Failcheck: Stam or Mastery?

***Note: this article is geared towards paladin tanking, but may be applicable for other tanking classes as well***

One of the main tanking topics that’s still up in the air is how tanks should gem/enchant/reforge. While I’m newer to the tanking field than some of the tank bloggers and numbercrunchers out there, I think this is a prime opportunity for an experiment. The idea is that since the tanking mastery Divine Bulwark provide strong mitigation, it may be wiser to push our gear towards stats like mastery. Unlike dodge and parry, blocks don’t suffer from diminishing returns. Because of this, reforging dodge and parry on your gear into mastery results in more overall mitigation. As a bonus, I’ve noticed that mastery rating tends to result in more overall points than dodge/parry rating does, so this also contributes to greater mitigation.

Currently, I’m using gear that utilizes the following gems: Puissant Dream Emerald in green slots, Defender’s Demonseye in red slots, and Solid Chimera’s Eye (I’m a JC) in blue slots. Prismatic I fill up with what I can, leaning towards the emerald if I’ve already got all three JC gems in my gear. Now! As a quick, brief test, I purchased the recipe for Fractured Chimera’s Eye. As a JC, I found it frustrating that there was little to no information in regards to whether or not it was better to use stam or mastery JC gems, so this is my first test on the matter: I swapped an Emerald for one of my Solid JC gems, then replaced an Emerald that was in a yellow slot (+10 parry rating bonus from Gryphon Rider’s Boots) with one a brand spanking new Mastery JC gem. Here were the results, without Blessing of Kings or any other buff active – just wearing my gear:

Before: 144,217 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 54.56% block / 81.99% total mitigation

After: 142,509 HP / 10.27% parry / 12.16% dodge / 55.41 % block / 82.84% total mitigation

Conclusion: Trading a Stam JC gem for a Mastery JC gem (aiming for socket bonuses) essentially trades 1,708 HP for a 0.85% mitigation increase.

Now, my blocks stop 31% of damage due to block enchants, so keep that in mind, but what this test ultimately means – in my opinion – is that JC paladin tanks should definitely use Stam JC gems over any Mastery equivalent (nor parry/dodge, since they provide less mitigation than mastery does). Does this mean we should not gem for mastery at all? I doubt this is the case, but whenever I can arranged for the funds to test this theory, I will. Until then, I hope this brief experiment will help you choose how to spend those hard earned Illustrious Jewelcrafter’s Tokens!

WTB level 85, PST

Without boring you with my many leveling adventures, I feel I can safely and summarily say that I have screwed around with leveling multitudes of different toons, spare no class (except Warlocks – they never did strike my fancy…). Lately, I’ve been leveling two in particular: a holy/ret paladin named Nehmend and a resto/kitty druid named Ehks. I mention this because when I do level these toons, I find that they level abnormally fast, compared to my other high level toons. So, I did some quick calculating. Currently, you can get:

  • +10% XP for Heirloom Helm (requires Guild level 20)
  • +10% XP for Heirloom Shoulders
  • +10% XP for Heirloom Chest
  • +5% XP for Heirloom Cloak (requires Guild level 10)
  • +5% XP for Heirloom Ring (from wining Kal’uak Fishing Derby)
  • +5% XP for Guild level 2
  • +5% XP for Guild level 6
  • =50% bonus XP

According to Wowhead, there are currently Heirloom legs and more rings in store. Counting those in, you can receive an additional 15% for 65% total bonus XP. Depending on how often you play these alt toons, you could earn up to 150% of a level (that’s 30 of the small bars/bubbles) in rested XP over the course of 10 days, which doubles the experience gained from combat. And on top of all of this, there are other situational bonuses that you can receive, such as holiday buffs (like those obtained from the Fire Festival, Pilgrim’s Bounty, etc) and the Recruit-a-Friend bonus of 200%. Of course, to receive this bonus, you need to be within 3 levels of your friend, but they can also “grant” levels (that’s right, free levels) to any of your toons at a lower level than theirs for every 2 levels they earn.

Long story short, leveling has become easy. With the right amount of effort to obtain heirlooms and balancing of alt play time, you can earn numerous levels every hour. This leads to more higher level toons, but does it subtract from the leveling experience? Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the now “easysauce” process of leveling.

Too many raiders!

Brief post today: my GM and I are currently attempting to organize a second 10man raid for our guild, since there seems to be enough raid interest to sustain it, if a couple of us raid on both. I’m actually pretty excited about this because while it won’t be the same as DPSing on Nehmen, I’d be playing my mage Feuere for the second raid, meaning I’d get both the tanking and DPS perspectives of the new cata raids. The challenge, of course, becomes finding times that work for both without conflicting with one another.

The ultimate goal of having these two raids is to provide in-guild raiding opportunities for more of our members while doing our level headed best to avoid “burning out.” To accomplish this, I believe we’re going to shorten our usual raid time of 4 1/2 hours (6:30-11pm) down to something closer to 2 1/2 hours (8:30-11pm). In the past, we’ve found that raid productivity tends to decline towards the latter hours of the raid from progression wipes and/or sitting in one place for that long, so if we can maintain a decent rate of progression with shorter hours, then why bother holding longer, tedious raids? Also, most time conflicts that members run into tend to occur earlier in the evening (“my folks wanted to have dinner,” “work got off late,” “traffic was horrible,” “I had a ridiculous amount of homework,” etc), so starting later may help avoid those.

I’ll let you know if this ends up working out, and if we had to make any changes to find success with the raid structure/scheduling.

First Raid Night: Halfus down!

After struggling with quite a bit of raid setup (our start time was supposed to be invites at 6:15pm begin at 6:30pm, but we didn’t start until 7:15pm…), our guild marched into Bastion of Twilight. One of our healers was a somebody’s alt, and one of our best melee dps sat out due to the melee dps constraints, but despite these troubles, after a handful of wipes (I believe 9-10?…), we downed Halfus Wyrmbreaker!

For those of you interested in attempting this fight yourself, it seems pretty easy, once your raid has the rhythm down. However, we used a slightly different method than what I’ve seen online in places such as Sword and Board: instead of releasing all three drakes, one-by-one, we only released two – and we released them all at once. To make this work, we used hero/time warp after the off-tank had established aggro on both drakes (we released the Storm Rider and Time Warden, leaving the Nether Scion alone), and I immediately used Divine Guardian to give our healers an early advantage against the imminent onslaught of damage. Also, I used all of my trinkets and other CDs early on (not all at once, naturally) because that way, they’ll further assist the healers early on, and everything was ready again for the final minutes leading to the enrage timer.

The key to this fight is perfectly timed interrupts, hence the raid’s need to establish a rhythm. We paired an elemental shaman with me on Halfus for the entirety of the fight (the only dps not on the drakes at the start), so he could interrupt all of the Shadow Novas that Halfus uses when the Storm Rider’s in play. Later, when he uses his shout knockdown, we had a combo of humans using Every Man for Himself and our mage blinking out of the stun to use counterspell to interrupt the Shadow Nova. Once we perfected this cycle (spare a few wipes for other minor reasons), the fight was downed, relatively smoothly.

Unfortunately, I have no screenshots of the fight with Halfus; only of Magmaw, who we attempted for the remaining hour or so, until I had to leave early (co-worker was sick and needed shift coverage ^_^’ ). In the end, I felt the raid was very successful, especially considering our “personnel” troubles for the evening. We’re still working out an exact raiding schedule, but I’ll keep you posted about anything that could help your own raiding experiences!

Food for thought

While I have been experimenting recently with how effective it is to tank with mitigation oriented gear as apposed to threat oriented gear, I have had the pleasure of assisting my friend, and guildmaster, Zee with gearing up her raiding toon. While doing this, several topics came to mind that I feel should be shared:

“Main as raid toon” v. “Alt as raid toon”

Zee’s main toon is her mage Zerena, but this isn’t her raiding toon, oddly enough. Due to various reasons, Zee leveled a resto shaman named Zeronemo, who serves as her sole raiding toon. I don’t know of many players that follow this school of thought, but after thinking on it, I found some pros and cons to both.

Main as raid toon:

  • Pros: Your main gets good gear; receives more play time; gets all of the achievements; strong sense of connection with one character
  • Cons: Your main wears gear because it’s got good stats, not because it’s cool; risks being overplayed; may need race/profession changes to stay “competitive”; may have limited guild selection, if you’re trying to stay PvE “competitive”

Alt as raid toon:

  • Pros: Your main can whatever gear you feel like wearing, regardless of stats; can be in whatever guild you like to hang out with, regardless of their raiding schedule, setup, etc
  • Cons: Your alt gets all of the dungeon/raid achieves instead of your main; may lead to weaker emotional connection with your main

Conclusion: Do whatever works best for you! If you like being a particular character, no matter what you’re doing, then using your main toon as your raider would probably be a strong choice. Likewise, if you could care less about attachments to any one character, then maybe using an alt (or several) as your raid toon is the way for you.

Knowing your class

It’s harder than it sounds, especially with the shear amount of content that’s been added into the game via Cataclysm and the hotfixes flying around left and right. At the same time, knowing your class’ every ability in and out can really make the difference when it comes to being a strong player. For instance:

  • Protector of the Innocent – Although this talent no longer works with targeting yourself with your heals, this talent briefly made paladin tanks nigh unstoppable, especially in PvP. Because this talent is in the holy tree and involves healing (something that some tanks seem loathe to do, for whatever reason), it could’ve been missed by many players.
  • Presence of Mind + Polymorph – While PoM doesn’t work in combination with teleporting or making portals, it DOES work with polymorph. Is your tank charging headlong into battle, having forgotten that Poly has a cast time? Bam! Insta-sheep.

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that come to mind, right away.

Persistence with Triage

Is also harder than it sounds! There’s nothing worse than constant wipes on a quest, in a dungeon/raid, etc. Well, except for the cause being something extraordinarily obvious in hindsight. Being stubborn enough to continue trying in the face of hardship is a great virtue, but it means nothing if you can’t look at your mistake and say to yourself, “What went wrong here?” This is where addons like Recount are handy.

If you suddenly get one/two shot and don’t know why, then Recount will happily inform you that <insert attack here> wiped the floor with you. Possibly twice. If nothing out of the ordinary happens, but success still eludes you (oh, you temptress), then consulting Recount can shed light on potential issues with dps, healing, unnecessary damage, etc.

The tricky part is always fixing what’s going wrong, but doing that is impossible if you don’t know the source of the problem!

Season’s Greetings

This isn’t a full post – I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas yourself, then happy whichever-if-any holiday you follow! =D

Happy Winter Veil as well, and I’ll see you on the servers!

/failcheck Expectations of PUGers

This isn’t an “experiment” /failcheck – this is me calling out a clear “fail” that needs to be addressed. Here’s the short version of this post: have realistic expectations of a PUG and address issues when they arise instead of saying nothing.

Here’s the long version: I was talking to a friend of mine in my guild, and she mentioned that one of our fellow officers was constantly posting messages in officer chat along the lines of “these guys are total fails,” I wish they would do their job right,” or “can I cry now because this is so horrible.” (I’m not exaggerating about the “can I cry” part either – he says that a lot). Now, I haven’t been on when this occurred; otherwise, I’d tell him to do something about it or stop talking about it. Annoyed guildmates is the only result you’ll get from moaning and groaning in guild/officer chat about something you can fix.

We are only 8 days into the new expansion, so most of the PUGs you’ll get via heroic queueing (and even regular queueing) are players who haven’t done that dungeon/version of that dungeon yet. Newness of the expansion aside, I was still running into players new to a particular PUG during the final month of WotLK. You will always have the chance of that happening when queuing for a PUG, so get used to it or stop queuing. If nothing else, remember that at some point during your WoW lifespan, you were likely in a similar situation. Would you have appreciated other players being mad at you for not knowing a fight on your first visit to a dungeon?

Of course, there are ways you can prepare for dungeons, and I do agree that some are pseudo-prerequisites to joining a PUG (in my opinion), whereas others are beneficial but aren’t wholly necessary. To generalize my opinions, I feel a game should be fun and shouldn’t require outside sources to be fun, but knowing the ins and outs of a game itself is important. For example:

  • There are millions of resources on the internet that can prepare you as much as possible for a fight before doing it, but WoW is first and foremost a game. I feel I can safely say that Blizzard has never and will never release a game designed to force you to research encounters before doing them. There will inevitably be trial-and-error wipes, but that’s how games have been for a long time (“how do we kill Bowser on this level? Well, let’s try this…”).
  • Gear is a prerequisite in my eyes. If it wasn’t, then Blizzard wouldn’t have set a minimum iLevel for players to meet before having access to the heroic dungeon queue. There are some WoW players who don’t put much/any effort into gearing up for heroics, and it tends to ruin the fun for your fellow PUGers when you’re one of these people. After all, it’s one thing to wipe because you don’t quite know and encounter yet. It’s another thing entirely to wipe because your gear is so insufficient that it’s impossible for you to best an encounter (e.g., a  tank wearing WotLK blues/purples is likely going to be unable to successfully tank a Cata heroic). This is what the minimum iLevel is supposed to prevent, but some players are finding ways to cheat the system. One example that I’ve seen is a warrior equipping an intellect/spirit blue ring they got form a quest, simply because it puts them above the iLevel bar.
  • Knowing your class is highly important, and a key feature of the game. Although there’s been some homogenization of class abilities lately, all classes have there own, unique abilities that makes them different than other classes (otherwise, why have classes at all?). You should know what these are, when/how to use them, and why it’s important to do so!

Finally, if you’re in a PUG where someone is failing at something important, then do something constructive about it. As I said before, complaining to your guildmates about a problem you can solve is of no benefit to yourself. Tell your party why what’s happening is wrong and how to correct it. If you can at least do that, and they refuse to listen, then I’m willing to hear your monologue about how you’re in the worst PUG ever. If they try to do the correct method and aren’t quite getting the hang of it, then I’m just going to say “luck of the draw” and tune you out. I stand firmly beside my belief that games should be fun. If other people are ruining your fun intentionally by being stubborn headed about doing things the wrong way, then I sympathize with you. However, if they’re giving their best effort, and you still complain to me about it, then you’re ruining my fun. And that’s no fun (bah dum tsssh?)!