Jan 292010

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air.

Wait, no, wrong story.

I game on a laptop. Well, it’s not so much a laptop as a small desktop with an identity crisis. I replaced my Frankenstein of a desktop with it because a) I wanted to game out in the living room and stop being such a shut-in, and b) the desktop was a fire-hazard waiting to kill me in my sleep.

An old picture I found of the old desktop taken from behind. Made mostly of yardsale and fleemarket parts, the power-supply didn't fit overtop of the CPU fan, religating it to a precarious perch atop the case.

The laptop, a stylish Toshiba Qosmio x305, became my new means of gaming. Its gaudy, metallic-flame design on the lid was always good for a laugh. The thing is massive and loud (both audibly and visually). I quickly realized that it needed good airflow to operate well, so I began placing it on an old notebook binder to give it a flat surface. The heat issues gradually climbed, and it was eventually cutting itself off, even with flat surfaces. One day, I came back from the bathroom to find it had cut off, and that the plastic sleeve on the binder had MELTED.

How hot was it getting, exactly? Well, if the sensors inside are to be believed, the machine was reaching 105 degrees Celsius before cutting out. If you’re not of the metric persuasion, let’s just point out that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Yup. That hot. After some reading around, I found I wasn’t alone in this, and that according to a Toshiba tech, the laptop is set to cut off before it can damage itself. Thus, it is rated to operate perfectly fine around 100 degrees. I found this pretty hard to swallow, but they’re the guys who built it, so whatever.

I invested in a cooling pad. A good one. This thing could keep a drink cold, and it worked great. The laptop became married to the pad, unable to continue running for more than half an hour without its arctic associate. Fast forward a few months, and it’ll still cut out with the pad if anything even remotely blocks the pad from getting good air flow. I finally decided it was time to void what was left of my warranty and bust the beast open to blow out the dust. I did and was amazed to find that the thing was nearly pristine.

Toshiba Qosmio X305 - It's very... red.

Fast forward again to a few days ago. The thing is running like garbage. I’m running around collecting carrots for the daily cooking quest. The area is nearly barren. My graphics are turned all the way down. Game play is jerky. I’m fed up and blaming Windows Vista, as I’ve never seen the piece of garbage run well and think “screw it, I’m getting Windows 7,” and I do so.

Imagine my wonder when the upgrade is complete, all of the software is in place, and I’m running around a packed Dalaran with my graphics turned up to medium without so much as a stutter. I admit to myself that I hadn’t actually expected it to work, and was just looking for an excuse to get rid of Vista. It’s running smooth, I’m holding a giddy conversation with my favorite Bossy Pally when all of a sudden — *black*…

WTF, mate?! Right… the heat. I give it the requisite few seconds, reposition it on my lap for optimal air, and give it another go. It boots up about 5 times faster than normal. I’m feeling cocky again. I load into WoW super-fast like no one’s business. I apologize and go to do some mindless questing — *black* Son of a Fel Reaver! Okay, we can do this. I brush any and all dust from the fan vents, make sure the fans are turned to full, and we go at it one more time.

*black*

FFFFFFFFFFU***********************************!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so here we stand. My computer is running the fastest and most efficient it has ever known, and can’t seem to handle it. I’ve dialed back the speed, but it’s no use. The video processors (of which it has 3) can’t take the heat anymore. I’ve ordered an extraction fan to stick on its rump, which will try to suck heat off of the video card, but my hopes are low. I suspect I’m going to have to rip it completely apart again (an exercise in masochism if ever there was one) and apply new thermal grease. Maybe I’ll find where those extra screws from last time go.

So, at any rate, Skip is AFK until such time as he can get this garbage sorted out. That is unless the netbook will run WoW… maybe… no… maybe?

Your Fortune Cookie:

I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air.

Jan 212010

I’m not hyper-keen on doing link posts. I generally consider them cheap post fodder. I’m making an exception today for Alaron, because I’ve been in the market for a plain and simple explanation on hit-caps that falls somewhere between “just get this number” and “unintelligible theorycraft”. The article hits the main points, gives a basic understanding of the “why” of it all, and doesn’t muddy the waters with anything else. Skip approved!

(I’m also putting it here so I have it for later.  >.>)

Melee Hit Table FAQ – The Fluid Druid

Jan 202010

I run a small operation here. I consider this blog a success, simply because it has daily traffic. Depending on my activity level, “daily traffic” ranges from single digit numbers from my loyal bot readers to playing between the 20 to 40 views. A lot of it comes from search traffic, who seem to stay to look at a couple articles and then go about their merry way. Like a homeless person washing himself on a busy street in drain water with his underpants for a washcloth, I’m intriguing enough for a lingering glance, but ultimately scary and potentially diseased.

So, after coming back from a few days of settling myself into the educational system, I was a tinge stunned at the results. (Yes, I am a student part-time, and have been for a duration typically reserved for future doctors and the mentally handicapped. There is no PhD in my future.) What I found was thus:

288 views for January 19, 2010. w00t, I think. For this, I have Twisted Nether Blogcast to thank for close to 200 of those, and The Daily Druid for a sizable chunk over that and the last few days.

Is this an outlier of a number that inaccurately portrays the public interest through artificial inflation caused by links from shared topics? Yes.

Do I care? No.

Do I like big numbers, by any means necessary? Yes.

Moral of the story: Do your shared topics, bloggers! You too can have the have the empty gratification of shallow, external validation, just like me! That is why the Internet was made. That and porn.

Your Fortune Cookie:

You must gather your party before venturing forth.

Jan 132010

While I was writing the Survival of the Fittest article, I was thinking on something. Many people who play melee damage characters often comment about how often they spend time face down in the muck for half of the fight. Some have the luxury of plate or dodge mitigation, but it never seems like enough. Those familiar with ranged damage (more so in older instances than modern ones) will tell you to spec pure damage and let the healers keep you up. Maybe that works for them, but we’re in the fray. Some bosses make it really hard to keep at their side, and sometimes all it takes is a single spinny-roundy or green cloud you didn’t catch in time to put you out.

Thus, this article will be about focusing on keeping your fuzzy kitty butt alive. There are those who will disagree with my points of view here, and given my experience, maybe they’re right. Still, I think it’s a meleer’s responsibility to be as self-sufficient in their survival as possible, and that’s the attitude we’ll be going into this thing with.

Proper Attire

You’re a lucky sort. Almost all gear these days seems to come with Stamina. Most Critty Kitties will be using Rogue-ware, as its the latest trend in dominatrix fashion, so you’ll be getting primarily Agility and Stamina. You can actually afford to go balls-out offense. If you find you’re just not staying alive, you do have options, though. A wealth of tanking leather and druid weapons are available. If a few good ones fall to you for being the feral in the party, save them just in case. You’ll probably only have to compete with the Survival Hunter for them. Your group and your DPS may not approve of your clothes, but in an undergeared situation, it might just be better to go in doing less damage than spending the fight face down dealing zero damage.

Talented Survivor

While you do have a cornucopia of tanking talents to boost defense, many of them are Bear-only. Boo. Bear is greedy. But, all is not lost. Kitty comes equipped for the job too.

Improved Mark of the Wild – We’ll start off with a minor off-spec talent. You probably won’t bother if you’ve got a Resto tree in your usual raid group, but if no one else has it, this has good all-around bang for its buck. +2% more to all of your own attributes in addition to improving one of the best buffs in the game. More armor, attributes, and the ever-elusive resistances. If no one else in your group has it, you can’t go wrong with it.

Thick Hide – The Thick Hide vs. Feral Instinct debate is a raging, axe-wielding, possibly menstruating one. You’ll probably take one or the other, and when leveling, I always took Feral Instincts. But, the stealth element is somewhat underplayed in group instances, and whether Swipe (Cat) is worth buffing is arguable. +10% armor isn’t going to make Azeroth move, but it might be worth more than Feral Instincts to you.

Feral Swiftness – I consider this one mandatory. The speed buff gets you out of harm’s way and back into the fight. Your mobility is both extra damage and defense in a sexy little bundle of death. +4% dodge is an extra ounce of defense that the average platey has to spend 4 talent points to match.

Survival Instincts – Identical to the Warrior’s Last Stand, except that you don’t have to go down a different tree to get it. It can still be a stubborn beast to fit into a build, and I’ll admit, it’s often one of the first things I cut out. It’s more worth your while the higher your HP gets, since it heals based on a percentage (and thus will always be of more use to a tank than you). The other problem is remembering you have it.

Predatory Strikes – You’ll be taking this one anyways, simply for the raw attack power. But I tossed it in because of the instant-cast heals it makes available. They can be a life-saver.

Nurturing Instincts – There are those who refuse to take this talent. I refuse not taking it. I consider it irresponsible, really. They see the +healing, and go “*scoff*, I’m a DPS, not a healer, thank you very much.” But the part we want is part Beta: +20% bonus to all healing you take as a cat. A lot of small heals fall around a busy battlefield. The more often you’re topped off with quick or stray heals, the less attention you need compared to your party members. This also improves Improved Leader of the Pack, which may just keep you topped off on your own.

Survival of the Fittest – We discussed this earlier, we did we did. Crit Immune and +6% to all attributes. Probably your single best durability talent. You want this, you do you do.

Improved Leader of the Pack – Either the single best group buff you can offer, or worthless. If you have a Bear tank in your regular group, she probably took this, and yours doesn’t stack with hers. Since you can easily crit once every 6 seconds, this will be a steady source of small heals for you. Nurturing Instinct will improve that heal by 20% (but won’t improve it based on your +healing), giving you an extra 0.8% of your HP each time.

Primal Tenacity – This is primarily a PvP talent, and probably won’t make it into your regular builds. There are bosses that make heavy use of stuns and fear, so you might bring it along conditionally. Probably not, though.

Predatory Instincts – Extra damage is always welcome in my home. You’re probably looking at maybe an overall +1% to 1.5% increase per point, depending on your crit chance. The focus here is the 30% less damage from AoE attacks. Sometimes, you’re going to stand in the fire briefly. Sometimes, bosses blast all the melee around them to knock them back. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that poor kitty is going to get caught in some mess. This applies to a lot of the damage you can expect to take, and 30% is no small dip. Don’t ignore this one.

Berserk – I’m posting this one mostly as a no-no. Berserk makes a great fear-breaking trinket in PvP, but if you save it for that in an instance, you’re wasting it. It creates a HUGE burst of damage, and should be popped off on each and every boss that can afford the aggro spike. I learned this one from experience. Even when the situation arises to use it to break fear, I have to spend a second or two of potential super-damage running back to the target. No bueno.

The Strat: HP > 0

I harp on this a lot, but I’ll say it again. As Kitty Kit Kitterson, you have two traits to hone to a razor’s edge: Awareness & MobilityTM. It’s really easy to get tunnel visioned when staring at those buffs and bleeds, but you’ve also got to find the backside of your target, get there, recognize threats, and get away when necessary. Your #1 survival tool is your own head. A few pointers to further the point:

Stay Out of the Green Sh** – It may be self-explanatory, but we all seem to forget from time to time. Those flames/fumes/tentacles on the floor hurt. You’re probably more resilient than many to them, but hurting yourself is still bad. Get out!

Optimal Attack Location – To get off your Shred and to improve your accuracy, you want to be behind your target. However, many many large enemies like dragons and giants have rear-attacks. Some also tend to do instant 180 turns from time to time, just to annoy you. The optimal spot is typically on the side, just slightly to the rear. They won’t hit you with their tails/back-kicks, and if they flip-flop facing, you’re a tiny side-step from being in position again.

Billy Don’t Be a Hero – More basic knowledge, but worth repeating. One of the worst things you can do for your own safety is to pull aggro. Attack the target that the tank is properly tending. Don’t feel its your job to pull things off of the healer, cuz you’ll just get in the way. Don’t rush the enemy healer in the back, just because you think you’re the only one smart enough to notice it. Call it, get the tank on it, then shred with the peace of mind that comes with not having your skull caved in with two blows.

Back of the Class – This is more a tanking issue, but it’s spelled my doom a time or two. A good tank should face enemies away from the group. One reason is so everyone gets the nice juicy backside exposed to them for the rocking and the socking. The other reason is because if there are more enemies ahead, they will be… well… ahead. A wandering patrol is far more likely to come in from the front. If you’re the furthest ahead because you had to go there to get behind the enemy, you’re the first thing they will see, and it won’t be pretty. It’s not something you have a lot of control over, but be aware of the situation and watch your own back.

Barkskin – You forgot you had it, didn’t you. Ah-aah-ah-aaah (yes, I am five years old) , I knew it! It’s not just for casters anymore. Barkskin works in all forms, doesn’t have a painfully long cooldown, doesn’t trip the Global Cooldown, costs nothing, and offers a short burst of very good damage reduction. If you can’t be bothered to remember you have it, I suggest macroing it to an ability you will remember, like:

#showtooltip
/cast Runic Healing Potion
/cast Barkskin

You’ll at least pop it every time you go to use a potion, which is probably an appropriate time to assume you’re freaking out. If you have any other defensive abilities, like Lifeblood from Herbalism, go ahead and macro it to that too. Basically, anything you already use to mitigate damage.

I Will Survive

Melee damage has a bit of a stigma. People picture us primarily horizontal. It’s a challenging role and we get a lot of hate for it. But respect can be earned. Stand tall and proud. Or, er… As tall and as proud as a kitty can. Come to think of it, we are always horizontal…

Ugh. Long, wordy, potentially informative… where’s that delete button? Alright, alright, I’ll leave it, but under one condition! I want to see related posts for Death Knights, Ret Paladins, Rogues, Enhancement Shaman, Fury/Arms Warriors, and, heck, even other ferals. Lots of people talk about how to maximize your damage, but it seems somewhat glazed over in the area of staying alive. How do you keep your melee DPS alive? Then I can sit back and read them while posting random topics about how casual I am. Your challenge is posed!

Your fortune cookie:

As long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive!

Edit: Haha, awesome! I have become the BlogAzeroth shared topic of the week! >>Forumeth Posteth<< Okay, so I did post it there, meaning I wasn’t exactly nominated for my blinding brilliance so much as I was the only person to make a suggestion for that week. (Running unopposed ftw) And as I hadn’t really planned to be omnipotent topic of an entire week, I hadn’t paused to consider that Melee DPS isn’t exactly a universal topic. Whoops. Still, the bloggers of WoW-land are resourceful, and so be sure to watch that space for creative individuals adapting the topic to their interests.

Jan 092010

I check my blog stats from time to time, because I like the fuzzy, reaffirming feeling that others are reading the things I say. One topic seems to be fairly common:

how to move bad kitty wow
how to sort badkitty timer bar druid
how to move badkitty addon
how do i set up bad kitty for wow
badkitty addon behind target
how to use badkitty addon
badkitty pr0n

No joke, I get one of these roughly every day.  Yes, it seems Bad Kitty has a naughty and unintuitive interface for the uninitiated. It took me a little fumbling to figure it out too, as is the case with most add-ons, but maybe I can spare a few of you that troubling pain. It’s time for:

Bad Kitty Move Configuration Naughty Tutorial J!

flashy background!

Let us begin. If you’re unfamiliar with Bad Kitty, I already discussed it a little while back.

TL;DR Version: Bad Kitty is an Add-On for WoW that tracks assorted buffs, debuffs and cooldowns related to feral druiding. It does so with indicators and bars that are highly customizable. Feral druids like this because they have a lot to watch (especially kat durid) in the way timey things.

The very basic start: Opening Bad Kitty’s control panel. Type:

/bk

That is all. You’ll get a dialog box with options. For many of you, this is where you’ll go “oh, that’s all I needed, thanks!” and run off to leave me talking to myself. Do enjoy. Glad to be of service.

For the rest of you, who’s eyes are glazing over at the sight of boxes and dongles, fear not, for we shall break it down a bit more. I am, however, going to insert the odd page break here, since this could get a bit image intensive. I like to keep my front page and RSS feed light-weight. It’s my prerogative. Don’t judge me!