Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Great PUG In The Sky

A new motto for tanking, perhaps?

I'm not afraid of tanking. Any PUG will do, I don't mind. Why should I be afraid of PUGing? There's no reason for it - we've all got to PUG sometime.

And if you get the reference without looking at the tags, you probably listened to too much music while lying in your bed with headphones on staring at trippy lights moving on the wall like I did, when I was a teenager.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Petition Bump

I know my blog is on the low (low) end of readership in the WoWoBloGoSphere, and I'm sure anyone seeing this link here must have seen it already, but just in case someone hasn't seen this yet, there is a small petition for Blizzard to make amends for providing a platform for homophobic language at BlizzCon - about 500 folks so far, but I'm hopeful more people will sign. If you support this kind of thing, please take a look and add your name to the list if it fits with your .

If for no other reason than that at least there's a list of names that winds up on Mike Morhaime's desk of people who don't appreciate homophobia mixed in with their gaming entertainment.

And I hope my anguished defense of heavy metal in the face of the homophobic rant wasn't misconstrued.

Raid Master No More

I wasn't expecting this to happen last night, but I quit from my position as raid-lead.

It was in the middle of raid, and a rather embarrassing display of childish peevishness from me for the people in Officer chat, but I'm glad it's done. My guild has been kind enough to tolerate my fit as I wasn't G-Kicked, and there was someone ready to take over right as I pulled out, and we continued the raid and finished what we set out to do.

As I tend to do after raid, I keep thinking about what to do next, and so forth, but I keep being surprised at the idea that it doesn't matter what I think at this point. I'm not in the position to make calls about whether we're pulling a boss on normal or heroic, I'm not in a position to say anything about scheduling, when to call raid, deciding who to sit - anything like that is up to Thistle and Elrahd, and I can just show up and raid, having no more a voice than the rest of the raid.

After two continuous years of raid leading with absolutely no break, it's kind of a relief to finally give it up.

I've been left in the Officer position by the GM and I'm not opposed to playing second string or helping out if necessary, but the people in the guild are just fine, the new RL is going to be great and we're going to keep progressing at the same pace, if not better, with someone who's not burned out.

The germ was planted long ago that I wanted to stop having so much responsibility in game, but it was illustrated in a stark way the last time I PuG'd something with a friend's guild where all I did was show up and DPS. It was fun to just kick back and follow the plan rather than come up with and execute one.


The big question that's kind of hovering above my head is, how long will this last? I know I get itchy about running things from time to time, and I can't seem to take a break from RLing for too long. The last break I had was maybe, four or five months, which was enough time to really refresh me, and even then I was one of maybe three raid leads in a rather large guild.

Between then and now, I tried to follow along in the footsteps of another RL for about a month before I got frustrated with his way of doing things and I just quit and formed the current guild with Thistle.

Since then, if a raid was run, Thistle or I were running things. After last night, it'll be Elrahd and Thistle and I'll be the guy in the back seat, munching peanuts and reading a book, occasionally frowning at the landscape outside the window to say, "Didn't we pass that barn ten minutes ago?"

I hope I don't get too annoying.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blizzard and Extreme Metal

George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher

Ever since Blizzcon the name of George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher has been floating around the forums and his (rather un-PC) rant about how much he hates the Alliance that was broadcast by L90ETC during their concert at the closing ceremonies.

I think that people are absolutely in the right to be offended by this, but I think there is some depth to this that's missing, and I thought I'd step aside from my usual WoWMusing to talk a little about extreme Metal, and why Corpsegrinder was the worst choice Blizzard could have made for a guest musician on stage during BlizzCon.

I'll begin by saying I've been a fan of heavy metal, particularly extreme metal (Black, Death, Doom, etc.) for a long, long time and have been active briefly as a music reviewer in the genre, and also as an amateur musician in that same vein with some home recordings, so keep that in mind as I go forward. I happily admit my bias up front.

Who is he anyway? 

For those not in the know, Corpsegrinder is the lead singer of Cannibal Corpse - a rather extreme, if very innovative, consistent and important American Death Metal band. I've been a fan of the band for a long time, simply because of the level of integrity (if you can call it that) they have had to their vision of extreme, brutal, unrepentant, ugly and violent music. Now, in the American Death Metal scene, politically correct is the last thing anyone wants to be, and macho-one-up-man-ship is an art.

Which is not to excuse the rant - I don't condone any of the homophobic language Corpsegrinder used, and I find it unfortunate that the scene needs to exist in such a state. I feel the same way about Norwegian Black Metal and it's off-shoot ties to extreme right wing agendas like racism, fascism and nationalism.

But. The actions of a few don't and shouldn't tar the entire genre. The music is good and worthwhile and important.

Why is this music important?

Death Metal started in America, and here it has found its most extreme representation - the Death Growl is an American invention, as is the super-super-fast riffing that came left Thrash and Hardcore in the dust. Death Metal is deeply rooted in the horror of American films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the horror of American serial killers (particularly from the seventies) and the racism and violence in American media. These musicians fed off of this stuff, exposed it, and reveled in its most extreme states.

This is as American as anything, and I think that's an important thing to acknowledge. It is a uniquely American art-form that I don't think could have come from anywhere else. But it eventually gave rise to various genres of European Death Metal which innovated and contorted the extreme American Horror roots into epic Nordic themes in beautiful and moving ways.

On the other hand, Norwegian Black Metal, probably the most reviled and tarred of metal genres, has given rise to very important pro-environmental radical life-style altering Black Metal in the American North-West. It also gave rise to an Ambient/Experimental super-loud, very strange music that bands like Sunn O))) embraced to the point where they have become art-institutions. Sunn O))) played a concert in MOMA for instance, as a work of contemporary high art. You can't ask for a stronger acknowledgement of your relevance to the art world than that.

Finally, Doom Metal grew out this whole scene (and the Punk offshoot of Hardcore) which is a rather intellectual almost post-metal genre with some amazing music that has come out over the last ten years.

Do you have a point to make?

Yes, my point is, this stuff is ugly, but it is a part of human expression, an important part of our artistic history, and for Americans, this is part of our heritage. This music is important and this scene and sub-genre were the living cultures for many people and still are.

I think Heavy Metal is as important culturally as, say, Opera or classical music. And I wish that if Blizzard is trying to bring it into the open a bit more and expose it to people who don't know it too well, then they could have picked a better ambassador than Corpsegrinder.

It's tremendously unfortunate that Blizzard used Cannibal Corpse instead of, say, a band like Mastadon, who're much more relevant in a contemporary sense and a lot more palatable to the general audience and who wouldn't offend half the player base.

So, why was Corpsegrinder on stage?

The worst part is, Cannibal Corpse and L90ETC are worlds apart in terms of skill and mood and genre - the two bands sound nothing alike. L90ETC are essentially a retro-metal act, calling to mind the First Wave of British Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc.) It's a bunch of guys playing music they liked as kids - and Cannibal Corpse are an extremely ugly and violent band with heavy, heavy riffing, indecipherable vocals, noise-laden solos and super-fast bridges that none of the guys in L90ETC could keep up with.

The two bands are worlds apart.

The only reason Corpsegrinder get on that stage was because of his rant, and because it tickled some bone among the Blizzard employees to have him up there, saying things they might not have wanted to say themselves.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Itchy Feet Again

I think I'm getting itchy feet with regards to my character race again.

While I absolutely love my paladin, and being a Draenei has exposed a lot of wonderful animations and smooth textures and all that - I just can't connect with her as a character. The Draenei have a weird, alien culture and I just cannot wrap my head around it. Immortality is one of those things that I enjoy writing about more than experiencing it through a character, and it's making it very hard for me to get into Innana's head.

Do I really need to get into a character's head in order to play him or her?

For me, the game is about immersion, and the more I can view the world through a character's eyes, the better the game gets. The more I can empathize, and engage with, and really roll into the emotions of the character, the better the experience is for me. And with Pandaria, we're getting a third expansion in a row with absolutely no Draenei lore at all.

I can't keep playing this alien being trying to engage with the conflicts and issues of an alien world based on the prophetic words of a prophet who might or might not be going senile, and who has helped the Blood Elves to bewildering ends while gaining nothing in return.

When I view the game from a Human perspective, there is a lot more stuff going on to engage me. The burning of Stormwind, the reemergence of Nefarian on our doorstep, the story of Anduin and Varian as they grow into their roles, and with the coming story of escalating tensions - I kind of want to feel the outrage and pride.

I want a reason to say, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers." (I love me some Pulp Fiction.)

So - here I am, staring at Innana and wondering how long I can resist putting down $25 and turning her into a human. I won't be changing her name again, it just gets too confusing, and as a bonus, a human female model is far (far) better than the male model.

Would I ever switch back to Draenei? I don't think I would, I miss the level of engagement and immersion I had in the game as a human. I want it back.

Of course, I'll need to change my header image again.... damn it. Nothing's easy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two Problems With Pandaria

5.0 sounds like a lot of fun, but there are two basic things that I think are worth discussing - one is not an issue at all, but has become a problem for the player-base, and the other is an actually sort of a problem but I haven't heard too many people discuss it yet.

First, the thing that might actually be an issue: Is Blizzard reducing Chinese culture to an expansion?

We've seen Blizzard co-opting culture before. Trolls for Caribbean culture, Tauren for Native Americans, the dismal portrayal of Middle-Eastern and African people in the Pygmy of Uldum (down to their gibberish gibbering), the one-dimensional Irish/Scots among the Dwarfs... is this another step in that direction, where a pop-cultural understanding of Chinese and Far-Eastern culture is being stuffed into the Pandaren where we're going to see mildly offensive stereotyping based on fantastical imagery rather than any basis in the reality of that culture?

I can't say, but I do think that Blizzard does a lot of this without thinking about things. I don't think there is a process in Blizzard that filters ideas - I think it goes from design to execution with little conversation in between in terms of thinking about what the impact might be culturally. If there was even a minor conversation in the vein of, "Do we think this might offend the cultural sensibilities of the people involved," we would never have seen the Pygmy, or at least not in that incarnation. Or for that matter, quests in which we torture people, but that's a different topic completely.

The most confusing and unfortunate part of it is that nobody ever calls Blizzard on it, and when they do, the argument is thrown out as it's a game and not meant to be taken seriously.

Well. As a brown person playing the game, I felt a little hurt seeing the Pygmy. I wasn't particularly offended, I wasn't going to stop playing the game, but it just made me wish that Blizzard had taken the time to have a conversation about cultural impact, impression and stereotyping before building those models or designing the race.

And I think the fact that they never even had that conversation is kind of the point I'm trying to make.

Without playing through 5.0, it'll be impossible to tell how the far-eastern culture makes out among the Pandaren, but we'll see.

Next, let's talk about the non-issue: "Pandaren area a joke race, Blizzard is ruining WoW."

The problem isn't with Pandaren, the problem is that it's not Wrath of the Lich King. It's not The Burning Crusade. It's not the Cataclysm. It's not about your world in danger, it's not about a threat, there is no angry, angst-ridden, gritty and horrible antagonist to rage against, and certainly no obvious Gothic elements to be seen. Armor doesn't have skulls and bones on it.

Do you remember the Diablo 3 fiasco with the color pallet issues? This is the same thing in a different vein.

The criticism leveled against MoP is ultimately  in the vein of, "This isn't what I like." Now, measure that against a game with walking cows, pig people with crossbows, and gurgling fish men who chase you on land. It isn't about the silly nature of the Pandas, it's their lack of grit.

Pandaria is beautiful. It's breathtaking. There are no ruins, the buildings are alive and open. The landscape isn't scarred by war. The mountains are cloaked in mist. The forests still stand whole and pristine.

After 3 expansions full of war, grit, dirt, blood, and more skulls and bones than you can find in an abattoir, I think the artists were done with those themes and wanted to move on. I think the writers were tired of pushing the same styles of quests. The creative team wanted to stretch its muscle in a way it hadn't before and Pandaria was that venue.

I can't seriously have an issue with that - video games at their purest, are art. Artists don't just repeat and do the same thing over and over - they experiment, they modify, they grow. That's what Blizzard is doing with Warcraft - they're moving on to something completely new, and I'm excited to see how it turns out.

A game doesn't need to be drowned in inches of blood to be good or interesting. People change, stories grow, and the game evolves.

This is a good thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crazy & Radical BlizzCon Predictions for WoW's Future!

Tomorrow, the faithful gather and learn of what the Olympians have in store for us over the next year and a half, and how our world and lives will change. So of course, I'm going to play the Oracular role for a bit and throw somedarts and see if any of them hit.

I'm trying to think of Blizzard really making a reach for transforming WoW in a blue-sky sort of way, so some of this is super CRAZY-RADICAL. I doubt any of this is what they're actually thinking, but this is the kind of thing  I would be pitching if I were a developer on the WoW team.

  • At least 7 new zones
  • Level cap to 100 (or possibly at achieving Level 100 you gain a title level like "Paragon" or something)
  • Guild Level cap to 50 (new cauldrons, new food buffs, lowering cool-down of the big abilities further (rez, summon, etc.))
  • Either PvP or PvE objectives in every zone related to dailies available to either side. Each type of conflict rewards its particular type of play (Maybe even link head and shoulder enchants to these matches, along with bonus materials (enchanting mats, gems, ore, elementals and herbs))
  • Spectator mode - subscribe to any dungeon, raid, BG or Arena and watch as an invisible member, able to move with the raid while tethered to stay within 10' of the raid lead. Raid lead can set their group as private, invite only, or open
  • BattleNet allows cross-realm grouping for Arena, Raid and BG
  • New class related to the expansion. The new class will be a healer/tank/dps hybird using either leather or mail, start at level 68 ALA the DK zone
  • Tanking becomes more of a DPS role with a few defensive tricks tied to offensive abilities, talents and active mitigation
  • Disc priests Talent Specialization opens up Int Plate for them
  • All classes are now Hybrid. Mages are Heals (Absorbs/Cauterize)/DPS, Warlocks are Heals (Affliction drain-style)/DPS, Rogues are Tank (Mitigation)/DPS, Hunters are Tank (Pet)/DPS
  • Eventual goal to move beyond the Trinity by slowly opening players to widening the scope of their individual specs and classes
Dungeons & Raids:
  • Every dungeons in the game now scales up to Heroic and random dungeon opens up the entire history of WoW in the LFG potluck (with the option to queue specifically for a particular type of dungeon (All, Classic, Outland, Northrend, Cataclysm, Prior Tier(s), Current Tier))
  • No more 10/25 seperation - all Raids scaled to 15 people with a standard composition of  2  tanks, 4 healers and 9 DPS. All Raids have 3 difficulty levels - LFR (Easy), Normal, and Heroic. Possible to queue for Easy as a pre-made
  • Scaled down "Encounters" built into the game - a solo player can, with the help of NPCs play brief skirmish type maps with clearly defined objectives that scale up with difficulty. These can be scaled up to 3 players of any spec with more enemies and higher health for each person added. Rewards are always less powerful than the current tier of dungeons
Other Systems:
  • Archaeology has been rebooted - you can focus on a particular race, you have a chance to unearth horrors, run into competitors and trigger traps requiring some solo play to discover stuff rather than staring at a UI element. Rares aren't just about gathering mats - each Rare has a small quest or two associated with it. Epic Archaeology items have extensive quest lines that take some time to run through and might require grouping up at points to get into dungeons and/or raids
  • Path of the Titans is back in - it can be started once you hit Paragon level and finish a class-specific quest line with a lot of material gathering, dungeon and drop farming, and some other stuff - this will take a while, ALA Legendary quest-lines. Once finished, it will be possible to explore particular class-specific abilities and allow for more specs to open up - a Paragon of her class will master all possibilities open to her over time. Character growth and benefit without a time element tied to it, without affecting balance. Further growth possible in this venue...
As for the actual content? It almost doesn't matter, it could be swimming pandas and flying dolphins for all I care, but I would really love an Outland style Burning Legion expansion, though I doubt this is the one. I think the one after this is where the Legion either comes to us regrouped and in force, or we go to one of their worlds and take the offensive for once. That's what I really want in the end - to invade the Legion worlds.

So, that's what I've got! I'll be watching the live-stream tomorrow afternoon from home hanging out in Vent and in game with a couple of guildies. Stop by, or something! And mock my foolish hopes and dreams for this little game of ours as they're dashed one by one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Changing How I PvP (Warlock Edition)

I threw in the towel.

After two seasons of beating my head against the 1600/1700 rating matches in 2s where I kept meeting up against counter teams, and a 1500 rating wall in 3s where the total lack of sustained offense and nearly complete lack of closers and control blocked me again, I realized Retribution Paladins are just not good in Arenas in the hands of a mediocre player like me.

I do see some Retribution paladins in the top 50/100 rated teams in my Battlegroup, so I'm sure that those guys are taking the class and making it work for them, but for me, I can't seem to able to convert the abilities I have into meaningful kills, and my support is piddling at best, with how quickly I run out of Mana if I try to go that route in 3s.

Retribution Paladins in PvP are designed so defensively that expecting them to work on burst seems to cause a deal of cognitive dissonance. So I sighed, and threw in the towel and gave up all hope of being able to Arenas successfully on my Paladin (I do fantastic in BGs) until such a time as I can get a good and firm understanding of my Holy spec and try Arenas in that venue. With so many instant heals, defensive abilities and support spell, they should be good - I just need a ton more practice in a million BGs first as Holy first. With no Holy gear right now, I'm just going to wait till next season to start gathering it as this late into this season, I'll finish gearing up just as the new stuff is released.

For the time being, I've come to realize how much fun I can have playing my Warlock in PvP.

The two classes are almost completely different in terms of how they play - Retribution Paladin is about lining up cool-downs and abilities to set up a burst kill while catching your enemy in a window with no defensive cool-downs. It's all about the setup.

Affliction Warlocks are all about control of the situation - full-fears, multi-target DoTing, a reliable ranged spell-lock on healers, and super-quick interrupts, escapes and absolutely amazing self-healing.

I've been doing 2s with a rogue, and the two of us are having a blast - we're scratching at about 1500 after a month of matches. We only do a set of 8 wins per week and our win ratio is hovering around the 65% mark which makes me happy. There are teams that are absolutely counters for us - Blood DKs are horrifically broken right now and we have a hard time against them, Warriors with healers can give us a hard time, but overall, we're able to hold our own against most teams.

A personal joy is how I face off against Mages now. On Innana, I used to groan whenever I saw a mage. Now, I just scoff, banish their Elemental, DoT up the Mage, Howl his pets, and Drain Life the hell out of him while big crit numbers pop over his head while they blink here and there fruitlessly, especially if there is no healer and I can sic my puppy on them for locks.

In general, though, if I can get about 5 seconds of free-casting, the amount of damage output Warlocks cash push against an entire team of 2s and even 3s is horrifically frightening. Health Stones, Healing Trinkets, Haunts, and Drain Life (not to mention latent healing returned from DoTs and Fel Armor) all add up to the point where sometimes I out-heal healers. We've even managed to win matches after ten minutes where we were both able to stay alive for extended periods against a healer/DPS comp until we finally converted a kill.

With a pair of Firelands daggers (one of them Heroic), my Rogue buddy is able to gank like nobody's business. I'm looking forward to doing Arenas with her next season when she'll have the legendary daggers.

Anyway. The comp is doing well for us, and I have come to realize that while there is a pang of regret that I'm having to move off my main to do something I enjoy (PvP), the fact that I'm having a ton more fun while doing it on my alt makes up for it.

It might even work for me to keep Merricat as my PvP alt permanently, and Innana as my main in all other ways. It lets me play her on a high-level without having a conflict with my raid group and I do dearly love my Warlock.

For once: Win/Win.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tanking Legendary

We've been collecting materials as we kill bosses in Firelands and as I watch our Shadow Priest picked for the Legendary collect them, I feel a pang of jealousy. We didn't do a lot of 25-man content in Wrath, but I did run some 25s with big guilds, and I felt the same pang watching their DKs and Priests collecting Shards for Shadowmourne and Val'anyr.

And next tier, I'll watch our Rogue collect the Fangs of the Father.

At this point, every role has had a legendary except for tanks. Healers have had Val'anyr, melee DPS have had the Warglaives, Sulfuras, Thunderfury, and Shadowmourne, hunters had Thori'dal, and pretty much every caster could use Atiesh and Dragonwrath.

You could make the point that Death Knights used Shadowmourne to tank, but that still left 3/4 of tanking classes without a tanking Legendary.

Point being, tanks have never had a legendary tanking weapon, and a lot of the reasoning behind it is that there are way too many tanking classes that all use different weapons.

The bigger (and real) reason is that if you have a Legendary that only one or two tank classes can use, every raid will drop the other tanks to make room for them. If a raid was tanking with a DK and a Druid, they would drop one or both to bring in a Paladin and Warrior if there was a Legendary shield, and they would certainly be right to do so. And that completely screws up the tanking population and rightly so, isolates and insults those who can't get it.

Tanks are generally the characters who gear up the fastest in raids - they have little competition over drops and the more geared your tanks get, the easier it is for the raid to progress as they can ignore the "tank can't take hits" problem and focus on other issues of the raid. Tank gear matters and I can see balance issues with giving one tank a legendary and essentially making him a Main Tank which is a concept I absolutely loathe.

There are two tanks, they both do their jobs, swapping from one duty to the other as benefits their class abilities best. But I digress.

You hear about Blizzard doing a tanking legendary in the same way that they did Quel'Delar. It comes close but I can see Blizzard's point in rejecting that model for a legendary - something like that makes for an awesome questline and an epic item, but not for a Legendary weapon that needs to be instantly recognizable, is iconic, and, well, Legendary. An item, of monumental power, not something with multiple models.

So how do you reconcile this? I might have a thought.

Make a Legendary Mace.

Every tank class can use Maces. The model can stay the same.

Tweak it so that it can be used two-handed by Druids and DKs with a boost to stats to make up for a missign off-hand, and keep the same model for it across the board.

It is the same weapon in essence, it's just that Druids and DKs need to use it two-handed. Whatever stats and bonus it has should probably be tailored to tanking to keep it from DPS hands and you could probably have a tanking legendary.

Would I rather have a Palain specific questline and build a Holy Aegis that will sing with pathos and grace? A shield that would be a beacon in the darkest of places? A barrier against the most grievous harm?

Absolutely. But, you know. I'm willing to share with the other classes and settle for a mace. I'm sure there are other solutions out there, but I think this is a reasonable one even if it would require Blizzard to scale the item a bit differently between the 2-handed and 1-handed versions of it.

There are solutions out there, and I hope Blizzard keeps this in mind going into the next expansion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paladin Tier 13 Armor On Female Models

I really love the Paladin Tier 13. I was looking forward to wearing this tier for a while. But then I saw how it looks on female models:

Sigh. I guess I'll have to find a shirt to wear underneath that'll blend well with the tier. For some reason I don't really have a problem with cloth-wearers or even mail or leather wearers having these kind of outfits. But doing it to plate just seems ridiculous. It could be that I'm reading way too much gritty fantasy where this kind of thing doesn't fly. It could be that I've been playing a female character as my main for nearly a year, now. And I know a lot of people don't have a problem with plate bikini or whatever as it's a fantasy setting.

But I find it absolutely ridiculous to wear a plate belly-shirt.

I really don't know how many women work in the Blizzard art-department, I'd be really curious. Maybe a woman designed this, I don't know, but it kind of doesn't matter, that still doesn't excuse this.

It just plain blows screaming chunks of suck and fail at the moon that I have to show off my bare mid-riff while tanking the god-damned Aspect of Death.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catching Up

There is so much going on in game, and at the same time, so little. This will be rambling, I guess!

After a weird week of suck on my part, we're back on track with killing new bosses and progression is chuggling along. I expect we'll get to 6 heroic bosses within a month or so - definitely before the next patch, and that makes me happy. I'd love to spend at least a whole week on Heroic Ragnaros with a rock-solid group before the next patch comes, just to experience it. But that's some ways away for us, we're just starting to collect heroic gear now.

Our main issue is still that last one or two floating spot that becomes difficult to juggle.

I was informed that one of our core raiders who has been with us for over two years now, is going to be retiring after Deathwing. Which is awesome, he's excited to move on with his life and stuff, and I wish him the best, but it does leave a rather large hole in our roster, and not just in terms of a slot to be replaced,  but in terms of a person who was our friend for a long, long time. We'll fill the slot, but we can't replace the person.

Last night, our decked out and geared hunter's PC overheated to the point of making the game unplayable for her and she bowed out until she can afford a replacement machine but we brought in someone who was benched for the night and were able to do stuff.

I hope she's able to come back soon but we'll do what we can in the meantime. The issue becomes that if I do recruit another person to replace this hunter, I'll wind up in a situation where I'll have to play musical chairs again (and after the fiasco I went through last month with a raider upset about progression vs. gearing, I really don't want to deal with it again.)

Our Legendary continues to build, our first collector is about a third of the way through the Cinders and the second person collecting Embers is about two weeks from getting the Branch and we have a third person lined up for it after that. We'll get one Legendary out, I think, maybe get to phase 2 of the second one if 4.3 doesn't come out till late December. But still, it's nice to have it accessible - even if the process if fairly dull to collect mat rather than a series of awesome events like the extra boss.

Speaking of Legendaries, I'm seriously considering leveling a rogue just so I can do the quest-line in 4.3 - it looks freaking awesome. We only have one raiding rogue, and I'd be glad to build a second set of daggers. I love the sneaky, underhanded, do whatever it takes to win, not evil but not good by any measure, anti-hero protagonists like the new Prince of the Black Dragonflight is shaping out to be. Let's hope he is elevated to becoming the new aspect and reinvigorating the Flight and transforming them into what they were meant to be!

Of course, there is no tank legendary on the horizon, and I'll just cry about that over here after I've seen Valy'nar, Shadowmourne, and Dragonwrath crafted for other classes and specs. I look forward to crafting Father's Fangs for our resident rogue in the future.

After playing this game for so long, I just want one Legendary I can use on my main. I'll whine about this later, I have a feeling I have more to say on this topic.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paladin Tank Stats in Normal Firelands Gear

I recently hit the threshold of achieving an iLevel of 378 worn gear in my tank-set which makes me pretty happy as it more or less insulates me from Firelands drops. There are a couple of items I would love to swap in and out of course - the Mastery trinket I'm using isn't perfect, and my helm isn't ideal, but with a 4-set bonus and full block-cap with raid buffs, I think I'm pretty pleased with where my stats put me.

Here is my in-game character sheet with self-buffs, no flask or elixirs, but with mastery food:

This essentially gives me a mitigation rating of 101.23% - which is very close to 102.4% to achieve full block-cap. If I wanted to get to block-cap purely on my own buffs, I could probably use a Mastery Elixir and swap out some of the gems I'm using.  Keep in mind, this is without things like Horn of Winter and the Dodge proc from the Windwalk weapon-enchant, which push the Parry and Dodge numbers higher, so in-combat, I'm typically at or over the block-cap.

I'm enchanted as per normal, nothing special there, and I'm gemming to get my bonuses using Mastery + Stamina gems in blue slots, instead of full Mastery gems, to pick up a bit of Stamina as I was getting a little low compared to my Death Knight co-tank. What is interesting is that I'm using a Mastery trinket and a Dodge trinket with some of the Dodge forged into Mastery, just to balance mitigation stats a bit. My Epic Jewelcrafter gems are Mastery and my ring Enchants are Stamina instead of Strength (for Parry). I'm not using pure-Stamina gems yet, and I'm not using a Stamina trinket either.

Now keep in mind - this is purely in normal Firelands gear. Once I start picking up some Heroic gear, that block-cap will be over the magic number, and I will start swapping Mastery for Dodge and Parry further reducing the incoming damage.

I've long since given up my dreams of being hit-capped as a tank even though I still hate missing, so the Dodge/Parry sum will start to climb and the Block chance will draw down. I don't know where the pure-mitigation cap will be - maybe 35%? More than 40% with 4.3 heroic gear?

That's just silly at some point, where nearly half the incoming swings will be missed, dodged or parried. Tank damage at this point will drop and that's one of the reasons we've seen things like Chill of the Throne and Sunwell Radiance in the past to reduce tank mitigation in the last tier of raids.

And that was without the benefit of Mastery, which has gotten, frankly, just too good for Paladins. Are we going to see anything like that in the Demon Soul raid? Who can say.

I'm sure part of this is the fact that I've just gotten lucky with drops, and I'm sure the folks who've been farming heroics for a while now have a lot better gear and their stats look a lot better - but point is, even in just normal Firelands gear which is easily accessible at this point to any semi-serious raid group, paladin tank stats are kind of freaking crazy right now.