Archive for the ‘Raiding’ Category

Getting your shield up to date for Icecrown

18/01/2010

I’m a shield collector; I admit it. I do like my weapons, don’t get me wrong, and The Sun Eater will always be my favourite drop ever. But I’m a tank, a warrior tank damn it, so my shield is like my heart because it’s constantly on display and ready to be deployed at a moments notice to protect myself and my allies.

So, following on from Veneretio’s post on weapon progression throughout this expansion, here’s the shield version for those who are wondering where to pick up the best options moving into Icecrown. I’m sticking to the five-man instances and ten-man raids, as that’s what my guild does and it’s where the most ease of access is to be found. Therefore, don’t look to find Hero’s Surrender, Wall of Terror or the Forlorn Barrier in this list. You certainly won’t be hearing about the Bulwark of Algalon.

Oops… You just did.

Anyway…

From the top – I’ll go in order of iLevel and let you know what’s worth it and what’s not.

Titansteel Shield Wall from Blacksmithing.

Pretty good starting shield, available pretty cheaply from the AH or from a local blacksmith you know of; potentially yourself. Its only additional stat is defence rating, but that’s nice for beginner tanks who are struggling to hit the magical 540. This is an absolute minimum for a tank heading into Icecrown.

Bulwark of the Noble Protector from Keristrasza (The Nexus heroic).

This is a blue shield, therefore, not as desirable as the nice purple ones. However, if you’re doing your daily heroics for a “raid-ready” shield then you should fit in the Nexus for this placeholder if the next entry won’t drop or the previous entry is too expensive.

Royal Crest of Lordaeron from Mal’ganis (The Culling of Stratholme heroic).

Picked up from the Culling of Stratholme, a nice training instance for burst threat on groups. This, essentially, was the shield to go for while you either farmed gold for the blacksmithing version or fancied a bit of hit rating. As above with the Nexus, put the Culling of Stratholme on your daily “to do” list in order to pick this up. Again, an absolute minimum before entering Icecrown.

Crygil’s Discarded Plate Panel from Emblems of Heroism.

Prior to 3.1, this shield was relatively common when you had nothing else to spend badges on and nothing else had dropped; maybe you didn’t want to spend gold on the Titansteel Shield Wall. In short, it was an off-spec shield when you had too many Emblems of Heroism. Nothing has changed. It’s a bad choice to use 50 Emblems of Triumph to get it, when there are other options that are FAR superior. Yes, I’d say it fits the minimum requirement – but it’s still not something you should be looking at unless you’re absolutely at your wits end.

The Skull of Ruin from Grobbulus (Naxxramas 10).

A shield I loved when I had it and something you should definitely farm for if you’re thinking of tanking the adds in the heroic Anub’arak encounter in future (though, a shield coming up is better), or you simply want a heroic block set. Unfortunately, beyond Naxxramas, block loses almost all of its priority in general terms and that makes this shield a pretty poor option for Icecrown. Yes, it’s not too bad. However, pretty much everything before and after the Skull of Ruin in this list would be preferable, save the Bulwark of the Noble Protector.

Barricade of Eternity from Malygos (The Eye of Eternity 10).

Again, prior to 3.1, this was pretty much THE shield. Expertise wasn’t easy to come by, making this one an excellent all round choice for both threat and the avoidance it provides. If your Icecrown tank has this shield, it usually means they have a bit of skill as tanking the Malygos encounter isn’t all that easy (even now). However, it would be rare to see it, as most people are disinterested in killing Malygos because it’s still pretty rough. Certainly a fine choice, though, and the best option on the list until this point in terms of quality.

Shieldwall of the Breaker from Auriaya (Ulduar 10).

Essentially, this is a direct upgrade to the Barricade of Eternity – just nowhere near as pretty. In saying that, it also has a blue slot for that lovely +30 stamina gem you’ve been holding onto and is an excellent shield to take into Icecrown if your guild can still find reasons to go into Ulduar. Oh, yeah; it’s an awesome instance. Go for it.

Splintered Door of the Citadel from Marwyn (The Halls of Reflection).

With the coming of 3.3, this shield became the one to take into Icecrown by default. It’s not wonderfully itemized by any means and, of course, it lacks the socket of the shield above. The true magic of this shield, however, is that it comes from a normal instance, which means you can farm it until it drops. Get a guild group, dedicate an hour to farming the Halls of Reflection, and get your hands on this. In my view, there’s really no excuse for not having at least this before facing up to Lord Marrowgar.

Northern Barrier from Hodir 25/Auction House.

I know I said I wouldn’t bring up 25 man drops, but this one is BoE so can be found at the auction house. Unfortunately, as nice as it is as a threat shield, it’s not a great progression shield as it’s simply not itemized around defence. They’re going pretty cheaply nowadays, but I would suggest anything over a 1.5k asking price is probably too much. And for the reason already mentioned, the Splintered Door would technically be better, anyway.

The Boreal Guard from Hodir (Ulduar 10, hard mode).

Yet to drop for me (I gave the one that DID drop to the off tank), this shield is still pretty close to being best in slot for 10 man content; certainly only behind the heroic version of the Aegis of the Coliseum/Bulwark of the Royal Guard, if anything. Two sockets for stamina, and with parry and block rating it’s not going to suffer from the Chill of the Throne. Again, not too difficult to get your hands on these days in a decent guild, but not known for having a high drop rate. In saying that, Shiver makes the trip to the Halls of Winter worthwhile.

Aegis of the Coliseum/Bulwark of the Royal Guard from Anub’arak (Trial of the Crusader 10).

Again, due to the ease of Trial of the Crusader, this is potentially the “default” progression shield moving forward. The blue socket is extremely worthwhile and block value will give you a bit more threat which is always nice, but it’s still not wonderfully itemized for progression. Certainly a nice option heading into Icecrown, though, and it shows completion of the previous tier of raiding on the part of your tank.

Aegis of the Coliseum/Bulwark of the Royal Guard from Anub’arak heroic (Trial of the Grand Crusader 10).

As above, this shield is pretty much the best you can get up to and including 10 man content, but I’d argue just behind the Boreal Guard. Equally, it’s the hardest to get your hands on as the Anub’arak encounter on heroic is no joke. If you’re in a strong guild and they’re still running Trial of the Grand Crusade, this is something to aim at. Otherwise, there are far simpler options and, in the case of the Boreal Guard, better options.

So, to summarize:

1) Save yourself the expense of the Titansteel Shield Wall and go for the starter options that are free; the Bulwark of the Noble Protector or the Royal Crest of Lordaeron.
2) Once you’ve got either of those and your gear is improving, farm Halls of Reflection on normal for the Splintered Door of the Citadel. You’re now at the minimum shield requirement for Icecrown.
3) Now, feel free to farm whatever shield is available if you want an upgrade. In order of quality (ascending), they are; Shieldwall of the Breaker, Aegis of the Coliseum, Aegis of the Coliseum (heroic) and The Boreal Guard.

Happy hunting and good luck with your new shield!

Balancing around encounters

11/01/2010

Well, it’s been a holiday period – sorry for the gap between my last entry and this one, but it may please you to know that I’ve had a great Yule period and that I hope everyone else did, too. Happy new year, one and all!

In any event, I want to move on and speak briefly about the notion of class “balance” and how it pertains to encounters. After all, the developers “absolutely balance around encounters” when it comes to all of the classes in the game, and not just tanks. But to set the scene, it’s worth mentioning what balancing by encounter actually means.

It means that the developers are comfortable with class imbalance on paper, using encounters to redress this imbalance by playing to the strengths of certain specs on a given fight. The phrase usually uttered by the developers is “we don’t balance by target dummies”; and this is further illustrated when Ghostcrawler correctly points out the flaws in the “my static DPS is too low – buff, please” argument.

I suppose the question for warriors is whether or not the developers have gotten it right. And, in the main, I’d say that they have.

Yes, certain things from a tanking point of view are frustrating. Having worse effective health, mitigation and damage reduction percentages than a paladin is hard to justify, for example, and seems like an oversight – especially considering how simple said class is to play. But, there is only one Patchwerk and you can soon find that interrupts, stuns, fast gap closing, disarming, spell-reflecting and practical immunity to crowd control can take so much more pressure off a raid when they really need some help. So far, the encounters in Icecrown Citadel (including the trash) have seen warriors open their entire box of tricks throughout and highlight the other tanking classes for what they really are.

Imitations. Copies. Replicas.

Imperfect versions of the original.

This isn’t a warrior call-to-arms and I’d be loathe to write such a thing. But it’s been a long expansion that, for the most part, has played to the strengths of the damage sponge with regard to boss tanks. This has been disheartening for most of Wrath of the Lich King and, as you’ll know, I’ve lost the faith more than once. But now, at the business end, we’re starting to see raids asking things of their paladins or bears and getting resigned head shaking. And now, at the summit of content, the Protection warrior is standing up and saying:

“Wait… I can do that.”

Protection warriors; still the original, and best.

Recount Retardation

05/11/2009

Recount lies.

No, I’m serious; it really does.

And if I was to say to you what I think is largely responsible for the current abundance of DPS players that simply cannot wait for a tank to even pull off one GCD, I’d say Recount is right up there.

Before going any further, I’d like to say that I have Recount as part of my UI because, as a raid leader, I often need to know who’s doing what. But presentation of the information is HUGELY different to what that informatin actually implies; therefore, the capability to properly analyse what is on Recount is absolutely fundamental before you even consider linking it in party chat. I wish people understood that.

Let’s be honest.

How many people have seen a DPS player link their Recount continuously throughout an instance? I guarantee most of you have come across it. How many people have been in a group when a person (typically the same one over and over) continously asks what his DPS is? Again, I guarantee everyone is familiar with it. It’s unlucky, but a sad fact that people now look at what they’re doing from a purely numerical point of view and consider it synonymous with high performance. I only wish there were a way to make it clear to people that Recount statistics, without context, are TOTALLY AND UTTERLY MEANINGLESS.

Let me tell you a story.

I recall, a while back, playing my priest on a 10 man pick up raid of the Obsidian Sanctum. My spec was Discipline and the other two healers were a restoration shaman and a holy paladin. After a generally uneventful trash clear (including Vesperon, Tenebron and Shadron), it was decided that I would raid heal while topping off the add-tank, and let the paladin do the job of healing up the main tank. Needless to say, Sartharion went down without incident and I was fortunate enough to win the T7 glove token when it dropped. Up pops the raid death knight with the immortal statement:

“lol nubs always roll good”.

He then linked the healing meter from the fight, showing me clearly in last place behind both the shaman and paladin on heals done. Naturally, this was succeeded by the obligatory “lol/rofl/lmao” stream of condemnation that typically accompanies such jibes. Awesome. I was with a raid that had absolutely no idea of context, nor any inclination to understand it. Naturally, I went on to explain that the paladin had used Holy Light for over 95% of spells cast with an overhealing percentage beyond 85%, while the shaman had spammed Chain Heal to the tune of 79% and managed to run at over 60% overheals. In comparison, I had managed to use Renew, Prayer of Mending, Flash Heal and Power Word: Shield while managing to run at a mere 16% overhealing; I didn’t use Penance once. Not withstanding the fact my mana and cast efficiency were considerably better than my counterparts, there is no way of telling how much damage I prevented by using shields. All this was with the backdrop of not a single death (despite people being caught in fires) and the only player who went under 70% of his health was the main tank.

This is a sobering story and should amply illustrate why Recount figures, though fun, should be taken with a grain of salt unless presented under the right context. That is why I intend to set up a raid rule that nobody is to link, or request a link from, Recount throughout a raid evening.

Throughout the course of an encounter, there are too many variables that skew the results and give false numbers that either inflate or deflate an accurate view on performance. It also never helps to link DPS meters during a raid when there will always be people doing less damage, who may simply think that they are not contributing as much to the raid and lose even more heart as a result. And when you’re moving nicely, with bosses going down, why bother about how much more damage than your team mates you are doing? You couldn’t do so much damage if your tank wasn’t geared for more threat. And your tank couldn’t gear for more threat if he didn’t have a strong healer. Raiding is a team relay, with all members interdependent on each other and working for the long haul. The burst out of the blocks is meaningless when it doesn’t contribute to the whole picture.

Let your raid leader worry about the meters.

It’s their job.

The Idiot’s Guide to Talents

05/11/2009

I can’t help myself; I look at the spec of every single warrior I ever group with outside the guild. Whether they’re a tank or a DPS player, I feel the need to inspect the choices they’ve made because, hopefully, it’ll tell me what type of performance I can expect. Similar to Veneretio’s blog on the same topic, a spec is something that is solely dependent upon level, with gold and loot luck playing absolutely no part in it whatsoever. There really is no excuse for a bad spec but, often, someone using something different is not always wrong – have a look at why they may have made the choices they have and whether or not their reasoning is up to scratch. That said, warriors will generally be using the same tanking specs for either threat or survivability with points spent elsewhere depending on preference. These preferences are where you’ll find out what style your warrior likes or, possibly, what type of content his guild is raiding.

In any event, the viable “preference” talents are listed below. I’m not including the talents that will always be taken in a generally standardized spec.

Improved Heroic Strike
Iron Will
Cruelty
Shield Specialization
Improved Spell Reflection
Improved Disciplines
Focused Rage

1. Improved Heroic Strike and Iron Will seem to be interchangeable when going for Deep Wounds. I would argue, however, that the former is better in almost all cases, because if you’re going for Deep Wounds then you’re not building an endurance spec, you’re going for threat. This fact makes Improved Heroic Strike technically better.

2. Cruelty is for more threat, plain and simple. I question the real value of taking them based on my own testing, but more crit should (statistically) provide more threat for you.

3. Shield Specialization is usually considered in comparison with Cruelty, and depends on what you want; more mitigation or more threat. However, the addition of rage on avoidance to this talent means that more and more tanks are taking the full five points in it because more rage also means more threat.

4. Improved Spell Reflection is usually only considered when building a survivability spec, but usually for the extra chance for damage spells to miss as opposed to reflecting more spells from team mates. Again, you’re not going to see this in any other spec.

5. Formerly, Improved Disciplines was only to be seen in the survival specs but has now found a place in some balanced ones, too. It will always be married with the appropriate glyph for Shield Wall, but it’s in the “preference” list because it will rarely find its way into threat specs where points can be better spent elsewhere.

6. Lastly, Focused Rage is something of an enigma. Rage is good. Always having some is awesome. But the fact is, depending on content and other talent points, rage may well be in plentiful supply. With rage coming in on avoidance, as well as later content hitting harder, you can often find there is no need for this talent, especially if you’ve picked up Improved Heroic Strike to limit where most of your rage is going out. However, with higher levels of avoidance, you can end up dodging four heavy strikes in a row that see you with no rage and where Focused Rage would help. This is potentially the biggest judgement call out of all the talents in this list, but judgement should be reserved regardless of what someone has chosen.

Now, let’s move onto talents that you should never pick up, for any reason. Luckily, most are obvious and you are extremely unlikely to ever see tanks with these. Alas, though, it does still happen.

1. Tactical Mastery = All of your necessary talents are now available in defensive stance, while Bloodthirst and Mortal Strike are not part of your tanking repertoire. Three points wasted.
2. Improved Bloodrage = Your normal Bloodrage is more than enough since 3.2. Two points wasted.
3. Improved Disarm = Disarm is too situational, despite the talent looking nice on paper. Two points wasted.
4. Puncture = Worse than Focused Rage in every conceivable way. Three points wasted.
5. Safeguard = The damage bosses are currently doing, any non-tank is likely to be killed when struck regardless of how much damage you soak up. Two points wasted.

So, that’s it. Whether you’re running an endurance spec, a threat spec or one that’s balanced (yes, there are options for all three), there are things you will see, things you might see and things you should never see. You now know the reasons why should you have to politely whisper and explain to someone where they should be putting their points.

And for those interested, this is the spec I’m currently running.

Warrior ability: Call of War

29/10/2009

After going through Ghostcrawler’s post on “Hybrid tax”, I wanted to share a notion that hit me and may get missed by those who read a bit of the mentioned thread and ignored the rest, or who simply didn’t click it for having the notion “not again”…

Basically, the argument is that hybrids must have a form of performance tax in order to make sure pures don’t get rubbed out of the game. That’s fine. It’s also posited that hybrids should have excellent utility in order to stop THEM from declining. Ignoring the rest of the points previously made, the warrior is the one hybrid class that is badly lacking in attractive utility for a raid setting because they lack buffs. Most buffs have been spread around a bit in order to promote the “player not class” mantra, but as warriors are doing slightly less DPS than a pure and have no real buffs of note, the question is why you’d take a warrior to a raid.

Let’s argue warriors need a raid wide buff.

Let’s also note that “shouts” are the compelling method of buff for the developers.

Let’s finally spot the one excellent buff that is in the game and only provided by a single class; thus, could do with more representation.

We then finally arrive at the new warrior ability for CataclysmCall of War.

Call of War (30 rage):

Increases melee, ranged, and spell casting speed by 30% for all party and raid members. Lasts 40 sec. After the completion of this effect, those affected will become Sated and unable to benefit from Call of War again for 10 min.

Look familiar?

It should.

All of a sudden, one terrific buff is spread out a little (making one class less mandatory) and warriors get the utility that they otherwise crave.

[The following was what I posted in response to other authors.]

I’m glad to see most people think this is a good idea and that the “lol warz fine nub l2p” brigade have left it alone; getting a bit bored with those people, to be honest.

I actually did a bit of a guild chat last night regarding this and even those who’ve listened to my QQ about warriors in the past agreed that the notion was both fair and fitting. We discussed what buffs people think are generally the best and, yep, you guessed it:

Blessing of Kings
Gift of the Wild
Bloodlust

A few people like Prayer of Fortitude a lot, but that’s more for the “look at my health” factor as opposed to an increase in performance. The other one that continually came up was, of course, combat ressurection. The problem, of course is that there’s something of a pattern here.

The hybrids with more than two available raid specs seem to also be the ones with the best buffs. I’m struggling to see how this can be considered reasonable from a balance point of view. As hinted in my original post, I think the 5% tax (simple number) across all hybrids is reasonably fair to avoid druids being next to useless in every environment. However, that is on the understanding that hybrids also bring that “additional” utility to a raid that is currently seeing priests, death knights and warriors (the latter two particularly) somewhat short changed.

And when you consider that druids, the only four-role class in the game, have got both Gift of the Wild AND Rebirth, I don’t see how the developers can justify this argument on the utility of hybrids being used to balance them out.

Warriors need something to bring to a raid because they lack any kind of unique buffs or additional utility. None of the hybrids can do anything other than what they’re specced for in the current raid environment for Wrath of the Lich King. The developers have also been keen to make sure no class becomes “mandatory” for an encounter, but ask anyone who’s ever raided if they like to go without a shaman; they don’t.

Bloodlust needs another class to represent it.
Warriors lack raid utility badly and are the obvious choice for a Bloodlust variant.
Let’s see it done, Blizzard.

P.S – I think the combat ressurection should also see another class represent it and, in my view, a priest is the obvious choice, with the spell taking the form of a prayer. Just thought I’d throw that in there, because it seems a bit odd that the only class with two healing trees doesn’t have combat ressurection.

"Gnat syndrome"

27/10/2009

I find, generally, that raids go well.

It’s a testimony to both my guild raiders and their ability to follow directions, as well as other web sources, that we’ve been able to clear the content that we have. I’d like to be able to add my own charismatic and incomparable leadership to the mix, but that would be unforgiveably arrogant and certain guild members wouldn’t forgive me. Truthfully speaking, though, there is rarely an encounter that we miscomprehend to the point that we can’t learn to execute it with practice and time. As such, phased encounters that seemed extraordinarily difficult to start with (such as Malygos or Mimiron) have been completed successfully after a couple of nights trying. We’ve not hit the fabled “brick wall” and I’ve been proud of my guild when I’ve read forums of people who have banged into just such walls.

Until now.

I’m writing this after another frustrating evening with Yogg-Saron. Yep, even in TotC gear, we have yet to take down the immortal god at the heart of Ulduar’s Descent into Madness. Last night was by far our best effort, with one particularly successful attempt seeing us get the brain down to around 50% (phase two, of course) before the obligatory inducing of madness on one of the melee in the brain room, and Diminishing Power stacking twice. By that point, however, we’d been at it well over an hour and people were starting to flag whilst, put simply, not performing as well as they had during the first hour of raiding. So, we come to the point of this blog; the attention span.


This has been a recurring theme on our evenings fighting Yogg-Saron, and more times before that when I look back. Once a boss becomes reasonably difficult, to the point where it’s wiping us repeatedly on an evening, anything else that happens to be going on in the world seems to be more fun. People need the toilet more often. They need a drink more often. The TV starts talking to them, specifically. “Brb’s”, “afk’s” and other assorted hold ups start to predominate. I’ve lost count of the number of promising raids that have been irreperably derailed by a couple of wipes and the effect it had on our raiders.

The problem is, I’d imagine, horribly common.

The solution, unfortunately, is harder to find.

First up, it’s an unfortunate fact that younger people have lower attentions spans in the main. Certainly that’s the evidence in our guild, with the older people being able to push on without unnecessary breaks whilst the younger members, under 16’s particularly, start to need constant periods away from the screen. This is not always the case, of course, but it is true in the main. So, solution one would be to only recruit, and subsequently raid with, those over the age of 18. Erm, no. That would be unreasonably harsh on the larger demographic playing World of Warcraft, and especially hard on our guild that does have a few younger raiders who are otherwise good to have around.

We’ve tried prescribed breaks during our alloted raid time (1930 – 2300), generally on the hour. Again, though, people “need” to take breaks before and after that, while also choosing to take liberties during those break times and extending them. Again, this just causes the attention of those who are patiently/impatiently waiting on them to diminish still further. I’m also wont to telling people to get off for 10 minutes or so if a boss has wiped us a few times, so that people can grab a quick drink, give a girlfriend a kiss, relax for a bit and then come back refreshed and refocused for the next tries.

But of course, there is an underlying problem here. When blazing through Naxxramas, Ulduar or Trial of the Crusader, nobody needs their attention span cuddled or massaged in any way. The correlation between failure and morale is obvious. This means lowering morale is a direct cause of attention loss, so dealing with morale is the root problem and it’s just as hard to pick up morale when things aren’t going so well. Again, our little breaks are our best ideas up until now, along with a deliberate attempt on the part of the raid leader (typically me) to talk up what has been going well in an encounter, reinforcing the fact that we “can” do something if we just put everything together.
However, Yogg-Saron has now become “that” boss that people generally fear going in to try and kill because it’s in their head that they “can’t” do it.

It’s incredibly frustrating.

But what’s more frustrating is the currently fruitless search for a way to keep morale high and attention sharp when the chips are down.

The search continues.

Picking the right partner

26/10/2009

When you first ding 80 and start gearing up for raids, it’s easy to forget that you’re not going to be tanking them alone. Yes, the odd encounter in Naxxramas will only call for a single tank (as will Malygos) but, for the most part, you’re going to be in there with another heavily armoured rude-dude who will be taking blows with you. The old terms of “main tank” and “off tank” have been dispensed with by many people in an attempt at political correction in an online sense, but the old titles still work because one of you is going to be tanking the boss and the other is not. And let’s be clear; for a successful raid, this person shouldn’t be considered “the other guy”.

He should be considered a part of your very own tanking repertoire.

Now, the guild often asks who the best tanks are, but they do so on a class to class basis. The truth, however, is that class doesn’t make an awful lot of difference when you’re going to fight the most dangerous bosses that Azeroth has to offer. What matters more is how the tanking team understands one another, exhibiting that understanding throughout the encounter and seeing a plan through to fruition. It’s often said that tanks are not the most important part of a raid, but to the more erudite they most certainly are. That is not to say it’s the hardest job (it invariably isn’t), but the tanks carry the responsibility of the entire raid on their shoulders and the entire battle plan hinges on their actions; the rest of your raid will react to how you act, basically. This means that your tanking team has to be as good as it can be, in every way, before you pull.

Enter, Thorian: accept no substitutes.

It just so happens that our raids are composed of a warrior main tank and a paladin off tank, often considered one of the best pair ups. In saying that, this has less to do with Devastate and Avenger’s Shield and more to do with Zellviren and Thorian as people.

Let me explain.

Since roughly the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King, Thorian and I have been the guild tanks. We’ve slotted in the odd warrior, paladin, druid or death knight for certain evenings, but there is no doubt throughout the whole set up who the main men are. This partnership has been deliberately cultivated and it’s one that is now, quite frankly, demanded by the rest of the raid group when we’re pushing content. The reasons for this are quite numerous and I’ll elucidate them for you here, in an effort to point out how you should best form your guild tanking team.

1) I enjoy conventional “main tanking” and Thorian enjoys conventional “off tanking”.
2) We complement each other nicely in playstyle and spec.
3) There is an understanding between us of what is expected generally, and specifically (considering encounter).
4) The rest of the raid trusts us, and we trust each other.

From the points above, you should note that points 2, 3 and 4 can be achieved through discussion and, above all, experience. The most important point, however, is point 1 – we both do what we actually like doing. There are occasions when we switch around for a bit of variety (and it keeps us both honest) but, when push comes to shove, we both like the roles we fulfill and wouldn’t want to change them.

I would suggest that is the most important thing to consider when fixing your tanking team.

Thorian and I got that by a bit of luck and, in many cases, that’s what you’ll need. But if your guild runs several tanks, you’re best assigning someone a role that they enjoy most, as you’ll get the most out of them by doing so. Whether the tank is a warrior, druid, paladin or death knight, they are all equipped with tools that allow them to do any tanking job.

Make use of preference.

You won’t regret it.

"Are warriors underpowered?"

23/10/2009

A while ago (just prior to 3.1), I wrote a post for the wow-europe forums that was entitled “Are warriors underpowered?”. Needless to say, it received a lot of attention due to the general view that it hit a lot of nails on the head and that warriors needed some attention. Since then, we’ve seen numerous changes for the better regarding balance, as well as gear scaling, causing an upturn in warrior performance. I then revisited the topic with version 2 after seeing a good old fashioned “necro” of the thread, with later participants repeating some of their earlier complaints. Are there complaints still valid? Well, no.

Warriors, just prior to 3.3, are well balanced in both PvE (tanking and DPS) and PvP.

Yes, some specs around the bazaars remain a little too good. Protection paladins remain overtuned, as do death knights (DPS) and rogues. But this isn’t a warrior issue, really, and is something that the developers need to try and remedy for 3.3 in order to sort everyone out in readiness for Icecrown Citadel. Generally, of course, there are still some things that are particularly annoying from a fundamental class design, but we shouldn’t expect to see these properly engaged with before Cataclysm and, I’d imagine, every class has something they find difficult or irritable.

In short, well done Blizzard. Despite my complaints and misgivings, you seem to have gotten things about right for the content patch that really matters.

I’m looking forward to getting started. 🙂

Falling out of love with TankSpot?

15/10/2009

When it comes to tanking and generally doing content, I read up on a lot of things. I love Veneretio’s blog and I’ve started to quite enjoy Tank Like a Girl for it’s quirky charm. I spend a bit of time on the WoW-Europe forums and often find little nuggets of wisdom there, while also enjoying the more civilized conversation that predominates the WoWHead forums. But at the end of the day, I don’t think anything has been able to beat the videos and forums of Project Marmot, under the charismatic stewardship of Ciderhelm. Yep, I’m talking about TankSpot.

As a reference, I first came across it back in 3.0 when we were having our first few tentative cracks at Malygos. We’d read the guides on both WoWHead and the wiki, but hadn’t really come across anything that was making the encounter clear. Then I slapped the fight into Google and my first introduction to Ciderhelm and the TankSpot videos popped up.

It’s clean. It’s cold. Now, that’s some high-quality H2O.

Since then, both me and my guild have treated the TankSpot videos as required viewing for practically every encounter we’ve done since. I will invariably watch said video a few times, learn the important parts of the encounter that need borne in mind, then look at filtering the information in as practical a way as possible for our specific raid group. My raid officer, Hiratha, typically does exactly the same to make sure nothing gets missed and there are always a couple more contributors while we’re fighting our way through a raid. In short, without the TankSpot contribution, we’d have taken a lot longer to get through the content that we have gotten through and we shall ever, as a guild, be indebted to them for the time they’ve taken.

That said, I can’t shake the feeling that the product itself isn’t quite as good as it once was. What made it so useful during our T7 raids was the charm with which it was delivered (still love Ciderhelm’s admission that his use of words might not be right while tanking Malygos) as well as the filtering of important information and suggestions on how to deal with some of the major mechanics of the encounter. In some of the later Ulduar videos, much of the charm and filtering was dispensed with in favour of information overload and the suggestions were also sidelined depending on the narrative of the video. I can understand why this happened: people complaining about the lack of detail when something wipes their raid. But Ttocs only did one video I watched, Splug puts me to sleep, Aliena only ever mentions the what and when and the class guide videos have all left a little something to be desired. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I perk up when a video loads and it’s Ciderhelm or Lore doing the narrative.

Don’t get me wrong; TankSpot is a fantastic resource, utterly unique to the WoW community and every single person on the team should be heartily thanked and congratulated for the sheer effort and selflessness that has gone into the project since its inception. It’s still, quite frankly, the best there is. It’s just that the “warts and all” that made me love Project Marmot so much during its infancy has hit the cutting room floor in favour of a more “professional” approach.

Personally, I think that’s a terrible shame.