Friday, November 30, 2007

Tanking Hierarchy

I was reading Kaziel's thoughts on my (mis?)adventures in MMOs this morning. This post started as a comment on his blog but it started to get a little long and I felt it more deserving of its own post here.

If you don't read Kaziel, you really should. He seems to have a real understanding of the entire genre of MMORPGs. I find reading his blog has given me a better understanding of WoW and some of the decisions that go into making an MMO.

This morning he was writing about a comment Tigole made about Death Knights. Kaz is debating on what he wants for his tank character in the expansion. He has a Warrior, and a Paladin.

Tigole's exact words were: "We made some really good strides in The Burning Crusade to improve the feral druid as a hybrid tank/dps class. That will be the general direction we'll be looking to go with the death knight. Obviously, the protection warrior is in a good place in terms of dungeon and raid tanking. And the protection paladin is hands-down the best multi-target tank. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but you can see the general direction the tanking classes are headed. While all of these classes are capable of fulfilling similar roles, they offer very different abilities and playstyles." (bolding added by me).

I found Tigole's comments to be a huge concern for anyone who wants to assume a role as a Raid Main Tank as a Paladin. Basically, he's saying we're for AoE trash packs and not much else.

But then I have to look at the last dungeon he helped design: Zul'Aman. I have to look at the gauntlet to Eagle, I have to look at the Dragonhawk encounter.

When I joined my guild they had had some unsuccessful attempts at Paladin tanks, and some were skeptical of me.

Now in ZA, they are actually saying things like "this fight is soooo much easier with Honors". That to me is a good thing.

Kaz goes on to tell his take on the Tanking Hierarchy.

If you can imagine each of the current tanks falling along a line. This line represents the value to the raid the class generally brings with a "true tanking spec", when it is not tanking. By the phrase "true tanking spec" I mean an investment of no less than 41 points in the given tanking tree, with or without the 41 point talent.On the far right you have Protection Paladins and Protection Warriors. I'm not going to say which is further down on this side, because that boils down to individual players, specs and gear. Fact is that someone who specs as deeply into either of the Protection trees as I mentioned above will have very little utility outside of the tanking role. An additional bit of info is that I've found most people who spec to be tanks for raids will, in addition to spending over 41 points in their given tanking tree, spend their additional points outside the tanking tree on talents that will improve their abilities while tanking. By taking this approach they are able to expand their abilities while tanking at the expense of their non-tanking role value.On the far left you have Druids. Unlike Paladins and Warriors, Druid's melee DPS tree and their tanking tree are the same trees. While there will be some differences between someone who specs to be a bear tank and someone who specs to be a cat DPSer, many talents have overlap into both forms. This combined with both forms generally calling for the same stats (STR, AGI, & STA) means that a tanking Druid can more easily adjust to a DPS role, both in combat and out of it.

I've generally found this to be the case. Just to back up what he's saying, all 61 of my talent points are in talents that help me tank, even the points in the Retribution tree.

He then details an experiment he did with Warcrafter. My goodness that's a cool site. If you need to see how different gear, gem and enchant setups would affect your stats, it's the best site going. I've used it extensively deciding on what Badge rewards to buy, what Arena gear to get and what gems and enchants to use.

I really enjoy the play style of my Paladin. I like the slower pace of the game play. I like the gear metagame you have to play.

But at the same time, I want to feel like I'm making a solid and necessary contribution to my team defeating the encounter. I'm very encouraged by what I see in the design of Zu'lAman and I will watch with interest to see how the Sunwell encounters play out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Group 1 + Kara + 4 Hours = 19 Badges

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of running with Group 1 through Karazhan. I logged on a bit late and I was worried they would have started without me, which they had. I asked if I could get subbed in for Moroes because I really really want his trinket.
Not only did I get a spot for Moroes but I was able to stay for the entire run.
This was my first time as an Offtank on Moroes and not Main Tank. I pulled the mob I was going to be tanking and then feared him, and started working on Moroes. As soon as I started working on him he would blind me. It's really tough to get your mob under control and still get 2nd threat on Moroes when you are constantly being blinded. Normally I'd Stoneform out but I wanted to save it for if I got Garrotee, which I did.
And of course, Moroes kept his Pocketwatch firmly in his pants pocket. Instead he dropped a Mail healing belt which goes into my Healing Kit.

Group 1 moves fast. Very fast. I barely had a moment to drink between pulls, and I was using my Mana Pots rather liberally.

I didn't run with Group 1 back when it was running Kara regularly, and everyone kind of fell into their familiar roles with Brindall and Trelic tanking. Both of those guys are awesome tanks. I wasn't going to be rude and taunt mobs away from them, but perhaps I should have said something. As soon as Trelic remembered I was in the Raid he backed off and let me tank some. With my threat still acting a bit weird, I actually liked the idea of having him as a backup.

We cleared Maiden, and Opera and were making great time.
Since we were in the area, Brindall came back and we smacked down Nightbane. He dropped his shield, but the wrong shield. He dropped the Dragonheart Flameshield.
This shield is nice and replaces my blue Netherwing Shield for 5 Mans, Offtanking and Soloing. It actually has more Armor than my Crest of the Sha'tar, but less stamina and no defensive stats. It's more of a Shaman shield to be honest.

It does look wicked cool. Periodically, the dragon head on hit will spew out fire. Wichita had a shield like this for a while and I thought it looked cool. It looks cool on old Hammer too.
So with Nightbane a smoking pile of bones, we move onto Curator. We just kept on trucking and took down Curator. I got to Main tank for this one because Brindall wanted to bring his Rogue. Curator refused to drop the Legs I need, but I'd get my revenge later.

We convinced Dora to continue on to Aran, whom we killed with maximum aggression.

We were pretty close so we decided to push on to Chess. As we got there someone in the Raid asked if we could do Netherspite for a drop.

No problemo. Brindall and I took the Red Beam and it was a flawless attempt. I did get hit by Netherbreath a couple of times even though I was behind him, or so I thought.
At this point I started doing some calculations in my head. When we got done with Chess I would be sitting at 74 badges. 74!

Dora was getting tired, so I asked if a couple of the guys would mind staying on to do the first boss in Heroic Ramps for that last badge.

Instead, they said, it's only a couple of pulls to Prince, lets just do him.

So we did.
This was the first time I had ever done Prince and not been tanking. My contribution was not dying and keeping Brindall free from Shadow Word:Pain.

Prince goes down with only 8 Infernals dropped. He drops the Champion token.

0 Shamans, 0 Rogues, 1 Paladin.

I have passed on every T4 Helm because I've got my Engineering Helm. Well, now I've got my T4 Helm. I can use it on fights where I need max aggro and I'm not getting hit very much, like Void Reaver or Gruul.

Not only did I get my T4 Helm, but I got 3 more badges to put me to 77. I rushed to Ger'as in Shattrath to buy: Curator can kiss my big fat dwarf cheeks. He can keep his Wyrnn Dynasty Greaves in that rusting bucket of bolts. I never saw them drop 1 time.
Big thanks to Devona for cutting the Dodge Gem.
I loved my Timewarden's Leggings. They served me well.

So where does this leave ole Hammer. Walking around Shattrah with nothing but my Aura, I'm sitting at 14.8k Hit points and nearly 5k mana. Here's the paper doll.

If I wasn't concerned about the odd threat anomalies, I'd make a bigger push to have me start doing more Main Tanking in our Raids. I've got the gear and the skills to do it. Unless the boss is a "gimick" fight that requires Spell Reflect, there is really no reason not to use me.
We have an awesome group of Tanks in Mal Katai, and I think any of us can get the job done. I'm more expressing I want a "turn" at the big uglies, the Raid bosses.

Slight Malfunction

Engineering is very fun to have as a Profession on your toon. I love the Goggles. the Mote Extractor (see rant below) and the Flying Mount. One of the nice perks is the Teleporters. Since I chose Gnomish Engineering, I can teleport to Gadgetzgan and Toshley's Station. Gadgetzgan is great for Caverns of Time. That is also where I can buy my Head Enchant so it's rather handy to be able to just port over there when I need it.

The Toshley transport puts me close to my Daily quests, Gruul's and Netherstorm.

Of course as with all things Engineering, sometimes they don't work *exactly* as planned. Sometimes when I use the Gadget Transport, instead of materializing on the platform, I materialize an unsafe distance in the air near Gadget. This meant I learned that Bubble makes a great Parachute long before anyone started doing Daily Quests and getting dismounted by Flak Cannons or Monstrous Kalari.

The Toshley Transporter seems to have a different malfunction. Instead of a slight miscalculation in the coordinates to rematerialized at, this one seems to sometimes get your pattern matrix mixed up with the previous user.
It could have turned me into something stylish like a Gnome, but no, it turned me into a NIGHT ELF!

For an hour I was stuck with those ears and that hair. I felt the sudden compunction to jump every few steps.

A Night Elf on my beautiful Charger. There should be a law against this or something. Really.

**Warning: Incoming Mote Extractor Rant**

The Mote Extractor meant I didn't miss mining at all. That is until Blizzard bugged the spawns when Season 3 went in. The clouds either don't spawn or don't respawn, but the bottom line is that you can't really farm clouds anymore. The worst part is the lack of communication from Blizzard about this change. Is it intended or unintended? They have not said one word about it.

**End Rant**

What Lurks Below

Mal Katai tried our hand at SSC and the Lurker Below. I was given the privilege of doing some main tanking for trash.

The pull consisted of a Tamer with two pets and two Screamers. I was supposed to pull the Tamer and tank the two pets. I don't think my shield his both pets on any of the packs. This was the first instance I'd done since the patch and it's where I started to notice some odd behavior in my threat.
I also got to tank the Bog Lords who break into little Bog Lords. This was really simple as the Consecrate that I was already using was gathering up the little guys.
You have to clear Hydross' trash to get to Lurker. We cleared Lurker's trash which caused the fish to despawn but made the water boiling hot (hit for about 500 a tick). Not near as bad as the lava in BRD that you would swim through doing MC attunement runs.

Lurker has to be fished out of his little watering hole. This adds a bit of tension as you never know which cast is going to bring him up. It could be the 1st, the 5th or the 20th. But then he leaps out of his hole and the fight is engaged.

We seemed to do pretty well on avoiding his spout ability. Our problems seemed to start during his submerge stage. We were not getting all the adds down and under control in time. We started by trying to CC the inner ring, but the mobs on the inner ring ran for healers before we could get them CC'ed. Then we tried CC'ing the outer ring and killing the inner ring. This was better but we still had adds up when Lurker came back up.
I think really our biggest problem was that we were a bit undermanned for healing. We only had 5 healers in the Raid.
Our best attempt was around 70%. I think now that we've sampled SSC and TK, we need to focus on one boss and wipe on him until we kill him.
During SSC I was able to get my Hit Points up to 19.1k but I forgot to screenshot it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Next Steps

My next Badge purchase is going to be the Legs, followed by the Cloak. The Legs cost 75 Badges, and I am currently sitting on 58. So I need 17 more.

Once I get those the only "blue" left in my kit will be my Trinket. For that I need Moroes or the new mini Last Stand PVP trinkets. 30000 Honor and 40 AV marks. I'm currently sitting on 10k Honor. PuGing 20k Honor, that's going to be rough. I guess I could do it all in AV.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with my Honor points. Gruul and Nightbane continue to mock me by holding onto the Shield of Impenetrable Darkness and the Aldori Legacy Defender. I have enough points for the Season 2 Shield. I'm tempted to get the Spell Damage Shield. More threat is always good. Of course, I could go also go with the Shield Wall which would boost my stamina even more.

30000 Honor & 40 AV tokens (10k Honor / 41 tokens)
Pick an Arena Shield
Get Exalted with Aldor (9k/21k)
Get Exalted with Consortium (2k/21k)
5000 gold for Epic Flyer (2.6k/5k)
Moroes Trinket (Karazhan)

How To: Offtank Gruul the Dragonkiller

The reason Paladins work well as the offtank on Gruul is mana lasts longer than rage. The offtank role is one big hit, then nothing for a while. So you take that one big hit, get your mana back from being healed and unleash your threat.

Also mana pots do more for a Paladin than Rage pots do for a Warrior.

The first part of offtanking Gruul is your prefight preparation. You want to boost your spell damage as much as you can for this fight.

If you have trust that your main tank won't go down, you can even sacrifice Uncrushability for more spell damage. However, our Main Tank dies quite often on our attempts, so I go with a fully uncrushable kit for this fight.

The two piece bonus of your Dungeon 3 set and your Tier 4 set are really helpful, but not necessary.

For buffs, you want Unstable Flask of the Sorcerer, Blackened Basilisk and Superior Wizard Oil.

Basically, on Gruul, I open up with a Judgement of Righteousness. I have to be careful because if it crits, I can pull aggro from the MT as he is still moving Gruul into position.

Then I nail him with Judgement of the Crusader. In my tank gear with Judgement of the Crusader up, I have nearly 600 effective spell damage.

I pop the wings (this is to say I cast Avenging Wrath), and get my SoV stack started, and Consecrate. Then I throw my Avenger's Shield. Now it's just a matter of watching my threat, and the melee dps threat, and trying to squeeze in between the two.

I have to watch for Shatters to know when to pop Avenging Wrath again. Since it's a timed buffed, I don't want to waste one second of it flying through the air or being stoned.

You can catch a streak where you dodge or parry a couple of Hurtfuls in a row. This is a good thing! However, it can leave you gasping for mana. That's why you always bring a stack of the Ogril'la Mana pots. Don't wait until you are completely out of mana to use it. Use it when you are around 1000 mana left. You want to give the cooldown some time so you can use it again if needed.

Something Is Not Right

Something is off with Paladin Threat generation.

Threat is not a value reported anywhere in the GUI. We all have addons to measure Threat, but they don't read the mobs Threat table. Instead they do their own calculation which we hope mimics the Blizzard one closely.

I make that statement to say I don't have any empirical evidence of a bug with Righteous Fury and the amount of Threat it's adding.

I have circumstantial evidence of losing threat even when the Addons do not show the party member with enough threat to gain the mobs aggro. I have further circumstantial evidence of losing threat in situations where I did not lose threat prior to 2.3.

I have the coincidental evidence of Righteous Fury being bugged in other ways (Mana Cost, Counted twice for Dispell).

I have corroboratory evidence of other Paladins both on the MainTankadin boards and the Official WoW Boards reporting that they are producing less threat this patch than before.

I have conjecture that the changes made to Righteous Fury this patch, to work with the altered Fanaticism talent, have caused a Bug in the amount of Threat Righteous Fury and the Talented Righteous Fury are generating.

Threat is the first task of the tank. If the mobs not hitting you all your hit points and armor don't mean much.

I haven't mentioned this to anyone in Mal Katai. I hate to be the kind of guy who blames every problem he's having in an instance on a "bug". Especially one that for which I can not find any empirical evidence. But at the same time, I know I risk each group that asks me to tank, and I further risk people forming opinions on my ability to tank based on this "bug".

By trade, I'm a coder (Computer Programmer). I know how hard it is to debug a large program, especially when the user presents an intermittent bug, or a bug that is difficult to describe as this one would be.

I make the assumption that a Blizzard Programmer has the ability to turn on an interface that shows him the mobs Threat table and he can watch the values as a test Paladin fights a mob. If those values look accurate, he's likely think everything was okay. I would if that programmer/tester was me.

I'm not going to stop tanking. Hopefully, when the other bugs with Righteous Fury are fixed, this one will be as well.

He's baaaaaack!

Has it really been a whole week since I posted? Eh gads!!

Not much happened last night. Due to real life complications, I didn't log on until almost 8:30pm. The "alt" group was already chugging through Karazhan and Group 2 was waiting to get going. I tried getting a spot in Group 2, but they were full. That's probably for the best as they tend to run a bit later than I like.

There are still a couple of drops from Karazhan that interest me, but mainly I want Kara for Badges, Badges and more Badges.

So in my never ending quest for Badges, I started to put together a Heroic Slave Pens run last right. Slave Pens was the Heroic Daily quest which means you get an extra two Badges for completing it. Uber cool.

Putting a group together with one Kara going and another getting ready to go proved challenging.

I was able to get Lococrazy (Hunter), Aerlion (Mage), and Regolos (Warlock). I was really happy to have Regolos in my group. He was in Heroes Inc with me. I'm not sure what all the circumstances were surrounding his departure from Heroes but its cool to have him in Mal Katai. This game is WAAAAY more fun with people you know and like.

Our group lacked a Healer. All of the Mal Katai Healers were either in Kara or waiting for Kara. It took a while but eventually Rego was able to get his buddy Dlow, a Holy Paladin. A little more than a hour later, Quagmarrian is a steaming pile of plant parts and I'm five Badges richer. I wasn't sure, but Quagmarrian CAN be taunted while he does his acid spit ability. It's much better that he target the tank, who is already getting heals versus a party member. Holy Paladins are awesome healers, but they lack any group heal. So reducing the number of targets that needs healing helps the Paladin healer.

Despite spending 75 Badges on Patch Day, I'm already back up to 58. If I can manage to get to Kara this week, that will increase my Badge count even more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Think I'm In Love

Last night, we did a farming run in Karazhan. I'm still trying to get Curator's Legs and Moroes Trinket. I can't tell you how much I want that Trinket.

Most of our 'core' group has everything they want from Kara, so we took a bunch of alts. Dora (Our GM Priest) on her Hunter. Brindall (MT Warrior) on his Holy Paladin. Sevenn, who is just an incredible Holy Paladin decided he would spec Retribution for the run.

I thought that Arbethon who was the offtank was still Arms, but it turns out he was speced Prot. I taunted off him a couple times on the way to Attumen. After I realized my mistake, I apologized. He was totally cool.

It's so nice to have reached that place where if I mess up, I'm not worried Dora is going to port me to Ironforge with orders to spec Holy. When we killed Maiden, some Healing gear dropped. When I suggested rolling on it, Dora's response was "You're a tank, hon." Brindall's Holy Paladin got it. He really cleaned up. In one run he went from mostly Blues to mostly Epics. Apparently the same thing happened on his Warrior. Some guys just seem to have all the luck.

We cleared up to Curator without a problem. Moroes was a little messy, but we got him down no problem. Sevenn was doing solid DPS, right in line with our other DPS classes. He was keeping my Judgements refreshed, so we had both Crusader and Wisdom up most fights.

After Curator, we made some changes to the raid. Some people swapped out for others. The big gain from this was I was able to get Sevenn in my group.


My threat took off. I was doing 800+ TPS on Mechanicals with Judgement spikes over 1100TPS. Aerlion, a well geared Fire Mage, was doing about the same TPS as me on Omen.

Sevenn gave us a 3rd Blessing in a 10 man Raid. I had Kings, Wisdom and Light. He provided a damage buff to entire party and a major buff to my threat.

The only problem he had was his own aggro. A string of Crits and no aggro dump and you've yourself one dead Paladin.

I'm pushing for us to get some more healers so Sevenn can go Ret full time. Curator dropped the Paladin token and each of us already had our primary set, so Sevenn now has T4 Ret Gloves.

He's already got his Epic Flyer so money for respecs shouldn't be a large concern.

I absolutely LOVE having him as Ret. Moreover, it gives him that break from healing that you need from time to time. It was the same dynamic that led me to Tanking.

Curator and Moroes still hate me. Neither drop I needed was seen, but getting 11 badges in just over 3 hours kind of takes the sting out of it.

I'm already back up to 25 Badges without any serious farming. The next upgrades are a Cloak at 35 Badges or the Legs at 75.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1 Shot!

Last night, Mal Katai went into Gruul's Lair. When invites went out, I was in a group with some old buddies from Heroes doing dalilies. I told MK what I was doing. I guess they misunderstood and thought I had saved myself to Heroes raid. I got that cleared.

We got organized and zone in. We one shot the High King. We plowed on through the trash and got ready to pull Grrul himself.

I was again in my now familiar offtank role. The fight was going really well to about 50%. Then I got caught in a Cave In. I moved. I was either still in the Cave In or in another one. I moved again. I litterally felt like I was running in a circle around Gruul. My cooldown management went out the window. At one point I slipped out of melee range and Raydz took a Hurtful. We recovered from that, but I was hurting for mana. I threw everything I could at Gruul. Tralic had all melee including Raydz back out and I got back into 2nd place.

Then Lanorah goes down. I heard Dora call for healing on me but I realized the switch too late and Gruul nailed before I could get Holy Shield up.


Raydz jumps on him and Tralic goes bear and the healers all cast Prayer of Dodge on Tralic.

Our DPS, which was truly amazing that night kept banging away. Gruul's health whittled down and down.

Tralic goes down. Raydz goes down. Gruul's at one percent and starts rampaging through the Raid. People DoT and run. The Paladins pop their bubbles and start Hammer of Wrath and Holy Shocking like made.

6 people left.

5.......4........3! people left.

And down the big boy goes!!!! 3 people left standing. It was either a Deadly Poision tick or a Holy Shock from Pylar, but Gruul bit the dust!

There was much cheering over vent, the likes of which I haven't heard since we killed him the first time.

2 pulls, 2 dead bosses.

The raid was over fairly quickly. Some folks went to get in their Arena games. About 11 of us, decided to go to Serpentshrine Caverns. We rode the elevator system, which was very cool, and just took a look around. Aerlion died to the elevator. SSC is so hard even the enviroment tries to kill you.

We could see Hydross the Unstable from the little platform where we stopped. We didn't have enough to do any pulls, but that didnt' stop us.

The first pull is a Beast Tamer with 2 pets and 2 Hate Screamers. Lan and I pulled and we wiped. We did find out that the pets can be sheeped and the Hate Screamers have a silence (boo!).

It was totally cool being in a new zone even if we didn't kill anything. That was the best 8g I've spent since I bought the mats to my Flying Machine.

I went and did a little Mote farming when Raydz called for Arenas. I did 5 games with his 3v3 and all 10 with his 5v5. We went 6-4 in the 3s and 7-3 in the 5s. Raydz is an amazing Warrior. This guy goes from awesome tank to wrecking ball DPS. It had been a couple of weeks since I had done Arenas so I was rusty.

In a couple of matches, the other teams Rogue would try to attack me. It usually takes them a little while to figure out they are killing themselves on my Holy Shield. Thanks to the buff to Healers in 2.3, in my Healing gear, my Holy Shield hits for about 215. Each attack (Mainhand and Offhand) has the possibility of being blocked, so I can do about 1600 damage pretty quick to Mr. Rogue.

My favorite match of the night was a 3v3 that came down to me and a Warrior. We were already pretty hurt and both under 20%. I knew from my playing time on Rabbitslayer that I was about to eat an Execute.



GAME OVER, Warrior!!!

I raided, I farmed, I PVPed. Quite a night. I don't know if you can tell, but I had a lot of fun last night.

It's Not About You

One of the most common questions Tanks of all classes ask is "Is my gear ready for _____".

I completely understand the question, especially as an offspec tank. Tanking is a very visible part of any encounter. In many encounters, when the tank dies, it's game over.

Tanking is in many ways about confidence. Is your group confident in you? Are you confident in yourself?

Most tanks fight a fear that if they go into an encounter undergeared, they will wipe the raid and lose their opportunity to tank.

You've got to realize, it's not about you.

Just get a group together and start killing trash. Try the boss, see where you and your team needs to improve.

If you are dying and the healers have mana, you need more Stamina, Armor, Block Value. If you and dying because your healers ran out of mana, more dodge and parry would be a good thing.

Remember too, it's not about you. If you have the DPS to take Gruul down in 9 growths, you can tank him in very different gear than a group that has DPS that let him get to 16 growths.

Last point. There aren't a whole lot of fights where it's just a matter of sitting there and whacking away at the boss while the healers heal you.

There is nothing about your play or your gear that is going to change 3 healers getting owned by a Shatter, or a Hunter using Arcane Shot on Krosh, or people not moving in and out for Eagle Boss' Storm. It's not about YOU, it's about the team.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shoulder Question

Pauldrons of Stone Resolve versus the Justicar Shoulderguards.

Armor: Stone Resolve +73

Stamina: Stone Resolve +6

Defense: Stone Resolve +5

Shield Block: Stone Resolve +11

Block Value: Stone Resolve +3

Intellect: Justicar +14

Spell Damage: Justicar +26

Is 14 INT and 26 Spell Damage worth 73 Armor, 6 Stamina, 5 Defense, 11 Shield Block Rating and 3 Block Value.

Ultimately, I think I'd like to have these shoulders, but if they provide a significant upgrade for the other tank in my group, I think I would pass ont them.

Swing!! ....And a Miss

What I'm going to share in this blog posts is some data on my spec.

I'm using the Raid Boss Void Reaver. With the excitement over Zul'Aman and 2.3, Void Reaver is the only boss I've done in both specs for a comparison. I've got one parse (3 attempts) in my old spec and 1 parse (6 attempts) in my new spec.

If I look over the entire parse, the first night of attempts had many more trash mob fights than the 2nd night. The 2nd night we cleared trash much faster. To try to get as accurate a picture as possible, I'm going to have to strip out all the Trash Mobs and just look at VR.

With my old spec I had 3/3 Precision and 0/5 of the old Weapon Expertise.
My new spec has 2/3 Precision and 5/5 of the new Combat Expertise.
As I looked over the data, I found that my "miss" rate increased by 1%. In my old spec, I missed about 5% of the time. In my new spec, I missed 6%. The difference between 2/3 Precision and 3/3 Precision is 1%. This would be the expected result.
What is disturbing is that I was Parried/Dodged about 2% more in my new spec. This spec, as you will remember, includes Combat Expertise. Expertise is supposed to reduce your chance to be parried or dodged. What I gather from this is that the amount of Expertise granted from the talent is not enough to make a difference. I am not sure how to account for the increase amount of Parry and Dodge.
The rate of Resists from the two fights were unchanged. Precision is supposed to have a 3% spell hit component to it, but I had a 12% resist rate in the old spec and a 12% resist rate in the new spec. Since the old spec was in 2.2, before they added spell hit to the talent, I would have been facing a base 17% resist rate. This would have changed to 15% in 2.3 with 2 points in Precision. I conclude that the 2% change in resist chance was too small to be noticed on these fights.
Since Void Reaver is a fight where he goes from tank to tank, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how I compare to other tanks in Damage taken. One of the issues sited by my Druid Healer "friend" was that Paladins take more damage.
I looked only at "normal" hits and ignored any Crushes. Since you don't know when VR will change targets, you are not spending rage or mana on your Crush Immunity. I also ignored the last attempt of the 2nd night when we hit the enrage timer causing a rather large hit on Lanorah that would have skewed her average.
There was a large disparity in average damage taken by tanks. Raydz had a delta of nearly 1400 (low average at 3061, high average at 4324). Lanorah's delta was even higher at 1600 (her lowest average was 2972, highest average was 4563). These were all normal hits. No crushes, no crits. Sometimes the sample size was too small. Lanorah largest average was 4563 but that was a fight where Void Reaver only hit him one time.
So if you look at all 6 attempts, it breaks out this way (ignoring the 1 hit Lan took when he was enraged).
Honorshammer took 122 hits for a total of 402,875 damage.
Lanorah took 112 hits for a total of 362,768 damage
Raydz took 53 hits for a total of 186,941 damage.
Lanorah's average was 3238, mine was 3302, and Raydz was 3527. I took about 2% more damage than Lan, but about 7% less damage than Raydz.
Did I take the most hits because I held aggro the longest or because Lan has almost a 4% advantage over me in his Dodge chance?
Armory is down right now, so I can't see how much we differ in gear. I know I've got a better chest and shield than Raydz and Lanorah has more T4 than me. My belief is that the difference is much more a factor of gear than class. That's what I'm going to believe until I see evidence to the contrary.
To a certain point, it's a moot point. The Raid Leaders, and Guild Leaders have seen me in action and trust me to tank. I think I can back off on the hard sell.
I'm definitely keeping the Combat Expertise talent, just for the Stamina buff. I'm tempted to go back to 3/3 Precision and drop 1 point from Imp Crusader.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Return to Reaver

Last night Mal Katai took another stab at Tempest Keep : The Eye.

I was running around like made trying to get my new chest and helm enchanted and gemmed up in time for the Raid. I got everything done except getting the Earthstorm Diamond made. Expensive Primal Waters are FTL.

(Big Thank you to the two generous people who donated the Primal Waters for my Diamond).

I was really glad to be back in TK. Last time I forgot to get a screenshot of Al'lar.
I can't wait til we can engage this guy. I think Rob and Lisa are being really smart in keeping us focused on one boss at a time, but I keep wondering why we've skipped Magtheridon completely.
Anywho. We burned through the trash pulls much faster this time. We were assigning roles for healers, tanks, etc.There was that awkward silence on the first pull where we had 3 tanks and 2 targets that need to be tanked.

I assigned myself to one target and Lan to other. I told Raydz I'd have him OT on the next pull. It was during that next pull. Then something happened during the early trash pulls that I have to comment on. It wasn't planned by me or any of the Officers.

As the 3rd tank, on a 2 tank pull, you have a little time to look around, assess the situation, rely information. DPS is usually focused on their targets, and Healers are focused are their targets. I started calling out DPS targets, moving people around, and encouraging heals. Basically, I took over the raid.
Realizing what I was doing, I quickly sent a tell to the other Officers. Bascially telling them to shut me up if they thought I was overstepping my bounds. They didnt'. We kept on rolling.
I was partically happy with the way the bird packs went. We employed a strategy of lining the hallway with traps. I pulled with Avengers Shield and the birds hit the traps. Lan and Raydz picked up the Falconers and the Mages marked and sheeped the birds. I tanked any birds that weren't taken care of. It worked very well.

We cleared all the trash and were able to make several attempts on Void Reaver. With my new chest, I'm can get up to nearly 500 raid buffed Spell Damage. It's almost not fair to the other tanks, but they did a great job keeping aggro.
Our problem seems to be moving away from the Orbs. The Healer group came up with a new idea on how to handle that and I believe it will be very helpful next time we do it.

A quick word about my respec.

My miss % went up from last week Void Reaver attempt, and that makes me a sad panda. You can't "see" the 3% crit so most don't even know its there. I'm strongly considering dropping the 3% crit talent and going back to my old 0/49/12, but still swapping Reckoning for Combat Expertise.

So it's look like I'll have had a diffenent spec everytime we fought Void Reaver. Rob would be proud.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Last night was the culmination of much of my effort leading up to and immediately following the 2.3 patch.

First off, I got Engineering up to 350. This allowed me to build my new mount, The Gyrocopter.

Some people dismissed it as fluff and not much a buff for Engineering. I love the thing. It does make it very easy to know how many Engineers are around. Was this the sole reason I picked up Engineering? No. Was it a large consideration, yep. Is it "silly" to use a Profession slot on a mount. Probably. Are there other cool things I get with Engineering like Teleporters, Mote Extractors, Potion Injectors, Repair Bots, etc. Aye, Cap'n.

The next item on my agenda was my repspec. I started out at 12.6k unbuffed Health. So off to the trainer I got to unlearn all my talents. I went with the "cherry picking" strategy where I dump Reckoning and pickup Improved Crusader by giving up 1 point in Anticipation, 1 point in Spell Warding, and 1 point in Precision. I'm less than totally happy with the results, but I think I need more testing, but more on that in another post. After the respec, I was sitting pretty at 13.6k unbuffed Health. The Combat Expertise talent gave me about 1k health.

This had me feeling pretty good. The next order of business was spending almost all the badges I had saved up prior to the patch going live.

I had thought and thought about what piece I'd buy first. Ultimately, I decided on the Chest piece. Curator is an easier boss than Nightbane to kill, and even if I do get in a Nightbane kill, I can roll on the Shield and let the other tank in the group get the Chest. Everybody wins! The chest is a really nice piece and it replaces my "blue" chest, the Vindicator's Hauberk.

One of the other reasons to dig Engineering is the epic Helms. With my Engineering finally at 350, I was able to craft my Tankatronic goggles. Two new epics in one night. With my luck with drops, this is how I have to get upgrades these days.

So taking a look at ole Honorshammer now. I look something like this:

14,287 hitpoints

14,809 Armor

495 Defense

22.14% Dodge

16.01% Parry

19.55% Block

354 Spell Damage

You almost want to feel sorry for those bosses. Without a single buff on me, they have only a 48% chance of even being able to hit me. I only have two "blues" left in my main kit, my Timewarden's Leggings and my Dawnstone Crab.

I did some testing on the Ardent Defender talent last night in TK, I'll have a post on that soon as well as how the new spec is working out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spec Quest

Patch 2.3 brings in 3 new talents for Paladins that look very attractive.

I consider this a "must have" talent, not so much for the Expertise (which is nice), but for the 10% Stamina.

This is a really nice talent. More crit would be more DPS and bosses dying faster.
And finally, we have:

This is basically like have a 3% chance to Dodge a spell.
My current build is a standard 0/49/12. These talents represent 11 new points. I don't feel like I had much fluff or nonessential talents in my 2.2 build.
The first choice is rather simple. Goodbye Reckoning, Hello Combat Expertise!
After that it gets much more complicated. For the moment, I'm going to decide to forgo Pursuit of Justice. 3% is a very low percentage and it's essentially a proc and therefore unreliable. I'd probably have the boss miss me when I'm at full health and not miss when I'm at 5% and need about a half second more before the big heal lands.
Improved Crusader is the rub.
I could try to cherry pick the points, and go 4/5 in some talents to still get the benefit of those talents, just not the full benefit. For instance, go 1/2 Spell Warding, 2/3 Precision, and 4/5 Anticipation.
I could try dropping Precision, or drop Spell Warding and going 2/3 Improved Crusader for a 2% Crit boost instead of 3.
The last option would be not getting Improved Crusader. Will 2 or 3% be noticeable to the raid? If a DPSer has a 20% crit rating, he's not going to know if he crit because of my buff or his own gear.
I need to go ahead and respec for Combat Expertise. So what I'm thinking trying first is taking 1 point from Spell Warding, 1 point of Precision, and 1 point of Anticipation, to get the full Improved Crusader. I will try it out Thursday in Tempest Keep on our Void Reaver attempts.
I'm probably going to pull a "Rob" here and take several attempts to get it right.


2.3 is here and I got my first taste of Zul'Aman. The zone is very nice looking, very reminiscent of Zul'Farrak, and Zul'Gurub.

Mal Katai sent 2 groups in Zul'Aman. I was given the privilege to run with the old Kara Group#1.

It was Brindall (Prot Warrior), Me (Prot Paladin), Tralic (Feral Druid), Raistalian (Fire Mage), Getdempurps (Warlock), Stdbkrhawk (Hunter), Sneakyfeet (Rogue), Celoria (Resto Druid), Doraellian (Priest), and Mowbray (Holy Paladin).
We moved through the early trash pretty well until we got to the Bear Riders. They do a move called Demoralizing Roar which increases the damage you take by 50%. There are two of them, and the debuff can stack if they are not tanked away from each other.

Those bears destroyed me like nothing else has recently. 5k Cleave, 5k normals. I'd try to pop the Dawnstone Crab whenever I got shrunk. I didn't feel too bad as Tralic and Brindall were getting owned pretty hard as well.

The last pulls before the boss are two 4 mob packs with 2 Bear Riders, a Shaman with an Invincibility Totem, and one other mob. I can't remember what it was, because about a half second after the pull it looked like a pig and stayed that way most of the fight. These pack were just brutal.

(thanks to Raydz for the pic)
What we ended up doing was this:

Me on one Bear Rider, Prot Warrior on the Shaman, Trap/Sheep the other add, and have the 2nd Bear Rider misdirected to a travel form druid at the bottom the stairs.

The Warrior spell reflect the Shaman's Lightningbolts and goes to town on the invincibility totem when it spawns.

I tank the Bear Rider. Healers heal through the first Demo Roar, I pop Dawnstone Crab for the 2nd. Consecrate catches the Bear when the Rider dismounts, or taunt. Having a 40 yard ranged taunt is really nice.

The first Bear Rider was down just as our Druid was coming back. I taunted off and tanked the 2nd Bear Rider. The Crab was on cooldown so I got owned by the 2nd rider. The Druid picked him up long enough for DPS to finish him. Our Warlock soloed the final add down with Chain Fear + DoTs.

The actual Boss fight seemed a bit anticlimactic after that pull. It took us two attempts to kill the Bear Boss. I was tanking the Bear form. He has two bleeds, a short one which lasts maybe 3 or 4 seconds and a long one which lasts about 15 seconds. I'd Stoneform out of the long bleed the first time I tanked him. The next time he switched to Bear, Stoneform was on cooldown. I'd have to wait for my Righteous Defense to come off cooldown since I used it to pick him up when he changed forms. Once it was up, I hit my Flash Divine Shield macro. This cleared the bleed again and I'd taunt him back until he went to Human again.

He dropped some Healing cloth that wound up being DE'ed, and a Badge of Justice.

Tralic and Brindall and I are starting to learn how to work together. I'd advise them when I was getting ready to taunt and them they'd taunt their mobs right back.

After getting Bear Boss down, we decided to try our luck at Dragonhawk. We thought this guy was the 2nd boss in the instance, but most of the articles I've found on Zul'Aman place him third.

His trash has non elite mobs called Scouts, whose sole goal in life is to run to a drum and start banging on it. This causes Elites to spawn and come attack your party. The scouts are pretty easy. Our mage and Warlock burned them down pretty quick. The problem is they pat around and we don't know the instance yet, so they'd aggro and run off. One time, we had one run through about 8 mobs to get to his drum.

We watched some of the trash mobs playing "Monkey In the Middle" while they waited for us. It was a silly little thing but it was cool nonetheless.

The Dragonhawk boss looks very cool. I'm not sure if my screen shot does him justice. We made one attempt at him. He calls two adds to go hatch eggs (maybe like the Father Flame event in UBRS). I was to AoE tank one side and we were going to kill the Hatcher on the other. The birds started to really stack up. I'm going to have to call for AoE to burn them down and we may need to actually kill both Hatchers at some point. Then the boss blew up. I don't know how else to explain it. There was fire everywhere and we wiped.

At this point, we called it a night.

One of the most fun things about ZA is it's so new there aren't dozen of sites with perfect strats and videos and raid layout diagrams. Each pull we had to think and strategize our way through not really knowing what was coming at us. That was fun. The 60g repair bill was a bit tough to swallow, but man I haven't had fun like that in a long time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday Night Raiding

Last night was a really fun night.

I started off working on my Engineering, when I got an invite to Gruul's Lair.

We made 3 or 4 attempts on him. I was again in the Hurtful Strike Tank role. The challenge of the role is trying to ride the Main Tanks threat without going over the Main Tank, but stay ahead of the melee DPS and the backup Tank.

We use 3 tanks on Gruul. The Main Tank who is usually Lanorah, myself as an Offtank, and then Raydz as a third tank in case one of the first two goes down, which is exactly what happened on each attempt.

The struggle I was having was when to start building my threat. I go too early and I pass our MT, too late and I can't get enough incoming damage to keep my threat up.

This is just what happened on our final attempt of the night. We pulled, Lan started attacking and I hit Gruul with a Judgement of Righteousness. Now maybe it crit. I can't see it, the number usually shows up off my screen, but I immediately pulled aggro off Lan. This had happened to me once before and it took what felt like a minute for Lan to pull it back (it was probably more like a couple seconds). I literally stood there not attacking. Well this time, instead of just standing there, I bubbled. This causes the mob to ignore me. I still have all my threat, but I'm skipped on his aggro table because I'm an invalid target.

This allowed Lan to get him back, however it meant I couldn't use Avenging Wrath (+30% threat for 20 seconds) for a full minute. Forbearance debuff FTL. By the time I got back into my rotation, Raydz was well ahead of me. I threw everything I could at Gruul to get him mad at me, but it was no use. Without incoming damage, I ran my mana pool dry and banged a Pot.

Realizing that I wasn't going to get him back I called out on vent for my healers to heal Raydz. I saw in my scrolling combat text that I was still getting heals, so I again called for them to heal not Raydz and not me. I really really hope I didn't yell. I get very excited during a boss fight and sometimes when I get excited my volume goes up without me knowing it.

I start Seal Dancing. Judging Wisdom, then Crusader, and swapping between Righteousness and Vengeance. The basic idea was to keep as much mana as I could and turn that mana into threat.

Warriors get rage for doing damage. Paladins only get mana back from taking damage and getting that damage healed.

Then, as had happened in all our previous attempts, one of the tanks goes down. This time it was Raydz. Tralic, who was raid leading, got all the melee out of range so I was the only other person in melee. Since I was taking damage, and getting heals, I was able to launch into my threat rotation full bore. It took a few moments, but I got 2nd threat and melee was back at it.

He was under 5% and I could see I was too low. So I used Lay On Hands. Nothing quite like an instant 17k heal.

Lay On Hands is a great panic button, but it has such a ridiculously long cooldown (1 hour) that you have to really pick your spot. There is nothing worse than blowing your Lay On Hands and then seeing like 4 heals drop on you, or using my own LoH, and then having a Holy Paladin use his.

Mal Katai got their 2nd Gruul kill. No loot dropped that I needed, but I'm sure that at some point, it will. I have terrible luck with loot drops.

With Gruul dead, I asked a couple of people to go kill Nightbane with me. Without realizing it, we basically put together about 80% of the original Mal Katai Kara group.

These guys were basically going to do a boss they had done dozens and dozens of times just to give me a shot at some new tanky loot. My guild rocks.

I tried every which way to explain to them how bad an idea it was for me to tank this fight, but they weren't hearing it. So here we go, I'm Main Tank on Nightbane. Fortuneately, Lisa (Dora) was there to keep me with Fear Ward, and I have my Flash Bubble macro ready (Bubble, and immediately cancel).

We one shot him. I'd love to sit here and think it was my tanking, but honestly, it was much more the incredible healers and sick DPS that I was running with. Of course, he drops nothing that I was looking for. Drew got a nice healing neck for his Paladin and Luvshock got an offhand.

Also, last night, my old guild, Heroes Inc, made its way into Gruul's Lair, and actually downed High King Maulgar. I am really really happy for those guys. I honestly didn't know if they would be able to do 25 mans. For them to not only be able to do Gruul's Lair, but to get High King down on their first night in there speaks very well for them. I can't say enough good things about those guys. So a hearty /salute to Beilin, Ferth, Sameth, Bacon, Wichita, Rhubarb, Regolos, Jag, Krawl, Origami, Lakini, and all the other Heroes who made it last night.

After the Raids, I went back to grinding up my Engineering. I managed to get it to 225 before the need for sleep overtook my skill up fever. It was during this grind, that it was announced that Sneakyfeet and myself had been promoted to Sub Officers in Mal Katai. The promotion took me somewhat by surprise. When I came to Mal Katai, I was looking to settle myself into a community and do more 25 raids than I had done previously. It seems I've managed to accomplish both of those goals.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Weekend

This weekend was something of a blur.

Friday night, we headed back to Gruul's Lair. High King went down after 3 tries. I think we've had different Kiggler tanks each time I've gone. I really feel like I'm getting my job on Blindeye down really well. My healer can basically throw me a couple of HoTs and then get on to healing other tanks. I know exactly what I'm doing, where I'm pulling him to, when to call for DPS, etc.
The one thing I wish I had was a single target pull so I could free up a Misdirect for Brindall or Lanorah. More people in our guild got their T4 Shoulders. This is a good thing!

We tried Gruul. We made several good attempts but I feel like our DPS was lacking. In our Gruul kill, he was chilling out with the Spirit Healer moments after he hit Growth 12. Our best attempt ended when our tanks died at Growth 16.

Afterwords, someone commented that they thought Tralic was offtanking for the kill. This was probably in response to my statement in Vent that the DPS may have been an issue citing the number of Growths. He may have thought I was blaming DPS (which in a way I was), and wanted to deflect some of the blame onto me (the offtank). The other possibility is that he has an issue with Paladin Tanks. If he does, I hope he takes it up with the Officers. I'd much rather someone tell me to my virtual face they've got a problem with me than just hide it.

I don't know voices in Vent, so I have no idea who said it. He was quickly corrected though. It was cool to see my friends stand up for me. I can always cite the video if anyone doubts.

A Kara group was trying to form up Saturday but it never happened. I decided to take a break from the insane Engineering mat farming I've been doing and play my Hunter. The Hunter is a really fun class to play, and it's a nice change of pace from my Paladin. I kill things pretty quickly and I go from "Hey, there's a Horde over there, I'm probably going to die" to "Hey, there's a Horde over there, do I feel like killing him?" I'm going to make him a miner to help make up for the lack of mining on Honorshammer.

I hit 48 with him and got to use Hurricane, which Wichita had been nice enough to gift me.

I don't know what it is, but I seem to meet the nicest people in WoW, both in Heroes and in Mal Katai. People who give without any thought of getting anything in return. I really need to do something nice for these guys.

Sunday we did get the Kara group together. We didn't have a Prot Warrior, nor a Priest so no Nightbane. We made several attempts at Shade but couldn't get him down. We lacked a Priest for the trash run to Chess so we just ended up calling the Raid. It'll probably be a week or two before we do Kara again because I imagine Zul'Aman will the instance everyone (including me) wants to run.

The only item I'd really like to get from Kara is Moroes Pocketwatch. I'm sure sometime next week I can find a group to take 30 minutes to run to kill him. I love AoEing the trash pulls to him, and the AoEers (Locks, Mages, etc) seem to like it as well. Of course there are other items I could use from Kara, but there are replacments for them elsewhere (Badges, Zul'Aman, etc). There is nothing than can compare to that trinket.

Since Kara was a bust, I put together a Heroic run. We talked a bit about where we would go because Phorious (Hunter) was not keyed for Sha'tar.

We ended up doing Slave Pens. The group was me, Rob, Trey, Dottie, and Phorius (sorry, I don't know his real name).

I was able to turn in my quest and get "keyed" for SSC. Of course, they've removed the Attument requirement, but still it was good to get that done. I picked up 3 more Badges to bring my total to 78. I also hit Exalted with Cenarion Expedition. So now I'm Exalted with them and Sha'tar. I just need to grind up my Aldor rep and I'll be able to buy the Shattrath city Flasks for SSC and TK. I need about 12k rep.

Last note of the weekend is that I've started by Engineering grind. Through the efforts of some very generous people (see what I mean?), I've got all the mats I need save a little Thorium. I'm really tired of riding or flying around zones looking for veins. I'll probably regret not having a gathering skill when I'm leveling to 80, but I'm glad to be an Engineer again. It's a profession that kind of fits me as a player. With the leveling improvements in 2.3, my Hunter won't be too far behind so he can mine and skin for me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

First Time in The Eye

Last night my guild, Mal Katai, zoned into Tempest Keep : The Eye. We had a little trouble getting a full complement of 25 players, and what we lacked at first were healers. You would think in a guild with over 100 Level 70 toons, that getting 25 online at the same time wouldn't be a problem.

One of the first things I learned was Mal Katai is working on a looting system. It won't be DKP, it'll be completely unique to Mal Katai, because as Dora put it "that's how we roll."

The trash in Tempest Keep is more what I'd call intense rather than hard. There are pulls with as many as 6 mobs, so Crowd Control is important, but just to keep things interesting there are anti CC mobs in there as well who can remove CC from the more dangerous mobs.

We ended up taking 5 tanks, which I thought might be too many, but we were struggling to get 25 on at first so we took who we took. What really bothered me was that the entire night, I was not assigned to actually tank anything (until we get to Void Reaver himself).

I could understand not tanking on pulls that required two tanks. We have two very well geared Warriors. Then we get to the pulls where you need 3 tanks. Another Warrior is selected. Then we assign 4 tanks, yet another Warrior.

So out of 5 tanks we brought last night, it appeared to me that I was their 5th choice. This may not have been intentional. In fact, I'm pretty sure it wasn't, my Guild and Raid Leaders aren't like that. I know from comments made by the officer's that they think I'm competent at doing my job. They wouldn't have put me on Gruul if they didn't. But as I sitting there watching the assignments and being passed over again and again, it started to concern me. If you are going to bring me, for Elune's sake, use me!

I'm not that much less geared anymore than any of our other tanks. Some of them really have me on Avoidance because they've gemmed and enchanted for Avoidance where I've gone almost exclusively Stamina. I actually have the most stamina of any of our tanks. I'll have even more on Tuesday if Patch 2.3 comes as promised.

I'm a tank. If I try to tank something when the raid has setup for a different tank to have it, I can mess up the pull. DPS and Healing are more cooperative. You can combine the efforts of several DPS or Healers much more easily. Tanking is a solo endeavor. The mob only has one toon at the top of the aggro list.

So most of my night was spent keeping a Judgement of Light and watching for loose mobs. Of course this brought me into another quandary, if I try to build threat on the loose mobs, I basically make it impossible for the CCer assigned to that mob to get it back under control.

There were many times that I felt I wasn't making much of a contribution to the cause, like we were doing 25 man content with 24.5 people.

We finally got to the Falconer packs in Alar's room. I had been looking forward to these because they present an excellent opportunity to AoE tank, a Paladin's forte.

We tried it once with CC, and we wiped. I had written in our Guild Forums about the possibility of AoE tanking them, so I reiterated that. So the next pull we try it AoE tanking. I get the mobs gathered up on me, but my healers got silenced. I got no heals and down I go.

One attempt, and we go back to the CC strat. I know the AoE tank strategy will work, but the guild leadership didn't seem to want to give it more than one try. The irony of the night was the healer with whom I had had all trouble in Kara and Gruul's was now championing my cause. What I learned from this is that it's not so much he has anything against Paladin tanks, he just has a very strong sense of doing things exactly as they were done in his old guild, Malice. They used a Tankadin on those pulls and it worked so that's the way he felt we should do it.

We finally get into Alar's room and see him flying overhead. That's just freaky, and exciting at the same time. He flies right over your raid.

I had heard about the big birds in his room, and yes indeedy, they are a pain in the hindquarters. You have to clump up on them except for one person, preferable a tank, who gets charged. My goodness, Blizzard seems to LOVE that Charge the range, walk back to the tank dynamic. The Birds them do an AoE mana drain. Lovely. I'd love to see a mob (just one mob) in a high end instance with a Rage Drain ability.

People start having to leave, so we grab replacements as we can. I'm not a fan of changing people in and out midrun but we didn't have much of a choice.

We start clearing Void Reaver's trash. The robots weren't too bad. This was one place where I didn't mind letting the Warriors tank. Those guys basically require spell reflect and try as I might I just can't find it in my spell book.

The roughest pulls came just at Void Reavers room and then inside Void Reavers room. You have two demons to be banished, a humanoid to be CC'ed and two Robots to the tanked. The problem we were having was that our Warlocks or Healers would be killed by the Demons Saw Blade throw and then the Warlocks couldn't rebanish their mob which led to more Saw Blades destroying our Healers. Poor Dora got Saw Bladed the first pull when she hadn't so much as thrown a renew. Oh and Stoneform doesn't clear the bleed debuff. Thanks, Blizzard!

What I did on these pulls to try to help was pickup one with Exorcism so they were targeting me when they were banished and then again when they came out of banish. I thought it helped, although I'm not sure anyone realized what I was doing.

Finally the time comes to tackle Void Reaver himself. He generally considered an "easy" boss. So much so that he's nicknamed Loot Reaver. I was pretty happy to get to him because this was finally an opportunity to do what I've spec'ed and geared my toon to do, Tank. I buffed up and got ready for the pull. Tanks simply fight for aggro on this boss because he does a knockback on his main target that reduces their threat, so you want him to switch to another tank when he does that.

First pull went okay. I was around all the other tanks but couldn't quite pull him. Our healers and DPS got destroyed by the Arcane Orbs he launches.

Next pull, I was able to hit my spell rotation right and get a favorable SoV stack up right away. I was able to hold him for a good little while, but our DPS and Healers were again killed by Orbs.

Final pull was a bit bad. We didn't get him tanked in the center. The whole attempt he got moved around quite a bit, which rendered one of my big threat tools, Consecration, ineffective. I never got him that attempt.

As the attempts got longer and longer, we could see we were behind the Enrage timer. You have to kill Void Reaver in 10 minutes. So every minute 10% of his life must be taken away. At the 8 minute mark, he was not under 80% which meant that in all likelihood, we were not going to get him down before the Enrage timer hit.

Looking back, it was really, really cool to get inside Tempest Keep. Now of course, I want to see Void Reaver die a horrible death at the hands of Mal Katai.

It is my hope that we bring less tanks next time. After the raid, one of the Warrior tanks mentioned some of the same frustration I had been feeling in either Guild Chat or Raid Chat. He had been the 4th tank used, and I think there were maybe 2 or 3 pulls where we used 4 tanks.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

And the Winner Is

And now we bring you the next episode in the continuing saga of the alt.

I've got it pretty much narrowed down to the Hunter or the Mage.

I really think I'd dig a Warlock, but I just can't get past the whole evil Demon guy thing. I like to play good guys, and we are supposed to be fighting against the Demons in the story, not making friends with them. Plus, I'm never sure who is controlling who with a Warlock and its pet.

I decided to knock out any class with a healing spell. I've fought that battle on Honors. If I roll a class with Healing spell, I'll roll it with the intention of being a Healer. Most likely choice for this would be a Druid.

That leaves Rogue, Warrior, Mage, and Hunter. Honors being a melee character, I'd prefer to go range on the alt.

I've played both a Mage and a Hunter to the 30s, and the bottom line is I like the Hunter. The biggest deterrent to leveling the Hunter is that it seems many many people dig Hunters. Hunters are the most played Class on AoS.

It would be easier to get groups as a Mage. Everybody knows Sheep is a better CC than Trap. But ultimately, this is a game, and I shouldn't let other people dictate my play. I've never let anyone dictate my play on Honors.

One of the things I really love about Honors is his uniqueness. I'm one of maybe a dozen Prot Paladins on the server. I'm unique. Very few other classes/specs have that to them. Maybe Shaman as they are the least played class in WoW according to the Armory Musings. If I rolled the Shaman, I'd have to do it with at least the idea that he'd be a healer.

So the decision ultimately came to the fact that I really enjoy playing the Hunter, and in the end, isn't that the only thing that matters. If this guy ever becomes a main, something has gone horribly wrong with Paladin Tanking.

Ultimately, I'd love to have (3) 70s. Honorshammer as my main and tank character. My Hunter as an alt DPSer, and a eventually a Healer, though I'm not sure which Healing class is the most "fun". It would likely be either Shaman or Druid.

No Soup For You

I logged on very briefly last night in order to attempt Curator. We had a really good group. Most of them were already Kara geared.

He dropped on the first try. It was almost, dare I say, easy?

He didn't drop the Wrynn Dynasty Greaves. I never even seen them, or Vambracers of Courage in all my Kara runs. I've seen Moroes Pocketwatch once, and I passed it to a Warrior. It was my first week with the new guild and at the time I didn't' think it was that great for a Paladin. Boy was I wrong. That trinket is amazing and there is nothing else like it in game.

It's really strange to be getting to the point where I don't need much from Kara anymore. Of course, I still want to run it after 2.3 goes live for those beautiful Badges of Justice. I need over 200 to get all the gear I want. I currently have 72. Fortunately, Badges will come easier in the next patch, dropping from Zul'Aman, and Kara as well as a daily Heroic Quest.

Speaking of Zul'Aman and it's anticipated release on Tuesday, people started talking about who they wanted in their Zul'Aman groups. I'm not sure if we will continue the throw together groups we've been using for Kara or if we will have more set groups for Zul'Aman.

I was a little disappointed that no one was jumping at claiming ole Honorshammer for their group. We'll see what happens on Tuesday. Hopefully I can get into a good group, because I'm really concerned about falling further behind the other guild tanks in gear. I guess at some point, I'm going to have to relax and accept that I've proved myself to the guild.

It's tough as a Tankadin sometimes. You've been doubted for so long because of your Class, that it's tough to let go of that need to prove and justify yourself at every turn.

The reset timer on Zul'Aman is shorter than Kara so even if I don't go the first night with them, I can try to go after the reset. Mal Katai is a fairly large guild and I'm sure everyone wants to group with the officers (Lisa, Drew, Trey, Rob, etc.) These guys have been running together for a while, and I'm sure they are looking forward to doing the new content together. We have lots of really good players in Mal Katai, so it's my hope we get a couple of solid groups together even if I don't get to go with them the first reset.

Tonight, we are expecting to tackle Tempest Keep: The Eye tonight. We're going to, as Rob put it, "play in the trash", and if all goes well, put a couple of attempts in on Void Reaver. I've been able to think about little else all day. A zone I've never been in, Mobs I've never fought, Bosses I've never challenged.

I don't know how far Mal Katai will get into Tempest Keep and SerpentShrine, but I can't wait for the ride.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Disciplined Tank

I was able to get another Karazhan group going this weekend. This time we had a Shadow Priest and a Holy Priest.
My offtank for the run was Lamashtu. He's a Feral Druid who has gone resto for runs before. I also had a DPS Warrior in the raid so I could get Commanding Shout on the tougher bosses.
We killed lower Kara (Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Opera, Curator). Out of all the bosses, the one that gave us the most trouble was Opera. We got Big Bad Wolf. This is usually considered an "easy" encounter. We were having two problems.
1. People not running away fast enough or running the wrong way. We eventually corrected this by having everyone stand across from where we were tanking him instead of diagonally. This way people knew the direction he'd be coming so we could run the other way.
2. Threat. Between him chasing Little Red Riding Hood and fearing constantly, I was having a tough time building threat. We had Lam go Bear and build threat with me. Lam was able to use his Feral Charge ability to get the Wolf back quickly.

Maiden was kind enough to give up her Neck piece.
Of all the upgrades I need from Kara, this is probably the most important right now. It replaces one of my remaining "blues" and further increases my Stamina. Unbuffed, I'm sitting at 12.6k hit points, with 20% dodge, 16% parry, and 20% block.
The only other "blues" I have left now are my Back, Ring, Trinket, Chest and Legs. I can get both the the chest and legs upgraded via Badges. For the Trinket, I really need Moroes'. The dodge on that thing is just so nice. I actually have an epic ring to replace my Andormu's Tear, but it really helps in the Uncrushable department.
I missed the 2nd night of the run when they did Chess and Aran. I'd love to tell you I hated missing it, but I didn't. I don't need a thing from either boss and that is some of the longest and most annoying trash in the place.

When we got going again last night we decided to do Prince. We tried him several times but never got a kill. I can see why people hate this fight so much. We had horrible luck with Infernals each attempt. Our best attempt we had him down to 1% when an Infernal dropped on our range and DPS while a couple of them were enfebbled. They were hemmed in and really couldn't move. Lam and I did everything we could to stay alive for those last few seconds but in the end, we died.
Two of the three healers for the run are rather new to Kara. I don't know if that was the problem or if it was just bad Infernal luck. I'm finding that as a tank who was a former healer, I'm very very reluctant to pin blame on the healers. I hated when tanks would do that back when I was healing. However, I do feel the need to communicate to the raid why I died. If I didn't get a single heal for 6 seconds (as happened in one of our attempts), I need to tell them that. Everytime we wipe, I just know someone is thinking 'We've have killed him with a Warrior Tank'. I know that's probably not true, but such is the life of an offspec.

The other project I worked on this weekend was my Engineering. I must say its coming along very well. One of my guildies has been very very generous in helping out with some of the materials I'm going to need. Last night I lined up the Arcanite Bar and Heavy Knothide Leather I'm going to need.

It looks like 2.3 will not be going live today. That means I've got another week to gather Badges. Although I just found out that Mech will only have 4 Badges once the patch hits. At least I won't have to decide between doing Kara and Heroics. Both will give Badges.
We are preparing for attempts on Void Reaver this week. I'm very excited about the opportunity to try him. Maybe I'll get lucky with a Seventh Ring in the trash on the way to him.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Its Guaranteed

Thursday night, I ended up running Heroic Mech with what has become my "normal" group.

Me (Prot Paladin), Celoria (Resto Druid), Spinterrdc (Warlock), Maxpayne (Warlock), and Raistilian (Mage).

The lower part of the instance is getting pretty easy. We do the initial boss on the left hand side, scoot past the group at the top of those stairs and kill the two robots that come after.

Then, to borrow a line from Blackheart the Inciter, it's TIME FOR FUN. We enslave two of the grenade chucking demons and have them kill the other two grenade throwers. Then we have then run to the next group. We sheep any humanoids and banish the big demons, while our little bomb throwers go to town. Cel heals one enslaved demon and I heal the other in what I call my "offtank" gear (spell damage mostly).

We drag the first "real" boss to the stairs and shut him down.

Last night the Warlocks wanted to see if they could duo the 2nd key frag boss. I started running before the pulled. My intuition proved to be accurate as they were unable to kill him.

We go back in and kill him properly. We had two wipes upstairs. One to those stupid Robots, and the other on the final pull of the gauntlet before Pathelon. I was a microsecond late on the stun on the robot. If I had gotten that off, we wouldn't have wiped.

After Mech, I attempted to put together a Karazhan run. I had decided to do Mech first because Badges are guaranteed. I know if I kill 75 bosses I get a 75 Badge Reward. I could (and have) run a several complete Karas and not gotten any upgrades. It's just the luck of the dice.

The group consisted of 3 hunters, 3 druids, a mage, me (Prot Paladin), and 2 Shaman. We decided to try Moroes first since we were priestless.

The traps worked well. What I failed to take into consideration was that the 2nd dps target would need a tank of some sort. I think if we had tried him again we would have gotten him.

We decided to call it because it was getting late and that way no one would be saved to a Kara with just one boss down.

Lumi's group has gotten nearly a full clear. I may have to try to run with them next reset. However, they haven't had any tanky drops so I'm stil holding out hope to get an upgrade before the next reset.

In other news my background downloaded for 2.3 has started. That means I've really got to step up the Badge and Engineering grinding. Last night's run puts me at 72 Badges. That's just 3 shy of the Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian or the Unwavering Legguards.

On the Engineering front, I've got about 1/2 the Thorium I need, and then it's on to Fel Iron and Adamantite. Those are going to go a bit slower. With all the early mats, I could just ride around the zone and not have to worry about anything posing much a threat to me. Now I have to decide if it's better to fly on my 60% or ride on my 130% land mount.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Population Demographics

Okoloth over at Armory Musings has refreshed all his data since 2.2 went live.

He analyzed 4.5 million characters (roughly half the players base), of which 1.8 million are level 70s.

Level 70Total
Druid173,480 (9.65%)409,369 (8.97%)
Hunter214,648 (11.94%)599,507 (13.14%)
Mage244,271 (13.59%)576,165 (12.63%)
Paladin164,780 (9.16%)455,118 (9.97%)
Priest211,001 (11.74%)493,627 (10.82%)
Rogue206,794 (11.5%)553,357 (12.13%)
Shaman126,444 (7.03%)359,585 (7.88%)
Warlock197,785 (11%)500,308 (10.96%)
Warrior258,757 (14.39%)616,166 (13.5%)

Most Popular class: Warrior, followed by Mage. These two classes are considered the "optimum" for their particular roles in PVE, and they make visible and important contributions to PVP.

Hunters have fallen into the area with the rest of the DPS classes: Rogues, Warlocks, and Priests. All 4 around the same percentage. My conjecture is that Priests are in that area because of the viability and desire for Shadow Priests.

Then you have the hybrids, or more accurately, the healers. Druids are the most popular hybrid, and also the most accepted in all their roles in the end game. Paladin's are the most popular hybrid leveling up. This may demonstrate that people looking to roll a healer are selecting Paladins, with the idea they are the best end game healers for both PVP or PVE.

Shamans come in last place.

One conclusion could be that Shaman and Paladins were least populace because pre-BC they were only available to one side. We are now over 9 months past the BC release. That is ample time for the Paladin and Shaman rerolls to have made it to the level cap.

Warriors are the most popular class at level 70 AND the most popular class leveling up.

Shamans are the least popular at the level cap and the least popular leveling up.

The largest percentage of players pre 70 is level 60. These are characters who have been abandoned or retired from the old level cap.

There is a bump at level 19, and 29. Go go Twinks. But you don't see a bump at any twink level after that. Are the other brackets not as popular to "twink" at?

Most of what is presented here is only objective evidence of what we already know. DPS is most popular and populace, healers are the least.

Looking at my own realm, Altar of Storms,


My realm is almost exactly 50/50 Horde / Alliance.

Hunters are the most populace class on my particular realm. I knew it seemed like there were alot. Warriors are #2. The least played "pure" DPS class is Warlock. Paladins are more popular on Altar of Storms than they are over all realms. Shamans are not very popular.

There are almost as many Paladins as there are Shaman Hordeside, but many more Paladins than Shamans Alliance side.

Horder prefers Locks, while Alliance prefers Hunters. Most other classes are pretty close across the battle lines.