Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greetings, Starfighter!

Oh, hello.

So, I haven't posted an update in a long time. Like, since 3.0. Whoops.

Lots has been happening! I got 80 about 4 days after Wrath release (would have been faster but I love sleep too much). We got back into raiding pretty quickly, I've been tanking 10mans and Ret DPS'ing 25mans just because we have a ton of tanks at the moment and I don't mind DPS. It's been pretty interesting; I get to keep up on two ways to play my character (and pay for two sets of gems and enchants) instead of just one!

Been leveling a Shaman to play with Ciderhelm (and my wife) over on Earthen Ring. Pretty fun, looking forward to going Resto at 80 though. I've been leveling Elemental and it gets kinda boring after a while. Been busy as hell with the Azeroth Advisor too, trying to get everything caught back up to date after Wrath release.

I promise I'll try and keep up on this thing a little more. I've actually got a couple good rants working up, I'll try and get those out in the next couple weeks here.

Station wagons are my favorite things cuz they're made of wood paneling paneling wood paneling wood paneling paneling

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Arcanite Ripper, HOOO

I'm going to put "Rolls very well on important twohanders" on my resumé.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paladinning on Patch Day


I wrote an article for Tankspot regarding the 3.0 changes for Paladins. Read is yes. Good for happy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ding 25!

o hi

i can has burthdey?


Monday, September 29, 2008

The Prot Paladin Shopping List

I've just posted a compilation of what I feel are the last major issues that the Protection tree needs to be ready for Wrath over on Tankspot. Ciderhelm would throw a big smelly fit if I pasted it here, so here's a link: The Prot Paladin Shopping List

Also, Ciderhelm smells like old cheese and has a big ugly head.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Think of it this way

Ardent Defender - Increases the effectiveness of your Divine Protection spell by 6/12/18/24/30% while under 35% health.

Sounds pretty awesome right? That'd be a pretty significant nerf.

Ardent Defender is a great talent. Please stop complaining about it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Build 8926 Thoughts

I've posted a news article discussing the new changes in the latest beta build over on Tankspot. If you're interested, give it a read.

I'll go ahead and summarize for you here:


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

O hi

How you doin?

Few items of business today:

#1: It occurs to me that I have totally forgotten to mention on my blog that I now have Beta access! Anyone else with access to the Wrath Beta can find me on my Paladin as Loreii (that's Lore II if you didn't catch it) on Horde side, or on my Death Knight, Spiderhelm, on the Alliance side. You can also just /join maintankadin as either faction, as I hang out in that channel while I'm on. All of my characters are on the Northrend server.

#2: I'm enjoying my Death Knight! It's a really well-done class. Plus, I specifically chose to level my DK in Beta on the Alliance side so I could do some instances with Ciderhelm... which means more podcasts soon!

#3: Speaking of Ciderhelm, how come he gets a Chuck Norris thread and all I get are angry Turks? This will not do, sirs!

#4: I'm writing for the Azeroth Advisor now! Don't let the website fool you, it's a 100% legit newsletter with some great people behind it. The articles I'm writing aren't too exciting for the moment, what with Wrath right around the corner and all, but there'll be plenty of cool stuff to write about once the expansion hits. Oh, and don't worry; I'm under a non-exclusive contract with them, so I'm still completely free to write things elsewhere. I can even repost content I've written for the Advisor if I want, but I probably won't.

#5: I'm unfortunately not going to be able to make it to Blizzcon this year; the funds just didn't line up. Sadfase. Hopefully next year!

Monday, August 4, 2008

On Bloating and the Core Tankadin

So with the WotLK talents starting to settle down a bit, we're getting to the point where we can start putting some serious thought into what exactly we're going to spec at 80... and as always, one of the more popular topics regarding talents is the "bloating" of the Protection tree.

I take a different perspective to the situation. I don't believe our talent tree is bloated, I think we just have a lot of really good talents to pick and choose from. To illustrate this point, I'm going to create what I consider a "base" protection spec, allowing myself only 51 points in the Protection tree, and taking only what I feel is required (possibly dumping points into talents I don't feel are 100% necessary, but I need to get deeper in the tree). I will also give a step-by-step of each choice as I make it. Once I've created a base spec, I will adapt it to different variations based on the Paladin's role in the raid.

With that, I present to you the Base Tankadin: 0/51/0
  1. First tier talent, 15% Strength vs. 5% Dodge. Survivability is first priority, so I choose Anticipation.
  2. Stoicism (and Guardian's Favor to some extent) aren't really PVE talents, so my choice is 15% Strength vs Redoubt. This is a tricky choice, since I'll need Redoubt to pick up Shield Spec (and it's a fairly solid talent on its own, most of the time). However, since 15% Strength will increase my block value to some degree (remember, we're talking about level 80 itemization here) as well as threat from all of my other abilities, I'm going to lean toward ignoring Redoubt for the time being and sticking with Divine Strength.
  3. Largely a no brainer here, I consider all three available 3rd-tier talents to be important. Three points in Imp RF, one point in Blessing of Kings (remember, most level 80 Holy and Ret Pallies will probably not take it), and the remaining 3rd-tier point into Toughness.
  4. Divine Guardian, Imp HoJ, and Imp Devotion Aura become available. Imp Devotion Aura gives a great bonus to group content for only 3 points, so I'll definitely pick that up. Remaining two points go into Toughness.
  5. Blessing of Sanctuary is (unfortunately) required for anything deeper in the tree. Oh well, it's worth the one point. Remaining four points go into filling out Toughness, and the only situational choice that's required to get down the tree - two points in Reckoning, two points in Spell Warding, or two points somewhere else. I chose Reckoning, but feel free to toss those anywhere.
  6. Two points in Sacred Duty, at 3% Stamina per point you can't really turn that down. Remaining three into 1h Specialization.
  7. One point into Holy Shield. With Wrath changes, Improved Holy Shield only seems really necessary situationally, so we'll skip it for now. Remaining four points go into Ardent Defender (or you could flesh out 1h spec and Reckoning if you'd prefer)
  8. Tier 8 is an easy choice, because not only is there only one 8th-tier talent but it is also ridiculously good. All five points go into Combat Expertise.
  9. One point into Avenger's Shield, three points into Touched by the Light. Remaining point goes into Ardent Defender (or wherever).
  10. Five talent points worth of talents in Tier 10. Judgements of the Just is a no-brainer, it's just too good. Shield of the Templar seems good as well just for the Shield of Righteousness bonus, but that could change depending on how everything works out at 80. We'll have to wait and see there. If you like you can put those 3 points somewhere else.
  11. Hammer of the Righteous. Congratulations, you're a 51-point Protection Paladin, and you've still got 20 points to spare.
But what am I missing?

Redoubt & Shield Specialization: 8 talent points for 30% Block Value doesn't seem worth it, even if they fix it from it's currently bugged status (not increasing block value gained from strength). Redoubt is a great AOE tanking talent, but since it's becoming clear that we're not the only option for an AOE tank in Wrath (and can most likely function fine without it), I don't consider it a requirement.

Divine Guardian: With the change to Divine Protection, I don't consider this talent worth working into a primary build. I don't want to nerf my Shield Wall.

Spell Warding: Never really been important for 5/10 mans, and with Death Knights in the game, we're now the 3rd choice for spell damage-heavy tanking in 25 mans. Some people will want it depending on your situation, but I don't consider it necessary.

And... that's about it. You're missing one AOE tanking talent, one situational/probably not worth it talent, and one spell mitigation talent from what most would call the "required" build.

Now you can adapt this base build to pretty much any situation. AOE tank/offtank? Pick up Redoubt, Shield Spec, Guarded by the Light, Benediction, Imp Judgement, imp Holy Shield, and another point in 1h spec. Offtank/Healer? Toss the remaining points in Holy (some decent tanking-related options there as well). 100% Main Tankadin? Put 12 in Ret and spread the rest around the Prot tree where you like them.

My point in all of this is don't misconstrue flexibility as bloat. You don't *need* every single tanking-related talent. Just worry about fitting your build to what you do the most.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wrath Impressions on Tankspot

I've written an article for Tankspot with my thoughts on the currently-released updates in the WotLK beta. It mostly talks about the questions that the Protection Paladin faces heading into the expansion, and tries to answer them to the best of my abilities.

The article can be found at Tankspot if you'd like to take a read.

EDIT: Direct link here. It's still on the front page at the time of this writing as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You're just messing with us, right?

This is all some kind of sick joke, and everything's going to disappear and replaced with healing spells?

It's like Christmas underneath the Paladin Tree these days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WTB Beta Key

I know you're out there, Blizzard. Gimmeplzkthx.

I'm working up an article for Tankspot at Ciderhelm's request regarding the beta changes thus far. It's been hard to get started since more and more changes (and implications caused by those changes) keep showing up. I should be able to put together at least some initial impressions and have it ready in the next day or so, though.

A lot of people have mentioned they miss the podcast, since we haven't been doing them lately, so I'm getting in touch with Cider to see if he's able to start them up again. If we do, they'll likely be a bit shorter in order to make them a little more manageable for us, but hopefully we'll be able to put something together for you guys soon.

As far as personal stuff going on, I've been way too busy for my own brain lately. Still working on M'uru; he simply refuses to die. Getting there, though. Kill could come any night, just need the people to do it.

Oh! Maintankadin has T-shirts now, and I think they're fairly badass. I'll be getting ahold of one of each. No, the Righteous Fury one will be for my wife, not for me.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh hi

Long time no see.

Allow me to give you my impressions of the newly-released Paladin beta talents:

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Updates, LOL!

Sorry for the slowness of updates lately; between Sunwell, Maintankadin, forgetting to record podcasts, and the little amount of time I've been able to spend playing Age of Conan, blogging has kind of fallen off of the radar :P

Thought I'd drop a quick post to bring up my thoughts regarding the Alpha leaks. First of all, shame on you, whoever is breaking your NDA's. Second, yes I've seen them, and no, I don't intend to discuss specifics of the leaked Alpha content on this blog, or on the podcast. Not even when the Paladin talents inevitably find their way into public hands. I'm not in the Alpha (hint hint, Blizzard!), I just don't feel right spreading information that Blizzard obviously wants kept secret.

I will say, however, that unlike those who are crying doom, I remain optimistic. I've been playing this game for, what, 4 years now? If Blizzard has been able to keep my attention this long, I have faith that they'll be able to continue to keep my attention. I think they're laying a lot of good groundwork to make WotLK amazing, and I'm absolutely frothing at the mouth for a chance to play it.

The Burning Crusade was, I think, something of a learning experience for Blizzard in many ways. Specifically in regards to the Paladin class, I think they've finally figured out what they want to do with us (specifically the Prot and Ret trees; at this point I think Holy needs more work than the "less popular" specs). The thing about TBC though was that they were developing and releasing all the content as they were tweaking the Paladin class, so the itemization and encounter design teams didn't really begin to take full advantage of the Prot and Ret abilities until late in TBC's lifecycle. I think going into WotLK, with where Prot and Ret stand now, we're set up to have a pretty good standing in the WotLK endgame.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

People Getting What They Deserve

I'm sure by now everyone has seen this (I actually saw it a few days ago), but it bears mentioning anywhere it can be mentioned.


I am apparently failing at Blogger at the moment, so click the title for the link -_-

Friday, May 16, 2008

Twins Down!

I sat out, not because I can't tank it, but because I've been tanking every other fight and wanted to let some of our other tanks get some time in. They died though. Killed Sacrolash first too, so we did it the "hard way." I'm not convinced that it's actually harder.

M'uru up next!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I has new shield.

I look like a beetle now.

Sorry for the slow updates lately - been going through a little bit of restructuring in the guild which is absorbing a bunch of my free time. Been pretty busy at Maintankadin too; Dorvan stepped down as a moderator, which left me all by myself for a week or so while we got a couple new mods in place (Worldie and Fridmarr are doing excellent work, by the way).

No twins death yet, but we're in good shape this week. I'm pretty hopeful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I have been doing daily quests and 5-mans

You may all stop asking me why I am wearing so much spell damage now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Regarding Brutallus

Since Sunwell opened, both on the PTR and on Live, I've seen a lot of discussions where Brutallus is referred to as a "bad fight for a Paladin tank." This boggles my mind, especially when the same people will go extra light on healers purely to make up the DPS difference.

The primary reason behind this sentiment is that Paladin tanks will take, on average, 4% more damage than a Warrior tank. This is true; I've got WWS logs that show it. You have to look at the nature of that incoming damage, though.

First of all, tanks don't die by 4% of their health on this fight, provided they have the minimum health required (which is just over 23k, easily attainable for a T6-geared Paladin). No tank can survive two of his attacks (which is two mainhand and two offhand swings) with no heal and no miss/dodge/parry. You're talking about upwards of 30k damage between all four hits (about 15k per), in the span of about a second. Sure, a Warrior with Last Stand up probably could, but you can only do that once per fight, and you've got 5-6 Stomps to worry about. Plus, it's impossible to know when you're going to need to pop it. Either you get a heal inbetween hits or you don't; 4% damage reduction isn't going to make that 30k burst more manageable.

Also, as I've mentioned previously on this blog, Warriors get parried more than Paladins. Reducing the "get a heal or die" window of that 30k burst from 1 second to 0.6 seconds is significantly more dangerous than increasing the already unsurvivable 30k to 31.2k. I'm certainly not saying that Warriors will take more damage, or even that it would "all balance out". I'm saying that the extra damage the Paladin takes doesn't matter in the slightest. A 16k hit is no different than a 15k hit when you've only got 9k hit points.

The second and less frequent (but more viable) argument is that Paladins will have some trouble with the taunting. It's true, a taunt resist can spell disaster for a Paladin tank on this fight. With a 15 second cooldown, and a 10 second window, you're only going to get one chance for your taunt to go off. That said, it's really not hard to reach the 9% +hit required to make your taunts unresistable (and as a side note, to all the Paladins who turned up your nose at items like the Pendant of Titans or Band of the Abyssal Lord because "It's got hit on it" - this fight is your punishment). With our Balance Druid in the raid, I'm at 10% without wearing anything special outside of my normal gear. I've got hit gear in the bank I can use to make up that 2% if needed as well. Plus, as long as the resist doesn't come on the first one or two taunts, you can most likely get away with BoP'ing the other tank. I actually pulled aggro one attempt because I was keeping up my regular rotation for the exta DPS. It's not hard to stay #2 after he's been on you once or twice.

And that brings me to why this fight is not only Paladin tankable, but an excellent place for a Paladin tank. This is a DPS race. Brutallus attacks quickly, does a truckload of damage, and is a demon. Paladin threat is through the roof here. Omen is wildly inaccurate, this is true, but I never saw it go [i]under[/i] 1k, and it spikes up to 3k fairly frequently, even without Wings. No misdirects either, we save those for the Warrior tank. If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say I average somewhere in the 1600-1800 range on this encounter.

He attacks fast enough that Holy Shield charges can actually run out. He does so much damage that not only is mana never an issue, but I can keep up a full threat rotation when he's on the other tank and be topped off the second I taunt him back. Plus, since I get threat from gaining mana via Spiritual Attunement, part of his DPS translates directly into threat for me. DPS doesn't have to hold back - and that's critical on a fight that already comes down to the wire every kill.

We spent a whopping 6 raid hours on Brutallus over a span of 2 days before we killed him. I think it would be hard to make a case that using a Paladin tank makes the fight harder.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mmmm... farm status

Two new bosses down last week. Kalecgos took a while, but we got Brutallus in a grand total of 6 hours. This week we downed them both on Tuesday and went right back into Felmyst attempts.

And I got T6 bracers!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Long podcast is loooong

Ok, so we got a little longwinded with today's podcast, but there was a lot to talk about. The topic was itemization and gearing choices, and we just kinda kept coming up with important additions to what we were discussing.

Also, if you're interested, you can now subscribe via iTunes via the RSS feed. I'm probably not going to continue doing these little blogs when new ones go up, so that's the best way to make sure you're getting them.

As a reminder, if you have any questions you'd like answered on the Monday podcasts, you can PM them to Ciderhelm or me on either the Maintankadin or Tankspot forums.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Podcast up

Check it out here:

I'll be doing these with Cider every Monday and Friday, so be sure to check back at If you like, you can subscribe via iTunes by pointing it at

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Felmyst trash cleared!

It was a struggle, but we finally figured out the trash mobs on the way to Felmyst, and we're getting some attempts in.

(Brutallus down)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Kalecgos down!


On to Brutallus. Looks like a pretty straightforward fight so far, just takes a lot of brute force. I like it.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Tankspot has a new podcast up, featuring Ciderhelm and... yours truly! It's about an hour long and features a fairly lengthy discussion on keybindings, macros, and some hardware.

Anyway, take a listen, let me know what you think! We're looking to do more of these in the future

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome to Sunwell!

Enjoy your wipes.

(Kalecgos to 7%, top and bottom, should be down soon!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Minimum Gearing Requirements, And Other Myths

I had made short mention of this once before, but as time has gone on I think it's worth a full-fledged post of its own.

"Am I ready to tank ________?" This is a question that pops up quite frequently on Maintankadin. People with varying degrees of progression, with various levels of crit immunity, crush immunity, hit points, avoidance, spell damage, and whatever else happens to be important to them want to know if they're ready to tank the next boss. They want to know if they meet the "minimum requirements." Try as I may, I have a hard time looking at questions like this as anything other than laziness. And that's fine; normally I wouldn't mind at all if you'd rather just get a quick and easy answer and move on with your life. I'd make a sticky that says "You need this much stuff to do things" and point people to that. That's what I'm here for.

Unfortunately for me and everyone else, however, there are no quick and easy answers to that question. Worse, the only person qualified to answer that question is the person who asked it. There's just too many variables to the equation. Even if I just said something like "You need 12k HP to tank Prince", I'd get ten people saying "No way, that's not nearly enough" and ten people saying "I tanked him with way less than that." Your gear is only one part of a much greater picture; an important part, but a singular one nonetheless.

The fact is there's more going on than just you standing in front of something nasty letting him (or her) whap you in the face. Your healers wear gear too, and the necessary quality of your gear depends largely on the quality of their gear. Same goes for your DPS to a certain degree - you need to be able to hold aggro or you'll just be holding them back, and healers going OOM because the fight took too long is just as bad as healers going OOM because you took too much damage.

On top of all of that, there's also player skill to consider. Maybe your healers are bad. Maybe your DPS is bad. Maybe you're bad. I'm not going to hold that against anyone, but generally speaking, at least in PVE, you can take a bad situation, throw some gear at it, and come out on top.

Honestly, I think the whole thing comes from a poor perspective on tanking. Until you're wearing the best gear available to you, with the best enchants and best gems, there are upgrades. You should make it your goal to get those upgrades. Don't worry about meeting any artificial "minimums," just focus on getting the best gear you can. Unless you're a freshly ebayed level 70 with nothing but some random greens that the leveling service happened to equip (in which case, you don't deserve to be tanking things), someone else has probably already tanked whatever it is you're looking at, and in worse gear. Whether it's a good idea or not depends on the 4, or 9, or 24 other people you're there with. Leave that decision up to the raid leader, or if you are the raid leader, you should have a handle on how things have been going - make a judgement call. That's your job.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The "Main Tank" Conundrum

I'd actually been meaning to post my thoughts on this issue at some point, but this thread on Maintankadin prompted me. In it, the OP asks "How do you feel about having an assigned Guild MT?" and more specifically, the drama and dissidence it can cause. So, I figured I'd repost my response here.

The only thing worse than having a set MT is having tanks who get bent out of shape over not being the set MT. It's easy to say "Having an MT just causes drama" but that's not quite accurate - having an MT can be a catalyst, but the jealousy of the other tanks is what causes the drama.

I'm in the somewhat uncommon position of being not only a Protection Paladin, but the Raid Leader and Tanking Officer as well, in a progression-focused guild. This resulted in being forced not only to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Protection Paladin and be the best Prot Paladin I can be, but at the same time to remain as unbiased as possible and put myself and the other tanks (mostly Warriors) in the positions that everyone is best suited for.

On top of that, even beyond simple class comparisons, it's often best for progression purposes to keep people performing similar tasks from encounter to encounter. Picking up and offtanking an add is significantly different than getting a misdirect and spamming your threat rotation for the rest of the fight, so if one of my tanks is really good at performing one of those tasks then I'm quite likely to want to put them in a similar position for the next encounter. This effectively creates a "Main Tank" position even though I never assigned anyone the title; I've got one Prot Warrior who I usually stick on the Big Bad Guy, and then other tanks pick up adds, or hold secondary aggro, or do whatever else the encounter calls for.

I don't think arbitrarily switching up who tanks what is good for progression. One could make the argument that if Tank A isn't there, Tank B should be able to step in and take their position... but either way you've got a tank who hasn't tanked that specific mob before, and it ultimately doesn't matter if Tank A is around or not when it happens, so I'm perfectly content to just let Tank B learn the fight when he or she needs to. Once we had everything on farm I was happy to swap things around a bit just to let people experience different aspects of the encounters, but until that point, speed is a factor, and risking unnecessary wipes due to inexperience or unfamiliarity when you don't need to is silly.

In addition, as a Prot Paladin, I am the best suited tank in the raid for picking up adds or generating burst threat. This means that on a lot of encounters, I don't MT. Even though I'm perfectly capable of filling that position, the other tanks aren't as capable of filling mine.

In short, having an assigned, title-wearing "Main Tank" might not be the best thing ever, but letting yourself get bent out of shape over it is worse.

I'll make mention that we don't prioritize gear to any of our tanks. That's an outdated holdover from pre-BC raiding where you only needed one tank with gear for most of the endgame content, which is no longer the case.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Patch 2.4: The Patchening

Ok, so I've kinda been neglecting this here interblag over the past week or two, and since I can only neglect one thing at a time without feeling bad I figure I should make a post (my wife will understand). So here's a random collection of thoughts about 2.4 in the order I have them. And probably some other thoughts too. No promises.

I'll make mention of the attunement lifting again for completeness' sake; It's a good thing for the game as a whole, and if you don't like it you're probably a satanist or masochist or something. Probably both.

The new gear: Well it seems like they're nailing down what exactly they want to do with the new Tier 6 pieces finally after the whole Stamina debacle, though I can't say as I approve of altering PVE content purely to placate some Arena jockey somewhere who's worried that he'll start losing if Holy Priests find a way to cast Greater Heal in an Arena match without spending the next 30 seconds regretting their lives. The Prot Paladin pieces specifically seem pretty good and I'll likely pick them up, although they're mostly (with the exception of the bracers) pretty much a straight sidegrade from the existing non-set pieces that dropped in BT.

The badge gear is pretty much a colossal letdown all around. Three pieces of "BT-Quality" gear which isn't even an upgrade over ZA drops doesn't exactly make me or any of my 3 level 70 alts excited. There's a handful of good pieces, but rarely for the same class. The rings are okay I guess; most seem pretty good for people who missed out on T5 rings (take note, Blizzard: your "BT-Quality" badge gear should make me want to replace my Morogrim Tidewalker drop). The Tankadin pieces range from pretty damn nice (the legs) to a complete waste of badges (the boots), and I'm still hoping they give them another coat of paint before release.

Sunwell is fun, if I could get 25 people in there I'd love to raid it. Turns out, when you don't get to keep the loot that drops, half your raiders suddenly have RL things to do! I've got a team of scientists working on finding a correlation; I can only begin to imagine what could cause this phenomenon. In related news, if you're just about anything that's not a tank and want to be BFFs, head to our forums and apply, we're recruiting all sorts of stuff.

The new 5-man is good, pretty difficult even in non-heroic, but it gives you epic lootz so it makes sense.

I'm looking for a new job (psst, hey gaming companies, you need me, I've got people skills and stuff), so that's exciting. I came across Eating Bees... I think it was through Vanifae's blog, and it renewed my vigor for finding a job in the online community management field, so I've been drumming up an updated resume. Good read, at any rate, made me chuckle a bit.

Guess that's all I've got for the moment. Not a lot going on right now. Hopefully things will pick up in the next couple weeks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Attunements, Nerfs, and the Changing Face of 25-Man Raiding

With the removing of attunement for Black Temple and Hyjal coming in 2.4, there's been a lot of discussion. Most of the discussion has looked at it from the perspective of "Nerfing content so slower progressing guilds can get into it." That's not really an improper way of looking at it, but I'd like to present an alternate perspective.

Not a lot of people got to experience Naxxramas. It was a high-end instance that required many months of raiding (which most were unwilling or unable to put in) just to tackle the first couple bosses. If you didn't trudge through MC/BWL/AQ40, you probably didn't have much business being in Naxx. There wasn't much time for guilds to start, either; if your guild wasn't already raiding when Naxx was released, you probably wouldn't have people with the gear for Naxx by the time you got there.

TBC has made a lot of strides toward opening up endgame PVE content to more people. The first step was the reduction to 25 players instead of 40, which made gathering a group of people to go slay dragons a lot easier to pull off. Badges and Heroics were a great start as well; players without access to Karazhan (when Karazhan was a big deal) could still get themselves to an acceptable gear level via Heroics.

When Patch 2.3 released, a new gear trend emerged. Badge loot, as well as loot from a new 10man, was added that rivaled SSC/TK - and occasionally BT/Hyjal - drops in quality. This helped the guilds that hadn't already been making strides in BT and Hyjal to kinda "play catch up" and get through SSC/TK. The attunement made things kind of annoying, but it's easier to kill Kael with 25 people in full T5-quality gear than it is with only a handful.

Now, with Sunwell, they're taking a new step - one that I think has a lot of potential. According to Drysc in a post I can't find at the moment, there's a BT-quality badge vendor on Sunwell Isle somewhere. It has yet to appear on the PTR, which means if it does exist (and Drysc isn't just crazy), it's probably unlocked as part of the server event. This more or less means that once the hardcore raiding guilds have cleared the early content, it will become accessible to those farther behind in progression.

I honestly like this method, and if Blizzard can avoid the attunement problem (or lessen it) in the future, it will change endgame raiding from a linear progression to a more dynamic one. The best raiding guilds still get into the top-tier content first, but the average joe who wants to see the cool fights but has no chance of getting into one of those guilds is still able to catch up. Everyone gets to see the cool content.

Many hardcore raiders seem to take some sort of offense to this. "Why should these guys get in here for free when I had to put all this hard work?" I honestly think this results from a bad attitude toward raiding. I don't know about anyone else, but I raid because I enjoy the fights. I like going somewhere with 24 other people and coordinating to accomplish something. We're the best guild on the server because we kill everything first, and allowing other people to see the stuff we've already finished doesn't invalidate that.

Update 2/18:

Okay, so now they just kinda seem to be handing out gear to everyone just for showing up. Adding Badges of Justice to just about anything worth killing is an interesting move, and giving people S1/S2 gear for raid tokens is... kinda silly, especially since those pieces aren't particularly hard to get anyway. I discussed this a bit on Maintankadin:

Really, as more of this patch unfolds on the PTR, I'm starting to get the feeling it's designed to be the "Rush everyone through everything they haven't seen yet before WotLK hits" patch. They've taken a lot of flak over the past couple years about releasing Naxx so shortly before TBC, it seems like they might be trying to make everything accessible to everyone before then.

I'm not sure how I feel about that overall.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


So we've been playing around on the PTR a bit, done a few runs of the 5-man and took some stabs at Kalecgos the other night. Fun fight.

That's not important though.

What IS important is that I has BAREMOUNT.

Also Netherdrake but so does everyone.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008



- New Form: Onomatopoeia Form. Causes the Druid to appear as large, floating words that represent sounds (such as "BAM!" or "RAWR!")
- Lifebloom now stacks to 9001.
- Healing Touch has been removed from the game.
- Cyclone now dispels all beneficial magical effects from the target.

- The Beast Within has been removed from the game and its effects have been folded into Bestial Wrath.
- New 41-point talent: Animal Empathy. Hunters with this talent are able to have multiple active pets at once.
- Arcane Shot now also interrupts casting on the target for 4 seconds, stuns the target for 2 seconds, and sings a beautiful lullaby for 10 minutes.

- Fireball spell damage coefficient increased.
- Improved Blink now reduces cooldown by 1/2 seconds in addition to its current effects.
- Fireball spell damage coefficient reduced.
- Ice Lance now has a Chill effect.
- Fireball spell damage coefficient increased.
- A new spell rank of Conjure Water has been added, which restores up to 10,200 mana. Two bottles will be conjured per cast.
- Fireball spell damage coefficient increased.
- Fireball spell damage coefficient has been greatly reduced.
- Mage Armor has a new icon.

- Lightwell's graphical effect has been made larger and easier to see.
- Troll racial spell Shadowguard now also reduces threat caused by 5%.
- Vampiric Touch has been removed from the game.
- New 41-point talent: Warlock Form. 10 second cast. Deletes your character and makes a new character that is just a Warlock.

- Due to extensive changes this patch, all Paladins will have their talent points reset.
- It has come to our attention that some guilds have been using Paladins as tanks or even as DPS. This is unintended. As a result, we have removed many primary abilities that were being used toward these goals and replaced them with healing spells. Hopefully, this will allow Paladin players to return to the back of the raid where they prefer.

- Upon logging in, Rogues specced Mutilate will be laughed at.

- Shaman may now equip totems as Main Hand and/or Off Hand weapons. This allows them to carry the beneficial effects of the totems with them, but no weapons or shields can be equipped while doing so.
- Chain Heal can now "bounce" to enemy targets.
- Frost Shock is now effective against Spell-immune targets, Frost elementals, and Jesus.

- All Damage Over Time spells are now instant cast.
- Shadowbolt damage has been increased.
- Death Coil has been reduced to a 20-second cooldown.
- New Affliction Talent: Improved Death Coil. Reduces Death Coil cooldown by 10/20 seconds.
- New Affliction Talent: Improved Improved Death Coil. Increases duration of Death Coil by 5/10 seconds.
- New Affliction Talent: Improved Improved Death Coil. You know what? Screw it. All Warlock spells now cause a 30-second Horror effect. No diminishing returns.

- Mortal Strike has been removed from the game.
- New 31-point talent: Moral Strike. Strikes your target, causing weapon damage and a profound sense of guilt.
- New Ability: Lets Just Go Play Basketball Strike. Causes you and your target to just go play basketball.

I can't wait!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hi2u WOW Insider!

So apparently my QQ post about lack of 25-man content was interesting enough to be featured on WoW Insider. I'm flattered! To be quite honest, I didn't realize more than a handful of people actually ready this blog >.>

I've also been getting a few comments, both here and in the WoW Insider post, and rather than make several smaller responses I think I'll just respond to all of them here.

For one, let me state that yes, it was a simple QQ post. This is my personal blog. I post primarily gaming-related stuff, but that's more because I highly doubt anyone would find my personal life all that interesting. Colds and financial troubles don't make for very exciting reads. So instead, I post about my experiences in WoW and occasionally other games.

The fact is, I greatly enjoy 25-man raiding. That's why I do it. I enjoy PVP, leveling alts, and small group content as well. I have four level 70 characters, as well as a few lower levels I've been working on. I PVP fairly frequently, and do the odd heroic or ZA here and there. I just enjoy raiding more, and the lack of any new 25-man content for a full year, though not game-breaking, is a little disappointing.

So although my purpose was certainly to QQ about lack of Sunwell, it certainly wasn't to the point of "hey blizz plz ignore evry1 else so i kan get nu epix kthxlol." It's unfortunate that many seem to have taken it that way, and that WoW Insider seems to have painted me into that picture. There were a lot of words put into my mouth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Official Forums in an MMO Community

Or, "How Tabula Rasa Made Me Love WoW General"

Most of you who check this site probably know me from Maintankadin, the Paladin Tanking forums for which I act as moderator and community manager. What you may not know is that I've been cheating a bit. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've been having an affair with another game, and another online community related to that game. I'm speaking of Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa.

Blame Ciderhelm, it was his siren song that lured me. I was weak.

Anyway, desperate housewife analogy aside, I enjoyed Tabula Rasa. It served as a pretty decent diversion from the farmed content blah's I discussed in my previous post, and the prospect of being one of the founding fathers of theorycraft in a new MMO was enticing. However, all was not well in Garriottsville.

Tabula Rasa has no official forums. It's not the first game to try this, but it's the first I've had any experience with. Instead, they have a fan site program which serves as a listing of sites that fit certain criteria, and a feedback form that players can use to contact the developers directly. Some employees browse some of the forum-oriented sites, and occasionally post random insights on some of the more popular ones.

"But Lore," I hear you say, "That sounds great! Fan-run sites tend to be more focused and closely moderated, and the official WoW forums are a pit of agony and despair that serve only as an exercise in masochism and mental destruction!" to which I respond in two ways. First, get out of my head. Second, that may be the case, but the official forums serve a very real purpose, and unfortunately there's some precipitation looming outside the silver-lined utopia of Tabula Rasa's community management stance.

For one, lack of official forums gives disgruntled or concerned members of the community no real outlet for their concerns. Yeah, there's the feedback form, but this is an MMO we're talking about. The goal is to nurture and grow a community around your game. You can send in your feedback, and that's fine, but you get no backup from the community. It's just you and the poor sap who gets to sift through all the incoming feedback and decide what's important enough to show to the developers and what isn't. It's not public. No one else gets a chance to weigh in on it, and regardless of how often they say "we read everything submitted through the feedback form" you still get the feeling you're talking to no one. This also has had the effect of creating "Feedback Form Campaigns" in which several members of the community submit the same notion through the feedback form in an effort to show the developers that there's a large number of people concerned about a particular issue. That, to me, seems at best counter-intuitive and at worst two steps away from spamming.

For two, the fan-run communities don't really serve as a decent stand-in like you'd think. I'm not even sure they could. The idea is that pointing people towards fan-run forums would not only promote fan-run community but let the community govern itself as it sees fit. This fails in practice. If you want to keep tabs on what Blizzard has to say, you check the official forums for blue posts in the categories you're interested in. If you want to keep tabs on what NCSoft has to say, you have at least 3 forums to keep track of, all of which have different structures and rules, many repeated threads on the same topics from other forums, and no easy way to tell if a developer has responded to any of the threads there. On top of that, since there's no real NCSoft "Community Managers" - just a couple employees who keep tabs on things - comments are few and far between.

You would think, at the very least, this would cause more activity on the fan-run forums. However, there's a problem. The 3 or so forums that get NCSoft attention tend to be where everyone goes, and fan-run forums tend to frown on posters directing people to other fan-run forums, even in a niche environment. After all, why not just talk about whatever it is you wanted to talk about at our forums instead of going to that other place? On top of that, the fan site listing is pretty much just a wall of text and makes it very hard for individual sites to shine. The result is the community becomes splintered at best and stifled at worst. Sub-communities like Maintankadin or Tankspot have become quite popular and beneficial to the health of the WoW community. Sites like that simply do not survive in Tabula Rasa's fan-run community.

At least there aren't all the QQ posts, right? I mean, the fan-run forums obviously have closer moderation, they lock or delete all the posts that serve no purpose other than random whining. Forum trolls and "Nerf Warlocks" threads just don't exist, making everything generally more pleasant and constructive, right? I don't believe that's true. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that QQ posts need to exist - in some fashion or another - for an online community to thrive. This is probably the biggest failing in Tabula Rasa's approach.

The general response on WoW fan forums like Maintankadin is "Keep the QQ to the official forums." Well, if there's no official forums, where does it go? Believe it or not, those threads aren't always worthless. If I post a thread about how "my guild gives all the tanking loot to the Warriors and doesn't let me have any qq" on the official forums, the community will weigh in and help me learn how I can convince my raid leader to let me loot tanking gear. If nothing else, QQ posts serve as an indication of how the community feels. Maybe 50% of the Tabula Rasa community absolutely hates the first zone. You wouldn't know this by looking at the fan-run forums; random bitching threads get locked or deleted immediately, without anyone at NCSoft ever knowing. Yeah it would be nice if every player would just list out their concerns in an easy-to-read and convincing format, but that's just not going to happen. Not everyone is an English major, and their opinions are valid regardless of how well presented they are.

Long story short, I think the purpose that the official WoW forums serve is often overlooked and taken for granted. Even if all you see is "nerf warlocks" and "casuals need epics" that's still good info. That lets you know, regardless of how nicely it's phrased or how productive the thread becomes, how your community is perceiving your game. This is obvious even on a smaller scale like Maintankadin - if I see the same question coming up over and over again, that tells me that I need to make that information more readily available (usually through a sticky). Yeah, those people probably should have used the search function. Yeah, those threads are just going to get locked. That doesn't mean I can't use what I learn from them to make the community stronger. I'd like to think WoW's community management team looks at those threads in the same way. If I locked 50 "AV is biased towards Alliance" threads in one day, that would, at the very least, tell me that there's probably something that could be improved.

Players' opinions are valuable regardless of the method in which they are presented. Ignoring them is foolish. Cutting them off entirely is just plain stupid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WTB Sunwell PST

A little bit more bloggy and a little bit less tanky of an update today.

The Black Temple was released with Patch 2.1, itself released in May of 2007. Next week Tuesday will mark the 8-month point of no new 25-man content - 2 months longer than the gap between Blackwing Lair and Ahn'Qiraj, which previously held that record. I honestly don't expect to see 2.4 go live for at least another couple months. We're getting close to a full year with nothing new for 25-man raiders to do.

It's starting to take it's toll as well. Months Behind first zoned into Hyjal 6 months ago. We killed Illidan 2 1/2 months later. That means we've been farming Illidan for 3 1/2 months. We haven't had anything new to do aside from ZA (which kept us occupied for all of a week) since. We're long past bored, and when a game gets boring, you stop playing.

I've managed to keep myself occupied by playing around with Retribution lately (which is tons of fun btw), but others have gotten burned out. Some of our core members, people who have been with us since Molten Core, have stopped raiding. Some have quit the game for good. That's saddening on an epic scale.

Blizzard, if you're listening, we need Sunwell. We need something to do. I don't think MB will fall apart over it, but it certainly isn't making things easy.

In related news, Months Behind has open spots for several classes and specs. You can find our website in the links on the right, if you're interested.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Parry: Warrior vs. Paladin

An interesting thought occurred to me the other day: Warrior tanking involves a lot more physical melee attacks than Paladin tanking, and those attacks can be parried. We have a 6% physical damage reduction from Imp. Righteous Fury, where Warriors have a 10% reduction. The question is, how much of that 4% advantage is reduced by the extra damage caused from extra parries?

Unfortunately I'm not much of one for complicated math problems, so I posed the question to the fine folks at Maintankadin. We took a Warrior and Paladin with endgame-level stats (including exta Expertise for the Warrior), and figured up just how many more parries the Warrior would take, and how much extra damage, on average, that equated to. The results were somewhat surprising.

As of this point, the conclusion seems to be that (depending on Expertise), a Warrior will take somewhere around 2% extra "Parry damage" than a Paladin will. This effectively halves the 4% gap. Add in the fact that the extra parry damage is a bit spikier, and can open up the Warrior to a crushing blow much easier than a Paladin (the dreaded "parrygib"), as well as the Paladin's Ardent Defender and slightly superior Stamina scaling, and suddenly the edge Warriors have over us in straight-up mitigation doesn't seem so sharp.

Oh, and that doesn't even count Windfury.

The thread itself is here, I'd encourage anyone interested to take a look.