Monday, September 21, 2009


I've decided to abandon my blog. Not that I don't enjoy writing on it, but the original idea for this blog, to compare all 4 tanking classes, has been shelved by me, probably permanently.

I love my druid, and I have also started raiding on my paladin a bit, but it's painful to play my warrior now. Literally. I was having some wrist problems for a long time, and after I gave up my warrior to gear up my druid, they went away. I didn't really make the connection till this past weekend when I started playing my warrior again in anticipation of getting into some weekend ulduar raids. But the pain came back after only a few heroic runs. So for my own sanity and well-being, i've decided to widdle my efforts down to the pally and druid.

Not that anyone ever read this thing, so it's good that I am abandoning this before i really put much effort into it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Guess what's left...

Ok, so one of the reasons I was avoiding writing my warrior intro for so long is that now I only have one tank left... And he's stuck at 76. As much as I hate leveling, it's hard to get into it when I can't get a grip on the playstyle. I mean, Deathknights can have over 30-move long rotations! That's on par with the ultra combo from Killer Instinct. Which I've only ever managed to do once, and it was by accident. I'm sure most groups don't want me to accidentally survive a boss fight, as amusing as it might be at the time.

So I have the Deathknight intro left, then I'm planning on doing some instance run comparisons. I'm hoping to do a 4 day heroic marathon with my guild, to get the same 4 people. I'll be posting my comparative impressions on how the runs went for each tank. It'll be hard to strictly compare them since I'm sure my DK won't be as geared as my druid who is wearing gear from ulduar. And I've tried to keep my bias out of the intros, since i greatly prefer tanking on my druid over any of the others.

While I'm tooling with a general post... I did somehow find myself tanking a Naxx25 raid, which was supposed to be a geared quick clear, and ended up spending 2 hours looking for the final 5 members, and then about 6 hours inside. We did get farther than any other pug I've been in. We didn't manage to clear, and called it on the last wing, 2 bosses from sapphiron. I did manage to snag one of the 3 items I still need from there, and while it was a long run, I did have some fun, depsite that one paladin who rolls on every item, which seems to always be in every run I do. It's not even the same one, which leads me to conclude that most paladins just roll on every item and hope they get something in their bags that they can use at the end of the day.

I even ran a few heroics on my warrior trying to get enough badges to buy another heirloom dagger for my hunter. It's painful to play him now, since it takes so much more effort to hold a pack of mobs against the AOE. It feels like how playing my DK is sometimes, which is actually conforting. I know it's just rust and that means there's still hope for my DK.

Until next time!

Some Groundwork! The Warrior!

The Warrior!

I've been reluctant to write the warrior intro for a few reasons. Until recently, I've played my warrior almost exclusively. But a few months ago I switched mains to my druid, and I haven't looked back. It's almost sad how much I loved playing warriors, and now I can't find the patience to log onto him to do a random heroic anymore. Also, warriors are in a bit of a tight spot ATM as far as tanking goes. There is much unrest in the warrior community, as it has been ever since paladins walked onto the tanking scene back in BC. Concerns about block viability and DPS compared to other tanks has beaten the warrior's ego down a fair bit. High end guilds all over the world are shelving their warrior tanks for DKs or druids for the most difficult encounters, and this classism has filtered down to the masses, adding weight to the warrior's shield.

Now that you understand where the warrior is, you may understand my reluctance to write about them. So, enough of that, let's get right into it! That's what warriors are best at, actually. If you're looking for in your face, slash and bash, blood of the gladiator type of fighting, you've come to the right place! Warriors are the classic melee class. You can't go wrong with tradition, after all. If you saw the movie 300, those spartans were all warriors. Don't ask me why they took off their armor, maybe cause they were still low level? Smash them in the face with a shield, bash em with your mace, slash em to bits with your sword! It's all the same to a warrior. At the most basic level, a warrior tank puts the steel into the teeth of evil. Or good. It's all the same to them. Shield slam is the staple move of warrior tanks, causing the most threat and making great use of that shield. Once you dodge their attack, you see red, and want revenge! Revenge is another core move in the warrior's arsenal. Usable after you avoid an attack, it causes a good amount of damage and threat for very little rage. And once you've had your revenge, devastate their defenses! Devastate does pretty pitiful damage, but it stacks a debuff on the enemy, lowering their armor. This is the original move right here. Warriors used to stack sunder armor like there was no tomorrow back in the day. Now, they do the same thing, but it does a bit of damage now.

If you remember the paladin, they have a pretty solid rotation with ALOT of moves. And the druid has hardly any moves. The warrior is just a hair above a druid in this respect, having a solid set of abilities that will always be used in combat, and not many "extras". There's no set rotation for a warrior, they refer to call it a priority system. It basically breaks down like this. Shield Slam -> Revenge -> Heroic Strike -> Devasate. There it is. It's not strictly a rotation, since HS can be used off the global cooldown and just "stacks" onto your normal swing. We'll talk about HS specifically a bit later. So you should always shield slam when it's off CD, and also revenge whenever it's available and not cooling down. It's also a good idea to get your sunder armor up to 5 stacks ASAP in the fight, but then only refresh it when it's about to run out, or if you have some time inbetween, which shouldn't be a problem most of the time. Devastate does this, and also has a chance to proc a free shield slam, so it's useful to use when you get the time. If you haven't noticed, there's alot of free time inbetween SS, Revenge, and Devastates. You can fill those in with one of the two AoE moves that warriors get. Thunderclap is on a 6 second cooldown, and does a pretty decent amount of damage. It also slows down a mob's attack speed, which is perfect if you've got alot of trash around you, or you're fighting a boss. You can also use Demoralizing Shout, which will do no damage, but provides a good debuff on the mob's attack power. And finally, the ultimate protection talent, the final in finishing moves, the openingest opener, Shockwave! I saved the best for last. Shockwave is a frontal cone AoE move that does significant damage but also stuns for a good amount of time. Frontal cone AoE moves may be foreign to you as a melee'er, but I'll give you a good way to think about it. If you can swing at a mob, you can probably get it with shockwave. This isn't really true, since you can swing at mobs in a 180 degree arc in front of you, and shockwave doesn't quite reach that wide, but it's a good rule of thumb for those quick second decisions. I find backing up 2 or 3 steps then using it quickly before mobs can follow me will get almost all of any size group. Seem like alot of work? I won't lie, shockwave is a pain to use, and until you get really good at it, you're going to always curse it's coney quirks. But used well, it can significantly improve your ability to tank. You can charge into a pack, TC the mobs, back up into your melee buddies running (lol they have to run) to catch up to you, then Shockwave! They're stunned and really pissed at you. Depending on your AoE in the group, they may be dead soon afterwards. And you don't take damage when the mobs are stunned. It's like avoidance built into your melee moves, clever huh?

Mobility! Warriors are the undisputed kings of mobility. With charge and intercept, a warrior can be anywhere at any time, literally within the blink of an eye. Warbringer is probably my favorite talent as a warrior, since it allows you to use charge while in combat. When you first get charge as a warrior, you fall in love, there's no denying it. With all of a warrior's moves being targetted burst, a warrior can lay down the smack without worrying about keeping mobs in one place. A fun thing to do is charge some mobs, TC, shockwave, then intervene the healer and sit behind them. Who pulled those mobs and why are they running at the healer!? Noone even saw you move, because you were so fast!

Controlling a fight is another strong point of being a warrior. It takes more skill to make use of all of the warrior's moves, but a mastery of them will give you unparallelled control over a battle. Concussion Blow, Revenge, and Shockwave all give you the ability to stun. Revenge will stun about half the time, so it's unreliable, but it still allows you to exert control. A skilled warrior can place mobs wherever he wants, which is usually on the ground, behind him.

Taking it is what warriors love the most. Beat em up, it just makes em more angry, and they use that rage to bring the pain. Warriors use shields to block (some) damage, and can parry and dodge. They also have some decent cooldown defensive moves. The first one is the original, the classic, the Shield Wall. Originally a true emergency button, it made you nearly immortal for a pretty significant amount of time, but it was on a VERY long cooldown. It was changed to offer about half it's immortality, but the CD was lowered significantly also. Which means we can use it much more often. Shield Block allows you to block every attack and also doubles the amount you can block for. It's on a cooldown, and also causes your shield slams to hit for much more, so alot of warriors only use this as a threat cooldown because of the problems with block. But it still is a decent way to avoid some damage at a crucial time. And when your back is to the wall, it's time to make your Last Stand! Last Stand gives you a boost to your hit points, giving your healers a bigger margin for error. Which is good, since it's your job to make theirs easier.

One last thing I wanted to talk about is Heroic Strike. Recently, due to the large amount of rage we can generate, this ability has moved from an occasional ability to burn some rage when you're full, to an ability that has to be spammed constantly to stay competative. This is one of those quality of life things for warriors. Before the lich king, we had to spam shield block, which lasted 6 seconds and HAD to be refreshed asap. Now, we HAVE to spam HS if we want to contribute to the DPS. Or you could do the DPS of someone 10 levels lower than you. While warriors are all about smashing stuff, the keyboard shouldn't be one of them. If you're serious about tanking as a warrior, set up a macro to put heroic strike into one of your other abilities, or bind your mousewheel to your heroic strike button. We don't need you getting RSI from tanking!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where's the oil can?!

I'm working on my warrior intro, but first I thought I'd try out a heroic to get the slamming metal into my head.

Talk about rusty, I was totally rusted! Playing my druid and paladin have seriously spoiled me as far as aoe goes. What do you mean i have to get all the mobs in a cone in front of me?! Why isn't my thunderclap going off?? Oh yeah, it's on a cooldown... Where's that tab key...

It wasn't really terrible, though the first 2 packs were kinda messy while the muscle memory worked itself to the surface. And we did get the timer, it was the daily, Culling of Stratholme, but I felt so clunky. Like, slowed down, fighting the mobs through a huge tub of jello.

So my warrior article is coming, but I'm going to need to run a naxx or something with him to get back into the fray, so to speak. I just didn't think I'd forget so much of what had become instinct.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Groundwork! The Paladin!

The Paladin!

Those holy crusaders of light, those knights in shining armor, the paladin is a hybrid class much like the druid. While alot of a paladin's moves may seem like spells, most of them don't really feel that way. You've got your hammer of righteousness, which throws a hammer at 3 (or 4 glyph'd) mobs, your shield of righteousness, which is the paladin's answer to shield slam (I call it shield slam anyway). Paladins are all about righteousness in fact, with some righteous fury to increase your threat from holy damage, and it gives you some damage reduction when you're protection, you are protection right? Really, when you get down to it, paladin moves are very similar to a warrior. You're up there in their face, throwing holy fury in the face of your enemy instead of steel. Well, there's still steel in there, but it's HOLY STEEL!

Lets look at the paladin's moves. Paladins have a pretty inventive rotation, which is called the 96969 rotation. Basically, your rotation starts with a 9 second cooldown, then alternates with 6 second cooldown moves. So you pull the mobs with Avenger's Shield, which hits 3 enemies and silences them and dazes them. Here they come! You can start your rotation before they get to you with Holy Shield, which increases your chance to block and also causes alot of damage to the enemy who you blocked. Then you hit them with your Hammer of Righteousness, which hits 3 enemies. At this point if you're fighting 3 enemies, you've got a significant amount of threat on all of them, might as well help yourself, Judgement of Wisdom will help you get some mana back on every melee swing, kinda like rage! So now you'll wanna put some hurt on the main target, and Shield of Righteousness is just the move. Swing your shield at their head for bonus points! Then finish off the cycle by throwing down some holy ground with Consecration, which does damage every second to all mobs around you. The ultimate paladin ability, but it sure does use alot of mana! If you're fighting a boss you can usually leave this one out unless you are expecting company.

Paladins also have some other utility spells that are unique to them. Besides the multitude of buffs, they also have Hand spells, which provide the target with certain abilities, like immunity from melee damage, snares and roots, or even lower their threat. You can even share the damage they take. Also, originally a holy paladin ability which was converted to help tanks when they nerfed blessing of sanctuary, Divine Plea gives you a good chunk of mana back as long as it's up. Protection paladins get a talent that refreshes its duration whenever you hit something, so it's possible to keep it up all the time. In fact, there's a glyph that gives you some damage mitigation if it's up! The only downside is your heals are halved, which isn't a big deal since you're taking the hits, not healing them. As you can see, paladins are very far from druids when tanking. SO MANY BUTTONS! This could be seen as an advantage or disadvantage. If you're looking for a tank with alot of options while tanking, you may want to give the paladin a look.

Paladins certainly can dish it out, and have been dishing it out to AOE packs since Burning Crusade, but they can take it too. The Holy Shield ability can allow you to block every hit once your gear gets good enough, and with talents and glyphs you can get a pretty hefty percent of damage reduced. But they certainly are lacking in the defensive cooldown department. You can try your luck with the bubble/taunt combo, which makes you immune to damage, but the mob will only like you for as long as you've got him taunted. Be ready to click it off when taunt wears off or hope another tank can grab it. The only real CD that a prot pally has is Divine Protection. It gives a pretty hefty chunk of damage reduction, and is on a respectable 3 minute cooldown. It's pretty boring, just like a warrior's Shield Wall, it's good for a tight spot in a fight. One last move I'll mention, which because of its long cooldown does not make it viable to rely on, and that's Lay of Hands. Probably the only ability that's lasted from the very first time anyone ever thought of a paladin in ye olde D&D. It heals the target for a huge amount, equal to all of the paladin's health, and also grants some mana. This can be useful to use on yourself if you're about to die, but the 20 minute (!) cooldown means its something you may not have available every boss fight. Use it only in dire emergencies!

Finally, I want to talk about another main attraction of pallies, their versatility! Like the druid, a paladin is capable of healing, tanking, and doing damage. They can't do ranged DPS though, so if that's one of the things you like, you may want to look at druids more closely. And another advantage of being a paladin tank... your offset holy gear will rain down from the mobs whether you like it or not! It always seems like all the spell power plate you could ever want will drop when you're tanking, and wouldn't you know, not another paladin around for miles. Grats! I think I got 6 healing epics my first naxx10 run and only 1 tanking item. And the tanking item was a set piece... so yeah.

Thanks for reading, next up is Warriors, so don't touch that dial!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ding 80!

I do intend to continue with my groundwork articles, but I was distracted this past holiday weekend by my paladin finally making it to 80! I have to say that I've missed really going out there and tanking like crazy in pug after pug. It's really a great way to learn, as opposed to running with guildies all the time who may be way better geared and able to pick up my slack. I spent alot more gold than I intended on him, getting his flying mount and dual spec, but I think of those as investments that I would probably need to buy anyway.

I also spent a little time on my deathknight, pushing him to 76, but honestly I am having troubles getting my head around DK tanking. I know what I'm supposed to do, but it just seems like when anything unexpected happens i'm thrown off my rotation and then i'm just stuck with runes cooling down and mobs running amok. And by that point I have no way to get them back. I've just gotta get in the right mindset and learn to play better with him.

I think that I may write my paladin article next, I'd like to do some more tanking on my warrior before I write that one, since I haven't tanked with him in a while, well before 3.1 came out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some Groundwork! The Druid!

I think that I'm going to start the actual content on here with how the different tanking classes feel when playing.

The druid!

I'll start with those cuddly bears first, since he is my new main and the guild's MT. What makes bears so great? Well, for me, the feel of combat is very similar to other melee classes, as you might expect. Bears and warriors are close cousins in battle, and basic moves can be easily compared between them. A happy bear charges into combat, swipes all the mobs a couple times, then mauls the crap out of them one by one. Bears are very visceral, the moves feel fluid and the animations are good for the kinds of moves you're doing. When I hit mangle, it really feels like I just mangled that orc to pieces. It's really in your face satisfaction with the druid.

The moves that a bear has available may look small compared to, say, a paladin, but I don't think of that as a weakness. It's very much an advantage to me. Every move has it's purpose, and they all seem to work together to turn that cuddly bundle of fur into whirling dervish of teeth and claws. Feral Faerie Fire is a great pulling tool, puts up a debuff, and doesn't use ammo! Its short CD also means i can go back to it in low rage situations since it costs nothing to cast. Mangle does significant damage and also puts up a debuff to increase bleed damage. This is important for lacerate, the bear's answer to stacking sunders. Ok, it may not be the same, but it definately feels the same. The penalty for letting sunders drop is a bit more of a problem than lacerate though, so that's another reason I like it. Maul is just a move, it's kind of boring, I've got it macro'd with my mangle so I don't have to worry about it. It's good, with the glyph its damage is pretty amazing for trash, but it's not all that impressive as far as gameplay is concerned. But swipe, on the other hand, is really amazing. This move used to be pretty terrible. They totally redesigned it and it is THE move of bears. Swipe swipe swipe! Hit mobs behind you, in front of you, all around you! It's great threat on packs, and I've even held packs against prot paladins, the supposed kings of aoe packs.

What I like about feral druids is the only ability that has a CD in our standard rotation is mangle, but with maul macro'd with it, you can still hit it as often as you like. This really allows us to fine tune our threat generation to tailor the situation. 3 or more mobs? Swipe and maul like crazy! 2 mobs? Maul and mangle ftw! Just that one guy? Mangle, maul, and stack those bleeds up! No need to wait for CDs, you can modify what kind of threat you are doing on the fly. It's that kind of control that makes druids great.

Ok they can dish it out, but can they take it? You Bet! Bears have alot of armor and alot of HP to take the hits. They also stack dodge exclusively via Agi. Because bears share gear with (ugh) rogues and cats, they make use of agi for avoidance, and now, thanks to savage defense, utilize all that crit and AP on the gear, too. Against most bosses in ulduar, you can expect to keep that little shield up most of the time, which is great to help out those people in the back with the dresses on throwing light at you. Druids often get flak for not having alot of defensive cooldowns, but I think they have just enough. Barkskin is on a short CD and gives a good bit of relief on incoming damage. It also puts a spinning barrier of thorns around your head, which is also cool. Taking alot of damage? Survival instincts increases your HP by a fair amount, which gives the healers more of a cushion to the incoming hits. You can also use your frenzied regeneration at the same time, which converts rage into healing, and glyphed, it will also increase the healing you take from it. The heals are percent based, which is why it's a good idea to use it when you've increased your HP from survival instincts. There's another handy tool that isn't very useful for raid bosses, but can be used pretty creatively to produce some positive results, and that's nature's grasp. It's a buff that casts roots on the next thing that hits you, allowing you to run away from it. Take that chance to shed that bear form and throw a few heals on yourself, maybe even moonfire the punk before shifting back into bear. Like I said, not terribly useful, but it certainly has some use in PVP.

The last think I'm going to talk about is versatility. Druids are the true jack of all trades. You've got it all, tanking, healing, melee dps, and caster dps. You could walk around with 4 sets of gear and be whatever the game has to offer. That kind of flexability is one of the druid's greatest strengths. Warriors are fun and all, but if you get bored of hitting stuff with swords, you've gotta log out, because that's all they got. Druids can do it all, and they are quite good at it, too. My druid is dual spec'd resto, and he gets plenty of use out of it, because as awesome as tanking is, you need some variety in your life.

If you've read this far, congratulations! Next time I'll be talking about warriors, so stay tuned!