I Over-Complicate My Life

May 13, 2010

Much to my surprise, now that our team rating has dropped us into something like our peers in Arenaland who also probably ponied up their tournament registration for schnitzengiggels and a pet, I find that I’m actually having a lot of fun with it. Now that I’m not guaranteed to die instantly in an explosion of fail, the teamwork and tactics are actually pretty enjoyable; it has much of what I enjoy about raiding, except it’s different every time, only requires three people instead of ten at the minimum, and only takes about three to four minutes per game instead of all night. (Although on the con side, when I wipe to a raid boss the raid boss has never, ever tried to teabag me afterward.) I think I might want to actually keep doing this after the tournament is over.

Problem: I hate PvP as a paladin. Healing gives me ulcers in a raid let alone in an arena setting, and ret, while having good burst damage, has the mobility of a ruptured cow. The hand abilities are nice, but most of ret arena is running around being kited while casting hand of freedom and protection and trying to die last. I enjoy the arms warrior I’m playing on the tournament server way, way more. In terms of crowd control and interrupts, warriors are light years ahead of paladins.

My warrior on my home server is only level 53 and not likely to get that much further while the tournament’s still going, since that’s eating up my usual non-raiding or preparing for raiding time. I really enjoy her both as a PvE class and as a character; that she’s going to be leveled to max and become either my new main come Cataclysm or my most favored alt is basically a given. I already know that I like arena as an arms warrior and it’s what I’ve been practicing so far. On the other hand, it’s not really likely that she’s going to get to 80 all that quickly; my time for playing alts is limited, especially with Stingray wrapping up Loremaster and not having any solo projects of his own anymore. If I want to keep playing arena with the team we have going now, I’d need to either create more time to level her faster or oblige us to take a break or run 2s.

My hunter, on the other hand, is 80 and doing absolutely nothing but gathering virtual dust. I do enjoy PvP as a hunter substantially more than I do as a paladin, and in any case it’d bring some range to our team, which currently relies on heavy crowd control to deal with being healer/melee/melee. I do still like the character even if the class has lost its charms for me in PvE, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him doing something useful again. On the other hand, that’d be a lot of time doing content I don’t much enjoy as a hunter anymore (dungeons for badges for starter gear, grinding up a PvP pet), and would be even more time not playing the character I’d rather play.

My life is filled with hardship, having to choose between several different activities in game that I find fun rather than going through end-of-expansion burnout…

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Aloha, LOL

May 7, 2010

Warcraft, like any other large-scale hobby with a devoted following, has a great deal of its own language. “Tank”, “DPS”, “PST”, “LoS”, “pull”, “boomkin”, they all mean exactly doodly squat to someone who doesn’t play and they’ll all get you called noob if you don’t know what they mean. But in the entire game, is there any so versatile a term as “lol”? In the greater internet it tends to mean “I am laughing out loud right now”, but over my career in the World of Warcraft, especially its pickup groups and battlegrounds, I have come to find that it can mean so many more things.

“Sorry”

“I am furious with you right now”

“I love you”

“I’m going AFK to do my taxes and send in some suggestions on balancing the national budget, someone else heal”

“I’m sorry, was that fourteen mobs? I thought it was the win button.”

“Check it out, this stuff on the ground tickles.”

“I am a complex tapestry of shaded emotions.”

“I am the vampiric bastard child of Kael’thas and Sylvanas.”

“I am extremely impaired right now.”

“I hate you all.”

“Group one go north and take stables, group two hold lumber mill, the rest of you defend farm”

“Please tip 10% of mats cost”

“I’m sorry, I have no gear, gold, or brain cells, could you let me skate on this and just get what I want anyway please?”

“Goodness that wipe was spectacular, who was healing while I was on my smoke break, they must have sucked.”

“I find the existential nature of our situation to be truly side-splitting. Also I am so baked right now.”

“LOOK, A DEATH KNIGHT”

“Real tanks don’t need defense”

“I am sorry, I am deeply embarrassed right now and have nothing else to say.”

“I find the expectations you have burdensome.”

“Check it out, my toes are made of pizza.”

“GTG, raid”

“I exist to infuriate you.”


The Mythical Mighty Consecrate

May 5, 2010

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent lately; in addition to getting rather serious about leveling my warrior alt, I’m busy being the world’s most epic failure at PvP over on the Tournament Realms. Pet-addict Ossifer Bear tempted four of us into going for the murloc, which ordinarily wouldn’t be enough for me, but the chance to play a max-level character doing something new with any gear I wanted was more than worth it to me. For all ten seconds I survive an average match, anyway. Eventually our team rating may drop low enough that we’re only facing other pet addicts, but for right now we’re like those exploding sheep. Actually “Exploding Sheep” would have been an excellent team name.

Anyway. Leveling Holly the prot warrior has been an interesting experience, in no small part because warriors and paladins seem to have as much of a tanking rivalry as mages and warlocks do in caster DPS. Where warriors are strong- interrupts and on-demand control abilities- paladins are weak, and where warriors are weak- sustained AOE- paladins are strong. When I feel masochistic and read the tanking forums, there seems to be absolutely no end to the warriors either demanding paladins be nerfed or demanding to be given copycat abilities. And one of the major sources of butthurt seems to be consecrate, the glowing gold patch of ground that basically acts like a stationary DoT and generates threat on everything standing on.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve only played fifty levels of warrior to my 80-plus-raid-tanking as a paladin, but to concerned warriors looking at a consecrate equivalent as the solution to their tanking woes: it’s not. It’s not what makes paladins dominate at what they do best, and it wouldn’t actually be that great an addition to the warrior toolbox.

In terms of threat generated when it counts, consecrate is the weakest tool in my multi-target toolbox. I activate this ability LAST when tanking multiple targets unless it’s waves of mobs in HoR when the mobs are going to be coming in in a staggered fashion that makes me give up a lot of my ability to control pulls. First I hit holy shield, which in terms of functionality works basically like a warrior’s damage shield. Then I pull with Avenger’s Shield, which hits up to three conveniently-placed targets for big burst threat. (Or only one if Blizzard has decided not to design the mob pack to my greater convenience.) Then I hit hammer of the righteous, which hits four targets if glyphed and three if not. (I don’t keep it glyphed, since making sure my taunts never miss is more important in ICC.) I’m running any heroic or trash pack I’m in Seal of Command, which spreads holy love around like whoa and is frankly what is really overpowered about my AOE tanking capacities. Once I have done all of this and multiple targets are safely glued to me, consecrate goes down. If it’s a heroic and mana may be an issue due to low return from spiritual attunement and everything dying too fast for judgment of wisdom to make a difference, I may skip it entirely. As a general rule mobs don’t run over it and then switch to me- if they were running toward a healer or a DPS for any reason other than a facepull they’ve already got too much threat on not-me for the second’s worth of contact with the floor patch to make a meaningful difference.

You know one thing I really love about tanking on my warrior as opposed to the paladin? My AoE snap threat from thunderclap and my other abilities to control REALLY multiple targets. All of my paladin’s multi-target abilities have a set target limit, and they work fantastically as long as I’ve set up the pull correctly and render keeping the mobs on me the dull go-make-a-sandwich task that warriors complain about. But if I DIDN’T set up the pull right, or some DPS too busy humping Recount front-loads AoE damage before I’ve had a chance to do much, my options are limited. I can pull up to three mobs off someone with Righteous Defense, but if a pull has gone REALLY bad- think the first room of Azjol-Nerub gone pear-shaped- then that doesn’t make that much difference. I can try and land hammers, but that still has the target limit and things have to be in front of me and it has a six-second cooldown. Bothering with consecrate at all is laughable given its low snap threat, small area, and limitation of being dropped wherever I happen to be standing and then staying there. Basically, my options for meaningfully affecting a situation truly gone to hell are bubbling the healer and running around like a headless chicken with RD and my single-target taunt. If I do the latter particularly well I might save one or two of the DPS as well.

If the same thing happens on my warrior: challenging shout to immediately move to the head of the threat table for ALL the mobs in the room, thunderclap to get a snap burst on ALL of them whether they’re in front of me or not as soon as they’re close, shield block and start tabbing around revenging every proc and cleaving away with my suddenly limitless rage on every swing I can hit. If things are still running at healers and it wouldn’t make the situation worse, I also have intimidating shout to buy a few precious seconds to regain some control. In ten more levels I’ll also have shockwave, which works the way I’m used to hammer working except without the target limit and it will also force things to hold still if I’m running up on them from behind chasing them to the back line.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying warriors have nothing to complain about and certainly not saying they’re actually better multi-target tanks than paladins are and just haven’t realized it yet. Paladin tanks are designed around being able to establish control easily right at the beginning and keep it with minimal challenge- but warriors are far more capable of rescuing a multi-target situation and re-asserting control if it’s been lost, with minimal sacrifice of other party members.

If you want to equalize warriors and paladins in terms of multi-target capabilities, don’t give warriors a consecrate copy, give paladins a challenging shout copy- and put seal of command out of reach of tanking paladins while bumping cleave’s target cap up a few. Making the threat scaling more even between the two classes in end-game gear would help too, though it seems the Cataclysm developers are already all over the concept.

At the end of the day, what makes a good paladin tank isn’t actually what they do to the mobs- almost everything they can meaningfully do to mobs is built into their core rotation, save the taunt. It’s what they can do to the party: a good paladin tank is using the attention freed up from having to watch their targets closely to pay attention to the party and bubble, salv, freedom, or DS as necessary and useful. A warrior tank is much more defined by what they can do to the mobs, which abilities are available, and keeping things stunned, interrupted, and otherwise controlled.

It’s much easier, thanks to the AoE-centric, undead-heavy nature of Wrath to be an adequate paladin tank than it is to be an adequate warrior tank. It’s just as difficult to be good at either class.