Great feature – Loot Spec Selection

Aside

One aspect introduced recently in World of Warcraft was the option to select your preferred spec for Loot. By golly! It is great. If you are a hybrid class and not doing this then you should really should give it some thought. My Tank set has been improved by this feature more than once already.
2-Loot-specialisation-choice
It is one of the best quality of life type improvements I think have been made ever.

A wee bit of Tanking

We ran through MV last night and due to some silly guild happenings we were a few folks short. We were able to grab a darn excellent Shadow Priest via pugging, to fill the roster. As an aside it was well beyond my expectations to find somebody who has experience on 2-3 characters in MV and is also polite and intelligent. From a pug no less. Its like it 2009 all over again.

Missing a few players might be bad news sometimes, but last night I chucked on my Blood set and mashed the DeathStrike button through the Mogu’shun in a manner to make the designers cringe. I’m sure that I didn’t walk-taunt-move-stay-still enough in some parts, and the mechanics are still gibberish to me in the later bosses. Our regular Blood DK gave me all the help I needed by prompting for each taunt, and while I can normally see a debuff or action from which he is reacting to, last night it was tough to spot.

A few hours of killing, only a few wipes, at an even pace we had all but the last boss dead and unfortunately I hit the “in-home” enrage timer just after 11pm, and had to end the run. Frustrating to not down the Emperors after all that, but then we did start a little later than expected and they’ll be standing there till we come back.

I’m also pissed off that Elegon did not drop anything useful for me that I could bid on. There was plenty of Plate gear that dropped, but nothing for upgrades either way. Selfishly, I’d have liked a two-hander to replace the crappy Blue I’m still using. Or it would be nice to see an end to the fun mini-game of waiting for the Plate Wrist dps to drop too. Love randomness, its so fun.

Three fat Mogu staring at a dinner plate?

LFR Sha of Fear – Tank’n for laughs

I queued for LFR as dps hoping to get a sub-40 minute wait. Wish granted – but the group was staring at the Sha of Fear, and we were one tank down. Damn it, I hate waiting.

So I grabbed my Tank set, chatted to the current heavy, and we pulled. One Dead Sha. And I think my meter is broken in that fight, as it has my 8th on Dps – which cannot be true.

I think I’ll do more tanking in LFR now.

Tanking-LFR-Sha-of-Fear

A bloody good night Tanking

Our Wednesday raiders typically smash Mogu’shan Vaults in a reliable and solid way. Much of the gear now goes to offsets or to DE and frustratingly a few of the team still await those few gear drops that will snugly fit them out. Last night I joined them for the MV clear, but due to the silly season we were a few characters/roles short. That meant some characters needed to switch roles around, which adds risk and can frustrate.

elegon-discs

To facilitate the first 3x boss kills before one of our regular tanks could join us – I became the off-Tank for the first three fights. I was bloody nervous being Blood spec. Now that I can look back some cool things happened:

(a) It was challenging and fun. Fun because I saw these fights in a totally new light, and didn’t feel that I made more than a few silly mistakes which cost us. I love seeing new content, and changing roles really does change the fights significantly.

I loved the Petrify mechanic in the Three Puppies Fight and think it is a very clever idea. I hate it as a Melee dps as the mobs move around, but I love it as a Tank as the fight becomes about correct taunting, positioning the bosses, awareness of bad on the floor, and control of cool-downs. It is better as Tank than melee dps.

Trash in MV is “be aware” and “use common sense” rather than disastrously punishing and that makes sense. Yes, some hit hard/often (especially if you’re missing significant amounts of requisite Tank stats because you’re using high level Dps gear) but use of cool-downs and not being an ass made this viable.

I didn’t understand the tricky-button-thing for Feng and likely didn’t use it properly ever. It smells like a gimmick to me, or rather a good idea executed using a gimmick button, anyway I need to see and do that fight more to learn what/how.

The poncy dress wearing Troll Shaman Boss was cool, switching based upon being pulled into the Spirit realm means we have a reason to be there – and the task of smashing the special Tank mob is plain enough to be straight forward. Much more than that it seemed I was just hitting and swinging. I’m OK with that.

(b) While actually Tanking nothing really awesome dropped, but some Tank gear did drop when I was back in Dps mode, which I snaffled for my Tank set (a great 489 Ring, and a dps Helm I can re-purpose for Tanking). Offspec gearing looks to be a higher need if I Tank again, so I’ll amp up the priority.

(c) I’d like to see the later 3 bosses in Tank mode too. Elegon’s taunt-switch sounds like something I think I’ve done before and having the positioning and stacking buffs keeps us honest.

I have no idea how to execute the Emperor’s New Dance mechanic for the Will of the Emperor fight, but will be willing to learn (link)

ps. We did have a few funny screw-ups along the way, but I have not yet made character assassination demands from the Priest involved yet; just waiting while I ponder how much gold those screenshots are worth to stay hidden. Your secret is safe Sir, for now.

Happy Killing

Death Knight Tier 14, dress wearer’s set

Why is the DK t14 set wearing a robe/dress? (source)

It’s creepy, has skulls, and will be immediately recognisable. It does not suit the rest of the Death Knight style gear. Heck the Hunter gear looks more like DK gear than this. Perhaps there was too many Warlock sets crafted and they thought the feminine side of DKs needed a spin. I hate that dress.

Still in other T14 news the Monks are wearing lamp shades, the Priests have funny hats, and the Warlock looks awesome.

Full Death Knight team raze Heroic DS 25 – Awesome

Aside

Here is an odd endeavour – to clear Heroic Dragon Soul raid with a full Death Knight Team. Awesome work gentlemen. It demonstrates just how interesting a challenge can be created. I have no doubt that a full Druid, Paladin, and Monk clear could be performed too. Kudos for the DKs for getting this together. Check out the vids and the banter via the links.

As a keen DK and Wow’er this is entertaining. Players seeking to nudge the edge of what is reasonable and intended in a game should be encouraged, and while we’ll never see an achievement for “Full raid single class” due to the bias against classes that cannot do this – its notable. Just as cool is the soloing of Lich King on Hard mode in a 10 man raid.

The group’s main setup included:

  • 4 tank blood DKs
  • 17 DPS blood DKs
  • 3 DC heal blood DKs (to assist tanks with Deathcoil Glyph)
  • 1 DW frost DK (for buff)

The team also called in a druid and priest for the Spine encounter to beat the dispel mechanic.

Now this might garner some “DKs are OP” comments too, and I have two things to say to that: (a) shut it troll, and (b) yes, Death Knights are awesome…

Happy Killing

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.

DK Tank note in MoP beta build 16048

If the title was not janky enough with abbreviations and miscellaneous numbers then read the full patch notes for the recent Beta build dropping soon. I expect the stead series of adjustments to continue for at least a month after MoP release. Just enjoy the variety people, for now is the time to test out all the odd stuff and enjoy the game before we’re meant to be serious again.

We get more tweaks via MMO Champion, for Blood Tanks we have this change:

  • Death Strike now does 280% weapon damage, up from 230%. Damage increased by 43%.
  • Heart Strike now does 115% weapon damage, down from 170%. Damage reduced by 54%.

What does it mean? Apparently Blood DK damage was too high on multi-target. No effect on base healing effect from DS. I know that this is certainly not what I am seeing in current game, so keep in mind this is level 90 content based feedback (what do you mean you’re spending your time farming for rares and not in beta?… me too).

Warrior Tanks get a few buffs too, which should make them happy. Paladin Tanks I think will still suffer a bit at the moment, although that is an impression based upon rants and wanderings rather than analysis and posts.

Has SWToR Tanked? Is that even a balanced question?

Star Wars: The Old Republic

MMO Melting Pot article took a somewhat imprudent view on SWToR’s longevity since the recent server merges – and asked “how’s the SWTOR server transfer experience treating you and your friends?

Responses from comments and community are mixed, although while the fan base is obviously diminished, there is certainly hope.

A view on longevity really depends on how far the owning company wants to stretch, and what is considered a profitable player base. As a market commodity there is probably value in keeping The Old Republic going for as long as possible, as an extension of the franchise. Much of the Star Wars brand strength comes from the many sources of direct connection it has from the fans, and there is a value to having an active MMO, especially if the costs can be curtailed to a moderate profit.

The server merges come along with some seriously large redundancies in the dev staff too. Large sections of the team have been let go, and while that too is initially a worry it actually is to be expected. The dev team size needed for a game once it a few months post-launch are far less than when it is being built. Devs, testers, managers, and all others should expect to either move to new projects, or move on. That is the reality in software development.

It depends on what you consider a failure too. It is fair to say that Conan did not survive, but Rift continues regardless of the fact that a very large number of people have “tanked” the game. Perhaps a few hundred thousand people paying the equivalent of five coffee breaks a month is enough to continue a game franchise. In Jan 2012 the Rift publishers declared that they’d made over $100 Million from the game. Tanked? Not really, and they’re now letting folks play to level 20 for free. That’s the best demo around, and other game creators should take note.

I have friends who were fanatics about the Star Wars game, quit all other gaming aspects, and then have now relinquished their fanaticism. Others still play regularly, and some never even started but still love the brand.

I played while the free weekends were in session, but didn’t subscribe as Blizzard has locked me into the annual pass for a while longer. Nice strategy there by Blizzard, although many forum posts now tell me that their time in the sun has faded too. If they fade like Rift tanked then World of Warcraft will be around for a long time to come.

What is a tanked game anyway? Eve is another game that plays well still, after so many years and expansions; and so many declarations of death by corners of the gaming community. A player-base far smaller that the megalithic World of Warcraft, but still  successful.

The Star Wars dev have started talking about SW-ToR going free to play upto level 15, akin to the free pass for WoW/Rift. I like this idea a lot as I’ll get to play more of the story lore, but it may not be enough to get me to subscribe every month. More likely is that I’ll play each class till level 15 and then stop. Is that really a good idea – well it is if you consider playing the game is the best ad a game can have.

So we won’t know really the game has tanked until the servers shut-off and the podcasts fade. The Old Republic might slowly fade from the MMO market over time. I hope it stays around long enough to add a few more features which get absorbed into the “standard” mmo feature set. It’s focus on story was certainly controversial, and bloody enjoyable.

I’ll leave you with this cartoon by Scott Johnson, on ExtraLife. No Comment. Kek.

Hate: Constantly moving tanks

Today’s post is a little rant to get something off my chest: Tank moving mobs too much. I hate it. A lot.

Recently in a LFD run the tank was constantly moving the creatures. Now I don’t mean slowly moving them in a reverse circle to gather them up (bears do this, it makes sense), or a tank moving so that nothing is flanking them. Or even adjusting because shitty dps don’t know not to stand in front while the baddies cleave or use flame breaths – I mean constant changing where they stand randomly.

This idiot tank walked forwards, backwards, and sideways through the monster’s hit box so that both he and mobs needed to switch facing all the time. The entire fight against multi-mobs, he walked around constantly. Showing his flank to the mobs, switching around, even bloody jumping from time to time. It was like watching a pvp battle. What made it funny (in a sad way) is that he totally ignored the two melee asking him to stay still. That request just seemed to make him spin and dance more, which made the fights longer, and I suspect he took some serious damage from it too. Yup, an idiot.

I don’t get it, and think its a sign of a bad tank and a player who does not understand the mechanics of tanking.

The tank tip: Gather the melee baddies so they are all in your face, none behind you, and preferably all your team are behind them. ie:

(Tank)–> <— (Angry mobs) <— (melee) <— (healers and range)

This way the melee can hit from behind happily, you can see when the mobs move away, your healers are protected by the melee, and nobody has to move anywhere. All cleaves and spells will only affect the Tank.