosting. You can find all the details here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Template Contest

As I had said in my previous article I am having a contest to design a better suiting template for Land of Orcs.

Land of Orcs Template Contest
The current template for the site doesn't do the name any justice. This is why I would like to present you with a chance to earn a 3 month premium subscription to ZAM and a 30 day World of Warcraft Digital Game Card through the Blizzard Store. This will give Land of Orcs a unique template that won't be like anyone elses.

To enter this contest you will need to create a HTML template that can be used for Land of Orcs. The file below is currently the template being used. It can be used as a guide to help you create the template.

Example File, if the download doesn't work can you find it here.
  • Template needs to be submitted in a .txt format.
  • Needs to have orcs, hunters and World of Warcraft represented somewhere in the template. Needs to be either a 2 or 3 column template.
  • I reserve the right to disqualify entries if I feel they have been stolen from other sources. Multiple entries can be submitted by the same user.
Submissions to be sent to

Submissions will be accepted until 7:00pm Saturday October 30th, 2010. The winner will be choosen by me. Ultimately I am looking for creativity, theme, look and feel, and style. The winner will choosen and announced on Monday November, 1st  and will receive a 3 month premium subscription to ZAM and a 30 day World of Warcraft digital game card through the Blizzard Store.

Terms and Conditions:
  • If you are chosen as the winner you have 3 days after the announcement to contact Land of Orcs with the information needed to distribute the prizes otherwise they will be forfeited.
  • If you enter and are chosen as the winner you forfeit the rights to the images used.
  • Template can not be sold or distributed to other parties.
ZAM is not responsible for any terms and conditions or any other problems that may arise. This contest is being held solely by the owner of Land of Orcs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Not Suitable for All Ages

By request of the fellow users at ZAM, I was told that if I were to incorporate boobies and milkshakes that it would make my blog more appealing. If you do not want to see this cute booby, please advert your eyes now! Though it's probably already too late.

Here you go guys!

Sorry Noc, I had to use a different milkshake picture but that's ok.

Are you confused? Well here is thread that started this whole ordeal. Allakhazam

To kind of get back on topic of World of Warcraft. I will be hosting a contest to create a new template for Land of Orcs, stay turned for that announcement. After previewing the talent trees there were a couple new changes to a few talents in the latest build so check for those to be fixed. I am also still looking for someone to be an author, if you would like to be an author for Land of Orcs, mainly someone with pvp experience please email me at