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Archive for January, 2010

3.3.2 prot warrior changes announced

Blizzard has released the patch notes for the next minor content patch, v3.3.2, over on the Korean WoW site, and wow.com picked them up.  For those of us of the Prot warrior persuasion, here’s the changes we’ve been waiting to hear about:

Warrior

Protection

  • Concussion Blow: Damage decreased by 50%. Threat level remains unchanged.
  • Devastate: Damage increased by 20%.
  • Shield Slam: Damage modifier from block value decreased, and scales worse at low block value levels. Players in high-end gear shouldn’t notice the change. In addition, threat generated by Shield Slam has been increased by 30%.
  • Warbringer: This talent no longer allows Charge and Intercept to break roots or snares. Intervene remains unaffected. In other words, you can still Charge and Intercept in any stance and while in combat.

Basically, there’s nothing here that we didn’t expect.  The Warbringer change is a straight-up PvP nerf, which will have limited effect to those of us who hang out mostly on the PvE side…although let’s just say I’m not looking forward to dealing with Faction Champions without my snare breaks.  The Concussion Blow nerf was one I hadn’t heard about, and I assume that’s a PvP nerf as well, because honestly, I don’t think we were exactly blowing the top off the charts on Festergut with our l33t 30-second-cooldown Concussion Blow deeps.  Actually, while Concussion Blow can hit for a few thousand damage, I can’t see why it’s getting nerfed at all considering the 30-second cooldown.

The Shield Slam change…now that’s interesting.  “Damage modifier from block value decreased, and scales worse at low block value levels.”  But weren’t Prot PvPers stacking huge amounts of +block value?  Or, were they stacking huge amounts of +armor penetration instead?  In any case, I’ll be tracking how this affects things not just on Linedan, with his full rack of T9/T10-level epics and 2600 SBV in his block set…I’ll also be looking at how it effects Latisha, my 71 Alliance-side Prot warrior, with her level 70ish quest greens and King’s Bulwark.  If Blizzard’s found a way to fix the problem with Prot PvP burst damage (and you have no freaking idea how weird it is for me to type that) and not significantly lower Shield Slam damage in PvE, I’ll be mightily impressed.  In fact, if they didn’t lower Shield Slam damage by 30% at the high end–which would be a massive damage nerf–they’ve just increased its net threat, which may mean our snap threat, which was already excellent, is even better.  We’ll have to see once it goes into place and people can run some tests.

Finally, Devastate continues to get buffed.  Everything I’ve written on Prot warrior priority systems last year looks like it may be out the window now, because +20% more damage on Devastate will move it way up the list.  It may not be the “do it if everything’s on cooldown” move anymore.  It already hits quite hard once fully stacked at 5, so +20% may move it above Revenge in terms of sheer damage output.  Goody, yet more keys to frantically spam every GCD!

(EDIT:  I’m also wondering if yet another Devastate buff will drag the Puncture talent off the scrapheap.  Very few of the “conventional” 51- or 53-point Protection builds take Puncture right now, preferring the more general boost from Focused Rage instead.)


And troll makes five

I'm bringin' sexeh back, mon.

Meet your friendly Panzercow’s fifth level 80 character…Sakula the troll enhancement shaman, from the guild Supercow (or, as he says it, “SUPAHCOW!”, complete with exclamation point).

Sakula was the beneficiary of me going on a bit of a WoW binge on Sunday.  He started the day, before I left for church, about 250,000 xp short of level 79, wearing half mid-70s blues and half quest greens (nothing higher than ilevel 174), swinging 91 dps mainhand and 93 dps offhand green fist weapons.  He ended the day, a little after midnight, at level 80, with the two 143 dps epic weapons you see in the picture above–Greed mainhand, The Fleshshaper offhand–his first piece of T9 (shoulders), and a rack of new ilevel 187 and ilevel 200 blues.

It really wasn’t that hard.  I scattered a few normal random dungeon runs through the leveling process, breaking up the grind of questing.  The last part of 78 was done in Sholazar, and at 79, I headed over to the Argent Vanguard in Icecrown and worked through the Argent Vanguard, Crusader’s Pinnacle, Crusader Bridenbrad, and Shadow Vault lines as quickly as I could.  It is very easy to rapid-fire those quests in sequence and roll up mad xp, especially if you’re wearing at least one heirloom piece.  Combine those with normal dungeon runs that were good for 10-15% of a level per run, and the Ladies’ Troll spent no more than five hours at level 79.

I have to say, I am really liking this whole enhancement shaman thing.  I had a very hard time leveling Sakula…up until about level 50, it felt like a giant grind.  He felt hugely underpowered.  I was having to stop and drink every few fights, his DPS was bad, he was getting his ass kicked and nearly dying constantly.  It felt like trying to level a warrior in bad gear, only without the toughness of the warrior class, and with mana issues on top of all of it.  But around level 50–maybe when I picked up Shamanistic Rage–things started to turn around, slowly.  By the time Sakula arrived in Hellfire Peninsula, the grind had eased up a bit.  And come Northrend, with his faithful spirit wolves on three-minute cooldown and a pretty nice chunk of nature’s fury (and two weapons) in his hands, he wasn’t having much trouble with doing quests.

And now at 80, in instances?  Fun tiems! The new Fire Nova is awesome in a can.  Combine that with Maelstrom Weaponed Chain Lightning, and I can sort of hold my own on those constant crazy AOE pulls you get in random PUGs.  Plus…he’s a troll. Trolls are cool!  Trolls be flippin’ out, mon!  He talks to the spirits and the loas…and apparently, the spirits and the loas usually tell him to beat the shit out of things.

As much as I like Moktor, and as much as I find the death nugget class interesting (and despite my frequently ragging on it, I do find it interesting), Sakula may displace the orc bitch as my undergeared non-raiding alt of choice.  I’ll probably be randoming him to gear him up while looking for help on how I should glyph/gem/enchant him for enhancement, and then thinking about whether I want to dual-spec him, and if so, do I give him a second DPS spec as elemental…or do I cowboy up and actually, finally, after five years, give one of my characters a healing spec and dive into the terrifying world of keeping health bars full?


There are numbers, and then there are numbers

As you probably know if you keep up with things involving Prot warriors, there’s a bit of a snitstorm going on regarding potential changes to Warbringer and Shield Slam brought on by the fact that Prot warriors have occasionally been committing unauthorized pwnings of their betters–y’know, mages, hunters, etc.–in arenas.  Now one of the things that we in the Prot community have been maintaining is that Prot warriors generally have the lowest damage output of the four tank classes when we’re tanking, and that this change will lower that damage even further.  Ghostcrawler, while acknowledging that this change will slightly lower Prot warrior PvE damage output, doesn’t seem to think it’s a serious problem:

We understand that warrior damage is on the low end but regarding the raid progression, it’s a hard case to say that your wipe on Festergut (as an example) was caused by the difference between tank damage when the dps from focused classes like rogue, warlock, etc. can probably improve to beat the enrage timer.

And in response to Prot warriors worried that the lack of Prot DPS output will cost us raid spots on balls-to-the-wall DPS races like Festergut, he says:

[…] I honestly think it’s hard to argue that your choice of tank often costs you a kill because of the dps of the tank. Often those numbers are rounding errors compared to the damage capable by the dps specs in the raid. However, I don’t think you even need to invoke that argument. I think it just feels crappy when your dps is lower than other tanks.

(Quotes catalogued by my brother in beef Tarsus over at Tanking for Dummies.)

Now, I don’t know any Prot warrior who thinks we should be cranking out 6000+ DPS like the rogues and the hunters.  That’s crazy talk.  It’ll never happen and it shouldn’t happen.  But there’s an open question here–just how low is Prot warrior damage compared to the other tanking classes?  Is it just a “rounding error,” or something more?

Enter Warwench over at Tankspot, and a Google spreadsheet comprising tank-spec DPS log parses of the top 120 attempts logged at World of Logs so far on each of the Icecrown 25-man bosses currently available.  (The thread over at Tankspot is here.  Thanks to Veneretio over at Tanking Tips for originally Tweeting this yesterday.)  This is an attempt to quantify what tank-spec characters are putting out in the pain department on cutting-edge content.  It’s not complete, because WoL apparently can’t break out tank-spec death nuggets from DPS-spec, so Warwench couldn’t include DKs in the data–a significant omission.  But it’s a start.

The results, I think, are surprising.  Not that paladins are the top DPS-output tanks, we knew that already.  But druids are doing very well for themselves.  Bares, clearly, are storng for fite.  And warriors aren’t just at the bottom…we’re in the basement.  In fact, on some fights, we’re not even in the basement–we’re doing a Jimmy Hoffa in the foundation.

On Lord Marrowgar, for example, we seem to be running about 15% below the average damage output of paladins, bears, and warriors combined.  Lady Deathwhisper?  20% down.  Festergut, the biggest straight-up pure DPS race since Patchwerk?  18% down.  Rotface?  A bit closer at about 11% under average.  Saurfang, a fight where we can just stand in one spot and tee off with occasional back-and-forth taunts?  A very consistent 17% to 18% under average.  Only on Professor Putricide, for some reason–maybe the mechanics?–do Prot warriors seem to be able to score consistently above average.  Warwench also added in a set of about 40 data points for the “gold standard” of DPS yardsticks, Patchwerk.  On those Patchwerk fights, warriors were about 10% under the combined average for paladins, druids, and warriors.

What these numbers seem to indicate is that warriors consistently rank 500 to 1000 DPS behind paladins or druids in every fight in ICC-25 save one.  Looking at Festergut, the average difference seems to be about 1000 DPS.  In a five-minute fight like Festergut, that 1000 DPS difference comes out to three hundred thousand damage. That’s about 1% of Festergut’s health.  How many raids have wiped on Festergut at 1% so far?  A few, I guess, maybe not many.

Numbers can be twisted a lot of different ways–lies, damned lies, and statistics, and all that.  Personally I think Warwench has done the whole tanking community a service by putting these out there so we can see what the top tanks can do in terms of DPS, and how at least three of the four tank classes compare to each other.  But the question still stands–are Prot warriors so far down on DPS that raids might not take them in place of a paladin or druid or DK?

Well…maybe.  I don’t know.  There’s a lot of other factors involved.  The Anvil, for example, has two warrior tanks, and as far as I know, neither of us are going anywhere no matter how many 1% wipes we ever do on Festergut.  Other raids, where loyalty is less important than pushing the envelope, may factor this into their decisions on who goes and who sits.  1000 to 2000 DPS can, as GC says, probably be made up by the DPS classes fine-tuning things (especially since there’s usually about 15 of them compared to two or three tanks).  So no, I don’t think this is the end of the world for warrior tanks.  But it is, as Ghostcrawler says, normal to “feel crappy” when your damage is that far down compared to your brothers in the trenches.

All I know is this…the damage output difference between warriors and the other tank classes, as documented here, is damn sure not just a “rounding error.”  And with the proposed Prot warrior Shield Slam scaling changes, along with some others (Rune Strike changes to DKs a while back as an example), Blizzard seems to be backsliding from the Wrath of the Lich King principle of “threat through damage” and returning to the older paradigm of lower tank damage, but using “bonus threat” to make up for it.  Well, at least for some tanks.


The nerfing will not be televised

I think I’ve left this world behind and fallen through some bizarre space-time portal into a mirror universe.  Seriously.  Superman’s a bad guy, pizza is good for you, and hey, there’s Mr. Spock in a goatee and carrying some neural torturer device thing.

How else can I possibly explain seeing this little nugget pop up from the esteemed Ghostcrawler:

– Protection warriors have too much utility and damage for PvP. (We don’t want to hurt their tanking in PvE of course.)

…wut?  I mean, wut? Protection.  Warriors.  Too.  Much.  Damage.  DOES NOT COMPUTE.

As near as I can tell, this was brought on by the fact that somebody actually got killed in an arena match by a Prot warrior–probably a mage.  This is apparently a violation of some sort of arena rule that Prot warriors are not ever actually allowed to kill anything, or be anything more than “annoying.”

Now, frankly?  Arenas can go die in a toxic waste spill for all I care.  My only arena experience was helping a couple of friends intentionally wreck their 3v3 rating to see how low they could go.  (799, btw.  Do you know how freaking hard it is to actually lose a match in the 900 bracket, even if you’re trying?)  As a PvE player, arenas have done nothing for me except to screw up various and sundry of my toons in various and sundry ways, as they get nerfed to compensate for the hardcore e-sporters screaming “zomg unbalanced!”

And now, this.  Protection warriors–protection warriors, people–are doing too much damage in PvP and have to get nerfed.  So just how does Blizzard think they’re going to nerf us incredibly overpowered Prot warriors, as we go slaughtering everything in sight in PvP (cough cough)?  Well, here’s some info from Bornakk about it:

In the next content patch the current plan is to change Warbringer a bit so that it no longer allows Charge and Intercept to break roots or snares but Intervene would remain unaffected.

We’ll see if any further changes come down the pipeline.

Not a massive nerf for PvE.  I like having Charge and Intercept bust me out of snares, but I could live without it.  As long as we can still use all our abilities without having to switch stances…meh, it’s a nerf, but not a huge one.

We are also considering some changes to Shield Slam to where it won’t affect players in normal tanking gear but it will affect the scaling of block value for those who are stacking it. This isn’t guaranteed as we still want to make sure it doesn’t have a real negative effect on PvE, but in turn we may have the threat caused by Shield Slam just straight increased. We’ll see how this goes as we test it internally.

DANGER.  DANGER, WILL ROBINSON.  DAMAGE NERF INCOMING.

There seems to be some confusion on what changes we are currently looking at that will affect Shield Slam.

What we are changing is block’s scaling on Shield Slam and not block value itself. Shield Slam’s scaling is being altered so this includes Shield Block Value, but it also includes all of the Strength on the PvE dps gear.

For players wearing normal PvE tanking gear, they should not see much of a difference, but we are increasing the threat of Shield Slam to make sure. Anybody stacking a lot of damage gear will probably notice a difference in their Shield Slams though.

Spock:  “Captain, sensors identify a damage nerf incoming, bearing two two six mark eight five, speed Warp Six.”

The problem with the PvP side of Warbringer is that when you consider prot warrior versus mage (just as an example), there was nothing a mage could do to a well versed warrior. The warrior carries a lot of stuns, silences, and then any attempt to root him is broken by multiple abilities. So then the warrior’s teammate (like a hunter) is just doing tons of damage while the target has no defenses.

Um…wait.  Wasn’t there a word for what used to happen when a warrior chased after a mage and couldn’t catch up because of roots or snares and the mage could just /point, /laugh, and /nuke?  Oh yeah, kiting. Apparently it is preferable for a mage to be able to kite a warrior than a warrior to be able to bitchslap the mage.  I guess the mages have a better political action committee than we do.

Here are some more specifics on the (possible) Shield Slam changed. Remember, nothing is finalized at this point.

The diminishing returns on shield slam damage now starts to kick in when shield block value is more than 1960 (at level 80). It maxes at behaving as if your shield block value is 2072 when your block value is actually 3160 (again, at level 80). Remember this includes the scaling from both shield block value on gear AND shield block value from Strength.

Oh, but “it won’t affect us in PvE.”  Uh…yes it fucking will.

Linedan’s tank gear–not stacked for shield block value at all–has almost 2000 SBV when he’s raid buffed.  His threat set, which stacks strength and SBV to maximize damage, has closer to 3000.  In his threat set, he’s already gotten nerfed damage-wise once.  And now he’s about to take another one.

All of this might not send me into the realm of a full rage bar IRL except for one undeniable, cold, hard fact:  warriors are already the lowest-damage class out of the four tanking classes. Look at your raid’s or guild’s tanks on Recount sometime.  Compare what the death nuggets and paladins and even druids can do compared to a warrior.  Boy, I’d sure love to be able to crank out 3500 dps while tanking a raid boss.  I do, typically, somewhere in the low 2000s…less if it’s a fight where I have to switch off with another tank (Saurfang) and spend significant time not being hit, even less if I’m offtanking and have to run around and gather adds without the benefit of Consecrate or Death & Decay or Death Grip.

“But your job isn’t to do damage, it’s to hold threat!”  Yes, I know.  That’s a frequent argument that DPS throws at tanks.  It’s a correct one…to a point.  But answer me this, Gentle Reader…if you’ve got two capable tanks, and you’re staring a DPS race like Festergut in the face, who would you rather have?  The death nugget who can push 4k DPS on the fight, or the warrior who does 2k?  What if you’re the offtank, what do you do during the part of the fight when it’s not your job to hold threat?  Have your damage lowered even more?  Would you rather have “bonus threat” instead of damage?  I wouldn’t.  Screw “bonus threat.”  I want to generate my threat the way that Blizzard said that threat would be generated in Wrath of the Lich Kingthrough damage. Instead, I get lowered damage and “bonus threat.”

So here we are, the lowest-damage tanking class by a mile…and Blizzard is talking about lowering our Shield Slam damage even more because of fucking arenas. Well yay.  Excuse me if I’m not sitting in the stands at the next MLG event.

Guess it was our turn in the gunsights sooner or later.


You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry

Ho. Ho. Ho. Happy Winterveil.

Yes, that’s right.  The cheery, festive, and heavily armed Panzercow you see above you, resplendent in his Red Winter Hat (thank you, Grand Magus Telestra), has switched his DPS offspec from Arms to Fury.  (And no, this does not make me a fury furry.)

Why?  Well, frankly, because I wanted to, and because my raid was OK with it even though we already bring a Fury warrior who’s much better-geared and much better at it.  As I’ve written before, I never really wanted Linedan to be a tank.  I’d just gotten done playing a warrior tank in Everquest for the better part of four years, and, quite frankly, I wanted to own some face.  It wasn’t until Karazhan that I ended up having to spec him Protection full-time.  For a while in vanilla, he was an odd build, a two-hand Fury/Prot hybrid (5/31/15) that was supposed to be a good DPS/offtank build.  But, he never had the gear to make it really work.

When I was fortunate enough to pick up the two nice weapons in the picture above–the Dual-Blade Butcher from ToC-25 and the Keen Obsidian Edged Blade from Onyxia-10–I figured it was time to give Fury another try after years away.  And so far, I’m having quite a lot of fun at it.  (The Keen OEB is particularly special to me…when Lin was first running Molten Core with the Anvil back in the day, all I wanted to get him was an Obsidian Edged Blade, because it looked cool and would’ve been a significant upgrade.  Between DKP and poor luck on drops, it took him four freaking months to finally get one…and it’s still in my bank to this day.)

I’ve been running more heroics as DPS than tank on Lin, to get practice (and because I don’t always want to deal with tanking for a PUG).  Fury has a reasonably simple rotation, and doesn’t have all of the waiting-for-Godot that Arms does.  The downside is, well, it’ll get you killed.  A lot.  Considering that your primary attack is Whirlwind, which hits five targets for the damage of both your weapons?  And that your burst damage with a lot of rage can be ridiculously high, with you in melee range and thus not having that extra 20% threat buffer?  Hellooooo, agro.  Like a lot of DPS specs, you can go balls-out and e-peen some pretty impressive numbers on the meters without a lot of skill, you just need the gear.  The skill comes in knowing when not to mash the pedal to the floor…when to hold off a second on a Whirlwind or when to use something else.  You know, when to not be That Guy who’s pulling agro and pissing off the tank, stressing the healer, and getting yourself deaded.  Because Fury warriors have no agro dump except the Sprawl of Shame.

How impressive are the numbers?  Well, not very–remember, I’m still learning it.  But with a mish-mash of Ulduar- and ToC-level gear, mostly ilevels between 219 and 245, I can push well over 3000 in heroics and get near 4000 in raids (much more on trash, where Whirlwind + glyphed Cleave really pads numbers).  I know I can do better, I’m still working on it.  But it’s better than Arms, and it’s enough that on nights where I am not in the Anvil’s tank rotation, I can contribute without being totally humiliated.

I love tanking.  I never want to give up being Prot at this point (Ghostcrawler notwithstanding…but that’s a rant for another time).  But occasionally, it just feels good to pick up two gigantic weapons and just destroy everything in your path.  Cow smash!


Shining Pearls of Wisdom–Your PUG Tank and You

The awesome orcish hawtness that is Kadomi tweeted this beautiful little nugget from the WoW Europe forums today…it’s so good, I think it needs its own blog post.  An excerpt:

“Gogogogogogogogogogogogogo”:
This actually enrages basicly every tank, it’s pushing and annoying, and could easily be repaced by: “I’m ready ” or “Pull when you are ready”.
– If you want your tank to accidentaly let you die, use gogogogo.
– If not, just use a more friendly way to let the tank know you want to move on.
– Give the tank some time to get ready, find out what is the best way to pull the mobs, regain mana/rage etc.
– Keep in mind that the Tank might be waiting for the healer to be on full mana.
– Don’t pull. And by that I really mean, don’t pull. If you’re out of luck, the tank and healer will just let you die.

You have to read the entire post to understand just how fantastic it is.  Sourabaya (the OP) pretty much hits every annoyance that a tank can run into when tanking a PUG.  “Helpful” pullers, people ragging on your gear, the “zomg pull fastur u noob” spam, it’s all there.

I may have a deeper post on this later, but honestly, I don’t think I can add very much to what Sourabaya posted.  Read it for now, and maybe I can find a different tack on this later on this week.


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