Monday, September 8, 2008

Why low threat matters.

I mentioned in my last post, how, despite being a lovely weapon, my shiny new S2 crossbow was generating too much threat for me to be able to solo Gargolmar and his adds in Ramparts successfully. I've also actually started to have more threat problems while farming in Quel'Danas since trading in Valanos' Longbow, as well.

However, last night while trying to come up with a solution, I'm pretty sure I came up with an answer. I haven't been able to test this too extensively yet this morning, but my initial results are encouraging; and I'm going to play with some numbers in a moment to try and bear it out.

It may initially seem like a bit of a crazy thing to do, but this morning, since I had the honour and marks spare, I went and picked up the High Warlord's Recurve in Orgrimmar. Why would I do this, I hear you ask? I'll explain.

For this example, I'm going to use a mob we're no doubt all intimately familiar with, the Wretched Fiend of Quel'Danas.

Premise 1:- This adorable creature has 5,400 hit points.
Premise 2:- Each Immolation Trap I cast, lasts 15 seconds, which is the same duration as Serpent Sting.

Premise 3:- Dividing 5,400 by 15, to give us the total amount of DPS needed to kill this mob within 15 seconds, gives us 360. I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark here, and assume that this fact is the specific reason why Blizzard chose to give this mob precisely this amount of health.

Premise 4:- Serpent Sting rank 10 does 660 + 1714 (my RAP) * 0.1 = 831. Immolation Trap Rank 6 does 1156 damage without Clever Traps, or 1329 damage with. Adding these two together, we get 2160. 2160 / 14 gives us 154, which is the effective DPS of these two spells combined. Without Clever Traps, (for anyone non-Survival) that's 1987 / 14 = 141 DPS.

Premise 5:- My Wind Serpent's base DPS is 116. This isn't going to include numbers for Lightning Breath, since I'd need to go back into the game to get my pet's AP, and for the sake of what I'm trying to show here, it doesn't really matter too much anywayz. 360 (our base DPS needed to kill this mob in 15 seconds) - 141 (our non-Clever Traps dot number) = 219. 219 - 116 (my pet's base non-cit DPS) = 103. For Clever Traps, 360 - 154 = 206. 206 - 116 = 90.

These two numbers, 103 without Clever Traps, or 90 with, represent the total personal DPS that as a Hunter, we need to do to kill a Wretched Fiend in 15 seconds, (our dot duration) when taking the above two damage sources into account. To really put that into perspective, 90 personal DPS should be well within a Hunter's grasp at level 40-45!

Here's why this matters. A Wind Serpent at 70 with Rank 8 Growl, can generate 250 TPS. (Source here) If after trapping and pet damage, the most personal DPS we need to kill non-elite mobs in 15 seconds is on the order of 90-100, that effectively means that our pets can hold aggro equivalent to more than twice the total DPS needed to kill the mob. Yet raiders still cry that pets don't generate enough threat.

My paperdoll DPS with the High Warlord's Recurve, while using my usual Warden's Arrows, is 247.6. As you can see, my base, non-crit DPS, even with a weapon with a pre-requisite of level 60, is nearly three times that needed, barring armor, to kill a Wretched Fiend in 15 seconds. Hence, I could use a level 45 weapon and still do enough damage with the other two sources to kill these mobs within the alloted time.

"But Mirsh," I can hear you saying. "I can just blast these with my (random purple raiding bazooka of doom) and they die in two seconds flat. Who cares?"

Here's why I care. Ever had 4-5 of these things on you at once? I have, and I'm telling you, even at near 10k health, it ain't a picnic. I've died because of it on occasion. However, with Readiness and a Carrion Bird, (if you're good, you'll still be able to do it with a Wind Serpent) if I'm not doing more than 250 personal DPS, here's what I can do if I get 4-5 of these things on me at once.

1) Drop a Frost Trap under the crowd.
2) Put Mend Pet up. (keep it up at all times)
3) Hit the dirt with Feign Death.
4) Hit Readiness.
5) Drop an Immolation Trap at the feet of one mob.
6) Jump back once, and apply Serpent Sting.
7) Use Auto Shot to quickly but calmly kill the first mob.
8) Drink a health pot if need be, rinse, and repeat.

Given how long the trap cooldown is, I might not be able to drop a trap for each mob. If I can't, I'll keep Serpent up anyway, and do a slow, measured 1:1 rotation, while keeping an eye firmly on my damage meter, and applying Disengage if needed, or Feign again when it's back up.

Here's the single main point of this post; if you don't get anything else from it, get this. It isn't that pets don't build enough threat, when soloing. It's that Hunters are generating too much.

Raiders are used to the idea of their encounters being a DPS race. In such an encounter, you want every last bit of DPS that you can get, right? Sure. However, in such a scenario, you've not only got a human tank in front of you with a potentially much higher max TPS, but you've also hopefully MDed onto him in order to give yourself a higher ceiling. You can still MD onto a pet, sure; but if you get a group of mobs on you, you're not going to be able to MD for every one.

In other words, when you're soloing and you get hit by a group, you actually want the opposite to the raid scenario. You want to dot, and hug the 15 second personal DPS requirement after your pet and trapping, as closely as possible. I guarantee you that, if you study this for non-elite mobs, you will always calculate it at below 255, which means you will still have a threshold between the amount of damage you need, and your pet's max TPS, so it will be able to keep up.

TL;DR version:- For farming or dailies, if you want to be able to fend off packs, and also avoid needing to kite, (which boosts your overall speed) get an old weapon, (between level 45-60) and use it. DoT mobs, lean on your pet's damage as well, (which you already likely do as BM anywayz) and stay below 250 personal DPS. You will never need more than 400 overall to kill a non-elite mob.

This is vitally important, because against groups while soloing, it is the secret of how we are able to survive. By staying below 250 personal DPS, we can keep mobs on the pet even when we're standing just outside melee range. Thus, they don't swamp us, and we survive.

The other fun part of this is that doing the above, even without Resourcefulness, you generally won't use more than 10-12% mana per mob, either. I normally use around 8%.

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