Sunday, April 27, 2008

A relevant fable

This is a story that I've considered relevant to Survival for a long time. Also another quote:-

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.

The Chinese here is tricky and a certain key word in the context it is used defies the best efforts of the translator. Tu Mu defines this word as "the measurement or estimation of distance." But this meaning does not quite fit the illustrative simile in ss. 15. Applying this definition to the falcon, it seems to me to denote that instinct of SELF RESTRAINT which keeps the bird from swooping on its quarry until the right moment, together with the power of judging when the right moment has arrived. The analogous quality in soldiers is the highly important one of being able to reserve their fire until the very instant at which it will be most effective. When the "Victory" went into action at Trafalgar at hardly more than drifting pace, she was for several minutes exposed to a storm of shot and shell before replying with a single gun. Nelson coolly waited until he was within close range, when the broadside he brought to bear worked fearful havoc on the enemy's nearest ships.

-- The Art of War 5:13, and translator's commentary.

To elaborate further; I admittedly took ages in doing the initial quest of killing the Gordunni Ogres for the Shatari Skyguard last night.

However, just after I started doing the quest, I had my latency spike to 1800 ms. In that sort of environment, a 1:1.5 or even 1:1 rotation with Steady isn't just more difficult; it's downright deadly. I had to move very, very slowly and carefully, and even then, died once due to the level 73 Elite showing up unexpectedly. Single mob pulls, in clear isolation of the others, Immolation Trap, Serpent and Auto as I've mentioned, and keeping my eyes glued to Diamond Threat Meter; with that much lag, I had to actually feign a few seconds ahead of when I otherwise would have.

People criticise Survival for being too slow when questing or farming, when what they don't realise is how beautifully the cool downs for both trapping and Charge actually can fit for per-mob killing. A lot of the time I take the full 30 seconds to kill each mob, and I find in Scholo when I'm killing mobs in an intuitive stream, my traps are always there exactly when I need them; the cooldowns can seem to vanish entirely.

At the other end of the spectrum, Beast Mastery emphasises speed, and it is true that there are times when I will die due to not administering a sufficiently large amount of raw damage within a short time. It is far more common, however (in fact I would say around 90% more) that the real reason why deaths and wipes occur is due to impatience and a lack of proper planning.

I was in a failed level 70 Ahn'Qiraj pug on my server yesterday. We did not get past the first boss, the Prophet Skeram. The raid leader simply led the entire group into the instance, and proceeded to simply charge Skeram three times. Each attempt was largely identical. After the third failure, the raid group promptly fell apart.

I did not know anything about the strategy for that encounter, and I have also had it stressed to me on numerous occasions in the forum that the most important behaviour in a raid is simply to maintain an attitude of quiet humility, and wait for orders. This, then, is largely what I tried to do, however I did internally reflect, even at the time, that if I had had a more influential position in the raid heirarchy, I think I would have tried to emphasise a lot more prudence and co-ordination.

If you find yourself rushing, stop.

Try, for just a moment, to forget about the idea that you've probably only got an hour or two at a time to play, before you have to go to work, or to church, or to buy food, or to mind your children.

Breathe. Study the environment.

Whereabouts in the game are you?

Look at tracking; study the layout of the mobs, in relation to the terrain. Is there a single one you can perform a low threat pull with, and avoid alerting any of the others?

What abilities are you going to use here; a higher powered rotation, or lower?

Survival as a spec, and Hunters in general, actually have a lot of different weapons at our disposal, but to me the single most powerful of all of them is one which very few people seem to think of.


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