Tuesday, 29 July 2008
So on a visit to ol' Hyjal mountain last night, the very lovely Pepe's Shroud of Pacification dropped, and was soon in my eager greasy paws. After lots of internal Woohoo-ing (and some external), it got me to thinking about tanking cloaks, and how it may be worth taking a look at the options we have in this often overlooked gear slot. We'll start with the most readily available, and go from there:
Devilshark Cape: Don't be fooled by the colour - consider this cloak epic in quality, the stat distribution is that good. Not a point goes to waste here, and it provides mitigation, avoidance and threat. Very much worth running Steamvault over and over for (the good news is it drops in normal as well as heroic).
Resolute Cape: Made by tailors, and available on the AH. This is primarily a druid tank cloak however; the points in resilience are pretty much wasted on a 490+ defense warrior. Useful as a stop-gap measure, but there's much better options out there.
Cloak of Blade Turning: Drops of Kael in Magisters' normal (and note, only the normal version). Again, mainly a druid tank cloak - only use it if you're desperate, or not at 490 defense.
Farstrider Defender's Cloak: The first badge cloak, this will set you back a measly 25 badges from the vendor. A decent cloak, but rendered somewhat obsolete by the more recent badge cloak (see below). Still, this is very much worth getting for a block value set - just make sure you get yourself a primary cloak first.
Slikk's Cloak of Placation: A fantastic cloak, arguably the third best warrior tank cloak available - and at 35 badges, it's a steal. This will last you well into T6 content. No threat stat on here, but a tonne of avoidance and good mitigation.
Gilded Thorium Cloak: A decent cloak, but nowhere near as good as Slikk's. This drops from Illhoof in Karazhan, and is worth picking up if you're yet to save up the 35 badges for Slikk's - although if you're running Karazhan, that's unlikely to take long.
Icebound Cloak: Pretty much identical to the Gilded Thorium Cloak. This one dropped off the Midsummer Festival boss in Slave Pens, so if you didn't get it then, you won't be getting it now. This and the Gilded are worth keeping when playing around with gear for resistance sets.
Phoenix-Wing Cloak: Drops from Al'ar in Tempest Keep. It's pretty much a coin toss between this and Slikk's - Phoenix gives 2.44% avoidance, 108 armor, 37 stamina; Slikk's gives 2.13% avoidance, 346 armor and the same stamina. The choice is then between +0.31% avoidance or +238 armor - there's no great advantage either way. If this drops and you already have Slikk's, I'd just pass it on to another tank.
Pepe's Shroud of Pacification: I don't know who Pepe is, but I sure am glad he's dead or missing, so that I can have his cloak. It drops off the trash mobs in Hyjal, so make sure you're combing every undead body around for it. This has a little less avoidance than Slikk's, but makes up for it with a big chunk of hit rating, not to mention 8 more stamina. It may look like a kaleidoscope has thrown up on your back, but boy is it worth it (especially with the blessed option that is Hide Cloak).
Crimson Paragon's Cover: The best warrior tanking cloak in the game. 61 stamina is insane, and then we get a hell of a lot of dodge and expertise to round it off. Of course it's not so easily available... you'll have to take care of the eredar twin bosses in Sunwell Plateau for this beauty.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
2 Crit immunity is 490 defense.
3 Defense is still useful after 490: each point continues to improve dodge, parry, block, and chance to be missed (to give a comparison, 18.9 dodge rating = 1% avoidance, 19.7 defense rating = 1% avoidance).
4 Keeping shield block up will make you immune to crushing blows.
5 The hit cap is 142.
6 Expertise is all kinds of awesome: it's an exceptional tanking stat in terms of both threat and mitigation. It decreases the chance for your attacks to be parried or dodged, giving much more threat, and, as a parry increases the mob's next attack swing speed, giving you more mitigation.
7 The cap for expertise for mobs to no longer dodge your attacks is 23 (91 rating), and for mobs to no longer parry is (estimated at) 64 (253 rating); thus expertise is most effective upto 23, but is still useful afterwards.
8 Heroic strike does not share the global cooldown, making it a great threat ability to use for high-rage situations.
9 Block value is a cherished member of the tank stat family; block rating is its useless cousin.
10 Boasting about how big your shoulders are is the encouraged - nay, required - behaviour of being a tank.
Sunday, 20 July 2008
And that, point of fact, is what I'm gonna be talking about today. 'Cause if anyone is in touch with the world, it's us shamans. And y'know there's no finer example of all the goodness in life than in the stuff beneath our hooves. I'm talking dirt, ladies and gents. Earth, soil, mire, grime, gumbo, good ol' wet honest muck. As my gram always said, Ain't none happier than a pig rolling in mud.
What got me to thinking about this was a trip I made a couple weeks back. I was out on Azuremyst Isle, and I'd just delivered some old bits of rock to a camp near the south. While I was at the camp, two folk there caught my eye. The first was a fine chunk of a dwarf by the name of Adamant, who it turns out the rocks were for (relics he called 'em, but they just looked scribbled-on stones to me). Skin like broken bark, beard reaching his knees, eyebrows reaching his hairline, voice like a bad cough... my type alright, no question about it. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about these dwarves that gets my totems a-wobblin'.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the second one that caught my eye. This was an elf priestess that Adamant couldn't stop staring at. Hell knows why - just by looking at her I could tell she was the real prissy type, robes purer than snow, thoughts probably the same... she just screamed dull. I bet she didn't even have a lick of body hair on her. Never trust a gal without a tangle under her armpit, that's what gram always said.
And though Adamant sure wasn't subtle about eyeing her up, she of course was stuck too far up in that holy sky of hers to see the good solid stuff on offer right in front of her. Blinded by the Light and no mistake. This sir is my point today: you gotta get your hands dirty to enjoy life. You gotta feel the dirt in order to feel anything. The best things come from being a part of the world, not looking at it from a distance - and you ain't part of the world 'til you been knee deep in its shit.
Anyway, so I told all this to Adamant while I was eating my soup and picking the bigger flies out (they don't dissolve as good as the little ones). The priestess would never lower herself from her drab holy plane, I told him, and even if she did, she'd be about as fun as a lasher thorn in the butt (been there, don't recommend it). The girl probably couldn't spit without coming over all faint. No, I explained to him, real fun lies with a real girl like me, who ain't afraid to get her clothes creased (an' ripped an' smudged an' burnt).
I had him convinced, too. I was going to take him for a proper dig, the kind where you ain't looking for anything but more moist mud. But as I was sucking the dirt and squashed bugs from my hooves (y'know it's amazing what your tongue can find in those hard-to-reach places sometimes - but another story, another time), it turns out he suddenly remembered a prior engagement he had that night. Some work to do with relics. In fact it would keep him away for the indefinite future, and was so important he had to rush off right there and then. Weird.
But that ain't the end. It was only a couple days later when I found myself back that way south again. I was delivering some leaves (don't ask, these camp folk are downright odd), and lo and behold, Adamant was already back from his mysterious work, and was busy getting all goose-eyed over miss high and holy again. I tell you, the guy must've had a relic fall on his head or something. Well it ain't like I'm desperate, so I leave him to it. There's just no saving some folk.
Anyway, my advice to you all: next time you can, go find the nearest dirt and dig your hands right in. Get it right under the fingernails, all over your arms, until you realise how frickin' great it is to be part of this world... and then go fling it at the first prissy holy elf you see.
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Out of all the WotLK beta news surfacing right now there's one trend in the warrior changes that may be not so positive. I'm talking about the following:
From the beta patch notes:
- Challenging Shout cooldown reduced to 3 minutes.
- Mocking Blow now only has one rank and causes weapon damage, cooldown reduced to 1 min and can now be used in Defensive Stance.
- Vigilance: Focus your protective gaze on a friendly target, increasing their chance to dodge by 5%. In addition, any time they are hit by an attack your Taunt cooldown is refreshed. Lasts until cancelled. This effect can only be on one target at a time.
That be crazy talk, Aru
Bear with me here - this is a valid whine-session, honest.
The changes above mean that we'll have much more ability to taunt enemies in the future. With Challenging Shout, Mocking Blow and Taunt (with Vigilance), there's not many times we're going to be lacking a taunt to get aggro from a mob. The important point here is: we shouldn't need to taunt to get a mob's attention.
We're tanks, and we tank by generating threat. Our gear, our abilities, our cantankerous attitudes, almost everything we do as a tank is for this: get a mob's attention, keep it, survive it. Herein lies the challenge and the enjoyment of the role.
We tanks tank, and we like it that way.
But making taunts such an obviously powerful and prevailant ability suggests a worrying future: the shallow world of taunt-tanking. This means tanking by continually taunting mobs to hold aggro, rather than the usual (and fun) threat methods. After all, ability suggests opportunity - or worse, necessity. If Vigilance's "friendly target" includes ourselves, or it's cast on a tank buddy, then taunt will be almost always be available. With all these taunts available, it may be entirely possible to taunt-tank your way through instances. Hell, we might be able to tank a group without even swinging our sword.
Point is, we don't want to tank this way. It's boring, and it's not what tanking should be. Contrary to what our bashed-in, mishapen heads may visually suggest, we want tanking to be complicated. We don't want an easy way out, we don't want to use a hundred taunts in a run. We don't want tanking dumbed down.
Done whining yet?
As a matter of fact, no. There's another consequence to this, affecting one of the most important aspects of the game: dps control of aggro. The most talented dpsers are those that deal their buckets of carnage without ever pulling the mob off the tank. But in a future where taunts are so common? The teeth-clenchingly, hair-pullingoutedly words of "Why should I control aggro? Just taunt him" may become more prevalent. And the real worry is that the dpser here has a point - you can just taunt off, continually, and without much need for generating the most threat. Tanking suddenly becomes hellishly frustrating, or hellishly boring.
Aren't you exaggerating a little?
Yeah, no doubt I am. It's silly getting worked up about stuff like this just yet, when the expansion is still months away. These changes may just turn out as improved "oh crap" buttons, without much necessity to use them in 90% of tanking. Or they may just be a small help towards aoe tanking - sure, more a band-aid than the curing abilities we'd prefer, but better than nothing.
The worry of the trend remains, but let's spend our energies getting excited about all the good stuff heading our way instead. Shockwave? Hell yeah. Sword and Board? Oh my. Tattoos? *passes out*
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
So I briefly mentioned this in the WotLK talents post, but felt it deserved a post to itself and a bit more discussion. Why? Because the change coming to the shield block ability in the expansion could spell a big shift for how we warriors treat shield block rating.
The (admittedly preliminary) information we're working with here is that in WotLK, the shield block ability will have its cooldown increased to 30 seconds. This is supported by the new talent tree, where Improved Shield Block has been altered so that it "Reduces the cooldown of your Shield Block Ability by 5/10 seconds". This is obviously a big change from its current 5 second cooldown.
So how does this effect shield block rating?
It makes it much more important, that's what it does. Right now as a tanking stat it's below just about everything - expertise, stamina, dodge, parry, defense, block value, hit, agility, strength, AP, they're all preferable to block rating. Chance to block just isn't useful. But in a world where you can only use your shield block ability every 30 seconds - where you can only guarantee at least a block every 30 seconds - instead of its current 5 seconds, block rating suddenly becomes a powerful stat, both mitigation- and threat-wise.
At the moment we get 2 blocks per 5 seconds (with talents) from the block ability, which is usually enough to cover our needs until the cooldown is up (except against fast hitters). But imagine having 1 block per 30 seconds - suddenly that block rating percentage you never paid much attention to on the character tab is looking a lot more attractive. We will begin to rely much more on the chance to block, rather than using an ability to guarantee a block. Stacking block rating will thus be a surefire improvement of mitigation.
Bust out the tankalator, Aru
So we're in Northrend, and some big bad, guts-hanging-out scourgey boss is pounding on our head. For this example, let's say we just blew our shield block ability cooldown, and we're waiting 30 seconds for it to renew (in practice this time will be less with avoidance and talents, etc., but we'll keep it simple for now). We have 20% block rating, 500 block value. Let's say the boss is a fast hitter, and he hits every second for 1000 damage. Forgetting other factors like avoidance and armor for now, this would equal 30000 damage, with 3000 damage absorbed by shield blocks. That's 10% of the damage mitigated.
Let's say we now itemise for block rating, pushing up our chance to block by 10%. 30% block chance would mean that now 4500 damage is absorbed in the fight. That's 15%, an obvious improvement - this is how block rating works as a mitigation stat.
(The "Isn't this a nerf?" intermission
It's worth making clear that yes, this change will result in less mitigation than we have currently. If we make the big assumption that currently we can keep up our shield block ability all the time, and assume again that this would total 100% block chance for the fight - using the above example as an extreme, this would be 50% damage absorbed by shield block. Thus the change to the block ability cooldown will be seen as a big ol' nerf by many.
But what we have to bear in mind is the wholescale changes to tanking (and to fights and their mechanics) being made in WotLK - it's really not worth going back to the details of Burning Crusade tanking when we're sitting in the expansion. Yes, our abilities will change, but so will the battlefield. It's much more useful to consider WotLK a blank platform when we get there, and then analyse in terms of what we have, instead of what we once had.)
Back to the tankalator, if you please
There's an interesting side-effect of using block rating as a mitigation stat. It can be shown by altering the example above, and making the big bad scourgey boss a slower hitter. So let's say that in the 30 seconds he gets in 15 hits, this time at 2k each. The damage absorbed by shield blocks will now be 1500 at 20% block rating (5% of total damage), and 2250 at 30% block rating (7.5% of total damage).
It probably hasn't escaped your attention that this is less mitigation than before. This is the interesting part: shield block rating as a mitigation stat is better against faster hitters.
Wait, woah, hold-on there
How can this be? How can increasing the cooldown on our shield block ability - the current cooldown being the reason we have troubles against fast hitters in the first place - mean we're better against fast hitters?
Well, crushing blows are out the window in WotLK. We don't have to worry about having shield block up just to prevent them anymore. If shield block rating is now used simply for mitigation as shown above, it improves the faster a boss hits. This may mean our current weakness against fast hitting bosses is turned into a strength in WotLK. (See what I'm talking about with the blank platform of tanking?)
You mentioned threat...
That I did, and stacking shield block rating will also help with it. The revised talent of Shield Specialisation has a slight buff - the rage generated by a successful block is now 2 instead of 1. This means the more blocks, the more rage. Also, shield blocks light up revenge - so the more times this occurs, the better.
Will it really be the new black?
Will block rating ever be as useful as dodge or parry? Well, probably not. Dodge and parry give full avoidance of an attack compared to the partial damage reduction of a block. And with the new Stalwart Protector talent (2 rage per dodge or parry), they're both going to be great for rage and threat generation, too. Plus, the removal of crushing blows also removes the one possible essential motive for stacking very high amounts of block rating.
That said, there's no doubt block rating will be climbing up the tanking stats ladder a few rungs. Most likely it'll be a nice stat to balance alongside others, rather than replacing (or surpassing) any of the key ones. So, maybe block rating wont be the new black exactly, but at least a cool shade of grey.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
As the Beegees once said, "You can tell by the way I use my walk, I'm a woman's man, no time to talk." Oh wait, that's not the right one... umm... well, anyway, it was something about staying alive. As someone else probably once said, you ain't no good dead. This is obviously important when it comes to being a tank; if the group rogue gets his head lopped off at the beginning of a fight, no big deal, but if your big ol' heroic tank snuffs it... well that's bad news.
And there's more to this staying alive business than just fancy armor, 490 defense, 25 stamina gems and a lovely healer constantly stitching up your broken butt. There's plenty of tricks us tanky folk can employ that can be the difference between being a heroic victor and being a heroic stain on the floor:
- Last Stand. An obvious one maybe, but of great importance. Many a time you'll need this; for example, when you realise that giant bogmonster you just charged into hits a tad harder than expected, or when you're in a fight and your healer gets suddenly transformed into a fish. Treat Last Stand like a health potion; when your health is looking precarious, or you want to give the healing a temporary hand, don't be afraid to pop it. It's also useful to use pre-emptively – when you know a big bit of damage is on its way, and you need that extra bit of meat to absorb it. Of course, the downside is that you lose this added health after 20 seconds – but hopefully by then the healer has un-fished, or the bog giant is swamp food. Even if you end up dying anyway, the extra time this spell can buy can be invaluable.
- Shield Wall. Another obvious one, and not much needs to be said about it. Heck of a cooldown, but the reason is understandable: 75% damage reduction for 10 seconds. Blowing this during a particularly nasty boss enrage can be a lifesaver.
- Shield Block. With the extra block available from protection talents, this should almost always be up on big boss fights. Also usually lights up Revenge of course, which is critical to that ol' threat thing.
- Concussion Blow. An extremely useful ability. The few seconds stun this causes can give that lovely healer the time needed to fix you right back up. Or, if your lovely healer has been eaten, then it can give you some time for some self-healing: a quick bandage, a quick look in the mirror and assuring yourself you're the hunkiest tank there is… or doing what all heroes do once in a while, and running away. (This is not as silly as it sounds – the extra time gained from the monster chasing you down can give the rest of the group time to burn it down, or for other healing to kick in.)
Concussion Blow can also be of use when tanking multiple mobs. Stunning one will reduce the damage taken, and you should still have plenty of fuel for rage from the others pounding on your head. However, it isn't of much use against bosses, who are generally immune to your concussive charms. But that said, some big bad guys aren’t – see the 5-man elite Socrethar in Netherstorm... but I'm too busy being heroic and all that to give you a better list of non-immune big guys right now.
- Intimidating Shout. Fear can be pretty useful when used at the right time. If you have the space, it can be used to get rid of multiple mobs while your group concentrates on one. If things are going very badly, you can use it to buy time like Concussion Blow, bandaging while the beasty is busy cowering in fear. Be careful to immediately stop attacking your target after casting, as any damage will break the incapacitation (which makes this tactic somewhat difficult when in a group).
The following is a useful macro to play with (especially in solo mode), and will fear, bandage, then resume attacking on successive clicks (do the first two clicks as quick as possible):
/cast Intimidating Shout
/use [target:Arudar] Heavy Netherweave Bandage
- Trinkets. There's some fancy tanky trinkets out there, and they have some equally fancy uses. Early examples are the Regal Protectorate, which acts similarly to Last Stand, and Argussian Compass, which acts a bit like a minor Shield Block. Further into raid content, you'll come across the likes of Moroes' Lucky Pocket Watch, Ancient Aqir Artifact and Scarab of Displacement, all with similarly useful "oh crap" uses. They have short cooldowns, so stick 'em on an action bar and activate them as often as you can. The Commendation of Kael'thas of course can't go without a mention - one of the best trinkets in the game, and not so hard to get hold of. And the extremely nice use is even a passive one, meaning you can be a big fat lazy tank, too.
- Shield Bash and Spell Reflection. The interrupt of Shield Bash can be a useful and cheap damage reducer. And the more you can reduce the damage you take, the more likely the lovely healer will kiss you at the end. So sharpen those reflexes and bash those casters good. Spell Reflection can be thought of as the older, classier sister to Shield Bash – she reflects the spell, which can cause some nifty damage and threat, not to speak of the no-damage time as the mob is left casting... but she'll cost you: 25 rage is a fair chunk. But hey, if you're well rage-endowed, it’s well worth a click or two.
- Commanding and Demoralising Shout. Commanding Shout may be a pain in the ass to keep up, due to the piffy 2 minute duration, but 1080 heath is no mean boost of health. As such, try and keep this buff up as much as you can. It also has the added benefit of giving your party-mates the same health boost, and us tanks do so love to be loved. Demoralising Shout is not to be underestimated either. The reduction in enemy attack power is a reduction in damage, and us tanks do so love a kissy healer.
- Thunderclap and Disarm. Again, think damage mitigation, think affectionate healers. Use Thunderclap with caution around sheep and such, else your mage's head is liable to explode. It's pretty much an essential spell against fast-hitting bosses (see Prince Malchezaar phase 2, or Morogrim Tidewalker). Disarm has less use against (usually) immune bosses, however there are some exceptions (see Attumen).
- Team experience. There’s nothing like a good team to back you up. Players that are aware enough to notice when the tank is taking too much damage can employ plenty of tricks to help out: stuns, roots, slows, shields, dazes, off-heals. Make the most of these by knowing when to bandage or when to run away all heroically again. And importantly: ensure that you still take the credit for staying alive. Us tanks do so love to be conceited.
No doubt I've forgotten one or two things in this ramble-fest, so replies to this post in the form of additions, corrections, or love-letters are more than welcome.
Friday, 11 July 2008
Stalwart Protector: Mother of god YES! At last us warrior tanks are no longer punished threat-wise as our gear improves.
Improved Shield Block: Hmm, 10 seconds reduction on cooldown? This must mean shield block is being changed to having a much longer cooldown (anyone have some info on this? whaddya mean I should be researching?). There's a few implications to this - it could mean shield rating is promoted from its position as "alright I'll take him, but only cause there's nothing else" in Team Tanking Stats, with chance to block becoming a much more useful stat both mitigation- and threat-wise (as it activates revenge). It may also be a sign of crushing blows dissapearing....
Anticipation: Great change. Who doesn't like dodge?
Improved Revenge: Mixed feelings about this one. The increased damage on revenge is awesome, the chance to stun not so. The fact is, warrior tanks usually don't want their target stunned, as it reduces rage and therefore threat. For emergency action, we have concussion blow. Taking this talent could conceivably mean: more threat on bosses (immune to stun), less threat on trash mobs (rage starvation).
Improved disarm: The additional damage a target takes could be a very nice raid buff - however again most bosses are likely immune to disarm/shield break, and so this may only be of use against trash. In which case, it's turned into a decidedly "meh" talent.
Concussion blow: Nice buff to threat, can't be a bad thing.
Improved Shield bash: Improved shield slam more like. Super!
Vigilance: Veeeery interesting. Imagine casting this on a pally tank when he's having aoe-fun - taunt will never be on cooldown. In fact, any raid instance where this is cast on a tank buddy, you'll pretty much always have taunt available. Renders improved taunt much less useful. And hey, warriors get to buff someone!
...And another possible situation comes to mind. Try slapping this on the rogue that keeps over-aggroing in your heroic. Not only does he have more chance to dodge when he gets the mob's attention, but when he does get smacked in the face, you know you can immediately taunt off him. Of course the downside to this is the rogue never learns the harsh lesson of controlling his aggro... maybe let him die after all, then.
Safeguard: Potentially a very nice off-tank talent. Imagine a gruul-like fight, where the MT is taking a hell of a beating. Then imagine you being able to not only absorb a hit for him, but also reduce all damage by 60% for 6 seconds. Could be hugely good.
Sword and board: Nothing but niceness.
Shockwave: Warriors can't aoe tank huh? *shockwaves the faces of all doubters* hah! One slight grumble is that I'd like to have seen an ability useful against big ol' single target raid bosses as the top talent, but you can't have everything.
Stalwart protector: It has to be said again. Yeeeehaaaa!!!
All in all, exciting times ahead. For a masachist (mathacist?) like me, the fun will be in the new stat balancing - who knows how the mechanics of tanking will be changed in WotLK? Will AP suddenly dominate? Will we become dodge-addicted rage monsters? A whole new era of brainaching headscratching mistakeandwipingtheraidmaking is in store for us, an era where we may hear ourselves saying: "that epic headpiece is nice... but I'm keeping my old blue for the block rating and strength".
So after weeks of effort, we (we being the Serenity raiding community) managed to get ol' snakehead down last night. Much merriment, self-congratulation and general shrieking-until-microphones-broke followed. As only the 6th guild/community on our little, backwater server to achieve this, we are mighty proud of ourselves. Moreso, as we have proved in just a couple months that a casual raid community is just as capable of downing the big names as the more hardcore tribes out there (and, dare I say, with a hell of a lot more fun along the way).
The bad news is she dropped no defender tokens (bad Vashj!), the good news is she dropped a nice dps plate chest (good Vashj!), which we promptly nabbed. Damage Aru now looks decidedly green.
For now I'm keeping the idea behind this blog pretty simply: to ramble about wow, warriors, and tanking. Hmm, that doesn't sound so enticing to all you potential internet folk out there... okay, let's say: nudity, moustaches and ironically-funny singers from the 80s. Better?
And bloggers are allowed to lie on these things right?