Monday, January 28, 2013

Ghostcrawler's Hasty Decisions

We have news from the PTR about Patch 5.2 and storm clouds of worry and concern are gathering over the land of the Tankadins.
Paladin - For Protection, we do have plans to try and lower the value of haste relative to dodge and parry. We don't want to make haste terrible for paladins, but we agree that it's odd for it to be better than more traditional tank stats. It might require a nerf to Shield of the Righteous to do this, but our goal is not to nerf survivability overall. We just wanted to provide you some context if you see odd changes to tanking abilities.
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/7593740975?page=45#884

Yes, my friends, that is none other than GC uttering the N word. A little further on in the thread, GC is asked to explain his reasoning.

Again in the words of the Crab.

The game just isn't currently designed to support it. It creates potential problems such as:  - A Prot paladin competing with a Frost DK or Ret paladin over gear, meaning there isn't enough DPS plate to go around. - A Prot paladin considering a tier set with dodge and parry on it to be "garbage" because it doesn't stack all haste. - A Prot paladin looking at a Ret 2pc set bonus that she normally wouldn't touch because now the stats aren't that bad either. In a world where tanking plate didn't exist or every loot system used the personal LFR one or 100% efficient reforging then it might work. We understand that having a lot of haste feels fun and visceral and is more dependable than dodge and parry. We'll try to come up with a solution that keeps that in mind. 
Later he thread he further clarifies

We knew haste would be attractive to Protection when we gave them Sanctity of Battle, which only Retribution had previously. That's why we gave them Sanctity of Battle. Even if you have a tanking set with no haste, there are haste buffs in the game. We wanted all the tanks to benefit somewhat from what were traditionally DPS stats, since part of the active mitigation design was to make tanks care more about hitting things with sword (and claws). It only gets to be a problem, as I said previously, if dodge and parry (which are going to be on some gear) are perceived as pointless. (They aren't pointless, but that's really beside the point at this stage.) We aren't going to reitemize every plate piece in the game to remove dodge and parry. We also don't want to nerf haste for paladins, because it is fun, and for the most part working as intended. We don't have a solution yet that we're willing to share, but that's the intent. 

 GC was asked on Twitter what this change meant for active mitigation.

We think active mitigation is more fun. Just need to decide what to do about dodge and parry long term. 

He was also asked how they missed this in Beta.

@Ghostcrawler no offense, but you guys knew about Haste and Prot Paladins since well before live.
Re: @Zackfig At the time we thought it was an undergeared problem because dodge doesn't matter when failing a dodge kills you. Re: @Zackfig We still sort of suspect that's the problem but it's become such a mantra that it's worth changing anyway. 

The first important takeaway is they haven’t announced any actual changes yet. GC just wants to give us some context if we see some really weird changes coming to the PTR - which we certainly will. This is a classic 'softening the blow' strategy. In the highly unlikely event GC reads this blog, I would just want to say thank you for the heads up.

Why Tankadins LOVE Haste


Now let’s look at why Tankadin’s love haste so much, and what possible solutions there could be. Much of what I am going to share here comes from the Patch 5.2 discussion thread on Maintankadin (you didn’t think I figured all this out on my own did you?) I especially need to recognize posters Klaudandus, Sagara, Fetzie, and Theck for their contributions.

Stat priorities can change from expansion to expansion. We rely on the theorycrafters, led by math wizard Theck, to help figure out what our stat priorities needed to be in MoP for us to be as effective tanks as we could.

The math (http://sacredduty.net/2012/10/05/damage-smoothing-follow-up/) led to the adoption of the Control gearing strategy. The strategy looks to maximize the uptime the Shield of the Righteous by making sure that none of your Holy Power generators ever miss. While this strategy leads to taking more damage over the entire course of the fight, it leads to far fewer spikes, and since spikes are what kill tanks, ultimately it leads to fewer tank deaths, and since tank death generally equals a wipe, it leads to less wipes.

The strategy says to get to the Hit cap and Hard Expertise cap (15%). After that, the advice was to go either Mastery or Haste. Haste and Mastery pretty much tied for effectiveness. Mastery is held back a bit because it is less effective in the double roll system (where a block is a separate roll).

Haste gives you an added benefit that Mastery doesn't  Haste increases your DPS, and in a world with Vengeance, tanks do some decent DPS. It’s enough that Haste became the go-to stat (after caps) especially for Heroic Mode raiders. Haste also allows us (at specific breakpoints) to get extra ticks from Sacred Shield.

Huzzah! The developers accomplished their goal. Haste is a desirable tank stat. The problem is it’s too desirable. Tankadins like it better than the traditional tank stats of dodge and parry, so much so that a piece of gear with only dodge and parry (like Bracers of Six Oxen) is consider ‘garbage’. Diminishing Returns are so strong on avoidance (dodge and parry)  that even at low rating levels that the amount of avoidance you get per point simply isn't worth it.

Tanks really haven’t been a fan of avoidance for about 3 expansion. Once upon a time, back in the olden days of 2009 tanks debated (quite fiercely, if I remember) about Avoidance versus Effective Health. The Avoidance tank would take less damage overall (what is now called TDR or Total Damage Reduction). The Effective Health tank would take more damage over the course of the entire fight, however; he would take smoother and more predictable damage. As long as you didn't run your healers OOM (out of mana) and become the so called Mana sponge, you were easier to heal and had a better chance of surviving the encounter (which, in the final analysis is really what tanks WANT to do).

Possible Solutions? 


Again major kudos to the posters over at Maintankadin who have suggested a couple of possible solutions. Short term, the best place to reduce the value of Haste would be Sanctity of Battle (SoB), but the community didn't think that is what the Developers will choose to do. SoB was made available to Tankadins to give them a defensive benefit from Haste. The developers just didn't see that it would be such a huge benefit as to overshadow traditional tanking stats like Mastery, Dodge, and Parry.

I think we will see quite a bit of experimenting because the Developers have to be careful. By changing our gearing strategy, you are changing the gear we want. This isn’t just a simple regem / reforge / heywheredidallmygoldgo. This is replacing several pieces of gear. Gear that might have been upgraded with Valor points. Yikes! Tread carefully, dear Crab.

If the Developers want Tankadins to value Avoidance, it needs to serve a niche. The niche it fills right now is TDR (total damage reduction). If tanks were mainly concerned with TDR, that would work. But right now its simply filling a niche no one cares about sort of like a hockey game on the night of the Super Bowl.

Assuming they don’t want to simply nerf SoB, Avoidance could become more desirable by adding it to an active mechanic. Something along the line of Revenge. Grand Crusader would fit the bill well. It hits three targets like Revenge and it’s already a proc. Simply make Grand Crusader proc off a dodge or parry. This would also help Tankadins AoE threat which seems a bit lackluster especially next to my Monk co-Tank.

There's another, longer term solution (and one I suggested back in 2009), but as this post is already too long, I will detail that tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thunderstuck!

Do you think maybe someone on the Blizzard Developement team was an AC/DC fan? I'm sure by now you've heard of the new Thunderforged items on the PTR. According to CM Crithto, this is Blizzard's attempt to revitalize 25 man raiding.
To attempt to navigate this minefield, we’re going to try having Thunderforged items drop more frequently in 25-player raids. They’ll be somewhat rare in both cases compared to the standard versions that’ll drop, but they’ll be even rarer in 10s. Overall, a 25-player group will be more likely to end up with a slightly higher item level after several weeks of raiding.
There are some excellent responses in the thread, and I would especially highlight the response of Moshne of Something Wicked.

One of the suggestion I have seen several tims is giving 25s gear with one upgrade. This was actually something I thought about before Thunderforged gear was announced.

In addition to the points being brought up, I think one issue that isn't getting enough play is actually one of the core issues in this discussion.

Where do new 25 man guilds come from?

The question the Developers need to ask themselves is why is this guild going to take on the extra logistical demands of becoming a 25 man guild?  Even if they can recruit to get the numbers, they will have to reset their progression and start over at Stone Guard. Somehow, I don't think improving their odds at an improved piece of gear is going to help.

Would you like some RNG in your RNG?

Applying this to my own situation, what would it take for me (and my crew) to want to go 25?

First off, I have zero interest in leaving my awesome raid team, which sometimes struggles to field 10. So I really don't have horse in this race. Most of us truly prefer the 10 man format. 25 mans are simply too chaotic. We raided as a 10 man back when 25 mans got better gear (to the tune of 13 iLevels). Back then, the attitude of 25 man raiders, who looked down on 10 mans as not being 'real' raids was much more a nuisance than any loot.

But let's say, just to demonstrate the issues that face the developers, what would it take for us to go to 25s.


My guild actually operates two independent, ten man teams. We should be the perfect candidate to become a new 25 man raid guild, but it's not going to happen.

Let's suppose each team was willing to try a 25 man raid night. Let's also suppose we could work out a schedule that works for everyone. Even if we get around the scheduling issue, the combined lockouts make any trial night a risky proposition. Once we attempt the 25 man night, we've locked ourselves out of doing the 10 man raid.

Once we actually kill something, we have to figure out loot. Loot drama is basically non-existent in our team. I have dibs on Plate tank stuff. Our main tank is a Monk. There's some contention over cloth gear with a Warlock, Mage, and a Priest. Our Resto/Elemental Shaman is our only mail wearer. We DE a lot of Agi Mail. Plate DPS is the most competitive loot with two Ret Paladins, and a Fury Warrior. Despite that, everything is just done with a /roll. I'm sure the fact we've been together so long helps too. Going to a 25 man, we'd need some sort of EPGP, or DKP system with the accompanying clerical work to support it. Maybe one suggestion would be for Blizzard to improve the native UI to support EPGP, Suicide Kings, DKP and other popular systems.

Another issue we would have to deal with is the tanks. Combining our teams gives us 4 tanks, 6 healers, and 10 dps. In order to do 25 mans, 2 of our tanks need to switch to either DPS or heals. Our tanks are tanks because (shockingly!) they LIKE tanking. If they preferred healing or dpsing, they would be those roles!

Just to reiterate for my guild mates - I am not asking for, nor am I suggesting in ANY way that we try 25 mans. I like the dynamic we have going (my fail tanking not withstanding).

Friday, January 18, 2013

LFR Loot Improvements

Come on, you had to know when I got back into blogging about my time in World of Warcraft, I’d get around to loot.

On Ghostcrawler’s twitter account , @Ghostcrawler , he was asked if he felt LFR gave out loot often enough. The crab responded.

The numbers work fine overall. I do wish there was a fix for perennially unlucky players, which couldn't be exploited. 

Well, Ghostcrawler ole buddy I’m glad you asked. I've got two suggestions.

First suggestion: The Gallywix Coin


The Gallywix Coin would be a special coin introduced to the game. The coin is named after Trade Prince Gallywix, the leader of the Goblins. Gallywix ain't the type to roll the dice and hope for an epic reward. He’s the kind of guy that would stack the deck in his favor, big time.

Basically, a Gallywix Coin would be a guaranteed loot drop. You spend the coin, you are going to get something off the boss. I would set the price at 5 Elder Charms plus 4000 gold. There is no way I see Gallywix getting on board with this without you handing over some scratch.

Essentially, it let’s players choose if they want to trade in 5 shots that might or might not give you loot for one shot that definitely will give you loot.

 So what you have to ask yourself is, do you feel lucky, punk?

Second suggestion: Lady Luck Buff (Blizzard later implemented something very similiar!)

Speaking of luck (segue ho!), my second suggestion is all about luck.The truth is that it stinks to go a long time with no rewards coming from LFR, especially if that is your only or even primary means of gearing up your character.

The way I see the Lady Luck Buff working would be every time you looted a boss, but only got some gold, you would get a stack of the buff. Each stack would increase your chance of getting loot by some percentage, let’s say 5%. Once you got loot, then your buff resets to zero. The developers would have the option of making this an invisible buff so they could implement and the player base would never know. Come to think of it, it could already be implemented in some form, but they have kept it a secret like the ancient aliens.



Aliens?

Humans?

Anyway, I actually think it would be more fun if they made it a visible buff. Can you imaging the epic stories.

“Dude, I got no loot and I have 90% Lady Luck!” 

Maybe the Developers could even put in an achievement for getting your Lady Luck buff up to 100%. They could have it award a title The Unlucky.


I think both of these suggestions would address Ghostcrawler’s desire to help out perennially unlucky players, and I don’t see how either one could be exploited. But I know you guys are much smarter than ole Honorshammer so let me know what you think of these two suggestions and also let me know how either could be exploited.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Race Change!




When I came back to World of Warcraft from Star Wars The Old Republic, I switched servers to join some old raiding buddies. In the process, I race changed my Paladin to a Tauren. 

This is something I had always wanted to do, but by the time they announced Sunwalkers, SWTOR was already in my thinking and I didn't see the point in putting money into a game I was getting ready to leave. Then my guild switched to Alliance midway through Firelands, and I changed to playing my Hunter as my main and it simply wasn't an option anymore.

I much preferred the SunWalker take on the Paladin as sun powered druids over the Blood Elves sucking dry a Naaru. I leveled through 85 to 90 as a Tauren and even did the first couple of raid nights. I had reclaimed my spot in the tanking corps, and when you are Horde, Tauren means Tank.

But as we started raiding, I noticed I was having more trouble than usuals. I wasn't sure if it was age starting to catch up with me, or what. The Tauren model is big, really big. He eats up a good deal of screen real estate. His size also makes him feel ponderous and slow. The final straw was my transmog gear, especially my beloved Tier 6, looked awful on him.

I decided to go back to a Blood Elf. 

 I really wish Blizzard had done more to update the lore on the Blood Knights in the wake of the events at the Sunwell. But from what I've gathered, Blood Knights are now powered by the Sunwell directly. I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of role Lor'themar takes in the lore as we move through the expansion.

I've been very happy with the decision. The Blood Elf model looks great (of course it would!) and almost immediately I felt my performance improving in our raids.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

In Defense of the Reputation Grinds

Happy New Year!

My guild has been enjoying a nice holiday break from raiding. This has given me an opportunity to see the other side of the Pandaria reputation system, and I have to say I see some real positives to it.

The Pandaria reputation system of dailies has been decried pretty much universally across the interwebs, and at first I was in total agreement. The issue I saw with it was it essentially provided a second gate to gear. As a time constrained player, I was getting Valor in raids and dungeons, but then I would lack the reputation to spend the Valor because I hadn't done the requisite dailies.

Eventually I started to get caught up on my reputations, and buying some Valor gear to fill in for the raid drops. With the pressure to get 'raid ready' off, I could see the upside.


Usually, by this point in an expansion raid nights were about the only night I would really play my main very much. They were the only place left for me to improve my gear. Log in, raid, log out.

What the new reputation system has done is given me a reason to continue playing my main, even on nights when I don't raid. I can still build up Valor and reputation needed to buy gear that will be an upgrade for my character. It gives a purpose and a goal to the grind, and its kept me playing my main longer than any other expansion I can remember. It has almost done too good a job. My poor disenchanting alt is still mired in the low 30s.

As an added bonus, we've gotten some fantastic, progressive lore to go along with the grind. The Klaxxi quests introduce you to new questgivers and new dailies at every major reputation increase. Their lore has been exciting, but the best implementation of this has been the Dominance Offensive dailies. It seems like every couple of days I open up another story quest. These quests are great for a lore nut like me because they show some seismic changes happening within the Horde.

Since I've switched back to Blood Elf from Tauren, I was most delighted to encounter Lorethar on one of the Dominance Offensive quests. I'll talk about why I switched later.

Between the lore, and the gear rewards, these dailies have not felt like a grind. I've wanted to do them and as a bonus I've kept playing my main and thoroughly enjoying the class. The Pandaria take on Paladin might be the best one yet, but I'll have to save that for another time.