Category Archives: Cyn’s Guides To Almost Anything

Calculating DoT & HoT Haste Sweet Spots

One of the biggest challenges with the new way DoTs (and HoTs) work in Cataclysm is knowing when you’re at enough Haste to make it worth your while to add more and get extra ticks on your spells, or when it would be better to switch over to a different stat like Mastery or Crit. This is further complicated because each spell has a different breakpoint or plateau due to their duration and intervals, so you can’t just say there’s a set Haste level for your class – it all depends on what you’re casting.

The formula for computing the number of ticks is relatively straightforward:

Round ( Base Spell Duration / ( Base Tick Time / (1 + Haste %)))

In other words, take the base tick time, modify it with haste, then see if the base duration would round it up to an additional tick.

Straightforward doesn’t always mean simple, though. In order to make decisions about how much Haste to stack, you’ll want to look at all of your DoTs and see where the sweet spot is for you.

Recognizing that some people are more comfortable with math than others, I went ahead and built a spreadsheet so that you could see how your spells would work with Haste. Cyn’s DoT/HoT Haste Calculator:

  • Lets you configure four spells with different durations and tick times.
  • Gives you a place to enter your current Haste percentage and see its effect on each spell and the GCD.
  • Lets you see how much Haste rating you will need to reach specific Haste percentages at level 70, 80, and 85.
  • Provides a table of Haste values from 0%-50% with related values for each.

To use it, download the file and open it with the spreadsheet program of your choice. If you don’t have one, I recommend the free OpenOffice suite. Change the DoT1-4 values to match the values for the spells of your choice, then put your current Haste value in the big yellow cell that says YOUR HASTE % HERE. The values should fill in.

Here’s what it looks like, if you don’t want to fire up Excel or OO:

I debated putting in a duration calculator, but it cluttered things up too much for a 1.0 release. I’d appreciate any feedback you might have on this spreadsheet. Corrections, comments, whatever, let me know!

(And for the Warlocks out there, I’m sure you see that the default DoTs are: Immo/UA, Corruption, BoD, BoA. Just as it should be.)

Update 12/31/10: I’ve updated the spreadsheet to version 1.1 to include Hamlet’s breakpoint math, below. (Thanks, Hamlet!) There is a new section that shows you where the first 4 ticks are added to your DoT/HoT, as well as the next Haste value you will need to reach to gain an additional tick.

Update 1/2/11: Updated to version 1.11. Fixed a bug in the table, thanks Hylix!

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From Warcraft to Outlook: The Razer Naga as a Productivity Tool

I received the Razer Naga gaming mouse over the holidays, and it’s a sweet mouse. With 12 buttons on the thumb rest and 5 on the top, there’s a lot of ways that you can use your Naga in WoW to help improve your play.

But I’m not going to talk about Warcraft very much today. Mostly because I’m still wildly experimenting with how to best use it in game, but also because the Naga has a lot of applications outside of Warcraft which make it a really interesting input tool. The efficiencies you get while gaming translate directly to other computing tasks… like answering email.

Yes. Email. Outlook, Mail.app, even Lotus Notes – whatever you use, the Naga is here to help you out.

I spend a lot of my professional life dealing with email. I get a lot of it (200-300 emails a day) and have to triage it quickly. I follow a lot of Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero principles, where you don’t try to manage your work life through your Inbox. Emails either prompt an action from you, or they do not, but whatever you do, don’t keep them hanging around as reminders.

(I really recommend his original video and some of his follow-up posts on 43 Folders. It can really change your relationship with your email. Yes, you have a relationship with it.)

So here’s how my email life is set up.

  1. The Inbox is for deleting. Once the email has been read and the task captured (and, hopefully, the response written on the spot), the email should be deleted. An empty inbox is the goal.
  2. I delete instead of filing for several reasons. Deleting is faster than filing in nearly every interface I’ve worked in – one button and done. I don’t even try to categorize emails, because I use global searches instead. It’s easier to search a single folder in Outlook 2007 than many folders. I don’t want to have to remember where I put something. Where is it? It’s in the Sent folder. Always.
  3. All of my email – inbound and outbound – is saved in my Sent folder. I do this through an Outlook rule that puts a copy of all inbound email into my Sent folder. My outbound mail gets saved there anyways, so everything is in one place.
  4. I do keep a few folders around for saving copies of emails that shouldn’t get archived. Two, actually – Reference and Good Job – but things go in there rarely so I don’t feel the need to automate them.

So the tasks that I need to automate with my Naga are relatively straightforward.

  1. Delete email with one click.
  2. Reply to email with one click.  Reply to All and Forward are special cases of this one.
  3. Copy, Paste.
  4. Close windows when I’m done with them.

But I don’t want to assign these features everywhere, just my email applications! I especially don’t want to bind keys that are used in Warcraft to Outlook!

The Naga handles this with ease. The key is in Razer’s application-specific profiles.  Each application can have a unique configuration on the Naga, which lets you assign specific keys for just that application.

Here’s the Mac version of the Profiles preference pane; the Windows version is functionally similar, but much more… green. I’ve set up two separate applications here, in addition to the default.

  • Remote Desktop is for when I am working on my Windows machine. I work from my Mac remotely into my WinXP machine, so the “application” that is running is RDC. If you’re running natively, select your mail program of choice here. (Entourage, Outlook, etc.).
  • Warcraft is for WoW, of course.  I made a separate profile so I could change keybinds without fear of modifying the default behavior.

You’ll notice that I have Auto-Switch on for these two profiles. This means that if I am working in one application and switch to an app with a different profile, the Naga will switch automatically. So when I’ve got RDC going with Outlook and I switch back to the OS X Finder or Safari, my keybinds revert.

Let’s look at those keybinds.

I had to experiment a bit with this, but the best way to pass keys through Remote Desktop is using macros. A macro is a series of keystrokes you record with the Razer software, like so:

See that Record button at the bottom? Press that, execute the keystrokes, and then press stop. You can modify the delay as desired.

I made the following simple macros:

  • Delete – Ctrl-D
  • Reply – Ctrl-R
  • Reply to All – Ctrl-Shift-R
  • Copy – Ctrl-C
  • Paste – Ctrl-V
  • Close Window – Ctrl-W

and assigned them to the thumb buttons on the Naga.

And let me tell you, the experience of using the Naga to control Outlook is great. Absolutely fantastic! I read an email and delete it without thinking about it. It sounds silly, but saving yourself from having to reach over and hit Function-Delete (which is how you do it in RDC), or even the delete key, is quite nice. I drive with one hand instead of two. Zip zip zip zip zip email’s done.

I’m experimenting with other ways to automate tasks in different applications using the Naga; post-processing photo workflow comes to mind, especially with a combination of Automator actions and keybinds. I’m really happy with it so far and am completely hooked.

Can’t wait to see what else I can automate with this strange, wonderful, black-and-blue mouse!

With 12 Keys of Automating Goodness to Choose From!

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I Love Pilgrim’s Bounty

No, really, I do!  It’s one of my favorite holiday events in all of World of Warcraft.  You know why?  It has nothing to do with Battleground or PvP, or achievements, or the awesome pet turkey, or hunting turkeys, or even because it’s my favorite out of game holiday.

No, I love Pilgrim’s Bounty because it’s the one time of the year when powerleveling your Cooking skill on any character is trivially easy, and you can do it at any level.  Last year I leveled nearly every single alt I had up to 350 Cooking during this week; it takes a fraction of the time and cost that it does normally, and you can start as early as level 1.

Last year I wrote up Cyn’s Guide to Powerleveling Pilgrim’s Bounty Cooking, and it looks like that guide still holds true.  My level 19 twink Cynderblock has a Cooking Skill of 420, and almost everyone else has Cooking 350 – all because of this holiday.

I have one or two alts I skipped last year, and a few new ones I’ve rolled in the previous 12 months, who I’ll be leveling this year.  If there are any changes I’ll update that guide.

Bon appetit!

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Cynwulf’s Auction House Manual

I find the game of making money in Warcraft to be fascinating. Make no mistake – gold grubbing in Warcraft is a game. You’re not going to get kicked out of your virtual home if you don’t have can’t make a payment. There’s no inflation. You don’t even have to buy food because there are mages everywhere these days.

But, if your characters are active, they are going to need to spend gold while they play. Training, reagents, ammo, bags, mounts, flying, repairs — all of these things cost money. And it’s a real hassle having to stop your fun because you don’t have enough gold.

So the trick is to learn how to have fun while making the gold. Then you can make it part of the fun.

When I started playing Warcraft, I did most everything wrong when it came to managing my finances. I had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t have professions, then when I got them I didn’t level them up. I sold stuff on the AH for absurdly cheap prices. I went shopping on the AH every level or two for new upgrades, which was especially hilarious right before I hit Outland.

But I stuck with it. I got into the habit of making more money than I spent. I found things that made my time in the Auction House enjoyable. And eventually, the gold started rolling in. Who doesn’t like visiting their mailbox and finding it full of gold? Crazy people, that’s who!

I’ve found that there’s a lot I want to say about making money in WoW over the past year, but I’m also very wary of straying too far off topic with CBM.

*looks warily at all the Cyn’s Guides which have popped up over the past few months*

Anyhow,  I’ve enlisted Cynwise’s brother Cynwulf, her most public factor, to go ahead and start up his own weblog – imaginatively named Cynwulf’s Auction House Manual – on the matter.  This way, you can have your PvP over here, and your Auction House over there.

You can find ‘wulf over at http://cynwulf.wordpress.com/.  I hope you enjoy his take on making money in Warcraft.

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Cyn’s Guide to Using Level 1 Characters with the Remote Auction House

The lack of Armory entries on level 1 characters has led to a lot of people thinking that you can’t use the new Remote Auction House application with level 1 bank toons.

Don’t worry.  Your fabulous level 1 banker is safe.  You can still use the Remote AH with them.

Here’s how.

Step 1: Go to Characters.

Step 2: Go to My Characters to view all of your characters, including those who don’t appear in the Armory.

Step 3:  Sort by level and scroll to the bottom to find all your level 1 characters.  Hit the Edit button on the top of the screen.

Step 4: Select the level 1 character you want to log in with. In this case, I’m choosing Seneschal, my Horde banker on Durotan.

Step 5: Click Done to set the level 1 character as your main character.

Step 6:  Hit Home and you’re all set! You now can control all the Auction House features through the mobile application, even though you still can’t view your banker’s Armory profile.  It’s a small price to pay for banking in style.

That’s it.  To sum up:

  1. Go to My Characters to view all your characters.
  2. Hit Edit and choose the level 1 banker of your choice.
  3. Hit Done to set them as your main character.
  4. Go Home and select the Auction House to begin banking.

Spread the word — you don’t need to level up your bankers!  Level 1 toons of the world, rejoice!

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Cyn’s Guide to Powerleveling Pilgrim’s Bounty Cooking

I think that, despite people’s dislike of the Turkinator achievement, this is turning out to be a great holiday. There are daily quests, reputation bonuses, a cute pet, and the opportunity to level a skill many people find tedious and skip entirely. Yes, one of my favorites – Cooking.

You can powerlevel Cooking on any of your characters up to Outland levels with little effort, and Northrend levels with a bit more. All of this for any of your characters, no matter what level they are.

Yes, you read that right. Any character can be a Grand Master Cook, regardless of level, and this holiday makes it easy.  As someone who powerleveled Cooking and Fishing together the old way, over the course of several days, this change is awesome. Take advantage of the opportunity and level your alt’s skills now.

The strategy is quite simple.  Start in either Elwynn Forest or Trisifal Glades, depending on your faction, and empty your bags as much as possible.  If you want to collect all the mats up front and then cook, you’ll need 68 slots open.

  1. You will need to make 4 stacks (80 units) of each of the various holiday dishes.  So, you’ll need 80 each of: Simple Flour, Mild Spices, Ripe Pumpkins (Alliance, Horde), Tangy Cranberries (AllianceHorde), Sweet Potatoes (Alliance, Horde), and Wild Turkey meat.
  2. You will also need from the holiday vendors: 1 Bountiful Cookbook, 16-17 stacks of Autumnal Herbs, 20-22 stacks of Honey.
  3. Open the cookbook to reveal the recipes you’ll use.
  4. Start off by training Cooking and Spice Bread.  You don’t need any other recipes yet, as they’ll just clutter your Cooking interface.  You can always go back and learn them later.
  5. Make a Basic Campfire and start cooking Spice Bread.  This will go green around 30, but you’ll need all 4 stacks for the next step, so keep going even if it goes gray.
  6. Cook Spice Bread Stuffing until your skill reaches 50.  At that point, go train the Journeyman Cook skill and go back to making stuffing.  This recipe goes yellow at 90 and green at 100; I’ve found you should end somewhere around 105-110.
  7. Learn the next recipe, Pumpkin Pie, and start cooking it until your skill reaches 125.  Go train the Expert Cook skill and make the rest of the pies.  Pumpkin Pie goes yellow at 150 and green at 160, just in time for the next recipe.
  8. You might need to switch cities at this point if you don’t have all the materials (Ironforge for Alliance, Orgrimmar for Horde), but you want to learn Cranberry Chutney and start cooking it. Train your Cooking skill at 200.  This recipe will go yellow at 210 and green at 220, but make all 4 stacks.
  9. Again, if you don’t have all the mats, you’ll need to relocate to Darnassus or Thunder Bluff, but follow the same pattern for Candied Sweet Potatoes.  I love Sweet Potatoes, and not just because they bring you up to about 280-300 Cooking.  Cook everything you’ve got, but stop before you hit 300.
  10. Make sure you have 4-5 stacks of Wild Turkey and Autumnal Herbs, and 8-10 stacks of Honey, train Master Cooking, and then start making Slow-Roasted Turkey.  If you have 4 stacks, you should get just about to 350; 5 stacks should take you past it.
  11. Once you’re at 350, train Grand Master and do a happy /dance!
  12. 2011 Update: Slow-Roasted Turkey will now stay orange well into the 400s. Once you’ve trained Grand Master, keep on going as long as you can!

Even if you aren’t that organized and end up doing a lot of traveling and turkey hunting, this process takes about 1-2 hours, which is a far cry from the days it used to take using Fishing.

Don’t forget that these items can’t be mailed, but they can be traded, so enlist the aid of some friends to serve as mutual material banks.  (They work like conjured items.)  High level mages can collect all the materials but the Wild Turkey meat in minutes, and friends can help you swap unused items over to different toons.

Good luck.  May your cuisine reign supreme!

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Cyn’s Turkey Hunting Guide

Let’s say you’ve been asked to kill 40 turkeys. I don’t know why, maybe a friend dared you to do it.

And let’s say this friend said, not only do I dare you to kill 40 turkeys, I dare you to kill each one within 30 seconds of each other.

You should have two responses.

First, take this person off your friends list! What kind of friend would ask such a crazy thing of you?

Second, bet them 100g on the spot, because you’re going to kill those turkeys AND get paid for it!

Here’s what you do.

  1. Prepare yourself with some Tracker Snacks. If you can’t cook them yourself, find someone who can or buy them off the AH. Pay whatever outrageous prices people are asking, because time is money, friend!
  2. Go to the zone of your choice – Elwynn, Trisifal, the Fjiord, wherever – eat a Tracker Snack, enjoy watching your minimap light up with all those yellow dots, and then…
  3. Go scouting. Don’t skip this step! Ride around and find 2-3 groups of turkeys, all close to each other. In Elwynn I found a LOT of these areas -around Stone Carin Lake, Ridgepoint Tower, Jasperlode Mine – I settled for the far side of the Eastvale Logging Camp and Ridgepoint Tower. I hear the area south of SM in Trisifal is also good, but the specific spot matters less than that there are lots of Wild Turkeys there right now.
  4. Now you’re going to make a macro. If you’ve never made a macro, now’s a good time to start. If you don’t like using macros, tough, because your reputation and money are now on the line. And it’s a simple one — Line 1: /target Wild Turkey, Line 2: /cast (instant-cast damaging spell). That’s it. Put it on your action bar.
  5. Put on your speed boots – you have speed boots, right? – put your pet on passive, and go hunting! Always be moving to the next yellow dot. Ride whenever you are not in combat, and run when you are. DO NOT STOP TO LOOT. Kill turkeys until you’re tired of killing, and then kill some more. Don’t stop until you get [The Turkinator].
  6. /dance, then go kill 25 more Wild Turkeys – this time, loot them. You need the meat for quests.

Once all that is complete, go find your friend, gloat, and collect your bet.

(If the friend was hypothetical, you can just gloat to yourself.)

Enjoy your shiny new achivement!

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