Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spending Conquest Badges as a 10 Man Raider

I hope no one has the delusion that just because I write a blog I have everything figured out. I don't. I read alot, but still struggle with decisions all the time.

My current pondering is what to do with my Emblems of Conquest. As you may know, my guild raids 10 mans only. We've gotten some Conquest through Emalon PuGs, but the Alliance having Wintergrasp is a rare occasion on my server. Then you have to hope you luck into a decent PuG that can down him, even nerfed. Most of our Emblems of Conquest come through various Hard Modes we do. But sometimes we don't get the right people on for Hard Modes and can't do them.

I'm not complaining mind you. I'm just trying to explain that that for my entire raid group the Conquests badges don't come quickly.

I've currently got 19 EoC, exactly enough to buy the neck piece : http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45821.

BUT I could also save up for Tier Pieces I'll likely never see like http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45632 and http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45638, but man, 58 EoC will take forever.

There's also gloves http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45834 for 28, a Belt for 28 EoC http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45825, and some less than impressive Legs http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45842 for 39 EoC.

I could also use them to buy Runed Orbs http://www.wowhead.com/?item=45087, to get the Blacksmith crafted Boots and Belt made, but I've only got enough to buy 1 Orb and those recipies take 6 each.

I know these badges will drop like candy next patch, but I'm trying to decide what to do with them today. Next patch will have a whole new set of gear for me to chase.

I'm tempted just to buy the Neck and deal with it from there since I'm still wearing Heritage.

[Patch 3.2] Quick Thoughs on Changes in New Build

AD Changed on the PTR

Ardent Defender: Redesigned. Any damage that takes the paladin below 35% health or below is reduced. This reduction applies only to the portion that pushes the paladin below 35% health (example: a paladin at 50% health takes a 40% hit; the first 15% hits as normal while the next 25% is reduced). In addition, once every 2 minutes an attack that would have killed the paladin will fail to kill, and instead set the paladin's health to 10/20/30% of maximum.

When I first heard the change, my initial reaction was ‘QQ got it nerfed’. But anyone who looked at the first pass of AD knew it couldn't and wouldn’t make it live like that. You can't really say something has been nerfed when it's still going to be better than what's on live now. The new AD will be a buff to Paladin tanks. The current form on the PTR is hopefully balanced enough to make it to Live.
I've never wanted Paladins to be overpowered tanks, just appoximately equal tanks. But come on, it would have been fun to have had the OP version of AD for a little while, wouldn’t it?

The change basically means that it will always work but only reducing the part of the hit that takes you under 35%.

It’s still better than what’s on Live. On Live, it doesn’t work at all if it gets leapfrogged. If a hit takes you from 36% to 0% AD wouldn’t do anything and you’d die. The new AD you still might die, but at least AD will have absorbed some of the damage.
I also love that we can now monitor through the combat log how much AD is saving us. World of Logs shows Absorbs as Heals so I can see that in my healing done report.

Bottom line for me is that I can tank anything I’ve put myself up against in the game so far. The new AD, even with the PTR changes is better than the old one. I still get the Guardian Spirit affect on a 2 minute cooldown.

Faction Switch

Didn’t see that one coming. As much as I love Lore, Modus, and the rest of our Blood Elf contingent on Maintankadin, I just don’t think I could bring myself to make Honorshammer a Blood Elf. If all my friends went Horde I’d have to reroll, probably a Druid or Warrior. I think it will be great for people who want to switch sides to run with friends without having to level up again.

Although if you think about they have to put in the bits of code to change your race, so race changes within a faction (Dranaei to Dwarf for my Hunter) would be in the mix.

Extending Raid Lockouts

This is a brilliant idea. Basically, it’s Monday night, and you didn’t quite get all the Bosses down that week you wanted to. You can extend your raid lockout and not have your instance reset. So a slower progressing guild could spend two weeks in the same Raid. Basically, you could take 2 weeks to clear Ulduar and all your progress from the first week is saved and you don’t have to repeat those bosses the second week. I love it.

Engineering Buffs

I’m thrilled for the Engineering buffs that are coming in 3.2, but I don’t regret dropping the profession at all. Having two production professions was really hard. Yes, I had a gatherer alt, but he only had a slow flyer. Plus, I’d have to go consciously go farm with him. With Honors now a miner, I just grab Saronite and Titanium as I’m flying around doing other stuff. It’s more fun. I miss being an Engineer, but I’d much rather be a JC. Mining is staying.

Threat Stats

Math geniuses Theck and Jasari have been playing with the MatLab code for Paladin threat. Let me give you their conclusions:
  • SotP is still a weak talent, unless they change it in the future to affect the 5-stack SoV proc. As it currently stands, the order is still One Handed Weapon Specialization > Touched by the Light > Crusade > Conviction > Seals of the Pure > Reckoning
  • Crusade specs are still king. Even 1 Conviction + 3 Crusade is stronger than 5/5 Seals of the Pure.
  • 5 Seals of the Pure + 5 Reckoning isn't a bad option if you aren't going more than 6 points in Ret. If you're going deep enough to get Vindication or Pursuit of Justice though, 3 Conviction+3 Crusade would be even stronger.
  • Reckoning is still our weakest threat talent, but it's come a long way. It's now 32 TPS per point, almost as good as Seals of the Pure's 37 TPS per point.
  • STR is still our best threat stat
  • Block Value from gear is our second-best threat stat, in terms of itemization points. It's far worse point for point though.
  • Hit and Expertise are #3 and #4 in terms of itemization. They're both solid threat stats, and are the last of the "good" threat stats.
  • AP is "mediocre," ArPen, Agi, and Crit are all "weak," and Haste/SP/STAM are all "bad."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mergers and Acquisitions

I’ve written more about guilds on these pages than I ever intended to. I’ll be the first to admit that I guild hopped in Burning Crusade, chasing the Siren of Progression, but I abandoned that quest in Wrath and hoped to settle into a guild and really make it my home. Thus early in Wrath I returned to Mal Katai.

Then in mid February, Mal Katai split. I had to figure out what to do. I hadn’t left the guild, the guild had left me.

I was either going to go to SalVation, one of the guilds spawned from Mal Katai split, or I was going to go to Heroes Inc, which had been the guild I transferred to Altar of Storms to join just before the release of Burning Crusade.

For about two weeks I mulled over my options. I ultimately ended up joining Heroes Inc and got in with their progression raid team as a Tank. That decision worked out really well. I found the camaraderie and skill of our tight 10 man progression team to be the way I best enjoyed experiencing the game. We attacked Ulduar the night it opened and soon we were dancing on Yogg Saron’s corpse. Algalon, we’re coming for your glowy posterior soon.

Then about two weeks ago, my team broke off from Heroes to form their own guild, Unusual Suspects. This time there was no indecision, I was going to follow my raid group. I really felt like I had found a home.

There were more developments guildwise, both in my old guild and new one over the weekend. I have to ask myself, am I the cause of any the drama that I’ve been witness to in Wrath. After taking an honest look at the situation, I have to conclude that no, I really wasn’t the cause of the drama. The only incident I can think of was a little complaining I did about losing out on loot, and I apologized the next day. Since then, I have never complained about losing out on loot, though I do complain a little bit about loot I want not dropping. (Hi Flame Leviathan’s Bracers!)

So here’s the latest, film at 11.

The two guilds that Mal Katai split into, Tarmon Gaiden and SalVation essentially merged together to form a new guild called Limitless.

My guild, Unusual Suspects, had a 10 man raid group from a guild called Amber Knights move en mass into our guild.

Before the move ever happened, Ellevis (my Guild Master) approached each of us individually to ask what we thought about possibly taking on another Raid Team. From all accounts they were cool guys and good players.

This will give Unusual Suspects two 10 man raid teams and the possibility to do the occasional 25 man raid. All in all, I’m pretty excited about it. It will not change anything in my own 10 man group, but it will give us more in guild folks for Heroics (which will be more important in 3.2 for Emblems), and alt runs. It should also mean that when I go on vacation in August, my Raid Group will have an easier time finding someone to fill in. (Scary thought, they might actually find some better, lol)

As an added bonus, one of the new guys is Agamemgnome! He's actually a friend of mine that I raided with during my first stint in Heroes in Burning Crusade. I was leading Raids for Heroes at the time and a big part of why he left was that I wasn’t raiding him enough. It was my first time as a Raid Leader and I made my share of mistakes. He didn’t have any hard feelings towards me and in fact, he was the guy that got me into Dominion, which is the guild I did Tier 6 with. Now he’s a guild mate once more.

All in all, I’m pretty excited to see what the future holds for Unusual Suspects.

Using Sacred Shield As A Paladin Tank

Sacred Shield is the spell all Paladins receive upon achieving Level 80.

Sacred Shield Rank 1
12% of base mana 40 yd range
Instant cast


Each time the target takes damage they gain a Sacred Shield, absorbing 500 damage and increasing the paladin's chance to critically hit with Flash of Light by 50% for up to 6 sec. They cannot gain this effect more than once every 6 sec. Lasts 30 sec. This spell cannot be on more than one target at any one time.
We know that Sacred Shield absorbs 500 damage + some additional amount based primarily on your spell power. In my tanking gear and casting Sacred Shield on myself, I’m able to absorb about 900 damage. A Holy Paladin is going to have more spellpower and will be able to absorb more with Sacred Shield. You can increase the amount absorbed with Divine Guardian, which I don’t have in my build at the moment in favor of Improved Hammer of Justice.

So the question is how a Paladin tank should use this tool in his toolkit to better perform his task.

As a Tank, we have two main tasks. Job #1 is to stay alive. Job#2 is to keep the Boss/Mob’s attention on us and not our favorite Mage and Elemental Shaman. Sacred Shield won’t help much with Job#2, but we can employ it for Job#1.

To determine the best way to employ Sacred Shield you need to look at your Raid Composition and your Raid Role.

First issue to address is ‘How many Sacred Shields are available to the Raid?’ You see that little caveat they added at the end? “This spell cannot be on more than one target at any one time.”

From that we know that the number of Paladins we have in the Raid equals the number of Sacred Shields available. Until 3.2 is Live, assume that all your Retribution Paladins are going to be using their Sacred Shields on themselves to minimize the kickback damage they take from Seal of Blood. Once 3.2 goes Live, Raid Leaders may want to consider assigning Retribution Paladins to use their Sacred Shields on Shadow Priests to help mitigate some of their kickback damage.

After you determine how many Sacred Shields you have available to you (that is the number of Holy and Protection Paladins in your raid), you next need to determine who each Paladin is casting their Sacred Shield on. Because a Holy Paladin’s Sacred Shield absorbs more than a Protection Paladin’s would, you want your Holy Paladins to put their Sacred Shield on the raid members who will be taking the most damage, usually your tanks. This synergies well because those Tanks are likely to be people whom the Holy Paladin is charged with Healing anyway.

If you run out of Holy Paladins before you run out of Tanks, the Protection Paladin can put his Sacred Shield on one of the Tanks that will be taking less damage, typically, but not always an offtank. If you have a Holy Paladin to cover each Tank, the Protection Paladin can put his Sacred Shield on a key non-Tank. It may not seem like much damage reduction, but it could mean one of your team survives when he might not have otherwise.

Multiple Sacred Shields do stack so when in doubt, the Protection Paladin can just cast it on himself.

You can increase both the duration and amount absorbed by Sacred Shield by specing into Divine Guardian. Currently Protection Paladins have 3 to 5 'flavor points' that you can put into roughly equivalent talent combinations. One of those options is taking Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.

Because Sacred Shield is an absorb, it will work on fights like Loatheb, and can be a great help on fights like General Vezzax where mana can be tight.

You may want to forgo Sacred Shield in a 5 man. I need a little damage just to keep my mana pool up.

A good Tank knows every tool at his disposal and will use everything and anything to get the job done. Sacred Shield can be a valuable part of any Tankadins toolkit.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Could Say That This Cache Is Rare

I’ve copied over to the PTR, but we we’ve been raiding so I haven’t actually gotten over there yet. I really want to because I’d like to play with Ardent Defender and the new Seal of Vengeance a bit. I know that Ardent Defender will not make it live so I want a shot at playing with it.

We’ve started working our way through the Hard modes in Ulduar. I love how we can ramp up the difficulty and find something that works for our raid group. We can choose the level up risk versus reward.

We’ve knocked out FL+4 (although I wasn’t there, I’m sure we’ll do it again). We’ve taken care of XT-Hard, Crazy Cat Lady (don’t kill the Kittens on Auryia) and Steelbreaker Last.

So last night we start learning Hodir Hard. Hodir Hard is not terribly different from normal from a Tank perspective since the requirement is just a fast kill. You basically do the same things you do when fighting normally, but you really have to ramp up your threat production to the maximum level. Healers can really burn through their mana because it’s going to over quick one way or another.

The challenge is more for your DPS. They have a buff to manage, and they have to be extra careful not to get caught in an Iceblock. You’ll lose too much DPS time getting them out.

Going against the grain of the popular WoW mindset, we actually switched from the Death Knight Tank we had been using on Normal mode, to a Paladin Tank for Hard Mode. I wonder, when Blue says that most guilds are having their Death Knights tank every hard mode, are they only looking at 25 man guilds?

I realize I’m in a guild that just does 10 mans, so I don’t have the experience of what 25 man Ulduar is like, but in my guild, we feel equally confident whether it’s our Death Knight, Paladin or Druid at the helm for Tanking a boss. Didn’t see Warriors in that list? Well, that’s because we only have one Warrior in our raid group, and he’s sporadic in his attendance, and he’s always been DPS. It has nothing to do with the Warrior class. In fact, we have two of our core team leveling up Warriors because they are such a good class for PVE and PVP.

I used 3 pieces of Frost Resist gear, the chest, belt, and boots. Together with my Frost Resist Aura, that put me at 417 Frost Resist, but low on Defense. I had to switch in my Repelling Charge to maintain the Crit Cap (aka Defense Minimum).

With all the Expertise on Ulduar gear, I’ve dumped the Seal of Vengeance glyph. I now have Salvation, Divine Plea and Judgement.

The other change I made was that I put my Darkmoon Card: Greatness in place of my Monarch Crab. Threat is an issue in this fight. The NCP shaman gives a buff called Storm Cloud that the DPS players can pass around that sends their DPS and threat through the roof. If I’m reading my World of Logs report right, my Shaman’s average Lightning Bolt crit was 28k. Lava Burst was hitting in that range as well. My Mage was critting Frostfire Bolts for nearly 30k.

The Buff is essentially the only way you are going to be able to do enough DPS to get him down before the timer is up. My Shaman, Shadow Priest and Mage were all doing over 10k TPS. I was doing about 6 or 7k. The Buff means they are going to pull threat. There was basically nothing I could do about it. The Mage had Mirror Images and Invis which helped. We used Hand of Salvation, Misdirect, and Tricks of the Trade. I still couldn’t hold them off.

So we decided to have our 3 amigos (SPriest, EShaman, and Mage) DPS at absolute max range. Then when they pulled, I would have to taunt to keep Hodir. I never had a taunt resist, so I got Hodir back every time. But between this fight and Thorim, I’m almost convinced to go back to the Righteous Defense Glyph. For Paladin, our Righteous Defense Glyph basically makes it impossible to have a taunt resist.

The only problem with them DPSing from far away was that they had to run pretty far to get onto the snowdrifts for Flash Freeze. At one point in the fight, my Shaman was sitting at 117% threat. Hodir dropped by snowdrifts right next to him, which meant my Shaman had to run into melee range to avoid getting frozen. As Hodir was winding up Flash Freeze, I was looking at Omen, Hodir’s Target and his cast bar. As soon as he was done casting, he changed his target to my Shaman. I slammed my Righteous Defense button and taunted Hodir just in time. Phew!

It took 5 attempts, but we eventually got it! There were two huge upgrades for me that dropped from Hodir Hard, a Mace and a Shield, but neither dropped. We got spell power staff. At least our Priest was happy.

Flush with our success, we decided to try Thorim Hard. I'm usually in the tunnel, but we were really cutting it close. A couple of times, we'd reach Thorim a second or two too late. So we decided to switch me into the Arena and put my Death Knight friend on the tunnel. They usually got through with 10 to 20 seconds to spare.

Meanwhile I was struggling in the Arena. I usually started out well, but towards the end, you get a huge spawn of 3 elites plus non elites. I wouldn't get it under control until either my Mage or Rogue had been killed. We couldn't do Hard Mode with one less DPS.
We got maybe 2 or 3 good attempts at the Phase 2 Hard Mode, but we would lose DPS, or a Tank or a Healer and the raid would buckle and wipe. There is a tremendous amount of Raid damage going in Phase 2 with Blizzards and Chain Lightnings, plus your Tank is getting rocked. Like Gruul, Thorim gets stronger as the fight wears on and hits harder and harder. I ate a 31k melee without having Unbalancing Strike on me. Splat!

We eventually opted to do him Normal.

We also wanted to try Freya Hard. Like Sartharian, this involved leaving her Elders up. We had previously successfully done One Elder and we decided to try two. Each Elder gives her a new ability. The easiest one is Sunbeam. We had defeated that before. Our choice was between Ground Tremor or Iron Roots. Iron Roots requires a DPS switch to kill the Roots quickly. Ground Tremor requires you to stop casting or you'll get 6 second school lock out. We opted for the Iron Roots and killed the Ground Stomp Elder. But we chose poorly. Iron Roots was definitely the one we should have taken out. DPS is switching around so often in that fight between Adds, and Trees that adding another priority was just a bit much.

We ended up having to kill her normal.

We were running out of time, but tried for 4 Minute Ignis. We had done Hodir, we could do Ignis.
4:02, no achievement.

We were frustrated, but we did get another Hard Mode down and got another step on the chain for Algalon. Our previous attempts at Hodir had not been good. Our fastest kill was around 5 minutes. Way off the 3 minute limit for Hard Mode. I was really proud of the way our team came together and mastered the Hard Mode.
Monday we are going for Mimiron Hard, General Hard, and Yogg minus 1 Keeper.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

[Patch 3.2] PTR Up, Ardent Defender Mechanics Discovered

With the PTR up, the mechanics of the new AD have been discovered and some of my questions answered.

Now keep in mind, this is the first iteration of the PTR, it is almost certain what we get as the Live version will be different in some way.

Here’s what was learned by Maintankadin moderator, Modus aka moduspwnens.

It reduces damage by 30%.

We saw this from the actual patch notes. The Damage reduction is staying at 30%.

It reduces the entire hit that takes you below 35% by 30%.

This was one of the big questions I had, and now that I think about it, it makes sense. Having only work on the part of the hit that took you under 35% could still make it leapfroggable.

It also reduces hits taken afterward (from below 35% to also below 35%).
This is logical. If it reduces hits above 35%, it would seem to follow that it also reduces hit under 35%. That’s basically exactly what AD does today on live.

It doesn’t work on fall damage.

Yes, Modus jumped off a cliff. He still died.

The "GS" effect works like Guardian Spirit except places a debuff on you (2 min duration) called Ardent Defender.
Basically instead of saying “You die”, the combat log will say,”Ardent Defender heals you for X, where X is 30% of your max hit points”

It is now shown in the combat log as absorbed damage, as is the would-be "killing blow."
We now have some way to know it’s working. I’m sure some enterprising Addon developer will come up with a mod to broadcast this to the raid. I’d love it if they could have a little “1UP” appear over my head like from Mario World.
AD's save unfortunately takes precedence over GS
Now we start getting into some of the downsides. Guardian Spirit should trigger before Ardent Defender does. Ardent Defender should really be a last line of defense kind of thing. We’re making our last stand against the boss, holding out against all hope. Once I’m copied over to the PTR I plan on putting in a request to get the order of precedence changed. Whether the Developers decide to do that or not, is up to them.

While you have the Ardent Defender debuff, the damage reduction portion no longer takes effect.

Now we come to major drawback of Ardent Defender. If it saves my life, it won’t reduce any damage, at all, for 2 minutes. I would offer that this helps to balance the ability somewhat, and will perhaps stem the tide of people calling it overpowered.

The obvious comparison of AD is too Will of the Necropolis because it’s essentially the same skill.

Will of the Necropolis was determined to be overpowered and later nerfed. So wouldn’t it logically follow that since AD is twice as strong (30% damage reduction versus 15% damage reduction for WotN), it must therefore be even more overpowered than WotN was and therefore must need a nerf. The flaw in that logic is looking at WotN and AD in a vacuum and not in the context of the Death Knight and Paladin class.

Remember that in addition to WotN, the Death Knight had more armor, more health, and more advoidance than any other tank. Then the Death Knight had 2 to 3 major cooldowns depending on spec on top of that. So their cooldowns needed to get reduced, changed, nerfed, pick your word.

Paladins have low Effective Health. Their avoidance is about on par. Paladins are behind EVERY tank class in the cooldown department. We have one, Divine Protection on a 2 minute cooldown. Every other tank has multiple. We’re the only Tank without a gap closer. Our AoE threat was significantly nerfed. Consecrate simply can’t compete with something like Death and Decay. We run into the same resource starvation issues that Warriors do, only it is many orders of magnitude more difficult to refill our resource once we do run dry.

The PTR Ardent Defender is a powerful ability, even with the debuff. I don’t think any sensible person would argue otherwise.

The important thing to realize is that adding this powerful ability to Paladin toolkit, it still would not make Paladins far and away better than any other tank; it simply brings them to parity. At least that is how I see it. I'm sure the PTR will help to bear out if I'm accurate in my assesment.

I've never felt better about Paladin tanking. We’re not the little AoE tanks that absolutely stink everywhere else that we were in Burning Crusade. We’ll not be the functional tanks who seem to have been falling behind to every other tank class in Wrath. We certainly won’t be lacking for Cooldowns. With the 3.2 changes, we'll have just about everything we need. It would still be nice to have things like Hammer of Justice off the Global Cooldown, but that's just gravy.

I really hope the new AD makes it to Live, even with a tweak or two. Whether it does or not, is, of course, up to the Developers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Desprerate Measures

Be Advised: this post is not releated to World of Warcraft in any way.

We interrupt this Paladin blog to bring you a message from the man behind the keyboard.

Hi. I'm the guy you know online as Honorshammer, and I'm asking for your help.

The company that I work for just found out that we lost our biggest contract. This is generally considered a Bad Thing. We need to find new customers before the end of the year, or more Bad Things will start happening like layoffs or possibly even worse. This sort of has me bummed out.

I've been wracking my brain trying to think of anything I can do. I like my job, and I like the people I work for. I really don't want to be looking for a new job anytime soon.

I'm not a Sales or Marketing guy. That's not my gig. I write code, I dissect processes, I think in object models. These are desperate times, they call for desperate measures.

What follows here is a basic idea of what my company does. What I'm hoping is that you will see something here that will spark your interest. Maybe not even for your company, maybe you know someone who works at a company that my company could help. I'm really hoping that you will decide to email me at honorshammer at gmail dot com, and we'll create a lead for my Sales team. That lead will turn into a customer, and those Bad Things will never happen. I might as well give it go, what do I have to lose?

The Pitch

The company that I work for that consults with companies and helps them better manage their supply chains.

Basically, we can help any company that holds physical inventory significantly increase sales, improve margins, reduce surplus inventory, avoid hassles and lower costs. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about retail stores or finished goods.

We increase sales and profits by ensuring your customers can buy the products they want, when they want it. Our unique ability to secure availability of our clients’ products, based on consumer demand rather than forecast and scheduling methods, stems from our proven ability to drastically reduce lead times. The result: your products are much more likely to be both available for sale and sold at full markup. Sales and margins increase while you reduce your investment in inventory, producing a flood of cash.

We don't like consultants who get paid for recommendations and then, if you complain about the results, point the finger at your implementation. An engagement with us means you have far more cash and earn much more money than we charge in fees. Furthermore, our fees are due only after you get the results. Lastly, we don't bore in and become a permanent expense; we transfer our intellectual capital to you so you own the solution.

For one of my companies major clients – a multibillion-dollar international clothing company – our first pass at only a small part of the client’s supply chain resulted in finding $8 million dollars of net profits and pulling $42 million out of inventory.

Thanks for allowing me a little time to post a personal message to the blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shared Topic: Situational Awareness, or Driving The Tank

This week Blog Azeroth's Shared Topic is "Situational Awareness in Raids".

Lissanna writes "I thought it would be neat to see how all the classes (even tanks and DPS) handle the multi-tasking that is required during raids. Do tanks and DPS sometimes have tunnel vision and forget to watch for the AOE effects or whatever they need to move out of? How do other healers deal with avoiding the tunnel vision problem?"

You have to do a ton of multi-tasking as a Tank.

As I'm tanking a Boss, my tasks are:

§ Make sure the boss if properly position (don't get the melee dps cleaved, dragon breathed, etc)
§ Keep track of the Threat meter
§ Watch my own health and mana reserves
§ Make sure I have the proper buffs up (Holy Shield, Divine Plea, Sacred Shield, Righteous Fury, Seal, Blessing are all on timers)
§ Watch for special moves the boss does (Plasma Blast, Frozen Blows, etc)
§ Watch the Deadly Boss Mod timers/warnings
§ Keep track of my next panic button (have I used my Pot? Healthstone? Trinkets? Divine Protection? Lay on Hands?)
§ Communicate with my healers (I've got move, use a cooldown)
§ Keep track of bad places to stand (like red/green/blue circles, fires, etc)
§ Maintain a good threat rotation

So how do I handle it all?

It's very similar to driving a car.

There are a myriad of things you are watching (your own speed, the other cars, what lane you are in, gas needle, etc), yet most of us don’t feel overwhelmed. On the contrary, we are so comfortable driving that we add even more to our multi-tasking. We listen to music, talk on our cell phones, shave/put on makeup, or grab a quick bite to eat.

It's because driving comes pretty naturally. We simply scan around without a whole lot of conscious thought.

You ever been driving somewhere and realize you were driving like you were going home, or to work, but you had intended on going somewhere else. You were simply driving out of habit. That's what my threat rotation is like. I can almost feel when certain abilities are ready to use, and which spell in the rotation I need to hit next. 4-2-1-3-5 (Judgement, Shield of Righteousness, Holy Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Consecrate).

It's so ingrained I have to set up my alts with similar keybinds (first priority attack is 4, then 2, etc.) because that's the key I'm going to push almost reflexively.

How many times do you actively check your speedometer while you drive? Probably dozens of times without even thinking about it. You simply see the general area the needle is in, and you watch the other cars around you. It's the same with watching Omen. I glance over and can tell just by the color and length of the bars what the situation is. It takes factions of seconds.

With all this happening almost without thinking about it, you can concentrate on singing along with the radio/Ipod, or chatting on your cell phone.

In Wow, you can communicate on vent, or pay special attention to the Bosses buff bar or your own debuff bar. You can watch timers on Boss abilities.

Just like you are always looking for the other drivers to do something crazy like suddenly stop or cut you off, you can keep a steady eye for loose adds or red circles.

I can glance at my screen and know immediately what's going on, just like you glance around in traffic and know what's going on. Most things just look right and in place. It’s when something out of the ordinary happens like brake lights on the Interstate or the Boss suddenly targeting a Mage that gets your attention.

Of course, I'm not immune to tunnel vision, driving or tanking. I'll get really into a song, and have to slam the breaks to avoid a wreck, or miss my exit. Likewise, I'll get focused on Omen, and miss moving out for Flash Freeze. It happens.

Some people use accessories like a GPS to help them navigate around. In WoW, I use Addons to help remind of the buffs/debuffs I need to maintain: Tankadin2 for Righteous Fury alerts and PallyPower for Blessings/Aura.

Knowing the fights in advance can really help you get to the level of comfort. Just like having driven somewhere before makes it easier to navigate there again. Watch videos, read strats/blogs, and talk with other tanks who have tanked that content.

Try to keep your eyes moving. Use your mouse to pan your camera around (without moving or turning your toon). You can do this with a single click on the left mouse button.

Situational Awareness is just part of being a good tank, and it's one of those things that differentiate tanks. It's a skill of the man (or woman) behind the keyboard. Like most skills in Tanking, practice is the best way to get better.

Next time you are tanking and feel you have the situation under control, give yourself something else to do, push yourself a little bit. Only by pushing the limit of what you think you can do, can you discover you could do more than you thought. Try to single tank a fight you normally double tank, or take Adds instead of the Boss. Check the Damage Taken after a fight and see how much the Adds did to your DPS, aim to reduce that next time.

Improving your situational awareness will make you a ‘go to’ Tank, regardless of the color of your Raid Bar.

How Much DPS Do You Do?

I received a tell from a Rogue buddy of mine from my T6 days in Dominion. He was helping his guild (not Dominion anymore) put together a weekend Naxx25. I had previously mentioned to him I'd love to go on one of my alts if they needed people.
I thought about the Warrior briefly but decided against it. He has only had a couple of pieces crafted so far. The Titansteel Mace, and Titansteel DPS helm for his DPS set, and the Titansteel ShieldWall, Titansteel Tank Helm, Daunting Legguards and Daunting Legplates for his Tank set. Mostly we was still in quested blues and greens. The group would really have had to carry him.
The other issue against the Warrior was the raid was stacked with melee dps and plate. Just one of ther Warrior but 2 or 3 Death Knights and 4 or 5 Paladins. We were actually a little light on Ranged DPS.
So I brought the Hunter out of mothballs. Granted, he's not all that well geared either, but he does have mostly ilevel 200 gear.
The run was mostly a guild run with about 8 or so PuGs like me. It took two nights, but we cleared the place top to bottom.
Overall I was pretty happy with my performance. I was usually running in the top 10 for DPS. Not great, but also not bad for an alt.
The run was eye opening from me from the sense that I came to an understanding that you really can't answer the 'what kind of dps do you do?' question. Do I use the number for the whole run? Just for Bosses, and if so which Boss? My DPS fluctuated from Boss to Boss. So I decided to use Patchwerk as my DPS number. Patchwerk is a stand there and shoot him until dead kind of fight and it doesn't have any mechanic that's a real danger to Watch, my Mulgore Prairie Wolf. I pulled 2.5k on Patchwerk. I have to say I was pretty happy with that number. It feels like it took far longer for me to hit 2k with Honorshammer.
Even better, I know I can hit higher numbers with better play.
I'm not watching my two DoTs (Black Arrow and Serpent Sting) very well. Sometimes I would hit Serpent Sting well before it was going to expire, and other times I would let it fall off. Black Arrow is a bit easier, I just fire it every time it's off cooldown.
I'm really bad at watching for Load and Load procs. I need something to come up on my screen and yell at me "Hey dummy, Lock and Load proc'ed, you might want to use it!"
I've also got to get better at managing my Pet. He died on Heigan, Sapphrion and Kel'Thuzad. Each fight I rezzed him and kept him at my side, but KT was kind enough to kill him again.
I managed to pick up a non Tier chest and my Tier Legs for him. You were limited to two epics for the night, unless no one wanted it, then it didn't count. There was only one other Hunter in the raid. Then you could get another single epic from KT/Sapph. I was hoping the gun would drop, but I had no such luck.
It's funny but even though my Hunter is an alt in mostly blue BoEs and crafted stuff, there isn't much he needs from Heroics. The biggest need out of heroics would actually be rep for Head Enchant. Most of his upgrades come from Raids, which makes it difficult to gear him up further unless I raid with him which will pretty much only happen in PuGs, even if they are mostly guild runs like this weekend. I did tell my friend to invite me if they go next weekend.
It was fun to see the fights from a new perspective. You don't have to worry about the whole 'will I get to play my role (tank) on this fight'. You DPS and DPS hard every fight. Well, except for Gluth where I was a kiter. I did okay, Gluth died, but I know I could do that job better with some practice.

Friday, June 19, 2009

[Patch 3.2] Joining The Emblem Debate

Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.o The heroic dungeon daily quest will now reward 2 Emblems of Triumph and the normal daily dungeon quest will reward 1 Emblem of Triumph.
The existing achievements to collect 1, 25, 50, etc. Emblems of Heroism, Valor, and Conquest have been converted to Feats of Strength since Heroism and Valor Emblems are no longer attainable.
New achievements have been added to collect various amounts of any combination of emblems.

So everything that is currently in game, except Ulduar25, will drop the same Emblem. The tiered emblem system is officially being scrapped.

I’m really torn about this change. It opens up an entire segment of gear that was previously unavailable to me. We were just starting to get some Emblems in Conquest in our Raids as we did Hard Modes, but not very many. Now I’ll be able to stockpile a mess of EoConquest. I should be able to buy the Runed Orbs I need to get the BoE Blacksmithing Boots and Belt made for both Ret and Prot.

I speculate the Emblem of Triumph is the new Emblem that will be dropping in new Raid, The Crusader’s Coliseum. The new raid is actually 4 raids in one. It will have normal 10 and 25 man modes plus a Hard 10 and a Hard 25 man mode. The really nice change here is that the Hard modes are on a separate lockout. You can do normal mode AND Hard mode in the same week. Hard mode will be called Heroic.
Emblems of Triumph will drop when run in both 25 man modes and 10 man Heroic. 10 man normal will likely drop Emblems of Conquest. Of course, this is all speculation at this point.

It’s remarkable to me that Emblems of Triumph will be awarded by doing the Daily Heroic and Daily Normal Dungeon. We’ll have to wait and see what is available to purchase with Emblems of Triumph but I would expect it would be Crusader Coliseum level loot.

This would assuredly get Honorshammer back in running Heroics, and running them often. People are always looking for a Tank to do the Daily Heroic.

So yes, I’m pretty excited about having some additional gear options opened up to me.

This will also help the raid group since we’ve had some turnover. Real life has taken the priority it needs to take for a couple of our core team. We have to gear up some new raiders and teach them the ropes so to speak.

This change will make it much easier to get them up to the level of the rest of the raid fairly quickly. That is a positive for my raid group.

But I’m also concerned.

The Emblem change may make it tougher on Raiding guilds. Loot is a reward, a trophy, and it’s a tool for seeing more content, but it’s also a motivator. I speculate it will be harder for some Raid leaders to get their groups to wipe for hours on content. Some of those raiders are going to be thinking to themselves, why are we doing this? We could be getting just as good, if not a little better gear by facerolling our way through Kara….err I mean Naxx, and Heroics. And to a certain extent, they would be right.

If your raid has people who only raid for gear, you might have trouble motivating them. Money or gear doesn’t change a person so much as it reveals a person.

Although, I think if I’m honest with myself what really bothers me about the Emblem change is that a guy who dinged 80 last week could be in the same or maybe even better gear than a person like, oh I don’t know, let’s say… me! I’ve been around since the opening of Wrath of the Lich King.

I guess I want to have some advantage for playing longer or having been around that long.

Actually I do have an advantage. Unless we’re talking about an alt, that person who just dinged will not know what it was like those first couple of weeks in Ulduar. They won’t have any clue what it was like questing through Dragonblight when it was buzzing with activity, or doing Heroics in mostly blue gear. I got exactly what I paid for: exploration, progression, and entertainment.

I raid because it’s fun to raid. I love getting loot as a reward, and as a tool to be ready to tackle the next raid zone. I do like the fact that I’m one of handful of people on my server to have killed Yogg Saron on any difficulty (10 or 25 man). I love that we got a server first on Shadowdodger.

I guess I just want some way to be recognized as a deep end game player. Gear is part of that, but titles and achievements can serve that purpose as well. I suppose it’s why I still wear Hand of A’dal around Shattrah. I can't wait until I can wear Conqueror of Ulduar, or Starcaller.

New people or alts getting gear through the new Emblem system won’t diminish my fun in Raids at all. Sure, they’ll have gear. I hope they go out and have a blast with that gear.

Maybe it will help some guild get over a stumbling block like Thorim or Mimiron, or maybe it will help them finally down Yogg. Even better, perhaps it will give a Naxx guild confidence to go try Ulduar. The place is a lot of fun to raid.

Raiding is fun, why wouldn’t I want others to experience the fun I’ve been having.
So overall the Emblem change is quite good. I have to be honest with myself about what bothers me about it, and I soon as I am, I realize that it’s not anything to be concerned about.

[Patch 3.2] Block Change Gets a /yawn

Let’s talk about another change from the PTR that’s coming our way. The Developers have acknowledged they aren’t ready to make major changes to Block just yet, but they are putting in a temporary solution of increasing the block value we get from items, but not from shields.

Here’s the official word:

Block Value: The amount of bonus block value on all items has been doubled. This does not affect the base block value on shields or block value derived from strength.
On-Use Block Value Items: All items and set bonuses that trigger temporary increases to block value have been modified. Instead of increasing their block value amount by 100% like other items, they have all had their effect durations doubled. This applies to Glyph of Deflection, Gnomeregan Autoblocker, Coren's Lucky Coin, Lavanthor's Talisman, Libram of Obstruction, Tome of the Lightbringer, Libram of the Sacred Shield, the tier 8 paladin Shield of Righteousness bonus, the tier 5 paladin Holy Shield bonus, and the tier 5 warrior Shield Block bonus

I’m currently using a whopping total of 3 items that would qualify for the change in my main tanking set. Tier 8 Shoulders, Bindings of the Hapless Prey, and my T8 gloves. Doubling the Block Value on those items would yield me an increase of 167 Block Value. Pardon me if I don’t get up and cheer.

It would be even less if I wasn’t using Hapless Prey. The only reason I’m wearing those bracers is that I’ve hard horrible luck with drops. I saw Bracers of the Unholy Knight once in all my time in Naxx and I passed them to a Warrior who was wearing a level 77 blue. I’ve never seen the bracers from Flame Leviathan drop, and I’m starting to wonder if they exist. I guess I could by the Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets, but they are really just a sidegrade.

In addition, the Tier 7.5 Shoulders and Tier 7.5 Gloves are fairly close to the T8 ones. That makes sense because they are only half a tier ahead. So effectively, I could be seeing a zero increase in Block Value from this change.

However, the change to the On-Use Block Value Items will be a big buff to the Libram of Obstruction. The Libram provides 352 Block Value every time we Judge. With its new 10 second duration, it means that in a proper 969 rotation, judging every 9 seconds, the buff will never fall off. We will have a constant 352 Block Value from the Libram.

So I’m personally looking at an increase of 352 to 519 Block Value depending on how I chose to gear. That will be further increased by the Redoubt talent, so it will end up being 457 to 675 Block Value. I’m still not going to be jumping for joy.

Even if the Developers doubled Block Value across the board, which they aren't, I’d go from 1500 to maybe 3000. It’s still not much in the way of mitigation against the 20k+ hits you see.
I believe Tanks will continue to go for pure avoidance like Dodge and Parry and get enough Block Value from Strength and their shields to maintain threat. Block Value as a mitigation stat will still be lacking in 3.2. I think the Developers knwo that and I'm looking for a big announcement on the future of Block, and tanking in general at Blizzcon.

[Patch 3.2] Can't Kill This

I think like most of you I’m still trying to digest the Patch 3.2 notes. I’m going to assume you’ve read them, and not repost them all here.

We don’t have a PTR yet, so much of my initial reaction is speculation. We also know that much of the patch notes can and will change over the course of the PTR.

So let’s dive right in with the big news, the change to Ardent Defender.

Ardent Defender: Redesigned. Currently, any damage taken by the paladin while at 35% health or below is reduced. Instead, any attack that would reduce the paladin to 35% health or below has its damage reduced. In addition, once every 2 minutes an attack that would have killed the paladin will fail to kill, and instead set the paladin's health to 10/20/30% of maximum.

I am greatly concerned that so many people look at the buffs to Paladins and immediately think we are going to be overpowered without looking at the whole picture. They see that our new Ardent Defender looks similar to the Blood Death Knight skill, Will of the Necropolis. Will of the Necropolis was deemed to be overpowered therefore the new Paladin skill must be as well.

What is missing from that analysis is the context of the Paladin’s entire toolkit. Paladins have one cooldown right now, Divine Protection. Blood Death Knight’s had at least two others in addition to Will of the Necropolis. They also had more armor, more pure avoidance, and most importantly more health than a Protection Paladin. This gave Will of the Necropolis a much larger threshold to work with, as well as giving the Death Knight other tools for damage reduction in addition to Will of the Necropolis.

The idea behind the Ardent Defender change is to give Paladin’s a Last Stand type of move, without having to copy/paste Last Stand to the Paladin spell book and calling it Holy Stance of Righteousness.

Last Stand is a straight Effective Health increase, as is the new Ardent Defender.

Since we don’t have a PTR there are many details we simply don’t know. Many times in my playing experience, I’ve read something in the Patch notes and formed an opinion on it (love it! Hate it!) only to have that opinion changed once we got the ability on the PTR or Live realms.

Just one example is we don’t know if the damage reduction percentage has been changed. It is currently 30% on live, but we don’t know if that number was tweaked. You see how it says our health is returned to 10/20/30%. It’s a 3 point talent. On Live that 10/20/30% is the damage reduction. I would not be surprised at all to see a flat 15% damage reduction when we finally see a PTR. That’s a nerf to the current skill and certainly one I’d exchange for the buff we are getting to it.

We also don’t know if the damage reduction applies to the entire hit that would take us under 35%, or just the amount that would take us under.

Let’s look at an example. You have 40k hit points. You get hit for 15k and are now at 25k. AD doesn’t ‘kick in’ until you reach 35% of your max health, or 14k hit points. This is known as your AD threshold. Therefore AD does nothing.

You get hit for 15k again. Your healers are asleep, watching TV, CC’ed, in Ice Blocks, etc. You got no heals. Now you are at 10k, and under the AD Threshold, but you are only 4k under. So does the entire 15k hit get reduced by AD, or does AD only reduce the 4k portion.

The second part of the AD change is also called into question. It’s basically a Cheat Death/Guardian Spirit type of buff. I absolutely love it and I’m sure it will be a wipe saver, but let’s think about it before you go calling it OP.

Last Stand, Vampiric Blood would still be better in situations where you are taking several high damage hits like Mimiron’s Plasma Blast, or Thorim’s Unbalancing Strike plus his normal melee, especially on Hard Mode. AD will save you once, and put you back to 30% health. You will still be in the AD Threshold which is nice. But now it’s on cooldown for 2 minutes. If the situation happens again before those two minutes are up, you’re a dead Dwarf.

Also keep in mind that the Paladin can’t control when she blows her cooldown. We can’t use it proactively, the way Vampiric Blood, Survival Instincts and Last Stand can be used. We also can’t save it for the hard part of the fight. Although, it’s unlikely, the cooldown could get used on an easier part and be unavailable for the hard part of the fight. The Paladin has no control over that.

Personally, I like the fact that it is auto triggered. The reactive, passive nature of many of the Paladins abilities was something I always enjoyed about the play style.

I’m also curious how it will work with Divine Intervention. Could I Divine Intervention someone, but then be put back at 30% health instead of dying? Basically, I would be giving up my cooldown to save one else, and it would only work on a fight where I’m not actively tanking something like Mimiron Phase 2.

It’s also going to make ‘calling a wipe’ a little more difficult.

“Just DIE, Honors!”
“I’m trying to!!!”

It is my hope that the Ardent Defender changes will go through as outlined by the Developers and in the Patch Notes. Paladins need a second cooldown. The solution created by the Developers is creative and fits well with the Paladin’s play style.

There’s much more I’d like to say about Patch 3.2, but this has already gotten a little long, so we’ll touch on some of the other changes in another post..

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Twin Brothers: Warriors and Paladins

(Edit: As this post was 'going to press' some big, huge news broke in the Paladin world. I'll have my post on it tomorrow!)

So the Warrior hit 80 last night. I'd have a screen shot but my game froze up just as he hit it and I couldn't log back into him.

I find it remarkable how similar the Warrior is to my Paladin.

Gear

As my Warrior gears up, I’m looking for the exact same gear on him that I wanted on my Paladin when I was gearing him up many moons ago. About the only difference is that I care more about Expertise on the Warrior than I do on the Paladin. The main stats I want, Stamina, Armor, Defense, Dodge, Parry, Strength and Hit, don’t change at all. Block Value, and Block Rating are about equally (un)desirable between the two classes. To be fair, I think that Death Knights go after pretty much the same gear as well sans the block stuff, but for my own ignorance of their mechanics, I won’t be commenting on them.

Threat

One of the pervasive myths in the Tanking world is that Paladin’s are 3 button tanks, versus a Warrior’s 5 button priority queue. An optimal ‘969’ rotation is actually 6 buttons (Avenger’s Shield, Judgment, Shield of Righteousness, Holy Shield, Hammer of the Righteous, Exorcism, and Consecrate). The only difference I see between the two is Warriors have to manage Heroic Strike. I’m really, epically bad about managing Heroic Strike on my Warrior.

It is true that Warriors have more of a priority queue and dynamic rotation based on Sword and Board procs. Paladins are probably one of the last classes that have a true rinse and repeat rotation. I would love some of the interactivity that Sword and Board and Revenge give Warriors in my Paladin rotation.

Utility
Warriors have a set of buffs and debuffs they manage, mostly through their Shouts. These are shorter in duration than Blessings and have to be managed more in battle. One of the skills I’m slowly learning on my Warrior tank is keeping my Shout up properly and not letting it fall off. Blessings are much more ‘fire and forget’ unless someone dies and is resurrected mid encounter. I do find groups more excited about getting Blessing of Kings than either a Battle or Commanding Shout.

Toolkit

I found that I can understand Warrior skills by thinking of them as their Paladin counterparts.

Shield DPS/TPS move: Shield of Righteousness, Shield Slam.
Single Target Taunt: Hand of Reckoning, Taunt.
Special (“yellow”) Attack: Judgment, Devastate/Revenge
Damage on Being Hit: Holy Shield, Damage Shield
AoE Threat: Consecrate, Thunderclap/Shockwave
Multi-target Taunt: Righteous Defense, Challenging Shout
Multi-target Attack: Hammer of the Righteous, Whirlwind/Cleave
Health Buff: Blessing of Kings, Commanding Shout
AP Buff: Blessing of Might, Battle Shout
Pull with a Silence: Avenger’s Shield, Heroic Throw
Ranged Pull: Exorcism, Gun/Bow
Primary Cooldown: Divine Protection, Shield Wall
Reduce Friends Threat: Hand of Salvation, Vigilance
Global Damage Reduction: Improved Righteous Fury, Defense Stance
Take Damage for a friend: Hand of Sacrifice/Divine Sacrifice, Intervene
Interrupt: Hammer of Justice, Shield Bash

Shield Bash is infinitely more useful simply because it’s off the global cooldown. To interrupt something on my Paladin I have to stop my rotation, and therefore my threat generation, and wait for the Boss to cast it, unless the cast is longer than 2 seconds (global cooldown plus reasonable latency). Shield Bash also has a shorter cooldown, but not as short as I had thought it would be.

There are tools the Warrior has that Paladins can’t approximate in any way.

Spell Reflect is an amazing tool for Warriors, and I would love to have something like it on my Paladin. It’s both very useful and a lot of fun. Warriors have a great Fear break that Paladins can’t touch. Though to be fair, the Fear Break not a game breaking difference like it was in Burning Crusade (hello Archimonde), as I tank Auryia every week and she’s the only Boss in the current Tier with a major Fear mechanic.

Warriors also have many tools for moving around the battlefield, but what I find is that when I’m on my Paladin I don’t feel the need for those tools because of all the ranged tools I have like Avenger’s Shield and Exorcism. I often find myself running to the mobs even when I’m on my Warrior instead of using Charge/Intercept/Intervene simply because I haven’t developed the habits of using them yet. I do Charge on my Warrior to start combat quite a bit. It's a really fun skill.

Likewise, there are tools the Paladin has that Warriors can’t approximate. Despite its long cooldown and its reactive nature, Lay On Hands is still as colossal a ‘save me’ button as you are going to find. At best, Enraged Regen is 40% of your heath back over 10 seconds. It’s a great tool, but it doesn’t quite measure up to filling up your whole health bar instantly.

I think Cleanse is a much underrated utility. There are several places in the current Tier where I feel like Cleanse can make the fight easier for my Raid Group, most notable Steelbreaker and Yogg Saron. Like a Fear break, it’s not gamebreaking, other classes can and should be providing the same benefit to your raid, but I really like having it in my own toolkit.

Probably the biggest difference between the two classes is their threat resource. Paladins start with a full mana bar, while Warriors have an empty Rage bar. I find that my Warrior fills up his Rage bar pretty quick, and I haven’t had any trouble keeping threat off of DPS on either toon. On either tank, I can usually hit whatever button I need to hit and have sufficient resources for it.

Paladins are hurt far worse by running out of resource. It’s much harder to refill an empty mana bar than it is an empty rage bar. Also Paladins really struggle when you introduce mana burns or mana blocking effects like General Vezax and some of his trash, and the mana burning poison on Yogg can have me dry in a hurry.

In addition, my Paladin is basically crippled by silencing effects which would have very little effect on my Warrior. I have a grand total of one move that works while I’m silenced, Hammer of the Righteous. That is countered by the fact that my Warrior is really crippled by disarm, while my Paladin is largely unaffected. The only problem is that I haven't seen a mob disarm since Burning Crusade.


The other major difference is the entire Stance mechanic of Warriors, but I find I don't tend to 'stance dance' very often as my Warrior. If I'm tanking, I'm in Defensive. If I'm DPSing, I'm in Battle.

Is it ‘harder’ to play a Warrior tank? I’m really not one to ask just yet. It certainly feels harder to me, but I attribute that to Tanking on my Paladin for two years and my Warrior for about 2 weeks.

While I've discussed mainly their tanking abilities, there are similarities in the DPS specs as well, especially between Arms and Ret. I do miss the ability to throw a quick heal on myself when soloing on the Warrior.

Why Did You Level The Warrior?

The Warrior exists as an insurance policy against the Developers messing up the Tanking balance to such a point that I would be holding back my Raid Group to be a Protection Paladin Tank. I don’t believe they would do that maliciously, but they are not immune from making mistakes. If that happened, I could see myself asking my Raid Leader to switch. I care about those guys too much to let my own stubbornness get in the way.

The other scenario I had in mind for leveling the Warrior was the Developers coming out and saying that balancing four tanking classes has proven too hard, so they are going back to tank niches with Paladins as Trash/Off Tanks. I think it's highly unlikely, as the Developers had to admit that anything they take on is too hard. I'm also cynical enough to know that even if they decided to do go back to niches, there’s no way they would just come out and tell us.

It’s no small matter to get the Warrior geared up enough to take the Main Tanking duties I use Honorshammer for in my raids, and I’m no where near as proficient Warrior tanking as I am with Paladin Tanking. I’m sure I could get there, but it would take some time. Many fights in Ulduar, there is just so much going on that there isn’t time to think about the basics like your rotation, or what key to hit. Those have to be automatic.

Tanking on my Paladin just comes naturally to me. As Nibuca said to me during my interview, I am one with my toon. When something goes wrong I know instinctively what button to hit and my fingers are already headed for the key before the thought is complete in my head. It’s all muscle memory and reflex, a level of proficiency you can only truly understand once you get there.

The truth is I can and will play both and blog about both because both are fun for me to play. The Paladin is taking on the biggest challenges in the game in Ulduar, the Warrior is just starting out with Gear upgrades everywhere.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back To Basics: The 969 Paladin Threat Rotation

Protection Paladins are one of the last classes in WoW that still have a Rinse and Repeat rotation known affectionately as 969.

The 969 rotation was discovered in Wrath of the Lich King Beta by Psiven who then taught it to the rest of the community via Maintankadin. It begins by recognizing that the main Protection Paladin threat moves all come in varieties of 8 to 9 second cooldowns and 6 second cooldowns. We treat the 8 second cooldown moves as 9 seconds to better fit with a 1.5 second global cooldown.

The 9s are Judgment (talented), Consecrate and Holy Shield. The 6s are Hammer of the Righteous and Shield of Righteousness. The 9 second and 6 second cooldowns are rotated and alternated. With a 1.5 second global cooldown, this all fits together into a fairly tight rotation.

The way this works in practice is that you lead off your threat rotation with a 9 second talented cooldown Judgment. This is the opening spell because it puts your Judgements of the Just debuff on the mob which slows its attack speed like Thunderclap. Judgment will also proc your Libram of Obstruction if you are using that, and I recommend you do unless you’ve been blessed with a Libram of Sacred Shield. Libram of Obstruction increases your Block Value, so your next move is your 6 second cooldown Shield of Righteousness. This is basically a Shield Slam type move and its damage is increased by the buff from the Libram of Obstruction.

Now we need to fire off a 9 second cooldown, so your next move is Holy Shield. For most Naxx geared and above Paladins, Holy Shield will put you into the Block Cap where every unavoided hit will be blocked knocking off 1000 to 2000 damage depending on how you are geared. While it may not be that impressive to reduce a 24k hit to 22k, it’s still damage reduction. In addition, every time you block with Holy Shield you are doing damage to mob like Damage Shield does for Warriors.

We need to get back to a 6 now, so we go with Hammer of the Righteous, a 6 second cooldown similar to a Warriors Whirlwind or Cleave.

Then we finish off 9696 we throw down a Consecrate as long as there isn’t an issue with Crowd Control mobs in the area. Don’t break those sheep.

Don’t use Consecrate as a pickup tool. Consecrate isn’t the IWIN threat move is was in Burning Crusade. Mobs have run right through a Consecrate nearly unaffected.

You don’t ‘have’ to use the spells in the order I suggested. As long as you are alternating and 9 and then a 6 it should work the same.

In addition to the main threat moves, Paladins have auxiliary threat moves that can be woven into a 969. These include spells like Avenger’s Shield, Exorcism, Avenging Wrath and Hammer of Wrath when the mob is at less than 35% health.

We know that both Exorcism and Avenger’s Shield do more threat than Judgment. This is true even if you don’t Glyph Avenger’s Shield. I actually recommend you DON’T Glyph Avenger’s Shield. The threat gain isn’t worth the trade off of hitting 3 mobs.

So since we know that Exorcism and Avenger’s Shield are better threat moves than Judgment, we want to substitute those move into our 969 in place of Judgment. However, even more important than threat is maintaining our Judgments of the Just debuff on the Boss to reduce the Boss’s attack speed. If you don’t have any other attack speed debuff like Thunderclap or Icy Talons or Infected Wounds, you must ensure your Judgment debuff stays on the mob and doesn’t fall off. Survivability always comes before threat.

The other caveat to substituting Exorcism or Avenger’s Shield over Judgment is to keep in mind your role on the encounter. If you are picking up adds, then DON’T use Exorcism or Avenger’s Shield in normal threat rotation. Those spells are simply too good for picking up loose adds.

However, if you are sure your Judgment debuff won’t fall off, and you are just on the Boss, then you should be using Exorcism and Avenger’s Shield over Judgment. It’s a straight TPS increase.

There is a video on YouTube of a Paladin doing his 969 rotation. It may be easier to ‘see’ it in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZyOoMKtREI

There might be a bit more to the Paladin Threat rotation than it appears at first glance. If you want to practice, spend some quality time with a target dummy until the rotation gets to be more natural for you. As you tank more difficult encounters, you won’t have time to think about your rotation or what buttons to push. It has to come almost naturally.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Uphill Battle of the Fresh 80 Tank

Wrath has been out about 7 or 8 months now. Some players are just now reaching level 80. Whether it’s an alt, or someone who is new to the game, it can be rough on these fresh 80s, especially if they are tanks.

Tank is probably the toughest role to be under geared at, followed closely by a Healer. You can get away as an under geared DPS a little easier simply because even in a 5 man, there are other DPS players to help take up the slack.

Now an over geared tank can do wonders for a under geared healer, and vice versa, an overgeared healer can do wonders for an under geared tank, but even an over geared healer isn’t going to be able to make up for a tank that gets one shot.

A fresh level 80 Warrior or Paladin is going to be sporting about 18-20k unbuffed. I hate to break it to you, but there are well geared mages who can hit that. A new tank needs gear and Reputation and the fastest route to both is in Heroics. But even getting in Heroics can be difficult for a new tank.

Because you level so quickly, people tend to run very few instances. In the time it takes you to put the group together you could have almost outleveled the instance. In additon, most 'leveling' specs are not idea or tanking or healing an instance. This means that Tanks and Healers don’t get a lot of time to practice and hone their skills. So not only is the fresh 80 tank under geared, but she is also still learning the basics. This can lead to some really negative early experiences and may discourage the new tank.

At this point in the expansion there are going to be a number of well geared tanks. PuGs want over geared tanks; they always have, even in tBC, and maybe even earlier.

You can do Heroics, but it will be harder for the group. If they are in Heroics, there’s a good chance they are under geared as well. There's basically very little reason for a Raid geared toon to run a Heroic anymore. The only time I run one a Heroic on Honorshammer is if I'm helping out a guild mate gearing up an alt. I joke sometimes that I should flag Honorshammer for the LFG channel just to see the reaction of the PuG when they realize they just got a T8 geared Tank for their run.

So what can you do if you are a new tank? PuGs want geared tanks to run Heorics, but you can’t get geared unless you get the gear from Heroics. So you need to run Heroics to be able to tank Heroics. It’s something of a Catch 22.

Here's what I would do:

First, try to run with friends whenever possible. They tend to be more forgiving and gentler with their advice.

Second, make friends with a healer, someone who knows you and trusts you as a tank. On most realms, it's very, very easy to get 3 DPS for Heroics if you already have a Tank/Healer combo. Then if one of the DPS has a problem with you as a Tank, politely tell them they are free to leave the group and you'll replace them with one of the many DPS in the LFG channel.

You could also run as your offspec, DPS or Heal (if available to your class), which ever you prefer. It would be polite to tell the group in party chat you are rolling on Tank gear, as a courtesy.

Whatever you do, you need to farm gold like its your job. The best gems and enchants can go a long way to getting you to feel 'geared' to your PuG healer.

I’ve got a ‘shopping list’ below that can help bridge the gap a little bit.

Run double stamina trinkets. Raid geared tanks run around with 30k unbuffed HP. Most DPS is approaching or over 18k. Right or wrong, PuGs tend to judge you by your HP pool. Double stamina trinkets are a great way to get into a group. Once you are in, you can swap your trinket to an avoidance, or defense trinket.

Run a Normal. You are likely going to need to farm Seal of the Pantheon which drops in Normal Halls of Lightning. By running Normal dungeons, you can get valuable practice in your Tanking skills as well as to start learning the pulls and gimmicks of the bosses. As a level 80 running a Normal, you actually might overgear the place a bit, which will make your PuG partners very happy. This is also a terrific way to make some friends, and maybe even find that ‘pocket healer’ we all know and love.

Try to get your guild to take you on their Naxx10 runs if they still do that. If they don't try to organize an Alt Naxx10 to get some gear. Most Raid geared toons have been playing for a while, they may have multiple level 80s.

Finally, try targeting the 'easier' Heroics like Nexus, Utgarde Keep, etc. My first Heroic was Utgarde Pinacle. Not the ideal place to try to start out.

Do everything you can to improve you gear outside of dungeons and drops. Here is a quick list of gear you can buy with enough gold. Everything you see here is a Reputation Reward, a BoE drop, or a BoE Crafted item.

Helm - Tempered Titansteel
Neck - Burning Skull Pendant or Titanium Earthguard Chain
Back - Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions
Shoulders - Crusaders Square Pauldrons
Chest - Icebane (lots of stamina and you'll need it for Sapphiron/Hodir as some point)
Bracers - Bracers of Dalaran's Parapets
Hands – Daunting Handguards
Belt – Waistguard of the Risen Knight. If you really want to spend some cash Indestructible Plate Gidle
Legs – Daunting Legplates
Feet - Tempered Titansteel. Again, some major league cash will get you Spiked Deathdealers
Ring - Signet of the Accord
Ring - Titanium Earthguad
Shield – Titansteel Shieldwall

Addendum: As far as weapons go, I hope you did Ragemane's Flipper, a quest in Zul'Drak. It rewards the best tanking weapons you can reliably get. After that, you really need a drop. You can also try to get by with a Fang of Truth, or a Titansteel Bonecrusher. Those aren't ideal, but should be options if you vendored the quest rewards from Ragemane's. They should hold you over until you see a drop. You can also start the Argent Tournament as early as 77. There is the Axe of the Sen'jin Protector which you can purchase with Champion's Seals. From the Comments: Blade of the Empty Void, it's a quest reward from an Icecrown quest (Tirion's Gambit), and it provides +19 def.

Hopefully some of this advice will help you fight the uphill battle of a fresh level 80 tank.

If you happen to be grouping with one of these guys, let me encourage you to cut them a little slack. They are trying to gear up just like you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twisted Nether Blogcast

Episode 47 of the Twisted Nether blogcast is up on their webpage. You can listen to their interview with me.

http://www.twistednether.net/2009/06/10/episode-47-honors-honor/

Shared Topic : Healer Preference

This week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic was suggested by Nigiri from Adventures of a Priest


Nigiri asks:
“I would love to read blogger’s thoughts on who they like to have heal them. Would you prefere a Holy priest or a Disc priest? A Holy pally or a Resto druid. Shammy maybe? As a disc healer, I know how I feel about my healing. How do you feel about who’s healing you?

As a Tank, what I value most in a healer is the trust and bond we’ve developed raiding together. It’s the player behind the keyboard that is much more important to me than the color of their raid bar. I feel like any of our Healers, and we have just about every healing class represented in our core, is fully capable of keeping me upright.

I’m always a little nervous when there’s a new healer, regardless of class, is charged with keeping me alive. With our veteran healers, I know I’m in good hands.

What we try to do to keep healing assignments fairly consistent from Raid to Raid. We usually put our Disc Priest on our Blood Death Knight. This is mostly driven by their in game friendship. Not only do they raid together, but they are also Arena partners, so they are very used to working with each other.

I used to have our Resto Druid on me, but he’s not raiding as much so I get either a Holy Paladin or Elemental turned Resto Shaman. Our Holy Priest is really Shadow with a Holy second spec, so I don't have a ton of experience with them. He does love his Lightwell though.

I love having a Disc Priest heal me because…
I love the Penance animation. It just looks so cool to be on the receiving end of that heal, and what kind of Paladin would I be if I didn’t dig bubbles like Divine Aegis. Renewed Hope means that I don’t have to have that “Sanctuary versus Kings” battle in my mind. The Priest covers Sanct and I can get Kings. Priest Shields work well with my Shield, making each hit smaller which in turn really increases the value of a Block. They also employ a HoT, which I dig, but will talk about more with Druids.

I love having a Holy Priest heal me because…

I love having Fortitude on me. Hit points, gimme, gimme, gimme. And really, who doesn’t dig grabbing a drag off the Lightwell on Phase changes? What kind of Paladin would I be if I didn’t go for having Wings from Guardian Spirit?

I love having a Resto Druid heal me because…

HoTs are cool and synergize well with Spiritual Attunement. Rage tanks get their threat resource as soon as the damage lands. Paladins have to get refueled by healing that damage. A HoT reduces the lag time between hit and refuel. I also think Tree form looks cool. Mark of the Wild is like a mini Kings, an many a wipe turned into a kill because we had a Battle Rez up.

I love having a Resto Shaman heal me because …

I love having Earth Shield floating around me, and having both Strength of Earth Totem and Wrath of Air is fun times. Riptide is cool looking as well. Shamans seem to be able to throw some decent DPS even while Resto spec which is nice for burn phases. Our Shaman gets on vent, and we say “There’s Heroism…I mean Bluetide”. Who wouldn’t like to get big and start really dishing out the threat? And just like Battle Rez, Ankh is pretty nice wipe saver. Our Arms Warrior and Rogue (not sure of his spec) love Chain Heal bouncing from me to them.

I love having a Holy Paladin heal me because…
It’s very rhythmic. Paladin spells have a particular sound effect and they land at very regular intervals. I also love having another ‘set of Hands’. We can rotate Hand of Salvation on Mages as they climb past me on Hodir. Plus we get another Blessing for the Raid. Lay On Hands is about as colossal a ‘save me’ spell as you can get, and I don’t mind the extra armor it gives one bit.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Heroic Split

For a second time, I’ve had to watch my guild split in two. Heroes Inc had its parting of the ways sometime midday.

A formal breaking down into two separate guilds only publicly acknowledges what has been the actual situation for a while now.

Heroes Inc has operated two Raid Teams for most of Wrath. The Rock of Heroes Inc was ‘scored’ and a line of separation created.

Since I wasn’t in the guild at the time the two teams were formed, I’m not sure how the process went, but from what I infer, the teams were selected based on how each person wanted to do PVE, and how quickly people reached the new level cap.

One team was looking to get to the level cap and start working on Naxx post haste. Let’s call them Team One. The other team was taking a more relaxed approach. Let’s call them Team Alpha. Team One wanted to raid 3 nights a week, Team Alpha only wanted to raid two nights a week. Team One wanted to be ready to hit Ulduar the night it opened. Team Alpha wasn’t worried about it, and figured it would still be there a couple of weeks later.

I joined Team One after the Mal Katai split.

The Guild Master of Mal Katai announced they were going to disband the guild after the big split went down. Those of us left had a couple of days to find a new home.

I had been talking with my friends in Heroes, keeping them up to date on my progress in Naxx25 with Mal Katai. I, of course told them what had gone down with Mal Katai.

I was approached by the Raid Leader of Team One about joining them. I had to choose between them and Salvation (one of the 3 guilds that former Mal Katai people had joined en masse or started).

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in regards to WoW.

I’m happy to say I’m still great friends with Salvation, and talk with those guys (and gals) nearly every night I’m online.

Heroes Team One made some changes to make room for me. Their Feral Druid Tank volunteered to switch to his Mage and changed their Raid Schedule to accommodate my “Wednesdays r bad” schedule. At that point, they had already cleared Naxx. Team Alpha had not.

Now not long after I joined Heroes Inc Team One, the two teams started to get together, once or twice a month, for a 25 man Naxx run. These were great, and we had a lot of fun.

Each team would eventually clear Naxx10. The combined teams cleared Spider, Plague, Military, and Construct up to Thaddius. People were able to raid as frequently or infrequently as they wanted.

From my perspective things were going great.

Team One ran a consistent schedule. We raided the same nights every week. Team Alpha varied their schedule from week to week as some of their members had work schedules that changed week to week. Some nights both teams would be raiding. Other nights only one team would be raiding. Rarely was there a time when neither team was raiding.

It started to get difficult to run 5 mans, or run Battlegrounds or Arena with people who weren’t on your own Raid Team. My group started pugging 25 mans with friendly guilds on the server like Amber Knights and Salvation. The Guild Rock became stressed at the point where it had ‘scored’ and some tiny fractures started to form.

Then Ulduar came out. My Team hit it with a vengeance from the very first night it opened. The other team tried Ulduar. I don’t know if you remember, but Ulduar was quite difficult those first few weeks, especially the early fights of Razorscale, Ignis, and XT. Even the trash was hard. People wondered why they didn’t get badges from Flame Ravagers in Ignis’ trash.

Team Alpha concluded it wasn’t quite ready for Ulduar and decided to gear up a little more in Naxx. Those tiny fractures widen into cracks.

The combined 25 man runs ceased. We stopped PuGing 25 mans except for Vault.

As my team continued to plow into Ulduar, Achievement after Achievement would fill guild chat. While we got a couple of gratz from the other Team and our own subs, something was going on behind the scenes that I was unaware of at the time.

Apparently, some of the other Team members were beginning to get a little rankled at our success.

Since we weren’t running Naxx anymore, a couple of Team One members offered to fill in on Team Alpha’s Naxx runs if they were short people and to help gear them up. These offered were rebuffed and we were told Team Alpha didn’t want to be ‘carried’. The cracks had deepened and there was clear separation between the two halves.

I didn’t understand it, and I chalked it up to a misunderstanding.


Team Alpha was convinced our raids were run with military like precision and no fun was to be found. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We did stay on task for the most part, but all of us were having a blast.

It started to feel a bit like we weren’t just two separate Raid Teams, but two separate Guilds operating with a shared Chat channel to share Crafting Resources, a shared Guild Bank, and a shared Vent server.

Team One eventually cleared Ulduar about the time Team Alpha cleared the Antechamber.

Our Raid Leader began to discuss with us the possibility of breaking off into our own guild explaining that the situation would probably better for everyone in both Raid Groups.

I had grown really close with my Raid Team. We would often hang out in vent for hours after the raid was over just chatting.

I agreed to go wherever the Raid Team went, but I hoped the two groups and two raid leaders could work something out, and I encourage my Raid Leader to have a sit down with Team Alpha’s Raid Leader, and try to work out the differences.

Unfortunately, they both decided that a split was in the best interest of both Raid Groups.

Thus “Unusual Suspects” was born.

The news of the new guild apparently spread quickly. I almost immediately got whispers from some of my friends in Salvation. We really didn’t think, nor did we really care, if anyone noticed us. But as one of only 2 Alliance Guilds to down Yogg on either Normal or Heroic, it made more ‘news’ than we had thought it would.

Trade Chat Guy made sure to let us know that our ‘guild was newb’ and ‘we weren’t going anywhere’. We had an amused chuckle.

This split seemed much more amicable than the Mal Katai one. Not long after the guilds split, we created a chat channel to share between the guilds. I went into the chat interface and turned that channel green. It feels pretty much just like it did when we were just one guild.

Already there is discussion of running some Premade Battleground Groups. Both of my 3s partners are still in Heroes. I talked to them, and we are keeping the team intact. Sweet.

I had fully intended to make the move to Heroes my final guild move regardless of what ever happened progression wise. I had chased the Siren of Progression throughout Burning Crusade. While I don’t regret for one second the awesome friendships I made in Mal Katai, and Dominion, I didn’t want to repeat that process of Guild hopping in Wrath.

So here we go, a new adventure, a new guild, but with plenty of familiar friendly faces along for the ride.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it yet again, if I never have to make another “Guild” post for the rest of the life of this Game, I’ll be one happy camper.



(If I got any of the facts wrong, let me know.)

Honorshammer's Challenge! (Ret PVP Nerf)

“I don’t watch the News anymore; I think it makes me a happier person” – Honorshammer

“Ret Nerfed again!”
“Ret PVP is dead!”
“Okay, which one of you pwned some poor GM so he had us nerfed?”
“Reroll DK if you want to Arena as DPS, reroll Druid or Priest if you want to heal, or just roll Rogue/Mage/Priest and faceroll your way to Gladiator.”
“Do you really need any more proof after this, anyone can see it cleary, Blizzard hates Paladins!”

These are just some of the comments that have filled the forums since the announcement of the nerf to Vindication. For those not aware, here’s the official word from the Developers:

“We are in the process of completing a hotfix that could go live as early as this afternoon that will make the Paladin talent Vindication no longer reduce Intelligence or Stamina from the target it is applied to. The talent will continue to reduce Agility, Spirit, and Strength as it currently does. We felt this change will help balance the ability out, especially in the lower arena brackets where they are very prominent, while not being a negative impact on a Retribution Paladin’s PvE dps.Once this hotfix is live, the tooltip will be incorrect until we can update it in the next content patch.”

Nobody likes to get nerfed, and I will be the first to admit the reasoning does look a little shaky on the surface. Balancing around the ‘lower brackets’ seems akin to balancing around a 5 man normal dungeon, instead of Raids.

I’ll even further agree that Ret seems to have some very knee jerk nerfs directed at it and that it does feel a little bit “picked on”at times.

I think too many times, we read forums about what our class can’t do, or how bad off our class has it compared to other classes. It leads us to looking at those other classes with envious eyes and wondering why the Developers ‘hate us’ so. The problem comes when you let the negativity of the forums spill over into the game and affect the entertainment value, let’s call it fun, that you get from the game.

I know I’m guilty of this. It’s probably why I’ve got an entire stable full of alts. You start thinking “Gah, (insert class name) stinks, I’m changing to (insert new class name).”

You go to the forums to get or give advice or just to discuss your class with others who are knowledgeable about the class and share the same passion for the play style that you do. What you find far too often, not only on the General WoW forums, but on specialty sites like Maintankadin, PlusHeal and Tankspot, is many people complaining about what their class can’t do. While it’s important to understand the limitations of any class, the main reason for understanding your weaknesses is so you can work around them and minimize them.

I rolled my Paladin in 1.9 after one of the biggest nerfs to Paladins in the history of the game at that point. But I didn’t know about it. I wasn’t reading the forums. I didn’t know Paladins had been nerfed “INTO THE GROUND” as the saying goes. All I knew at the time was that I was having fun leveling my Paladin.

I talked with fellow Blogger Veneretio and I loved what he said, “I always write about what we can do, not what we can't. The tank topics that Tankspot released a while back do reveal issues with Warriors though. Some have been fixed. Some haven't. You'll never hear me write it even if there is a problem.”

That’s pretty much the same approach I’ve taken.

If you read the forums right now, you’ll hear how ‘once again’ Paladins are falling behind as a Tank choice. I took it seriously enough to get my Warrior up to 80 (though he’s not quite there yet). I wanted to have a backup plan.

Then I talked to my Raid Leader and he put in perspective : “I guess the only thing I can say is that if you are not having FUN on the pally ( not worried about effectiveness as I care more about the player not the class).”

So I thought about it last night as I tanked in Ulduar. I thought about it again as I was doing 3s with my Arena team.

I had blast tanking Ulduar. My 3s team is very fun.

Sure, I wish I had a shorter cool down interrupt off the global cool down.
Sure, I wish I had a distance closer.
Sure, I wish I had another tanking cool down.
Sure, I wish the Developers would get Ret to the point in PVP where all it needed was small tweaks every now and again, not major rewrites every other patch.
Sure, I wish itemization was a little better.
Sure, I wish the T8 Legs had a different graphic.

And I bet every class has a laundry ‘Wish List’ of buffs they’d like as well.

Am I worried the changes to Block will upset the Tanking balance. You’re darn tootin’ right I am. Am I worried the Developers will give Warriors their 4pc set bonus as a talent, but not give something similar to the Paladin. Absolutely, and that would stink.

Do I worry that Paladins will have a harder time tanking bosses or have a harder time having success in Arena? Yep.

But this ole boy was tanking Bosses when ‘everybody knew’ Paladins couldn’t do it. I tanked ole Magtheridon into ground without a Shield Wall. I did the pull on Hydross without Charge. I walked the line of keeping 2nd threat on Gruul. I did it all at a time, when ‘Paladins couldn’t do it’.

I believe that if it got to the point where I felt like it was holding back our Raid group for me to be a Paladin tank, then I would have to reevaluate it, but we aren't anywhere remote close to that. We aren't even in that Area Code.

So here’s my challenge to you if you are getting disgruntled with your class, regardless of what class you play. Stop reading forums for a week and just play. You aren’t going to miss any earth shattering news that you won’t be able to catch-up on within 10 minutes on MMO-Champion once the week is over.

As you play, ask yourself if you are having fun. If you are having fun, then stick with the class you enjoy playing, and choose to ignore the stuff on the forums. If you aren’t having fun, then yes, maybe it’s time for a new class, or possibly even a new game.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

PVP Upgrades Planning

With the success of my 3s team, I’m starting to get to a point I never have previously have gotten to before in WoW. I’m actually starting to qualify for PVP rated gear.

I’ve noticed there’s much less information on PVP than PVE. I can go on Maintankadin and find complete gear lists, and strategies on every boss. While I have found some good strategy information on the web, pretty much all of it is comp specific. I guess Ret/Arms/RestoD isn’t a very well known comp because there isn’t a whole lot of advice out there on it. We are kind of just making it up as we go along. I was extremely proud of our little team last night. After getting beat twice by an RMP (Rogue/Mage/Priest), we adjusted our strategy and beat them. It almost felt like Raiding. Two wipes and then we downed them.

I have also struggled to find information on what pieces of PVP gear I should prioritize to get over others. One really nice thing about PVP gear is it’s a guarantee. You get the rating, the Honor and the Arena Points and you get the loot. No RNG (Random Number Generator) involved. In PVE it’s all up to the RNG. We’ve killed Flame Leviathan every week since Ulduar opened, but I’ve never seen the Flamewatch Armguards drop, not one time. (You watch, it will drop tonight since I can’t make it - QQ)

So again I was on my own. Since every person’s situation is going to be different, let me walk you through how I decided to prioritize my gear. The first thing I did was make a list of all my current gear that I use in PVP.

Helm: Titansteel
Neck: Might of Levithan (FL-10)
Back: Deadly
Shoulders: Hateful
Chest: Heroes (Naxx10)
Bracers: Lost Sentiments (Naxx25?)
Hands: Hateful
Belt: Ascended Phantom (Naxx)
Legs: Heroes (Naxx10)
Boots: Titan Forge (WG)
Ring: Deadly
Ring: Hateful
Trinket: Greatness
Trinket: Titan Forged (WG)
Weapon : Stormedge (Hodir-10)
Libram : Venture Company

Then I looked at what I had available to me based on my Team Rating, Personal Rating and current amount of Honor, Arena Points, and Wintergrasp Marks.

Helm: Titansteel --> Deadly (1450)
Neck: Might of Leviathan (FL-10) --> Deadly
Back: Deadly
Shoulders: Hateful
Chest: Heroes (Naxx10) --> Deadly
Bracers: Lost Sentiments (Naxx) --> Furious
Hands: Hateful --> Deadly
Belt: Ascended Phantom (Naxx) --> Furious (1450)
Legs: Heroes (Naxx10) --> Deadly
Boots: Titan Forge (WG) --> Deadly?
Ring: Deadly
Ring: Hateful --> Furious
Trinket: Greatness
Trinket: Titan Forged (WG)
Weapon : Stormedge (Hodir-10) --> Deadly?
Libram : Venture Company --> Deadly

I put the Furious Belt and Deadly Helm in the upgrade because my Personal Rating is 1435 and I’m really close to being able to get them. I certainly won’t buy a lesser upgrade in that spot when I’m so close.

First thing I want to do is replace my lone blue, the Libram. I really need to buy the Badges one that used to drop in Naxx for my PVE suit anyway. Then I want to start attacking the rest of my PVE gear. My neck is a pretty high ilevel piece coming from Ulduar, so it can probably wait a bit.

I have enough points to get the Deadly Helm, Deadly Libram and Furious Bracers. I would have to wait on the Helm until I can get 15 more Personal Rating points, but I’m sure I can do that this week. I could get the Furious Belt, but that would pretty much wipe out my Honor.

Those 3 upgrades will make grinding the Honor that much easier. I’ll kill faster, and I’ll be both tougher to kill. That’s a good combination. My next two targets after I buy those 3 upgrades will be the Deadly Neck and Furious Belt. Those two are a nice round 100,000 Honor Points.

Once I get all my PVE gear replaced, I can start some of the incremental upgrades of Hateful to Deadly to Furious. I’ll start with pieces that have the highest rating. The Furious Helm is 1900 rating, so the Deadly one should last a good long while. Should my personal rating catch-up to my team rating, I’ll want to upgrade my Hateful Shoulders to Deadly. The Furious ones are 2050. So the Deadly should last.

It’s interesting to note that the bottleneck is not Arena points, but Honor. I see many Battlegrounds in Honors future.

Paladin Vocabulary, "Holy"

Holy. It’s one of those words people use everyday, both in game and out of game, yet most people have a hard time articulating what it means.

There is an entire subset of Paladins known as Holy Paladins, and of course one of the three Paladin talent trees is the Holy Tree. Paladins rely on Holy Light and Holy Shock as a major part of their healing rotation. These heals are augmented by Holy Guidance and Holy Power. Protection Paladins use Holy Shield to ensure every attack is at worst case a block, and all Paladins use Holy Wrath as an AoE spell for those pesky undead.

Holy has a connotation of being in connection to a higher power, or the Divine. It is synonymous with Sacred. This is also part of the Paladin Vocabulary. Paladin tanks fulfill their Sacred Duty while Holy Paladins improve their Cleanse spell with Sacred Cleansing. It’s closely tied to our idea of Divinity. That’s why I think our minds get a little fuzzy when we try to pen down a meaning for Holy. Our limited, mortal, natural minds simply have trouble fully conceptualizing that which is so unlimited, immortal, and supernatural.

Holy is an adjective applied to objects used in religious worship or thought to be belonging to a higher power. Certain religions use Holy to describe certain days. For instance in Catholicism, there are certain calendar dates considered to be "Holy Days of Obligation”. The word is even invoked in non religious settings. In the Constitution of the United States, it refers to Sacred (or Holy) truths.

Holy carries with it the idea of being set apart. This comes from its usage in Judaism. The instruments and tools used in Jewish worship were Holy and set apart. In the Temple of Jerusalem was found the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could go. It was believed that he would enter into the actual presence of God between the Angels on top of the Ark of the Covenant and make atonement for the sins of the people. He wore a bell around his ankle so those outside the Holy of Holies could here if he was still moving or had been struck dead by seeing God.

In Christianity, Holy is one of the major attributes of God. In both the Old Testament book of Isaiah and the New Testament book of Revelation, the reader is shown a picture of the throne room of Heaven where Angels surround God and are constantly praising him saying “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord Gold Almighty”.

Holiness also refers to the change that occurs when a person begins a personal relationship with Christ. Christians believe at that point a spiritual transaction takes place. God takes all our mistakes, our rebellion, and everything we’ve done wrong (i.e. sin) and trades those for the Holiness of Christ. Our sin is put on Christ and dealt with at the Cross. God then sees the Christian as he sees his own Son. The Christian is Holy, Perfect, and Sinless in God's sight.

Holy is a word that helps to remind us of the Paladins origins as Priests (i.e. ‘Holy Men’). Paladins are set apart and are dedicated to their higher power. It reminds us that Paladins derive their power from the supernatural, and not from the study of magic. Despite what the Blood Elves may have believed, the Light is not just another form of magic, but the essences of something far more powerful.