Monday, March 10, 2008

Off-spec Tanking as a Warrior

So today I buckled. I went prot on my alt. This makes sense for me (all he does is instance grind) but I don’t SUGGEST it for anyone doing quests. It is plenty easy to tank as arms (and I’d assume fury) you just need to understand a FEW things.

First off, and this is a big one, taunt is not an aggro generator. It’s an aggro DUPLICATOR, but it generates no aggro, and is supposed to be used only if you’re not on top of the threat meter. It will duplicate the person who has the highest threat, and then it’s your job to push it up past that. This can be done with any of your abilities, but its best to use high aggro ones such as sunder.

There are two really good uses of taunt. The first is obvious, saving whoever got aggro. Taunt, sunder or shield bash (shield bash costs less than sunder, and does a fair chunk o’ threat, so it’s a good way to just get you some damage so you can get threat so you can really lock the mob down) and go on your merry tanking way. Another use that I like is to taunt a CC’d mob (forcing it to stick to you) break the CC and then proceed on not having to chase a mob half way across an instance because SOME FOOL decided to attack a sheep wildly before it got sheeped.

Oh yes, I hate it when that happens. NOT THAT IT EVER HAS. *cough*

Now, spamming sunder is good and all, especially for trash mobs, but when you’re on a boss, you get your five sunders up, and it still has a fair chunk of health. Darn that boss for being so health-filled! :)

So what do you do? Sunder is ok to reapply (and I did for my first few boss fights) but look at your tool tips. Remember that skill you used to use to deal damage? It was called heroic strike. And it’s your friend again.

I linked the lowest level, and even it “causes a high amount of threat”. Up till level 66, it deals damage, and causes threat. At 66, it gets a bit more damage if you’ve happened to shield slam a mob lately (or get some other daze applied to it) but other than that, its high damage (higher if the mob is dazed) and high threat.

That is TOTAL win for you, Mr. Arms (or Fury) Tank. Heck, its total win for any tank needing to dump rage. But more importantly, it gives you something good to do on boss fights. Couple that with MS or BT (depending on spec) after 5 sunders, and you should be able to keep aggro.

Besides spamming sunder, and the heroic strike/spec special spam on bosses, there isn’t much to tanking as Arms or Fury. It’s a bit more tough (no extra threat, no extra health, no extra damage reduction, no extra armor bonus, no last stand) but its still VERY doable. Until 70 at least ;)

A few tips. If you’re Arms, and have blood frenzy, keep rend up at all times. I know, it’s rend, it sucks, but it gives 4% extra threat. And once you get spell reflect LOVE IT BIG. It’s amazing, and can save you from nasty 2k hits (1st boss in SP you can spell reflect his lightning bolts, saving you 2k health and dealing him 2k damage). Also, couple shield block with Revenge (I didn’t mention revenge did I, use it, it’s 5 rage for nice threat) as a block triggers Revenge and Revenge is good to throw out ;)

I wanted to go really in-depth into this but then I realized there wasn’t much to it. If you bound every key to sunder you could probably slam your head against the keyboard and not do TOO bad. At least if the rest of your group doesn’t suck.

I need to go get myself into an instance now, 5% off from my Crystalblade of the Draenai :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Alts alts alts!

So I mentioned in my first post that I had a retired 70 hunter. I’m going to bring him out of retirement I think, maybe just for a bit, and PvP with him.

My alt warrior, Gisli, is 65, has tanked the first four outlands instances as Arms, needs a new sword for tanking, and finally gotten the plate gloves off of the first boss in BF. In that same run only myself and a healer from my guild (an epic healer at that) were left alive on the last boss after miscommunications and big shadow bolt nova hits on the last boss. The boss had around 40%-50% life. We killed him.

I created a dwarf hunter on my brother’s server. Going to level him as survival, the only hunter tree I haven’t dabbled enough in.

My rogue can pick 225 boxes. Woot! I could have him sit in Org and offer to open those up for a tip, would probably net him a bit of cash.

My priest is rotting. Oh poor priest. I should play him some day.

I’m hanging up my hunter on Area 52 for the two ally hunters I have. Just can’t seem to get into leveling him as BM. Oh well.

I deleted a level 3 warlock on Area 52, just because I could. Really, I had no reason to, I just did it.

Alts are wonderful. I’ve got a PvP toy, another PvP toy that will probably be a heroics toy, a rogue (everyone needs a rogue! Lock picking ftw) and some others that are just random mess around alts. And they’re a great distraction for when I just don’t feel like standing around Shatt pretending I’m doing something.

I’m going to write up a little bit about tanking as Arms tomorrow at school, or maybe the next day as I really want to go into it a bit, but all this week I plan on having SOMETHING up every day, so there will be at least SOMETHING tomorrow. Let’s hope I can keep that rolling past this week ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


So I like Kara’s design, it’s pretty, it’s interesting, and it’s easy. Terribly, terribly easy. With the exception of Netherspite (get in the damned beams!), Nightbane (why do the skellies always kill the squishies?), and MAYBE Curator (if your gear is lacking and such) than there shouldn’t be that many problems. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park, but its nowhere near the next 10man.

Zul’Aman. It’s not pretty, it’s still interesting, and it’s much harder. I’m not saying it’s necessarily hard, but the difference between it and Kara is astounding.

I ran ZA for the first time last night. Whoa. That was fun. I’ve not been in a really challenging instance since the last time I had a bad tank in a heroic. And we had two good tanks. It was cool; I actually had to pay attention.

All right, maybe I’m exaggerating about not paying attention, I mean, I have to make up for the other healers not being overly geared. Which is another thing I loved, I was, by far, the worst geared healer, and I was still pumping out good heals per second. I was at roughly 600HPS for most of the instance. The other paladin was around 650-700. The priest started low (500) but after the bear started to shoot up and ended at around 725HPS.

And I picked up a new chest piece (woot for a PvE epic chest, with mad MP5) but more importantly, woot for playing with a group at or above me in gear. I loved it. I want that. That was fun and that was engaging.

What is the reason for today’s post? Well, besides that I need to post something (I’ve been gone for too long! My 4 readers might start to miss me! :)) I wanted to note how matching your gear to what you’re doing and who you’re joining is only going to make you enjoy your time in game more.

If you’re in a guild, and you’ve got the same gear level as them, don’t leave! Work with your guild, which I hope you enjoy, making all of you better, and you’ll have lots of fun doing it. Trust me. Otherwise, you’re probably a greedy raider, so leave, and let all the decent people get their gear :). BUT if you’re looking for a guild, and you’ve left another guild for any reason, and you have pretty good gear, go with your gear level. You’ll make friends wherever you go. Unless you met some amazing player who’s all mighty and powerful and makes you so happy to be graced by their presence, even though their gear sucks, you want to be matched by your gear. It will help you get a bit more enjoyment out of the game.

I really liked going to Kara with my guild. I loved ZA with my friend’s guild.

It’s just that simple if you’re looking for a guild :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leveling alts

I’ve not been here very long, and I want to make sure that the habit of posting about Kara doesn’t become a style. So this post is going to mix it up some, and talk about alts.

First off, I hate (seriously, its hate) leveling casters. It has nothing to do with how they play, but more that they are so reliant on mana. I don’t like stopping every few fights to mana up. I can’t play a caster for very long before I get dreadfully tired, and wish I was doing something else. This is funny, because I really want to play a mage and priest end game, because the concept, even with all the drinking, just seems fun. Even with the taste of leveling them. Maybe I’m delusional, but I don’t see them with having anywhere near the mana problems of leveling casters (nor should they have the problems with decent gear!)

Leveling them has never seemed fun. The idea of drinking every few pulls has never seemed fun. But I’ve struggled with a priest up to 43, and another one up to 32, and a mage up to 38. And every time I’ve had fun in one area of the game.

Instances are great on caster alts. At least, if you have the mana dependency problems that I do, they are. I never find that I have to mana up so much, someone else is taking the hurt for me, and I’m working with people. I play this game for the people more than anything else, so maybe the next time I take up the mantle of clothie I should just try a good instance grind to 70.

Melee characters are a whole different game. Gear dependency as a melee class is insane, but your ability to grind is equally so. It makes doing world quests easy, fun, entertaining, and is likely a major reason in why so many people are warriors and rogues.

The proof behind the gear dependency can be displayed through my two highest level alts, my rogue Suterusu and my warrior Gisli. Gisli got every new weapon that was an improvement for him as fast as possible. I bought an AH sword for 90g (instead of getting my epic mount, I bought a sword :) and got a frost wolf instead) that he uses right now, and is a great sword for leveling. Suterusu has never strained to get weapons. I had both the SM and RFD quests for swords in my bag, and I never got them, simply because I don’t like those instances. Gisli is going to be my next 70. Suterusu I have to strain myself to play, because his DPS is so abysmal that he has problems killing mobs his level.

Casters on the other hand don’t gain anywhere near as much from gear. A bit of intellect (for less mana problems) and stamina (for less death problems) is about all that you really care about while leveling. Spell damage, hit, and crit are just nice bonuses.

So now pick your poison, gear dependency or mana problems. I’m a gear dependency sort of person, but that might only be because they don’t have mana bandages ;)

One side note; hunters fall in neither of these categories. They can successfully get to 70 with level 20ish gear, which means no mana and little DPS of their own. I’m not saying that at 70 they take no skill (in fact, I place them as one of the hardest classes to do really well in anything besides solo play), but if you want an easy class to get to 70, hunters are it.

Feed me!

Ok, honestly, I just wanted to make that joke.  I do have a nifty little feed thing on the page now though, and I'm sure my subscribers will be abysmally low for the time being, but hey, I keep sitemeter around because I'm so interested in how many views I get, might as well have some way of knowing how many subscribers I have :)

Learning in Kara =O

First off, I just want to say, this post is dedicated to Rhoe! Thanks Rhoe, for all the hard work you’ve done! You’ll be proudly placed on my blog roll minutes after I’m done with this post.

ANYWAYS, I’m going to write a little bit about maximizing healing as a holy paladin in Kara with gear that destroys the place and a druid who manages to keep almost everyone in the raid topped 90% of the time.

So I was in Kara last night. First time with the new guild, and it was a very….enlightening….run. The group got up to Opera (fell short of their normal stopping point at Curator due to new people and starting late). A good deal of the raid was new to raiding or had never raided with the guild before. At least, that’s what I gathered during the run.

While I definitely won’t argue guild policies (especially being a new member and that being my first run) I will point out that the group had more potential than we used. Yes, we had 2 wipes. One of them was due to someone not knowing that Maiden has a very large aggro range and we were positioning for her. The other, a missed kick on Julianne (or whatever her name is o_o). These weren’t really skill issues though. The healers were all amazing (I’ll try to get the screen cap of the healing meters I took, I wish I had run recount, but I decided not to because it was my first run with the guild and I didn’t to be focused on something so trivial).

But all in all it was a good run, and I learned something I hadn’t ever really noticed before. See, I was a good deal, the best geared healer. Does that make me the best? Not by a long shot. I’ve out-healed plenty of people with better gear, but that has more to do with timing than with judgment. But EVERY other run I’ve been on to Kara I’ve been the low man on the totem pole of healing gear (except that time when we got replacements…but I refuse to call that a run :)). So I’ve always had to be fast on my heals, or else I’d be useless. I do mean useless, because I can barely recall any fight short of that PUG I went on that my heals were really *needed* and so I was more of a safety than anything else.

And I was maybe just a safety in this run too, but I was actually given a tank to heal, and I recall a few times where it was good I could toss a FoL over to the main tank, because he might not have needed it, but I’m sure both he and his healer wanted it. On that note, my FoLs matter because we had light on the tanks, and a tree in their group. My FoL crits were HUGE.

So my job was to heal the off tank and secondly to be a spot healer for the raid. Cool enough, I normally end up as a spot healer anyways. But man oh man is it different to know that you’re the back up to the druid and the main healer for the tank, instead of back up for the main healers and more in charge of dealing with the raid.

Judgment is much more important than timing now. As a spot healer, you have to just pick and spam. It’s not that hard, and it more requires cognizance of AoE damage, who is most likely to be hit, and who is already lacking a bit of health. Not difficult.

Tank healing has a different spin on it. You KNOW your tank is going to be damaged. You also know that the druid in the group is likely going to have a HoT on him, and he’s not going to be taking as much of a beating from the mobs as someone who wasn’t a tank would. So now judgment comes into play. You can focus solely on your tank, and only try to toss out a heal if someone looks like they are in an emergency. With a low mana pool, this might make more sense. But it makes for a bad healer.

Ok, ok, it’s probably not a case that the healer is BAD. However, you’re not contributing as much as you could. And that’s what limits potentially great raids. So what do you do? You use judgment.

Every single healer should have some form of UI interface that shows them everybody’s health bars. I use XPerl. I’m sure there are others. I think Blizzards basic interface even has a clunky version. JUST MAKE SURE YOU CAN SEE EVERYONE’S HEALTH.

Next, make sure you know the power of your heals. This is more important to what I like to call the comfort zone. I don’t like anyone falling below 80%. Anyone. And that is my comfort zone. If everyone has greater than 80%, I’m fine and dandy and skippy. When people start to fall below, I start to get more serious. I then start to pick my heals very carefully, because if they’re consistently falling that much, then I know I need to be watching more health bars more carefully. Maybe I should be starting to toss heals out more judiciously.

Let me give you an example. Maiden last night had 3 melee (2 rogues and a warrior tank), 4 healers (the main tank was a paladin and he stepped back to help heal), and 3 ranged DPS (2 warlocks and a hunter). I was assigned at the beginning of the raid to the warrior tanking Maiden. With 2 more free healers though (main tank to healer meant that his healer would be freed up) I was certain that I could more carefully watch my tanks bars and not be so worried with everyone else.

Not so. Not at all. I don’t really know what happened, but I think the main tank was taking a lot more damage than I thought he would, and the 2 “free” healers were mainly focused on him. That or everyone in the raid was taking a lot more, so the additional heals were needed to keep everyone up. Again, I’m not sure, but EVERYONE was taking some major heat from her. And only one person died (It was a warlock, and I think he got holy fired twice in a row, and we didn’t heal him fast enough between them). But I had to carefully watch much more than just the tanks. “My” melee to BoS was a rogue, and he was my second priority after the tank. Then I had to prioritize the rest. This is what I came up with.

Tank => “My” Rogue => Myself => Holy Paladin 2 => Tree => Prot Paladin => Rogue 2 => Warlock 1 + Warlock 2

Notice there is only 9 people on that list, the hunter was left out because of her position adjacent to me, and therefore, LoS’d due to a pillar.

And so I watched everyone’s health, and judged according to that list and their health to see who gets my current FoL.

I really liked how it worked out. I think I noticed a slight improvement on my mana efficiency (and considering that the tanks were getting for more, this was impressive) and I noticed lots of less overhealing, because I was letting the druid pick up those who needed a heal less.

So, great run, learned some stuff, got some badges (I think I’ll pick up the badge shield next, unless I get the Kara shield this run through, because quite frankly, I need that shield way more than I need any of the other very tempting pieces :)).

Here’s to Friday being just as great a run!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blog Azeroth

Welcome Blog Azeroth members! I hope o_o

I found Blog Azeroth from….Dodge! Parry! Spin! (Edit: I was wrong, it's Parry! Dodge! Spin!) I think….I’ll have to check when I get back to school tomorrow, and while I have no idea if anyone is actually clicking on the link that I put in the introduction post, I’m going to assume they are :). I'm loving the idea of Blog Azeroth, and I hope it helps get me motivated to really push out some cool articles (and help me find a way to present them well!)

So anyone from Blog Azeroth, or anywhere, hi, welcome to my little blog (with a whole 2 people reading it before you guys!) I hope you have a good time, and someone comments on a post so I get motivated enough to post something cool ;)