Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Gear Grind

Arena Season 7 started yesterday, which has two implications for the battleground fighter:

  1. Now is a great time to try Arena, if you haven’t, and
  2. It’s time to go shopping, because new PvP fashions are in stores NOW!

Last week, you could buy Hateful Gladiator main set pieces and Deadly Gladiator offset pieces for honor. Those have been replaced by Deadly and Furious pieces, respectively.

The information in my previous gear post is still reasonably correct, but the clear relative value of the Titan-Forged pieces is no longer there; in most cases the decision is now between crit and haste, and which works best for you.

Okay, The new Titan-Forged pants are still really good. And they make me look good, too!

The new pieces, for the most part, are nicer looking than their predecessors; more ornate detailing, more colors, a little more bling. But they are PvP gear, which means they look functional, drab, and, dare I say it, dowdy, when compared to raid clothes. They’ll keep you alive to win the beauty contests later though!

Expect to see long lines at the counters to buy the new gear, and long batlleground queues as people grind out the honor to get these new pieces. The honor cap of 75k prevents people from stockpiling enough funds to buy the sets all at once, but I found getting a full set can be done with some focused PvP in 1-2 weeks. My strategy last time was to hit battlegrounds in the following priority:

  1. Wintergrasp whenever possible.
  2. Strand of the Ancients, because of the time limit.

  3. Alterac Valley, because it’s fun
  4. All the other BGs as needed to get marks for Concerted Efforts

I’m not sure how I’m going to do it this time. The Isle of Conquest might offer a higher ROI than AV, but I’m not sold on it surpassing SotA. Warsong Gulch will hopefully be less painful than before, and Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm should go a little quicker.

But my playtime is more limited than the last time I did this, and there are more things to do in 3.2. So I’ll take it one piece at a time. I may also look at splitting my BG time with some Atena time, to get the good loot discounts.

It’s important to remember when the shiny new fashions come out that they’ll be on the discount rack next season, so don’t burn out getting them. Gearing up isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Just remember to enjoy your run.

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An Introduction To Macros

Good macros are an essential part of battleground success. WoW macros are small scripts that automate your activities to some extent, allowing you to do more things with a single click. Coupled with keybinding, macros let you do amazing things in and out of combat. But even if you are a point-and-clicker, macros can help improve your play. Once you start using them you’ll wonder how you got by without them.

The idea behind using macros in battlegrounds is to make killing you opponents as easy as possible. You have too much to think about in a battle to be worrying about setting up your combos or selecting targets.  No, really!

I’ve held several macro classes in guild chat, and the biggest problem I see with macros — usually the only problem — is getting started making them. Their flexiblity and power can be intimidating. What I’d like to do here is start with the basics of designing and making macros.  Once we’ve covered that, I’ll follow up this post with specifics on the two classes I know best, Warlocks and Death Knights.

Ready? Let’s begin.

Neo Over UlduarMacros let you do things you never thought were possible!

WHAT IS A MACRO?

Macros are small user-defined scripts that do stuff when you press a button.

What kind of stuff? Well, I think of macros as doing a few different kinds of things.

1. Space savers, allowing multiple abilities to be bound to a single button. These make use of modifier keys or different mouse buttons to work. These are really good for leveling.

2. Combos, which let you do several things at once, several abilities in sequence, or both. If you find yourself casting the same sequence of spells over and over again, a macro can do that for you.

3. Targeting and focus macros, which allow you to do things without changing your current target. This sounds more complicated than it is; I use target macros to apply bandages to myself, or do things to my pet, without having to switch my current target out.

4. Utility macros, which automate a lot of non-combat activities, like mounting the appropriate type of mount, pulling items from the mail, or telling people to click on your Doomguard altar.

These broad categories are how I think about my macros, but they’re just there to help me organize my thoughts about what I want macros to do for me.

For example, just about all my characters get the following macros while still in the starting area:

  • Attack/Grind
  • Bandage
  • Panic
  • Healing (Medic!)

As they get older, and I discover what things I do all the time with that class, more macros get added. But let’s stick to the basics for now and start making macros.

MACRO 101: THE /MACRO PANE

Let’s start with a simple attack macro for early level use. Using the default button layout, I would press one button for my ranged attack or nuking spell, and then another button for my autoattack, and make sure to not press my attack button again until the mob is dead.

That’s way too complicated!  I prefer “press 1 until dead.”

So what we are going to do is:

  1. Create a new macro.
  2. Start attacking the mob, even if they’re out of range.
  3. Cast your nuke.

(If you haven’t made a macro before, I really suggest you follow along and make one as we go. It helps to learn by doing.)

  • Open macro pane with /macro.
  • Choose either general or character specific.  Either will work for now.
  • Choose New Macro.
  • Choose icon ? and name it “Attack”.
  • Type: #showtooltip
  • Type: /startattack
  • Type: /cast Shadow Bolt (or whatever your low-level nuking spell is)
  • Save and drag icon to actionbar in the 1 position.
  • Press 1 until dead!

Here’s what we did:

First, you opened up the Macro Pane to access all your macros. You can have ones that are shared by all your characters, or character-specific ones.  How you organize them is really up to you, but I find putting character-specific abilities into the general tab only makes sense when they’re common macros I want to copy to other characters.  Even then it gets confusing.

Macro 1 - Blank.png

When you created a new macro, you have to select an icon and choose a name.  You can choose from the standard list of icons if you like, but I find the ? icon to be the most useful.  The ? icon looks to the macro text to determine what icon to show, which is very useful later on.  The line #showtooltip tells this icon, show the tooltip of whatever is active right now.  If you said #showtooltip Frostbolt, the Frostbolt icon would be displayed instead.  But we don’t want that, so just use #showtooltip.

Macro 2 - New Macro.png

The text we entered is WoW’s macro syntax.  The first line specifies the icon.  The next line, /startattack, tells your character to start attacking and do not stop.  This means, unlike your standard auto-attack button, if you press it repeatedly autoattacks will not toggle off.

Macro 3 - Attack.png

This is vital because the second line, /cast Shadow Bolt, can be used to fire SBs at your opponent while they close the gap.  You can usually squeeze off 2-3 before they get you, at which point you will start hitting them on the head with a stick.

PRO TIP:  If you have a pet, you can add in /petattack to have them start attacking while you are casting your nuke.

/CASTSEQUENCE

The attack macro is an example of letting you do two things at once: cast a spell and toggle auto-attack on. This works because these two actions do not share a cooldown, that period of time while the buttons refresh on you bars. But what happens as you level up and start casting more than one spell?

Well, you cast them in order using /castsequence. This command lets you press the same button but rotate which spell is cast. If, as a leveling warlock you find that you cast the same sequence of spells over and over, they can be combined into a single macro using /castsequence.

The sequence you should be using as a Warlock in her early years is: Curse of Agony, Corruption, Immolate, and then either Life Tap, Fear, Drain Life, wand, or melée attack. The first three spells are ordered to keep initial aggro low and match up durations as much as possible.

Open up your /macro pane again, and let’s make a new macro for this sequence.

  • Open macro pane with /macro.
  • Choose either general or character specific.
  • New macro.
  • Choose icon ? and name it “Grind.”
  • Type: #showtooltip
  • Type: /petattack
  • Type: /castsequence Curse of Agony, Corruption, Immolate
  • Save and drag icon to actionbar.

Now, this is good, but if for some reason I don’t cast all the spells on the first mob, I’ll be stuck in mid-sequence. Sometimes this doesn’t matter, but in this case it really does. So let’s modify it slightly so that the sequence resets when we switch targets.

/castsequence reset=target/combat Curse of Agony, Corruption, Immolate

This will work much better.

The reset variable is very flexible. You can do time-based resets in addition to combat resets, like so:

/castsequence reset=target/combat,4 Curse of Agony, Corruption, Immolate

This will reset your sequence after switching targets or 4 seconds of not pressing the button. Timer resets are good safety codes to include so you don’t get stuck with a spell you don’t want.

Immolate

When you see me do this, RUN.

MANY ABILITIES ALL AT ONCE, AKA THE PANIC BUTTON

Everyone needs a panic button to hit when everything goes wrong. You can activate your racial defenses, pop a healing pot, use a healthstone, trigger a pvp trinket — and all at the same time! All of those little abilities can add up to a complete reset of a fight if you fire them all at once.

I find it helpful to have two panic buttons: one strictly for healing, the other to also remove snares, stuns, etc..

The key is finding abilities that do not share cooldowns. Potions and Healthstones are on separate CDs, as are racial abilities and Lifeblood. This means you can trigger them all at once.  Here’s a sample panic button:

#showtooltip
/cast Every Man For Himself
/use Fel Healthstone
/use Lifeblood

This will invoke the human racial to break stuns or snares, use a healthstone, and cast the Herbalism HoT Lifeblood.  If you aren’t human, you can specify your own racial, or tell it to use a pvp trinket with the /use 13 or /use 14 command.

To make this into a stronger heal, you can add in some additional lines to use potions:

#showtooltip Fel Healthstone
/use Fel Healthstone
/use Lifeblood
/use [combat] Runic Healing Potion

See that [combat] modifier I added in there?  This will only consume a potion if I pop it in combat.  This limits my potion intake somewhat.

The key with these sorts of macros is experimentation.  Start simple and then add as you go.

SAVING SPACE: MODIFIER KEYS

So, that [combat] modifier isn’t the only modifier you can use on your macros.  Modifier keys let you change a button’s behavior by holding down the shift, ctrl, or alt/option keys, thereby effectively putting four actions into a single bar slot.

I’ll be frank; I used these a lot while leveling, but I hadn’t remapped my entire keyboard yet.  Now I find it’s better to have single keys bound to single functions, with only a few multi-function buttons for use out of combat.  Here’s an example for warlock buffs:

#showtooltip
/cast [mod:alt] Create Healthstone; [mod:ctrl] Unending Breath; [mod:shift] Detect Invisibility; Shadow Ward

Each macro modifier tells what kind of modifier key is necessary to press the named spell. The icon will change as you modify it, so you can see exactly what you’re doing.

There are a lot of good uses for modifier keys in macros.  If you haven’t remapped your keyboard yet, they can really help keep all your important abilities at your fingertips.

UTILITY MACROS

Last, but not least, we come to utility macros.  Macros can be used to get all the gold or loot out of your mailbox, automate selecting a flying or land mount based on your zone, or tell you your location.  There are a lot of situationally useful macros that I use, but aside from mount macros they aren’t very useful in battlegrounds.

For more information on macros, may I recommend the following WowWiki pages:

In part two, we’ll dive into specific Warlock macros and how I use them.

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