Archive for the ‘Talents’ Category

The Necessity of Focused Rage

17/12/2009

My previous blog made a number of assertions regarding a talent specialization and what a warrior should be prioritising. The one talent, however, that is a little difficult to quantify is Focused Rage. In fact, I’ll rephrase; it’s not hard to quantify at all, just difficult to establish a necessity for it.

Point before starting: This is not a discussion on the rage mechanic, so please don’t mistake it for one. It is specifically about the comparative value of the Focused Rage talent and where it is best used.

I previously stated that any tank leaving out three points in Armored to the Teeth would attract my metaphorical ire because they’re essentially punishing their performance by not picking up passive threat from a stat that a tank would have a lot of whether they wanted it or not. Yet, that’s exactly what Focused Rage does, too – by lessening the rage cost of every ability you ever use, you can ship a considerable need for rage and increase your passive threat output.

I’ll defend my position first.

To start with, it’s worth looking at where you would sacrifice three talent points to pick up Focused Rage (assuming you go 3/3). In the cookie cutter I previously linked, you’re still running with a lot of essentially free points so you can go right ahead and put them into Focused Rage with impunity. However, most people have talents that they would no longer do without and a pretty settled spec, and picking up Focused Rage means a sacrifice elsewhere in their spec.

I’d imagine the choice is between Deep Wounds and Shield Specialization for your three points. In saying that, however, picking up Focused Rage implies a desire for more DPS/TPS, which would effectively invalidate leaving out Deep Wounds in the same spec. Therefore, do you choose to pick up a little more threat from Focused Rage or a little more mitigation from Shield Specialization?

For me, you pick up five rage when you block, dodge or parry and you get more if you take damage. You can also use the Glyph of Revenge to cut back on the rage cost of your Heroic Strike, as well as taking three points in the namesake talent. By picking up the extra 3% block you’re not just increasing your block chance, you’re decreasing the chance to be fully hit by a swing by a full 3% – you can’t get that anywhere else for three points and you’re lowering the pressure your healers feel when you get spiked.

If you’re picking Focused Rage, you are essentially saying that threat matters more than survival. You only need to take one point in Shield Specialization for the 5 rage on avoidance, and that will be in your spec regardless of what else you’ve chosen. The main plus point here is that you would have to be awfully unlucky to end up rage starved, and you’re accounting for the use of Cleave which isn’t covered by talents or a glyph in the same way Heroic Strike is.

So, am I implying that Shield Specialization is for progression content and Focused Rage is for farm content and/or heroics?

Well, yes and no.

A freshly dinged tank could expect to take more damage than a well geared one, therefore, having less use for Focused Rage seems clear. Yet while a new tank is learning their trade, you never want to run out of rage; heroic instances (particularly in a PuG) often demand a lot from a tank. It’s also worth remembering that far more of that instance will be trash, so you’ll be using Cleave an awful lot more.

With progression content, you can also expect to take more damage and pick up rage from that, but there is the very real threat of enrage timers – would you want your DPS to hold off to the extent they’re pushing this timer? Of course, the value of block is often questionable in progression content when Shield Block is considered.

Of course, all of this assumes an appreciation of unlucky stretches of avoidance that slow the flow of rage to a crawl.

So… Can I summarise?

I don’t think either Shield Specialization or Focused Rage qualify for “necessary” points in a cookie cutter talent specialization. However, the real question is whether or not I should be considering Armored to the Teeth in the same vein, as it’s also passive threat.

I admit it; no. There is no requirement to add Armored to the Teeth as a necessary choice in the cookie cutter.

There.

I said it.

I was wrong.

Just don’t expect me to be removing Armored to the Teeth from my spec any time soon.

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The Value of a good Talent Specialization

03/12/2009

Forgive the laziness regarding my first December offering, but I figure there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel; the following transcript is taken from a conversation I’ve been having on the WoW-Europe tanking forums, and relates to the benefits you get from selecting your talents carefully and actually reading the tooltips whilst understanding the context.

The first point is to do with the value of Deep Wounds when Protection warriors won’t be running with a high critical strike rating.

“Well… You actually get a lot more critical strikes than that from your main abilities. Incite gives more critical strike rating to Heroic Strike, Cleave and Thunderclap. If you were running the T8 set bonus, you got 5% more rating for your Devastate; and, of course, Critical Block also provided you with critical strikes that procced Deep Wounds from blocks (another reason for picking up Shield Specialization, but sadly ditched for 3.2.2), but you still get the extra 15% added to Shield Slam. Finally, Sword and Board gives you 15% critical strike rating on your Devastate, bringing it in line with all your other major abilities.

In short, the passive critical strike rating on your character sheet doesn’t factor in the additional percentages you get added from specific talents. Put simply, all of your main abilities (Shield Slam, Heroic Strike, Cleave, Devastate and Thunderclap) run at a base critical strike chance of 20%. Then, assuming a Feral Combat druid or Fury warrior, you’ve got 25% and that’s not including other common buffs such as Blessing of Kings or Gift of the Wild.

So… One in four blows will critically strike, and warriors are (typically) running two attacks every GCD due to our on-next-attack abilities Heroic Strike and Cleave.

Put simply, Deep Wounds is practically always up as passive DPS/TPS, and not taking it will see a significant drop in both.”

The next point was regarding points picked up in Improved Revenge.

“I still like using Revenge in low rage situations, and putting two points in it keeps its damage above that of Devastate. So, when threat isn’t an issue, Revenge is better than Devastate.

Personal taste, though; I wouldn’t say 2/2 Improved Revenge is a must.”

Next up, the value of block rating.

“The reason warriors and paladins are preferred to death knights and druids on Anub’arak heroic adds is because they don’t take a full hit; they either avoid it, or block it, meaning that block is never a bad stat to have. And to be fair, it also increases the procs on Revenge (which I like), so it’s an increase in DPS if you’re running 2/2 Improved Revenge.”

Finally, a point on Focused Rage.

“I don’t think Focused Rage is a necessity any more, if it ever was. As hinted, I use Revenge for the low rage situations, and I even glyph it for the following free Heroic Strike. Bearing in mind Heroic Strike is the main reason for rage starvation, and you’re also picking up Improved Heroic Strike, I’m not sure Focused Rage is vital.”

After all of this, the poster was very courteous for the time I’d taken and thanked me for doing so. As is often my wont, I had a couple of quick things to add regarding posting for advice/assistance on forums:

“I think it’s a common problem that people come to these forums and ask for assistance (any class/spec), pick up some potentially bum advice, and act on it without really knowing the “why”. Please don’t think this is a personal criticism, because it’s not; these forums are exactly the place to come to pick up ideas. It’s just that, very often, “advice” can be something of a Chinese whisper that gets to you via a 765458726th source.

And we all know what happens when you copy a copy of a copy of a cassette.

I’m not claiming that every idea I ever came up with was my own – it wasn’t. However, spending a bit of time going over your talents and abilities will often bring up some very strange surprises. They often have secondary effects that are not properly considered, or even primary effects that are not considered in context.

Armored to the Teeth: “It’s a DPS talent only”. No, it’s attack power for a stat you will, naturally, end up with a lot of, especially as a tank. It’s a wonderful passive threat stat, and I almost choke every time I see a tank without it. It’s also the reason armour is the better EH choice for a warrior.

Shield Specialization: “Block is naff”. An additional 3% (most tanks take 2/5) chance to pick up five rage, however, isn’t; nor the additional chance to avoid taking a full blow or simply getting Revenge up 3% more. Contextually, this is points well spent though, admittedly, not a necessity.

Improved Spell Reflection: “Spell reflect doesn’t work on most bosses”. Actually, it’s 4% additional chance to dodge spell damage completely – it has a place in any full survival spec.

Gag Order: “You can’t silence most bosses”. That’s true; but anyone not interested in picking up 10% damage from every Shield Slam they ever hit is doing their character a dis-service.

Vigilance: “I don’t need help with threat”. The threat management is only one part of this talent, so take a look at the Taunt refresh. If used imaginatively, you’ve just become an off tank with constant Taunt uptime.

All told, the warrior Protection tree has got a heck of a lot in it that people don’t bother looking at or reading when they copy the “top raid tanking” spec. The best advice I can give ANY warrior asking about their spec (which I get asked about a lot) is to read their talents and make their own decisions based on what they’re doing. As a result of this, here is what I consider the “cookie cutter” and it actually leaves you an incredible 12 points to spend where you like, depending on what you’re tanking and what you prefer (preferring Devastate to Revenge):

http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#LVZhZVItMx0didczsGo:cTdMom

And that was it.

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.