Tanking gear is backwards

| Monday, June 30, 2008
Tanks have one overall goal: reduce the damage taken by the raid. This is split into two parts: mitigating the damage they take and making sure that they are taking as much of the raid damage as possible, also known as holding aggro.

Reducing damage is pretty straightforward. Defense reduces the chance to be crit, eventually to zero. A combination of block, dodge, parry, and the mob's miss chance (which is boosted by defense) will reduce damage taken and at a total of 102.4% will remove crushing blows. Armor reduces the damage from physical attacks. Talents may reduce spell damage as well.

To hold aggro they spend mana or rage. Some of this is generated from dealing damage, but the majority comes from taking damage. Their gear can improve their efficiency, adding shield block value for warriors or spell damage for paladins. But in general, as a tank gets better gear, incoming damage will decrease faster than efficiency increases.

Tanking gear works inversely, reducing their rage/mana generation, without giving an equal aggro increase. As a raid gear up the tank will lose aggro as the DPS gains aggro.


Reduce rage and mana generation from damage taken/healed by a percentage, around 75%. Then make rage generation based on possible damage taken, so a boss that hits for 5000 on an unarmored target will generate 5000 damage worth of rage, even if armor takes off 60%. Dodge, parry, miss, and block would work similarly. For paladins, make mana generation from spiritual attunement come directly from the damage rather than from healing. This would have the side-effect of helping paladins in PvP and soloing.

It's Impossible

| Sunday, June 29, 2008
If you're in Kara complaining about your class/spec, you're just a noob. Get better gear and see the real game, until then, shut up.
If you're in Sunwell, what is there to complain about? You're proof that your class/spec clearly does work, at least well enough to be in demand.
If you're 1400, you're a noob and shouldn't talk like you know real PvP.
If you're 2200, aren't you proof that it can be done, that your class/spec does work?

Did Talents Fail?

| Friday, June 27, 2008
Talents are an interesting aspect of WoW. In theory they allow players to customize their characters, focusing on a specific role or playstyle to become more powerful in that area. However talents fail to be as fun as might be expected. The two main problems are cookie-cutters and gimping of the baseline class.

Cookie Cutter Specs:

These are not much fun, but with the way WoW works, they are inevitable. Some talents are just better than others. Very simple theorycraft will lead a PvE ret paladin to choose crusade over eye for an eye or imp ret aura. The circumstances do not exist to justify the other talents in PvE. Similarly, arms warriors almost never get imp MS. For 5 points in does not give a significant DPS increase, the only possible gain is the ability to keep MS up on two targets, given sufficient rage and the targets being close enough together.

What’s the solution? I don’t have any good ones. Most easily, talents could all just be gimmicks, irrelevant in most situations. We could have plenty of customization when raid leaders don’t care if you pick vindication over eye for an eye. WoW could be changed to use gimmick talents more, but I don’t want to see the fight that makes the cheaper cleanse from Purifying Power into a requirement.

Gimping Baseline Classes:
All talents must suit the class they are given to. It would be absurd to have a warlock get earth shield. On the other hand, it would be absurd to have a class lacking what defines it. Imagine a warlock without the ability to summon demons

Unfortunately there are times when a class needs another talent, so what might otherwise be a baseline ability is instead a talent. The baseline class is gimped because of talents. Without talents, they’d just have the ability, rather than having to spec for it. This happens in the case of a melee class with no direct melee attacks and not even any melee-based spells. I’m referring to ret paladins, crusader strike, and seal of command. It is a mercy that blood elves get a baseline melee seal. Without CS, ret is pretty silly, just waiting around for auto-attack and judging.

There is an alternative though. A baseline class can be complete, with talents improving them, emphasizing a playstyle, rather than completely defining their role. I don’t like healing much, but I have to admit that the shaman, paladin, and druid healing trees are excellent. I am not including priests because I am ignorant of them, not because I think less of their healing tree. Holy adds almost nothing new, it does not significantly alter the way a paladin heals, it only makes healing paladins better at what they do anyway. The playstyle is chosen before the tree rather than the reverse. Similarly a healing shaman is using similar heals and styles before speccing resto, the addition of earth shield enhances the role rather than defining it.

However trees should not be too weak either. In the case of warlocks, the trees attempt to fit a playstyle, but they fail miserably. Affliction should use a lot of DoTs and be mobile, demonology should be reliant and gaining power from minions, destruction should use a variety of direct damage spells. Instead they all just throw up some DoTs, send in a minion, and then spam shadowbolt. Maybe a destruction warlock will use incinerate. Either way, the specs are too weak, they don’t encourage the use of fully different playstyles.

There should be a middle group. Talent trees should enhance a playstyle and help to encourage variation, but they should not define it. If a style is not supported by the baseline class, then either the style is not a part of the class’ role (imagine a ranged warrior) or some talents need to be made baseline (crusader strike or holy shield).


This post is already too long, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I would like to see the distinctions between classes removed or at least greatly reduced. Rather than a warlock and an affliction tree, have a generic caster with a generic shadow focus and them through gear and gemming choices, the player can then focus on damage over time spells. Paladins would not exist, instead they would be a combination of the holy magic trees and the melee trees with the ability to wear plate. This would make classes fit better with lore; making paladins, priests, and warriors not so distinct, mages and warlocks would be variations of each other as explained in lore, druids and shamans would have some more overlap. While this sounds as if it would simply everything and remove creativity, it would actually give more. We could make new classes of our own. Deathknights would be a shadow-based melee class. Monks could be lightly armored holy and melee, with some overlap with rogues. But it can go further. Imagine a plate-wearing character with an affinity for fire spells or someone who summons demons, only to learn how to better destroy them with holy magic.

Utility summarized

| Sunday, June 22, 2008
I realized the previous post ended up being really long. I'll try to summarize it. With how I write, I'll end up adding more thought, though still in fewer words.

Ret paladins sacrifice personal damage for abilities which increase party and raid damage. I like this idea. My worry is that it does not actually hold up. Other classes have buffs and debuffs which multiply damage. Paladins do not hold a monopoly on this, so if they are weaker in personal damage, they should be stronger in utility.

Looking at enhancement shamans it is easy to see a huge party damage increase. Unleashed rage is around 5% more damage for melee classes, much closer to 10% for druids. WF totem is a huge damage increase, especially for two-handed specs like arms which themselves give 4% more physical damage. JoW, possibly the strongest judgement, can be maintained by a tanking paladin.

What ret lacks in personal damage, it should make up for with multipliers to raid and party damage. Diversity in raids should be encouraged and create stronger raids. four rogues and a hybrid should be stronger than five rogues. Switching another and another should be even better and better.

But maybe all my thinking is for nothing. Others with more knowledge and motivation can run the numbers and show what utility ret brings, how that increases damage,and therefore how much damage ret needs to be equal to another DPS. Besides, ret paladins are in raids and are wanted. Can a spec really be underpowered if people want to play it and play with it? Isn't this a game, shouldn't it be driven by what we want to do rather than a set of equations?

Utility is enough, but only If there is enough

The theory goes that retribution will do less damage than other classes because it brings greater utility, increasing raid and party damage to offset the lower personal DPS. Does this hold up? I believe that raids should be diverse, with all specs and classes fitting together to create far higher DPS than would be possible with a less diverse raid. I don't think this should be required, fights shouldn't be designed for perfect diversity, but some amount should be required and encouraged. All specs should bring something, either their own damage (or healing or tanking, but I'm more interested in DPS right now), or multipliers for their group.

Five rogues should be inferior to four rogues and an enhancement shaman. That should be inferior to three rogues, the shaman, and a feral druid. They should be inferior to two rogues, the shaman, the druid, and a fury warrior. Arms fits in somewhere, as does ret. Right? Let's look at ret utility.

I'm a big fan of JoW. I love it. I've had it on my paladin and it lets me sustain much higher damage. I've sometimes had it on my shaman. Combined with my pitiful crit chance, water shield, and blessing of wisdom, I did not run out of mana, literally, while chain-casting lightning bolts. According to the ret DPS theorycraft on Elitist Jerks it gives an average of 130 mana/5. Mana spring totem restores 50 mana/5, to one group, but it works for non-DPS as well. For resto this will be 60-some mana/5. I suppose I strayed from my DPS focus. I have to admit ignorance of whether this mana regen from JoW is truly needed for raid DPS or if it only saves mana potions. But it's worth thinking about, and remembering that a tanking paladin could do the same.

JoL is more mixed. I know even less if it is useful since it comes in small amounts and is uncertain. I'm sure it helps, but I don't know that it helps enough to justify a spot.

JotC, improved, gives 3% more crit. Now that is nice. But how nice? For casters that use nukes, it's nice. For physical it is nice. But it doesn't do so much for shadow priests or affliction warlocks. Arms warriors bring 4% more physical damage. JotC isn't the only multiplier to raid DPS.

Sanctity aura, improved, is 2% more damage to the group. That's good. But does it stack up well to others? It varies by the player, but weapons account for around 50% of a melee class' damage output. That leaves 50% coming from gear, specifically AP. An enhancement shaman can increase that by 10%, giving 5% (give or take some fractions) damage to a melee group. I don't know how that multiplier interacts with WF totem which gives additional AP on the extra attack.

But that leads to my next party DPS boost: WF totem. This totem gives a 20% chance for an extra attack on any auto-attack or "on next hit" attack (like cleave). For a 2h user like an arms warrior that is a huge damage increase. It's great for ret as well. It's not as good for a DW class, but it will still be huge. How does this compare to a ret paladin's buffs?

I won't make any claim about whether ret brings enough utility. I think a ret paladin is worth bringing, but I have to admit a bias, since I've played a paladin for a long time and for years have been sympathetic to paladin DPS. I want people to start reconsidering the idea of trading personal DPS for raid utility. It's not that I dislike the idea, I actually like it a lot, I like being group-oriented. My concern is about whether the trade was done properly.

Ret isn't the only DPS that brings damage buffs to others. Feral druids have 5% crit, a heal proc, and mangle isn't totally useless to warriors and rogues (maybe rogues, I don't know if they use bleeds in raids). Moonkin have 5% spell crit. Hunters (these are spread across specs) have ferocious inspiration, improved hunter's mark, trueshot aura, and expose weakness. The list goes on. Warlocks bring some major debuffs, mostly for casters, but they can help melee at a cost. Mages help each other and warlocks sometimes. Rogues, priests, warriors... I can only guess at the damage boost from sunder armor.

Ret does not have a monopoly on party and raid buffs and it certainly has a deficit in personal damage. The utility should be enough to offset the personal shortage, if not, ret needs buffing. I suppose my whole argument can be cleared up, perhaps thrown out, by some theorycraft. Even more importantly though, player experience can invalidate it. If ret paladins are in raids, consistently, and are not considered a drain, do they need changes? Game balance is just about numbers, it's about what we want to do. If we want ret, doesn't that mean it is fine? Or are we just blind to the reality of their utility and damage?

How to Nerf Warriors

| Friday, June 20, 2008
Rend: Warlocks are the DoT class, yet warriors can DoT up enemies too, and for deep arms it even increases the damage they take. To fix this unbalanced ability Blizzard will be nerfing the druid talent Mangle, removing the bleed damage increase.
Spell Reflect: This does a lot of hurt. However it is obvious that it is no more overpowered than whatever was cast at the warrior. With this is mind, Blizzard will be nerfing the spell damage coefficients of all spells by 10%.
Second Wind: This ability was found to be providing higher than expected rage and health regeneration. The rogue talent Mace Specialization will now regenerate energy rather than stunning the target.
Enrage: Popping enrage has been found to be effectively an "I win" button when facing casters, especially mages. To compensate, intellect will grant only half as much spell crit and the mage talent Shatter has been changed to increase critical strike damage against frozen targets by 1/2/3/4/5% rather than the previous increase in critical strike chance. Frostbite has been replaced with Frosty Warding, reducing the damage taken from snowmen by 4/7/10%.

Why Shouldn't Old Gear Be Useful?

| Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I hear this now and then from Blues, usually in response to complaints about old-world gear getting nerfed. I think they've taken it a bit too far. But I should clarify before I start: I completely understand and am happy about the rating stat system. It prevents what would have otherwise been terrible inflation of stats with each increase in the level cap.

However I see no reason why all cool items should be nerfed.

The first that I remember were grenades, they got various caps at which they became unreliable. The most immediate effect was to make engineering much more expensive in PvP, changing the grenades from iron to thorium, and now adamantite. Obviously Blizzard wants us to use the newer mats. It's part of a normal economy. But why should the past ones be totally useless? Add a tiered system where each time you go down a tier you lose a percentage of the stun time. Adamantite does 3 seconds, thorium 2, iron 1. This means that the most expensive grenades remain clearly the best (damage doesn't count, if we wanted just damage we'd use dynamite) but cheaper grenades are still usable. This helps leveling players since trade goods they gather are much more valuable than they would be otherwise.

Hand of Justice is another nerfed item. The proc rate on it used to be a fixed 2%. It was changed to be variable with level, dropping past 60 to only 1.33% at 70. Why do this? A trinket with a scaling 2% damage would be very useful. You'd have to have the gear so that the low AP would be offset by the multiplier, but I imagine this would be a highly desired DPS trinket.

Blizzard says they don't want people farming old instances for gear. Why not? Does a good item in an old instance discourage doing new instances? Why should we be pressed into new content anyway? We should move on because we want to, not because gear is hanging in front of our noses. If gear is such a major motivator, Blizzard should rethink how they make their content. Gear should be a requirement to see content, a pacing mechanism (in other words, slow us down long enough for them to have time to make more instances). Raids and instances shouldn't just exist to give gear. I'm getting sleepy and having trouble forming coherent thoughts now.

I'm reminded of old forums posts requesting that pre-BC raids be updated or have heroic modes so people would still do them at 70. The idea was rejected. Why? I don't understand why Blizzard would want to discourage any content in the game. It makes no sense to restrict options, to shuffle us into a few raids. Imagine if BWL gave gear equal to level 70 regular instances. It would remain useful for gear, but there wouldn't be a need to do it for gear, since there would be other instances to get the gear. Think of it as the parallel 10-25 raid lines.

To jump back to an old topic, Naxxramas should remain in EPL and instead be duplicated in Northrend. Removing content and charging people to get it back, in modified form, is a ridiculous concept. It sounds far too much like the stories friends would tell of greedy tricks Sony would pull with their games. I already complained about the lore problem in an earlier post.

Save Naxx.

Spell Reflect and a Paladin Alternative

| Thursday, June 12, 2008
This ability is amazing.

I had a quest to kill 25 ogre warriors and mages in Nagrand. The warriors are easy. The mages die more easily, but they put out a lot of hurt. The frost bolts are easy to interrupt, but that seems to trigger a fire blast which can take out 1k+ health. For a class that can't heal, that sucks. But it can be easily turned against them. Since it follows interrupted frost bolts, I can simply interrupt the frost bolt and then throw up spell reflect for an easy 1000 damage and saving myself the lost health.

For tanking it combines well with shield bash. I pull two casters, interrupt one so I can drag it back, the other I will still have to LoS. But while doing that it might still get off a cast, I can bounce it right back. This has been very useful in Auchenai Crypts where the soulpriests put out 1k shadow bolts.

Paladin version:
I got lazy and just copied this from my forum post a couple weeks ago.

Interrupting just sounds so unlike a paladin. It sounds crude. Shield bash? Why do we need to hit people with our shields? The Light is our weapon. Let us instead put all things to good use.

Holy Purpose:
range: ?
mana cost: ?
cooldown: ?
Castable on friendly or enemy targets

If cast on a friendly target, the next enemy healing spell will be redirected to this target. Imagine bursting someone down and a shaman goes to NS-heal, only to end up healing your ally.
If cast on an enemy target, the next enemy spell will be redirected to this target. Think spell reflect, but more flexible.

Let our enemies do all their evil deeds, we will turn them to our advantage.

Fun Things to do as Prot

| Monday, June 9, 2008
Pull the world.

I've developed a love for bosses that call the remaining mobs to them when attacked. SM cath is a great example. Pulling Morgraine will aggro any mobs left in the cathedral area. This makes in a great farming instance.

A greater challenge is the emperor in BRD. He calls the throne room to him. This is roughly 60 mobs, maybe more, though most or non-elite. This is a great way to get a wide variety of old-world items such as runecloth, greens to DE, and dark iron residue and scraps.

Tonight I tried Eranikus in ST. Unfortuantely he cannot just be pulled. Instead you have to kill the troll boss and his add. That means killing the 6 mini-bosses in the ring. They are easy enough, but sme trash is impossible to avoid, wasting time. As a small condolence, the troll boss will call the nearby mobs to help him, making for a decent pull of 20-30 mobs. This is balanced by his attempts to MC you, which if successful will cause everything to reset at full health, and may cause the mobs from furthest away to reset entirely.

I finally got to Eranikus after perhaps half an hour. I pulled him and then waited. And waiting. And waiting a little more. It takes a long time for the adds to arrive, but once they do, it is a few dozen dragonkin, whelps, and 2-4 drakes (in my case two since I accidentally killed the other two on the way to Eranikus). My frame rate went negative, actually stealing frames from other people to make up for the deficit. The lightning effect from force reactive disk didn't help either, but the damage is amazing.

I really need to try sneaking over to Garr someday. I'm going to need some more block value.
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