Friday, July 31, 2009

Essence of Frustration

It wasn’t looking good for raiding last night. Neither team was going to have enough people to form up their raid. So my ever resourceful Guild Leader decided to combine the teams and form up a Raid.

We made some solid attempts at 4 Tower Flame Leviathan before dialing it back to 2. I know my Guild Leader reads the blog (or did at one point) so let me put this suggestion out there.

Instead of trying for 4 Towers next time, why don’t we try 3? Or if we try 4 Towers and can’t quite get it, why don’t we dial back to 3 instead of 2? It seems we are trying to leap from 2 Towers to 4 Towers. Let me suggest we take it in steps.

We knocked out XT Hard Mode, and moved on Kologarn. We tried to get the achievement where you keep 25 Rubble up the whole fight, but we got overwhelmed somewhere around 20. We killed him and then went and put down the Cat Lady.

Next up was Hodir. Our first attempt was rocking the Hard Mode when suddenly people started dying. I blurted out on vent a “What happened?”

I was so shocked and surprised that the attempt fell apart that I’m concerned it came across as an accusatory “WHAT HAPPENED PEOPLE!” I was more just looking for information, specifically if someone had pulled aggro and I hadn’t taunted.

One thing that I believe I do well is always look at myself first when we wipe. Was there anything that I did wrong? Is there anything I could have done differently to change the outcome?

One of our DPS was a Hunter from Perp’s group. He came up with a neat ‘trick’ for getting the singed debuff up on Hodir very quickly. He speced Marksman for the fight and as soon as he got next to the Cozy Fire, he hit it Rapid Fire skill. As soon as Rapid Fire wore off, he hit Readiness and then Rapid Fire again. Scorched was up in real hurry and it really helped us get ahead of the timer.

It took a couple of attempts, but we got him, and in time for Hard Mode loot. Surely the same staff that dropped all four times we’ve killed hard mode couldn’t drop a 5th straight time. You would think that, but you would be wrong.

I’m sure somewhere in the great World of Warcraft there’s some mage or Boomkin or Shadow Priest whose writing a blog talking about how their Elemental Shamans have Boreal Guards now because it keeps dropping, but they haven’t seen an Icecore Staff. I’m sure of it.

There are only 5 possible drops from the Hard Mode chest. A Tanking Weapon, tank shield, caster shield, plate DPS bracers and the staff. According to Wowhead, the staff drops the most but only by a percentage point or two more than the others.

Bottom line is there isn’t a blasted thing I can do about it. Since my last suggestion didn’t seem to fly, how about this one. When you DE a piece of Hard Mode loot, you get an Essence of Frustration. Combining 4 Essences of Frustration would cause the Rare Cache to respawn and you could reloot it.

I’d love to tell you I just laughed it off, but I didn’t. I was frustrated. Progression is one of the major ‘pillars’ of an MMORPG. Right now I’m kind of stuck, completely at the mercy of the RNG, and that is frustrating. I felt the emotion and dealt with it. By the time we pulled Thorim, I was good.

Thorim is another source of frustration but on a different level. For some reason everytime I try to tank the Tunnel, we miss the timer to activate Hard mode. But if Perp or Ellevis, both Death Knights, tank the Tunnel, we make it easily.

Since Ellevis was DPS and Perp tanking, I suggested that Ellevis go with me into the Tunnel so he could maybe see what if anything I was doing wrong. He opted not too, I think mainly due to time constraints, and he put me in the Arena.

I did pretty well, only losing a Mage on our very last attempt. The rest of my attempts in Arena, while not exactly ‘clean’, at least found the entire Arena alive when Thorim and Sif entered the fray.

Once we get to Thorim, our main issue is keeping DPS alive. I don’t envy the job our Healers have to do on this fight. Damage on the raid is everywhere and Thorim is hitting like a runaway mack truck.

We made some solid attempts, but each time Thorim’s stacks got too high and he started one shotting the tanks.

By that point we had to call the raid. Thorim shall be released on Monday, and my quest for a Shiver and Boreal Guard can begin anew on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

[Patch 3.2] Tankadin Talent Spec

It’s beginning to look like 3.2 is stabilizing and we’ll soon be on the Live servers. My HonorsCode guarantee* is that that Patch will drop on August 11th, 2009.

If you aren’t up to speed on the new changes coming, I recommend Rhidach’s excellent write up “Tanks, What 3.2 Means to You.”

In 3.2, Paladins have to make some difficult choices in our talent spec balancing Threat, Survivability and Utility.

I’m going to do this a little bit like a college major. You have your core, required courses, and your electives.

First I’m going to layout what I feel is the core Tankadin build. These are talents you should have in your build regardless of what situation you find yourself in. You aren’t getting your Tanking diploma from this dwarf without them.

You will note that the core build is impossible without picking up some of the elective talents. We’ll talk about those choices in a bit.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

I don’t consider Divine Strength to be a ‘core’ talent, but you have to pick something at Tier 1 to get higher in the tree and Divine Strength is superior to Divinity. I’m not a fan of Protection Paladins taking Divinity. It’s not the size of the heal that matters most in a life or death situation, but the timing of the heal.

The Core

Core: Anticipation, Toughness, Improved Righteous Fury, Improved Devotion Aura, , Sacred Duty, Holy Shield, 1 Hand Weapon Specialzation (Strongest Threat per point talent), 1/2 Spiritual Attunement, Ardent Defender, Combat Expertise (more for the Stamina than the Expertise), Avenger’s Shield, Guarded By the Light, Touched the By Light (next strongest Threat per point after 1 Hand Weapon Specialization), Shield of the Templar, Judgments of the Just, Hammer of the Righteous, Deflection, 1/2 Improved Judgments, Vindication

Prerequisites: Blessing of Sanctuary

3 fillers

The core build will give you 22 points in Protection. You will need 3 elective points to get to Tier 6. Your choices are Divinity, Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian, Divine Sacrifice/Improved Hammer of Justice, or 3/5 Reckoning.

I covered Divinity above, so let’s get into the other options.

Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian gives you some excellent utility, but the recent bug fix that allows you to only have one Sacred Shield on you really kills it for me. On Live, you can stack your Sacred Shield with your Healers, but you won’t be able to do that in 3.2. However, if you find yourself as an Offtank on fights like XT, Iron Council, Kologarn, etc. Divine Sacrifice is a really nice utility talent that really take some stress off the healing team.

I’ve had the Divine Sacrifice/Improved Hammer of Justice for weeks in Ulduar. Hammer of Justice just won’t cut it as an Interrupt until it’s off the Global Cooldown, and even at 20 seconds, the cooldown is a bit long to be considered a reliable interrupt.

Warriors Shield Bash is on a 12 second cooldown, plus they have Charge/Intercept, Concussion Blow and Shockwave. Mind Freeze for Death Knights is a 10 second Cooldown. Both Shield Bash and Mind Freeze are off the global cooldown. Druids are the only class worse off; Bears only have Bash which is a 1 minute cooldown interrupt.

If there’s a mob to be interrupted and you can’t have a melee dps do it, you should have another tank class on it rather than a Paladin/Druid.

You will most likely see me with Reckoning. It plays very favorably with the new Seal of Vengeance mechanics. I’ve always been a fan of Reckoning all the way back to one shotting Kazzak, and I’m glad to see it make its way back into my build.

More To Fill

The next place in the core build where you have to consider an elective is at 38 points in Protection. Your choices from the 22 point break will still be there, and you have the added choice of Redoubt.

I don’t consider Redoubt a core talent. I pretty much ignore the proc. It’s not something you can count on and it’s completely wasted in Block Cap gear. I know we bang on Block Value, but you have to take that in context. Comparing Block Value on gear versus Avoidance, Avoidance is going to win that one pretty easily. With Redoubt, we aren’t making that comparison. This is essentially ‘free Block Value’. So while I don’t see Redoubt as ‘core’ to the build, it’s my recommendation at the sticking point of 38 points in Protection.


You get another sticking point with 6 in Ret. You need another 4 points in Ret to get to Tier 3 for the new Vindication, which I feel is now a Core Tanking Talent. I understand it can be provided by others in the Raid. However, the Tankadin has the least cumbersome way of applying, and I like to be self sufficient. Plus, DPS may be on a different target than you are on.

And because I like to self sufficient, I put points in Heart of the Crusader and put a ‘wasted’ point to fill out Improved Judgment, or Benediction, neither is going to do a while lot for you. You may also want to consider Improved Blessing of Might depending on your raid make up.

The Final Points

You’ve 6 points left over at this point. Your choice is do you want to go for Crusade? Seals of the Pure interacts well with the Seal of Vengeance/Corruption buff. It now beats out Crusade, if you are fighting something that doesn’t get the double bonus from Crusade. If you are fighting Humanoids, Demons, Undead or Elementals, Crusade still wins for threat.

Crusade loses for just about everything in Ulduar save Yogg. It’s all mechanicals and giants. It loses out on the first boss of the Coliseum which is a Beast. It wins for everything else in the Coliseum. Most people tend to think it will win in Ice Crown Citadel because that place should be crawling with Humanoids and Undead.

I tend to advocate specing for the current progression Boss. That means that for the first week of 3.2, I’ll have a Seals of the Pure build, but as soon as the second week comes out, I’ll be on a Crusade Build.

For the Seals of the Pure build, you put 5 points into Seals of the Pure and 1 point wherever you like. For me I will probably put that into Conviction.

For a Crusade build, you either put 3 points into Conviction or 1 Conviction, and 2 into Pursuit of Justice. PoJ is argued on the MainTankadin boards with near religious fervor. I'm not going to get into that here. If you feel PoJ is crucial to your build, you'll take it.

There you go, all your points spent. Now go enjoy your new cooldown.

HonorsCode guarantee is All Predictions Are Wrong, Or Your Money Back. Since HonorsCode is actually free, if I ever got one right, I’d owe you…well you get the idea.

R.I.P. PVE Ret Paladins

Today, Honor's Code looks at the most recent change on the PTR to Retribution Paladins.

Sorry for the drama of the title, but it got you to click to read the post didn't it? So yesterday, talking about the SoV/C change for Retribution I said "But I don’t think it’s going Live as is."

Well I was wrong. There is a long thread on the WoW General Forums in which GC is having a pretty nice discussion with the players on this issue. I don't agree with everything he says, but I am very impressed with the level of feedback he is providing. That shouldn't be taken for granted and he needs to be thanked for it.

Now he posted several times in what is becoming by now a very long thread. I'd like to highlight one of his responses on Page 11. He was replying to some of the comparisions of other classes with ramp up times to do DPS, like Ferals and Rogues.

Now, stepping back, I think it's easy to take examples like this and argue which are apples and which are oranges. The point I was trying to make was that we don't consider long ramp up time to be a bad thing. The game could probably benefit from more of it. Yes your dps will be lower when you can't just keep banging on the same boss for 3 minutes. I'm not sure that's a huge design flaw, provided your dps makes up for it in other ways. Other characters do much better on fights where they can generate a lot of AE damage (say Unholy and perhaps Fury). As long as Ret's overall damage doesn't fall so low as to be a liability, we don't think it will be an issue. I understand some of you feel differently. A Fire mage going into a dungeon where several mobs were immune to fire would have a problem. I'm not sure "Don't bring a Ret to this dungeon because it doesn't have a lot of long ramping fights" is going to be a mantra. We'll see.

The bolded parts were added by me for emphasis.

They don't consider the long ramp up to be a bad thing. The next sentance, he acklowedges DPS is going to be lower on any fight on any fight where you can't stay on the boss for 3 minutes. As I showed yesterday, this is 10 of the 14 fights in Ulduar, plus Emalon in Vault of Archavon. So on about 2/3s of all current fights, he acknowledges our DPS will be lower.

I can't imagine what these mysterious 'other ways' our DPS is supposed to make up for the fact we are lower most of the time.

It's the last sentance that really tells you this is going Live. 'We'll see.'

EDIT on 7/31: Wow, I can't believe this. I was wrong, which means my original post, which I said was wrong in this post was actually right. Bottom line is I was right, even when I was wrong. lol.

Okay, enough at my poor attempts at humor.

They changed SoV AGAIN. Zebra's got the low down, so without further ado, Mr. Zebra, you have the mic, sir.

"A new build on the PTR has slightly improved the damage output of SoV during the ramping-up stage. In previous builds, the SoV Proc only occurred when 5 copies of Holy Vengeance were up on the target. Now, Seal Proc damage scales with the number of copies of the debuff on the target:"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

[Patch 3.2] Bugged by Bug Fixes

Blizzard recently published a set of bug fixes that are going into the next Patch. This isn’t an exhaustive list, more just covering the ones that I feel impact me.

Auras: Any paladin aura active at the time of the paladin's death now automatically reactivates when the paladin returns to life.

Nice little ‘quality of life’ improvement. There actually have been times where I’ve had to put Devotion Aura back up halfway through a Boss fight. I’m sure nobody noticed though.

Blessing of Sanctuary: This talent and Vigilance will now both be able to be cast on the same target without sometimes overwriting each other.
This is welcomed news. I don't feel that a Warrior should be casting Vigilance on a fellow tank. Vigilance should go on the highest threat DPSer. I recommend you macro a /cancelaura Vigilance into your Shield of the Righteousness if you are running any PuG raids, or have an uncooperative Warrior in your guild. That will remove Vigilance from you.

Not to turn this into a discussion of Vigilance, but I would at least like to acknowledge that many Warriors really don't like the Vigilance mechanic. They feel it causes them to be balanced around things innately outside of their control, i.e. the threat output of a chosen DPSer. I can certainly understand their position. The Developers should increase the range of Vigilance and Hand of Salvation to 40 yards.

Hammer of Justice: Tooltip now specifies that the Interrupt effect only occurs on non-player targets.

Nice change for PVP, now can we have it OFF the Global Cooldown so it can actually be an quasi effective interrupt for PVE?

Judgements: All paladin judgements are now properly considered as melee attacks that cannot be dodged, blocked or parried. Previously Seal of Light, Seal of Wisdom, Seal of Justice and Seal of Righteousness would cause the judgement to be considered a ranged attack.

This doesn’t have much impact on Tanking Paladins, but further underscores why we don’t value Expertise as much as our fellow Plate Tanks. When Judgment can't be dodged, blocked or parried it kind of removes the benefit of Expertise.

Judgement accounts for about 8 to 10% of my threat depending on the fight.

•Heart of the Crusader & Judgement of the Just: The effect from this talent will no longer be removed if a paladin without this talent overwrites the judgement placed by a paladin who does have the talent.

Thank you, Blizzard Development Team.

This is a much needed change, and with the normalization of Judgement of Light, greatly simplifies Judgments. Judgement of Light on Live determines how much it heals based on the Attack Power and Spell Power of the Paladin judging, making a Ret Paladin’s Judgement of Light heal more than Holy or Prot. On the PTR, Judgment of Light heals 2% of the attackers maximum health, regardless of which Paladin put it up. In 3.2 Raids, just make sure at least one of your Paladins is covering Wisdom and one is covering Light, and everyone else can judge whatever they feel like.

Sacred Shield: This buff blah blah duel, blah blah stand, and it is no longer possible for two paladins to both have the spell active on one target.

This means you really need to know if the Holy Paladin in your raid is putting his Sacred Shield on you. If he is, you don’t want to use your own. Since it is highly likely a Holy Paladin will be assigned to heal a tank, and the Holy needs a Sacred Shield up on that tank for his new sexy HoT, it’s pretty safe to assume he’s going to have his Sacred Shield on you which really makes Divine Guardian loose a great deal of its appeal for Tanking Paladins.

In medias res

In medias res is a Latin phrase meaning “in the midst of affairs” or said more colloquially “in the middle of things.”

This is where I believe we are at in the state of the PTR, especially to how it relates to the current firestorm going on about the change to SoV/C on the PTR.

Just to bring you up to speed, SoV/C causes a stacking DoT on your target. It is currently the default seal of tanking Paladins. It rocks. It’s actually been buffed on the PTR. When you get your 5 stack up, the next time you proc the seal it will 33% of your weapon damage as Holy. Tanking Paladins are hopeful this damage will offset the threat loss from the nerf to Shield of Righteousness.

On the PTR, it’s also the default seal for Retribution Paladins. Having Ret and Prot use the same Seal is not a good plan for future balancing issues.

But it’s the most recent change to SoV/C that has all the Rets reaching for their pitchforks to march on Blizzard headquarters. Basically the change is that only auto attacks can put up the stack which translates to a 15 second ramp up time before Ret starts doing ‘real’ damage.

This effectively and elegantly solves the PVP Ret burst problem. As an added bonus, this change doesn’t affect Tankadins much because we tend to use fast 1.5 second One handers compared to Rets 3.0 second plus Two Handers.

Mission accomplished, break out the champagne.

Not so fast my friend.

This basically breaks SoV/C for PVE. Ghostcrawler has explained it as a balance of short versus long fights, and pointed out that classes with ‘finishing moves’ often suffer in those fights, and specifically mentioned Thorim as an example.

Let’s look at Tier 8 fights with significant burn windows, or heavy trash or target-switching elements, or potential windows of time off-target, or two or more of the above:

Emalon, XT (Hard), Razorscale, Iron Council, Kologarn, Auriaya, Hodir, Thorim, Freya, Mimiron, Yogg

11 of 15 fights, that’s a fairly significant percentage. This isn’t about short versus long. This isn’t about ‘fnishing moves’. Rogues, probably the class you think of first when you hear ‘finisihing moves’, are topping damage throughout Ulduar.

Simply put, it’s going to put Ret at a significant disadvantage throughout Tier 8 fights.

But I don’t think it’s going Live as is.

What I’d like to do now is to try to walk a ‘mile in the moccasins’ or perhaps pincers of our favorite crab.

I believe what they’ve been trying to do since really 3.0 is to get the Seals separated out.

The plan was that we’d use SoBlood for PVE, SoCommand for PVP, and SoVengeance for Tanking.

The problem with that approach was that Rets found that using SoCommand was pretty lacking and that SoBlood was better in PVP despite the kickback damage. They mitigated the damage the same way they mitigated the kickback damage in PVE, with Sacred Shield and Art of War proc’ed Flash of Lights.

So in 3.2, the Developers removed Seal of Blood and redesigned Seal of Vengeance. The idea was the SoV would be the PVE Seal, and we’d finally use SoCommand for PVP. They additionally made a curious statement about SoRighteousness being a Tanking seal, expect no one uses Righteousness to Tank. The Developers know this too, and all you have to do is look at the Seal of Vengeance Glyph to see that. But maybe there was more to that statement than met the eye.

But once again, Rets on the PTR found SoCommand lacking and went with SoV in PVP. With the DoT stacking from everything, the 5 stack was up quick and Ret Burst was still an issue.

Then you have the recent change for the DoT to stack only on auto attacks. This fixes the PVP burst problem with SoV.

Mission accomplished, break out the champagne.

Not so fast my friend. Now you’ve broken SoV for PVE.

The developers now have to figure out a way to buff SoV back up for PVE without buffing it for PVP. This is not an easy task.

One of the core issues in all of this is Seal of Command. The developers haven’t been able to find a way to make Command more attractive to use in PVP than the PVE Seal of the Month. Kickback didn't work, and making ramp up time work really hurts it in PVE.

I believe Ghostcrawler may have tipped their hand unintentionally a bit. Their long term goal might be for Prot, Ret PVE, and Ret PVP use different seals. Righteousness for Prot, Vengeance for Ret PVE, and Command for Ret PVP. This is analogous to the discussion the Developers had concerning Hunters and their signature shots. If you want to buff Survival and Survival only, you make changes to Explosive Shot.

If you need to buff Ret PVE, but you don’t want to affect Ret PVP or Prot, you buff the Ret PVE Seal.

But to do that you must make Command really attractive in PVP, but not be too bursty, since that seems to be Ret’s core PVP issue. You also must make the Ret PVE Seal work in PVE, but not so well that it becomes the default for PVP as well. Yet, at the same time, it has to work in fights with time off target, or burn phases. If you want to further separate out Prot, you’ll have to find some way for the Tanking Seal to be more attractive to tanks than the Ret PVE Seal.

It’s a tall order, but I think you can see the developers are In medias res.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Slump? What Slump?

After our exciting adventures on Tuesday, I was curious as to what our Thursday would turn out to be like. It would actually turn out to be pretty good.

We started off with Hodir. We run 3 Healers to help out our Holy Paladin who was really struggling with the Raid damage in this fight. We were actually going for Hard Mode. We made some solid attempts, but our Raid Leader called for us to wipe it when it didn’t look like we were close.

Then we had our Rogue die, only to get battle rezzed, and we were really cutting it close. This was going to be a kill, but whether we hit the Hard Mode timer or not was anyone’s guess.

2:59, I kid you not. I figured since I had just gotten Titanguard, Shiver was sure to drop.

In the chest was none other than the SAME FREAKING STAFF that’s dropped ALL 4 TIMES we’ve killed Hodir Hard. Sorry to QQ about the loot. It’s frustrating. I’ve killed the Boss, I’ve ‘earned’ a Shiver or a Boreal Guard, but because the RNG doesn’t fall my way I’m stuck with same Shielwall of the Breaker than every other tank on my server seems to have.

I know random loot is random, but I hate the way it works in this game. I know they have the Emblem system which helps when the RNG hasn’t been kind to you. My bracers slot is forever thankful. But you know what two items you can’t upgrade through Emblems? Weapon and Shield, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to get out of Hodir Hard.

What if Blizzard allowed you to prefill the chest before the encounter began? You would still have to ‘earn’ the loot by killing the Boss/Hard Mode. Ghostcrawler has written about the problem of bloated loot tables. This is part of the reason why they went to consolidated gear, to help eliminated ‘wasted’ gear in raids. Well if you could preselect the items that would drop, that would completely eliminate ‘wasted’ gear. No Warriors, Shamans, or Hunters in your raid? Don’t put any Protector tokens in. Got a new Priest you are trying to gear up, drop in some Conqueror.
Of course, that would really speed up the rate at which players would gear up. So do the Developers care about ‘wasted’ loot or do they just give that lip service while really wanting a system that makes you run the instance over and over again?

The night was still young and we headed over to Thorim. This Boss has been my nemesis in Ulduar as we try to start transitioning him to Hard Mode. I’m too slow in the tunnel, and I would always lose people in the Arena.

After another unsuccessful Tunnel run, I was back in Arena, determined to keep everyone alive somehow. I reached into my bag of tricks and pulled out the old ‘zoom it way out’. Our Tunnel Team was still too slow getting to Thorim so we just killed him normal, but for the first time since I set foot in Ulduar, no one died in the Arena with me tanking it. It was the First Person Shooter skill of seeing your target and getting an attack on it immediately that I really needed to work on. I was also much more liberal in using my various taunts. To help prepare myself for the next patch, I’ve tried to use Exorcism less and less. Since Exorcism will have a 1.5 second cast time added to it (thanks to our PVP Retribution brothers for that one), it will not be useable on the run for picking up adds at range.

Next up we went and knocked on Freya. We originally tried One Elder up, but when that proved difficult we went for a zero Elder kill. However, we decided to try to get Attuned to Nature. This is an achievement where you kill her with the last set of Adds still up. You need more DPS since she’s getting healed from Nature stack she will have up, and you’ve got to control the last set of Adds while you DPS her down.

The easiest set of Adds to get this achievement is the little flowers. We were not so lucky. We got the 3 Elementals. Ellevis (Death Knight, I think he was Blood this week) was tanking Freya and I had the Adds. I tried to not put too much DPS in the Snaplasher. It hits harder the lower on hit points it gets. Then the Water Spirit would randomly run off and charge someone. Holding them didn’t seem to be a big deal and we downed her to get the achievement. We didn’t have time to get Mimiron so we went over to Ignis and picked up the Stokin the Furnace speed kill.
All in all it was a very good night. Our ‘slump’ seems to have been rather short lived.

I Was Really Happy The Bubble Was Not on Cooldown

Let me set the scene for you. We’ve just lost Wintergrasp, again. This is hardly news on my server as the Horde wins 5 times for every 1 time we do. I’m on the western side of the zone when I spot a Rich Saronite Vein. I stop to mine it and mount back up on the Charger trying to find a place where I’m not technically in Wintergrasp anymore so I can mount up on my Drake and fly home to Dalaran.

I got a little bit too close to the edge. And I was suddenly very, very, very happy that my Bubble was not on cooldown.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An About Page?

This post has nothing to do with WoW, Paladins, or Tanking.

Continue reading at your own risk.

During my interview on the Twisted Nether, we talked a little about my lack of an about page.

Then during the whole Feraro mess, I made mention that I didn't think people were all that interested in reading about the balding, middle aged guy behind the dwarf. Some of the comments encouraged me that people might be interested in reading about that, so I'm going to open up a little bit today, and tell you about the guy at the keyboard.

I grew up and still live in a part of the country affectionately known as the Bible Belt. Raised in a traditional denomination, we were in church every time the doors opened. It was little surprise that I was baptized before my 8th birthday.

As I got towards the end of high school, my view towards church had started to change. It was more chore and tradition than anything real or meaningful in my life. There was no more acceptance, or feeling of belonging at church than there was at school. It was basically just another extracurricular activity.

Around this time, a friend gave me a book called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This is not a small novel, but I burned through it over the summer. Many of the ideas resonated with me. Ayn Rand was a staunch conservative in most things (free market, taxes bad) but way left on others (marijuana should be legal, abortions legal), and without a doubt, she hated God.

I became intrigued by her writing and eventually read everything Ayn Rand had written. She was an avowed Atheist. I liked her ideas and I wanted to integrate them into my World View, but I was struggling with the whole Atheist thing. I began to research. I discovered many solid intellectual arguments against God and the Christian faith.

When it came time to finally go to college, I had abandoned the faith, church or even calling myself a Christian. I claimed Deism, then Agnosticism, and then full on Atheism.

I found the social life in college that I had missed in High School and partied my way right out after two years. Around this time I started exploring New Age, and Eastern Mysticism. Fascinating stuff, really, Ying Yang, the great Brahma.

I wound up in a Tech School back home and eventually dropped out of that too. I rented a run down little apartment, got a minimum wage job at a Video Rental store, and basically started just living life.

I had already known the person who would become my wife, we actually met while I was at college and we were both seeing other people at the time. But I was immediately attracted to her and would flirt with her constantly. It was so bad we had to be separated into different work areas at one point.

We had kept in contact over the years, and when she discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, I let her know I would be there for her when she was ready to date again.

She was a Christian and in order to spend time with her, I started going to her Church. I knew all the intellectual arguments, being in the building wasn't going to hurt me or affect me any, or so I thought.

As we grew closer, I was amazed at how God worked in her life. I started to look around me. The
people I knew who I liked and respected were all active Christians. I said to myself, I still don't know if its true or not, but regardless, it makes 'good people'.

God kept working on me. It came to the point that I wanted in my life what these people seem to have in theirs. But I was pretty sure that once you renounced the faith, that was it, you were done. I talked to people I trusted who assured me that I hadn't done anything that God couldn't forgive. Apparently, he was ready and willingly to forgive me, even for my Atheism, denying he even existed.

I hadn't had all my intellectual arguments satisfied. When I was honest with myself, it was never really about those anyway. It was about control of my life, being able to do what I felt like doing guilt free. Ultimately, it was more about people who I respected and who took an interest in me as a person that convinced me there was something to this Christianity thing.

I made the decision to return to Christ, if he would have me. If not, at least I would try to keep people from making my same mistakes.

I eventually found some great Christian Apologetics authors. Christian Apologetics is the intellectual defense of the Christian faith. My favorite was probably C.S. Lewis. In time, all my intellectual a arguments were satisfied. Each one that I found the answer for only solidified a faith that was already in me.

I've wondered sometimes if my conversions at 8 years old was real, but ultimately that doesn't matter. Today, I claim to be a follower of Christ, and I pray that my life both online and offline reflects that. I'm continuing to grow and learn. I'm far from perfect, and I mess up more times than I can count. But I know that God loves me and he sent His Son to die for me, and that if I ask, he is faithful and true to forgive my mistakes. He sees me as he sees his own Son, perfectly acceptable to him.

That same opportunity is there for you. God loves you. The Bible says that he doesn't want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to him. No amount of good deeds, or being a 'good person' will do it. He offers the free gift of His Son to you. I know it isn't popular to say, but really it all comes down to your decision. Get on the journey.

If you'd like to talk to someone, my email is on this page or you can 1-888-Need-Him.

[Patch 3.2] PTR Testing Vindication and Ardent Defender

When I did my post on the change to Vindication coming in Patch 3.2, I got a question in the comments asking if Hammer of the Righteous would proc Vindication on multiple mobs.

I checked around and it didn’t appear anyone had tested it. So I copied over to the Broxigar PVE PTR.

Now I’ve never had Vindication and Hammer of the Righteous in the same build. I took the portal to Ironforge and respeced. I went with a Crusade build, even though some recent developments seem to indicate that Tankadins will not be going that deep into Ret anymore.

Seal of Vengeance/Seals of the Pure
Seal of Vengeance has been changed. When you have a 5 stack up and hit the mob, your seal will do 33% of your weapon damage. On Live it does maybe 10 to 15 points of damage. This may make you want to consider your old Broken Promise again, but after some theorycrafting it still looks like Item Level and DPS will trump speed. Stick with our highest iLevel/DPS weapon.

In the latest build, Seals of the Pure has been buffed. Before it didn’t affect this new seal damage, now it does.

The math geniuses at MainTankadin are still working out the numbers, but early indications are that Seals of the Pure will out threat Crusade. Once we get a little closer to Patch 3.2’s release, I’ll have a post on how I’m going to be specing Honorshammer, but as this latest change demonstrates, there are still being changes made that will affect your build.

For the actual Vindication testing, I flew out to Icecrown and pulled two different mobs.

The first time I pulled them with Avenger’s Shield and found that Avenger’s Shield will proc Vindication on each mob it hits.
The combat log shows there’s nearly a full second delay between the hit and the debuff being applied.

The next group I did via the old Paladin body pull and to no surprised, found that regular melee swings also proc Vindication. To no suprise, the debuff is a reduction of 574 AP just like Demo Shout/Demo Roar and Curse of Weakness.
Now with only melee swings, I discovered the application of Vindication is a ‘chance on hit’. It can and will fall off. I hate a key survivability debuff like this being subject to the RNG when it’s cousins Demo Shout/Roar and Curse of Weakness can not fall off until their duration expires.

Finally I tested with Hammer of the Righteous. Here’s the combat log of what happened.

7/24 01:04:22.843 SWING_DAMAGE,0xF5300079A4121D7E,"Hulking Abomination",0xa48,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,175,0,1,0,0,12,nil,nil,nil
7/24 01:04:23.546 SWING_DAMAGE,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,438,0,1,0,0,0,nil,nil,nil
7/24 01:04:23.546 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED_DOSE,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,31803,"Holy Vengeance",0x2,DEBUFF,3
7/24 01:04:23.734 SPELL_CAST_SUCCESS,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,53595,"Hammer of the Righteous",0x2
7/24 01:04:23.734 SPELL_DAMAGE,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,53595,"Hammer of the Righteous",0x2,1641,0,2,0,0,0,nil,nil,nil
7/24 01:04:23.937 SPELL_DAMAGE,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF5300079A4121D7E,"Hulking Abomination",0xa48,53595,"Hammer of the Righteous",0x2,1640,0,2,0,0,0,nil,nil,nil
7/24 01:04:23.937 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,64568,"Blood Reserve",0x1,BUFF
7/24 01:04:23.953 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF5300079A4121D7E,"Hulking Abomination",0xa48,31803,"Holy Vengeance",0x2,DEBUFF
7/24 01:04:23.953 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED_DOSE,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,31803,"Holy Vengeance",0x2,DEBUFF,4
7/24 01:04:24.343 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF1300079A90653AC,"Shadow Adept",0x10a48,26017,"Vindication",0x2,DEBUFF
7/24 01:04:24.343 SPELL_AURA_APPLIED,0x010000000005B7DF,"Honorhammer",0x511,0xF5300079A4121D7E,"Hulking Abomination",0xa48,26017,"Vindication",0x2,DEBUFF

Let me translate that for you.

Hulking Abomination swung and hit me for 175
Honorhammer swung and hit Shadow Adept for 438
A third stack of Holy Vengeance went up on Shadow Adept
Honorhammer casts Hammer of the Righteous
Hammer of the Righteous hits both Shadow Adept and Hulking Abomination for 1641
I get a tick of Blood Reserve from Blood Draining
Hulking Abomination gets one stack of Holy Vengeance, proving that I had not hit him with anything else.
Shadow Adept's stack increases to 4
Both the Shadow Adept and the Hulking Abomination get Vindication applied

Now it could be argued that the Vindication proc actually came from the application of the first stack of the Vengeance DoT on the Hulking Abomination, however, that really doesn't matter in the final analysis. The Vengeance DoT was put on the Abomination by Hammer of the Righteous, so whether Hammer of the Righteous applied Vindication directly, or did it by applying the DoT, the net effect is you get Vindication on 3 mobs (4 if you Glyph Hammer of the Righteous) in an AoE scenario.

While I was doing this test, there was an Undead Warrior also killing mobs in the area. This is why I always copy over to the PVE PTR server. When I'm testing something I don't want to have to worry about some Hordie deciding he needs to test some PVP with me.

So here’s the TLDR summary:

  • Vindication procs from Avengers Shield
  • There is up to an .8 of a second delay in the debuff showing up
  • Vindication procs from melee swing
  • It's a 'chance on swing' and can and will fall off.
  • Vindication procs on Hammer of the Righteous
  • It never proced off of Exorcism

Ardent Defender

Since I was already out that way, I decided to test Ardent Defender. I flew up to the battlements and found one of those big 82 Elite Abominations walking around. The problem was it took a long time for him to put me into Ardent Defender range.

Now it’s important to point out that because he hits pretty weakly, about 700 damage per attack, he couldn’t put me into a Leapfrog situation, so the mitigation benefits I got from AD were exactly the same as they would have been on Live. Even knowing that, it was really nice to see AD working in the Combat Log. I really wish the Developers had added that functionality to AD when it was first introduced.

Eventually, he wore me down and I got an AD save. That is pure unmitigated WIN. It looks like you got a Battle Rez, but your buffs and debuffs stay since you didn’t… actually… you know… DIE.

You still get the Ardent Defender debuff after it saves you meaning it won’t save you again for 2 minutes. However, the debuff no longer prevents AD from working. I was seeing AD damage reduction while under the effect of the debuff. What other questions do people have about the PTR changes that they would like to see tested?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Surviving The Summer

The story I’m about to tell you is neither new nor very unique. It’s happening across the World of Warcraft and now it’s come to my little guild.

It’s called the Summer Slump. Raid attendance goes down, new people are brought and fights have to be relearned.

Unusual Suspects is what I would call an OTA guild. OTA means Over Traditional Age. Most, if not all of our members, are adults with jobs, families, and other responsibilities. We are all over the age of the 'traditional' WoW player.
Now at first, you might think that would make us less susceptible to the Summer Slump because we aren’t on the ‘school schedule’, but stuff still comes up in the ‘real world’. Keep in mind that Summer is the prime time for adults with school age children to take vacations. While I might be fighting through the struggle now, I could just as easily be the cause of it next time. Our Tanking core isn’t very deep, so I can imagine the team might have some struggles when I go on vacation next month.

Despite the Summer Slump, we made some good progress learning Flame Leviathan with 4 towers. Our best attempt had him down to about 35%. Our biggest problem seems to be keeping both Demolishers alive so we can keep the full Pyrite stack up on Flame Leviathan. There are so many things going on in that fight. You can easily be killed without Flame Leviathan every touching you.

We went ahead and just killed him with just 2 towers up.

It appears more and more likely I’ll be wearing my Binders of Hapless Prey from Naxx25 into Coliseum. I’d almost buy the badge bracers just to have something different in that slot. It's just not enough of an upgrade to justify spending 60 Emblems of Valor. I can trade those down to Heroism for 4 Epic Gems.
Of course, if there’s one slot I couldn’t upgrade in Tier 8, bracers aren’t a horrible choice. They tend to provide less stats than other armor and are generally one of the easier pieces to replace next tier. Since I can’t control what loot the Bosses drop, there’s really not much point in worrying about it.

Throughout the night, my Raid Leader did a great job. He remained calm, explained the fights, and directed our team. Even when we struggled on what you would call ‘farm’ Bosses, he never became rattled. He was the same guy, a steady hand, whether we killed or wiped.

I’ve put a little more emphasis on survivability to help out our new healers. In doing so, I’ve felt a little bit of the tension I felt one my Warrior. The Threat/Survivability tension of Demo Shout/Thunderclap is simply replaced with a Divine Plea/Sacred Shield tension. Of course, Divine Plea auto refreshes, and the Sacred Shield issue wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t the only Paladin in our group.

I believe that because we are an OTA guild, and because many of us have been together for a while, that we will be able to weather the Summer Slump fairly well. I don’t think the members of our team are the kind to bolt at the first sign of trouble. Sure, I may not get some gear I wanted, but there’s no guarantee it would drop even if we killed the necessary bosses.

Worst case scenario is that we don’t make it to Algalon before 3.2 hits. While that would sure be disappointing, it’s not like he’s being removed from the game when 3.2 hits. We can also go back and get him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

[Patch 3.2] Vindicated!

One change in Patch 3.2 I haven’t touched on yet is the change to Vindication.

As much as we like to complain when the Developers change Ret or Holy and that ends up unintentionally making it harder to tank (hello Spiritual Attunement?), sometimes we end up on the better end of the deal.

Vindication was a tricky talent for the Developers to balance, and was pretty much PVP only as most mobs and ALL bosses were immune to it.

On the PTR, Vindication has been changed to a major Attack Power reduction debuff. It is the same debuff that Warriors can put up with Improved Demoralizing Shot, Druids can put up with Improved Demoralizing Roar, and Warlocks can put up with Curse of Weakness. Vindication will not stack with those affects.

If your raid group lacks Bears, Warriors, or Warlocks, you will now have the debuff covered.

It is also worth pointing out that Paladins will probably be the best class to put this debuff up. Vindication is applied ‘on swing’. The Paladin doesn’t need to do anything special to get the debuff up. So like many of our skills, it’s a passive.

This will allow your Warlocks to use Curse of Elements, which is a better DPS curse. Your Warriors/Bears don’t have to worry about expending rage and a global cooldown to maintain Demo.

Bosses in WoW don’t use the same systems that players do. They basically have Hit points, Mana, Attack Power, and whatever their special abilities are. They also don’t use weapon damage, but instead their attacks are a positive percentage of their Attack Power. For instance, one special attack might do their Attack Power times 4.

According to Lead Developer Ghostcrawler in the Warrior Q&A posted on the Official Forums, Demoralizing Shout can account for a 20% reduction in damage taken to a tank, and up to 50% reduction in Thorim’s Unbalancing Strike. That’s very significant.

My Raid group usually runs with Tankadin/Death Knight as our two tanks. We run zero Warriors, Bears, or Warlocks. We don’t currently have access to this debuff. I’m thrilled to be able to supply it.

Most Paladin tanks are already 18 points into Retribution. All that will be required is for them to move 2 points out of the Conviction into Vindication. Crusade has been shown to be point for point better than Conviction.
I'm really happy to see Paladin's getting the ability to put up this important debuff, but it does make you wonder why Death Knights are now the only tank without the ability to put it up. Death Knight/Death Knight doesn't seem like it would be a very common tanking set up, but I see no reason to penalize it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Legitimate Warrior Concerns

After the excitement of Friday nights run, I really wanted to do some tanking on my Warrior. I was trying to put together a Heroic group when guild chat popped up with the idea of an Alt Naxx10 run.

I jumped at the chance to be one of the tanks. The other tank was going to be the alt of one of our Shadow Priests, playing none other than a Protection Paladin.

His Paladin out geared my Warrior. Just to give you an idea of the delta in our gear, he had about 4k more health than I did. He had only 535 Defense, so I actually got some Boss Tanking opportunities because I had 543 and our Alt Healers (also under geared) were concerned about him getting crit.

This was the most significant amount of Raid Tanking I had done on my Warrior.

As much as I hate to admit it, some of their concerns are legit. Now allow me to explain that statement a bit.

I keep up with Tankspot and I read the concerns of Protection Warriors. Their major concerns seem to be Heroic Strike Spam, Threat issues compared to other tanks, and DPS while Tanking. There is also this notion that playing a Warrior is ‘harder’ or ‘more work’. The idea is that the Warrior should be compensated by being a better tank because they have to work harder and it’s a tougher job.

Hogwash I thought.

Honestly, I didn’t want it to be true. If it was true, then Warriors could legitimately ask for buffs that would bring them back to top of the Tanking world. Lead Developer Ghostcrawler in his latest analysis of the tanking hierarchy, had stated that Warriors were about where they want all tanks. Druids were close. Paladins were behind (of course!), and DKs were ahead and needed an ‘adjustment’, which is just a nice euphemism for NERF!

I’d love it, if just for once; it was the Paladin that were ahead for a whole Patch cycle.

Naw, scratch that. Getting nerfed stinks. I’d rather be balanced and only need small tweaks. I remember the Buff-Nerf-Buff-Nerf ride Feral Druids took in early Burning Crusade and I can see the one Death Knights are on now. No thanks.

Now granted, I was under geared compared the Protection Paladin I was tanking with, but I couldn’t keep up with his threat. It wasn’t an issue for most of the night because we were usually tanking different things. But anytime we were on the same target, it was no contest.

I didn’t care if I was under geared. I really wanted to push my pixilated limits and see what this Warrior could do. Gear matters, but I still started wracking my brain to figure out how I could produce more threat.

Heroic Strike
That’s when I truly learned about Heroic Strike. Up to that point, I had been bad, and I mean epically bad, about using Heroic Strike. It was annoying, I didn’t need it, and so I didn’t use it. Now it was potential threat just waiting to be used. Now I needed it.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Heroic Strike is the most annoying, aggravating thing in this game. The best way I can describe it to people who haven’t played a Warrior, is to imagine that you didn’t have ‘Auto Attack’. Every time you attack the mob, you have to click on him and your swing speed with a fast weapon and bit of raid haste from buffs is about 1 second. Every second for several minutes, you have to click on the mob. (That’s an exaggeration, I only had to click my Heroic Strike button (middle mouse!), but hopefully you get the idea.)

Harder To Tank
The threat issue also highlighted why Warriors say it’s tougher to tank with their class compared to others. It felt like a major decision each global cool down. Is Demo Shout still up, how about Thunderclap? What’s the timer on my Commanding Shout? Did Sword and Board just proc? Do I need the survivability from refreshing Demo Shout/Thunderclap, or do I need threat now through Shield Slam/Devastate?

Still a Good Night

Now I don’t want to make it sound like it was all doom and gloom. It was actually quite a good run.
One of the most fun moments was on Noth the Plaguebringer. I was assigned to the Adds while the Protection Paladin took the boss. Two Adds spawn in the 10 man. I would Charge one, drop a Shield Slam on him, then Intercept the second and Devastate. When I pulled that off, it felt really good, and it was a ton of fun.

We cleared three wings, and even got an achievement for a 3 minute Patchwerk kill (“Make Quick Werk of Him”). The other raiders said it was the smoothest Alt Naxx they had ever done.

I didn’t get any loot I needed to drop. It was a Caster night, if you know what I mean. But I had enough Badges at the end to get a Chained Military Gorget.

It’s clear to me now that the Developers have a daunting task ahead of them. How do you address the very legitimate Warriors issues, but still maintain a good tank balance so Warriors aren’t far and away better than every other tank class?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Arms Tanking?

I always keep my Friday nights open. There's always that chance that I'll come home and my wife will have made plans for us to go hang out with some of our 'couple' friends. “Sorry, honey, I can't go, I have a raid tonight” is not an acceptable answer.

But Friday we didn't have any plans, so I logged on planning to do some dailies, but not really sure what else I would do.

I saw a friend from Heren Isterion advertising for an OS25 and I asked if I could bring my Warrior alt. They said sure. While I was waiting for them to fill up, I got another whisper, this time from Dotslover (I'll let you guess his class), buddy of mine in Limitless, which is basically my old guild, Mal Katai, under a new name. They were running Naxx25 and wanted to know if I wanted to come.

I was again on my Warrior. They already had their tanks sorted out, a Protection Paladin I knew, and two Protection Warriors I was familiar with my from time in Mal Katai.

Altar of Storms is a small server Alliance side, so after a while you get to know quite a few people. This is especially true if you jump around guilds as much as I have.

We cleared out Spider, and Plague without much problem. My DPS was respectable at around 2.4 raid buffed depending on the fight. I did worse on Heigan because I was concentrated on staying alive. I moved before the tank did most times. But I was generally in the lower part of the top 10 on most fights.

We downed Loatheb and the dropped the Warrior shoulder token. I rolled, but lost to one of the Protection Warriors. This was a guy I had shared tanking duties with back in Mal Katai in late Tier 4 and most all of Tier 5.

I glanced at his gear when I saw him roll Need because I was expecting a greed roll from him.
Now I'll tell you right off I can't tell one Warrior tier from another just by looking at the name or graphic. I figured I'm on an alt, he's probably rolling for his offset gear, so no big deal. It was only after the loot was distributed that I realized he was wearing Level 70 Tier 5 Shoulder and Gloves along with the Hydross Defense trinket.

I asked a couple of friends via whispers and confirmed that indeed, he had stopped playing for a while, and had just recently hit 80. I felt like a real heel for rolling against him on the shoulders and was really relieved that he had won them.

The third tank was another Protection Warrior. I knew him from my early days at level 80. He's a kid and his dad was a fantastic Holy Paladin. I felt kind of bad for him because he was having rough night with computer/latency issues. It's tough enough to tank when everything is going perfect. Fighting lag and FPS issues makes it that much harder.

I whispered the raid leader to let him know I could tank for them if needed. He didn't respond.

Okay, not interested. That's cool. Either that or he missed my tell completely.

I was basically a guest in this raid, so I didn't say anything more.

We got to Gluth and poor kid got dc'ed. My freshly 80 Tier 5 buddy was maintanking. I think the Protection Paladin had either gone Ret or was helping out with the chow. I honestly don't remember.

As you might know, Gluth puts a stacking debuff on the tank that makes it harder and harder to heal him. Each stack reduces healing by 10%. Eventually, the stack would reach 10 (100% less healing) and your tank would go down. Of course, the way you handle this is for two tanks taunt off each other, allowing one tanks stack to fall off and reset to zero. Well our 2nd tank had just DC'ed, and we were on an express train to Wipesvilles, population: Us.

It was actually thinking of my friend, Danath, a Warrior from Heroes Inc, and one of my 3s partners, that gave me the crazy idea for what to do next.

When he gets focused in Arena, he uses a macro that equips his Sword and Shield and switches him to defense stance.

So I hit my ItemRack for my Tank set. I'm in combat so only the Weapon and Shield equip. I pop into Defensive stance, and run up and taunt the boss. The healers start healing me and I tell Mr. Tier 5 to taunt him off me as soon as he's clean.

I popped Shield Wall the first time out to survive Gluth beating on me. I was of course crittable in my 'leet' Arms DPS gear. I'm Mr. All Greens and an Ironsoul after all. After Mr. Tier 5 taunted him back off me, I started frantically looking for my Last Stand button to use when I have to take him again. Of course it wasn't there as that's a Prot talent.

We traded Gluth back and forth a couple of times. For the first time in my life, I was happy for all that 'wasted' stamina on Warrior DPS gear. Somehow the healers were able to keep me up when I had Gluth and we downed him.

I received quite a few tells from people communicating how impressed they were with what I did. One of which I think was a compliment but is not suitable for printing. Getting those comments was sure nice, but what really felt good was knowing I had saved the day, and saved the raid from wiping.

We got Mr. DC back and went on to Thaddius. First try we lost too many to not getting the polarity switch right. It stunned me that people still mess that up. This is not exactly a new fight.
Our second attempt, Mr. DC goes down fighting Stalaag. So I popped into Defense Stance and picked him up. I ended up dying, but Stalaag died at the same time. I had given the raid at least a shot at Thaddius.

We missed the Enrage timer by only a couple of percent. Unfortunately, it was getting late and the raid fell apart.

If we had made another attempt, I was going to whisper Dots (my friend who got me invited) and tell him I was going in Prot Spec/Prot Gear and would just Prot 'DPS'. This had been two fights in a row where I had been needed to step in and tank. I was dang well going to be ready if needed again.

This is one of the really frustrating things about being a tank.

As DPS, you can clearly show that you are better, you just go out and dominate the meters.

As a Healer, it's a little harder, but there are more of you so you can help cover a little bit more. Meters don't tell the whole story, but you can pretty much show yourself.

Tanking is different. You need permission to tank. You need to be assigned.

The other Prot Warriors are really cool guys. I'm struggling with how to express this next part.

You've got one tank so fresh to 80 that he's still sporting T5 gear and another so laggy he can hardly function. But if I had tried to 'outtank' either guy, all it would have accomplished would have been to cause drama and probably I would have gotten myself kicked from the raid.

Regardless if I feel like I was a better choice (even my Naxx10 gear) and regardless if I felt like I could probably handle, ultimately that didn't matter.

I was guest in this raid. I was there at the invitation of a couple of friends from my Mal Katai days. I certainly wasn't going to embarrass them by causing a scene and asking to replace one of their tanks.

It'sssssssss BACON!!!

Since we had done a 25 man on Tuesday, we started with a fresh 10 man on Thursday.

The run was fairly unremarkable except for the welcoming back of my old buddy, Baconstrip. Apparently, he's a changed man since he took a leave of absence
When I heard he was coming back to the server, I was very excited, even though I thought for sure he would be going back to Heroes. Heroes Inc was the guild we broke off from to form Unusual Suspects. I was very happy to see that he was actually joining Unusual Suspects and would be part of our raid group.

The run was fairly unremarkable. Flame Leviathan is still being stingy with the Flamewatch Armguards. I can’t tell you how happy I am there are crafted Bracers coming with Patch 3.2. I had worried I would be wearing Hapless Prey all the way to Icecrown.

Of course, I can’t complain too much. The big Fire Truck did offer me a Titanguard on Tuesday.

There are only a few pieces of loot left from Ulduar 10 that I really need: The Bracers, of course, Royal Seal of King Llane off Yogg, and Shiver/Boreal Guard off Hodir Hard. I really want that shield. Tanks and their shields, what can I say.

Then about halfway through the raid, we saw Lakini, our Boomkin extratrodinare, back online. He’s been away from the game while moving. He hasn’t seen any of our Hodir Hard attempts and I bet he’s going to be pretty happy with 50k Starfires.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

[Patch 3.2] I Feel Diminished

Shield of Righteousness: Now deals 100% of shield block value as damage instead of 130%. In addition, the benefit from additional block value this ability gains is now subject to diminishing returns. Diminishing returns occur once block value exceeds 30 times the player's level and caps the maximum damage benefit from shield block value at 34.5 times the player's level. Source)

This news actually came out about a week ago. I wanted to let some time pass before I commented on it because initially I was just mad and that is rarely a good state of mind for a reasoned analysis of a change.

So what does this change actually mean? For a Level 80 tank, diminishing returns start to kick in at 2400 Block Value (80*30). Block Value caps at 2760. Every point of Block Value you get from 2400 to 2760 contributes less and less. For instance, let’s say you’ve got 2400 Block Value exactly. You get an ‘upgrade’ in Tier 9 that increases you Block Value by 80 over the old piece of gear. Your Block Value will not go up by 80 for the purpose of figuring out Shield of Righteousness damage. You will only see your Shield of Rigtheousness hit increase by, I’m guessing at the actual number but something less than 80 let’s say 60.

The bottom line is that your Shield of Righteousness goes from doing 3621 per hit to 3681 per hit.

Your Block Value will go up by 80 for determining how much damage you take off a Blocked hit.

So when you block instead of seeing

Auriaya hits Honorshammer for 13794 (2400 Blocked)
You get

Auriaya hits Honorshammer for 13718 (2480 Blocked)
Your new 80 Block Value item gave you only 60 points for offensive block value, but the full 80 for defensive block value.

Are we likely to start hitting the Diminishing Return on Block Value in anything but a gimmick Block Value set?

A Paladin with his 4 piece Tier 8 set bonus and a Libram of Obstruction is getting pretty close to the diminishing return point. I’m less than 200 Block Value away myself.

I must be using Block gear and gimping my stats, right?
Well, you see, this screenshot was taken in my ‘Boss’ tanking set. That set has exactly 3 pieces with Block Value on them: T8 Shoulders, Gloves and my Bracers of Hapless Prey. I’ve been trying to replace my Bracers for a long time, and just have been unlucky with drops. I’m very excited there’s a new BoE Blacksmithing plan for tanking Bracers next patch.

Both T8 are an upgrade (albeit a minor one) over the Naxx25 Tier 7 pieces in those slots. So 2236 Block Value was achieved without a crazy block value set.

But this change won’t happen until Patch 3.2, that’s the real context to look at it in. At that point (barring additional PTR changes) my Libram of Obstruction will have 100% uptime and my T8 4 piece bonus will have double its current uptime. That means I’ll be sitting at 2236 Block Value more often than I am in 3.1.

Furthermore, in 3.2, I’ll be chasing after my T9 set pieces. Unless I’ve done my math wrong, T9 has more Block Value on it than T8. It also has more Strength, which will further increase our Block Value towards the cap.

The theorycrafting geniuses on MainTankadin have been crunching the numbers and I’d like to share their findings with you.
  • The change to ShoR means that BV is much more limited as a threat stat.
  • Point-for-point, STR > Hit > Expertise, and everything else sucks.
  • In terms of itemization and ipoint allocation, the best way to analyze it is to split it into three regions:

  • If your raid-buffed BV is <2500> BV > Hit > Expertise > AP
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2500 but <2950> Hit > Expertise > AP, with BV rapidly declining in value
  • If your raid-buffed BV is > 2950 Hit > STR > Expertise > AP, and BV is worthless for threat
  • Block Value from gear is probably not worth considering as a threat stat for much longer, as we'll start hitting the diminishing returns region just due to the STR on our gear very soon.
  • Hit and Expertise are both solid threat stats, and these changes especially encourage us to start gearing for the hit cap and expertise soft-cap.
  • Wednesday, July 15, 2009


    We put our two raid teams together again Tuesday night and went after Ulduar.

    Flame Leviathan

    It seemed quite a few people were interested in driving Siege Vehicles, so I grabbed a Motorcycle for this fight. One of the other motorcycle drivers was Donk from our 10 man. He loves riding the motorcycle and has done the role many times. I basically just shadowed him and tried to do what he did.

    We never launched anyone up and Flame Leviathan was dead in less than two minutes. I didn’t loot the body. This robot has not been kind to me on either 10 or 25 man. I was going to save myself the disappointment. I had not reacted well the night before when Hodir Hard didn't drop either Shiver or Boreal Guard. I wasn't going to repeat that by complaining about Flame Leviathan's loot.
    Then over vent someone said “ooo, Titanguard”. I figured they were just playing with me. But Ellevis linked it and the other totally inconsequential things that dropped.

    We had a couple of guests from Heroes Inc again. I won’t call them PuGs. Not all that long ago we all wore the same guild tag, it’s not like they were strangers. Most of us are still friends. Because of the guests, the same loot rules from last week were in effect. One main spec ‘win’.
    I had no problem with using my one epic of the night on Titanguard.


    Next up was Razorscale, and I had a little miscommunication with my Raid Leader. I was to take the left side, so I went to where I normally do in our 10 mans. The problem is that the ‘left’ in 10 man is really the ‘center’ in 25 mans. Despite my error, we got the pulls under control.

    In Monday night’s 10 man run I had made the mistake of turning Razorscale towards the raid. So instead of kiting him in a circle, we kited him backwards. This worked well but I ended up making two mistakes. I held him too long which put my stacks too high, and kited out of range of my healers. Clean up on Aisle 7, dead Paladin!
    Perplexity taunted him and they finished him off.

    This was not a banner night for my tanking skills. On Ignis trash something really weird happened with my UI. My mob was marked with a Star but when I targeted him, the mob showed a Moon as it’s symbol. I thought I had targeted the wrong mob and started looking in vain for Star. Well Star is our first kill target, so while I’m frantically trying to find the mob I just had targeted, DPS pulls him off and it gets messy. Ellevis came to the rescue and taunted Star. We lost some people that pull but didn’t wipe the raid. Ellevis tanked the next couple of pulls while I did a /reloadui which seemed to fix the issue.

    We used the same setup for Ignis we had last week with Perplexity on Ignis and Ellevis and myself on Adds. I had a really tough time keeping my Add in the fire long enough to ‘cook’ him. The only tool I have is Hammer of Justice. It doesn’t last long enough to get them fully cooked. My only option was to tank them in the fire. Now that I think about I should Hammer of Justice them, and then just as it’s wearing off, fire off an Avenger’s Shield for the Daze. That might keep them in the fire long enough to get Molten.

    Ellevis, being a Death Knight had Chains of Ice. If I was on my Warrior, I would have had Hamstring, Concussion Blow and Charge. I don’t know how Druids handle it, maybe shift and root?

    I did pick up on a little trick that really helped me find the new add that Ignis would activate. Before he activates his next add, he will yell: “Arise! Soldiers of the Iron Crucible!” Right after he yells, he fires a yellow bolt into the air. If you follow that bolt, it will land directly on the new add he is going to spawn.

    It took a couple of tries, but we killed him. I felt like I got better at Add management each attempt.

    He dropped some Tanking boots which Ellevis won. That made me feel better about winning the Orbs for Spiked Death Dealers over him. Those still sound like they should be DPS boots.


    I was tagged to tank XT again. We downed him pretty easily and even got the Heroic: Nerf Engineering achievement. I never felt the least bit in danger while tanking him. We had multiple Paladins with Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian which really helped out on the Tantrums.

    One of my guildies from the other Raid Team ran into a case of ‘wrong alt’. He was on his Paladin instead of his Hunter, and XT dropped a ‘Hunter’ staff. This would help explain what happened on Kologarn.


    Perplexity and I traded off Kologarn when either of us got about 2 stacks. Ellevis handled the rubble. There’s plenty of damage from Kologarns Shockwave attack to keep your mana going, even if you aren’t the one tanking at that moment. He’s tauntable so tank switches were pretty simple. Ellevis directed the DPS from the Arm to the Body and then when we got close to the other Arm.

    Any Hunters out there may have already guessed what happened next. Kologarn drops the Gun. The Hunter playing his Paladin promptly jumps off the Ledge.

    We only had one Hunter in the Raid, Taxiderm, and he had already burned his ‘one epic’ on the staff. Apparently, this Gun is the best thing going for Hunter weapons right now. Taxi had to let it go to free roll, but none of the DPS Warriors, and Rogues rolled against him. I was quite impressed with our group after that.

    Iron Council
    After Kologarn, we doubled back to Iron Council. If you remember from last week, Iron Council had been our road block.

    The thing I like best about Iron Council is it’s a 3 tank fight. We put Ellevis on Steelbreaker, myself on Runemaster and Perplexity and a Rogue on Stormcaller. Thou shalt be interrupted, Brundhir!

    Our problem last week was that we simply couldn’t keep a tank up under Fusion Punch. Not me, nor Perp, nor Ellevis. It was quite a relief when Ellevis made it through the first, then second, then third Fusion Punch.

    Then just before Steelbreaker died, I went down to Runemaster. It was just a normal 32k melee swing. Recount’s Death Meter showed that I was just under that. This was yet another case of an Ardent Defender leapfrog!

    3.2! 3.2! Where for art thou, 3.2!

    Perp was able to taunt Runemaster while Ellevis and the Raid finished the last couple of percent off Steelbreaker. For the first time, our group had gotten Steelbreaker down.

    But we weren’t out of the woods yet. Ellevis came over and taunted Runemaster, but we lost our Rogue interrupter. People moved out of Runes of Death, but healing was really intense.

    We got Runemaster down. Now it was just Brundhir. His first Lightning Whirl nearly took us out prompting Ellevis to say something to the effect of “yeah, that’s what needs to be interrupted” over vent.

    I was raised as a Ghoul for the first time in Wrath. It took a moment to familiarize myself with the controls and soon I was banging away at Brundhir.

    Somehow Iron Council went from road block to one shot. I don’t know what the healing team did to figure out how to get Ellevis through Fusion Punch, I’m just glad they did.

    Cat Woman

    We had a very little time left, so we decide to try Auryia. I was assigned one of the cats, and got ready to taunt once they were aggroed and coming up the stairs.

    First pull went something like Pull, Dead Tank, Wipe, all in about a half a second. The next pull went about as well. We ended up just putting Guardian Spirit on Perplexity right before we pulled. That got us through the initial pull, but we were wiped out by the first Sonic Boom she does.

    At that point it was getting late, so we called the raid. I wish I had done a better job with my tanking, but it had been a really good night, and we had a new Boss kill under our belts.
    If we keep killing bosses in Ulduar 25, we are going to lose our 10 Man Strict Ranking, simply because we won't qualify as a 10 man Strict guild anymore. If we are killing 25 man Bosses, I guess we really aren't a 10 man Only Guild.
    That doesn't really both me. Sure, it's nice to look at GuildOx and see Realm #1 for 10 man Strict. That's cool and all, but it's ultimately not that important. I don't care if we were the first or fortieth guild on our server to kill to Iron Council. It was a fun night.

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Speaking Another Language

    My guild did an “Alt Naxx10” run over the weekend. I was going on my Warrior since I had burned my Hunter in a Naxx10 pug earlier.

    We needed an offtank, but my Warrior just wasn’t ready. He was sitting at around 515 Defense, so I went in as DPS. My DPS wasn’t steller. People joke that I’m all Greens and an Ironsoul. That isn’t far from the truth, but I am in mostly Blues, not Greens!

    Depending on the fight I did about 1.7k to 1.8k. That’s right about what Hammer was doing at that gear level.

    We knocked out Spider, Plague and Construct without much problem.

    I was the only Plate wearer who needed any gear from Naxx10 the first night. Our Tanks were a Death Knight and Protection Paladin. Both were geared past anything that Naxx10 could give them. I came away with a new Back, a Ring, two new chests, and a Shield.

    I was fighting that old ‘upgrades take me below the crit cap’ battle that I fought (and honestly still fight) on Honorshammer.

    It had really bothered me that I wasn’t able to offtank for the group, and I was determined to do what I could to rectify that.

    After the Raid, I went to my Bank and pulled out some mats and got some new Bracers made. Then I grabbed some new Shoulders and a new Belt off the Auction House. I got everything gemmed up and enchanted, except for my Bracers because I kept debating on having Honorshammer buy the Badge ones and send them to my Warrior. I got him up to 537 Defense, and logged off.

    The second night rolled around and lo and behold, we have no Tanks. So my Warrior gets tagged along with Blue’s alt Warrior. Blue’s Warrior was much better geared than I was so he took the Maintank role and I took the offtank.

    The best way I could describe my experiences of tanking on a Protection Warrior versus tanking on my Protection Paladin was that I felt like I was trying to learn a new language. My brain knew what I needed to do, but I wasn’t always sure how to translate that into the game.

    My Paladin just comes so naturally to me. I’ve been tanking on my Paladin for over 2 years and my Warrior for about 2 months. I know what needs to be done and exactly how I’m going to get it done. I have to ‘think’ much more on my Warrior, and I made all kind of mistakes like missing Sword and Board procs.

    I would liken my Paladin to a sharp switchblade, but the Warrior to one of those utility knives with 80 attachments that slices, dices and makes thousands of julienne fries! You get the feeling that the Warrior has a larger toolkit. Some of that has to do with the fact that many tools on the Paladin are passive, silently working in the background. For example, I don’t have to Thunderclap on my Paladin, it’s built into Judgment.

    The skill I missed the most from my Paladin was Avenger’s Shield. Not only is it a fun skill, but it gives you good initial threat on 3 mobs. I felt much less comfortable in multi-target situations overall than I did in single target situations. Back in Burning Crusade, I had really given Warriors a hard time about not wanting to tank Heroic Shattered Halls. After last night, I sort of felt bad about that.

    The entire raid really missed not having a Paladin of any spec for Blessings. We had Battle Shout to cover Might and a Mana Spring to cover Wisdom, but everybody including myself, wanted Kings.

    I absolutely loved having a real interrupt. I know we have Hammer of Justice for Paladins, but it’s locked out by the Global Cooldown, while Shield Bash isn’t. Warbringer is still a ton of fun and Vene’s Warbringer macro is nothing short of genius.

    Sword and Board is a lot of fun, and I’d love to have something like that added to the Paladin arsenal.

    I really like Shields. I need to level up my Druid at some point, but using a Shield to tank just feels right to me. My favorite sound effect in the game is the THUD of a Blocked Hit.

    I came to the conclusion I prefer the Mana mechanic to the Rage mechanic. I really like starting the fight with a fuel resource bar. With all the mana regen techniques Paladin have, it’s not like I can run out of mana even with 1/2 Spiritual Attunement. It’s only on certain corner cases like Vezzax that I hate mana because it seems like Blizzard didn’t balance the encounter for Paladin tanks. The vast majority of Paladin Tanks I talked to on Maintankadin corroborate that even with 2/2 Spiritual Attunement, Vezax can run you dry.

    Of course the most important characteristic of any toon you play is how fun they are. All three of my 80s are fun. I enjoy playing them. I prefer my Paladin and my Warrior over my Hunter but I think that’s because I like Tanking, and it’s kind of tough to do that on my Hunter.


    Trash went pretty well, Blue’s Warrior grabbed more than I did usually. We had two DPS in the raid that were ‘mains’ and we had a devil of time keeping threat off them. One of the guys is a really skilled mage who I struggle to hold aggro against even on Honorshammer. I usually took the whirlwind guy and kept him locked down with Concussion Blows, and Shockwaves.

    Instructor Raz
    Since this is a vehicle fight for the tank, there was no difference at all.


    Avenger’s Shield, how I missed thee. I was assigned to Live side, while Blue took Dead side. The first couple of pulls were okay, but the fight got progressively more hetic. We were saved more by our Healers keeping the DPS alive, and DPS killing the spawned mobs quickly than any tanking I did. Heroic Throw has a LONG cooldown, Shattering Throw’s is even longer.

    Gothik himself was more fun. I enjoyed being able to Spell Reflect his Shadow Bolts back at him. We opened the gates on Blue’s side and killed him there.

    4 Horsemen

    Honestly, the fight didn’t feel any different on my Warrior than it had when I was comparably geared on my Paladin.

    They dropped the danged Thane’s Tainted Great Helm. This never dropped one time for Honorshammer in all the times he ran Naxx10. I could only laugh. The RNG is indeed a cruel mistress. Since Blue’s Warrior wasn’t there the first night and I had already gotten 5 Epics from the run, I didn’t roll against him on the Helm.

    Kind of offtopic, but lately I noticed something with loot I never noticed in Burning Crusade. When I win something, there’s this feeling of empathy for the person I beat out. I’m happy for the loot, but I also feel bad for the person I beat out. This most recently happened when I won the Runed Orbs to make my Spiked Death Dealers over Ellevis. The fact that Ellevis was the Blacksmith with the pattern, only added to it.

    On the flip side, I’m more genuinely happy when someone I’m tanking with gets loot. There was a genuine feeling of happiness for Blue’s Warrior when he won that helm. I always congratulated people, even in Burning Crusade, but the emotion is more there now if that makes any sense.


    Blue’s Warrior tanked him and I switched to my Arms spec.

    Kel’ Thuzad

    Blue and I talked about who was going to do what on the fight. While Blue’s Warrior clearly outgeared me (he has about 5k more buffed HP), I had far more experience. We decided I would pick up the Adds and he would take KT.

    We struggled with KT for a while. We’d lose people to Ice Blocks, and Void Zones. Every person in that raid had one shot this fight numerous times. We were all figuring it out again on new toons and new roles. Our regular Death Knight Main Tank was playing a Resto Druid. Our normal Holy Paladin was throwing out Chaos Bolts on his Warlock.

    It must have been about our 4th or 5th pull, but we lost Blue’s Warrior. The Adds weren’t up yet so I charged in and taunted. I absolutely love that skill (Charge) on my Warrior.

    Of course, I would now have to pick up the Bugs as well as tank KT. I picked up the first one with Heroic Throw and taunted the second one. I had to get Jag to Soul Shatter, Fumiko had to Feign Death and was waiting to pull my Hodir trick with Donk. The ‘Hodir trick’ is when I wait for Donk to pull aggro off my Paladin and then taunt right away.

    I rotated my trinkets with Shield Block on cooldown to try to limit how much the bugs were hitting me for. I rotated Shield Wall and Last Stand. I interrupted and spell reflected.

    Then KT hit me with a Void Zone which was really hard to see in all the mess of KT and the two bugs. I moved just in the nick of time.

    KT finally died. Our Disc Priest even told me in a whisper that healing me wasn’t that rough.

    After the fight I realized that I don’t think I ever tanked KT himself on Honorshammer. I was always on Bug duty. Nothing wrong with that as I always had plenty of other Main Tank duties in Naxx including Sapphiron nearly every week.

    It was really cool to do some raid tanking on my Warrior. It was a blast.

    By the way, please don’t kill me in the comments, but I just realized my Warrior only has two of his Major Glyph slots filled. Sorry he’s an alt, and I overlooked that.

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    [Patch 3.2] Avoidance Nerf

    There’s a change on the PTR that I haven’t mentioned yet. I wasn’t sure I understood it, and I certainly didn’t understand what it would mean.

    Let’s get to the change:

    Dodge Rating: The amount of dodge rating required per percentage of dodge has been increased by 15%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes dodge rating and parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply.

    Parry Rating: The amount of parry rating required per percentage of parry has been reduced
    by 8%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes dodge rating and parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply. Parry still diminishes more quickly than dodge.

    The Developers noticed that every tank was going for Dodge over Parry. Parry get penalized because it has a positive side effect. When you parry a Boss’ attack, you swing faster next time theoretically making Parry a ‘threat’ and ‘avoidance’ statck. Don’t confuse this with parry-hasting where YOUR attack gets parried and the Boss hits you faster causing an increase in damage taken.

    Boss swings, you parries, you attack faster is what we are talking about.

    The Developers simply overestimated how much of an extra benefit this was. Tanks didn’t care, they just wanted avoidance and flocked to Dodge.

    So now the two are equal, but parry still punished harder by Diminishing Returns.

    The theorycrafters at both Tank Spot and Main Tankadin went to work. MathLab simulations were written and spreadsheets were produced. If you are mathmathically inclined you might enjoy reading the threads: MainTankadin, Tankspot

    I love that there are people who are without question much smarter than me.

    So what is the bottom line of this change? How should it change the way you look at your gear?

    The answer will be different for every person, but let me give you a couple of approaches.

    First from Theck:
    • Take current ratings and subtract out 689 def, 96 dodge, and 64 parry
    • Figure out your current ratio of dodge:def:parry
    • if one of these is higher than the ideal ratio of 2.4:1.8:1, swap out some of the rating that's above the target ratio for a rating that's below or at the target value.
    • Recalculate and lather, rinse, repeat.
    So let’s look at ole Honorshammer. Papa got a new pair of shoes last night thanks to some deft rolling and some kindness by our Elemental Shaman who would have surely outrolled me.

    Defense: 701 – 689 = 12
    Dodge: 519 – 96 = 423
    Parry: 314 – 64 = 250

    That gives me a ratio of 1.7:.04:1

    Basically, this means I need a ton more Defense, and less Parry in order to have the most efficient use of my Avoidance stats.

    Another way to distill this down to ‘what does it mean to me’ is to look at the advice from Xenix. He was leading the Tankspot thread and is another of these math geniuses.
    1. Stack defense rating until you reach a number that has a minimum of wasted in the defense rating -> defense conversion. (728,787,846,910 and 969 are the best possible ones to hit).
    2. Stack dodge/parry rating from there so that the post-DR portions of your Dodge% and Parry% are in a 1.875:1 ratio
    3. If your total dodge+parry rating is getting anywhere near your defense rating, try to hit the next good number of defense rating (while adjusting your dodge/parry rating to maintain #2) as the diminishing returns on miss will be such that you will notice a slight difference.
    4. If you can't hit the next good number of defense rating, don't worry - keep stacking dodge/parry in the aforementioned ratio and you'll be fine.

    So by Xenix’s advice, I haven’t even done Step 1 yet. I need about 27 more Defense Rating to get there. That also lines up with Theck’s advice that I need more Defense.

    My Dodge/Parry are actually pretty close with a ratio of 1.7.

    I don’t have any parry gems, or enchants so it will be basically impossible to reduce the amount of parry I have. I’m already enchanting for Defense where it’s available on my Shield, and Back. I’m already using Enduring (Def/Stam) gems in my yellow slots.

    The bottom line is that my avoidance isn’t ideal or efficient, but I really don’t see any way I could change it at this point.

    EDIT: The Math Genuses continued their work and added this important detail.

    • At low gear levels ( defense rating + dodge rating + parry rating
    • At higher gear levels (defense + dodge + parry > 1150 rating), gear so that your post-DR dodge and parry percentages come out as close to a 1.88:1 ratio as possible. In other words:
      (character_sheet_dodge_% - 11.65) / (character_sheet_parry_% - 10) = 1.88
    Hammer is definately at the 'higher gear levels' with a dodge,defense, and parry of around 1500.
    His character sheet dodge % is 26.34%. His character sheet parry is 19.95%. That gives him a ratio of about 1.48. So either more Dodge or less Parry would get him closer to the 1.88 ratio. The advantage to this approach is you use your character sheet percentages which will already include contributions from Defense. Most of my Reds are filled with prismatic stamina gems which I will probably have to change to red Dodge/Stam gems in 3.2 and replace three of my blue stam gems with the JC gems.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Me and 24 of My Best Friends

    I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my guild, Unusual Suspects, had absorbed a second 10 man raiding group from one of the other guilds from our server. The new group is led by a Death Knight named Perplexity, so I call them Perp’s group. My group, well, I just call that my group, lol.

    Both groups continued to concentrate on 10-man raiding, but we knew that having the new group would allow us to do the occasional 25 man raid.

    I was very excited when I saw the 25 man Ulduar raid on the in game Calendar for Tuesday night. Before the raid, I finally told myself to stop over thinking everything and just bought the Shard of the Crystal Forest for 19 Emblems of Conquest. I’ll be swimming in those things soon enough (3.2).

    We were a couple of people short but we were able to fill out the raid with people from my old guild, called Heroes Inc. So we had our 25 man raid ready to go. Ellevis, the Death Knight who runs my raid group, was handling the raid leader responsibilities. Some of the people from the Perp’s group had never raided with him. No one knew what to expect. No one knew how far we’d get.
    To make sure we were fair to the guys from Heroes, we made loot just a /roll for your main spec, and one epic for the night. Our main goal was to give all 25 man people a shot at something from a boss. To be honest, I was just excited to be in a 25 man Ulduar. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded winning an item, but it wasn’t a big concern.

    We start, of course, with Flame Leviathan. Much to my surprise, there were 5 Siege Tanks to drive. I guess I should have known there would be more vehicles in 25-man.
    The fight through the Iron Dwarf Army feels different with all those Sieges, Choppers, and Demonlishers. It really felt like we were army on the assault.
    Someone joked that we should take this force to Wintergrasp, to which someone else replied that we would still lose. (Wintergrasp is officially a Horde area on my server that they occasionally let us have.)

    I was in my familiar position of driving a Siege. Yes, even on a vehicle fight, I'm a tank.
    We didn’t leave any towers up, so we burned through the trash pretty quick. Next thing you know were facing down the Fire Truck. We didn’t launch anyone up onto Flame Leviathan. Instead we kept the Demo Gunners firmly in their seats and they blasted away at the pyrite hanging over the area. The Demos stacked pyrite on Flame Leviathan and he was melting pretty quickly. He never picked me to pursue so I just hung out on his ‘six’ and interrupted Flame Vents. I’m happy to say that Flame Vents never got up for more than one second and I wasn’t even the guy who interrupted it sometimes.

    Badda boom, badda bing, dead Flame Leviathan.
    No Titanguard. I’m sure Rhidach is not surprised. Even on 25-man this robot hates me. He’s never dropped the Tank bracers on 10-man in 11 tries and now he refuses me Titanguard. No big deal, I had a blast fighting him. I just wish he had picked me to pursue.
    Now maybe I'm late to the party, but have you ever noticed the nod to Tank Spot when you kill Flame Leviathan? The Marmot is kind of the offical mascot fo Tank Spot.

    Next up was Razorscale. I was tanking along with Perplexity (Death Knight) and Ellevis (Death Knight). The fight seemed pretty much the same from 10-man, only Razor hits much harder. Once we got her grounded I picked her up and BAM, dead Paladin. Perp grabbed her and I gotta a Battle Rez. I ran into to relieve him, and turned him right towards the raid. Doh! Then BAM I died again.

    Ellevis and Perp were able to finish tanking her. I looked back at my combat log and saw I took a 41k melee hit.
    I didn’t have 41k health. When did Razorscale start hitting that hard? I checked and sure enough I was in my Trash set (535 Defense). The only thing I can figure is that I got a crit but Recount reported it as a hit.

    One of the healers was kind enough to apologize for letting me die. I corrected her (female toon, no idea if the actual player is a she), and let her know it was my fault.

    With Flame Leviathan and Razor down, we decided to try our hand at XT-002. Ellevis was kind enough to put me on XT while he and Purp took care of the Assault Bots. Fully buffed, I was sitting at just shy of 42k health. XT was hitting me for 17k to 21k. I had about 1400 Block Value without the Libram of Obstruction up.
    My healers did a fantastic job, and I only felt threatened one time where I used Divine Protection (Paladin’s equivalent to Shield Wall). Before you knew it, we were ‘bad, bad toys’. The first piece of Tanking loot dropped from XT, The Signet of the Earthshaker. I looked at my rings, Sand Worn Band and Signet of Winter. I really didn’t enjoy the prospect of trading Parry and Dodge for Block Value and useless Block Rating. I didn’t roll on it. I told Ellevis that I could use it, but I wasn’t going to make that my one epic for the night. One of the other Paladins in the raid was willing to make that his one epic, so it went to him. He’ll probably get more use out it than I would have.

    Everyone was feeling really good. Morale was high and we started to wonder just how far we could get.
    We set our sights on Ignis. This time Perplexity was on the Boss, and I was going to help Ellevis round up the Adds. I had never done that particular task before. In our 10-man group, Ellevis has me on Ignis. It took me a little while to figure it out. At first, I tried to have the Construct in the fire and myself just outside. I kept looking for a debuff to see how hot the Construct was. It actually appears as a buff. They don’t debuff until you pull them into the water. My Hammer of Justice stun wasn’t quite long enough to keep the Construct in and get fully cooked so I did a bit of kiting.

    Our main problem that attempt was actually Slag Pot healing. The healers worked something out and we pulled again. I did a little better, but Ellevis picked up most of the Adds. That dude is really good Tank, let me tell you.

    We downed Ignis that attempt and completed the first ‘wing’ of Ulduar25.We moved down to the Antechamber, and decided to try to AoE tank the first trash pull. That worked not so well. Sheeps were in order and soon enough we acquainted ourselves with Kologarn. Perp was tanking and I was stayed on Kologarn to relieve Perp if he had a bad avoidance streak and got the Crunch Armor debuff too high. We ended up trading Kologarn back and forth a couple of times. This was my first time team tanking with Perp, and I think it worked out pretty well.

    I really hadn’t studied the loot tables past Flame Leviathan so I don’t know what didn’t drop. In a way I like it better that way. I’ll be surprised and happy when something I can use drops, but I will have to make a quick decision about what is and isn’t an upgrade.

    After Kologarn made a bridge for us, we had a choice between Iron Council and Auryia. Ellevis decided on Iron Council.

    I was Steelbreaker. Ellevis was on Stormcaller and Perp took Runemaster.

    First attempt, I was too slow moving Steelbreaker out of a Rune of Power and we wiped. I acknowledged the mistake and apologized over vent.

    We pulled again. I moved Steelbreaker faster this time but still got killed to a combination of melee plus Fusion Punch. Good gravy, that thing HURTS on 25-man.

    We tried again, but I was killed by a Fusion Punch, plus melee again.

    Ellevis decided to move me to Runemaster and Perplexity to Steelbreaker. As we gather back up to buff up again, I heard something over vent that nearly ruined the night.

    Basically someone said “Paladin FAIL!”

    It was like someone had flipped a switch inside me. Hate and fire started to rise up from my inner being. You are NOT going to blame this wipe on me being a Paladin. Oh, no sir!

    But suddenly something I had read once in a good book started playing over and over in my head. I won’t say it was a voice, more like when a song starts randomly playing in your mind. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” So I decided to heed that advice and listened. This person WASN’T talking about my tanking. One of our Holys had left Crusader Aura on. That was the “Paladin FAIL”!

    The best part is that I never said anything, so I was able to laugh along with everyone else as the Holy Paladin changed his aura. No one knew (until I wrote this blog) how close I came to embarrassing myself in front of my new friends in Perp’s group.

    We pulled and I started banging away at Rune Master. But we lost Perp to a Fusion Punch.

    We would try twice more with Perplexity and even once or twice with Ellevis. We always lost the tank to a Fusion Punch.

    I have to admit that part of me was glad it wasn’t just me. We couldn’t keep any tank up. But I was saddened because it would have been cool to get Iron Council down, regardless of who was tanking what.

    I was really wishing for the buffs to Paladin tanks in 3.2. That first attempt might have been okay if I had had the 3.2 version of Ardent Defender.

    It was getting late, so we had to call it. The night ended at Iron Council with 5 Bosses dead.

    I had an absolute blast.