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