The Tankadin Unleashed – Part Two

After my brief introduction to tanking (see part one), I took some positive actions to improve my understanding and learn how to perform as a tank. Here is a summary of a very intense learning curve over the past two days.

Switching gear around really helped, got frustrated in pugs, dinged 67, successfully tanked 2 instances (enough to get a few positive comments from group-mates), and realised that 70 is still miles away, but worth fighting to get to.

Read more in detail below.

A – Gear: Switched over a lot of gear to +Int, +Spell Damage, and some mana regen.

This changes the stats I had very significantly, my health dropped from mid 8400s down to almost 7000, and my manna went up from 3300 to about 4790. Spell damage went from +0 to about +200. I also removed a lot of defense and a bit of dodge, to add some mana regen along with the +Int. It works much better now, and it seems that multi-mob tanking is about the +dam gear applied to many targets (Consecrate) and lasting through the fight, where straight single boss fights are more about forceful direct pain (Holy Defense and Captain America Shield). You could do both, but that would sink my mana into the floor.

The great thing about this change is that I still have more +spell damage gear to add if I want it, and a stack of defense gear if I need that. I can switch and change depending on the boss, the pug, or the level of the guys we run around with. Perhaps I have still to much +Def and +Stam gear, but we’ll see.

B – Training: put myself in the LFG channel for beginning instances.

I hate LFG channel, and often find myself bitching hard whenever I do a pug. Maybe its Eonar is full of beginners, or folks who don’t really play Warcraft; perhaps they have an account so they can irritate each other? Who knows.

“I’m going to play while doing homework.” – Huntard

The two pug runs that I did as part of some practice reinforced this impression. The first pug was with a Warlock and Hunter who played badly, did not listen to advice from the tank, and looted everything in sight. The rest of the team went very quiet and I got the impression that we were pleased to be finished, and will never group with them again. Hopefully they take so long to level that I never need to worry about them. I pity the high level healer who had to watch the mess they made, and I did my best to keep aggro from the Warlock – who had yet to install a threat meter and took aggro on almost every bit of side trash. I was also happy to spend the mana to Resurrect her, quietly thinking of the repair bill made me smile.

The second group was better, but the Hunter still would not listen to me when I said kill Skull – even though he was doing the target marking. If you’re a Hunter and you think a Paladin will thank you for off-tanking the trash mobs; think again! I also noticed that he was pretty impatient with waiting for mana, which is about the dumbest thing I’ve seen. I know that Paladins are slower than Warriors due to our need to drink, but you don’t pull when most of the group is not even with you.

So for a large proportion of the end of the instance I was entering combat on half mana and then not getting the hits I needed to get mana back (QQ I know). Good thing we had a high level Warlock who knew what she was doing. Well, maybe right up until the last boss, when she went back to Shattrath to talk to her Guild Master.

Regardless of the AFK Warlock out Hunter pulled and we started the fight. I was really surprised that we did it without a full team. Doing that boss as a 4-man should be hard, and we had 3x60s and me at 66. I really doubt that it was a good idea, but it worked out OK – perhaps the Hunter had a good measure of our capacity, or even that he was right to be frustrated by the slow-ish pace.

C – Enchants: I need to get some.

Mats are together for a Thorium Shield Spike (which sounds nasty), and now looking for the mats for some good enchants that will not cost the earth, but still add some tank-grind-power. Defense, Agility, Dodge, Stamina, Mana regen, and Intelligence affects are all options.

D – Ding 67, yay.

After a bit of time I also dinged 67, which moved my stats to Health: 8009 and Mana: 4898 – which is where I wanted to be health wise, but with an ok pool of mana and +heal +spell damage of 200. My defense is not there yet, but for pre-70 instances the 370 defense should be ok, but a block of only 6% unbuffed is pretty poor.

This means that the mobs that were tough at 65 are now far easier, and its far better for me to be questing where its easy to survive and quickly complete quests, rather than doing quests that are equal to or higher than my level. This might seem a bad policy (especially to the Hunters, Rogues and Warlocks), but it really works. I’m still getting about 1k xp from each kill, and the quest hand-ins still net 10-12k xp. I see no reason to quest slowly at my level, when I can quest quickly at level-2, and get far more xp/hour.

In Nagrand there are a stack of “kill 30 of these” quests and these are easy at 67, but would have been very slow at 64-65. I’ll also hopefully get to 70 without going into much of the later areas, which means more gold rather than xp when I do. That flying mount is looking like a reality. The xp needed for 68 is about 769,000, and doing 3x 30 kill quests should net about 110,000 – that’s about 7th a level in 3 quests!

A guild mate said to me “hurry up and level that pally”. I am going pretty fast, as fast as my work, girlfriend, and sleep will allow. I can’t smell 70 as yet, but its only a matter of time.

E – Trinket Rotation and Use.
Lastly anyone know if a good macro for trinket use and switching? I have a good trinket that adds +spell damage which I’d always like to apply when questing, but don’t want to use all the time for bosses or instances.

The Tankadin Unleashed (ooh, the colours)

Pandemonius_boss Before shutdown last night the guild helped be through my first instance as a tank. And when I mean helped, I mean 4x level 70 characters zurg rushed through Manna Tombs, much to displeasure : pain and screaming of the inhabitants. It was like using a sledgehammer to crack wallnuts – blunt, ugly, and effective.

The downside was that I didn’t learn a whole lot about tanking, more how to watch pretty lights. My GUI didn’t know what hit it, and I was a tad lost during much of the combat. Its very different from sitting back healing, and totally different from DPS as a range caster. That run also has me thinking that perhaps I’ll load up on some more spell damage gear, and will certainly look out for the Felsteel items, particularly the Gloves and Helm.

And it was also darn enjoyable. The guys on the run were in fine form, and there were only a few times where we even got close to being in trouble.

The upside was excellent: a new shield: Shield of the Void from Pandemonius (his shadow damage during knockback is nasty), and a new pair of boots: Flesh Beast’s Metal Greaves from a quest. Also got the legs: Consortium Plated Legguards from another quest reward, but as they’re really for a Healer – they get compared to my other gear in storage, but most likely banked.

My plan is to solo grind for a bit to setup my GUI and get used to this new playing style. I can always jump into some runs if they occur, and hopefully the group will be forgiving of my noobness.

In warlock news

We also got the 5 man done which is the lead in to the Netherwing daily quests. With that and Orgilla, I should be up to my neck in daily quests – which will fund my enchanting, and a possibly a flyer for the pally when he gets to 70.

Toon Update

Heya all – time for another toon update…

Paladin “needs more rage”

After a good few afternoons of questing and grinding, I’ve dinged level 66 on my Paladin and now thinking of a Protection respect. I’ve played a Holy pally through the some of the 60 end-game (MC, ZG), and a Warlock into 70 (early Kara); so Healing and DPS are things that I understand pretty well. Thus I’m pretty nervous about Prot, as tanking is the skill that skill that I’ve tried to avoid till now.

As example of why– I’ve never tanked more than SM on my lowbie 38 Warrior, and I made a dog’s breakfast out of it (bad pug, and my lack of understanding made it worse).

However the Tankadin looks like a winning tank IMHO. If what I read is correct they can multi-mob tank very well, and their TPS (threat per second) is based upon holy damage which only gets better with +damage gear. Being bad at multi-mob tanking is the thing that kept we away from Tanking in the first place, and if being a Tankadin makes this easier to do, then I’ll try it. That nifty ability to grab aggro for 3 seconds from anyone will come in way handy, especially once I grab a macro that makes targeting it simple.

Being a tank will also make getting groups easier, as almost every LFG tell I see is looking for a healer or tank. I’ve got no intention of trying to split between Prot and Holy, and on first look the Prot + Ret looks the way to go, and I’ll leave the healing to somebody else. I figure I can always bubble + heal / bandage when solo, and in instances it shouldn’t be my problem.

Tankadin – good for tanking, but what about levelling?
Although this all looks fantastic, a fear I have is that the capacity for levelling after a respect will go out the window. I’ve been told that killing one mob, or killing 3 is about the same for a Prot paladin. So the question comes – when is best to make the switch?

Another part of my brain is saying “stay Retribution man, you’ll get to 70 faster”. Gear will be replaced, and keep levelling as Ret, but pick the Tanking quest rewards, so that I have good gear when finally switching over.

One of the guides that I’m reading has a good discussion going; especially for the pre-60 path.

And a tank build linked from there, which looks sensible for a full time tank, but I’m not sure about it for levelling.

The reason I say this is that Seal of Command is excellent for quickly dropping casters, especially when you have a good two hander. And I know you shouldn’t have a 2h weapon while Prot, but there are times that maybe SoC might be handy. Warlocks especially frustrate me, Shamans a bit less, then Druids, and then other Paladins. When I’m grinding I want some plain mobs, that hit like trucks and have no special abilities which I’ve got to try and stun/stop.

I’m thinking that the 5pts in Holy which gain 10% extra Int might not be worth it. I can add 3 more points in Ret and get SoC, a bonus to Parry, and still get a 2 pts in Holy for a minor Int bump. I was thinking of this build as an alternative. This spec is 2/46/13 which means that I can skip the 2 in Holy and 2 in Ret, while at 66 – and add them in as I level.

Finally I suppose that if I really suck at tanking I can always re-spec back to Ret (gold cost aside); and then be a Ret-nub in the LFG channel till the WotLK is released.

A great fun Run – Blood Furnace
DPS from the Blood Furnace A side note for the weekend was my run in Blood Furnace. The pug was great, we didn’t wipe, and handled the mobs well. A good reason for this was the 70 Priest who was healing us, and the tank who didn’t mind when I stole aggro. Being a 65 and the instance is for the 62-63s helped too, but we honnestly did communicate well, and were patient with each other. A few times we took our foot of the pedal to take a break, and still the tempo was maintained. I also dinged 66 during the run, and the Warlock dinged 61.

Warlock is now friendly with Ogrilla-la-la-la
This weekend the guildies also finally got my Warlock friendly with Ogrilla, which means I have access to a stack more daily quests. This is great for the gold generation, especially as the Bombing run is far easier when you have an epic flyer. A guild-mate on a standard flyer was having a bit of trouble getting dismounted, while I was able to duck-and-weave through most of the cannon fire. I’m sure once he gets some practice, he’ll be showing me up, and then when he gets an epic, all be handed my arse (he’s a pally so goes pretty fast once he has a good flyer).

My new Mini

Today I picked up my new car, a Mini Cooper S in pepper white. Its a totally amazing drive, with so much stuff to make the geek in me happy. I have loved the look of the old Mini, and think the new ones are even better; so this is a huge deal, a dream car.

Andrew’s Mini Cooper

Digital readout in the dash, push button start, mp3 audio, and much much more stuff that I’m yet to discover.

I can’t wait to drive it at high speed to see what the full sports pack can produce. (/drool at the high res pic above…)