And now, live from the home office in Red Cloud Mesa, it’s the Panzercow’s own Top Ten Predictions for Cataclysm…
10. There will be a troll city in Cataclysm. It will be named “Zul’Masharekinababa,” which is Old Trollish for “sweet zombie Jesus, NOT ANOTHER ONE!”
9. Concerned about losing his macho appearance as he ages, King Varian Wrynn will go to Gadgetzan for plastic surgery…which goes horribly wrong and leaves him with pectoral muscles on his chin. Strangely, he doesn’t seem to mind.
8. After Horde characters unlock certain phasing in Orgrimmar, they will see Basic Campfire attempt a coup d’etat and try to dethrone Garrosh Hellscream as Warchief. There will be several exciting quests to assist the usurper, culminating in Garrosh being banished back to Garadar, where he will resume sitting in the dirt, listening to Simple Plan, and cutting himself while writing orcish love poetry.
7. There will be an NPC in Gilneas with some play on “Snoop Doggy Dogg” as a name, there to film a production of Gilneas: Furries Gone Wild.
6. Azeroth will suffer a massive economic crisis when it is announced that the Steamwheedle Cartel has defaulted on its purchase of Icecrown Citadel and its attempts to turn it into a theme park called “Arthasland.”
5. Speaking of Icecrown, with the Lich King dead, Tirion Fordring will retire as Highlord of the Argent Crusade and return to his simple life along the Thondrodil River as a thirteen-foot-tall hermit farmer.
4. In order to expand WoW’s appeal even further, Blizzard will announce that Deathwing will be voiced by Justin Bieber. One million tween girls immediately subscribe and flood existing endgame raids looking for DPS spots as hunters, all with white cat pets named “Iluvjustin.”
3. The shock announcement that the World of Warcraft client will run on the iPad is marred by Steve Jobs’ sudden reversal on the deal. When pressed for an explanation, he points to a paladin’s toolbar and exclaims that something called “Flash of Light” will never be allowed to run on his platform.
2. After five years, the bridge outside of Lakeshire will finally be completed. As King Varian Wrynn is about to declare the Bolvar Fordragon Memorial Bridge open for traffic, Deathwing appears and destroys it again. That poor bastard who’s been hammering on the thing since release throws himself into the lake and drowns.
And the number one prediction for Cataclysm:
1. Headlines across Azeroth scream: GHOSTCRAWLER AND JAINA PROUDMOORE CAUGHT ON CAMERA IN EXCLUSIVE HINTERLANDS LOVE NEST; THRALL SAID TO BE SHATTERED
I’ll admit, I’ve been slack about reporting on the progress of the Latisha Experiment–my attempt to use my own So You Want To Be A Prot Warrior guides to level a Prot warrior all the way from 1 to 80. That’s largely because I’ve been slack about leveling her in the first place. Latisha, sad to say, is not yet 80. She is 75, but on the upside, she’s a veteran of the Wrathgate, is mostly done with Dragonblight outside of a couple of the dragonshrines and group quests that I’m not worrying about for now due to lack of help, and best of all, is getting xp at a solid clip from a mixture of questing and random dungeons.
Now, this is where I admit I’ve disregarded my own advice in her spec, just a little. I’ve swapped her spec to be more like Linedan’s…x/3/53 instead of the x/5/51 I originally stated in the SYWTBAPW guides. See, as I was leveling her, I skipped Vigilance, because I started her before the LFD system, and she didn’t get many chances to tank. Likewise, it was quicker through the old world and Outland to just quest and grind along. But now in her 70s in Northrend, she can take advantage of the near-instant queue times that even normal-dungeon tanks get. So I decided to tweak her spec to be more “tanky” as opposed to “grindy”. This involved dropping the two points out of Cruelty in the Fury tree, picking up Vigilance, and basically setting her Prot side up to be a carbon copy of Linedan, who is himself fairly cookie-cutter. There really isn’t that much difference performance-wise between 15/5/51 and 15/3/53 Prot specs right now, but the two extra points over in the Prot tree allow for a little flexibility–in my case, that usually means two more points into Shield Specialization. Right now, she is 10/3/53, with her last five talent points going to fill out Impale and Deep Wounds in Arms. I also picked up a Glyph of Cleaving in her second major slot, which is a big help in tanking instances.
Gear-wise, she’s better than I expected she’d be at this point. She’s got a few pieces to swap back and forth for questing versus tanking. With her “tank” set in place, she’s got 464 defense at level 75, reasonable avoidance, and about 14.5k health. So far, it’s been enough to tank any normal instance up through Drak’theron Keep without too much trouble. I’ve actually been surprised by how well she can hold agro with a level-appropriate group against even large groups of trash. Having a few years of experience on another Prot warrior helps, of course, but she is proving to be a very competent tank. I just make sure I go back to the AH every so often and keep an eye out for crafted pieces like cobalt, or later on, saronite.
Tanking normal random PUGs is refreshing, in a way. I rarely tank heroic PUGs on Linedan anymore. I use them to practice his Fury spec…and quite honestly, after raid tanking two or three nights a week, I’m happily content to find something to do around the house during the 13-15 minute wait as DPS, and then just merrily roflcowpter my way through an instance as Fury. Tanking heroics, at this stage in the game where Lin needs nothing more than Frost badges, is just usually not worth dealing with the durpdurp. But Latisha has to tank…I haven’t bought dual-spec on her yet, and don’t plan to right away, since I save her money for prowling for upgrades on the AH.
So we know heroic PUGs are all about the “gogogogogo,” where nobody talks, tanks pull before everybody’s zoned in, any thought of strategy or skill goes out the window and it’s a straight-up bulldoze toward the end boss at the highest possible speed so everybody gets their two frost badges and gets on with their lives, right? Well, normal PUGs can be a totally different animal. I’m on my seventh character over level 70, so I have a bad case of “been there done that”–and I’m surprised at the number of people in normal PUGs who are setting foot inside Utgarde Keep or the Nexus for the very first time ever. People actually talk. They apologize when they make a mistake instead of screaming at somebody else. They make jokes and are even *gasp* social. Pacing is slower. There is occasionally even…wait for it…crowd control. Running Drak’theron Keep with a 75 tank and four 74s in the party is a far cry from steamrolling it with five 80s in T9 or T10 gear, that’s for sure. And I really like it.
Of course, sometimes she does get groups like the one with the two level 80 death nuggets who would’ve had no trouble running it on heroic. (Tanking for DKs doing 3k dps, at level 75…not fun.) Or the one with the 74 rogue who did 250 dps for the entire run because she was alternately working up her gun skill and her sword skill…and attacking mobs from the front while doing it. But for every one of those, there’s been at least one where everybody is pleasant, we move at a nice steady pace, nobody loses their cookies when we wipe, and we have a fun time doing the instances the way Blizzard intended them to be done originally. It really is a nice change from the typical heroic PUG.
I’ve had people tell me I must be crazy for leveling a second Prot warrior. Why? I have a character who, while she doesn’t kill things at breakneck speed, kills them quickly enough to quest efficiently, has tremendous survivability, gets into randoms almost instantly, has a fairly interesting backstory even though I haven’t had a chance to RP much with her yet, and, best of all, uses a playstyle that I’m already fairly good at. Yeah. I’m crazy. Like a fox, baby.
(Hi. This post originally linked to the WoW Cataclysm Friends and Family alpha screenshot content posted on MMO Champion in early May. Blizzard asked MMO-C to take down the content as it violated the non-disclosure agreement. MMO-C promptly complied. Since the content that I linked to and referred to is gone, I’ve gone to the Joseph Stalin One-Hour Photo Retouching Studio and I’ve removed that section of this post. I’ve left the section below intact, because it discusses my views on alphas and betas in general and how people–me included–sometimes overreact about things that are still very much in flux. Also, if you are one of the lucky bastards that is actually in the alpha, remember, you’re under an NDA. No spoilers here plox. Thank you.)
Now. You’ll notice all I’ve done is talk in general (albeit gushing) terms about how good it looks. I haven’t said word one about the other stuff that got leaked–new items, new enchants, even new talent calculators.
And I won’t.
Why? Because this stuff will change. It always does. This is frigging alpha, people. Do you remember what the Wrath of the Lich King talent calculators looked like in alpha, and what they looked like on release day? MASSIVE changes. Numbers will be tweaked, talents will appear and move and disappear, spells will be buffed and nerfed again and again and again based on internal and external playtesting and feedback. Why are you going to get your panties wadded up over an “underpowered” or “overpowered” talent that stands a damn good chance of not even being in the game when you finally get in line for that midnight release party? Do not lose your cookies over anything you see there. Blizzard has already given us their general pathways for our classes, and some specifics, in the class previews. Go with that for now, and don’t stroke out over incomplete alpha talent calculators.
And finally, a thought. The Cataclysm “friends and family” alpha is, supposedly, under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) of some sort. Well, we see how well that worked, right? Two days in and already we have this immense flood of hundreds of screenshots and tons of detail information ripped right out of the alpha…and it’s generating huge buzz all over the WoW community. So if you’re one of the Powers That Be at the Blizzard Mothership back in Irvine, how do you feel right now? Are you pissed off that the NDA got so flagrantly violated? Or are you pleased with the crazy fever-pitch intensity of the glee people have at seeing this stuff? Or perhaps some of both?
Here’s a little message from me, your friendly neighborhood Panzercow, to all you other tanks out there currently doing heroic PUGs:
Check your healer’s mana before you pull.
A lot of you are probably saying, “well, durrrrrr, Panzercow,” right now. Yeah, it does seem pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But sometimes people miss even the obvious. When I was sixteen, I looked right at a pickup truck, didn’t “see” it, and then pulled out into an intersection directly in front of it and wound up shifting the front end of my car a foot to the right. You’d be surprised how often the “obvious” isn’t to some people.
This got brought home to me last night. I was on my dwarf hunter doing a random, and the Wheel of Suck came up Halls of Stone. We had a dwarf death nugget as our tank–yes, apparently, they do actually exist! He asked us “long or short run?”, by which I assumed he wanted to know whether we cared about Krystallus and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Tall Emo Woman. We didn’t.
And off he went, in classic heroic PUG fashion…straight ahead, pull pull pull, no time to even loot. Things were pretty uneventful, but as we got to the area leading up to Brann, I noticed that the healer, a holy priest, didn’t have much blue in her blue bar. And then she said, in party chat (and obviously macroed), something like “Please do not pull, I need mana!”
He pulled. She got a sip or two out of her Honeymint Tea, and then had to go back to healing the DK. By the time the fight ended, she was at around 10 to 15% mana. She said in party chat again, “Please do not pull, I need mana!”
He pulled the first two constructs in Brann’s room.
At which point, by one of those wonderful hivemind happenstances that pop up occasionally, we all just stood there and watched him die. It did take a while, I’ll give him that.
Then we ate the wipe.
As we were heading back in, here’s what the conversation looked like:
DK tank: wtf
me: Healer told you twice they were out of mana and you pulled, that’s wtf
DK tank: i don’t read chat
Yes, you read that right, kids. “i don’t read chat.” Well, tell me something there, Captain Speedpull, do you look at blue bars, your healer’s in particular? You don’t need things like, I don’t know, literacy to be able to look at your party frames and see that the healer doesn’t have much in the tank to keep your ass alive, now do you? (Then again, considering right as we pulled Sjonnir, he typed “i❤ wEED LOL”, there may have been another reason…)
It always amazes me that PUGs, when it comes to stuff like this, are much like the corporate world that I spend 40+ hours a week in. There’s never time to do something right, but somehow there’s always twice as much time to do it over when it gets cocked up. The priest would’ve been mana’d back up in twenty seconds, and we could’ve moved on with our run. You could’ve done what PUG tanks generally seem to do in those twenty-second pauses, and randomly bounced around, or inspected everybody, or whatever. Instead, Mr. Ants in his Pants put his blinders on, said “DAAAAAH GOTTA KEEP PULLIN’ GEORGE,” and ended up wiping us and costing us five minutes to recover and several gold in repairs. Contrary to what some people may think nowadays, yes, it is possible to go too fast in a heroic. This was proof.
So tanks, please. Yes, the chances are very good that your healer will never need you to stop. Most healers in random heroic groups nowadays never seem to run below 75% mana, ever. Hell, it’s the healers more than anyone else that are doing the “GOGOGOGOGOGO” that annoys me so much. But do not assume your healer can do that. You may be paired with an undergeared or inexperienced healer. Always check before the next pull, and if your healer’s mana is low, for the love of all that’s holy, wait. A few seconds’ pause every now and then so everybody can get mana’d back up for the next frantic stretch is not going to kill you. If everybody’s good, then pull fast and pull big. But never, never assume.