Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning How to DPS the Heroic...Dummy

Last night, I didn't really learn anything from my time with the Heroic Dummy in regards to which spell rotation/priority works best, but I did learn some stuff on how to go about evaluating my DPS on the Heroic Dummy.

So, I am going to share with you, gentle readers, what I did and how it was all wrong.

What I did:
I decided to evaluate one minute of my rotation and stopped all casting right at a minute.

How it was all wrong:
I had wildly different numbers for the same rotations (3990 dps - 4500 dps). Unfortunately, a minute was not enough time for crits to even out to around my stated crit percent, so, for example, on one eval, I had 31% of my Mind Flay ticks as crits. On another eval, I had 46% of my Mind Flay ticks as crits. That was a significant difference.

What I'll do different:
I will cast until I'm Out of Mana on each eval. I didn't want to do this initially because it is a bit subjective - i.e. I don't have mana for the next priority spell, but I do have enough for this one over here. That's why I like the timed idea better, but I suppose, enough time will have elapsed and enough damage accumulated that the end of the session hopefully won't be significant.


What I did:
I wore my normal raid outfit.

How it was all wrong:
I have the Nibelung staff, which has a proc. On one of my sessions, it proc'd and dang if I didn't score 500 more DPS on that fight! doh!

What I'll do different:
Since I want to remove as many variables as possible, I'll equip a staff that doesn't have a proc. I'm not looking for raw numbers, but rather I'm looking to compare numbers to each other.


What I did:
I did exactly one eval per rotation.

How it was all wrong:
As I mentioned earlier, the time I DPS'd did not allow for crit normalization; add to that the fact that I only did one eval per rotation and you can easily see how my (Normal Rotation without self buffs) > (Normal Rotation with self buffs). Yeah, I was scratching my head at that one also - What, you mean that extra 174 spell power doesn't mean a thing?? yeah, no.

What I'll do different:
Along with the increased session time, I need to run multiples of each test to normalize and average my data. I'm not sure if 5 is (good) enough, but I think that's what I'm going to start with.


What I did:
I didn't write down what I wanted to evalute. I had a fuzzy list in my head and wrote it down as I made my evals.

How it was all wrong:
It wasn't really wrong, just disorganized. I don't need to get the spreadsheet out, but hey, having a plan is a good idea.

What I'll do different:
Actually, a spreadsheet isn't such a bad idea. If I do make one, I'll post a screenshot of it here just so you guys can marvel at my Excel 1337ness. You were impressed by my weight chart? You ain't seen nuthin' yet!

Ok, now that confession time is over, let me tell you what I'll be looking at and evaluating:
SW:P - Shadow Word: Pain
VT - Vampiric Touch
MB - Mind Blast
DP - Devouring Plague
MF- Mind Flay
SF Shadow Fiend
SW:D - Shadow Word: Death

First up:
My Normal Rotation (SW:P, VT, MB, DP, MF. I clip my MF to cast MB when it's up, but I don't clip it to cast anything else). Also known as NR.


NR without clipping.


NR with clipping MF to cast any higher priority spell(VT, MB, or DP - SW:P is refreshed by MF) produces Winner1. The idea is to get the best rotation before adding spells.

(What follows is one path that I may take. Once I throw in new spells, I need to go back to the NR vs. NR w/o clipping vs. NR w/ clipping for DoTs stage to fully evaluate the DPS gain/loss I may be seeing. I don't have a lot of confidence that I'll be that thorough...)

Winner1 & SF (SF placed after MB and before MF) whenever it's off cooldown, produces Winner2. Note, this should only produce a DPS increase, but it remains to be seen.

The better of Winner1 and Winner2 & SW:Death (SW:D is placed after MB and before SF and MF), produces Winner3.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to hit the dummies before the raid tonight, but hopefully I can. If I can't, then during the raid, I'll make sure to pop my SF every cooldown as well as hit SW:D whenever I'm moving, which is what I should have been doing anyways if a DoT doesn't need refreshing.

Also, I will try very hard to NOT refresh DoTs BEFORE they expire. The argument for not refreshing before expiration is as follows:

Suppose DoTX ticks 5 times in 15 seconds; that's one tick every three seconds with the first tick coming in at 3 seconds, and subsequent ticks at 6, 9, 12, and 15 seconds.

If I refresh early, say just before the last tick, then for DoTX that was being refreshed, the last tick occurred at :12 and the next tick (tick #1 of the new application) will land at :18. I've just gone 6 seconds between ticks. Bad.

If I refresh just after the 5th tick, then I go the normal 3 seconds between ticks. At most, I should go 4 or 5 seconds if I'm finishing up a cast/channeled spell.

I'm going to have to pay special attention to VT in this regard, as I can start casting it before it has its last tick in order for it to land just after the last tick and maximize my up time. SW:P and DP have no such concerns as they are instant casts.

Wow. Looking back, this post actually resembles something useful. Dang, how did that happen?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Weekend Rendezvous

So, as I mentioned on Monday, my wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary by ditching the kid and puppy and spending Friday night together.

We had a gift certificate for 14 West Restaurant, so we decided to have dinner there. Here's a copy of the menu so you can follow along at home.

We both started off with the 14 West Signature Lobster Corn Chowder. Me, with the fried oyster and bacon, my without. It was very good, and the rolls that accompanied it, delicious!

My wife ordered the special as her entree, which was Chilean Sea Bass in a Thai BBQ sauce on a bed of Spinach and sticky rice.

I had the Sea Scallops on Sautéed spinach, with an apricot chipotle glaze.

Both entrees were very good. I ended up liking hers better than mine, but that said, the scallops were very tender, tasty, and yummy.

For dessert, I ordered the Creme Brulee while my bride ordered the Carrot Cake to go. The "burnt cream" was very good with the crust being just right, the custard being slightly warm on top and cool on bottom, and the dish had little specks of vanilla at the bottom. Very good!!

The Carrot Cake was...a bit disappointing. Now, I'm not a big Carrot cake fan to begin with, but from what my wife said, it was a bit dry, although the flavor was good. I really liked the icing.

Next up was the Get-Away Hideout. Now, my wife made the reservation and took great pains to keep it secret from me. It wouldn't have made much of a difference, because even after arriving at our destination, I didn't know what Sybaris resorts were all about.

Well, let's just say that I'm a BIG fan now! We got the Paradise Swimming Pool Suite, and it was awesome! I loved the jacuzzi tub, the steam room, and our own private pool. Suffice to say, swimsuits were optional....heh heh.

We spent most of the time on Saturday shopping and got back home in the early afternoon. It was a grand weekend, to say the least!

Professor Putricide

Last night's raid was dedicated to wiping on Professor. Well, after we zerged Sarth 3D for the mount (which is soooooo last week, according to Daxie.)

We made significant gains during our time with the end boss of the Plague wing of ICC:

We cut our transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 from three unstable experiments to just two.

We pushed through Phase 2 to Phase 3 three times.

We wiped at 1%.

Then we wiped at 2%.

Then we killed him.

...and there was much rejoicing!!

This fight, much like Dreamwalker, was one that I've seen from start to kill with The Ebon School. We endured together; we labored together, and last night, we saw all our hard work pay off.

One of the things that has really helped us (and me personally) is becoming more aware of the environment and sacrificing DPS to get out of "the fire" or the line of fire (malleable goo.) I can honestly say that I've become a better raider as we've gotten our act together on this boss.

An example of getting better is throughout last night's attempts, I was working on my personal Damage Taken ranking. Of course, I was doing the dance how our raid leader was calling it, DPSing my brains out, and doing whatever job might be required of me, but through it all, I tried to be conscious about avoiding damage while doing all that.

The results for the night were pretty good on the Damage Taken meter. I ended up 24th a couple of times and moved from being consistently in the top 10 to consistently being in the bottom 10.

The next item up for me is my DPS. I have a 5945 gear score, and I struggle to crack the top 10. Yes, we have some great DPS in The Ebon School, and yes, I'm aware of the "hybrid tax,", but still, I need to figure out if and how I can put out more DPS. So, tonight, I'm making a trip to the dummies as well as possibly adding some different addons to track my DoTs and lag.

I've already been to and gleaned some useful tidbits from it. One such tidbit is using Shadow Word: Death when I'm on the move. Now, I've taken SW:D totally out of my rotation, but with ICC's highly mobile fights, it makes sense to pop it if I don't have another instant cast spell that has a higher priority while I'm running.

Also, I learned that reapplying DoTs should never be early. By overwriting DoTs, I not only miss out on the last tick, but also have to wait x amount of seconds before the reapplication has its first tick. All that equates to lost DPS and the possible need to get a different DoT tracker addon.

I currently use PSP for my shadow priesting, and come to think of it, I just use it to see what I should be casting next; it does have a timer attached to it, so maybe I need to just pay more attention to that part of it. Something else to add to the target dummy session.

So, in short (well, actually long...), I need to take it to the next level, which means some practicing is in order. Now I just need to figure out what an acceptable time frame is to compare my DPS on the dummies. OOM? 4 minutes? 5 minutes? I'll just have to play around and see what works best.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm still kickin'.

Daxxy the druid is healing her way to 80, one PuG at a time. She's up to level 46 already!

Daxynn the pally has been gettin' some love lately and recently dinged 44. I've been leveling her in dungeons as well and am really liking the tanking role with her.

Daxie the priest just bought her last two crafted items - the primodial saronite boots and legs. We downed (upped?) Dreamwalker last night for the second week in a row and got some very good attempts on Professor (made it to phase three once).

Dwarfvader snagged some 264 legs off a VoA25 pug and bought the 264 frost badge chest. Yay on him.

Vanco has switched back to DPS and is much happier. I'm working on fleshing out his Triumph badge gear as well as saving up Frost badges.

Teurion has quit again. This time, he gave me all his gold and some badge items. He tried to transfer the toon to my account, but Blizzard said, "nuh uh!"

Later on, I'll have to make a post about my weekend rendezvous. My wife and I celebrated 19 years of wedded bliss (Mar 29, 1991) on Friday by booking a hotel room. Oh, what a room!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daxie gets hers

Sure, it's no Blue

Monday, March 22, 2010


I didn't see in a recent perusal of my posts if I had noted that on the 13th, I saw the dragon healed to full on ICC10. Well, I did.

Last night, I had the privilege of being part of The Ebon Schools' very first ICC25 run to get the green dragon back on her feet. It was pretty cool!

This is the first boss that I've suffered through the wipes, changes in strats, and the refining process with The Ebon School, so it was pretty special to see our hard work pay off.

It didn't hurt that I won a chest piece off her for the minimum DKP...With that addition, I've moved up to 3rd best geared shadow priest on the server. Never thought that I'd be there!

Tonight will be the wipefest that is Putricide. We got a couple of attempts last night, but tonight we're going to hit it in earnest!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bike Ride

7.04 miles
37:16 mins
66 deg F
It was sunny again today with about a 20 mph wind. I rode into the wind on the way out so I could have it at my back for the trip back.

I rode the first 1.44 miles around the neighborhood with my wife, then put the hammer down and cruised down and back Honey Creek road.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Raid Last Night

Last night, our raid leader mixed things up for the first raid of the new raid week. We have to do the first four bosses, but after Saurafang, he decided that we would spend the rest of our time on Dreamwalker verses taking down more farm bosses.


Now, we don't have issues with people showing up for the first night and skipping the rest of the week, but we do have some drop off for the pool of people to pick from later on in the raid cycle. By parsing out the farm bosses, we achieve two things:

One: We get some good attempts on a boss without having spent the last 2-3 hours wiping on them.

Two: There is incentive for people to show up for the raid nights because they know they'll get in on at least one boss kill.

I'm not sure which bosses are up for Sunday and Monday, but I know that Rotface, Festergut, and Blood Princes are still alive and on farm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bike Ride

7.78 miles
36:03 mins
63 degrees F
It was sunny today! I wore my bike shorts and a short sleeve, loose-fitting biking shirt. My fat is still too prominent to wear the tight-fitting jerseys, but hopefully, by the end of summer, I'll be able to break them out.

A side note: I weighed 186.0 again this morning, so Saturday's weight wasn't a fluke, and 185.x is just around the corner!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Visualizing the melting

I entered all of my weights and their respective dates into an Excel spreadsheet and made this nifty little graph. It's too bad I have the gaps where I didn't note my weight in the blog, but still, it's nice to get a visual of how I've been doing.

Targeting Macro for Dreamwalker Fight

Here is the macro that I use for targeting the highest priority add in the Dreamwalker fight. As Daxie is ranged, this macro reflects the current Ebon School ranged priority; you may need to adapt it to your guild's priority list.

/tar Blazing Skeleton
/stopmacro [nodead, harm]
/tar suppress
/stopmacro [nodead, harm]
/tar glutton
/stopmacro [nodead, harm]
/tar risen arch
/stopmacro [nodead, harm]

I have keybound this macro to the 'c' key so that I can spam it while I'm DPSing my current target.

As soon as a higher priority target comes out, if I'm hitting my 'c' key, I will automatically switch to the new target, and the only thing left is to find out where it is and move into range.

The most useful thing that I've found with this macro is knowing instantly when a higher priority target spawns and not having to search around to target it. Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

As the snow melts, so do I

186.0 lbs this morning.

I need to make a chart dating back to last May to show my progress.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Low

This was supposed to be posted Wednesday. I did indeed hit a new low weight on the 10th: 187.6 lbs.


Cleaning Up

Last night, Dwarfvader weaseled his way into an ICC10 run with his former guild, Hubris.

...and it was Hunter loot night!!

The other hunter and one of the shammies way outgeared the place, and the other shammy declined to take the offset pieces. So! I got a new belt, shoes, gloves, and an axe. Woot!

I can't remember my stats, but I got a significant boost with all the new gear. I can't wait to get into ICC again to see how my dps improves.

In other news, the ICC weekly for 10 man was "blah blah blah Donavan keep him safe" during the Lady Deathwhisper fight. We didn't have a third plate wearer, so I offered to tank him with my gorilla.

Now, I figured that I would have to fill out his talent tree because it's been a couple of patches since I played him, and I was correct. As I was selecting talents, I bemoaned the fact that I wasn't BM because I missed the extra 4 talent points.

/sigh. I totally forgot that I had dual specs, with my primary spec as... you guessed it, Beast Master. /facepalm. I have no doubt that had I switched specs, my pet would have had a much easier time of tanking the add. Tonight, I'll respec and make my BM spec a viable pet-tanking spec.

Anyways, in my Marksman spec, we wiped once due to the mortal strike effect that Donavan puts on his tank and the healers not realizing it. So PuddyTat the Gorilla died, Donavan ran rampant and we called a wipe.

Take 2. Somebody lit up Donavan and took him to about 1/3rd of his health. It wasn't me! By the time we had the Lady close to death and Donavan killed my pet, Donavan was at a very low level of health. Rather than having him kill the raid again, I smacked him with a distracting shot and intended to kite him until the boss kill. Instead, I ended up killing him; the Lady died shortly thereafter. Oh well, 5 frost badges down the drain.

And finally, Daxxy the Druid hit 30 the other day. Yay on her.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Bike Ride of the Year

4.18 miles
21:35 mins
71 degrees F

A nice little tune up ride to start the year. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt (that was still a little much for how nice it was). Of course, I always wear my helmet, bike gloves, socks, and clip in bike shoes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Been raiding with The Ebon School, still love it.

Been instancing with Daxxy, have gotten good, bad, and ugly.

Built a new computer on the 27th of Feb,'s nice.

Walked at lunch yesterday.

Walked at lunch today.

My feet hurt.

Troubleshot a spike problem on the MRI to low humidity in the scanner room. Ok, I didn't come up with the solution, but I was there...

Weighed in at 188.2 lbs this morning, which is a half pound off my current low point for my weight swing; I'm hoping that I'll hit a new low tomorrow morning.

Took Denali for a walk each of the last three days, she LOVESITLOVESITLOVESIT. I didn't love having to clean her up after the walks, though.

Got the "More with it" achievement on Daxie last night. Also helped Ebon get their first 3D Sarth Zerg done. No ICC due to raiders being out.

Have had no motivation to post, sorry.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

King's Here

Sure, Pallys provide kings, but Varian provides Kings!

Last night, in my first raid with The Ebon School, I had a ton of fun! The atmosphere was relaxed, we burned through 6 ICC bosses (ending with Fester and Rot), and I got phat lewtz!

I spent 100 dkp on two different items - both off Lady Deathwhisper - a pair of shoulders and a pair of bracers. Yep, blew my whole dkp for the night by the second boss.

Let me tell you, I really like this dkp thing. I get to determine what I want, save up for it, and eventually buy it. I get more control over obtaining my loot with minimal RNG and loot council interference. If I've got the dkp, then I have a shot at buying the item.

Also, I really like the system that is in place: silent bidding (one bid per person), so items don't get bid up sky high. Also, the winner of the item, pays the amount of the second highest bid, so if for some reason, you value the item much more than others, you won't be penalized for bidding your whole dkp stack. Of course, the opposite is true and if it is a highly valued item, you may well be spending nearly your whole stack if you win the bid by 1 dkp.

You are allowed to actually go negative if nobody wants the item and it's your main spec; there are minimum bids of 100 for armor and 150 for weapons.

Another thing I like about the loot administration is that different officers are assigned as auctioneers for items. So for my loot, I just had to whisper my bid to the appropriate officer, who kept track of the bids, announced when the bids would be closed, and determined who won the item. Loot distribution went much faster as we didn't have a bottleneck in one person handling all the loot.

As far as the raid itself went, everything went pretty smooth. I placed at 14th on the damage meter for the night; with gear score taken into consideration, I did pretty good for what I had compared to better geared people. I was about middle of the pack as far as healing/damage taken, so I need to get better at moving out of the fire.

I also had to learn some fights being in a different position. Festergut was one of them as in Hubris, I was in the ranged group and had to stay away from people with the exception of collapsing on the spore point. Last night, I was in the melee group and had to run out anywhere except toward people if I happened to get a spore on me.

On Marrowgar, I was used to standing pretty much anywhere close to the boss except in the cleave area; in last night's raid, the RL wanted everyone to group up right next to the boss's backside. I got called out for that one. Whoops.

So, I did ok, but I definitely have some work to do, which means....A LIST!

1. I need to read up on the fights. I always understand something better if I see it, then I read about it. Of course, if I read about it, see it, and then read about it again, I do quantum leaps better. Now that I have a good feel for all of last night's fights, Blood Council, and Dreamwalker, I need to read some information on specifics on each of the encounters. Blood Council and Dreamwalker are up for Sunday.

2. Need more situational awareness. I'm pretty good about staying out of DnD, sticky slime pools, and rocket targeted areas. I can keep away from Blood beasts, little slimes, and Donovan. Where I really need to pay more attention is Rotface and his slime spray. The Rotface fight in general is taxing as far as paying attention - know where the spray is going, where the slime is flowing, where to run to when you get a little slime, when the big slime is going to explode, and where the big slime is. And dps the boss while keeping tabs on all that.

3. Maximize my rotation. I was able to equip the bracers, shoulders, and a staff on the spot, which gave me more spell power and haste, but took away my T9 bonus of a longer duration of Vampiric touch. What that meant was that I had to cast Vampiric Touch more often and threw my entire rotation off for the rest of the evening. I need to get a feel for the new rotation and when things come off cooldown/duration. PSP is going to become a much valued addon once more.

Maybe it's the fresh start with a new guild and maybe it's not, but I am excited and motivated to be raiding with The Ebon School. I'm excited because from the very start, I felt like a valued part of the team. I'm motivated because I know the loot system will be applied fairly across the board, the team is very capable, and I had a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Does every post neeeeeeed a title???

No! No it doesn't! Wait a minute...I just gave it a title. Yay, problem solved!

Tonight is my first raid with The Ebon School. 6:30 - 9:30 pm. I'm psyched about three hours and off by bed time.

Last night, I healed a bit more on Daxxy the Druid. I've been getting Shadowfang Keep over and over and over again. In fact, I've never gotten Deadmines as the random and only got Wailing Caverns once or twice (but I didn't complete any runs). No, it's been pretty much all SFK all the time.

So, last night, it was with some relief that I finally gained access to Blackfathom Depths (BFD). The group was Druid Tank, Druid Healer, Gnome Warlock, Gnome Warlock, Gnome Rogue. A full house of races!

Everyone was pretty competent at their jobs, but for some reason, I kept disconnecting. Luckily for the group, the tank could take some pulls without having any heals. Unluckily for me, I d/c'd right after the Orc boss and didn't loot his head for the quest I was on. I'm not too worried about it as I'm sure that I'll be running the instance quite a number of times in the future.

I'm in a bit of a quandary with leveling. On the one hand, I'd like to get my druid to cap and start gearing her up before the next Xpac. Also, Teurion has a DK at 74 that I'd rather heal with Daxxy than with Daxe.

On the other hand, I'd like to complete all the quests in Darkshore and each subsequent area for the completist in me, even though most of the quests in Darkshore are green and soon to be gray to me. If I chain queue for instances, then I barely have time to really do anything quest related between dungeons.

Adding to the mess is the fact that while I know that questing is probably faster leveling than instancing, I'd rather just instance even though my tradeskills, faction rep, and xp gain all suffer.

I'll probably just do what I've always done - waffle around between the two and be inefficient at both. Go butter!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Denali

Today is Denali's first birthday, so here's some pics. Enjoy!

These are the wolf puppies...well, they're the same age as Denali...that we went to see when we got blind sided by a little American Eskimo. Yeah, she's cuter!


Classic belly rub position. Pet me, pet me!


This is her "game on" stance. "throwtheballthrowtheballthrowtheball!!"

Laserzzzzz, activated!