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.

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What do I know about other classes and specs?

With the change in classes in the patch today we have all sorts of new stuff to learn. As a PSA I offer the following advice on the spec and classes. A sly review of the classes might be (ahem) useful.

DKst – Essentially there are two types, those you need to listen to because they are Tanking and they help the Mages and Hunters decide who dies first; and the rest. The first are called Blood spec, the second are called whatever you like. When I play my non-tank DK he names used are: “stop tunneling”, “move”, and “deathgrip it you tard!”. Most Dks do not know what DK stands for, but would guess Death correctly because its a leet word. Probably means Death Killerz.

Druids – Too many types, and way too many on the server. Lets face it – everyone has a Druid, and generally only the good ones get taken to raid; that is ex-trees and bears. Cats are misguided Rogues, and Boomkins are Mages who ate too many fish feasts. Get at least one in your raid and make them change spec every 3-4 trash pulls, they love that. Why else play a hybrid?

Hunters – There is only one type, and thankfully they will have no excuse to roll for non-missile weapons after patch 5.0. Handy at times for traps, and hated for the same reason. They perform their best at range, and I find the best range is about 10 miles from the raid team. A quick review of the armory indicates that Int and mana are still issues for some Hunters, so take one to a raid at your own risk.

Mages – Apparently the hardest class in wow to play well in Warcraft. I asked them. There are three types and many sub-types, but all you need to remember is that they can supply a buff and food, although both are rare. Arguments about specs is what keeps the Mage community flowing, and if you want to distract one then either get the Hunter to MD the boss to them before the pull and blame them, or tell them that an alt spec is superior and they need to re-work their toon. Typically awesome dps, and the class colour (blue for the cheap seats) looks wonderful in screenshots which is really all we need to know.

Monks – sorry what? I killed heaps of these things in SM over the years, and yet they keep persisting. As a class they will be uber powerful at everything they try, and will become the new DKs for MoP. This means they will stay awesome through they first two tiers of raiding until we’re meant to get serious about it, then they’ll be nurfed harder than Paladins on patch day and all the Monks will consider rolling back to their paladins. As they are new just assume that every monk can do all things, and yell when they can’t read your mind…you know, like Druids.

Paladins – Almost the definitive hybrid class, as they wear plate so they are less girly than other hybrid classes, but still somehow wear dresses. And no, it’s a dress not a kilt. They are made up of confused Priests which heal, confused Warriors who tank, and confused DKs who stand behind the boss and whine about moving out of the bad. Take one of the first two types to your raid. With the update to buffs we’ll likely see some really cool transmog sets and “roleplaying” in the Deeprun Tram, but very little real Paladins in raids.

Priests – the best healing class in the game with Holy, and the best animation in Shadowform. Shadow pets, shadow powers, shadow spells; see a pattern? A Shadow Priest is just emo enough to compete well with a Warlock, but not enough to re-roll DK. Way too squishy, so smack them first if you have to kill one in a team. Their most irritating feature is that their class colour is white, which makes pasting class notes from websites a two step process (one more step than they deserve). I’m sure there is a petition out there somewhere to make the class colour charcoal, so the SPr will be happy. Oh and I didn’t mention Disc spec as if you do they don’t shut the hell up. Sheesh. Put them on mute.

Rogues – Until the release of the legendary item in late Cataclysm the Rogues had gone on strike and refused to attend raids, generally being replaced by Death Knights and confused Shamans in melee. Maybe they were stealthed? If you like being sneaky and standing behind people then you will like the Rogue class and are also probably a creepy little sod. Who likes that? Makes my skin crawl. They are known for very effective stuns in pvp and for bringing nothing to the raid; ever.

Shaman – Totems are still awesome, and very confusing to non-shamans. Just assume that whatever buff, effect, or spell you need can be supplied by a Shaman and tap them on the head until you get it. Take one along, at worst they have a self res so you can wipe faster the next time. Spec wise they have more choices that is fair given they were a novelty idea in the original beta which was taken too seriously by some horde and would not shut up. Sometimes confused for Mages in screenshots and damage meters; if you see a blue bar that is doing less dps its a Shaman.

Warlocks – Incredible lore and bloody incredible emo whiners. Now I wouldn’t mean to offend, but Warlocks are just so easy to pick on that it is a shame not to. Ask a Warlock what happened post TBC to the class then walk away from the phone. In MoP they have been tweaked and buffed, primarily by updating some animations and spell effects. Very important stuff. Also voted most likely to re-roll Mage when they realise that Warlock rotations are god-awful complex, and Mages have a UI with two buttons. Oh, and they get the succubus pet which has two roles: dps and fap-fap-fap.

Warriors – A Warrior Tank is a god amongst insects in the tanking community. First and last the Warrior will stand with you through every wipe and res, until finally they crack the absolute shits and tell everyone how to play. Often they are right too, as they’ve watched the mistakes so often. A tank’s role is to stand still or walk slowly backward, and the dps try to spin in circles and roll Need on every two handed weapon in the game. They are a simple class for a simpler time, before DKs, Monks, and all the other pixel based distractions which is not old school raids. A Warrior will always be able to complete the sentence, “back in my day…”.

So yes, essentially I am unburdened by too much class knowledge. Enjoy the patch today.

Compelling talents, real choices, and diversity.

Stubborn at the Dead Good Tanking Guide posted a great response to the request for class feedback. What impressed me the most was the comment:

Compelling talent choices not on offer elsewhere, mobility other melee dream about and unique utility that can change the face of an encounter.

Oh hell, he said it so bloody well.

To me this mean keeping the play styles of the tanks different. Keep each tank type as different and we’ll see choices again. Those choices might might one class better than others for specific encounters, but overall we’ll have an interesting diversity. The same can be applied to Heals and Dps too. Choice empowers and supports class selection, where limiting controls prohibit it.

That does not mean that classes should not have some parity in abilities though. We do not want a scenario where a single Tank class is so much better (unless its the dks -joke!). Each tank class should have principally the same set of core controls, but the implementation of those controls can be different.

Think of it as the difference between a Requirement and and Solution. The Requirement is a statement of need, typically based upon on a set of broad goals. The solution is the specific method whereby that need will be satisfied.

In Stubborn’s example there is a goal to provide competitive dps, a requirement to allow Warriors to move through the battlefield efficiently, and a requirement to maintain the movement style of the Warrior class. The solution is to grant Warriors a set of abilities and talents that have them charge and leap amongst the melee. That is a key part of the feel of the Warrior way. Some other classes also have charge abilities, or leap abilities, but not all by a long way.

Paladins by example seem to call opponents to them. The Avengers Shield, Consecrate, and such play like a more stoic class. They might be “slower”, but that could also be seen as less “jittery” as well. Your mileage will vary.

Bears have a range of abilities that imitate many of the Warrior abilities, although they have a sub-set that is slightly better suited to AoE. Death Knights are again different, and that is excellent. I’d hate to see Warriors get a Death Grip style ability, and likewise it would not make sense.

Now that my third Tank is level 85 I’m seeing enforcement of my previous opinion that each is totally viable and very different. They all have taunts, AoE capacity, facing issues, movement considerations, cooldowns, resource shortages, and special tricks. Each is pretty darn good at a base level, yet diverse.

I’d like to see an expansion in the diversity, so that the choice of what to do and play remains (or returns to) a valid and powerful choice.

Happy gaming.

A noobish moment

The ExtraLife community has a great section for WoW/the Instance – and there was a post there with the Question of the Week (QotW) – What noobish moments are you willing to share with us?

A long time ago I remember realising* that I had my rotations and methods of healing as a Paladin all the wrong way round. No bloody wonder that my mana bar always ran out, my raid group seemed to die a lot, and that I chugged potions like they were going out of style.

* Being told by the GM and resident Paladin class guru that I was killing people by being such a noob. Fark, what a bad day for the ego.

Weekly Hate: Pally who dont Buff

Quick one today, my new pet hate is Pallys who won’t buff, won’t respond to psts, and generally act like they bring nothing to the raid. Even when I play my undergeared pally – I frigg’n buff!

Case in point was the weekly raid this week: Sarth. I know its a cake walk, but not giving a shit about fellow players is just poor form. Thank you to the raiders who understood that not all Paladins who pug runs are selfish mongrels; just most of them.

Grrrr.

Whats news lately?

Well it has been a slow few weeks in blogging, until Blizzard started drip feeding information about the expansion to the community at which time everything exploded. Overall meh! I’m waiting to see what the cohesive picture is. Random information with no real detail has limited value.

In other news my alt-ism has taken off in a very solid way. As I thought, the prospect of playing one toon when getting into regular runs is difficult is a game-breaker, so much so that Ive pondered pugging those ICC runs. If I can get a group without having the LK-Dead achievement. Grr.

Mortigen my main is now just doing the daily when I play, the weekly sometimes, and otherwise odd runs. Basically this means I doubt I’ll see much more of the end-game content now, and kind of resigned to enjoying runs when they happen.

Keeping a light and fluffy attitude will help me not go insane and like the process of playing a well geared toon in 5 man runs. And so onto the alts update after the break.

Happy gaming.

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