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.


Honors Code said...

I started to comment but it got really long, so I made a blog post of my own.

Anonymous said...

On your continuum, you don't think a Paladin is to the left of a Warrior (more utility when not tanking) thanks the the ability to swap into healing gear and be a third healer/cleanser on fights like Maiden, etc.?

I'd say Prot Warriors have the least utility when not tanking, then Pallies, then Druids. Most of my Kara runs have been as a Pally/Druid combo, and that works really well, as you said.

Honors Code said...

Any tips on getting to 300 Riding? Paladins are not known for their farming prowess. My main money maker (Zapthrottle Mote Farming) is rather broken at the moment.

Galoheart said...

Interesting assesment however I guess we will have to wait to get answers to questions we all have wondered and keep wondering about with DK's. However its interesting to ponder the different ways things can play out with soon to be 4 tanking class.

Thanks for comment on the PoJ talent also.

Gratz on the Epic Flying Mount also. Applaud you on getting one. My next question is just how did you grind out the 5000g to get the riding skills. I know JC's make some money but Im still curious to know. Currently I'm focus on getting my Epic Flyer at the moment. I've never been a big spender in WoW of my hard earn money except for my gear needs. I've managed to have good money managing lowbie alts, so currently I'm sitting at about 4100g total. I'm not too far off I guess to being able to be very time effient at warp flying speed farming herbs and doing the netherwing quests.

Kaziel said...

On your continuum, you don't think a Paladin is to the left of a Warrior (more utility when not tanking) thanks the the ability to swap into healing gear and be a third healer/cleanser on fights like Maiden, etc.?

I'd say Prot Warriors have the least utility when not tanking, then Pallies, then Druids. Most of my Kara runs have been as a Pally/Druid combo, and that works really well, as you said.

While I understand what you're saying, I disagree.

First and foremost, what makes Paladin healing acceptable as a mainstay healing class is the talent Illumination. By having 5/5 in Illumination the Paladin has longevity that no other class can come close to matching. And since critting with a heal gives them mana back, it's one of the focal points of most Paladin healer's gear meaning their method of mana recovery is also a way of increasing their amount healed.

Problem is, very few Protection Paladins put any points in Holy, let alone the 20 needed for 5/5 Illumination. This means that a Protection Paladin, even in full healing gear is but a shade of a true healer. So what little they will give will probably not justify their slot.

Also, when making a raid, the Raid Leaders will choose as many healers or hybrid DPS-Healers as they need to complete the raid. They will not count a class that can tank since there will be fights where they cannot heal. This means that the group can succeed without the minimal healing a Protection Paladin. All having another healer, especially one who lacks as much as a Protection Paladin will, only helps out a little and makes the fight go no faster. On the other hand, by having a Protection Warrior's additional DPS, as minimal as it might be, would expedite the fight a bit. This is even more important considering that many raid boss fights are under an enrage timer so even a little more DPS is very helpful.

Joanadark/Brekke said...

Just would like to comment regarding your statement about feral druid DPS output usefulness.

A prot warrior in prot spec can put on DPS gear and push 950 DPS with dual-wield devestate. My guild's tanks do it every week.

As a prot paladin in prot spec, I can strap on melee haste gear and use my Nightfall and contribute 600-700 to raid DPS on top of my personal 250 from whites and consecrates/exorcisms. I do it every week. My gear for this is hardly ideal I could easily push more by wearing full DPS gear instead of mostly healing gear to do spot-heals with.

just for the sake of adding some context.

Joanadark/Brekke said...

Also, for context:


Paladin tank setup with the following stats:


18099 HP
55.66% avoidance
18502 Armor
400 +damage
413 Block Value
melee hit capped/2.2% spell miss chance

raid buffed-
24039 HP
56.02% avoidance
19456 armor (up to 24756 with item procs and an ironshield, up to 30945 with the priest/shaman buff)
565 +damage

This gear setup is also a balanced one. The user could easily gear for higher HP, higher avoidance, or higher spell damage at will. Neither is maxed in this set.

Kaziel said...

While I won't deny your point concerning a warrior or a paladin being able to put on DPS gear and being able to DPS, my point about Feral DPS was in a specific context. When a Feral Druid is tasked to tank and then shift into DPS they can do so without needing to shift gears. Part of this is due to there being little difference between Feral Tanking gear and Feral DPS gear. If you do a search for any leather gear that has STR on it, you will find almost all of it (with the sole exception of the D3 set which is intended to be a Resto/Feral hybrid set, not just a Feral set) has bonus armor, while the slots for the individual pieces rarely are too far from eachother in STR, STA, and AGI values. Even pieces such as the Vestments of Hibernation, which due to it's armor penetration is obviously intended to be a DPS piece, has more than enough armor and STA to suitably work as a tanking piece. Feral Druids are, IMO, all alone currently among the various hybrid classes and specs. While some specs can shift from DPS to healing, such as Elemental Shaman, or do DPS while healing, such as a Resto Shaman, no class or spec can so effectively move from one role to another as a Feral Druid can move from Tanking to DPS or DPS to Tanking.

This is, IMO, the biggest point on which Death Knights will shine or shatter as a raid tanking class. Will the Unholy Tree have enough DPS to allow fluid or at least semi-fluid shifting mid-fight? Will Death Knight tanking require or benefit strongly from offensive stats such as STR or AGI enough to outbalance the straight benefit a Death Knight would get from just stacking STA? If not, then I fear for Death Knight's role in a raid...

Final note: Concerning the Paladin gear set you made... you chose three things I opted not to use in my examples to make them more even. First is your choice has enchants on the ring. Second is the +18 STA gem on the chest. Both of these are self-only effects one can get from your profession. I decided since everyone has their own professions to not give my examples anything profession specific. The other thing is the epic-quality gems. Being as my guild is still only at the point where we can do Karazhan (probably could do Gruul by now but that's beside the point), I have no real idea about the drop rate of epic-quality gems. It could be that they drop like rain during a hurricane and every tank is stacked to the gills with them. On the other hand it could be that they are still fairly rare. So I chose to use the rare-quality gems, since I was sure they would have this and it would illustrate my point very well. While it doesn't make a huge difference, I figure it's still worth noting.