January 26, 2009

I have a confession to make..I am an Add On junkie. Have been for years really. That’s one of the things I really loved about WoW, the ability to choose from so many Add Ons and completely customize my gaming experience. I know that some people don’t like them – I have friends who are “purists” who won’t touch Add Ons and scoff at anybody who does – but not me. I’m hooked. So I decided to write some blurbs periodically about the Add Ons that I’ve found most useful or interesting.

Ok then, today I’ll talk about an Add On called xHUD. I love this one. Being an older gamer (but NOT old…Get Off of My Lawn, Punks!) it can get to be a pain in the ass keeping track of pertinent information during larger combats. I know that everything is right there on the screen in the basic UI, but I always feel like having to take my focus away from what I’m doing, even if it’s just a simple flick of the eyes to check on what plan my Orc is in or how much hate my Blackguard has, hurts me during a fight. And when you suck at PvP as much as I do, you don’t need any outside influences screwing things up even more. Enter xHUD.


This Add On is based on a feature that’s been used in fighter aircraft for decades – the heads up display, or HUD. Important information about the aircraft like speed, altitude, navigational or attack data, are all displayed right in front of the pilot’s eyes so he doesn’t have to look away and can continue to focus on what he is doing. The same goes for xHUD. xHUD displays several customizable bars, or arcs, in the center of the screen allowing you to easily keep track of the information you need. It allows a lot of customization with the “look” of the Add On as well as with the kind of information you want displayed.

For the appearance you can change variables such as the location of the arcs, which arcs are displayed, the alpha (or brightness) of the bars and what buffs or debuffs are displayed. On the photo here, I have the brightness turned way up so the arcs are easier to see for the screenshot. Normally I play with them dimmed a bit so they are less distracting. In my setup, from the left I have my hit points, my action points, and the third bar is what I call a “career” bar. It tracks information that is specific to your career. So for my blackguard it displays how much hate I have, for a shaman it shows how much and what type of waaagh you have built up, etc. For pet classes the career bar shows your pet’s health.

On the right side of my setup I have bars for my defensive target, and on the outside, one for my enemy target. Buffs and debuffs are arranged in a vertical arc along the outside of the bars.

It may take a bit of fooling around with xHUD to get it set up just the way you want. As I recall, I had to spend about half an hour on it, but it was well worth it. It has quickly become one of those indespensible Add Ons for me, so I’m hoping that it continues to be updated and supported by the developer.

So I decided to take my shaman out for a spin last night. It had been a while since I played him, and I didn’t have a lot of time to play over the evening, so I figured “Why not?” It was both interesting and aggravating at the same time. You see, I had forgotte about the phenomenon that I call “backseat healing,” which is manifested by players in a group or warband who are not healers, telling the healers exactly how and when to do their jobs. I got a big dose of that last night.

It seemed like every scenario I joined had someone shouting out in chat “NEED A HEAL!” or “GOING DOWN!” or “WHAT’S SOMEBODY GOT TO DO TO BUY A HEAL AROUND HERE?!?!?” Yeah, that shit got real old, real fast. When I finally reached my breaking point I just stopped healing in one scenario where the backseat healing had been particularly bad. Instead I just ran around randomly shouting out to the tanks and the dps types “SWING!” and “PARRY!” and “BLOCK!” and “CAST A SPELL!” I admit I was pretty obnoxious and childish about it, and felt badly for about five seconds. Then I thought maybe I could write something today, a guide for non-healers, something that would be useful for the other classes to think about when playing and interacting with your healers. I figured I could make it into one of those cool lists like on Letterman. So without further ado….


5.  THANK YOUR HEALERS –  It may not seem like an important matter, and truth be told it’s not exactly crucial, but thanking your healers at the end of a scenario or during a lull in open RvR can go a long way toward ensuring you get top-notch service when the chips are down. Let’s face it, a healer’s life can be a thankless one. They don’t get to do much damage, they don’t get the glory of kills…mostly they get to wait until everybody else starts having fun, gets damaged, and then they get to do their healing thing. It takes a particular breed of cat to want to play a healer, so giving them kudos when they help you out or do a good job is just a nice touch. Believe me, I tend to remember the guys who thank me, and try to make sure that they are taken care of.

4.  DON’T RUN OFF AFTER A REZ – When you accept a rez, unless there is no combat going on, don’t go running away. Wait a few seconds so your healer can toss a small heal or at least a HOT onto you to get your health up. If combats is going on around you, your low hitpoints are pretty much guaranteed to give you another ticket to rez town if you get caught up in AoE or an enemy sees you and decides you’d be an easy kill. Nothing pisses me off more than rezzing a guy just to have to turn around and rez the same guy again seconds later because he charged right back into the fray before I could dump some hit points into him. It’s a waste of my time and resources that could have been used to heal others.

3. STAY CLOSE TO THE MAIN BATTLE AND YOUR HEALERS – If the main fight is going on at a keep in High Pass or at one of the flags in your scenario, don’t expect to get healed or rezzed if you decide to run off to “scout” or run through the enemy lines. It isn’t that I don’t like you, it’s just that your heavy armor, if you’re a tank, or your CC or stealthing ability, if you’re dps, allows you to get into places where I just can’t survive.  Enemies tend to focus on healers, so the closer I get to them, the worse it is for me. I don’t mind running a little to heal or rez, but quite frankly healing is all about doing what I can for the most teammates that I can. Spock would be proud.

2. PROTECT YOUR HEALERS – It’s amazing how often such a simple statement is forgotten in the heat of battle, and how often the same tanks and dps who have forgotten it bitch in chat about not getting their fair share of healing. Well I am sorry. I think that it can very easily be proven that I will heal you more if I’m not running all over like a raped ape with a Witch Hunter stabbing me in the back of the head. Just do what you can do. Root them, or snare them, or knock them back or kill them….whatever. Believe me, your healer will appreciate it.

And the most important tip for making your healers happy…..

1. STFU – Seriously, shut up. Don’t tell me what you need, because I already know. I’ve got a cool little add on so I spend most of my time staring at health bars. I know when you’re hurt, I know when you’re almost dead, and I know when you are dead. I don’t need a running commentary in chat telling me all that shit, or telling me what I need to be doing. I want to heal you, which is why I made a healer.  The thing is, I’ve got other people to worry about, and the highest on my priority list are other healers. Sorry if that comes as a shock to you, it’s just a cruel fact of life. And my rez takes me six seconds to cast. So if I’ve got 6 people dead in my warband that I’m responsible for, it’s going to take…well, you do the math. Having you flapping on in chat with a “Can I get a rez at the front gate?” every 3 seconds is really just going to piss me off. Now having said all of this, it’s fine for you to pipe up in chat or send me a whisper if you haven’t gotten a rez for a minute or so. Healers aren’t infallible…they miss things, or there can be miscommunications on healing responsibilities. It happens. But don’t start in right away. Most healers know what their job is, so let them do it.

There, my top five ways to improve your relationship with your healers. Learn them. Know them. Live them. The alternative might end up with you pissing off the healer and not getting that heal or rez when you need it.

Tanks Alot….

January 19, 2009

When I first started looking at WAR, I swore that I would never play a tank. I hadn’t gotten into the beta, so I was going into this with very little knowledge about how the classes work, but I was sure that I wouldn’t be a tank. I looked at the sexy DPS of the Witch Elf or the Marauder, the massive ranged bomb s and volatility of the sorcerer, the hybrid damage and healing of the Shaman or the DoK…they all looked good to me. But no tanks. Fuck that, no way.

It’s not that I have anything against tanks, I know that it’s a necessary archetype in any of these games. But I just came off playing a level 70 Prot Warrior in WoW (that’s right, I mentioned WoW on a WAR site. Deal with it.) and was determined that I’d rather have my nuts gnawed off by weasels than go through that shit again. So when I picked up the game at release, I started out by making some of those “cool” classes. I started with a Zealot, a Squig Herder and a Marauder, and I loved them. Then I tried a DoK and a Shaman, and I loved them too. I loved them all with a love that only those who have spent every day of the last year mashing down on just two buttons, Taunt and Sunder Armor, can know. I was truly free. And then fate stepped in and delivered a cruel kick to the crotch….

 It quickly became obvious that my guild was in desperate need of tanks, because we weren’t able to do even the easiest dungeon runs for lack of meat shields to take the beating for us. Obviously there were many players who felt the same way I did about playing a tank, because it was damn near impossible to find unguilded tanks to recruit. The crisis grew quickly until I finally decided that if I wanted to do any of the PvE content in WAR, I was going to have to bite the bullet, swallow my pride (along with several large glasses of whiskey to dull the pain) and make a tank. So with a heavy heart, I made a Black Orc. I didn’t know anything about the two tank classes at the time (the Blackguard hadn’t been released) so I just chose the Orc because I thought it would look better. 

If I loved the other classes I had tried, I was positively orgasmic about the Orc (don’t get crazy, it’s just a literary usage of the word). Seriously. Who needs the sexy DPS of the Witch Elf or the Marauder? I’ve got heavy armor, biyotch! Who needs the ranged bombs and volatility of a sorcery? It’s so much more satisfying to smash in someone’s face with a two-handed axe. Hybrid damage and healing? Fuck that. I do one thing, but I do it great. I survive. They can beat me, they can punt me, they can burn me….I survive. And in order to keep on attacking, to keep on defending, to keep on killing…you have to be alive.

As for “cool,” there is nothing cooler than defending a keep, standing shoulder to shoulder in a shield wall with other tanks while healers and the DPS line up behind you, and shouting down at the Order players “This far will you asshats go, and no further!!!” (A note to Order players: I don’t really think of you personally as asshats, it’s just a word I throw around. In many places it’s considered a compliment…)

I still love all of my other toons, and I play them often. But I’m a tank. I like it so much that now I have one of each of the three tank classes, and enjoy them all. I think it’s because I really feel like Mythic got it right with tanks in this game, but that’s probably a topic for a different post. The bottom line is, I like them because they are fun.

If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend rolling a tank. Destruction or Order, it doesn’t matter. Do it, you won’t be sorry. You won’t do massive damage, but you’ll do good damage. You can’t do that damage from range and need to get up close, but that’s okay, running is good exercise. And, of course, chicks dig scars.