Thursday, February 24, 2011

I... Want... Control...!

When I started my WoW career, I was all into healing. After a while, I figured out that a good tank can do so much more to change the outcome of an encounter than a healer can. In fact, there is very little a healer can do to change the outcome of a fight, apart from healing like crazy. Sometimes, the healer saves the day. But I figured that more often than not, it wasn't the healer. It was the tank who managed to take control of the fight. The tank could prevent more damage to the group than the healer ever could heal.

Since then, I've played all four specs of tanks. My two non-tank classes, Zuna the priest and Kirba the shaman, has mostly been lying idle except for some short bursts of "I'm going to level up Engineering" or "I'm going to finish What A Long Strange Trip It's Been" (I have, by the way, finished it with 4 characters now).

Most recently, I had fun with my goblin warrior, whom I started after Cataclysm. I've played PVP a lot with her. Mostly as protection. I fell in love with how much control I can bring to a fight. I am really bad dps, barring a lucky reflected spell, but I could change the outcome of a fight with allies at my side, by enabling them to kill the enemy team unhindered.

When I was around 65 with my warrior, my wife decided to play with me again. She has a tauren druid, at that time lvl 63. We played together a lot, but I was always higher level than her. In addition, I had heirlooms and played BGs on my own. Sum it up, and I raced from her in XP. So she asked me to wait so she could catch up with me.

I froze my XP at level 74, when my wife had just entered Northrend. I still tried to play BGs, but since I had frozen XP I would only meet other players with frozen XP, in effect twinks. You know what I really didn't like about that? No, I didn't mind meeting much tougher opponents. I minded the extremely long BG queues. Several hours, sometimes.

So... rather than wait forever to get into BGs, I decided to play with my other characters. I went through all my tanking characters and played BGs, all of them in the 80-84 bracket except my pally who is 85. The thing I found out is that none of the other tanking specs have anywhere near the amount of control that a warrior has.

Blood Death Knights

A death knight tank has very good survivability. But control? I have a 60% snare, which I need to reapply using a rune every 8 sec. It was crippling to try to keep an enemy perma-snared, not least to my dps. Desecration in Unholy might solve some of this, but at the loss of extremely good PVP talents in the first two Frost tiers.

I was, however, able to bother healers by Death-gripping them out of range of their healing targets, strangulating them and mind freezing them, so I wasn't completely useless. But it certainly felt so. I respecced to Unholy and found that my control improved vastly, which actually improved my survivability in most fights. No need to mitigate damage that never happens because I can kite, eh? And my dots still tick (they do as Blood too, but waaaay much lower), my ghoul still damages, and my Death Coils hit like trucks range.

Feral druids

The interesting thing about feral is that you can't avoid picking up a lot of dps talents along with the necessary tanking talents. Not all of them, but enough that I really felt I could deal some damage. I've learned that a good feral druids know when to shift, and shifts fast. It takes practice. After some hours in BGs, I wasn't all that bad at it. Bear when focused or need bash, cat when I'm ignored, caster to cyclone/root and heal a wee bit, or just shift to the same form to remove snares.

Druids actually have a fair bit of control. It's very handy that the snare is attached to other abilities, meaning I'm snaring my target at almost all times. Nature's Grasp is very handy for bothering anything attacking me, and I can use Entangling Roots and Cyclone to give my enemies a headache. Feral Charge is awesome fun, though in most cases worse than the warrior charge/intercept. Bash is an on-demand stun, and Prowl -> Pounce was very handy against anyone attacking my allies when we were defending a flag. In addition, it's very handy to be able to run from most situations. Note that I played before 4.0.6, meaning I used instant Entangling Roots with the glyph, I could still break roots and not only snares by shifting and berserk made me immune to fear. Druids really needed that nerf, though.

However, despite doing fairly well, I never really felt that I was "in control" of the fight like I often did as a warrior. Truth to be told, most of the fights was more like "I hope we can kill them before they kill us", hammering my keys in desperation. And healers? Healers were gods. Outside of gettting the jump on them from prowl with berserk up, I never managed to kill one alone. It's nice that feral druids get a spell interrupt, but they kitty version costs 25 energy! Compare that to kick (rogue interrupt) who costs 15 energy. That is 2.5 secs worth of energy regeneration compared to 1.5 secs. It really takes a bit of planning to interrupt successfully.

I think I like being resto better in PVP. Tons of control attached, yes please. Someone said "If you are casting more heals than cyclones as a druid healer, you're doing it wrong".

Protection paladins


I know I've said this before, but I have to say it again: I really don't like Hammer of Justice.

First, it has too long duraction, in fact sharing the first place as longest stun in the game with a 5-CP Kidney Shot. It worked out slightly better when there were lots of stun-reducing talents around.

Second, I feel it is "too common" in the sense that I encounter it very often, since it's shared by 3 different specs.

Third, it is a one-shot pony. With that I mean it's a long cooldown that many paladins practically rely on it to win. A lucky resist/miss or a class that can remove stuns like Mages (Blink) or Death Knights (Icebound Fortitude after 4.0.6) and very much of the paladin's control is gone. It would be better if it was a 4 sec stun on a 30 sec cooldown or something like that.

Fourth, it has no bloody requirement combined with a very generous 15 yard range glyphed. I believe every other stun in the game has requirements, and all but Kidney Shot lasts shorter.


Okay, done ranting. Seriously, though: the only snare available to protection paladins is the glyphed Avenger's Shield. It's ... interesting, but it's dispellable and can't be easily reapplied. I've spent lots of time running after my target as a pally. Snares are very common, and as soon as Hand of Freedom is on cooldown, you're as kitable as they come.

The thing about protection pallies, as far as I've discovered, is that they are very reliant on a proc: Grand Crusader which resets the cooldown on Avenger's Shield. It only procs on Hammer of the Righteous and Crusader Strike, both of which requires melee. So if you are being kited, you have nothing more to do than wait for the cooldown to refresh on it's own (15 sec), bubble or try a hammer of justice.

It is, however, possible to get to melee in the duration of Avenger's Shield. Then, if you are lucky with the procs, you can perma-silence an enemy target. In fact, up to three, if they are clumped up. It's very fun when it happens, but very annoying when you don't get any procs at all. Not to mention it must be annoying as freakin' hell to the enemy who can't do anything at all because of all the silences.

Even less than with feral druids, I really didn't feel in control of the fights as a protection pally. In fact, it felt like I was riding the back seat of some wild RNG race.

I can haz idea!

At this point, I had an idea. If I want control, why am I not playing a class with any amount of REAL control? So I picked up my mage, Rime, who had been my bank alt since I abondoned her at lvl 23 since ... classic. Four-five years ago.

I went into a BG and ... got trashed so bad it was not even remotely funny. I logged out in a true nerd-rage. I'm not proud to admit it.

After that, I tried to get into BGs with my warrior again. Still endless queues. Fun while it lasted, not so fun to wait. After a few days, I was ready for another attempt with my mage. However, rather than heading into BGs, I went into Ragefire Chasm and soloed the place. I practiced, learning how to make a shatter combo, got a feeling on how long I had to stay away to be out of melee reach, how long my freezes lasted etc. Not to mention mana management. I ran out of mana all the time.

Then I tried a BG again. Okay, this was way much better. I could kill a warrior or rogue (provided they didn't get the jump on me) without taking any damage at all. I could take on most enemies, except hunters. Hunters outranged and outdps'ed me, and they don't seem to have any kind of deadzone anymore. I just polymorphed them and ran away whenever I encountered on alone, provided I didn't die in the ~2 sec it took to cast polymorph.

Since then, I've been doing a lot of BGs. Yesterday my better half was away, so I dinged 59 after two winning AVs, and got Wrecking Ball in the last. I have found my love... ehem... a class I love ...for now. I know myself, and know that I won't sit at a class for too long. But for now, I am in control. MOHAHAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Post-cataclysmic journal from an AV-loving warrior

My goblin warrior Shoosa recently entered Northrend. I've done AV all weekend, now revered with my very own Frostwolf Howler. Between AVs, I've skilled up cooking.

Complains from the Lunch Lady

Cooking is much tougher to level to 300 now that a lot of the cooking recipes are simply unavailable. In particular, it's no longer possible to skill up using only fish.

I don't get it, Blizz: You give us Pilgrim which is like free cooking skill, but you make it way much harder to level the old-fashioned way? Design philosphy, please?

Mohaha, eat spell reflect, palatards!

I hate pally stuns with a vengeance. Okay, it's probably balanced to stand stunned for 6 seconds at level 85 with a lot of health and resilience, but at anything lower than that, 6 seconds is waaay too long. Before, when spell ranks existed, it lasted shorter at lower levels, and you bought ranks as you gained levels which increased the stun duration.

However, as a prot-warrior, I have an answer to that. With the glyph, Spell reflection has a 5 sec duration and 6 sec cooldown. If I play my move smart, I make sure to silence or stun the paladin for the last vulnerable second, and I'm - almost - unstunnable. In addition, it's hilarious fun to see the pally eating his own stun.

The exception is a smart pally that will burn my spell reflection on some other spell, but that's not necessarily a bit problem. I don't mind loosing to smart paladins. I mind loosing to everyone else, and I'm sure that not every paladin player I've met so far have been smart.

Oh, and it's also fun (though much harder) to stun Frost Mages with their own deep freeze.

Tough, huh?

After I realized what I could do, every game I've just charged straight for our mine. I can charge/intercept and just run through all the mobs there, pulling more than 20 without any risk of dying and no usage of cooldowns.

How? Rend one, Thunderclap to spread it around (with the talent), spam spell reflect and throw a shockwave once I've collected some 10+, and Victory Rush shines up like a christmas tree all the time.

I also took down a rogue who 3 levels higher than me while having more than 5 mobs on me. In fact, they helped me a lot. They granted me a ton of rage through a talent, and broke Blind and Gouge on me instantly.

However, there are tougher around...

No matter how tough I like to think I am, Prot Pallies are tougher in one-on-one fights. Possibly Blood DKs too, haven't met too many of those. Enough pallies around, though. With Word of Glory every 9 sec, it's hard to keep up with their self-healing ... so far.

At least I'll get something in a few levels... Shattering Throw. Say bye bye, bubble-boy.

Perhaps surprisingly, Resto druids are also tougher in one-vs-one. I just can't bring them down. Only instant heals, which I can dispel one of every 6 seconds, and they can slowly take me down with Insect Swarm and Moonfire. Emphasis on slowly, I ran away after a 2 min fight with a druid, and I still had half my health left. She, however, had full health and almost full mana.

Looking forward to the next AV weekend

Which is some 2 months from now. I really enjoy AV, and it almost never comes up with random BG. And I'm not a fan of queing just for that and waiting around forever.

For some weird reason, though, Isle of Conquest comes up a ton during prime time with the random, though. How come only IoC and not AV? No idea.

I have one design issue with AV, though. It yields *way* more honor and rep to those that fight north, and very little to those that choose to stay south and defend and retake towers/GYs.

A very simple change would be to grant the same "honorable defender" buff in AV as you get in AB. Wouldn't solve anything, but it would make slightly more people defend south. Right now, I understand why so many choose to rush north; it's just way better rewards, both on a win and a loose. Even if it was a critical defense that granted the victory.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to survive stupid PUGs: SIT DOWN!

This is primarily written to tanks and healers.

You enter an instance using the LFG tool. After the first pull, you know this is going to be a real bad experience. Some signs:

  • One of the dps pulls.
  • One or more of the dps don't attack the skull.
  • People stand in the whirlwind.
  • Nobody (except possibly you) interrupts enemy spellcasters.
  • The dps don't burn down adds when it's an important boss mechanic.
  • The dps deals less damage than the tank (on a non AoE-fight).
  • People randomly goes afk, without a single word.
  • People refuse to CC.
  • ... or worse: People AoEs, thereby breaking the CC.

If you've ended up in one of those groups, and you happen to be healer or tank, there's something you can do about it.

Sit down. Tell the rest that you refuse to heal/tank if people don't start doing their job properly. Tell them what they can do different, keeping it very concrete. Be polite, but firm.

You are not polite if you just play along and try to heal or tank and build up a lot of frustration because people don't care about the fight mechanics. You just burn yourself out.

You will experience a lot of nerd rage this way. You may even be kicked from the group. But as long as you are polite and say what should be done, most people will recognize this and behave. In many cases, you get to kick the worst offenders.

You are a vital part of the group. It's about time you demand the respect you deserve.