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Posts tagged “deeps

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.


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!

Ah, that feels better

Linedan lasted two days as Arms before I took him back Prot.  I learned enough to know that (a) I need better gear before even thinking about bringing an Arms spec on a raid, especially as big a weapon upgrade as I can swing, and (b) I am totally addicted to the Prot playstyle now and it’s really, really hard to give up the crack.  I guess for me, it’s worth slowly grinding through my dailies at 1100 dps and bringing up the bottom of the DPS meters in Naxx-25 to be able to pull entire camps and survive, or tank Kel’thuzad, or even solo elites.

It’ll work having Arms as a dual spec for those times I want to deeps.  But I can’t give up being the Panzercow.  I just can’t.  It’s in my blood.  I have to face facts…I have a fever, and the only cure is more cowtank.

Don’t panic, it’s temporary

So if you go to look at Linedan’s armory link in the next few days, don’t freak out.  I haven’t been hacked, and the Armory isn’t broken.

For a few days, the Panzercow…is DPScow.

Yep.  In the interest of trying out a potential Arms dual-spec come 3.1 (as I mentioned in a post a while back), I’ve shifted Linedan over to a 53/18/0 Arms build for a little while so I can try to learn how to play it.  Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere as a tank.  Tanking is still my first love.  But in the interest of raid utility and general versatility (since we have a lot of good up-and-coming tanks in our circle of online friends), it makes sense for me to have my main have the option to deeps occasionally.  I don’t have anywhere near the gear for Fury, and Arms provides some raid utility, hopefully moreso in 3.1.  So, Arms is the plan, and I’m test-driving it now.

My first impression, from a single heroic Utgarde Keep run, is that I’m going to dub the 53/18/0 Arms build the “waiting for Godot” build.  I’m sitting there constantly waiting for something to happen.  Waiting for Taste for Blood to proc Overpower, waiting for Sudden Death to proc Execute, waiting to have enough rage to Mortal Strike, Slamming if nothing else is available…good grief.  I just thought Prot was reactive.  Arms is so much more reactive than Prot is, it’s scary.  Talk about worshipping at the Altar of the Random Number Generator, sheesh.  This is crazy.

BTW, my performance in that HUK run?  1250 dps, 2 stupid deaths due to agro yoinking.  If I was tanking, I’d have probably done 1250 dps and not died once.  Yep.  I’ve got a lot to learn, and a lot of gearing to do, to make this work.

And I’ve only got 21.8k health and 13.3k armor.  Sweet motherhumpin’ zombie Jesus, I’m squishy.

Dual specs, or the loneliness of the long-distance offtank

So Blizzard has put out a Q&A with Ghostcrawler about how the Dual Spec feature planned for the 3.1 release is going to work.  You’ve probably already seen the information, if you’re hooked into the WoW blogosphere at all.

I am really looking forward to this feature because of where I sit with my current 25-man raid.  I am in a raid that’s, basically, a side of pwnage stuffed with spectacular, drizzled in awesomesauce, and wrapped in bacon.  I’ve been part of it off and on for three years now, from the days when I was a badly-undergeared level 60 31/5/15 hybrid and got dragged to Molten Core, all the way up to being a regular offtank on Tier 5 and Tier 6 content in Burning Crusade.  Now, we’re in 25-man Naxx, with everything but Kel’Thuzad dead.

We do things a little differently–instead of a “standard” 3 tank/6 healer/16 DPS setup, we usually run with 4 tanks and either 5 healers/16 DPS or 6 healers/15 DPS.  And by “tank” I mean dedicated tanks–a prot warrior MT, a prot paladin, a frost DK, and me, the other prot warrior.  We also have one or two feral druids that are quite capable of stepping up if needed–trust me, we’re not hurting for an offensive line on this team.  All four of us dedicated tanks buff out over 35,000 health–I’m the squishiest at about 35.5k, with the warrior and paladin closer to 37k and the DK at an astonishing 40k fully pimped.

But as the #4 tank, generally, I don’t really tank all that much.  I MT every so often, but mostly, I tank trash where I can, grab and hold adds (slimes on Grobbulus, worshippers on Faerlina, etc.), work the back of the room on Four Horsemen sometimes, stuff like that–the kind of lunchpail down-in-the-trenches work that offtanks do while the MT gets to dance with Big Nasty.  With a great MT and two very strong AOE tanks, though, and with the design of Naxx encounters not really needing four dedicated high-health, high-avoidance tanks all that often, a lot of the time, I’m left DPSing, while still keeping my tank suit on in the event that things go to hell in a bucket and I have to step in and take some hits.  And while it isn’t the total effort in futility that it was pre-3.0, DPSing as a prot warrior who’s not getting beaned in the head is never going to produce a lot of deeps.  Rage generation of a 1H + shield is, and will always be, very low, even with a good weapon like Lin’s Split Greathammer.  Low rage = low damage output.

Dual specs offers a ray of hope.  It may give me the chance to make Linedan what I have wanted him to be for a very long time…a true hybrid combination of tank capability and painbringing, a DPS/offtank hybrid.  Hybrid specs for warriors right now simply do not work.  You’ve got to be 51+ in some tree or other, and 51+ in either of the DPS trees is generally not going to leave you capable of main tanking even a 10-man raid, possibly even a harder heroic (depending on gear of course).  I’ve chosen to take him Prot, 15/5/51 currently, because that’s what I have the gear for, and that’s the spec I generally like playing.  He’s a good tank, geared and ready for anything up through 25-man content.  I’ve worked hard to make him a good tank and make myself a good tank player.  But there are situations where another tank isn’t what’s needed…and maybe I can help.

So my long-term plan, at this point, is to start using heroics and 10-mans to build him an offspec DPS set with an eye toward a raid Arms build–54/17/0, or whatever a similar raid-support Arms build looks like after Blizzard tweaks Arms for 3.1.  (Build courtesy of the folks over at Big Hit Box.)  Why Arms?  Because while I don’t like being dead last on the Deeps Parade, I’m not in it to blow the top off the meters.  I’m in it to help the raid succeed.  And Arms brings a lot of toys to help a raid that’s heavy on physical damage, as ours sometimes is, kill stuff faster.  Trauma giving +30% to bleed damage for 15 seconds after a crit?  Hell, my wife the feral druid will love me for that alone.  Then throw in the extra +2% (maybe +4% in 3.1) physical damage from Blood Frenzy whenever Rend or Deep Wounds is up.  I won’t do the insane DPS that a TG Fury warrior can do.  But I can do more than I can as Prot, and jack up everybody else’s too.

I’m not going to go Arms full-time, no way.  I like Prot.  I like tanking.  I’m not going to change from primarily being a Prot warrior.  Arms would be my secondary build, to be dragged out in situations where I know I won’t have to MT anything and I’ll only be occasionally offtanking.  If the materials for the “portable Lexicon” Ghostcrawler mentions aren’t too expensive, maybe I can even switch mid-raid if it proves necessary.

I sure hope Blizzard doesn’t bork this feature up, because it’s one of the cooler concepts that’s come along in WoW for a while.

Ten Commandments for DPS

DPS Plate speaks truth.  Follow them, or yay verily, you wilst be known as That Guy.  And you will be cast out into the realm of bad trade-channel PUGs where there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Dramatis Personae: Beltar

Continuing my character introduction series, next we have my second WoW character on Feathermoon, my Alliance-side main, the cranky old hunter with a heart of bronze and a liver of steel…Beltar.

  • Full name:  Beltar Forgebreaker
  • Created:  August 2005
  • Level/race/class:  Level 77 dwarf hunter
  • Spec:  Marksmanship (currently 16/52/0)
  • Age:  127 (human equivalent ~55)

Beltar is a fairly stereotypical dwarf.  He’s cranky, he’s curmudgeonly, he’s loud, he’s profane, he’s often drunk, and he occasionally smells faintly like stale beer and pig.  Physically he’s not imposing–a bit on the scrawny side for a dwarf, maybe an inch shorter than average, with a craggy, wrinkled face, hazel eyes, bad teeth, and mostly-gray hair that hangs straight to below his shoulders.  His skin is weathered from a lifetime outdoors.  He likes hats, and has a garish red fedora (Mirren’s Drinking Hat) that he often wears with dark-colored shirts and pants when not geared up for killing.

When I wrote Beltar’s history, I knew basically nothing about Blizzard canon history in the Warcraft universe prior to WoW.  So I left it very vague.  For the past century or so, after leaving home (the circumstances of which are explained in a story here), Beltar wandered all over the Eastern Kingdoms selling his skill with an axe or a gun.  At various times, he was a merchant guard, bandit, hired killer, bodyguard, mercenary soldier, watchman, and much more.  Because of his work with various merchants, he managed to miss both the First and Second War; before the Third War, he was grievously injured while bodyguarding someone, and ended up stuck in Anvilmar recuperating.  By the time he was up and around again, it was years later, and he had to start regaining his skills again…from level 1.

Beltar’s one constant is his pet boar, Squealer.  He tamed Squealer in Dun Morogh at level 10 and he’s had him ever since.  He’s dabbled in other pets (he currently has an as-yet-unnamed Sholazar dreadsaber as a DPS pet) but keeps coming back to the big black crag boar, lousy DPS and all.

Beltar is simultaneously fun and frustrating to play.  He’s my favorite character to roleplay, above and beyond even Linedan.  Lin is quiet, he’s serious, he blends in to backgrounds.  Beltar, at times, is loud, abrasive, profane, insulting–generally socially inept, and what’s more, he doesn’t give a damn.  On those relatively rare occasions where I can just lay back and have fun being a drunk-ass crotchety gun-toting dwarven redneck, he’s an absolute hoot.  And, unlike the basically noble and decent Linedan, Beltar is an amoral little son of a gun.  He doesn’t really get the chance to show it off, but I’ve always envisioned him as being a perfect Mafia hitman.  He’s not into dark magic, he’s not really into torture for the sake of torture, he likes puppies and kittens and rainbows well enough.  But cross him or those he considers his–like his guild, the Wildfire Riders–and he’ll castrate you, nail you to a barn door, pull your guts out through your throat, and feed them to his dreadsaber while you watch…then head down to the Pig and Whistle in Old Town Stormwind and pound back some ale like nothing ever happened.

Even his accent is fun.  His accent isn’t quite the normal faux-Scottish Blizzard-standard Dwarven; I figured his speech patterns in Common have gotten munged up by a century of exposure to humans from Lordaeron to Stormwind and everywhere in between.  So his accent is similarly twisted; inside my head, it’s a bizarre mixture of Blizzard Dwarven, combined with some occasionally swallowed vowels and clipped endings (so “y’r” instead of “your,” “findin'” instead of “finding”), a bit of Minnesotan or Canadian prairie thrown in (he tends to pronounce things like “house” as almost “heouse,” if that makes any sense–it’s a linguistic thing peculiar to the part of Virginia I grew up in), and grammar patterns based off folks I grew up with in rural Virginia and those I knew in South Carolina.

The frustration part comes more from actually trying to play him.  He’s always been a marks hunter, and always will be; I have Illithanis, my blood elf, to scratch my beastmastery hunter itch.  Beltar is a gunbunny.  It’s what he does.  But marks hunters are generally inferior to BM hunters in a lot of circumstances, without any real “oh shit” buttons like Bestial Wrath if things go sideways, and they’re harder to level solo because their pets are much less effective.  And with most of my time being taken up by Lin, Beltar almost exclusively solos.  One look at his craptacular Armory tells you that; at 77, he’s still wearing lots of Karazhan pieces.  He’s done exactly one instance run since entering Northrend.  With only being able to play him a few nights a week, and with the majority of his acquaintances already long since 80 and gone onto heroics, he’s lagging, and his low gear level makes leveling him a bit of a slog.  Beltar may make me break my “I don’t pickup group” pledge just to get the massive backlog of low-level instance quests out of his quest log.

I’d love to be able to put more time into him.  But there aren’t enough hours in the day, really.  So I roleplay with him when I can, and grind out a few hundred thousand xp when I can, and keep hoping I can pick up some instance runs or help with group quests, usually without too much luck.  But as befits a dwarf who’s led a rough life on the road for over a century, I keep on keeping on.

To bleed or not to bleed

One of the more interesting discussions that pops up from time to time over on the Blizzard WoW warrior and tanking role forums is regarding shifting some points from the Protection tree over to the Arms tree to pick up two DPS talents in Arms–Impale, and Deep Wounds.

Impale:  Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your abilities by 10% per point.  Two points.

Deep Wounds:  Your critical strikes cause your opponent to bleed, dealing (16% per point) of your melee weapon’s average damage over 6 seconds.  Three points.  Requires 2/2 Impale.

Now, for reference, this is Lin’s current spec as of this post.  It’s a 15/5/51 Impale/Deep Wounds prot spec; basically, it’s designed to be a DPS-oriented tank spec.  In order to get the points to go 15 deep into Arms, I had to give up a few things over in Prot and Fury; namely, three points of Shield Specialization, all three points of Puncture, and (in Fury) three points of Cruelty.

At first glance, this looks kind of crazy.  Impale, OK, that’s easy enough to see as a good talent.  +20% to critical damage bonus on “abilities”–translation, yellow damage–is pretty handy, because the new post-3.0 way of doing things as prot means you’re getting the vast majority of your damage from yellow damage, not white swings.  This basically gives you +120% damage on yellow crits instead of +100%.  Add in the +15% crit chance on Heroic Strike, Thunder Clap and Cleave from Incite, the +15% crit chance on Devastate from Sword and Board, and the +15% crit chance on Shield Slam from Critical Block, and it should be obvious that Impale is extremely useful.  But why would you spend three precious talent points on something that only adds half the damage of a white hit, especially considering that tanks generally swing fast weapons with low raw damage numbers?

Two reasons:

1.  Deep Wounds activates off any crit.  Anything.  White damage, Heroic Strike, Shield Slam, Revenge, Thunder Clap…even Damage Shield.  Yep, that’s right, if you put all 3 points into it, Deep Wounds will activate if somebody crits themselves on your Damage Shield.  Right now, 2/3 Deep Wounds is not proccing on Damage Shield, but 3/3 is.  Either 2/3 should be proccing on Damage Shield, or 3/3 shouldn’t.  We don’t know which is correct, Blizzard hasn’t said anything.  But anyway, think about this.  Warriors throw out a lot of attacks, between passive Damage Shield hits, white swings, special attacks, etc.  That’s a lot of chances to get crits…and five of those attacks have +15% crit chances on them in most prot warrior builds.  With 3/3 Deep Wounds, every time you crit, WoW takes 48% of the average white damage on your mainhand weapon, mitigates it by the target’s armor since it’s physical damage, and applies it to the target in three ticks, two seconds apart.

2.  Deep Wounds “rolls.”   Basically, it stacks.  If the target has Deep Wounds on, and you crit again, the timer refreshes to 6 seconds and the 48% damage is added onto the existing Deep Wounds ticks.  And there’s no limit to how high it can stack.

Now you can start to see how a talent originally balanced around 3.50+ speed two-handers can become useful in the hands of a prot warrior.  If we chain lots of crits together, even with a low-damage weapon, those Deep Wounds ticks start to pile up into significant damage.  How significant?  Well, my only recorded data point so far was tanking a normal Culling of Stratholme run a few days ago–I’m terrible about forgetting to check my Recount before clearing it after an instance.  In that run, Deep Wounds was 5.9% of my total damage.  That’s not inconsiderable.  And, considering it procs off Damage Shield crits?  I can stick a bleed on a mob without ever swinging at it.  That may have some negative implications for crowd control, but it’s a short duration, and who CCs nowadays anyhow?

The only downside is that if we really wanted to push this even further, and take 5/5 Cruelty, it would require giving up all three points in Armored to the Teeth.  Considering that AttT is going to boost your average warrior tank by 300 to 400 attack power, I wouldn’t do it.  I’ll gladly take 350 AP over 3% crit, even with a DW build.  And, 15/8/48 isn’t an option, because it costs us Shockwave and either Damage Shield (which removes most of the reason to even take DW in the first place) or 2/3 Sword and Board.

So at the expense of a little bit of mitigation, we pick up a surprising amount of damage.  As a tank, our primary job isn’t leet DPS, that’s true.  But in this brave new world of WotLK tanking, DPS is how we generate most of our threat.  More DPS, more threat, stuff dies faster.  Personally, for raiding, I am leaning toward a 12/5/54 build, dropping Deep Wounds and transferring those three points to fill out Shield Specialization for the +3% block and guaranteed rage gain.  Right now, though, I’m a Deep Wounds prot build fan.