Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ice Crown Citadel Announced

Blizzard has released the first tidbits of information about the final patch of Wrath of the Lich King, 3.3 also known as Ice Crown Citadel.

Let me give you a sampling from the Under Developement site: Icecrown Citadel will feature a massive five-player dungeon sprawling across three wings of the citadel's foundation. While the Lich King's attention is focused on the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade ripping through the front gates, players will be tested as they assist Jaina Proudmoore (Alliance) and Sylvanas Windrunner (Horde) in infiltrating the citadel through an alternate entrance.

An epic quest line will present adventurers with the task of weakening Icecrown Citadel's forces, requiring that players defeat the challenges in each dungeon wing before venturing into the next one. Normal and Heroic versions of the dungeon will be accessible to players, although each wing will be considered a separate instance; therefore, on Heroic difficulty, each wing will have its own separate lockout timer. All-new rewards -- including item level 219 (normal) and level 232 (Heroic) loot -- will be offered to those who destroy some of the Lich King's most formidable allies.

The final boss of the final wing is none other than the star of the Wrath of the Lich King, the big man himself, Arthas!

First of all with the level of drops being Ulduar10 (219) on Normal Mode and ToC10 (232) on Heroic, it would stand to reason that the Heroic will drop Triumph badges. This might be a great way to finish off any Badge items that haven't been purchasd yet. I wonder if it also portents a new Emblem type in the Ice Crown raid.

The irony here (at least for me) was that I was worried they would only give 25 man raiders a shot at Arthas and as a 10 man Raider, that kind of disappointed me. You can see the initial comments from the Designers here.

How many people do you need in a fight for it to feel epic? Most classic stories and movies end with a mono e mono with the hero and the villain. Even when you have a group (or a party if you will) it's a very small number of people fighting the 'big bad guy'.

Now that Arthas is in a 5 man, it's the same thing, only in reverse. I have to say I'm very excited for the decision the Developers have made. Arthas has been taunting us since we got off the boat. Everyone deserves a shot at him, even if you can't (or chose not) to raid.

I don't think anyone expects we'll actually KILL Arthas in the 5 man. We'll defeat the encounter, but it will likely end with Arthas taunting us again and retreating further into Ice Crown Citadel, into the Raid portion.

I'm very excited.

And not to go all conspiracy theorist on you, but isn't is might interesting that this new comes out the day after The Old Republic starts Beta signups? Kind of makes you go 'Hmmmm.'

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Impossible Matrix

When Lead Developer Ghostcrawler was fielding questions from Death Knights concerning the viability of dual wielding, he made an interesting statement:

Part of our goal with the death knight was not to have a tanking or PvP tree, and we feel we’ve been pretty successful with that. However, adding dual-wield to that matrix just gives us an impossible task, because then you need to have the Blood dual-wield tank spec and the Frost two-hander PvP spec and so on. We think in this case our only option is to remove some player choice in order to provide a real choice in other areas.

Death Knights already have more options to balance than any class. They have 6 possible specs whereas all other classes have only 3. Adding Dual wield options to every Death Knight spec would give 12 possible specs.

It does make me wonder where the line is for the impossible matrix. How many specs are too many balance.

If you remember back to early incarnations of WoW, each class had a spec for a certain area of game. Think back to early Warriors. Prot was your Tanking tree, Arms was the PVP tree, and Fury the PVE DPS tree. There were no Death Knights, so WoW had only 9 classes. That gave you 9 DPS specs, 9 PVP specs, 4 healing specs and 2 tank specs to balance. Now fast forward to WotLK. The Developers decided to add a class, but not only add 3 more specs. They decided that Death Knights should tank and DPS in every tree giving 3 more DPS specs and 3 more tank specs. At the same time they decided to finally bring Paladin Tanks up to par.

So in Wrath the design would have become 12 DPS specs, 12 DPS specs, 4 healing specs and 4 tank specs. But the Developers were really feeling their oats. They decided that every spec should be usable in every area of the game.

Suddenly, you have 22 possible DPS specs, 30 PVP specs, along with still having 4 tanks and 4 healers. Balance becomes much trickier.

So the question becomes at what point do you reach the 'impossible task'? Would the game be better by limiting the number of specs that were viable in each area of the game. This is someting that truly couldn't be changed until an Expansion, but it would seem self evident that even 12 PVP specs would be easier to balance than 30.

By removing some player choice the developers could provide a real choice in other areas?

Friday, September 25, 2009

You Killed Jarraxxus, Eredar Lord of the Burning Legion

Thursday we returned to Heroic ToC10 where we had been making some slow progress. The first week we got past the Beast, but wiped on Jaraxxus at about 80%. The following week, we got him down to about 65%. Our best attempt the week after had been a 25% wipe.

This week we had our first one shot of the Beasts and I scored some sexy bracers.

Jarraxxus has got to be one of the most frantic fights I've ever tanked. We put Boston on Jarraxxus and I handle add control. Our first test is whether or not we get the portal down with just one Maiden spawning. Two usually meant a wipe. Then the Infernals came out. You might say the whole fight kicks it up a notch. The first infernal spawned at pretty much the same moment as the volcano. Usually a Judgment and a Shield slap got it pretty good. Then the next Infernal, I used Hand of Reckoning. For the third Infernal, all I had left was Righteous Defense. I had to hope the Infernal wasn't targeting Boston or I'd get Jarraxxus taunted as well as the Infernal.

Then the Infernals got on a roll and planted themselves right next to one of our dps or healers and started AoEing. That was usually the point where DPS would pull aggro. I wasn't too excited about the 2pc T9 bonus when I saw it on MMO-Champion, but I freaking LOVE it for getting those Infernals and Sisters back under control.

We were close to calling it, but decided to make a couple of more pulls. On the next pull we got through a Portal and Infernal rotation with everyone still standing (a battle rez helped a bit). But we messed up the next Portal. We knew if we could just get through two rotations, we had a shot. On the next pull, we got 2 Maidens and it was an early wipe.

Undaunted, we tried again. We made it through the portal. DPS did a fantatic job on the volcano and we only got 2 Infernals. Boston moved Jarraxxus around to get away from fires and helped alert me to where the next portal would spawn. We got the portal down with just 1 Maiden. The volcano stage was nuts.

It was sort of like a car accident. There were all these parts moving around, I think at one point I may have been facing the wrong direction. But when I finally looked up and caught my breath, we had 10 raiders alive and well. We got through another Maiden and pushed Jarraxxus into Execute range. Boston made the call to stay on the boss and ignore the next Volcano. I started gathering up Infernals as Jarraxxus died. There was much celebrating over vent.

We made a couple of pulls on Faction Champs, and those guys gave us a wedgie and stole our lunch money. It wasn't pretty.

Regardless, it had been a great night. Everyone did a fanstic job. We're now 2/5 in Heroic ToC.

Finally Facing The Brood Mother

This week opened up with revisiting the Brood Mother, Onyxia herself.

Onyxia was something of a demarcation point for my WoW career. As I may have mentioned before I hit Level 60 about 6 months before Burning Crusade was to come out. I was in a Leveling Guild.

I had done the whole quest chain through BRD. The parade through Stormwind to confront Lady Prestor, aka Onyxia, was one of the signature moments in the game for my Paladin. I wanted to face her, in her lair, and now I would.

It was much harder to catch up during that time in the game than it would be now. Guilds were also much more stringent on their applicants. A gear check was mandatory and often they would require a run through a 5 man to trial you. The cutting edge guilds were running Naxx40. They wanted applicants in AQ40 and BWL gear. Of course the guilds running AQ40 and BWL, wanted you to have all your Molten Core gear. Nobody wanted to run 'old' instances just to get you geared up to their level, but there was literally no other way to attain that gear.

Entry level guilds ran AQ20, ZG Molten Core, and Onyxia. To get into those runs required you to have almost all blue gear which dropped in high end 5 mans, every bit as difficult, if not much more so than today's 'heroics'. I remember running Strat and Scholo for my T0 gear. Then doing a very long quest chain to get that gear upgraded to T0.5.

The big gear requirement for these entry level guilds was fire resist gear. Nearly all of Molten Core was fire damage and depending on your role (Healers, Tanks, DPS) there was a specific amount of Fire Resist you needed to have to survive the Bosses there, especially Onyxia. Fire Resist gear was not cheap and took both effort to farm up mats or gold to buy them. There was no such thing as a daily quest in those days.

With the Expansion so close, I knew that any guild at the ZG/MC/AQ20 point wasn't going to get much farther than maybe mid BWL before Burning Crusade hit. I decided it just wasn't worth it to get all the Fire Resist gear crafted. I did some 20 man stuff like Zul'Gurub and AQ20. I had been overly optimistic. Once people saw the Outland greens from Hellfire Peninsula, raiding pretty much came to a halt.

So I never defeated Onyxia 40 man at Level 60. I would go back later at Level 80 and 3 man her, but it wasn't quite the same. I was pretty excited about taking our 10 man down and finally fighting the Brood Mother as a 'real' raid.

Boston put me on Onyxia herself. I flipped her around and backed up to the wall. Our DPS tore into her and soon she was ready for take off. Between Boston's DnD and my Consecrate the Welps were taken down pretty quick. This is one fight were I love Righteous Defense grabbing 3 mobs. I could target our Priest healer and Righteous Defense and he was clear.

My big concern was her landing. She immediately feared and we all went running hither and yon. I still had one of the big Dragonkin adds on me. Thankfully, Boston grabbed Onyxia. Ranged finished off my add and we put the Brood Mother down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Command Me

I would think this would go almost without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. The opinions expressed in this blog are just that, opinions. They are based on my personal experiences in game as well as research done by various sites, but influenced to the greatest degree by the posters on Maintankadin. Where there is math and other factual supporting evidence, I'll do my best to cite it.
3.2.2 hit yesterday. I could certainly feel the threat nerf, but it's not like I'm suddenly behind now. I'm much more in line with my DK co-Tank, and still have very little trouble holding threat off most DPS. There's a really well geared Mage and Hunter in our group who can really push it early on in fights if they don't Feign/Invisibility. They were pulling in the same situation pre-patch as well, so I doubt the patch was the reason.
I'm also really happy to report that our Healers reported little to no difference in healing me. The nerf to AD was hardly noticeable, much as I expected. Unless you are parsing logs and checking damage taken week after week, you probably won't notice it. I can't imagine a post-wipe debrief where you are saying, 'Yep, we wiped because AD was nerfed.'
I do want to address one Ret change. As you may know, or if you didn't know, you'll know now, Seal of Command was buffed in Patch 3.2.2.
Let's take a look at the new and improved Seal of Command. For just 3 easy installments of $19.95 you can get:
•Seal of Command: This ability now chains to strike up to 2 additional targets when it is triggered by an attack that can only strike a single target.
So does Seal of Command have a place in a Protection Paladin's build and rotation?
Survey says..............
NO.
You Seal of choice is going to remain Vengeance.
Why would I say this? To quote Eadric the Pure.
HAMMER..... OF THE...... RIGHTEOUS!!
Hammer the current target and up to 2 additional nearby targets, causing 4 times your main hand damage per second as Holy damage.
Protection Paladin already had a 'Holy Cleave'. What's more, by using Seal of Vengeance with Hammer of the Righteous, you're spreading the Holy Vengeance Damage over Time component to all 3 mobs. So you've DoTs ticking on three mobs and you are building your Vengeance stack so when you switch to another mob, you 5 stack is already there allow you to get the 5 stack extra swing proc from Seal of Vengeance.
For trash clearing Seal of Vengeance should out threat Seal of Command and save you the talent point.
You could always try Seal Twisting with SoC and SoV. Just keep in mind that only your auto attack will proc SoC. Are you going to use a global Seal Twisting, that could have gone to a judgment/Shield of Righteousness for...a proc that is intended to be used with high damage weapons? I haven't seen any math, but I don't think you'd see even an extra 100 tps being generated from SoC weaving, if any extra is generated at all.
Also remember than if your glyphed for Seal of Vengeance, you'll lose 10 Expertise SKILL (not rating).
If you wanted to, you could build a Heroics talent spec that took Seal of Command, and full reckoning, but I don't see much point in building a Heroics only talent spec, unless of course all you do is Heroics. Hmm, that actually might make sense. I still think you'll be better off with Vengeance, but it might be fun to give it a try.
I know from runs on my Hunter alt that people are clearing Heroics using Seal of Wisdom, so I'm sure it can be done.
But for this Paladin, it's not worth the talent point.
EDIT!
The math geniuses over at Maintankadin have crunched the numbers on Seal of Command.
Here's what they have to add:
SoV is consistently ahead in threat by 1.3k or more TPS, depending on spec. SoR is in second place, with SoCom coming in last place. Now that SoCom and SoV both scale with weapon damage, there shouldn't be a situation where SoCom ever overtakes SoV (like we saw occurring with SoB in previous patches).

So it's going to be roughly a 350 TPS gain on trash by switching to SoCommand, as compared to keeping a 3-stack of HV on everything and tab-targetting. It gets even stronger should h drop to 2 or 1, but gets weaker on longer-living trash (which could feasibly reach a 5-stack of HV). It will also weaken somewhat as the number of mobs increases since it's fairly easy to keep a HV stack on many different mobs, but seal of Cleave won't hit more than 3.

Keep in mind this should be compared to the threat loss incurred by dropping whatever talent you skip to pick up SoC, which would presumably be Conviction. That would be roughly 50 TPS spread amongst as many targets as you tab-target between, or 17 TPS on 3 targets.

TLDR summary:

* Don't spec SoCom for single targets
* For trash tanking, SoCom is a viable choice, though a costly investment just for trash.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No DUH: Crusade vs SotP

I see a good many Tankadins running around with strange builds. I ran a VoA recently with another Tankadin who had not taken Anticipation or Deflection. Hello?

I'm also seeing a number of Tankadin with Seals of the Pure in their build. This is actually a bit more understandable since it buffs our primary seal, Seal of Vengeance (Corruption). But it might not be a great place to spend your talent points. It's another one of those 'it depends' types of answers.

So let's examine Seals of the Pure versus going deeper in Ret.

Well how deep in Ret are you already? In my humble opinoin, you should already be at least 12 points into Ret for Vindication. Vindication reduces the attack power of the Boss attacking you by 548 at Level 80. This is the exact same AP reduction given by Improved Demoralizing Shout, and Improved Demoralizing Roar.

I consider Vindication to be nearly as required as Judgments of the Just. It's a noticable decrease in the amount of damage you take. Just like JotJ, it can be provided by others in your raid, but due to target switching, mistakes ("oops I forgot to Shout") and player deaths ("Leetdpswarrior is dead."), it may not be available. The only way to make sure it'll up on the mob you are tanking is to provide it yourself.

For threat, the real question comes with Seals of the Pure versus Crusade. If you read Crusade carefully, you'll notice it double dips. It increases ALL damage caused by 3%. Then you get ANOTHER 3% bonus damage against Demons, Undead, Humaniods, and Elementals. For ease of writing, we'll refer to those as DUH mobs.

When fighting DUH mobs, Crusade will out threat Seals of the Pure. When fighting non DUH mobs, Seals of the Pure wins. (This was worked out in the 70 plus page Math thread on Maintankadin).

Look at what you are raiding. Heroics have an overwhelming majority of DUH mobs. Naxx is pretty much DUH from stem to stern. But in Ulduar you can't hardly find a DUH mob. Onyxnia's Lair is a DUH free zone. Crusader's Coliseum is all DUH except for Beasts. Most people expect IceCrown citadel to be filled with DUH.

Another talent I see many Tankadins taking is Divinity. I am of the belief that this talent was put in to encourage Holy Paladins to go down the Prot tree for their Bubble Spec (Divine Guardian and Divine Sacrifice). 5/5 Divinity is not a strong Tank talent and generally contributes only to more over heal.

Lastly, you can get by pretty good with just 1 point in Spiritual Attunement unless you are fighting General Vezzax.

So the Cliff Notes version is
  • Spec 0/53/18
  • YES to Vindication
  • NO to Seals of the Pure
  • NO to Divinity
  • YES to Crusade
  • YES to Seals of the Pure only if you spend the lion's share of your time in Ulduar
  • YES to 1 point only in Spiritual Attunement

Weapon Enchant

So you've just gotten a shiny new weapon. Of course, like any good Tankadin, you want to get a weapon enchant on that bad boy.

Let's take a look at your options. We'll discount cosmetic factors like the glow effect. Tanks aren't looking for style points, they want to survive. Now you can can survive, in style, but you are probably going to be a Dwarf.

Accuracy - Increase crit and hit rating by 25.

Blade Ward - Chance to increase parry(up to about 2%) and damage on parry as well, up to 5 stacks. I think.

Blood Draining - Leech health from target and chance to give about 2000 health when below 35%.

Exceptional Agility - Increase agility by 26

Mongoose - Chance to get 120 Agi (about 1.2% dodge and 1.8% crit( and increase weapon speed.

One of these things is not like the other

If you want your weapon enchant to enhance your threat generation, you've made your job of selecting an enchant much easier.

Accuracy is hands down the best threat enchant for a Tankadin. This is ESPECIALLY true as you begin to aquire Tier 9 level gear and you watch your Hit Rating plummet to nearly zero and your Expertise shoot through the roof to near the soft caps.

Note that if you are bit cash strapped, you can sub in a Titanium Weapon Chain instead of Accuracy.

Roll the dice

All survivabilty enchants are proc based. If you are looking for a static 'always on' type of enchant, look no further than 26 Agility.

Now when you get down to the three proc based enchants, you have 2 avoidance (Blade Ward and Mongoose) and one effective health enchant (Blood Draining).

My preference is Blood Draining. It's like having a Health Pot that you drink at the exact moment you need one the most, and unlike a potion, you can have it multiple times during a fight. It does take a little time to get a full stack up, but generally it's going to be there when you need it. Early on, there was some concern over its interaction with Ardent Defender, but with the new Ardent Defender, there is no longer any reason for concern.

Blade Ward has become more popular in 3.2 than it was previously, thanks to a buffed proc rate. However, the other issues with Blade Ward remain. It can be consumed by regular parries (i.e. those caused by other parry rating) and thus gets worse as your gear gets better. The proc actually provides less threat than Potency and no benefit to taunts that accuracy or a weapon chain would.

Mongoose remains a popular choice. I think part of the reason is that Tankadins wanted to use this during it's heyday of Burning Crusade, but we generally had to use Spell Power enchants on our weapons to be competitive with Warriors and Druids on threat. 'Goose will proc less for a Level 80 character than it would for a Level 70, and due to level scaling, 120 Agility gives less dodge and armor to a Level 80 than it did to a Level 70. It's still a decent enchant, and if you love to roll the dice, it might be fun.

Bottom line it for me

I might consider Accuracy, Blade Ward or Mongoose for my Daily Heroics weapon, but I'll want Blood Draining on my Boss Tanking weapon.

969 Keybinds

Crofe over at Crofe's Corner has an interesting article up on keybinding the 969 rotation.

Head over and give it a look see.

http://crofescorner.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-mind-just-exploded.html

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Special Announcement: A Thousand Generations

So last Friday, I let you know that I’d be making a special announcement today. Well here it is.

I’ve been very excited over the summer to follow the development of a new MMORPG called The Old Republic as it was demoed at the various conventions like Penny Arcade Expo and Electronic Entertain Expo. It’s being made by LucasArts/BioWare and published by EA.

I have wanted, on a couple of occasions, to blog about the new game. I never did, other than a small post when I first heard about the game. I don't feel it's appropiate for me to talk about TOR in this space, and let me explain why.

Now this is my site and I can and have talked about just about whatever I've wanted to in the past. I fully expect Blizzard and Bioware to have an intense competition for subscribers once TOR is Live. This site is linked directly off the main Blizzard site. I didn’t feel it would appropriate for someone to follow that link off of Blizzard's site and then discover a blog basically advertising the competition.

So, I’ve decided to launch a new blog called “A Thousand Generations”. You can see the new blog here (http://athousandgenerations.wordpress.com/). Since the game is still in development, I won’t be updating as often.

In addition, I’ve become part of the Darth Hater team. Darth Hater is probably THE premier fan blog for The Old Republic right now. Think of it as kind of a World of Matticus or Big Hit Box for TOR. There are several authors who all contribute to the site.

And never fear, I’ll still be writing here at HonorsCode about my continuing adventures in World of Warcraft. This site will actually get updated much more frequently as it's kind of hard to write about a game that's not even in Friends and Family Alpha yet.

Shaman Versus Druid

This is a post talking about my next alt to 80. My highest Horde is level 51. I've never seen Outland or Northrend from the Horde perspective, and I'd like to see the other side before Cataclysm comes out.

This is not a post asking what I should level up. I've taken my own advice and leveled up both of these classes to the 30s. Now I need to decide which one I take up next.

Basically, I've made a list of Pros and Cons about each class. What I'd like to see if you have anything you think I should add to the list.

I've taken some of the comments and added them to my list.

Shaman

Pros
Versitale (Ranged DPS, Melee DPS, Heal)
Dual Weild (apparently only melee)
Windfury
Interupt - 25 yards and off the global cooldown, 6 sec cd
Bloodlust/Heroism
Can use Shields, and shields look cool

Cons
Lost 4 bag spaces to Totems (apparently goes away at 30)
Limited instant casts Heals
not much mobility for resto/elemental
totems can be great or annoying depending (did the new totem changes, dropping all 4 at once help?)


Druid

Pros
Stealth
Can basically do everything (Tank, Heal, Melee, Ranged)
Flight Form
Cyclone
Better for PVP

Cons
Limited interrupt (long cooldown or requires combo points)
Forms - you get one look per spec and it doesn't change based on gear
You rarely see your gear - Is this because they are limited to Leather?
too "spammy." My mangle finger literally hurts after an hour or so on my feral! I hated that on my Warrior with Cleave/Heroic Strike

Comment About Comments

I received a comment on one of my posts that made use of name calling and vulgarity. Just so you so, starting right now, if you use name calling and vulgarity in your comments, they won't be published.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me, and I try encourage thoughtful discussion in my comments. You never know, I just might learn something.

But using vulgarity or name calling will not promote thoughtful discussion, and those comments will not be published in the future.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Danielsan, You Must Learn Balance

This is NOT a post about Druids.

Today I wanted to address a question I get in my email from time to time.

Here’s an example:

I notice from your profile that you are a father. Can you tell me how you balance your time between being online with your characters and being a Dad and spending time with your wife?

I can see the dangers of getting really hooked on the game and not spending time with the other things that are important.


So here’s Honorshammer’s advice on balancing WoW and your family.

Don’t. Don’t even try. There shouldn’t be anything close to balance between your family and WoW.

Set Time Aside For Your Family

I don’t know if you remember, but one of my problems when I was trying to find a guild was my inability to play on Wednesday night. For most raiding guilds, Wednesday is a prime raiding night. Wednesday is a night that I set aside to spend time with my wife. Usually we just hang out and watch TV. Our favorite show to watch is Mythbusters. Sometimes we just we pop in a movie, or just channel surf.

Even after nearly 14 years of marriage, it’s still a joy just to sit on the couch and listen to my wife talk about her day, her struggles, and her desires. It’s not always deep or even really meaningful stuff; it’s just spending time together.

Now that fall is here, we’ll add Sunday night as well. We volunteer in an organization called Awanas. It’s basically Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts with a Christian twist. I love those kids, but we’re usually so wiped out after Awanas that we just want to collapse on the couch, and listen to Al Michaels before we pass out.

Even on those nights that I do raid, I spend time with my family. I play with my daughter and help her with her homework. I help my wife with chores around the house. Thursday night is my night for cooking dinner (which reminds me I haven’t decided what I’m making tomorrow).

That’s one of the reasons I LOVE my guilds 9:00pm start times. I have plenty of time to spend with my family. We go tuck my daughter into bed. She and her mother spend some girl to girl time and I head on downstairs and fire up the computer.

It’s very rare to see me online before 8:00pm, even on the weekends. My wife knows that she has carte blanche on Friday or Saturday nights. I’ll come home and she’ll tell me we are going to meet some friends at BnN, or that we’re meeting some friends for dinner. She knows she can ask to me. She will NEVER get the answer of “Oh I’m sorry I have to raid/arena tonight. Because she KNOWS she can ask, and doesn’t feel the need to test it, she doesn’t tend to ask that often.

Put Your Families Needs Ahead of Your Own

But you know what; I spend a ton of time in game. How is it that I can game as much as I do? My wife lets me. I think a big part of why she lets me is the incredible marriage relationship we’ve built.

(Now I’m about to paint a fairly idyllic picture of my married life here. My marriage is awesome, but rest assured, we’re normal people. We have the same struggles and conflicts as most married couples. I’m also going to attribute my awesome marriage to my faith. I realize that people of different faith, or even no faith, have fantastic marriages too. This is just what has worked for me and my wife.)

One of the things I’ve established over our 14 years together is that I put my family’s needs, and specifically my wife’s needs ahead of my own. This isn’t just in relation to WoW, it’s a total relationship thing.

My marriage relationship, and I’d love to think this is true in every of my life, is guided by my faith in the Word of God. Christ was never married, but I ask myself what kind of husband would have Christ been?

There is a ton of teaching on marriage and family in God’s Word. I’m just going to touch on one point. If you’d like to find out more, I’d recommend a website like Focus on the Family (http://www.focus.org/).

You’ve probably heard Christian’s quoting Ephesians 5:22 which says “Wives submit to your husbands.” That’s true, but it can't be understood until you see the other half. In Ephesians 5:25, God addresses husbands. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Christ gave himself up for the church to the point that he gave his own life to save the Church (the body of Christ followers). So I am to love my wife, to the point that her happiness is more important to me than my own happiness. Christ fulfills all the needs of the Church, so likewise I need to fulfill all the needs of my wife.

One of the sticking points I had to get over when I decided to follow Christ was the whole idea of submitting my life to him. But when I finally realized, and began to really believe that God truly loves me completely and truly wants only what is best for me, then I wanted to follow him, I wanted to submit to him.

In the same way, my wife has no issue with submitting to me, because she knows (and I have demonstrated to her time and again through my actions) that I put her happiness before my own, and that I will make sure all her needs are taken care of.

So to ‘balance’ family and WoW:




  • Spend a ton of time with your family

  • Set aside a couple of nights where you don’t play

  • Put your wife’s happiness, needs and desires before your own
And allow me to add this word of caution. If this is a major behavioral change for you, expect your wife to be a little suspect of it. She will test you until she is satisfied in her own mind that you’ve really changed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Face Jaraxxus!

Our raid group fired up Heroic Trial of the Crusader Monday night. Northrend Beasts were difficult as always. A couple of times we actually got to Icehowl, only to have someone in the raid get hit and Icehowl would enrage and start hitting tanks.
The most tense moment for me personally is right after the Dreadscale comes up from submerge. It's an aggro wipe, but you can't target him until he's all the way up. A little bit of lag is all it takes for the big worm to kill one of your raid members seemingly before you could do anything about it.
But the important thing is we got them down.
Next up we faced Lord Jarraxxus. I'm beginning to hate this guy as much as I did Malcheezar back in the day.
First problem we were having was I was losing a melee to the Sisters of Pain. Whirlwind is a huge part of our DPS Warriors rotation and we are trying to get the portals down as fast as we can because 2 Sisters up usually spells disaster. Sometimes his whirlwind hits the Sister and she nails him before I've locked her down good.
We mostly got that solved. The next problem is the Kiss that the Sister puts on one of our casters. They either have to use instant cast spells or cast a spell from a minor school. Our Druids would cast Starfire so the Kiss would lock out Arcane and not Nature. Our Shamans used Lava something. If we had had any Holy Paladins they would have been in a really tough spot. The only school they have access to is Holy. Getting the Sisters down bunched us up a little bit which caused Fel Lightning to be a big problem. Losing anyone meant we wouldn't have the DPS to get the next portal down in time.
Periodically the Sisters fly up into the air and come smashing down on someone. I don't think it's an aggro wipe, but I had to get right back on them.
The next problem was the Infernals. The Volcano spawns an Infernal almost immediately, so I can't really help out on geting the Volcano down at all. We usually get 3 to 4 Infernals. I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get them under control. Half the time, one of the Infernals targets Boston (DK) who is tanking Jarraxxus and I use Righteous Defense to grab him (because Hand of Reckoning and Avenger's Shield are on cooldown and I've already got two on me so I can't very well cast Exorcism). Of course, I end up taunting Jarraxxus as well.
Then the Infernals go all Blanka on me, tuck into a ball and charge someone. They stop and start AoEing right where they were. Again, I don't know if it's an aggro wipe, but it seems to be.
Usually, by the time all 4 were down we had lost someone.
The ramp up from Normal Trial of the Crusader to Heroic is quite severe. Where you almost have too much room for error in Normal, you basically have none in Heroic. At least that's how it feels to our 10 man group. I'm sure the guys attacking it in 245/258 gear have a little more room for error. (What I mean here is that if you are a 25 man guild, you problably have more room for error in your 10 man runs. Doing 10 man Heroic for a 10 man guild is about the same room for error as a 25 man guild going 25 man Heroic).
We definately made some progress on learning the fight, and I'm confident we'll get it down soon. Of course, I don't even want to THINK about what Faction Champions are going to be like on Heroic.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tankadins Hit Again

Ardent Defender: This talent now reduces damage taken below 35% health by 7/13/20% instead of 10/20/30%.

Ardent Defender finally got the hit that many had been expecting. It was slipped into the patch notes on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Ghostcrawler had posted:

I understand that a lot of players who post here think that paladin tanks are in that situation now and DK tanks are in the reverse situation where they struggle with a lot of fights. But they are not in that situation, at least not yet, because we don't see the widespread swapping. That suggests that perhaps the advantages concluded from theorycrafting aren't so massive that tank swapping conveys a huge advantage. It could very well change over time to get that way, but it hasn't happened yet. We've been talking about potential DK buffs for 3.2.2 and we even know how we would nerf Ardent Defender when and if we think* it has gotten out of control.

So between Wednesday and Sunday, Ardent Defender got out of hand?

Then on Friday, GC posted this: EH is very important. But it is not the all there is to tank balance. I suspect even the players that first came up with that way of describing survivability would admit that it gets focused on too much these days.
This is important to the discussion because it is the EH increase of Ardent Defender that was nerfed. In its current incarnation, AD can be theorycrafted out to be a 15% increase in EH. By reducing the damage reduction from 30% to 20%, will make it only an 8.75% increase in EH.

So on Wednesday, the Developers didn’t feel AD was out of hand, and on Friday, they thought the community was making too big a deal out of the EH increase.

Then suddenly on Sunday, AD was out of hand and the EH increase was so important it had to be nerfed. I've seen politicians flip flop less.

Ghostcrawler also posted that: We want the paladin currently at level 74 to feel like she's going to be able to fill a tanking role by the time she's geared out

Well, if I was that Level 74 Paladin, I would be concerned

The Developers get accused sometimes of caving into the whiners on the forums, and making changes simply to placate them. When they make such sudden and seemingly capricious changes in direction, even reasonable players, which I’d like to think I am, start to wonder.

I’m amazed by the number of people; Paladins included who accepted this nerf with a ‘had to see that coming’ type of attitude.

Ardent Defender is our second cooldown, similar to Last Stand, which by the strictest definitions is a 30% EH increase, twice that of the current AD, and three times the nerfed AD. Of course Last Stand is temporary and AD also has the guardian spirit effect added.

Maintankadin.com is down right now, so I can’t see what the reaction has been there. I’d really love to see what Lore, Theck, Modus, and the crew have to say. Many times those guys help me understand things better.

I tend to think that this is largely just a theorycrafting nerf. Due to the way Ardent Defender works, you aren’t going to really see the difference unless you are parsing logs and seeing a reduction in the amount of damage absorbed by AD. For most players, it will be a feel thing. Paladin tanks will feel a little squishier and a little harder to heal, but it will be difficult to pin the exact cause on the AD nerf.

But Paladins, after being behind for all of Burning Crusade and the first two tiers of Wrath, were finally competitive. Now, we’re being hit in both EH and Threat. The roller coaster ride I feared seems to be coming to fruition.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Special Announcement

I've got a special announce coming on next Friday.

3.2.2 Threat Nerfed

Patch 3.2.2 Notes: Hammer of the Righteous: The damage from this ability is now considered physical instead of Holy. The threat generated by the ability has been increased such that it will continue to do approximately the same threat it did when it was Holy damage.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/threa%20...%209172&sid=1

The key idea to understand about Paladin threat generation is, it's gotta be Holy. Our tank stance is a buff called Righteous Fury. It provides our base damage reduction and increases threat generated by HOLY damage by 90% (soon to be 80% in Patch 3.2.2).

With Hammer of the Righteous (HotR) now being physical, Paladins will generate zero threat from it outside of the base hit.

Today, Hammer of the Righteous hits for 500 Holy damage. Threat generated: 950
PTR before the HotR change: 500 Holy Damage. Threat generated: 900
PTR after the HotR change: 500 Physical Damage. Threat generated 500.

It would actually hit for less than 500 because of Armor, but I ignored that to simplfy the example. Even ignoring armor, HotR produces half the threat is does on live.

There are a couple of different approaches the Developers could tank to make HotR " do approximately the same threat it did when it was Holy damage".

They could simply make it hit harder. It would need to hit about 80% harder than it does now. I find this choice pretty unlikely.

They could add a static threat component to HotR. This is exactly what they had been trying to get away from in Wrath. Balancing around static threat is problematic for the Developers. Threat is great one tier and lousy in the next.

The easiest solution, and the one I personally hope they go with, is adding a percentage threat modifier similar to what they do with Death and Decay. All that would be required is to make this percentage 80% and bingo, your dial back damage while keeping threat close to where it was.

The other interesting question is under what circumstances will HotR "do approximately the same threat it did when it was Holy damage." The issue here is the debuff, Sunder Armor. Will they balance the new HotR assuming a fully Sundered mob?

You would think most 25 mans would have access to the Sunder Armor debuff, but 10 mans may not. There is also the concern that for most classes that can provide the Sunder Armor debuff, it's a DPS loss to provide it.

I believe most everyone can agree that Paladin threat generation is really strong right now and by a good margin. However, let's look at what the Developers have already put on the PTR to reduce Paladin threat.

1) Touched By the Light will now increase spell power based on Strength instead of Stamina.
2) Righteous Fury threat bonus on Holy damage reduced to 80% (was 90%).

Both of these changes will reduce the amount of threat Paladins can generate. The exact amount is not clear but the math geniuses put it at roughly 5 to 7% depending on much you geared for Stamina.

Those changes haven't been fully tested yet, and still the Developers are adding yet another threat nerf. Will they overdo the threat nerf, the same way the overdid the nerf to Death Knights. Color me concerned.

There is another change that will affect the threat generated by some Paladins:

Libram of Obstruction: The buff to block value from this relic is now exclusive with the buff to block value from Libram of the Sacred Shield; it is impossible to have both buffs at once.

Libram of the Sacred Shield: The block value buff from this relic has been increased to match its item level.

Relics: All buffs provided by relics (idols, librams, totems and sigils) now share an exclusive category such that gaining a buff from one of these items will remove all other buffs gained from items in this category.

Basically, people were using macros to switch Librams in combat and get both the Block Value buff from the Libram of Obstruction and the Libram of Sacred Shield at the same time. Doing this let them do some very high threat and could have added to the perception that Paladin threat was 'too high'.

I'm concerned whenever the Developers start making adjustments to my chosen class and especially to it's 51 point talent. I look at the state of my Death Knight friends right now, and that's enough to get anyone a little nervous. (I'm glad they are getting some much needed buffs this patch.)

It's been suggested that the change to HotR was made for PVP reasons. Again, I have to ask what the Developers see as the role for a Protection Paladin in Arena. Our ability to contribute to healing was nerfed by the Touch by the Light change. Now our damage and burst is nerfed through the Hammer of the Righteous change. If the Developers really want to see Prot Paladin Gladiators, what do they think or intend those players to be doing to help their teams reach those high ranknings?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Not Who I Was (Part III)

I didn't realize some of the consequences of my move to Hordeside.

Have you ever heard the phrase 'driving out of habit'? You are driving merrily along with the intention of going to a friend's house and suddenly you notice you've taken the exit for your office. You were 'driving out of habit'.

I've done quite a bit of that in the first few days that I've been Hordeside. I've walked myself into the Alliance portal room in Dalaran, and into the Alliance tent out at the Argent Tournament. Somehow those guys just aren't as happy to see me as they used to be.

Speaking of the Argent Tournament, that was probably the largest and most heartbreaking suprise. All my Argent Tournament progress had been reset. I was back as an Aspirant. I still had my Argent Pony, and my Champion Seals. But I had lost my Crusader Title, and my 'of Exodar' didn't become 'of Silvermoon'.

In addition, I lose many of the questing achievements I got leveling up in Northrend. I Toured the Fjord, Fo' Grizzle My Shizzle, and the like had been taken away and the quest counter had been drastically reduced.

I don't think I lost any pets or mounts. Both Miniwing and my Sprite Darter Hatchling came over. I was really happy that my Mechnostrider had become a Kodo.

My Knight-Lieutenant title became Blood Guard and my tabbard changed as well. I didn't recieve a Blood Knight tabbard, but the quest line is there for me to do if I want it. I still have the Charger, though it's the Blood Elf colors. My plan had been to buy the Argent Tournament Charger, but I'll need to get back to Champion status before I can do that.

I miss Stoneform and Mace Expertise, but I've come to love Arcane Torrent. We were doing the Daily heroic, which was Azjob-Nerub and we were fighting Anub'arak. The VenomSpitters came out. I stopped the first Venom Volley with Avenger's Shield and was able to interrupt the next cast with Arcane Torrent.

My Warrior friend who I had been doing 3s with switched over to Horde, but as of this writing our Druid hasn't. It looks like we might be getting a Resto Shaman to join us instead.

Battlegrounds have been intersting. Everything is backwards and turned around.

Wintergrasp was really nice, once I figured out where the Horde que up from. We know VoA will be up virtually whenever we want to raid it. I find myself mousing over the Alliance and trying to engage anyone I know, but sometimes there's a just a mass of people and I'm just swinging away. I did run into my old buddy Fireyes on the road to one of the towers and I got to experience what Tenacity feels like from the other end.

I went and got myself a haircut. I had to go with a real short spiky cut because every other option for Blood Elves clipped by shield or helmet.


Tuesday night, I ran into my old crew from Mal Katai that is now in Limitless. We were all outside of Trial of the Crusader. I couldn't talk to them so we just emoted back and forth. I've actually been a little gunshy about logging back into my Warrior or Hunter. I'm not really sure what kind of whispers I'm going to get.

Leaving the Warrior put a dent in my gold making as he was my DE bot. I rolled a Death Knight and actually got him out of the starting area to give me a banker. DKs come with a decent set of starting bags. The plan is to get him to 65 as quickly as I can, and then make him into a Tailor/Enchanter. That will give me access to the Gem, Bag and Enchanting mats market. I figure it'll be around 2k investment to get him powerleveled, but some of that I'll do AoEing old instances that I still need the achievement for.

I do like having a taller toon. The Blood Elf animations are decent. I used to know what spell I had cast just by my Dwarfs animation. After watching the same animations for 2 years, you start to get used to them. My Blood Elf seems to have this little jump punch that looks like he's trying to do SHO-RYU-KEN when my Libram procs. Thought I can't stand his laugh. I hate it.

I've been fairly fortunate so far in that I haven't needed to PuG much. Depite my faction change, I still view the Horde outside my own guild with some uneasiness. I can say, with a fair amount of confidence, that neither the Alliance nor Horde really has a claim on being 'more mature' side.

I also took the opportunity to tweak my UI a bit. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how to get a UI similiar to the one I use. I've actually got an article in the works on that, but I'm waiting for Spartan to release it's new version. I'm using one of the Release Candidates that still has some issues. I have discovered Power Auras class and I'm really enjoying it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm Not Who I Was (Part Deux)

This is the song that inspired my last blog title:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpOLyR8MwiA. It's by Brandon Heath.


The question on everyone's mind is 'Why?' Why switch to Horde, why now?

The answer is pretty simple. I followed my Raid Leader and my Team.


The Developers really threw us a curve ball when they released Faction Changes well before anyone thought they would be available. My guild leader, Ellevis called for a meeting Thursday night right before our raid.

Ellevis had spoken to each of us individually about switching to Horde, but that was when we figured it would be as part of the next expansion. Now we were looking at facing the decision much sooner.

Basically, Ellevis wanted to find out if anyone had a big problem with switching now that the service was open.

The responses ran the gamut from people who would have already switched if not for the raid that night to people who were less than enthusiastic about the move. What was my response going to be? I had the advantage of having heard about the availability of Faction Changes during the day, so I had some time over lunch and on the ride the home to think it over.

I spent most of Burning Crusade bouncing around from guild to guild, looking for a home. I was looking for a very particular kind of guild.

I wanted a guild that had a raid schedule that would allow me to make 90% to 100% of their raids. I wanted a guild that progressed through content. You can only follow the story so far on your own in WoW. Eventually the story leads you to Raids. I wanted a guild that had an opening for a Tank.

The irony of being a tank is that while you see a constant spam of LF1M Tank in Trade and LFG, once you get into the raid game; most groups are overflowing with tanks. Part of this is caused by the economy of scale. Going from a 5 man to a 10 man you add one tank spot, going up to a 25 man adds one more. Healers and DPS had many, many more spots as you go up in raid size.

In Raids, Tanks have the most rigid assignments. Healers get assigned as well, but unless you go OOM, no one is going to bat an eyelash if you heal outside of your assignment. If you are a Tank and not assigned to a mob, you are going to cause all kinds of chaos if you try to tank. You’ll cause drama and likely find yourself booted from the group.

Unusual Suspects went out of their way to become the guild I was looking for. They even changed their raid schedule to better fit my own schedule better. Their offtank, an outstanding Feral Druid, volunteered to switch mains to his Mage to open up a Tank spot for me.

These were some really strong players. We were the 2nd guild Alliance side to down Yogg, and the first guild Alliance side to down Anub’arak. So the progression was definitely there. Sure, we’ve gone from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a large pond. But honestly, that isn’t what motivates us. We want to progress, and we want to bring our best to every raid, but we just aren’t into fighting for server firsts.

These are also guys who I’ve had a history with going all the way to our pre-Karazhan days. Ellevis, known then as Wichita, was right there on our first Attunemen kill. And despite the fact that I left them to purse 25 man raiding in Burning Crusade, they welcomed me back to the guild with open arms.

So I told Ellevis and the team the truth. I told them that I wasn’t crazy about the idea of being a Blood Elf, but I’d follow them wherever they went.

So the decision was made and most everyone was over on Hordeside before the night was over.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm Not Who I Was


Heoric Humbling

I logged in Tuesday night and found a pleasant surprise; I had been awarded the Challenger title. While we were getting ready to raid Trial of the Crusader, I flew up to the Tournament and did a couple of Daily Quests. With the Champion Seals from those quests, I completed a major goal and purchased the Argent Squire Reins. Now my little squire has his own little pony and can give me bank, mail, and vendor access. I like it.

Tuesday was the day that Trial of the Crusader opened fully. We blasted through the first four bosses fairly quickly, but not flawlessly. After defeating the Twin Val’kyr we were treated to a visit from his Deadness, Lord Arthas. Apparently, he’s been having a grand old time watching the Argent Crusade build their building right over the Nerubian Empire, and now he’s going to throw you to the wolves so to speak. The floor breaks an you fall. Arthas was kind enough to put a pool of water under you to break your fall.

Once you swim out of the water, you walk a little ways before coming face to…mandible with Anub’arak. Yes, the same Anub’arak you killed in the Azjol-Nerub 5 man dungeon. I guess Azjol-Nerub was ‘merely a setback’?

As an aside, if you don’t get the ‘merely a setback’ joke, it’s a reference to Kael’thas’ speech in Magister’s Terrace. You killed him in Tempest Keep (25 man raid), yet here he is back again in the 5 man. When you pull him, he tells you that Tempest Keep was ‘merely a setback’.

Like most of the other fights on Normal, Anub’arak posed little difficulty for Team Ellevis. We understood the very basics of the encounter. I know some people are getting tired of hearing about how our team one shots the new boss every week. I don’t tell you that to brag, I’m just telling you what happened.

If it’ll make you feel better, imagine we had an epic struggle with Anub’arak and it came down to me (Prot Paladin), Donk (Mage), and Blackhaus (Disc Priest). Anub is sub 5% and I blow everything, Divine Protection, Trinkets, Healthpot, and even get an AD proc. But it’s too much and I die. Black throws what DoTs he can before Anub one shots him. Then just before he gets to Donk, Donk goes into an Iceblock and just before it wears off, Anub dies from a combination of Black’s Shadow Word Pain and the last tick of Scorch!

That would make a better story wouldn’t it?

How ever it happened, Anub’arak was dead, and Trial of the Crusader (10 man) was defeated. GuildOx says we are third guild on our server to complete it, and the first Alliance Guild. This is a testament to the outstanding job that Ellevis is doing leading the raid group and the job that each and every member of our team is doing in their respective roles.

To my Raid Team: You guys rock! It’s an honor to be part of your Tanking team.

Well, Normal Mode is defeated, bring on Heroic. We switched it over and got the skull. Here we go.

It was a completely humbling experience from the first pull. Tank damage was intense. The first Phase of Northrend Beast is of course Gormok the Impaler. His Impale DoT ticks for a lot more and we had to be really careful to switch at 2 stacks.

Hand of Protection is really nice for Gormok, as you can clear stacks from your fellow tank. You could clear your own stacks with Divine Shield, but usually I was locked out of Divine Shield by Forbearance triggered from using Divine Protection.

Gormok gets a damage buff for each Snobold out. It was usually around 60% by the time we got through Phase 1. The Snobolds and Fires were really rough and if one of our healers got a Snobold, we could easily lose a tank. A 3 stack with 60% extra damage ticks for about 10k. Impale (the attack, not the DoT) can hit upwards of 25k. All my plate started to feel like paper.

After several unsuccessful attempts, we began to wonder if we needed to farm more gear from Normal ToC to give us a better shot at Heroic. But Thursday night, we pressed our luck again.

You get a little counter at the top of the screen letting you know how many attempts you have remaining.Our team communicates really well post wipe. People try to identify problems, and correct them as best they can. No one seems to take this personally, or get defensive. We discovered part of our problem was DPS not switching fast enough to the Snobold that was out, and people not spreading out enough letting the fire damage really add up.

Heroic had another little surprise for us. The Twin Jormunger Worms show up on a timer, not when Gormok dies. So usually they come rolling through the doors with Gormok sub 10% and either myself or both Ellevis and I both still bleeding from Gormok’s Impale DoT.

It was slow but we continued to make progress. After one of our wipes, we had a Snobold bug out. He stayed there the whole night and we started calling him our good luck charm.

We were getting through Phase 1 better and working on our transitions to Phase 2. Everything the worms do hits for more damage and you less time to get someone out of Paralytic Posion. As the Dreadscale tank, that usually falls to me. Eventually we got Acidmaw down, and then started working on Dreadscale. Dreadscale had just gotten into ‘execute range’ when Icehowl shows up. He’s on a timer, too.

Ellevis picked up Icehowl, but we messed up the charge. He’ll one shot even tanks when he’s enraged. Finally we got to Icehowl and successfully managed the Charge.

It was a long hard battle, but Northrend Beasts was defeated on Heroic.We took a moment to compose ourselves. Lord Jaraxxus was up next. Again, everything seemed to hit for more damage. If people don’t get healed through the DoT Jaraxxus puts on them they explode. It doesn’t kill them but does major damage to all around them.

Our first surprise came when the Portal spawned to bring out the ‘chickadee’ with all the arms, a Sister of Pain. I noticed the Portal had its own lifebar. Then I noticed there were two Sisters, then three. SPLAT!

Hmm, maybe we need to DPS down the portal. If you switch quick, you’ll only get one Sister out.
Same deal with the Infernals. The Volcano has to be DPSed down. We made several solid attempts but didn’t quite get Jaraxxus down. I think our best attempt was about 50%.

It was a really good couple of nights. The team did a great job and we had a lot of fun in the process. We’ve come to the conclusion that we may need to buy some of the iLevel 232 gear to give us some more breathing room in Heroic. Our healers are really feeling stressed. Tank damage is intense and raid damage is everywhere. Our healers do a fantastic job, but I’m sure at times, they must feel like Atlas trying to keep our raid on their broad shoulders.

Emblems of Triumph Pick Order (10 Man Raider)

When Wrath started Heroics and Naxx10 gave you level 200 gear. Naxx25 gave you level 213. Then Ulduar came out. Ulduar 10 gear was level 219, while Ulduar 25 gear was level 226.

Now with Crusade out you have 3 different levels. Crusade 10 will give you level 232 gear. Crusade 10 Heroic and Crusade 25 give level 245 gear. Crusade 25 Heroic gives the best gear at level 258.

The best gear from Heroic is available only after killing the last boss. The number of tokens you get will depend on how many 'tries' you had left.

Crusade 10, Crusade 10 Heroic and Cruasde 25 gear are all obtained with Emblems of Triumph. Crusade 10 gear is obtained with just Emblems of Triumph. Crusade 10 Heroic / Crusade 25 gear requires more Emblems as well as a Trophy that drops off the Bosses in 25man and from the Tribute Chest in Heroic 10. A full clear of the 25 man will yeild 15 Emblems and 5 trophies, a full clear of Heroic 10 man will yeild 15 Emblems and 2 to 4 trophies. You can also obtain Emblems from the Heroic Daily Quest.

What's really different about Tier 9 is that your pick order for Triumph badges really varies on what kind of content you'll be clearing. I'm going to look at this from the perspective of a 10 man Raider doing Heroic/Hard Mode.

With any pick order, use common sense when applying it to your own situation. My pick order is going to be influenced by my own situation, and I'll be sure to explain the reasons behind why I've used the pick order below. Keep in mind that you might get a drop that changes the pick order for you.

Book 'em Dano

Libram of Defiance 25 Emblems of Triumph

I recommend the first purchase be the Libram of Defiance. This Libram gives you a chance to gain 200 dodge rating for 18 sec. each time you use your Hammer of The Righteous ability. It has a very high uptime. I always try to gear for the hardest content available to me and right now that Heroic ToC. The bosses in there hit HARD, so I want all the avoidance and effective health I can get.

That has a nice ring to it

Clutch of Fortification 35 Emblems of Triumph

The next target is the ring. The reason I have this here is you won't be replacing it until Icecrown. Pair this baby up with the Loop of the Val'kyr from Heroic Twins and you've got quite a set. No other rings comes near the Stamina and Armor of these two rings.

A Tiered Approach

Now you start thinking about Tier Gear. You might need to buy some iLevel 232 Tier 9 pieces to give you a better shot at clearing the instance and getting the trophies for the 245 pieces. Remember you can mix and max 232 and 245 to activate your 2 and 4 piece bonus.

Your goal is to build up to the 4 piece bonus as quickly as you can. I'm a big fan of the 4 peice bonus which makes Divine Protection (our Shield Wall) usuable every 90 seconds. That's incredible. You want that ability, and you want it now.

Tier Hands
Tier Legs
Tier Shoulders
Tier Chest
Faceplate of the Honorbound

Buy the non Trophy piece when have enough Emblems. As soon as your guild can clear Heroic and start getting Trophies, save up for the 245 piece, but don't start back at the top of the list. Keep going down the list and then go back and replace your 232 pieces after you get the Helm.

Normally I would support the idea of buying the most expensive piece first, but here's why I don't agree with that for EoTs. The Hands wind up on top by virtue of the other pieces having good alternatives.

Your Chest and Helm should already be iLevel 226 items because both are available from Conquest Emblems. In addition, Anub'arak drops a 232 Chest. That puts both items on a lower priority to be upgraded.

The Tier 8 Legs are very well itemized, probably the best itemized piece of Tier 8.

The Shoulders are lower on the pick order because there's a possible 232 and 245 drop available to you from the Faction Champions.

Once you are ready to replace the helm, I actually recommend the Faceplate of the Honorbound. It's the same iLevel as your Tier 9 (245) and I feel it's a better itemized piece. They have the same Armor and Stamina, but the Faceplate has superior avoidance, while T9 has superior threat. I gear for survival over threat. By using the Faceplate of the Honorbound, you will free up a Trophy to go to someone else in your raid making your whole team stronger.

Leave it on the shelf

Glyph of Indomitability

I'm not a fan of this trinket and wouldn't spend Emblems on it. It's a load of armor with a dodge on use. I prefer stamina which works against magic as well as physical, with an avoidance on use.

If you have more Emblems, buy Crusader Orbs and get some Saronite Swordbreakers made.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Where Are You At In Raiding?

I've added a poll to the website that asks the question: Where does your next progression boss reside?

What I'm trying to figure out is where my readers are at in terms of raiding. Are you just getting started with Naxx? Are you still attacking Ulduar? Maybe you're in Trial of the Crusader, or have started on Heroic mode.

Poll will be up for one week.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Things Didn't Work The Way I Thought They Would

I was assuming there would be Trophies of the Crusade in 10m heroic. I'm a bit disappointed that the only Trophy drops from the Crusade chest at the end of Heroic 10 man.

With the release of 4 different modes to ToC, it appeared Blizzard was giving a true path to every kind of guild. You simply needed to find the level of content that fit your guild. You could be everything from a 10 man normal guild right up to a 25 man heroic guild.

Each level awarded it's own gear with it's own iLevel. 10N was 232, 10H, 25N was 245 and 25H was 258. We had assumed that 10 man heroic would also be 245 since that is what all the drops are, it would make sense that the 245 tier gear was also available from 10 man Heroic.

While you can debate the difficulty of the actual fights (and every guild will have a different take on the difficulty of each level), it is clear that 10H is a step up from 10N. It SHOULD award better tier gear. It SHOULD drop Trophys of the Crusade from every Boss.

But it doesn't. I don't agree with that.

So let's break down the way this works for Tier in reality. Let me first explain the Tribute system that is only for Heroic Mode (10/25). You get 50 'tries' at the instance. Every time you wipe, you lose a try. We wiped 5 times to Northrend Beasts and have only 45 'tries' left for the rest of the instance. When you defeat the last boss on Heroic, you get a Tribute Chest.

Joanadark on Maintankadin explained it like this:
Tribute to Skill (25+ wipes remaining) rewards 2 trophies plus another item.
Tribute to Mad Skill (45+ wipes remaining) rewards 3(? I need to double check) trophies, cloak, plus another item.
Tribute to Insanity (all 50 wipes remaining) rewards 4 Trophies, the epic land mount, cloak, and one other item.

10N drops Emblems. You can turn those Emblems in for iLevel 232.
10H drops Emblems. You can turn those Emblems in for iLevel 232. Heroic also drops 2 to 4 Trophies of the Crusade from the Tribute Chest. You can turn in the Trophies, plus some Emblems for the iLevel 245 gear.

25N drops Emblems and 1 Trophy per Boss. You can turn in the Trophies, plus some Emblems for the iLevel 245 gear.

25H drops Emblems and 1 Trophy per Boss. You can turn in the Trophies, plus some Emblems for the iLevel 245 gear. Heroic also drops some number of Regalia from the Tribute chest These work like the tokens from earlier tiers, and are class based (e.g. Priest, Paladin, Warlock).

I had originally written that the system 'punishes' 10 man raiders. Now that I look at it, I don't think it does. It doesn't work the way I thought it would, and that's disappointing. But I can't say it's horribly unfair, or punishes one raid size or the other.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rusted Proto Drake? I'll Pass

The dilemma I'm faced with today is how to speak about an activity, but not come across as passing judgment on those who choose to participate in it. Let's see if I can accomplish that.

The activity I'm talking about is the selling of Proto Drakes. Certain guilds are selling spots in their Ulduar 10 runs. They know these fights so well, and overgear them to such a degree that they can essentially 9 man all the achievements and Hard Modes needed for the Rusted Proto Drake. The 10th person pays some large amount of WoW gold, transfers to that guild's server, does the run, gets the achievements and the Drake, and transfers back home. I've heard figures up to 30,000 WoW gold.

This is very similar to how guilds would sell 'Bear runs' towards the end of Burning Crusade. There was a special Amani Bear mount which could only be obtained by completing Zul'Aman in a specified amount of time. My guild came close a couple of times, but ultimately we never got it.

Buying an Amani Bear run didn't appeal to me back in Burning Crusade and buying a Proto Drake has zero appeal to me now.

Just to be clear, I have no problem with the guilds selling the runs. If you are that skilled/geared, and your customers actually get their Drakes/Bears, that's awesome for your guild and it'll fill the guild bank coffers.

I have also have no problem with the person buying the Drake. If you've got that much WoW gold, plus you have the real money to pay for the transfer there and back again, and you want to buy it, I’m not going to stop you.

What boggles my mind is the motivation for wanting to do that. Do you really care that much about what a random passerby at the Dalaran flight point thinks of you?

Buying the Drake would seem to indicate that the buyer wants people to consider him an excellent player, and cares about what people think of him as he hovers over the bank in Dalaran. I understand wanting to be respected by your peers, but anyone who sees a person on a Proto Drake, and then doesn't see anyone else from your guild on one will be able to put two and two together pretty quickly. It's not a single loot thing like the Drake from 3D. Everyone in your core team should have one. That’s assuming they even recognize the Drake on sight, or understand what it means.

To my warped way of thinking, the Proto Drake would be a trophy from a couple of unforgettable nights of raiding with my team. It would be a tangible representation of what we had accomplished together and a display of our achievement when we rode them, in formation, to our next raid.

If I had bought the Drake, it would just feel so hollow every time I brought it out. It would have no meaning.

To me it would be like buying a Doak Walker Trophy off eBay. The Doak Walker Trophy is awarded every year to the best running back in college football. After you bought the trophy, you would put up on your mantle. You would then let people see it when they came over for dinner parties, and maybe someone would even ask you about it.

Whether you told them the truth or made up a story, you’d know. You’d know in your spirit you really didn't EARN the Trophy, the Drake. Oh, you'd tell yourself that it was just circumstances outside your control. You’d convince yourself that you were every bit as good as those guys who got you the Drake. You’d think that you really could have done it on your own. You didn’t have to be carried. But it would have meant leaving your friends, or your server. Or it would have meant raiding far more hours than you healthy normal lifestyle can allow.

But deep down, in that part of you that you don't like to talk about, or acknowledge, you KNOW. You KNOW you didn't really earn it. You bought it. The same as any guy who just hit 80, and couldn't DPS, Tank, or Heal half as good as you can. He could have had one, too, if he had the money/gold.

For me, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't display a badge of honor that I hadn't actually earned with my team. It wouldn't feel right to me. Every time I brought it out it would only remind me of my choice to take the fast and easy path, to take the shortcut, and get a reward that I didn't truly deserve.

Someone who buys a Drake run is well within their rights, as is the guild that sells it.

But respect? Sorry, not from this Dwarf.