Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Salute to BRK

BigRedKitty has called it quits on WoW and Blogging and after reading his goodbye post, I agree with his decision 1000%.

All of us have to be cognisant of the place WoW holds in our lives and we need to maintain a balance. My Dad always made an analogy to juggling balls. The more things you add to your life, the harder it is to juggle all those balls. Eventually, BRK decided that he had to let the WoW and Blog 'balls' drop, so he could keep other balls like his marriage and his children spinning.

If I ever got the impression my WoW time, or Blogging time was having a negative impact on my marriage, or my time with my daughter, I'd be gone in a skinny minute.

BRK was one of the first WoW Blogs that I read, and it was a big part of why I got into Blogging in the first place. He had a way of making it sound like he was having so much fun playing his Hunter, and he was helping others who enjoyed the class as well.

I wanted to do something like that for Protection Paladins, and while I know I'm not the blogger that BRK is, I like to think that I've showed people that Tankadins are fun to play, and helped a couple of people out along the way.

In addition to Blogging, BRK is also a big part of why my highest level alt is a Hunter.

I'm going to miss reading BRK. He was a fantastic blogger and Hunter and the community has lost a great voice.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Few, The Proud, Heroes Inc

Let me bring you up to speed on what's been going on with Honorshammer lately.

My recently renamed Raid Team got together and did a run for "The Dedicated Few". We are basically just working on Achievements right now. Most of the veterans of my raid team need only 4 Achievements (Shocking, Undying, Sarth3D, 6 Min Maly) to get Glory of the Raider.

Some of us had this crazy idea that we might pull off "Undying" as well, but we made sure that wasn't going to happen fairly early.

I felt bad for the Rogue who had to sit out since we had nine people ready to go at the start. Hopefully, we'll be able to do this again so he can get it.

Dedicated Few was actually pretty fun. I ended up dying on Maexna because we had two Enraged Web Wraps. I was able to Bubble Wall the first one, but I had nothing for the second. Lay On Hands doesn't work while you are web wrapped, and all your avoidance is taken away.

We were also hoping to get Shocking, where you don't cross any charges on Thaddius. Your humble Tankadin messed that one up by being a little slow to move on the first transition.

Our raid group previously known as "Red Circles Are Just As Enticing As Blue" was renamed to "Shooting Blanks". The reason was our Hunter.

Let me set the scene for you. We were battling Kel'Thuzad himself. I had been killed in the first Ice Block. By the way, can you 'Bubble' out of those?

Anyway, our Death Knight tank was now going to have to tank Kel plus the two adds that spawn at 45%. As the fight progresses the Adds start hitting harder and harder. We needed maximum DPS to burn Kel down and burn him down fast!

Our Hunter states over vent that he can't attack. He was sounding rather annoyed, like "WTF, Why Can't I attack!?!?" Our raid leader asked if he was out of arrows and it turns out he was. Thus was Shooting Blanks born. Even Kel felt bad for the guy and decided to drop a Gun so he didn't have to worry about arrows anymore.

Since 8 man Naxx was fun, we decided to give 8 man Malygos a try. Malygos was less forgiving. Even with one death, we wouldn't have enough Drakes to kill him before the enrage. But first we had to get there. It took about 3 attempts, but we beat the Enrage timer by about 20 seconds.

In other news, I managed to PuG VoA25. He dropped the Valorous Redemption Handguards, (Tier 7.5 Paladin Tank Gloves). It was just me and another Paladin rolling for them. We both rolled. I threw down a 57. Not bad. He rolled a 86. UGH! Those were really nice gloves, and the consensus best available for Paladin tanks.

Okay, it's not over until the item is awarded. I tried to think of something. Offering him gold, items, something, anything to let me win the gloves.

Then I remembered. The Raid Leader had stated the loot rules were main spec rolls only, so I went over to inspect the other Paladin. I knew myself and a DK had tanked the Raid, but it was very possible this was guy was Prot and just staying out of the way. I'd do the same thing in a PuG if they already had their tanks arranged. He wasn't Prot. He was Ret, a very odd 0/5/66 spec I hadn't seen before.

I stated in Raid Chat that he was Ret and therefore couldn't roll on a Prot set of gloves. He tried to claim that he was really Prot and just had been Ret for the afternoon. Now it was just up to the Raid Leader. Would he buy the other guy's story (which, by the way, could have been completely true).

He awarded me the gloves. The other Paladin was less than completely happy.

I'd later do Sarth25 and see double Conqueror drops, but that PuG had about 5 Paladins and 6 Priests so I probably wouldn't have won them. That PuG also had a Death Knight who taunted Sarth, not once, but twice while I was tanking him. If he wanted to tank him, he just should have said so, I would have gathered up Blazes.

It's been a good couple of days in game.

'Real life' has been another story. My wife's car apparently broke it's timing belt which in turn broke a valve, and loosened on of the rods. It needs a complete engine overall, or we are going to have to replace her car. Ugh!

It Felt Really Good

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By honorshammer at 2009-03-30

Thunderbolt was one of the Warlocks I did Tier 6 content with during my time in Dominion. Raist is the Guild Leader of Salvation and a guy did Tier 4 and 5 with in Mal Katai.

It is really nice to know that people you've gone to battle with both respect and admire your play.

Thanks guys! I appreciate it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What Do I Want To Be

To me, the question was always between Mining and Blacksmithing as for my new profession once I drop Engineering.

But last night, one of my guild mates suggested I also evaluate becoming an Enchanter.

I need to evaluate what it is I want from my Profession slots. Basically, I'm after two things. A) Raid utility competitive (not necessarily better, but within a few percents) of any other profession and B) a way to make some gold for my character.

Jewelcrafting does both in spades, and it is a very popular profession.

Engineering fails on both accounts A and B, and that is a large part of the reason I'm looking at dropping it.

What follows is my brief analysis of each profession, with help from the Elitist Jerks profession analysis thread.

Raid Utility: 50 stamina
Gold making: Excellent

Raid Utility: 2 extra sockets, flexibility
Gold Making: Poor

Raid Utility: Ring Enchants (24 stam x 2 = 48 stam, AP enchants for Ret)
Gold Making: Good

While I have a high level Miner, as I found out in Lich King, I don't have the kind of time to level up both the miner and my Main to supply him with mats. Even with a Level 70 Miner, I ended up needing to buy most of the mats to level up Jewelcrafting and Engineering on Honorshammer. That's part of the reason I was considering mining on Honorshammer. It uncouples those two characters. Each stands more on his own.

I also like the idea of being Gather/Production instead of Production/Production. It's been a little rough have two gold sink professions like JC/Engy. I'm hesitant to get back into that situation with JC/BS.

I'm intrigued by the Enchanting option. I could AoE my way through low level instances and get greens to DE for mats to level up the profession for very little cost. It's similar to selling the ore and stone I would make leveling up Mining. I could also DE quest rewards I didn't need and be a DE any dungeon drop. Lastly, I'd have a healthy supply of mats for Enchating my gear. Basically I would be self sufficient for augmenting nearly any future drop I get.

I must think on this.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Very Angry Indeed

Bornakk wrote:

The changes that are in the latest version of the patch notes are what we currently have planned for engineering in patch 3.1.The perks for engineering are different compared to other professions but engineering has always been a bit unique with their toys and whatnot. We feel the perks work out compared to what other classes have for the time being and have no changes planned at this time.The mote extractor was put in to help get money through the profession which works pretty well.

/equip tin foil hat.

"This makes me so angry, very angry indeed."

I love the Marvin the Martian. His quote sums up pretty well how I feel about this communication from the Developers.

At this point my second profession slot could be completely blank, and it wouldn't make much difference to my toon.

I've been waiting and waiting for Blizzard to take one of the countless good, creative suggestions from the Profession forum and use it to bring Engineering up to the level of the other professions. Now at least I know I don't need to wait around any more. Blizzard is content with Engineering where it is. I respectfully disagree with their assessment of the situation.

My decision has changed from should I drop Engineering to what should I drop it for. /sadpanda

It's truly sad that about the only thing I will miss from Engineering is my Gyrocopter.

So it's down to either Mining or Blacksmithing. Blacksmithing would give me two gold sink professions, but I have my Hunter is almost level 78 and 430 something mining. He could farm up all the mats I would need, including the dreaded Thorium. The extra sockets combined with the JC only gems would make a powerful combination.

In addition, Blacksmithing will help both my Protection and Retribution sets. With Dual Spec, I anticipate getting a little more use out of the Ret set. I even talked to a guild mate last night about possibly getting on his 3s team for Season 6.

Mining has its own minor perk of 50 stamina, but the main perk I see from Mining is gold. Honors is basically money neutral. He spends about what he makes. With mining, I could really make some gold and supply my own Titansteel.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yes, I Really Am That Powerful

So yesterday I blogged about the current state of Arenas, and why I thought Arenas were seeing a decline in popularity.

Blizzard recently announced some changes to Season 6. It's obvious to me that the Developers made these changes due to my excellent blog post. (We'll choose to ignore the fact that the blue post was likely written before my blog was posted.)

With Arena Season 6, arena teams will start at 0 rating instead of 1500, which will allow teams to have more continuous progression throughout the arena season. In addition, we reevaluated item purchases and felt many of them were too difficult to obtain so we will be altering the rating requirements needed to purchase the latest arena items. For example, items with a rating requirement will now be obtainable starting at 1250 rating.

As with the current system, the matchmaking system will attempt to match teams against opponents who are closest to their average matchmaking rating. Starting with Arena Season 6, a team’s average matchmaking rating will be shown in the scoreboard at the end of each match so that you can see where your team stands compared to the opposing team you just faced.

All arena teams that are below a 1500 arena rating will always earn arena points as a 1500 rated team. (bolding mine) This will allow teams to continue to build up arena points while working on gaining the ratings needed to purchase items.

Basically you can get full Hateful and the Deadly accessories with no Rating Requirement. The the Requirement goes up from there. Furious pieces start at 1400.

This will help address the gear gulf that exists as well as giving players some nice items to buy with their Honor Points EVEN if they don't Arena.

You will also be able to see the Match Making rating which will help you understand whey you got or lost the points you did. You'll still have those moments of 'how did those guys have a matchmaking rating near us?'

The best change is the one I bolded. Even if you are sub 1500, you will still earn points like a 1500 rated team. This will help you have the points you need as your rating improves.

These changes are sufficient to make me want to try Arena again, they get me "back on the path".

I had already planned on making my Dual Spec Protection/Retribution. Now I need to figure out if I can make the spec that can work in both PVE and PVP. I'm thinking something like http://ptr.wowhead.com/?talent=sZVGzhZVfMtbIuGdIfsu might work. It could use two points in Improved Hammer of Justice. I love the idea of Divine Sacrifice in PVP because as soon as I bubble, the other team is going to go after my partner.

Now I just need to find some teammates and get ready for Season 6.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We've Fallen Off The Path

This article "65% fewer Arena teams in Season 5" has lit up discussion across the blogsphere and message boards. The original article itself has over 150 comments.

I believe the phenomenon is most easily explained, and predicted, by an article by Rohan of Blessing of Kings call Being On The Path. This was written back in May of 2008.

Allow me to quote a few paragraphs from that excellent piece:
The key is the concept of "Being On The Path" for endgame content. In nutshell, the number of people who reach the highest point of endgame is less important than the number of people who are working towards--and feel that they one day could achieve--that point.

As long as a player is "on the path", everything is fine. The real crisis point are when people are unable to get on the path, or their progress on the path becomes completely blocked. I think it is more important to help the guilds who are trying to become raiding guilds.To help the people who cannot get on the path at all.

This is why I feel Rating Requirements are a bad idea. If you are a casual PvPer, one who tries, but isn't really all that good, you've basically fallen off the path. And that is demoralizing.

The number of players who achieve the end is less important than the number of players who are on the path to the end. The number of players in Sunwell is less important than the number of players on the path to Sunwell. The number of players in Season 4 gear is less important than the number of players working towards Season 4 gear. With the advent of extensive Rating Requirements, the number of players on the path to Season 4 gear will drop drastically, and that is an unhealthy state for the PvP endgame.

Why did we not see this decline until Season 5? In Season 4, there were still enough players "On The Path". The rating requirements had driven some away, but you could also attribute those losses to the upcoming Expansion.

What changed between Season 4 and Season 5? The addition of Rating Requirement to not only Arena gear, but also Battleground gear. Now more people fell off the path. The people left doing Arenas were the very skilled and very well geared making the process even more frustrating for casual PVPers.

It's a component to my own lack of interest in PVP. I like hanging out with my guild, but there is zero tangible reward. Without doing Arena, and doing it well, I'm locked out from most PVP gear.

I've fallen off the path.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Really, What Were They Doing?

I logged into WoW about an hour before our Sarth3D attempts were supposed to start. So I decided to portal over to Exodar. I’ve been knocking out lowbie quests in the Draenai starting area.

This is an extraordinarily time efficient way to work on several achievements at once: the Explorer, the LoreMaster, and the Ambassador.

I do my best to not intrude on people leveling. If I see a lowbie going for a quest mob, I’ll wait, or offer to group with them. I try minimizing my use of AoE spells so I don’t kill anymore quest mobs than I have to, and leave plenty alive for the lowbies leveling.

I’m starting with Draenai quests because that’s the home city reputation that is the lowest, and conveniently, they are on Kalimdor where I need the most quests for Loremaster. In addition, it’s an area of the map I’ve never explored.

Imagine my surprise when I see the Local Defense channel start squawking that Odysseys’ Landing was under attack. Now I play on a PVP server, but even on a PVP server, you aren’t flagged for PVP until you reach the level 20 zones like Ashenvale, Hillsbrad, Duskwood, and Thousand Needles. Until that time, it works much like a PVE server.

I mounted up and rode over to Odysseys’ Landing. What I found when I got there was a Death Knight, Hunter, and Warrior, all between the mid 50s and early 60s. They were killing the level 8 Alliance Footmen in the area.

Boy, did you guys pick a bad time to do this.

In short order all 3 were dead. When they rezzed, I did the /shoo emote to them. If I had been able to talk to them, I would have told them to “Leave Azuremyst Isle and never return!” I typed "leave" in /say hoping they would understand. It would have just looked my gobbledygook on their screen.

They didn’t seem to ‘get the message’, but instead ran over to where new Draenai players spawn into the world at level 1, and attacked the guards there. I’m not sure why they thought I’d be okay with them killing guards there when I wasn’t too keen on them killing guards at Odysseys’ Landing. I kept waiting for a Level 80 Horde Druid or Rogue to destealth and kill me once I flagged myself by engaging them. It never happened.

So they had another trip to the graveyard. They mounted up and started riding all over the island. Okay, I get it now; they are just working on their Explorer achievement. I followed them around to make sure they didn’t go killing quest givers. If they just wanted the achievement, I wasn’t going to stop them. After a couple of minutes, they stopped and headed back to the starting area. They hadn't cover even half the island to open up all the zones for Explorer.

Okay, so you aren’t here for achievements.

They kept emoting at me. My favorite was the guy who emoted /beg (player x begs you, how pathetic). I have no remorse for killing someone much lower level than me, when you’ve come to an area much lower level than you. Obviously a ‘fair fight’ isn’t what you were interested in.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they had come all the way out to Azuremyst. What were they after?

When we got back to the starting area, I dismounted and parked myself right next to the quest givers. I unsheathed my weapons and went into a ‘ready’ posture. I didn’t want to endlessly camp them, but I wanted them to know if they laid a finger on a quest giver, I’d respond with disproportionate force.

There was something that felt very right, something that appealed to what drew me to be a Paladin in the first place. Here I was, defending the weak and the helpless, the only thing standing between the entire area and destruction at the hands of these three Horde.

What I really wanted to see was them Hearth out. I guess I should have endlessly camped them if that’s the result I wanted.

Instead, they used the Death Knight water walking thing to walk out into the ocean. I lost sight of them not long after the water dismounted me.

I waited a couple of minutes and then took my summon for Sarth.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Is Not A Hunter Blog

Yet most of my playtime this weekend, I played my Hunter. I got him up to level 77 and purchased his Cold Weather Flying. I discovered that you can in fact buy Cold Weather Flying before you buy the epic flying, and fly really slowly around Northrend. Still being able to fly is a huge boon to questing.

Recently, I changed him from Beast Master over to Survival. I had never had him as anything but Beast Master. I have to say, I am really enjoying being Survival.

As soon as I saw talents like Survivalist (increase your Stamina by up to 10%) and Hunter Versus Wild (30% of your Stamina is converted to Attack Power), I started to think this tree might fit my 'tank' and 'defensive' mindsets a little better. I totally loved the fact that I could grant myself replenishment. Additionally, I really liked the added Crowd Control options with Shatter Shot and Wyvern Sting.

I would come to appreciate those CC options as I ripped mobs off my pet much faster than I did when I was Beast Mastery. Of course it didn't help that my highest level pet had been my Devilsaur (Grimlock) who I couldn't use anymore.

I tried out a Moth, and a Wasp, but I didn't like the results I was getting. I tried out a Wind Serpent to get a feel for Cunning Pets and Roar of Recovery. Roar of Recovery (pet gives you mana) is on too long of a cooldown and restores too little mana to make much of a difference.

Then I remembered seeing some beautiful Lions in the Barrens when I was playing on my Horde Shaman. They reminded me of Aslan, the hero of the Chronicles of Narnia.

So I took my Hunter out to the Barrens and tamed one. Aslan has been at my side since.

With my new pet in tow I started questing in Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills.

The shot rotation seems to be much more varied, and you have more arrows in your quiver so to speak. I'm using Serpent Sting, Aimed Shot, Explosive Shot, Steady Shot and of course my Autos are going off. I'm trapping mobs, sleeping mobs, and stunning them with Scatter shot. It's a very fun spec to play. I'm sure the damage will come as I learn all the ins and outs of playing it.

(This is NOT a reroll. He's an ALT. I just took a break from shield bashing for a couple of days. We'll return to our regularly schedule Paladin broadcasting tomorrow.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

I May Never Zone Into Storm Peaks Again

After what seemed like an eternity, Honorshammer finally got Exalted with Sons Of Hodir. I upgraded my shoulder enchants, and bought the Smooth Autumn's Glow pattern.

Doing SoH Dailies on Altar of Storms is a bit of challenge. For the most part, the Horde and Alliance leave each other alone. Everyone just wants to get their dailies done and get back to whatever it is they really want to be doing.

Every now and again, you'll get an ambitious Rogue or Death Knight who will decided they want to engage in some PVP. Given the population imbalance on Altar of Storms, this is almost always a Horde Rogue or Death Knight. Usually a couple of Alliance will team up (or gang up depending on which side of the Faction fence you sit) to take on the Horde. Invariably, he will this is 'unfair' and call for help for the 'ganking Alliance'.

My personal favorite PVP encounter was deep in the cave where you get the oil for Polishing the Helm. I was fighting a blob and two worms when a Rogue destealthed and started wailing on me. I had the good sense to switch to Retribution Aura when I saw him in the cave, so at least that was on. I managed to kill the mobs I was fighting and use Divine Shield to get to a little nook towards the back of the cave and heal up. I was doing this to limited the amount of exposure my back had to the now stealthed Rogue.

Most Rogues I've met have not wanted to engage in combat with me. It's not that Rogues can't kill me, they can, it's just I'm sort of like tough meat. You can get it down, but it's more work than you want to do.

This Rogue was fairly skilled in that he managed to get behind me, even with the small space we had to work with. The battle was fairly even and we were both getting low. I solo in my Block Value set (Block Capped, 1500 Block Value, about 1700 Block Value when the Libram procs). With Holy Shield up, I was getting plenty of fully blocked hits.

He disappeared and a I dropped a Consecrate. I probably had less than 2k hit points at that point, definitely in Ardent Defender range. The fight lasted long enough for me to get off two Hammer of Wraths before he went down. I looted the last oil I needed and proceed to head out.

He came back with a Shaman friend. I had what I needed so I pulled the ole Bubble Hearth on him. Thank the maker for the cooldown reduction from Sacred Duty.

There's no achievement for getting exalted with Sons like there is for Wyrmrest, Ebon Blade and Argent Crusade.

Speaking of which, now that I'm exalted with Wyrmrest and Sons, my next target is Ebon Blade for the Retribution boots.

As far as my professions, I'm still taking a wait and see approach. I'd love for Blizzard to buff Engineering some more. I won't be going Blacksmithing. One of the big reasons I want to change my professions if I'm double Production right now (Engineering/JC), and I think it would be better for me financially to be Gatherer/Production (Mine/JC).

I'm still in a 'Wait and See' mode.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

[PTR} Ulduar and the Paladin Tank (Part Deux)

So after a little more information has come out it seems that my two major concerns with Ulduar are relatively moot at this point.

General Vezaxs' Aura of Dispair (no mana for you!) will at least allow Spiritual Attunement to work partially. As hard as he's hitting on the PTR, I think even with it working partially, it will be enough to keep me going with a full threat rotation. In addition, they've added a melee attack slow which hurts Warriors, Druids and Death Knights far more than it hurts Paladins.

Secondly, Auriaya’s Horrifying Screech is now a Horrify making all tanks equally susceptible to it.

This is the danger about posting about a PTR, the Developers can and will change things on you.

I no longer feel the color of my raid frame will have any impact on my team's ability to defeat these encounters.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

[PTR] Ulduar and the Paladin Tank

When discussing changes to tanks, the Developers - through Ghostcrawler - has repeatedly said that they did not want to penalize groups that choose one tanking class over another as their main tank. Sometimes this was communicated with a specific tanking class in his comment such as ‘We don’t want to penalize groups that chose a Druid for their main tank.’ That may not be a direct quote, but a paraphrase of what’s been said going all the way back to Wrath Beta.

Now we have the first new significant Raid content released for Wrath, and as Paladin Tanks look at the information available from testing on the PTR, we can identify two cases where the design has heavily penalized guilds that chose Paladin main tanks.

Specifically let’s examine at Auriaya’s Horrifying Screech, and General Vezax’s Aura of Despair. Both of these abilities severally affect the ability of a Paladin to successfully tank these bosses. Some may feel that these abilities go so far as to make the Paladin tank a non-starter for these bosses. Many 10 man groups will not have an option outside of their Paladin tanks which will make these bosses much more difficult than intended for those guilds.

Consider that for Auriaya’s Horrifying Screech, Paladins are the only tanking classes as lacking a true Fear break. Our only options are Fear Ward, Tremor Totem (outside source, requires certain raid compositions, etc) and Divine Shield (long cooldown, locks out Divine Protection aka Shield Wall for 2 minutes).

It is possible the new Aura Mastery talent may be an answer to this, but depending on the final design, it may or may not be too high in the Holy tree for a Tanking Paladin to reasonably get to it. In order to keep our tanking talents out of the reach of Holy or Ret, our Tree is very top heavy and requires a heavy investment. In addition, depending on the final cooldown of Horrifying Screech and Aura Mastery, it may or may not be usable. Note how short the cool down is on other tanks Fear breaks, for example, Zerker rage.

In addition, on the PTR Horrifying Screech was interruptible. Paladins are the only tanking class whose interrupt is on the Global Cooldown. This makes it highly unreliable for this type of encounter. Let’s consider removing it from the Global Cooldown.

I don't claim to be an expert on every tanking class, but unless the AoEfear is changed to a horror or removed, wouldn't it make a warrior the only tank that could prevent the raid from wiping if you missed an interrupt?

Next let’s look at Aura of Despair. This will completely shut down a Paladin tank’s threat generation. Given that the encounter has a tight enrage timer, good threat generation from the tank will be of the utmost importance.

Because Spiritual Attunement was buggy during the testing of the encounter it was difficult to provide meaningful testing on the PTR.

Paladin Tanks can understand and accept that Blizzard can not make all tanks equal for all encounters. That is self evident.

We must ask the Developers, why it is only Paladins who appear disproportionately disadvantaged on any fight in Ulduar? We find no instance where any other tank class is disadvantaged to this degree, and similarly find no fight on which a Paladin is advantaged.

The conclusion one must draw, based on the information available at this time, is that the Developers have made two fights in Ulduar that heavily and unduly penalize guilds that chose a Paladin Main Tank. This is contrary to what the Developers have communicated that they want to see.

Let’s take another look at the design of either these encounters and/or the Paladin tank.

Perhaps Blizzard could allow Spiritual Attunement to work in the General Vezax encounter. Perhaps Blizzard could provide Paladins with a true Fear break for Horrifying Screech, and take Hammer of Justice off the Global Cooldown. These steps would help to mitigate these issues.

Thank you for taking the time to read this thread.


Knight Lieutenant Honorshammer Jenkins, Hand of A’dal and Champion of the Frozen Wastes

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Achievement Game

My Raid Team has cleared all the 'normal' content, and can do it quite easily. So now we set our sites on Hard Modes and Achievements.

We have our sites set on 3 Achievements at the moment: You Don't Have An Eternity (6 minute Malygos kill), Twilight Zone (Sartharian with 3 Drakes), and Undying (no deaths on any boss fight in Naxx).

We decided to start with Malygos.

I was tanking Malygos and not moving him at all to allow for maximum DPS. Our resident Death Knight would Death Grip the Sparks into position. This was the first time since I dinged 80 that I've felt pressure on threat. Our DPS was really cranking. When we got to Phase 2, I would tank the guys on the ground while Ranged DPS took out the guys in the air, and then they burnt down the ground Adds.

We were actually looking good going into Phase 3. We tried having just one Dragon heal the raid, but it was just too much and dragons started dropping from the sky. We jumped off the mounts and reset it.

We made 2 more attempts, and finally just said that no matter what we'd go for the kill. Our best time was 6 minutes and 50 seconds, meaning we need to shave about a minute off our time to get the Achievement.

Next up, we were going for our first attempts at 3 Drake Sartharian. We had a Feral Druid on Sarth, a Death Knight on Drakes, and myself taking the Whelps and Elementals. I kept hearing the voice of the raid leader from that Onyxia video "Many Whelps, right side!"

I can't remember where I read it, but some had posted that when Sartharian calls Tenebron and yells "Tenebron! The Eggs are yours to protect as well!" what he should really say is "Tenebron, get your fat dragon butt over here and help me!"

Whelp tanking is probably the hardest thing I've tried to since I was a Flame Tank on Illidan. Basically, you have to pickup about 6 to 8 Whelps while dodging Fire Walls and Void Zones or whatever those blue circles of death are called. You don't know exactly when or where they are going to spawn and if you miss them, they will gib a healer before they are even fully rendered on your screen.

I know at least 1 or 2 of our wipes was due to Whelps. We also had our Death Knight die to a double breath from the Drakes, and we had multiple people die when one of the Drakes decided to breath all over the raid. There is definitely an element of randomness to the fight.

I feel like we made progress even if we didn't defeat it. The best part of the night to me was that despite the wipes and struggles, the general feeling of vent was light, and we were even able to crack some jokes and have some laughs.

We are really trying to push these 3 Achievements as they seem to be the hardest ones between us and Glory of the Raider. I know our team is pushing because the mounts will be removed once 3.1 goes live. Even if we don't get the mounts, it would be good to still down Sarth3D.

Hard Modes and Achievements are really a stroke of genius by Blizzard, and it is just amazing to me to watch a fight scale from faceroll easy to feeling just as impossible as that first pull of Maulgar.

If any of my readers have done Whelp tanking on Sarth 3D, I'd love to hear any tips or suggestions you might have. You can either leave them in the comments or email them to the link on the right had side of the page.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Weapon Enchant (circa 3.0.8)

There was some discussion about why I chose Agility for my Weapon Enchant on Last Laugh, so let’s take a moment and examine what Paladin’s should be doing for their weapon enchant as of Patch 3.0.8.

Looking at Petrus’ Guide to Gems and Enchants, we can see 4 major choices:

[Enchant Weapon - Accuracy] : +25 Hit Rating and Critical Strike Rating and Blue Glow : Crafted (Enchanting)
[Enchant Weapon - Exceptional Agility] : +26 Agility and Green Glow : Crafted (Enchanting)
[Enchant Weapon - Potency] : +20 Strength and Green Glow : Crafted (Enchanting)
[Titanium Weapon Chain] : +28 Hit Rating, Reduce the Duration of Disarm Effects by 50%, and White Glow : Crafted (Blacksmithing)
Let’s break these down and categorize them.

Threat Enchants: Accuracy, Potency and Weapon Chain. Recent analysis shows hit rating to be the second-best paladin threat stat.

Theck of Blackrock ran the numbers for us:

Accuracy: 27.6 DPS, 70.2 TPS Potency: 21.2 DPS, 54.8 TPS Weapon Chain: 20.3 DPS, 52.3 TPS Mongoose: 11.0 DPS, 27.3 TPS 26 Agi: 9.5 DPS, 23.7 TPS

Accuracy beats out the Weapon Chain because I don’t value disarm duration at all. I tend to agree with Veneretio's Tanking Rule-o-Thumb: "Raid bosses/encounters are all that matter. Everything else is meaningless."

Since no Raid Boss disarms, I don’t value that. That makes Accuracy the winner for threat enchants.

Avoidance Enchant: Agility

We accept that Agility provides a very small amount of mitigation through armor, and a very small amount of threat through crit. We further accept that Potency provides a very small amount of mitigation through Block Value from Strength.

Outside of my gloves, I generally do not enchant for Threat, and even on my gloves I get either an extra pulling tool (Pyro Rocket) or a small amount of Parry (Armsman).

So if you want threat from your weapon enchant, Accuracy is the way to go. Keep in mind as well that our ‘new’ taunt, Hand of Reckoning, works via hit rating and the Glyph of Righteous Defense only affects Righteous Defense. Avenger’s Shield also works on Hit. It’s only happened once, but I don’t like telling DPS to hold off because I just whiffed on throwing my Shield.

The reason I chose Agility was that I feel like I need Avoidance more than threat.

This will all be a moot discussion once 3.1 hits, if they go through with the new Enchant.

Enchant Weapon - Blade Ward *New Enchant* - Permanently enchants a weapon to sometimes grant Blade Warding when striking an enemy. Blade Warding increases your parry rating by 200 and inflicts 600 to 800 damage on your next parry. Effect can stack up to 5 times and lasts 10 sec. This enchantment requires the wielder is at least level 75

After getting excited about Titanguard (+75 stamina, then +50 stamina to weapon) on the last PTR only to see it pulled, I’m not getting too excited about Blade Ward until it goes live.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seeking Professional Advice

Honorshummer is my Hunter alt. I shall refer to him as Hummer for rest of this entry. Anytime I use Honors, I'm referring to my Main, Honorshammer.

As Hummer nears 80, I've been thinking about Professions both for him and for my main.

Honors is Jewelcrafting and Engineering while Hummer is skinning and mining. Actually part of the genesis of Hummer was to give Honors a miner to gather ore for his two production professions.

The only one I'm absolutely not going to change is Jewelcrafting on Honors. That is both useful and profitable.

Engineering on the other hand is neither.

What I am considering is changing Hummer to an Miner/Engineer and making Honorshammer Mining/Jewelcrafting. This would make each toon more self reliant. Hummer would get more use out of the Engineering helm since I don't plan to raid much with him. He can also make his own ammo until such time as Blizzard implements it's plan to remove ammo from Hunters.

It's sad to say, but the thing I will miss most from having Engineering on Honors is the Roflcopter.

Honors would get a minor stamina benefit from Mining, and I can use the ore he gets leveling up Mining to level up Engineering on Hummer.

Of course, as soon as I do this, Blizzard will announce a huge buff to Engineering helms, or come out with some awesome item for Engineers that will make me regret this.

I haven't actually gone through with this yet, it's still in the idea/planning stages. If you've heard anything on the PTR about Engineering. The last I heard was the addition of some minor stats to the tinkers, and the new 800 armor glove enchant. I'm not sure that's enough.

So to my 'legion' of loyal followers, is this a good idea or a poor one? If you woke up this morning and you were in my position (Main JC/Engy, Alt Skin/Mine) what would you do?

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Axe To Grind

Monday and Tuesday had been two of the most intense and fun nights in WoW that I have had since installing the Expansion. It was really nice to take a break Wednesday night and I wasn't really looking to do much on Thursday.

I saw someone in Guild Chat asking if anyone wanted to go with Amber Knights to finish the Naxx25 run that had begun the night before. At that point, I was in Violet Hold on my Hunter, so I passed.

Once the Violet Hold run was over, I switched over to Honors and asked if the run had filled up. It hadn't, so I got an invite.

The Death Knight (Military) Wing, and Thaddius were all that remained in this instance, so we began with Razuvious. The two Priests had some communication issues and we lost an Understudy. Myself, and a Warrior were able to kite, and Shield Wall / Divine Protection long enough for the mind control to drop and get reacquired. It was a close call but we got him.

For Gothik, I actually found myself solo tanking the Live side. I tried to concentrate on the Riders and Death Knights and not worry too much about the Trainees. Even if they aggroed to a caster, I don't think their damage is lethal.

I was running basically as a guest in this run, so I figured I'd be offtanking. I've pretty much done it all by this point in Naxx, main tank, offtank, even DPS, so whatever role they needed I was willing to fulfill.

The next two fights we would do required 1 to 2 tanks. Man, I was really wishing for Dual Specs at that point. DPS never has to worry about assignments, you also have a DPS target.

Healers and Tanks do. If their isn't enough damage going around, a Healer can feel sort of superfluous, as can a Tank that doesn't have a Tank target. To any 'Pure DPS' that is worried about Dual Spec, I don't want to 'steal' a raid spot from you. I just want to be able to switch to DPS spec when I'm not needed to tank so I can contribute more to the success of the raid on a given encounter that doesn't require as many tanks as other encounters. I don't really even care if by design I can only pull 90% of a pure DPS class, it'd be an several orders of magnitude better than the 33% I pull as a Tank spec.

So for Thaddius and Sapphiron, I would contribute what limited DPS I could. It was getting late, but we decided to try Kel Thuzad.

Our first attempt went fairly well, but ended up being one of those annoying 1% wipes. Despite how late it was getting, we opted to try again.

It had been suggested that our Feral Druid pick up all 4 adds. Both he and I agreed it would be better to split the adds between us. I also switched to my 'Boss' set, which is more avoidance heavy. The Adds get progressively stronger as the fight progresses, so the extra avoidance should make me easier to heal.

Once the Adds spawn, I really have to get tunnel vision. There is so much going on at that point: Ice Blocks, Mind Control, Shadow Fissures (pretty red circles). All I can really focus on is the two adds and making sure I don't die. It's up to the rest of the team to do their jobs.

I blew Divine Protection, Lay On Hands, my Healthstone, my Runic Healing Potion, and both my Trinkets, but I lived.

This was Amber Knights first kill of Kel'Thuzad on Heroic Naxx, and everyone was pretty excited.

The loot would present an interesting dilemma for me. There were two drops on the body that piqued my interest, Boundless Ambition and Last Laugh. The way loot worked was that you got one epic for the run. If no one was interested in the drop, if would go to Free Roll. Any item won by Free Roll did not count as your 'one epic'.

Looking at the two pieces, I knew that if I only had to pick one, I wanted Last Laugh.

The Master Looter put Boundless Ambition up first. If I rolled and won it, I would forfeit a chance at Last Laugh. If I didn't roll, it would go to whoever did, and I could lose the roll on Last Laugh as well and come away with nothing.

I decided to risk it and not roll. No one else rolled either, so it went to Free Roll.

In a departure from the norm, I throw down a 90. Usually when it comes time to roll for loot, I'm sub 30. I actually won the roll, and because it was a Free Roll, I'd still have a shot at Last Laugh.

Potentially taking two drops from one boss seemed a bit greedy. I opened my vent channel and asked the Master Looter to not award Boundless Ambition until Last Laugh was decided. I explained that Last Laugh was the drop I really wanted and I wouldn't feel right about taking two drops from the boss.

The Master Looter put Last Laugh up and I rolled.

27! Ugh!

I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the next person to roll, but no one challenged me. I won Last Laugh. Boundless Ambition was given to a Death Knight who had the second highest roll on it.

Here you can see Last Laugh compared to Slayer of the Lifeless.
After checking around the people still online and not finding an enchanter, I ran to the Auction House and bought a Scroll of Enchant Weapon - Exceptional Agility and put 26 agility on it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So Malygos

I was still recovering from the effects of our earlier Sarth2D encounter as we flew out to Coldarra. I was trying to be slick and find my way to Malygos despite the fact I had never been there. After a couple of minutes of flying around, I broke down and asked for someone to show me the portal. (I had almost found it myself. =p)

We zoned in. It was like suddenly we were in outer space. Seeing something on a YouTube video is one thing, seeing it for yourself is quite another. There was Malygos flapping around.
He started yelling at us. I can't really blame the guy, we had just barged into his home. He was probably just about to crack open a cold frosty one and watch Dancing with The Stars. (My wife and Daughter LOVE that show.)

Despite the fact that I had never even zoned into the Eye of Eternity before, Ellevis was going to have me tank Malygos so he could use Death Grip and position sparks.

I felt like I had a good handle on the fight having watched the TankSpot video and read the threads on MainTankadin.

Not only was I going to tank him, but they let me use the Focusing Iris to engage him. You know what? IT’S HAMMER TIME!!!

Malygos landed and I picked him up. I never really thought of “Hey, would you like a shield smashed into your face?” as a pickup line, but for Dragons, it seems to do the trick. I mean after that, it's like they can't take there eyes, teeth, and claws off you.

Everything wen't pretty smooth at first. He really doesn't hit all that hard considering he's like the most powerful Blue Dragon known to Azeroth. Although he is a caster type and they aren't known for strong melee.

We got caught up in the vortex. I was frantically panning around trying to find the new spark so I could get Malygos away from it when he landed. I moved the wrong way and Malygos got it. I hit my Valor Medal of the First War along with my venerable Monarch Crab. My healers were awesome and kept me alive. I didn't need to Divine Protection (Paladin's Shield Wall) but I probably should have.

Since I was main tanking, I didn’t get a chance to see how we were doing on stacking sparks, but threat never became much of an issue as far as I could tell. I wasn’t watching Omen all that closely, so the DPS may have had to throttle back without me knowing.

By the third Vortex, we had him down to 50%. He started his speech and by the end of it, we had him down to 47%. The Nexus Lords showed up, and I grabbed them. Somewhree along the way, we lost our Shadow Priest and Balance Druid (sorry Lakini). I’m not sure if the Nexus Lords got them or a deep breath. Now we were 8 manning it. We also had a close call on one of the Deep Breaths when our Anti-Magic Zone got really, really small. No one died, though.

We managed to kill the Scions and got ready for Phase 3. The platform broke up and we were ready to ride our dragons. We only used one ‘healer’ dragon. Thinking of Oculus, I had always wondered how you switched from a DPS dragon to a Healer dragon in the Eye of Eternity. What actually happens is that any dragon can do either job depending on how it spends its combat points and energy. It’s a true, fluid hybrid.

1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, swing your partner, do si do, around the Dragon, here we go.

I had the pattern down. When Malygos targeted me for Surge, I hit my Shield. We stayed together always moving to our right around him.

There was only a little time left on the Enrage timer, but we managed to finish him off. Then Alexstraza shows up and congratulates us.

Only one person in our raid was able to loot the Heart of Magic. This is the quest item you need to complete the quest Judgment at the Eye of Eternity, that starts from the Key that drops from Sapphrion. I put in a ticket and talked to a GM. Those guys are always super cool to me, and helpful. The GM type told me a Character Specialist would need to look into the matter, and to not close the ticket.

If I can get it, I need to decide what quest reward to pick. I have Heritage as my tanking neck, and Collar of Dissolution as my Ret neck.

If I change out Heritage to the quest reward, Drakescale Collar, I would gain 13 STR, 30 Parry, 24 Block Rating, and a Red Socket, but I’d lose 12 Stamina, 7 Defense, 41 Dodge and 28 Hit. I could really care less about the hit so I’ll ignore that. Parry gets hit harder by diminished returns than Dodge so I would likely loose avoidance. If I gem with a Dodge/Stamina gem I can make up the Stamina difference.

The Strength is nice, but so far (knock on wood) threat hasn’t been a major issue, and I don’t need the Block Rating to reach the Block Cap with Holy Shield up. I’m also right at 540 Defense so I would likely need to regem to maintain uncrittable. In short, I don’t see the benefit of changing my Neck to Drakescale from Heritage.

The Ret reward from the quest is The Pendant of the Dragonsworn. If I were to switch from Collar of Dissolution to Dragonsworn, I’d gain 2 agility, 26 stamina, 28 armor penetration, 35 crit and a blue socket, but I’d lose 24 hit and 38 expertise. I’m pretty sure I’m far enough over the hit cap, but I’m not yet at the Expertise cap.

I think I’ll take the Ret reward, and see what happens. I don’t think I’d ever use the Prot rewards over what I have now, and if I’m actually using either of the spell power rewards something somewhere has gone terribly wrong. As of right now the way I feel is that I’d make my Hunter my main before I went back to full time Holy.

With Malygos defeated, I had everything I need to qualify for the title Champion of the Frozen Wastes. I’d been running around with Hand of A’dal all this time. I finally have my Wrath title (although Undying and of the Nightfall would sound nice, too.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Go For Two

When we last left our intrepid team of Heroes, we had just cleared Naxx. We only had the dragons, Sartharian and Malygos left alive before the reset.

We zoned into Sartharian and proceeded to kill trash and first drake. As you might have guessed from the title, when we got to Tenebron (the egg laying drake, I mix up the names), Ellevis, our raid leader instructed us to go around and not to engage him.

I swallowed hard. I had spent some time preparing for Malygos. I hadn’t spent time studying up on Sarth plus Drakes. We worked our way around to the last drake (I think it was Vesperon), but we left him alive as well.

So we were going to engage Sartharian with two of his drakes left alive. Prior to my joining Heroes, this raid team had successfully killed Sarth plus one, but never Sarth plus two.

Ellevis explained the game plan. Our Feral Druid would tank Sartharian on the left front corner of the island. The entire raid would run to the back of the island. When Tenebron landed, Ellevis (Blood DK) would pick him up and they would start to kill him.

My job was to grab the Flame Blazes (little fire elemental guys), and also grab all the Whelps that would spawn from the portal that Tenebron would summon. AoE tanking required? 'It’s just like beggar’s canyon back home'.

Well not quite. It was a complete and epic failure on my part to pick up the Whelps while I had 3 Flame Blazes on me. What I needed was more visibility. I used an old macro I had made from Archimonde of all encounters to zoom my camera out, way out.

This gave me great visibility, but I felt like I was moving in molasses. I got the first spawn of whelps, but the second spawn didn’t go as well. Shardaron Vesperon landed and I went down.

Ellevis determined that we weren’t meeting the DPS budget to kill Tenebron fast enough. He told the DPS to not wait as long for him to get a threat lead but to really go all out. We got closer, but we still wiped not long after Shardaron Vesperon landed. But we actually killed Tenebron that attempt.
I was getting better at picking up the Whelps. One thing I learned is that they don’t spawn right at portal but around it. Consecrate pulses, something like a Shaman totem. If they spawn between pulses they can fly right over the Consecrate, and I won’t get aggro. That happened back in Burning Crusade as well when we were fighting Dragonhawk in Zul’Aman.

In addition, Consecrate doesn’t seem to be the aggro magnet it once was. It used to be that once something got into my Consecrate, it was game over. Now a days, I need to cycle through targets applying Seal of Vengeance DoTs with Hammer of the Righteous to keep stuff sticking to me.

About that time in the evening, we saw another member of our raid team log in, an Elemental Shaman. Ellevis wanted to get him in. Yes, this guy does very good DPS, but we also wanted his buff, Heroism, to help us kill the first drake faster.

So our Warlock volunteered to sit, and we got the Elemental Shaman into the raid.

We tried again but lost a Mage early on to a blue circle.

As we prepared for the next attempt, he started chanting in vent. “I will not die….I will not die…. I will not die…”

We waited until Heroism was off cooldown and pulled again.

There seems to be a large RNG (Random Number Generator) factor to this fight. Some attempts I’d have Fire Blazes right from the start and two to three on me when the Whelps spawned. While in other attempts, there wouldn’t be any Blazes until the Whelps were already spawned. The Fire Walls also add a bit of randomness. If we got ‘good’ placement on the Fire Walls our range would hardly have to move and would have more time on target. If we got ‘bad’ Walls, our range would have to move more and have less quality time to DPS.

I had three Blazes on me as the Whelps spawned. Our DPS had done a fantastic job on Tenebron and we were able to AoE down the Whelps just a moment after Shardaron Vesperon landed.

I started looking around frantically for the portal that Shardaron Vesperon would spawn. I had to get in there and tank the Disciple/Acolyte add. When I did that, it would be up to Ellevis to pick up whatever Flame Blazes I was tanking at that point.

The first portal spawned right inside Sartharian’s back leg. My cursor kept changing from a cogwheel (to take the portal) to a sword (to attack Sarth). I’m frantically clicking away. Finally, I get into the portal and grab the Disciple. He went down pretty quick. I started picking up Blazes again, until the next portal spawned. Everything so far was going good.

When the 3rd portal spawned, Ellevis called for our DPS to burn Shardaron Vesperon. There was a little bit of confusion on vent. Ellevis had wanted me to stay outside with the Blazes (which I already had on me) and he would take the portal since Shardaron Vesperon was down. The only problem being that I had already taken the portal.

If Ellevis clicked the portal as well, we’d both be inside and there would no one to handle the Blazes. I communicated in vent that I was already inside the portal. I communicated this about 50 times it seems.

Ellevis had not taken the portal and grabbed the Blazes while we killed the final Disciple. Now it was back to good ole Sartharian. I continued to pickup the Blazes as our DPS laid into Sarth. At around 5 percent, we got the massive spawn of Blazes. I dropped a Consecrate, but I also dropped a Hand of Protection on our Resto Druid who seemed to be the favored target of the Blazes. That kept the Tree safe until I had the Blazes under control. The Fires liked the Tree, it makes sense. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure the Resto Druid did not die as long as I drew breath.

The last couple percentages of life were drained from Sartharian. We had done it. For the first time, Heroes Inc had killed Sarth plus two! It was really amazing to see what a difference Heroism had made. Five unsuccessful attempts, then we killed him on the second attempt with Heroism. I’d like to see Blizzard give the Heroism buff to another class or two so that 10 mans aren’t so reliant on a Shaman. I love having our Elemental in the raid and he’s a great player, but we should be able to get along if he wants to take a night off.

The fight was insane, crazy, frustrating… and the most fun I’ve had since I installed Wrath of the Lich King. For the first time since I hit 80, I truly felt like I was raiding again. We wiped, we struggled, and we overcame. It was so much better than watching Dancing With the Stars (go Woz!!)

I did receive a purple from the raid, but not the kind you are thinking. I would say that seeing these purple pixels meant as much if not more than the purples that dropped from the boss. This was just one of a couple of whispers I got. I wish I had gotten a screen shot of all of them. Each message was thanking me and letting me know I was an integral part of the success of the raid. That felt really good.

Of course, the night was still young, but more on that in another post.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Explaining the Screenshot

I guess a bit more explanation is in order.

My friend, known online as Aoesrus, was the person who got me into World of Warcraft. We love to play the game together. In the time since we started playing, we've had different things happen in our lives and basically our play times are fairly
desperatedisparate now. Our characters level at different paces and we end up telling each other about what did rather than, you know, play the game together, which is why we got into this whole World of Warcraft thing to begin with.

Several people from my guild are rolling Horde alts to play. So Aoes and I decide we will, too. But this time we are doing something different. These characters can't be played unless they are played together.

Now, he decided to roll a Horde Paladin. I looked over the choices of the Blood Elf race, and decided that I would make a Paladin as well. The name was simple, although it did cross our minds for me to make a Blood Elf mage named Aoesrus and for him to make a Blood Elf Paladin named Honorshammer.

As an added benefit, I'll get some fresh, first hand experience for my "Leveling a Paladin" guide.

Something Wrong With This Picture

I don't know, there's just something not quite right about this screenshot.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Can't Kill This?

Tuesday night I logged on and got ready for my first run with my new 10 man Team. Heroes run two 10 man ‘teams’ each week. We use the In Game Calendar to schedule Raids and to sign up. This is really great because I know a week or more in advanced what nights we are raiding, what the start time is and what zone we will be attacking.

This night our Team which affectionately calls itself “Blue circles are just as enticing as Red” was going for the Undying achievement. To get this achievement, you have to kill every boss in Naxx with no one dying. I felt something as I flew the Gyrocopter out to Dragonblight that I haven’t felt in a while. That nervous excitement of knowing you are going to have to play your very best and not let your team down.

We decided to start with the Death Knight wing. We cleared the trash quickly and got to Instructor Razuvious. I was on one crystal with my Death Knight co-Tank on the other.

Everything was going according to plan until I tried to release the Understudy. We generally do a release, then immediately mind control it again. I hit the key to release, and an addon Error box popped up on my screen. I closed it quickly and kept hitting the release button but nothing happened. When he broke on his own I had just taunted. I got him back but he was loose and my taunt was on cooldown. I chased him around the room, but it was too late and he had taken out the healers. We wiped.

I felt like a guy who had fumbled on the first snap of a big game. I’ve got to think the issue is with SpartanUI or Bartender4, but it could be any of my addons. I can’t really test it again until next week and I’m not sure I would want to risk it.

Our Raid Leader broke up the raid and had another person form it. We reentered Naxx, recleared the trash and got back to Razuvious. Since I wasn’t sure if the Addon would error again, we had a mage take the other crystal who had tanked the fight before. We one shot Raz with no problem.

Ellevis (Death Knight) and I swapped off Tanking assignments from Boss to Boss, and I really enjoyed working with him.

We had a close call on Gothik when I didn’t pick up a Death Knight quickly enough near the end of Phase 1, and he nearly killed our Mage. Fortunately for me, our Resto Druid did an amazing job and kept everyone alive.

Spider was fun. I was the Tank on Anub, and he seemed to throw me up in the air quite a bit more than prevoius attempts. Sometimes, as a Tank, you wind up in really odd places, like undernearth a huge Crypt Lord. But at least the wing was quick. When we did Construct we forgot to kill one of the Trash Abominations, so we got to fight Patchwerk plus and Abomination at the same time. Our healers were money and no body died.

We did Plague, and Noth was fun. I was on Add with Ellevis (Death Knight) on Noth We were a little slow killing the first set of adds so I didn’t have my body turned right when I went to throw my shield at the second set. I got a “Target must be in front of you” as the Plagued Warrior ran right by me. So I taunted with Righteous Defense. You’ll never guess who the Plague Warrior was targeting. Yep, Ellevis. And when good ole Righteous Defense went off, who did I taunt, why Noth, of course! Ellevis grabbed him right back so it didn’t cause any major trouble.

I got picked to tank Heigan. I was so really nervous, but I took a deep breath and zoomed my camera way out so I could see the Raid, Heigan, and the Green Fire of Death. I only messed up once by going out of range of heals. My threat was a little lower than normal, but I was more concerned with movement and staying alive, not producing max threat. We have a Boomkin who can really pull some big threat, so I had to be careful. For some reason Bosses don’t tend to like back to back 10k Starfires. I can’t understand it, but it really seems to upset them. But we all managed the Dance and I got my Safety Dance achievement.
We got to Sapphiron with the achievement still in our grasp, and I was selected to tank. There’s just something about a dragon beating the living you know what out of you that I just really enjoy. It’s a defective gene most likely.

We had made it all the way to Kel Thuzad with no deaths. All we had to do was kill KT and the achievement was ours.

We pulled and nailed down the adds pretty well. Nothing got close to our raid. Our hunter was virtually one shoting skeletons.

KT became active and was being tanked by Ellevis (Death Knight). I positioned myself away from the others, but with good visibility of all 4 portals the Adds would use to enter the fray.

Just before we hit the 45% mark, our Hunter goes down. It looked like our Shadow Priest had gotten Detonate Mana and had gotten too close to our Hunter when he blew up. The air kind of went out of our balloon, but we finished off KT. We were sooooooooo close.

The run was still fun and I picked up a couple of upgrades for my Retribution spec. Patchwerk dropped the Gauntlets of Combined Strength, and I got the Tier 7 Chest token from 4 Horsemen.

I also picked up a Tier 7 Head token from our Kel’Thuzad kill. We had 1 priest and 1 Paladin (me) in the raid. The Priest already had the Shadow and Holy versions of the Tier 7 Helmet.

For my ‘main’ protection set, I’m using the Platehelm of the Great Wrym from Heroic Sapphiron. For my ‘offset’ Retribution gear, I’m using the Spiked Titansteel Helm.

If I switch my Tanking helm to the Tier 7, I’d lose 40 Sta, 28 Str, 46 Armor, 5 Defense, 38 Dodge, and 67 Block Rating. All I would gain is a Meta Socket, a Blue Socket, 74 Block Value, and 30 Expertise.

If I went with an Austere Earthsiege Diamond / Solid Sky Sapphire in the slots, I’d actually pick up 26 stamina. (66 from the gems (32 + 24) minus the 40 less when comparing the two helms without gems.). The gems would mitigate the armor loss. But I would still lose out on the 38 Dodge, 67 Dodge Rating, 28 Str and 5 defense.

So what if instead I turn it in for the Ret head. Well I’d lose 23 Str, 44 Crit31 Hit to gain some Stamina and Haste. Both helms have the same sockets and because I’m a JC I can pretty much ignore colors because I have access to Prismatic gems.

I could turn it in for the Holy Helm, but if Honorshammer is Holy spec, something somewhere has gone very, very, very wrong.

It looks like I may want to pick up the Protection Helm, and stick the Meta in it and use it in my Heroic / Block Value set. It will also give me the options of wearing my T7.10 chest to make a set that gives me my 4 piece bonus until I can get the gloves from Sartharian. Platehelm of the Great Wyrm is clearly the avoidance piece, and I like to wear my avoidance gear for Bosses (Gauntlets of the Master, Greave of Turbulence, etc.)

Heroic Naxx With Heroes

While my guild is concentrating mostly on 10 man content, from time to time, both of our raid teams join forces and tackle a 25 man. The run had started on Wednesday night which I missed, but I made it for the conclusion of the run on Monday night.

Plague, Spider and Death Knight had been cleared on Wednesday, leaving Construct up for us.

Tanks for the night were a Protection Paladin, a Frost Death Knight and a Feral Druid. We marked up the targets and began to work our way through the trash. The first boss you fight in the Construct wing is Patchwerk.

We put the Protection Paladin on Patchwerk himself and the DK and Druid were taking Hatefuls. Our whole team did a great job, healers, DPS, and Tanks and we managed to one shot Patch. I’m not sure, but this may have been the first time that Heroes killed him on Heroic.

This was my first 25 man with Heroes so I wasn’t sure how they did loot. It turns out they do a simple /roll for loot, main specs before offspecs and only 1 epic per run unless it’s not needed. I had believed a system like that would work on a 25 man raid. Sure it’d be fine for 5 mans and 10s, but no way would it work in 25 mans. Yet, Heroes makes it work, and with a minimum of drama, at least as far as I’ve been able to observe.

The advantages are its quick and there’s no outside accounting required to make it work. A little common sense and consideration for others seems to make it work.

Little did I know it, but I would find some loot on the boss that I was interested in, Hero’s Surrender. The shield is just about as good as you can get in game right now. Some like Surrender, others prefer Wall of the Dead, but to me they are virtually the same.

I rolled as did the Paladin tank from the other 10 man group, and I was lucky enough to win it.

It’s a great looking shield, but equipping it took me below 540 Defense. I had to swap in my Repelling Charge for the rest of the night. Even after I got it enchanted with 20 Defense, I was still at 539. I switched a Def/Stam gem out of my belt for a straight 16 Def gem and that put me to 541. This allowed me to wear my Sonic Booster instead of the Repelling Charge.

Grobulous was up next. We put the Death Knight on Grobulous, and put the Paladin and Druid on picking up slimes. Avenger’s Shield is such a great tool for picking up the slimes. You throw it at Glob a beat or two after he sprays the room and it will bounce from Glob right to the slime which will make a beeline right for you.

For Gluth, we had the Druid and Paladin on Gluth himself while the Death Knight kited the Zombie Chow. I had forgotten to mention that you need two kiters on Heroic, but the Death Knight did a fantastic job of kiting them all. One or two got through at the end, but not enough to keep us from killing the big dog.

He dropped some Tanking shoulders (not the Tier ones) which went to the Paladin I had outrolled for the Shield.

Then we went to Thaddius. We had some problems with people moving quickly enough during the polarity shift and always lost 2 or 3 right off the bat. That would lead us to not being able to down Thaddius before the enrage timer hit. After several unsuccessful attempts, we decided to end our attempts on Thaddius and instead go take on Sartharian.

It didn’t bother me nearly as much as it had in the past that we were sort of stuck on Thaddius. Maybe I was just giddy over getting the shield, maybe I was just happy that we had beat him on 10 man mode, or maybe I’m more patient this time around. Whatever the reason, my enjoyment of the evening wasn’t diminished just because we hadn’t killed Thaddius.

Because we were getting short on time we decided to do the regular zero Drake version. The Death Knight offered to let me tank Sarth, but I told him to take him so I could get practice rounding up Adds for our eventual +1, +2, and +3 attempts. I pleased to say I didn’t have any trouble rounding up the Fire Elementals and Sarth was dead before I knew it.

It had been a great run with my new….err old... Guild. I had fun, got a little loot and got to tank as part of a Tanking team. I can’t wait to do it again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Building The Offset (Part 3 - DPS)

Yesterday we looked at some ‘failsafe’ options for DPSers to build a pretty decent Tank set. Today we are going to turn the tables and look at some ‘failsafe’ options for a Tank to build a pretty decent DPS set.

Your big minimum as DPS is Hit, but even that is overshadowed by Strength. You need to reach about 8% Hit, but don’t sacrifice too much Strength to get there. You also need Expertise, Crit, Haste and Armor Penetration. You will actually find Strength, Hit, and Expertise on some Tanking gear, but it’s the Crit, Haste and Armor Penetration that really makes it DPS gear.

You are going to see quite a bit of PVP gear on this list. Keep in mind that most of the PVP gear will get outperformed by PVE gear, but you may need a Heroic drop or Raiddrop to surpass the PVP item. If you don’t PVP, or don’t feel you can reach the necessary rating, as is my case, you can ignore those pieces.

Spiked Titansteel Helm (Crafted BoE = Gold) - This helm will not be replaced until Raiding.
Deadly Helm (PVP)
Titan-forged Plate Helm of Triumph (40 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor)
Hateful Helm (45 EoV or PVP)
Helm of Command (BoE = Gold)
Faceguard of Punsihment (Quest: Vengeance Be Mine!) – This helm could actually be used for both Tanking and DPS

Deadly Gladiator Pendant of Victory (PVP)
Pendant of the Outcast Hero – (EoH) – This item and the PVP are very close in performance and generally outperform Heroic drops.
Titanium Impact Choker (Crafted BoE = Gold)The Severed Noose of Westwind (Quest:The Admiral Revealed)

Teir 7.5 DPS Shoulders (60 EoV)
Deadly Shoulders (PVP)
Hateful Shoulders (30 EoV)
Spaulders of the Giant Lords (Sons Of Hodir Revered) – Only one Heroic drop will outperform these
Mantle of Volkhan (Quest - Diameterically Opposed)

Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak (25 EoV) – This won’t be replaced until Raids
Deadly Gladiator Cloak of Victory (PVP)
Cloak of Bloodied Waters (World BoE = gold) – Pretty much better than most Heoric drops and Capes are a very competitive slot
Hateful Gladiator Cloak of Victory (PVP)
Ice Striker’s Cloak (Crafted BoE = Gold)

Tier 7 DPS Chest (80 EoH)
Deadly Chest (PVP)
Hateful Chest (45 EoV)
Savage Chest (PVP)
Battleplate of Unheard Ovation (Quest – Battle at Vahallas) – Both this and Jagged Stone should be upgraded in Heroics
Breastplate of Jagged Stone (Quest – Whatever It Takes)

Wristbands of the Sentinel Huntress (BoE or 60 EoV)
Vengenace Bindings (Crafted BoE = Gold) – This will not be replaced until Raids
Deadly Gladiator Bracers of Triumph (PVP)
Hateful Gladiator Bracers of Triumph (PVP)

Zeliek’s Guantlets (World BoE = Gold) – You’ve got to be extremely lucky or rich or both to get these.
Tier 7 DPS Gloves (60 EoH)
Hateful Gauntlets (30 EoV)
Gauntlets of the Culling (Quest – A Royal Escort) – You’re set until you can get an epic.

Verdungo's Barbarian Cord (40 EoH)
Deadly Gladiator Girdle of Triumph (PVP)
Hateful Gladiator Girdle of Triumph (PVP)
Thorim’s Grasp (Quest) – Try to get this upgraded as soon as you can.

Tier 7.5 DPS Legs (75 EoV)
Deadly Legs (PVP)
Hateful Legs (PVP or 45 EoV)
Legpaltes of Bloody Reprisal (Wyrmrest Accord Exalted)
Plated Legs of the Unholy (Quest – The Rider of the Unholy)

Iron Spring Jumpers (World BoE) – Again, either be lucky or very, very rich
Bladed Steelboots (40 EoV)
Death Insured Sabatons (Ebon Blade Exalted)
Deadly Gladiator’s Greves of Triumph (PVP)
Titan-forged Greaves of Triumph (Wintergrasp Marks of Honor)
Spiked Titansteel Treads (Crafted BoE = Gold)

Ring of Invincibiltiy (25 EoV)
Ring of the Kirin Tor ($$$$)
Ring of Scarlet Shadows (Crafted BoE = Gold)
Deadly Gladiator’s Band of Victory (PVP)
Titanium Impact Ring (Crafted BoE = Gold)
Signet of the Bridenbrad (Quest – Light Within The Darkness)
Stained Glass Shard Ring (World BoE = Gold)

Mirror of Truth (40 EoH)
Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Quest: Nobles Deck.) You need to buy the Noble Cards which are very, very expensive. The Strength version is an incredible for most DPS classes and it doubles as a really nice Tanking Trinket.
Crusader’s Locket (Quest – Defending the Vanguard)

Deadly Gladiator’s Bonegrinder (PVP) – I wish much success should you be able to acquire this and I further wish never to find you on the opposing team in a Battleground.
Titansteel Destroyer (Crafted BoE = Gold) – Pretty much the equal to any heroic or 10 man drop.
Runeblade of Demonstrable Power (Ebon Blade – Revered)
Argent Skeleton Crusher (Argent Crusade – Revered)
Whale Stick Harpoon (Kalu’ak – Revered)
Bloodied Arcanite Reaper (Hierloom BoA Item)
De-Raged Waraxe (Quest – Champion of Anquish) – Actually not too bad for a starter weapon until you can afford the Titansteel Destroyer

Ranged Slot
Paladin – Venture Company Libram of Retribution – Someone at Blizzard actually got paid to come up with this name.
Warrior – DPS Gun

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building The Offset (Part 2 - Tank)

So here we go. Yesterday, we talked in general about building a gear set. Today we’ll actually get into the meat of the Tanking gear set.

Many of the ‘failsafe’ options I’ll talk about below are outclassed by Heroic and Raid drops. When a ‘failsafe’ piece is a really strong item, I’ll attempt to note it.

I would be remiss to not acknowledge the large debt I owe to Eanin of Maintankadin for his assistance with Eanin’s Failsafe Tank Gearing Guide.

As you build your Tank set, there are a couple of goals you want to keep in mind.

The first being Defense, unless you are a Druid. Defense on gear is that subtle clue from Blizzard that it’s a tank item despite all that Strength and possibly Expertise and Hit on there. You need to reach 535 Defense for Heroics or Add tanking and 540 for Raid Bosses. There are other goals to reach for as a Tank, but many of them are simply not attainable in early gear. Just maintaining the Defense minimum will be a challenge for most until you start getting some raid drops.

Along with defense, you want gear with healthy amount of Stamina, and some dodge, and parry. “Block Tanks”, which are Paladins and Warriors, also want some Block Rating and Block Value on their gear.

Note that EoH = Emblems of Heroism, EoV = Emblems of Valor

Tempered Titansteel Helm (Crafted BoE = Gold) - This helm will not be replaced until Raiding.
The Crusader's Resolution (Quest: The Crusaders' Pinnacle)
Tempered Saronite Helm (Crafted BoE = Gold)

Chained Military Gorget– (EoH) This neck will not be replaced until Raiding.
Burning Skull Pendant(World BoE = Gold) – This is a Block Value piece. It’s not a great choice for Death Knights or Druids
Titanium Earthguard Chain(Crafted BoE = Gold)
Reinforced Titanium Neckguard (Quest:The Admiral Revealed)

Tier 7.5 Tank Shoulders (60 EoV)
Wapach's Shoulders of Solidarity – These puppies will cost more than they are worth, but if they drop for you, they are pretty decent.
Crusader's Square Pauldrons(World BoE = Gold)
Tempered Saronite Shoulders (Crafted)

Platinum Mesh Cloak(25 EoV) – This is competitive with just about any Raid drop you could get. Durable Nerub-Hide Cape(World BoE = Gold) - This is pretty much for Druids only, unless you can get to 540 Defense while still wearing it. That is fairly unlikely unless you have some Raid drops.
Tattered Castle Drape(BoE Drop = Gold) – This is another block piece.
Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions(Reputation - Wyrmrest Accord Honored)

Tier 7 Tanking Chest (80 EoH)
Breastplate of the Solemn Council(Reputation Wyrmrest Accord Revered)
Silver-Plated Battlechest (Quest: Junk in my Trunk)

Bracers of Dalaran's Parapets (BoE EoV item = Major Gold. These are starting to be available on my server for 5k. Of course, feel free to skip these unless you're very wealthy)
Bracers of Reverance (Quest: A Wing and a Prayer)
Tempered Saronite Bracers (Crafted BoE = Gold)

Tier 7 Gloves (60 EoH)
Fireproven Gauntlets(Reputation - Kirin Tor Exalted)
Refined Ore Gloves(BoE drop = Gold) – This is another Block Value piece
Daunting Handguards(BoE Crafted = Gold) - The high Defense on these is really helpful in reaching the Defense minimum.

Waistguard of Living Iron(40 EoH) – This won’t be replaced until Raiding.
Waistguard of the Risen Knight(World BoE = Gold)
Tempered Saronite Belt(Crafted BoE = Gold)

Tier 7.5 Tank Legs (75 EoV)
Special Issue Legplates (Reputation - Argent Crusade Honored)
Daunting Legplates(BoE Crafted = Gold) – This is another high Defense item that is extremely helpful in reaching the Defense minimum.

Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers(40 EoV) – These boots are considered to be among the very best Tanking boots currently available.
Tempered Titansteel Treads(Crafted BoE = Gold) – These won’t be replaced until raiding and I actually like them better than the Inexorable Sabatons.
Inexorable Sabatons(Raid BoE drop = Major Gold) – Another Block Value piece.
Sabatons of Draconic Vigor (Reputation – Wyrmrest Accord Revered)
Toxin-Tempered Sabatons(Reputiation – Ebon Blade Honored)

Titanium Earthguard Ring (Crafted BoE = Gold) – This won’t be replaced until Raiding.
Ring of Earthen Might(Crafted BoE = Gold)
Staunch Signet (Quest: The Struggle Persists)

Valor Medal of the First War(40 EoH)
Darkmoon Card: Greatness (Quest: Nobles Deck. ) You need to buy the Noble Cards which are very, very expensive. The Strength version is an incredible threat and mitigation trinket, which also doubles as a very good DPS trinket.

Anyone of the rewards from Quest: Wanted:Ragemane's Flipper. Pick the one you have a racial benefit for, or the one with the highest Defense.

Titansteel Shield Wall – This will not be replaced until Raiding.
Saronite Bulwark(Crafted BoE = Gold)Blade-Binding Bulwark(BoE Drop = Gold)

Ranged Slot
Paladin - Libram of Obstruction(15 EoH)
Warrior - Armor Plated Shotgun (Crafted BoE = Gold)