Tuesday, 26 January 2010

AoE tanking or tanking for AoE

There's been a recent thread where it's been suggested that paladin AoE tanking it too good which leads to the other tanking classes feeling unloved and clamouring for buffs.

While it's true that the tools available to a paladin tank are well suited for generating threat on a number of bad guys all at once, especially if they're undead. In this expansion all tanks were given a method of generating threat on a number of mobs all at once helping to the removal of crowd control from all but the toughest heroic instances.

I do have to wonder now though if the reason for the current upset about what can be done is the resurgence of running heroics for the daily brace of frost badges. Given that the base level of gear available is now well in excess of what was required when level 80 characters first started running those instances and every dps character has some kind of AoE spell. Is it more a case that all tanks can't necessarily stop a stray mob from running off to smack the aggro monkey when they do all out massive AoE damage when all they need to do it stop the bad guys running after the healer.

However if the DPS went point and shoot on individual mobs using an assist macro the tanks shouldn't have as many issues, and threat indicators such as Omen or Threat Plates will mean you've got a better idea of what to do.

Now is this the fault of the class designers, not really, it's more a 'creative use of game mechanics' for something that we generally now massively out-gear and see as more of a chore rather than the challenge of say the new raid zone.

Rather than trying to homogenise the tanks and the type of threat output they produce it would be nice to see the dps (of which I am at times) adjusting what they do to make it easier for the tank to do what they do.

Friday, 22 January 2010

DPS Positioning Flowchart

Following in the footsteps of some other bloggers I've decided to create a flow chart to aid the new melee dps fellows who are stepping into heroics to help gear up and gain experience. So without further ado my flow chart on where you should stand in boss fights.

So now you know, and if you end up in a heroic pug with me tanking, I don't expect to see you standing next to me ;)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Heading back to Tanking

One of the benefits of playing a hybrid class is the ability to switch to a different role by spending your talent points differently and getting a different gear set up together.

Well the dual talent feature means it's easy to switch how your talent points are spent and gear now is very easy to get with random dungeons and all the badges you can get from doing it.

So have geared up for running retribution I carried on running the heroics in order to get a protection set up together. That, a couple of crafted items and a few drops along the way meant I've put together a pretty good tanking set which has me crit immune for raid bosses, 30k unbuffed health and a bunch of other tasty tanking stats. I've gone for a threat based build given that I mainly plan to run heroics (for zero queue time) and the majority of that tanking in there is trash pulls.

I tend to do a lot of reading around game mechanics to get advice on things I haven't done before, and there are some great references out there which mean you don't have to go in blind trying to figure out what does what and how to go about things. However knowing is only half the battle, it's only once you've actually gone in there and tried things out do you know how well you can cope and whether you've got the situational analysis to cope with mobs running around the place especially if the dps or healer has pulled aggro.

Not wanting to risk completely stuffing up a run with a random group I run a couple of random dungeons with some willing guildies and while they weren't perfect they did at least show that I could get the required trash packs under control and not have the aggro monkeys peel them off me.

While it was good to get those under my belt and get back into the swing of things the plan for short queues and easy frost badges would only work if I could do the job with four random people pulled in by the tool. Putting on some bravery I signed up (admittedly with DPS ticked as well) as a tank. After a couple of failed attempts where the DPS had clearly fallen asleep while waiting for the queue to pop, five ticks appeared and I found myself in Violet Hold.

I decided not to warn the group given that I had tanked this instance before on a previous character, and the mobs spawn at regular intervals meaning that I didn't have to worry too much about the speed of pulls and I could be fairly certain about what I would be facing for each portal. The only concern was the random bosses, but fortunately we got the two tank and spank ones and soon the place was clear and I had some extra badges.

I'd still be nervous about hitting the new IceCrown instances but everything else should be doable and a few more items should have me in a raid ready set of gear should our guild find itself in need of an extra tank.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Retadin in ICC Part 1

Having pugged my way into suitable gear for the Icecrown Citadel raid I got into one of our guilds raids which merrily cut a swathe through the enemy. So here are my impressions of the fights and if you're taking your retribution paladin in there what you should expect.

Yes, trash is back, and frankly I'm slightly pleased. There's nothing like a few short fights to dust off any cobwebs and allow a group to gel. Our guild doesn't have a standard raiding team so potential there will be different tanks, different healers and different buffs each run meaning a few kills to get used to everyone's threat generation should mean a lot fewer slip ups on the boss fights.

The mobs have a lot of health so Seal of Corruption/Vengeance is the order of the day, though if you have very high raid dps it may be worth switching to Corruption. The only caveat to this is the reintroduction of crowd control which means you need to add some extra care to where you're slinging that holy damage. Be sure you're clear before using Divine Storm or Consecrate though hopefully your tanks should be pulling their mobs clear allowing you to do what's required. If their not, then a polite word may be required.

Lord Marrowgar
A fairly straightforward tank and spank boss, with some of that annoying target switching. More than ever you'll want to stay away from the front of the boss as there is one attack which splits the damage between everyone in front of him. Normally this will be just the tanks but as plate wearing DPS you might be called upon to stand there as well.

Make sure you stand within his hit box as this will mean he can't target you with his Cold Flame ability, and hopefully the ranged will group up there as well which will make his next ability a bit easier to deal with. Bone graveyard will impale a random member and needs to be dps'd down to release them. If everyone switches then they should die quickly meaning you can get back on the boss before any of those tasty debuffs wear off.

Finally he does a whirlwind (yeah another whirlwind mob) which hits everyone in the raid for varying damage depending on how close you are to him. He'll also spawn 4 cold flames so during this phase you need to stay out of the fire and away from the boss. There's no point trying to damage him so use Flash of Light where possible to help out the healers and get ready to run back in when he's stopped. When running back remember not to get in front of him for fear of taking those nasty hits.

Rinse and repeat until he's dead and you're ready to move onto the next boss.

Lady Deathwhisper
A boss with adds, oh joy that means running about. So having cleared the trash you'll spot this Lichess who when attacked puts up a massive mana shield which absorbs all damage done but drains her mana when it absorbs damage.

During this time there will be regular add spawns from the alcoves on each side. On 10 man we only get one side at a time, but there will be three and these need to be taken down as quickly as possible. It's possible that the boss will buff one of them which will make them either 99% immune to physical or magical damage. If it's the physical one then you can run back and smack the mana shield a bit, if it's the magical one then make sure your raid leader knows you're not going to be bringing as much hurt given that seals, judgements etc. will be doing a tiny fraction of the normal damage. You'll also need to watch out for Death and Decay being put on the floor, get out of the nasty yellow stuff.

Once the mana shield goes down no more adds spawn and it turns into a fairly standard tank and spank fight. You'll still need to get out of the nasty stuff on the ground and there will be non-attackable ghosts which explode for damage you need to keep an eye on. If you find yourself below half health it will probably be worth helping your healers out with a potion or healing spell. Otherwise you might be hoping for a battle rez while you stare up from the floor at the rest of the raid.

Gunship Battle
The Chess event of this expansion, by which I mean a very straightforward event with some nice loot available at the end. As melee you're likely to be stopping on your own ship and using the cannons, however this doesn't mean you shouldn't grab one of the rocket shirts and have a jump about.

The cannons are another use of the vehicle mechanic but they also have a resource to be aware of. There are two types of shot, the first which does a set amount of damage and generates an amount of heat and the second which consumes all this heat in a flaming ball of death. You want to make sure that the amount of heat in your gun never reaches 100 otherwise you'll be unable to fire for a few seconds while it cools down. Your tactic here is to spam the '1' key still you get to 80-90 heat and then hit '2', rinse and repeat. You'll be aiming at the opposing cannons mostly but also keep a lookout for the rocketeers at the back and chuck a few shots that way.

Periodically the opposition will be boarding your ship through portals, so a tank will be round them up and a mage will appear on the opposition ship and freeze your cannon in a block of ice. While the boarding party take down the mage you can take down the invaders. Be aware of rocket strikes while doing so though, if you're stood in a target on the ground, don't be and you'll be fine.

Deathbringer Saurfang
Time to face off against the latest deathknight in the Scourge army. For melee this is very straightforward as all you have to do is stand there and hit him. However you do need to keep an eye on the other abilities he does. Throughout the fight he'll be gaining blood power based on the abilities he does, when it reaches 100 he'll cast a Mark on a random player which does damage and helps him gain blood power faster.

The biggest concern for the raid is the blood beasts that spawn. These should be nuked down by the ranged and kited/rooted away from you. Being hit by these is a big no no as this will cause an increase in blood power, so having them hitting you will cause problems. This means that you want to avoid dropping consecration 10 seconds before they spawn and not hit Divine Storm just beforehand. If you do accidentally pull aggro then run away and wait for the ranged guys to grab it off you.

That's the first four bosses done, and the second wing is now available with 3 new bosses to have a bosh at. So once I've had a go with the guild at them I'll add a part 2 with some impressions on those.