Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ulduar Spoils

Since we run a quasi loot council / random roll for loot, I decided to look over the loot tables and figure out what my upgrades in Ulduar would be. I’m disregarding 25 man loot as well as Emblems of Conquest because I don’t see my guild running that content. I’m perfectly okay with that as the 10 man environment is providing both the challenge and comradely I enjoy.

I’m currently sporting the Heroes Redemption Faceguard. There are two helms out of Ulduar I could use. Ironbark Faceguard drops off of Freya and my Tier 8 Valorous Aegis Faceguard drops off of Mimiron. The two Helms are nearly identical. The T8 has a bit more strength, and a little less defense. The major difference is the Ironbark Faceguard has Expertise whereas the T8 has Block Rating. As I’m fairly sure I’m Block Capped, the Block Rating wouldn’t do anything for me, but as a Paladin Expertise is pretty low on the helpful stats list as well.

I’m going to pass the first Ironbark we get to my Death Knight co-Tank. Expertise is much more useful to Death Knights than it is to Paladins.

My Necklace is currently Heritage from Naxx25.Two tank necks drop in Ulduar10. Fervor of the Protectorate drops from Trash mobs. My guess is we’ll get our first one off of Hodir’s Worm trash. I don’t feel this Neck is well itemized for Paladin tanks. There’s no Defense and it’s loaded with Parry and Expertise. I’d let my Death Knight and even our DPS Warrior get this before I’d take it.

Now Mark of the Unyielding on the other hand gets my attention. This drops from Kologarn. It’s pretty much a straight upgrade in every way over Heritage. I do loose some Hit Rating, however the threat loss from that will be made up for by the additional Strength I gain from it.

I’m wearing the former Best in Slot Shoulders, Valorous Redemption Shoulderguards. Here again, Ulduar provides two options for upgrades: the offset Shoulderguards of the Solemn Watch and the Tier 8 Valorous Aegis Shoulderguards. Because I’m a Jewelcrafter, I would actually lose stamina by going to the Solemn Watch as well as having to give up Dodge for Block Rating. I’m not real excited about that. I actually already have Solemn Watch in my bags but I don’t think they’ll be going out anytime soon. The Tier 8 is tailor made for a Block Value Set, but I’ll be keeping my Tier 7.5 for Bosses. Because of that, I’ll be passing to my Priests (we don’t have any Warlocks in our group) when the Shoulders drop.

My Cape is the Platinum Mesh Cloak from Emblems of Valor. Cloak of the Iron Council conveniently enough drops from the Iron Council. I’m really not sure what the Developers were thinking with this cloak: Defense, Block Rating and Expertise. Did we make too big a deal over Block Capping in Beta or something? This baby just doesn’t excite me. Saronite Animus Cloak from General Vezax is a little better but I’d love for that Parry to be Dodge. I’ve actually got too much Parry in my gear as it is. After 200 Parry rating, the Diminishing Returns really kick in hard. I’m not sure if I’d wear either cloak though I’ll take Iron Council since the Block Rating won’t help my Death Knight much.

The only Chest piece in Ulduar that I would want is the Valorous Aegis Breastplate off Yogg-Saron. This chest is loaded Defense, Dodge, and Parry. It will be a nice reward for finally getting Yogg-Saron down.

I think the Bindings of Hapless Prey might have been my first piece of loot out of Naxx. They will be replaced by off Flamewatch Armguards off Flame Leviathan. Given how much trouble I had getting the first boss of Karazhan to part with the old Vambracers of Courage. I’m not optimistic about seeing this drop anytime soon.

When we finally down Freya, I’ll have a shot at the Valorous Aegis Handguards. This is another Tier piece I’ll gladly pass to my Priests. Going from Tier 7.5 to Tier 8 I’m trading Dodge and Hit for Parry and Block Value. Again, these go into a specialized Block set for Trash and Adds. Just like the Shoulders, Tier 7.5 for Bosses. The trash can also drop Adamant Handguards. I’ll probably pick them up, but I’m not sure I’d use them much.

The Waist slot is probably my weakest right now as I’m still sporting the Waistguard of Living Iron from Emblems of Heroism. The only upgrade available from Ulduar is the Stormtempered Girdle from Razorscale. I will be a very excited Paladin when I see it drop. I can also save my pennies and see if I can get a friendly 25 man guild to craft me an Indestructible Plate Girdle.

Along with the T8 Chest, the T8 Legs are probably the best itemized parts of the set. In fact, if you are in my situation and not doing 25 mans, I’d say the Valorous Aegis Leggaurds are about as good as it gets, plenty of Stamina, Armor and Avoidance (Parry and Dodge). As much as my Priests might love me for passing on Hands and Shoulders, I’m going to go after the Legs full force.

As far as my boots, the good news is that I’ve already spent the Emblems of Valor to pick up Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers. The bad news is unless I run 25 mans, I’ll need to save some major cash to buy Runed Orbs and have Spiked Deathdealers crafted for me. I’m hoping the loot tables are incomplete, because right now I can’t find any Tanking boots in Ulduar10.

The only Ring out of Ulduar I’ll be going after is the Signet of Winter from Hodir. It’ll replace my Titanium Earthguard Ring and be matched up with my Sand Worn Band from Naxx.

Trinkets are one of the more interesting places to try to determine upgrades because many of them have procs and “On Use” effects.

My current trinket load out is Essence of the Gossomer and Figurine: Monarch Crab. Trinkets generally break down into either Stamina or Avoidance. Essence is a Stamina Trinket. The Crab is a best of both worlds type of Trinket in that it provides good stamina and an excellent avoidance. “On Use”.

The Ulduar10 trinkets are the Furnace Stone from Ignis and the Royal Seal of King Llane which drops from Yogg Saron.

Furnace Stone is sort of like a Crab in reverse. Its base stats are Dodge, but the “On Use” is Armor. Armor is fantastic, especially when Bosses can melee you for upwards of 15k. However, I’m not sure I would wear Furnace stone over either of my current Trinkets. If I really want Avoidance, I’d switched out Essence of the Gossamer for Valor Medal of the First War. The On Use of the Valor Medal and the Crab stack so it makes it very nice in an Emergency situation, but like all avoidance, it’s still a roll of the dice. You stack the dice in your favor, but if you are counting on it to save you and the Boss gets lucky and hits you anyway, you die a horrible death. Raid Wipes. Game Over.

Let’s talk about the beauty that is the Royal Seal. It’s much more like the Crab. It has more stamina than the Essence and avoidance “On Use”. I’d much prefer it was Dodge than Parry, but we don’t get to make those choices.

I saved the best for last, your Sword and Board.

I’m fortunate enough to have a gotten a Last Laugh from Kel’Thuzad in Naxx25.

There are 3 weapons that drop in Ulduar10. Shiver, Stoneguard, and Legacy of Thunder. Stoneguard is a Sword and both Shiver and Legacy are Maces. The fact that they are maces makes them very appealing to me. As a Dwarf, I get to activate my Expertise Racial which is nice, and there’s something that feels very right about a Paladin tanking with a Mace.

Unfortunately for me, neither Stoneguard nor Legacy really measure up to Last Laugh. Last Laugh has them both beat on DPS, Strength and Stamina. However, I could see myself using Legacy over Last Laugh. As I mentioned before I’m a little heavy on Parry in my gear right now. Switching from Last Laugh to Legacy would allow me to trade some Parry for Dodge, and the Expertise might allow me to drop the Seal of Vengeance glyph and substitute either Glyph of Salvation or Glyph of Exorism.

But the real prize of Ulduar, and my new precious, is Shiver. She’s an upgrade over Last Laugh and Honors wants her very much. The only problem is that she drops from Hodir Hard Mode, so it’ll likely be a while before I can see her. I’m willing to wait. I’ve got to get my DPS all the gear upgrades I can get them so we can beat Hard Mode, and that includes my alter ego, Ret Honors, because I normally go Ret for Hodir.

Nothing defines a Tank like a Shield and given the make up of my Raid Team pretty much any Tanking Shield that drops belongs to me. (insert maniacal laughter here)

I’m currently using Hero’s Surrender. Before 3.1, I would have argued that it was every bit the Shield that Wall of Terror was, but the Developers went and buffed Wall of Terror so it’s clearly better now. But how does Hero’s compare to the Ulduar shields.

Its pretty closee with the first Shield I should see drop, Sheildwall of the Breaker. I lose a bit of Dodge and gain some Defense, Armor, and Stamina, as well as a negligible amount of Strength, Parry and Block Value.

But Hero’s is blown away by the real treasure, The Boreal Guard. I want this shield so bad I can taste it. Guess where it drops, Hodir Hard Mode. Yep, my best weapon and best shield drop from Hodir Hard Mode. Whatever we can do to learn how to defeat Hodir Hard Mode, I’m all for it.

Quick Reference

  • Hodir (Hard) – The Boreal Guard (NEED!!), Shiver (NEED!!)
  • Yogg-Saron – T8 Chest (Need), Royal Seal of King Llane (Need)
  • General Vezax – Saronite Animus Cloak (sidegrade if that)
  • Freya – Ironbark Faceguard (Pass first one to DK), T8 Hands (pass to Priest)
  • Mimiron – T8 Helm (Need)
  • Thorim – T8 Shoulders (pass to Priests first)
  • Hodir – Signet of Winter (Need), T8 Legs (Have)
  • Auryia – Shieldwall of the Breaker (Need)
  • Kologarn – Mark of Unyeilding (Need), Shoulderguards of the Solemn Watch (Have)
  • Iron Council – Cloak of the Iron Council (sidegrade if that)
  • Ignis – Furnace Stone (sidegrade if that)
  • Trash Mobs – Fervor of the Protectorate (Pass to DK and even DPS War), Adamant Handguards (situation piece not a high priority)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Usefulness of Block Rating to a Tankadin

How much Block Rating is useful on gear? That’s a question a reader asked me as he began to look at the new gear from Ulduar and from the new Emblems of Conquest vendor much of which is loaded with Block Rating.

Block Rating is the easiest and most efficient way to get to what is called the Block Cap, or what used to be called Uncrushable at Level 70 before Crushing Blows were changed

The Block Cap is a combined Miss, Parry, Dodge, and Block Rating of 102.5%.

Once you reach that point, any additional Block Rating is not helping you.

Oh, it’s still calculated into your Block percentage, but because of the way the attack table works, once you have more than 100% of combined Miss, Parry, Dodge and Block Rating, the game engine (which is what decides what happens in WoW) will not count it. . If you need a refresher on the Attack Table and how it works, I recommend Winchester’s Maintankadin 101 guide.

“Picture it like a table, and there is only room for 100 plates on the table. 1% stands for 1 plate, you arrange the plates from left to right. When you're Block Capped you've basically just pushed the "hit" plates off the table to make room for the avoidance ones, because they have a higher priority.”

You are 'capped' on the amount of Block you can have. It should be noted that since Holy Shield was changed to have its duration be longer than it’s cooldown, it is now safe to assume 100% uptime on Holy Shield when calculating your Block Cap.

When this happens, you should start replacing Block with other avoidances (namely Dodge and Parry).

Being at the Block Cap is very helpful because it means that every unavoided attack from the Boss will be a Block. Paladins are probably the easiest tank class to keep Block Capped 100% of the time.

Each Block takes off damage equal to your Block Value. If the Boss hits for 15,000, and you have 1500 Block Value (not unreasonable), you effectively shave off 10% of the damage each and every hit that isn’t outright avoided. That can add up to a huge amount of damage reduction over the course of the fight. Our last battle with Kologarn, I blocked 12 times and saved myself from tanking over 23,000 damage, which works out to rougly a 6.6% damage reduction over the course of the fight.

To reiterate, because it doesn’t suffer from Dimishing Returns, Block Rating is the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to get Block Capped, but once you are there it looses its appeal completely and becomes useless.

So is all the Block Rating on the new Ulduar/Emblem gear good? It depends on your current gear and how the upgrade will affect you.

I would suggest that the Developers should examine combining Block Rating and Block Value into a single stat called Block. That would allow Block to remain useful regardless of if you are over the Block Cap or not, and remove the confusion between Block Value and Block Rating.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Noble Accomplishment

We had to cancel our raid on Monday due to scheduling conflicts. That gave me some time to finish up the last couple of achievements I need for Noblegarden.
I also got the opportunity to tank for one of our newly leveled Priests. He told us he hadn't done much healing. We got 3 of our best DPSers and yours truly as a Tank and got him some gear upgrades in Violet Hold and Utgarde Pinnacle.
Check tomorrow for a blog post on Block Rating and it's value to a Tankadin.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Egg Hunter

This weekend, I spent most of my time running around leveling up my Mining skill. I'm into Mithril now and will soon be whacking at Thorium. I'm making some decent coin from the ore, stone and gems that I'm getting.

I ran a Heroic Culling of Stratholme last night as Retribution. I did alright, posting about 2.1k for the instance. The 1-shot zombies kind of skew the meters a bit in the instance. I was well behind a Rogue, who is one of the better geared DPS in the guild. I was neck and neck with a Mage. He managed to pass me when I got slept on the final boss.

We did manage to get the optional boss down before the timer expired, but we had only seconds to spare. There were only two of us going for the mount, and let's just say Honorshammer finally has a sweet ride to replace his Roflcopter. I did promise to run it again to get the Mage I beat out on the roll the Drake.

Other than that I was working hard on my Noblegarden achievements. I banged out the two dailies. One of the quest you can do awards you with an Easter Basket that gives you a short speed boost. I can’t tell you how many times I’d watch a guy blow past me with his sprint up, and he’d run right past an egg, which I would happily pick up. I didn’t notice much griefing going on at Kharonos where I was doing my hunting. I did find my experience as a Parent hiding eggs really helped when trying to find them. The developers who worked on the event kind of think like Parents and hid them in the same kind of places I would hide eggs from my daughter. Honorshammer was running around with an Easter Basket and a bouquet of flowers in his hand. I may equip that before we pull Freya tonight. She'll be very scared I'm sure. (You can change your offhand and main hand in combat; I'll be back to Sword and Shield before she hits me.)

This is the first time I’ve made a concerted effort to get a Meta Achievement for a Holiday.

I did a PuG Vault 25 man with some friend from another guild, hoping for a shot at some PVP gear. It felt really good when they saw me join the raid and one of their Priests said, “Well that solves the Tanking problem.” Thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it! We killed Archavon with about 30 seconds left on the enrage timer. After that, I politely declined their request to attempt Emalon.

My raid group is talking about temporarily increasing our raid days and time to make some headway in Ulduar and clear the place on 10 man. Then we'll relax back to our normal schedule. I'm fine with skipping bosses to get progression, but I'd love to farm Razorscale because he drops a sweet tanking belt. I'm still using a Waistguard of Living Iron. My Belt and my Helm are the two places that need upgrades right now. Freya has volunteered to help out with the Helm.

I remember well feeling that we would never get through Karazan in two nights. I'm sure we'll get to the point where clearing Ulduar in two nights isn't a problem for us, too. I'm not worried about it.

I can't remember a time in game when I've been having as much fun and had so much I wanted to do.

Out of game, I’m reading the Prequels to the Left Behind series. I’m just devouring the books. I’ve already blown through The Rising and The Regime. Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins can really write a good story.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No Love For Arena

We were feeling really good after downing Hodir, so we marched on over to Thorim. It was really cool that he tried to remember you from the quest chain in Storm Peaks. Then Sif showed up and ruined the show. Thing is, I thought Sif was dead? The fight starts with Thorim above you. You clear the first room with a Jormungar and some Hordies, then half your raid heads to the hallway to fight their way to Thorim while the rest of your raid stays in the Arena.

I was the Tank in the Arena. Mobs constantly come out of the stands and engage you. Some are elites, some are non-elites.

At first, I had everyone stack up on me and laid out a Consecrate. I don’t know what’s happened by Consecrate isn’t the threat magnet it used to be. We discovered one of the mobs Whirlwinded. That made stacking up sort of a bad idea.

We went with me in the center and the others spread out around me. The first couple of elites that spawned, I’d handle okay, and they would go down quick. Then all these non-elites would spawn, and it got harder and harder to find and target the Elites.

I knew what I needed, a Targeting Macro. I opened up my macro that I had used in Tempest Keep (to pick up Embers of A’lar) and Mount Hyjal (to pick up Towering Infernals on Antheron) and even in Black Temple (to pick up the mobs on Akama and Council). I added a new line at the top to pickup the Whirlwind dudes. I was feeling pretty confident as we pulled again.
One spawned and I hit my macro and Hand of Reckoning. “Invalid Target.” What?!?! I try again. “Invalid Target.” I looked around. I had targeted one of the ones still IN THE STANDS. Meanwhile, the one of the ground was destroying the raid.

After a half dozen failed attempts I switched places with my Death Knight so he could get a feel for what was going on. DPS liked the Death Grip mechanic. I have no way as a Paladin to make the mob move to where I want them. I have to taunt or Avenger’s Shield or Exorcism and wait for the mob to come to me.

Unfortunately, our Death Knight got overrun just about the same point I had.

WTB Tips on Thorim’s Arena, pst.

We decided to move over to Freya. It took us a minute to figure out the Plant trash. You have to pull the big one away from the little ones or your DPS goes way down.

Freya uses a similar Hard Mode dynamic to Sarth. She has mini-bosses with her. Kill them for easy mode and leave them up for Hard mode. We dispatched the first one, but not before our DPS discovered it had a Thorns on steroids.

It was getting late and we still had a ton of trash to clear. We were informed by Guild Chat that the Alliance had actually won Wintergrasp. This happens maybe 3 times a week on Altar of Storms. We quickly jetted over.

We dispatched Archavon quickly. He not much more than a trash mob anymore.

Then we fought Emalon. The new Deadly Boss Mobs was trying to mark the one add we had to kill. We also had a couple of people with assist trying to mark it. In the confusion our transitions were slow and we died.

We decided to just let DBM do it. We had plenty of DPS. That worked much better and we ended the night with a kill.

Son Of a Hodir

With the Antechamber cleared, we moved onto the Watchers and started clearing towards Hodir.

If you haven’t explored the hallway to Hodir, let me give you a heads up. There are these little snow mounds dotted all along the path. If you get too close to one, it starts spawning about a dozen Jormungar Worms. These aren’t a problem in and of themselves, although new ones do tend to aggro to your healers. But say you discover these little mounds while you are fighting the Frost Giant and it can make it a little more difficult.

We made our way through the trash and met up with Hodir.

My Raid Leader and I had gone back and forth in a private discussion about using Frost Resist gear for Hodir. He gains a buff called Frozen Blows where he does very little physical damage but a whole lot of Frost damage. My thought had been having one of us in Frost Resist gear and the other in ‘normal’ tank gear and switch for Frozen Blows.

He felt like our Death Knight Tank (who also happens to BE our Raid Leader) could handle Frozen Blows with cooldowns and we could single tank it. Neither us knew for sure if it would work, we agreed we could try it. I asked him to at least have the Frost Resist gear made and put in the Bank. He agreed to have the materials ready and in the bank so we could quickly get the gear made if we determined we needed it.

With us ready to pull Hodir, I activated my Dual Spec and switched into my Ret gear.

I used to hate fights where I wasn’t needed to tank. I believe that because my options were to do DPS as Prot, or try to heal as Prot. Regardless of what I did, I didn’t feel like I was making a contribution to the raid. Healing requirements tend to be proportional to Tank requirements, which are if you need fewer Tanks, you generally need less Healing. Trying to DPS as Prot, I would be doing less than half of what a ‘true’ DPS could do.

Ah, but Dual Spec. I could switch into a true DPS spec, with true DPS gear, and unlike extra Healing, extra DPS is ALWAYS helpful. I finally had the ability I had so long envied in Druids: Being able to be a true DPS if I wasn’t needed to Tank.

Our first attempt was a classic case of understanding something ‘on paper’ but not having that translate to actual execution. The first time he cast Flash Freeze over half the Raid was in Ice Blocks. I made a great showing as DPS by getting myself killed by the first boulder that dropped from the sky. I got a Battle Rez (thankful for our two Druids) and promptly got killed again by more falling rocks.

Way to go, Honors!

With our healers in Ice Blocks, our Death Knight didn’t last long.

Okay, at least we had all seen the fight.

We pull again and this time people seemed to understand the hokey pokey you have to do to avoid Flash Freeze. You have to move away from the falling rocks, but then jump right into the debris to save you. With that little trick figured out, the attempt went much better.

Despite not having Spiritual Attunement, or Glyph of Seal of Blood, I was never hurting for mana.

We went at him again. This time I managed to stay alive and most of our Raid (save a particular Boomkin whose name I won’t mention) managed to keep from getting Ice Blocked.

Our Death Knight Tank did a fantastic job rotating cooldowns and our healers healed him right through Frozen Blows without Frost Resist gear. You don't kill Hodir, you free him from Yogg Saron's control. That's probably true of all the Watchers.

This is the WoW Meters Report, and what do my wondering eyes observe. I finally broke 2k DPS as Ret! Color me excited.

Hodir drops your Tier 8 Leg token. Heroes Inc first Tier 8 token went to our Mage.

Cat Woman

Only Auriaya remained the only undefeated boss in the Antechamber of Ulduar. We ported to the Shattered Walkway and walked down to where she was patting around with her two Sanctum Sentries. My Raid Leader has taken to calling her Cat Woman.

The first thing we had to figure out was her trash. You get these two large Watcher looking guys. One of them will spawn a ball of pure energy, which will slowly move towards the other. If it isn’t destroyed before it gets there, the mob it touches gets a huge buff and will start one-shoting even geared tanks.

What we learned quickly was that when one dies the other gets the buff. After mine went down, our Death Knight tank was destroyed. I ran over and taunted, blew my trinkets, Bubble Wall aka Divine Protection, pots, and Lay On Hands. Somehow we managed to kill it before I too was destroyed.

When the next pack like this slapped us around and took our lunch money and made us thank them for it, we decided a new approach was needed. That’s when it hit us. These guys were like Feugen and Stalagg, they had to die at the same time.

It was really nice that everyone had done Naxx together so when we told them on vent, “It’s just like Feugen and Stalagg, everyone knew what we meant. If someone hadn’t done Thaddius, they wouldn’t have a clue what we were trying to tell them.

Auriaya is all about the start of the fight. The Sentrys will ‘pounce’. Basically it means they will stealth, and then show up behind a random person and proceed to destroy them.
How we handled the pull was to have everyone snuggle up near one of the pillars so we were out of line of sight for the Boss. Then we had our Death Knight drop a Death and Decay in Auriaya’s path. She would aggro and walk up the stairs where I would taunt her and the Death Knight would grab the two Sentries and tank them.

Auriaya’s Fear was annoying, but nothing that I would call dangerous. We had a Tremor Totem down and our Holy Paladin dispelling as fast as he could. When the Sentries died a Feral Defender spawned. We never had any of our DPS actively attacking it, but it was dying nonetheless to splash damage. When it died, it left a big ole black circle of death on the ground.
We had a couple more very short attempts where we the Sentries destroyed us before we got the pull right again.

The attempt was going well and we saw Feral Defender once again getting low. Our Death Knight pulled him away from Auriaya and had someone dropped a stun or root on it and had DPS switch and finish it off.

We had to move quickly to get away from the black circle of death. It’s quite large. Just them we got a fear, and we all ran right into it.

Auriaya was still banging away at me the whole time and I was getting pretty low on health. I watched as Ardent Defender saved my butt, but was down to less than 1k health. “Get Honors up!” our Raid Leader called on Vent. I blew my Hands (Lay on Hands).

I heard our Holy Paladin breath a sigh of relief over vent. Everyone got repositioned and went back to work on her. We were able to burn her down the rest of the way.The Antechamber of Ulduar was cleared.

Stand By

I've got a couple of posts coming but I'm having trouble getting the screenshots up.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Town Hall For Hope

http://www.townhallforhope.com/

This is a nationwide town hall meeting. Discover what’s happening with the economy, how we got here, where we’re going.

Tonight at 8pm!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Siege of Ulduar (Part 2)

We were feeling pretty good at that point, so we doubled back to the Colossal Forge and began working on Ignis’ trash.

I took the first Molten Colossi while my Death Knight kited the other one back towards Flame Levithan’s room. That worked well and we were able to down them both. They had left a DoT on the raid that jumped from member to member and made the rest of trash a bit more interesting.
The Golem type mobs weren’t much of a problem. The Fire Revenants on the hand were interesting. They have an ability to summon a flame tornado that will go around the room. It knocks you up in the air and does a fair bit of damage. It didn’t hurt me too bad. We didn’t have any melee DPS so that wasn’t a problem. Most of our team ran away from them just like they should have.

We finally cleared one side and we were all able to dip into the pools and remove the jumping debuff. My theory is that some developer watched the ‘fun’ people had with throwing Leather Balls around a raid and thought up the whole jumping DoT idea.

With the trash cleared we prepared for Ignis. I would be tanking the Boss and my Death Knight would have the task of picking up the Constructs. He’d pull them over to a Flame patch that Ignis leaves on the ground. There, our Boomkin would root them so they would get molten. Then our Death Knight would pull them over into the water where they would get brittle. Once brittle, our Boomkin would Starfire them. As long as you 6k in a single attack, they shatter. It’s important to shatter them because every time Ignis spawns one he gets a buff that increases his damage by 10%. Only by shattering the construct can you remove it.

You have to move Ignis out of the flame patch once he puts it on the ground.I was using a Grobulous type of kiting pattern. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, my Death Knight showed me a new pattern to kite him in. The pattern resembles a baseball diamond. The two pools are 1st base and 3rd base and you imagine about where Home and 2nd should be. Everytime he drops a Flame patch, you go to the next base. That worked out much better.

The other problem we had was that our Boomkin would be thrown in the Slag Pot so we wouldn’t have our rooter.

We had several rough attempts, including a couple where I got instagibed because we had too many Constructs up. Finally the kiting, the rooting, the shattering all came together and we were able to snuff out Ignis once and for all (at least until the instance resets). One thing we are going to do differently next time is have either a Shaman shatter the adds, or have our Boomkin do it with Wrath. Starfire is too long a cast. The Brittle Constructs have a 50% Crit debuff against them. Couple that with a players 25% to 30% Crit chance and you are looking at 75 to 80% chance to get a Crit. Our Boomkin reported he was criting with Starfire every time he attacked one. With that much Crit, even a Wrath or Lightning Bolt should be enough to shatter the Construct.

But there’s still more! See we had some time left before the raid was over and despite my Raid Leaders concerns for our lack of Tank Interrupts, we marched on over to Iron Council.

The trash was more of the same we had seen earlier, without what would have been a much less comical explosion.

Iron Council is a 3 Mob Boss Fight. The Bosses are all different sizes to help keep them straight. I would take the largest mob, Steelbreaker, and head off to the left with our DPS. My Death Knight would grab the other two and get away from everyone else. One of the Bosses had an aura or something that would kill you if you got too close.

The middle Boss, Runemaster or something like that, would put Runes of Power underneath the other Bosses. These were something like the spotlights in Opera trash in Karazhan. If the mob stands in the circle, they get a damage buff, if the players stand in the circle, they get a damage buff. When I saw a blue circle under Steelbreaker, I had to move him away from it, and our DPS would jump on it. This is most similar to the Spark mechanic in the Malygos encounter.

One of our ranged got a little confused. He saw the blue circle under the mobs that my Death Knight was tanking and promptly headed over. He was corrected in vent, and managed to get away from the mobs with only a sliver a life remaining.

Steelbreaker is the hardest hitter of the bunch, but the damage of his normal attack is nothing compared to Fusion Punch. Fusion Punch doesn’t hit for much itself, but it leaves a ticking DoT on you that ticks for over 12k. Ouch.

Paladin Tanks have the advantage of being able to remove the DoT ourselves. Watch Steelbreaker’s cast bar and when you see him winding up Fusion Punch, stop your rotation. You want to be sure you aren’t caught in a Global Cooldown. As soon as you get the debuff, Cleanse that bad boy off. If you are quick, you can even get it off before it ticks, saving a ton of damage. We also found it helpful to have a Priest watching the Tank. Between the two of us, we got it quickly more often than not.
Our wipes were generally always to Steelbreaker bursting me down with a combination of Fusion Punch and melee, and then going and having some quality time with the Holy Priest and Resto Druid that were healing.

Once we managed to kill Steelbreaker, I would run over an taunt the Runemaster (middle sized mob) off the Death Knight and take him back over to my side of the room to be killed. He gave us a little trouble when he dropped a Rune of Death. This is a huge AoE spell, something like Death and Decay or Consecrate, but it hits far harder and much faster. Our healers were once again amazing and kept most everyone up.

We finally got him down and just had Stormcaller left. For as much as I was digging being a Paladin tank for Steelbreaker, I was having some serious Warrior envy when it came time for Steelbreaker. He has a Lightning Whirl that needs to be interrupted. The Death Knight and I would trade interrupts, but mine was on a 30 second cooldown. I have no idea what the Death Knight cooldown is.

To my eyes, the fact that one part of the fight has an advantage for a Paladin and another plays to the strength of the Warrior shows good encounter design.

We lost a couple people to Lightning Whril, and we were cutting close against the Enrage timer. Our Boomkin observed “this would go much faster if I was alive.” Of course our Resto didn’t have his Battle Rez.

We cut it close, but we managed to kill him. Woo hoo! 6 Bosses in Ulduar defeated in the first reset. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

He dropped some Plate Spellpower shoulders which I reluctantly took. They have the same model as my Tier 8s, so I plan to wear them around Dalaran. From all reports, Holy is back to the one button spam, only this time it’s Holy Light instead of Flash of Light.

I’ll reroll before I go back to doing that full time. Fortunately, Paladin Tanking has never been better, and I really feel like I’ve got a good rapport with my Raid Leader and Raid Team.

I can’t tell you how excited I am that Blizzard adopted the 10/25 man model. If we were still under the old Burning Crusade model, we’d be forced to either continue to run Naxx, or have to move to 25 man guilds for Ulduar. I took that trip once in Burning Crusade, I’m not so sure I’d want to take it again. Luckily, we can continue to bang away at the new challenges in Ulduar10.

I hope Blizzard does find there is an audience for challenging 10 man content. That’s exactly what Heroes Inc is looking for.

Siege of Ulduar (Part 1)

Monday night, our Raid Team dove back into Ulduar. We were determined to finish what we started on Tuesday with XT-002.

We had two people in the raid that weren’t there on Thursday. After quickly explaining the fight to them, we moved in on Deconstructor.

I was once again in the Tank seat, keeping XT’s attention on my plated behind and away from the squishier raid members. The Developers had made a simple, yet impactful change since our last encounter with the XT. She would no longer cast Gravity Bombs and Light Bombs during Tympanic Tantrum. This change made healing easier during Tantrums and we were able to keep most everyone alive.

Everyone that is, except me. I died about halfway through the attempt. Luck was on our side because just as I bit it, we pushed him in a Heart Phase. While the others poured massive DPS on the Heart and our Mage, Boomkin and Hunters covered the area with AoE, our Resto Druid gave me a Battle Rez. I was back up, buffed and running by the time XT became active again. I immediately taunted her and we pushed her down to 25%. When she came out of that Heart Phase, she was sitting at 8%. We ignored the Adds at that point and just poured on the DPS. Our first pull of the night had resulted in a dead boss.

Our Marksman Hunter picked up a very nice Polearm.

Of course, the night was still young. There was a little discussion about where to go next. Some wanted to try Ignis so we could complete the wing, but our Raid leader felt it would be best to go Kologarn.

We ported to the Antechamber and started dealing with the trash. The group consisted of two Iron Dwarves and an Iron Golem. One of the Dwarves was called an Iron Mender. I thought that might indicate he was a healer of sorts so he was targeted to be sheeped. That brought a moment of levity to raid as our Mage asked for a moment to rebind Sheep to his action bar. He had taken off after not needing at level 80 up to that point. We did a classic sheep pull with the two tanks (Myself and my Death Knight partner) taunt their mobs and go to town.

The next trash pull was two Etched Runed Golems. We had a tank pick up one each, and marked one for focus fire. Everything was going along swimmingly when I hear the voice of our Shadow Priest on vent.

“What’s that red thing on the groun...”

BOOM! Raid dead.

I laughed out loud the entire run back. It wasn’t so much the wipe that was funny, just the timing of his statement and the Rune Explosion. I thought it was very funny.

We continued on until we found a broken bridge. We were beginning to wonder if we had taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque* when all of a sudden Kologarn arises from under the bridge. You can only see the upper half of his body, the guy is huge. He reminded me of Zeus.

Kologarn’s left and right hands are targetable separately from the Boss. We ignored the Left Hand and had DPS destroy the Right Hand. When it was destroyed, it spawns Earth Elemental Adds that need to be picked up. Meanwhile Kologarn is hitting your tank and periodically doing an Overhead Smash which reduces your armor by 20% per application. It seemed to be avoidable, because it would fall off.

Our plan was to have the tanks switch off to manage our Debuff. The first attempt, we made a Tank switch just as the Right Arm went down. I had to chuckle when he emoted ‘Only a Flesh Wound!’ What’s next, a boss that demands a Shrubbery!!

We were out of position to pick up the Adds that spawned and they ran rampant into our raid, and we wiped. At each death, Kologarn was yelling YOU FAIL! Nice touch.

We regrouped and fought him again. This time, we wouldn’t worry about a tank switch until after the Adds were dealt with. I had 3 stacks of the Debuff on me (60% armor reduction), but my healers were able to keep up with the damage. My Death Knight co-Tank taunted him off me just in time.

Our Raid had no trouble dealing with Eyebeam and with the Adds safely controlled, Kologarn went down on our second pull. When he dies, his body becomes the bridge to the rest of the instance.He dropped a Tanking sword and some Tanking Shoulders. I hadn’t taken the time to really look at the loot table and see if I needed the Shoulders or the Sword, but the Raid Leader gave them both to me anyway.

I can’t find them on WoWhead to link them, so I’ll discuss them at a later date.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Miner, Miner, Fourty Niner

I farmed Gnomergran a couple of times and got the recipe for both the Pet Bombling and Lil Smokey. These had previously been rewards from a repeatable Engineering quest, that I never remembered to do. Now I have them both.

With that piece of business, the last reason I was holding onto Engineering was fulfilled. I did discover that the Reagent and Repair guy in Ulduar despawned a little while after we killed Flame Leviathan, so repair bots are still pretty useful.

However, we have two other Engineers in our Raid group. That means we have someone to drop repair bots and I'll only be skinning bosses about once a month.

So I unlearned Engineering from Honorshammer. I'll miss my Gyrocopter. Maybe I'll get lucky and get Mimiron's Head at some point.
I'm most happy to report that I can still access both my pets after I unlearned Engineering. Not that I've dropped it, I'm sure the Developers will buff it next patch to be an awesome profession, especially for tanks.

I had debated back and forth in my head for a while about what I would train in place of Engineering. I ultimately decided on Mining. I know I have a max level miner, but he doesn't have his Epic flyer yet and it was really annoying mining on him. Plus, trying to have him mine for Honors this expansion to level his Jewelcrafting really slowed down leveling Honors.

I have a Level 59 Warrior DE alt who is at 330 Enchanting. So I've got that angle covered. I'll probably change my Hunter from Mine/Skin to Leatherworking/Skin to be able to make my own Leg Enchants. Add in some Vellums, I should be fairly self sufficient, and able to augment just about any piece of gear.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Razor's Edge

Heroes Inc Raid Team "Shooting Blanks" headed back into Ulduar last night.

We set our sights on Razorgore Razorscale. Our kill order priority for the Adds was Iron Vyrkul to stop their Whirlwind. They seemed completely immune to CC and my Hammer of Justice was not able to interrupt the Whirlwind. If one of those guys didn't spawn, we wanted to get the Chain Lightning Dwarves down first. The melee adds were really of no concern to us.

The fight seems to have a bit of RNG to it. If the same person gets targeted by a Chain Lightning as well as a Fireball from Razorgore it can be tough to heal them.

Razorgore Razorscale, much like Flame Leviathan, is a very fun fight. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, we were finally able to get him on the ground for good. Once you DPS him down to 50% health, he won't take off anymore.

We had originally tried to wait until the Adds were dealt with to bring him down, but ultimately decided to just bring him down as soon as the NPC Dwarves got the turrets repaired.

We finally made it to a ground phase and got to experience the joys of Fuse Armor and Flame Buffet. Flame Buffet is a debuff that continues to stack and each stack incases the amount of Fire damage you take by 1000. At one point the stack was up to 12. That's 12,000 extra Fire damage. Honors was feeling a bit toasty.

Fuse Armor is really fun. It's another stacking Debuff, an as it stacks it slows your movement speed by 20% per application. But when it reaches 5, you are stunned for a good 20 seconds. Also, the blue flames on the ground seem to land right around Razorgore Razorscale once he's on the ground, so it's a matter of stick and move. But you are slower to move so you are taking more ticks of the Fire damage from the blue fire on the ground and it's further worsened by the Flame Buffet debuff on you.

My co-Tank, a Death Knight, and I traded taunts back and forth. Once he's off of you, the Fuse Armor doesn't refresh and you can move again. It was really nice to be free of the debuff. I don't know what it is about my Death Knight co-Tank, but I've never felt as comfortable working with another tank as I do working with him. We make a really good team right now.

It took several attempts, but we finally got the big bird down.
Loot was once again easy to distribute. We got a 1 handed sword that the Death Knight took for Dual Wielding, and some Spell Power plate mail, which I was very happy to see go to our Holy Paladin.

The night was still young, so we decided to head over to XT-002 Deconstructor. His trash was gone due to it's buggy nature.

Our Raid Leader linked a video of how to do the fight and I noticed something. The video was using a Paladin Main Tank. I don't think I had ever seen a How To Video with anything but a Warrior tank. It was good to see, and reminded me how far we've come. The fact that Paladin Main Tanks aren't 'news' anymore is also good to see. We're just another tank. That's all we ever wanted to be.

The moment I laid eyes on this guy, saw him towering over raid, I knew I wanted to tank him. I didn't say anything though because I was waiting to see how my Raid Leader (the aforementioned Death Knight) would want to use me. I trust this guy. Whatever he needs me to do, I'll do it.

He gave me my wish and put me on Deconstructor.

First of all, this boss has some really funny emotes. Basically the Boss is a spoiled brat of a child and we are it's 'toys'. The voice is high pitched and whiny. I loved it.

Also, we saw the return of ilde animations. While we were regrouping after a wipe, we watched him basically start doing calisthenics. It was pretty funny to watch.

We made some really good attempts on Deconstructor. He's got a really tight enrage timer. 6 million hit points in 6 minutes. At least 3 of our wipes were because of the enrage time. After Enrage, he hit me for 95k. Not even Bubble Wall would let me survive.

He drops two different 'bombs' on the raid. A Light Bomb with does damage to you and those around you and a Gravity Bomb that ticks and then blows up. Once a minute, he does Tantrum where he deals damage equal to 120% of your hitpoints over 12 seconds. That was fairly heal intensive. But he doesn't melee the tank or throw any bombs during this time. However, you can have a Gravity Bomb or Light Bomb already on you which makes it that much harder to heal.

One trick we tried was to have our Holy Paladin use Divine Sacrifice during a Tantrum to help with the Raid damage. That seemed to help.

Every 25% of his health, he becomes untargetable and drops his heart, which you can DPS while a bunch of adds spawn. The scrapbots have to be AoE'ed down before they reach him and heal him. The Bomb Bots have to killed by range because they blow up when they die. The Pummelers have to tanked.

Damage done to the heart is partially transferred to XT-002, but the Heart takes extra damage from all attacks, so DPSing it is key to beating the enrage timer. You don't want to kill it, because if you kill the heart, he heals to full and goes into 'Hard Mode'. We almost accidentally killed the heart in one of our attempts. It had maybe 6k health left when he took it back.

Also his hit box is very large making it difficult to move him. On the upside you can hit him and still be a little way from your melee DPS.

We made some really solid attempts on him, getting him sub 10% on our best one. He dies really soon.

I'm really enjoying Ulduar. My 13/52/6 spec is working our really well. DPS has reported that they have no threat issues and are not having to hold back. In most fights, I have enough of a lead that I could use Glyph of Salvation (if it every appears on our server) and not loose threat.

I'm really enjoying the cooldown on Improved Lay On Hands and having Aura Mastery.

Honors and Arthas: A Short Tale

A short story I wrote for Big Bear Butt's "Arthas: Rise of the Lich King " contest. I don't think I'll win, but it was fun to write. The assignment was to write a 5 minute encoutner between your character and Arthas. It also gave me a chance to look into Honors past a little bit, which is something I've wanted to do. Enjoy.

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"Hey, you in there, Honors?" The Draenei asked.

Honors blinked twice and looked at his friend. He still wasn't quite sure what to make of these strangers from another world, but this Draenei and Honors had been through too much together to consider him anything but a close friend.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Blue."

Honors stroked his blonde beard that was beginning to show a stray gray hair or two in it now. He again looked over the Siege Engine at the Expedition Base Camp.

"I cut my teeth in the Second War driving one of these bad boys. Though I started out like most Drivers did, on a Mortar Team..." Honors trailed off again, lost in his memories of far away and long ago.

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The two dwarves talking stopped abruptly as an arrow embedded itself in tree just a few inches above the blonde hair topknot of the dwarf who was leaning against it.

"Skeles!! 'bout a dozen of 'em " The speaker was the other dwarf whose hair was so red it was almost orange. He pointed to the south.

"and Archers ta boot!!" His partner responded.

The two looked at each other and yelled in unison "MORTAR COMBAT!!"

Within seconds, the two transformed from a casual, friendly chat to the shouts of commands.

Their mortar was assembled in a flash. They quickly fired off a round that went sailing over the heads of their Undead attackers. The orange haired dwarf was able to accurately and quickly determine corrections to the direction, elevation and the amount of explosive charge used to zero in on the stationary target, a group of about a dozen skeletons, armed with simple, yet lethal, bows and arrows. He barked orders to his partner.

"Theo, set elevation to 1400 mils!" the first Dwarf said.

"1400, aye. Elevation set, round is loaded!” Theo responded.

"FIRE IN THE HOLE!! 3,2,1, FIREEEEE!!"

With an earth-shattering thump and the smell and site of expelled smoke, the team sent another round down range and on target hoping their calculations were correct. The ground beneath the Skeletons exploded sending bones, and dirt flying in all directions. The two dwarves breathed a quick sigh of relief. Their respite was only momentary as they heard footsteps behind them, coming up the road.

"Look, Tames, they're friendlies." Theo said as he pointed the group, which was lead by a human. He was tall with broad shoulders, blonde hair and penetrating blue eyes. His face bore a hard edge of determination. This was clearly a man who had seen many a battle in his day. A massive mace hung from his belt. His armor and shield were emblazoned with the Royal Seal of Lordaeron.

There was only one man this could be.

Theo dropped to one knee. "Prince Arthas!"

"What the hell are you men shooting at?" Arthas demanded.

The orange haired dwarf, Tames, had remained standing. "We're blasting those damned skeletons, sir. This whole flaming village is crawling with them." Theo like Tames, but his friend was known for a short temper, even for a Dwarf. They called him Firebeard for a reason.

Arthas' face seemed to soften a bit, apparently pleased by the two Dwarves.

"Well, I could use your help. We've got a warehouse to destroy at the end of town."

"As you command, Prince Arthas." The two dwarves quickly disassembled their mortar and slung the pieces over their shoulders. They fell in behind the footmen and riflemen Arthas was leading through the small village near Andorhal.

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Honors was brought back to reality by the shout of his team leader, a Night Elf Death Knight.

"Saddle 'em up, Heroes. We've got a job to do."

One by one, the engines of the Demolishers, Choppers, and Sieges roared to life, and slowly headed down the ramp and into waiting arms of the Iron Dwarf army.

THE END

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Born At Night

I've gotten 3 emails during the past week about an Account Investigation into my account. It took me about 3 nanoseconds to figure out they were phishing emails designed to steal my account information.

No way, Jose. I was born at night, but not last night.

Never click a link in an email sent to you. To use a real world example, my wife and I are planning a vacation to a well known amusement park this summer. We got an offer from said amusement park. But did I click on the link? No way, I have Divine Intellect in my build, fo'shizzle.

I went to said companies website and found the offer there. You just can't be too careful these days.

Of course what's really funny about the WoW phishing email is that they've sent all 3 to my honorshammer gmail account. Well my Warcraft account isn't tied to that email. As far as I know, Blizzard account services doesn't even know nor care it exists. I have a completely different and unpublished email attached to my Blizzard account.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Secrets of Ulduar!

Altar of Storms was actually one of the first realms to come up last night. I was greeted by a que of over 7000. We have never had ques on Altar of Storms, so that was quite a shock.

I had intended on logging Honorshammer out in Ironforge, but he was in Dalaran. A quick portal solved that problem. When you portal from Dalaran to Ironforge, you land in the Mystics Ward, which conveniently enough is where you’ll find the Paladin trainer.

It felt like every Paladin I knew on Altar of Storms was in this room. I’m sure the Cathedral of Light was similarly busy.

The first order of business was to purchase my Dual Spec. I plopped down my 1000g and got an achievement, cool.
I really like the way Dual Specs ended up. The interface makes sense and after only a minute or two I was comfortable in my two specs.

The auction house showed most Glyphs were still about the same price as pre-patch, but I had a nearly full set of Glyphs already purchased. The new Glyphs however, like Glyph of Divine Plea were no where to be seem. A couple of other Paladins were spamming trade chat to find someone with the Glyph, but to no avail.

Also missing in action appeared to be the Blade Ward enchant. I couldn’t find anyone capable of doing it.

My UI and mods made the transition mostly intact. There’s a small issue with Sprartan UI that you can see from the screenshots. Not gamebreaking, by any means, just a small annoyance.

Soon enough we had enough of our raid team online to begin forming up for Ulduar.

This was the first time in my WoW experience that I would be facing a new raid zone on the very first night it opened.

We flew up to Ulduar and zoned in.
The first thing I noticed was the Kirin Tor bubble around the Base Camp. What is it with these guys and bubbles? Paladin envy gotta be it.

I decided to see if the bubble was permeable, and sure enough it was. I took only a couple of steps outside the bubble then retreated back inside. A moment later, our very observant Boomkin noticed a large elite Golem striding towards us. He did what any Boomkin would have done in that situation.

Moonfire!

And our first death in Ulduar was out of the way. I ran in to tank him, but he nailed me pretty good. So I got my first death of the night out of the way early as well.

Our Raid Leader went over the vehicles and outlined our plan of attack. We were going to take out the 4 towers as we maneuvered down the passageway. I was assigned to drive a Siege Engine and took out the large Golems and Colossi, as well as putting a hurting on the towers and Storm Beacons.

No one was really sure where to go, so we had to double back a couple of times. My gunner, a Shadow Priest, was doing a fantastic job. We lost a couple of vehicles on the trash, but drivers were able to run back into the instance and get a fresh vehicle to rejoin us.

After taking out the towers, we formed up near the repair pads and repaired our vehicles. We faced a final pull of 3 Golems and 2 Colossi. The Colossi came one by one, which made them easier to deal with.

Then the Boss, Flame Leviathan, burst through the wall. The Boomkin, driving the other Siege Engine, was targeted first, so I moved in on Flame Leviathan’s ‘six’ and got ready to interrupt his Flame Jet ability.

As a Paladin, I never get assigned to Interrupt duty and I must say, based on last night, I’ve got plenty of room to improve.

After a couple of transitions, Flame Leviathan announced he was targeting one of the Demolishers. According to everything I had read, he was only supposed to target the Siege Engines unless you lost one. Both of our Siege Engines were up. He actually ended up targeting Demolishers more often than Siege Engines. The Demos had no speed boost so kiting him was going to be difficult. At first we weren’t sure if the Demos had to wait until the Siege Engines engaged. I got on the horn to one of my friends who was leading another Guild (SalVation) through their run. They were experiencing the same odd behavior. The Boss be bugged.

After our wipe, we found the teleporters. That was a really nice touch. I also liked the repair and reagent vendor right inside the instance. Of course, that makes one of the last reasons to have Engineering useless.

QQ, QQ

We had to modify our strategy. The limited reading we had done wouldn’t help us now. What we eventually came up with involved keeping the Demos at max range and on opposite sides of the room. By the time he reached one, he would be about ready to target something else, usually the other Demo.

Of course we didn’t figure that out immediately, so it took us a couple of attempts, but by the 4th or 5th pull we got him. Our first Boss defeated in Ulduar.


I’m not a huge fan of Malygos Phase 3, but this was FUN. I’m sure the trash clear will get old after a while, but man it was exciting.

We distributed loot. A trinket that went to one of our Priests and a Two Handed Mace that went to our Tank Death Knight. We do a quasi roll/loot council. Basically we just discuss who should get the loot and if a couple of people need it for main spec upgrades they just roll off. No one was really impressed with the Trinket that dropped, and the Death Knight was the only one in our raid group that used two handers in his main spec. That made it pretty easy to distribute.

We walked down the hall, expecting to find a half hour or so trash pull. What we found instead was a ‘t’ type intersection. We could go straight and there was a Boss, XT-0002. We could go left and there was a Boss, Razorscale. We could go right and there were two Molten Colossi and a boss, Ignis.

We decided to try Ignis first. We split the Colossi. I took one, and my Death Knight friend took the other. Apparently these guys silence because both of us were dead in short order. They were meleeing me for around 12k to 14k. Ouch. Our healers tried to our range the silence, but to no avail. There’s got to be a trick to these guys, but we didn’t figure it out.

So we turned around and tried Razorscale. The Death Knight and myself were picking up Iron Dwarves that spawn while some NPC drawves built a cannon to shoot Razorscale out of air. Then he was down, we could dps him before he went back up. The dwarves kept coming, and we did our best to keep them off our healers.

Our best attempt at Razorscale was about 44% or so.

I’m pleased to report that I didn’t feel like I had any threat problems in my 13/52/6 build, but I also didn’t remember to pop Aura Mastery nearly as much as I could have. It’s a new skill so I’ll get used to thinking about it. I felt much more free to pop Lay On Hands whenever I was low, and I know it saved my butt more than once. Just based on one raid, but I’m pretty satisfied with my build. I still feel some pressure because it seems like most of the Paladin Tanks I know are going 0/53/18.

Last night went about as well as I possibly could have imagined. We had a blast with Ulduar, got a boss down, got some loot and started to prepare for new challenges. I would have been a little concerned and frankly disappointed if we had gotten 3 or 4 bosses down on our first night.

I can’t wait to get back in there Thursday night.

Monday, April 13, 2009

3.1 Action Plan

So 3.1 is dropping today, so we need to prepare for the major tasks tonight.

Assuming the servers are up and running, which is no small assumption on patch day, my first order of business will be to get Honorshammer to Ironforge and the Paladin trainer. There I will lay down the 1000 gold and get Dual Spec. I'm very excited.

Of course, all my talent points will have been refunded, so I'll need to respec.

(Props to the staff at WoWhead for keeping it up on Patch Day!)

Tank Spec: 13/52/6

This will be the initial spec I try out in Ulduar. This spec dives into Holy for the new Aura Mastery talent, and also grabs Improved Lay On Hands. It's a build that looks for survivability, and tries to give the Paladin a couple of extra buttons for Oh No! moments. We'll see how it works out.

Then I'll need to get over the Lexicon of Power and redo my Glyphs.

My planned Glyph loadout (assuming I can find a Scribe with the new Glyphs) will be:

Major:
Glyph of Divine Plea - This will be another added damage reduction, and that's job #1 in the tank world.
Glyph of Salvation - The idea here is to give me another Panic button, albeit one with a heavy price tag. I can either have DPS back off or hope I have enough of a lead it won't matter.
Glyph of Judgement - 10% more threat is pretty strong.

Minor:
Glyph of Sense Undead - A straight threat gain and one of our better Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Lay On Hands - Combining this with my talent spec to get Lay On Hands cooldown reduced to 11 minutes.
Glyph of Blessing of Kings - A little mana savings, Paladin's don't have a strong third choice.

Then I'll needs to start working on my second spec. This will be a Ret spec with an eye to PVP.
Ret Spec: 0/18/53
I'm about as far from an expert on Ret PVP as you can get, so if you know a better Ret PVP spec, leave me a comment. My thinking is Ret PVP will do plenty of damage in a PVE situation. The Developers have stated they won't balance around Dual Specs. So anything more than the 1500 of so DPS I can do as Prot would be a boon to the raid. Then it will work great for Battleground weekends, or soloing, especially since I'm on a PVP server.
For our Glyphs, I'm going with
Major:
Glyph of Judgement - More damage on our biggest nuke.
Glyph of Exorcism - New nuke, usable against all targets.
Glyph of Salvation- PVP Glyph to pop when I'm focused fired. This will be especially helpful as I lack any real PVP gear right now.
Minor:
Glyph of Sense Undead - Probably the best minor glyph Paladins have.
Glyph of Blessing of Might - This is for soloing. It gives you the Greater Blessing length without the reagent.
Glyph of Blessing of Kings - A little mana savings in raids. We really don't have a strong third glyph.
The next thing I'm going to want to do is hit the Guild Bank for some Abyss Crystals and then find an Enchanter who can do Blade Ward. I like avoidance enchants, to the point of having Agility on my weapon right now, so I'm really excited about this enchant.
Hopefully I can get all that done and be ready to join my team storming the gates of Ulduar!

Thank You, Dave

With the Holiday weekend, I missed the news of the passing of Dave Arneson. My condolences to the Arneson family on their loss.

Mr. Arneson was the co-creator of the table top Role Playing Game, Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D was a big part of my early life and it's really how I got into gaming. Today, I don't play D&D anymore. WoW is about the closest thing.

Thank you for your creation, Mr. Arneson.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

This post has nothing to do with Paladins or even WoW. Continue reading at your own risk.




I wish everyone a very happy Easter. This holiday, even more so than Christmas, remember the true reason for the season. Hope. We've heard much talk about hope since January.

"Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that's where our hope is in this country. And that's where our hope is in life." - Charles Colson

Discover the same hope that I have. The hope of a Saviour and a King who loves you and died for you and whose resurrection we celebrate this Easter day.

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!



We'll return to your regularly scheduled Paladin blogging on Monday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Talent Specialization for 3.1

It looks like the changes part of the current PTR is passed, so it’s probably safe to start thinking about your specs. This is my favorite time to be working on specs because the ‘cookie cutter’ builds aren’t really defined yet. It’s a great time to start experimenting and trying to find what works for you.

This patch will introduce dual specs and most of you are probably planning on having them.

2nd Spec: Holy or Retribution?

My plan is to go Protection (main) and Retribution (secondary). Fights in Ulduar will vary the number of tanks needed. Some fights don’t even require a tank (Flame Leviathan). There are single tank fights like Hodir, and fights that need two tanks like Auriaya. Some fights may call for as many as 3 tanks such as Ignis, Freya, and Iron Council. I’m sure there will be a way to do those 3 tank fights with just two tanks in a 10 man. Well, there better be.

My raid leader does a fantastic job of rotating tanks through so each tank gets a chance to experience tanking the boss, as well as the frantic job that the offtanks have to do each fight. It makes all our tanks better. There is no traditional “Main Tank”. A little bit of a tangent, but I think this strategy was key in Heroes Inc’s first 25 man kill of Thaddius. When the current Main Tank died, one of the other tanks picked him up flawlessly and we were able to get the kill.

There will be times when you won’t be needed to tank that particular fight. Without Dual Specs, your choices are to add some DPS as Prot, doing ½ to a 1/3 of what a natural DPS does, or throw some heals and add to the overhealing. In my mind, and this was applicable all through Burning Crusade as well as Lich King, extra healing is only sometimes useful, extra DPS is always helpful.

Everyone is getting a talent point reset in Patch 3.1 and the Paladin trees have been shaken up a bit. When I’m building a new spec, I generally start with the talents I just can’t live without and see what else I can get once I have those squared away.

Tanking Builds: Define the Core
I start with the Protection tree. At Tier 1, you have Divine Strength and Divinity, a new 5 point talent taking the place of Blessing of Kings. Divinity increases healing done to you and by you by 5%. Interesting, but I’ll take Divine Strength as the stronger of the two choices.

That gets us to Tier 2 where I’ll grab Anticipation. I see Guardian’s Favor and Stoicism as more PVP talents. Give me the Dodge. Tier 3, I’m picking up Improved Righteous Fury and Toughness. I can’t honestly call myself a tank without having those in my build.

Now come our first decision point. We are 18 points in Prot. We have to put in 2 more points to get to the next Tier. Our choices are Improved Devotion Aura, Divine Sacrifice, or Improved Hammer of Justice. I went with Improved Devotion Aura, more for the added Armor than the additional healing which will likely be provided by a Resto Druid aura anyhow.

Blessing of Sanctuary is a core tanking talent so we grab that. We now have 22 points in the tree and lack 3 points to move to the next tier. We have still have Improved Hammer of Justice, and Divine Sacrifice in play, and now we also have the option of Reckoning and Divine Guardian. I would love for Reckoning to be a stronger choice, but it’s simply lackluster. I’m sometimes the only Paladin in our 10 man raids, and even in 25 mans, the Holy Paladin may get assigned to another tank, and I’ll have to maintain my own Sacred Shield. So for me, I’ll take Divine Guardian, which means I have to take Divine Sacrifice as its prerequisite.

That opens up the next Tier where I pick up Sacred Duty and One Handed Weapon Specialization. On the next Tier, Holy Shield is a must, as is Ardent Defender. I know Ardent Defender is often debated in its usefulness, but until I see definitive proof to the contrary, I’ll continue to take it and at least think it’s saving me quite often.

I’m going to take both points in Spiritual Attunement to start. It may be shown later on that we don’t need both points and that we can get by with just one point.

From here on down, I just take every talent available. I don’t see many as optional to my build. The only one that may be optional is Redoubt. As Boss damage scales up, Block Value looses more and more value. Whenever I make talent choices, they are always made with Bosses in mind. If I can tank a boss, I can handle anything else just fine.

That puts me as 54 points in Protection. My next priority is grabbing Deflection from Tier 1 Retribution and 1 point in Improved Judgment to keep my 969 rotation going.

5 Options to Finish Up

I’ve got 11 points left. My current build has 5/5 in Seals of the Pure, so I’ll go ahead and keep that. I believe the theorycrafters have shown those points to be superior threat generation to either Conviction or Reckoning.

One option would be to go deeper into Holy. I could take full Divine Intellect (raises your Intellect by 10%) and then take Improved Lay On Hands. This would reduce the cooldown of Lay On Hands to 16 minutes and give me a pretty big Armor boost of almost 13k in my current gear. If I chose to use the new Glyph of Lay On Hands, that would make my Lay On Hands cooldown just 11 minutes, basically half of what it is now.

I would need to take 1 point out of Protection, probably from Spiritual Attunement.

Would the additional mana gained from Divine Intellect create enough additional mana through Divine Plea to offset taking only 1 point in Spiritual Attunement? I don’t know.

Improved Lay On Hands Build

Another option would be to pick up Aura Mastery. This would give me a 2 minute cooldown that would basically double the amount of armor I get from Devotion Aura. Alternatively, I could switch to Concentration Aura if I knew a Fear was coming. For a heavy elemental fight like Hodir, I could double the effectiveness of my Resist aura for 10 seconds.

Aura Mastery Build

I could give up 2 points in Redoubt and get both Aura Mastery and Improved Lay On Hands. As hits get bigger and bigger, Block Value looses more and more value.

Aura Mastery and Lay On Hands Build (If you pinned me down, I’d probably say I’m leaning towards this build as my first one when 3.1 goes live)
Going deeper into Retribution is also an option. The debates over Pursuit of Justice on the Maintankadin forums can reach near religious fervor. Since we don’t have a Ret Paladin in our 10 mans, I could pick up Heart of the Crusader (3% raidwide crit), and finish off Improved Judgement. That would open up Pursuit of Justice.

Pursuit of Justice Build

We can’t do this all day. (Bonus points if you get the reference and remember here at Honorscode it’s all made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right it’s like Spirit to a Paladin!)

This final builds eschews Holy completely, instead going even deeper in Ret for Crusade. Would this build produce more threat than a Seals of the Pure build? I tend to think so. This build uses the experimental ½ in Spiritual Attunement.

Crusade Build

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oops, I Did It Again

Sunday night, I kept banging out quests. I’ve been following a quest guide that takes you from Borean Tundra to Howling Fjord, then to Dragonblight, and onto part of Grizzly Hills before sending you into Zul’Drak.

Finally late Sunday night, I finished the course and crossed the finished line of my second level 80 toon. My Hunter is something of an ironic toon. I rolled him because I was dropping Mining on Honorshammer to pick up Engineering about midway through the Burning Crusade. My guild wasn’t anywhere close to being able to do Tier 5 content, so the Goggles were extremely attractive, and I wanted the ROFLcopter.

I knew Hunter’s reputation for being a fast leveler, but something happened along the way. I really began to have fun with him.

I’m looking at a 2/18/51 spec for him.

As soon as I hit 80, I jumped on a bird and headed to Dalaran. My ultimate destination was going to be Exodar to train my level 80 skills. I stopped by the mailbox where I had 3 pieces of gear waiting for me, a chest piece, a belt, and a pair of gloves.

While I was in town, I saw people talking about Wintergrasp and forming groups. One group was specifically looking for a Ranged DPS class. I whispered the person and got a raid invite. My strategy was to keep moving around the room as much as possible. This was to make it difficult for anyone to actually inspect and see the gear I had on. Gogo ilevel 158 green quest rewards.

We burned through the trash and started working on Archavon.

Raiding as a Hunter is so much more relaxing than raiding as a Paladin. I didn’t need to worry about who was going to pick him up or stepping on anyone’s toes. Just DPS as hard as my quest reward blues and greens would let me.

This is just wrong. I had dinged 80 not 20 minutes before, had not even trained my level 80 ranks of skills, and had unenchanted and ungemed gear.

Patch Work (Patch 3.1 Preview)

We know Patch 3.1 is getting close and most everyone expects it to be live before the end of the month.

I’m personally really excited about the additional content being added. I can’t wait to raid the new instance with my team.

The solo/small group element being added in the Argent Tournament promises to suck down much of my off nights. Honorshammer of Ironforge, I like the sound of that.

I would think that if you are the kind of person who reads blogs, you are also the kind of person who reads other sites like mmo-champion, and you are probably up to speed on the most of what’s going on in the new patch, but let me give you my take.

Let’s look at the Paladin specific changes.

Spiritual Attunement: Removed from trainers. It is now available deep in the Protection tree for 2 ranks at 5/10%.

Let’s start off with the big one. Tankadins will be the only spec of Paladin to have Spiritual Attunement. There has been some discussion among the theorycrafters that Tankadins might be able to get away with just 1 point in Spiritual Attunement rather than 2. With how hard some Bosses in Ulduar hit, I’d believe it.

We also have an altered way of generating mana with the changes to Guarded By The Light.

Guarded by the Light: (still reduces Spell Damage taken) Gives you a 50/100% chance to refresh the duration of your Divine Plea. Now makes Divine Plea 50/100% less likely to be dispelled.

This basically means we have permanent Divine Plea ticking on us. This will be fantastic for a off tanking situation, and out soloing. I know when I solo I have to run Blessing of Sanctuary, Seal of Wisdom and Judgment of Wisdom to keep my mana up.

This will also be important once you have the new Glyph of Divine Plea.

Glyph of Divine Plea - While Divine Plea is active, you take 3% reduced damage from all sources.
Would you like another 3% damage reduction, Mr. Hammer? Yes, thank you, please.

Exorcism: Now can be used on any target and has a 100% chance to be a critical strike when used on Undead and Demons.

This is a pretty exciting change. Paladins have been using Exorcism throughout Naxx, but Ulduar promises to have very few undead mobs running around. I’m going to have to rework my keybinds a bit so I can get to my Exorcism key a little quicker. In addition, there is a new glyph for Exorcism.

Glyph of Exorcism -- Increases damage done by Exorcism by 20%. (Old: Your Exorcism also interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec.)

That’s a very nice threat Glyph, especially on an Undead boss.

Divine Protection: Cooldown reduced to 3 minutes. Forbearance reduced to 2-minute duration.

A Paladin with Sacred Duty will have a 2 minute cooldown on his ‘Shield Wall’ type ability. I still maintain it should be shorter or Paladins need to get another emergency button. I know I used it in my April Fools post, but Paladins really are in need of another cooldown of some sort.

I’d be remiss to not mention the two cooldownish (making up words for the win!) additions Paladins are getting. The first is Glyph of Hand of Salvation.

Glyph of Hand of Salvation - When you cast Hand of Salvation on yourself, it also reduces damage taken by 20%

This is a nice cooldown, but it comes with a very heft price. So long as you are affected by it, you are losing aggro. When I first saw this, I thought, ‘Hmm, PVP Glyph”. That may have been the intent, but the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play. With Paladins clearly lacking in the cooldown department, we are going to try to find some way to fill in the gaps. Glyph of Hand of Salvation could be that way.

There is also Glyph of Lay On Hands.

Glyph of Lay on Hands -- Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 5 min.(Old: Your Lay on Hands also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.)

15 minutes isn’t much better than 20 minutes and is really too long to count as a cooldown, but it is something. Usually Lay On Hands will be up every other attempt and we know from the past with fights like Vashj, Kael and Illidan that the Developers can make some really long encounters. Lay On Hands does have some drawbacks. It can’t be used while stunned, like Maexxna’s Web Wrap and it is reactive, you have to wait until you are almost dead to use it. The other problem is that most of the time right after you pop this very long cooldown, you’ll get two or three bomb heals from your healers.

Auras will now persist through death and affect a 40 yard radius.

One less buff to remember after a wipe and everyone gets the old Aura Mastery talent for free. Old Aura Mastery? Yes, because there’s a new Aura Mastery in town.

Aura Mastery: Now grants anyone affected by Concentration Aura immunity from Interrupt and Silence mechanics, and increases the effectiveness of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 10 seconds. 2-minute cooldown.
This is a very nice talent. Depending on what Aura you are running it could mean: a 10 second immunity to Fear and Silence (Concentration), or a double the armor from Devotion Aura, or twice the resistance from one of our resistance auras, or twice the damage from Retribution Aura.

It’s an 11 point talent in the Holy tree. The question to my tanking mind is would a ‘proper’ tanking build have enough free points to pick up Aura Mastery? I’ll look at this in-depth in a future post on 3.1 Talent Builds.

It does appear that some points have been freed up.

Ardent Defender: Reduced to 3 ranks for 10/20/30%. One-Handed Weapon Specialization: Reduced to 3 ranks for 4/7/10%.

That’s two former 5 pointers that are now 3 pointers, freeing up 4 points. But the biggie is :

Blessing of Kings is now trainable at level 20. Removed from talent trees.

This has been a long time coming. I declare the “Who Will Spec Kings?” debate officially over. Every spec of Paladin can bring Kings.

What new goodies has Blizzardclaus added to the Paladin this time around?

New Talent: Divine Sacrifice: Causes all party/raid members affected by one of the paladin’s auras to transfer 30% of all damage taken to the paladin (maximum of 150% of the paladin’s max health). Lasts 10 seconds. 2-minute cooldown. *

This is the talent we used to know as Divine Guardian with the added nerf of limiting the amount absorbed to 150% of the Paladins health. I can get nearly 40k buffed health in a 25 man raid, so that would be only 60k worth of damage absorbed, spread over anyone taking damage within 40 yards. You will either need to be healed, or use Divine Shield at the same time to avoid being one shot. You can tell they intended the two to be used together. You use Divine Shield which lasts 12 seconds, and incur the Global Cooldown. Then you pop Divine Sacrifice which last 10 seconds and you have a .5 second buffer before Divine Sheild runs out.

Divine Guardian now becomes a talent that augments Divine Sacrifice.

Divine Guardian: Now increases the effectiveness of Divine Sacrifice by an additional 5/10%, and increases the duration of Sacred Shield by 50/100% and the amount absorbed by 10/20%.

So the 60k worth of damage in first example becomes 66k. Color me unimpressed. However, the Sacred Shield portion of the talent is interesting. It keeps the shield up longer and increases the amount it can absorb. With the Sacred Shield change (SS can only be on one target at a time), the Tankadin may be asked to maintain his own shield so the Holy can shield a different tank.

New Talent: Divinity: Increases healing done by and to you by 1/2/3/4/5% (tier-1).

Since this is Tier 1, I’m thinking this is a talent to make Holy dip into the Protection tree. The Developers have stated on more than one occasion that they don’t want 0/0/71 specs, but want you to dabble in other trees. I’d much prefer it was some sort of mitigation type talent, most deaths are a matter of whether a heal lands, not how big it is. But I understand making it appeal to all specs as a Tier 1 talent. Perhaps it will appeal to me more in Ulduar, but right now all I see if ‘Increases the Overhealing done by your healers by…”

Blessing of Sanctuary: (still give 3% damage reduction) Now only grants mana on dodge/parry/block. In addition, will only grant mana if that is the active power type of the friendly target (Bears and Cats won’t gain mana).

Basically the Rage and Runic Power generation was removed from Blessing of Sanctuary. It’s still a Blessing, which is problematic to me. As the only Paladin in a 5 or 10 man, the Tankadin has to choose between resource generation (Blessing of Sanctuary) or Effective Health (Blessing of Kings). He can’t have both. I’ll be doing a future post on Sanctuary versus Kings.Improved Devotion Aura: The additional healing granted by this talent now becomes active when any Aura is used, not just Devotion Aura.

This will be nice if we need to run a Resistance Aura. We won’t loose the healing bonus (assuming no Resto Druid to provide the equivalent buff).

Improved Hammer of Justice: Reduced to 2 ranks for 10/20-second cooldown reduction.

Judgements of the Just: Now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds, and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by .5/1 second.


These two will give you a 20 second cooldown on your Hammer of Justice interrupt. I personally feel that’s still too long, but in any Boss fight where an interrupt is crucial; you should have help from melee dps like Rogues and Shamans. The tank is part of the rotation, so a 20 second cooldown will probably be okay. I maintain that the Developers need to take it off the global cooldown. When I need to interrupt something, I need to do it NOW! k?

Sacred Duty rank 1 now increases stamina by 4%.

This is just a bug fix. Rank 2 is still 8%. It used to be 3%, 6%. Then they changed it to 3%, 8%. Now it’s 4%, 8%.

Shield of the Templar: No longer increases the damage done by Holy Shield, Avenger’s Shield, and Shield of Righteousness. Now grants 33/66/100% chance to silence your Avenger’s Shield targets for 3 seconds. Holy Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.Avenger’s Shield: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%. Shield of Righteousness: Base damage and scaling factor increased by 30%.

Basically they took the old scaling from Shield of the Templar and folded it into the base spells. But they gave Avenger’s Shield a silence. Finally, a way for us to pull casters! Now, they need to remove the daze so the caster gets to our Consecrate before the silence wears off.

Increased the health granted by the Flask of Stoneblood. Now grants 1300hp.
Not Paladin related but a major buff to the ‘tanking’ flask. I’m very excited about it.

Charger - Completed the paladin quest to obtain a Charger.

I like that they added an achievement for those who have or who will choose to complete the quest chain.

This has been a very long PTR cycle. Did I miss anything?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Opportunity Cost

I got a fantastic email from someone, we'll call him Dave, regarding my profession conundrum.

You specifically mention farming low level dungeons for greens to DE to skill up enchanting. Its a common mis-conception but this is not "free" materials. Likewise if you mine your own ore for JC the materials there are not "free" either.

If you can get cash in any other way that is faster than this then mining is NOT a money making profession, it is in fact a money LOSING profession. It is my experience that just doing dailies is better cash/time than mining/herbalism and therefore Mining is note "Excellent" at gold making, it is horrible. Quite literally the only reason to have mining is for smelting and on an alt this works just fine.

If you need mats to skill up, check what they cost, figure out how long it would take you to farm them, and then figure out what your gold rate per hour doing dailies is. 99% of the time farming them is a money loser...just buy em.

What Dave is talking about is opportunity cost. The time it takes you to farm instances for mats to level up Enchanting or mine ore to level up Blacksmithing, is by definition, time you could be spending doing something else. Most of the time, according to Dave, that something else will yield more gold per hour.

He is correct, but that only tips the scale towards mining. Mining is still a great money maker. Let me explain.

Let's say a stack of saronite ore sells for, on average, 20g on your server. Let's say that it takes you 30 minutes on average to farm a stack of ore. You now know that mining is worth 40g an hour. If you can get cash in any other way that is faster than this then mining is NOT a money making profession, it is in fact a money LOSING profession.

That would be true if you were spending that 30 minutes 'farming', that is flying around the Basin looking for stuff to mine.

On the other hand, if I'm out doing dailies and happen to see a Saronite vein, and I walk over to mine it, I have lost only a few seconds. I don't have the same opportunity cost, because the gold I make from selling that ore/bars didn't cost me any time.

Another example would be last night where I was flying over to Wintergrasp to do Vault of Archavon, and a I passed a Saronite vein. If I was a miner, I would have stopped to two seconds and gotten the ore. It wouldn't have cost me any time, or had any opportunity cost.

I have decided this much. It's down to Mining or Blacksmithing. The ring enchants from Enchanting are nice but they come in AP and Spell power flavors. Those don't scale with any buff. Blacksmithing sockets provide raw stats like STR or STA. Those do scale with buffs.

There have been two changes to Engineering that make me want to wait until after 3.1 hits to change professions.

First, there is a rumor that bosses in Ulduar are going to be 'skinnable' by Engineers and that the drops from that 'skinning' will include the parts for the motorcycle. I need to give it a week or two to see if that is true or not.

Second, the Engineering pets Lil Smokey and the Pet Bombling are going to be drops in Gnomergran. I want to farm them both up before I drop the profession.