Tag Archives: Ghostcrawler

BLIZZKHAAAAN!!

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It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything here because life has a tendency to be hectic and get in the way of things that would rather be done. Since the last time I wrote here, we’ve toppled the new would-be empire of the Thunder King and gone on to discover the treachery of Garrosh and have begun our assault on the “True” Horde he has created with the power of Y’Shaarj.

Overall, I’ve been quite happy with this patch and its content. It’s been a long time coming, but has been wonderfully foreshadowed throughout the entirety of the expansion. It’s also wonderfully satisfying to finally get rid of that proud asshole, which is a testament to the writers’ ability to make me care so much about a fictional character.

Our raid has hit a few small snags in the form of people missing raid for various real life reasons, and also for a major one: Blizzcon and a meet up. Some of our raid got together in real life, flying from all over the US to meet up and watch Blizzcon coverage and ooh and aah at the announcements, and what a crazy bunch of announcements it was.

As I’m sure most of you have already read on MMO-Champion and other similar websites, the game is going to be seeing some very drastic changes to the core mechanics of the game. Specifically, the hit, expertise, dodge, and parry secondary stats will be removed from the game. When this was announced, there was a collective sigh of relief from the gathered members of my raid team. We’ve often said and felt that the idea of hit and expertise was a bit silly as a secondary stat because nobody attempting end content wasn’t reaching their hit and expertise caps. Every class is required to hit these caps to make sure they’re doing the maximum amount of DPS, which means the stats are nearly meaningless and are only there as a form of upkeep on your character. It means fifteen minutes after every raid playing the reforge mini game, or relying on an add-on or website to know what the proper stat weights are and to apply them appropriately. Just like the old talent system, this is just something everyone is doing anyways, so it isn’t fun to be given a false “choice.”

Especially important for me and my kind is the removal of the parry and dodge secondary stats. A little while ago I wrote about how I felt regarding protection paladins and the parry/dodge vs haste debate, stating that there really wasn’t much to debate about. Haste was unequivocally better than parry/dodge, and more importantly also more fun. Well, this last raid tier we saw Blizzard finally coming around to our way of thinking. They put Haste on our tier gear and allowed us to roll Haste gear for our spec through personal loot rolls. The biggest problem that is to be had with parry and dodge, even besides the fact that it’s a survivability gain for pallies to stack Haste, is that it’s boring. Parry and dodge, by themselves, is a boring way to mitigate damage. It requires tanks to be no more than a beating post for the boss, standing there and smacking the boss occasionally to keep aggro. Of course, I’m not advocating the days when holding aggro was a chore for tanks, but it seems like the passiveness of these stats are leftovers of a bygone era. The most fun fights for a Paladin tank this expansion were ones where we needed to be smart about our active mitigation rather than hitting it every time we had three holy power *ahem*Horridon*ahem*. It’s made life more engaging for tanks to need to be aware of big hits and using their mitigation to compensate, thus increasing our level of fun, or at least what I think of as fun.

At the time, I had thought that the best way to fix this problem was to have the stats interact with our active mitigation better. This was done to mixed success with our Grand Crusader ability, which now only has a chance to proc on parry and dodge. However, the survivability boost from Haste still greatly overshadowed parry and dodge and rather than making people want to stack parry and dodge even a little bit, the only effect the change had was to make paladins slightly less upset about having parry and dodge on their gear that they couldn’t get rid of (the tier pants still have parry on them). Never in my wildest dreams, though, had I dared to believe that Blizzard would remove parry and dodge altogether. Instead, everyone is going to have some innate dodge and parry stat, but for the most part, tanks will be receiving armor on their gear. Of course, this is such a drastic change to tank itemization that it’s going to be difficult to predict how it will affect us. Considering druids already have so much armor, they’re likely to see an overhaul. Hopefully, Blizzard learns from the pitfalls and traps of parry/dodge and will make the stat more interactive with each class’s active mitigation. On the surface, armor is a very boring state, giving flat damage reduction on physical damage. If this continues to be the case, then they might as well have kept parry and dodge. At least that procced a holy power generator. If they make armor a more active stat, I think this change will prove to be a positive one that makes tanking considerably more fun and interesting.

Most drastic of the changes announced at Blizzcon, though, was the removal of reforging. This was definitely something that I did not see coming. There had been a lot of chatter about problems with needing to reforge after every new piece of gear that drops, and that was a true statement. However, this change feels like Blizzard taking an unnecessarily large sledgehammer to the problem. The removal of hit/expertise and parry/dodge were more than enough to fix this problem, as that was the majority of what people were reforging for. Without those stats, reforging creates a new environment where people only reforge when they’ve gotten gear that isn’t perfectly itemized for them, but are unlikely to see a better piece of gear drop until later into the tier, or for pure DPS classes that respec for certain fights and may not have the resources to fully gear multiple specs with drastically different stat weights. The biggest problem lies in haste breakpoints, which a lot of classes have. Without the ability to reforge, these breakpoints are going to be nearly impossible to reach without a considerable amount of waste. You either have them or you don’t, but there’s no way for people to reach these breakpoints without wasting stat points that might be more useful in another stat. Without a drastic change in how Haste works in conjunction with DOTs, this is definitely going to be an issue. The removal of hit/expertise/parry/dodge was a change that gave players more freedom. You don’t need to reach seemingly arbitrary caps before investing in other secondary stats (and there’s a distinction between reaching hit/exp caps and hitting breakpoints. The nature of breakpoints make it possible to have multiple, and over the course of a tier it is possible to reach higher breakpoints. This is not the case with hit/exp, as they cap at a flat 7.5% despite gear giving players more and more hit and expertise as the tier continues. At the beginning of an expansion, every gear will likely be reforged to hit and expertise, while at the end of an expansion, even after reforging everything away from hit, many ranged DPS classes are still extremely over hit capped). Instead, you can immediately concentrate on making sure that your gear fits your stat weights, then get back right into the action. The removal of reforging altogether, however, is a change that limits players’ ability to customize their play style. There’s no way to try out having a little bit more haste to make high movements fights easier. There’s no way to just hit your haste breakpoint then place the rest of your stat points into more useful stats. This change limits players’ options, and that is not a positive route of change.

Overall, a lot of the announcements made at Blizzcon were extremely exciting. Garrisons sound like a really fun way to pass some time in the game, as well as feel like I could still gain something in game while being away from the game. I hope that Blizzard implements Garrison management through the Blizzard Mobile Armory, as one of the Q&A folks asked, though I won’t be holding my breath (the Armory has always felt like a really powerful tool that just doesn’t get enough love). The new character models look beautiful and I’m excited to see the animation of my new cow. The quality of life changes to bags, heirlooms, and toys are phenomenal and I wish they could implement those immediately. The promise from Ghostcrawler that there won’t be any dailies makes me giddy as a schoolgirl on the first day of classes. More than anything, though, I’m excited about the removal or unnecessary stats and look forward to seeing how they affect gameplay (and I expect the effect to be a positive one), and I’m not at all excited about the removal of reforging and expect it to be re-added to the game within a few patches. But who knows, maybe Blizzard will abandon the removal of reforging before the expansion comes out and this whole thing will be a moot point. That’s right, get onto the WoW forums and scream bloody murder about the removal of reforging. Only you can prevent forest fires, and everyone’s voice has power, so make sure you say something to affect change or no one will know it’s a problem.

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The Case for Haste

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Prot paladins have gone all of Mists of Pandaria without any really bad nerfs, but we should have all known that was an untenable situation. Let’s be honest: Ghostcrawler feeds on the misery of WoW players, and he’d been saving us for a good day. Back in 5.0, Theck waved his magic wand and produced numbers that showed us that haste was the way to go. However, Ghostcrawler (that dastardly bastard) caught on to what we were doing and shook his head disapprovingly. He did not approve of us tanks using DPS stats. With 5.2, Blizzard made the change to Grand Crusader such that it procced less on auto attacks and also made it proc every so often when dodging an attack. This made haste slightly less desirable, but in the end all it did was make avoidance less awful at mitigating spike damage. That being said, the extra DPS boost from the haste gear set, as well as the ability to shift our ShotR around to better fit the fight meant we still wanted haste.

Now we sit on the cusp of 5.3 and we’re looking at a ShotR nerf, which is not sitting well with me. A part of me sees this as a response to the Prot paladins still gearing haste, but it seems to me like trying to fix a problem by bludgeoning it with a hammer until it goes away. While it’s true that nerfing the shield will also nerf haste gearing, it also means that it will nerf active mitigation for paladins as a whole, which was the whole point of tanking in MoP! But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about why I like haste for paladins.

One of the biggest problems that I have heard with having your tank prioritize haste over traditional tanking stats is competing with DPS for loot. It’s strange to be fighting with your Unholy/Frost DK or Ret Pally over gear, but at the same time it’s a difficult argument to make. It’s not unimaginable to have a Frost DK and a Ret Pally in a raid competing with each other for loot. If that’s the case, what’s wrong with competing with the tank for that same piece of gear? Frankly, tanks will have to compete with each other for parry/dodge gear, so how does this matter?

Another issue I’ve heard with Prot Paladins gearing for haste is the assertion that “tanks shouldn’t be dealing that much damage.” Well, I ask why not? All through Heart of Fear and ToES there were fairly tight enrage timers, and one of the best ways to deal with that is to increase your DPS. My DK tanking partner, before I began gearing for haste, would very often compete with other DPS classes for highest damage done on the boss. Now that I’ve geared haste as well, I’ve found that I can often contribute more DPS in this manner than wearing my “DPS” spec and DPSing. This is due in large part to Vengeance. I tank with a handy-dandy little meter at the bottom of my screen that lets me know how much extra attack power I’m getting out of Vengeance, and almost every boss fight has me above 150% attack power, often closer to 300%. So is having your tank do a good chunk of DPS a bad thing? If this is really a problem, then what about the Blood DKs? Raidbots has Blood DKs considerably outperforming Prot Paladins at the 10-man Normal level and yet I see no changes on the horizon for Blood DKs.

So why is this change ruffling my feathers so much? Well for one thing, it’s happening in the middle of a raid tier. If it turns out that all of that haste gear we’ve been acquiring over the past few weeks turns out to be worse for us than avoidance gear, it will be happening to us at the point where many of us more casual raiders are hitting the most difficult content (well, besides Horridon, of course). We’ll be left suddenly trying desperately to regear while trying to make sure our guilds don’t falter in the progress we’ve made, all the while those that have been skeptical of our haste paradigm will no doubt be laughing at us. “Told you guys gearing haste was dumb,” they’ll say, cursing our self-esteem, causing us to miss our ShotR blocks and face-planting, wiping the raid…

The second, and in my mind far more important, reason why I’m so irritated is because forcing paladins to stop gearing haste removes one of the coolest thing about tanking as a paladin. I loved the idea of stacking haste as our mitigation stat because it was different. I loved it because it wasn’t traditional. It made the class so much more fun because it felt so dynamic, so fluid. I didn’t feel like my job was to just stand in front of the boss and hit a defensive cooldown when my life dipped below 50%. It didn’t feel like judgment and and crusader strike were just there to hold threat. Gearing haste is fun! Having a 1 second GCD is fun! Taking some big hits and being able to use ShotR knowing that you’ll have another one ready before the big dino-horn to the chest is fun! I was amazed that Paladins would be able to stack haste because suddenly the world of tanking seemed to have opened up in front of me. I started imagining a future with tank classes taking crit strike because that would proc a nice shield to help smooth damage! Or maybe a tank class that values Agility and haste, increasing the uptime of a defensive cooldown that increases your dodge… rating…

The point I’m trying to make is that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with Protection Paladins stacking haste! Stacking haste has made the tanking world more interesting, leading to engaging discussions that I’ve had about the viability of the build, and it gave us the glimmer of hope that maybe the rest of us non-DKs would some day have a fun and exciting form of active mitigation! Stacking haste has been extremely fun, and getting new gear with good haste stats have given me a certain sense of thrill that I didn’t get picking up dodge/parry gear. And let’s be honest, we’re all playing this game becuase it’s fun (and totally not some form of Stockholm Syndrome. I love Blizzard and WoW and will never leave…). So Ghostcrawler, LET US HAVE OUR FUN!

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