Monday, August 31, 2009

Tankadin 101

(This information is still largely accurate to patch 3.3.5)

This is my guide to Paladin Tanking. It's written on an entry 101 kind of level. If you are new to Paladin tanking, this guide was written for you. For you grizzled veterans, look it over and see if you agree with my advice to our young Padawans. Feel free to email me, or drop me a comment if you feel like something in this article is inaccurate or simply bad advice.

If you find this article eerily similar to the Protection Paladin entry on Raider101.com, that would be because I wrote the article at Raider101.

Introduction
Protection paladins are powerful tanks. They excel at every facet of tanking. At the moment, Paladins have very high threat generation. Paladins can tank every boss in the game and fulfill any tanking role. In addition, they bring powerful group buffs like Blessings, Hands and Auras.

Talent Builds

Standard: http://www.wowarmory.com/talent-calc.xml?cid=2&tal=000000000000000000000000000500503500313231133331232150230201200300000000000000∞You This build has 3 'flavor' points in the lower part of the Prot tree. You can put these three points into Reckoning (for threat), Divine Sacrifice/Improved Hammer of Justice (for a shorter cooldown on your stun, and a bit of utility), or Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian (for utility).

Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian is best for Paladins who find themselves primarily in offtanking roles or those who do not run with a Holy Paladin. There is one 'wasted' point in the Ret tree, which is currently shown as the second point of Improved Judgement. You need this point to get enough points to go further down the tree. If you are following the 969 rotation (discussed below) to the letter the 2/2 in Improved Judgements is (strictly speaking) sub-optimal as it reduces the CD on Judgements to 8 seconds which is not evenly divisible by the 1.5 second GCD, whereas going 1/2 in Improved Judgements makes the CD 9 seconds which does mesh with the GCD. However, 2/2 Improved Judgment is nice to have in soloing/daily quest situations, so that's why I put the point there.

There is fierce debate among experienced Protection Paladins over Pursuit of Justice (PoJ). Some feel you can get by okay with just a Tuskar's Vitality enchant, which gives you some run speed, but less than PoJ. Others swear by PoJ. I've recently changed to the pro-PoJ camp, however; if you decide to not take PoJ, put those 2 points into Conviction.

Abilities
Primary Seal: Seal of Vengeance if Alliance; Seal of Corruption if Horde

Primary Judgement: Judgement of Wisdom if you need mana or Judgement of Light if you don't. Judgements were normalized in Patch 3.2 so they have the same effect regardless of which Paladin judges them. Your key debuff "Judgements of the Just" is its own debuff now and can no longer be removed from the Boss by another Paladin judging the wrong thing.

Primary Aura: Devotion Aura

Keep Righteous Fury and your assigned blessing active at all times. For Progression Tanking, the Blessings you want (in order of preference) are Blessing of Kings, Blessing Sanctuary, Blessing of Might, Blessing of Wisdom. For 5 mans, you will want Sanctuary.

Threat Rotation

A Protection Paladin uses a "969" rotation. She alternates between abilities with an 8-9 second cooldown (Holy Shield, Judgement of Wisdom∞) and abilities with a 6 second cooldown (Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of the Righteous).

Here is a sample rotation. It looks long, but watch for the "96969" rhythm:

Seal of Vengeance (Actually prepped before)
Avenger's Shield
Divine Plea
Judge(9)
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Consecrate(9)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)
Holy Shield(9)
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Judge(9)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)
Consecrate(9)
Shield of Righteousness (6)
Holy Shield(9)
Hammer of the Righteous(6)
Judge(9)

Other important abilities:
Hand of Reckoning - Single target taunt
Righteous Defense - Backup taunt, multi-target
Hand of Salvation - Cast this on any DPS who is at 90%+ threat

Key Cooldowns
Divine Protection - Akin to a Warrior's Shield Wall, it's your major active Cooldown. Your 4pc T9 lowers it's cooldown to just 90 seconds.
Ardent Defender - Passive, but a major 'cooldown' for Protection Paladins.
Divine Plea - This should be on cooldown at all times.
Lay on Hands - It's long cooldown means you have to careful when you use it, but the ability to refill your entire life bar will get out of trouble.
Avenging Wrath - Use this when your raid is under the effects of Bloodlust/Heroism or anytime you need a threat boost. Note that using this will prevent you from using Divine Protection for 30 seconds.

Key Stats

Stats are listed in order of importance. All these stats are useful, but look for gear with more stats from the top of the list.

Stamina
Defense Rating - minimum of 540 Defense (689 Defense Rating)
Dodge Rating
Parry Rating
Armor
Strength
Block Value
Hit Rating
Expertise
Attack Power
Block Rating

You must have at least 540 Defense if you want to tank raids. If you have less, bosses can critically hit you for double damage. You will die a horrible death and your raid will wipe. Likewise you must have at least 535 Defense for Heroics. Having more than these minimums is not a problem. On the contrary, Defense is one of the best ways to improve your avoidance (chance for the Boss to miss you).

With Diminishing Returns added to Block Value in Patch 3.2, Block Value will fluctuate in it's importance as a stat.



  • If your raid-buffed BV is <> BV > Hit > Expertise > AP
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2500 but <> Expertise > AP, with BV rapidly declining in value
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2950 then Hit > STR > Expertise > AP, and BV is worthless for threat

Recommended Glyphs

Major
Glyph of Divine Plea
Glyph of Righteous Defense
Glyph of Seal of VengeanceOr Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous

Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous will be better if you run mostly Heroics, but Seal of Vengeance is better for Raids. Once you have over 25 Expertise Skill, the value of the Seal of Vengeance glyph goes down slightly.

Minor
Glyph of Sense Undead
Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Blessign of Kings

Recommended Enchants

Enchants are listed from best and most expensive to least expensive. If you have a crafting profession, you may have access to crafter-only enchants which are better than these recommendations.

Head: Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle or Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle
Chest: Greater Defense
Cloak: Titanweave
Bracers: Major Stamina
Hands: Armsman
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Frosthide Leg Armor or Jormungar Leg Armor
Feet: Tuskar's Vitality or Greater Fortitude
Weapon: Blood Draining for survival, or Accuracy for threat
Shield: Defense

Recommended Gems
Meta: Austere Earthsiege Diamond or Eternal Earthsiege Diamond
Red: Shifting
Yellow: Enduring or Thick Only use Thick if that's the only way for you to maintain the Defense minimum.
Blue: Solid
Prismatic: SolidIf you are a Jewelcrafter, Solid Dragonseyes should still be placed in Red slots if the bonus is less than 9 stamina.

Recommended Consumables
Flask: Flask of Stoneblood
Food: Dragonfin Fillet

Additional Tips

  • Make sure the mobs you are tanking are in front of you. That way you can block and parry their attacks.
  • Practice your rotation on Target Dummies until it becomes ingrained. You will have much more to pay attention when progression tanking than just your action bar.

Sources and Other Resources
Maintankadin - Go there, find the Basic Training section and read all the stickies. Then close your browser. Open it up again, go back to Maintankadin, back to the Basic Training section and read all the stickies again. Then go tank something. When you are done, go back and read all the stickies again.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Unnaturally Cold

A little bit of news before I get into last night’s raid. I’ve got a major post coming out on Monday. You don’t want to miss it!

Now, last night was a strange night for Team Ellevis. We had killed every boss available in Coliseum on Tuesday, so we headed back to Ulduar on Thursday.

We knocked out Flame Leviathan and headed over to XT. We've been doing XT Hard Mode for months now, but we still have a couple of people who need loot off him. For some reason, it just wasn't clicking last night on XT.

XT is one of those fights that tough on a tank because we really aren't in a critical role. I know that probably sounds weird, but basically I stand there and work on my Threat rotations. Oh, we have to be alert to using our cooldowns if we get low, but whether or not we are going to kill the boss is much more dependant on the other raiders handling the Light Bombs, Gravity Bombs and Sparks. It's a fight that's all about execution, and for whatever reason, we were just off our game last night.

After several unsuccessful attempts, we decided to just kill him normally. I'm sure the guys wanting Hard Mode loots were disappointed, but it was time to move on.

I think the guys may be getting a little tired of Ulduar. As we pulled trash our Mage would constantly try to pull extra groups and see if we could handle it. He might have been a touch bored.

We did Open Arms on Kologarn (kill him without killing his arms). I had to really watch my AoE as both Consecration and Hammer of the Righteous would hit the arms and we didn't want one of them dying from collateral damage. Even with just Holy Shield, Shield of the Righteous and Judgment, I was able to hold threat.

For Auriaya, we did the Nine Lives achievement. I just had to kite the boss to a new spot when the Feral Defender dropped his void zone. We actually had to slow down on DPS so we wouldn't kill Auriaya before we killed the Feral Defender nine times.

Next up was Hodir. After our struggles on XT, I didn't hold out much hope for Hard Mode. I asked Ellevis if we could give it a try. He said we would give it a couple of attempts. The first attempt went really well. I nearly got myself got in an Ice Block during Flash Freeze, but I made it just in time. I believe that Pursuit of Justice made the difference.

We had one person get caught in a Flash Freeze with Hodir at about 45%. We ended up wiping it, but we had new found confidence we could pull it off.

Marksman Hunters are so good for this fight, and we had two of them in our raid. With their Rapid Fire --> Readiness --> Rapid Fire, they poured a ton of damage out early on. The next pull we downed it.

We rezzed the dead and I waited for loot. I already had LOL!!! typed in and ready to send to the raid, awaiting for the announcement that we had gotten a 6th Staff of Enduring Winter on our 6th kill of Hodir Hard. But there it was, Shiver!

I told Ellevis I would be interested in it. It's very similar to the Titanguard. I lose 1 Str, 8 Defense, 6 Hit and pick up a socket, plus 5 Expertise Skill (not rating, skill) from my Dwarf Racial. I threw a Solid Mystic Zircon in there as soon as the raid was over. Now I just need to get the mats together to get Blood Draining put on it. I’ll get a screenshot once it’s all enchanted up.

It was only after the kill that I was reminded that Hodir is one of 4 bosses we need for Champion of Ulduar. . To get Champion of Uludar you have to do each boss with none one dying and it being a one shot. Once you do that once for a Boss, you have credit for it. We have credit for all the bosses in Uludar expect 4. We need Hodir, Mimiron, Iron Council and Yogg. If we do Hodir again, I'm going to tell Ellevis we can forgo Hard Mode and try to get Hodir down for Champion of Ulduar.

Boreal Guard (the Shield that can drop from Hodir Hard) is the last bit of loot I need from Ulduar. It’s every bit as good as the Bulwark of the Royal Guard (Heroic) from Anub'barak in Heroic Trial of the Crusader 10 man. Next week we should be able to down Anub'arak in Normal 10 man and open up Heroic. I firmly believe we'll be able to clear Heroic 10 man at some point. It seems selfish to keep the whole raid from a shot at Champion of Ulduar just so I can get a shot at Boreal Guard, so I'll set my sites on Bulwark of the Royal Guard (Heroic) now.

We can still try to get Mimiron, Iron Council and Yogg this week if we go back to Ulduar on Monday. We've come close on Mimiron a couple of times, and I'm sure if we do Runemaster last, we can get Iron Council. If we forgo Hard Mode, I think we can probably get Hodir, too. Yogg, well that's going to be a tough one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cataclysmic Math (Release Date Speculation)

So we’re all on vent discussing our theories on when Cataclysm might drop. I’m looking for a Christmas 2010 release, others in my guild were looking more for a May release.

The logic behind the Christmas release is fairly straightforward. I predicted back in May that the Expansion would be unveiled at Blizzcon.

“Blizzcon is coming up, and I believe there is a good chance Blizzard announces the next Expansion at Blizzcon. Wrath was announced two years ago at Blizzcon 2007.” (http://honorscode.blogspot.com/2009/05/future-of-engineering.html)

The other prediction I made in that post was not entirely true, but I was darn close. I predicted an Engineer class, but instead we got a Goblin race. Goblin is one of the specialties of Engineering so you might say ‘from a certain point of view’, that I was right on that one as well.

So my logic goes something like this. Burning Crusade drops, the next Blizzcon (2007) they announce Wrath. Wrath drops around Christmas 2008. So following the same pattern, Wrath drops. The next Blizzcon (2009) they announce Cataclysm. Then we conclude Cataclysm will drop Christmas 2010.

Brilliant, eh?

During the course of the conversation, we discussed how long patches were lasting as a predictor of when the Expansion would be upon us. If you look at the first patch, it lasted from mid November to mid April, or about 5 months. The Ulduar patch lasted from mid April to early August. Again, that’s about 5 months. Now if Crusade lasts about 5 months that puts Ice Crown out around January. That perfectly positions it near the time when people playing Aion will be done with their free month they get for buying the game. And just as they will be making a decision on getting their Aion subscription or not, here comes Arthas, in the....err..flesh? Blizzard is not unaware of these kind of things. You can’t be as successful as Blizzard is and not have some really smart people working for you.

That scenario would require IceCrown to last almost an entire year if my guess of November is right.

If Icecrown were to last only about the same time as the other patches have, that is about 5 months, then that would put the Expansion out around July which is much closer to my guildmates guess. That would also put it out before the next Blizzcon. Which would make sense given that while discussing the new Goblin race, Tom Chilton (a lead designer for World of Warcraft) voiced a thought something along the lines of “I’m sure Alliance will be complaining about Goblin rogues at the next BlizzCon.”

But I was thinking, what if Blizzard’s goal was actually that each major patch lasts about 4 months, and the reason it looks like 5 months is a week here and week there on delays. If you remember not too long after Burning Crusade came out, Blizzard stated their goal was 1 expansion per year. Obviously, that turned out to be a little ambitious. So instead of a full 10 level expansion, which took 2 years to get out, why not cut that in half, to say 5 levels. Now, maybe that’s something you can get done in a year.

Then recently, when answering the question if there was more beyond Ice Crown in Wrath, the Community Managers responded that they plan on having 3 major patches each Expansion. Ice Crown is it.

Now you do the math. 3 major patches per Expansion. Each patch should run about 4 months. That’s 12 months, or 1 year worth of the content, and boom! you are ready for the next Xpac.

Why Do I Play - Part 1, Life Before WoW

Blogger Tobold has been doing a fascinating series called "Why do we play?" wherein he looks for the various reason people play an MMORPG. That got me thinking about the question of why do I play?

This is really important to me right now because at somepoint in 2010 I'll have a decision, a major decision, to make.

So I went back to the beginning. Why did I get started in WoW in the first place?

Before I ever started WoW, video/computer games were already a big part of life.

I started out on an Atari 2600, and then moved up to an Atari 7200. My sister would play Pac-Man with me. In that game, you alternated turns so when she died, it was my turn, and when I died, and it was her turn. When it came my turn, you would make a big deal of getting some pillows and getting really comfortable, because she was going to be there a while. My Dad and I played Atari Baseball.

Then I got a Commodore 64. I played games like Summer Games and my first RPG game whose name I can't remember. I got seriously hooked into Red Baron, and Aces of the Pacific. I played a text based game called Zork.

It was around this time that my Dad remarried. I didn't get along with my step Mom, or my new step Sisters. So I pretty much holed up in my room with my C64. I'd play and play and kind of forget the chaos that existed on the other side of my bedroom door.
I moved on to consoles as I got to college. My best friend in college was named Daniel, and he would come over to my dorm room about 7 or so. Our girlfriends would show up about 8. They sat and talked (sometimes about us) while he and I would play Techmo Bowl. Then about 10 when the clubs opened, we’d head out for the evening.

Then Daniel got a new computer, a 486DX WITH the math coprocessor! It was hot stuff.

Suddenly I was introduced to games like Civilization, X-Wing, and Dune (which was the precursor to all modern RTS games). He also introduced me to Curse of the Azure Bonds. That game was a blast.

After college, I got myself established and bought a computer of my own. It was first generation Pentium. Around this time, games began to demand a separate Video Card. The first games I bought for that computer were X-Wing Versus Tie Fighter, Civilization II, and Sierra's Football Pro 98.

I had missed the original Quake, but was intrigued by a game using the Quake engine called Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. This was the first video game where I could play out a childhood fantasy and be a Jedi. It included Full Motion Video cut scenes (with actors). I played that game through at least 3 or 4 times. It also had an online death match mode. I got involved in a clan and found the wonders of IRC and message boards. I was married by that point and my wife enjoyed watching me play, and even helped me solve some of the games puzzles. It was cool.

I played the expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith and the sequels Jedi Knight II and Jedi Knight Academy. I played just about every game that Lucas Arts made with the Star Wars IP including the bad ones like Rebellion. I continued to play the Civilization games, and got into the Madden NFL series.

I had always had fond memories of Curse of the Azure Bonds, and really wanted someone to make a modern game based on that. You can imagine how excited I was to hear about Baldur's Gate, which was exactly what I was hoping for. I became immersed in the world and played the follow ups Tales of the Sword Coast, The Shadows of Amn and the Throne of Bhaal.

My buddy Adam and I got into the Rainbow Six series of games. He would be a sniper and I would cover for him.

Then he recommended to me that we try a game called Starcraft. I had never been in RTS games much, but Starcraft really hooked me in. My friend and I played many a game both with and against each other. I loved the Terrans, but he had a Protoss Zealot rush that was really tough to beat. There is something very satisfying in hearing a dozen Siege Tanks go into Siege Mode and just leveling a Protoss base. When my friend moved to California, we still played Starcraft.

Blizzard had a new RTS coming out, Warcraft III. Adam and I dove into it. The single player campaign was compelling and the online game play was a ton of fun. I preferred Humans and loved Tanks, Riflemen, and Mortor Teams. I still have found memories of sending my mortar teams into battle with their yell of "MORTAR COMBAT!!" Still brings a smile to my face. We played Warcraft III and the expansion pack The Frozen Throne. My favorite Hero was the Mountain King.

BioWare teamed up with Lucas Arts to produce Knights of the Old Republic. It was the gameplay I had loved in Baldur's Gate, but now set in my favorite IP of Star Wars. KotOR joined Civ as what I call a 4am game. A 4am game is one that I found myself staying up to 4am playing. In Civ it was called the "One more turn" syndrome. You just wanted to play one more turn, and the next thing you know its 4am. It wasn't any surprise that I enjoyed the follow-up Knights of the Old Republic II.

The MMO market was dominated by Everquest, and Galaxies had come out. Blizzard had its own offering in World of Warcraft. I maintained that I had neither the time nor the money to get involved in an MMO. Galaxies probably had the best shot, but certain design decisions really turned me off from trying the game. Sorry, I want to play a Jedi, and I knew my luck. I wouldn't have been one of the 'lucky' ones that was force sensitive.

Early in 2006, my friend Adam got hired on at Blizzard as a GM for World of Warcraft. One of the perks was that he got two free World of Warcraft accounts. You got the game and your monthly was free. I lobbied for him to give one of his 'freebies' to me, and he was kind of enough to do that.

We rolled a couple of humans on the server Rexxar. I was a Paladin; he was a Warrior, if I remember correctly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Double Trouble - The Twin Val'kyr

Last night we were eagerly anticipating the next new boss to be released in the Coliseum, the Twin Val’kyrs.

But before we could play with them, we had to clear the first 3 bosses in Coliseum.

First up was Northrend Beasts. My Raid Leader showed me a little trick that really helped with picking up the Worms after they go underground. When they come back up, it’s a complete aggro wipe. If they come up next to one of your squishiest and you don’t taunt quick enough, you can lose people.

What he showed me was there a little dirt trail you can follow that will show you where the Worm is going to surface at. Following that trail, I was on top of Dreadscale each time he surfaced. I think he might have bugged out, because Dreadscale didn’t enrage when Acidmaw died.

Then we fought Lord Jaraxxus. I was on Sisters and Infernals. The Sisters are a piece of cake; the Infernals are a little tougher. They don’t spawn directly from the volcano, but instead get shot some distance away. Then at some point they roll into a ball and charge away from you. Fortunately, they don’t hit really hard, even on cloth, so if I was slow picking one up, it wasn’t that dangerous.

Next up on the docket was the Faction Champions. Last week, we dominated these guys with a clean one shot. Our success was not to be repeated.

This week our group of opponents was Holy Paladin, Resto Shaman, Hunter, Mage, Death Knight, and Warrior.

We tried our strategy from last week of CC on one healer and burning down the other. We crowd controlled the Paladin and tried to blow up the Shaman. The problem was by the time we blew up the Shaman; their DPS had killed two of our clothies.

We tried a variety of different strategies, but it seemed no matter what we did, we had lost too many people by the time one or two of the Horde was down. We were really struggling to identify which of the enemy mobs was the most dangerous. It seemed like whichever one was left alone would cause major damage to us.

In this fight, CC is using PVP rules, which means your CC is very short and subject to diminishing returns. Each time you reapply the CC, it works for a shorter amount of time, until finally they become immune.

It would have been nice to have had our Warlock in the raid. Those guys have a ton of quick CC, while doing great damage.

We had reached the point where we decided to just save them for Thursday and hope the instance would soft reset and we’d get a different matrix. We opted for one last try.


This is how I remember the fight going. Theirs is at least a 37.5278% chance that I’ve remembered something wrong.

We had gone back to our original strategy of blowing up the Shaman. I put Repentance on the Warrior and opened up with Wings. The fight was so crazy. I was dpsing, and then cleansing someone, then throwing heals on somebody, BoPing (Hand of Protection) a clothie.

The Shaman went down, and we still had our whole team up. We changed our DPS target to the Warrior, but lost one of our Priests.

We got the Warrior down, but had lost a Mage. Then we put the Death Knight down. Our next target was the Mage, but in the process we lost our Death Knight.

The Horde was down to the Hunter and the Holy Paladin. I kept the Hunter pet taunted as much as I could to keep him off our clothies. We managed to kill the Hunter, but his pet stayed. Everyone then switched to the Holy Paladin. Somehow we had done it. We had been completely frustrated, but it was all smiles once they went down.

What impressed me the most was that as we wiped again and again, I never saw or heard the kind of sniping and arguing I’ve seen in other guilds as you start struggling with a boss, especially one you one-shot the week before. There was no finger pointing, no blame game. It was just 10 guys and gals trying to figure out how we could use our collective skills and abilities to beat the boss.

Now we got to try out the Twin Val’kyr. After the test the Faction Champions gave us, we certainly had our game faces on.

When you begin the fight, 4 portals spawn. There’s one Light and one Dark Portal on each side of the room.

We split the raid in two. My team would be fighting the Dark Twin (Darkbane). Ellevis’ team would fighting the Light Twin (Lightbane). My group would need to click the Light portal when we started the fight, and Ellevis’ group would need to click the Dark portal. The portals don’t take you anywhere or phase you. You can see the other team the whole time.

You do extra damage if you are fighting the opposite color, but half damage if you are fighting the same color.

We hadn’t discussed it ahead of time, but I was really happy with the way Ellevis split up the groups. I loved that myself as a Paladin would have the Light essence, and Ellevis, a Death Knight, would have the Dark essence. It just fit. It wouldn’t have been a problem if he had done it the other way around, but I liked the way it worked out.

After clicking the portal, I ran in and threw my shield at Darkbane. I tanked her in-between the two portals.

The next part of the fight is dodgeball. Light and Dark orbs start moving around the room. There are a ton of orbs. You mission is to ‘dodge’ the ones that are opposite to you, and hit the ones that aren’t. They come from all sides and even behind you.
I was epically bad at dodgeball in elementary school. I wasn’t much better last night. Good thing for me that our Shaman could easily out heal the damage of hitting the wrong color.

Lightbane then shielded herself and started to cast Twins Pact. Twins Pact is a huge heal. It’s a got 15 second cast time. You’ve got to DPS through the shield before any interrupt can be attempted. We had all DPS switch to Lightbane, even though the DPS from my team wasn’t going to do a whole lot of damage.

We easily took the shield down in time and got the heal interrupted.

A raid warning came up that Lightbane was powering up Dark Vortex. Basically she spins like a ballerina, and hits everyone in the raid with Dark energy. You have a couple of seconds to react. The Dark team didn’t need to do anything. My team needed to run to the Dark portal on our side of the room and click it to change to Dark. That way the Dark Vortex wouldn’t hurt us. Immediately after the Dark Vortex was over, we switched back to Light.

Then Darkbane repeated the moves that Lightbane had done. I was originally worried about the interrupt. Paladins interrupt is a long cooldown (1 min, 40 seconds talented which I didn’t have), and it’s subject to the Global Cooldown. When the shield went up, I simply stopped by rotation, letting my SoV DoTs and Consecration keep aggro, and waited for the shield to drop. I’m not sure if I got it the interrupt or Ofn (Rogue) did. What matters is she didn’t get the heal off.

Once again, the new boss was a one shot. The damage just isn’t punishing on mistakes. You can be the wrong color for a vortex, get hit by multiple orbs, but the damage is all healable with just two healers. The Twins don’t melee near as hard as any boss in Ulduar.

I’d put our 10 man team up against just about any other 10 man on our realm. These guys are good, and it’s a privilege to be part of this team.

Monday, August 24, 2009

FOR THE.....HORDE!!

My guild leader took the announcement of the new expansion to make a major announcement of his own.

I know it's still early and the xpac will not be out for awhile but it's safe to assume that we will be switching to Horde for it. With this in mind I was curious as to how people felt about all aspects of this.

I don't expect people to know what class they will want to play right now but I figure some already know what role they would like ( DPS, Tank, healer ) and some might know the class they want.

As always, I try to accommodate people as I want them to be happy in what they play. Obviously though we can't end up having all tanks or all DPS .


So far it looks like lots of people interested in tanks and melee. Warriors, Druids, and Death Knights seem to be very popular choices. Not a lot of healers or Ranged DPS.

I responded that I just don't know what I want to do yet, largely because I don't.

I've always preferred Alliance to Horde, but once faction transfers are available, AoS Alliance will become even more of a ghost town than it already is.

I really like my current guild. It's a fantastic group of guys and gals. We get stuff done, bosses die, and we have fun doing it. Most of us are what I call O.T.A (over traditional age). We are mostly adults with lives, families and stuff in 'real life' going on outside of WoW.

This is a group of guys I'd jump ship to stay with, without a question. I’m continuing to level up my Tauren Druid to get a feel for the Hordeside and to learn my way around their flight points and cities.

But I’m really unsure as to what I’m going to do in Cataclysm.

The idea of being a Tauren Paladin is very appealing to me. The Tauren are my favorite Hordeside race. I'd keep all the achievements, pets, and reputation I've built up on Honorshammer. Having those beautiful shields and offset two handers scale up to the Tauren model would make them look all the more impressive. The Tauern health bonus is really cool and Warstomp is a bonus. It's a much better option than having to be a Blood Elf.

But there are times that I wonder if I want to stay in the tanking business. I will have been tanking for two full expansions when Cataclysm drops. The responsibility on a tank starts to weigh on you after a while. One mistake and you can wipe the entire raid. I’ve felt this especially on the Thorim fight. I was too slow in the hallway, but I always got people killed when I did Arena.

Maybe this time around, I'll be Retribution first with a Protection off spec. I could still tank in a pinch, or for a 5 man group, but I wouldn't have to tank in Raids. There are many nights that I’m the only Paladin in our little raid group, so we could keep the Blessings buff.

The problem is once you get off the tanking gig, it's hard to get back on it. Guilds tend to keep the same tanks for years. If I gave up tanking, it would also mean more nights where I sat out raids instead of getting an invite.

And seeing the Ret Paladin at Blizzcon basically get booed off the stage reminded me that Paladins, and especially Ret Paladins, are probably the most hated class in all of World of Warcraft. Ret seems to go through a buff-nerf-nerf-buff-nerf-nerf roller coaster every expansion. But I don’t know, maybe every class feels that way.

I've never liked the concept of a huge, plated Holy warrior standing in the back and healing. It's never made sense to me. Then you add in the fact that Paladin healing wasn't very fun or exciting (especially when I was a mainspec Holy Paladin in Vanilla WoW). I think you can see why Holy has never held much appeal to me.

Perhaps with WoW getting a reboot in Cataclysm, I need one as well. Honorshammer kills Arthas and rides off into the sunset. I would get a new name, a new race, a new role, a new class.

I've never changed mains in the 3 plus years I've been playing WoW. I'm not sure if I could pull the trigger and do it in Cataclysm.

What if that old tanking bug hits me again, I'd like the option to pursue it. I'd love the option to try out healing on something that isn't a Paladin, and to do some ranged DPS.

There's really only one class that pull that off, and that's a Druid. I know at least 2 of our team are thinking they will be Druids in the Xpac, one of which has been a Boomkin almost as long as I've been a Paladin. If I went Druid as well, it would mean we'd be pretty Druid heavy. Two Boomkins in a Raid? Probably not the best idea.

DKs aren't an option for me. I just don't personally enjoy the class. If you do, that's great, more power to you. I don't.

The only other Tanking class is the Warrior. I've got a level 80 Warrior and he's fun. I've pretty much dropped him because I absolutely hate the Heroic Strike mechanic. We've got at least two people in my raid group wanting to do the Warrior thing next Xpac. A third just isn't practical.

My other Level 80 is a Hunter. Again he's a lot of fun, but I've experienced trying to get groups as DPS. It's a lot harder than as a Tank. Sometimes, as a Tank, I feel like the only girl at a nightclub at 1:30am.

"You got Deeps to the left, Deeps to the right, and you're the only tank online..." (Think Fins by Jimmy Buffet)

Groups seek me out and I like that. I hate having to try to put together my own group. Plus, Hunters are undergoing a huge rewrite moving from mana to focus. That probably means some big balancing changes throughout Cataclysm.

The other idea I've had bouncing around in my head is a true restart, a Goblin. I start a Level 1 Goblin Shaman and take him all the way to level cap where I join my friends. I'll be at least a month or two behind them, but I'll get to see all the new content that the redone zones have to offer. To my knowledge, no one in our group is planning to play a Shaman. They can do ranged DPS or heal, and I can bring the Heroism buff.

My biggest concern is that one of my friends just did a main switch from his Shaman to his Warrior. This guy is a lot like me, and I'm concerned that whatever turned him off to the shaman will turn me off as well.

So yeah, I responded that I have no clue what I want to do for Cataclysm. My guild leader thinks it'll be here around May 2010, around 9 months from now. I'm thinking closer to the Christmas 2010, which would be almost 16 months away. Either way it's plenty of time to figure out what I want to do.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sacred Shield Inquiry

I received the following inquiry while I was away on vacation.

"Is SS worth it for a pally to keep up? Is it a smart choice for a Prot Pally to spec into Divine Guardian (improving Sacred Shield) ? I'm curious as to your take on this.

Further I've heard the absorbtion of Sacred Shield doesn't work if it is a blocked hit. That makes no sense to me but I was curious if you've heard about any correlation or way Sacred Shield and a blocked hit interact. My assumption is that the damage from the blow is first mitigated by the block and then the X amount of damage is absorbed by the shield (provided it is up).

Any light you could shed on this issue would be much appreciated. =D" - apokteino

Let's address this point by point.

Allow me to reword the first question to be a little more precise. Should a Protection Paladin spend a global cooldown every 30 to 60 seconds to keep the Sacred Shield buff on himself?

It all depends on if you have a Holy Paladin assigned to heal you. If you do, you should not have your own Sacred Shield up. In Patch 3.2, the developers fixed what they called a bug that allowed a Paladin to have multiple Sacred Shields. With this fix, you can only have one Sacred Shield on you, and if you have one of our Holy brothers healing you, you want his to be the one that's up. It'll absorb more than yours and it'll let him trigger that sexy Heal over Time he got in Patch 3.2.

Now if you don't run with a Holy Paladin, and I can only imagine that is in 10 and 5 mans, you should absolutely be sacrificing a global cooldown every 30 to 60 seconds to keep Sacred Shield up.

This also helps us answer the question of how good Divine Guardian is. You need to think about how often you are going to run with a Holy Paladin. The more often you run with a Holy Paladin, the less valuable points in Divine Guardian are to you. If you know you will always have a Holy Paladin, you don't want to spec into Divine Guardian.

Let's look at my situation (since I know it the best). I run mainly 5 and 10 mans. We have a fantastic Holy Paladin in our roster for 10 mans, but he's in the raid about 50% of time or less. So it would probably make sense for me to have points in Divine Guardian. If you Armory me, you'll see I currently have my 'flavor' points in Reckoning. That's because right now, the Bosses in Coliseum aren't challenging my surivabiltiy, so I'm going for a little threat. It's also because I'm a fan of Reckoning. It's a fun talent, and a threat boost, albeit a small one.

Now lets look at the question of how Sacred Shield works with Block.

Absorbtion affects, like Sacred Shield, Power Word: Shield, etc, work on a Blocked hit. I run with a Discipline Priest most of the time, so it's possible the absorbtion with a blocked hit is only from his shields, but I find that unlikely.

It actually doesn't matter mathmatically whether the absorb from Sacred Shield comes before or after the damage reduction from Blocking. They are both static reductions.

For instance, let's say your Sacred Shield absorbed for 1000 and you blocked for 2000 and the hit after armor was 10000.

10000 - 1000 - 2000 = 7000
10000 - 2000 - 1000 = 7000

If whichever came first totally negated the attack, the other wouldn't be seen, but anything you can fully block or fully absorb would have to be classified as a trivial mob.

What is interesting is that when Ardent Defender became an absorb effect it actually lost some of its effectiveness.

Prior to 3.2, the 30% damage reduction was applied to the amount before absorbs/blocks.
In 3.2, the 30% damage reduction is applied to the amount after absorbs/blocks.

So, for example, let's say your below 35% health...and get hit for 8k. Lets also assume that you have 2k BV.

Back in 3.1, you would get hit for 8000- (8000*.3) - 2000 = 3600
On live, You will get hit for 8000-2000= 6000 - (6000*.3) = 4200

Effectively, the absorb effect of AD is calculated in a different spot. As a result, you take more damage with the new AD than you did with the old AD from that hit. But the new AD is far more useful since it can't be leapfrogged, you will take less damage overall from the new AD.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Faction Champions

Tuesday night the team was really excited because a new Boss was opening up in the Coliseum.

But first we had to take care of the previous two Bosses. We felt like we had Northrend Beasts ‘on farm’ as the saying goes. So we decided to try for the achievement where you keep two Snobolds alive through the whole fight. That was fine for Gormok, but when Tweedle dee and Tweedle dum showed up, it got to be a bit much.

We lost a couple of people during the Jormungar Worms, and it took everything I had (both trinkets, healthstone, healthpot, Divine Protection, Lay on Hands and Ardent Defender) to survive Dreadscales enrage.

We were left with just 1 healer and 4 DPS still breathing for Icehowl. Since Ellevis (Blood DK) had picked up Icehowl, I threw him a couple of Holy Lights. Because my mana pool is so constrained in tanking gear, I have to ‘cancel cast’ whenever I want to help out with healing. This means I start casting a big ole Holy Light and if Ellevis hadn’t taken much damage I hit escape before it goes off to cancel the cast and save the mana.

At some point during Icehowl, I seem to remember our Resto Shaman coming back to the fight. I don’t know if he used his ankh or got a battle rez from our Boomkin. It was a slow kill, but we managed to one shot Icehowl.

This is the first time since Patch 3.2 went live that I can say without question that Ardent Defender saved us from a wipe. Of course it’s not necessarily true that any other tank class would have died as they all have different cooldowns and ways to get through a tough spot. The difference with Ardent Defender is you KNOW you would have died otherwise.

I did a double take when the loot came up. Those couldn’t be tanking bracers, could they? After 3 months farming Flame Leviathan and never seeing the bracers drop, I had resigned myself to the same fate with Northrend Beasts. But there they were, Dreadscale Armguards. (I took the screenshot right after I got them and didn’t have them enchanted yet.)

I had previously been stuck with Bindings of Hapless Prey. Ellevis was using Bracers of the Unholy Knight. One of the problems with Block not being a great mitigation stat, is that Block Tanks (Paladins and Warriors) tend to not value Block gear against avoidance gear. The result is that all 3 Plate Tanks pretty much want the same offset pieces. If Block was truly the mitigation stat it needs to be, I could let Ellevis (Blood DK) have the non Block stuff, then I would go for the Block stuff. But that’s just not how it works right now.

Ellevis was kind enough to pass the Bracers to me, and you better believe I’m going to return the favor next chance I get.

With the Northrend Beasts taken care of, we prepared for Lord Jaraxxus. I love the intro to Lord Jaraxxus. This gnome comes out and summons him for you, then the first thing Lord Jaraxxus does is wtfpwn the gnome. It’s pure comedy gold. Maybe on Hordeside, it’s an Orc Warlock who summons him or maybe they get to cheer the Gnome’s demise.From a tanking perspective, this fight falls into the Tank and Spank with Adds category. I was assigned to Add duty. There are two types of Adds that spawn during the fight. The first is a Mistress of Pain. She spawns from a huge square portal that looks exactly like the ones we used during the Level 70 daily quest in Blades Edge Mountains. It was pretty simple to stand under the portal, drop a Consecrate and pick her up.

The other adds come from a volcano he drops that spews out Infernals. As soon as I heard about volcanoes I started having flashbacks to Supremus. They are much more difficulty to corral but luckily they don’t have much health and we burned then down without much problem.

The team had defeated Lord Jaraxxus last week when I was on vacation. In fact, they one shot him. So we were going for an achievement of leaving the Mistress of Pain adds up.

I have to agree with my raid leader. Lord Jaraxxus could use a little more health. Just when things were starting to get interesting, the fight was over.Now came the moment we had all be waiting for, the new Boss, the Faction Champions. Faction Champions is a PVP/Arena type fight. The mobs don’t have a traditional aggro table, so I switched over to Retribution.

There’s a little dialog between Tirion, Varian and Garrosh where basically Garrosh ends up sending down his little contingent of Hordies to kill you instead of Tirion’s Grand Champions.

You face off against 6 NPCs. They jump down and get into two neat lines and wait for you to initiate the encounter. This gives you a chance to identify each one and see what ‘matrix’ you got. We were concerned they would just jump down and start attacking.

We got Boomkin, Rogue, Warlock, Priest, Shaman, and Ret Paladin.Ellevis got the ball rolling by Death Gripping the Priest over to us after Ofn (Rogue) sapped the Shaman. Then I feared the Fel Hunter, Donk (Mage) sheeped the Rogue. Ofn (Rogue) moved to stun lock the Warlock while we poured DPS into the Priest.

At least I think that’s what happened. This was the most chaotic and exciting Boss fight in the Coliseum so far. Vent was alive with people communicating. When I heard the Rogue had gotten on our Disc Priest, I quickly put him in a Hand of Protection. I lost track of the Warlock’s Fel Hunter at one point but Dottiez (Warlock) was able to banish it.

Then someone announced the Priest was down, so we moved over to the Shaman. I threw Repentance on the Ret Paladin and Hammer of Justice on the Boomkin. Then the Shaman was down and we moved onto the Rogue. Then to the Boomkin, the Lock, and the Ret Paladin.

Usually new boss kills are accompanied by an exultant cheer on vent. This was found more of a bemused chuckle. For the second week in a row, we had one shot the new boss.

The predominant feeling in vent was that we were really bummed out we would have to wait a whole week to do that fight again. It’s easily the most fun fight in Trial of the Crusader thus far.

Is Trial of the Crusader supposed to be this easy? I can’t imagine we overgear the place.

We are mostly Ulduar 10 geared, and we’ve killed Yogg. We’ve even done a couple of Hard Modes (Hodir, XT, FL+4, Freya +1).We still haven’t gotten Lose Your Illusion (Thorim Hard), or Firefighter (Mimiron Hard), or Knock, Knock, Knock on Wood (Freya +3) or Saronite In the Morning (Vezzax Hard).

Is this level of gear/skill supposed to be able to basically one shot the new tier on ‘normal’ mode? With the 4 different flavors Trial of the Crusader comes in, guilds have a great opportunity to find their level.

From what I’ve read of Big Bear Butt’s guild, Sidhe Devils, they might be really happy with Normal 10 man. My guild looks like we are going to be a 10 man Heroic guild. My friends over in Limitless will likely be a 25 man Normal guild, while my old Tier 6 guild Dominion will probably be a 25 man Heroic guild. The real beauty of the design is that each guild gets a real shot at clearing all the bosses in Trial of the Crusader. So if you are finding Trial of the Crusader a bit easy right now, it might be because your ‘mode’ hasn’t opened yet.

It is my sincere hope that Blizzard will continue with this approach in future tiers of content. A guild can choose what kind of guild it wants to be and players can find a guild that fits what they want to do in the game. Everyone gets to ‘see the content’ and clear the dungeon playing their own style and with as large a group as they are comfortable with.

I can’t wait for next week, bring on the Twins!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And He's Back

Well guys I'm back from vacation. It was a wonderful trip full of memories my family will keep for a long time. I really needed the break from work, from WoW.

I'm not sure that pressing in with several thousands 'friends' in the Florida heat was the ideal way to relax, but my daughter had a really good time.

Allow me to take a moment and give a special shout out to the Ramada Gateway in Kissimmee, FL on Irlo Bronson Memorial aka Highway 192. We stayed at this lovely establishment the first night we got into town. After check in you are directed to the concierge desk to get your parking pass. This is simply a ploy to get you over to their concierge, which at this hotel seems to be nothing more than a high pressure sales man. He gave me a hard sell to attend a 'tour of their new resort' aka a Time Share the next morning.

It's a seven to eight hour drive from where I live to Kissimmee. I wasn't really up to dealing with him, so I put him off as long as I could. Once I finally got my parking pass from him, I told him I would talk with my wife who was waiting out in the car.

I got to car and started to close the door so I could explain to my wife what was going on. But here comes Captain Salesman running out of the hotel and up to my car insisting to know if I was really going to talk to my wife. I told him he was pushing way too hard and the more he pushed the less likely I was to agree to anything. When he started to talk again, I slammed the door and told me wife to floor it.

We stayed just the night. Luckily we already had other accommodations lined up for the rest of the week.

Yeah, I'll never stay at that hotel ever again. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll never stay at another Ramada hotel ever again.

The rest of the trip was simply incredible.

I came back to learn that my guild had one shot the new Coliseum boss, Lord Jaxxius. They found him a bit easy.

I ran some heroics to get back into the swing of things. I was sure to run the Daily Heroic and Trial of the Champion.

As you might imagine, with me being a Paladin and all, I'm really enjoying Patch 3.2 as Protection. Ardent Defender is really cool, and I love having Vindication aka Demo Shout. Paladins are as competitive as they've ever been, perhaps even a little too competitive when it comes to threat.

But never fear, your developers are right there for you. Righteous Fury, the Paladin's defensive stance, is getting its threat nerfed by whopping 10%. That's right, 10% less threat from Holy spells in the next Minor patch. Please wait until a major patch to buff Paladins, but get those nerfs in as soon as you can. If not a hotfix, then certainly a minor patch. No need to wait 3 or 4 months.

While I don't like getting nerfed (who does), Tankadins needed to be brought into line with the other tank classes. If it was Druids, Warriors or DKs who were way ahead on threat, I'd be calling for them to be nerfed (or more likely for Paladins to be buffed.)

While I'm having a blast with Protection, I'm enjoying Retribution less so.

We did some PVP over the weekend and Ret really feels weak. I'm not sure what the Developers want to do with PVP Ret right now. All Ret could really do was pressure with high damage/high burst. That's pretty much gone now. I tried Seal of Command, Seal of Righteousness and Seal of Vengeance. None of them felt like they would really put out much damage. It just didn’t feel like I could threaten another player. An undergeared alt from my guild out damaged me most every battleground.

For once in my life I managed to keep my finger off the 'Push to Talk' key and didn't complain over vent.

Ret simply isn't much fun anymore. I actively started thinking about the Proly (Prot/Holy) build. But before I could even start really researching it, I learned it's going to be made extinct. Not just nerfed, but gutted. It's not working as intended.

What do the developers want Prot Paladins to do in PVP? Apparently we can't be healing, that got nerfed. We also aren't supposed to be damage, as you can see with the addition of diminishing returns to Shield of Righteousness to stop big Shield Slam crits.

My problem is that I need Ret as my offspec for fights where I'm not needed to tank. The beauty of Ret was that I could also PVP pretty well in that spec and still do pretty good damage when needed.

If I went with a Prot PVE/Prot PVP dual spec or a Prot PVE/Holy PVP build, I wouldn't be able to contribute much damage when I wasn't needed as a Tank. I don't know if I would enjoy PVP healing more than PVE healing. I would need to grind out a ton of gear just to see if I liked the Holy PVP playstyle, and I'd waste all the Ret gear I've gathered. The honor grind isn't too tough and I'm sure I could get some crafted gear to start out. Maybe I need to give another try.

Friday, August 14, 2009

All My Toons

Paladins
Level 80 Dwarf - Curent main.

Level 23 Blood Elf - Abandoned. I will no longer need him when Faction changes are allowed.

Level 18 Human - Abandonded. My first ever toon in World of Warcraft.

Mage
Level 36 Troll - Abandoned. Currently serving as a DE bot and Bank/Auctioneer for all my Horde toons.

Level 17 Gnome - Abandoned. Rolled this guy to give a 'pure' class a go. Too squishy.

Hunters

Level 80 Draenai - Alt. My only level 80 capable of ranged DPS. 2nd toon of mine to hit Level 80.

Level 51 Orc - Abandoned. Highest level Horde toon until the Druid or Shaman passes him.

Druid
Level 44 Tauren - Main alt. This is the guy I use around with when I don't have very much time to play. Log on, do a quest or two, log off. Recently switched from Feral to Boomkin. Considering transfering him to Horde side AoS.

Level 23 Night Elf - Abandoned. This was my original alt and the only toon left on my original server, Dark Iron.

Shaman
Level 30 Draenai - Abandoned. I had thought at one point that this would have been my 3rd 80, but I stopped when I started leveling up my Tauren Shaman.

Level 38 Tauren - I rolled this guy when my guild was doing their Horde alts experiment between Naxx and Ulduar.

I keep debating between my Shaman and Druid as to who is going to be my 4th (and likely last) Level 80. Right now the Druid is winning.

Rogue
Level 6 Human - Didn't take me long to figure out I didn't enjoy the Rogue. Now my bank/auction house guy for my Alliance toons.

Priest
Level 8 Human - Abandoned. Didn't take me logn to figure out I didn't enjoy the Priest. Toon most likely to be deleted when I need another character slot on Altar of Storms.

Warrior
Level 80 Human - Alt. My 3rd Level 80 toon. He was rolled towards the end of Burning Crusade as an insurance policy against the Developers not bringing Paladin tanks up to competitive levels. Still leveled him anyway just because he's a lot of fun to play.

Level 13 Orc - Abanoned. Also rolled during our Horde reroll experiment

Death Knight
Level 57 Dwarf - One of these days he'll make it out of the starting area and take over the bank/auction business from my Rogue. If I can stand it to play him that long.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can't Have It Both Ways

I absolutely love my Paladin. But leading up to 3.2, I would run out of things he needed to do and turned my attention to my Alts.

I have two level 80 alts, my Hunter and my Warrior.

My conflict with them is that I seem drawn to the 'wrong' tree. My Hunter's proper tree is Survival, yet I seem to enjoy Marksman. The Pet of the Month is the Wolf, but I got tired of being 'another Hunter with a Wolf'. So I went out and tamed a Dragonhawk. Yes, a Cunning Pet! I dig me some Roar of Recovery when I can't give myself Replenishment.

My Warrior has been less of a conflict. I seem to like Arms and Fury about equally, but I do seem to prefer Fury just a bit more. The problem, of course, is you're supposed to be Arms until you get almost Best in Slot gear.

Well these are just alts, it doesn't really matter what I do with them. I should play whatever I want. That's all fine and dandy, until this other side of my personality comes to the fore.

That's my competitive side. See I want to be competitive DPS even though I've made these 'wrong' choices.

I can't have it both ways. Either I spec 'properly' and can really compete on the meters, or I play what I want and have to tell myself I'm doing the best I can with what I've chosen.

My inner Johnny and my inner Spike battle it out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Way Back Machine

I thought while I was away I would share some pictures from the way back machine. These are screenshots from my time in Heroes Inc during early Tier 4. This was our first Attumen the Huntsman kill in Karazhan. Wichita the Shaman would morph into Ellevis the Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King and would found the current guild I am in, Unusual Suspects. Lakini is still our favorite Boomkin. Zadorr and Origami were with us through much of Ulduar and have recently stopped raiding.
This was one of our early kills of Maiden of Virtue. Brambles, the Mage would morph first into Chickenpox the Death Knight and later into Taxiderm the Hunter, and remains a key part of our team. You can also see Agamengnome, who recently joined Unusual Suspects and raids 10 mans with Perp's team. This last shot is some of the same faces, but with the addition of a Night Elf Hunter named Jagdelf. Jag became Magnusson the Holy/Ret Paladin and was with us all through Ulduar, even banging away at tossing how Holy Light bombs last night on General Hard Mode.

That's about half my team that I've been raiding with all the way back to when Karazhan was 'progression raiding'.

I am so thankful that these guys welcomed me back after Mal Katai blew up.

Good luck tonight Unusual Suspects!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Northrend Beasts

Everyone was excited as we put the raid together to go check out Trial of the Crusader. We had the normal 'new instance' logistics to figure out, like where the portals were, and which of the three portals was the right one for us to take.

That sorted out, Ellevis (DK) explained to us what he knew about the fights which was pretty much just the abilities of the mobs that had been posted on MMO. I had the added benefit of having read the World of Matticus healing guide, so I knew just a little bit more. Other than that, we were flying blind.
We buffed up, ate our Fish Feast, and got ready. Ellevis went and talked to the NPC. He said his little speech and soon Gormok was headed into the ring with us.

I don't think of Northrend Beasts as 3 separate encounters. Instead, I think of them as 3 phases of the same fight. Gormok is Phase 1 in this line of thinking.

Gormok is a Magnatur, and will periodically throw a Snobold at one of your raid members. This is sort of like Iron Roots from one of the Freya Elders. Your DPS has to target the Snobold and burn him down. Ranged DPS seems to have an easier time of this than melee.

Meanwhile your tanks are getting a stacking bleed put on them. We were two healing his fight and decided to do a taunt switch at 3 stacks. Your healers need to keep in mind that previous tank will still be bleeding while the new tank is under attack from Gormok. It looked like the stack could fall off, but good luck going 30 seconds and not taking a melee hit. Even blocked hits will proc it.

Ellevis and I traded him back and forth and we got through Phase 1 on the first pull. Gormok is just sort of a warm up. the Now we would have to deal with not one, BUT TWO Jormunger Worms! You get a very brief break while the announcer introduces your next opponents, so mana based classes can try to get a couple of ticks of their favorite drink. Tanks pretty much start moving into position immediately. The Worm's names are Dreadscale and Acidmaw, but you'll likely know them as Fire Worm and Acid Worm.

I had Fire Worm, while Ellevis tanked Acid Worm. Both worms have a spray attack in their frontal cone, so you'll want them pointed away from the raid. Neither hits really hard, but when you start adding up all the little damage they do, it's every bit as dangerous as the one big swing.
Each worm throws out a debuff. Dreadscale's is a fire DoT while Acidmaw uses a nature DoT. The nature DoT will being to slow the movement, cast and swing speed of its victim. It can stack to the point that you just can't do anything. The person who gets the nature DoT needs to find the person with the Fire DoT. When the Fire DoT ticks it does a small AoE like a Lightbomb. That AoE needs to hit the person with the Nature DoT. That's there get out of jail free card.
We wiped a couple of times to these guys. When you wipe, you have to repeat the entire encounter. So it was back to Gormok.

We dispatched him again and started back in on the worms. This time we managed to get Acidmaw down, and made an interesting discovery. These two worms must have a 'thing' going because Dreadscale enraged when Acidmaw died. He still didn't hit really hard, but it was a combination of melee hits, plus the Fire DoT if I had it, plus his fire breath. The death of a thousand cuts.

We finally get Dreadscale down, and Icehowl came running in. Here's your heavy hitter. He smacked us around good. After a couple of tries, we got a handle on what he was doing. He'll jump up in the air and come crashing down. Everyone in the raid gets thrown the wall and stunned. Icehowl will pick one person and go all toro toro on them. You better olle or you'll be one shot. If you manage to olle him, he'll go crashing into the wall and stun himself. While stunned, he takes double damage. Make good use of this time.

We managed to evade him the first time. Then when he got back to me, he went all Big Red Yeti on me. I would spend the rest of the encounter doing a quality inspection of the tile job on the coliseum floor. Ellevis picked him up, and the team executed another successful dodge and burned him down.

The Northrend Beast encounter had been defeated!
We still had a little time left on the evening, but there were no more Bosses in the Coliseum for us to battle. So we headed back to Ulduar and took care of some unfinished business!

Patch 3.2 Adjustments

I was happily surprised to find the servers were up and running when I tried to get online last night. I had logged out in the Dalaran Jewelcrafting shop not knowing if the patch would drop yesterday or next week.

The placed was jammed as you might imagine. I picked up some of the major cuts I knew I would need, Shifting, Bold, Solid, and Enduring. I also picked up Runed because Runed always sells well.

Epic gems were going for between 300g to 500g. I had saved up 5 stacks of Titanium Ore. A stack of Ore had risen from 150g yesterday to 500g today. So instead of prospecting, I listed the Ore. When I logged off last night, it still hadn't sold. Even if it doesn't sell I can still prospect it.

Speaking of prospecting, people were willing to pay very well for that service, although I did feel bad for the guy who paid me to prospect 2 stacks of Titanium Ore and didn't get a single epic gem. It felt like I was running my own WoW casino.

I still had a couple of Dalaran Jewelcrafting Tokens left. When I saw one of my guildies looking for a particular cut, and not able to find it, I went and picked it up. That made her and another Shaman from my Raid group most happy.

With the recipes learned, I went out buying the gems to start upgrading the ones in my set.

Next task was to change both my Ret and Prot specs. I picked up Vindication, Pursuit of Justice, and Reckoning, while dropping points in Conviction. In addition, I dropped Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.

I also used that opportunity to switch out my Glyphs. I had been running Divine Plea, Salvation, and Judgement. Since I got a Titanguard (sword) and was using that instead of Legacy of Thunder (mace), I had dropped by down below the expertise dodge cap. So I went back to Glyph of Seal of Vengeance. I had also heard taunt swaps were important for the first fight in Trial of the Crusader, so in went Glyph of Righteous Defense. I dropped Glyph of Judgment, which really doesn't add a whole lot in the way of TPS. I also dropped Glyph of Hand of Salvation. Since we got a real cooldown in Ardent Defender, I didn't need to jerry rig a PVP glyph to try to make up for a deficiency in my tanking toolkit.

It was about 45 minutes until Raid time and the heroic daily for the day was Violet Hold. Heroics are suddenly very popular and I had 6 or 7 people willing to go as soon as I mentioned knocking it out prior to raid time.

The mod that I use for my UI is called Spartan and it's busted right now. You can't see your health or mana, or the mobs health or mana. Worst of all, at least for me, is you can't see the target of target. I downloaded the Spartan Beta, but that flat out didn't work. No action bars, no frames, nada.

I opted to go with a partially functional Spartan until I can figure out what I'm going to do. Most of my other mods seemed to be okay.

Of course we blasted through Violet Hold with no trouble at all, and I received my first two Emblems of Triumph. Tier 9 gear, here I come!

By that point, it was time to get the raid put together and test ourselves in the Trial of the Crusader.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How To Regem with Epic Gems (JCs and Non JCs)

There are two major changes to gems that will require all players, and especially Jewelcrafters to rethink their gemming.

The first change being made is that my lovely Dragonseyes, the Jewelcrafter only gems, will no longer be prismatic. They will matchup with whatever socket color they normally would. For example, Solid Dragonseyes will match Blue sockets.

The second is the addition of Epic Gems.

Right now, I've been using my Solid Dragonseye in Red slots to get a bit of stamina and still retain the socket bonus. It’s been a nice bonus, but that’s going to have to change.

Off topic, but I’m completely torqued that I’m not the first Honorshammer that pops up on the Armory anymore. I used to the ONLY one. Now some guy from the guild Conquest on Vashj shows up first. It look likes it sorts by Guild Name, so all I’ve got to do is get Ellevis to rename our guild All Suspects or something. ;-)

I examined my MainTank set.

Helm : Yellow slot, 12 stam bonus, 16 Def
Shoulders: Red Slot, 6 stam bonus, 41 stam Dragonseye
Chest: Blue Slot, Red Slot, 9 stam bonus, 24 stam, 8dodge/12stam
Shield: Blue slot, 6 stam bonus, 24stam
Gloves: Red Slot, 6 stam bonus, 8 dodge/12stam
Belt: Prismatic slot, no bonus, 24 stam
Legs: Red Slot, Yellow Slot, 12 stam bonus, 41 stam Dragonseye, 16 def
Boots: Yellow Slot, Blue Slot, 9 stam bonus, 8def/12stam, 24 stam
Trinket: Blue Slot, Yellow Slot, 9 stam bonus, 24 stam, 41 stam dragonseye

Whenever you start mucking around with gems, you have to keep the Defense minimum in mind. After all my changes I need a minimum of 689 +def rating.

I’m currently sitting on 717 rating which means I’ve got about 28 rating points to play with.

4 yellow, 4 red, 4 blue and one prismatic. That’s a fairly balanced gem slot layout.

My choice of gem will be Solid (Stamina) for Blue, Enduring (Defense and Stamina) for Green and Shifting (Agility and Stamina) for Red.

Let me explain the Red choice just a bit. We know that Dodge is being nerfed in 3.2, but so is Agility. They will work out to be about the same ratio as they are now. So why would I choose the Agility gem over the Dodge one?

The Agility gem will scale with buffs like Kings and Mark of the Wild. It also provides additional benefits in Armor and Critical Strike. So Agility is avoidance, mitigation and threat, whereas Dodge is just avoidance.

Were I just a mere mortal and only had access to ‘normal’ epic gems, and if used a simple formula above, these gem slots would yield 40 Defense, 270 Stamina, and 40 Agility. I would be able to replace my two pure defense gems with defense/stamina hybrids and still wind up with the exact same amount of defense rating. So despite adding two gems with stamina that didn't have them before AND upgrading to epic gems, I would actually have 9 stamina LESS than my current set due to not using Dragonseyes.

I’ve looked at two approaches for my Dragonseyes. They aren’t prismatic anymore, so in order to get the socket bonuses and their yummy stamina, they need to match. Somehow, I have gear where EVERY socket bonus is Stamina. Dragonseye are only available in single colors, no hybrids.

The first approach was to cut all Solid Dragonseyes and place them in Blue sockets in the Boots, Chest and Shield. That would give me 40 defense, 333 stamina, and 40 agi from gems. That’s an increase of exactly 63 stamina over my 'no Dragonseye' load out. So my ‘JC only’ gems give more stamina than Mining (60) or Blacksmithing (60). Your milage may vary.

The other option I looked at was placing my Dragonseyes in my two Red sockets with a ‘weak’ 6 stamina bonus, and placing the third in a no bonus Prismatic socket in my Belt. The result is 40 Defense, 363 Stamina and 20 Agi. But we lose socket bonuses so we need to look at stamina from the socket bonuses in addition to stamina from gems.

Using Dragonseyes in my Reds and Prismatics, and sacrificing the socket bonuses still yeilds an increase of 18 stamina over using them in my Blue sockets. This makes sense when you consider that a Dragonseye in a Red slot is an increase of 36 stamina over the red gem that would normally be there. A Dragonseye in a Blue is an increase of only 21 stamina. However this will also cost me 20 Agility.

So would you give up 20 agility for 18 stamina. I would.


TLDR


Non JCs



  • Replace all your Rare gems with Epics

  • See if any Thick (Pure Defense) gems can be swapped for Enduring and still maintain the Defense Minimum

JCs
  • Replace all your Blue and Yellow Slots with Epics
  • Place your Dragonseyes in Red or Prismatic Slots



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