Thursday, February 26, 2009

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

If you haven't seen slashhug's post on Dual Spec's you really should take a moment and check it out. It's fantastic. Link love incoming: http://www.slashhug.net/dual-specs-an-anti-rant/

Tuesday night was decision night for Honorshammer. I whispered Salvation's GM and told him I was going to take the Heroes offer. Then I told the officers.

It was pretty much what I had expected. People were disappointed, and saddened by my decision. I had wanted to avoid that, but it just wasn't possible. I still consider all those guys friends and would help them out in any way possible. I hope they know that.

I was feeling pretty low myself so I fired up the engines in the Gyrocopter and headed out to Storm Peaks to work on my Son Of Hodir rep. I've joked to a friend of mine that I'm going to hate the Sons of the Hodir by the time they love me (exalted).

Not long after I got out to Dun Niffelum, something completely unexpected happened. I got a whisper from a Hunter that I had raided with during my time in the guild, Dominion. He wanted to say 'Hi' and let know that if I needed a guild home, there would be a spot for me in Dominion. That was followed up by a Shaman, a Priest and a Warlock from Dominion with the same message.

That made me feel better. Here was another guild that I had spent months with raiding saying they'd be glad to have me back. It's kind of like all your former employers calling to tell you they'd take you back if you needed a job. It validated to me that I must have been a pretty decent player, and an okay guy to get along with.

I thanked them for their offer, but let them know I already had the guild situation worked out.

I messaged Heroes Inc co-GM and Raid Leader and got the invite.

It's been a long, strange trip, but once more, Heroes Inc, was under Honorshammer's name. There were cheers as people realized that I had returned to Heroes. Most thought it was my Hunter, Honorshummer, and it took them a second to realize that it was actually me aka Honorhammer. As much sadness as my decision had caused Salvation, there was equal joy caused in Heroes.

Heroes Inc was the guild that I transferred to Altar of Storms to join. At the time, I was level 60, and a full time Holy Paladin raiding Zul'Gurub, An'Quiraq 20 and Molten Core on Dark Iron. Dark Iron was a West Coast server and most of the guilds there ran West Coast times. Generally starting their raids around 10pm EST and finishing up around 1am EST. That wasn't going to work long term.

I don't remember the timeline exactly, but Blizzard had published the new Burning Crusade talent trees, because I indicated a desire to try out this newfangled Paladin Tanking thing when 2.0 hit and we got our new talents.

Heroes Inc was the guild that I would learn to tank with in Upper Black Rock Spire and Zul'Gurub.

So you could say I've got a history with these guys. Every other time I've changed I've been in control of the situation, leaving an established guild. This time was different in that the guild fell out from below me. It was my full intention that Mal Katai was going to be the last guild I would be in. Now that is my plan for Heroes, but as I learned over the past couple of weeks, you never know what your future will hold.

Well I'm in the guild, might as well start running stuff. Ellevis, the Co-GM/Raid Leader of Heroes Team 1, and a former Shaman turned Death Knight, helped me put together a group to run some Heroics.

First up was The Old Kingdom which happened to be the last dungeon I needed for my Northrend Dungeon Master achievement. Then we knocked out Azjol-Nerub, and finished the night off with Gundrak.

So my decision is made, the die is cast. I've said it before, but I'll say it again. If I never have to make another 'Guild' post again for the rest of the life of this blog, I'll be a happy camper.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sixth Screenshot Meme

No one has commented yet, but I made a very subtle change to the background image for the blog. I hope you liked it.

So I got tagged, but not tagged by Josh at Eye For an Eye on the Sixth Screenshot meme. I love screenshots. To me, WoW is like a vacation. It's a fun place to be for a short period of time. Screenshots are like the pictures that you can look back on with fond memories of the time that was.

So here's the 6th screenshot in my screenshots folder taken in early March of 2006:

This screenshot comes from a batch of screenshots I was taking of all the toon I had at that time. I think I was going to put them on my Geocities site, but I don't even remember.

I had 4 toons. A Level 2 Dwarf Warrior and a Level 8 Night Elf Druid who were on the server Dark Iron. A Level 13 Human Paladin and Level 6 Dwarf Hunter were on Rexxar. The Paladin on Rexxar was a Human Paladin named Ittai, who was the very first toon I ever rolled in World of Warcraft. If you are observant, you may notice a name that is glaringly lacking from the list of toons I had at that time.

I'd also like to include my seventh screenshot because it is really key to what would happen next in my WoW life. This was Ittai getting his Tome of Divinity quest. This is the class quest that teaches Paladins their resurrection spell. But more important than the quest itself was the quest text. Yes, I'm one of those players that reads every line of every quest I've ever gotten. It's the main way Blizzard tells the story.

I don't know how well you can read it from the screenshot but there's a sentence there that says : "Compassion, patience, bravery -- these things mean as much to a Paladin as strength in battle. Know this well and never forget it."

I was hooked. I KNEW in my innermost being I wanted to be a Paladin. The next toon I would roll on Dark Iron was a Level 1 Dwarf Paladin, and the rest as they say is history.

Guild Indecision

Yes, I’ve seen the 3.1 Patch notes. I’ll comment on them in a couple of weeks but we are still very early in the PTR cycle. Blizzard has even stated we don’t have all the patch notes just yet, so I’m going to wait before I post on them.

I had given myself the deadline of 7pm yesterday to make a decision on which guild I was going to join. After some deliberation with myself, I requested and then graciously gave myself an extension to tonight to make a decision.

I know I haven’t handled the situation well.

Sunday night, when I logged in, I saw the Guild Message of the Day stating that everyone needed to start finding new homes. I was shocked, disappointed and saddened. I watched as toon after toon began to gquit and my emotions grew. Finally, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and gquit myself. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have gquit until I knew where I was going.

I would later learn of a Warlock who has said he will stay in Mal Katai until it disbands or the GM kicks him, he will not gquit. I wish I had done that.

Up to that point, I had thought my choice was between staying in Mal Katai and trying to help them rebuild, or going to the one splinter group (Red Heads) that had a ton of my WoW friends in it.

I had also been talking to my old, old guild of Heroes Inc. That was the guild I transferred to AoS to join about 2 months before Burning Crusade hit. The issue with Heroes was that they raided on a night I couldn’t. Their raid leader was talking to his team to change their days. He wasn’t online at that point Sunday night (apparently I had just missed him). We were continuing our joint 25 man with Tarmon Gaidon, so I didn’t have time to go check the other server I knew he played on.

I guess my friends saw me guildless and decided to throw me an invite. Rather than fess up that I was actually still choosing between Heroes and the Red Heads, I just accepted the invite. That was not real bright.

Of course, right after the raid, I find out that Heroes will rework their schedule, so now the choice was truly in play.

I was invited to a Naxx10 with Red Heads and told their Guild Leader about the Heroes offer in whispers. It was during this Naxx I learned that Sapphiron has a 15 minute enrage timer. Yes, it's because we hit it. We lost 3 DPS early in an air phase and kept banging away.

Now I owe it to both guilds to make a timely decision. No more extensions.

I really envy those people who look at a situation, analyze and make a decision fully confident in themselves and never look back. That is not me.

My basic problem is that I’m a people pleaser. I try to make everyone around me happy. In this case, it’s a practical impossibility.

As selfish as it sounds, I have to choose what I think is the best course of action for me. I just hate the fact it’s going to hurt feelings or disappoint one group or the other.

This Must Have Link Love

The Ten Commandments for Raiders: http://frostmage.net/index.php/ten-more-commandments/

Honorshammer gives this a BRILLIANT!! It's a great read. You laugh, you'll cry, and you'll learn a thing or two.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Free Agency

Anyone who has known me very long knows I’m an NFL fan. I love the NFL. This is the talent evaluation portion of the NFL season, and the time for Free Agency. Players whose contracts are up are pursued by teams that want them to join their team.

Honorshammer has hit a time of Free Agency in his own virtual life. With the dissolution of Mal Katai, Honors basically becomes a Free Agent.

Two teams have already made offers to Honorshammer. I’ll call them T10 and T25. Both have indicated a willingness to work their raid schedules around my own so I can attend most, if not all raids.

It’s really nice to have people respect your in game ability and personality. On the other hand, it is difficult because I can only be on one team, be in one guild, so I have to choose.

I can’t decide which guild is a better fit for me until I know what I’m really looking for, and what I really want out of a guild

I want to be in a guild that is full of individuals who are good people as well as good players. I’d rather not be in a guild where every other player is the LOL, LOOK AT MAI LEWT DPS! I ROXOR type. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited over a personal goal. I guarantee my guild will hear about it when I finally break 2k dps as Ret on a regular boss fight (not because of a gimmick like Loateb or Thaddius). It’s the attitude, and anyone who’s played WoW very long has seen it. I bet a name or two pops into your head when I talk it about.

I really want the best of both worlds. A guild where people genuinely enjoy each other’s company and a guild that is successful in Raiding. I like loot, and I enjoy improving my character, but it’s not why I raid. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Loot is the vehicle you need to take you to the next challenge, the next boss, and the next instance. If you ignore loot, somewhere along the way a Boss like Patchwerk will carve the words GEAR CHECK into your plated hide.

I want to experience all the fights, and see all the amazing content that Blizzard has worked so hard to put together into this very entertaining game. It bothers far more than I haven’t faced down Malygos yet than it does that I’m still using my Titansteel Shieldwall. I’ve heard about Sarth + drakes, but I’ve never done it. It sounds like fun.

I want to Tank, so I need a guild that has an opening for a Tank. Naxx10, you need 2 tanks. Naxx 25, you need at most 3. So you’ve added one tank, but double the amount of DPS and triple the Healers? Plus there seems to be a lot more people wanting to tank in Wrath than there were in Burning Crusade.

For some people Tanking is all about glory, about being the center of attention. But that is not why I want to tank. I could care less whom it is that gets the glory. On a lot of fights, the Tank isn’t the one who has the crucial role. Gluth is more about the Kiters, than the Tank. Loateb is more about your Healers. Instructor is more about your Mind Controllers.

Tanking just happens to be how I enjoy the game. Something about having the Bosses aggro really brings out the best in my playing, and I feel most engaged in that role. I don’t mind sharing the role as I understand others enjoy the ride as well.

I don’t really care whether it’s a 10 or 25 man. The relative difficulty of 10s and 25 mans has been debated to death and most people know where they come down on that argument. I really enjoy 10 man runs, and 5 mans as well. It’s easier to get to know people in a smaller setting. 25 mans are exciting in their own way.

Finally, I want a guild that is going to be around for the long term. Now no one can predict the future. My plan had been to stay with Mal Katai until such time as Mal Katai was no more, or I left the game. I had intended to accept it even if we got ‘stuck’ on a Tier or Boss. Of course that’s much easier to say now than it might have been if we were actually stuck on a Boss and my past decisions certainly don’t paint that picture of me.

So I evaluate each offer on these merits.

§ Full of individuals who are good people as well as good players – Both guilds thankfully meet this criterion. Both are full of really cool people who I enjoy spending time with online.
§ Guild that is successful in Raiding – T10 is working on Sarth+1 or 2, I’m not completely sure. T25 is harder to say since they are just starting to raid.
§ I want to Tank – Both guilds have a tank spot ready and waiting for me. I’ll be sharing duties with another tank in the guild and both guys I would be tanking with are cool mates and don’t really care who tanks what.
§ Don’t really care whether it’s a 10 or 25 man – T10 is focusing on 10 mans and doing the occasional 25 man. T25 will be doing 10 mans but their focus is getting the numbers and getting people geared up to start focusing on 25 mans. One would be correctly called a 10 man guild, the other a 25 man guild.
§ That is going to be around for the long term – No one can predict the future, but T10 was around pre-Burning Crusade. I also know that a about half of T10 has expressed an interest in rerolling Horde for the next Expansion. That’s a concern as I have no intention of giving up Honorshammer as my main so long as I’m playing WoW. At the same time, I could be playing The Old Republic by that point so I don’t know if it’s completely fair to hold that against them. T25 guild just formed, however; they have a really strong and dedicated corps.

The End of Mal Katai

I logged on Sunday night and found a message announcing the official end of Mal Katai as a guild. It will disband by the end of the week. None of us knew it, but the blowup last week was like a heart attack to Mal Katai. It hung around for a few days, but ultimately didn’t pull through.

I’d like to thank Dora and Ryken, the Guild Masters of Mal Katai for all the hard work, time and effort they put into making Mal Katai the special place it was. I’m sorry for every time I ever ‘fussed’ at them, complained to them, or wrote negatively about them or the guild in this blog. Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth it, not then, and not today. I was just too blind to see that.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for their leadership and what they built, and they should be very proud of all their accomplishments. I doubt they read the blog anymore but if they do, I’d like them to know that whatever they do, and wherever they go, I wish them nothing but happiness, prosperity and success.

The remaining people who had stayed in Mal Katai are now all finding new guild homes. I will have my own story about that, but that will be its own post.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

As The Guild Turns

My online life felt like a soap opera since Mal Katai blew up. It turns out that Mal Katai didn’t just split in two like I thought.

A faction of people split off and formed their own guild called Red Headed Step Children. The name was a statement of how they felt they were treated by the Guild. This is where the majority of my WoW friends went.

I had thought this was the only split.

It turns out another faction split off from Mal Katai and formed a guild called Tarmon Gaidon. The name is a reference to the Wheel of Time series.

Yet another faction split off from Mal Katai and was absorbed into a guild called Misery.

I have pretty much tried to lay low this week. Tuesday, I was invited to what was essentially a PuG for Naxx25. It was made up of half Red Heads, and half Tarmon Gaidon. It also had two people in the raid (one being your humble author) who still wore the Mal Katai tag.

We ran 3 tanks. Myself, another Protection Paladin and a Warrior who was Raid Leading and as far as I could tell was Tarmon Gaidon’s Guild Master.

I saw a lot of names and faces who I had been guilded with in the past.

Some of the raid was still in blues (NOT that there’s anything wrong with that), and some of these guys had never been in Naxx25 before, though they had the 10 man version. This group had never run together and some of us were meeting for the first time.

I felt very fortunate to be have been invited, and to have landed a tanking spot. We were running three tanks, which admittedly is probably overkill for Naxx, but it worked out, especially for Patchwerk.

We had about 11 or 12 plate wearers between Death Knights, Warriors and Paladins. Plate DPS gear was going to be hotly contested. Of course, we got a ton of cloth and mail to drop.

We were just doing /roll for loot for your main spec. I passed on most of the tanking drops as I had better in most cases. The one drop that was an upgrade was the Ablative Chitin Girdle, which I lost the roll for. It was funny as all three of the tanks were wearing the exact same Belt, (the Emblem of Heroism belt, Waistguard of Living Iron.)

We cleared Spider and Plague, and one shot all the bosses.

We only had one Priest in the Raid so Military was going to be a little tough. We decided to go to Construct. We had a little trouble with Patchwerk. We started out with the Warrior on Patch and the Paladins on Hatefuls. We lost a Hateful Tank, then another and the whole thing collapsed. So we moved the other Paladin to Patchwerk and moved the Warrior to Hatefuls. My Healers were amazing. I’d take a Hateful, and BAM, I’d be back at full.

We killed Grobulous without much fuss. He seemed to like picking on me for Injection.

Gluth gave us some problems. The Warrior and I were trading off Gluth as our Mortal Would stacks would get to around 3. Our main problem seemed to be the Zombie Chow. In each attempt the Chow would get through, Gluth would chow down and we would end up wiping.

I have never had to kite the Zombie Chow so I don’t know what all is involved. I know we only had a single Hunter in the raid, so only 1 Slowing Trap.

It was getting late so the raid was stopped there. I thought we did quite well all things considered. People who lost rolls on loot tended to ‘gratz’ the guy who won and I didn’t notice any crowing over meters. Everyone seemed pretty laid back, and the atmosphere, at least to me seemed pretty relaxed. I was just happy to be there and to be tanking again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ride The Lightning

As always bonus points for getting the title reference. Just remember that this is the blog where everything's made up and the points don't matter. That's right it's like spirit to a Paladin. Double bonus points for getting THAT reference.

(Italicized text added after a great suggestion from a commenter).

Last night, I logged on and sent a tell to my good buddy Raistilan to see if he'd like to run some Heroics. Strangely enough, he was putting a group together and just looking for a tank. Now where could he find a tank...hmm. I offered to go as DPS if he wanted to tank on his Paladin, but he was cool with going on the mage.

So I had myself (Prot Paladin) and Raist (Mage). Also in the group were Sariahs (Mage), Wrinklerobes (Disc Priest), Ckcjake (BM Hunter). This was a 'Friends and Family' group. Everyone in the group were good friends or possibly family members like Wrinkle/Sariahs/Ckcjake.

Raist asked which Heroic we wanted to run and as you might have surmised from the post title, we chose Halls of Lightning. I had actually put forward the idea of doing Halls of Lightning because I had never run the dungeon, normal or Heroic. I had 2 quests from Dun Niffelum from my leveling days, and I had the normal Daily Quest and Raist shared the Heroic daily quest with me.

Halls of Lightning is an absolutely beautiful dungeon. I need to run it again when I have more time and just tour the place once it's clear.

I had heard that Halls of Lightning was one of the 'harder' Heroics, so I was mentally prepared for a challenging run.

We cleared to the first boss, General Bjarngrim. No, I don't know how to pronounce it either. He pats around in a very large area, sort of like the first boss in Hellfire Ramparts. We were still engaged with a group when he aggroed.

I picked him up and tanked him along with the final mob from the last group. He's basically like fighting a Warrior and kept switching between Battle, Berserk, and Defensive Stance. He went down pretty easy and Wrinkle (Disc Priest) didn't seem to have any trouble keeping me up, even with the trash mob on me as well as the boss.

Halls of Lightning has interesting trash as well as interesting bosses. One of the trash mob is a Hunter type that has a knock back shot (do want on my Hunter alt, by the way). That was annoying as anything. I felt like a Gnome getting punted all over the platform. We kept that guy sheeped on most pulls.


The 2nd boss was Volkhan aka The Anvil Guy. At points he runs to his anvil and makes some Brittle Gnomes. Then he decides to break the Gnomes. They explode and do damage to all around them. We had such good DPS that he only got a few Gnomes out before we killed him. We even got the achievement "Shatterproof".

There is an interesting room on the way to the third boss. The room is filled with Earth Elemental looking things call Slags. They put a debuff on you that reduces your armor, and they blow up when they die. What we did was have me run in and aggro the whole room, and then run to the stairs at the back of the room where we took them down one at a time. The only AoE we used was my Conscecrate.

The next boss up was Ionar. He has two phases that he switches between. Phase 1, he looks like an giant elemental and will periodically put a debuff on a party member that makes them do an arcane explosion on the party like the Robots right before Curator in Karazhan. After the first phase, Ionar becomes a group of electric spiders that chase party members around. Everyone, including the tank has to run from the spiders. Then the forms back up and starts Phase 1 again. It is really important that the Tank get back to him when he forms up. There is no aggro wipe between phase and dots will continue to tick so make use of Seal of Vengeance/Corruption.

One more note about the trash before we get to Loken. The normal Daily Quest was to kill Titanium Vanguards. Our very first pull of this type of mob and one of them charged the Priest and basically one shot him. I swear Blizzard gives that dang random charge to at least every other mob in the game. I had everyone stack up on them like we would do the mobs in Black Temple, and that seemed to work okay, but they would still charge the Hunter who had to stand a little out of range.

Now comes the main event, Loken. I've heard more horror stories about this guy than just about any other Heroic boss in Wrath.

This fight was especially sweet for me. I'd quested all through Storm Peaks and seem the handiwork of Loken. Actually it went all the way back to Howling Fjord and the Iron Dwarves there. those were the first of Loken's lackeys I'd bested. I'd done what I could to help the Sons of Hodir recover. I'd fought against his minions in Grizzly Hills, and helped his brother Thorim. I was there when he and Thorim had their mono y mono, with Loken the victor. Now it was time for Loken to pay for his crimes, and this hearty group of adventures was going to be judge, jury and executioner. When we got up to Loken, he launched into the Bad Guy Monologue, where the Bad Guy reveals his nefarious plan to the Good Guys. Apparently, Loken is working for someone, his Master. Their grand plan is to release Yogg-Saraon. Now as we discovered way back in Grizzly Hills from the spirit of Ursoc, the Bear god, Yogg-Saron is a beast of a thousand maws, and apparently a card carrying member of the Old Gods club. We further learned in Halls of Stone that the Old Gods could not be destroyed by the Titans, because destroying them would have destroyed Azeroth and everything on it. I've got to think releasing Yogg-Saron would be a 'Bad Thing'. And where oh where might Yogg-Saron be? Perhaps Ulduar itself?

Our first go at Loken ended at the first Lightning Nova. It took out 3 of us. We talked over strategy as we ran back and decided to see if Wrinkle could heal through the Lightning Nova with all of us standing close to the boss. Being Discipline, he didn't have Circle of Healing, but he had Prayer of Healing. We tried it that way and wiped again. Wrinkle asked us to try it again as he was learning to time the Lightning Nova and his heal. We did try again and though we lost the Hunter, we were able to take Loken down.It was a great run, and I really enjoyed it.
Afterwords, we had a rather unremarkable Drak'Tharon Keep run, although we did snag the Oh Novos! Achievement.

Comparing the 4 Healing Classes

I'm a tank, so what am I doing talking about the 4 healing classes today? Well I'm glad you asked!

I've never enjoyed healing on my Paladin. Being a walking HoT just wasn't fun. Doing something with a game, by definition a fun activity, that I didn't find fun, kind of didn't make sense. I had wondered if it was healing that I didn't like or just the 'flavor' of Paladin healing. I had thought about rolling a different type of healer to see if I would enjoy it more, but never really had the inclination to do 1 to 80 again.

Then I heard that some friends from my old guild Heroes Inc were rolling Horde alts. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out the healing side of the game. But which healer to roll? Moreso than just about any other role, a Healers life changes dramatically in that final ding. Most healers level in a spec that is not their healing tree. Because the experience can be so different I wanted to interview a healer of each type and find out what life was like at the top, before I put in the long hours of going 1 to 80. I placed a call to Team Matticus.

The Healers who so kindly consented to this interview were Matticus - Priest, Sydera - Druid, Lodur - Shaman. We also have represented a Holy Paladin. Blood Prince is a Holy Paladin who is a frequent poster to MainTankadin and agreed to be interviewed for this post.

1. What is it that you enjoy most about healing in general?

Matticus - I enjoy the challenge and the thrill that healers get. I do thrive in these sort of high pressure situations. I've always been a support player, not so much a front line player.

Sydera - I think I was originally in it for the feel that I was helping people, but now I love it because I can really see my contribution to raid success. Healing has pretty much instant gratification--I don't need to read the meters afterwards to know if I did a good job.

Lodur - What I love most about healing is the stability and responsibility the role of a healer has. You are responsible for the health, at least partly, for every member of your raid. The raid cannot succeed without you, and you can't succeed without the raid. I like feeling like an important and integral part of the machine while still being able to indulge my hero complex.

Bloodprince - Getting to the end of a difficult encounter and seeing my teammates still standing rather than corpse running. I can still remember a Deadmines run that I did at the appropriate level on my Pally with a pretty solid group. But one of our DPS pathed too close to the right edge of the ramp coming down into the foundry room and aggroed a bunch of mobs. Our Warrior tank was trying to get aggro on all of them but they still killed two of our DPS and our feral DPS Druid dropped into Bear form and it was just the three of us. As we would get near killing some mobs, one would run and aggro a new group from around the room. Combat ended up lasting just over six minutes (which is forever at that level) and I cycled between wacking mobs with Seal of Wisdom up, waiting for my mana potion CD to cooldown (pre-potion nerf) and casting timely Holy Light's when I had enough mana and we were able to survive the fight and down all the mobs at the end. One of my most "epic" encounters and the one that cemented my love of being a healer.

2. What led you to roll a healer instead of a tank/dps?

Matticus - At the time, I got in to the game with other players. All of the roles were decided upon. I went with a healer because it's a role that I had the most experience with.

Sydera - I was attracted to the supportive, helpful nature of healing. It didn't hurt that my fiancé played a warrior, and I enjoyed healing him while he killed things.


Lodur - When BC came out my original goal was to melt faces, but a lack of healers lead my guild leader to ask me to heal for a couple Karazhan runs. It was love at first Chain Heal! Healing just clicked with me more then DPS ever did. The game took on a new face and long story short, it immersed me back into the game in a new and exciting way. I love the math of healing, the responsibility of it and the feel of it. Healing has a sort of flow to it other roles don't have, it's very fluid even in the most hectic situations. DPS may need to stop DPSing a mob, tanks may need to run around and pick up adds, but healers are always healing.

Bloodprince - I rolled Paladin in order to tank. I had every intention of tanking. However, a funny thing happened along the way to leveling up and that is that I found out that I did not have a tank's mentality. I found out I had a healer's mentality. A healer has an almost pathological need to see the team's health bars at 100% all the time. They have a need to Cleanse their teammates as quickly as possible. They have a need to see the team succeed. As long as they stayed alive, healing was "good enough."

3. What do you you enjoy most about healing as your class?

Matticus - The Priest class has the MOST options when it comes to healing. Whether it's AoE, or direct, there's always a spell for different situations.


Sydera - I love HoTs, particularly Lifebloom. I like a dynamic casting style with lots of spell casts. I love the pre-emptive nature of healing with HoTs. There is such a thing as too many HoTs/DoTs in the rotation.

Lodur - I love the versatility of being a Restoration Shaman, but most of all I love the uniqueness. On the fly we can switch from a massive single target healing machine to a raid roll healer within the blink of an eye. I know other healers can do it, but I don't think any of them can do it as well as we can. The other classes also just don't have our distinctive talents and abilities that make a Resto Shaman so enjoyable to me. Chain Heal, Earth Shield and our army of totems are Iconic to the class.

Bloodprince - I love that every combat ability I own is an instant cast so that I can Judge / Consecrate / Holy Shock / Hammer of Wrath the bad guys and the only thing that I really lose for doing so is a single GCD. Holy Light the tank, get a GCD or two to deal damage, and Holy Light the tank again. Obviously, I am not doing that during Patchwerk but just about any other time I am. I also love that when Healing Plate items drop, they are MINE. No competition for gear. Yeah, I have to compete against Resto/Elemental Shamans if some great mail piece drops, but those seem to be very rare in my guild so I have little competition for gear if it not a cloak/neck/ring/trinket/weapon Spell Power drop.

4. What do you not enjoy about healing as your class?

Matticus - I can die really fast if I'm not paying attention. It can be unforgiving especially as a Priest since we're clothies. The other 3 healing classes can survive a bit longer then Priests.

Sydera - I hate the Tree of Life model. My elf model is beautiful, and I never see it. The tree badly needs a model update. I keep pushing for seasonally changing leaves and a less grumpy countenance. If I could choose, I'd be something pretty, like a willow or a poplar, slender anyway, and with pretty leaves. Either that, or I'll take a dryad model.

Lodur - The thing I dislike most about healing as a Restoration Shaman is Totem Juggling. I hate choosing between dropping a totem or tossing out a heal with an extra second attached to it. I think once blizzard is done consolidating and revamping totems it will be much better. We can see this starting with Strength of Earth Totem and now Mana Spring / Healing Stream and Poison / Disease Cleansing totems being rolled together.

Bloodprince - I know we really seem to feel the lack of an AoE heal, but my FoL is so fast that being able to zip around and heal three party members in 3.45 seconds (with a fourth getting healed through the Beacon) just seems fast enough to me. What I don't really like is the perception that Healadins cannot do any healing job except for single-target healing so I feel like I miss out on many interesting healing assignments because of that. During 4-Horseman, I am only ever either a tank healer or one of the ranged tanks for the back bosses. I never get the opportunity to heal the Meteror damage on the DPS on the front boss that is killed first and I think I would like to try that sometime. The perception is what kills me. And fricking Curses. I wish I could Cleanse those darn Cruses. Sigh...

5. How would you describe the leveling/soloing/farming aspect of your class when speced for Healing?

Matticus - Leveling wasn't a big issue for me even though I'm not optimized for it. Soloing isn't so bad either. I just have to grind out the mob and outlast it. Farming isn't exactly something I'm great for. I have to rely mostly on crafting stuff to get money to make purchases for stuff I need. Farming for raw mats isn't a possibility for me, unfortunately :(.

Sydera - It's pretty grim. I never level in Resto, and I keep farming to dailies that I need for reputation. I make money--not much, but enough for raid repairs--through selling the products of my crafting professions on the AH.

Lodur - Personally I think Shamans have it pretty easy in this regard. Being a DPS / Healing hybrid we have access to many of the DPS tools even specced Restoration. At the same time Restoration affords us a higher survivability due to such wondrous abilities like Earth Shield and our various totems. Our totems can be used both defensively and offensively and allow us to greatly reduce our down time. The same things that make it enjoyable to level as restoration make it easy and enjoyable to farm and solo as Restoration. Overall the experience is quite enjoyable, especially after the change from +Heal to Spell Power took effect.

Bloodprince - In a word, ugly. DPS as a Holy Paladin just pretty much sucks. Blizzard has helped some. Adding the 25% Seal/Judgement damage to Judgements of the Pure helped. I could have specced into Seals of the Pure for additional DPS if I had really wanted to without sacrificing a ton of healing for leveling purposes. And the addition of being able to use Exorcism on any type of target in patch 3.1 will be a huge DPS boost for Holy. When leveling, it is also really substandard prior to level 60 because of the TERRIBLE lack of Spell Power plate prior to The Burning Crusades. Leveling as Holy prior to level 60 was just dead, dog slow. I leveled Holy, but it was slow.

6. What will your 2nd spec be in 3.1 when Dual-Specs are introduced?

Matticus - Probably deep Holy and deep Disc. I don't PvP. I like the flexibility of switching between two different healing styles.


Sydera - I will take a raid-viable Balance spec. I'd like to learn to Boomkin, and I have almost all the hit I will need.


Lodur - When Dual-Spec are available I plan on having a PVP Resto spec to go along with my PVE Resto goodness.


Bloodprince -I plan on going Protection as my second spec in 3.1. I have zero desire to Main Tank raid bosses but want to be able to either heal or tank Heroics as my friends need me to, be able to off-tank in Raids as required, as well as to be able to grind out dailies/farm quicker.

Monday, February 16, 2009

VoA and Oculus

It was something of a quiet weekend for me from a WoW point of view. I had a wonderful evening Saturday night. My wife and I went to a nice restaurant for dinner, and spent way more than we should have. Then we went home and watched a DVD. I don't know what it is about a quiet dinner that seems to make it really easy for us to talk to each other. You'd think after 13+ years of marriage we'd have just about covered all the ground there was to cover. But we talked and talked Saturday night, and it was really cool.

In WoW, I sort of just laid low this weekend, trying to let the whole Guild situation work itself out.

I moved my Hunter alt, Honorshummer from Mal Katai to Heroes Inc, and spent some time this weekend leveling him up. He's now up to 72. He tamed a Devilsaur from Netherstorm and is working his way through Borean Tundra. It's a bit slow going, mainly because he's attacked and killed by every Rogue and Death Knight on the server. Death Knights especially seem to be very powerful at this level, and Death Grip is a Hunter's worst nightmare.

The irony of the Mal Katai split is that neither guild has the numbers for 25 mans anymore, and folks are PuGing what they can. A couple of guys got into a PuG with my old guild, Dominion, and another guy went and PuGed Naxx10 with yet another former guildy. I'm sitting 7 Emblems of Valor short of being able to buy the Tanking Boots (currently, Best In Slot). I don't see PuGs hardly ever asking for Tanks, just Healers or DPS.

I got into a group for 25 man Vault of Archavon. This was your classic bad PuG. First of all somehow the leader had put together a group with 6 Death Knights, but no Warlocks or Rogues at all. I was convinced we would see nothing but Rogue and Warlock drops. Then we had one guy who was blissfully questing in Icecrown waiting for a summon, despite the aforementioned lack of Warlocks.

So right off the bat we were 24 manning it.

The tanks were myself and a Death Knight. I presume Frost, but I know so little about Death Knights it's hard for me to say. Since we had so many DKs, I had every Aura on me (Blood, Unholy and Frost).

I ran in to engage, popped Wings and opened up with everything I had. I kited Archavon out of clouds when I saw them on the ground. The problem started when he picks me up. The Death Knight didn't taunt, and Archavon proceeded to kill a couple of DPS. Nice. Archavon dropped me, so I picked him back up. We got to the next Lunge (where Archavon picks up the MT), and this time the DK taunts him! Yeah, DK! Only he drops like a rock. The guy basically got 2 shot. Then Archavon takes out the Healers and it's over.

I had a buddy in the raid, a very well geared, and skillfully played Mage. He was #1 on DPS. No surprise there. I was #6.

"Houston, we have a problem."

I can pull about 1500 DPS when Prot. It's not shabby but it's a half of what a real DPS could bring. There's no way I should have been 6th.

We tried again, and this time things went better. The Death Knight either pulled or taunted before the Lunge, so I taunted when the Death Knight was picked up. I had to Bubble Wall to survive. Either we didn't have enough Healers or they weren't transitioning well from tank to tank. He drops the Death Knight and he picks him up again. We do this a couple of times, but we hit the Enrage timer and it was over.

We try one more time, but again, we didn't have enough DPS to get him down before he Enraged. The PuG blew up and everyone walked away. At least I didn't get saved so I can try again Monday. I may have to start forming my own groups.

Afterwords, I got a chance to run with Heroic Oculus. It was a run with people I was very familiar with. The Mage from my fPuG was there. My co-Tank from Naxx10 had speced Titan's Grip. We also had the Warlock from my Naxx10 group along with one of the best Resto Druids on the server (in my humble and completely unbiased opinion). There are two Resto Druids on the server that I'd run anything with and feel completely safe. This one (former Mal Katai, now Red Headed Step Children, and one in Heroes).

I was a little envious of my Warrior friend. His tank gear is every bit as good as mine, but he can turn around and pull 3k DPS as Fury. I still don't feel comfortable that I've broken the 2k barrier when I spec Ret.

It was a good run, but not without it's moments. I got careless on a pull here and there and let the Warrior or Warlock get killed.

I did end up having one of those epic tank moments on Mage Lord Urom. We lost people on the Arcane Explosion, and it was down to just me and the Mage Lord. He was at 6 or 7%. I kept up with my regular rotation and threw in a Hammer of Wrath whenever I could. I needed to use Bubble Wall and Lay on Hands, but I was able to solo him the rest of the way down.

We wiped a couple of times on Eregos (the last boss) as people figured out their Drakes. My Warrior friend switched from a Bronze Drake to a Green one, so we had Red, Red, Green, Green, Bronze. That combination seemed to do the trick. I got the Achievement for both the norma and Heroic versions of Oculus in one run.

They wanted to run another Heroic, but it was getting late and I had to call it a night.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Schism

The last time I did a 'Guild' post as back in late November. No one has been happier than me that I haven't had much to say about my guild. But here I am again.

Last night, I knew I was going to be late for the raid. My wife's best friend lost her father and we were going to the wake to give our condolences to her. I left a message on my guild's message boards so they would know what's up.

When I get online, I find that my guild has basically split in two. After talking with some of the guys that left, it seems there had been a growing schism between members of the guild, and last night was something of a final straw. Unfortunately, the Guild Leader of my guild didn't log in until the argument had gone all the way through officer chat to open guild chat and right out in to Trade.

The net effect was about 90% of the people that I have enjoyed spending my time with online, including everyone I had been in Naxx10 with the night before, left Mal Katai last night to form their own guild. UGH!

Basically, they told me they'd be happy to have me, but they weren't going to exert any pressure on me to change guilds.

A newly formed guild has it's appeal and also it's dangers. It's going to be an interesting couple of days.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sidekick

As you may or may not have heard Circuit City is going out of business. So I went down to the local Circuit City and picked up a new 19" Flat Screen monitor to replace my old 21" CRT. Even though the monitor was 'smaller', the screen space is much larger. I was able to increase my resolution from 1024x768 to 1440x770 (or something like that). The difference is very noticeable. The game looks 100 times better now, and I have much more screen real estate to put addons, and a much clearer view of my playing field.

I got invited to run with a bunch of friends to Naxx10 last night. This is the kind of run I have been really enjoying in this expansion. It didn't matter if we wiped 4 times, like we did to Heigan, or one-shot boss after boss, which we did as well. Everyone was having a good time, killing bosses, getting loot, and enjoying the game. I didn't manage to snag any loot because my rolling fails. My super secret plan was to get my Ret gear from 10 mans (where it wouldn't cost me any precious DKP) and my Prot gear from 25 mans. If I didn't fail at rolling, it might work out a little better, lol.

Leejenkins who organized the run decided he felt like going Ret and trying that spec out so I tanked it along with Nismo, who is a guy who likes to tank but usually goes DPS for our 25 mans. From the first boss on, he made it clear he wanted to be the 'Main Tank' for the night. I was fine with that. There was a time I would have fought for my 'right' to main tank, but it wasn't necessary.

I think just about everyone in MK knows I'm a good tank by this point. I may have finally reached that place where I don't have to prove myself to every person in our guild. I've got the reputation. I can do this.

Nismo did take to calling me his 'sidekick' which ruffled my feathers a bit, but not so much that I had to comment it about it. I tend to think of myself and my co-Tanks as equals. Maybe he didn't intend it, but calling me your 'sidekick' certainly doesn't imply you feel that way. Edit: He also seem to put Viginance on me constantly, which was a little odd. Maybe he was worried I was going to pull threat off him?

I did learn a couple of things that will help me in the future and I'll pass them along in the hopes they help you as well.

This isn't really a tip, but for Noth, I finally got down the Avenger's Shield one, and Exorcism one to pick up the Adds. I know when I do this fight on 25 man, there will be more adds, but I think I'll be okay.

For Heigan, I found that tilting my camera up and zooming all the way out, similar to what I would do for Grobbulous really helps with seeing the fire and staying on rhythm with the dance. Next time I get a shot at tanking him I'll try it and see if it helps me.

For Anub, it turns out I had the kite path wrong this whole time. I actually got a chance to watch Nismo. The path is on the very outside of the wall. You are kiting along the slime track, but you can't touch the slime at all. I thought you had to kite along in the inside edge of the slime track, but you actually have to be in the slime track. My kite path was taking Anub too close to the healers and getting them silienced, and myself killed.

All the intervene trick that Mal Katai has been using does is get the tank out of Locus Swarm faster so he doesn't eat as many ticks. I now feel completely confident I can tank this no problem.

For Gothik, I was doing the Undead side. This tip comes courtesy of Leejenkins. You set up in the left front corner, with your entire team stacked in the corner and you out in front of them. This way everything has to go through you (and your Consecrate) to get to the healers and you have plenty of time to get aggro. I actually ended up running out of mana because I wasn't taking enough damage and my Consecrate spam stopped. It cost us a mage, but we still one shot it.

The other thing I'll say after really watching Nismo is that I'm jealous of Last Stand. Ardent Defender is supposed to be our 'Last Stand' but it gets leap frogged entirely too often. What I mean by leap frogged is that the hit that kills you comes when you are out of AD range and therefore AD never reduces it. Lay On Hands is another 'Last Stand' but we have to use it reactively, instead of proactively and it won't work if we are silenced, stunned, etc. To wath Nismo be able to inflate his HP during an Enrage or Web Wrap seemed very helpful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Malygos Audible To Vault

The plan last night was to start work on Malygos-25.

I quested around Borean Tundra abit working on my Loremaster of Northrend. My plan had been to be online, at the stone, and I was going to be the first person there. I had no clue if I'd get an invite or not, but I was going to make sure I was doing everything I could control. The actual invites are not in my control.

The Officers were not satisfied with the group they could form out of those available online, so they decided to call the raid.

This kind of thing would have really upset up back in tBC, but it didn't seem to bother me a great deal last night. We'll get there eventually, or we won't, and I'll tank Malygos in a 10 man at some point.

Wintergrasp was about to start when we called the raid so we headed over there to fight the Horde. On my server, you never do Wintergrasp without at least a 3 stack of Tenacity. I've had it as high as 6 or 7 at times. (In case you don't know, Tenacity is a buff that the faction that is outnumbered receives to try to even things out).

We actually won Wintergrasp which is fairly rare on Altar of Storms. Mal Katai's Main Prot Warrior put together a raid for Heroic Archavon. We were a little short on people so I messaged my buddy Lakini (Boomkin) to see if anyone in Heroes Inc wanted to go. Heroes Inc players are really good, but they don't do 25 mans so they don't have many chances to get Emblems of Valor.

Lakini was the only one that came and I had to promise him it would be a quick run with no wipes. We had to PuG a couple to fill out the raid. What was super cool was one of the PuGs was my old buddy Raydz who had transferred off AoS. He was on his Priest alt. Then we had this Death Knight who kept asking us to please, please, please not invite any more Death Knights to the raid. I thought it was kind of funny.

Our Main Prot Warrior's name is Cryak. He's a really cool guy and a very good tank. We also had Leejenkins who is a Protection Paladin and an alt of a good buddy of mine. Cryak decided to let Lee and me handle the tanking.

Predictably, with about half the raid inside someone starts suggesting we clear the trash while we wait.

We go ahead and pull and we lose Lee. I quickly explained to him about the debuff and how we had to taunt off each other. If you are not aware the trash put a debuff on the current tank that makes them take much more damage. When the debuff is applied the tank is knocked back. That's the cue for the other tank to taunt it off. Some groups with very high DPS can actually DPS the trash mob down before it does the debuff. Your mileage may vary.

The rest of the trash died quickly and without fuss.

Cryak puts me on Archavon and Lee as Offtank. I did my best to kite Archavon out of the clouds he drops on the ground. The problem is Archavon isn't always targeting the tank. If he's channelling the little spike throw, he's just going to stand there and do it.

Just as we pull we get two people disconnected. We keep going since we've already engaged, but we ended up wiping at 1% due to the Enrage Timer.

We pugged a Warlock to fill the last spot, and got him the second time. I had to tell Lakini, well, almost no wipes. He didn't seem too upset, and was top 3 DPS (at least according to my Recount).

I snagged my Emblems, but there weren't any Paladin drops. I would only roll on a Protection PVE or Ret PVE/PVP piece that dropped unless none of the other Paladins needed it. A Death Knight piece dropped which made our one and only Death Knight very happy. We also got a Warrior drop and a Clothie drop but I don't remember which one.

Blizzard has announced that there will be a new boss in the Vault of Archavon in 3.1. I'm betting he's going to be a little tougher and probably not as 'PuG Friendly'.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tanks, Tanks, Everywhere

Last week, Mal Katai ran Naxx25 again. It was a good run, and we only ran into trouble on Thaddius, and Anub’Rekhan.

Thaddius was a simple issue of people needing to leave and the raid trying to kill him with 22 people. Then we lose 2 in the first transition. We just didn’t have enough DPS left to finish him off before the Enrage timer. We went back first thing the next raid night and one shot him.

Anub’Rekhan was also a simple issue. Our Tank on Anub got disconnected. It happens. By the way, the Tank was not yours truly. I was engaged in the middle of the room tanking the Add. It was during Locus Swarm which meant I was tangled up with an Add, and if I got close to Anub I’d be silenced and unable to generate any threat outside of Hammer of the Righteous. By the time I realized what had happened, Anub had wrecked the raid.

I’m not sure if I should use names in the blog or not. I mean the guys in Mal Katai who read the blog will pretty much figure out who I am talking about. People not in Mal Katai won’t know.

Sunday night, we brought 5 tanks: 2 Prot Warriors, 1 Prot Paladin (me!), a Feral Druid and a Prot Warrior who was speced Titan’s Grip for the night.

Before the raid ever began the Titans Grip Warrior was asking why he had to always respec for raids and never got to tank. This led to a comparison of unbuffed Hit Points between the tanks there and some discussion of tank theory.

We talked about the fact that unbuffed HP wasn’t necessarily the best guage of tank. If it was we'd have an all Druid tank corps. The TG Warrior said you should stack stamina after hitting the Defense Minimum and added, ‘just read the forums.’

One thing that I’m trying to work on both in game and in the ‘Real World’ is having Confidence without being Arrogant. Because I so wanted to reply, “Forums? Oh, you mean like Tankspot.com where I’m a Community Author or Maintankadin where I’m a Moderator?”

But I didn’t. This guy loves Tanking just like I do.

It seems tank spots have become as competitive as DPS spots used to be. Healers are pretty guaranteed a spot as they are rarer than a nun at a frat party. With DPS, comparisons are fairly easy as you have the all powerful DPS Meter. This gives you a semi objective standard to compare DPS1 to DPS2. With Tanks, it’s a littler harder. Unbuffed HP is one of the things you can objectively ‘see’ with a Tank. I get that. At least with DPS you've got the majority of the raid spots to fill. For Tanks, it's like 3 and that's a stretch. You could probably do Naxx just fine with 2.

This whole discussion preceded the Guild Leader getting into the raid so he missed it. Our GL is a fantastic Ret Paladin. He leads or at least co-leads Raids with what I would call our Main Prot Warrior. He’s the best geared of all of Mal Katai’s tanks (although all the Plate Tanks are pretty close by this point), and has been tanking for them the longest.

I still don’t know my way around Naxx as well as the other Tanks, so I sometimes am a little hesitant on where to go. I’m still learning all the Boss fights. It was easier back in tBC. Our first night in Kara I needed to know 2 or 3 Bosses max. Now I need to know 18 or 19 in WotLK. There was also much less competition for Tank spots back then.

My main beef with Naxx is that you really don’t need 3 tanks, and for most of the night I wasn’t needed. Naxx was originally designed around the 40 man paradigm of one ‘Main Tank’ and a couple of off tanks some of whom might have even been offspec. At least until you got to 4 Horsemen and you had to go ninja tanks from a different servers with at least 4 piece Dreadnaught.

Then, every time we got up to a boss, the 2nd Prot Warrior would yell “I’m tanking!” (literally in /y). I didn’t feel like fighting over it with him, and the Main Prot Warrior seemed to want him tanking. So I picked up Adds on the fights that needed it while our Main Prot Warrior swung away with a 2her. Our Feral was amazing with his ability to Cat DPS, then jump into Bear form if something got loose.

I have to admit it was something of a relief to see this Prot Warrior go through the same “You’re too close” on Heigan that I had struggled with. I thought I was the only one who messed that up.

I didn’t complain, and I hope this post isn’t coming off as me complaining now. But I had to do my best to suppress any feeling I had of being a bit superfluous to the raid, and that’s not a feeling anyone enjoys.

I still think we’ve got way too many tanks and wannabe Tanks in MK right now. But I sure wouldn’t want to be the one to have to say “You can stay a Tank, but you can’t.” I'm also sure I wouldn't want to be the one told, 'but you can't'.

It did turn out to be a pretty good night. I managed to snag some Emblems and even got some drops. I received Heritage. I have it as the third best Tanking neck behind Boundless Ambition off KT and the neck from the Heroic Eye of Eternity Quest. I’m only 9 Emblems away from the Ground Stompers (Best In Slot boots), and I snagged my T7 Legs.

Maybe most important of all, I got a promotion from Veteran to MK Core. This is something I’ve coveted, but I haven’t asked for. When the Officers were ready, they’d give it to me, and now they have. It tells me I'm slowly earning their trust again.

After we cleared all the wings, we headed for Saph and KT. The Raid Leader (Ret Paladin) stated we had too much melee. I want to say we had at least 10 melees between tanks and melee dps. But for that entire melee group we didn’t have any Rogues. So the Guild Leader asked for volunteers to step out so he could get a Rogue in. He didn’t want the Dagger to drop off KT and have no one who could use it.

I determined that I didn’t have enough DKP to win Wall of Terror if it dropped, so I volunteered to step out. Best case for me was for the Shield to drop and for the 2nd Warrior to win it. Then I’d be the only one without a Shield upgrade and could make a pretty good case for getting Heroes Surrender off Patch. I actually like the stats a little better than Wall of Terror. Both are great shields, but I think WoT has a little bit of a trophy appeal. (“Hey look at me, I killed KT!”)

Sure I could have used the additional Emblems, the Head tier token or the tanking Axe, but I had already gotten two epics out of the run. I think I did okay.

I have no idea if those positive actions will help me land Tanking spots in the future, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m still getting invites as Prot for Raids. That’s the important thing.

I’m hoping Ulduar has more fights that really need 3 tanks. I’d love to see something along the lines of Fathom Lord, or Bloodboil, where your tanks have to really work together.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Paladin Changes 3.1 Preview

So by now you've probably seen the preview of the 3.1 class changes. I'm not going to pretend I understand any of the other classes, but I do want to comment on the Paladin changes.

In case you haven't read them yet here they are.

Blessing of Kings – this spell is now a base ability trainable by all paladins.

Thus shall end the great 'Who will spec Kings' debate.

It's possible only the 1 point Kings is trainable (Increases all stats by 2%), and that the Improved Kings (4 additional points to get you up to the well known 10% to all stats) is still in the Prot Tree. Of course, the entire Kings (10%) could be trainable as well, we won't know until we see the new trees and the PTR is up.

So this will free up anywhere from 1 to 5 points in my build.

This was probably a balancing decision for the Devs. Do you assume Kings is available to the raid or not? If you balance the encounter that Kings is available, then it's harder for groups that don't have Kings. But if you balance the encounter not assuming the group has Kings it become much easier for groups that do. So the choice appears to be that the Devs will assume your groups has Kings. 1 Paladin who can fulfill any role in your group is not too much to ask.

Exorcism – this spell now causes damage to all types of enemy targets. However, it always critical strikes undead or demon targets. This change should make sure paladin damage doesn’t drop when going from Naxxramas to later tiers of content.

This is interesting. We won't have to worry about our threat generation being adversely affected by moving up to Ulduar, but I don't think Exorcism is a big part of my rotation right now even on Undead/Demon. I'd much rather get Shield of Righteousness or Hammer of the Righteousness or Judgment back on cooldown than fire off an Exorcism. It is a great pulling tool and with a guaranteed crit on Undead, it will produce some nice burst threat.

Now we have the Glyph of Exorcism with adds an interrupt to the spell. Will that Glyph remain as is? If that is true, Paladins will have a 20 ranged interrupt. This would be fantastic for trying to get a spell caster to come to melee to get a little Hammer of the Righteous loving. The situation that immediately pops to mind is Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle.

This also give Holy another attack to use when soloing and they can use all the help they can get in that regard.

One issue I could see with this is that it gives Retribution even more burst in PVP. It's another instant to use and can go right into their rotation. Add in the fact it crits on Undead and you've got a Death Knight pet killer.

Shield of the Templar now causes your Avenger’s Shield and Shield of the Righteousness to silence targets for 3 sec. The old damage bonus of this talent has been folded into Holy Shield,
Avenger’s Shield, and Shield of the Righteousness.

First of all I'm going to assume that the 3% Damage Reduction is staying in place on Shield of the Templar. With the old damage increase being rolled in, this will again increase the DPS a Holy Paladin can do while solo if they use Shield of Righteousness.

In addition to the damage we used to get from this talent, we now get a silence on Avenger's Shield and Shield of Righteousness. This makes Avenger's Shield an even better pulling tool than it already was, and it means I won't have to fiddle with trying to Line of Sight casters nearly as much. If this goes through, I would like for Blizzard to remove the Daze affect currently on Avenger's Shield.

This also has some interesting PVP applications. Prot Paladins would have a 3 second silence on a 6 second cooldown. That would help immensely when fighting casters. Could Protection Paladins actually be able to PVP?

What I envision is on a 5s and possible even a 3s team, your Protection Paladin becomes the Healer Harasser. His job would be to keep the healer interrupted, stunned, silenced and basically shut down. He can't really kill the Healer, but then again, it's going to be very hard to kill him, and he's basically CCing the Healer the whole time.

It will also make Protection Paladin that much better at what we already do well in PVP (running flags, guarding points, etc).

I have to say that I'm rather excited about the possibility to be able to be competitive at PVP as Protection.

Ardent Defender, Improved Hammer of Justice, One-Handed Weapon Specialization and more have had their ranks reduced.

It looks like Protection Paladins will have some more points to spread around. You could go deeper into Holy for a offheal/offtank type build or deeper into Ret to squeeze out a bit more damage.

Guarded by the Light – no longer reduces the mana cost of shield spells, but now has a 50/100% chance to refresh Divine Plea duration.

This change has to be taken in context with what Blizzard has communicated about Holy Paladins and Mana Regeneration.

Basically, we know Spiritual Attunement is going to be nerfed in some form to make Mana Regeneration a real issue for Holy. However, Spiritual Attunement is the fuel to the Protection Paladins fire. It's what powers our threat generation by refilling our mana bar. I think Blizzard realizes that the nerf they are making to Spiritual Attunement was going to really hurt Protection so this is their answer. Protection gets permanent Divine Plea.

If it works out, and I assume Blizzard has rejiggered the numbers to make it work out, it will be fine. In addition, it will really help out when soloing. Right now I find myself having to use Seal of Wisdom and Blessing of Wisdom when soloing just to keep my mana up. I play on a PVP server so I never like to see my mana below 50%. You just never know when a Druid or Rogue is about to jump you.

Judgements of the Just – now also reduces the cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 10/20 seconds and increases the duration of the Seal of Justice stun effect by 0.5/1 second.

Assuming the Improved Hammer of Justice talent stays as is, you have the possibility of getting your Hammer of Justice stun on a 10 second cooldown. It has a 1 minute base cooldown, then Improved Hammer of Justice can lower that to 30, (and that's the best any reasonable Retribution build can pull off), then Judgements of the Just lowers it 20 more seconds to 10.

Again, this has tremendous PVP implications. Every 10 seconds, I can drop a 6 second stun on you and after you come out of it I nail you with a 3 second silence. Let me state right now, I don't see that making it all the way to live.

Now let's look at it from a PVE perspective. I think that this move indicates Blizzard has designed a Boss for Ulduar with some sort of SpellOfDoom that must be interupted or it'll wipe your raid. Recall that Hammer of Justice is an interrupt on Bosses that are not stunnable. This could be a Reliquary of Souls type situation. Perhaps something like the Bat Boss in ZG where the Boss can heal itself for a huge portion of its life, and the boss has a PbAoE (point blank AoE) that pretty much precludes melee from getting close enough to do it. Maybe it's like Kael's Pyroblast, interrupt it or else you get to inspect the floor for a couple of minutes.

Of course, these aren't the full patch notes. What the Crab said was that they were going to give us a bit of a peak behind the curtain to help us understand the process a little bit. I predict this will come back to haunt them as soon as something is in blue text it's basically gospel. Blizzard has now 'promised' all these things and woe to Blizzard if they do not verily come to pass.

Ultimately, we'll have to wait for the PTR to come online to see the full changes.

Around the Web, some of the best Paladin minds are cranking out their thoughts on 3.1:

Rohan on the 3.1 changes: http://blessingofkings.blogspot.com/2009/02/upcoming-paladin-changes-in-31.html

Shia talks 3.1: http://www.bananashoulders.com/2009/02/06/mana-regen-nerf-incoming/

Josh on the 3.1 Preview: http://e4ae.blogspot.com/2009/02/speechless.html

Ferarro: http://ferarro.blogspot.com/2009/02/oh-hey-look-sky.html

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard

Monday night, Mal Katai got its 25 man raid team together to finish up with Naxx. All we had left was Plague and then Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad.

I got a little help from our resident Ret Paladin and Guild Leader as to where the adds on the fight would spawn. That aided me greatly in picking them up and I feel like I did a much better job, though one or two still seemed to get loose.

As you walk into Noth's room, look to your right and you'll see some small piles of bones. When Noth starts blathering on about "Rise my soldiers, Rise and fight once more", look over at the piles of bone and you can actually see the adds start to come out of the bone pile.

I actually stayed alive the whole way on Heigan. I tried to a watch our Main Tank to see where he put him, but very quickly I was having to concentrate more on keeping myself alive rather than trying to pick up something from watching him.

Loatheb went pretty well. I actually picked up a Spore or two, and DPS'ed without using Righteous Fury. Mana was never an issue, and while my DPS wasn't going to win any awards every little bit helps.

Loateb dropped the Greaves of Turbulence. Under Mal Katai's loot system, you whisper the Master Looter if you are interested by saying "Main Set", "Small Upgrade", or "Offset"

Main set is your 'main' set and you can only call main set on one type of gear. If you want main set tanking gear, you have to go offset on DPS gear. Small upgrade is something for your main set, but represents only a small upgrade over what you currently have equipped.

The way it works is that whoever has the most MKP (think DKP) and wants it for a main set upgrade gets the piece. If no one wants it for a main set upgrade then it comes down to who has the most DKP out of the offset and small upgrade. At least, I think that's how it works.

I was fortunate enough to win the piece. These were an immediate upgrade over the Bolstered Legplates I had gotten in Heroic Violet Hold. My Legs were one of the weaker parts of my kit and getting these helped to sure that up. With the leg patch attached, I'm now up to 28.5k hit points and I haven't even started using Dragon's Eyes in my gear yet.

This time I got to watch Sapphiron put himself together, after missing it last time. The first attempt we lost our Main Tank, so I decided I would help out with heals. I stayed in full tanking gear, but the aura meant I pretty much had a constant flow of mana coming back to me. We don't do WWS reports for our raids so I don't know exactly how much I contributed, but I felt like I was able to provide a buffer and help out the real healers.

I still can't stand healing, but healing on one fight was certainly better than wiping again. Gatekeeper (tanking ring) dropped but I lost it to another Paladin. He was Holy last night but wants to be a Tank (and was a Tank in Burning Crusade), so he's made Tanking his main set.

Then we get to Kel'Thuzad. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to pick up the 4 Crypt Lords that spawn around 40%, or maybe it's 45%. There are 4 possible locations for each to spawn at, about 5 seconds apart. I had at my disposal, Hand of Reckoning, Hand Mounted Pyro Rocket and Avenger's Shield.

Hand of Reckoning and the Pyro Rocket do so little threat that if I didn't get a Shield of Righteousness on the Crypt Lord immediately I'd lose it to healing aggro, and each one I picked up made seeing and picking up the next that much harder.

At one point, I used Righteous Defense to taunt one of the Crypt Lords. A moment before I hit the button,the Crypt Lord wandered into melee range and got nailed by the Main Tank's Thunderclap, so when I used Righteous Defense, the Crypt Lord was targeting our Main Tank.

Rod, tell him what he's won! Well, for using Righteous Defense when the Crypt Lord was targeting the main tank, you've won Kel'Thuzad's aggro!! Kel will now float towards our lucky offtank and ruin positioning for just about everyone in the raid. Congratulations!

I had no end of trouble getting all 4 under control before at least one would kill a healer or DPS, and even when I had all 4, I would eventually get burst down as the fight wore on.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, we brought in one of our Feral Druids to help out. He would pick up two and I would pick up two. We still ended up losing both myself and the Feral, but we were able to finish off Kel just in the nick of time.

Wall of Terror dropped but I lost it to what I thought was as DPS Warrior. I would later find out in a private discussion with the Loot Master that the Warrior was a Tank, but he had been asked to go DPS for the night because they had the tank spots filled.

I said nothing in the raid and waited until after the raid was over. In a private channel, I told the Master Looter that I didn't think it should have been awarded to the DPS Warrior. That's when I was informed he was a Tank.

I promised myself I wouldn't get all weird about gear in this Expansion. I made that mistake in Burning Crusade and regretted it. Yet, here I was doing it again. Old habits die hard I guess. I think part of the issue was the fact it was a shield. There's something weird about the relationship between a tank and his shield. It's that one piece of gear that defines you as a 'Tank'. I guess for melee it's the weapon, but a for tank, it's your shield.

To be completely honest, I actually like the itemization on Hero's Surrender better than Wall of Terror despite the item level difference.

The Master Looter ultimately did the right thing by applying the rules of our loot system fairly.

I do question if we have too many people trying to gear up to be tanks. It will dilute the tank gear that flows to the tanks. I wonder if we shouldn't designate certain people as 'Main Tanks' and only allow those people to call Main Spec on tank gear.

But I can see that approach having all kinds of issues.

If one of those 'Main Tanks' isn't able to show for whatever reason, you don't have well geared people able to sub in if you've filtered all your tank gear to a small number of people. Our guild needs to have plenty of good subs because we don't really enforce any kind of 'Thou Shalt Be Online On Raid Nights!' rule. It's one of the things I like about Mal Katai. If something comes up, you don't log on and no body gives you static about it.

Besides the need for solid subs, I have to put myself in the shoes of those people who would be told they aren't part of the 'Main Tanks' group. These are people who want to be tanks, and enjoy the Tank role. Basically, people like me. If the Guild Leader came and said I couldn't call Main Set on Tank gear because he and officers had decided I wasn't one of the The Main Tanks, I'd be upset, disappointed and probably a little angry. I've got to imagine those guys would feel the same way.

I also have to consider that I can and have been able to handle anything thrown at me thus far. A shield or a ring, as nice and as welcome as those upgrades would be, isn't keeping me from being able to do the job. In fact, I'm getting the most valuable thing out of the raid right now, the actual raid tanking spot. Granted, it's an offtank spot, but the Main Tank has better gear and has been tanking for them for a lot longer than I have. He's earned his spot.

The fear would be that one of these other guys goes to the Raid Leader and says he should get the tank spot because he now outgears me, but I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think they'd demote the current Main Tank just because I got a piece of gear that put me a little ahead of him in gear.

To take it a step further, I should probably offer to rotate out with the other guys that want to Tank. Maybe next week, I'll respec DPS and the DPS Warrior gets to tank. As for the Holy Paladin, well, to be honest, I'd rather sit than go Holy.

Big Hit Box

It is wonderful that Blizzard maintains the Official Forums to give their players a place to discuss the game. While solid in their own right, the Official WoW Forums have what I think of as a high low signal to noise ratio. In other words, there is some good information on the Official Forums, but you've got to wade through a morass of inaccuracies, trolling, elitism, and junk posts to find it. You might read one helpful post in 100, and that might be a little generous.

To combat this, small groups of gamers with like interest have banded together to create communities outside the Official Forums. These places usually have a narrow focus, and the moderators of these forums tend to be a little more heavy handed with unproductive posters.

The Tanks started their own small community with Tankspot. Regardless of color of your raid bar, if you like being a Dragon chew toy, you need to be on Tankspot regularly. Protection Paladins have found a home at Maintankadin. Maintankadin posters are the great masters who instructed me, and you can bet your Divine Protection cooldown I'm on that site daily (and a mod to boot).

Those incredible people who actually LIKE to heal (and I love every single one of you) created the excellent community of PlusHeal. You'll find some of the very best healers in the WoW community sharing their strategies and tactics for keeping their raids alive.

Recently launched for the hackers and slashers of the WoW universe, Melee DPS can find a great resource in the Big Hit Box. If you've read the blog for any length of time, you've heard me talk about the excellent work done by Josh on his blog Eye for an Eye for Ret Paladins. Josh aka Cathmor (but you'll always be Baelor to me) is one of the founders of Big Hit Box. With this kind of leadership, I know Big Hit Box will be an excellent place for melee DPS to hang out and share knowledge and experience with each other. I might even figure out how to break 2k DPS when I go Ret.

So go check out Big Hit Box. I highly recommend it.