Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Next Engineering Mount

So, for those who haven't heard, the latest beta push has introduced a long-awaited schematic for our engineering friends -- Motorcycles. And from the looks of this screenshot (which I'm borrowing from WoW Insider, as I don't have beta access myself), it's going to be a pretty sweet ride. I had been considering dropping engineering on Kibler for some other profession, but now I'm pretty sure I want to stick with engineering so I can ride a Hog (Which begs the question of why hunters can't use their pet hog as a mount, but I digress).

Something is missing, though. Motorcycles and Choppers are great and all, but while we now have no wheels and two wheels covered, it seems to me engineers need a four-wheeled mount. And with the new mechanic of taking riders, it seems to me the perfect addition to the engineer's reportoire would be a taxi cab!

I don't think the cab should work like other mounts. For one, I don't think it should go in your mount spellbook like other mounts will, especially since that gives engineers an unfair advantage when it comes to getting the mount-based achievements coming with the expansion. Instead, I think making the cab should culminate with a soulbound whistle that goes in your inventory.

Now, most mounts just kind of appear when you summon them. Not so with the engineer's taxi. When you whistle for your cab, your character should literally put two fingers up to their mouth and whistle for a couple seconds, after which the cab drives up from off-screen. Of course, the animation would need to only be visible to the person summoning it, or else other people would see cars randomly materializing on their heads, but I think that a custom summoning animation would be damn cool.

If you look at the picture above of the motorcycle, you can see that the license plate says "Pwn". A nice touch, to be sure, but I'm not so fond of just taking some random phrase out of gaming culture. Instead, I want to have a license plate that says something about the mount. I'm not 100% decided on what that should be just yet, but as this is a fresh new idea, how about "FRESH", at least for now.

I'd also like to steal an idea from the epic chopper. As I'm sure most of you know, one of the parts required for an engineer to make their epic flyer is a hula girl doll purchased from Griftah in Shattrath. And if you look at the actual mount, sure enough, there's a hula girl on the control panel. Now, a bobblehead doll would work for the cab, too, but I don't want to steal something quite that directly. So what else do you think of when you think of car ornaments? An air freshener would work, but frankly, this is a taxi cab, it's supposed to smell bad. What else? Why, Fuzzy Dice of course! A pair of dice hanging from the rear view mirror would be perfect! And as with the hula girl statue, you'd have to buy a couple to make the car. I'm thinking you could buy them from the guard at the cage in Gadgetzan, with the backstory that he's a compulsive gambler, and has been betting on dice and cage matches for years.

Oh, one other thing. I want to let even low-level characters build a taxi. I think it would be thematically appropriate, a low level character driving around in a taxi, just trying to make enough from tips to save up for the gear he needs to become a true adventurer at 80. Thus, I don't think this should be an epic mount. Frankly, I think the epic quality car should be some sexy sports car. So the cab will be a rare mount, only.

Whoops, I almost forgot to put the cut in today's entry . . . continued after the break.

So, to recap:

You whistle for your cab, and when it comes near
The license plate says "FRESH" and has a dice in the mirror.
If anything, I would say that this cab is rare.
On second thought, nah, forget it. Yo homes, you've been Bel-Air'd!

Continue reading 'The Next Engineering Mount'

Monday, September 15, 2008

Election '08 -- Meet the Contenders

No, I'm not going political on you guys. I'm not talking about THAT election '08, but something much, much more important. Ok, ok, so it's not really more important, but it's nonetheless a big decision I've been struggling with: Which toon to make my main in Wrath.

As someone with 6 level 70 toons (and a shadow priest that may or may not get there as well), I have plenty of options. Some are mainstream candidates. Others, just third party options that are about as likely to make the cut as Nader. But in the spirit of fairness and disclosure, lets meet all of the candidates.

The Incumbents: It's really hard to decide which one is the true incumbent. One was my main throughout most of TBC progression, as well as during vanilla WoW. The other is technically my main at the moment, but hasn't really done much while in office.

Surania (Druid, Feral): The namesake of this blog, and my longtime favorite. With Surania, I would return fulltime to the tanking scene, and that is a situation the polls say voters (IE: Me and, to a lesser extent, my guild) want to see happen. While Surania at one time seemed to have this election in the bag, recent concerns regarding her ability to tank in Northrend have muddied the waters. Resolution of that problem, alone, could settle this race once and for all!

Kirari (Warlock, Affliction): While he currently holds the title of main, his support has been slipping lately. While he represents the largest constituency out there, the DPS party, the voters tend to want somebody from outside the mainstream. He's not giving up without a fight, though. Over the past months, he's come out with a solid platform of change for the affliction spec, including DoTs that crit, Shadowbolts that. . . can crit, and a very promising, albeit dead, running mate.

The Challengers: While it's most probable that either Kirari or Surania will be taking top billing on my WotLK play ticket, there are some challengers waiting in the wings that still have a chance.

Jasminne (Paladin, Protection): She's not currently a resident of the United Toons of Prophecy, but this gal from The Ugly Future is still eligible. While it would be hard for her to uproot from her kobold family to return to Prophecy, she would not have a problem being accepted there, as she has already performed some threat-keeping missions there. Her biggest strengths are her ability to go head-to-head with Surania as a tank, and her ability to dress appropriately (We hear Surania plans to wear DPS leather, a rather brazen move). She would have the stigma of being an apparent guild flip-flopper to contend with, though, as she would leave TUF in a bit of a bind.

Kibler (Hunter, Survival): A surprise contender in the race, Kibler has started to hint at possibly throwing her hat into the election ring as well. Another member of the DPS party, she has an ace up her sleeve to differentiate her from Kirari: Some of her cabinet members are tanks! Being such a forward thinking bipartisan is a huge plus in today's election, as Polls show that the voter (singular) is very attracted to the tank side of the aisle, but at the same time knows that there's really very limited room for the tanks in WoW Raiding, with only one or two in your average 25-man quorum.

The Green Party: Don't get me wrong, I do like my mage and shaman, but I just don't see them as main-toon material. Even if I wanted to play Chalith as a main, he is currently the leader of the First Bank of Dave, a hard position to give up, especially when it affords you the title of <Grand Magus>. As for Kornaq. . . well, lets face it, resto shamans just aren't doing well in the post-Wrath debates, and Kornaq is the least experienced of them all, to boot.

So, that's the current field of eligible 70s, in a nutshell. And as much as I'd love to enfranchise my readership, I suspect that you all would be a tad biased toward a certain four-footed fleabag (Four Footed Fleabag. . . that sounds like a great Blog Title!).

Oh well, at least if I make the wrong choice, I'm not stuck with it for another four to eight years, eh?
Continue reading 'Election '08 -- Meet the Contenders'

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Raining. I Swear!

So, while I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to blogging on a regular basis again, I really feel inspired to write at the moment. Lately, I've been feeling the urge to return to my furry roots when we start moving into Northrend (Which means The Rambling Bear will likely REMAIN The Rambling Bear, not the Rambling 'Lock or some such). However, I've also been keeping a close eye on WotLK developments, and the current feral druid situation in the beta has me very, very worried. After reading today's installment of the Big Bear Butt (from which today's title comes, by the way), I've come to the point where I have to speak my mind.

Now, before I start my ramblings, let me make one huge disclaimer. I am not in the beta. Nor am I a psychic. And I realize that feral druids are still due a major second pass by the development team. I know that what is currently on beta is not what will be going live. But I also remember what it was like to be a horribly underpowered spec that people laughed at.

The reports I've been hearing from the Beta are bleak. The most poingant of them comes from a guildmate of mine who plays a healer, and has been in Naxx10 with a variety of tanks. In short, Warriors and Paladins are rock solid, and a breeze to heal. Death Knights are a bit squishy, but their self healing abilities help to mitigate some of that. But bears are about as resilient as a wet sponge, and are a huge pain in the ass to keep alive.

This doesn't surprise me, though. Blizzard has taken away bears' one true claim to fame: our huge amounts of armor. In fact, they've stopped itemizing for feral druids altogether, we now have to wear rogue gear. I read somewhere that a bear in the best set of level 80 blue gear has somewhere around 29k armor. Meanwhile, my T4 geared arse sports 33.5k. On top of that, we no longer get an extremely high Agi->Dodge ratio.

"But Surania, look at all the awesome tanking talents we're getting to make up for that!".

Ok, lets look at those amazing new tanking talents:

We get another 6% "baked in" dodge for three talent points. Adding that to the 4% we already had, that gives us a total of 10% avoidance from talents. Guess what, folks, Warriors and Paladins get that, too, though half of theirs is parry. Our only advantage here is that we only spend 5 talent points, and they spend 10.

We get 12% across-the-board mitigation for three talent points. Warriors have this, more or less, as a base ability. Theirs (Defensive Stance) is only 10% mitigation, but they get a talent that boosts their spell mitigation to 16% (And judging from what Magisters' Terrace looks like, I expect to see more and more spell damage getting flung around in the expansion). Also, we can lose this mitigation during fights, while warriors can not. I don't know if you still get the full bonus if a party member dies, but I imagine it starts dropping if one of your allies gets mind controlled, and wouldn't be surprised if you suddenly lose some mitigation if a raid member loses connection suddenly during a fight.

We get an emergency button on a 5-minute cooldown for our 51-point talent. Last stand, to be exact. It's actually a bit stronger than the warrior ability, in that it has a shorter cooldown (8 minutes for warriors). And it also boosts our ability to generate threat while active, which is a nice side effect for sure. But I'm not worried about threat, really, I'm worried about survival. So great, we get last stand. As a sidenote, Paladins are getting a shield wall of sorts, themselves, in a re-tooled Divine Protection which only reduces damage taken by half, but does not drop aggro any more, and is on a much, much shorter cooldown than shield wall. And it also stacks very nicely with Ardent Defender, since SW tends to get popped when low on health to begin with.

We get crushing blow immunity. As do all tanks. The mechanic has been changed to only happen when mobs are 4+ levels above you. We also retain our crit immunity, as SotF has had its effect doubled.

We do still get a bit more armor than our plate brethren. The figure I've read (which I don't have a link to at the moment) seems to indicate bears will have about 6k more armor than plate wearers, 28k armor to 22k armor. Nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but it's nowhere near what we have now. Oh, and we still seem to have slightly more health, too, an extra 10% or so.

So, we're looking like plate tanks with extra armor, right? Well, kind of, except our one advantage (~6k more armor, and a slight health advantage) is offset by lots of things we DON'T have:

We don't get a block mechanic. Sure, blocking is no longer as critical as it once was, since bosses will no longer crush tanks, but at the same time, blocking has been seriously buffed via a revamped strength->block value formula. I haven't seen any numbers as far as how much a level 80, geared warrior or paladin blocks for, but I imagine it's probably breaking 4-digits per block. That, alone, will likely make up for our armor advantage.

We don't get parry. This alone wouldn't be a problem, but since they're also taking away druids' favorable agi->dodge conversion, and not giving us bear tank gear with +dodge or even +defense on it, our ability to avoid attacks is far lower than our plate brethren.

We don't get as many "Oh, shit" buttons as warriors. I'm not saying we should, but the fact is they get both shield wall and last stand, while we only get the latter.

So, basically, we get to be more-or-less on par with plate wearers as far as mitigating each hit goes, but we also are getting hit a lot more often. I have a solution, though, and it would, I think, both be thematically appropriate (as bear fur really shouldn't be harder to penetrate than iron plates) and a fair tradeoff.

Make Nurturing Instinct apply to all forms. I really think it's as simple as that. We get hit, say, 30% more often than plate tanks, but it's 20% easier to heal us back up from those hits. Combined with our health pool advantage, I think this simple change would make bear tanks able to compete with warriors and paladins, but without overshadowing them. We'd retain a bit of our flavor, as we'd be slightly less resistant to death by spike damage (due to the health pool), but would take a bit more mana to keep up under normal circumstances.

Think about it, Blizzard. The best solution to a problem is often the simplest, after all. Continue reading 'It's Raining. I Swear!'

Monday, August 18, 2008


So, in case it isn't obvious by now, I really haven't been doing much in the way of blogging lately. In part, its because I really overdid it in the beginning of the year, and kinda ran myself out of passion (and topics I was passionate about). In part, it was this damnable "summer slump" limiting my play, which I expect to transition smoothly into the "pre-expansion slump" those of us who played pre-BC are familiar with. Part of it stems from the fact that I've been stressed out over some recent guild issues regarding our future as a raiding guild. Part of it is the fact that I've been dealing with a long period of depression, something I've dealt with on-and-off for many, many years now, the most recent bout being closely tied to our country's not-gonna-admit-its-an-economic-recession, and the subsequent uncertainty in my job with an already-faltering General Motors Corporation. And part of it, of course, being the burnout I had with bear tanking, or more accurately cat DPSing with the occasional add to tank.

I do plan on bringing back the blog eventually, though, and will of course leave up what I already have here. Hell, if all this developer talk of "bringing druid tanks up to the level of main tanking" and "realizing being great at offtanking isn't an enticing raid role" come to fruition, I might even find renewed interest in Surania! While I put very little faith in Blizzard's ability to fix hybrids usually, I have to admit they made great progress with TBC, so anything is possible.

Anyhow, until then, keep on burninating the peasanties! Continue reading 'Hiatus'

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yet Another PvP Gear Rant

Yep, again. This time, I'm moved to speak by a recent post by the guy who (indirectly) got me into blogging: The Big Bear Butt himself, who seems to have a number of misgivings about the gear system, himself.

Now, while I've spoken a number of times about how I dislike the alternative routes by which a person can obtain epics of equal or greater value than the raid gear available to myself, I feel like I have yet to really hit the nail on the head. Not only do I feel like I keep coming out of it misunderstood and misrepresented, but I feel that I have yet to even fully pin down why I loathe PvP and badge gear in my own mind. I just know that I do. But bear with me, while I try once again.

I've come to realize that my problem isn't that the PvP gear system is "E-Z mode Epix", but is instead that most people seem to BELIEVE thats the case. And because of that, everybody and their brother, especially these days, seems to do nothing but grind out PvP gear. Now sure, there are plenty of people who enjoy PvP, but I see people who hate it even more than I do in there, every stinking day, grinding out honor and Arena points (And shush, I know you can't truly grind out Arena points, just like you can't grind out Vashj drops). And while 90% of my guild, and the server as a whole, is in doing PvP instances, my PvE oriented self rarely, if ever, gets to do a 5-man instance run or, god forbid, a Kara badge run.

Quick sidenote: I still hate the fact that there are badge rewards better than the T5 gear I currently wear. I absolutely loathe that I have to grind Karazhan to keep up with my guildmates in gear, even if I make it to every single raid we have, simply because you can get better gear running Kara than you can running SSC/TK. But, as BBB said, "If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying, to use an old Marine (or Navy) saying… meaning, if you’re not using every advantage you can to win, you didn’t deserve to in the first place." Of course, that requires actually getting badges, which requires getting people to do PvE instances (unless, of course, blizzard decides to replace battleground tokens with heroic badges, which ironically would both enable me to upgrade my gear more easily, while simulatneously making me hate the system even more).

So anyhow, its not that I begrudge people that want to do PvP the opportunity, but instead is the fact that the people I used to run instances with (On, mind you, a PvE server) are no longer available because they're too busy grinding in PvP for the next "Phat Purp", because for a server like mine, PvP gear is the best raiding gear you're going to get your hands on. Sure, if you happen to be in a guild that has Illidan on farm and is working through Sunwell Plateau, the only reason you need to PvP is if you want to be good at PvP, or get PvP gear for, you guessed it, PvPing. Though honestly, I haven't compared the season 4 gear to top end raiding gear, so even that may not be true any more *shrug*.

Wait a second, this sounds familiar. A die-hard PvEer, complaining that the people that do PvP get an unfair advantage outside of PvP? Now is it just me, or was it only a couple years ago that the PvP community was constantly complaining that raiders, in their shiny T2/2.5/3 epics, had an unfair advantage in battlegrounds? I mean, I could be dead wrong here, having never been a PvP-oriented person myself (Like I would be a druid back then if I was . . . ), but I'm fairly certain I remember hearing a rather loud volume of QQ over the gear imbalance back in the day. And while it isn't completely the same (Top-end PvP gear is comparable to top-end PvE gear, as opposed to towering over it in quality), I think the similarity bears mention.

But there's another factor in play here. Like I said, people used to complain about top-end raiders decimating PvP with their overpowered gear. That was before resilience. Nowadays, raiding gear is really only good for raiding. PvPing in raid gear these days is like healing in a moonkin set: It's technically possible, and better than nothing, but if you want to be any good you really need to get a set of gear tailor made for the task at hand. The reason for this is resilience. When Blizzard introduced resilience rating to the game, it changed the face of PvP forever (well, not quit forever, but we'll get to that). It used to be that a huge health total was the hallmark of a good PvPer. Nowadays, that huge health pool needs to be augmented with a huge chunk of resilience rating to do you any good. And guess what, 99% of raid gear has exactly 0 resilience on it. So while your 50% crit rate and 4000 attack power might have made you a ganking God back in the day, the guy you just attacked with 350+ resilience is going to /laugh and /spit in your face when he absolutely rips you apart.

Now, to a degree, resilience also limits the usefulness of PvP gear in raiding. After all, resilience eats up item budget, but is a (near) useless stat in PvE. However, as any decent feral druid will point out, having a part of your item budget spent on a useless stat *coughintellectcough* does not necessarily make an item useless. Missing a vital stat entirely, on the other hand (Sunwell T6 feral pieces with no stamina during beta testing, anybody?) does. Thus, we have this double standard, where the PvE gear I get from raiding wouldn't really help me in PvP, should I decide to cross over, the Gladiator gear Joe Schmoe got from PvP allows him to keep up with my raiding gear rather nicely. But, from what I hear, that won't last forever. . . supposedly, Blizzard is looking to remove Resilience in WotLK. A move which, ironically, will help raiders more than it helps the PvPers who complained about the stat in the first place.

So, there you have it. My current two complaints about PvP gear: it kills (or at least seems to kill) the instancing pool, and PvP gear functions much better in PvE than PvE gear does in PvP.

PS: The next time someone tells me I should just go grind PvP gear to equip my alts, instead of complaining about a lack of people willing to run 5-mans, I'm going to smash my keyboard upside their head until they hear me when I say I don't like PvP in this game, I do not like it Sam I Am. . . er, wait, what?

/equip flame retardant suit

Continue reading 'Yet Another PvP Gear Rant'

Friday, June 20, 2008

When Is a Bear Not a Bear . . . Part Deux

I post today in hopes of soliciting the opinions of those that read my blog.

As you know by now (unless you're just reading my blog for the first time), I have been grappling with a general loss of interest as far as my main character, Surania, is concerned. I won't bore you all with a rehash of what I've already said, as I think I covered everything in my first post by this name. Today, instead, I want to hold a sort of informal survey regarding the future of this blog.

The fact of the matter is, this blog has veered from its original focus, and probably wont be coming back to it. I'm 90% sure that my warlock, Kirari, will be becoming my new official main once WotLK comes out (if not much sooner). I've only been raiding on Surania when there is a definite need for another geared tank, with Kirari coming the rest of the time. And doing pretty damn well at it too, I was #3 on damage on Leotheras last night, not bad for a slightly undergeared affliction 'lock on a fight with constant aggro resets! But I digress . . .

On top of that, one of the other intended themes of this blog, Guild Leadership, has fallen by the wayside. The truth of the matter is, when you come online at a time when only the other guild leaders (all night owls) are on, there isn't much to do in terms of leadership. I don't even get to go to half of the officer meetings, because I never go to the raids (Technically we don't have officer meetings, they're "Post Raid Wrapup" meetings). Things are picking up for me a bit right now in terms of being Loot Officer, but that's because I'm starting to look into re-designing our DKP system for the upcoming expansion.

What I'm getting at here is that I'm no longer really blogging as a feral druid, nor as a guild leadership. Instead, I've mostly been focused on random alts as of late, and will probably have more to say about warlocks than anything once Wrath hits the stores (and you'd be insane to think I WONT be at Wal*Mart at midnight again this time around, being one of the first people in Outland was awesome!).

So, finally I get to my question for you all. Should I essentially "re-brand" myself? New name (Either a Warlock-themed one, or one that emphasizes my possession of far too many alts) and new banner, with perhaps a new color scheme to go with it? Should I keep my current name and theme? Or should I do both, by starting a new blog, but keeping the current one as well? All three of these options are possible, each disagreeing with a different side of me; Practical, Sentimental, and Lazy

First off, my sentimental side says to stick with The Rambling Bear. Surania was my first character, and I've played her for over 2.5 years now. She is a part of who I am, at least in a gaming sense, and that's hard to give up. Heck, I doubt my guildmates will ever stop calling me SuraBear and Papa Bear, that sort of nickname just sticks with you. Keeping TRB the way it is also appeals to my Lazy side, but from a practical standpoint, I just can't seem to justify it.

In terms of being practical, re branding makes sense. If I'm going to write primarily about a warlock, it doesn't make sense to be called "The Rambling Bear". I should revamp the site, get a new banner, and make it official. A warlock/alts site with the TRB name is just likely to get ignored and forgotten about by those who would be most likely to read it (Warlocks and 'lock aficionados). But deep down, I just don't want to stop being TRB.

The third option appeals to both the sentimental and the practical. I could simply start up a second blog, and use that for my warlock-themed posting. Though I have two problems with the final option: First of all, I'm lazy, and getting a new blog up and running sounds like a lot of effort. And second, I barely post enough these days to warrant ONE blog, let alone two. But, I put the option out there anyhow.

So, what do you guys think? Would the Rambling Bear sound silly talking about Warlocks and alts all the time? Or does it not really matter what the name is, only the content? Will Snidely Whiplash succeed this time? Tune in next time!
Continue reading 'When Is a Bear Not a Bear . . . Part Deux'

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Class DON'T You Play?

PSA: In case anyone was wondering, no, I have no plans whatsoever to discuss the alpha talent/spell information being circulated around the intertubes. Some interesting stuff, to be sure, but its far too early to get excited over any of it. Though I have to admit, some of the things out there are really droolworthy, like Tiger's Fury GIVING you energy (via King of the Jungle), feral druids getting a sick-as-hell 51-point talent (Berserk), and Survival of the Fittest's effect getting doubled (the latter I suspect will, in fact, make it into the game, both to help feral PvP woes, and to shut us up about the whole lack of defense on leather issue).

So anyhow, in my boredom with the midnight-at-level-70 scene on Steamwheedle, I've taken up levelling yet ANOTHER alt. This time, my focus is on my shaman, currently level 32 and enhancement spec. I've actually had the character for a good six months now, but had abandoned him a number of months ago at the young age of 26 when I started focusing on the paladin. And it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Kornaq became my sixth level 70 character.

The question becomes, why a shaman this time around? Well, mostly its process of elimination. There are only four classes I don't have at 70 yet, those being shaman, priest, warrior, and rogue. I really want to have an end-level healing character, especially since the paladin (who was SUPPOSED to fill that role) got pulled to be a second tank. That cuts me down to shaman and priest.

The decision to lean toward shaman came down to two points. First of all, I already have access to a level 70 healing priest, should I ever want to play it, since my [strike]fiancee[/strike] wife plays a holy priest, and as of a couple weeks ago is finally the big 7-0. Second, and more importantly, I found I really don't like killing mobs as a priest, and with the lower levels so barren, I would have no other choice. I found this out when I played my own priest (Tornaq, whom I still have) to level 35, and I reaffirmed that when I was helping the wife on the final stretch to 70, where I found I really couldn't stand grinding on her character (though I do much enjoy healing with her). In fact, the shaman was originally rolled with the intention of replacing my priest, hence the similar names.

There is a third factor which I'm slowly realizing, though. Levelling as enhancement is very, very similar to what I remember levelling as a feral druid being. I kill things via burst DPS (albeit as a druid, I got to control when the bursts happened, not so much with windfury weapon), and when I need some health back, I simply toss a spell or two and keep going. Hell, both classes even get travel forms! The biggest difference I'm finding so far is that I do have to drink occasionally with the shaman, whereas I never really had to with my druid, but thats mostly because I actually get to use my mana while DPSing for things like lightning bolts (to pull), shocks (to interrupt spells, or to augment DPS when I get a focus proc), and totems.

There is one thing about this new character thats driving me nuts, though. The Auction House price gouging has gotten more and more absurd. At level 32, I'm looking at having to pay 10+ gold for green leather pieces with any amount of strength or agility on it. Now sure, I could go and farm some SSO dailies to get that kind of money, but I made a decision not to fund this character at all. So my gear is pretty crummy, save for my weapon (and in 8 levels, weapon*s*). On the plus side, my decision to go dual-gatherer with this (and likely all future) character has been paying off, and I've made about 70 gold since level 26, just from selling herbs, skins, and the occasional green (generally for about a gold).

I'll be completely honest, though, I'd much rather be raiding on my current 70s (even the hunter, as much as I dislike the character now).

Continue reading 'What Class DON'T You Play?'

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When is a Bear not a Bear

So, you all may have noticed lately that not only have I not been posting much, but when I DO post, it hasn't been about druids. Lately, all I've been talking about are my paladin and other holy men (Well, technically I was married by a judge, but thats neither here nor there). And while I imagine most people who read this blog find other classes to be interesting, the general idea behind a druid-themed blog is, in fact, discussion of the druid class.

So, whats with the absence of bear-tanking goodies lately? Well, I have a confession to make . . .

I'm bored. In a general sense, I'm a bit bored with the game as a whole, mostly because of my inability to participate in the activities I really want to be a part of. I haven't been able to attend our thursday/friday raid nights for a long time now, and those are our boss farming days (at least I don't actually need any gear from the farm bosses on Surania due to a combination of crap itemization and obscenely overpowered badge gear). Weekend raiding in Prophecy has been largely hit-or-miss lately; I haven't seen the inside of a 25-man instance for three weeks now.

Heck, I can't even get into Karazhan raids half of the time, as everybody-and-their-mother runs it while I'm at work on tuesdays. The midnight run I once hosted has fallen prey to earlier runs, summer schedules, and a general apathy which seems to have been caused by a combination of people jumping to Age of Conan, an early-onset pre-expansion (hyphen-inducing) slump, and the start of summer. Poor Jasminne is still in fairly crappy gear (though she did finally save up the 75 badges for that sexy paladin tanking chest).

Honestly, that takes away half of the reason I play the game these days. 5-man content is nice and all, but I've done every damn instance so many times that the runs bore me to death. PvP . . . well, if I really wanted to PvP, I'd probably join the folks jumping ship for AoC. And low-level content? Yeah, I'm rolling yet ANOTHER alt just to fill my WoW playing time, but honestly its about as engaging as farming gold (which I also detest, by the way). And as for the other half of the reason I play? I love my guildies, and hanging out with them, but alas, most of the folks who are usually online when I can play have started a set of Horde alts who I have no hope to catch up to.

All of that contributes to my lack of posting in general. But there's one other thing. Something that is hard for me to admit to, especially here amongst my fellow Druids.

Surania has been boring the crap out of me.

Thats right. I'm bored of my druid. I haven't completely hammered down why I've lost interest in playing Surania, but I've come to realize a number of contributing factors:

1:) I'm a spoiled brat who misses the limelight. I remember the pre-BC days, when getting to occasionally offtank an add in a raid was a huge deal for me as a bear tank. Compared to those days, I have it damn good. But I'm selfish, and miss the days when Prophecy was young, with just a handful of 70s. Back then, I was THE go-to tank, the best geared and skilled meat shield. When we couldn't take down Prince Malchezaar because he kept killing the tank in phase two, *I* was the big gun called in to take the hits.

I didn't know it back then, but that Malchezaar kill was to be the last guild-first I would ever get to maintank. I was on Shaman duty the day we downed Maulgar. Gruul himself was being tanked by me when he died, but only because our actual maintank bit the bullet halfway through. The two T5 bosses guides commonly suggest using a bear tank on were tanked by warriors; I was cat DPS/add offtank the first time Tidewalker fell (despite trying to clue in the raid leader to bears' superiority in the MT role on that fight), and wore bark the first time we cleansed Leotheras of his inner demon for good.

I know, druids are the ideal offtanks, not main tanks. And I know that my limited play schedule means I really SHOULDN'T be getting the premium tanking gigs. But God damn, I miss the rush of adrenaline as the big, bad boss who was beating on my furry hide fell for the very first time. Its an incredibly addictive feeling.

2: The class no longer challenges me. Perhaps there will be new challenges when we start progressing full bore into T6 instances, but right now we're preparing to tackle the old 3/4 - 5/6 T5 gatekeeper bosses (Kael'thas and Vashj, for those who didn't know), and my tanking roles have been boring me. "Take [insert add name here] over to that corner and keep him busy." just isn't all that exciting, especially when said add is weak enough to be tanked by a fury warrior in half blues (that is, the majority of non-boss mobs, including many bossfight adds). Half of my tanking assignments, I could literally smack the mob with a mangle, move them to my spot, and then go AFK, autoattack generating ample threat to hold the mob until it dies.

Yes, I will admit, I HAVE done that during raids. So sue me.

3: I have nowhere to go from here. I look at loot lists for the bosses my guild is killing and shrug. I see plenty of gear I'd die for on my Paladin, or my Warlock, but nothing I give a crap about on Surania. Sure, I could definitely fight for some upgrades to my cat DPS set, but since I wear my tanking gear more often than my damage gear on raids, I've never felt right in taking the gear over rogues, hunters, and DPS warriors (assuming we had any, all our warriors are tanks for some reason). And anyhow, even if there were upgrades to my tanking set available, I don't earn much DKP (as most of it is earned on the farming nights, which I can't attend, or by farming raid materials, which as I mentioned earlier, I detest).

Not that getting upgrades would make much difference these days. Like I said, I'm usually tanking stuff that could be tanked by fury warriors in half blue gear.

So, in short, the class I once absolutely adored now has me absolutely a-bored. What's a guy to do? Well, I'm not 100% sure yet, but its looking more and more likely that, once WotLK hits, Kirari (my warlock) will become my main character. I never used to be much for straight damage-dealing characters in games, but I've become rather addicted to the affliction warlock lifestyle. And, on the plus side, if blizzard continues bringing out encounters like Shade of Aran, Teresian Illhoof, High King Maulgar, and Leotheras the Blind, I'll have plenty of interesting challenges that I, as a warlock, will be uniquely equipped to deal with.

Thats a decision to set in stone later on, though. I refuse to change mains before the expansion simply due to the fact that Surania has benefitted greatly from her time raiding with Prophecy in terms of gear. I would feel like I was cheating the guild if I did not continue to use said gear to further our raiding efforts until such time as said gear becomes obsolete. Not to mention, I'd never be able to catch up in gear if I switched mains now, I can't attend the raids Kirari's upgrades would drop in.

I'll try to come up with some druid-related topics to discuss in the future, I promise. I just don't want to bring you guys some half-assed, uninspired posts simply because I'm not feeling it.
Continue reading 'When is a Bear not a Bear'

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paladin Tanking. E-Z Mode? Not So Much.

If I have learned one thing from playing Jasminne, it is that my jealousy over their ability to "Easy-Mode AoE Tank" is more perception than truth. I suppose I had bought into the cries of "Paladin tanks have it so easy, why can't we AoE tank like Paladins" that I see often from warriors (nothing against warriors, mind you, just the ones that yell the loudest on the forums). While it is true that Paladins have the easiest time of AoE tanking big groups (with the added advantage of being able to actually do it while others hit said group with AoE DPS), Druids and Warriors are each perfectly capable of tanking large groups if they know what they're doing (and the DPSers know enough to use single-target DPS), and Paladins give up a lot of what we take for granted.

Now, before I go any further, let me clarify one thing. Paladins are perfectly viable tanks. In no way is what I am about to discuss intended to imply that Paladin tanks suck, or that they can only be used successfully in specific situations. In fact, my point is the opposite. I have great respect for those who walk the road of the Prot Paladin, and would never think twice about standing behind one on any of my characters, in any situation (Well, except maybe for those damnable "prot warrior only" fights like Reliquary of Souls).

For those who haven't played a paladin tank before, such as myself, you may think they have it easy. Chuck a shield at a group of mobs, keep a consecrate on the ground and holy shield up, and watch as the mobs die around you. And frankly, sometimes that really is how the prot paladin plays. Six mob pulls in Shattered Halls? Talk about a yawnfest. Some instances, like SH, play very well to a paladin's strength: Standing in one place, tanking big groups.

Not all fights in WoW are like that (thank God, we'd all get bored to tears if that was the case). Fights that require the tank to constantly be on the move are tough on a paladin. Take, for example, Grandmaster Vorpil, the third boss of Shadow Labyrinth. The standard method (at least on my server) for doing that fight is to have the tank pull Vorpil around all of the voidwalkers that he spawns to a safe, clear area. Not an unreasonable thing to ask a tank to do (in fact, I really enjoy that fight on Surania), but with a Paladin tanking, this means DPS has to slow it down a bit, because unless that pally stands relatively still (which he can only do once out of the spawns), his Consecrations are only getting to tick once or twice every 8 seconds, if he even bothers blowing the mana on casting them at all. Meanwhile, a druid or warrior tanking that fight can continue full threat generation.

Second, an issue I'm sure everybody is at least somewhat familiar with: Mana. Prot paladins have to focus a lot on standard tanking stats like defense, dodge, stamina, armor, and block. As such, we tend to be lacking on caster stats like mana regen and intellect. Jasminne currently has a little over 4,000 mana, and no form of passive mana regeneration at all. The only way I get any mana back during a fight is by taking large amounts of damage, since Paladins' Spiritual Attunement gives back 10% of all outside heals as mana. Unfortunately, if I'm trying to maximize my threat generation, I'm spending 82.5 mana/second on Consecration, 19ish mana/second on Judgement, 32.5 mana/second on Seal of Righteousness, and 28 mana/second on Holy Shield. 162 mana/second to maintain max threat, meaning if I'm taking less than 1.6k damage EVERY SECOND, I'm either running OoM or using a lower-threat cycle to conserve, most often either dropping/downranking Consecration, or swithcing either my seal or judgement (or both) to wisdom. All three of which reduce my threat generation drastically. I can't just spend 2 seconds autoattacking and get enough mana to pop out a Consecrate the same way I autoattack on Surania once and get the rage for another mangle or swipe.

Even when mana isn't limited, however, a paladin's ability to crank out threat can be diminished signifigantly. I had already mentioned mobility fights, where consecration (which at my gear level generates about 200 threat/second) can't be used as much, but what about crowd control? Usually, with good CCers, and a good plan of action, you can find a way to make it viable, but more often than not, you'll find yourself in situations where the mage was asleep at the wheel, the hunter couldn't peel his mob off of you, or the warlock isn't paying any attention to where his seduced mob is going to go after it breaks, and you suddenly have a moon, square, or diamond-marked mob in your face (at least if you use my marking system). If you're able to handle the extra mob beating on you, then you'll probably just continue to consecrate and tank the mob (while the CCer gets annoyed that you keep breaking sheep/seduce or building threat on trap). If that mob, however, is one of the caster trash mobs in SSC, for example, you must instead move said mob out of your current Consecration, wait for the aforementioned CCer to recast, and then move AGAIN before you can continue to use your signature threat ability.

Casters are another treat. Instead of making it impossible to Consecrate, casters tend to make yet another big aggro builder ineffective: Holy Shield. Some casters, like Kael'thas, will still swing at you from time to time with their staves, giving you at least a few procs of holy damage. Others, like his warlock trash mobs, do nothing but spam spells, thus denying you of a lot of threat (Did I mention every time I block on jasminne, I generate 5-600 threat, depending on my choice of buffs at the time?). On the plus side, casters also tend to do more damage to tanks, allowing your healer to refill your blue bar so you can continue to spam consecrate. Yeah, welcome to the mindset of a paladin tank, the only folks I know that actually use their /sit button as a TANKING TOOL

So, whats my point in all of this? Its simple really: Paladin tanking isn't my bag. Any e-peen envy I may have had for paladins is all but erased, and I am quite happy to do any tanking that needs to be done on my druid (though I do plan to keep Jasminne prot until the expansion, at which time she'll probably go back to her original intent of being a healer).

Now, if only I could tank murlocs and solarian adds with swipe. . . oh, right, then I never would have been a paladin tank in the first place. . .
Continue reading 'Paladin Tanking. E-Z Mode? Not So Much.'

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let It Be Known. . .

. . . that on this, the sixteenth day of May, in the year 2008, at six o'clock in the evening,

Mr. David A. Brush


Ms. Susan M. Snyder

Have been joined in marriage.

No, this isn't a joke. I really am getting married today (in fact, if this post scheduling thing works right, at the exact time that this announcement goes up, the cerimony is beginning). Sorry ladies, you missed your chance, I'm officially off the market (not that I was really available before, anyhow). And yes, this has been part of the reason I haven't been posting much lately, too. Continue reading 'Let It Be Known. . .'

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big News on the Horizon

. . . and you don't get to know what it is until this friday at 6:00 PM when the announcement, which I have already written, goes live automatically. Wanna know what it is?

Too bad! I'm not telling. Well, not my blog readers anyhow (And if my guildies spill the beans, I'll smack the lot of you!)

Is the suspense killing you? Too much for you to handle? Well, ok, I guess I could give you a hint. . .

*points to the label for this post*. Yeah, that's all you're getting. Too bad if you don't like it, thats all I'm giving you. Heck, that's all I have time to give you (Oh, could that possibly be another clue? Perhaps. . . )

Continue reading 'Big News on the Horizon'

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Jump To Heroics

Ah, heroic dungeons. Every time I level up a new character nowadays, one of the things I look forward to is getting them into heroic runs, both because the loot is better, and the challenge is. . . well, existant. Honestly, whenever I run a nonheroic instance, even on a character who isn't decked out in blues and purples yet, I look forward to one of two equally unappealing outcomes: The group is good, and the instance is a snorefest, or the group is BAD, and the instance run makes me want to tear my hair out.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (yeah, I miss posting 5 times a day too), Jasminne hit the big 7-0. And much to my surprise, it was only a couple of days until she found herself decked out in blues from doing a few select quests, grinding some rep, and buying some BoEs from the Auction House. I found myself going through the nonheroic instance loot lists, and thinking to myself "Wow, these are extremely minor upgrades, at best". And yet, I look at my stats and cringe: 12k health, 12.5k armor, 45% avoidance. . . the only decent stat I have is my spelldamage! Great, I'm a tank who can hold aggro just fine, until I die to a trio of lucky 4k hits. Hence my current dilemma: I'm stuck in-between normal instances and heroics!

So what is a tank to do, faced with such abysmal stats? Well, fortunately this isn't the first time I've faced this dilemma, but since Surania was in this situation well over a year ago, I had forgotten about it. Not to mention that at the time Surania was first hitting heroics, it was the norm to struggle running them. Heck, I can remember the excitement I felt the first time I got asked to tank a run for what was THE raiding guild on the server at the time, and how amazed I was at how few wipes we experienced by the time we finally killed. . . Quagmirran!

Alas, these days most people are used to Kara/PvP geared epic tanks with 16k+ health and tons of avoidance and mitigation. Nobody wants the scrub who just got his first set of blues to tank. Heck, if I were a healer/DPS, *I* wouldn't want me to tank particularly! But like I said, to get the gear I really need to run heroics the way people are accustomed to running them, I have to get the gear FROM those heroics. But how?

Well, your first option is to just keep chugging away at those nonheroic runs, using them to grind reputation with various factions for their rewards. But if your server is like mine, you'll never get enough Shadow Lab runs to buy that sweet spelldamage mace, or Tempest Keep runs for that lovely shield, or Steam Vault runs for the ever-so-sexy hammer. Grinding rep with the Aldor/Scryers for your shoulder enchant, or the Shattered Sun for an epic necklace and shield, is a reasonable pursuit, but many factions are likely to be out of reach (and anyhow those faction grinds are obnoxiously long). So, back to the drawing board. . .

New approach. First of all (and this applies at all points in your WoW career), know what the hell you're doing. I've always said that Skill > Spec > Gear, and even in a situation like this, where your gear is a major limiting factor, I hold that to be true. Skill can make up for a lot of blue gear, especially when it comes to knowing those fun little tricks to things like Dash Pulling or rezzing people while tanking. For example, last night Jasminne tanked heroic Slave Pens. An easy instance for most of us, but let me tell you that she was just BARELY staying vertical. And one of the biggest saving graces for me was being able to use my bubble, even while tanking (Note: if you are a tank, you should have a macro set up for divine shield that both casts DS and /cancelaura's it. Hit it once to put up the bubble, hit again to drop it). My bubble saved my butt many times, including a couple times I bubbled to give the healer time to bring my health back up, then broke bubble just before the mobs got to said healer and tossed my shield at them to regain their attention, and the time I dumped Rokmar on the poor enhancement shaman long enough to get a heal and drop the debuff (poor guy got hit for 95% of his health, bet he's glad for every point of stam his gear had!)

Secondly (and this applies doubly to Paladins), you have to remember your crowd control. Yes, this coming from the guy who does 30 minute Heroic Shattered Halls runs with no CC for fun. The fact is, if you dont have the gear to survive getting beaten on by half a dozen heroic mobs at a time, you need to not be GETTING hit by half a dozen mobs at a time. I think that as Jasminne I surprise people when I start putting up marks for sap, trap, and sheep on pulls, but I know that if I try to, for example, tank all 4 Bogstroks at once, I'm going to faceplant real quick. Don't be afraid to ask for unusual forms of crowd control, either. I'm sure that rogue will be glad to toss stuns on one of the mobs, and I know of at least one frost mage who revels in frost kiting mobs around SH just because.

Third, don't be afraid to go to Karazhan. No, you wont have the gear to maintank Malchezaar and Nightbane, but if you're in a decent set of blues, even if you're like me and have yet to reach crush immunity, you should do just fine as an offtank. Most of the trash in there is actually MORE survivable than your average heroic pull, and you probably have 2-3 healers there instead of just one (albeit one will be working on keeping the MT up as well). Of course, if your guild doesn't have Karazhan on farm yet, it may be a bit more challenging, but I assure you, it isn't going to be as bad as you think. And with 22 badges and at least 23 epics dropping on every full clear, you'll have TONS of opportunities to upgrade as you go!

As I mentioned, I'm still crushable. But thats not as big of a deal as you might think. Most of the fights in Karazhan aren't so bad that getting crushed occasionally will spell your doom. Crushing blows on Nightbane will mess you up, granted. Getting crushed by Netherspite can really hurt (though one of the effects of the red beam on that fight is actually a stacking defense boost, so you're not likely to stay crushable for long). And Prince Malchezaar in phase 2 will really mess up a crushable paladin. . . but at the same time, Prince Malchezaar has a huge Dual wield penalty during that phase, so even if you are for some reason trying to tank him in the crappy gear I have, you probably ARE crush immune during that phase. But I digress. . .

On a similar note, you could always try to get in to some heroic runs as an offtank, or respec to DPS or healing for them. You don't have to be the tank to pick up tanking gear, necessarily (though I would advise making sure the tank for said groups doesn't need what you're looking for). The fact of the matter is, its a lot easier to make a group run with undergeared DPS than it is to do the same run with undergeared tanks and (to a slightly lesser degree) healers. There's no shame in taking a slightly easier road to purple bliss. Just realize that running heroics as an undergeared tank can teach you a LOT about your class and capabilities!

And finally, some of us are lucky enough to be able to obtain crafted epics to tank in. There's a cloak thats great for starting bear tanks, some really nice plate bracers, a handful of beautiful belts (And if you happen to be a blacksmith or leatherworker, a set of matching boots), a couple of great stamina trinkets, etcetera. Sure, crafted epics will cost you a pretty penny, but these days its easy to do a week of dailies and buy a purple with the proceeds. And as an added bonus, some of those dailies have a chance of giving you a shiny Badge of Justice as a reward (Just don't count on getting them, so sayeth the paladin who has been at 34 badges for the last ten Supply Pouches, just one shy of a new cloak)

I leave you with one small piece of advice that I had to (re)learn the hard way. Remember that not all heroics are created equal. Slave Pens, Underbog, and the Mechanaar are good places to start earning epics. Shadow Labyrinth, Magisters' Terrace, and Black Morass are not.
Continue reading 'The Jump To Heroics'

Friday, April 18, 2008

Two Tanks. . . This is Madness!

So, a couple days I posted about the tank shortage that seems to exist in my guild (and on the server, as well, though that may just be the "Tanks don't generally PuG" phenomenon). Well, far be it from me to just be part of the problem. I'm now also one of those level 70 tank ALTS that I spoke so much about. Yep, thats right, last night Jasminne dinged her last ding (until WotLK anyhow), and is my newest level 70 character. And additionally, despite my levelling her with the intent of her becoming my healing alt, recent developments are making it very likely that she will remain prot for a long time to come.

Why the change of heart, you might ask? Well, it wasn't actually that I fell in love with paladin tanking (though I have to admit its fun, if a bit too easy at times). Nor was it that I decided I dislike healing (though I would still kinda prefer to have a resto druid over a holy paladin, I just didn't feel like levelling a second druid). The change of plans stems entirely from guild events. Prophecy once had four raid-ready paladins (maybe not four at once, but at least three). One, a high ranking member of the guild, got burned out on the game and left. Might be back someday, but I kind of doubt it at this point. Another, a personal friend of mine, had her computer blow up on her a couple months back, and she probably wont be able to afford another until Wrath comes out. A third we hired as a raiding paladin, but ultimately had to demote them because they couldn't come to raids often enough, and a couple weeks ago they quit entirely. And number four, who for a while now had been our primary prot paladin, had to leave because our raid times and his availability just didn't match up, and raiding with us was causing a huge strain on his life.

No big deal, right? We still have prot warriors and feral druids, and both of those classes can tank just fine. . . well, not exactly. You see, while Tier 4 content can legitimately be tanked fully by any of the three tanking classes, higher end content doesn't share that distinction (or would that be a lack of distinction? Meh.) The most commonly cited examples are Illidan and Reliquary of Souls, both of which put bears at a severe disadvantage due to our lacking shield block and spell reflect to deal with those bosses' special abilities. Kael'thas often makes that list too (Any bear who has been oneshotted by Magisters' Terrace's version of Kael on heroic knows about his deadly pyroblasts. . . he does it three times in a row in the "real" fight IIRC.)

But in addition to bear-unfriendly fights, there are a number of fights that practically REQUIRE a prot paladin to tank. Morogrim Tidewalker and High Astromancer Solarian. On top of that, Mount Hyjal is pretty much build around the assumption that every raid has at least one prot paladin in it, and while not required, Zul'Aman is also much, much easier with a paladin tank. So whats a guild to do when they're in this content (Yes, we're peeking into Mt. Hyjal these days, and have downed Rage Winterchill a couple of times now), but suddenly have no prot paladins to tank these fights?

Well, actually, the first thing we did was to have our guildmistress' Enhancement Shaman boyfriend switch mains from the shaman to his paladin, and then had the entire guild come together to gear the hell out of him. It's truly amazing what a group of people can do in short order when they set their mind to it, one week into the switch we had him tanking Hyjal waves. He's really doing a great job. . . but I have this thing about not hinging a guild's success on a single person. I, and a few others, really wanted to see us have at least two capable prot paladins, the second being more of a backup plan should the one we have not be able to come for whatever reason.

And what can I say, I'm a sucker for a challenge. While I'm not going to get geared up NEARLY as quickly as the other paladin was, I fully plan to make Jasminne that backup paladin. In fact, I have two distinct advantages over our current paladin tank: I have a lot of raid tanking experience under my belt already, and I have no need to gear Jasminne up to be a raid MAIN tank, as I already have a character fully able to fill that role. Crushing blows? Don't care. Paladin T4? Hell yeah, I'll tank in that!

. . . Oh God, what have I gotten myself into . . .
Continue reading 'Two Tanks. . . This is Madness!'

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tank Shortage: Do You Believe?

Today's post isn't really a blog post at all. I just got done with a forum post in the Prophecy boards discussing what seems to be a growing problem: the dreaded tanking shortage. I used to not believe there was a shortage, but since I started playing level 70 alts, I've gotten to see things from a different perspective. In fact, I think the existance of alts, itself, is perhaps the biggest contributor to the problem. . . but I'll explain that later. So, here in its entirety, the seven reasons I see for the apparent tank shortage in Prophecy, on Steamwheedle Cartel, and I suspect in general.

1: Legitimate tank unavailability. I don't get on until very late. [Prot Warrior 1] has been largely unavailable. I haven't seen [Prot Warrior 2] online in weeks. This is, I think, what people have been noticing most. We have tanks show up for raids, but outside of those raiding timeslots, many of our tanks just aren't available. However, I do not think this is the primary problem, just a part of the puzzle.

2: Lack of motivation to play. As I see it, there are four basic modes in which most people play the game: Grinding, Instancing, Raiding, and PvPing. Lets drop raiding from that list, since we're talking about activities outside of raid times. DPS classes/specs are good at all three of the remaining playstyles. Healers are good at two (not so good at grinding). Tanks are only good at instancing (Barring feral druids, of course, due to our dual nature). If a tank player wants to do anything other than run instances, they're better off logging on to a DPS or healing alt to do it, or respeccing to DPS (and thus still being unavailable as a tank), especially considering how dead our server is when it comes to instance running. Who wants to sit hopelessly on LFG while grinding on mobs as a prot spec?

3: Lack of alt tanks. This is where I see a large part of the problem being. We have a decent contingent of main characters who are tanks. But look at the active alts in our guild, at least at 70, and . . . well, I cant remember the last time I did anything with somebody's tank alt (It was probably a run with [Paladin Tank], who is now a main due to our losing our only other Prot paladin, and needing one for much of the upper level raid content). There are some healing alts, and plenty of DPS alts, but no tank alts, thus shifting the balance of available characters away from tanks.

4: Emphasis on alts. This one combines with #3 and further complicates matters. By and large, this guild's main characters are pretty geared up at this point. Most people, at most raiders, don't really have any upgrades they need from normal instances or heroics. At most they want the badges from heroic runs so they can buy pity-raid-epics from the badge vendor on Sunwell Island once the anvil is built. So, if our main characters have little to no reason to run instances, and our tanks are all main characters, we apply the transitive property (LOLmath) and come to the conclusion that our guild's tanks have no reason to run instances. THIS, I believe, is probably the biggest reason there are never any tanks available.

5: Stricter requirements. This is something that I think might contribute to the lack of tanking alts. Tanks need to be better at their job, and better geared, than other classes just to function at a basic level. Not trying to knock anyone's skill here, but I really, truly believe it. We're at the point now as a guild where we could probably bring a freshly minted DPS character geared in WHITES, have them sit in a safe corner in a heroic run, and 4-man the place to get gear for that person. Healers cant afford to be as undergeared, but ultimately with a T5-geared tank taking the hits, we've already proven that an offspec healer with so-so gear can heal through some rough heroics. An undergeared tank in a heroic, on the other hand, it a recipe for disaster. No matter how good a healer is, they cant keep a tank alive if they're being eaten by chain crits and have only 9k health. No matter how good the DPS is, they cant kill a mob fast enough to keep that from happening, because said tank doesn't have the gear to generate enough threat to keep the mob's attention, and the DPSers end up biting the dust first. So, while we can pretty easily gear up DPSers right as they hit 70 just by babysitting them through some heroics, tanks are a whole other ballgame, and having to gear up an alt slowly isn't that appealing, especially when, as I mentioned before, instance runs are few and far between on our server.

6: Tank demand burnout. A self-fulfilling dilemma, stemming initially from #1, but ultimately perpetuated by all of the points here. Because we have fewer tanks available, when a tank DOES come online they become an extremely hot commodity, like when a mage joins LFG -- Heroic Magisters' Terrace. And while its great to be wanted, its easy to get to the point where tanking runs turns from something fun to an obligation to be fulfilled to your guild. And unfortunately, we tanks are often the sort of person who finds it hard to say no to people. I personally have learned to say no somewhat, but for the record I still feel like an ass whenever someone asks for a tank in guild, I'm on Kirari, and I just stay silent, selfishly spamming the LFG channel for a heroic run for badges to buy his new dagger, wishing the damned tanks would come online.

7: Repair bills. I don't know if this is an actual reason or not. I personally am not fazed in the slightest by my repair bills any more (Even a deathless H-SH run will cost me the better part of ten gold for repairs), but maybe the plate wearers are more sensitive to it, since they dont have a catform to earn the money back with. The fact is, your tank is paying more in repair bills than you. I'll almost gurantee it. Unless you're in T5 epics, your tank is in dungeon greens, and you're wiping like its going out of style, your tank is taking the brunt of the repair costs on himself, simply because every time they get hit, there is a set chance for one of their items to incur a durability hit (and every time they block, their shield has an additional chance to take a point of damage, hence why Jasminne carries two shields with her at all times). And while that 40 gold repair the prot warrior just racked up is just a couple primals to a DPSer, for him to get those primals takes him at least twice as long as you take due to his spec and gear.

Just some points to ponder the next time there are 20 DPSers, 3 healers, and (maybe) 1 tank online in your guild.
Continue reading 'Tank Shortage: Do You Believe?'

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Art of Seduction

Yes, I know, I'm a Druid blogger, and this is a druid blog. But I said at the outset that one of the topics I would write about is my alts, and so today, I bring you an article about playing a warlock. I encourage you all to read it, though, since one of the marks of a great WoW player is not just knowing your own class, but having a working understanding of the other eight classes, as well!

So anyhow, I have a confession to make. For the last couple of weeks, the Rambling Bear has fallen to the corruped influence that is Kirari Jacol, the Affliction Warlock. Sure, when it comes to raiding with the guild, I've been hopping on Surania and tanking it up like a pro, but in my off time, I've been working on gearing up the gnome. Well, at least in the time I haven't been spending grinding out daily quests with the Shattered Sun Offensive. Been trying to save up money for an epic flyer for the missus once she hits 70, and while I could technically make gold faster by farming primals and such, I get bored of that REAL fast.

Anyhow, one of the big things I've been doing on Kirari (or at least trying to do, when groups are available) is running Heroic Magisters' Terrace (Or MrT, if only because that abbreviation amuses me greatly). The first boss has a dagger I desparately need (as I'm using the Continuum Blade, and have yet to see the Netherzim Mind-Blade), the third has a trinket that is absolute sex for warlocks (and shadow priests, I hear), and Kael himself sports some nice gloves (which, admittedly, also drop in normal mode), and I'd love to get a shot (rather, a second shot) at the rare mount or phoenix pet.

Now, for those of you who may have warlocks, or have done Terrace runs with them, you know that one of the most important jobs of a 'lock in there is providing crowd control. And since 90% of the mobs in there are humanoids, we're not talking about banish here (though banish definitely has its place, making the succubi into a non-issue). Indeed, this is one place a warlock will be called upon to summon their succubus and utilize seduce, unless your group is willing to trust in your ability to fear-kite mobs without pulling extra groups (Just be careful, they might then want you to do BOTH!)

The problem with using Selrah (or whatever your succubus' name might be) for CC is. . . well, there are multiple problems, really. Seduce has a lot of limitations that the more mainstream methods, such as polymorph or ice trap, do not, at least not all at once:

1:) Short Duration. Admittedly, this isn't a direct limitation, as you can always re-cast, but with only 15 seconds of duration per cast, your seduce target does require plenty of attention in even the easiest circumstances.

2:) Channeled Spell. Fortunately, since it is your pet, not yourself, channeling the spell, it does not necessarily limit your ability to contribute damage to the group. In fact, it technically opens you up to DPS even more, as you don't need to spend time re-casting your CC every once in a while. It does, however, mean that you need to be extremely careful where your pet stands while seducing, as any damage (from AoE especially) will break the seduce and send your succubus running back to you . . . or worse. . .

3:) Can't Be Refreshed. Yes, your succubus can recast seduction whenever it breaks. But since she has to channel the spell, she can't RECAST it before the first one has expired. This means that not only is it harder to prevent early breaks by recasting long before the spell should expire, but also that at the very LEAST the mob you're controlling spends 10% of the time free from your spell's influence, during which time it is likely to go after either the succubus or your healer, both of which are less-than-ideal situations.

4:) Succubi are Frail. The succubus isn't exactly the most hearty of travelling companions. Last time I looked, Selrah was sporting about 4k health, and I think that was with a fortitude buff. So not only will her taking damage break the seduction, it may very well break HER, too.

5:) . . . And have Limited Mana. Unless you're deep into demonology, there is no way to lifetap and regenerate your minion's mana like you do for your own. And while seducing every 16.5 seconds isn't a huge mana drain, you still have to be mindful of her mana (and that goes DOUBLE for affliction 'locks like me who are used to stealing mana from a phased imp all the time).

Because of these limitations, using seduction as crowd control is a skill that takes lots of practice to master. And while I by no means claim to be God's gift to warlocks, I felt the need to post a guide because of all of the comments I've gotten from people I've grouped with regarding how amazed they were at my ability to keep a mob locked down in seduce. Such comments say two things to me: I do pretty damn well for myself, and there are a large number of warlocks (I'd dare guess the majority of PuGgers) who do NOT.

U Can Has Macros

The very first thing you need on your quest to become a master pimp (Hey, your succubus is the one seducing people, not you big guy) is a focus macro. Actually, I would recommend using a similar macro for ANY classes with crowd control duties; Mages, Priests, Hunters (for distracting shot), and even, dare I say it, Druids. The point of macroing your seduce is simple: without macros you have to change your target to that of the CC'd mob in order to apply/reapply control, a process that is both time consuming (as you have to pick your mob out of the crowd) and dangerous (sometimes you CANT find the right mob fast enough). By writing a focus macro, you never have to take your eyes off of the next mob in the kill order to reapply your control of choice. So what IS a focus macro? Well, try this simple two-liner on for size:

/cast [target=focus, exists] seduction; seduction

Yeah. Thats it. All she wrote. End of story. . . well, almost. I haven't told you how to USE it yet. But that part is simple, too. Just type "/focus" while you have your intended victim targeted to set your focus target before a pull (or you can make a macro for that, too, not a bad idea if you're a shaky typist). Got that? Good. Now whenever you press your seduce macro, it will look for your focus target and, if it exists, your succubus will be told to cast seduce on it. And as a bonus, if you DONT have a focus target, the macro is smart enough to say "Hmm, well, he hasn't specified a target, so he probably just wants to seduce whatever HE is targeting." Heck, if you want to get REALLY fancy, you can go with a more complex macro such as:

/clearfocus [target=focus,dead]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Seduction

Which works exactly like the previous macro, except it will also, if you dont have a living focus target, set your current target as your focus.

Preventing Lovers' Quarrels

Ok, now you have a nice, simple macro that lets you seduce your intended target at a moment's notice without having to target them first. All set, right? Well, not exactly. You see, those first four disadvantages I mentioned make it so the successful pimp has to take special care of his subject. You have a short duration crowd control that cant be refreshed, breaks if your succubus takes damage, and cant be recast at all if your succubus' limited health pool depletes. This means three things: You need to make sure your succubus stays at full health, you need to ensure your succubus is out of the way of any AoE, and you need to make sure that your succubus doesn't get eaten by her "man".

The first two conditions are relatively straightforward. Make sure you have health funnel on your bar somewhere convenient and that you keep an eye on your pet's health bar, and you have the first pretty well covered.

As for the second, make like a good trapping hunter and stand to the side of your group, at the very least away from the tank, so that any AoE hitting the main group doesn't strike your succubus. If you're in a situation where you cant be apart from the group, things get a little trickier. Either stand way back behind the group, or if you're feeling daring, have your succubus go invisible, and tell her to attack something behind the group you're planning to fight. Don't let her get to her target, though, we just want her to move to where the group to be fought currently is (or at least further out there, depending on how far she can go without being in a position to aggro the NEXT group when she drops invisibility. When she gets to the desired position, either type/macro the /petstay command, or click stay on your pet bar. That way, even though you have to stay with the group, your succubus will stay positioned where the mobs were, which generally isn't where they are fought, and thus wont be where any enemy AoEs are going off.

The third, however, requires a trick. When I first started playing Kirari in groups, I HATED being asked to use my succubus for one reason: The minute the first seduction expired, the mob would almost ALWAYS beeline it for my succubus and gank her, as her casting seduction was the only threat on the mob. Sometimes I'd manage to get a second seduce off before Selrah bit the dust, but at the end of the second cast she was pretty much guranteed to be a goner. So basically, I got a sap with 1/3 the duration that cost me a soulshard and prep time after every pull.

Eventually, though, I realized there was a simple solution to this problem. Since the tank wasn't going to hold aggro off of my succubus, it was up to ME to hold the aggro by slapping it in the face with a nice dose of shadow or fire. I personally prefer slapping the mob to be controlled with a shadowbolt, if only because it takes a bigger chunk out of the mob's health, especially since I have a number of shadow-only DPS pieces. Searing Pain may be preferable to use if you absolutely need to seduce your target the instant the pull starts, as you can start casting it, hit your seduce macro a split second later, and the two spells will go off near-simultaneously. Talk about a hunka hunka burnin' love!

Anyhow, the advantages of you having aggro instead of your succubus are threefold. First, you probably have a LOT more health than your succubus, and thus are more able to take a hit if it comes down to that. Second, healers are a lot more likely to keep a warlock alive than his pet, so you wont have to spend precious time channeling heals like you would if the succubus were getting hit. And third (and most importantly), unlike your succubus you are MOBILE. Every time you recast seduce, your next action should be to get as much range as possible on the seduce target, preferably in a position where the succubus is between the two of you. This gives you plenty of time to recast the seduce without getting beat on in the meantime. If you're seducing a caster, try to get out of their line of sight, as well, though if they cast spells with >1.5 second cast times, its likely they wont be able to get anything off anyhow.

The Advanced Class

I've already covered what you need to be a decent crowd controller in instances. But there are some extra techniques you can use to get that extra edge in every fight so you never have to blame a wipe on your own failed CC.

First of all, always put a Curse of Shadows on your CC target. CoS reduces a target's shadow resistance signifigantly, and seduction is a shadow spell. If you're absolutely sure the mobs you're fighting dont have shadow resistance, this isn't strictly necessary, but its a good precaution to take, since it will reduce the risk of seduce being resisted or breaking early.

Second, know how to fear kite. This means having control of a feared mob via use of curse of recklessness to suspend the fear effect when needed. Mistakes happen, and succubi bite the dust sometimes, even for experienced warlocks. If your succubus dies, or for whatever reason *coughswipespambreakingCC* runs out of mana, you're going to have a pissed off mob barreling down on you. Instill fear in that mob, and keep an eye on it! If it runs for a nice safe, clear area, you can try resummoning the succubus mid-fight, but most of the time you're likely to have to simply maintain the fear until the group can get to it. Always watch to make sure the mob doesn't run to another group of mobs, and be ready to hit it with curse of recklessness if it tries. Which means moving with the mob, keeping it at a nice moderate distance from you. Too close, and it might break fear and kill you before you can get another fear off. Too far away, and you might not be in range to cast CoR when you really need it. Oh, and dont DoT up the mob you're fearing, unless you're very confident that you can keep a safe distance while doing it, since DoTs greatly decrease the average duration of fear. For that reason, dont use Curse of Agony to overwrite CoR when kiting.

One more thing. If you're like me, and still wearing all three pieces of your Frozen Shadoweave, be very careful using shadowbolt on your seduce target at the pull. Either use searing pain to get aggro on your target, or wait until the first seduce timer is almost up to toss a shadowbolt. Using a shadowbolt right off the bat is likely to get you aggro on ALL of the mobs in the pull, due to the 2% heal you get from shadow spells, which is not a pretty situation , I assure you.
Continue reading 'The Art of Seduction'

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Ten Commandments of the Raider (Reformed Raid Bible)

So. . . yeah, despite what you may have heard, the Rambling Bear is still alive and out there somewhere. Unfortunately, I haven't even had the time to keep up on my reading, let alone writing, of blog posts. But, as I'm stuck at work this weekend, I do at least have time to put the spit and polish on an article I started before Easter. So, I present to you the Raider's Ten Commandments:

1: Thou Shalt Raid With No Other Guild Before Me. When you joined a raiding guild, one of the conditions you agreed to (explicitly or implicitly) was to raid WITH that guild. For some of you, this may be a "No, duh?" comment, but others of you know exactly what I'm talking about. There are people out there who sign up to raid with one guild, then end up spending raid nights running with another group. Thats not to say you shouldn't be able to raid with other people, but don't do it when your guild needs you, and don't go raiding content your guild is still running with another guild or group. And if you do, don't be surprised when you find your spot permanently filled by someone else.

2: Thou Shalt Not Make thyself an Ignoramus. Some guilds choose not to follow written strategies for boss fights, instead preferring to learn encounters the hard way. I have absolutely nothing against those who choose to play that way, and in fact even envy you a bit. Most guilds, however, prefer to use all resources available to them to progress, and instead focus on execution of proven battle plans. So, unless your guild is the sort that goes in blind, do us all a favor and read up on encounters BEFORE you come to them. There is little more irritating than having to explain a boss fight multiple times because one or two people don't know how a fight goes. Its a huge waste of time, when a group of 25 informed raiders could get by on a 5 minute overview of a fight just to get roles assigned.

And on that same note, a raider should also not be ignorant as to the workings of their own class. Now, as a blogger, I'm preaching to the choior here, but I'm sure we've all experienced people who, for example, don't know what a misdirect is (that hunter didn't last long in the guild), or don't know what is meant by "Judge Light on the Tin Man" (Likewise with that paladin, I believe). While levelling and running 5-mans, folks can get away with half-assing it, but raiders need all the advantages they can get if they ever want to get far in endgame.

3: Thou Shalt Not Take the Raid's Time in Vain. This one is a bit of a catch-all. Don't show up late to raids. Don't go AFK after every boss attempt *glares at a certain shaman*. Don't wait for the rezzers to run back, run with them (unless you have a good reason). Time limits are a big limiting factor in raiding, between hard limits like respawns and enrages, and soft limits like curfews, jobs, and just plain mental fatigue. Sometimes delays are unavoidable, because the baby just puked in your lap, the dog is about to crap on the floor, or the missus is about to lop your head off if you don't take out the trash NOW! But if you're interrupting the raid every 10 minutes for things like that, perhaps you shouldn't have signed up for that particular raid.

4: Remember the Consumables and Keep Them Handy. I'll be the first to admit that I don't use consumables all that much. Farm content doesn't really require it, at least at my level of play. However, if I'm maintanking in a 25-man I'm damned sure to chug some elixirs and eat some food. Or if we're working on a boss that we don't have on farm yet. Progression content is where your entire raid really needs to be sure to take every advantage you can get. Yes, flasks, elixirs, buff food, weapon oils, potions, and the like are all very expensive. Get over it, raiding is expensive. Always use your consumables on tough fights, and for God's sake, pack enough with you to last the night. In fact, pack twice what you think you'll need, because most people seem to underestimate what they'll go through, and even if you heavily overestimate, that just means you can help cover for the schmuck who didn't pack enough.

5: Honour Thy Guildmaster and thy Raid Leaders. There is a time and a place for bringing up issues with the guild and how things are done. Raid time is not that time, and the middle of a 25-man instance is not that place. If you have a suggestion for how something can be done better, by all means suggest it. But if the raid leader chooses not to take that advice, suck it up. You can debate the issue all you want after the raid, but during the raid, be a good little soldier and follow orders. Even if your ideas really ARE good, you'll just cause more problems than you'll solve by picking a fight with the leadership mid-run.

6: Thou Shalt Not Kill the Fun. Repeat after me: "Its a game. Its only a game. Games are not work. Games are fun. I will have fun. I will let my friends have fun." Good. Now, if you AREN'T enjoying a raid, don't go and ruin it for everybody else by screwing around and not pulling your weight. Either get yourself replaced, or suck it up and deal. You're not participating in a 25-man team "sport" to be selfish, young man!

7: Thou Shalt Not Commit if you Can't Come. Here's a hypothetical (if just barely) situation for you. 26 people sign up for a raid. 25 of them get accepted into the group, and the 26th decides to cut his losses and go out with some friends since there's no room for him. Except, come raid time, raider25 isn't there, because he forgot he had to go see his Aunt Bernice tonight. Nobody is online who can replace raider25, and the whole raid gets cancelled (and its too late for raiders1-24 to make other plans, to boot). I've seen this sort of thing occur far too many times, and its quite preventable. Always make sure you really CAN come to a raid before you sign up. Don't sign up "just in case", or at the very least make your situation known to the raid leader beforehand.

8: Thou Shalt Not Steal From the Guild Bank. The guild bank is a great tool for furthering a guild's raiding goals. In prophecy, it is a place to both share commonly used materials among guildies, as well as a place to stockpile BoE blues, Nethers, Flasks, Elixirs, Buff Foods, Oils, and the like for when they're in short supply. Certainly, if you find yourself in need of something from the guild bank, you should make use of what you have available to you. But don't abuse the privelege and, say, have the guild bank provide your raid consumables every single day, unless you're also conributing just as much. For example, I personally have been bad about this lately, and have been using the guild bank to restock my elixirs and potions. Which sounds especially strange considering I'm an alchemist, but unfortunately my mage has seen little playtime lately, and he is my herbalist. But, at other times in the guild's history, I have also been a huge contributor, having payed a large amount out of pocket for tabs when the banks were first introduced, provided elixirs for entire raids for a few weeks back when I first became an Alchemist, and once the mage gets to 70, I fully plan on paying the bank back in full for all of the mooching I've done as of late. Treat it like a bank, not a welfare line.

9: Thou Shalt Not Bear Ill Will Against thy Neighbor's Epics. Seriously guys, they're purple pixels on a screen, created by a string of 1's and 0's on a server somewhere. Don't get all huffy because the enhancement shaman got his DST before you, or you're the only Warrior/Druid/Priest without your T5 shoulders. Remember that even if you don't PERSONALLY recieve an item, every gear upgrade recieved by a guildmate makes your raiding team as a whole stronger, and is thus still of benefit to you personally. Sure, your gear can be a point of pride for gamers, but if all you want are shiny items to wear, why are you gambling on gear dropping in a raid, when there are plenty of equally shiny pieces to be gotten with Honor, Arena Points, and Badges that are sure things?

10: Thou Shalt Not Covet thy Neighbor's Meter Ranking. Damage meters, healing meters, and whatever all other meters people look at can be a useful tool for raid leadership at times (Especially if you use a tool like recount, like I do, and get to see things like the hunter that fired off 27 Aimed Shots on a Gruul fight, or the time the tank died on Nightbane because he got no heals for 9 seconds). But competing for the top spot on meters is the sure way to drive a healer OOM, or to push a DPSer to out-threat the tank. Sure, a little friendly competition can be good at times, but hide the meter during the run, at the very least. Play smart, and remember you're there to beat the boss, not to beat your friends.
Continue reading 'The Ten Commandments of the Raider (Reformed Raid Bible)'

Monday, March 17, 2008

Epic Tanking Weapons. Yep, All Three!

So, I was recently surprised to see someone say that the Earthwarden was a druid tank's best option until the legendary LOL that is the Pillar of Ferocity. And while I'm not sure if he felt that the weapon commonly regarded as our best tanking staff (Wildfury Greatstaff) was inferior to the Earthwarden, or if he simply didn't know about it since its a trash drop, I felt compelled to compare the three items formally.

The Suspects:
All translated values assume a standard spec with all tanking talents taken.

Drops From: Cenarion Expedition Exalted Reputation
500 Armor
39 Stamina
27 Defense Rating
24 Expertise Rating
712 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--

0.46% Crit Reduction
2750 Bear Armor
0.91% Avoidance
663 HP
712 AP
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Wildfury Greatstaff
Drops From: Serpentshrine Cavern Trash
500 Armor
75 Stamina
54 Dodge Rating
992 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--

2750 Bear Armor
2.86% Avoidance
1275 HP
992 AP

Pillar of Ferocity
Drops From: Anetheron (Hyjal Summit, Second Boss)
550 Armor
47 Strength
96 Stamina
1059 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--
3025 Bear Armor
1632 HP
1166 AP

Round 1: Earthwarden V. Wildfury Greatstaff

Earthwarden Advantages:
0.46% Crit Reduction
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Wildfury Greatstaff Advantages:
1.95% Avoidance
612 HP
180 AP

The Lowdown: Crit immunity comes first. If you ned that defense on Earthwarden to stay crit immune, by all means stick with it for the timebeing. However, once you find a way to replace that with a few gems or some PvP bracers (for examples), the story changes. Earthwarden's only advantage here is the 3% effective hit provided via Expertise (and some slight avoidance via reduction in parrys, though not enough to make up the 2% gap). Assuming 2500 AP and 30% crit with the Earthwarden, if we plug in the threat stats into the handy, dandy threat calculator, we find that the hit and AP almost exactly cancel each other out (Wildfury comes out 1 TPS ahead). So it appears that Wildfury is a cut-and-dry upgrade from Earthwarden, with more health, more avoidance, and the same average threat.

Hold on, though, don't go vendoring that hammer just yet. There are situations where you just might want to swap it in: Pick-ups. No, not those horrendous groups of slackers you get for 3AM Steamvault runs, I'm talking about picking up mobs on pulls and after threat dumps. Three percent more effective hit makes it much less likely your Maul/Mangle combo will miss. Lets say you have 82% effective hit without EW, and 85% with it. Earthwarden increases the chance both Maul and Mangle will hit from 67.2% to 72.3% (Yes, 5% more likely, funny how that works huh?), and reduces the chance both will MISS from 3.24% to 2.25%, which means more than 1 in 4 of your double-whiffs would no longer happen, causing a very sensitive threat situation. Normally, this isn't a big deal, but on threat-sensitive fights like Hydross and Leotheras, losing a bit of mitigation for some increased threat reliability can be a very good idea. And you can always switch back to the Wildfury once you've picked up your target.

Round 2: Wildfury Greatstaff V. Pillar of Ferocity

Wildfury Greatstaff Advantages:
2.86% Avoidance

Pillar of Ferocity Advantages:
275 Bear Armor
357 HP
174 AP

The Lowdown: First of all, lets remember where the Pillar drops: Early T6 content. At that point, most bear tanks are already going to be butting up against, if not exceeding, the armor cap, making the extra armor on the Pillar more or less useless. Even if we don't take that into consideration, though, 275 armor isn't a whole heck of a lot (Probably about 0.6% less damage taken), and even combined with the 357 extra health the Pillar affords us, I would much rather be hit 3% less often, thankyouverymuch. So even though the Pillar drops from a later instance, its actually the inferior mitigation weapon.

But, as with the Earthwarden V. Wildfury comparison, the Pillar of LOL does have one redeeming quality: Superior threat generation. If we assume the same basic stats as before, Wildfury would boost our threat by about 31 TPS. Not a whole heck of a lot, but if you're really struggling to stay ahead of your DPSers on threat, it might be an option to swap this in. As a bonus, you'll be getting hit more as well, so will have extra rage to work with (Yeah, even lower mitigation can be an advantage sometimes).

Round 3: Earthwarden V. Pillar of Ferocity

Earthwarden Advantages:
0.46% Crit Reduction
0.91% Avoidance
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Pillar of Ferocity:
275 Bear Armor
969 HP
454 AP

The Lowdown: So, since Wildfury wins out against both of its competitors, I guess we should go ahead and compare Earthwarden, obtainable via rep, to the Pillar, obtainable through deep endgame raiding. The good news is, the Pillar comes out ahead in my opinion. The bad news? Not by much. In terms of threat, I'd call it even between the Expertise rating of the Earthwarden and the extra AP on the Pillar, as the pillar's overall threat advantage is counterbalanced by the earthwarden's higher reliability. In terms of mitigation, though, I would actually have to give the advantage to the Earthwarden. The Pillar's armor gives about 0.6% less damage per hit, granted, but assuming you're around 50% dodge, the 0.9% avoidance on the EW actually translates to about 1.8% fewer swings landing (I refer you again to "The Diminishing Returns is a Lie")

Why, then, to I give the Pillar top billing on this matchup? Nearly 1000 more health, thats what. While I'm a firm believer in getting enough health and then focusing on mitigation, that amount of health would take over 5 Solid Stars of Elune to make up, and thats a lot of gems I could switch from, say, +12 stamina to +8 agi to make up the avoidance difference.

Putting It All Together

So, in terms of overall quality as a tanking weapon, it seems that the Wildfury Greatstaff is better than the Pillar of Ferocity, which in turn is an upgrade from the Earthwarden. Not surprising results, really, as most druids already knew that the Pillar is one of the worst itemized pieces of gear Blizzard has ever come up with. Not that the Living Root of the Wildheart is terribly incredible either, mind you. Seriously, though, hold on to that Earthwarden for making those critical pick-ups, since having a bit less mitigation is always preferable to that mob going and beating on a clothie or three because your aim sucked.
Continue reading 'Epic Tanking Weapons. Yep, All Three!'

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