Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What would you be doing instead?

Over at, Mastgrr posted "I could play this game forever. I really could. But, I'm 21 years old. I've spent the last 2-3 years of my life playing this game. I really don't see how I can go on forever." and stuff along the lines that it's a timesink, and there are other things he could be doing. I've seen this in a few other places as well.

Now, I'm not saying people are wrong, but the common idea of "there are better uses of my time" may just be someone being contemplative of everything in their life, not just the MMO they are playing.

This will vary from person to person, but as the title asks: What would you be doing instead?

Serious question here folks. Before you started playing WoW or MMOs in general, what did you do during your free time? If you spent it hanging out, being a social butterfly, and generally being very outgoing until an MMO grabbed you, then yes, it probably is a better use of your time to do something else.

But for many MMO players, if every MMO company went bottom up all at the same time, and that event scared off every other company from filling the void, would our social life change much? Probably not. We're introverts. We don't go out much, maybe a night or two a week to go drinking or gaming with a bunch of friends, but most of our free hours are spent doing singular activities (despite the multiplayer nature, MMOs are still things you mostly do on your own, IRL).

Yes, you could make better better use of your time than MMOs, but would you? That's something that each person needs to ask themselves and figure out.

For me, the answer is no, I wouldn't. Without WoW, FFXI or whatever MMO, I would be watching TV, or playing video games or reading books. I wouldn't be out making many friends, or making the world better for all of mankind. That's really no different than how my life is now.

WoW Journal 2007-05-30

Last night was pretty good. Did a few group quests with a PuG, and a guildie. That gets me down to 2 or 3 group quests to complete in Netherstorm. After that got into a Arcatraz PuG run around 11. Since it was the first run for three of us, it took a little longer. Having never completed the whole thing on any of my characters (the farthest I got was the final room) it was a pleasant change to actually complete it all. Nothing dropped for me but I was able to complete three more quests, including getting the third and final Karazhan Key shard. All that's left now is doing a Black Morass run. Also, turning in the "Kill Harbinger Skyriss" quest pushed me over into revered with Sha'tar. Woot! That's two heroic keys. Time to go update my list. :D

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WoW Journal 2007-05-29

First long weekend in a while. Vegged for a lot and played a good amount of WoW.

On friday (I think it was Friday... maybe Saturday) got into a Shadow Labs run and managed to get my first Karazhan key shard, along with a Greatsword of Horrid Dreams. Also tanked Murmur... hate Sonic Boom. :( Still need to do more runs of Shadow Labs for the trinket and the healing chestpiece (and Lower City rep of course...).

Learned an awesome method for fighting
Grandmaster Vorpil. Basically you pull him and run south, past where any of the NPCs spawn, down to near the entrance of the room. I would advise walking backwards to keep your weapon and shield aimed at him. Then he'll teleport everyone and you run north to near the corner of the hallway leading to Murmur's room. If he's still alive when he teleports again, you run south. If he survives one more teleport, you probably don't have enough DPS, and there's too many VWs at this point. Note: Learned that technique on an earlier run through with a different group... said group did not have enough DPS, and we wiped 4+ times on Vorpil before someone "had to go". Might have been me. Wasn't a huge loss, let me put it that way.

The next day I went for a Steam Vault run to get my second key shard. Party composition was paladin(me), mage, (Dwarf) priest, feral druid, and a shaman. 8 or 9 pulls in the mage goes AFK for the second time. Not a good sign, so we replace him with Omi one of my good friends from my guild, who's also a warlock. So we proceed to burn our way through it, getting the DPS caster ring from Hydromancer Thespia for Omi and the Gauntlets of the Bold from Kalithresh (not amazing but good until I can get my Felsteel Gloves made). Was pretty clean, but since some people were new it took a bit more time to explain the boss fights.

When we finished, we decide to do another run since we got through it pretty well.
This run I totally cleaned up! Got the purple judgement helm from Mekgineer Steamrigger, then busted out with mega loot from
Warlord Kalithresh when he dropped both the Breastplate of the Righteous and the Devilshark Cape. I asked if it was okay if I got both, b/c I didn't want to be greedy, and they said it'd be okay, as long as we did another run. I was down for that, so we did a fast burn through. This time, Omi's the one who scored big time... She got the recipe for the Battlecast Hood and the hard-to-get Primal Nether to make it with (and remember this was normal mode so that makes it super rare). Woo!

After that didn't do much else. Just worked on finishing up quests in BEM, Netherstorm and SMV. Did a Mana-Tombs run for Meloni on Monday. Somehow I kept putting GBoS on myself (I suspect I was accidentally put it on the other paladin. That made tanking a little harder. >.>

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I speak Kazielese?

Or something, because I swear I'm speaking a different language than everyone else over at the MainTankadin Forums.

Okay, my point: Getting the right mix (whatever that is for whatever point you're at) of stats, while remaining uncrushable is our goal. Once we reach uncrushable, it's fairly easy to stay there. But it represents such a large base number of our iLVL points it puts us at a disadvantage compared to warriors.

What people hear: "Becoming uncrushable is hard and sucks! Not fair!" or something equally not what I'm saying.

*bangs his head against the desk*

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In our cocoon...

Let's imagine for a moment, all classes are various forms of the Lepidoptera order. Endgame (whether it's PvP, 5-man or Raid) viability represents the adult phase, while being unviable in that aspect represents the larva phase. Just because they are the most commonly recognized of the Lepidoptera order, we'll refer to them as butterflies. Warriors and feral druids are already there. They are flying around in the sunlight that is tanking being all pretty and stuff. Then there are paladins. We are not yet butterflies. Instead there is a middle phase where the caterpillar is transforming from it's previous form to a beautiful butterfly. We are actually being considered which is far more than pre-expansion, but we are not there yet. Paladins are currently going through the metamorphosis into viable raid tanks, but growth is still to come.

My point in this is for someone who finds he likes tanking, not just paladin tanking, but tanking in general, it sucks. That's me... I tank in FFXI, I tank in WoW, I tank in CoH, and I'll probably tank in WAR. I like tanking. But playing a tanking class that isn't working the way it should makes it less fun. On the one hand, I know (not think, but know) eventually paladins will be able to stand next to warriors and druids as equals, but not yet and it sucks.

Two side notes:
First, here's a thought, make the coefficient for Spiritual Attuenment 15-20%. That should help, right?

Second, a quote from myself on crushing blows, and the referred change to it from the Stratics WoW Dev Chat:
The problem I'm referring to isn't getting enough of stat A, or getting enough of stat B. I can get anything up to where it needs to be. The problem comes with the amount of fine tuning I need to do to reach uncrushable, 10,000+ health, and a decent amount of spell damage (which for me is 250). A warrior needs to make sure he has 490 defense, and a shield. After that, they can get anything they want. Need more health, get some STA. Need some more damage, get some STR, AP or +hit. And any dodge or parry they get? That's just icing on the cake.

IMO, the reason we have defense and crushing blows and all that jazz is it's a giant gear check, and also a way of ensuring that classes who were never intended to tank (Rogues or Shamans for example) aren't trying to tank raids. If they introduced alternate methods that allowed paladins, who are meant to tank to not be so penalized because they don't have Shield Block, thus allowing us to direct more of our gear towards important stats like health or spell damage, I would be 100% behind it.

The new Spiritual Attunement and Mana/5

So 2.1 is here, and there are various mixed cries of Doom, Gloom, and Indifference. The one thing everyone can agree on: We're not getting as much mana. This was a foregone statement, with the change to Spiritual Attunement, but the question is how bad has it hurt us. I've seen mixed reports, some saying that they are having issues even up in Karazhan, and others saying that while it's not good, it's not that bad either... I still have to check out an instance myself, but I am firmly of the belief that the answer is more Mana/5. The best option, IMO is to get some Mana/5 gems. Downside is that Mana/5 falls under the category of a "blue" gem type, which means it's either Mana/5 or STA. Not a choice I really want to make *grumbles* It's not really an option with pre-KZ gear, but I figure it's doable once you start getting into Karazhan and get some of the socketed tanking gear. Still really don't like going under 200 spell damage...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Redoing uncrushable gear goal list.

So I found a nifty little tabulator... thing. An excel spreadsheet with formulas for tanking. ^^b Anyway, I went through it and changed out some of my gear from my list below. Specifically with patch 2.1 coming out today, I can finally respec to my final spec, along with getting some of the new gear. :D Anyway, check out my new gear list, if you care.

FFXI night.

Last night was my normal set party night. We met up a little late (9:30 instead of 9PM), and went out to a new spot. Good news was the mobs we fought, fishes, were much nicer than the crawlers which had been our staple before. Mobs that could do 800 damage fire breaths are not cool at all (note for non-FFXI players: I only have around 1250 HP). Bad news was the first place we went had a ghost spawn right on top of the camp after about an hour of us being there. Boo. :( Anyway, after teleporting away to safety, we went back and found a good spot where we can get fish during the night when the crawlers are asleep, and mix up crawlers and fish during the day. Yay!

After we finished up around midnight I logged onto WoW to see Hallikar online. Hallikar is the only Blacksmith I know of on my server who can make Bracers of the Green Fortress. Total price ended up being around 600g including paying for the Primal Nether he had, but for the best pair of bracers pre-Karazhan it was worth it. Helped friends out on a quest, and did a little bit of questing myself, but nothing big. Was already tired when I finished up with FFXI, so I called it shortly after getting my bracers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

One thing I like about Pally tanking

While there are many things I like about it, I think I like the absoluteness of the gear. I need to get the stuff I need to get and there is no room for the mentality of "well I don't need to get everything." I have to keep striving to get what I need. And that's what it is, need not want. On my mage I wanted better gear, but I knew I could make due with what I had and get upgrades later. On Alix I know in order to tank I need to get every last piece, and squeeze every last drop out of every available resource I can. There is no middle ground. There is no half-assing it. Once we start raiding I either make the cut or I get to heal for a week or so. That need drives me to improve my character. I enjoy that.

List of goals

Figured I should put together a more complete list of goals:

Revered with Honor Hold. Complete!
Exalted with Cenarion Expedition. Complete!
Exalted with the Scryers. Complete!
Revered with Lower City. Complete!
Exalted with the Sha'tar. Complete!
Exalted with the Consortium. Complete!
Revered with Keepers of Time. Complete!
Exalted with the Violet Eye. Complete!

Normal Keys:
Shadow Labyrinth Key. Complete!
Shattered Halls Key. Complete!
The Arcatraz Key. Complete!

Heroic Keys:
Keyed for Hellfire Citadel. Complete!
Keyed for Coilfang Reservoir. Complete!
Keyed for Auchindoun. Complete!
Keyed for Temepst Keep. Complete!
Keyed for Caverns of Time. Complete!

Raid Keys:
Karazhan key shards: 3/3 Complete!
Completed Black Morass for Karazhan Key. Complete!

Complete my Deck of Furies: 8/8 Complete!
Complete the Purple Judgment non-set: 1/8

Get 300 Riding Skill. Complete!
Get Netherdrake Mount.

I will continue to update this as I go along. Looking back on this post will keep you up to date. I will also occasionally post links back to this when I make a big addition to it or complete something big (ala Karazhan Key).

Busy weekend!

Over the course of this weekend I acquired 3 of the 17 items I want from my list. First I got both halves of my Arcatraz key shards, which got me the Sha'tari Vindicator's Waistband. Next, I became revered with Cenarion Expedition, which netted me my Strength of the Untamed. Finally (and this one's a big one!) last night on my last run of the night we took down Pathaleon and he dropped my Helm of the Righteous! Also, talked to a crafter on my server and I'm in line to get myself a pair of Bracers of the Green Fortress (will cost me a pretty penny for the Nether but still worth it).

Also, I managed to get a few pieces that weren't on my list of things to get, but were still upgrades: From Steam Vault I got Steam-hinge Chain of Valor (which I already replaced with the neck listed above), from Mechanar I got Jade-Skull Breastplate, and for completing a Shattered Halls run I got a pair of Dauntless Handguards. I also picked up a few pieces of healing gear, like the Lightsworn Hammer and a few other pieces I think.

With getting Revered with Cenarion Expedition, that meets one of my immediate goals of Revered with them. While there are still some things I want from the Steam Vault, like the Breastplate of the Righteous, the Purple Judgement Helm, and the Devilshark Cape, I'm going to take a break from the Steam Vault to work on other factions. So now going to work on Shadow Labyrinth and keep on working on Tempest Keep. Having gotten the Helm of the Righteous from Pathaleon, that leaves it so there's nothing I need from the Mechanar. There are still a few things that are upgrades, like Mana Wrath and Dath'Remar's Ring of Defense, but I'm not going to worry about those for now. So that means when I'm going to Tempest Keep, it's time for Botanica runs for my Spaulders of the Righteous. Bleh to the Botanica. Hate that zone. As soon as I get my Spaulders, it's either up to the Arcatraz (more likley) or back to the Mechanar. Either way, I need Exalted with the Sha'tar for my shield, so it's going to be a long road.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Was doing Botanica the night before last, and was paired up with a Ret Pally who was using BoM instead of BoS (I explained how it was going to work and fixed that problem). Anyway, as I was explaining to her why she should use BoS instead of Might, she said to me "But you're damage will go down." I sat there for a moment, my brain processing what was just said to me, and then I came up with what I feel was a clever reply (and really sums up white damage for Pally tanks):

"White damage is the side effect of me swinging my weapon to make my seal proc."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

List of Pre-Karazhan tanking gear

Oh my god! Where'd the post go?

Well after the last few posts I really looked back over my original advice, and all I could think of was: "Wow... this list is could be a lot better." It's not that it was bad, but when I originally did it I was a much younger Paladin, still learning the ways of things (it was almost a year ago... WHOA!). With time comes experience, and since then I've grown and experienced a lot more than I ever expected to. Now using my accumulated experience, I've redone my list, in addition to making another one for the purpose of goals to work towards with Badges of Justice.

Also, with the advancements of technology, making this list has become easier than ever. With the creation of Warcrafter I was able to throw together this list in about an hour or so. Back when I did the original list it was the better part of a day's work. Heh.

First comes the "classic" pre-Kara list. This is just items from non-heroics and no badge items save the Libram of Repentance. Just to cover my bases, the Gladiator's Gavel is honestly a better option for your main weapon if you can stand doing PvP.

I plan on eventually doing a list of goals to aim for with Badges of Justice, but with 2.4 on the near horizon which will expand the available upgrades a lot, I feel that this is a bad move. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your view) every one of our slots gets a good upgrade. My advice is just to save up any badges you get after you get your Libram and check back here then.

Well, there's the quick redo of this post. Hope you like the new list (no JC only trinkets this time ;D), and if you have any questions, don't be afraid to post away, and keep fighting the good fight, Paladins!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Does he ever stop typing?

One thing I've noticed from my posts, that I think I always knew but didn't consciously know was that I was not very concerned with "what might be", "what could be" or "what should be". I've always been concerned with "what is", "what will be", and "why it is the way it is". This means that a lot of my posts use another post as a springboard, because others love to think of what might, could, or should be, and this is my form of a reply.

Well this is another one of those posts. Coriel (really love her blog!) posted about two types of hybrids. Fluid and modal. Now, when I saw this, it was in interesting read just because of the concepts presented, and how they applied to all hybrids, and specifically myself and guild leader I mentioned earlier. I knew something about this was more important than just the idea of hybrid types.

As I mentioned above I'm concerned with "what is". In this case, thinking about how you wish the game was a certain, doesn't explain the why. Why did Blizzard design the game to encourage modal hybrids? I spent most of the day, yesterday, with this information churning through my brain as I did other stuff. I've found this works best for me, because part of my brain will process information, while allowing me to continue working on things that need to be dealt with right now. Shortly after the end of my workday, I was walking towards the subway station, when the pieces fell into place. In a way, it was the culmination of two previous posts I've made here:

Alternate Armor?
How much should speccing give?

This going to be a long post, but for the tl;dr folks, there's a summary at the end.

The two posts I mentioned above emphasized modal hybrid gameplay, because I was focused on "what is". The post about armor says instead of aiming for one perfect set of armor so you can try to do it all, you should aim for two or more separate sets each one dedicated to a specific purpose. This relates to the Modal vs. Fluid debate (is that even the right term?) in as much as by aiming for one set to do it all you are gaining fluidity while giving up focus in certain areas. I know I'm just restating what's already known, but I want to try to put it all out there.

The second part was the more important part. Unless there was a massive overhaul to the base game mechanics, it looks like it was the basis around which the idea of modal hybrids originated. Even if they removed the increasing cost for respecs, you still are paying a fair bit of money for a respec. After you go over 10 or 15g, that's the lowest you're going to pay for a respec ever again. As the game mechanic exists it's there to emphasize choosing a role and centering you on that concept. It is possible to spec in a way that will give you flexibility, but much like having a set of armor that's multi-purpose, you are giving up access to talents that will improve your ability to do a certain job in order to gain the ability to more easily do whatever is needed.

Looking at what I said above, you can see that as you become more fluid it's at the price of your specialized power. And you can't make a fluid hybrid equal to more than one "whole" single class equivalent. By this I mean two fluid DPS/healing hybrids could equal one pure DPSer and one pure healer. If either of those two fluid hybrids were equal to both a DPSer and a healer at the same time, there would be no reason to bring the pure classes when a hybrid can really do it all, and do it equally well.

Now, for small group content. 5, and maybe even 10 man instances fluidity is not a negative thing. For 10 man raids, the fluidity is really only DPS > Healing or Healing > DPS, since the required type and amounts of defensive stats changes immensely to survive against level 73 or boss mobs, but do not significantly change between 10 man and 25 man (I'll be going into detail on defense rating, and other "tanking" stats in a later post). But the point still stands, being able to throw out some DPS, hop back and start healing, or pick up the mob if the tank dies is a definite boon in small group activity where you are limited in who you can bring.

The problem arrives when you get to large group content. 25 man raids have enough people that you will have multiples of each type of person thus you can bring enough tanks and healers that even if one dies, it's not " over man, game over!" This decreases the need for fluidity.

This is where modal hybrids shine, and why Blizzard made the design decision to make hybrids modal. Going 31 or more points into a given tree will put you close to, if not equal to an equally geared single purpose class. A Feral bear druid is generally considered about equal to a warrior, and the same could be said for Prot spec paladins. Holy paladins and priests and Resto druids and shamans are all generally considered about equal in regards to healing. Feral cat druids, boomkins, and enhancement shamans are all considered more than good enough to bring to raids along with rogues, mages, hunters and warlocks. I think we all know the general feeling on Ret paladins (and more specifically my disagreement on that feeling) and I'm not really sure where elemental shamans stand in it all. But that's beside the point, those class/spec combos I listed above, despite being hybrids are not shunned, but accepted, because they can and do specialize to the point where they are equal to single purpose classes.

This was the purpose of making hybrids modal. The reality is that in endgame, a majority (I would guess, I have no hard numbers to back up this statement) of the leaders are only willing to accept those that fit into the category of ideal, and balanced fluid hybrids never would.


Okay, for those of you who didn't bother to read through all of the crap I just wrote, it can be summed up as such: Fluid hybrids cannot be equal power to single purpose classes, for game balance. In raids, underpowered classes or specs would (and are) shunned. Balanced fluid hybrids would never see endgame except in limited circumstances. Making hybrids modal allows them to be brought up to similar or equal power as a single purpose class without disturbing game balance too much, thus allowing them a place in endgame.

WoW Journal 2007-05-15

This weekend and last night I got my first tastes of tanking level 70 instances. On Sunday I did a mixed-guild/PuG run through Steam Vaults for the first time. Well I have a friend of mine from my old guild on a different server run by some friends moved here independent of me, and then contacted me since we happened to be on the same server. This friend's main alt, Tsunande, a Fury raid build warrior contacted me to see if I wanted to drag him through a level 70 instance to see if he could get to 70 or close to it (he was 69). I said sure, and then asked the rest of the guild if anyone was available. Booker, one of our primary guild priests volunteered, and I was able to grab an ex-guildie Warlock, Nekura, who went onto a full raiding guild. Using the LFG tool, I was able to find a Holy paladin who was willing to off heal. Honestly it was a very lucky thing to have that party, since the Warlock made fighting Hydromancer Thespia tons easier. The run was slick as porpoise piss. I think we had maybe one wipe for the whole thing? And that was all my fault, just because I got the final boss too close to one of the tanks and people couldn't target it. Go me. Lesson learned on that one... No good loot for me, but Tsu got the rocket gun from the second boss (Mekgineer somethingsomething I think...)

Then last night it was supposed to be FFXI night, but two people had to cut and run, so I logged in to confirm that nothing was going down, got an awesome XP ring (gives a huge XP bonus for a limited time), and logged out. Hopping onto WoW I (of all things) worked on my unarmed weapon skill. >.> Not kidding. I figured that eventually I'm going to be called upon to tank something that will disarm me. At least if I can continue to connect with my fists at least I can keep up holy damage being dealt, and keep whatever Judgment I have up. I flagged myself up on the LFG tool again, for Steam Vaults and this time Mechanar, since I finished up the prereqs to the Arcatraz Key quest. Got an invite for Mechanar, and I bebopped my way over there. Original party consisted of myself, Elemental Shaman, two Mages, and a Holy Pally. Not 20 minutes in (hadn't even gotten to the first mini-boss), the paladin goes "Sorry, gotta go!" and probably leaves. Not cool, but it was probably something like his dog was on fire. So we chilled for about 10-15 minutes, as the leader found a replacement healer, this time a very well geared healer, and we got back into it. I think we had one death the entire time, and that was on Pathaleon. Learned an interesting method of fighting Nethermancer Sepethrea. BRK already went into it, but since I rarely read his blog (good blog, just more hunter oriented...) I didn't know about it. Since we didn't have a hunter it was up to someone else (read: me) to pull Sepethrea. I almost didn't make it down the hallway, but the Shaman saw me getting pounded on and rushed out and gave me a good 2200~ crit heal for life-saving win. While I didn't get either of the three pieces of gear I wanted (Mana Wrath, Helm of the Righteous, or Dath'Remar's Ring of Defense), I did get the healing ring from Nethermancer Sepethrea, which has a decent amount of healing, and a great amount of mana regen. That puts my healing gear at 650~ +healing and 88 mana/5. ^^b Also, this gives me almost full swap gear for healing (not all of it's pure +healing, but still...). All I need now is a helm and a chest piece. Thankfully they both drop form non-heroics so I can get them fairly easily. :D

Also, Sunday night I helped one of the guild members do a full BRD run. She's a good friend from FFXI who came here and seems to be liking it. Plus she's a Mage, so if she gets to 70 at least there'll be someone to fill the void created by me changing my main to Alixander.

Bringing Retnoobs?

Another interesting post concerning Paladins, over at WoWInsider. Basically, it asks what do you think it would take to get a Ret Pally invited into mainstream raiding guilds (you know... the hardcore type)? One of the better posters there, Maedhras, says in the third post of the thread:
I wonder how high the same ret pallies would score on the dps meters if it factored in the extra dps the other 24 raiders got from his/her blessings/judgements (and the fact that 1 ret pally can keep all other pally judgements up on the mob by himself).

Once again, relying on DPS meters only to know who to invite and who to reject can make you lose some quality players.
And I think he's absolutely on the ball with this post. One of the huge issues that Damage Meter (or whatever variant of that program you use) is that it only rates who does what damage themselves. It doesn't count buffs, it doesn't count group or raid effecting abilities or talents. Just their own damage.

My guild leader is (and pretty much always has been) a ret specced paladin. He loves the Magical Warrior (emphasis on combat side) and when we played FFXI together, he played a Dark Knight, which bears more of a resemblance to Ret Pallys than any other class/spec combo in WoW. When WoW came out, he rolled a Paladin, since it was the only class that truly fit into the idea of the Magical Warrior. For a while he did a hybrid spec, something along the lines of 10/15/26, if I recall correctly. Still an emphasis on Ret, but not full or deep ret. After 1.12, he changed to 0/10(then 20)/41 full ret with a bit of Prot on the side. He's not specced to be a healer, but if needed he can and will heal.

I bring this up, because I would, in theory, prefer to bring him in a Ret with a side of healing, role than I would to bring a pure Holy spec paladin. While I do well understand the value of a Holy spec, with recent changes to Illumination, Paladins no longer are the greatest thing under the sun for healing. Many people say the ideal number for Karazhan is 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 DPS. What about 2 tanks, 2 pure healers, 2 healer/DPS hybrids, and 4 pure DPS? For fights like Moroes, where you need to take advantage of Shackle Undead, thus there will be moments when your priest(s) are unable to do the healing thing, so having an extra hand or two of healers would be solid gold.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

How much should speccing give?

WoWInsider has started a feature called "Hybrid Theory" and the first post in the series was dedicated to us Prot Paladins. This, of course, got a number of responses some from Paladins cheering it, and others from Warriors basically saying along the lines of "Fsck you! You're not stealing our spot!" Now this is to be expected to a degree. Warriors, whether they like tanking or not, want to raid, and since being a tank is the only guaranteed way to ensure that you can join a raiding guild (since some of them are probably just as Loot as Reward players) they will spec as they need to, to get what they want. Probably the response that ticked me off the most was response 14:
This article sucks.

Why do Prot Pallies expect to be as good as a warrior at tanking?

You want to tank as good as a warrior, give buffs, heal, Lay on Hands, and have auras?? I'm sorry but that is overpowered, why don't you just ask for fireballs that come out your #$$ too.

You are a hybrid class, thats right a hybrid class....don't expect to be the best in are good at mutiple things.
The question this entire thread raised to me was... if you spec a certain way, you're giving up abilities in one area for abilities in other. If someone specs at least 31 points into any given tree, shouldn't they be, if not on par with others in every situation, have abilities that make them preferable in some situations, and generally equal to others of a similar spec? Esp. when speccing for something as (comparatively) limited as a tanking spec?

Some of what they say can be excused as ignorance. What they think: "If paladins are equal to us, they can tank Gruul, heal themselves, bubble to save themselves, and tons of other stuff we can't do!!!! It's not fair!" Reality: We can just tank. If we cast any spell that's not instacast we put our shield and sword away (no parry and block), and don't dodge. Bubble is even worse, as we know, because it moves you to the bottom of the aggro list. As a tank, it's better for me to die than to bubble.

What I believe (and hope) Blizzard is working towards is independent styles of tanking. Have each class (Warriors, Druids and Paladins) be able to pull it's own weight in general on bosses, but have each type have a strength and a weakness on certain types of bosses. For example, since Paladins generate a large amount of their hate from shield blocks (though a combination of Holy Shield and BoSanc) when fighting bosses that are long, uninterruptable casters, suddenly you have these 2+ second periods where you are still taking damage, but not generating your normal additional threat. Not cool. Warriors on the other hand, have the spell reflection talent, that makes them ideally suited for fighting casters.

If things go as I hope, there will be a reason to have at least one of each type of tank along for the ride when raiding.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

WoW Journal 2007-05-10

Ran two instances last night, and got 70 on the second one.

First instance was Sethekk Halls which I tanked. In a normal situation I would have been peachy keen on this. Still love tanking. ^^b Unfortunately had two things which turned an otherwise fun run into one of the most annoying PUGs I've been in, in recent memory.

First off was the level 70 mage who was well geared (good +damage gear including the Greatsword of Horrid Dreams) and (I believe) fire specced... with zero aggro control. Even with BoS it was an uphill battle to keep the mob from attacking her. Oh, and did I mention she broke polymorph with Pyroblast? *bangs head on his desk*

Oh, but that's not all. The mage (Feyth I think was her name...) seemed to be in a rush and was pushing her way through. It was fast, but I barely had time to think between pulls, and even less time to get my mana back. I asked them to slow down, at which point Feyth said something along the lines of "We've got enough DPS. Heal up during fights." What she probably meant "I want to hurry through this. So let's go!" What I heard was "We only need you for the boss fights." As I've mentioned before I love tanking. I find it enjoyable. Hearing that I wasn't needed was like someone punched me in the gut. And it wouldn't have been so bad if people had been dying left and right, but they weren't. Other than on the final boss no one died at all. So they were right, which just made it hurt even worse.

Afterwards I got into a Mana-Tombs run. This time I was Mr. Healer. This was good on three fronts. I got to try out my new
Avian Cloak of Feathers that I had gotten from that nightmare Sethekk halls run. Also got to test my healing capabilities as the main healer, despite being prot specced. Good to know I can do decently (only time people came close to dying was on the first boss with his AOE attacks which have always been an issue for Paladins to heal). May not be able to do as well as if I was Holy specced, but with good gear I think I'll be able to keep up. This is doubly important since, while I am aiming for being one of the main tanks of my guild for when we're raiding, there will be some bosses that you're just better off tanking with a warrior. Since a large portion of our threat comes from Holy Shield, having enemies that spend a good portion of the casting means they aren't attacking. No attacks = no blocks. Plus warriors have that spell reflect talent thingie... So on bosses like that, being up front just isn't that great a plan. Instead having me tossing heals in the back would probably be best (IMO). The final good thing was level 70 (Woot!). So now that I've finally got 70, it's time to put my nose the grindstone and make my way through quests for phat lewtz and some WoW street cred. *makes an A with his hands* Azeroth siiide, boyz! (note: I am ridiculously white... like Weird Al white).

And since I touched on it, I'll give a quasi-reply to Nibuca's post concerning being a healer. First and foremost what I'm saying is just a combination of my experiences and my opinions.What you say makes sense (really it does), but I've found it to be a lot harder than one thinks. At core, if you are called upon to be the main healer, and accept, you have three primary duties to keep in mind. First, is to keep people clean of debuffs that you can remove and are issues for them. For example, a magical silence on a rogue is not worth worrying about, but on a mage it should be removed quickly. That sort of thing. Second, is keeping everyone alive. This sounds simple, but it's a lot trickier than it seems, since Paladins have a very limited healing repertoire. You need to balance the amount healed vs. the time spent casting and be able to predict who will need what quality healing spell and how soon. Finally, you need to be cognizant of your own mana supplies. Flash of Light has good HpM (Health per Mana) but heals little overall. Holy Light has good amount of health, but has a prohibitively large mana cost. So while you could use Holy Light to keep everyone full, it would drain your mana pool far too quickly for many later fights. Now, maybe you can do everything I listed above, and still keep up with meleeing and keeping SoW on you. If so, you're a far better Paladin than I. I stretch myself thin just doing the basics I mentioned above. I'm not telling you what to do, Nibuca. What I'm really saying is don't set yourself in stone doing something one way until you've actually tried it multiple times.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cross posted from Blessing of Kings

Originally posted this over here:

Also, I was going through the Paladin and Warrior tanking sets on WoWHead. I'd recommend checking they out side by side... it's interesting, specifically the stamina values. While in the lower tiers (4 and 5) we still have less Stamina than Warriors, the difference shrinks between 4 and 5, and most interestingly by Tier 6 we actually overtake them (not by much, but hey... we still get more haha!).

I was thinking about it, and what initially starts out as our weakness (needing Intellect and Mana regen) in later game turns around and becomes our strength. The reason why is because after a certain point, more Intellect and Mana regen won't really help. The amount of mana regen needed is probably more than we can get, but (for example) having 10,000 mana instead of 8,000 won't turn the tide of battle. So once we figure out and reach an ideal number for mana, we can stop worrying about Intellect. Also, in this vein is spell damage. As we go through tougher and tougher raid instance we need to ramp up our spell damage, but only by small amounts I would imagine.

Warriors on the other hand are going against tougher and tougher monsters who have heavier and heavier armor. Since they will get more and more armor as they progress, and will go against harder mobs as they progress, the amount of rage they will generate will probably go down over time. So they have to keep working on getting more Attack Power, Agility (for crits) and Strenght. Also, base damage is the only stat they can increase that will improve their threat generation, and they increase it nearly as easily as we can, since a few (if not a majority) of their threat generating abilities are not damage based (Armor Sunder comes to mind).

Unfortunately, Paladins will get a bad rap in the lower raid instances for tanking, and if we ever become equal to Warriors in the higher ones, and it's going to be hard to push back the to the front. The whole "First impressions" problem, as it were.
Now, the gear I mentioned is the new stats for the Tier sets from the PTR. *glee* So if you ever plan on getting into raiding, I'd suggest giving them a gander. Also, they have them up at MMO-Champion if you're behind a firewall at work (like me).

Also the post I referenced above clarified something for me. Specifically how becoming uncrushable works (information still needs to be confirmed by a secondary source). This info may be common knowledge to some, but to me since I'm just now getting into tanking, and I never really needed to know how melee attacks worked before (as a Mage I was intimately knowledgeable about spell hit and resistances and such) I was working from a mistaken base concept.

In unrelated news: Mastgrr's back!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Alternate armor?

This one is mostly aimed at the hybrid classes. Rogues, Mages, Warlocks, and Hunters need not really bother reading.

How many of you, specifically to those in the upper levels, get multiple sets of armor? I ask about those in the upper levels, because there is little in the way of gear variety in the lower levels. Once you get to the 50s and 60s, you can start getting gear with +healing, or +spell damage, or whatever.

I ask, because it seems that despite many classes being hybrids, people want one perfect set of armor. You know, a little bit of healing here, a little bit of defense here, a little bit of spell damage here. There's an old saying that goes something along the lines "If you try to excel at all things, you will find yourself unable to do any of them."

This line of thought came to mind in reference to the crappy warrior I partied with in Sethekk Halls last night with. Around half way through the instance, we were still both trying to tank, so I turned to him and (being the manipulative dick I can be) said "Hey, since I'm prot specced all I can really do is tank. You can DPS decently at least. Why not start DPSing, and leave the tanking to me." While all I really cared about was making him stop tanking, the fact that I could make him stop while not insulting him was a perk (alienating your allies is never a good move). He agreed, and at this point I expected him to whip out a 2hander or put away his shield in favor of an off-hand weapon for dual wielding. This was not to be. He continued to smash his way through with sword and board. This led me to believe he... didn't have a 2H or another weapon to dual wield with. Having a DPS oriented weapon should be the most basic thing to do, IMO.

This also brought to mind another. He's a ret Pally, and love him to death, but it seemed to me that he was aiming for having one perfect set of armor... I remember him asking me if he should get the Red Lawbringer or the Righteous armor D3 set. I said that he should, as a ret pally, aim for Red Lawbringer. It was definitely made with them in mind. He then commented that Righteous would be good, since he needs to tank sometimes. I gave him a funny look, and asked why he didn't just get both? One for when he was needed to tank, and one for when he was smashing faces. And looking at his armor, it seemed obvious that he was trying to do too many things with one set of armor. He had some +healing in some slots, and +damage in others, and quite a few pieces of warrior plate.

In the end, it's firmly my belief that for certain circumstances we need different entire sets of armor. I plan on getting one full set for tanking and one full set for healing. Since I'm pretty decent at soloing in my current tanking gear, I'm not sure I need to get a soloing set, but I might work towards picking up a few pieces (like the Red Lawbringer pieces) if I really start to lose my ability to solo in tanking gear (current tanking gear is a mix of +spell damage plate and warrior D1 repaint).

WoW Journal 2007-05-07

As will come as no great surprise, based on the majority of my recent posts, I've been playing Alixander a lot lately. This past week was a pretty active week for me. On the Friday before last I finally got up the gumption to dump Blacksmithing. I kept hoping and hoping it would be fixed, but I finally just decided that the meager gains I could get are vastly outweighed by the amount of stuff I'd waste getting it to 375. Biggest problem for me was that Blacksmithing seemed primarily aimed at Enhancement Shamans and Warriors in general. There was the occasional piece of pally plate or a weapon with healing or spell damage, but those were the exceptions, not the rule.

Since I already had 375 mining, plus I was pretty interested in it, I switched from Blacksmithing to Jewelcrafting. At that point I was about 1,000 rep away from Honored with the Aldor, so I figured I might as well just get out there and get Honored so I can get the two gem recipes for them before I jumped over to the Scryers (better shoulder enchants, since they have higher +defense).

After I finished getting Honored with Aldor, I got jumping on working my Jewelcrafting up to 305 (what was needed for the two gems from the Aldor). I worked my way up through the various ranks and on Friday of this week I broke 300 and was able to start cutting gems (which I promptly did), and in a matter hours was over 350 (guildie donated a ton of uncommon gems to me for cutting as he got them on his character who's a JC and he was looking for the occasional rare gem).

With my immediate goal of hitting 305+ JC complete, I turned around started committing genocide on tons of poor innocent Dampscale Basilisks, for their eyes for the repeatable rep quest for the Scryers. About 300 eyeballs later, I reached Neutral with the Scryers.

Also, while I was grinding on the Basilisks, I took the plunge and changed to prot spec. I'm currently 10/38/10. Holding back points from the prot tree until the patch, so that I can get Improved Holy Shield (Two extra charges? Yes, please, and thank you!), then getting Avenger's Shield. Still getting used to the differences (no ranged spells yet. Grah!) but I definitely like it.

So I was basically free. For the last week I had the driving goal of "get to 305 JC, then Neutral with Scryers". I'm like this any time I get a major goal that I know I can plow through. But there's that day or so afterwards where I'm kinda feeling dazed, because suddenly I'm not doing anything... So after meeting my goals I kinda wandered around for most of the rest of Saturday, doing a bit of rep grinding. Had the LFG tool up looking for Mana-Tombs run since I need more Consortium rep, since that faction has a metric butt-ton of gem cutting recipes. Well, I got an invite to do Shadow Labs at 68... >.> We wiped twice before even getting to the first boss. I "disconnected" and checked on my alts. d^^;

Most of my Sunday was busy. Got home around 7ish, so I did some quests and explored a bit for the last few, hitting 69 around the same time I got an invite to Mana-Tombs. Of course they cleared to the first boss, which accounted for about 6 or more of a series of mobs I needed to kill for one of the three quests in there. *grumbles* Screwed me out of much needed Consortium rep. But otherwise it went well, since we made it all the way though with relatively few deaths.

Afterwards, did a bit more grinding, got Friendly with The Consortium, then did a fun run through Sethekk Halls. Was called in because the current tank pretty much blew chunks. I took over tanking, and he got to DPS (note: he was a prot specced Got myself the hammer from the final boss, along with a spear (for skillups) and a good +defense neck from quests. After we finished up there, I did a bit more grinding, and called it a night.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Gripe about being a tank

As I mentioned earlier, I play a Paladin (PLD) in Final Fantasy XI (FFXI). PLDs are the quintessential tanks of WoW. Great Mitigtation, and the ability to generally create a large amount of hate.

But one thing that's different about FFXI than games like WoW is that the pace is much slower. Your two standard aggro generation abilities (Provoke and a spell known as Flash) both had long cooldowns compared to WoW (30 seconds for Provoke and 35-50 seconds for Flash depending on what status effects you have). In addition to this, PLDs can heal themselves for good amount of aggro between mob swings (heals are just shorter than the average attack speed of mobs), but if the spells don't actually heal you, they generate no hate. The three other abilities that have high aggro generation are all on 5 minute timers.

I say all of this, because it means that if a PLD loses hate and is at full health it's suddenly a lot harder to regain aggro. Well, the set I'm in for leveling has a Warrior (WAR) who, despite having a level 75 PLD and knowing how it goes, insists on going for maximum damage and showing no restraint.

It's really annoying, but I've been mostly fine with this, but last night was the final straw. We are fighting mobs, and our camp occasionally has a mob spawn amongst us. This is fine because I can run away and drag the mob out of linking range. The catch was that the WAR was apparently just at the edge of the aggro line, and used a Weapon Skill (high damage but long "cooldown" of a sort type ability) and ripped aggro from me. I provoked, and was mostly full health so healing wouldn't have done anything. Flash and my various other abilities are on cooldown, so I move away. This should have been a hint. But it wasn't, so I told him to move. But he continued to stand there, because he assumed I would pull it off him. I couldn't, and we got lucky and the mob died before the next one aggroed, but only moments later. So basically we had no downtime between fights, because he wasn't keeping track of the cooldown of my abilities (not that he should have), he couldn't control his aggro (he could have), and he didn't listen to me (he should have).

So I've come to two very angry conclusions for you DPSers (doesn't apply to healers):

First, listen to the tanks. Period. Don't think. Don't assume. If he or she tells you to move, MOVE! Tells you to stop attacking, QUIT ATTACKING! They aren't saying this because they like to hear the sound of their own voice, or the sound their keyboard makes.

Second, it is a tanks job to control aggro. It is not their job to fix your screwups. Basically, control your threat! If going all out rips the hate off the tank, then it seems kinda stupid to go all out, doesn't it? If you don't know how to control your threat, figure out how, or ask for tips from others. There are always ways. There's something you can do, and you should figure out what that way is.

Anyway, as of next week going to make him understand.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Avenger's Shield

Avenger's Shield. The 41 point talent for the Protection tree. Currently it has a range of 8-30 yards. After the upcoming patch, the minimum range will be removed, meaning as long as it's within 30 yards, we can hit it.

My immediate response upon hearing this was thinking: Yay! More hate, since we can cast it in melee! I posted this elsewhere, and was reminded of something: When casting you aren't blocking, dodging, or parrying. Considering that instanced mobs, esp. Heroics and Raids can crush you like a bug if you don't do one of the three things I listed above, casting a spell that's not instant isn't really a viable option...

Thus with that information in mind, the uses of Avenger's Shield are greatly minimized. Pretty much it has two purposes:
1) a distanced aggro ability to pull the mobs off the puller. This is nothing new, but the loss of the minimum range means you don't need to be the first puller, since you can use it at any point, allowing far more control over who's pulled (bouncing shield potentially = tons of adds).
2) If you lose aggro (this really shouldn't be a huge deal for Paladins... our major issues are with mitigation and less stamina), you can use Avenger's shield to pull it back to you. This was not really a viable option before, if you lost aggro and the mob remained close to you.
Both of these issues are pretty major problems with Paladin tanks, esp. the lack of a good (any range) holy spell to start off and grab aggro with. You could start off with JoR, but most times it really matters, I want to start off with JotC, so I can maximize holy damage dealt. This means that getting aggro in the first 8 to 10 seconds (depending on talent build) could be problematic. And if someone grabs aggro, right after you use your Judgement (a particularly powerful crit could do this...), if they are stupid and don't stop attacking, even through the use of Pally Taunt trouble would be had regaining aggro until judgement was ready again.

The real question is... is something that's so specialized worth giving up other talents, and possibly even an 11 point talent in Holy or Ret tree? I dunno.