Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Single Minded Fury

Fury is in kind of a strange place right now with two distinct specs - single-minded fury (or SMF) and Titan's Grip (TG).

SMF seems like it was bolted on quite late in the day to the normal fury spec and suffers from balance issues. I am SMF at present in my dps spec, having been TG in the previous xpac and while levelling, and SMF plays quite differently to TG. It also seems like fury was designed and balanced around TG, and the developers have not paid enough attention to how SMF works in practice.

Firstly, note that raging blow and slam are attacks based on weapon damage, whereas heroic strike and bloodthirst are based on attack power. Admitted SMF slam hits with two weapons instead of one, but my experience is that at present bloodthirst and heroic strike blow everything else out of the water - to the extent that raging blow crits for me hit the same as bloodthirst hits non-crit. I have actually taken raging blow off my action bar because it's just a waste of rage to use it.

My rotation at the moment is bloodthirst > heroic strike, with slam when it procs. I also use colossus smash to boost damage and refresh sunders, but that's all.

This is kind of strange, and defeats the whole purpose of the new fury design which is that you are supposed to have to manage your enrage state. I just don't bother at the moment.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the patch - based on current PTR releases it looks like SMF itself is getting a flat out dps buff (approx 4%), and bloodthirst, raging blow and slam are all getting very large dps buffs (around 20 - 30% I understand), while heroic strike gets a large nerf. It will be interesting to see if post-patch raging blow will be better than heroic strike - if it is better then I will need to put it back on my action bar, but if not then the rotation will remain bloodthirst > heroic strike, and it is likely that SMF damage as a whole will be too high and need a nerf.

Sub-20% my rotation is execute spam with colossus smash when available. SMF's flat +damage bonus really shines when executing and in this phase you can put out really high dps.

One final thing to note was a tip I picked up on Kadomi's blog and relates to sunder armour. The wording Glyph of Colossus Smash says that it refreshes the duration of any sunder stack on the target, but that's not quite what it does. What actually happens is that the Glyph adds a stack of sunders if there is already at least one stack on the target, or refreshes the duration of a maxed out stack. So you need to sunder once at the start of the fight, and then when you use colossus smash you will get a second stack of sunders with a refreshed 30 sec duration. The next time you use colossus smash you'll get a third stack of sunders. You therefore only need to hit sunder armour once.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Farming Bastion of Twilight trash

I see a few bloggers saying that they are not "ready for raiding" yet.

My raid team is the guild's second team, and we have only just started raiding (two raids so far, Tol Barad boss and Magmaw down) but what we have been doing for a couple of weeks is farming trash in Bastion of Twilight. The trash is easy once you learn the pulls and have a couple of reliable cc-ers, and there is a very high chance of getting a BoE epic - we normally get one epic per run, but sometimes we've had two. We've had a couple of tanking swords, a couple of rogue ranged weapons and a druid tanking helm so far.

The best thing is that they are BoE - if no one in your raid wants them, stick them on the AH and use the money to buy an epic you do need!

Maybe something to consider if your guild is still gearing up for raiding.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The basics of tanking (draft)

Disclaimer - this is being written for the benefit of a new prot warrior in our guild. It is intended to serve as a guide to the basics. If you want to know more, then try Elitist Jerks (whose prot warrior guide is getting better as it gets longer and harder to read) or Tankspot. This is a draft version of the guide.


Your rating stats, in the order of best to worst are as follows:

Mastery > Parry > Dodge > Hit > Expertise

You should always reforge away hit or expertise - into mastery where possible. All items have two rating stats on them - the best items have mastery and parry, the worst have hit and expertise. Always look for mastery on your gear where you can.

Parry is better than dodge because of the Hold the Line talent.


Stamina gives you health, obviously. Agility gives you dodge, but you shouldn't gear for it or gem/enchant for it. It just turns up on gear sometimes. Strength is a threat stat, and again, don't ever gem/enchant for it.

Why is mastery so good?

Mastery increases block chance and crit block chance, but let's focus on block chance. The goal at present is for warriors to become "unhittable", that means every attack on the warrior either is avoided, or is blocked.

Since bosses are level 88 and we are level 85, they have an increased chance to hit us than you might expect from looking at your character sheet. In order for us to become unhittable our total avoidance needs to be 102.4%. That's quite a lot. A realistic initial goal is for us to become unhittable when you have shield block (+25% block chance) activated. That requires us to have total avoidance of 77.4%.

If you remember that there is a base 5% chance for the boss to simply miss with its attack, you need to have:

dodge chance + parry chance + block chance > 72.4%

Once you achieve that, or get very close to it, you will be amazed at the difference. Shield block is up for 1/4 of the time, and while it is up you will be like a piece of iron - your healers will love you. Essentially, shield block becomes almost as good as shield wall once you hit 72.4% avoidance.

Mastery is your best way of increasing avoidance - it's relatively cheap in terms of rating requirements, and it is not subject to diminishing returns. Stack it.

Why are hit and expertise so bad?

In dungeons and raids, you will get all the threat you need from the vengeance buff (which increases your damage the more damage you take). As a warrior in particular, vigilance will ensure that your vengeance reaches maximum very quickly in raids, and doesn't drop off very often.

In theory expertise is a better dps stat than hit, but since we have vengeance and don't need dps stats then hit's other benefit (making our interrupts more likely to land) makes hit more valuable. On fights where interrupts are critical some top players are building special hitcapped sets to make sure their interrupts never miss. You need 8% hit to do this but to begin with it may not be necessary.


Hit shield slam and revenge whenever they are up, and hit devastate if they aren't. Heroic strike when you have more than 50 or 60 rage. Don't forget about inner rage.

Concussive Blow and Shockwave do more damage than devastate and do lots more threat, so ideally you would have both of these in your rotation too. Personally however I prefer simple rotations, on many fights you'll want to save shockwave for adds, and anyway devastate is getting a big buff in 4.06 so the difference post patch will be pretty small I think.

There's lots to think about when tanking, so I save my precious brainpower for things other than a super-complicated six button rotation.

The cleverer among you will notice that I have not included rend in the above. I don't like the Blood and Thunder talent - I find it fiddly and unnecessary, and it requires me to have yet another button on my action bar. In heroics I maintain AoE aggro with glyphed cleave, revenge and thunderclap. It seems to work fine.

How to take less damage

The Thunderclap debuff and the demo shout debuff should be up on your target all the time. Practice this. They mitigate a huge amount of damage. Make sure that your UI shows those debuffs on your target, and maybe highlights them in some way or makes them bigger.

Make sure you are using shield block on cooldown.

Use your survival buttons - Enraged Regeneration, Last Stand and Shield Wall are all amazing, and are on short cooldowns. Don't save them for bosses! You can easily use one survival button on every trash pull, and be confident that there will be one available for the next pull.

Remember that Shield Wall is more effective if you press it BEFORE you take a big hit. If you have ALREADY taken a big hit and are low on health, use Last Stand instead.

Remember that Enraged Regen needs an enrage effect active on you to become available - press Berserker Rage to give you access to the regen.

Disarm almost never works on bosses, but normally works when a trash mob is hitting you with a sword or axe. It's a really solid damage reduction button.

Kiting! If you are taking lots of damage and near death why not stun the mobs using shockwave and heroic leap away? Or if you are fighting a boss, and the boss stops to cast some uninterruptable spell, why not run away? It will mean you take zero damage for 3 or 4 seconds while the mobs run back to you, giving your healers a bit of a break. Watch your threat while doing this though.

Spell reflect! I love tanking casters - zero damage taken, free rage and high dps.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Warrior nerfs in patch 4.06

There’s a decent analysis of the prospective nerfs here.

As usual - this is PTR, things can change, not set in stone, blah blah blah.

For fury the patch notes look pretty unpleasant, since the buffs (raging blow being improved by war academy and the buff to mastery) seem to be outweighed by the nerf to heroic strike. I am slightly biased however, since I think the fury rotation’s dependence on enrage effects is pointlessly complex and difficult to work around, and there is no comparable difficulty in any other class that I can think of right now. It’s not simply a priority system based on procs, as every other class has, but you also have to manage your enrage state which is pretty ridiculous. Anyway, that’s a rant for another day. We are also hugely dependent on hit apparently (I haven't got enough fury experience in Cata to talk about that as yet, but it was true in WotLK and it makes sense for it to be true now).

The nerfs to heroic strike and cleave are also somewhat annoying for prot. I currently think cleave is a brilliant attack for prot right now – it hits hard but not too hard, it hits multiple targets, and it’s therefore great for AoE tanking. It also feels fun, for some reason - not sure why. Clearly therefore it needs a nerf for PvP reasons. This is somewhat depressing. I’ll probably still use it on cooldown when AoE tanking though.

The heroic strike nerf is pretty lousy, and makes the prot rotation complicated again – I will now have to try to decide whether heroic strike is better or worse than concussive blow or shockwave. I prefer the simpler prot rotation of shield slam > revenge > heroic strike, but it seems we are back into needing a six button rotation.

The buff to devastate, while probably not enough to compensate in theory, actually in reality is very good for me because I tend to lose my rotations under pressure and spam devastate mindlessly in panic. Now at least I will be suffering less of a dps loss. In addition, it’s a minor buff to the impending victory talent. Since you need to hit devastate to trigger impending victory then sub 20% you’ll basically be spamming devastate and hitting victory rush when it procs (which actually is surprisingly often – you are healing 7% of your health every 6 seconds or so). Spamming devastate is bad, but by making devastate more attractive, impending victory becomes less of a dps loss.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Impending Victory

Yes, it's a bad talent. Yes it forces you to use a sub-optimal rotation. Yes, it's only very good for a comparatively short time on bosses. Yes, it's in my spec.

So far I'm finding that I am dying a lot, but I'm not threat capped at all. I'm doing loads of damage, and loads of threat, on either single or multiple targets. I'm therefore dropping dps talents and scratching around for any survivability I can get, and quite often in the last 20% of a boss's life I'm so far ahead in threat that my personal dps can drop a bit without a problem. The small 7%-ish heal you get from victory rush doesn't sound like much, but it's available every 6 seconds or so and just gives the healers some breathing space in that period, especially if I follow it up with shield wall or shield block.

It synchs with power auras - you can set your power auras addon to recognise the buff (it's called "victorious") to show you when the buff is active.