Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chilling Therorycraft

There are simply some people in the world you listen to on certain matters. When it comes to deep Tankadin theorycraft, the person I listen to the most is Theck of Blackrock.

The guy is a math genius, but he also knows how to unpack his findings and make them understandable to meatshields like me.

He did a lot of math, made some really cool looking charts, and then he unpacked his findings.

I give you now Theck, Bringer of Numbers and Pounding Headaches

So to tally it up:

* The value of avoidance is unchanged in terms of raw rating->% conversion
* The value of dodge is unchanged relative to parry in all reasonable circumstances
* The value of avoidance for reducing total damage intake is weaker, because we're effectively hitting DR earlier than we would be in the absence of IR.
* The value of avoidance for reducing spike damage events (i.e. N consecutive hits) is noticeably increased, by more than a factor of 2 for N=2 (0.49% per point at 60% avoidance compared to 1.1% per point at 40% avoidance), and even higher for N>2

I'd say GC was pretty spot-on with his assessment that if you liked stamina before, you'll like stamina after, and if you liked avoidance before, you'll still like avoidance after.

(http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/forum/index.php?f=6&t=26556&rb_v=viewtopic&start=120 page 9)

Another one of the top MainTankadin posters, Wrathy, put it this way

With the current information we have, your gearing philosophies and methodology will not change with Chill of the Throne, only your avoidance in the raid zone will.

Wrathy also has a really good blog that you should check out.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Feeling a Chill....of the Throne!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today we bring you a blast from the past. Put your hands together and give a big Honors Code welcome for the return of Sunwell Radiance!

Yes, after talking about how much the Developers hated having to use it and how they would be super careful to not let themselves get into this situation again...

For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid's main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more "spiky" than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn't avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We've been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There's a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

Which is pretty much what they said when they implemented Sunwell Radiance. True to their word, they introduced harsh Diminishing Returns in Wrath of the Lich King.

Why didn't it work?

A tank needs a certain amount of defense to be uncrittable. Defense grants dodge, and parry in addition to lowering your chance to be critically hit. So you already have a nice head start on avoidance. Then you need some way to make Tank Plate gear attractive to Tanks but not to DPS. So you load it up with Defense, Parry, and Dodge.

Enter Hard modes. At the outset of Wrath, they were an experiment in the form of Sartharian 3 Drakes. Then they became a larger experiment in Uludar and a core mechanic in Crusaders Coliseum. These hard modes needed to give better gear than 'normal' modes and thus the mudflation of item levels went up much more each Tier of raiding than originally planned.

What do we know for sure?

We know the 20% is taken after Diminishing Returns. That basically doubly penalizes avoidance.

We know that the conversions aren't changing. Your trinket with x dodge rating is still giving you the same y% dodge.

What does it mean?
You are going to hear a lot of opinions, and some will be told to you with very authoritative voices.

Some will harken back to their Sunwell days and figure what happened then (Tanks still valued Avoidance and on some fights geared specifically for Avoidance) will happen now. But the game mechanics have changed drastically. Tanks have for more short duration cooldowns than they did in Sunwell and Healer Mana goes a lot further.

For the immediate future, I'm not going to change anything. By the time 3.3 actually arrives on servers, the theorycrafters will have come up with a good plan for all tanks. I tend to be a StamStacker anyway.

Now allow me to throw my Honorshammer's Prediction of the Patch 3.3 Live date. I'm going with November 17th. This is the first Tuesday after the mandatory Battle.net merger for all WoW accounts.

So I advise you follow the various threads and blogs. Eventually a consensus will form.

Official Forums (go there at your own risk) http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=20677632379&sid=1&pageNo=1#0
MainTankadin http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/forum/index.php?f=6&t=26556&rb_v=viewtopic
Tankspots thread: http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f56/57472-chill-throne.html
ThinkTank (Druid) http://wowthinktank.blogspot.com/2009/10/general-druid-icewell-radiance-bears.html
Pwnwear (DK) : http://pwnwear.com/2009/10/29/icecrown-20-percent-aura/
Avenging Wrathy (Paladin): http://avengingwrathy.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/the-death-of-avoidance-the-loss-of-a-soap-box/

So relax, and continue to enjoy 3.2. By the time 3.3 gets here, we'll know how to handle it.

My Tankadin UI Guide, Part 4

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

These are the final addons I use in my Tankadin UI.

Curse you, Perry the Platypus (Decursive)

If you don't get the reference, it's from Phineas and Ferb. It's a really fun show that I watch with my daughter. Like all great kid's shows, it throws in some humor for the adults as well.

Decursive is a little addon I have to help me, well, decurse. Of course Paladins can't decurse, so it helps me de-magic, de-disease and de-poision, but decurse just sounds better.

Basically what happens is that when one of my team mates gets an afflication that I can do something about, their box will light up and a counter will start counting up the number of seconds they have whatever poison, disease or magic debuff. I left click on their box and that will cast Cleanse on them. This is very similar to using a Mouse Over macro, only all the mouse over stuff is built in.

I first started using Decursive for tanking Steelbreaker on Iron Council to deal with Fusion Punch. Now it sees most of its use on Faction Champions.

Heal me, Quickly! (Healbot)

I only break out Healbot on Firefighter and Lord Jarraxxus. These are two fights where I'm Prot spec/Prot geared, but I still find it useful to throw a heal or two. Healbot gives me a nice interface to do that with, and also gives me out of range indicators.

Talk, talk, talk to me (Prat)

Prat is a mod I use to modify my chat and enable me to scroll through my chat box by using my mouse wheel. Prat also shows me the level and class of each person as they text. It's one of those addons I found very hard to live without.

Money, money, mon-ey (Auctioneer)

There are parts of the game Tanks need to be good at outside of raids. One of those is the Auction House. You know the repair bills are coming and you know they are going to be large.

I have a dedicated bank alt that I send all my stuff to that I don't need. As I'm flying around, I'll spot a Titanium vein or pick up some Frostweave cloth off the mobs I killed. I send it to my banker who lists it with Auctioneer. He'll send the proceeds back to Honors. It works pretty good. I find the auction house positively boring and the thought of spending even a half hour posting stuff is not something I enjoy. Auctioneer makes it pretty quick and painless.

Organize Me (Bagnon)

A good tank carries around multiple sets of gear. I have stam sets, block sets, resist sets, avoidance sets. Then on top of that I have PVP sets, and Ret sets. I'm even working on a Holy set (but don't tell anyone I told you that, k?). That means I need a lot of bag space and some way to keep it all organized. Now I use the ingame Equipment Manager to manage my sets, but I use Bagnon to keep my bags straight. Bagnon simply gives me all my bag slots in one interface.

I can also use it to see what I have in my alts bags, which allows me to store my gems and enchant mats on my Banker.

Step in the ring (SSArena Frames)

One of the issues with Spartan is that I can't see the Blizzard UI Arena frames, so I needed a replacement. SSArenaFrames was what I found. It simply replaces the Blizzard Arena Frames and allows me to target the enemies in the Arena. However, I'm not doing Arenas as much this season so I haven't had as much need for it.

Wow, that was much more involved than I originally thought it was going to be. No wonder most people just give you a list of addons and pretty much expect you to figure it out.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Tankadin UI Guide, Part 3

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

I love the information I can get out of PowerAuras, but I still need more.

What Just Happened? (TJH)

When I hit Divine Protection aka Bubble Wall, it would be helpful for my healers to know that. What would be even more helpful is for them to know when it falls off. Now I could announce that over vent, assuming I see it, but instead I use a mod called ThatJustHappened (TJH).

I set up ThatJustHappened to announce when I pop Divine Protection, and when it falls off. It also announces whenever I get an AD save. TJH does require a little bit of setup for each event you want it to announce. I recommend you check out the MainTankadin thread for a list of TJH settings.

Bosses are Deadly (DBM)

Many times you want to pop your cool downs in response to something particularly nasty the boss is doing. Knowing when he's going to do those 'bad things' is generally pretty helpful.

I use Deadly Boss Mods to give me the low down on what's going on. Here we can see that in about 10 seconds, I'm going to get a Freezing Slash. I should probably keep that in mind if I'm tempted to pop a dodge trinket. I can also see that Anub is going to submerge in 53 seconds. DPS has that much more 'quality time' with the boss. Finally, I can see we're doing fine on the Enrage timer. This is all key information presented to me by Deadly Boss Mods.

While I am a user of Deadly Boss Mods, I will be testing out Deus vox encounters next week and let you know what I think.

Power Grid

It's often helpful for me to know the state of the raid. Whose dead, how are the healers doing on mana. My addon of choice here is Grid. Basically it gives me a little box with everyone's name in it. I can see what's going on and who is still among the living.

I'm cool...down (OmniCC)

I like to see exactly how long my cooldowns have left. For this I use OmniCC . OmniCC puts a number on the button showing you how long you have until the spell cools down and you can use it again. It's much more intuitive to me than just the graphic supplied by the stock UI.

Are you threatening me? (Omen)
The threat situation is sort of like the speedometer on your car. You need to know who is catching up to you, and how close they are to pulling. There are some fights where I know it's highly unlikely anyone will threaten me, and other fights where it's pretty much guaranteed they will.

The tool I use is Omen. At a glance I can see if pink is on top and check the percentages of the DPS and healers. The bar layout gives a quick visual graphic of the situation.

Somebody Buff Me (PallyPower and SBF)
As a Paladin tank, I'm responsible for both my personal buffs and certain Raid buffs.

For my assigned Raid buffs, I love Pally Power. It give me a break down by class of what buff each person is getting, and makes it easy to assign a 10 minute buff to a specific person while giving the 30 minute buff to the rest of that class. When you raid with a Boomkin, Resto and Feral Druid all in your raid, that's a nice tool. It gives me a timer to show just how long everyone has left on their buffs and a click-able interface that I can use to actually cast the buff. The interface also uses highlighting to show if everyone is in range, saving me on reagents.

Pally Power doubles as a Righteous Fury indicator, and checks to make sure you have the proper Aura up. No realizing you have Crusader Aura up halfway through the fight. Oops!

Spartan's interface for buffs and debuff is one of it's weakest points. It's bad enough that I feel like I need a replacement for it. For my personal buffs, I use Satrina's Buff Frame. It gives me a small bar of buffs and debuffs that makes it really simple to monitor my situation. I use it for debuffs moreso than for buffs. For buffs, I tend to look at my buffed health right before the first pull and make a mental note of the number. Then if the number is different on a subsequent pull, I know I'm missing something.

Why am I dead? (Recount)

The final information addon I use is Recount. As I discussed in "Using Recount as a Tank", I use Recount very differently from a DPS class. I'm using Recount to get the Death Report which shows what killed me. This is critical information as we learn a new boss or wipe on a 'farm' boss. Knowing what killed me will hopefully help me to avoid the scenario on the next attempt.

Recount will also show you why your fellow raid members died. I usually only supply this information to our Raid Leader and allow him to repeat what he thinks necessary to the Raid.

Now my UI is nearly complete, but not quite. Tomorrow, I'll go over my 'finishing touches' and complete the UI.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My 'Stance' On Paladin PTR Changes

We know interupt this UI series to bring you late breaking news from the PTR. Let's go to our man on the scene, Todagrond for more on this story.

Thanks Honors. Yes, we've got news from the PTR and it's not looking too good for Paladins.

# Sacred Shield: The damage absorption effect from this ability now triggers only once every 30 seconds.

# Talents
* Holy
o Infusion of Light: This talent now also reduces the cooldown on the effect of Sacred Shield by 12/24 seconds.

* Lay on Hands can no longer be cast on yourself.

* Protection
o Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active. In addition, the duration has been changed to 6 seconds, however the effect does not terminate when Divine Sacrifice is removed before its full duration.

That's the latest from the PTR. Back to you, Honors!

Thank you, Todagrond!

Let's take a look at this news and the changes one by one.

Lay On Hands

This some simply isn't happening. Put down the pitchforks. How do we know this? We just happen to have Lead Developer Ghostcrawler, live from Blizzard HQ, to join us.

Mr. Ghostcrawler, would you care to comment on the Lay on Hands change?

I wouldn't worry too much on the Lay on Hands change at this point. I don't want to promise we won't change the spell for 3.3, but our intent was to revert the others only change before it went out to the PTR, which is why we didn't patch note it. We have already changed it back on our local builds. (http://wowraid.com/tracker/b11/t20677861597/recent-33-ptr-paladin-changes.html)

Okay. We can take a deep breath and relax on that one.

Divine Guardian

When something is difficult to explain and understand, that's often a symptom of bad design. We saw that symptom with Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian. The new iteration on the PTR is much simpler to understand.

You pop Divine Sacrifice and start soaking up damage. You can soak up to 2x your buffed health. When you pop Divine Sacrifice and if you are speced into Divine Guardian your raid gets a 20% damage reduction for 6 seconds. You are still only soaking damage from your party and if you absorb more than 2x your lifebar in 6 seconds the 'raid wall' remains.

The skill makes much more sense and it's a nice external tank cooldown and 'raid wall' for predictable bursts. At 6 seconds, I doubt it would overly encourage stacking Paladins, but I have underestimated the skill before so I might be underestimating it again.

Sacred Shield

So basically this change really hurts the usability of Sacred Shield for Protection and Retribution. Basically what will happen is you will get a 30s buff, and if you take damage while you have that buff, you will gain a 6s absorb shield. This can only proc ONCE in the entire 30s.

Now read the part about Infusion of Light taking it back to current internal cooldown, allowing 5 procs in those 30 seconds. What the Developers are basically doing is making Sacred Shield a 35 point Holy talent before it does anything meaningful.

This one isn't going Live either. Let's bring back Mr. Ghostcrawler once more. Mr.Ghostcrawler, what are the Developers trying to accomplish with this change?

We are trying some things with Sacred Shield to make it more of a Holy tool and less useful for Ret and Prot (without being totally irrelevant). I don't have a lot of faith that the implementation on the PTR is the one we'll go with for a couple of reasons, but our overall goal is to make Ret less tanky and the Holy tree feel like it's the right one to focus on for healing. I would expect a Sacred Shield change of some kind though. (http://wowraid.com/tracker/b11/t20677861597/recent-33-ptr-paladin-changes.html)

I understand wanting to make deep Holy more attractive. It's an issue you have been dealing with all of Wrath. It's driven, in part, because the 0/0/0 Paladin is still a decent healer.

So allow me to offer this suggestion, originally put forth by poster Candiru on Maintankadin,

Sacred shield would make a good 11 point talent in Holy. Make Aura Mastery baseline level 80 skill.

I think that's a great suggestion. AM is more useful to all specs than the proposed Sacred Shield would be. Sacred Shield feels more like a Holy talent anyway.

If you do nerf Sacred Shield effectiveness for Protection, and that seems to be the goal, I think I'll be specing out of Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian and puts those points somewhere else.

Any comments, Mr. Ghostcrawler?

The paladin class isn't just supposed to be for support anymore, but at the same time, the original intent for many paladin abilities was to help the group. Over time however they have contributed into making the paladin into a "one-man army," able to play offensively, defensively and heal without say the stance changing or shapeshifting or sometimes event talent specialization required of other classes. Many of the LK balance problems we've had with the class are because of that core issue. (http://wowraid.com/tracker/b11/t20677861597/recent-33-ptr-paladin-changes.html)

I don't see the 'one-man army' argument at all, but I do I actually agree that one of the problems with balancing the Paladin class is our lack of stances or forms.

A central issue with the current design of the class is that a 0/0/0 paladin is a functional healer, and nothing else.

Here's a little thought exercise for you. You have a Paladin, Druid, Warrior, and Priest. Each of them is level 80 in appropiate gear for the job but they have 0 talent points.

I'd trust the Paladin to heal, but tank? Maybe. DPS? He's really going to struggle. Now think about the other classes. Obviously, the Priest can't tank and the Warrior can't heal. But my contention is that each could perform the roles they are capable of specing into as a 0/0/0 better than a 0/0/0 Paladin, in all roles except for Healing. I tend to think the reason for that because they have forms/stances.

Allow me to offer this suggestion: give Paladins some type of Forms/Stance/Presence system in Cataclysm. Tie them to Auras, or call them Auras and make a separate buff for the resistances. Then you'd have Concentration Aura for the healing 'stance', Devotion Aura for 'tank' stance, and Retribution aura for the 'dps' stance.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Ghostcrawler.

Now let's turn this over to our audience now.

What do you think? Would giving Paladins a form/stance system make the class easier to balance?

My Tankadin UI Guide, Part 2

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

In Part 1 of my UI guide, I talked about the frame layout and action bars. Now, I'm going to go into some of the other addons that help me assess the situation and react appropriately.

I've often compared Tanking to driving a car. You are constantly checking a hundred things at once : your speed, whose behind, in front and to the side of you, how far you are from your exit, what's on the radio, tiny, almost imperceptible corrections to keep your car between the lines, etc, etc.

It's similar with Tanking. You have to check the position of the Boss and often specific parts of the boss like a tail, the position of your raid, your threat rotation, the overall threat situation, what big nuke the boss is winding up, what your buff/debuff situation looks like, etc, etc.

Information Overload (PowerAuras)

What I need more than anything else is information. By knowing what is going on and what's coming, I can figure out what I need to do to give my raid the best chance of success.
My eyes are going to be drawn to the middle of the screen where my character is. What you see here is two different addons, SCT and PowerAuras, providing me some great at-a- glance information.

The blue text is SCT showing me that Anub'arak just missed me. If he had hit me, I'd see a number showing me how hard I was hit. This is helpful for communicating to the healers how much I'm being hit for, which can be critical information for them as we learn a boss.

The green number to the right is my incoming heals. I can see that our Priest just hit me with a 20k crit heal. Nice job, Black.

Around my toon, you can see 3 concentric circles. One is orange, one is green, and one is white with diamonds in it. These circles are the work of Power Auras.

The Orange circle is telling me that I have Divine Protection available to use. When I hit Divine Protection it goes to Red and shows a little countdown for how long I will be under Divine Protection. Then it shows another countdown for the cooldown.

The Green circle is letting me know I have Sacred Shield up. That green circle goes away when Sacred Shield falls off. This happens once a minute since I'm speced into Divine Guardian.

The white circle with the diamonds is telling me that Divine Plea has fallen off. It's basically a giant 'Hit Divine Plea, you noob!' sign.

Power Auras needs a little setup, and you guys know, I'm not into set up. Luckily, it has an Import feature where you find a Power Auras string and import it into the mod.

Here are the Power Aura settings I use. These are courtesy of poster, Magnilda on the Maintankadin forums. Just copy the text below the title and paste into the box that comes up when you push the Import button in Power Auras.

I've included some of the ones I use. If you go to the thread you'll find many more, including some for Retribution.

One note, I had to change the texture of the Divine Plea one because it was a little too intense.

Yellow - Divine Plea not active
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0; anim1:nu4; duration:nu0; g:nu0.42352941176471; thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; opt2:nu0; speed:nu1; stance:nu10; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Holy_Aspiration; size:nu1; torsion:nu1; multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; mine:bofalse; optunitn:bofalse; x:nu0; inverse:botrue; begin:nu0; off:bofalse; isdebuff:bofalse; textaura:bofalse; timer:bofalse; target:bofalse; combat:nu1; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; timerduration:nu0; exact:bofalse; threshold:nu50; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu1; party:bofalse; aurastextfont:nu1; stacks:nu0; isenchant:bofalse; focus:bofalse; customtex:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu11; buffname:stDivine Plea; anim2:nu9; opt1:nu0; r:nu1; randomcolor:bofalse; y:nu0; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; customname:st; texmode:nu1; symetrie:nu0; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; sound:nu0; isinraid:bofalse; finish:nu1

Red Cross - Forbearance (with timer)
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0.015686274509804; anim1:nu4; duration:nu0; g:nu0; thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; opt2:nu0; speed:nu2; finish:nu2; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Holy_RemoveCurse; size:nu0.10000000149012; torsion:nu1; multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; sound:nu0; optunitn:bofalse; off:bofalse; symetrie:nu0; begin:nu1; x:nu0; texmode:nu1; timer:botrue; customname:st; target:bofalse; timerduration:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; y:nu30; randomcolor:bofalse; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu2; r:nu1; aurastextfont:nu7; stacks:nu0; opt1:nu0; focus:bofalse; customtex:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu25; anim2:nu0; buffname:stForbearance; isenchant:bofalse; party:bofalse; threshold:nu50; exact:bofalse; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; textaura:bofalse; isdebuff:bofalse; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; mine:bofalse; isinraid:bofalse; stance:nu10

Blue - Sacred Shield (cast by me)
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0.95686274509804; anim1:nu1; duration:nu0; mine:botrue; optunitn:bofalse; multiids:st; opt2:nu0; speed:nu1; finish:nu1; anim2:nu0; size:nu1.0799999237061; torsion:nu1; r:nu0.51372549019608; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; ignoremaj:botrue; y:nu5; x:nu0; symetrie:nu0; begin:nu1; off:bofalse; texmode:nu1; icon:stInterface\Icons\Ability_Paladin_BlessedMending; textaura:bofalse; target:bofalse; timerduration:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; inverse:bofalse; buffname:stSacred Shield; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu1; exact:bofalse; aurastextfont:nu1; stacks:nu0; threshold:nu50; focus:bofalse; isenchant:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu16; thresholdinvert:bofalse; sound:nu0; customtex:bofalse; party:bofalse; g:nu1; customname:st; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; timer:botrue; isdebuff:bofalse; randomcolor:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; opt1:nu0; isinraid:bofalse; stance:nu10

Green - Sacred Shield
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0; anim1:nu1; duration:nu0; g:nu1; thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; opt2:nu0; speed:nu1; stance:nu10; icon:stInterface\Icons\Ability_Paladin_BlessedMending; size:nu1.1399999856949; torsion:nu1; multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; mine:bofalse; optunitn:bofalse; x:nu0; inverse:bofalse; begin:nu1; off:bofalse; isdebuff:bofalse; textaura:bofalse; timer:bofalse; target:bofalse; combat:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; timerduration:nu0; exact:bofalse; threshold:nu50; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu1; stacks:nu0; aurastextfont:nu1; party:bofalse; customtex:bofalse; focus:bofalse; isenchant:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu16; buffname:stSacred Shield; anim2:nu0; opt1:nu0; r:nu0.62352941176471; randomcolor:bofalse; y:nu5; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; customname:st; texmode:nu1; symetrie:nu0; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; sound:nu0; isinraid:bofalse; finish:nu1

Orange - Divine Protection Available
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0.070588235294118; anim1:nu1; duration:nu0; g:nu0.41960784313725; thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; opt2:nu0; speed:nu1; finish:nu3; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Holy_Restoration; size:nu1.3799999952316; torsion:nu1; multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; sound:nu0; optunitn:bofalse; off:bofalse; symetrie:nu0; begin:nu3; x:nu0; texmode:nu1; timer:bofalse; customname:st; target:bofalse; timerduration:nu0; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu1; y:nu0; randomcolor:bofalse; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu7; r:nu1; aurastextfont:nu1; stacks:nu0; opt1:nu31; focus:bofalse; customtex:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu16; anim2:nu0; buffname:stDivine Protection; isenchant:bofalse; party:bofalse; threshold:nu50; exact:bofalse; alpha:nu1; aurastext:stlolol; textaura:bofalse; isdebuff:bofalse; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; mine:bofalse; isinraid:bofalse; stance:nu10

Red - Divine Protection Active
gcd:bofalse; soundfile:st; owntex:bofalse; b:nu0.066666666666667; anim1:nu2; duration:nu0; g:nu0; thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; opt2:nu0; speed:nu1; stance:nu10; icon:stInterface\Icons\Spell_Holy_Restoration; size:nu1.4599999189377; torsion:nu1; multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=; realaura:nu1; mine:bofalse; optunitn:bofalse; x:nu0; inverse:bofalse; begin:nu1; off:bofalse; isdebuff:bofalse; textaura:bofalse; timer:botrue; target:bofalse; combat:nu1; wowtex:bofalse; groupany:bofalse; customsound:st; timerduration:nu0; exact:bofalse; threshold:nu50; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.; bufftype:nu1; party:bofalse; aurastextfont:nu1; stacks:nu0; isenchant:bofalse; focus:bofalse; customtex:bofalse; raid:bofalse; isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu16; buffname:stDivine Protection; anim2:nu0; opt1:nu0; r:nu1; randomcolor:bofalse; y:nu0; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; customname:st; texmode:nu1; symetrie:nu0; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; sound:nu0; isinraid:bofalse; finish:nu1

Tomorrow, we'll look at the rest of the information Addons that make up my UI.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Tankadin UI Guide, Part I

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

The most common email question I get is "I love your UI. It's sessy, just like you. How can I get my UI to be as sessy as yours?"
Too many times, all you get as an answer to someone's UI is a list of Addons. But you never get the instructions on how they got there. Fear not, gentle reader. With my recent Faction Change, I took the opportunity to rebuild my UI from scratch. I'm going to walk you through the process step by step.

What Do We Want?

Before you start, it's a good idea to think about what we want in a good UI. Now, I am a no fuss guy. I like to do a minimum amount of tweaking to get my UI right. Ultimately, any time I spend futzing around with my UI is time I could be having fun in game.

One of my main concerns as a tank is being able to see just what the flux is going on in the raid. I want as much of my screen dedicated to the playing field as I can get away with. My next priority is to see who the boss is targeting at all times. Hopefully that's me (or my co-Tank).

I also want all the pertinent information about incoming damage, upcoming attacks from the Boss, my buffs, important debuffs (hello IMPALE!), and the threat situation. On top of all that, I need something to help me keep track of the buffs I'm responsible for maintaining, both on myself and the raid.

Have a Backup Plan

The idea here is to make restoring your current UI a quick and easy process. To do that, make a copy of your current Addons folder. On my operating system (Windows XP Home) it's in C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\Interface\Addons directory. I'd tell you where it is on other operating systems, but I haven't the first clue where they store it. Anyway, copy that folder to somewhere else on your hard drive. I usually copy it right in the Interface folder with the creative name Copy of Addons. That way if something goes horribly wrong, we can at least get back to how our UI was when we started by copying that folder back to its original location. For me to restore, all I have to do is delete my Addons folder and rename Copy of Addons to Addons and voila, I'm back to where I started.

Go Back to the Beginning

"Vicinni says when the job goes bad, you go back to the beginning. Well, this is where we got the job, so this is the beginning!" - Inigo Montoya

A blog post is always better when you work in a Princess Bride quote.

Shut down WoW and delete your Addon folder, then log back in. This should restore us to the Blizzard Stock UI. For some people, this won't be much of a change. For me, I had almost forgotten what it looked it like.

Basics - Action Bars and General Layout

I am going to recommend you do this step by step and load into the game after each one. That way you can tweak my suggestions to make a UI that is perfect for your style of play.

Let me see!

I am a big fan of SpartanUI. It's an all in one, nearly zero configuration UI that maximizes my screen real estate. With this one addon (really two as it comes with Bartender4 for my action bars) I can accomplish most of my goals.

You can absolutely get more functionality and greater control from assembling the UI elements (character frame, party frame, mini map, etc.) from scratch. It will take several addons and at least two or three hours of customization. I'd rather use a 'turn key' all in one solution like Spartan. YMMV.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Spartan is in the midst of testing and putting out a new release, but I have found it to be very stable so far. Sometimes there are some minor glitches after a patch, but usually you can find a work around on their forums fairly soon after a patch releases. I'll be sure to blog about any issues I find in 3.3 and the solutions here on the blog.

Spartan is responsible for at least 80% of my UI. It's what puts the bar at the bottom of the screen where all my action bars go. Because it's tied in with Bartender, it also controls the buttons and where they go. It's a simply drag and drop from my spell book to the Bartender bars. Spartan is responsible for the frame that shows my character, what I'm targeting and most importantly, what I am targeting (the Boss) is targeting (hopefully me). Spartan puts the minimap in the bottom center of the screen.

But Spartan won't do it all for you. You need more in the package. Tomorrow, I'll post part two of the UI guide where I go over the 'extras' I feel like I need to make my UI complete.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Divine Sac Change I Can Understand

Divine Sacrifice has been redesigned - Damage which reduces the Paladin below 20% health will break the effect.

So that solves the question of when it will break. All the raid needs to do is keep their Paladin above 20% for the 10 seconds it's active and you get a 20% damage reduction to the entire raid.

Personally, I don't tend to use Divine Sacrifice very often as I'm usually main tanking and it's more of an offtank skill. I'm spec'ed into it to get to Divine Guardian for longer and more powerful Sacred Shields since we don't run with any Holy Paladins anymore in my Raid group.

However, Raid Leaders have found Divine Sacrifice to be a very powerful tool for certain parts of certain encounters like Anub'arak Heroic when he's in Phase 3. Matticus of World of Matticus told us on Friday night that all his Rets and Holys are speced into it.

Now I had meant to get this into my Monday Shoutout post, but I forgot.

I also neglected to add this.

Recently, Paladin Schmaladin talked about a rather controversial issue on her blog. I'd link it, but the picture is NSFW. I thought it was well done. I had wanted to comment, but couldn't get my thoughts out in way that I felt communicated how I felt well enough.

Then I heard this talk on a similiar subject. I thought it was well done as well, and expressed my feelings much better than I could.

Monday Shout Out

This is going to be kind of a quick post.

First off, I'm working on the UI guide which should be finished this week. From a single post, it's grown into a 3 post series. I'm going to have to coin my own term like Big Bear Butt did with Bearwalls.

Round Table

Friday night, I made it home in time from an absolutely wonderful Anniversary night out with Mrs.Hammer to join up with Nibuca, Fimlys, Matticus of World of Matticus, Stoneybaby of Big Hit Box, Graylo of Gray Matter, and Saresa of Destructive Reach.

We had a fantastic time discussing some of the changes that happened in 3.1 and 3.2, as well as discussing what's coming up in 3.3.

I came away very impressed with the other members of the panel. They are as intelligent and well spoken in person as they are in their writing. Matticus reminded me a lot of Grant Imahara, and I absolutely loved listening to Saresa's accent.

Stoneybaby made great points throughout the discussion and I came away from the round table even more impressed with him than I had been reading his blog which is very well done in it's own right.

I'm sure Twisted Nether will have the round table up as a Podcast so you can listen to it, and you can bet your Symbols of Kings I'll have a link to it once it's up.

Link Love

Speaking of links, GravityDK, who strangely enough writes a blog about Death Knight tanks called pwnwear, has a fantastic post up today detailing how to deal with the tougher bosses in Heroic Violet Hold. It's a great read.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Four Alarm Fire

We've been extending our Ulduar Raid ID with the express purpose of finishing off the hard modes in Ulduar that have eluded us to this point. Our current target is Mimiron's Firefighter hard mode.

This was our second night working on Firefighter.

Our first obstacle we face is keeping your humble author alive during Plasma blast in Phase 1. I can Divine Protection the first one with no problem. After that it gets dicey. Our healers are a Holy Priest and a Resto Shaman so our external cooldowns are limited.

This just happens to be a mechanic that really shows the weakness of Ardent Defender as a cooldown. It will proc, but I will still die on the next pulse. While it would be easy to say that I'd survive with Last Stand/Survival Instincts/Vampric Blood, I can't say for sure. I might have died with those, too.

On our initial attempts, we went with 3 healers, and that usually meant we got a 3rd plasma blast. We were pretty much out of tricks at that point. I kept thinking about the Warrior Tier 8 4 piece bonus (20% damage reduction on a 40 second cooldown). Man, would that be nice to have for this fight.

(Now I would tell relate to you the story about how Honors (the character) and I (the player) actually debated this for a while in my head. I'd also mention how he worked in a nice jab about not being entirely happy about the race change, but if I did, I'm sure you might think me even stranger than you already do).

What Honors and I came to was the the conclusion that if the Warrior 4pc would really make that big of a deal, I should try it. Of course, I can't get Warrior T8 gear, but I can get another 20% damage reduction cooldown.

So after the raid, I sent a mail to our guild glyph maker asking for a several Glyphs of Salvation and Glyphs of Righteous Defense. I'll swap between the two and see if Glyph of Salvation can make Phase 1 easier. Then I'lll flip back to Glyph of Righteous Defense of taunt sensative fights like Gormok.

We switched up to a 2 healer setup. That meant we'd only get 2 Plasma blasts. If the napalms were kind and people kited the fires well, our two healers could get me through the second blast.

We started see Phase 2 with some regularity. The raid damage really kicked it up a notch. Both the boomkin and myself were trying to help out. With all the raid damage, I found it very easy to keep my mana up and toss some Flash of Lights and Holy Lights. I wanted to stay out of melee range. The less people we have in there the less likely Mimiron will start a fire there.

A couple of times we actually pushed it into the Phase 3 with the raid mostly intact. That's when we discovered the sheer joy of the Emergency Fire Bots. These small bots run around and try to put out some of the fire that's all over the room. Well that's just dandy. The only small drawback is they have a loud siren which silences anyone with 15 feet of them. Generally not a good thing to have happen to your healers with all the major raid damage going around. Then when they do put out a fire, it's a nice little 20 yard radius. Now if you happen to be in that radius, you'll eat a 20k frost damage blast. Good times indeed.

I think what is important for my team to keep in mind is we did make progress. Our first night we barely even got to see Phase 2. Last night we were pushing to Phase 3. That is progress. We can do this, eventually.

What was so heartening to me was that after an hour of wiping, I detected absolutely zero drama. We were working through suggestions and trying to figure out our strategy, but there was a welcomed lack of the kind of sniping I've seen in other guilds, or in PUGs.

At that point, we left Mimiron and moved on. We knocked out a one shot of Sarth3D zerg. My rolling luck was just about as good as always, so no mount for me.

After Sarth, we headed up to Ice Crown and knocked out Heroic Beasts (1 shot!) and Heoic Jarraxxus (2 shot!) before once again having the Faction Champions give us a nice beat down. We did actually last a little longer against Faction Champs than we did the first time we tried them, but we still managed to kill exactly 0 of them. I was on the Shaman and it seemed like my Avenger's Shield silence simply didn't work on him. Very odd.

In other news, I'm still working on my UI post. It's becoming a bit long so I may need to break it up into a multimost.

And finally, there is about a 50/50 shot I'll be on Twisted Nether's Roundtable podcast tonight. I had originally thought I was going to be able to make it, but then I remembered Mrs. Hammer and I were going out tonight to celebrate our 14 years together as a happily married couple. So if we get home in time, I'll jump on and if I don't they will have to somehow make due without my tremendous intellect.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Link Love and Culture Shock

For all your Tankadins needs, today Righteous Defense has a great post on "5 Ways to Increase Your Threat". Rhidach is a fantastic Tankadin blogger. If you are at all interested in Tankadins and raids, he ought to be in your feed reader.

Not much happening in my world at the moment. We did another Ony/ToC/VoA clear on Tuesday. Then I hopped over to my Druid alt.

I always knew the Horde had different sensibilities. But I wasn't quite prepared for what my Druid found.

Apparently, this is what becomes of Druids who fail the Horde.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Understand Divine Sac Change

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the Divine Sacrifice change in 3.3.

Divine Sacrifice was :

30% of all damage taken by party or raid members within 30 yards is redirected to the Paladin (up to a maximum of 150% of the Paladin's health). Lasts 10 sec.

In 3.3, Divine Sacrifice changes to :

The effect of Divine Sacrifice is now party-only and the maximum damage which can be transferred is now limited to 40% of the paladin’s health multiplied by the number of party members. In addition, the damage transferred to the paladin is now reduced by 50% before being applied to the paladin. Finally, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed. Divine Sacrifice will now cancel as soon as its maximum damage value is exceeded in all cases.

Divine Guardian was :Improves the effectiveness of your Divine Sacrifice spell by an additional 10% and increases the duration of your Sacred Shield by 100% and the amount absorbed by 20%.

In 3.3, Divine Guardian changes to:

Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active.

Let's try to unpack the changes here.

The Paladin 'raid wall' has been nerfed from a 30% damage reduction to a 20% damage reduction, and the Paladin must now spend an additional 2 talent points to get the raid wall. The amount absorbed has been buffed from 150% of the Paladins health to 200% of the Paladins health (40% times 5 party members = 200%). The damaged transferred will be reduced by 50%.

Let's put some numbers to this. A raid buffed Paladin with 45k health would allow a raid to absorb 90k worth of damage (or 3600 damage per raid member in a 25 man raid) and do 45k to the Paladin. As long as he's getting some heals, he Paldain should be able to survive the damage. A Ret or Holy Paladin taking the talent would knock those numbers about in half.

Normally, whenever a Paladin uses Divine Sacrifice, he couples it with Divine Shield and takes no damage. The durations of the two spells work out almost perfectly. Divine Shield is 12 seconds and Divine Sacrifice is 10 seconds. The Paladin hits Divine Shield, then has a 1.5 second global cooldown, and hits Divine Sacrifice. Both spell end at nearly the same time. I took this near perfect synergy of timing to be a clue from the Developers that these two spells were designed to be used in tandem.

Since the Paladin takes no damage under Divine Shield, there is effectively no cap on the damage. The Developers now call this a 'bug'. In 3.3, the bug which allowed Divine Sacrifice to sometimes persist despite reaching its maximum damage has been fixed.

If we assume a 20k Holy Paladin, this puts a cap on Divine Sacrifice of 4000 incoming DPS. If your raid is taking more than 4000 incoming DPS from the Boss ability, Divine Sacrifice will stop working before the full 10 seconds is up. A 40k Protection Paladin raises the bar to 8000 incoming DPS.

I believe the Developers are trying to uncouple using Divine Shield and Divine Sacrifice. I have this sneaky suspicion they saw how powerful the combination was going to be in the upcoming Icecrown Raid.

So pretty much Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian is a nerf to Paladins and even the part that might look like a buff is taken away from the 'bug fix'.

What's this mean to your average Protection Paladin?

Well if you were mostly maintanking boss fights, you likely weren't popping Divine Sacrifice all that often. That likely won't change. Even with a 50% damage reduction on the redirected damage, you don't want to voluntarily take a hit equal to your full life bar while you are tanking the boss and raid damage is flowing around. That's a ticket straight to an Ardent Defender proc and possibly even death.

If you offtank most fights, you were probably using Divine Sacrifice liberally, or should have been. It's a fantastic tool for an offtank, and some might even argue it pushes Paladins a little bit into the offtanking role. In 3.3, you'll still want to use Divine Sac to help out the healers and possibly save the raid or a fellow tank in a tight spot.

I will still have Divine Sacrifice in my spec in 3.3, but that is only because it's required to get Divine Guardian. The Divine Guardian buff of Sacred Shield (longer time, more absorbed) is still part of the talent. Since we don't run with any Holy Paladins, I am in charge of my own Sacred Shield, and Divine Guardian means I only have to refresh it once a minute instead of once every 30 seconds.

NO DS Live DS Damage Reduced 3.3 DS (no cap) Damage Reduced Change from Live
iDPS per person 2000 1400 1600
10 man 160000 112000 48000 128000 32000 16000
25 man 400000 280000 120000 320000 80000 40000

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday Night Raid

I have to tell you guys about the totally cool thing my guild did for me this weekend. You'll remember that I was benched for Tuesday night's run of ToC and Onyxia. We had more raiders than spots that night.

My guild normally has a second run of ToC and Onyxia using their alts. They usually go on Wednesday nights which is my off night. This week they moved the run from Wednesday to Saturday night when I could join them.

Now the run wasn't as clean or as fast as our regular Tuesday night run. We had a couple of wipes, but we still cleared ToC and killed off Onyxia. The RNG decided to play a cruel trick on us as Onyxia dropped two Hunter helm and the gun and we had, yes, zero Hunters in the raid. It was really cool seeing our normal Discipline Priest up front with me tanking as a Protection Warrior and my usual co-Tank smashing away with a large mace as Ret Paladin.

I really appreciated what the guys did for me. I really thought my best chance was going to be trying to land a spot in a random PuG. Running with these guys was so much better.

Thanks Devolve!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Trading Plate For Fur?

I completely forgot we didn’t have anything scheduled raid wise for last night. We just weren’t going to have the people we needed for Ulduar Hard Modes or Heroic ToC.

So what’s a Paladin to do? I knocked out the Heroic Daily. Many thanks to Blue for helping me put together the group, Donk for agreeing to pew pew, Grim for healing even though he was in PVP spec and Shad for coming along even though it probably cost him the chance to buy his Warlock’s PVP pants from Wintergrasp. (We lost Wintergrasp during the run). I appreciate it guys.

Unplanned PVP

Afterwards, I headed up to the Tournament to work on some quests. While doing the “kill 10 Risen Soldiers” quest, I was attacked by an Alliance Death Knight. I had 6 Risen Soldiers on me, that I was AoEing, when Mr.DK attacked.

I tend to quest in full tank gear/spec. I finished off the Risen Soldiers and turned my attention to the Death Knight. He was at about 80% life from the Consecrates and Hammer of the Righteous, and I was at around 60%. Thanks to the Risen Soldiers procing Blessing of Sanctuary, my mana bar was full. He did that thing that puts you into an ice block and didn’t have a Ghoul out so I’m thinking he was Frost. We started to duke it out, but I could tell he was getting the upper hand. I used Hammer of Justice to get off a heal or two, but Prot spec/Prot gear the heals aren’t anything to write home about. I waited for Ardent Defender to proc and hit Lay on Hands. Hey, its world PVP, and you attacked me while I had 6 mobs on me. I think you’ve lost any right to cry about ‘fair play’. I used Divine Protection instead of Divine Shield since I have my 4pc Tier 9 bonus (90 second cooldown on Bubble Wall). He realized that the tables had turned and hit his rocket boots to try to escape. I nailed him with an Avenger’s Shield to drop him into Hammer of Wrath range, which finished him off.

I can only imagine the unprintable things he was saying about Paladins, either under his breath or in his guild chat.

Luckily those 6 were the last I needed for the quest. I definitely did not want to be in the area when he rezzed, so I mounted up and flew back to the Tournament. That quest gave me my 25th Valiant token and I am now I am once again a Champion. Somehow ‘Of Silvermoon’ just doesn’t excite me the way ‘Of Ironforge’ did. I miss me dwarf.

Trading Plate For Fur

I spent the rest of the evening having a blast on my Druid alt. Each time I’ve taken a toon to 80 (and I’ve got 3), I’ve said ‘Honors, this will be the last toon we take to 80’. I said it when Honors hit 80, I said it when the Hunter hit 80 and I said it when the Warrior hit 80.

Yet, here I am once again, leveling an alt. I guess I’m just one of those strange people that actually likes leveling. My Druid has been especially cool because he’s my first Horde alt to get past 51.I’ve never seen the game from this side. While some quests are repeated from my Alliance experience, some are brand new to me.

One of my favorite things about the Druid is having Stealth. Let me tell you just one story. Coming out of Marshall’s Refuge in Un’goro, I was being chased by a Warrior/Priest combo. I dismounted, switched to cat and went into Stealth. They gave up the chase. I started stalking them. I figured if I could hit the priest then I might have a chance to burst her down and go one on one with the Warrior.

As I’m looking for them, I get knocked out of stealth by one of those huge Elite Devilsaurs that roams around Un’goro. How does something THAT big SNEAK UP on you?

Another really cool thing about the Druid is the talent Predatory Strikes. It gives you a buff that makes your next spell cast instant. It was put in to give Ferals a change to Cyclone in Arena. It may be the most amazing leveling talent in the game. It’s basically kill, kill, instant heal to full, kill, kill again. It’s also amazing for getting you out of tight spots. You can be fighting, instant heal to full, and be right back in Cat fighting again.

So far I’ve done quite a bit on this toon. I tanked Sunken Temple, DPSed in Uldaman and I’ve actually had a chance to heal! It was a Maraudon run. I was experimenting with Balance at the time, but I agreed to try to heal the run. We had a Shaman with us who would help out with Maelstrom Weapon procs if I got into trouble. The crazy thing was I kind of liked it. Healing with HoTs was so much more fun than spamming Flash of Light.

I really enjoy the versatility of a Druid. What I’d really love to do is turn this guy into a Swiss army knife. Basically whatever a group needs, I can do it, whether it’s Tank, DPS, or Heals.

What I’d need to do is find a Feral spec that could both Tank and DPS, and then find a decent Resto spec. I thinking of trying to build to something like http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#0ZxGGsfrzceRccuVkbA0z for my Feral spec. For Resto, I’m looking to build something like http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#0VG0zZZf0IuiuxiuVhsVo. I’m planning on buying his Dual spec once he hits 60.

These would be for use in Outland and Northrend 5 man normals. I’ll worry about a level 80 heroic spec once/if I get there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Parried The Query

I received an interesting email wondering about how parry works.

When you think about avoiding a Bosses attack your basic options are dodge and parry. Both Dodge and Parry allow you to complete avoid taking damage from that attack, so what's the difference.

Dodge is fairly straight forward, you dodge, take no damage and that's the end of the story.

Parry is similar. You parry and take no damage, but then your next attack gets sped up. Every weapon has what is called a Swing Timer. This is a measure how fast the weapon can be swung. With few exceptions, tanking weapons come in at 1.7 to 1.5 speed. That means that every 1.5 seconds or so (give or take a little raid buffed haste), you are swinging at the Boss. When you parry, that next attack comes even faster. So instead of swinging every 1.5 seconds, your next attack takes only 1 second. It's a nice benefit, but not without cost.

Parry and Dodge both work on a ratings to percentage system with diminishing returns. At level 80 it takes 45.25 parry or dodge rating to get 1% chance to parry or dodge respectively. Parry used to take more rating but the Developers changed that in Patch 3.2. Parry is still subject to more harsh treatment by diminishing returns. Basically as you get more parry, it takes more and more parry rating to actually get that additional 1% chance.

Parry versus Dodge decisions can come into play in many areas like whether to choose one piece of gear with dodge over other piece with parry.

So how do you decide? Lucky for us, Theck,Bringer of Numbers and Pounding Headaches, over at Maintankadin has crunched the numbers and given us a rule of thumb to go by.

Make yourself a macro and paste this text into it

/script DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("If ratio above 1.88 start getting Parry. Currently at: "..string.format("%.2f", (GetDodgeChance()-10)/(GetParryChance()-10)))

If your ratio is over 1.88 you need more parry, if it's not, keep stacking dodge.

Parry and Dodge are also considerations for gems and enchants. They just aren't considered very long, at least by me.

I can't see a situation where I could gem or enchant parry or dodge. Full disclosure, I do enchant parry on my gloves, but I'm getting Armsman more for the threat. The parry is simply a nice bonus. My gems are generally going to be Agility/Stam and Stamina. I might throw in a Def/Stam if I like the socket bonus. Just know that I only like socket bonuses that are 9 or more stamina.

12 Raiders for 10 spots

One of the real benefits of blogging is the ability to watch yourself grow. You experience a certain situation at one point in your life's journey and then some time later, you experience that situation again. You would hope that each time you experience the situation you handle it better, with more grace and maturity.

You hope anyway.

I got a chance to experience that just last night. Several weeks ago, I started taking an absolutely fascinating class on Tuesday nights called "The Truth Project". The class runs close to when we normally start our raid times, so being the conscientious guild member that I am, I left a generic message on our guild forums stating that I would be running close or maybe even a little late on Tuesdays for the next 12 weeks. I happened to know that last night in particular that the class was going to run a little long. So I had a buddy of mine send my Guild Leader an in game mail to let him know.

I logged in at about 20 minutes after our normal start time to find the raid full, and Ofn (Rogue) and I benched for the night.

Now I haven't been benched from a raid in ages. In fact, I don't think I've ever been benched in my entire time with Unusual Suspects/Devolve.

I had to go all the way to my Tier 6 archives to find a night I was benched. I didn't take it well, but that was a very different situation. I was trying to establish myself as an offtank while relatively new with a guild. They were working on encounters like Archimonde, Kael, and Vashj that weren't particularly suited to Paladins.

At the time I had taken the 'very mature' stance and wanted the guild leader to ignore all that and take me anyway. I felt like I had a lot to prove about the ability of Paladins as Raid Tanks to both the raid leader and the guild. Paladins weren't as accepted as Main Tanks, and I was out to change that perception anyway that I could.

I’m in a totally different situation now. I'm established as a Main Tank in Devolve and Paladins are widely accepted as progression Main Tanks on every tier of raiding. There's nothing to prove anymore.

The night actually turned out really well.

I was really excited for Blue who recently switched from an Elemental Shaman to a Warrior. He's normally DPS for our runs and does a fantastic job, but last night he was able to get some tanking experience as well. Best of all, he finally got the Shield monkey off his back. This guy has been running everything he can: Malygos, Naxx, Ulduar. Basically, if it’s got a shield, he’s been there, trying in vain to upgrade his Titanshield Wall. Last night, he snagged an Aegis of the Coliseum of Anub'arak.

It used to be the case that if either myself or Boston couldn't make a raid, we'd have to cancel for lack of tanks. So it's a good thing for all of us that we've added some depth to our tank corps.

As for me, I was able to go get some Argent Tournament stuff done and finally had time to redo the quest chain to reopen the Shadow Vault. When you faction transfer, you lose some quests and the Shadow Vault quests are part of it. You are phased out from being able to see the friendly mobs at the Shadow Vault. I didn't realize this until I got the Ret Helm off Onyxia and tried to go over to Shadow Vault and find it filled with mobs.

I was just about to log off and go play with my Druid alt when Boston asked me if I wanted to run VoA with them. That got me super excited since I had figured they would just keep the same group from the Ony/Anub run. The tanks were my Warrior buddy and I. Being able to run something with my team felt great.

Then afterwards we put a group together for the Daily Heroic and I snagged enough Emblems to buy my Tier shoulders which will activate my 4 piece bonus. Now it’s just a matter of saving for the 245 helm or hoping that Onyxia is kind and drops the Paladin tank helm.

I didn't particularly want to be benched last night, but I was late. In any event, I figure its better that we have too many people and need to bench 1 or 2, rather than not having enough people and have to call raids or try to 9 man stuff.

What was foremost in my mind this time, as opposed to other times, was not my own emotions, but those of my Guild Leader.

I tell you guys a little secret. Boston is an incredible Guild Leader, and he leads our Raids as well. I know being a Raid/Guild Leader is a really tough job, and he does it with class and makes it look easy. I’d run through a brick wall for that guy. My greatest game related fear right now is that the stress of Guild/Raid leading will get to him and he burns out. I try to do whatever I can do to give him encouragement and make his job easier.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Night Falls

"Twilight is upon me, and soon, night must fall. That is the way of the things, the way of the Force." - Yoda, Episode V

We didn’t have the group composition we needed last night to continue working on Firefighter. One of our top healers was MIA.

So we decided to go play with Sartharion. We ran a matrix of 1 tank, 2 healers, and 7 DPS.

Tanking Sartharion himself during Sarth3D was one of those fights that Paladins really struggled with during the early days Wrath of the Lich King. We only had 1 cool down, Divine Protection, and Ardent Defender had not bee fixed yet, so we were a very poor choice. Now, to be fair, we were great tanks for the Whelps and Fire Elementals, so we had an part of the fight where we excelled, but Death Knights and Druids were the best choice for Sarth himself.

I always wanted to tank Sarth. There must something in the Y chromosome that causes you to desire to do just that thing that you are told you can’t do.

Last night I got my chance. We employed a ‘zerg’ strategy whereby we would try to DPS Sarth down before the second dragon landed and made Sarth immune.

This is hardly cutting edge content anymore, but knowing my DPS was going to go full bore with Hero…err…Bloodlust right from the get go certainly got the blood flowing.

The first half of the fight was no problem. The first dragon landed, and I taunted him. I held both Sarth and Tenebron (I think, I constantly get the names of the Add dragons mixed up). When Sarth hit 30% health he enraged Tenebron. I popped everything I could, Divine Protection, both Trinkets, Lay on Hands.

But we wiped at sub 10%. We tried a couple of more times, each time getting closer. We had a really frustrating 1% wipe where Sarth despawn at 0% health. Ugh!

But we knew we could do it. All the cooldowns were up, Rapid Fire, Army of the Dead, Bloodlust. I hit my rotation better than I had in long time. We were at 4% and I died. The guys were able to dot ‘em up and run long enough for Sarth to die.

I am now Honorshammer of the Nightfall. Mega congratz to Jag for snagging the mount.

I know Sarth3D isn’t a huge deal anymore and the achievement is pugged on many servers. Regardless, for me and my guild this was a challenging fight, even given the 232 and 245 gears we had obtained. I’m excited to have killed it and obtained the title. For out little band of heroes it still felt good.

Next week we’ll knock out ToC and Ony and then get back to Hard Mode Ulduar. Only Mimiron, General V, and Yogg+1 stand in the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Last Battle

"You can't win, Arthas... the Light... will... defeat you."

Arthas laughed, a deep chilling laugh. "The Light?!? You forget, Paladin, I was once a follower of the Light, naive and blind like you. But now I know. I know its power and I know its weakness. The Light held me back from my righteous vengeance, and from my true power."

"Your... reign of terror... is at an end." The dwarf summoned the last of his strength and lifted his mace over his head and charged at Arthas. “FOR BOLVAR!!!!”

Arthas brought up Frostmourne and parried the dwarf's overhead smash, then arced the blade and tore an open the dwarf's midsection. Honorshammer fell back and slumped down.

"It is only now, at the end, that you understand. Your feeble skills were no match for the power of the Lich King. You, Honorshammer, are now...MINE!"

“NEVERRRRRRR....!!” Honors fought to stand, then fell, his mace rolling away from his limp hand. The Lich King stood over his inert body.

"Kelesth!"

"Yes, milord!"

"Take this dwarf down to the Fleshworks and throw him in a ghoul pile. Once he is ready, transport him to Zeramas to be raised. He will make a powerful ally."

"As you wish, my King."

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"Where did you find him, Shaman?" asked the stunningly beautiful High Elf.

"In a ghoul pile, Lady Alexstrasza.”, the Draenai answered, "Can he be saved from the Plague of Undeath?"

"It will not be easy, Shaman."

"But we were able to save Crusader Bridenbrad..."

"Who was only infected by the plague! Your friend has been wounded, mortally, by a cursed blade."

A night elf, who had accompanied the Shaman interjected, "Please, Life-Binder, there must be something that can be done."

"Fate can be a cruel master, former servant of the Lich King, but in this case she has chosen Irony to be her consort. Bring the Paladin's body and follow me." Alexstrasza led the Shaman, Death Knight and the rest of their friends to an inner chamber on the middle level of Wyrmrest Temple. On a dais lay the body of a Blood Elf.

"Who is that, milady?" Another in the party asked.

"His name is of no consequence, Hunter, but he was a Blood Knight."

"It’s one of the Blood Elves who were torturing a Naaru to gain the powers of the Paladins." explained yet another.

"That is only partially correct, Rogue. Muru allowed himself to be drained in order to win back the Blood Elves. His sacrifice allowed the Sunwell to be relit. A'dal himself forgave the Blood Knights and recognized them as full paladins. Your friend here believed that if A'dal accepted the Blood Knights, he could as well. But that didn't stop him."

"What are you talking about, Alexstrasza?" the questioner was a gnome.

"You see, Mage, this Blood Knight was slain by your fallen comrade at Uther's Tomb. He was there to desecrate the tomb as part of his initiation ritual into the Blood Knight order. Your friend found him there and slew him on the spot."

"Honors loved Uther and would never allow anyone to desecrate the Tomb." The Shaman declared.

"You are correct, Shaman. But that act bound your friend and this Blood Elf. Now, the only way to save your friend is to impart his spirit into this Blood Elves body before the cursed wound corrupts not only his body but his soul as well. "

"What!?!?!?! Honors would die before he became a Blood Elf!"

"But that isn't the fate of this noble Dwarf, should we fail, is it, Death Knight? No, his fate is far worse and one you know only too well. He will awake aboard one of the Lich King's dread citadels, as a Death Knight! Perhaps he will break free from the Lich King's control as you did, but perhaps he will not."

"No! We can't let that happen." The friends all agreed.

"It will take all of your strength to assist me. Call forth all of your powers. Release their energy in this room."

Each of the heroes began to recite words of power, summon forth the power of the elements, shouts of battle, blessings, and prayers. The mutterings reached a crescendo and Alexstrasza called out. There was a blinding flash and everyone was silenced. The body of the Dwarf was silhouetted for a moment against the bright white and then crumbled into dust. The Blood Elf cried out in pain and sat straight up, only to fall back again against the pillow on the dais.

Everyone was physically and emotionally drained.

"Will he have any memory of his former life, his former friends?" asked a fellow dwarf.

"No, Priest. He will have snatches of memory, like a dream within a dream, but he will not remember. Such is the high price that has to be paid for what has been done. Now, go down to the lower levels and rest. You have done a heroic service to your friend and deprived the Lich King of what would have been a powerful ally."

Quietly and mournfully, one by one the friends exited Wyrmrest Temple.

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"Where…where am I??" the Blood Elves asked as he came to consciousness.

"You are safe, Blood Knight. You are in Conquest Hold in Northrend." the High Elf replied.

"How did I get here, High Elf? I don't remember a thing, not even my name."

"You were wounded in battle. Rest now. Your friend, ally, and fellow Blood Knight, Grimadin, Champion of the Frozen Waste, will be taking you back to Silvermooon City to recover. When you are healed, you will return to Northrend and continue your battle against the Scourge." The High Elf steeped aside and the Blood Elf saw another of his race dressed in full Blood Knight Regalia.

"Man, you look like hell." the Blood Elf said.

"Excuse me, Sir Elf, but do I know you?"

"You got your bell rung pretty good if you don't recognize ole Grimadin. We've been friends and allies for years."

"I have no memory of you or anyone else, Sir Grimadin."

"It's actually Crusader Grimadin, if you want to get all formal on me, Knight-Lieutenant Honorshammer."

"Knight-Lieutenant Honorshammer? Is that my name?"

"You betcha, but, you know, we've never been much for formal titles. Now you listen to the High Elf here and get yourself all patched up. I'll take you back to Silvermoon and see if we can't jog that memory of yours."

"Thanks, Grim."

“No problem, Honors.”

"Is there anything I can get for you, Honorshammer?" The High Elf asked.

"No, I'm alright at the moment.” Honors swung his legs over and let them dangle.He shook his head to try to loosen the cobwebs from his brain. “But I tell you what, I have the strangest craving for some Dwarven Stout."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Honors Stats

The Armory only provides unbuffed stats, which is a nice starting point, but I wanted to see what my Raid buffed stats are. Depending on our group composition and resultant buffs, my health runs anywhere from 40k to 45k fully buffed.When the Libram of Valiance procs, the Dodge rate goes to about 30%. Still with the natural 5% miss from Bosses and some Miss from Defense, I'm well over 50% avoidance.

The Armory also doesn't give you your Block Value, and I was curious what my Raid buffed block value was.So around 2k is a good approximate for my Block Value. I don't particularly seek out or gear for Block Value, so that's 2k without really looking for it.

So you might be asking what gear I'm actually wearing.

245
Dreadscale Bracers (Heroic)
Clutch of Fortification
Libram of Valiance
232
Endurance of the Infernal
Sunreaver Defenders Pauldrons
Loop of the Twin Valkyrs
T9 Chest
T9 Gloves
T9 Legs
Shiver
Aegis of the Coliseum
226
Tier 8.25 Helm (Conqueror's Aegis Faceguard)
219
Saronite Animus Cloak
Stormtempered Girdle
Furance Stone
200
Monarch Crab

Knocking Out Hard Modes

So Thursday we headed for Ulduar to start working on Hard Modes. We wanted to concentrate on ones we hadn't gotten yet, so we started with Thorim.

Lose Your Illusion

Now Thorim had been a thorn in my side every time we faced him. I was too slow if I was assigned to the tunnel, but if I stayed in the Arena, invariably one of the DPS or a healer would get killed before Thorim came down.

So I took a deep breath and buckled down as we made our pull. I don't know if it's the 232 gear, or if the mobs were nerfed, but they seem to die much faster than ever before. They also didn't seem to hit as hard, so it was a bit more forgiving if I messed up a pick up.

In no time at all, Thorim was jumping down into the Arena. There were still two mobs up, so I laid down another Consecrate and hoped it would hold them. My co-Tank, Boston wasn't down yet, so I taunted Thorim and started working on him.

We made the first transition well, then when Boston was about to get unbalanced, I taunted. I thought I had actually taunted too soon, but I hadn't. We switched off a couple of times. I managed to get myself fried by a chain lightning, but survived. Everyone did a fantastic job and it was over before Boston and I had to start popping cooldowns.

After all the struggles we'd had with Thorim Hard, we one shot it.

That was a huge shot in the arm for our confidence. Next up was Freya.

Knock, Knock, Knock

The best we had done on Freya previously was 1 Elder up. Now we had to do 3. The plan was pretty much like normal. I would handle the adds while Boston had Freya.

Our first attempt, we couldn't' get the mass of flowers down fast enough, and like many Boss fights, once you get behind, it's really hard to play catch up. We decided to go with 3 healers instead of our usual two. Our Boomkin became a Tree and we tried again.

With only 5 dps, we really couldn't assign people to specific mobs for the 3 Elemental wave, so it took a wipe, or two, or three for the DPS to figure out the target switching. What we found worked best was to start on the Snaplasher, then the Stormlasher, then the Water Spirit. We left the Snaplasher and the Stormlasher low, killed the Water Spirit, and then raced to finish off the the two lashers.

The last wave that attempt was the little flowers. We really took our time, but near the end we lost Boston. I ran over and taunted Freya while one of our Druids Battle rezzed Boston. I ended up staying on Freya the rest of the way. We figured once the add waves were clear, we were home free. We figured wrong. The little green seeds HURT, and Ground Tremor HURTS. I honestly don't know how Black and Stark kept us all alive, both were OOM. I told Black to wand the Boss since I had Judgment of Wisdom up, but I'm not sure he could spare the global cooldowns not healing.

It wasn't clean, or pretty, but then again, we weren't going for style points, but achievement points.

I Believe That Fire is Hot

We now lacked only 1 Keeper's Hard Mode, Mimiron. We went over the strategy adjustments, and how to deal with the fire. I was having bad flashbacks of Archimonde.

We had problems right off the bat. After you push the button, Mimiron goes into monologue mode and you can't target him. You have to wait for him to finish. Since I didn't want to risk losing someone while my shield flew towards him (or risk it missing) I opened with a Hand of Reckoning.

The damage is everywhere, and it's intense.

Our first obstacle was getting me through Phase 1. I could handle the first plasma blast without a problem with Divine Protection (aka Bubble Wall). The 2nd and the 3rd were tougher. Ardent Defender is about worthless as a 2nd cooldown against Plasma Blast. I would save me and then I'd die on the next tick. I was really beginning to doubt if I could tank this, given my lack of tools for dealing with Plasma Blast. It was tough battling the thought that someone had a 3 cooldown tank in mind when they built this encounter (Shield Wall, Last Stand, Tier 8 4pc bonus). It would be reasonable to think a Warrior would have his 4pc by the time you start working on the last Keeper's Hard Mode.

But wishing I had the Warrior 4pc bonus wasn't going to help us beat Mimiron.

Our healers were Blackhaus (Disc Priest), Stark (Resto Shaman) and Lakini (our Boomkin turned Resto Druid). We were a little short on external cooldowns. But Blackhaus had confidence in our team. I used Divine Protection on the first, then Boston used his Anti-Magic Shell to help us get through the 2nd. We just spammed healed through the first few ticks of the third before our DPS pushed us out of Phase 1.

Then we get to Phase 2. There's fire, fire, everywhere. Plus now we have to deal with Frost Bombs that will blow up with a huge radius and punt you right back into a Laser Barrage. Bu-bye! Most of our Phase 2 attempts ended quickly.

That's a lot of fire.

I know I'll probably get an email or two about the UI. I'm working on a UI post soon that will detail the UI I use.