Monday, May 31, 2010

I Could Say These Modes Were Hard

Last week, we headed back to ICC to chase down some hard modes. We had previously tried our hand at finishing Ulduar. All we needed was Yogg with one keeper and we'd have it. Technically, we needed the dwarf roasting achievement from Razorscale, but that's just a matter of doing it. I thought Yogg was actually just going to be a matter of just doing it too, but it turned out to be a little more tricky than that. We spent most of a raid night wiping on Yogg. We died for all sorts of reasons, and I was culpable for at least a couple of wipes by spawning extra Guardians in Phase 1. I would have thought that with how we completely overgear Yogg that we would be able to handle any mistake, but that wasn't the case. After many unsuccessful tries, the raid was called. We probably won't be going back anytime soon. I really think it's just a matter of getting back in there and relearning the fight. Some of our team wasn't with us nearly a year ago when we killed Yogg the first time and with just One Light, the fight is much harder. I think we would have have a better chance back when the fight was the current tier and we were running it every night. I'd like the Rusted Proto-Drake, but it's not going to bother me if we don't get it.

In contrast to our setback in Ulduar, we have been buoyed by our success in Ice Crown. We had previously gotten the first 3 Heroic Modes down (Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, and Gunship). Marrowgar and DeathWhisper have gotten cleaner each week we've done them. Saurfang had been our sticking point. Part of the problem was that my TPS was significantly less in the fight because I can't use Consecrate or Hammer of the Righteous. I did some adjustments with my gear and made sure I got hit capped (even to the point of a Hit gem since the Hit tanking ring refuses to drop again from Gunship in either mode). With the changes I was able to establish early threat better. This let me take Saurfang first. The way the timing works out, I am taunting Saurfang back from Boston (Blood DK) just as the beasts spawn, allowing Boston to Chains one Beast and give our DPS more time to burn it down. It took several attempts, but we got it down. Our Priest won the Mark, but gave it to me later. I upgraded my shoulders to the Sanctified ones. I like the Red.

Next up was Festergut. I took him first just like regular. The big change is Malleable goo gets thrown throughout the fight. The enrage timer is the same but Festergut has more HP so it's a tougher race. We had our healers stand outside of melee instead of inside melee. They still had to move, but not nearly as much as they would have if they were inside melee. Healing was a little touchy especially when the Inhaled Blight was released. But our healers did a great job of keeping both the tanks and the raid up. Again, it took a couple of attempts, but we got him down.

Then we went for Rotface. I didn't really pay that much attention to what changed because my job of holding Rotface didn't change any. I hold him and let him whack on my shield a bit. All the changes were on the outside as healers and DPS dealt with Oozes and Diseases. This one also took a couple of learning attempts, but we killed him, too.

That made us 6/12 in Heroic Modes and we are making outstanding progress. We took a stab at Heroic Putricide but that looks like it's going to be really rough. One of our team needed Regular Putricide to finish her IceCrown Achievement so after another try at Heroic, we killed him normal.

Summer and Expansion blahs are starting to take their toll on the raid team. Sometimes we have to call the raid. Its disappointing, but it's just part of the reality of our guild right now. The good news is that when we get enough people online on a raid night, we make solid progress.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3 Year Anniversary

Today marks the 3 year anniversary mark of my blog here at Honor's Code. So today, I am reposting the very first post that ever appeared on this blog.

"I created this blog to chronicle my thoughts and experiences as a player in Blizzard's wildly popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

This blog will follow my main, Honorshammer, a level 70 Dwarf Paladin on Altar of Storms. It will also include thoughts on my other characters, Honorshummer, a level 30ish Draenai Hunter, also on Altar of Storms.

I don't know if many, or frankly anyone will read this blog, but here it is."

That was posted on May 25, 2007. So much has happened to both myself and Paladins and Tankadins during that time.I'm glad the blog has stayed around and that I've managed to find a couple of people to read it on a regular basis. I am so glad that you've joined me on this journey.

Honors Code will be going strong on into Cataclysm, though maybe not with the same focus. I hope you continue to enjoy reading it as much as I enjoying writing it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lich King Video

Part #1


This is our second kill. We had a very clean Phase 1. I'm on Arthas and Boston (Blood DK) is on the adds. In the Transition Phase, I picked up the first two Raging Spirit and Boston grabbed the third. We had a great transition into Phase 2, and I picked up Arthas right where he was casting Quake. The very first Valkyr we were able to use a little trick we learned. She picked our lock who had set up his portal near the edge. When she dropped him, he ported back. This allowed us to ignore this first Valkyr and concentrate on Arthas. At about the 6:56 mark, you’ll see my Bubble Wall macro. It shows when its up and when it wears off.

Part #2



The very next Val’kyr we don’t et it down and lose a DPS. (Random thought: Our Tree goes into and out of form a couple of times, I think it looks pretty cool.) Despite the error, we are still able to move into the next Transition Phase. We get through that Phase, but we’ve got 2 Raging Spirits up when we reengage Arthas.

Part #3

We lost another DPS to Vile Spirits and we were getting close on enrage. My biggest disappointment was that our Tree didn’t get picked to go into Frostmourne. I’ve never seen what happens in there. Well, that and Troggbane not dropping.
Big thanks for Lakini for making this video. The King is dead. Long live the King (again).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paladin Perception

I have a perception about our game, and it’s one I want to challenge. I don’t want to continue to think this is true if its not. The perception I have is that the majority of the player base has a strong dislike  for Paladins. I’m not talking about individual Paladins. You get to know and will generally like your guild mates, but as a general rule players seem almost predisposed to dislike the Paladin.
Anna of Too Many Annas stated this far better than I could. Allow me to quote from her.
Look.
I get it. Paladins are the redheaded step children of WoW. They’re universally disliked, and have been since beta. Sometimes, they’re even unbalanced! (OH NO SOMEONE  ALERT THE F*ING PRESS) Sometimes paladins deserve the nerfs they get. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they get knee-jerk, unannounced, Thursday morning nerfs. Rarely do I think a knee-jerk, unannounced, Thursday morning nerf that bypasses the tooltips is warranted for ANY class.

And yes, I know that’s happened to warlocks too. Newsflash, I’m not talking about warlocks. Just because some other class has gotten a knee jerk nerf doesn’t make all knee jerk nerfs right. And just because I’m not pleased when that happens to paladins doesn’t mean I think it’s OK when it happens to other classes. Same thing goes for balance issues.
At the very least, I know that I’m not alone in my perception that Paladins are ‘universally disliked.’
Why is it every time a blogger needs to describe a poor attitude player, they make that player a Paladin in their story. Here is a recent example on World of Matticus, but it’s hardly the only. Not be outdone, Warcraft Hunter’s Union also got into the Paladin bashing act.
I have been disappointed with some of the design elements for Paladins during Wrath. Our Tier Set Bonus, speaking of Protection, have been lacking, especially in Tier 10. There were moments every tier before Ice Crown where it was sort of obvious the fight wasn’t designed with Paladins in mind.
It's never fun to be picked on, especially by the Developers of your game. I didn't like Rets being the butt of the joke at Blizzcon. Paladins are universally disliked, and Rets (which would be the spec of Honors if I kept him my main) are the most disliked of the Paladin specs. At Panels, Paladins were routinely booed when asking questions.
Do we, as Paladins, seem to be the most reviled class in the game, or is that just my perception? And if my perception is accurate, why is it that players dislike Paladins. Is it simply Bubble, or the whole goody-two-shoes Hero type thing? Is it because the story/lore seems to constantly revolve around us? Wrath ends with 3 Paladins, or former Paladins,  center stage in Tirion, Bolvar, and Arthas.
I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Hybrid Question

In WoW, the characters take on one of three classic roles: the Tank, the Healer, and the Damage Dealer. There are 4 Pure classes: The Hunter, The Warlock, The Rogue, and The Mage. They have one and only one option open to them, Damage Dealer. 4 other classes ( Priest, Shaman, Warrior, and Death Knight) are all Hybrids because they can spec into 2 different roles: Damage Dealer and either Tank or Healer. 2 Classes are 3 role hybrids which can spec into all 3 roles.
The game has been built on the basic idea that the Pures should have some compensation because they don't have the option to respec or dual spec to a support role like Tank or Healer. For the Pures, damage is all they can bring. The thinking of the Developers is that if they allowed Hybrids to be as good as Pures, few people would make the choice to play a Pure class. Thus was invented the so called Hybrid Tax.
We can see that through Vanilla and even into Burning Crusade, Hybrids were balanced against Pures by being much worse than a pure in their given role. At that point in the game, Warriors were consider the Pure Tank. Healers were given niches, but the Priest was the Pure Healer. Shadow was merely a leveling spec.
The Hybrid Tax was severe. Hybrids made up for some of their deficiencies by bringing unique and powerful buffs to help justify their raid spots. You can get away with someone being 30% less powerful in a healing or Damage Dealing role, but making up for it with a buff. Tanking just won’t work under that model, so you had Warriors as the one and only Tank class in Vanilla. It is interesting to note that during this time Warriors were exempt from the Hybrid Tax. I believe the cause for this is that even in the 40 man raids of the day, there were few Tank spots. In order to allow Warriors to have shots at raid spots, they need to not tax their DPS. Then they made sure that Warriors were the best Tank class in Burning Crusade while making the Hybrids (Paladins and Druids) offtanks.
Wrath changed the rules. Tank and Healing hybrids were brought on par. Dual spec was introduced and raid buffs were spread out amongst the classes. As a consequence of Dual Spec every Tank capable class and every Healer capable class was turned into a true hybrid. The Hybrid Tax still existed for DPS but at a much lower penalty. Balance was a funny thing and at points the 4 Pures saw Hybrids out DPS them.
I’ve nearly always played Hybrids. But now I’ve played extensively on my Hunter and I’ve seen how a Pure works. I have 2 role hybrids like my Warrior and 3 role hybrids like my Paladin. The Hybrid question has come into sharp focus for me as I decided between playing a Pure class, versus playing a Hybrid in Cataclysm. Therefore, I feel like I’ve got a good basis of experience to draw on for looking at these questions.
The core question is what price, if any, should the hybrid player pay for his ability to quickly switch roles. The second question is should 3 role hybrids pay a higher price than 2 role hybrids.
Before we can even ask what price should be paid, we must first ask, if it is justifiable for Hybrids to pay any price. Does playing a Pure class bring with it benefits that offset in someway the flexibility of the hybrid.
Spending Resources for Gear
In the context of game where gear is purchased (with Emblems in Wrath of the Lich King and various types of Hero Points in Cataclysm), the Pure has the benefit of knowing exactly what gear to purchase. The hybrid must make a decision about whether she wants to build her DPS first, or build her Support (Tank/Healer) set first. The gear the hybrid needs to actually perform at her second role is slow in coming. It requires the hybrid to continue doing content like dailies long after they would have preferred to stop them because the hybrid needs double or triple the amount of badges/points that a Pure does. The hybrid also suffers under player made point systems like DKP. The hybrid may spend her DKP on an item, but even paying half price for offspec items, she will then have less DKP to bid on items like Trophies, Tier Tokens or jewelry against Pures. This line of thinking can also be applied to spending rare crafting reagents like Primordial Saronite or even gold itself.
Uncertainty of Role
That decision can be further complicated by the uncertainty of role. A Pure always know his role. On any given fight, they know they will bringing the pain. They won’t be asked to tank or heal. (Although the return of non traditional Tanks like the Mage Tank in Gruul’s Lair, or the Warlock Tank in Leotheras, would be welcomed by this writer.) Hybrids have to wonder what they will be doing on a night by night or fight by fight basis. Let’s use a thought experiment to demonstrate what I mean. The Enhancement Shaman who loves melee DPS watched anxiously as the raid formed. He wondered if the raid will have enough healers, or would he have to go as his ‘offspec’ and heal. Most players, when faced with the choice of either allowing their guild to raid that night by going support spec, or sticking to their guns and playing their preferred DPS spec but watching the raid get called off, will choose to go offspec. Let’s leave the abstract and look at a real world example. I’ll use my raid group since I know them best. Our Boomkin is just that, a Boomkin. That’s his favorite spec, yet for each of our Lich King kills he’s been a tree. Now he doesn’t mind being a tree, he enjoys it, but I bet he would have rather have been a Boomkin. A Mage would never have had to make that choice.
Freedom of Spec
Thirdly, the Pures have much greater freedom in what to do with their Dual Spec. Most Pures will go the route of having a PVE and PVP talent spec, although some may have a Replenishment/No Replenishment dual spec. This allows the Pure to do both PVE and PVP effortlessly on one toon. In addition, because they are done spending badges on PVE gear long before their Hybrid counterparts, they can more quickly begin spending badges on PVP gear. For a Hybrid to enjoy their flexibility, they must devote both of their dual specs to their PVE roles. They would need to manually respec in order to have a PVP spec.
Developer Resources
When the developers go to work on the Pure, they have one goal in mind, Damage. When they work on the Hybrid they have to consider all the roles. Hybrids watch the new spells each expansion hoping they will be useful for their spec, but often the baseline abilities are nigh useless. One example of this would be Shield of Righteousness. Ret Paladins might as well have not trained it. So if each class gets 3 new spells in an expansion, the Hybrid class might see one or even zero like our Resto Druid friends will see for Cataclysm.
Hybrid Tax Enforced
Not only do Pures have advantages that hybrids lack, I firmly believe that the Developers will be able to much better implement the Hybrid Tax on Hybrid DPSers in Cataclysm. I readily acknowledge that at points during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, balance among the DPS classes have not been well established and at points certain Hybrid DPSers have been ahead of their Pure counterparts. But as we look at the design intent for Cataclysm, the Developers have given themselves a powerful tool for balancing PVE DPS specs in the new Mastery mechanic. For instance, the Survival Hunter receives a 10.05% increase to Ranged Damage for spending 51 points in the Survival Tree. Now let’s imaging that after release Survival Hunters are falling behind other damage specs, analogous to the situation Beast Mastery faced in Wrath. The Developers look at their parses and determine that Survival is about 4% low. They simply change the Mastery bonus from 10.05% to 14.05% and voila, the Survival spec is up to par. You can already see this at work. While Survival as a 10.05% damage increase as their Mastery bonus, Beast Mastery has a 13.31% increase. Beast Mastery would otherwise be low, but now it would be more on par with the other Hunter specs.
Conclusion
I feel that Hybrids do in fact pay a price for their flexibility. They don’t need any additional burden put upon them to pay for their flexibility. It may not the be price some players want them to pay, or even that apparent a price to the player of a Pure class, but the price is being paid. It begs the question if Hybrids are paying too large  a price for their flexibility given the advantages a Pure class has over them.
When we consider the question of whether the 3 role Hybrids (Paladin, Druid) should pay an additional price for their additional flexibility, we must consider these the same issues. 3 role Hybrids need even more Emblems or points to build their sets to actually exercise this additional flexibility. Developer Resources are spread even thinner for a 3 role hybrid than a 2 role hybrid.
The uncertainty of role, combined with having only 2 available specs could lead to 3 role Hybrids needing to spend gold to respec more than any other class. Until WoW allows us to have 3 specs, 3 role Hybrids should be treated the same as 2 role Hybrids, so the only distinction that makes sense is Hybrid versus Pure, not Pure versus 2 role Hybrids versus 3 role Hybrids.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why The Paladin

Since I’m in the process of deciding a main for the first time since I decided on Honorshammer, I thought it might be instructional to look back and see just why I settled on playing a Paladin in the first place.
I got into WoW because I really enjoyed playing Warcraft 3 and dominating my buddy who would one day be known in game as Aoesrus. My favorite Hero in Warcraft 3 was the Mountain King. Since there was no Mountain King class in WoW, I wasn't sure what to do. So I pulled up the Dwarf, and started working through the various classes Dwarves could be. I clicked Warrior, but that guy had a sword and a shield. He didn't look right. I click Hunter. Again the guy is standing there with a sword. I clicked Priest. Gah, a Dwarf in a dress. No thank you. I clicked Rogue. The guy was standing there with this tinny tiny little dagger. And then I clicked the Hammer. The Dwarf Paladin stared back at me. There he was, there was my Mountain King. The other thing that really drew me to Honors was the whole ‘Servant of the Light’ angle. I fancy myself as a servant of the one who called himself the Light of the World, so I liked bringing that over into my gaming life.
I didn't know anything about MMOs when I started. Back then a Tank was a military vehicle. Raid was something you used to kill bugs. A ninja was a turtle named after a Renaissance painter. A patch was something you put on a tire.
Then around level 12 I guess it was, I got the Resurrection  quest in Stormwind.
tomeofdivinity
Reading that quest text, I knew I had found the class for me.
I had no idea that Patch 1.9 had just been released and Paladins were being nerfed (TO THE GROUND, BABY!) and I didn't care. I was exploring, questing, and having a great deal of fun leveling up.
Honors was originally my solo character. Aoes and I had rolled Night Elves on Dark Iron. He was a Hunter and I was a Druid. But it quickly became apparent that I had more playtime than he did. I didn't want to get too far ahead of him so we could still level together. So I rolled Honors to be someone I could play when I couldn't play with Aoes. Eventually Honors would pass by my Druid.
I remember somewhere around 40 figuring out that Honors would never dual wield and being a little saddened by that. It was slowly starting to dawn on me that my Mountain King was a Warrior, not a Paladin. But by that point, I had come too far to go back. Plus, I was having a great time playing the game and I wanted to see what the end game, which felt so tantalizing close, looked like. Honestly, I think whatever toon I had decided to start playing heavily would have become my main. It could have been my Druid just as easily. I was just enjoying the game, and really at that point I was still playing like a single player game.
Let me explain.
I was still leveling up. WoW like it was a single player game with a chat box. I'd watch zone chat and occasionally join a party for an instance, but only after I had gathered up all the quests I could find for that instance first.
Eventually I hit level 60 and started on my Onyxia attunement chain. I started PuGging into MC/AQ20/ZG runs as a Holy Paladin. It was really the only option for end game Paladins at those times. By that point Honors was my main. I didn’t have another character over level 20. I was off on my journey, and soon all of you would come along for the ride.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Alpha Starts the Clock

This was originally going to be Sunday’s post before my computer problems started up. Let me start by giving a big shout out to commenter JK who gave me a clue about PIO and DMA. After a Google search I had found a solution and my computer is running great once more. Plus all the other scans I did, it’s actually running faster now than before. Thanks, JK!)

Friends and Family Alpha has started. The countdown has begun before the ‘Expansion blahs’ kick in and people decide it’s just not worth doing much of anything anymore as they wait for the next expansion.

Naturally, at this time, people start to think about what they want to play in Cataclysm. An expansion is the ideal time to change your class or role. Like most of my guild mates, I have multiple level 80s, and each of us will have to decide which one we will level and gear first. The reality for me is that Devolve has to start raiding long before I’m ready. The guys in my guild simply level at a much faster pace than I do. I don’t know if they just have more playing time than me or if they are better at leveling. It’s probably a little of both.

I know there are certain classes I won’t play, but those are limited to Warlock and Death Knight. I’ve actually decided to not concentrate on what Class I want to play in the Expansion, but rather I’m concentrating on something even more defining for what toon I’ll play. In an ideal world, it should be as simple as playing what I have fun playing. The problem is I enjoy several toons. I ran all four of my eighties through Heroics and I had a blast on all 4. It’s basically impossible to know from the play experience of the Wrath Class whether or not I’ll enjoy the Cataclysm class. Can you imagine deciding on being a Paladin Tank in the waning days of Burning Crusade. The Wrath Tankadin plays completely different from the Burning Crusade one.

Basically, I have two decisions that will heavily influence what character I make my main in Cataclysm. The first is deciding on what role I want to pursue. As I started earlier, I don’t want to pursue a Tanking role, so that leaves: Healing, Melee DPS, and Ranged DPS. The second decision is whether or not to pursue a Hybrid class, or go with a Pure. Despite what my guild mates would tell me, I should also consider what everyone else is going to be leveling. While we have raided with as many as 4 Druids before, it would probably be better to have a good balance of classes , or at least armor classes (Cloth, Leather, Mail, Plate).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Calling All Geeks

Honorshammer needs your help.
Saturday night I was using my computer. I was playing a game not named WoW. All of a sudden I got an error message about and a dialog box asking me if I wanted to use the .Net debugger or another one. I hit cancel. After a few minutes I fired up WoW and noticed it took a very long time to load. The blue bar moved very slowly, and I never actually loaded into the World. Instead I was returned to the character selection screen with a Disconnected from Server message.
So what is the amazing catch all fix for computer woes? You reboot it! So I did and that’s when things really went south.
It took my computer 4 minutes to go from POST to the account selection screen. It usually takes less than a minute. Now I consider myself pretty computer savvy so I started trouble shooting. I checked memory utilization and it’s never over 1G. I have 4G RAM in the system.
The first thing I thought about was I caught some nasty virus. What I did at this point was boot into Safe Mode and run Malwarebytes Anti Malware. It came back reporting my system was clean. I ran Norton Internet Security Virus Scan in normal mode, it came back clean. I ran Adware Smart Scan, it came back clean. I ran Spybot S&D, it came back clean. Finally I ran CCleaner - cleaned temporary files, cookies, recycle bin, registry errors, etc. I rebooted again and no change.
Next I went into MSConfig --> Start up --> removed all entries and rebooted --> no change.
I decided to check the hard drive and ran the diagnostic tool from my hard drive manufacturer, that came back saying all my drives were good. I even went old school and ran chkdsk from a command line.
The next thing I tried was System Restore, but I could not restore to any data point. It would go through its Restore Process, and reboot, but after it came back up, I would receive a message that said it could not restore to the date I selected, and no changes had been made. I tried about a dozen different restore points. None worked. I started looking for stuff that could be blocking it. I went into Norton and turned off no tampering, but I still couldn't restore. I uninstalled Adware and Spybot and tried again, but no luck, I still couldn’t restore. I even disconnected from the internet and went into Norton and turned everything off. Then I tried to restore but again it failed. I tried to restore from Safe Mode, but it wouldn’t restore.
I’m about out of options. I can’t get into WoW.
I’m running a Defrag overnight in hopes that will fix the issue, but I’m not holding out much hope.
At this point, assuming that the defrag doesn’t fix it, I have two options.
Option A) Wipe it and rebuild the OS
Option B) Take it to a computer shop and have them ‘fix it’
Calling the place where I bought it won’t work because I bought it as a pieces/parts off Newegg and assembled it myself. I did say I was somewhat computer savvy. She’s been running like a dream since about December 2008. Either way Honors is on the DL until I can get this fixed.
If you are good with computers and can give me any suggestion to try to get this thing working again, I’d be very interested in your ideas. I'm running a Pentium Dual Core 2.5GHz with 4G ram. My Hard Drive has 60G open space.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Exhale and the Tension

Things have been subtly different in our raid group ever since Arthas fell. I would almost describe it as an exhale. It’s like we were struggling and straining to get Arthas killed and once we did, we sort of relaxed. The pressure, if that’s the right word for it, that our raid had has largely diminished. Our Resto Shaman quit WoW within a week of the kill. Luckily, the Paladin tank from the other group has an Enhancement Shaman, which was actually his main for many a moon, so we still have Bloodlust. We’ve knocked out a couple of hard modes, namely Marrowgar and Gunship, if you can even count that as a Hard Mode. We’ve tried Death Whisper, Saurfang and Festergut with varying degrees of success.
We could really tell a difference in the Blood Wing. Princes were sloppy and Blood Queen wasn’t much better. I did make a slight change to my gear and I’m using the Tier Gloves, with a Hit gem. Now I’m hit capped and Expertise capped. It’s noticeably helped my threat, but I’m not sure how I’ll overcome not being able to use Consecrate or Hammer of the Righteous for Heroic Saurfang.
But now we face a tension in our raiding. We still have a couple of guys in our group who haven’t killed Arthas. One in particular has been with us since Burning Crusade, though he was slightly more hairy then. If we burn time working on hard modes, then we don’t have time to get to Arthas. So Boston has to constantly weigh how much time we spend on the Hard Mode bosses versus getting the raid cleared for the rest of the team. Boston is always polling us for what we think we should do. I don’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other. There’s stuff I want from Arthas, but there’s stuff I want from the Hard Mode bosses too. I want to see our team clear the hard modes, but I want our guys who haven’t killed Arthas yet to get their Kingslayer titles. I know if I was one of those guys, I’d be very anxious to see Arthas as soon as I could.
We are going to get cranked backed up and hopefully return to form this week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cataclysm Raid Changes Design Realities

First, let me give credit where credit is due. Most of the thoughts you will see herein come from my reading of an article called Number of healers in Cataclysm 25 v 10? at pwnwear.com. Gravity discovered a blog by a a person named Everblue analyzing some of the consequences of the raid changes for Tanks and Healers. Gravity has some fantastic analysis of Everblue’s observations and I’d like to add my own thoughts here.
The main point of the article is that since the plan is for 10s and 25s to drop the same gear, we can expect Tanks in both 10s and 25s to have very similar levels of stamina, armor, and avoidance. That seems quite logical to me. The natural consequence of this change is that we would have to expect the Boss mobs to do similar levels of damage between 10 and 25 man raids.
The conclusion one draws is that this means you could walk into a 25-man with the same number of MT healers in your raid as you do in a 10-man. But what of the raid healers?
Your typical 10 man is 2 tanks, 2.5 healers, and 6.5 DPS. The half here represents a hybrid who swings between heals and dps depending on if you need 2 or 3 healers in a fight. This is the role that Lakini plays so well in our raids. On fights where we need 3 healers it is typically because both tanks are tanking damage at the same time and the raid also needs heals. The other reason would be a fight mechanic like Sindigsoa that takes a healer out of action for some period of time.
When we look at the situation in 25 man raids. Your typical 25 man raid is 2 to 3 tanks, 6 to 8 healers, and the rest DPS. If the 25 man raid has just two tanks, they’re healing requirements won’t be drastically different than if we were walking into a 10 man. The difference is we have 4 or 5 additional healers in the raid. What do the Devs do with all this extra healing power?
The addition of the 3rd tank to the 25 man fight will require some new mechanic be added to the fight. This could be additional adds, the length of tank debuffs, or other mechanics like Saber Lash or Blood Queen Lanathel’s Blood Mirror. Those 2 tank healers become 3 tank healers on 3 tank fights, and instead of one raid healer, you have 4 raid healers. The 1 raid healer in a 10 man is covering basically 8 people, while your 3 raid healers in a 25 man are covering 22 people. It is still pretty close to a 1 healer to raiders ratio.
The Devs have shown in the past that they like to vary the number of tanks needed. Although I can’t think of single fight in ICC10 that doesn’t require 2 tanks, some of the 25 man fights need only 2 (Saurfang comes to mind) What of these fights. The Devs could add more raid damage.
Another option would be to have Bosses do more damage in 25 mans. This would require faster decisions from the 25 man healers. It could also lead to the reintroduction of Healing Chains that were prevelent in early games like Everquest. I didn’t play Everquest, but my understanding of the idea is that you have a series of healers begin heals one right after the other so the Tank was getting constant heals. This would bring WoW back to a similiar situation to what we have in Wrath and away from the stated design goals of Cataclysm.
I really hadn’t given much thought to how the gear reward changes would affect tanks and healers and the scaling between 10 and 25 man raids. Gravity and Everblue did a great job bringing this to light.
Where my concern lies is more in how this will play out in public perception. The issue I see for the Devs will be that whatever mechanic they choose to consume the additional healing power of 25s will be touted by the 25 man raid community as a stark difference in raid difficulty. They will argue for a return of the tiered reward system, and higher ilevel loot for 25 man raids because they will be ‘harder’.
A further complication to this, especially early on, is that it will be very difficult for someone to have raided both the 10 and 25 man. Early on in the expansion, at least based on what I’ve seen in past expansions, people pick a ‘main’ toon and concentrate on gearing that toon in the early raids. It’s only when that toon is relatively geared at the available content level that they go back to bring up their alts. I guess a guild could do 25s one week and 10s the next, but I would not think that will be the norm. Even if people experience both sides through alting, that will difficult to verify through achievements and the like.