Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Tidyplates fix

Like many of you, I use the Tidyplates addon when tanking as it makes it very easy to see who you have aggro on and who you need to taunt back. It's excellent. Since the 4.01 patch however it's been broken because of the issue of overlapping nameplates - rather than staying next to the mobs they represent, the nameplates wander around the screen when tanking large packs, which makes the addon pretty much unusable.

The problem appears to be due to changes Blizzard made to the default UI, and I've discovered that entering the command

/console spreadnameplates 0

should fix the problem. I'll check this later when I get home.

If you don't use Tidyplates, here is Kadomi's review some time back.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Shameless recruitment post

This is a post that Griffinheart (one of my officers) put on our forums front page. As you can see, my guild is recruiting - we have loads of great dps but are seeking a couple of tanks and healers to round out our raiding teams. In WotLK we killed everything on normal mode and most things on heroic - culminating in our Frostwyrm mounts from ICC. If you are interested there's a link to our forums on this page - cross-server apps would be very welcome.

"After a bumpy year and, eventually, a split, Immortal is bent on reinventing itself. A core of adult players who have been playing together for almost five years is seeking to shoot new blood into its veins, with its sight set on the imminent Cataclysm.

Our intention is to reopen the doors of our guild and to turn it again into a suitable platform to enjoy the upcoming expansion, in an attempt to reconcile both the raiding and the social aspects of the game. Mind you, we are not recruiting as such; we only would like to add some more like-minded individuals to our particular roster of characters.

What remains of Immortal is a set of around 25 players from very diverse countries, all 18+, many of us actually 30+. Most of us have jobs (or had), better halves, mortgages, children and a nasty set of real life problems from which we like to take a break two or three days a week by killing stuff for a couple of hours or three. Even though we have very different schedules, all of us have been making the time for years to spend some hours together every week, to enjoy the special atmosphere Immortal has traditionally enjoyed during its existence.

Our targets for Cataclysm are still in great part to be decided, but all things are pointing towards a 10-man raiding guild running 2-3 teams, with at least one of them aiming to cover the whole nine yards for every raid dungeon: hard modes, meta-achievements, penguins… the whole shebang. If we manage to actually run two top-notch teams, we will consider the jump to 25-man raiding again, as it has been a guild constant since Vanilla. Many of us are experienced players with a hunger for blood and power, and will go to shameful extents in order to inexorably and ruthlessly achieve our goals: going on sick leave for a couple of days to practice tactics, or peeing in buckets next to our PCs to save AFK time (mental note: make sure my push-to-talk option is enabled on Teamspeak next time). Other than that, we are normal people.

We currently run two teams in ICC 10: one of them made of mains, running 2-3 evenings a week and just two blue dragon kills away from the Glory of the Raider achievement; the other one is made of alts and raids whenever we get the critical mass and minimum balance for it. Generally speaking, anyone with a real craving for raids has several chances every week to kick some (mostly) undead arses.

So, this is us. We are looking forward to having a lot of real fun in Cataclysm, and to share it with anyone weird enough to feel at home here –just like we do. If you are a decent human being with a passion for raiding or hanging out in World of Warcraft, and the strange gut-feeling that you could fit in Immortal, do not hesitate and post an application on our forums.

We are dying (really often) to meet you!"

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

To the ground, baby!

Well, the nerfs are in and to paraphrase Zapp Brannigan - the warrior nerfs are like the warriors' love - hard and fast.

You can read the full list in all its horror in the patch notes. Most of the nerfs reduce damage done by 17%, but some are different. I'm going to look at Fury and Prot since those are the specs I have experience of. Assume that all abilities are reduced in damage by 17% unless mentioned.


Raging Blow is reduced by 27%
Mastery is buffed by 50%
Slam rage cost reduced from 20 to 15

This is a very heavy nerf for raging blow. It may be that the changes to mastery (extra damage while enraged) balances this out, but looking at some napkin maths I doubt it. The effect on our rotations is hard to see at present - previously the fury rotation was
Raging blow (where available) > Bloodthirst > Heroic strike. It may be that raging blow drops from being the main nuke to being a filler.

I still can't see a place for slam - the problem with it has been that heroic strike is so good that rather than being a way to bleed off excess rage we want to hit it on cooldown. If we are doing that we just don't have the spare rage to hit slam as well (or at least I don't) and you therefore drop slam altogether. I've seen the suggestion that slam procs need to cost zero rage and I agree with that. On the basis that we have more rage now than we will have at any time in Cata (crit, hit and haste are higher now than they will be) I can't see this change making slam attractive.


Devastate is unchanged
Revenge is unchanged
Shockwave is unchanged
Shield Slam is unchanged at 85 (not sure about at 80)

The only ability that prot uses which was nerfed is heroic strike. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Currently like for fury heroic strike is so good that it distorts the rotation - Shield slam > revenge > heroic strike with devastate being relegated to maintaining the debuff.

It may be that the nerf to heroic strike is enough to change the rotation but frankly I doubt it because heroic strike is simply so far ahead of devastate and shockwave at present. It should also be noted that the cookie cutter prot spec at the moment includes field dressing and blood craze, and so most raiding tanks (including me) haven't taken the war academy talent, which when maxed boosts heroic strike by 15%. The net effect of taking warbringer will bring us back to where we are now - that devastate is there just for the debuff (or can be dropped if you have the right kind of hunter pet with you), concussion blow is a stun only and shockwave is for utility and AoE tanking.

Oh, and finally, the rend nerf should pretty much kill off Blood and thunder as a prot talent I think!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Arthas at 85

Tobold is a good blogger, in that he writes interestingly and well on varied subjects. I check his blog most days. I get quite frustrated about his attitude to raiding however. His comment about raiding in WotLK is as follows:

"I wouldn't say I have "finished" Wrath of the Lich King, for example I am not among the half million players who killed Arthas. But that was definitively due to lack of even trying, as I found WotLK raiding not that much fun: Too much "Super Mario Brothers" or "Simon Says" or "Don't stand in the fire", however you want to call that, and not enough focus on actually playing your class, if you know what I mean. I'm looking forward to Cataclysm, where at least healing appears to require more thinking (3 of my 5 level 80s are healers), and hope that Cataclysm raiding has a bit more tactical fights that require players to think on their feet instead of raid encounters resembling some sort of complicated ballet where the most important thing is that everybody stands at exactly the right position at the right time. Maybe I'll get to kill Arthas when I'm level 85 in some fun guild outing."

Tobold seems to like tank and spank fights. He doesn't like to have to run around much, he doesn't like to have to react to scripted attacks, and he doesn't like to learn a "best" rotation for his class. What he likes is to make decisions on the fly about what's the best spell or ability to cast, which for him makes interesting gameplay. I disagree, but it takes all sorts to make a world etc etc.

What I find interesting is that he thinks that he'll be able to come back at level 85 and kill Arthas for fun. I actually think that Arthas farming at level 85 will not happen very much at all. Consider the following:

- It's a long instance. You need to kill 11 bosses pre Arthas (and Sindragosa will be no pushover at 85 either).

- There are mechanics that can kill you that you can't outgear or outlevel. Defile will still kill you at 85 if you stand in it. Soul Reaper will still take off 90k of tank health in a few seconds. The necrotic plague does 50k damage to you when it ticks, or more if it has already killed some ghouls - that will still hurt at 85. The Val'kyr can drop a level 85 person off the edge of the raid. If you get hit by an ice sphere it's still a one shot kill. The fight is hard. It will still be reasonably tough at 85.

- It's hard to underman the fight. You still probably need 2 tanks for phase 1 (otherwise you are going to get plague in your melee or your tank is going to need to be cleansed all the time leading to higher boss melee damage). You still need 2 healers, since one healer might get grabbed by a Val'kyr in phase 2 or ported into the sword in phase 3 and you'll need another to cover.

- He doesn't drop anything cool or unique like a legendary weapon or a rare mount. The weapons don't have unique models either - they look the same as the normal raid drops.

And finally...

- Most good raiders have killed Arthas already. I'm sorry, but if you haven't killed Arthas yet then either you aren't a very good player, or you are new, or you have had some kind of unspecified other problem like a guild split or personal issues. Assuming that they do indeed remove the kingslayer title then there will be little incentive for experienced or talented raiders to go back and kill Arthas on a new alt. This means an Arthas pug will probably be an utter disaster.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Some simple tanking macros

Some very basic tanking macros I use. Nothing particularly clever, but you might like them.


Credit to Veneretio of the now-defunct TankingTips for this one.

/castsequence [harm] reset=15 Charge, Intercept; [help] Intervene

If you press the button it casts charge. If you press it within 15 seconds it casts intercept. If the target is friendly it casts intervene. Note that if you have gyphed charge for a shorter cooldown you should change it to say "reset=14". Also, don't spam the button otherwise you'll cast charge and then intercept on the same target straight away.

Cooldown macros

I macro a warning to my healers when I use a cooldown. Stuff like

#showtooltip last stand
/cast last stand
/s Everblue used Last Stand

I think it helps your healers to know you are using a cooldown so that they can adjust their healing strategy accordingly.

Startattack macro

If you use a special ability and you have enough rage then you'll cast the ability and begin attacking your target with normal melee attacks (if you weren't already). If you don't have enough rage to cast the ability then you will not start attacking your target with white attacks either, and thus you won't start gaining rage. You'll just stand there like a lemon.

I therefore macro the startattack command to devastate (or bloodthirst in fury spec, or mortal strike in arms spec) as follows:

#showtooltip devastate
/cast devastate

Lucky charms

One final tip. Via the keybindings in the normal blizzard UI it's possible to bind "set the skull raid marker" to a key. I've bound this to the "8" key in my UI, meaning that it's relatively easy to get the dps to focus fire on one target without messing around with menus during a fight.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Friday, 29 October 2010

Warrior tanking news

Some warrior news.

Firstly the shield slam nerf is confirmed as expected - base damage will be increased but AP scaling will be decreased. This will signal an end to the massive shield slams we've been seeing on live, but should also improve burst threat on the pull.

Next come the changes to block. There are three, and I confess I'm not sure what the design intent behind the changes is.
- The increase to block chance provided by shield block is being nerfed from 100% to 25%. This shouldn't affect most warriors on live at the moment as avoidance in ICC gear is typically 40-45%, with a minimum 30% block and 5% miss chance. It might be a fairly severe nerf to warriors at level 85, and certainly makes shield block much less effective as a cooldown if total avoidance + block is materially less than 75%. Nevertheless it's not something to worry about yet - we'll find out about tank balancing at 85 in a couple of months' time.
- The second block change is that when you cast shield block, and it takes you over 100% avoidance + block (presumably this "100%" figure should actually read "102.4%" for bosses) then the excess block chance is converted to crit block chance. This is quite nice now, but it's hard to see that at level 85 it's going to be relevant at all. Blizzard have said that avoidance levels in Cata will be lower than today, and so given that we wouldn't expect to be unhittable at level 85 it's not easy to see why this change has been made. It's going to be a slightly weird mechanic if you have mobs of different levels attacking you (eg if you are tanking a boss at level 83 and adds at level 80) since you'll have different crit block levels between the different adds, but that's something that's always been in the game I guess.
- Mastery is being buffed. It now increases block and crit block by 1.5% per point of mastery (up from 1.25%). This makes mastery even more attractive for warriors - with mastery at 1.25% on live at the moment, dodge and parry are probably better for overall mitigation, but mastery is better to avoid damage spikes. This buff might make mastery just outright better than avoidance.

Thirdly, shield wall is being buffed. This is part of an overall adjustment of tanking cooldowns, and brings all four classes into line.

Fourthly, Vigilance is being nerfed, but wrongly. They are removing the 3% damage reduction proportion but leaving the Vengeance transfer. The Vengeance transfer is far far too good and it will be nerfed hard soon.

And finally - we started working on LK heroic last night. I'm not sure if we'll get him, but it's something to keep people interested for the next few weeks. At the end of phase 1 (with all the damage buffs on him) Arthas was meleeing me for 42,000 damage per swing (on 10 man). It's going to be really tough. Best try so far - 71%.

Monday, 18 October 2010


I haven't done any reforging yet. Nevertheless, I have some Thoughts:

1) Stamina is still king

You can't reforge primary stats, including stamina. You can reforge everything else.

I actually think that reforging therefore narrows gearing choices, since in a world without reforging you might have wanted some threat stats such as hit on a gear item, or defence, or in the bright and shiny Cataclysm healing model a ton of +dodge rating might have been superior. You might therefore have worn an item with these stats. Not so now - you can get your threat stats, or your avoidance, by reforging. You can't get stamina so it will still be the case that stamina is better than everything else.

I imagine that there will be a similar rule for most classes where the most useful gear attribute is a primary stat.

2) How much hit is still needed?

**Caution, what follows is based on my understanding of hit mechanics, which is a little rusty.**

The glyph of taunt has gone. I've got about 6% hit I think, which means that since taunt used to use the spell hit table I would therefore think that I had 11% chance of taunt missing a boss. I have not had a taunt miss yet (2 raids so far) so I wonder if the developers have simply made taunt hit all the time, which is something that GC said he might do.

The reason I am musing on this (aside from worrying that I'll miss a tank swap) is that since as a threat stat expertise is twice as good as hit, and I am under the expertise soft cap, perhaps I should be turning some of my hit into expertise. I don't want to do that however if I'm going to muck up my taunting.

3) What is the parry diminishing returns curve?

Dodge, for me, is not as good as parry. Dodge avoids the next attack, whereas parry avoids the next attack and procs Hold the Line. Parry is therefore better.

However, on live pre-4.01 parry had a much more severe diminishing returns curve, meaning that you needed more parry rating to get an effective 1% of parry than you needed of dodge to get an effective 1% dodge. I wonder if that will continue into Cataclysm - if so, it means that gemming and reforging and enchanting dodge will still be better than stacking parry. If not, it means that dodge will be unquestionably worse than parry for me in the expansion.

I still therefore don't really feel like I have enough information to go out and pay cash to change my gear via runeforging. It might be different in Cataclysm if survivability is a massive issue, so we're adding avoidance to everything at the expense of threat, but at present I hope that some clever people at Tankspot and EJ will apply their ginormous brains to get an idea of the mechanics of tanking in Cataclysm.

EDIT - Ah - some of the information may be here.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Some first impressions of tanking post 4.01

We had a very laid back and addon-less ICC10 run last night. Lots of silly pulls, people not knowing their class changes (hello there Mr DPS DK in blood presence!) and 8 bosses killed. With that in mind, here are some thoughts.

1) Shield slam is amazing. Simply amazing. With a full stack of vengeance and the heavy repercussions talent my shield slams are 16k - 20k during shield block. That's without inner rage. That is also NON-CRIT. I had a 37k non-crit shield slam on Festergut last night with 7 stacks of gastric bloat. The new shield slam is awesome once you stack vengeance to sufficiently high level. Since my other attacks were hitting for up to 7k I think, shield slam is a huge proportion of our dps now and catching those SnB procs is vital. I can't believe they won't nerf this.

2) The new heroic strike is really good - I like the fact that you don't wait for the next weapon swing, but it's just an instant whack in the face that's off the gcd. I have incite so it crits pretty often, and it hits hard enough to feel like a proper meaty attack. I need to get into the rhythm of hitting this button every 6 seconds instead of every 1.5 seconds and deciding when to cleave, but currently it feels like a positive change.

3) I've always liked cleave-type attacks, and with the glyph of cleave being major rather than prime, it's now available for prot warriors. Cleave therefore hits three targets and is pretty great for AoE pulls. Revenge still hits hard and the "revenge cleave" is still lovely for big pulls.

4) Single target threat isn't too bad at all. I didn't have any problems last night once I'd found out where all my buttons were and got my UI in order. It's definitely no longer straightforward to keep aggro on multiple mobs, but if people are following a kill order it's usually ok. By the end of the raid I was no longer losing mobs on AoE pulls, but of course if someone was going single target there would normally get aggro.

5) Rage generation was fine when tanking. When not tanking I still felt like I had enough rage to use a decent spread of abilities, although as ever having to drop revenge from my rotation in those circumstances was annoying.

6) I suggest that you don't bother with rend or blood and thunder, and that you ignore thunderstruck. A cookie cutter 31 points in the prot spec will have 4 utility points - I went for gag order (even though it's not particularly useful at present) and hold the line (which was up about half the time I think last night).

7) Thunderclap's been nerfed quite a lot. The damage is pretty poor (although as noted I haven't specced into thunderstruck) and so even though it does a lot of additional threat you'll need to tab target and cleave to keep aggro.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Some thoughts on the new prot talents

One thing I've learned from this beta process is to refrain from blogging on mechanics that are not implemented yet. One week you write a brilliant deconstruction of the new ability or mechanic, and the next it is gone. (In my defence however, many of the things I posted on the official forums about have happened - new attack for fury, furious sundering gone as an ability, gushing wound gone, heroic leap usable in combat and in any stance.)

Now however, with the testing process aparently now continuing on live servers with the release of patch 4.01, it's worthwhile putting down some notes on the (hopefully final) talents. Focussing on the prot tree for now:

Rank 1

Toughness is required. Max this out.

Incite is apparently amazing for single target threat, and syncs very well with shield specialisation, see below, and war academy in the arms tree.

Blood and thunder seems too fiddly for me. Assuming it's an AoE pull, once you've charged you won't want to hit rend before your first thunderclap since you won't get AoE aggro, so you'll want to hit it before your second thunderclap. It might be slightly better at level 85 when you can pull using heroic leap, but then at least pulling with charge->thunderclap gives you plenty of initial rage. Much will depend on how out AoE threat pans out in the final numbers, but unless our AoE threat requires running a spec that is focussed on AoE threat, I don't think I'll take this talent. It's probably a decent AoE talent for arms spec warriors though, since thunderclap is their main AoE and they'll normally have rend running anyway.

Rank 2

Shield specialisation is possibly a little overpowered in its current format - bear in mind that with shield block up you will block almost every attack, so this talent provides pretty much infinite rage while you have shield block up. This should allow you pop Inner Rage (once you have it!) and get a few heroic strikes (some of which might be criticals due to incite) in for a big damage boost. It also syncs with heavy repercussions, below. I suggest you try to max this talent out since it is the best "extra rage" talent you can get at present.

Shield mastery is required. Max it out. You may not be aware that our shield block ability has been nerfed - it now only increases block chance rather than block amount, which means that the ability is less useful against weak-hitting attackers but remains very strong against bosses.

Hold the line is an AoE threat talent I think. When you are being hit by multiple enemies at once your likelihood of keeping this up is very much higher, whereas a single enemy hitting you will probably mean that the buff falls off from time to time.

Gag order is a great utility talent for 5 man instances. I remember heroics at 80 when they weren't totally AoE gankfests and this talent is really helpful for gathering caster packs together in 5 man dungeons.

Rank 3

Just take all of these talents. You need all of them. Concussion blow might be a bit weak now, but the stun will be required for levelling and the damage it does has been doubled on the PTR.

Rank 4

Improved Revenge and Devastate are required, obviously.

Impending Victory is an odd talent. Victory rush ("vrush") does 45% of attack power as damage at present, as compared to shield slam which does 100% of attack power (I believe, although possibly shield slam has been weakened recently). On those numbers, using vrush will be a significant dps and tps loss over normal attacks. Added to this is the relatively small heal, and the fact that you can only use it sub-20%, and the talent looks a little expensive. Vrush syncs with a talent in the arms tree that you'll be taking anyway (field dressing) and one that you might also be putting some points in if you are speccing for single target threat (war academy). It's also possible to use the new major glyph of vrush which increases the heal by 50%. If you take all the talents and glyphs that support vrush (and assuming they all stack!), then you might be looking at an ability that heals you for 8-9% of your health and hits for about 52% of attack power, but you can still only use it for at best a fifth of the fight.

Rank 5

Thunderstruck has a great name but is also an AoE only talent. It stacks 5 times, but the buff lasted 20 seconds on the PTR as opposed to the shockwave cooldown of 30 seconds. This means that if you want to keep this buff up on a fight where you aren't doing AoE threat, then you'll need to thunderclap 50% more than is normally required, which is a dps loss. Again, keep an eye on this in case they change the buff duration.

Vigilance is an amazing amazing talent for raiding now. Vengeance is such a huge buff, and afaik we'll be the only tank class to retain vengeance when we don't have aggro. I can't believe they won't nerf this, but for now it will be useless while levelling, useless in heroics and amazing in raids.

Heavy repercussions is a really strong talent. It's even better if you have maxed out shield specialisation talent since while shield block is up you'll probably have inner rage active too. This means your shield slam will be hitting for 230% damage during shield block.

Rank 6

I can't make up my mind on Safeguard. I think it will probably help in 5 mans from time to time, especially since vigilance doesn't transfer threat now. Nevertheless, I think it's probably overbudget at 2 points and it questionable that there will be situations where the ability to intercept a blow will not save your group mate but the 30% damage reduction will. Unless there are 85 heroics where perhaps the boss targets someone other than the main tank with a channelled spell (or something) then I will probably skip it. It's great in certain encounters, but pretty much you might spec for those encounters.

Sword and board is good. Take it.

Rank 7

Shockwave - take it, obviously.

There'll be more to come on this once I've had chance to raid.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Warrior raid buffs in 4.01

There is an excellent post at Pwnwear about raid buffs and debuffs on the PTR at present. The key facts for warriors are

1) Battle shout changed - this is now +str and +agi instead of +AP. It shares stats with shaman totems and the DK ability horn of winter.

2) Commanding shout changed - this now adds stamina, and shares stats with the priest spell Power Word:Fortitude and the warlock imp.

The effect of this is that if you run with a priest in your raid there is no need to buff commanding shout at all, except perhaps after a combat rez. If you raid with a DK then given the short duration of horn of winter, it's possible that the buff will fall off during the fight if the DK is not paying attention. Since shouts give rage now (20 rage I think) then using battle shout from time to time should ensure that the buff stays up and should give you some extra rage.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

Stance dancing

Stance dancing means switching between stances to use abilities which are not normally used in your stance. For example a fury warrior (who would normally fight in zerker stance) might wish to use rend (only useable in battle and defensive stances). It is not an easy skill - you need to be able to switch stances, select the new ability, then shift back to your normal stance very quickly. Spending too long switching means a dps loss, and you need to factor in that when you change stances you lose most of your rage.

Stance dancing, while being something the developers say they like as a flavour of the warrior class, is slowly being phased out of the game. Prot warriors no longer need to stance dance to use charge or intercept, and the latest beta build makes pummel useable in battle stance so assuming this makes it to live arms warriors will not need to dance to access their interrupt. Dancing is critical for PvP, but is a neglected skill for PvE. Here are some abilities which a prot warrior needs to stance dance to use:

1) Retaliation

This is a fantastic AoE tanking tool which is criminally underused. For the next 12 seconds any attacker hitting you is treated to a mainhand attack in return, with 20 attacks maximum. On a 4 minute cooldown (with the improved disciplines talent) and useable in battle stance only.

I normally (umm honesty attack incoming, let's say - "normally when I remember") hit retaliation before I charge into a large AoE pull, so the button sequence is

battle stance -> retaliation -> defensive stance -> charge -> thunderclap

You can put out a large amount of AoE damage and threat in such situations. Similarly, if you use it just before hitting Challenging Shout you are very unlikely to lose aggro on any mobs within range.

2) Recklessness

This ability is more useful in single target situations. It makes your next three special attacks crit (not including heroic throw I believe), but at the cost of increasing damage taken by 20% until your three crits have taken place. Again, a 4 minute cooldown (with the improved disciplines talent) and useable in zerker stance only.

The +20% damage taken is scary at first glance, and puts people off, but bear in mind that the debuff only lasts until you have crit three times (about 5 seconds), and you might only expect to take 2 or 3 boss hits in that time. Add to the fact that if you use it on the pull you will probably be pre-hotted and pre-shielded, or with a prayer of mending on you. You will also have shield block available so you can use that to mitigate the extra damage you'll take from using this ability. I believe that shield wall has a shared 12 second cooldown with recklessness and retaliation, so you cannot use shield wall at the same time as recklessness to mitigate the extra damage, but I could be wrong on this. I still think the extra damage shouldn't be a problem though.

Three crits in a row means that your first shield slam will be huge, and you should also be able to get shockwave and revenge crits too. This will give you a very large initial threat lead on a boss.

It's not that well known (it certainly isn't on the tooltip), but this ability also makes you immune to fear. An interesting point that is almost completely useless for prot warriors since when feared you won't be able to shift to zerker stance to use it but nevertheless may come in handy if you are fury spec sometime.

3) Shattering throw

The armour reduction from shattering throw is in addition to the armour reduction from sunder armour. This makes shattering throw a valuable dps cooldown for your raid. Use it during heroism to make yourself very popular with dps warriors, rogues and hunters.

Since it has a cast time, your avoidance will be zero during the cast so you'll take more damage than normal for a couple of seconds but this should only be for one hit given the short casting time and so I don't think that this is a particularly important feature.

4) When not tanking

If you are in a tank swap fight then one of the deadly sins of tanking (ooooh - idea for a blog post!) is to overaggro your fellow tank when it's his or her turn to tank. Generally, Something Bad happens when you do this, at the very least your tanking partner and your healers will know you're a muppet.

Simply shift to battle stance or zerker stance when you aren't tanking to increase the damage you are doing, but reduce the threat of your attacks and reduce the chances of you accidentally overaggroing. This is particularly important for Festergut, since otherwise the massive dps boost you get when offtanking will lead to huge aggro problems for you. Helpfully, it will be easier to get to shattering throw or recklessness during this time, but remember to plan ahead and be ready to shift back to defensive stance well before you need to taunt the boss back.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


This is Dyumedes.

He's been inactive for a while, but back in Vanilla he was pretty much the most famous tank on our server. I knew him slightly - we have some people in our guild who were pretty well known in the vanilla warcraft community such as Mileena and Griffinheart, and these guys knew Dyu and raided with him from time to time.

He's a hard man to get on with - I know another tank on our server who asked him politely for gearing advice and Dyu simply put him on /ignore without responding. Dyu was raidleader and GM of the top raiding guild on our server back in Vanilla, before his job (he was in the army) meant he had to take a long break from the game.

For all his faults (and he was perfectly polite and pleasant to me), Dyu was and presumably still is a top notch player. I remember Mileena telling me about a time when Dyu came and tanked a ZG run for us. She was seriously impressed I remember - Dyu chain-pulled every group of mobs (this was at a time when crowd control was vital in raiding) until they got to the tiger boss. The tiger boss in ZG had two adds which had to be killed within a few seconds of each other and you tended to split dps and use two tanks plus a dps tank on one of the casters. Rather than assign tanks Dyu just pulled them all and - Mileena's voice dropped here to an awed whisper - Dyu tanked everything himself.

This was a time when thunderclap was only useable in battle stance, so you had to stance dance to use it. You had to press shield block every 6 seconds to prevent yourself being hit by crushing blows. Shield wall was on a 30 minute cooldown. Mages and warlocks in raids regularly had to wand for the first few minutes of an encounter to let the tanks get sufficient aggro on a single target. The phrase "wait for five sunders before dpsing" was a dungeon and raid mantra. There was no revenge cleave, no damage shield no threat No Threat NO THREAT!

The reason I've been thinking of Dyu recently is that I've been reading the beta forums and looking at the changes to tanking we can expect. Apparently AoE threat has been hit very hard, and crowd control is supposed to be becoming more important. We'll also have threat decay, which will mean that we can never slack off in our rotations later in the fight once we have a good threat lead. All of these things are going to make tanking, particularly AoE tanking, much more difficult which is something that's being hailed as positive in the game - an end to the AoE dps zergs of the LK dungeons and a return to the more strategic encounters of the past.

While that's all very well, I wonder how far back we really want to go. Do we want to return to the Vanilla days, when even tanking three mobs could be seen as a major demonstration of skill from one of the server's best?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

PP heroic down!

Stupid failtank forgot to FRAPS or screenshot it. Dammit.

Amazing fight, cheers on teamspeak at the end. We rule! etc. I'm now 9/12 on heroic, with the guild as a whole being 10/12 (I haven't killed Blood Princes heroic).

We are just 3 boss kills away from getting the guild's first Frostwyrm. We tried the Sindragosa normal achievement tonight using the zerg method and got close. We were unlucky on the tombs and I was too cocky as regards the timing of blistering cold. I think it's doable.

EDIT - Oh, and I am now swaggering around with an improved organ...!

Friday, 17 September 2010


I am conflicted.

Cataclysm is coming out soon (probably too soon for me to get the Frostwyrm mount, grumble grumble) and worgen, frankly, look cool. I want one. The question is what to do.

Should I simply race-change my human warrior into a worgen? This has the advantage that I'd get to keep the history of the character, which is something I wanted to do with my current main - having played a different class in each previous expansion I admire people who've kept the same main character for four or five years and intended to keep this warrior toon as my main permanently. I could RP it a little, and get my doughty human warrior bitten by a werewolf.

(Interlude - I am a secret roleplayer. I don't tell anyone or roleplay in game, I just roll it round the inside of my head. I have a back story all worked out for all of my characters which I am too shy to share with the world.)

On the other hand, that would mean I won't get to play through the starting area which would be a shame. It might also be fun to level a new character to experience the reworked Azeroth. The problem with that is that there's no point in levelling a caster worgen. None at all. Worgen are savage beasts with massive pointy teeth. There's no way that a worgen is going to hang around at the back casting spells. Worgen should be rogues or warriors, that's all. I've levelled a rogue before and have no desire to do so again. So an alt warrior (probably fury, since it fits with the feel of the worgen race) is in the post in Cataclysm. Everblue will go arms/prot.

Raiding update - our best try on PP heroic is 12%. We're getting pretty close to a kill here...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Looking back at Northrend raiding

Some thoughts on the last couple of years.

Favourite instance

Ulduar without question. The instance is stunning to look at and gets off to an atmospheric and impressive start with the vehicle fight. There is nothing else in the game to match the look of Kologarn, XT002 or Mimiron. I also like the genuinely new types of encounter - particularly Mimiron and Yogg Saron. These are really interesting and well put together.

Most difficult encounter

The encounter I've wiped most on without clearing was Anub'arak hard mode in ToC10. We stopped trying it when ICC came out, so while we could have gone back and stomped all over it with our new gear, we haven't. It's not really the same without the challenge I think.

We tried the fight for about four raids without success, and came close a few times. We would regularly come unstuck in the kiting phase with stupid deaths - people would use aggro-dropping abilities without warning the raid, so the boss chooses a new target without resetting speed, or people would try absurdly over-ambitious kiting strategies, or people would die to the adds. It was so frustrating.

In phase three I don't think we ever really nailed the healing - we had too many people being healed too high so that boss healing was massive.

In context though, Anub was nowhere near as difficult as Arthas. Arthas was a worthy end boss for the expansion and probably the toughest fight I've ever seen in any expansion.

Least fun encounter

Ugh, Malygos. Having to move the boss constantly away from the sparks, while allowing the melee to stand in the power circles, and keeping aggro ahead of massively buffed dpsers. An absolute nightmare. Once you'd done all that, you were at the mercy of people not dying on the drake phase, which they invariably did.

With hindsight, part of the problem could have been that prot warrior threat generation was dreadful in 3.0 warcraft. If we'd had the dps buffs we have now, keeping aggro could have been much easier.

Most fun encounter

Faction champions I think. My job was always to bully the healers with stuns, interrupts and fears. It was an excellent fight and you really felt that you were contributing if you could tie up one of the healers more or less constantly (mwahaha I own you Mr Priest).

I like fights where spell reflect is important too.

Most rewarding boss to tank

XT002 hard mode / Anub'rekan. We got this achievement around the same time as ToC came out, so we were all still in ilevel 219 and 226 gear. We solo tanked it, meaning that I needed to keep aggro on the boss, and also grab the sparks when they spawned. We also (and this is perhaps my favourite part about the fight) had a *clever strategy* for the fight, which involved special positioning for people who got lightbombed. It was my first hardmode fight, and was the time when my tanking stepped up a bit to take on the MT role in progression content.

Anub'rekan is in there because it represents one of my fondest memories of the expansion. It was my first WotLK raid boss, and with my 21k unbuffed health, I just could not survive leeching swarm. However fast I ran I would always get a few ticks and the poison would kill me before the kite was over. So I made a plan - I got one of my healers to stand 25 yards away, and I macroed intervene onto her to a key. I then immediately intervened onto her to escape the swarm and avoid getting any leeching swarm ticks. I love things like that - and that is what ties XT002 hard mode and Anub'rekan together - both fights we succeeded by coming up with a special strategy to beat a particular mechanic. This is perhaps one of my favourite aspects of raiding. It must make it frustrating to be in one of my raids, since I'm always wanting to try some new tactic or strategy, or trying a new positioning idea.

Maybe raidleading in 10s is like playing an RTS game on a grander scale. We have units (raid members) and between us we come up with a plan of attack for them. My RTS units rarely go afk for a smoke though...

Proudest moment

The LK kill. After about 85 wipes and 3 months it was a little emotional.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Tanking Saurfang 10 heroic

Some random hints and tips for warriors at tanking this fight. People have been facerolling Saurfang on normal for a very long time and it's easy to forget the nuances of the fight. Actually there is quite a lot for tanks to do here - you don't need to move much, but everything you do has to be perfect, or you wipe.

We run with two healers for this fight, which means that you need to have killed the boss before he casts mark of blood for the third time. This means doing everything possible to minimise the amount of blood power gained by the boss.

- Let the other guy start tanking the boss at the start of the fight. The reason for this is that Saurfang's abilities are on very strict timers and therefore you can predict when he debuffs the tank - as you know you need to swap tanks when he debuffs his current target. There are two debuff points - after he casts boiling blood, and just after he summons the blood beasts. The tank who starts the fight will be debuffed just after boiling blood, and the OT will be debuffed just after the blood beasts arrive. You will need to be free to do other things once the blood beasts are up (see below) so you want the other tank to take the boss at that stage. That means that you want to be the OT.

- When the blood beasts arrive, immediately shockwave one of the beasts ("B1"). It's important that your shockwave does not hit the second beast ("B2"), since you want B2 to aggro on a ranged kiter. If you stun B2 next to your melee dps it might get hit by cleaves etc and aggro the melee, leading to a massive blood power boost and a probable wipe.

- Have all your dps apart from the B2 kiter nuke B1. You should help (since by now your tanking partner will be tanking the boss). When shockwave is about to wear off, use concussive blow. This will mean that B1 should be dead before your concussive blow wears off (8 seconds of stun should be enough to kill it). All your dps should then head off to kill B2. If it looks like B2 is going to get into melee range of your kiter you should taunt B2, allowing a few seconds more for your dps to kill it.

- Diminishing returns on taunts appears to be turned on for this boss. What this means is that if you accidentally gain aggro when you shouldn't it's a possible wipe, since when the tank taunts back the next tank swap will be in the diminishing returns window and will have a high chance of missing. It also means that if you are a warrior you should not use mocking blow as part of your rotation, as I did (/shame), since this is likely to stuff things up for your tanking partner.

- If you have paladins in the raid they can cast Hand of Protection on people who get boiling blood to cut down on the amount of blood power gained by the boss. Clearly they shouldn't cast it on tanks or on your assigned blood beast kiter.

- When you are tanking Saurfang you shouldn't use shockwave or concussive blow, or they won't be available for when the adds appear, leading to a wipe.

When tanking Saurfang during frenzy you should ensure that you have a cooldown up (or at least available). Good luck!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion...

Since killing LK a couple of weeks back, I've been working my way through the heroic modes in ICC10. Currently I've beaten the first six bosses, and I must say it really adds a great deal of excitement to the encounters. In fact, some of the encounters feel like the heroic mode is the "proper" version of the fight - particularly Rotface and Festergut where the heroic modes have some extra voice acting, and new features which are implemented in an amusing way.

I think that LK heroic might be beyond us given the extreme difficulty of the fight (I think only one guild on my server has beaten it so far), but we will certainly try to get the Glory of the Icecrown Raider achievement, which has a special dragon mount as a reward.

The major roadblocks are likely to be Sindragosa heroic and the Sindragosa achievement, both of which look like an absolute swine, but we managed to get one of the harder achievements last night - Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion.

This requires you to complete the encounter without using the abomination's slow ability on the various oozes and clouds which spawn during the fight. What this means is that you are going to get hit by the adds. A lot.

Positioning is vital. When the green oozes spawn then you need to remember that the AoE damage when it reaches its target is split between all players in range. We split the raid into two groups for the oozes - the melee dps and tank in one position, and the ranged dps and healers in another (we used two healers). We normally killed the green ooze before it exploded for the second time, meaning that raid damage was manageable. The orange oozes are tougher, and you need to remember that damage from these mobs is not split between nearby players - thus you need to be spread out when these spawn. You also need to be aware of the DoT effect on the person that the orange ooze is targeting - that person will need quite a lot of healing while the ooze chases them. We used heroism in phase 2 to get the oozes out of the way as quickly as possible, and once you get into phase 3 it's the same as normal (except you won't have heroism available, so your execution needs to be better).

It's really quite fun, and makes the old, familiar fight a lot more interesting.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

It is done

Months and months too late, after guild splits, cancelled raids, teams breaking up and people being absent due to holidays/boredom/starcraft2...

Friday, 6 August 2010

Damage done vs DPS

The Pugnacious Priest is working out some guild issues in her blog.

Basically, she's getting criticised because her dps is too low (although I think 11k is pretty damn nice), and she responds to this criticism by pointing out that her total damage done is not too shabby - in fact total damage done comes in at 7th or 8th in a 25 man raid.

While this is valid to an extent, and certainly appears to have convinced some of her blog commentors, I'm not sure I agree that damage done > dps all the time. For this to be true it implies that if you die it must be your own fault - you have sacrificed some dps and instead gained some extra life time during which you have inflicted extra damage. This analysis neglects two points -

1) It's not always your fault if you die!

Sometime's it's the tanks' fault for not picking up a mob fast enough, sometimes you had the right to expect a heal from your raid healer but for whatever reason you didn't get one, sometimes a dispel is missed, sometimes you are the target of a nasty blood boil-type ability which requires massive healing to survive and you don't receive said healing. In any of those cases your total damage done might not be great, but dps is a better measure of your abilities at such times.

2) Burst is valuable

Many endgame encounters these days involve a requirement for burst dps. Halion is an honourable exception, but think of the val'kyr in the Arthas fight, the iceblocks in Sindragosa, the oozes in Professor Putricide, etc. In these encounters the ability to pull out all the stops for a short period of very high dps is crucial. In these encounters a high dps player will be more valuable, because they will shine in those short periods.

I agree that a dpser who can't be taught to stay out of the fire is useless, but that alone does not make damage done superior to dps as a metric for analysing raid performance.

In the case of the Pugnacious Priest however, she's screenshotted a log which covers 12 attempts. This should even out unlucky deaths (you wouldn't expect to die unluckily every fight), which means that there is more likely to be something wrong if a high dps player is consistently poor when total damage is considered. In such cases there's the possibility that there is some issue with their survival skills - perhaps they are neglecting them in favour of dps, which doesn't seem to be helping their progress.

Friday, 23 July 2010


On holiday for a bit. Back in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

WTB fingers

The latest warrior changes are out. Some really fun and interesting mechanics, fury gets its new attack (and animation!), but my first thought is "Where am I going to get the action bar space?"

For example, as Prot your normal rotation will be a priority system as follows:

Revenge > Shield Slam > Shockwave > Devastate

At 20% or less boss health you will probably mix in Victory Rush procs for the self heal, and at high rage situations the intention seems to be we will burn off rage with Heroic Strike. This means our normal rotation will require 6 different attacks.

In addition, we will need to apply Thunderclap and Demo Shout to the boss every 30 seconds, plus Rend for maximum dps/aggro. That's a further 3 buttons.

Furthermore, we have seven defensive buttons - Shield Wall, Last Stand, Shield Block, Spell Reflect, Enraged Regen, plus up to two clickable trinkets.

All of the above buttons will be needed every fight. We will also need to manage our buffs - Battle Shout and Commanding Shout, which being of short duration normally need to be refreshed several times each fight, as well as being used to give rage. We'll need Vigilance where you can see it, since that needs to be up all the time.

We will also need to use our "utility" buttons - Charge, Intercept (which you can no longer macro with Charge as /castsequence macros are being killed in Cata), Intervene, Heroic Leap and Heroic Throw. Don't forget Intimidating Shout and Disarm, which are sometimes useful, and Cleave.

All of those buttons will be needed by us on a regular basis and will need to be somewhere we can click on them in a second. That makes

Rotation buttons (6) + Debuffs (3) + Defensive cooldowns (7) + Buffs (3) + Utility buttons (8) = 27 buttons, all of which should be bound to a key.

One other mechanic in Cata will be an increased requirement to stance dance - currently in the beta berserker rage is only useable in zerker stance (edit - no it isn't! datamined error by MMO Champ!).

That is frankly crazy. WTB more fingers.

EDIT - Also I forgot racial skills such as the snare break, Concussive Blow, Challenging Shout, Taunt (!!) and Mocking Blow! Including Berserker Rage and Bloodrage that makes 34.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

New Fury macro for Cata

Might this work?

/cast slam
/cast victory rush

If you have either your slam proc or your victory rush proc available then it will use one of them. If victory rush works out to be a more powerful attack than slam maybe swap the order round in the macro.

Also - thinking about it - at present victory rush costs zero rage. This is necessary because it's an opener and you need to use it at the start of a fight when (you guessed it) you have zero rage. Does this mean that one of Fury's three main attacks in Cata will be resource-free? Or will they change the talent to allow victory rush in combat, but make it cost (say) 10 rage?

New talent trees

The new talent trees are now available. Stuff that caught my eye from the Prot tree:

1) Rend sychs with the new talent Blood and Thunder.

This looks like an interesting new mechanic and it seems as if the new opening moves will be charge/leap -> rend -> thunder clap. The choice of opener will be interesting because leap firstly does not generate rage, and secondly does an AoE stun so for two seconds you will not be taking rage from damage. Leap might do enough AoE threat (in fact it probably will, thinking about it) that AoE threat will not be a problem, but nevertheless the tank can expect to be rage starved for a couple of seconds and may not have sufficient rage to immediately follow up with a rend and a thunderclap. If charge is used as an opener then dps will have to be aware that the tank will probably not thunderclap immediately after the charge, and so will do only proximity aggro for the first couple of seconds on all mobs bar the first. It might be easier to peel mobs off the tank if the dpsers immediately open up with AoE or a heal lands straight away.

Is rend currently useable in defensive stance? It seems so according to Wowhead, although I have never hit it as a Prot warrior. I just assumed this was a beta change, but it looks like I was wrong.

2) Damage shield buffed

This now does 20% of attack power, so probably triple its damage on live.

3) +healing effects

We have a talent to increase healing on us by 6% - Field Dressing. This is in the arms tree and will probably be required (or it should be required by anyone who understands EH). This is an interesting and welcome new talent, but unfortunately means that if you want to take Field Dressing, Blood Craze can only be accessed with exactly 31 points in Prot, and I couldn't make a good prot spec with less than 32 points in Prot.

I think we do need to know whether Blood Craze will stack with the enrage effect that procs from Improved Defensive Stance. This will inform much of our talent choices.

4) Vitality buffed

We get a 15% buff to stamina now, up from 12%.

5) Vigilance no longer removes threat

As anticipated, Vigilance grants Vengeance rather than stealing threat. This is an excellent change, although there's no sign of Vigilance allowing Revenge procs, which is a shame. Hoping that changes before 4.0 hits.

6) Heroic Leap can be used in combat

It also doesn't seem to require a particular stance. This seems good for Fury Warriors, although with a cooldown of 2 minutes it's only going to be used more than once per fight on raid bosses I guess.

The downside of the new abilities is that together with rend this is another button for prot warriors to hit. We will need to find room for two new buttons on our action bars, with rend in particular probably being something that will be used fairly regularly. That's not going to be easy.

In addition, with the promised demise of /castsequence macros, the macro that chooses between charge and intercept based on the charge cooldown will no longer work. This is therefore a third button to include on the interface somewhere.

7) Sweep and clear

This new talent doesn't look very interesting at all - I can't see many people taking this and I'd be very surprised if this makes it to live.

8) DPS specs

Arms seems to have got a lot of love and I like Lambs to the Slaughter very much, although it's questionable how much dps this will add. I think this is a talent for EJ to do some work on, because it's not clear to me how the calculations would work and someone will have to sit and whack the dummy for a few minutes to see the effect on white swing speed.

The emphasis on enrages for Fury spec is a little odd, will be difficult to balance and it's really disappointing that we don't get a new attack to replace whirlwind. Victory rush is a boring proc attack, exactly the same as Slam, and I think the spec has lost quite a lot of its flavour. The Single Minded Fury talent is unexciting as ever (if I wanted to dual wield one handed weapons I'd roll a rogue).

It also appears the Blizzard have dropped the Gushing Wound idea, meaning that at present warriors are I believe the only class to get two new spells instead of three. Worse than this, one of the new spells isn't really a spell, just a balancing adjustment to our rage pool and damage.


The prot changes look good to me. There are a bunch of new abilities and interactions to consider and the tree looks attractive - there are difficult decisions over where to spend points.

Arms now looks the better of the two dps specs, with Fury looking particularly thin. Unless there are improvements to Fury, I'll look to play Arms in Cata I think.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


The raid team I formed after my guild split up is finally coming together into a strong group. We downed Sindragosa last night, after I think two or three wipes where our new MT was learning the fight. It was my first kill (my previous raid team had killed her on a night when I wasn't present, and then we rolled the raid ID forward on LK) and it was a really clean kill.

Some stuff that made the fight easier -

- Two tanks in frost resist gear. This made it possible to go to 10 or more stacks of the debuff before the tanks swap. It meant there was less running around, less drama, and lower overall tank damage.

- Aspect of the Pack. We ran with this on for most of the fight - the only person who ever might get dazed is the tank, and both of our tanks had ways to escape it on a tank swap - I would intervene a player or charge an iceblock, while the druid would shapeshift. To prevent problems positioning the boss, the Aspect should be turned off during an air phase and then turned back on when the boss has been positioned correctly. The Aspect trivialised the boss's death grip ability, and I don't think anyone got hit by this the entire night, whereas normally we've had people reacting too slowly, or getting surprised by it in phase 3. To avoid any doubt - the boss's AoE does not proc the Aspect daze.

- Melee on icetombs. We only had one melee character - a ret paladin. In phase 3 we had him on tombs full time to ensure they went down fast enough.

- The boss does a really annoying thing after each death grip - she repositions herself by walking towards the tank (even if the tank is within her hitbox) until the tank is at the centre of her hitbox. This has the effect of spinning the dragon around so she is often facing the raid, and means that the dragon gets tanked further and further away from the raid as the fight goes on. This can be dealt with by tanking the dragon standing as close to the centre of her hitbox as you can, and then backing away slightly after she repositions herself so that she is tanked in almost the same spot after each death grip.

It was a real "phew" moment. Sindragosa is a tough fight and even our team 1 has problems with it. I was glad to (finally!) get the kill, and to get it in a way which bodes well for our LK attempts.

We tried LK later, and since we were without a DK tank or a rogue to fan-tricks the ghouls, we struggled getting all the small adds to the OT. The OT (me) used vigilance on the MT and tried to taunt the ghouls one at a time, but I was losing aggro to the healers before they reached me, which was infuriating. All of the LK guides I've seen suggest that you don't need the small adds on the OT to make the disease stronger, you can just stack the disease on the shamblers and have the MT tank the boss and the ghouls all at once, but it's not how I've always done it.

I need to give it some thought before Friday.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Last Stand

One of the fun things about playing a plate class is that if you happen to be dpsing and the tank dies then very occasionally you can swing into action and save the day.

It happened on Friday in ICC against the Blood Princes. The MT is tanking the flame guy and the shock guy, but bites the dust. I grab a shield and tanking weapon, activate defensive stance, hit taunt, hit shield wall, after a few seconds taunt the second mob and that's me baby - tanking two raid bosses as fury!

There is the sound behind me of two healers having heart attacks, but I ignore their whining, tell them to man up, and we take the bosses from 30% to a kill! I then do a lot of /flex-ing in raid chat.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Revenge idea

On the soon-to-be-extinct official forums you still get the occasional gem of feedback. Today's is a poster asking for

"A way to cast Revenge when not the taking damage - e.g. "when the player with Vigilance takes damage, there is now a 20% chance to allow the use of your Revenge ability" or something similar. One reason protection warr. dps is so much lower when not taking damage is because we lose Revenge, which has become our hardest hitting ability."

GC's response is

"I think this is a valid point"

Yes! This would improve the prot warrior's offtanking rotation massively - Revenge is cheap (since rage is in short supply when offtanking) and hits like a truck. Linking it with Vigilance is clever because it keeps the unique flavour of Revenge.

I believe the current iteration of Vigilance is also to allow the Vengeance buff to develop too, so again we will have a way to keep our AP high when offtanking. One of the great weaknesses of warrior tanking is our offtank dps, and both of these changes would make a big dent in the problem.

I hope very much that GC and the rest of the developers give some thought to this idea.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Mastery rating on gear

A quote from Eyonix a couple of months back:

Here’s how the system works: As you spend points in a given talent tree, you’ll receive three different passive bonuses specific to that tree. The first bonus will increase your damage, healing, or survivability, depending on the intended role of the tree. The second bonus will be related to a stat commonly found on gear desirable to you, such as Haste or Crit. The third bonus will be the most interesting, as it will provide an effect completely unique to that tree -- meaning there will be 30 different bonuses of this nature in the game. This third bonus is the one that will benefit from the Mastery rating found on high-level (level 80 to 85) gear.

Protection warriors have three masteries at present

- Damage reduction
- Vengeance
- Critical block

According to MMO-champion's Cataclysm warrior preview, the damage reduction is capped at 8.01%, and vengeance (hereafter referred to in this blog as "venge") is capped at 5% damage taken. This leaves critical block chance as increasing depending upon the amount of the mastery stat on gear.

Here's a picture of some new gear with mastery on it.

So what does mastery do for prot warriors then? Well, it's block value, essentially, isn't it? It makes our blocks bigger. It is therefore useless against spell damage and against bleeds, and it is RNG-based. With block now mitigating a fixed percentage in Cata it may be that larger blocks are valuable - certainly I normally block 2-5k damage per hit, whereas if the Cata block model was used I'd be blocking around 5-10k. To a certain extent the value or otherwise of RNG-based mitigation stats such as block and dodge will depend upon whether or not Blizzard's new healing model works.

The new healing model is for the tank not to be in immediate danger of dying in a 4 second window, so casters can wait to see if the tank takes a hit before deciding whether to heal. Healers therefore don't need to be spamming the tank constantly or at least can be using a small, mana-efficient heal rather than a powerful, expensive heal. If that's right then block and dodge might be useful, and mastery as a stat might be desireable.

Currently though it looks as if I'll be searching for stamina and armour on my gear, rather than mastery rating .

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Back on track

The blog's been a bit light for the last few weeks. Partly because this is because I'm playing less warcraft, and partly this is because I've been dealing with the aftermath of the guild shenanigans and doing GM stuff.

When the guild split we lost our entire "ICC10 team 1", which was also the heart of our 25 man team. This included two of our guild's three MTs, plus two of our strongest healers, and our two best dps. Some people I liked very much ended up leaving, and I'll miss them.

We've had to start again, and are now a 10 man guild. My 10 man team, which had been on LK at about 20%, got split into pieces. The main piece is now our first team, or T1, and they finally got the LK kill (without me, the bastards), and are now 4/12 in hard modes. I decided to try to get a second team up and running, T2. This new team involves currently five or six mains, and some of the guild's better alts.

I'd never really understood before how much people's performance drops on their second character. Some people who are very strong on their main characters simply do not seem to be able to cut it when raiding on their alts. My new team has had some really really disappointing raids, and it's been quite frustrating. I have been concentrating on picking a consistent group, and it finally seems like we are getting some results at last and are turning into a decent team.

We killed 10/12 this reset, and I hope for better next week. I would be really disappointed if the guild split meant that I'd lost my chance to kill Arthas, but I think it's turned out for the best for the guild as a whole. The atmosphere is a lot happier now and people seem to be cheerful again.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Grass is greener?

I've been levelling a (blood spec) DK tank. It's interesting to see the differences between a blood DK and a warrior, although I understand that frost and unholy specs play a little differently.

Firstly, I am amazed at how overpowered the DK is in solo content. I can take on 6 or 7 mobs of the same level or greater and come out with full health. The self healing is really something special. I can easily solo elites of higher level (orange to me). Possibly one of the reasons that there are so many bad max-level DKs is that the DK is so very easy to level - run in, drop a DnD, spread your diseases (optional), death strike when possible to restore health.

Disease management is annoying when tanking. The diseases don't seem to last that long or be autorefreshed (or maybe I haven't picked up the talent or ability that refreshes them yet). Keeping multiple mobs diseased via pestilence is something that often gets lost during chaotic fights.

It's also annoying that you need to press four buttons to do decent AoE damage - frost strike, plague strike, pestilence, blood boil. That's 6 seconds for impatient dps to pull aggro from you. DnD is great, but it's on a long cooldown so is not always available for every pull or if adds arrive late in the fight. Warriors may complain that DnD is better than thunderclap, and indeed it is better in theory, but thunderclap is available every six seconds and hits hard enough to get the mobs onto you when you use it. Frost DKs get howling blast, so I guess this is something unique to blood.

I wonder how the rune changes will alter rotations for DKs in Cata. I haven't read anything recently but I recall the intent was to slow down rune recharge times by only allowing one rune of each type to recharge at any one time. Certainly DnD looks absurdly expensive for three runes if the rate of recharge is essentially halved - it will mean I think that you can't use any more rune-based attacks for 10 seconds afterwards since it would put a frost, blood and unholy rune on cooldown. Perhaps rune strike going onto the GCD will help DK tanks have a button to hit in those circumstances. In addition if your diseases last 15 seconds and you are only going to get a frost rune every 10 seconds, most of your frost runes will need to be spent on keeping Frost Fever up I think. This means death strike could be a bit of a luxury.

DPS is insane as usual - I am in tanking gear, with no dps talents outside the cookie cutter, only the heirloom shoulders and I am pretty much always top of the meters, and even single target it's possible to pull 500 dps or so. Nerf the buggers!

DKs have some amazing abilities - strangulate and chains of ice, for example - which seem to be lacking in other tanks and I think their "toolkit" is probably the best of any class other than the warrior. The two-resource system is just a bit too unwieldy to be comfortable - I see many complaints about the resources not being there when you need them for interrupts and for defensive cooldowns, and personally I find the requirement to have a blood rune available for rune tap, for example, to be potentially fatal.

My overall reaction is that there is just something a bit too clever about the DK class for me. I'm enjoying the levelling curve, but I don't think that my warrior is in danger of being replaced any time soon.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Busy week

1) Old guild split after I left.

2) Various people left.

3) Am now back in old guild, but promoted to GM.

4) LK still not dead.

Busy week.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Touch the sun

So I haven't been posting for a while because I had this brilliant "Guide to tanking the Lich King" post written, but, uh, we haven't killed him yet. We are consistently in the 20% range, but can't seem to get the last phase down.

And it seems that the kill is a ways off now, because my guild is in the process of a painful split. The personal differences between the various groups in the guild just got too much to bear, we were losing people all over the place, and there have been quite nasty moments in gchat and on the forum. What's worse, there was no push from the officers to fix anything (especially since some of them were the problem).

I decided to try to split the guild. I've set up a new guild called Icarus, and invited some old friends from around the server. I felt such a bastard for doing this - I'd been in my previous guild for nearly 5 years, and there is a core of players I've known for nearly all that time. It remains to be seen whether enough people will come so that we can organise a regular 10 man raid team but we'll see. I hope so - we have I think 6 or 7 members at the moment, plus I think I can rely on a few people from other guilds to come along too.

Still, everything changes I guess.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Stay on target...

Our best try at Arthas 10 so far is 38%. We have phase 1 and the transition phases nailed. We are pretty good at the Val'kyr phases, and hopefully we'll get a few really solid final phase attempts on Friday.

Each raid we get a little bit closer...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Last Word

I was called in to dps in one of my guild's 25 man raids last night and picked up the Last Word, which no-one else wanted and would otherwise have been sharded.

I've been trying to decide whether this weapon is any good or not. To compare, I am currently using The Facelifter, and I have Crusader's Glory which I might use for EH fights such as Saurfang heroic (if we ever get there). Leaving aside Crusader's Glory for the moment, and on the assumption that the Last Word proc has 100% uptime (which I believe it has), essentially the decision comes down to

Last Word http://www.wowhead.com/item=50179
1.8 speed
+21.1 dps
+12 stamina
+60 strength
+300 healing received

The Facelifter http://www.wowhead.com/item=51010
1.6 speed
+41 defence rating
+41 parry rating
+36 expertise rating

I think that the extra weapon dps and the harder devastates which derive from the strength (120 attack power), the weapon dps and the slower speed will be outweighed by the loss of expertise rating and the chance for fewer heroic strikes. So as a threat weapon, I think The Facelifter wins out although there is probably not very much in it.

The next consideration is defence. I use the two ilevel 264 crafter armour pieces and neither has +defence on it. I am about 20 defence over the cap, and so replacing The Facelifter with Last Word means that I will need to start gemming for defence. On the assumption that I will need to replace two +30 stam gems with +10 def / +15 stamina gems, and both of those new green gems will allow me to complete a +6 stamina socket bonuses (which I think is right), the overall effect of losing the defence rating is that I lose 21 defence rating and 19 stamina. Using that to restate the above gives me the following

Last Word
+60 strength (= 30 block value)
+300 healing received

The Facelifter
+6 stamina
+21 defence rating
+41 parry rating

The 6 stamina is trivial - 65 health or so, and so is the block value. We are therefore comparing avoidance on The Facelifter with the +health buff on Last Word.

The efficacy of the health buff is hard to measure and it comes down to the thorny old question of why tanks die. At present I never go from 100% to 0% in one hit. It simply does not happen. When I die it is often from a series of hits (soul reaper + melee on LK, or a string of unavoided hits on Festergut are the only times I can remember recently). Quite often my death lasts 3 or 4 seconds and is along the lines of - big hit - big hit - little heal - big hit - dead. The point is that I almost always get a heal of some kind during the burst period which leads to my death, be it an earth shield bubble popping, or a renew tick, or something similar. The +heals buff supplied by Last Word would be helpful in that scenario as follows (on the assumption that my healer is a holy priest, as she is now):

- Each renew tick would heal for an extra 200 or so (my rough maths based on EJ's overall coefficient of 3.3)
- A holy priest's flash heal would heal for an extra 320 -ish (EJ)

So on that basis, on the assumption that during the period of burst damage you get a renew tick and a flash heal the +health buff would be worth about 520 extra health, or about 47 stamina.

The +heal effect is broadly like +armour because you need less healing to go from an injured state into a state where you can survive the next hit. It might help if you think of it as an armour effect which is proportional to healing taken (and you don't know the healing taken because it will vary from occasion to occasion - you have to estimate based on what is reasonable).

There's a great quote about this weapon on Maintankadin

"the RNG of avoidance fails me roughly ~55% of the time; my healers, however, rarely fail me"

This makes sense to me - my healers normally manage to get a heal in on me, even if it's a small heal. Anything that makes that small heal better is essentially EH.

And there, I've made my decision! Once I've sorted out my defence stats, I'll be using this I think.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Shield specialisation

If you assume that at present the standard raid tanking spec includes deep wounds, then there are only a few spare points to throw around. I personally consider improved disciplines to be baseline too, which means that one of the key decisions that tanks make when speccing is whether or not they want to max out shield specialisation. Two points in this talent are required, and it often comes down to whether you want to add a further three talent points, or whether you want to go for three points in focussed rage instead.

In my opinion shield specialisation is unquestionably better for progression fights, whereas focussed rage might be superior for heroics and farm content.

My reasoning is that firstly shield specialisation provides mitigation. Tanking is all about taking less damage, right? Taking 1600 block value, and bearing in mind the 60% chance for critical block, you have roughly a 1% chance per swing to reduce melee damage by 1600 and a 2% chance per swing to reduce melee damage by 3200. You can refine this further by excluding avoided attacks and attacks which are already blocked - suppose dodge chance of 6%, parry of 21%, block of 16% and miss of 10%. This means that, assuming the boss swing connects, you have about a 2% chance to reduce boss damage by 1600 and a 4% chance to reduce boss damage by 3200.

Tank gearing is all about taking lots of small numbers then adding these together to make big numbers - lots of small mitigation abilities combine together to provide a significant degree of protection. I think the extra block chance provides meaningful extra mitigation.

In order for focussed rage to be better than maxing out shield specialisation, it needs to provide a good enough rage boost such that we are happy to forego the extra mitigation. So let's look at the benefits of focussed rage.

The first point to note is that rage is capped at 100. Suppose I have 100 rage. I use 3 abilities, reducing my rage to 40. The boss then hits me so hard that it would be worth 80 rage to me, but since I have 40 rage my rage gain is capped at 60. Note that focussed rage has been precisely zero benefit to me in that period. If I had specced into focussed rage I would have had 49 rage after having used my three abilities, so my rage gain on being hit by the boss would have been capped at 51 instead. I would have had 9 extra rage as a result of using focussed rage, but this extra rage would have been wasted as soon as the boss hit me.

"Aha!" you might say, "but what if you avoid the boss's attack?" Well yes, if I were to avoid a long string of the boss's attacks there is the possibility that I might save enough rage from focussed rage to get an extra attack when I would otherwise have been rage starved. Bear in mind however that avoided attacks also grant you rage under the shield specialisation talent.

For the purposes of this example let's assume that the boss hits you every 1.6 seconds (1.8 is the norm in ICC I think), you have a 1.6 second swing speed on your weapon, and your reaction times are not great so you press a GCD-limited attack such as devastate every 1.6 seconds. Thus you have 2 attacks - heroic strike and a GCD attack - for every incoming boss attack. Focussed rage saves you 6 rage between the boss's swings, whereas if you avoid the boss's attack you gain 3 extra rage from shield specialisation in that time. Therefore if you have a string of say 3 avoided attacks, which is pretty rare these days, taking focussed rage would have gained you just 9 extra rage over maxing shield specialisation - not even enough for a devastate. That's 9 rage over just under 5 seconds too, and if you hit revenge (5 rage), shield slam (20 rage) and devastate (15 rage) in that time, plus three heroic strikes (36 rage), you would still have rage left anyway.

So, in short, focussed rage is pretty useless when you are regularly getting whacked over 100 rage by a boss. Where it comes into its own however is when you are not getting whacked by the boss - when the boss is casting and when you are the OT in a tank swap fight. One of the most annoying things about the LK fight is running out of rage when you avoid the hit before he starts channeling something, and then you have four seconds of him casting before you start getting rage again. When the boss is not hitting you shield specialisation gives you nothing at all, and focussed rage shines.

So there you have it - shield specialisation gives a mitigation benefit that is not trivial in my view. When you are getting hit by a raid boss there is not much difference between the two. When for whatever reason the boss is not hitting you then focussed rage is a significant dps boost.

Your choice is whether you want the mitigation, or some extra dps when not getting hit. I have chosen the former.

EDIT - Corrected my napkin maths!

Friday, 30 April 2010


"Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn't fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character's un-buffed health. For boss encounters, we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Protection tree. These values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Protection tree, so you won't see Arms or Fury warriors running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today – there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is for all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking."

I've been thinking about this a little bit. This will mean that tank dps scales with HP - so 10 stamina also provides 1 attack power. I believe that 10 stamina also means 1 strength for paladins, so they'll get 1 strength and 1 attack power from 10 stamina. I don't really understand paladins, so I'll leave that for now. In addition you have vitality, which increases stamina by 9%.

I foresee a couple of outcomes

1) Blizzard's goal of making us care about things other than stamina will not be as successful as they would like

Blizzard have said that they want us to care about avoidance more in 4.0, by limiting healer mana and keeping avoidance down. Lots of tanks like that, and I guess people are intending to try socketing for avoidance a little more. Remember however that since stamina increases the effect of the vengeance buff, stamina stackers will also do more damage than avoidance tanks - not only because they have more rage, but also because will have more attack power.

Suppose I was choosing between a stamina trinket with 400 stamina, and a dodge trinket. I'd have to bear in mind that if I chose the stamina trinket I would have an extra (passive!) 436 attack power, in addition to the extra rage I would get from being hit more often. The potential attack power differential between an avoidance tank and a stamina tank could be very significant, depending upon how Blizzard tweak the numbers between now and Cata though.

2) Vengeance will be unbalanced

My unbuffed health has roughly doubled this expansion between stepping into Naxx and currently fighting Arthas. The differential is greater for 25 man raiders, but remember that without the extra tiers in gear required to differentiate 10 man and 25 man raiders the gear curve is likely to be flatter in 4.0.

Dps numbers however have increased by a factor of about 5 or 6 - whereas 2k was good in blue gear in Naxx, now the top dpsers are pulling 10k plus. On the assumption that a flatter Cataclysm gear curve will compress this to say 4 times, you still have dps increasing twice as fast as the vengeance buff.

This implies that either vengeance will be massively overpowered early on, or it will be too weak later on to keep up with runaway dps. I'm not saying that we'll have threat problems in tier 13, because we don't know how it will work in practice, I'm simply saying that the rate at which the vengeance buff increases will probably not be as great as the rate at which dps increases.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Raid lockout changes

As hinted by GC a couple of weeks back (I love it when I get something right), 10 man and 25 man raids will share a lockout in Cataclysm. In addition, and perhaps just as importantly, the same gear (including ilevel) will drop in 10 man and 25 man raids. I'll look at some of the potential consequences which occur to me:

1) Social consequences

I am a 10 man raider in a 25 man guild, and I raid once or twice a week on my guild's raid off nights. My guild will have to decide whether or not it continues raiding 25 man with mains. We currently run 3 ten man teams on off nights - team 1 is on Rotface hard mode, team 2 (me) has had two evenings of LK training, and team 3 has killed Putricide. Our 25 man raid is on Sindragosa.

Will the hard mode 10 man raiders be willing to wait for the 25 man team to catch up?

Either we'll stop running 25 mans with mains in LK (in which case those people who really love 25 mans will leave), or we'll continue running 25 mans with mains (in which case I might have to leave a guild I've been in for over 4 years if I want to raid). I suspect the former, and we'll become a 10 man guild. I suspect that most guilds except the real hardcore guilds will do the same and the 25 man raid will die away. We've come a long way from Molten Core.

2) Tank balancing

As a 10 man geared tank, I have about 3-5k less health than the guild MT (who also runs 2 lockouts a week). 25 man bosses hit harder because (i) the tank has more health, avoidance, armour and buffs, and (ii) the tank has 2 healers on him.

In Cata, the 10 man tank and the 25 man tank will have the same health, avoidance and armour. In addition, with Blizz chilling out on raid buffs and introducing disposable scrolls, it's likely that kings and fort will be available, meaning the tanks will probably both have the key tanking buffs. What we therefore will see is a weakening of tanks that do 25 man content relative to those that do 10 man content.

Balancing incoming tank damage will therefore be very tricky, since Blizzard won't have as much leeway to increase tank damage from 10 man to 25 man content without the tank getting one-shot. Healing philosophy in Cata is supposed to be that mitigation will matter more because healer mana will be limited, but there is a risk that by upping the tank damage to the level where it can be expected to occupy 2 healers in 25 man content the healers will (unless they have excellent communication) be required to spam heal the tank to keep him alive. On the other hand, if tank damage is not increased sufficiently in going from 10 man to 25 man, then a single tank healer will be able to keep up the tank, leaving a "spare" healer to heal the raid.

Here's a prediction then - "In 25 man Cataclysm content you will need fewer healers than you do in existing LK 25 man content. Healers will need to respec dps to keep their raid spots."

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

More Cataclysm thoughts

A general ramble about Cataclysm today. Still talking about fury spec.

Slowing down rotations

The DK rune system is changing to be slower. Here's an extract from one of GC's posts on the topic

"If that still doesn't make sense, then focus on what the experience will be, which is that you'll have more breathing room in your rotation and won't have to hit a button every single GCD."

You won't have to hit a button every single GCD.

With all the QQ about whirlwind being removed from the fury rotation (some of this was from me, yes), perhaps this is a design goal of Blizzard for 4.0 that they haven't explicitly shared with us yet. In that post there's also a comment about GC wanting DKs to play like warriors in that they will hit slower but harder.

Maybe we are supposed to have gaps in our rotation in 4.0 where we just sit there and wait for the buttons to light up. I remember doing that when I levelled my warrior (and paladin actually now I think of it) and it was not fun. Nevertheless perhaps it is what we can expect in future. I hope not.

The fury rotation

There was a blue post concerning the fury rotation, where Vaneras said that he "thought" that fury might need another attack as part of their rotation. My initial reaction to this was along the lines of "o rly?", but now I wonder whether or not blizzard really think that they might leave things as they are.

One of the problems in designing a new attack is that it's hard to make it seem different from existing major nukes. Currently Bloodthirst, Execute and Slam are very similar - they are a single weapon attack, the only obvious difference is that Execute and Slam don't hit quite as hard. In short - they are all so alike that they are quite dull. This is the same problem that Arms has - trying to differentiate the different weapon attacks, and it doesn't succeed very well. Compare this with say a fire mage, where there are clear differences in the look and feel of Living Bomb, Fireball and Pyroblast. A new fury attack needs to be cosmetically different from Bloodthirst in order to be interesting. I think something like a rogue's mutilate could work - an instant strike with both weapons for 100% damage, perhaps applying a DoT, or doing more damage if you have a DoT up on the target. Essentially all you'd see is two yellow numbers popping up instead of one, and so I'd hope we'd get a new animation for it too.

It should be noted that this new attack will need to be available reasonably early in the levelling process - maybe at level 30 when zerker stance becomes available, otherwise it's not clear whether levelling as fury will be viable at all.

Weapon speed

One other point that made me think a little bit, was that if whatever they do for fury does not involve a two weapon strike, then we will look for faster offhands in Cata.

Currently Bloodthirst does damage based on attack power and WW is based on weapon damage - bigger WWs are the reason why slower weapons are better for us in both hands - Quel'Delar is the best ilevel 251 weapon, for example, and is not much worse than the ilevel 258 and 264 weapons available from LK and 25 man raids. The reason for this is that it has a 3.6 speed in comparison to 3.5 for Oxheart and Ramdaladni's, and 3.4 for the Claymore (which is therefore rubbish). You'll note that Shadow's Edge and Shadowmourne have speed 3.7.

(Why oh why is the coolest-looking weapon the worst? I love how the Claymore looks!)

With WW being removed, we will be left with Bloodthirst as the main nuke, which is independent of weapon speed. Who knows how heroic strike damage will be calculated, but I doubt it will be weapon damage-based attack. It's more likely to be a function of attack power and rage consumed.

Therefore fury warriors will have Slam, which depends on the damage of the main hand weapon, and Furious Sundering (shudder) which as currently structured will hit for 50% of weapon damage, as well as Deep Wounds ticks, which depend on main hand damage. Offhand damage will have no bearing on specials damage at all.

This means that unless they do create a new attack which inflicts offhand damage, you'll want a slow main hand in Cata for big slams and sunders, and a fast offhand for smoother rage generation.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Falling skies

The preview of the warrior abilities for Cataclysm will be released today. It is here.

Now, I know that this is not even in beta yet, and much may change, but we can only respond to what is there, and this is utterly utterly dreadful and appears devoid of any serious thought. Some of the other classes - notably healing priests - seem to have really interesting and fun abilities. The warrior preview looks awful.

Let's run through the new abilities.

1) Inner rage

Now this has the potential to be interesting, and there may be some maths involved about whether it is better to let your rage touch 100 from time to time to kick off the buff. However - bear in mind that the stated goal for 4.0 is that warriors will not be in the infinite rage situation that they find themselves in today. Rage will be precious and rage management will be important. So in order to get to 100 rage it is going to require several seconds of just standing there and meleeing the target - very dull. Alternatively, it means that warriors will be massively overpowered in any encounter with significant raid damage. It's a balancing nightmare for those raids, and it looks shit for the rest of the time. Next.

2) Gushing wound

A PvP ability. Presumably available in zerker stance. Will it replace rend for arms warriors? Probably not since rend triggers overpower currently. So a PvP ability for Fury warriors. Since bosses don't typically move around all the time, and at one stack this will be weaker than rend (sorry, lolrend I believe is the term) it won't be part of the fury warrior's rotation for PvE (unless of course fury warriors don't have a rotation - more on this below).

3) Heroic leap

A new kind of charge - it shares a cooldown. Useable in battle stance unless you have juggernaught (arms) or warbringer (prot). So fury will have to stance dance to use this then? This will be fun for prot, but of little practical benefit to arms warriors who will just charge in. Fury warriors will never use it because of the requirement to dance, and because it seems like it can't be used in combat without one of the two talents already mentioned.

So what do we have - a pointless passive benefit, a PvP dot, and a funky new opener for prot which will not be used by dps specs. Recall that we already have two openers for prot in charge and heroic throw. A third seems pointless, but never mind. Let's now consider the "Changes to Abilities and Mechanics" section.

4) Heroic strike/Cleave

This will now work similarly to execute apparently. I posted on this a few days ago, but you can see that they intend it to fulfill a similar role to execute. Since execute is already a main nuke for arms, it seems that arms warriors are not intended to heroic strike in 4.0. They will swap in cleave for execute when AoEing. Prot and Fury will I guess have a rage threshold depending on weapon speed (for prot) and gear level above which heroic strike becomes better than one or other of the main nukes (or main nuke for fury - since there is only 1 now - see below) and you hit HS instead.

Balance will be an issue but isn't it always.

5) Shouts

Boring. We get rage now. The questions are - 1) how much rage, and 2) will demo shout grant rage too? Demo shout granting rage would be nice, perhaps talented improving rage gain as well as the attack power debuff. Not very exciting though.

6) Whirlwind nerf

So WW will only be used when AoEing. This casts out the iconic ability of the fury warrior (imagine losing fireball for mages or mind flay for shadow priests - the change is that big). It also utterly guts the spec. Fury's rotation is currently completely balanced around WW - much of the theorycrafting is balanced around the 1 second difference between the length of 4 unhasted GCDs and the 8 second cooldown of WW. Fury already is missing one nuke - there are times when you literally have nothing to cast because WW and bloodthirst are both on cooldown and slam hasn't procced. What's the fury rotation going to be now? BT, hit slam if it procs, BT, hit slam if it procs, repeat?

There is absolutely nothing here about what will replace WW for fury warriors (subject to Furious Sundering, but I hope it isn't that). We could use HS, but that is not supposed to be spammed, and certainly not hit in 2 out of every 3 GCDs as we'd need to. I guess that 100 rage ability doesn't sound so bad, since, get this, Fury warriors will have nothing to hit for over 50% of their GCDs, as announced. Incredible isn't it?

6) Mortal Strike PvP nerf

The change here makes no sense. Blizzard have said that burst healing in PvP will be less important in 4.0 because health pools will be higher and burst dps will be relatively weaker. Thus abilities which restrict healing throughput become less important, not more important.

If this is an example of Blizzard's logic when it comes to PvP balancing, I have a prediction for you - healers in general will be massively overpowered in PvP in 4.0. You will not be able to burst down an opposing player if they have decent gear and healer support.

7) Sunder armour nerf

The main reason for this is that Blizzard have said they are chilling out on critical raid buffs, and sunder is currently pretty huge. It's a cretin-friendly change, since your garden variety cretin will forget to keep sunders up all the time on the target, so more dumbing down of the class - the penalty for poor play is reduced.

I wonder whether or not it will be worth maintaining sunders as a dps warrior in 10 man. Since armour pen gets better the more of it you have (exponential returns), armour pen on gear is disappearing, and the power of the debuff is being nerfed by 40%, in 10 man raids where there are say 2 melee dps, it may no longer be worth the personal dps loss of maintaining sunders.

8) Furious Sundering

Either a pointless or a depressing talent. It will be pointless if Fury warriors have something better to do with their GCDs, because how often otherwise do you use sunder armour in a fight? Three times at the start, and then once every 25 seconds or so. Not very much.

It will be a depressing talent if sunder armour is supposed to be fury's new secondary nuke - the thing to hit if WW is on cooldown and slam has not procced. Is this the best you could do guys? 50% weapon damage is a pretty weak attack even as an instant special. We replace WW - a hard hitting, fun attack, which has a cool animation and is (crucially) utterly in keeping with the flavour of fury as a ball-out devil-may-care berserker. We replace it with a weak attack that reduces armour. God I hope not.

9) One handed fury

This is an absolutely awful idea. To take a phrase from Blackadder - "the crowning turd in the water pipe". The reason is this - either dual wielding one handers will be better than dual wielding two handers or it won't be. You can't hide from EJ, and much as I dislike the posters there as a bunch of bastards, they will work out which is better. Then EVERY serious fury warrior will go with what is better. This is the illusion of choice - either Single-Minded Fury will be obsolete or Titan's Grip will be.

10) Critical block chance

I posted a while back that surely critical block will go in the expansion because it will be hugely overpowered. Guess I was wrong!

11) Vengeance

This is not just a warrior thing - but for all tanking specs. It sounds good, although 10% of stamina as attack power means different things for eg paladins and deathknights who do spell damage, and it means that druids who have the highest health will get an immediate boost. Bornakk mentions that druids will need a smaller benefit in his post - but gives a different reason. Nevertheless, it all comes down to balance as usual. Perhaps they will get it right this time.


Nothing material new for arms in PvE. A cool new opener for Prot (seriously - who looked at the warrior class and said "those guys need some mobility"?), together with the possibility of an overpowered critical block.

Fury destroyed as a spec. Great.

I appreciate that this is pretty major QQ from me, and I'm sorry about that. But this was supposed to keep us excited and interested for 4.0. What? For goodness' sake!

Edit - copied here http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=12947282557&postId=129460193072&sid=1#161