A defensive update on the patch

English: A line of M109A6 Paladin howitzers as...

Patch 5.0.4 brought us some changes, and its taking some players like me a while to understand and absorb them. I’m damned if I can fit 9 classes worth of changes in my head at once, so I’ve kept to just a few. My Death Knight main and a few of the toons that I tank with: DK, Warrior, and Paladin. I’ll get around to adding the Guardian Druid into that soon, and then also spec’ing the non-tanks like my Warlock and Hunter. I wonder if Hunters and Warlocks can pet tank / solo now.

One thing about the new Tanking model is that multi-mob tanking is much more viable, as long as the tank does not get stunned or overwhelmed. When either occur you are in deep trouble very quickly. DKs, Pally, and War all hurt when faces with 10+ mobs, and the old days of doing an instance in a single pull. Now if the mobs cannot hit your character for enough damage per second to chew through the shield, then your character will never get hurt at all. Generally that will never happen at level, and even (Level -10) needs to be considered. At (level-25) or less I think its the same old run and giggle mode, which is good. At level on normal mode all Tanks should be able to solo bosses like Slabhide with reasonable gear and use of cool-downs.

As a quick summary:

  • Death Knights – feel essentially the same as previous Blood spec did, and play very much like a dps character. Good solid fun.
  • Paladins – slow and steady damage, unkillable due to great cooldowns, highly controllable self heal. The cockroach is back.
  • Warriors – fast paced leaps, charges, and thunderclaps. High damage, lower survival. Best fun to be had by far.

Death Knight – overall nothing greatly changed, and everything did. The Blood style plays the same, and it is the other tanks who now are moved to an absorption/healing based actions (aka Active Mitigation). Essentially our world changed because we have moved from having a somewhat unique ability, to having just one of the best implementations of the soak/damage model. I liked it a a DK and like it on the others too. As dps the talents feel narrow.

I’m not sold on the concept of switching talent choices per fight, except to say that if a player can do that well they are a much greater asset to their raid than a player who specs once and never changes.

Paladin – I was newbie tanking in Outland back in the day, and loved the fact that mana was returned by getting hurt. Likewise now we get all sorts of resources back from being hurt. I’ve run a few old heroic 70 and 80 dungeons in solo mode to test the performance of the Tankadin, and while I think their overall damage is too low, the survivability is very strong.Cooldowns are needed for heavy damage spike fights and too many mobs can rip through the bubble very quickly.

Paladin’s strength is the control of when they can apply their heal, and the advantage of doing either a powerful shield strike or heal as a 3x holy power combo move. I found on bosses or big trash pulls that sometimes all I did was self heal, and the slow attrition of concentration and the AoE effects whittled down the creatures. The Paladin was never in trouble, but also never was near the DPS that the Warrior did.

Warrior – A Protection Warrior at the moment is crazy fun. They do as much damage as some lowbie dps and can head smash their way through mobs darn quickly. Having additional uses of charge via talents means that for now I grind quests as Prot. Never dying has many advantages. They are still a very agile tank, being able to move across the battle exceedingly quickly. Solo’ing was almost as easy as the others, but at times my health was dropping and it took special attention to snap it back up. Thankfully the cooldowns provide for some interesting power-ups, and I was also using Herbalism’s small heal and spare potions.

If I could somehow get a huge gear jump I think the Warrior would benefit strongly from a powerful set of items and correct re-forging. Parry and mitigation re-forging appear to make a large difference in the form discussions out there, and my Warrior feels like she wants to smash heads harder, but cannot just yet. The potential is certainly there.

But why have 3-4x tank characters?

Heroic Utguard Pinnacle (h-UP), Heroic Magister’s Terrace (h-MgT), and Normal Stonecore are all easily solo-able for all three classes, which means grinding for those elusive mounts is now easier as a character can be parked out the front of each to do each one each day with no travel time. Till the new world events this is what I’ll be spending free time on. I’m pondering adding the Druid to be parked in front of Molten Core, purely because the rare mats and drops from there still sell well.

In terms of comparison neither the Paladin or the Warrior can hold a torch to a Death Knight for solo’ing and damage. Some of that might be due to much better gear (ilevel 333 vs 378) and my familiarity with the DK class, but it seems the DK is slightly ahead for now. Warrior is probably a close second, but their healing is still not as exceptional or as controllable as the Death Knight. Things will be interesting at level 90 where we are meant to be playing, as I can see a Warrior becoming once again the powerhouse of Tanking. Having the only AoE taunt will be an exceptional ability, and as gear improves their block/soak mechanics will get stronger and stronger. A Paladin too might also be powerful again for the ancient reason they were awesome in the past, that they have so many cooldowns which increase survival. By comparison the DK cooldowns are just trivial. This is also good as I think there needs to be some separation between the tank styles and perhaps this is enough. Not sure as yet.

I’m looking forward to adding a Monk to the lineup too; 5x Tanks will be excellent.

AFK, Real World Crit my Gamming

Its been a long time since I posted regularly, and by golly gee its been busy – both in game and out.

I’ve been planning a huge life event (because you can’t say wedding without somebody charging you a 200% bullshit surcharge), changing to a new and exciting job, and also burning time on trying to find a house to buy. By comparison a Sarth 3D kill will a tank and healer AFK, and 3 screen-lickers is easy.

But you don’t read a wow blog to ponder my real life ramblings, so straight to the wow goodies:

A new Guild

After much nashing of teeth and requests, I’ve moved 3 toons into Insidious of Nagrand. The members are almost all people I knew before joining, and it is great to have a few of the wow circles I know combine into a guild. Darn good people really help the game stay fun.

I am a very happy player at the moment with the guild.

General Instance Grind is dull

I am sick of running heroics. Period. Five level 80 characters means a heroic is dull and old content. That goes double for OCC due to the suckage of players and stupid fight mechanics, and triple for HOL and and HOS which just take too damn long.

That said, I’d do any of them with a good set of players and enjoy it; just wish that the Pug system could allow some team matching based upon likes as well as dislikes.

Warlock love

I dusted off my Warlock recently and in the free time I had between jobs, I now have a Level 80 toon who is hopelessly under-geared. It is frustrating to be a solid level 79 who can top the damage and scream flaming death at everything one day, but at 80 then be reduced to a total scrub again.

Thus begins the gear grind on my 5th level 80 character. He has over 100 recent achievements, but the good ones are:

  • Level 80 (duh!)
  • 1500 quests (when did that happen?)
  • The regular Dungeon Master (all the LK normals complete)
  • Heroic UP: Girl Skadi and Lodi Dodo at once – which is easy now with 264 epic toons to run with.
  • First item of the T9 badge set – and the dread that all the others will take months to get.
  • Looking for Many award.
  • A stack of H runs, gear updates, and wasted money on ilevel 200 gear.

Death Knight, still darn fun

  • DPS gearset is looking OK. T10 in four places now, with three items the “Santified” upgraded T10. Just need to replace my Helm, Neck, and Ring – and I’m golden.
  • Tank set is a little more work, but still ok. I have a T10 Glove from VoA that is altogether pointless unless I also grab another T10 item – which will be soon. T10 Shoulders for Tanking look average, but will at the very least get me the first set bonus.
  • Took the time to actually get the Weekly Raid, Daily quests, and the VoA all done in one week – which for me is a twice a year thing given the time that takes and the amount I play.

Druid, Bear is for Tank, but Boomkin is feathery fun.

  • Also got VoA and weeklies done, and slowly bumped my Boomkin set to mid 4.5ks, which is ok.
  • Then got into my guild’s ICC 10 man run, and replaced 4 items in one night. Now the Boomkin set is in the health 5250 range, and the Tank set ios around the same level. So in one or two runs my Druid has comparable gear to my DK (dk = 5.45/5.1 vs Druid = 5.25/5.2).
  • Boomkin is fun, and the form is so cool that it makes me behave like a stupid kid. Silly jokes in raid chat, bouncing while dps’ing, and altogether strange behaviour is what the CritChicken does to me.
  • I love the Starfall change.
  • I can’t wait for a UI element that will make detecting the procs faster. I know it won’t help my dps (as I have been known to faceroll when tired), but will certainly make me feel guilty about it.
  • I think getting runs will be easy now should I choose, as 5.2 seems to be the sweet spot for getting invites at the moment.

Next update will either be really soon. or another month away. No idea – we’ll see.

Hope the bosses drop all the good stuff for you, and you find a game ticket on the train.

80 Prot Paladin Talent Build

Now that Diamon (my Paladin) is 80 and patch 3.3.3 is live it is time to update the Protection Paladin talent build. Once again I’ve read through forums, and the base build is pretty steady, but there are a ton of variations for a Tank build.

Here is a Tank build I’m planning to use for Diamon. Like most builds it uses the Retribution talent tree for additional powers and that makes threat building easier.

Now no build is good without some explanation, so here goes:

  1. I’ve seen builds that have more points in Crusade and Seal of Command. This seems to me to be a build for when you’re never out of mana, and also looking for maximum threat. That is not my case as a new Paladin tank, so I’ve taken some points out of these areas.
  2. I did however put a point in Conviction, as a 1% crit chance is always a great thing.
  3. If I was being totally selfless as a new 80 tank, I would have taken at least some points in Divinity in the Prot tree, as it increases the healing that the Paladin receives. But meh, most runs have very over-geared toons, so and I’d rather match the pace of the run to the gear and spec of the characters than try to stay alive the most.
  4. On the flip side of that is choosing a Glyph for reduced cooldown on Lay of Hands. I can’t think of a handier ability for a protection paladin. The self heal is huge, and having that power more often is a godsend.
  5. Some builds will only have 1 rank of Spiritual Attunement, but I want and need both points.
  6. An alternate could also be to put some points into the improved Seal of Vengeance in the Holy tree, but I rate Crusade’s 2% to all and 4% to Undead as a better bonus.

Much of what is good in Tankadins is available for easy reading at MainTankadin.failsafedesign.com.

This post is an update to my previous post for a level 70 spec from October 2008.

Rise of the Paladin, ding 80!

After a weekend of burning through all the rested xp, a stack of instances, and more kills that I can poke a stick at; my Paladin is now level 80!

/happydance /rawr

Diamon (armory link)* was my first Warcraft character, rolled as I like the Paladin class from DnD, and has always been a character that resonates with me. I leveled primarily as a tank, with a bad dps set for solo questing, and honestly I think the tanking is far more fun.

Upon hitting 80 I spent a stack of gold on the skill-ups, equipped a few upgrades that I had in the bank waiting, was gifted a set of ilevel 200 Shoulders (thanks Rakk), bought a few upgrades from the AH too.

Now wearing a mix of blues and purples, and looks ready to strike into the basic Heroics. Bring it on.

In the coming weeks I’ll probably add to my list of daily pugs, all the stories of being an under geared dps and tank, and no doubt will have some utterly stunning stories of ineptitude (like x2 DKs in a CoS run who could not do more that 500-700 dps).  I suppose I should dps a run and see if I can do any better. :)

Grats also to Rakk who’s shammy levels with me and also ding’ed last night.

*Armory was down when I posted, but honestly – he is 80.

Insane alt-a-holic rules

There are some things I’ve been doing with Alts that will drive me insane eventually.

Having one DK character active was a tad dull, so I added a Priest as another. Then I found that my second choice of toon was interesting for a short time, but not fun overall, so I added a Druid instead. Then decided to add a lowbie alt Hunter to be silly on; and then was impressed by a Tank I saw and added my old Pally.

But having seen a DK, Druid, and Pally tank, I felt like I was missing out on having a Warrior, so pondering starting a Warrior. But my Shaman also has ok gear as heirlooms, and the Mage will get some play soon.

So Death Knight, + Priest, + Druid, +Paladin, + Hunter, + Warlock, + pondering a Warrior or Shaman, + Mage afterward…

Yes, I’m an Alt-a-holic again. So now I need a rule set for what to play. Continue reading

How to Tank Heroic runs?

As a rambling short-attention-span reader, sometimes great articles pop out of nowhere. One such from mid Feb is a good article by Tanking notes, on the value of Crit Immunity. Go read if you’re interested in a discussion on getting Critical Hits while Tanking.

However if you’re newer to Tanking, and theory-crafting is a bit aberrant then perhaps a simpler approach is better. As such I asked my self…

How should tanks actually execute a Heroic run?

Here is a series of pointers, which make sense to me, and following afterward a rambling stream of thoughts for how a heroic run should be done. Written for new tanks, by somebody who remembers what it was like to be new.

  1. Be realistic about how ready you are to tank. Really. You can expect some pretty insane comments if you make mistakes, and if you’re not the type that can take it without flipping out; don’t tank. Might sound odd as the first point in a how to tank post, but it needs to be said.
  2. Talk to the team when you enter, and let them know anything special in advance.
    1. Start with a hello.
    2. Warn them, or ask questions, maybe even set loot rules (need Orbs).
    3. ie. I’m pondering a macro that says how I’m a new Bear tank, so please give me a few extra seconds on threat. That might cause a few folks to leave, but you didn’t want that player in the group then anyway, and its better to say up front.
  3. Remember you are a team – don’t just bash orders out on the keyboard.
  4. Check if everyone is ready before the pulls..especially the boss pulls.
    1. if your healer is sitting down, they are not ready.
    2. if the healer has less than 50% mana they might not be ready.
    3. if the Shaman does not have totems down, they might not be ready.
    4. check your own big cool-down abilities before a boss pull.
  5. Always enter the instance in the gear that meets the basic caps for your class, and stacks Health. In a heroic a large health pool is often better than a lot of avoidance, and in the situations where this is not true the make-up and skill of the team is a far greater issue.
  6. Consider threat generation to be your next biggest target. You’ll need to have your taunts ready, and have plenty of threat on everything. My experience is that highly geared and skilled players will try to go “all out”, and end up ignoring threat.
  7. Configure your trinkets, old-tank gear, and other items so that you have a lot of sub-sets for Tanking.
    1. HP set.
    2. Threat set, even if that threat set means you have a much lower hp pool. Better that the healer with aweseom gear is kept busy healing you, than busy trying to heal 3 people.
    3. Avoidance set.
    4. Stun resist set (maybe, I just chucked this in, but it seems like a handy idea).
    5. Try to consider the boss fight for which set to use.
  8. Don’t be afraid to pause, but generally keep the team moving forward.

Continue reading

Food for thought, salty goodness?

About a week to go till the 70+ run begins and the choice between 1st and 2nd is still hard. Pally and Druid both still rock, and even my hunches change from day to day. I’m torn and confused. Druid Cat dps output is not high, and I attribute that problem to the lump between the keyboard and chair (me). Pally multi-mob grinding seems awesome and even the *adjustment* in the patch will not totally diminish that role.

Not that it counts as much, but the 3rd and 4th spot of Warlock and Shadow Priest are affected by all sorts of rumour and hearsay,  and while they’re not in the real running, I like to watch them. Especially on the back of the 3.0.3 changes. My initial impression of Warlock and Priest changes from 3.0.3 is that Warlocks did not get as much love as Shadow Priests, and SPrs are getting very serious play at 80. I’m glad both got some love.

Continue reading

Oh no, not again.

Seems that Ret Paladin are getting the nurf that the forums cried out for. And I don’t mean an adjustment, or a conservative change, or a series of tweaks. Its a fully blooded destruction of the class that reached beyond Ret pvp (where there were major issues), beyond Ret pve raiding (where there were adjustments needed), and right into Prot tanking (which was just getting good), and into Holy (which needed a dps boost).

Its right back to Blizzard saying they think they know where the class is going, and has a vision for it. Sure, I see your vision:

- Ret: melee dps without snare, cc, intercept, or flee abilities. Fun? maybe.

- Prot: tanking was really good, but being still grounded in abilities that are affected by every other spec change means that there is potential for damage to Prot in every other change. And then boosting aoe tanking of other classes (which needed it), and adding a new class to tank. Right, so who is looking for a Paladin tank when the other tanks are around?

- Holy: being a good single target healer. Same old story.

WoW Insider has a good post about this.

Continue reading