Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to go out with your dignity intact

One of my recent posts inspired a few replies from around the blogosphere, and I promised that I would put together a reply when I got my thoughts and feelings sorted out. My feelings on the situation still evade me, like some sort of greased pig on speed, but the logical part of my mind has sorted out some things that correspond directly with one of the replies.

Tengen posted a reply that was built around the the concept of the etiquette of leaving a guild. In my time as GM of Legacy, I've had a lot of people come and go. People of varying skill, personality, and tenure have left, and they've left via different means. We've had people leave after ninjaing anything they could get there hands on. We've had people leave spewing hate across gchat and forums. We've had people slip off in the middle of the night. We've had our fair share of people who joined up just to use our tag as an resume builder for the further progressed guild that they left for in less than a week. People have left for a variety of reasons, and I remember the majority of them. However, the people that left with the most goodwill from me had two things in common, communication and honesty.

The one player who probably made the best exit from Legacy, despite depriving us of his leadership, 6k DPS, and all of the tailoring patterns the guild had drop, was a warlock who had been an officer in the guild for about 4 months. He was part of my ten man squad. However, he had some friends in Awaken, the top PvE guild on the server, and decided to apply to them. He explained to me that he had put in an application, explained to me his motivations for his choice, and offered to leave the guild immediately if that was what I wanted. I let him stay in the guild, and raid with us until the disposition of his application became clear. He let me know when his application was approved, and left the guild graciously. He went on to earn a Death's Demise title when Awaken dropped Yogg+0, and still came back to hang out with us from time to time.

What can someone learn from that example is how to graciously make an exit. Be discreet, but not hidden. The fact that you're applying to other guilds isn't something that you want to broadcast to the guild at large until you're sure you've got somewhere to land. But at the same time, if you don't tell the guild leader, and they find out, then it just makes you look like a shady bastard trying to hedge your bets. So the key to this situation is communication with your leadership through the proper discreet channels. This might be through whispers, in game mail, e-mail, vent, the website, or any one of a number of ways to get in contact with your GM. Explain what you're doing, and why you're following this particular course of action. Then give the GM's response a fair listen, and work with him to decide what your future with these people will be.

You also need to be prepared for the consequences. Depending on your GM and your guild's current needs, you might find your raid spot given to someone else, or find yourself removed from the guild. But you're gonna lose those things anyways if your application goes through, and if it doesn't, but wind of it gets back to your current guild, you might find yourself out on the street without anywhere to go. But most GMs I've talked with tend to look more favorably upon honesty than negatively about desire to leave.

Now, all of this is still dependent upon the situation being you leaving one guild because you think the other guild would be a better situation. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to leave a guild because your situation has become untenable, then most of the rules still apply. Honesty and communication are still of paramount importance, but in this situation, where reaching the limbo between guilds would be an improvement over your current situation, then leaving is more important than where you're going. You still owe it to your leadership to inform them of why you're leaving. You can do this through an in game mail if they aren't online, or some other discreet method of communication. Once you've done that, then you can leave with your obligations discharged.

Through honest communication, you can avoid a lot of the bad blood that comes with leaving a guild, and possibly be the cause for major improvement within the guild that you left. Burning your bridges through either spite or negligence helps no one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Audacity of Armor

There's a few blog posts out there that I intend to reply to, but I'm going to hold off for the moment until I have a better handle on my thoughts and feelings on the matter in question. So in the interim, I'm gonna post this response to a new topic that cropped up on maintankadin, and has taken protadin bloggers by storm.

Theck, the bringer of numbers, posted another of his patented analysis threads based on armor, and in particular, inspired by the Glyph of Indomitability. Some readers will remember that I recommended the Glyph to newer tanks in my post on Chill of the Throne. However, I made a caveat.
However, the glyph is absolutely useless on fights where the majority of the
damage is magical in nature.
Wrathy, Rhidach, and Honors have all posted their thoughts on the meaning of Theck's analysis with regards to dogmatic protection paladin theory. This post has kind of turned the ideas behind the predominant effective health formulas on its ear.

However, the conclusions were something that I already had a good idea of, and I'm fairly certain that any of the more cerebral tanks in the game already had a pretty good idea of too. What Theck's analysis has done is empirically prove what we've known all along. That currently slavish dedication to a single ideal of effective health is the wrong way of going about things. Variations in encounter design and damage sources creates variables that the old 11 armor=1 stam effective health equation simply does not accurately map.

In order to determine the best gearing philosophy, it has to be done on an encounter by encounter basis. It also requires an understanding of the limitations of each form of survivability, and their impact on encounter mechanics. A tank has several forms of survivability.

Flat damage mitigation: This is typically involves talents and cooldowns. This is advantageous because it works on all forms of damage. However, it cannot mitigate damage in its entirety, you will be hit through this, and some fight mechanics, which are predicated upon you taking damage, will still remain dangerous regardless of how much flat damage mitigation you have.

Avoidance: Dodge, Parry, and Miss. Each has certain advantages with regards to itemization, however, with the exception of miss, none of these work on non physical attacks. The benefits of avoidance is that it occasionally provides 100% mitigation from melee attacks, which are often the biggest source of incoming damage on most fights. This means that any debuffs associated with melee hits won't land either. However, this suffers from a lack of predictability, leading to healer panic attacks, and straight up ineffectiveness against many different mechanics.

Expertise: Expertise is usually considered a threat stat, and it certainly is, however, against many mobs, it works almost as well as dodge in regards to reducing incoming damage. Once again, Theck brought the numbers. It's kinda like the anti-dodge. Whereas dodge makes the mob attack and not hit you, expertise simply makes the mob not swing at you. However, this has all the limitations of dodge, and another big one. Against certain mobs, Gormak the Impaler and Patchwerk being among the more famous, they don't parry haste at all. In those encounters, expertise does absolutely nothing to improve survivability.

Armor: Armor is flat damage reduction that only works against physical damage. It has all the strengths and weaknesses of flat DR, but also becomes absolutely useless in the face of magic damage.

Stamina: Stamina works by directly increasing a tank health pool. It works equally against magic and physical damage, does not suffer diminishing returns, and scales blessing of kings. It sounds like a delicious panacea, and in some regards, it is. However, it is a statistic that is subject to "magic numbers". The point of stam that lets you go from being two shot to three shot is so much more important than any point since the one that let you stop being one shot by the boss. What the majority of the points in between do is simply make for smaller overkill numbers. It does help with healer strain, but different itemization theory can sometimes be a smarter way to go when you find yourself in the wasteland between those magic numbers. However, while the situations where more stam is actually detrimental are very few and far between, they do exist. Fights with mechanics that scale off health can create a harder healing load. The most prominent example is Anub'Arak's leeching swarm.

Resistances: Resistances are a much more difficult thing to decide upon. If stacked, the right resistances can almost completely mitigate some of the hardest hitting magic abilities in the game. However, it does nothing against anything else. It's also on very specialized gear which asks you to make severe sacrifices in exchange for that resistance.

One finds the optimal balance of stats for an encounter by looking at the mechanics of the fight. You have to look for what kind of sources of damage there are, which ones can be avoided, which can be mitigated by armor, which will require cooldown coordination. One of the most important things to affect your gearing decision is the choke point of the fight, the point at which you are at your most vulnerable. For example, Gormak the Impaler is the choke point for tanks from an itemization standpoint. You need to ensure you can survive the impale DoT melee combo, and while phase two and phase three contain a good amount of magic damage, armor is still a strong choice for itemization due to the fact that Gormak is the biggest threat, and all the magic mitigation in the world doesn't save you when gormak punches you in the chops.

I suppose that someone with far more time and inclination than myself could analyze the parses of those encounters, and determine the choke points in the fights. Then they could theoretically refine that information into an effective health formula that takes into account all forms of survivability weighted by usefulness. The coefficients would change based on each encounter, and give us a valid mathematical setup for the gear set.

However, that's beyond something I feel like doing, so until then, all I can suggest is that instead of mindlessly adhering to the EH formula, do your own research on the encounter, and make educated decisions. Don't be the tank shunning avoidance for Deathbringer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tank Itemization Finally Comes Around.

Tarsus has a pretty good writeup on the datamined tanking gear coming in patch 3.3. What struck me about this particular tier of gear is how the itemization was done. I now know for a fact that I will be carrying at least two sets of tanking gear for Icecrown, possibly as many as 4. My bags cry out for mercy.

I will probably be building a heavy EH set to deal with fights like Rotface and Marrowgar, where large amounts of physical damage is the primary issue. This will be constructed out of badge and crafted gear. There's almost an entire plus armor set available. The chest, gloves, belt, and cloak from badges, and crafted pants. The chestpiece alone has more armor than any of the mages in my guild. Think about that, the mitigation you'll get from these pieces is the equivalent of having whole clothies strapped to you for protection. The gear, however, is not without its flaws. The high stam/high armor gear has almost no avoidance on it, and most of it is parry, which hits diminishing returns like Manny Pacquiao, hard and fast. It will be helpful on some fights, but in others, it will become a liability.

Then there's the T10 set. It's well balanced with regards to dodge and parry, and is possessed with a DR free boost to avoidance in the four piece set. This will be particularly powerful in the Deathbringer Saurfang encounter, where higher avoidance can allow the raid to avoid high amounts of damage late in the encounter when Marks begin to overwhelm the raid.

I'm also considering the usefulness of a Hodir style Frost Resist set for Sindragosa, however, I'm unsure of how much damage the tank will actually take from frost, as opposed to the melee. There's also the possibility of an Anub style block set for Lady Deathwhisper and Ogrim's Hammer, but the gap in the attack table due to Chill might make that untenable. Throw in a ret set of gear, and I have no bag space left... :(

All in all, my general progression set will probably be a combination of T10, along with Off set +armor pieces, along with dual stamina trinkets. But the diversity of the pieces allows us to customize our gear set for the encounters we struggle with, and this is a welcome change from previous tiers.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Alright, enough with the touchy feely bullshit for now. Time to man up, shove my emotions back into that compartment that's slowly causing me liver damage, and talk about something that affects all of us.

The Turkinator. As you know, there's a new holiday around, and the most difficult achievement for the meta is to gain Turkey Triumph. You earn this by gaining 40 stacks of turkey tracker. How do you gain turkey tracker? By killing wild turkeys in Elwynn Forest of course!

Now the difficulty lies in the fact that you have to kill at least one turkey every 30 seconds, or turkey tracker falls off. Combine that with massive amounts of competition for said fowl, and you've got this holiday's "dammit" achievement.

There are several tricks that will aid you in your quest for a new pet and mount.

  • Eat Tracker Snacks. These allow you to track beasts on your minimap, and turkey's are beastly in this game. Unfortunately, so are every wolf, bear, and boar that covers the forest. Use this for guidance, but reliance.
  • Use instant cast ranged nukes. Hand of Reckoning is ridiculously overpowered here, as is icy touch. Low cooldown, low cost, instant cast spells allow you to kill turkeys with maximum efficiency.
  • Use your mount as soon as you leave combat. Use crusader aura, or unholy presence, or anything that make your mount move faster, because every second counts.
  • Most importantly, be one step ahead. By the time you kill a turkey, you should know where the next kill is, and be looking for the one after that.
If you follow these guidelines you should find yourself with a thick Austrian accent, and a new pet and title very soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This One Hurt

We recently lost a group of five players to faction transfer. An enhance shaman, a resto druid, a rogue, an unholy DK, and a hunter. From a roster standpoint, it wasn't as bad of a loss as some previous players leaving was. The shaman's work schedule was so convoluted that he only made one 25 man raid per month. We've got DKs, Hunters, and Rogues falling out of every orifice, so to be honest, all their leaving does is open the door for someone else to step up, and should allow us to diversify our raiding comp. I've already got a mage to replace the hunter, and a feral druid to replace the rogue. I could probably force one of our other DPS DKs to go unholy for Ebon Plaguebringer, and use the freed roster spot to bring in an arms warrior for trauma. The resto druid is the biggest loss, as she was our only currently raiding resto druid. But hopefully the tree who's raiding spot she took will get his computer back from the shop soon, and would nullify that issue.

One of the reasons this particular loss hurt more than most was what these five did outside of raids. When I felt like running BGs to crush the horde, they were the first to jump in. When I wanted to run BWL so I could grab the elementium to finish the sceptre of the shifting sands quest line, they were the ones who followed me into Nefarian's Lair. When we downed Algalon and 1 light, they were the first players I boosted to get their drakes and titles. Several of them took the time to hunt me down on facebook which was something that only the other officers in the guild took the time to do.

If that weren't enough, their actions the last few days before their departure kind of rubbed salt in the wound. When I was talking to guild members about how we were going to handle the upcoming Icecrown raid, 3 of them assured me that they would be there for us. Less than 24 hours later they were gone. With a couple of them already accepted into endgame raiding guilds hordeside, Great Men in History and Crypt Friends, I know that that was something they had to have been planning in advance. I don't like being jerked around like that. 3 of them took ilevel 245 weapons from guild runs, less than 48 hours before they left. The rogue in particular, was frantically burning through his DKP during the last raid, and in hindsight, that looked pretty suspicious. One of them even had the gall to clean out everything his rank would allow him to take from the gbank.

I've dealt with some rough times in Azeroth. I've had two guilds collapse on me and leave me out on my own. Legacy very nearly did, until I decided to take the reigns. I've fought my way up from pugs that couldn't clear Noth in Naxx ten, all the way up to an Algalon kill and Tribute to Insanity. I've dealt with far more important raiders leaving than this group, but for some reason this one just cut deeper than the others. I feel taken advantage of.

Normally in a situation like this, I just kick the person, kick their alts, ban them from vent, and blacklist them from guild activities, and recruit their replacement. But this time, I'm kinda at a loss for what I should do. This isn't the neurotic holy paladin that we all knew would snap someday, it's not the mouthy warlock who's only tolerated because he pulls 5k DPS, or the mage who always seems like he'd rather be playing arenas. These were some of the closest people I had in Azeroth to friends. I trusted them, and this whole ordeal not only calls into question their actions, but it calls into question myself for having such trust in them.

I'm truly at a loss for how I should deal with this. Should I go scorched earth, and ruin any chance that the last week was a misunderstanding? Or should I leave them access, and possibly just let a frustrating wound fester?

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's in a Name?

Gravity, of Pwnwear, asked his readers what was the name of their characters, and why did they choose that name. I've only got two relevant characters, my Paladin, and my DK.

Dämmerung is my first character ever, and my main character. Prot spec since day one. His name is German, it means Twilight. I pulled the name from the fourth act of Richard Wagner's epic 15 hour opera Der Ring des Nibelungen, Götterdämmerung. One of the reasons I choose the name was the duality of it. In addition to twilight, Dämmerung is also the german word for dawn. The beginning and the end, just as the tank is the first one in the fight, and the last one to leave. That, and I kind of hear Ride of the Valkyries playing in my head whenever I pull. One of the fortuitous things about my choice of name and class is that most of the endgame titles suit it very well, Of the Nightfall, Starcaller, Argent Defender, Crusader, Argent Champion, Wrath is a good time to be a paladin with a name related to the night sky.

Czernobög started out as my token DK, because well, everyone has a token DK. He's evolved from a glorified bank alt, into an unstoppable blood spec killing machine, and a comical unholy tank for the occasional heroic on the side. The name is derived from a character in Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods. In it, Czernobog was the Slavic deity of blood, darkness, and winter. Blood, Unholy, and Frost, the parallels seemed obvious. I threw in a gratuitous umlaut, as I do in most of my character names, in order to throw off the annoying gold spam and phishing whispers that plague my server.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why warlocks are a tanks worst nightmare.

Honors, over at Honor's Code has begun to notice a disturbing trend. The DPS are begining to catch up to him in threat. This is mostly because their itemization is more focused into the field of damage dealing, this means that as gear level increases, the DPS's damage output increases more rapidly than the tank's does. That's because we have more important things to focus on, like not getting one shotted by the angry crypt lord. The good news is that this means that your DPSers are doing more damage, the bad news is that this is only going to get worse.

Honors found that the two worst culprits are a destro lock and a hunter. The lock is the worse of the two, however, Honors is baffled because he knows the lock's a good player. Well,the reason why locks, and Destro locks in particular create aggro issues for tanks is oddball design on blizzard's part. Destro Locks have a talent called destructive reach. It decreases the threat of their destruction spells by 10%. This does not reduce their threat on their Aff or Demo spells. They can go into the affliction tree and get imp drain soul to get a 10% reduction in threat on their aff spells. This means that at any given time, a warlock's threat is being reduced by, at most, 10%.

Death Knights get a 25% reduction on all attacks from subterfuge.
Moonkins get a 25% reduction on all attacks from Nature's Reach.
Ferals get a 30% reduction just for being in cat form.
Mages get a 40% reduction on arcane spells from arcane subtlty, and a 10% reduction on fire spells from burning soul.
Ret Paladins get a 30% reduction on all attacks from Fanaticism.
Shadow priests get a 25% reduction on all shadow damage from shadow affinity.
Rogues get a 30% reduction on all attacks for being a rogue. Plus tricks.
Ele shamans get a 30% threat reduction on all spells from elemental precision.
Enhance Shamans get 30% reduction on all attacks from spirit weapons.
Warriors get a 20% reduction on all attacks when not in defensive stance, and fury warriors get an additional 10% from improved beserker stance.

The only class with less threat reduction than a lock is... a hunter. However, both classes come with tools to allow them to manage aggro. Hunter, with misdirection and feign death should never pull aggro. Warlocks have soul shatter. Their primary threat reduction ability is on a 3 minute cooldown. Their secondary threat reduction ability is death. Naturally, we don't want them to use the second one, so careful management of soulshatter is important. Along with that comes careful management of threat. Warlocks aren't like hunters, where they can just go, "Oh shit, feign death!" A warlock who pulls aggro is very quickly a dead warlock.

On some fights, such as hodir, the second half of Destructive Reach comes into play. If the boss is tauntable, a warlock might set up with the tank a plan where the warlock actually pulls aggro, the tank quickly taunts back, and the lock then shatters. That tank gets a threat boost, and the warlock gets breathing room. The other method is to methodically ride the tank's threat. I had a raiding warlock who was pro at this, and it freaked me out the first few times I raided with him. This takes advantage of the mechanics of threat. A warlock at range must hit 130% of the current aggro target's threat in order to pull. So while you see a lock blowing past you on omen, their threat meter shows them happily sitting at 85% of the threat needed to pull. Although on Hodir in particular, you get some hilarious moments where fight mechanics force the lock into melee range of the boss, where only 110% threat will pull, and the boss promptly kills them.

In the end, the key to working with a destro lock is communication. In order to maximize their DPS, they will likely be putting out more damage than you can put out in threat. Both of you need to know if there's a hand of salvation or soulshatter available. Both of you need to know if the boss is tauntable, and if the fight mechanics might force the lock into melee range. By being one step ahead of the boss, the lock can still put out killer DPS and not take an impale to the face.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The 8 words any paladin in tier 10 must know.

"It's not a dress, it's a war kilt,"

Honestly, even though judgement armor was the best looking tier of all time, I'm not a fan of the plate mail dress. However, there's another phrase we should all learn.

"At least it's not tier 5!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Do You Tank?

Well, Elle, the warlock, turned shaman, turned tank-on-the-side, ran a healer survey that looked into the personal style and opinions of healers across the blogosphere. She then asked for someone to cook up a tanking version. Well, I don't know anything about healing, but I've been tanking since my first level, so I guess I'll kick one off.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
I run with Dämmerung, a human protection paladin with a 0/53/18 spec.

What is your usual tanking environment?
I run 10 and 25 man raids, with an emphasis on 10 man progression, along with the occasional 5 man.

What is your favorite encounter to tank, and why?
Firefighter is a personal favorite from a tanking standpoint, although I know my healers hate it, because it presents a comprehensive tanking challenge. Phase one is a phase of personal mitigation through cooldown coordination, phase two is a phase of raid mitigation and maximum personal damage output, phase three is a phase of rapid add pickup and movement, and phase four is a complex kite. Firefighter is essentially two phases of main tanking, and two phases of off tanking, and due to the movement and spawning of the fires and frost bombs the movement of the fight is different each time. If you can solo tank firefighter, then you are capable, from a skill standpoint, of tanking any encounter in the game.

What is your least favorite encounter to tank, and why?
Probably Loatheb, it's fairly mundane, and there have been some attempts where I literally left myself auto attacking so I could go check the fridge about a minute into the fight. Patchwerk is a close second, but at least he has enough incoming damage to make for some interesting kills.

What do you think is the biggest strength of your class, and why?
Paladins are currently a very strong tanking class, and while Druids have better survivability, and Warriors have a more diverse toolkit, Paladins are untouchable when it comes to single target threat. This allows our raid's DPSers to go full bore, without even the need for a feign death or invis, and on the fights where they can get buffs to imbalance things, we can salv them ourselves to maintain the threat lead. Also, the lack of a spammy queue move like heroic strike mean that we're the only tanking class for whom carpal tunnel is not a valid concern.

What do you think is the biggest weakness of your class, and why?
Lack of an interrupt. I know that druids are in the same boat as us, but lacking anything that can interrupt on a semi regular basis is incredibly frustrating. Having to tote my personal pet enhance shaman around to any fights that require an interrupt when another tanking class could do it on their own is kinda embarrassing. I'm not saying that we should get the absurd amount of interrupts that the warriors from the Swiss Army get, but something that's off the GCD with like a 12-14 second cooldown would be a huge quality of life bonus.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is the best tanking assignment for you?
Whatever's the toughest assignment for the encounter, with three caveats. Snap AoE aggro on more than 4 mobs is difficult for paladins, so whelp tanking on Sarth or Ony tends to end up being very... interesting. Two, is the aforementioned lack of an interrupt, so put me on Steelbreaker, not Stormcaller Brundir. And Three, that the other Prot Pally in my guild, who's better than me, isn't already doing the tough work. Other than that, I'll dig up adds, I'll kite snaplashers, kite worms, haul constructs, and any other role that might be less glamorous than letting Ignis punch me in the face, but is much more difficult.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the most?
I feel that the amazing toolbox that a warrior has lends themselves well to complimenting a paladin. Being able to hit interrupts, fly across the battlefield, and control mobs efficiently makes them solid at cleaning up anything that escapes. Another paladin would be a close second due to the raid utility that they bring, bringing two different external cooldowns plus LoH.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the least?
Well, I guess I would have to say a druid, because it seems like they don't exist on my server. Plus they don't bring a consistent interrupt, nor can many of their external cooldowns (rebirth, innervate, etc.), be used while actually tanking. Their survivability is enviable, but their utility is not.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
I tank on my laptop, with my touchpad... it's my secret shame.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
People who aren't tanks pulling things. I pull when I'm ready, and if it's something that requires an oddball pull from a hunter or imp, I'll ask for it. Otherwise, you're just making my life harder.

Do you feel your class/spec is balanced with respect to the other tanking classes?
I feel that while the classes are missing some of the tools, for the most part, aside from DKs, all the tanking classes are currently in a good place. Death Knights got dismantled in patch 3.2, and need some serious work to fix. Some of those things are being addressed in patch 3.3, others, such as the lack of an AP debuff, still leave DKs kinda out in the cold.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
I use Recount to figure out why I died, and if there was something I could have done to prevent it. TankadinTPS to check my threat output. But really what I've found to be the best tool for self improvement as a tank is my own Catholic guilt. I make a point of knowing exactly how I want an encounter to go down. I make a note of every little error I make, be it something drastic, like accidentally diving into the chasm Kologarn stands in, or minor, like like accidentally facing a parry hasting mob into the melee for a second. Those errors eat at me, and drive me to never repeat them. And while it probably isn't that healthy, it has gotten me from on a trial account during Hallow's End 2008, to riding a Rusted Proto Drake with the Starcaller title before Hallow's End 2009, so I can't complain too much.

What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with your tanking class?
Paladins are no longer the "Hyjal Trash Tank". Death Knights and Druids are actually surpassing our sustained AoE threat output, and Warriors are now much better on the actual pickup than we are. The days of "Stand in my consecrate and ye shall live!" are over. We've given that up for the ability to be legitimate main tanks, versatile enough to fulfill most any role required.

What do you think is the toughest thing for new players of your class to learn about tanking?
That there's more to being a paladin tank than simply tanking. You can learn and master the 969 rotation, you can have your positioning down perfectly, but because you are a paladin, there is yet more you can do. You should be able to: Throw Hand of Salvation on an overzealous DPSer, Hand of Freedom a player snared in the path of the bad stuff on the floor, LoH an OoM healer or freshly rezed player, Hand of Protection a healer who drew the ire of the whelps, and find the right spot in an encounter for the clutch divine sacrifice to make life easier for your raid and your healers. You need to be able to do all that, and STILL do everything all the other tanks are asked to do... except interrupt.

If someone were to evaluate your tanking ability via tools like fraps, recount, and World of Logs, what tendencies would they notice?
I'm extremely strong in terms of survivability and sustained threat. However, I tend to be very minimalist in my movements, which is nice for fights like Thorim where you're supposed to keep him still, but has occasionally gotten me yelled at by the melee DPSers who find Grobbulus' slime pools to be creeping a little close. This also leads to me being a little weak on the initial pickup, because I have a tendency to pick where I want to tank the mob, and get the mob there. Sometimes that becomes frustrating when I taunt a mob, and watch a Warlock conflag it before it gets within 10 yards of me. I do however multitask very well, and can use the full range of paladin abilities in my tanking style.

Stamina or Avoidance, and why?
If forced to choose, I'll take stamina, due to the encounter design in wrath, pretty much everything that threatens a tank is unavoidable. However, that's not to say that avoidance is useless, I'll take everything blizzard gives me.

Which tanking class do you understand the least?
Due to their scarcity, I have much less experience with bears than any other class.

What addons or macros do you currently use to aid you in tanking?
I use Icehud and Parrot to give me a good idea of what's going on with me and the mob I'm tanking, without having to look away from the floor from which all bad things arise. I use omen, not so much to track my own threat, but to track the other raiders so I know if someone might need a salve. I use pitbull to allow my shift click out the various hand and cleanse spells if need be. Recount for post fight analysis, and CLSaver because I always forget to start logging. I also use tanktotals for raid warnings when I use cooldowns. DBM is also a godsend. And to control this unwieldy mess of programs, along with my non raiding addons, I use Addon Control Panel.

Do you strive for a balance in tanking stats, or do you stack some higher than others, and why?
I tend to stack stamina, every gem I use has a stamina component to it, however, I strive to maximize my itemization, I'll hit my socket bonuses, unless it's something incredibly stupid, like spell pen. I throw Agil/Stam in red sockets, Def/Stam in Yellow sockets, and straight stam in blue sockets. When choosing enchants, I tend to stay away from the oddball proc enchants like Bladeward and Blood Draining, and select the enchants that give me the best itemization, like Accuracy.

And now comes the romp. I'm gonna pick a few of the tanking bloggers that I read with regularity and hopefully they'll pick this thing up too.
  • I'll start with Elle, as she was the one who came up with the idea.
  • Next up will be Honors, of Honor's Code.
  • And we have to have a warrior, so Tarsus, from Tanking For Dummies is a great choice to represent the original tank.
  • Ridach, at Righteous Defense was one of the first wow bloggers I started reading.
  • Because we need a Death Knight, I'd like the very analytical Gravity of Pwnwear to give it a shot.
  • And because we have entirely too few druids, and alliance tanks, the eponymous Big Bear Butt.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More LoH stupidity.

This just in on the PTR...

Lay on Hands: This ability now places Forbearance on the target
and cannot be used on a target with Forbearance.

*Sigh* I don't understand the thought process here. Honestly. Lay on Hands isn't even usable in Arenas, so this isn't a PvP nerf. It was a decent tool in the holy paladin's arsenal, however, it was of minimal use at best for protection specs. Now, however, it's a real problem for Holy Paladins healing Protection Paladins. Forebearance is a poorly thought out mechanic, and is useful a fix here as a gauze bandage soaked in anthrax.

Now, because someone else cast something on me, I can't use my shield wall. Holy Paladins, who had legitimate uses for a talented LoH to improve tank survivability on physical damage encounters are now barred from using it as such due to locking a paladin out of his tanking cooldowns. You don't see warriors unable to use Shield Wall for two minutes because someone put Pain Supression on them.

The obvious solution for this is to remove the forbearance requirement from Divine Protection. However, giving paladins a chainable damage reduction would imbalance PvP according to devs. If only they could tie the DR to some sort of tanking stat that no ret or holy paladin would carry, kinda like they did with Ardent Defender and Icebound Fortitude...

Listen up crabman, because I'm going to solve all your problems right here. Here's your new design for Divine Protection in 3.3.
Divine Protection: prevents damage scaling with defense rating to a maximum of 50% at 689 defense rating.
That's all you need. No more need to worry about it's strength in PvP, or how it can be chained with Avenging Wrath. Tanks can use their threat boost without worrying about their survivability, while Rets can use divine protection all they want and gain nothing for it. Holy Paladins can cast lay on hands on whoever they want without fear of gimping their own cooldowns.

Honestly, we're the only tanking class with a debuff associated with our primary cooldown. Who's bright idea was that?

The Chill of the Throne.

Well, a lot of bloggers have thrown in their two copper on the Chill of the Throne, the 20% nerf to dodge in the upcoming Icecrown Citadel raid instance. This has brought up concerns with tanking balance, due to the imbalanced distribution for avoidance between the tanking classes. So I decided to take a look at how this is going to affect each class.

Warriors: This will be a reduction in the amount of revenge procs they get, however, the existence of critical block means that if the bosses hit softer than the ones in Ulduar or ToC, then shield block will become a significant physical damage reduction cooldown.

Druids: Dodge is the only source of avoidance that druids have, however, because of their lower avoidance, they have been blessed with more stamina and armor than their fellow tanks. This causes the increase in damage intake to actually be lower than it is for the other tanking classes. This will also help reduce the overlap in Savage Defense usage, when combined with the increased crit and AP they will gain from the higher itemization.

Paladins: Paladins are getting hit pretty hard. The 20% dodge reduction makes it difficult for a paladin in a serious progression gear set to remain unhittable with just Holy Shield up. Normally, paladins were the ones with the most to gain from decreased boss melee damage, because they could count on block value as true mitigation. This is no longer the case. We will find ourselves relying on redoubt procs to fill out the last portion of the attack table. This also severely decreases the overall value of our T10 4 piece set bonus.

Death Knights: Death Knights will be hit the hardest by the changes. They lack any form of block, so they don't benefit from the decreased melee damage, as the decreased avoidance will cause them to take pretty much the same incoming DPS as they are now, it will just be less spiky. They also suffer from a threat nerf in the form of Rune Strike. Their threat will suffer more than a warrior's because rune strike is their primary threat tool, and they don't have block to proc it, so they'll lose a greater portion of their procs. They will, however, likely be the highest avoidance tank in ICC, due to their higher parry values.

What can healers expect? Not a significant amount of change in the healing style. Damage intake should remain reasonably close to the current model, however, the spikes will be less drastic. You'll still be spammy in your heals, but more often there will actually be a need for the healing, so the overhealing will drop significantly.

This effects overall stat weights. Decreased boss damage increases the value of stamina because it reduces the gap between the magic numbers that buy you another hit between heals. It also increases the value of block value, and by extension, strength for shield users, and agility for bears. Agility in particular jumps in value for druids, because it gives them more block rating, block value, and armor. Dodge and Parry become a little less valuable, because with lower overall avoidance, more avoidance becomes less valuable. However, the value of dodge versus parry remains the same. You should not be gemming for parry in icecrown, unless you've already got more than 1.88 times as much dodge rating.

One serious gemming consideration I'd suggest for any tanks out there right now is to replace any +dodge gems with +agility gems. The increased armor will make up for the loss in avoidance, with a healthy chunk of threat baked in. While bears benefit more, all tanks will benefit more from agility than dodge.

From an itemization standpoint, I don't think this has pushed us to the point where we should abandon all attempts at balance and throw solid majestic zircons in every slot. I do think, however, that dual stamina trinkets with on demand cooldowns should be the standard for the normal progression tanking gear set. A Scarab+Heart of Iron combo will serve you well. This has, oddly enough, made Fervor of the Frostborn slightly less useless. For undergeared tanks who want to attempt to push into Icecrown who don't have access to some of these trinkets, the Glyph of Indomitability is actually more powerful the lower your overall gear level is due to the inverse scaling of armor. For primarily physical damage encounters, the Glyph will yield more effective health than the Heart of Iron if you have less than 24k armor. However, the glyph is absolutely useless on fights where the majority of the damage is magical in nature.

All said, the key to the majority of these predictions is the assumption that Blizzard will tone down the melee damage of the bosses in Icecrown. The mechanics are the deciding factor. This makes all tanks even more vulnerable to special boss atacks that do not reset their swing timer, such as Impale or Fusion Punch. The risk of having an unavoided hit line up with those abilities in an unhealably short window has increased. This has been the major threat to tanks in most difficult encounters in recent memory. Sustained melee damage is only a threat to groups with undergeared tanks or healers, and this is going to punish them the most. Most of the guilds that are already preparing for Icecrown will have no trouble with the Chill, however, the guilds that are new to raiding will find themselves getting bounced out even faster than guilds in similar positions did in Ulduar.