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…)

World of Warcraft hits 10 million active players

The official subscriber count for Warcraft has reached 10 million players. Grats to Blizzard

Christ. Think about how many people that is, all playing the same game, its staggering. We’re all regularly paying a fee, learning strategies, and looking for the next piece of good gear.

And then there is me trying to get an Blood Furnace run during the off hours without success. Grumble.

They also made a small patch last night as part of the maintenance, and I’ve yet to see any un-official tweaks or nerfs made. So all good there too.

Continue reading

No Country For Old Men (quick review)

No Country For Old Men is established on a simple concept: present a short view of a possible series of events, in a country which is being torn apart by violence and sadism. If this was a historic war film, or even set in the near future, the impact of this lesson would be lost, but by making it present day America the lesson is very hard to ignore.

The American society is creating villians which are disolving it, and this film shows the spins and throws which occur between the main characters as they are drawn further and further into the downward spiral of destruction. Nobody is unaffected by the events, and nobody survives for long.

Some people did not like the ending, and I didn’t get it until a day or so later, but I really think its the only way to end it. After you see it, ask yourself how else could the final character have escaped his destiny created by the society he lived within? I would argue that his strength of character allowed him to that, rather than face the ending that so many of his fellow countrymen had faced.

For: Incredible acting from all the leads, and a story that demonstrates how natural humanity reacts to harsh events and environments.

Against: Violence, but then thats the point. Don’t see this film if you don’t tollerate creepy killer types, or random acts of violence.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Stardust (quick review)

The film Stardust is a highly entertaining fantasy film set in England “some years ago”. I really liked this film and would rate it along side the Princess Bride in terms of style. Its not quite that excellent, but its close.

Robert Deniro as a camp bloodthirsty captain was easy entertainment, and the stand out best supporting cast was the princes who you’ll meet about half way through, who then entertain as they observe the rest of the story. Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer are great, and the guy who plays the goat is fantastic!

 For: Good story, great cast, and entertaining humour aimed at adults far more than kids.

Against: No much, maybe the initial story into was a bit sharp(?)

Score: 8/10

My little pony (pally distraction)

I had to laugh at an affect from one of the flying pain-in-the-neck wasps in Zangramarsh which gives you a tainted blood.

pinkpally.gif This slows casting and increases Agility, so for me its great; as all the stuf I use is instant cast, and Agi = dodge.

However it also gives your character a pink-ish glow, which when added to the Paladin’s gear looks totally horrid.

Now all the character needs is some cute hair clips and a love heart on the guild tabard.

Strange that it also poisoned my horse – thats strong stuff.

Toon Update

As part of this character update, I’d like to make an observation about Mining. Its easy! And if I find it easy, its got to be almost impossible to screw-up (so simple a 10 year old child with A.D.D and a voilent twitch could still do it).

Mining HelmetWhich perplexes me as I’ve read a heap of posts about it being difficult. I realise that Blizzard may have changed it recently, in which case I apologise to the child above – but it was still easy when I was leveling from 1-60.

I guess the whinge-fest that is the Internet needs to be taken with more salt now.

Onto the toon update:

Warlock – kinda parked, but still looking to do instances, daily quests, level enchanting, gather mats, etc. Now that he has an epic flyer, its much better getting around, and I wish to an unholy god that I could have a flyer on my gathering profession characters.

Paladin – My focus, as its such a different experience from what I remember. Hit 375 Mining today, also hit 330 Engineering, and level 64.

Rogue – parked, till I need some time away from the above two characters. At 40 with a normal mount.

How to waste time on the Internet

Here are a few link worthy things that I choose to look at when I should be doing something productive, like leveling my Paladin or working. – a great webcomic which is as sick as it is satirical. – a game reviewer who makes it fun to hear about the current releases which hit (or miss) the mark. – a blog about cool gadgets and strange IT stuff. – a blog about game and internet culture.

 And yes, this post is about me wasting more time online. Shut up and stop laughing.

Patch 2.3.2

Patch 2.3.2 delivers a lot of buffs, some significant tweaks, and only a few nerfs. In other words is a good patch, and I think it was designed to edge towards where each class should be heading.

For Paladins this is a good patch.

  • Santified Judgement change is great for all, especially the Retribution spec.
  • Crusader Strike change is great for starting and leveling paladins, but I can see some folsk not being please that +spell dam is not applied. I like it and think it far more reflects what a Retribution Paladin is supposed to be like.
  • I had no idea that Righteous Fury was costing double mana, and its good to see it fixed.

For Warlocks there is nothing major – in fact they might not notice the patch, due to not getting nurfed.

For Shaman its a good, but minor patch – they didn’t really need a buff, but its a minor buff.

Hunters got some minor love and some important fixes, especially the pet leveling time reduction.

The networking algorithm known as “the Nagle algorithm” was disabled. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that this is good, only becuase (a) I suffer under a lot of latency, (b) I think the NA is designed to hold traffic for efficient transfer, and (c) efficient transfer in online games is totally different than in most other TCP applications.

Perhaps this was due to the increased load from voice apps, or they found that holding traffic was making folks get spurts of lag, rather than a consistent degree of latency. Whatever – I hope I can get below 550 regularly.

Read the details and a good thread here

A Retribution Paladin in his first Instance

Today I did my first instance as a Retribution paladin.

It was great fun and totally beyond my expectations. Initially I thought I’d be a total idiot – needing advice on what to hit and where. But after some initial playing around I got down to business and started to think about what to hit to really make a difference. Dropping mobs was my first priority, protecting the healers and casters, and then DPS like hell.

With that focus there were times when I kept hitting a trash mob even though I knew it was pretty much dead, and the Warlock, Hunter, or Warrior could clean it up (at say 1-3% health remaining). Also watching the clothies kept me on my toes, and huge kudos to the Tank who did that much better than I did, and also kept aggro.

If I’d played a bit more selfishly I suspect that I could have done even better on the DPS meter, but then thats not why I was there.

The net affect was that I was 1st on the Damage Done, and we didn’t have a single death in the run (woot!). This would be a huge achievement except we also had a level 64 Warrior tanking, and a level 65 Druid on healing – so the jobs were pretty easy.

Stats were:

  • 61 Retrib Pally on DPS 29.3%    <– Me
  • 64 Prot Warrior on Tank 27.6%
  • 60 Hunter on DPS 24.8
  • 60 Warlock on DPS 18.1 %
  • 65 Druid on Heals.

And here is a picture (or it didn’t happen…):

Damage chart for Diamon

How to raise your weapon skill

Update: As Weapon Skills have been removed from the game, this post is moot.

Feel free to continue reading for the hell of it though, and please comment, and/or just send cake. I like cake.

When leveling an Alt, I often ignore the weapon skills that are not in use for the leveling build. However sometimes you change weapon skills, and need to raise them. And that is a pain – so here is some advice on leveling weapon skills.


  • Read the comments on this post – some of the best information is in them, and you’ll get regular updates as folks comment.
  • The level of the mob has nothing to do with how fast your skill will go up. If you swing 100 times at a level 1 mob you’ll gain the same amount as swinging at a much higher level mob.
  • Find mobs that will gain you XP – if you don’t want your time to seem like a complete waste. This means you’ll get some XP, but will also be at a much higher risk. Maybe 2 levels lower is good.
  • Or pick mobs that have no chance of killing you, say 25-30 levels lower. This way they have enough HP to survive more than 1 hit, but not be any danger at all.
  • Use junk or normal (gray or white) weapons, as they will do less damage per swing, and you’ll get more time with the mob before moving on.
  • Choose a weapon with a fast attack speed, as this means more swings per minute.
  • New: The Argent Tournament weapon does 1-2 pts per swing, so it has to be considered for this, although I’m not sure what weapon skill it would apply for. Pole arms?
  • An excellent and easy source of junk weapons is starting toons. Make a character, send its junk gear to your character and delete it.
  • Don’t wear your best gear, as repairs can be expensive (epic repair bills are no fun). Either wear junkier gear, or none at all.
  • Get an +Int buff to help your character learn quickly. This was quasi-confirmed by a community manager in late 2007, but may have still changed. As long as the buff is free, its no waste to grab one just in case. (edit: I had this backward/wrong, thanks Benny)
  • Have healing planned, or have somewhere to run to – as you might end up low on health.
  • Apparently this also affects Trade skills, if so that is legendary for power-training (see the comment below)

Class Tips:

  • Warlocks should banish the mobs, or get a warlock to banish the thing you want to fight.
  • Paladins have an Attack Speed buff, so use that too. More swings is what you’re after.
  • Dual wield if you can – it will increase the swing rate.
  • Some class special attacks count as swings or attacks too, so use these. These are sometimes best on mobs that are immune to the attack, like using Rend on Undead.

Where to go?

  • Pick an instance, as the mobs are tougher and won’t die as quickly.
  • Stockades is great as it is close to a vendor to sell the junk drops, and can get some Twink gear that sells well. Re-spawn is also very fast in the Stockades.
  • Dire Maul is apparently the “new black” of weapon skill raising. Big Bear Butt even created a video showing how to get there. He is a god in fury clothing.

Who to kill?

  • Servant of Allistarj, in the Blasted Lands. This mob about 54 or 55, and is immune to attack unless you’re on the quest, or attack the Orb near him. Grind away. [update: apparently they nurfed this]
  • Corrupter of ??, in Shadowmoon Valley, are immune to attack, and should not aggro till you attack the totems.
  • Dr Boom in Netherstorm is good for ranged attacks, as his bombs will not reach you.
  • Boss 1 in Shadow Labs, if you can get behind him without activating the mobs near him.

Happy skill raising.

The past few weeks in Warcraft

Being on holidays used to mean manu hours of happy questing, as all you could do was eat turkey and call for the bathroom bucket. Alas no more. Now I’ve spent the last few weeks away from home, and also away from Warcraft.

I was excited to get to maximum Tailoring – and then perplexed that after you spend so creating junjk items to get to 375, then next things you want to make are things to keep (28 slot Sould bag) and would have been great things to get on the path to 375. In future it would be nice if you could put the useful stuff along a creation path, so that teh chracter appeared to learn something as he gains points.

I’m also still flat out impressed with the Epic flying mounts – they make travel and questing so much easier, and its a crime that some people will never have them (due to the cost). I suppose if you’re a very very casual player, then thats one of the tade-offs.

I also started to level my Paladin, and I must say even with a retribution spec, the DPS output of a Paladin appears missing. No way they can hold up against a Hunter, Shaman, Rogue or Warrior who is spec’ed for it – which begs the question about if they are really viable – or just the most practical way to ge to 70 so you can respec for Healing.

More thinking required by Blizzard on them, and certainly by me if I am to continue to play one.