She Deep Breaths More

January 4, 2011

….And blows the layer of dust off this place.

I don’t anticipate having much more time to post regularly here than I have, but I can at least still use the place for WoW posts when that’s what I feel like writing about.

To recap from my absence;

Major roster changes; about half the core raiders we had when I was regularly updating are gone due to various RL reasons, and my partner tank Ossifer Bear is now Ossifer Tree and looks to be so for good. We did clear out ICC and kill the Lich King before Cata hit, and it was probably the most satisfying and epic moment of the entire game for me and I’m still a bit sorry for not writing about it when it happened. The short version is that after weeks of wiping and a particularly dismal night of failure, we walked in the next raiding night and one-shot the fight in a performance so flawless it might as well have been professionally choreographed. Strange, but that’s the way a lot of fights worked for us- we’d fail in every possible imaginable way and then things would suddenly gel for everybody.

My flirtations with other tanking classes are pretty much over. I still enjoy playing my warrior, DK, and now baby bear alts, but I love the way protection paladins play now and can’t imagine ever changing my main. (It doesn’t hurt at all that Juujube the blood elf became Jujutan the tauren the day of launch and I no longer am forced to be the world’s most anorexic tank.)

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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…


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.


Confession

April 26, 2010

I have come to enjoy it when the DPS or healer pulls for me.

This may seem to be in rather stark contrast to the below post, but it all goes back to my original point: what is important is not my health pool, but how well I can control the fight. I DO have the health and the mitigation to survive pulls much larger than the vanilla dungeons are tuned for- and like I said, the limitation is on how well I can build and maintain threat over that pack when the DPS isn’t focusing and the healer has to throw big heals.

I CAN hold that threat, and hold it easily- provided the DPS and/or healer know what the hell they’re doing rather than mindlessly counting on me to haul them through. Don’t grab everything in the room all at once, wait for me to grab a pack and have enough control over them (including positioning for casters) that I have some free GCDs to do something else. Don’t expect me to run around the entire room pulling everything and pulling the random thing in the corner you decided to focus on, grab them and bring them in range of me when I have those GCDs, without front-loading any more threat on them than necessary to make them move. If the DPS aren’t needing big heals and I don’t need to be constantly turning my back on a pack of melee to need them myself, the healer doesn’t get eaten, the DPS are able to open up their whoopass cans, and everybody has as much fun as they hoped.

Last night I had a crazy run in Uldaman with a druid healing in Boomkin spec and doing as I described- waiting a few seconds for me to have my mobs’ *full* attention, and occassionally facepulling packs in for thunderclap as needed. Things rounded up, things only paid attention to me, and he got to spend his time throwing his own thunder instead of nodding off. Everything died very fast and I had as much fun as he did.

The difference between him and the fellow who inspired the last rant? He waited until he was sure I could handle it, waited until he was sure the DPS were capable of not acting like epileptic squirrels, asked instead of whining and nagging me to entertain him, and made sure he helped in such a way that it was fun for me instead of just stressful.

I’m not opposed to blendering my way through- just opposed to being asked to run myself ragged on the demand of someone who has no idea what I do and no interest in helping me do it when he asks for something extra.


Dear LFD Healers

April 23, 2010

I am aware you are bored, and would be even without your puppylike whining as I heal as well when I’m not tanking. The only time I always have something to do as a healer is when the tank is inexperienced, undergeared, or both, and I’m not any of these things on any of my tanking toons. Hell, if I’m trailing along after one of the other raid tanks in the guild, I might as well have a Sudoku puzzle out in between refreshing Beacon, Sacred Shield, and Judgment of Light, because the only way I’m going to have something else to do is if one of the DPS pulls threat.

That said, the limitation on the number of mobs I pull at any given time is not my health bar. Having a big health bar and a lot of avoidance and mitigation is my reason for existence as a tank. They are there to make sure I’m easy to keep up through high boss damage and cases in which Everything Has Gone To Hell. I’m NOT nervous about dying- I’m well aware that the odds are, if indeed everything has gone to hell, I will be the last one standing.

The limitation on the size of my pulls isn’t how much you have to heal me, it’s how many mobs I can control. In a dungeon with casters, which is all of them, and a dungeon with linking mobs that run away to find help when they’re low on health, which is most of them, I can’t count on being able to round up a truly large pack and keep them there and keep their attention firmly fixated on me. I do have some control abilities to stop runners and to silence casters long enough to get them to me, but my ability to use these tools is strongly limited by cooldowns and how many varyingly located mobs I can pay attention to at once.

The more I’m running around trying to keep my plates spinning, the more confused the DPS is and likewise running around. The bigger the pull, the more likely it is that none of them are attacking the same thing, let alone attacking something I safely have a big threat lead on. This means most if not all the DPS will be pulling threat, which means big heals for them as well as for me as I turn my back to a large pack of following melee as I try to catch casters and pick up incoming mobs that runners have pulled.

The key point that I’m leading up to here is that, once a pull has gotten large enough that the healer is really challenged, the only person in the room consistently gaining threat on all the mobs in combat is the healer. I know you’re not watching a threat meter, because you don’t have the mobs targeted, you have the party targeted. It’s not the healer’s job to watch threat, because it’s the tank’s job to make sure to stay ahead of the healer on threat. If you’re used to your boring job healing a tank doing his or her job correctly, you’ve never had to watch threat at all, so you probably have no idea how much you generate doing constant big, exciting heals, or how little the tank is generating when they can’t stand still and build it over a smaller pack. I do have some emergency tools to pick up everything at once, but they are meant for emergencies and thus have way too long cooldowns to be useful as a standard pulling tool- and they fail anyway if I have no means of immediately applying more threat, ahead of the healing aggro that will still be ongoing until they’re dead.

If I pull as much as you apparently feel would be fun for you, the mobs will eat you and you will change your whining about my boring pulls to shrieking about how I failed to do my job while, once again, I stand there as the only person who had the health pool and the cooldowns to survive a pack that large.

If you have a need to be constantly doing something important at every moment of an instance in order to have fun, do me and the DPS a favor and go roll a fucking tank.

(Needless to say, this is not directed at all healers, just the ones yipping at me to PULL MORE TANK I’M BORED I ONLY HAVE TO USE MY LITTLE HEALS OMFG PULL PULL. I spoke way too soon about running into fewer douchebags in there.)


Gchat Quote of the Day

April 20, 2010

From one of our rogues, who is also the mother of a seven-month-old:

“My daughter has officially the learned the ‘drop a toy, then knock mommy out of stealth when she reaches for it’ game.”

Guild consensus: roll a hunter for the kid.