Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
World of Warcraft personal status report

This post is not to make any particular point. I’ll just list the current status of my World of Warcraft characters, and what my plans are for them. I like to do that from time to time, because it serves as a record, a diary of my virtual existence.

I still have three level 80 characters, a priest, a warrior, and a mage. The priest is technically my “main”, and the only character that ever raids, but I do play my “alts” a lot too. So this priest spent a lot of time in random heroics, although not necessarily with random groups. I frequently find a group in guild chat, where “we need a healer” is the reason I end up playing the priest so often, and then we just join a random heroic as a guild group, or as a partial group, picking up just one or two players. That gives us all the advantages of the Dungeon Finder system, while avoiding the worst disadvantages of pickup groups.

Unfortunately playing that way a lot results in two things that diminish motivation: You get to know every single heroic dungeon very well, and at some points you have all the emblems you ever wanted. My priest is at the point where there is not a single item which he could buy with emblems of triumph which would be an upgrade for him. And he also has all reasonably priced emblem of frost items already bought. So while theoretically I could continue collecting 2 emblems of frost every day, in practice I’d need 95 of them for a minor upgrade to one piece of armor, and I’m not very excited about that prospect.

I recently participated in a raid to Trial of the Crusader with my priest, but didn’t like it very much. As previously mentioned I am not a big fan of modern raiding, which reminds me more of playing a platformer game than of a MMORPG. Thus I’m more a “tourist” raider, trundling along with my guild when they do non-progression raids for which they are short a healer. However I follow with interest various comments from Ghostcrawler, who promised to make healing slower but more interesting again in Cataclysm. That would be exactly what I’m looking for.

The warrior and the mage are both slightly less well equipped than the priest, but still in full T9 gear, and just missing a ring here and a trinket there to reach that same “emblem complete” state. I’m still having a lot of fun with the mage, but the warrior is, as he has frequently been, my least happy character. I never really know what I should do with him. He is fun enough to play as a tank in guild groups, but in pickup groups he has constant problems with dps players who don’t know the first thing about aggro management, or who are in a terrible hurry to do things fast instead of doing things well.

Greatly contributing to the warrior unhappiness is the direct comparison with my other tank, my paladin, who is on another server, other faction, and just reached level 68. Since the Dungeon Finder came out, he spent most of his time as tank spec in dungeons, and it has been a blast. I always feel like my paladin is pointing a finger at my warrior and laughing at him, because the paladin is so much better in every aspect than the warrior is. The paladin taunt deals a ton of damage, the warrior taunt deals no damage at all. The paladin self-heal is an instant to full health, the warrior version only retrieves 30% of health as heal-over-time. And the list goes on and on. My warrior tank is always fourth on the dps meter, just above the healer, my paladin tank is quite often first or second on the dps meter. Unsurprisingly the paladin being so much better in comparison, plus the fact that the pally is still leveling, while the warrior is well into the diminishing returns rewards of the endgame, makes the paladin a whole lot more fun to play than the warrior right now.

So right now I’m concentrating on playing the paladin, and plan to level him up all the way to 80. As he is Alliance and my existing three level 80s are Horde, the paladin has the added bonus of getting Alliance quests that I never did before. Albeit I must say that up to now, in the Burning Crusade content that has been a disappointment. The Alliance quests of BC are nearly always carbon copies of the Horde quests, just with a different quest text and reward. So doing Alliance quests I often ended up visiting exactly the same locations and chasing exactly the same monsters as my Horde characters already did. I do hope there is more of a difference once I reach Northrend and the Wrath of the Lich King quests.

The original plan was that the paladin should have an equivalent on the Horde side, my Tauren druid, and that I would level both characters mainly through the 1-60 content of the old world as a last “best of” visit tour before Cataclysm totally changes those areas. But the druid somehow got stuck at level 29, and I haven’t played him for months. Yet another character suffering from comparison with the paladin, the paladin in retribution spec was far more pleasant to solo than the feral druid, and I suspect that the druid is also worse as a tank, although I haven’t really tried tanking with him much yet. That is the eternal game design problem of class balance: One completely overpowered class diminishes the interest in every other class with a similar role. Maybe once the paladin reaches level 80 I’ll get around to play the druid some more.

Still part of the plan is the phase that’ll have to wait for Cataclysm to come out: Playing level 1-60 again with one Horde and one Alliance character to explore how the world has changed. I’ll go for a goblin hunter and a worgen warlock, this being classes I haven’t played all that much. Thinking about Cataclysm also gets us full circle back to my priest: With every new expansion I have to decide which one of my level capped characters to level up to the new cap first. And unless there are some major unforeseen changes, I think I’ll play my priest as “main” again. The priest ended up profiting most from dual spec: Without even changing gear I can go from raid healing to doing over 3k dps. The warrior would need two completely different sets of gear to switch from decent tanking to decent dps, and the mage only has the choice between different flavors of dps. The paladin, even if he is level 80 by the time the expansion comes out, is disqualified from becoming my “main” by the fact that he is on the wrong server and wrong faction, and I’d rather play with my guild when the expansion is coming out.

As you can see, my plan for World of Warcraft has a rather obvious big hole: The things I want to do before Cataclysm comes out probably won’t fill out all the months until the expansion actually arrives. There is a suspicious lack of new information about Cataclysm, I find it hard to believe that Cataclysm could come out early summer and it is so silent mid-February. With SWTOR having been pushed back to spring 2011 at the earliest, Blizzard might well think that releasing Cataclysm in November for the holiday season is the better marketing strategy. They have never been the fastest at creating new content and releasing expansions. Thus I started to play more single-player games, and I might check out some other MMORPGs during summer as well.
"The warrior would need two completely different sets of gear to switch from decent tanking to decent dps"

Not sure about that. It's true at the moment, but Ghostcrawler has said that one goal is for 'an arms warrior to be able to grab a shield and tank and instance' which implies that dps plate is going to be much closer to tank plate in cataclysm. (This might also be a reason to pick a paladin, of course ;) )
However I follow with interest various comments from Ghostcrawler, who promised to make healing slower but more interesting again in Cataclysm. That would be exactly what I’m looking for.

Without judging Cataclysm yet but considering how WoW raid encounters developed within the last 5 years, i dare to say that you will still dislike Cataclysm raids. What you don't like is labeled "generic task" as a design element. It's something every player has to do at a certain point, disconnected from its class role.

Blizzard fell in love with generic tasks as a design element. There's a simple reason for this: class roles don't scale difficultywise anymore. Every class "works" and has a static single best rotation to fulfill its role, most of wich can be macroed. That's the stuff Blizzard hates, so to keep things interesting it has to focus on generic tasks, wich today come down to positioning within a certain timeframe mainly. Even if rotations become more dynamic and ressource management becomes important again, you'll still have to watch your range, dodge Doomfires, run out of LOS and so on. Those things are here to stay, cause it's so much easier to pressure raids with these tools.
The paladin self-heal is exclusive with your Shield Wall equivalent, and casting it on yourself is almost always the wrong thing to do.

Use it to save the healer (or even just to give them mana).
I'll stick with my Deathknight. Playing her was a big step up from playing the old classes. It's just much more fun as there are a lot more things to track.

As for the timing? I'll just play through more singleplayer games until then. Maybe I'll renew my account and level an alt...
I hope they bring back crowd control requirements, something that is sadly lacking at the moment. I mind controlled some mobs in Nexus last night, just for fun, called 'ready?' and released them when the others were down, and they seemed very surprised when it was released.

Sheeping, sapping, shackling, mcing seems to be sadly lacking, and instead has been replaced by aoe nuking, which, although effective, is rather boring after a while.
Spinks, you could do that already, really. The basic tools are there. It wouldn't be uber easy and people would have to have some patience, which is why nobody does it these days, but it is doable. And as long as the healer was ok with working hard, the armor would provide enough damage reduction that it wouldn't be too hard. Back in BC people were making semi-plausible arguments for using the pvp gear as tanking gear. With crushing blows out of the way, you pretty much could, since resil would negate any chance of a crit.

In short I would interpret that statement as an indication that they plan on dumbing tanking down even more than it is now, which doesn't make me too happy. I liked having to hustle to aoe tank; now its pretty easy.
I'm now up to level 32 on my Rogue in WoW. Someone told me that Rogue's are weak or are getting weaker in higher level instances. Is this true? My role seems a little weak in dungeons.
If WoW has to wait till Holiday season 2010 to release Cataclysm, I will definately not be playing anymore. There is only one toon that remotely interests me anymore and that is my hunter. I'm levelling by pvp only and enjoy just mastering kiting. But I can tell that will wear thin quickly. And it will then be adios to WoW.
I just finished Mass Effect 2, alot of fun. I'm reseraching Global Agenda while waiting on the 4.0 path of WoW. We should be killing the lich king in the next few weeks. I'll needs something to do until Cataclysm.
I'm now up to level 32 on my Rogue in WoW. Someone told me that Rogue's are weak or are getting weaker in higher level instances. Is this true? My role seems a little weak in dungeons.

I don't think rogues are inherently weak, but I do think they are one of the less easy to play classes. So in high-level dungeons you meet a few rogues doing tremendous damage, but other rogues rather low on the damage meter.

If the rogue is your highest level character, I would continue playing him at least to level 55, at which point you will be able to create a death knight (who will also directly be level 55). Their roles are somewhat related (melee damage dealer), but the death knight has an easier spell rotation and better armor, which should give new players a more consistent damage output.
In short I would interpret that statement as an indication that they plan on dumbing tanking down even more than it is now, which doesn't make me too happy.

Well, if they remove the defense stat, I would be happy enough. You can get kicked out of pickup groups as a tank if people notice you aren't defense capped, so using anything else than a defense capped gear set is pretty much impossible. But all those points of defense then are missing in other stats like strength, which is why doing dps in tanking gear is suboptimal right now.
While I'm not going to argue the Paladin is easier to play and in some ways "better" for heroics, your experience with your warrior isn't proof the class is broken or that DPS don't know how to play. They don't wait for 3 sunders because they shouldn't have to, they're used to other tanks who can chain pull the entire instance as a warrior without ever losing aggro on anything no matter what the DPS does. I do it all the time. Warriors have excellent snap aggro, in fact it's probably better than Paladins off the pull.

If you don't enjoy tanking on the warrior, so be it, but I feel like the situation you describe where you can't hold aggro in a pug with the standard "gogogo" guys shouldn't happen . Using a standard 15/3/53 build, you should be able to hold aggro on just about everything with charge,thunderclap,shockwave,and cleave. For heroics Glyphs should be devastate, vigilance, and cleaving. Make sure to reapply vigilance every time you zone in or after a wipe, it makes a huge difference. Hope that helps, should you decide to play your warrior more.
You'll find the first half of Northrend (the Fjord, Tundra, Grizzly Hills, and parts of Dragonblight) to be different between the factions, with different lore. Some of the quests dovetail very nicely if you know the other faction's version, and flesh out a story in a way you wouldn't get playing only one faction. A decent number of "A-ha!" moments await!

Without trying to spoil it, the lead-up to Wrathgate for the Horde spans 2 zones, whereas there really isn't one for Alliance, it just sort of .. happens. Understandable, given the overarching story, but disappointing nonetheless. The actual event you will enjoy just as much, especially after having played through it as Horde.
I only have two characters right. My main is a 80 Horde Warlock and my alt an Alliance 60 Feral/Resto Druid. Both are fun and are different enough to keep them enjoyable. I've just started enjoying the endgame raiding and material since I've only been 80 for a couple of weeks.

I too had hoped to find different material for the Horde vs Alliance story line. Not so much so far. Hopefully close to endgame.

I will probably create 1 or two new alts after Cataclysm so I can see the changes. Perhaps a Paladin for tanking and/or a Rogue for PVP purposes.
Having both a pally and warrior tank at 80 I definitely agree it is easier to tank as a pally than a warrior. Warriors tanks can achieve the same results as pally tanks, it just takes a bit more skill. I find warrior tanking more exciting because its harder and requires you to be faster with your button mashing.

A tip on warrior tanking that you won't read about in EJ - it is easier to tank if you chain pull. If you run off and pull the next group when last mob of your current pull is at about half to 1/3 health, DPS can't get ahead of you to stuff up your pull and you give yourself a few seconds to get a head start. Except for a couple of pulls where there are pats I'll charge most pulls (sometimes I have to intercept because charge is still on CD from the last pull. Just becareful you don't go too far ahead of the healer and don't pull when the healer is oom. Chain pulling also forces mages and hunters to be more mana efficient or stop and drink, either way it easier for you to keep agro. If the next pull is a long way away, you can drag the the mob with you, forcing dps to follow. Concussion blow to drop the mob off for dps to finsih off while you make the next pull.
On the topic of cc in heroics - while it would make things harder and more complex for dps, from the point of view of a warrior tank - tanking only one or two mobs is not very challenging.
The story is pretty much identical on either side. I have an 80 on both sides, and there wasn't much difference in what you were fighting against. Just different goals and stuff mostly. It was still interesting to see the way each side approached the same enemies.
I like some of the Grizzly hills stories when it comes to horde vs alliance quests being different. In several quests here you do close to the same thing but with clearly opposite goals (thinking of quests like )
My main is a Prot/Ret Pally, and my alt a Boomkin/Bear.

I LOVE my pally, whether tanking or dps he is so much fun.

I'm not really feeling the same love from my druid. While boomkin was fun to begin with, now she just feels like a gimped caster. And Bear tanking again feels kind of gimped in comparison to the pally.

I'm going to get some druid hate (and probably deserved as I haven't spent 1/4 of the time on my druid as I have on my pally), but I just find the pally has more to offer me in terms fun, survivability and damage dealing.
All my toons are undergeared (relative to everyone else :)), so tanking is challenging for me regardless of which class I use. I have a druid, a paladin and a warrior. I levelled them all in their respective "prot" specs, so I have done quite a bit of tanking. I'm not claiming to be particularly proficient, but I do have about equal amounts of experience with tanking from all those three classes.

Against that background I can say without doubt that paladin tanking is way easier for me. The consecration and the two shield attacks, plus the two taunts with short cooldowns, and then the hammer now and then... it's just not very hard. Even in cases where I have party members with twice my gearscore I find that it is perfectly manageable.

But like the most? Druid, hands down. It's hard to tank with the druid, and sometimes quite thankless. But I just like that little bear :)
Druid is def the class to get to love. Most versatile class imo. You can go healing, melee dps in cat form, range dps in Moonkin form and tanking in bear form. With duel spec and the lfd system pooring in badges for gear its alot faster to get several sets of gear. Played a druid for over 5 years and still loving it.
As for palladins - they must surely be the most played class now. In al the hundreds of 5man hc Iv been to - there is always a pally.
I know I've harped on it before...but if WotLK does take until November to come out...will blizzard keep their subscription numbers up despite the release of SC2?

SC2 just started Beta invites this week, and I know I am not the only one who plans to make SC2 their new game of choice. Wow for myself and others, will be relegated to the past. Because up until SC2 is dropped, only the occasional console game has diverted my attention. (Ok HON did a little bit too)
What a great resource!
Warrior tank can be the top dps in an instance run if you gear for it, my usual heroic tanking set has about 5-7 tanking pieces being the rest my regular arms dps set. This provides massive agro and about 3.5k dps average (13k shockwaves are fun too).

In that set I only have about 440-460 defense and people rarely notice (and if they do just tell them to give you a chance, usualy they come around), done all heroics like that exept HoR. If I see the healer strugleling ofc I'll just use my raiding tanking set. I actualy find that the most fun to play since I actualy need to pay attention to what i'm doing and use shield wall and last stance on ocasion. Ofc if you feel insecure in such gear setup you can always get some gladiator pieces and become crit imune trough resilience (do not this won't work after 4.0 hits).

Having tanked at 80 with Warrior, Paladin and Druid and at low 60 with a DK I have to say warrior is still my favorit, Paladin barely has to do an effort, druid is preaty much the same and dk well... i just don't like the class all that much :)

Cruor, Runetotem EU
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