Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Be careful!

This one is important enough to justify it's own post. Last night when I got home, I noticed a post by one of the officers in my guild's officer forums mentioning that an unfortunate member of our guild got hacked, and all of his gear was either liquidated or transferred. So I login, to check on him and double check my own holdings (all secure on the home front). The guildmate isn't online, though he has reported his losses to a Blizzard GM, which means recovery is on the way, but due to the loss of materials he's not up for playing much at the moment. Understandable.

I went on to play around on my Hunter, then do HMT as I mentioned earlier. At some point during this, some guildies mentioned that their friends' accounts had also been hacked, and there were reports of it happening on other servers. The officers began talking about it, and one of them made the connection I hadn't: It's almost Christmas.

Now, for those of you who are new to MMOs or WoW, this may not mean the same thing as it does to some of us. Christmas (or whatever the appropriate gift-giving holiday for your religion/ethnicity is) means many things, and of them it means people getting large sums of money, and RMTs are taking advantage of that by lowering their prices through the floor.

While I have only circumstantial evidence, I've seen this happen before. Right around this time of year there's a large demand for in-game currency on the part of RMT companies, which means they are probably paying slightly above average for it. This means that whoever is getting it, is putting extra effort, including into the realm of hacking, to get that money.

I could go into a tirade about why RMTing is bad, I'm not going to do that here. This post is more of a warning, and I hope folks spread it around.

First things first, if you are using Internet Explorer... STOP. IE is more full of holes that swiss cheese. While I personally prefer Firefox, I won't tell people what to use, just go for a more secure browser. Many trojans download themselves through adds on sites, and IE does little to stop them.

Next find a good Spyware and Anti-Virus program, if you don't already have one. If you don't have one, you can pick a free Anti-Virus program from here, and I recommend for a Spyware Scanner using Lavasoft's Ad-Aware.

One of the more common methods to get past any security setups you have is to piggyback or be built into mods we download. The first thing to do is when you update your mods, do them all at once, and before activating WoW, run your virus scanner. If any snuck in, it very well might catch them. Also, I advise against using automated downloading programs such as WoWAceUpdater or CurseUpdater. Instead I suggest going the long way, and only getting mods directly from their source sites. This way you can decrease the chance of them being tampered with.

Finally, if you don't already, turn on the option on WoW to automatically fill in your login name. One of the most common methods of account hacking is keylogging. The less you type, the less information they can get from you. If you never type in your login name, all they will have is your password.


Some of these steps (especially the ones concerning mods) may seem a bit extreme, but the potential losses you can incur from being hacked are very bad. Yes, you are highly likely to regain your lost gear and money, but you may not get back your reagents or crafting materials which could be hundreds of gold worth of loss. Even worse is that a good estimate of the time it will take for them to return your lost stuff is a week or two. That means you can't really do anything until then. I know I certainly don't want to spend two weeks sidelined, sitting out of raids and Arena, because some bozo decided my stockpile of gems would be a good money maker.

Going to be slow until January...

With (insert appropriate winter solstice holiday here) right around the corner, we are only getting minimal raids in, which is to be expected I would imagine. The earliest we might go back to two-nights-a-weekend for raids is the 29th and 30th of December (even that's iffy).

Anyway, this past Saturday 3 people were unable to raid, which led to postponing it until Sunday, so all we did was a minimum boss Prince run, with enough time at the end for a Nightbane kill. Prince netted one of our main healers her T4 helm (woo!) and Nightbane continued to be a stingy little *mumblemumble*. Of the 4 drops he's given us so far, all of them have been unneeded, and 3 were sharded, and the fourth was the Scaled Breastplate of Carnage, which was given to our Hunter only for her to test it out and find out it's worse than her current Thick Netherscale Breastplate.

Following up Kara, I was a stone's throw away from having 60 badges, so last night we hit up Heroic Mana-Tombs. I have to admit that Heroic Nexus-Prince Shaffar is easily the hardest heroic boss I've fought yet. We got him down, but it took three tries. On the upside I can now summon Yor, I picked up a good tanking sword, the Warp-Storm Warblade, for swapping in on damage intensive fights like Prince, and got enough badges for me to pick up my Girdle of the Protector, putting me at 3/8 BoJ items bought and 170 Badges spent.

Finally, I continue to work on my Druid. He's up to 17 at the current timeframe. In addition, since my Druid is a Leatherworker I've decided to level a Dwarven Hunter together with my Druid. This way I'll be providing armor for both characters. Part of the reason behind this decision is that I enjoy engineering, but one of the biggest things that bothered me about engineering on my Paladin was I couldn't use any of my guns. So I have an Dwarven Engineer Hunter, with his Prairie Wolf pet, McKinley, that I ran from Dun Morogh to Mulgore to get (but that's okay, he barks when I click him!). While I enjoy being a Druid and a Bear (rawr!) there's something really fun about having a pet wolf to sic on people and mobs. Hee hee hee!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nightbane down, and I need better DPS gear...

This weekend my guild started out in Karazhan, clearing Moroes, Opera, Curator, Chess, Prince and Attumen (in that order). After we finished up Prince at 11 or 11:30, we figured we had enough time so we hopped down and kicked Attumen out of the way so we could access the repair guy.

The following night we re-entered Kara, starting off with facing off against Nightbane. Now, I realize it's possible for a Paladin tank to take on Nightbane, but I tried twice, and each time people died, even when we got him down to 50% (prior to the call for a wipe). Can it be done? Absolutely. Can I do it? Yes I can. But much like Maiden, having me do it is harder than it needs to be.

So Gurneyman, the warrior tank who has been gearing himself up, was called upon. He preformed more than admirably. His first try, we downed Nightbane with a minimal amount of deaths, and those only happened when Nightbane was in the air. After Nightbane, we went and downed Illhoof and Aran (first time for a guild-only run). Go us!

For me, during the Nightbane fight, since we already had 3 healers, I opted to try my hand at DPSing. In a dismal performance, I was only putting out 250 DPS during that fight. While I wasn't ideally geared for DPS (more tanking gear than necessary) it made me realize that I really need to do what I mentioned a few posts earlier, and wade into BGs to pick up the Gladiator's Aegis set.

Now, it was offered to me to join the Arena team I play with on my Mage. I considered, but hadn't decided. Last night I hit up Arathi Basin on my Paladin, trying out a few different specs.

First I went for a Prot/Holy build, with enough points in Prot to be able to tank if needed (33 for Holy Shield + Imp HS), while the rest in Holy. While I didn't mind healing, needing to stop and stand still while I healed, would lead to a dead Alix. It took my a while to figure out the right balance for Kaziel, but I've learned that unless the spell has an incredibly short casting time, or the enemy is running away, you don't want to stand still while casting a spell. On my Mage the only spell I normally stand still to cast rank 1 Frostbolt, which only takes 1 second. This is too short to normally interrupt and slows my target for 9 seconds, with a 15% chance to freeze them in place. For everything else, I use insta-casts. Having to stand still to heal my targets in PvP is a dangerous and painful gamble... one I would rather not take. In a way, this experience was very enlightening. It showed me that I'm not likely to enjoy playing as a Holy Paladin in PvP, so I've put Derras on hold, possibly indefinitely (If I level a Ret Paladin I want it to be a Blood Elf and not just for SoB).

After that, I tried a more offensive build, emphasizing survivability and the type of gear I already have. While I did not suffer from the problem of holding still and being interrupted, I learned something else valuable: Without a good source of Damage Over Time or high burst damage, a class doesn't bring much to PvP. Since another class can come in and heal quickly, unless a class can constantly quickly sap another's health or blow them over in two to three hits, they will be taken out by others who can. While I do have access to a DoT (SoV), it is neither ranged, nor overly powerful. SoR's damage pales in comparison to the type of damage I need to put out. While I was able survive decently, my lack of good burst or DoT damage really diminished much value I could bring.

So I've moved back to my previous 0/45/16 build, and I'll just crappily PvP in that, maybe trying to heal. Not sure. After I get the Marks I need, I'll just throw myself time and time again into AV for the honor, since I know I can tank there and I'll do a damn good job at it too. Also, not going to join up for my Arena team on Alix. Just too much of an annoyance.

Finally, this cemented the previous move I was working on. I had been thinking before that I wouldn't like all the standing around healing and being vulnerable. On the other hand, I knew Druids excelled at HoTs, two of which are insta-cast (Rejuv and Lifebloom), along with another insta-cast that uses a HoT as "fuel" for it's heal (Swiftmend). This allows Druids to heal on-the-move, making them a painful class to oppose in PvP. Prior to my experience PvPing on Alix, I had already started working on Cielthan, a Night Elf Druid. In my spare time I will continue working on him, both as a means to further understand Feral Druids (how I plan to level) and to make a Resto Druid for PvP (planned level 70 build will be something like this).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I am a sad panda

So I was using my new toy, Warcrafter, to test out where I will stand with my Badge of Justice purchases. After doing some testing I am happy to announce that I do have enough avoidance, even prior to upgrading my shoulders, to equip Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian, Slikk's Cloak of Placation, the Girdle of the Protector, the Unwavering Leggards, the Sabatons of the Righteous Defender, and the Bracers of the Ancient Phalanx. That's six of the eight items I planned to buy with Badges of Justice. Unfortunately, taking those 6 items, even after I upgrade my shield and shoulders, I will still be just barely be remaining uncrushable.

While it's great that I can use those 6, that means even after I upgrade everything else, I'll still be using my Iron Gauntlets of the Maiden. I'd prefer to use the Bonefist for the great boost in STA and armor, but I just can't afford the loss in either Defense or Avoidance. And the fact that I don't have enough avoidance to put on the Brooch of Deftness is a bummer. I <3 Expertise.

BTW, here's my setup with my 6 BoJ purchases

The value of Honor/Arena gear for a PvE Paladin and "Goodbye, Seal of Vengeance"

About a month ago I mentioned I've taken up doing PvP on my Mage to help a friend. Since then it's caused an increased interest by certain members of the guild in PvP and arena. We even started a 3v3 and a 5v5 team. But we really lack one key thing: A dedicated healer. Both teams have a Paladin, a Shaman, and a Druid but all of them are offensive specs. No Holy or Resto specced players. So I rolled another Paladin and began leveling him up (35 currently). Still going to play my Mage, but also working on a Holy Paladin (leveling as Ret to get some experience in that tree since I've never been above 16 points in it).

But I digress, my point is that since I've got a Paladin-in-planning for Arena I've been looking at the Arena sets. The Gladiator's Vindication and Redemption sets are pretty obvious to which spec they "belong". But then there's the Gladiator's Aegis set. This set's name would imply that it's built for Protection, but the problem with that is that not many protection talents beyond the 4th tier are really made for PvP. The best PvP Protection build I could go for was this, and without enemy collision mapping protection does little good in PvP.

While I still don't think the Aegis set has a lot of value in PvP (anymore at least with the change that added spell damage to +healing), for a Protection Paladin that doesn't need to tank the boss in a PvE encounter (Maiden, Aran and Nightbane come to mind), the Aegis set has around the same amount of spell damage as the equivilent quality tanking set, along with a fair amount of +crit which would allow for respectable damage output in a raid scenario.

One thing that's lacking from PvE itemization is a straight spell damage plate set. Now I understand why there isn't one: There has yet to be implemented a purely magical DPS tree for a plate wearer. The closest you get is a Protection Paladin, but he needs more defensive stats, so they aren't going to waste good itemization on a very small portion of the playerbase.

It's my opinion that when a Protection Paladin doesn't need to heal or tank, having the Aegis set is their best option for DPS, since it plays to their strong points (1H, access to +spell damage gear). If I wasn't already working on 2 PvP characters at the moment I'd probably throw Alix into BGs full strength to start getting this gear. Maybe even do Arenas for S2 or S3 pieces.


Now, onto Seal of Vengeance. I love Seal of Vengeance. In terms of damage output (and thus threat output) from the Seal itself and the Judgement, it's second to none. In addition, since it's a DoT and not direct damage, if you're fighting a mob that moves away occasionally (such as a Charge, or Moroes's Vanish) it will continue to tick. Problem is that despite it's strengths which are very powerful, it has some very bad weaknesses. For the sake of any comparisons, I will use Seal of Righteousness, since that's the other "Main" spelldamage seal.
  1. Ramp-up time: While SoV does put out more damage than SoR, it takes time to get there. With my current 2.7 speed weapon, average time for Holy Vengeance to stack up to five is 13.5 seconds, assuming each hit procs SoV. This ramp-up time is really bad since it means that your DPS need to wait even longer for you to generate enough threat for them to start to kill.
  2. Holy Vengeance falling off the mob: Despite increasing the duration of Holy Vengeance by three seconds in 2.3, Holy Vengeance still has a chance to run it's duration without being refreshed. Which means in addition to losing damage just because you have to start over, it will be another 13.5 seconds before your running at full speed again. The fact that Holy Vengeance can fall off ties to my next point...
  3. Weapon speed and Procs Per Minute (PPM): Seal of Vengeance is on a 20 PPM system. This means that you will average no more than 20 procs of SoV per minute no matter how often you swing. This also means that in order to effectively get Holy Vengeance to a stack of five quickly and to keep it up you need a weapon of 2.5 speed or slower. Unfortunately with the exception of the Gavel of Unearthed Secrets, every spell damage weapon has a speed of 1.6 or 1.8. Without another high spell damage slow one-hander, eventually SoR will surpass SoV in damage output.
  4. Judgement of Vengeance isn't able to be used as a lead-in: Since JoV relies on at least one Holy Vengeance effect up on the mob, you can't use it to generate a quick amount of threat at the start of the fight. This means that your spell rotation needs to look like this: SoR > Judgement > SoV (for 7-9 seconds) > SotC > Judgement > SoV > Judgement > SoV, etc. While it's not too hard to do, it's thinking needed to be done in addition to the about dozen other things that need to be tracked as well. I just don't need all that, not to mention that in an emergency situation ("ZOMGZ! got too close to the mobs and pulled and now I need to pick them all up and save !") I'm probably not thinking about how JoV won't generate any threat for me without Holy Vengance on the mob. I'm just trying to get threat quickly and I waste a Judgement and then I'm in an even worse situation.

Considering all the problems with SoV, despite the benefits it gives me right now, in the long run the best option for me is SoR. This also means that once I reach 107.7% avoidance, I can upgrade to the new BoJ libram (not that I think I'll reach that level any time soon...). With this perspective, I'm (sadly) going to retire SoV for most situations, and do a bit of shopping around for weapons again (now Exalted with Honor Hold). If I find a weapon that suits me better than the Gavel, I'll upgrade to it, at least until I can get my hands on the Amani Punisher or one of the 25-man weapons.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Making money

First off is a reply to a question asked by Honorshammer and Galo concerning how I actually got up the 5,000 gold necessary for my epic flight skill. First thing I cannot emphasize enough is to be very very careful with your expenditures. Simply put, if you don't need it, don't buy it. When you boil it down, the only things we need to spend money on are elixirs/flasks/foods for raids (even in 5-mans you can get by without food), repair bills, gems/enchants, and flying places. Everything else is extraneous. Giving some money to your alt to help him along? Nope. Buying that recipe that's up on the AH? Nope. About the only exception towards this line of thought is if you know the purchase will have direct and fairly immediate monetary returns. For example, purchasing a rare recipe that you know you can make and will sell well. This is obviously a good investment and even if it takes Primal Nethers will pay off in the long run (my guild leader can make Felsteel Longblades and does this).

Now as for what I specifically did, I will admit that I kinda cheated. As a Jewelcrafter I'm sitting on a goldmine. I refer not to prospecting ore for jewels. While I found in general I could make some decent money with that at first, as the value of certain jewels dropped and the price of ore generally remained the same, the average value of prospecting went down. Too much of a gamble hoping for a high value gem like a Living Ruby or a Star of Elune instead of a low value gem like a Talasite. I found it better to go with the sure profit of 25g per stack of Adamantite Ore. No, what I refer to for JC being a goldmine is cutting of gems. Easiest way I've found to do this is to get Auctioneer, do a quick scan of the AH, and then go though your gem list looking for gems that have "No competition". Make sure not to pick gems with Spell Penetration, Resilience, or any blue colored gems with anything other than STA. After that buy some uncut gems of the type that have "No competition" and cut them and sell them back at 5-10g more than you bought the uncut version for. If you're cutting a Meta Gem, go for 10-20g more. The obvious downsides are that it requires you to have JC and do some prior investments both in money and reputation grinding (if you can access the Consortium Vendor in Kara and are Revered with them you can get the Design: Bracing Earthstorm Diamond, which sells very well due to it's relative rarity), but after you get enough designs for gems you can basically make almost endless money with no effort on your part.

The other big thing a Protection Paladin can do is AOE grinding. If you haven't already go grind your rep with Sporeggar up to Honored for the shield (also a good way to make money for Herbalists if you kill Fungal Giants) then go to one of the many places mentioned over at Maintankadin forums for AOE grinding (I find I like the Demon Hunter Supplicants for the Scryer tokens). What I've found best is using Retribution Aura, Blessing of Sanctuary, Judgement of Light, and Seal of Wisdom. Those, combined with the shield brings down even the largest crowds quickly. A fast attack weapon is also advisable. If you happen to have a high level tailor and enchanter, send any Netherweave to them and have them make Netherweave Bracers to make and disenchant. You can sell the mats for way more than you would sell the straight Netherweave.

Even then, it's a slow process. I've been working on getting the 5,000g for around 8 months or so. Unless you get super lucky with a epic quality BoE drop or recipe to sell on the AH for a grand or more it's just a matter of plugging away at it a little bit at a time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

300 Riding Skill, Pursuit of Justice, & DK tanking


Sorry about that. But this weekend I finally reached 5,000g and purchased my 300 riding skill. I immediately flew out and began my Netherwing rep quests, doing the dailies got me the 200g I needed to get my Epic Flight mount (Swift Purple Gryphon). By now I'm up to Honored with Netherwing and I'm going to keep plugging away at it until I get my Netherdrake.

Next, two posts ago, Galoheart asked about my thoughts on Pursuit of Justice. I picked it up with the patch for the -3% spell hit chance. Well, first off is the reason I took it, the -spell hit chance. Unfortunately, as one might imagine, it's hard to gauge the value of decreased spell hit chance, but I know it's there and I know (at least to a small degree) it's increasing my survivability.

Then there's the bonus side effect: +15% movement and mounted speed. This is a really great thing. First off, for flying around Nagrand mining it means I can do it without Crusader Aura. Since Crusader Aura doesn't stack with other movement increasing effects instead of getting +20% from it, I only get +5%. This means that when I need to land in Nagrand to get the ore I'm hunting for I can have Devotion Aura on for additional survivability. As far as the running speed goes it's a mixed bag. On the one hand I can get reposition faster (this one is very important), get places faster to rez folks, and get through indoor places more quickly. But on the other hand, when running with folks I'm constantly running a little bit faster so I need to stop for them which makes me feel like a jerk.

Finally, DK tanking. Over on Maintankin forums Lore posted a link to and quoted a Tigole interview stating that Death Knights would be viable tanks. Tigole's exact words were:
"We made some really good strides in The Burning Crusade to improve the feral druid as a hybrid tank/dps class. That will be the general direction we'll be looking to go with the death knight. Obviously, the protection warrior is in a good place in terms of dungeon and raid tanking. And the protection paladin is hands-down the best multi-target tank. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but you can see the general direction the tanking classes are headed. While all of these classes are capable of fulfilling similar roles, they offer very different abilities and playstyles."
This makes a lot of sense. One of the key problems for Paladins and Warriors who tank is in dungeons that require multiple tanks for some of the fights, on the fights where only a single tank is needed, the Warrior or Paladin is much less useful. An example of this is in Karazhan you generally need 2 primary tanks for the Attumen, Moroes, Romulo & Julianne, Crone, Illhoof, and Netherspite fights. On the other hand you never need 2 tanks for Maiden and Prince fights. There are also a number of fights where the role that can be filled by a second tank can also be filled by another class, like any class with high DPS and high health can be the bolt soak for Curator. On fights where you don't need another tank, having a class like Feral Druids that can easily shift from Tanking to DPS without needing a respec is a huge boon.

Over on the Subcreation forums I posted my thoughts on where the Death Knight will exist in the current realm of tanking:

"If you can imagine each of the current tank falling along a line. This line represents the value to the raid the class generally brings with a "true tanking spec", when it is not tanking. By the phrase "true tanking spec" I mean an investment of no less than 41 points in the given tanking tree, with or without the 41 point talent.

On the far right you have Protection Paladins and Protection Warriors. I'm not going to say which is further down on this side, because that boils down to individual players, specs and gear. Fact is that someone who specs as deeply into either of the Protection trees as I mentioned above will have very little utility outside of the tanking role. An additional bit of info is that I've found most people who spec to be tanks for raids will, in addition to spending over 41 points in their given tanking tree, spend their additional points outside the tanking tree on talents that will improve their abilities while tanking. By taking this approach they are able to expand their abilities while tanking at the expense of their non-tanking role value.

On the far left you have Druids. Unlike Paladins and Warriors, Druid's melee DPS tree and their tanking tree are the same trees. While there will be some differences between someone who specs to be a bear tank and someone who specs to be a cat DPSer, many talents have overlap into both forms. This combined with both forms generally calling for the same stats (STR, AGI, & STA) means that a tanking Druid can more easily adjust to a DPS role, both in combat and out of it.

While I have no hard evidence to back this up I imagine that Death Knights will fall somewhere inbetween the two extremes, probably more towards Warriors/Paladins than Druids, but not very much so. The ability to shift between an effective tanking role and an effective DPS role in-combat is not something I'm expecting. I consider it highly unlikely that Blizzard will allow for changing armor in-combat, combined with the statement Blizzard has already made that you cannot change rune configurations in-combat means that much like the Paladins and Warriors, once they pick their role and combat has begun, that's what they are doing. Also I'm guessing Blizzard will not make the Unholy tree (according to Tigole a rune setup for tanks would be 4xUnholy, 1xBlood, 1xFrost which indicates that the Unholy tree will be the tanking tree) much more than a debuff/tanking tree. I would be very surprised if it had a significant DPS aspect to it, again putting them closer to Warriors and Paladins than Druids. But the fact that they can alter their rune setups to emphasize other trees, would give them much more out-of-combat flexibility than Paladins or Warriors. No matter how it turns out, it's possible that a Death Knight will require a fair amount of STR to tank effectively (having a stance/buff/form that gives increased threat, some additional mitigation and decreased damage output), meaning that if they are required to tank then transfer to DPS, they could move from one role to another without taking too much of a hit in DPS output."
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I'm really going to prefer being a Death Knight tank to a Paladin tank. Before I can go into detail on that I need to post my views on Druids:

One of the prices that Druids pay for being a semi-fluid tanking-DPS hybrid is that they generally take more damage (even with the high increase in armor). Now as all three classes get better gear their armor will go up, so the difference in percent of damage mitigated between them will (generally speaking) stay the same or close to it. Warriors and Paladins have higher avoidance in general (hello 2 u Parry), are uncrushable, and have the flat damage removal of Shield Blocks.

A Bear Druid's much higher armor and health balance out the lack of things listed above. Problem is somewhere after entering SSC, a Bear will hit 31,750 armor. For those who don't know what that number signifies it's a little over the hard cap for armor mitigation, which is 75%. At that point the Bear can focus more on STA and avoidance, and start swapping out the high armor rings and cape they were previously using, but in the end it's not enough. Paladins and Warriors continue to advance in all ways becoming better tanks while Druids have hit the cap in one of their perks.

Now I'm not making this up. Using the sandbox at Warcrafter (btw a great site for figuring out the effects of gear changes and gem swaps) I found that with the best of the best gear, a Druid (make sure to buff him to get the right numbers) sits at 75% mitigation (32.2k armor), 24.3k health, and 48.22% avoidance. While these stats are really good, putting together a Paladin also wearing very good tanking gear (went for set pieces, non-set might be better in certain slots) has 65% mitigation (20.3k armor) + 6% from Righteous for 71% mitigation, 22.4k health, 54% straight avoidance, and 350 block value. The difference in mitigation and health is more than made up for by the blocks and the additional avoidance. The flaw with druids as tanks is that once the advantage in armor caps out and begins to shrink, the other advantages of Paladins and Warriors start to shine. As tanks, Paladins and Warriors will come out ahead, but since Feral Druids can shift from Bear to Cat it can put out respectable DPS. Doing some minor changes to the setup (different buffs and Cat Form) the Druid I linked above can put out a minimum of 800 DPS with a tanking spec and wearing tanking gear with gems and enchants for tanking. This type of flexibility is just not possible with a Warrior and forget about it with a Paladin. Simply put, when you need a secondary tank for an instance like Karazhan, a Bear Druid is the best option since on fights with multiple mobs where they are killed first (Attumen) or fights where you just don't need another tank (Prince) they can put out very good DPS with a tanking spec.


Now, back to Death Knights. If my interpretation of what Tigole is saying is correct, Death Knights will be made for being off-tanks much akin to Bears. While this are certainly not just a guess, there are questions that still need to be answered before I can figure out where a DK stands in the grand scheme of things.

For example it's been stated that you will be able to engrave the runes you want onto your blade when not in combat. Are these runes engraved onto a "runeblade" you carry around or the actual weapon you will wield? (Preface: I'm making the basic assumption that they will not have us "upgrade" a runeblade and only use that, and also that you cannot change armor in combat.) If it's the latter of my two suggestion, then can you carve two different rune sets onto two different blades and once you kill the boss you're assigned to you swap blades (like a Druids changes forms) giving you access to more DPS oriented runes. Like have a tanking sword with 4xUnholy, 1xFrost, 1xBlood and have a DPS sword with 3xBlood, 2xFrost, 1xUnholy, and swap them out as needed (Note: in an interview, Tigole stated that the first rune setup I posted would be an ideal setup for tanks)? Or once you go with 4xUnholy, 1xFrost, 1xBlood you're stuck that way until combat ends no matter the sword. If it's the latter then, while a DK will be much less flexible than a Druid, the innate flexibility of being able to design your rune setup will still make a DK more flexible than a Warrior or a Paladin making them a better "secondary tank" option than another Warrior or Paladin.

Also another key question that needs to be answered about Death Knights is how much of the Unholy tree will be tanking oriented? Will Death Knights be similar to Warriors in that the Blood and Frost tree are both purely (or mostly) DPS trees and the Unholy tree is mostly tanking, or will it be more similar to Druids in that the Unholy tree will directly mix DPS and Tanking in one?

Once these questions are answered along with knowledge of the basics of how Death Knights tank at all, I'll begin to be able to decide what I will want to do. While it's very tempting to go Death Knight just because I've been frustrated by how useless I feel as a Paladin when I'm not tanking, the idea of standing back for Paladin or a Warrior just because I'm not as good a tank without a gear advantage leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. It's really a case of picking which type of poison I want.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zul'Aman & shiny new helm

This weekend, being the first weekend after the 2.3 patch, we decided to take a stab at Zul'Aman. According to Blizzard it is "for guilds that can defeat Prince Malchezaar", and one of the officers used this to base that we would be ready for Zul'Aman (since downing Prince is something we do almost every week). Problem was that I believe when Blizzard said "for guilds that can defeat Prince Malchezzar" what they meant was "for guilds that have all of Karazhan on lock-down".

We haven't even done a full clear, let alone have the place on lock-down. Even for guilds that can do Kara in a single night, if they aren't doing 25 man instances, they probably need to get some upgrades from the BoJ vendor. Very clever of Blizzard to add those items to help guilds that can't do 25 mans catch up a little to do ZA.

Anyway, so we went in and poked around. Met some of the mobs, like the Amani Bears, Amani Warbringers (eeek!), and did the gauntlet leading up to Akil'zon's area. The Akil'zon gauntlet is a total blast and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately our group was ill prepared to fight the pull right before Nalorakk (lack of humanoid CC hurt us badly). As for our few attempts at Akil'zon, we learned some stuff but we weren't really ready for it. In the end we left without beating a boss, and really decided we just weren't ready for ZA quite yet. But we'd be back with a vengeance some day!

After our less than successful attempt on ZA on Saturday, the next night we went back to Karazhan. We did a mandatory-only boss run up to Prince. As I've already stated, there's nothing I want from Moroes, Opera, Curator or Chess save the Badges, but we got some good loot. When we made it to Prince we had a little trouble with our first two attempts from Infernals dropping right on top of me, but our third try was just easy as cake. Prince then dropped his healing cape, healing mace and the token for my helm! Wooo! Since I was the only one in the raid who could get the token and hadn't already gotten it, it defaulted to me. I now have both pieces of my T4 from Karazhan, and everything I want from Kara that we can currently get. The only things that I really care about getting now are the Mantle of Abrahmis and the
Shield of Impenetrable Darkness (going to replace my Breastplate very soon).

I was originally planning on making this post two more topics long, but since I take so long in making each post I'm just going to do this one, and follow it up with the next two topics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's list time!

It's been a while since I put together an item upgrade list. Of course that's because almost every upgrade I could get was dependent on a raid level boss dropping them, so it was less a case of working towards them so much as just praying they drop what I want. But with 2.3, suddenly there's a ton of shiny shiny BoJ items. I'm going to list the items, and list them in the order I plan to get them.

1) Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian: Plate Chest, 1607 Armor, 60 STA, 22 Defense Rating, 38 Dodge Rating, 35 Spell Damage, Red/Yellow/Blue Sockets, 6 STA Socket bonus
Cost: 75 Badges
Personal thoughts: The basic fact that it's a Paladin tanking piece is not the driving reason this is first, though that's a definite perk. Due to Nightbane being probably the last boss we'll fight in Karazhan, the Breastplate of the Righteous will most likely be the final rare-quality piece I replace. Instead of hoping for the Panzar'thar Breastplate, I'll be proactive and replace the Breastplate of the Righteous first.

2) Slikk's Cloak of Placation: Back, 346 Armor, 37 STA, 16 Defense Rating, 25 Dodge Rating
Cost: 35 Badges
Personal thoughts: Again, buying this to replace a blue. The only real drop from Karazhan that was a tanking cloak was the Gilded Thorium Cloak, which would cause me to lose too much dodge compared to the Devilshark Cape.

3) Girdle of the Protector: Plate Waist, 904 Armor, 40 STA, 11 Defense Rating, 11 Dodge Rating, 18 Spell Hit Rating, 23 Spell Damage Yellow/Blue Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus
Cost: 60 Badges
Personal thoughts: While I already have an epic belt from Kara, the
Crimson Girdle of the Indomitable, with it's wasted points on STR, it's definitely a Warrior belt. While I could aim for the Iron-Tusk Girdle, the thing that pushes the Girdle of the Protector from "Nice" to "Awesome" is the spell hit. Such a rare stat on tanking gear so I'll give up points elsewhere to get it.

4) Unwavering Legguards: Plate Legs, 1406 Armor, 73 STA, 22 Defense Rating, 30 Shield Block Rating, 59 Shield Block Value, Red/Yellow/Blue Socket, 6 STA Socket Bonus
Cost: 75 Badges
Personal thoughts: Upgrading to the Girdle above and the Sabatons below will cost me a fair bit of avoidance, possibly putting me into the realm of being crushable (I have some blue gems I can swap out for green or purples if needed but I'd prefer not to take that route). By getting this fourth instead of fifth, I'll be able to ease the pressure I think I'm going to feel from losing a fair bit of avoidance. In addition, the 30 Shield Block Rating along with the amazing Shield Block Value makes these an awesome upgrade from the Wrynn Dynasty Greaves.

5) Sabatons of the Righteous Defender: Plate Feet, 1105 Armor, 45 STA, 18 Defense Rating, 18 Spell Hit Rating, 30 Shield Block Value, 23 Spell Damage,
Red/Blue Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus
Cost: 60 Badges of Justice
Personal thoughts: Much like the Girdle of the Protector, the Spell Hit Rating on this makes it a humongous upgrade from anything else available. Unfortunately, since I currently have the Boots of Elusion, upgrading will cause a net loss of a little over 2% avoidance (pre-gems), which is why it comes after Unwavering Legguards, despite being cheaper and having spell damage and hit.

6) Bracers of the Ancient Phalanx:
Plate Wrist, 703 Armor, 45 STA, 23 Defense Rating, 22 Expertise Rating
Cost: 35 Badges
Personal thoughts: The Expertise on this makes me giggle with glee, but since it will be an upgrade from the Bracers of the Green Fortress, I will lose about 10 Dodge Rating (gain a little Defense Rating), so I'll need to be careful of my slots when I upgrade to these.

Bonefist Gauntlets: Plate Hands, 1005 Armor, 51 STA, 30 Parry Rating, 21 Hit Rating, Red/Blue Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus
Cost: 60 Badges
Personal thoughts: Amazing Armor, Stamina, Sockets, Parry Rating, along with Hit Rating for more threat and less resists on Righteous Defense. Unfortunately, compared to the my current gauntlets, the Iron Gauntlets of the Maiden or the Justicar Handguards loss of all Defense Rating, Shield Block Value, and other stats may not make this a worthwhile upgrade. Will need to do some actual number crunching once I get my hands on them.

Brooch of Deftness: Neck, 48 STA, 22 Hit Rating, 21 Expertise Rating
Cost: 35 Badges
Personal thoughts: Wheee! More expertise! Unfortunately, this will (possibly) replace the Barbed Choker of Discipline and has absolutely no defensive stats. Until I can reach uncrushable without the Choker, this one is my lowest priority. :(

All told I need 435 Badges to get everything. @_@ Looks like I need to get cracking!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm not dead!

This is the third attempt at a post like this I've made. Work has changed for me recently, and left me with much less downtime, which is the primary time I update my blog. So I'm just tossing a quick update here.

Done Karazhan the last few weeks. Managed to get almost everything I want from the bosses we can currently down. Wrynn Dynasty Greaves, Moroes' Lucky Pocketwatch, and the Eternium Greathelm puts me at everything I want save the T4 helm of the bosses we can currently down. Also, this past weekend we took our first stab at Shade of Aran. 2 attempts at 10:30 at night. No win, but that's to be expected. We will attempt him more next week.

I've also started doing PvP on my mage to help out a friend in arenas. PvP is surprisingly fun if you aren't PvE specced. Who knew!? Currently a 0/27/34 spec. I like it the best of the ones I've tried so far, though it is very weird not having points in arcane.

Finally I've rolled a Blood Elf Warlock on Mal'Ganis with some friends named Kaziele. Only level 19, but I've done some PvP (for the WSG trinket) and I have to admit playing a Warlock in PvP is a blast!

Anyway, I'm off!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Guide to consumables for raiding.

I noticed this via a quick glance at WoWInsider on my way out the door this morning: Big Bear Butt Blogger has put out a call for a complete listing of every consumable a class or spec would need on a given raid night. While I am arrogant, I'm not arrogant enough to assume I know what every class or spec would want or need. So I will limit myself to merely listing what Ret and Prot Paladins would want (Holy Paladins can pretty much copy what the Egotistical Priest recommends along with adding a Greater Ward of Shielding for some additional damage absorption to hide behind).

The core difference between Protection Paladins and any other type of tank is the question, "Are you uncrushable?" Usually when a Prot Paladin either first enters Karazhan, or decides to respec, they don't have enough crush avoidance. At times like these, +AGI consumables are very useful for their additional dodge they give. In each catagory, I will list the +AGI stuff but I'll also denote it that it's for when still crushable. Otherwise, they are listed in the order of how I prioritize them.

Fisherman's Feast and/or Spicy Crawdad: Gain 30 Stamina and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
As every Prot paladin worth their salt should have the talent Sacred Duty, this translates to 310 more health. Definitely a win.

Grilled Mudfish and/or Warp Burger: Gain 20 Agility and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
If crushable, this will give you an additional 0.8% dodge.

Flask of Fortification: Increases maximum health by 500 and defense rating by 10 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Is tonight new content night? Then it sounds like a good night for a flask. More expensive and giving less effects than four elixiris, if you expect tonight to be filled with death, then the fact that it will persist through death probably means it's worth the extra money.

Flask of Chromatic Wonder: Increases resistance to all schools of magic by 35 and all stats by 18 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Flask of Fortification is your primary flask. Flask of Chromatic Wonder is for when you're tasked to be the tank on a resistance heavy fight like Hydross the Unstable. It doesn't give as much health, but on resistance fights, defense rating probably isn't your biggest concern, while having high resists is.

Flask of Blinding Light: Increases spell damage caused by Arcane, Holy and Nature spells by up to 80 for 120 min. Counts as both a Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
This flask is best used for really twitch threat fights, like ones with a threat reduction ability. My personal experience has shown that generating threat, even without Exorcism, is not a huge problem. As a result since I know of only one fight with a threat reduction move (Void Reaver) I think this is too much money spent (30-40g on my server) for only one fight, after you've learned it. Though it certainly would be the best option when you're finally get around to taking on Void Reaver.

Battle Elixirs:
Adept's Elixir: Increases spell damage and healing by up to 24 and increases spell critical strike rating by 24 for 60 min.
More spell damage means more threat, which means a higher threat ceiling. Higher threat ceiling means your allies can do more damage before they need to scale back.

Elixir of Mastery: Increases all stats by 15 for 60 min.
For fights where you're just being laid into and your healers are having to healbomb you to keep you standing, the Elixir of Mastery gives you that extra bit of health to help out. Of course, if the situation is that dire, you're probably better off with a Flask of Fortification...

Elixir of Major Agility: Increases your Agility by 35 and your critical strike rating by 20 for 60 min.
Again, this is used when you haven't reached uncrushable levels yet. The critical strike rating portion of it can take a long walk off a short pier for all I care, but the 35 AGI nets you an additional 1.4% dodge.

Guardian Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Defense: Increases armor by 550 for 60 min.
"550 armor? That's nothing!" you might say. While this is true, considering that by the time you get to Karazhan you should sitting at around 13,000 armor minimum. But 550 at those levels is about an additional 1% mitigation. Still doesn't sound like much, right? Well let's do the math shall we? Fully buffed I sit at around 68% total mitigation (including the 6% from Righteous Fury). Prince was hitting me for around 3,000-4,000 damage per swing. That means, prior to any mitigation, he's smacking me for 9,000-10,000. 1% means I'm taking upwards of 100 less damage per swing. Not a lot, but that's way more than, say... an Earthen Elixir.

Elixir of Major Fortitude: Increases maximum health by 250 and restores 10 health every 5 seconds for 60 min.
When you're going to be facing down a boss that does at least a middling amount of magical damage, Major Fortitude is the better option since armor is only good against physical attacks.

Scroll of Agility V: Increases the target's Agility by 20 for 30 min.
Normally AGI items are for when you're still crushable, but this one is the exception. More AGI = more armor and dodge, which is never a bad thing.

Scroll of Protection V: Inceases the target's armor by 300 for 30 min.
Same thing with the above scroll: More armor is never a bad thing.

Scroll of Strength V: Increases the target's Strength by 20 for 30 min.
This one requires a bit of explanation... physical damage, for a protection paladin, has no additional threat modifiers. Why would you worry about more physical damage? Well, until recently I didn't realize how much of my total damage was melee. Looking at WWS, around 20% of my damage done over a whole night is physical. While that's very little of my actual threat, every bit counts and if I can push my threat ceiling a little bit higher, I'll go for it!

Scroll of Stamina V and/or Scroll of Intellect V: Increases the target's Stamina/Intellect by 20 for 30 min.
These are good if you know you're not going to have a Priest and/or a Mage for your run. Unfortunately they don't stack with Power Word: Fortitude and Arcane Intellect.

Temporary Enchants:
Superior Wizard Oil: While applied to target weapon it increases spell damage by up to 42. Lasts for 30 min.
As already stated, more damage is more threat. And for additional benefit these last through death!

Greater Rune of Warding: Enchant a piece of chest armor so it has a 25% chance per hit of giving you 400 points of physical damage absorption. 90 sec. cooldown. Lasts for 1 hour.
Even if it only softens the damage of one blow every minute and a half, it's still 400 less damage that your healers need to heal.

Greater Ward of Shielding: Applies the Greater Ward of Shielding to your shield. This ward absorbs up to 4,000 points of damage before it fails.
This is a handy little temporary enchant which absorbs 4,000 points of any type of damage (physical or magical). Just be careful, since on fights where you aren't taking a lot of damage, you might run low on mana.

Minimums per night:
10 Super Health Potions
5 Super Mana Potions


Retribution Paladins:
Preface: First off, this portion assumes we're working from what my previous post said about STR/AP being the priority stats for Ret Paladins, while eschewing an emphasis on spell damage. Also, the priorities are based upon the theory that the Ret Paladin in question has 5/5 in the Holy tree talent Divine Strength. The 10% bonus to Strength should


Roasted Clefthoof: Gain 20 Strength and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
With Divine Strength, this talent gives 22 Strength, which turns into 44 attack power. A step up from Ravager Dogs.

Ravager Dog: Gain 40 attack power and 20 Spirit for 30 min.
While not as good an option as Roasted Clefthoof, when you are unable to get said food, this is a decent alternative.

Flask of Relentless Assault: Increases attack power by 120 for 120 min. Counts as both Battle and Guardian elixir. This effect persists through death.
Pretty self-evident. More attack power is more damage. Good for learning nights when you are lacking.

Battle Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Strength: Increases your Strength by 35 for 60 min.
With Divine Strength this gives a nice 76 attack power. Flask of Relentless Assault may still be better from a purely attack power perspective, but this allows for some flexibility in the Guardian Elixir area.

Fel Strength Elixir: Increases attack power by 90 and decreases Stamina by 10 for 60 min.
Technically, this one is better than the Elixir of Major Strenght. If you think you can live without 100 health (and I could easily see that as being a justified statement) then this is the better option.

Guardian Elixirs:
Elixir of Major Mageblood: One of the longest standing problems for Ret Paladins is that they have no reliable source of mana recovery, and will run out of mana before the fight is over. This problem hasn't fixed itself yet, so this helps out.

Scroll of Strength V: Increases the target's Strength by 20 for 30 min.
44 more attack power? Yes please!

Scroll of Agility V: Increases the target's Agility by 20 for 30 min.
While AGI won't directly contribute to your damage, it does give a small bonus to your chance to crit, which means more damage over the course of a fight.

Scroll of Stamina V and/or Scroll of Intellect V: Increases the target's Stamina/Intellect by 20 for 30 min.
These are good if you know you're not going to have a Priest and/or a Mage for your run. Unfortunately they don't stack with Power Word: Fortitude and Arcane Intellect.

Temporary Enchants:
Adamantite Sharpening Stone or Adamantite Weightstone: Increases weapon damage by 12 and critical strike rating by 14 for 30 min.
Bring the type that matches your weapon of choice.

Minimums per night:
5 Super Health Potions
15 Super Mana Potions


Well there we go. If you think I missed anything, or anything is wrong, just let me know and I'll take it into consideration.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Retribution Paladins and STR/AP vs. Spell damage

Retribution Paladins really are a unique creature. While Ret Paladins isn't the only spec to do both melee and spell casting, it's the only one that requires on a mix of both for it's DPS. While yes, Enhancement Shamans can get a boost to their DPS via casting spells like Flame Shock, it's not a part of their tree, so it's not really considered "necessary". Hell, they even changed Enhancement Shaman's T4-6 sets to not have spell damage, and have even more +STR.

So let's take a look at the average plan and damage output for a Retribution Paladin (based upon numbers gotten from WWS for my last few Karazhan runs):
  • Puller pulls.
  • Ret paladin queues up either SotC or SoC, depending on how long the mob will last.
  • Tank gets a little hate (like 5k threat).
  • Ret paladin charges in judging whatever seal he has up, then starts the SoC > JoC > SoC cycle. In between JoCs, he uses Crusader Strike, along with (if undead or demon) Exorcism.
  • If at any point the Ret Paladin runs low on mana, he will put up SoC, and merely refresh it every 25 or so seconds, while his mana regens.
  • Once the mob reaches 19% health, he begins to mix Hammer of Wrath into his spell mix.
Now, just by looking at that, it doesn't seem like melee damage accounts for much, and it's mostly magical, right? Well, according to our WWS numbers (will link later), a Ret Paladin's white damage accounts for around 35-45% of his overall damage. Now, the remaining numbers are magical damage. With over half of a Ret Paladin's damage from spells, it seems like it would be pretty easy to stack spell damage and just go that route, right?

Well, for those who've never looked at Crusader Strike and/or Seal of Command probably don't know how it works. Both take a percent of your melee damage and use it as the base component for your damage on those spells (i.e. damage for SoC = 70% of the damage from the attack that caused it). Both CS and SoC (not JoC) account for another 20-30% of the Paladin's damage.

Now, with this information in hand, it raises an interesting question: Is there a reason to go for spell damage? If you can boost your white damage while simultaneously boosting your SoC and CS damage, accounting for, at a minimum 55% of your overall damage, is there any reason to not go for max STR/AP and AGI/Crit? With the forthcoming change to CS (from a 10 second to 6 second cooldown) I expect that average damage to go up by at least 5%. By cutting out spell damage, and not casting judgements (the only spell that relies on spell damage entirely and isn't situational) a Ret Paladin can probably extend his mana pool by a lot.

At BlizzCon, they stated they intend to remove a Ret Paladin's reliance on spell damage, or at least minimize it. When I first heard this, I imagined a huge overhaul to how Ret Paladin-ing worked. Now after giving it some thought, the only thing that really needs to be changed is the source JoC's damage. If they changed it so it's similar to SoC in that it's partially based upon the damage range of the weapon, then it would be a viable option for a STR/AP build.

Though I will be the first to admit that some of the problem is that the devs really didn't put enough gear with both STR and Spell Damage in the game. Let's look at what gear, has those stats. There's a handful of quested blues and greens for the 60-70 level range, along with the Blue Lightforge non-set. This gear doesn't really hold up and should be replaced by the end of 70. Then there's the Red Lawbringer. This would be a good option to get into Karazhan with... if it weren't for the fact that almost all of it only comes from Heroics. After that, other than PvP, there's 15 pieces of armor throughout the raid dungeons (Tier sets). Maybe if there was better accessible Ret gear things might be different.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Not just "yes", but "Hell yes!"

As usual this weekends nights were dominated by Karazhan raiding fun.

I didn't go into detail last week, but we took a couple of unsuccessful attempts at Terestian Illhoof, before going onto Chess Event for easy loots. Side note: Paladin tanks would probably be best for the Illhoof fight as either imp add tank or for Terestian. Kil'rek is bad for Paladin tanking because there are long periods where we aren't getting hit, which means no mana recovery. Even chugging pots I was still dry for most of that fight.

This weekend, on Saturday we cleared up to the Opera event by 10 pm. We usually go to 11-12, but we were down a person. This is notable only because it means we can clear all the way to Curator (possibly beyond) in a single night. That means more time for working on new encounters for Sunday!

On Sunday we hopped in the backdoor and bowled over Curator like the wussy trash he is (now). He dropped
Garona's Signet Ring and the Gloves of the Fallen Champion (Paladin/Rogue/Shaman gauntlet token)! WOOO! I even rolled a 100! Double WOOO! So yes, I am now the proud owner of a pair of Justicar Handguards!

After this we pushed our way to Chess Event, spending way too much time on the library (15 minute AFK wut?). Chess event dropped healy plate and a +STR/AGI/STA neck, both of which went to our ret paladin. After which we worked our way up to Prince (decided to try Prince instead of Illhoof).

So we get up top and see Prince Malchezzar clomping around his area. So we go over the strategy, making sure to impress on everyone that a lot of the fight is luck (where the infernals land). So we go in, and on our first try we make it to 17%! The only reason we lost was that I moved and got out of range of the healers who couldn't get closer due to infernals.

The way we ended up wiping we had to release and run back. This is where the fact that we spent too much time in the library came back and hurt us: We had to reclear some of the mobs from the ground floor of the library to get back in. We got hit hard on the second try, losing 2 people in about a minute, then an infernal landed on top of someone, causing us to lose them. We called a wipe at that point.

We get up and try again, this time trying an altered position. I get in position, and the Hunter used Misdrect to pull onto me (Prince is running at hunter, hunter shoots glowy shot from her to Prince, Prince takes a sharp left running right to me... WHAT?). We were able to get him down on our third try ever, and on the first night! What's that mean: We're awesome! I did have to use LoH at the last moment, but otherwise it went great (at least for me... not sure how frantic it was for others).

The one thing I really noticed is that I'm really not well enough geared for this fight. I was staying at almost full mana the entire time. I need better armor, more block value and more avoidance. I simply need to be taking less damage, because right now I shouldn't be able to spam every ability (including Consecrate) full time and still not run out of mana, due to incoming heals.

Anyway, the Prince dropped the DPS caster cape, the Decapitator (or whatever the 1H axe you can throw is) and the Helm of the Fallen Champion. Unfortunately I didn't win the roll for it, but hey, we still got him down on our first night! WOOOOOOO!!!!!

In a few more weeks, once we are sure we can consistently get him down we'll start taking stabs at Shade of Aran (for completing the quest to get access to Nightbane). Hopefully I can get my grubby little mitts on a Justicar Faceguard soon.

EDIT: OMG super missed word from hell. Edited in red and bolded.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Now it's time for more introspective.

I was thinking, this weekend. So other than getting my Epic flying mount and my Netherdrake, both of which are works in progress (farming when I feel like it), I've done everything I can do solo or PUGged (well I still considering doing a few more Shadow Labs runs for Exalted with Lower City...) So basically, other than when I raid on Saturdays and Sundays... I'm done with WoW until the next patch or the next expansion. When 2.4 comes out with the Sun Well and at least one new 5-man, I'll definitely hit that up, but since I'm raiding I doubt it will be much good as far as upgrades go.

Now, I'm not the only one to reach this point. But there's a vast difference between what they do and what I'm do. Most of my other WoW friends, upon doing everything they want to do... roll an alt and level it up to 70 (or up to a predetermined level and twink it out and beat the crap out of people in BGs). So far I have found one class that I enjoyed enough to level it from 1 to 70, after I finished playing my Mage, and that was my Paladin. Which then became my main (in fact at the time I started leveling Alix I was planning on making him my main, got him to the 60s, changed my mind and stopped playing him, then changed my mind again, making him my main when I realized how much I liked tanking as a Paladin).

I'll occasionally try another class, but even then the highest I've gotten them to before I stop playing them is the 30s. Usually in the 20s (if even that far). I just end up back on my main working towards my goals there. Why? Because I'm a perfectionist. Look at the goals I had set for myself. They included insane things like getting exalted with Scryers and the Consortium. >.> Even I have to admit that's a bit nuts (despite having done it).

Now, I'll step away from WoW for a moment, and go to FFXI. For those that haven't played FFXI or read some of my other posts, FFXI's job system takes a cue from FFIII, FFV, FFT and FFTA. You begin by being able to play one of the six "classic" jobs from the original Final Fanatasy:
When you start out, you pick one job, and you can level it from 1 to 75. Also, you can go back to your Mog House (an instanced player housing) and you can change what job you are. Tired of playing a White Mage? Swap over to being a Warrior or a Monk. While you have to start over at level 1 for that job, you can play whatever you feel like playing, and can benefit from all the things you've done as that character.

Once you reach level 30, you'll have the option of getting other jobs unlocked. It requires completing quest or a questline, but in doing so you will gain access to as many as 12 (soon to be more) other jobs. Those are:
Also, in the coming expansion they are adding, at a minimum, two more jobs. One of them has been announced and it's the Dancer job (minimal details on this job so no link). Anyway, what all of this means is that once you roll your current character, you can do every quest, and mission, level every job, and crafting skill and do every type of endgame all from one character. Doing everything you want to do for that one character takes a long time, but it's doable.

Now, back to WoW. Maybe because FFXI was the first MMO I was able to play extensively, it shaped my views. Maybe, it's just that I'm something of a perfectionist. But either way, I pick my main and work towards making him the best character I can get him to be. Because of this, any alts I would create exist to benefit the main. But since in most cases the items gotten from alts are also available via my friends, it really devalues what I can get from this. At most it would be having two crafting skills on my main, while having a collecting skill on my alts. But even this isn't worth leveling a character from scratch. Thus I have no desire to level alts in WoW, which limits it's longevity.

I also think this is why, despite Final Fantasy XI being well over half a decade old, I'm still very much enthralled with it. I've been playing it since December of 2003, and I've only met a handful of my goals. It has enough content that I can do on my main character, either leveling jobs, doing quests, doing missions, etc (not even counting doing it's endgame options), and none of it becomes obsolete, so if I ever decide to go back and do it, it won't be something that will be done for a purpose, not just for the sake of reminiscing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's not what you do, it's why you do it.

This is a quasi-response to Galo's post, quoting Vanifae. I'll be honest, I'm not overly fond of Vanifae. While I certainly will admit that he's usually right, how he answers people's questions, in most cases, really bugs me. He gives very short, abrupt answers. Technically he's usually right in his answers, but he's not that helpful.

There's an old adage: "Give a man a fish, feed him for day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." Vanifae gives people fishes. A lot of his answers are minimalistic and only give them the direct answer to the question they are asking.

What I think we should be doing is not only explaining what, but the actual whys behind it. Understanding the whys is what really separates the good players from the bad. It allows people to make decisions about what abilities to use on the fly, and makes people more flexible.

An example of this could be gear. There are a bunch of lists of good pre-Karazhan tanking gear. You can even find one here on my blog. And while that list is certainly good (over 11,000 health, uncrushability, and over 250 spell damage), what happens when you start hitting up Karazhan and get certain gear pieces.

While most of the direct upgrades from blues to their purple Karazhan counterparts are actually upgrades, what about if you already have a purple and are moving to another purple.Two examples that come to mind are moving from Iron Gauntlets of the Maiden to the Paladin T4 Gauntlets and going from the Boots of Elusion to Battlescar Boots. The Paladin T4 gloves are a huge step down in the avoidance department, and if you aren't careful they could easily push you into crushability range. As for the boots, I got the Boots of Elusion early on (very lucky on that mark) and while the Battlescar Boots are one of the last pieces of tanking gear you can get in Karazhan (assuming you do it in normal order after Curator and don't jump straight to the Chess Event like we did. *cough*) they are a huge step down, almost a full percent lower dodge chance, not to mention, generally speaking, lower stamina (can be gemmed higher but then lacking in other areas).

By understanding what value a piece of gear gives instead of "Hey, this is what you should get." you can better understand what's actually an upgrade. You don't need to go searching for information on whether item X will be worse than item Y with all your current gear. You can figure it out pretty quickly off the top of your head.

The same applies more generally to everything you do. It's one thing to know what spell cycle you should do. But if you know why you should do it in a certain order, if you need to change it, you know what to change and you can weigh the options yourself.

This is why I spend so much time thinking and digging for details and theorycrafting. If I know the why, I can figure out the best what on my own, and make myself the best player I can be.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Annnnd... we're back!

And I'm back from my travel-born hiatus.

This weekend I waded back into Karazhan, and despite having a low showing both nights (only 10 people as opposed to the normal 12ish).

On Saturday we got through to Maiden, and while we could have continued to the Opera Event, two of the folks were feeling sick so I called it then. Got the belt from Moroes, and after a bit of regemming (swapping out +spell damage/STA gems for +AGI/STA gems for more dodge), I am uncrushable with full raid buffs (this includes Flask of Fort...). I have another two percent or so to get to be uncrushable w/o buffs, but hey, at least I made it to uncrushable in the first place.

Sunday we went back in, got Romulo and Julianne for the Opera Event (still no Big Bad Wolf yet), then went on and one shotted the Curator. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Seriously, so happy with my guild taking him down first try tonight (and on the second try overall). We got the Forest Wind Shoulderpads and the Gloves of the Fallen Defender (T4 token for Warriors, Priests and Druids). We followed that up by running up and doing the Chess Event, which netted us the Battlescar Boots (went to the Ret Paladin) and the Ring of Recurrance.

A very good weekend overall! Also, I dusted off my Mage, and respecced him (previously a raid/5-man Arcane-Frost spec, respecced to a solo/5-man Frost-Arcane Shatter spec) and sent him to slaughter elementals for Motes of Fire in SMV. Decently profitable, and a nice change of pace from riding around Nagrand (despite it being so beautiful there still *_*). I like to keep mixing things up when I'm out farming.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

News is gonna be slim.

Didn't post at all in the last few days, due to being away at Dragon*Con. It's one of the biggest multi-genre conventions (aka geek cons) out there, and this was my first year. I left on Friday and got back on Monday. I met up with a bunch of my MMO friends, meeting a lot of them for the first time, and seeing a few I met quite a few years back. Sunday night was a riot as we played a 3-4 hour game of Zombies!!! But being that 4 of the 12 usual raiders, along with 2 of the 3 tanks, were out of town meant no raid this weekend.

Next weekend is going to be similar, but just me. I'm traveling down to FL to take care of some family business. I'm flying out on Saturday, and not flying back until Tuesday. Since I don't have a laptop, that means no raiding.

I might still update with some theory crafting posts, but actual updates will be pretty slim.

About all I have to report on the MMO front is that I played a good bit of FFXI. Leveled my White Mage to 37, the last bit I needed to use it as a Subjob, for meriting. This was followed by getting a roving Meripo party. Now, I would have had no issues with this if said party had a secondary MP battery, such as a Corsair or a Bard for the entire time. But it didn't. And people didn't slow down when I had no MP. So they died. Later on we got a Bard, which mostly removed the issue of people dying except for when one person had to go AFK, and he wasn't there to provoke. Beyond that it went pretty well and I got three merit points. Two of them went to Parry and Evasion skillups, and saving the third to be used in one of my other skills. Probably Sword or Shield again.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hiatus begone!

While I'm not fully back, the Drama issues seem to have been resolved. The friend is back in the guild, and now fully in the guild (she used to raid with another guild on another server) and transferred her Warrior back to my server.

This is a good thing on many fronts. First, it gives the guild another tank on call. One of our biggest issues so far is that we've only really had me on-call for both of our raiding nights. While this is fine for Attumen, beyond him you really need a second tank. We have had another tank available, but he's busy in school right now, which means sometimes on Saturday, our first raid day of the week, he can't come. This leaves us stuck at Attumen usually. Also, her Warrior is geared with raid stuff including some SSC/TK gear, which translates to one very well equipped tank, which should alleviate any issues we have with getting a tank

Second off this makes the raid not revolve around me. While I'm very thankful to be raiding and happy to fill the role of the main tank for my guild, prior to my friend bringing her Warrior back, if I couldn't show up the raid was canceled. Other classes we have enough of the right types of replacements to make up for it if one of our main healers had to go or couldn't show that night. But for tanks, it was me. There was another guy who had a tank, but it still creates the problem of only one tank. Now if I'm going to be busy for a night, the raid isn't screwed. Yay!

This past weekend was the first week for my friend to raid with us. We took down every boss up to the Curator on Saturday, plus got a new Opera Event. Romulo and Julianne. One shotted the Opera Event.

The next night we devoted it to fighting the Curator. Dude's tough, but I think a lot of it was just learning the fight. This is the first fight that we've had issues with b/c of a non-luck based component. While we had trouble on Moroes originally, I think a lot of how hard he is depends on what adds you get. I have nightmares about getting: Holy Paladin, Ret Paladin, Holy Priest and Shadow Priest. But I digress, for the Curator doesn't have a random aspect like that. So it's a combination of fine tuning our strategy along with getting better gear. Luckily we have a Shadow Priest that we're going to turn into our primary Arcane Bolt soaker, and since he's going to be going all out on the Curator, that means he'll be keeping the mana and health flowing towards the healers (and me, but this is a lesser point). I'm hoping we'll get him down in the next run or two (won't be this weekend since it's D*Con weekend).


Anyway, last night I logged in to FFXI for the first time that wasn't a set night in god only knows how many months. Got a party and ground out the last 3 levels I needed for Warrior to get it to 37, which is the level I need it at to use it as a subjob for Paladin. Had to burn three (of four remaining) charges on my Anniversary Ring, which sucks because I can't get a new one nor recharge it, but still... done with leveling Warrior! So it was worth it. Next up on my agenda is getting the last 4 levels for White Mage to use that as a subjob for Red Mage merit point leveling. That will finish off my immediate subjob leveling needs and I'll probably get a few merit point parties to start upping my skills for Paladin tanking (Sword, Shield, Parry, Evasion come to mind).

Thursday, August 16, 2007


For the immediate future there's not going to be much I'm going to be posting here.

On Sunday just before the raid, some things were said in-game by members of my guild that were either badly phrased or badly received. This has led to my guild's second major bout of drama, with one guildie temporarily quitting the game, then even when she came back, feeling like she couldn't log onto my server for various reasons.

I, in usual human nature, am unable to not blame myself to a degree for letting this happen. Because of said drama and the person who has left the guild (so to speak) being a close friend of mine, has left me with little desire to play WoW for the time being, as myself, the Guild Master, and some of the other Guild Officers work on some sort of resolution, and possible fix for this situation. It sucks because both myself and the GM want some sort of fix, and it's just not that simple.

In the mean time, I've been playing some Starcraft, Overlord and Civilization IV when I'm not on FFXI.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Who's spreading these rumors?

Reading the latest GUComics strip, and I can't help but wonder... where do these people think we raiders get money from? In the post for today's strip Woody says "I'm sure some kind soul in tier 6 would toss a few measly hundred gold my way if they truly understood my plight." Now I realize he's just saying this for a quick laugh, in that he is a comic writer and his job is to make jokes. But this is a impression that goes beyond just him. When I was wandering around in original WoW on my mage in epics, I would get comments about my gear, then sometimes requests for money.

On the one hand I can understand the line of thought: As you play and get better gear you can make more money. Therefore obviously someone in full epics from raiding is making a lot of money. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. A large amount of the money goes into repair, reagents and consumables for raiding. I know I spend around 75-100g per raid counting consumables. And the thing is, the further into raiding you go, the more costly it becomes, as your repair bills ramp up. At 70 in mostly I'll pay around 15~20g for a full repair. Once I get into full epics I expect to be paying 20g minimum for a full repair.

In the end, raiding is a way to have fun, not make money. In fact, it's probably one of the greatest money sinks out there, even more so they the 5000g you spend on epic riding skill, because you keep going back to raiding and spending more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

y helo 2 u Exalted with The Consortium

So like, I'm done. With Rep. Pretty much for good.

Yeah, there's still the Netherdrake Faction, but since that's limited to Daily Quests, and I'd end up doing them all anyway, just for the moneys, I don't consider that a rep grind. This marks the last true rep grind I had to complete, and it's done.

Last night I log in to find that some guildies (Mage, Balance Druid, Rogue, and our new Holy Paladin who's in some T4) want to do Black Morass. I'm like "Hey, I'm game." So we go out to the instance, only to find that the Rogue (one of the two who really need it) hasn't done Old Hillsbrad, so 5 level 70s proceed to tear their way through it, and move on our merry way to Black Morass. We easily clear through it, despite it being the Rogue's first time.

As we're finishing up BM, I notice I'm at around 2,000 rep until Exalted with the Consortium. I ask four of them (not the Rogue) if they are willing to help me get Exalted by doing half of a Heroic Mana-Tombs run. They agree, we replace the Rogue with the guild's Shadow Priest, and zone in. We sweep through the zone pretty easily, taking down the first two bosses, which is enough to net me Exalted!

About half way through I get asked to do a Shattered Halls run. No rest for the weary, I guess. So I finish up with HMT and hop a ride over to HFC. We do a very fast run. Of course it had to be fast... we had no CC. Party consisted of Warlock, Prot Pally (me), Ret Pally, Balance Druid, and Holy Priest. Twas fun. Killed almost everything, and the only time anyone died was when I was Scatter-Shotted in the second hallway.

Finally finished up around 1:30ish and pretty much straight crashed. Was a good night, but a long one.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

WoW Journal 2007-08-07

It's been a while since I've done an update on my status in WoW. With the recent announcement of Death Knights my interest in Deis, my warrior has pretty much completely dried up. While I like the physical nature of warriors, compared to paladin tanks primarily magical approach, Rage makes me (pun intended) see red! It's an interesting, innovative, but really annoying system. I understand it's value. It's a permanently renewable resource which depends on something important: The warrior hitting or being hit. This is important because it encourages DPS warriors to hit the enemy to be able to hit the enemy harder, and it encourages tanking warriors to be hit, so they can use abilities to control the enemy and make them not hit the warrior as hard. In the end, the game rewards the warrior for doing what they should be doing anyway for the role they're in, by allowing them to do even more of that. Unfortunately, my problem is very easy to explain: 0 rage to begin with. Yes there is bloodrage, which gives you a small boost to begin with, but that's rarely enough to do much, beyond use one shout or maybe one other attack. Maybe I'm just impatient, but I want to be able to drop a few high-threat hits in the first few seconds and work on building up threat from the getgo.

Anyway, my initial interest in Death Knights was based upon the (not so far-fetched) idea that it would have mana. Being that it was a casterish (as much as Paladins were) in Warcraft III, it seemed reasonable guess. Obviously based upon my post below, that's not true. But once I realized how it would work, in a way it was even better. A fully renewable resource, that allowed for an initial burst of action. While the obvious potentially long cooldowns would be less than ideal between actions, the fact that it would be a permanently renewable resource that will most likely not in any way be hindered by getting better armor, or dodging, or parrying should make up for it.

Anyway, so for now (and possibly permanently) Deis is on hold. I pretty much put him on hold starting halfway through last week as word of the Death Knights began to pop up. So I slowed down playing, in case word came that it was real. Obviously it did, so now it's just a matter of waiting for the expansion and focusing on Alix. So for now I'll get Alix to Exalted with Consortium (only faction left that's non-raiding :D) and get my Dragon Mount (currently half way to the 5200g mark). That should keep me busy until the expansion since I'll be helping others with 5-mans and stuff.

The weekend before last we didn't raid since too many were unavailable. So this weekend we zoned in on Saturday. Did a quick Attumen kill, and the decided to skip Moroes (due to lack of certain party members) and try the Opera Event. And before you say it, we found out that you need to kill Moroes first. So we went back down and threw ourselves at him a few time to no avail.

Came back the next night went straight to Moroes with a killer strat. Setup was: Balance Druid, Resto Druid, Hunter, Mage, Prot Paladin (me), Ret Paladin, Holy Priest, Rogue, Warlock and Prot Warrior. Moroes' group was Prot Warrior, Shadow Priest, Holy Paladin, and Ret Paladin. The Prot warrior was MT for Moroes, I was off-tank, while I simultaneously off-tanked the Prot Warrior. The Rogue stunlocked the Ret Paladin, the Priest shackled the Holy Paladin, while our Ret Paladin tanked the Shadow Priest as it was burned down first, followed by the Ret Paladin, then the Holy Paladin. After the Holy Paladin was unshackled the Prot Warrior was shackled and I went fully to town OTing Moroes. We left the Prot Warrior shackled and killed Moroes in our easiest run yet.

Following that we did a quick Maiden kill (got me my gauntlets from her!!!!), and moved onto the Opera Event. We got the worst one to start with: The Crone (Wizard of Oz). Our first attempt was a disaster. Plan was: I would tank Tito and Roar (who was being feared by the 'lock). The Warrior would tank/kite Tinhead, while the mage Burn-kited Strawman and the rest would tear down Dorothee, then onto Strawman, then Roar, then Tito, and finally Tinhead. What we didn't realize was Tito silenced. >.> Not good since I that meant I couldn't Holy Shield occasionally, nor cast at some vital points. So I died. Next try I was on Tinhead and the Warrior was on Tito and Roar. Worked like a charm! Had a few deaths, but in the end we got the Crone out where things went to hell in a hand basket. We went from 8 alive to 5 in a matter of seconds due to, I think, people not being ready and dying to Chain Lightning (myself included). But we still walked away with a win. Got the ribbon and the Crone's hat (the Mage got it and was saying "HAT! >:D" for the rest of the night). At that point we called it a night.

We've also expanded our weekly raids to 2 nights a week permanently on Saturday and Sunday nights. This coming weekend the plan will be to take down Moroes, followed by the Opera event on Saturday and then take stabs at the Curator. On Sunday the plan will be to do Attumen then Maiden, followed by either more attempts at Curator, or if we beat him the night before then we'll do something beyond it. (Chess event, I hope!)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Death Knights, what we know, and a bit of speculation

Preface: Anything that is in italics is pure speculation.

So, turns out my previous posts was very wrong, concerning the Death Knight. They are a hero class, which is a fancy way of saying "You don't have to start at level 1." The only catch is that you will need to do a fairly long questline at level 80. Not that this bothers me, because if there's a questline out there, I'll do it anyway. Even if I was never planning on rolling a Death Knight I'd do at least what I could do solo, just to see more of the story!

Anyway, as I hoped, it's a tanking and DPS hybrid class, with some sort of magical effect. Noteworthy is that it does not have mana. Instead they are introducing a new "rune" spell system. In the place that normally is a mana bar, they show a Vampiric Runeblade with a currently planned 6 runes on it. You choose which runes you want inscribed on your blade from three possible runes: Unholy, Frost, and Blood (with each Rune type being one of the talent trees for Death Knights). This is an interesting setup since you decide which runes you want to use, and can set them up in a way that will be deemed useful to you. For example you could have a "balanced" build of 2 Unholy, 2 Frost and 2 Blood, or if Blood spells are what you really need, 4 Blood and 2 Frost. After you cast a spell, the rune or runes that the spell called for will be used up and will take some time to refill at which point it will be ready to be used again. I would guess that each spell will cost no more than four runes, and even that will be for a fairly powerful one, and said spell would also probably have a cooldown. Also, taking into account the pace of the game, I would expect each rune to go from empty to full about 10 seconds and I doubt they will be recharging for more than 12 seconds. I base this guess taking into account Rogue energy regeneration rates, in that they can go from empty to full in a mere 10 seconds. Finally, I would speculate that the first of the listed runes, Unholy, to be a counterpart to the more well known magical type: Holy. By that I mean that it's not Shadow, but a new magical type that is similar to Holy in that there is no natural resist for it, allowing it to bypass most mob's defenses for good threat generation. This would make Unholy the primary magical type for tanking. A continuation of that line of thought is that Blood runes are used to power draining and debuff type magics, which would either be used to supplement the Death Knight's health and/or stats and drain the target's which would be highly beneficial for tanking. Finally, Frost spells usually relate to slowing and snares, of which most bosses are immune to, meaning it would be the least useful for tanking. A personal prediction that is just based on guesses is that an ideal tanking rune setup will be 3 Unholy, 2 Blood, and 1 Frost (I would imagine some spells will be powered by 1 of each rune, so the Frost is there for those spells).

The plan is, after you complete the long questline at level 80, you "unlock" the ability to create a Death Knight. The current plan is to allow you to make any race a Death Knight (relating to the fact that Death Knights are made by corrupting a valiant hero, much like Arthas was) but I find this idea a bit... out of place with certain races. Humans, Gnomes, the Forsaken and Blood Elves were obvious choices for being a Death Knight, since their races having Warlocks shows they are willing to be tempted by ill-begotten power. Orcs were a possibility, being that they have Warlocks, but having a new group fall to "the Dark Side" as it were, after the glory of them beating their Demonic Blood addiction really kinda makes it seem much less impressive. Dwarves and Trolls are both very defined by their "religion" as it were (Titans and Mojo), and imagining them as Death Knights is a bit of a stretch, but I could still see it. The ones that really get me are the Tauren, Night Elves and Draenei, which are all defined as these moral guideposts for the rest, and the idea of them as Death Knights really bugs me. Of course, it would probably be a personal decision, but still it bothers me. One nice touch, though, is that it seems they will use flavor text to show that most normal NPCs aren't quite trusting of Death Knights (as it should be).

One of the more interesting aspects is that it will be a tanking class... without shields. Now, they didn't specify whether Death Knights will be unable to use shields, but merely that they can tank without them. To elaborate on that, the Death Knight is said to be able to tank with a two-hander or dual wielding. Now, this raises the single largest question of "Crushing Blows?" Now, I have two lines of thought on this one. First off is Death Knights work in a way similar to Druids in that they have either very high Health, Armor, or a strong mix of both. This would allow them to not need a shield to push crushing blows off the table, because they could just (as it were) shrug them off. This would be an uninspired but workable approach, but could have repercussions in PvP as Death Knights would have to have very high armor or health full time, and at the same time have decent to high DPS. The second method, which I just thought of, is an interesting approach. Death Knights have an ability which pushes crushing blows off the table for it's duration, and gives a small boost to armor (to make up for the lack of a shield but not enough to make them equal to a Druid's mitigation). This ability in it's listed form would allow Death Knights to be an equal tank to Warriors and Paladins in terms of crushing blows and mitigation without needing shields, but not vastly surpass them. It would have to be an activated ability (maybe coincide with additional threat generation) because if it was a passive ability that removed crushing blows from the table it would make Death Knights the most powerful tanks in the game, being completely uncrushable without a chance of it wearing. If they took this route, I would guess said ability would cost one to two runes, havng a cooldown approximately equal to the regen timer of the runes. This would also be an effective way to put a mediocre stopper on Death Knight DPS as 1/6 - 1/3 of their available runes would be fully tied up in keeping them alive. This would be a way to lower the Death Knight's DPS while tanking, and when they are not, those runes would be freed up allowing them to be able to keep up with other DPSers.

Final cool point is that you can "choose your own type of Runeblade. You can choose from a traditional sword Runeblade or an axe variant". Very cool (sword for me of course). This brings up a minor but potentially important question: What do you need the Vampiric Runeblade's look for? I imagine that its just for "casting spells" (in whatever form that takes)? If so it's a nice nod to the concept of Death Knights, but really just amounts to a pretty thing to look at (which would be enough for me). It's possible that they plan on giving you one weapon that will continue to evolve as you use it, but I find that a bit hard to believe since it would need to be programmed to take into account what you do (Tank vs. DPS in 5-man and Raids, and PvP), not to mention how you would plot it's growth when you start reaching whatever your endgame is. I can think of ways to do it, but it seems like too much trouble. But as a counter, why would the concern themselves with it's appearance if it only appeared during casting animations? And if it's only your initial weapon and you can replace it later with no penalty I'll be a bit miffed.

They've also given us a sneak peek of two abilities, one seen in the WotLK trailer, and one mentioned at BlizzCon:

Unholy Embrace
Instant Cast.
5 min cooldown.

Target is embraced by a silhouette of darkness for 6 seconds, corrupting any healing spells and effects cast upon or currently affecting the target to cause damage for 50% of their healing potential instead of restoring health. Any damage shields cast upon or currently affecting the target will also be instantly consumed, dealing 50% of their absorption potential in damage. Once afflicted with Unholy Embrace, the target cannot be afflicted with Unholy Embrace again for 1 minute.

While this one will have uses in PvE, since mobs and bosses that heal are somewhat rare, we can expect this to primarily be a PvP ability. Still pretty cool.

Army of the Dead

Raises several temporary minions (ghouls)

This one we don't have any actual details on beyond "summon undead things", but it has been stated explicitly that it will be a temporary summon akin to either the trees by Balance Druids or the Water Elemental by Frost Mages, and this spell will not be a central aspect of the class. Just a nifty little extra.

Anyway, last thought is I'm probably really wrong about a lot of these, but it's fun to speculate.