Archive for October, 2009

30
Oct
09

GC versus the Community, The avoidance debate explodes

Icecrown Citadel and the debate regarding gearing

I feel like a major crisis has happened and the first thing I do in the morning is turn on the news and wait to hear what we as a community are going to do about it. As I gingerly opened up the blue tracker page on MMO-Champion, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the responses that Ghostcrawler had for the community, and I was also happy to see that there is still someone on the picket lines, fighting for avoidance. However, his justifications and rationalization for the Chill of the Throne as well as his expectations for main tank gearing are partially skewed by the fact that he knows exactly what the bosses are going to do in Icecrown. From his responses to the raging threads on the official forums, I can only guess that Icecrown is not going to be the pushover that ToTC was, and the blues are feverishly downplaying what “softer and faster” hits will do to a tank.

Frost_wyrm_queen_Sindragosa_by_ethanol89

Ghostcrawler gave me subtle a goodbye present

From the blue tracker, I got a glimpse at the debate that most tanks are having with the developers right now. From our own little slice of heaven, Maintankadin, we have really only seen very reasonable and civilized punditry regarding the Chill of the Throne. It seems as though the greater community has not shown as much restraint when posting on the official forums. I find it interesting that there are some people that are such purists when it comes to stacking stamina. Even the paladin communities most vocal supporters of the stamina stacking camp understand that this is the philosophy you hold after reaching a significant amount of avoidance and survivability through your gear. The people that are sharpening their pitch forks on the official forums seem to believe that stamina is the ONLY thing that matters.

I found a few interesting comments that I would like to share with you regarding the Chill of the Throne and our gearing philosophies.

…However, you cannot directly translate effective health into best tank. Avoidance matters. If it didn’t, we would have no reason to nerf it in Icecrown. Good tanks don’t depend too much on avoidance, but great tanks understand its value.

Furthermore, your estimations of effective health become less and less accurate the more variables you try to factor in. Most saliently, you can’t easily account for cooldowns. You can’t compare a short duration that reduces damage by 80% to a long duration that reduces damage by 10%. Mathematically they might generate the same effective health number, but in reality they work pretty differently and each has their own benefits in certain situations, which vary depending on boss mechanics. (I’d generally take the first one though.)

We purposely made the cooldowns difficult to compare from class to class. You shouldn’t then be surprised when we take your effective health calculations based on direct comparisons of said cooldowns with a grain of salt.

It’s fine to compare health, armor, avoidance or cooldowns. I would not recommend putting too much faith in one ubernumber that you generate by combining all of them. – Ghostcrawler

I find this statement interesting. It gives us a bit of insight into Ghostcrawlers train of thought, or at least his attempt at diplomacy on the forums. What this shows me is that he is taking a “theory” that we use and assuming we place a practical number on it. I understand that there are some people that think they can create some sort of formula to estimate effective health; however, I see effective health as more of a theory and a gearing philosophy, and not as much of a number or an absolute value. His discussion on cool downs and their role in effective health really showed me that he is looking at our gearing philosophies and theories from a different set of rose colored glasses.

Now maybe I am the one that sees things differently from the tanking community, but I always say effective health as a theory and a set of guidelines when selecting gear, not a number that I would try to get higher and higher when swapping out gear. I appreciate his little tip of the hat to the avoidance tanks out there, but I think we all will agree that all of our discussions about effective health, stamina, and avoidance, represent our philosophies in min / maxing, and not a black and white stance on avoidance versus stamina.

The cries of the ill informed…

Q u o t e:
What he said was in fact 100% true. EH is all that matters AT THE MOMENT. – the ill informed

That’s just not true. If you turned your back on a mob, your armor and health would not change. The boss would hit you a lot more. You would be a worse tank. If you could somehow remove all of your dodge and parry, you would take more damage.

I think what is happening here is that some of you are adhering too tightly to the guideline that since bosses can potentially two-shot you that avoidance is unreliable and health * armor is king. I understand that logic. But don’t take it to the illogical conclusion that avoidance is irrelevant. If your 50-60% avoidance went to 0% you would notice quickly. – Ghostcrawler

As I said before, the most heated debates that took place over at Maintankadin never got to this level of absolute certainty. We never had any delusions that stamina and armor was all that mattered, we only had differing opinions on what to do with that last little bit of customization. It is shocking to me that there are people out there that will forsake everything but stamina, and are so vehement about the fact that avoidance is nothing. I believe that Ghostcrawler summed it up when he suggested the person preaching that effective health is all that matters to turn his back to the boss. For any of you learning the 25 man hard mode Anub’arak encounter, you know what that can do to you.

Q u o t e:
Great tanks understand that maximising EH is all that matters at the moment. You’ve designed encounters with major boss cooldowns that are undodgeable (Impale, Frozen Slash, etc.). Avoidance literally means nothing for these key moments. Saying that great tanks value avoidance is not only hyperbole, it’s untrue. – the ill informed

If that were true, then the Icecrown aura would be a Mortal Strike debuff instead of an avoidance nerf. – Ghostcrawler

I particularly like this discussion, because it shows two things. Firstly, it re-emphasizes that the purists of the tanking community are wrong. Ultimately, there are two boss fights in the game right now that employ these tactics, 1/3 of northrend beasts, and Anub’arak. While I will not try to convince you that effective health is not important, and that stamina can be the difference between living and dying during any difficult tanking situation, what is being outlined here as a justification that effective health is all that matters is a very small part of the fight. I find it sad to think that people are really under the impression that great tanks do not care about avoidance at all. I would have hoped that these people would take a look at the lengthy discussion on our forums regarding Progression MT gearing. Secondly, I am happy to see that based on Ghostcrawler’s response, they did think about more than just Sunwell Radiance when it came to the Chill of the Throne. I would have been much happier to see a combination of a Mortal strike debuf and a restriction on healers’ mana pools, but alas, the simplest answer is to lower our avoidance.

Our path forward, and our method of preparation for ICC

When all is said and done, and the dust has settled on each respective forum, we will all be headed in the same direction. We are preparing for Icecrown Citadel. And, regardless of what Chill of the Throne does, and how much stamina, armor, and avoidance we have, we will still have the same gear in our bags, and the same selection of said gear for our progression set. The only real difference in what we can do when the time comes to tank that first boss in ICC is how we customize that gear. To me, the gems and enchants are the icing on the cake, the min/maxing, the little things that will make the fight easier or harder. We are all going to be prepared (contrary to what Illidan thought), and we are just looking for that slight edge when it comes to speed of progression, and ease of learning an encounter. This has, and always will be a larger health pool. If you look at the trend of our health, regardless of gemming and enchanting, it has skyrocketed with each new patch. Icecrown will again give us a significant boost in our health pools, and we will in turn slay some dragons, and take home some shiny new epics to help make the transition to hard modes a bit less intense.

So, in closing, put away the pitch forks, enjoy the farmed content while you still can, and get ready for that last push towards the finish line…

29
Oct
09

The death of avoidance, the loss of a soap box

Chill of the throne

Quote from: Daelo (Source)
For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid’s main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.
Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more “spiky” than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn’t avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We’ve been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There’s a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

We’ll have this on the PTR soon so players can see the effects inside Icecrown Raid.

sunwell_800

Let me start out by saying that it has been a long and fun debate with most of the tanking community over gemming philosophies and the balancing of stats versus the stacking of stamina, but after a long and arduous journey, I am stepping down off my soap box and crossing the picket lines. Blizzard has beaten me into the ground and my philosophies on gearing have changed to adapt to the times. Every piece of gear that I will get from now on will follow what most of the tanking community already does, stamina, stamina, and wait for it….

More stamina

With the advent of the Chill of the Throne, and the base reduction of dodge by 20%, my theories on avoidance are really going out the window. Currently I sit with about 65% raw avoidance and 53k hp raid buffed with food and flask. If you look at other paladin tanks in our community who gear for pure stamina, forsake the shoulder, chest, and shield enchants, and also dual stam trinket, they buff up to aroun d 60% avoidance for an extra 4-5k hp. With the reduction of avoidance by 1/3 of my total avoidance, it is no longer valuable for me to continue to strive to get that number up. Instead I should gear for pure stamina, and hang up my avoidance hat, so that I can take more back to back hits. Currently my philosophy is that if I can avoid taking back to back hits, then a smaller health pool does not matter. Now, I can say that I will be taking back to back hits quite a bit more often. As a result, I have to prepare myself for that, and give my healers breathing room to get me back up to full. The introduction of Chill of the Throne will place all of the value of survival in the theory of Effective Health.

Now I want to clarify that while I have been a very outspoken and passionate advocate for balancing your set and trying to gear for avoidance, this does not mean that I ever had pipe dreams of walking up to a hard mode ToTGC boss with 45k hp raid buffed and a ton of avoidance. The theory and the discussion was all in the name of min/maxing. When you look at the pure stamina tanks, they only have a few thousand more health than me at the cost of a few percent avoidance. The first, and most important role of a tank, is to ensure that you can survive the encounter with out giving multiple healers heart attacks. Once you understand that you have a cushion of health between the bosses attacks and death, what you do from there is your own opinion. I chose avoidance and armor, others chose stam, but we both made sure that we lived first.

Where to go from here?

I will not be regemming and re-enchanting the gear that I already have, for Trial of the Grand Crusade, it works, my healers are used to my damage, and I have never gotten a complaint that I was “Hard to heal.” However, from here on out, every item I pick up from Trial of the Grand Crusade will get stamina gems and stamina enchants. That means that my 258 gear set will be all stamina going into Icecrown. And in all honesty, I only have 5 or 6 pieces of gear left to be BiS in 258 gear, namely the trophies for the T9.258.

If I got my one wish…

I had hopped that blizzard would counteract the growing phenomenon of stam stacking by creating more fights like General, or even creating a raid wide aura for mana regen. This would be something that would truly reward the tank that gears for avoidance and mitigation, this would validate my hard fought battle with the paladin community. Alas, we are recreating the mistakes of the past and this time I fear they will be even worse than sunwell. The bosses are probably going to hit hard and fast, and our avoidance will be down to nothing. With the fact that healers have an infinite mana pool and the damage that is going to be put out will be considerable, the only option tanks have is to stack a lot of stamina.

My vision of Chill of the Throne would have been something along the lines of mana regen reduction for healers. I am not sure how you would employ such a technique, but you could work out some sort of equation that would work for healers only, because as much as our stamina and health pools are getting out of control, so are the healers mana pools and regen capacity. This seems more along the lines of what blizzard has done throughout the entire expansion. Their solution to creating difficult fights is more damage, more places, more often. The concepts to employ this may have changed, may have been resurrected from Council in Black Temple, and some of them are just plain old do not stand in the fire.

If we could reward smart play, the tanks ability to mitigate and avoid damage, as opposed to soak it, and mana management on the part of the elite healers, we would once again be in a nice balanced place where the talented players would see results when it came to progression, and the people who were along for the ride would be dead on the floor as they were in BT and Sunwell. I remember the days of split second decisions, heal the dps in the fire or heal the tank, one or the other, and make it an efficent heal because your potion is on cooldown and your mana pool is at 15%. I found that there was a different caliber of healer in a successful raid back in Sunwell.

Such is the way of the world. Change is good, and change happens for a reason. The truly successful are those who can adapt quickly to a changing environment and tanks are the best of the best when it comes to that. I will see you all in the “50k unbuffed health” pool…

29
Oct
09

Who needs duel spec Protection…

Where did my shield go?

Last night, I finally decided to start picking up pieces for my ret set. I have been able to pick them up for quite some time, but have been passing on them for our healing paladins, and other tanks, as I use my dual spec for different tanking specs and I really haven’t tried to get any ret gear in a long time. To give you an idea of what kind of ret gear I have accumulated, my shoulders were tier 7, I have 47 expertise, and about 200 hit. Needless to say, my ret set is the essence of hand me down pieces. As our trophies have been going to offspec for a few weeks now, and we accumulate around 20 trophies a week, I am really not inhibiting raid progress. I have taken 6 trophies for my main spec since the beginning of ToTC, and these six pieces have gone towards my four piece in my normal tanking set, head, shoulders, chest, and gloves, as well as the head and legs for my Anub’arak unhittable set.

As for my ret set, at the end of our 10 man Trial of the Grand Crusade last night, I linked the trophy and no one needed it for main spec any more. Seeing as everyone truly contributes the same amount in a 10 man Tribute to Insanity, it is a free for all on the off spec trophies. I rolled a 95 and I snagged a trophy. The mount has escaped me the past two weeks, and the tanking cloak has not dropped for my group yet, so all I took away from the run was a trophy, which i was more than happy with. I talked to our resident retadin, and asked him if any of the pieces were more “valuable” than the others. His response was fairly relieving that none of them were really more powerful than the others, so tailor my order to my stats. This was good news since I desperately wanted to get rid of my T7 shoulders.

I picked up the T9.245 shoulders, flew over to the Sons of Hodir quartermaster to grab a shoulder enchant, and hearthed back to Dalaran for some gems. I had two things to gem, seeing as I neglected to do anything to the weapon I had gotten the week before. After gemming and enchanting my sword and shoulders, I evaluated my ret set and came to the conclusion that I am still not presentable enough to be seen in public wearing it. This leads me to my discussion for the day, what can a tank do to gear up their offspec and what type of priority do you need to place on your gear?

As Honors says, you need your CAPtains…

The thing that I am struggling with by piecing my gear together is maintaining my caps. Specifically the hit cap and the expertise soft cap. As a dps, the most important thing you can do is become hit capped, because no matter how much crit and AP you have, if you are missing your attacks, you are not doing any damage. When I first started out assembling a ret set, hit was not a problem, I had 331 hit but I only had 9 expertise. The tables have turned lately, and I am under hit cap and at 47 expertise. Balancing these stats normally is not much of a problem, as I have learned on my hunter and her Hit, Haste, ArP ballet. However, when you are dealing with gearing an offspec and, in our guilds case, you have to roll against every tank and holy pally, you take what you can get.

This comes as no surprise to me, but my trinkets and rings are very weak. These are the first thing I will be trying to upgrade, as they are the most difficult to acquire. You can get a ring from the 245 vendor, and I will plan on doing that soon, along with my 200 strength libram, however I think that the evaluation of what else I can get with trophies over my current gear is in order as well. Really what it comes down to is that I have to shed some expertise with out getting rid of any hit, because I am a bit below the hit cap at 245. As the loot drops in ToTC, and everyone has gotten their day in the sun, I will start picking up items. We also have a ton of crusader orbs, unfortunately all of the crafted items have tons of armor pen on them, and that is not something that I am too interested in.

In the end, I will have to rely on the luck of the drops in ToTC to complete my set, which is fine by me. Soon enough you will see me running around with a two hander and some T9 just for fun…

27
Oct
09

Breaking Down Anub’arak Damage

Damage intake and what I can do

Since it seems as though most of my first time patrons are looking for information on Anub’arak unhittable sets and the ability to be the off tank for that fight, in conjunction with the massive amounts of discussion going on over at MainTankadin on the subject, I wanted to do a bit of out loud analysis on the gear set that I have chosen and the modifications I can make to decrease the amount of damage I take. As of our first week of real attempts, It has become glaringly obvious that I am taking significantly more damage than my warrior counterpart, and I feel that it is my duty to fix this issue, regardless of talents or disadvantages that we as paladins are faced with.

When you first analyze the differences in our gear, you see that we really are wearing almost the same set, and I actually have more block value than he does. The Critical Block talent that warriors have is more than likely accounting for most of his damage reduction, and seeing as I do not have the ability to spec into the warrior prot tree, I have to raise my block value enough to compensate. The best place I can see this happening is my helm slot. The helm has 43 block rating, which when all is said and done is a good chunk of percent block. I can swap that with the T9 helm to gain 189 block value plus a bit more from the strength on the helm. If i do this, I lose approximately 3% block rating for the ~200 block value.

This makes sense if I can stay near unhittable, however the problem is that I was using the cushion that I had with respect to the unhittable mark to gain more hit to ensure that Holy Wrath had a better chance of landing on each of the adds, and as a result stunning them when the Shadow Step cast is queued up. Below are some of the raw stats that came out of our last night of attempts:

  • I took 30% more damage when compared to my warrior counter part
  • I took 2381 blocked hits over the course of the night with an average damage intake of 2294
  • I avoided 4289 hits or 62.8% of all incoming attacks.

My warrior counterpart on the other had took the following:

  • He took 701 blocked hits over the course of the night with an average damage intake of 3179
  • He completely blocked (as a result of Critical Block) 2103 hits
  • He avoided 3964 hits or 57% of all incoming attacks

I am not sure what exact block value is required to completely block their incoming attacks, but I do know that when the Lavanthor’s trinket’s on use is activated, I take 0 damage from the adds. This means that if I can gain an extra 440 block value while still staying unhittable, I could completely avoid all damage. However, I do not have the ability to do that and stay unhittable. With that being said, if I can close that gap, I may be able to significantly decrease the amount of damage I take during the fight.

Leeching swarm and the healing factor

Why is this something that is worth dealing with if I have not died to add damage and all information suggests that taking damage in p3 to keep me low is a good thing? Well the problem is that if I am constantly taking a significant amount of damage, somewhere on the order of 12k damage taken per second, then I am receiving that as healing, and in turn so is anub’arak. By curbing the amount of damage that I take as a result of tanking the adds, I can effectively lower the amount of healing that anub’arak is healing in p3. Now as I have mentioned before, I pop the on use skill provided by Lavanthor’s trinket when we go to 30% however that only gives me 40 seconds to mitigate the damage completely at which time if Anub’arak is not dead, I start to significantly impede the progress we are making at getting Anub’arak’s health to 0 before ours.

In the end, I believe that if I can stay unhittable and get more block rating, then it is my duty to do so. Therefore, after one more trophy, and a bit more gemming and enchanting, I will be trying out a new piece in my unhittable set and we shall see where that takes me with respect to damage that I take from the adds.

My prediction

P.S. My prediction was not fulfilled (as I honestly expected) because of the fact that a significant number of our raid was not the same as it was on Wednesday, and the dps and execution was severely lacking in comparison to the first round of attempts. 40 attempts was not enough, but I am confident that 40-80 more will be regardless of who shows up.

24
Oct
09

Achievements and Titles

Starcaller Wrathy, the tank of insanity?

Last night was a very, very successful night for us. Even though the night started out quite slow and stressful, we ended on a Big Bang! When I logged on last night, there were 12 people online, so I went to go solo the Headless Horseman to have a shot at the achievements. After nothing worth noting dropped, I got into the raid for the night to see that we amassed 15 people for what should have been a 2 x 10 man night. After some juggling, some respecing, and some stress, we had a raid, we had 5 bosses dead, and we had 50 attempts remaining.

We then went into Ulduar and dropped Algalon. I was pretty impressed at how quickly it was done, I spent a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes on him before he died. I went in for an hour a few months ago, and never went back until tonight. When all is said and done, those were the great results for the night, but how we got there and some of the details are just as juicy.

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Jaraxxus near wipe

After we killed Northrend Beasts in a quick fashion, we started in on Jaraxxus. We had everything we needed to play it safe, two tanks, three healers, a mage to spell steal, and a shaman to purge. The fight was going smooth, the portals were dying fast, and then something happened. Our mage died to a fire, then our shaman got one shot by a 5 stack chain lightening. It was starting to look like a wipe. We were at about 20 percent with a few seconds left before a Nether Portal spawn, and people were dropping like flies. In the end, we were at about five percent when our last healer got one shot by the boss. We were looking at a wipe on one of the earlier bosses in the instance, and blowing our chance at insanity.

With 1% left the last dps was dropping fast, and I was still near full life. The end of the encounter looked something like a 1v1 in a long 5s arena. I was bubbled, beating away at something with a sliver of life, and if I didn’t get it down before the bubble wore off, I was toast. Then the boss dropped, and we saved a wipe. I got myself a killing blow, and last man standing! Too bad you don’t get an achievement for that…

Block set results

On Anub’arak again I used my block set and I saw similar results to last week with respect to damage taken. As you can see I took a total of 33k damage the entire fight from the Nerubian Burrowers. The only other two people that took damage were Mokk who pulled one of them off me and proceeded to tank it for a few moments, and Puhlaydin who was a victim of a slow pick up at about the same time that Anub’arak was at 10%.

Screen shot 2009-10-23 at 9.18.22 PM
Algalon schnanigans

Algalon was fun, and it was quite obvious that we completely over-geared the instance, but none the less, 10 achievement points and a title is still a nice cherry on top to the 258 cloak and the mount that we got a half an hour earlier.

23
Oct
09

Just My Luck

I did not have much time to play last night because I took my dad out for his birthday, but the one thing that I did get to do was the Headless Horseman event. Now while this event is easy, and quick, it is quite frustrating from my point of view when it comes to getting the Seasonal Meta Achievement. I am stuck with three achievements to go, two of which can more than likely be completed before the end of the holiday. However the third, and most difficult one is the Sinister Calling.

Sinister Calling

As you can see I am having some problems with this particular achievement. Now I don’t really run the headless horseman encounter on a daily basis, as I raid from log in to log out on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I don’t really log on that much on some of the other days of the week, but I have had four chances so far to go out there and pick up these items. My first time out there, the Sinister Squashling dropped and I lost the roll. I was ok with that, it is part of the game, however last night really rubbed me the wrong way. I was running with a few guildies and a few pugs, and summons after summons, nothing but crappy rings. After the 5 summons that you get from your party, we started bringing in alts. One after another they came in, summoned and relogged.

My turn finally came, so I logged on my hunter, and for the ONE encounter that my hunter was in the instance instead of my paladin the Helm dropped. Man blizzard must hate me, first no cloak, trinket, belt, or neck for Months of ToTC, now this slap in the face. Well needless to say I will be doing it every day this weekend and hoping for the best.

Anyone else out there feel that the random drop rate (which is quite low) is really not how most of the seasonal events should work. I know that brewfest originally required all 12 drinks from the brew of the month club, but now that the y have changed that, why cant they change this?

22
Oct
09

Twitter!

@AvengingWrathy

I was never really that good at keeping up with my personal twitter, but I attribute that to the fact that the only people that follow me are my girlfriends friends. I really had no desire to have my co-workers following the in’s and out’s of my life, because lets be honest, facebook has ruined many a career. When ever I sat there and thought about what I wanted to tweet, it was always about WoW, and I knew my followers (aka girlfriends friends) didn’t care to read those updates.

Incoming the Avenging Wrathy Twitter! If you take a look at the bar to the right of the screen there is now a Tweet-adins section, which will have my most recent tweets, but if you want an easy and efficient way of keeping up with the posts, just follow AvengingWrathy and the posts and my thoughts on raiding will be posted in real time!




Tweet-adins

  • What is this nonsense? HoPo and a total overhaul. It's going to be a long weekend of playing around.. 6 years ago

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