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An ex-raid leader, gamer extraordinaire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Introducing: Roguelike Series

I'm sure you've all heard that hunters are going to use Focus (Energy, only with a fancy new name), DK Runes are overhauled and Rage Normalization is coming to warriors. So, what do these mean for these classes?

Roguelike series will look at all tree classes -Hunters, DKs and Warriors- one at a time and try to explain what these classes should expect from the expansion pack.

The way DPS works in WoW, is that for physical classes, there's their auto-attacks, and special attacks. For spellcasters, there's only special attacks, unless you count wands, which no one does since Vanilla (And briefly in TBC). For all DPS classes, there's a cooldown model for special attacks. Notably:

  • Energy - For Rogues, Druids & Deathknights: You have a predefined set amount of power you can use. Your special attacks have organic cooldowns, meaning, you have to wait for your power to fill up.
  • Mana - For Spellcasters: You have a predefined set amount of mana you can use. However, since Blizzard thinks it's fun for DPS Spellcasters to go OOM, the only limiting factors are GCD for Instants and spellcast times for everything else.
  • Mana - For Hunters & Enhancement Shamans: You have a predefined set amount of mana you can use. Again, it's completely irrelevant. Your limiting factors are cast timers (Steady Shot pre soft-haste cap), GCD (Soft-haste capped Steady Shot) and artificial cooldowns.
  • Rage - For Warriors: The more autoattack damage you deal, the more rage you get.
You see a problem here? I certainly do.

There just has to be a way for people to not spam a certain ability every single GCD, to make them unique and interesting to use.

For Rogues & DKs, even though their most devastating abilities do not have cooldowns, they can't spam them at every single second. Rogues' Sinister Strike costs 40 Energy, and each second they gain 10 Energy so they can only use it every 4 seconds. 

For spellcasters, GCD for instants and spellcast timers everything else works to that fashion. A Mage's Frost bolt spam might give him the most damage, but he can only cast it as every X seconds only. 

Now for Hunters and Shamans, both Mana users acting like Rogues, they have instant attacks all around, but they also have mana. For them now to go OOM, their mana has to be large and keep refreshing. But what then they can just spam their abilities non-stop. What's the fix? Cooldown model, on spells like Arcane Blast, Storm Strike, etc.

For Warriors, it's even worse. Playing a DPS Warrior is a rollercoaster of an ordeal, dealing next to nothing at early levels of gear due how pathetic white damage is, and becoming the single best DPSer in ICC. Furthermore, to compensate it, their numbers are always crunched with introduction of new gear, to "normalize" their DPS with the rest of DPS classes.

Blizzard has finally, after five years of trying to make status quo work, giving up, and utilized the Rogue model for these classes. 

Stick around to hear how these changes will effect your gameplay.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

DPS in Trash

Gevlon doesn't disappoint with his latest post. Quote him:
"Posting damage meter on trash is considered impolite in WoW. There were even posts where this was considered "jerk" behavior, since "properly specced" DPS can't compete with a tank or a DPS who has a stupid AoE spec he made clearly to top the meters.
This is bullshit!"
You just gotta love the man.

For a long time, I've advocated using cooldowns and such in raid trash to speed up the process. It was even worse when I was level 70, a Rogue (We didn't have FoK back then) and on Karazhan stairs, an obviously AoE pull, I'd outdps several mages or warlocks randomly.

In Ulduar, there's this massive pull before General Vezax. Three of them, to be exact. There are 9-10 mobs each pull, and they can't be AoE'd. Or so our GM told us. We tried to sheep, hex, cyclone them so that tanks took less damage... Yes, no.

Even though I was an officer/raid assist, of course the GM's word was law. But not to my subjects. I told the DKs I had (We were three DPSers) to AoE shit down like their life depended on it, and to be ready to tank the sheep targets that they were likely to break. We pull, Team-DK goes nuts on bolts, we pull off around 30-35k DPS each, and the pack is down in meager seconds.

From there-on, those pulls became the most fun pull in Ulduar for us as I had successfully persuaded that they were AoE packs.

If there's something I hate more than raid trash, it's probably powerleveling (which I do with any-all characters I have a slight interest in playing). Raid trash is uninteresting, boring, heart-grinding. It's something all 25 people in the raid just want to get over with. So why not bring your A-Game to these ugly packs to make them die so fast it's actually a little fun?

I once even got a whisper once about my DPS in trash, pulling easily a few Ks over others, and the voice told me "Why do you use cooldowns and abuse the system on trash? Does pulling off more DPS make you feel a better player?"

There certainly is a notion, like Gevlon said, about people topping the charts. They "Abuse" the system. These people are the ones that say:

  • I don't care about DPS Meters (Then why do you play a DPSer?)
  • I cold easily top them if I could (Why don't you?)
  • I hate people who are obsessed with putting out highest DPS (Because you're not one?)
  • DPS doesn't mean skill (Both of which you lack)
Don't be deluded. Once at Freya, someone criticized me and a fellow Feral druid when we were "training" on Freya as the PvPers say. He said we were cheating the DPS meters because we were DPSing her when she was healing herself, so our DPS meant nothing. 

He completely ignored the fact that I was trying to roll a high-damage disease on her to spread to her adds, and that the feral was building combo points. But since most other DPSers didn't do anything to Freya, we were showing highest, and haters hated that we were cheating our way to success. 

There's one thing DPSers should know and care about -numbers. Beautiful, shady numbers. Our jobs is a quantitive one. We bring DPS, which is not an in-calculable objective. True, in some places, your DPS will naturally suffer, like when I was running around the room in General Vezax to Death Grip sparks to healers. I pretty much sucked those attempts. Does it make me feel useless? No, but I still make he best of my time when I'm not running around the room like a headless chicken, DPSing the boss to best of my abilities. For example, Yogg-Saron and the tentacles for the Brain Group. I'd have chance to kill one every few attempts when I didn't need to regain full sanity. Why shouldn't I do it, even if it's not my priority? 

Or, why shouldn't I work harder to do my job better?

Let the haters hate. Numbers don't lie. Yes, the person pulling off higher DPS than you are is likely (though not positively certainly) a better player. Conversely, you're a better player than the slackers in your raids. Just because people don't want to do what they were brought in to do doesn't mean those who do are evil, evil people. They just enjoy smashing skulls.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Return of the DK Tank in Cataclysm?

Death Knight tanks went through an interesting ordeal in WotLK. In the beginning, they were often deemed unworthy for progression fights with the spiky damage they took. Later on, their numerous Cooldowns were [ab]used to push many guilds to their first Hardmode kills, from Sartharion 3D to Ulduar.

Looking at the DK talents for Cataclysm now both intrigues me and scares me. The changes make them just far, far good.

Current state of DK tanks is that, they go down a path of their choice and end up with two cooldowns to blow: Icebound Fortitude for all specs, and Vampiric Embrace / Unbreakable Armor / Bone Shield for Blood / Frost / Unholy respectively [There's Mark of Blood but for most fights, it's really awful]. Looking at the Cataclysm talents, we see DK Tanks gaining this:

  • Icebound Fortitude [2M]: %50-70 Damage Reduction for 12 seconds. The talent that boosts it boosts it by %30, and with the current glyph it can go up from 20% to %40. 
  • Bone Shield [1M]: %20 Damage Reduction, 3.4 charges. Interesting this with this ability is, it's not removed with things like Mimiron's Blast, AoE or Dots. 
  • Vampiric Embrace [1M]: 15% Health, %35 Increased Healing taken for 10/15 seconds.
  • Dancing Rune Weapon [1.5M]: %20 Parry for 12/17 seconds 
  • Rune Tap [60/30S]: %20 Self-heal.
  • Death Strike: %17.5 health gain per strike and creates a shields that absorbs the same amount.
  • Will of the Necropolis [15S]: Below 30%, Blood Rune/Rune Tap is refreshed and DK takes %8 less damage for 8 seconds.
There are pseudo-synergies here worth mentioning.

DRW/Bone Shield when spammed together will highly increase the DK's avoidance and thus make each Bone Shield charges a lot more worthwhile.

IBF/VE combo will allow DK to have a lot more health, to receive a lot less, and be healed as if the healers had gear one tier higher.

Of course, when spamming all at once, you'd become as good as immortal, and if it's way into the fight with no problems of threat, but just a "GOGOGO DPS KILL IT NOW" scenario, you can save all your Blood runes for self-heal, DS for heal and shield, and pop Empower Rune Weapon for even more DSes. I can easily see a DK tank surviving a good 20-25 seconds even under current raid-scheme where damage is high and imminent, without a healer.

Of course, we don't know much about the raiding scheme in Cataclysm, but a nice comparison is other tanks. We currently have access to Druid and Warrior talents, and from what I've checked, neither classes pack the amount of CDs the DK has.

But that's not the only selling point of DKs. DK tanks have traditionally been the highest-DPSers in a raid setting, simply because all of their threat (Aside from Icy Touch for the moment) come from their DPS abilities. They're the only class whose Tank and DPS abilities do not change at all. This might come to change as a matter of fact, with Heart Strike being a tank-only spam now, as well as possibly Death Strike, these abilities might [and should] lose in their high damage output punch to stay balanced with rest of the tanks.

Furthermore, I sincerely hope Death Strike's unbuffed healing is no longer %5 per disease. That's just way too much. As you can see, 2 diseases bump this to %10, talents bring it to %17,5 and then the same talents give DS an absorb shield for the same amount. That's just.... overpowered. For comparison again, look at the Rune Tap talent. For a Blood rune, it gives %20 health, 30s cooldown. Death Strike costs Unholy/Frost (so 10 seconds cooldown for all it matters), gives %35 health, half of it being absorption. And any tank worth its salt can tell you %17.5 healing/%17.5 absorption is better than straight up %35 healing, because you can only heal up to full, but absorption will also increase your health effectively by %17.5 past %100 health.

Are DK damage mitigation going to be completely balanced around the fact that Blood Tanks will be vampire-like, so even with all these self heals, they're only going to be having their health globes up like a Warrior's? In other words, will the inherit damage reduction be lower compared to other classes so that healers have to heal the DK for the same amounts? I really think this is a slippery slope.

Personally? I'm in all likelihood going to be a tank in Cataclysm again. Currently, I'm browsing over Warrior and DK talents and abilities to see what will be the best. Now that Warriors are losing their monopoly on both of their shouts (Their Commanding Shout will be the same as Priest Fortitude, and Battle Shout will be the Agility/Strength of DKs and Shamans), I see few reasons to roll a Warrior but many reasons to keep it on with my DK.

Now, I'm not calling for "LOLNERF" here but this feels like 3.1 all over again when DK tanks reigned supreme and anything else wasn't really viable for Hardmodes. End result was, between minor patches and 3.2, DK tanks going from Uber to Lol and not being viable for... anything, really. Sure, they were tank when, for example, a Rogue was not. But most guilds didn't support a DK tank to ICC 25M Hardmodes, let alone TotC where Warrior/Paladin block reigned supreme.

I would just hate it if Blizzard wanted to give a lot of toys to Blood DKs to win their heart for killing two other tank specs (as well as Blood DPS spec) only after all this ordeal, realizing the error in their ways to nerf them again to the ground. Note that I'm not saying they're erroneous, but the possibility is high from what I can see, and if these changes make it to live, I hope, hope we'll stick to them until the end of the expansion.

Edit: I forgot to mention, I thought it was on talent build. DS's Absorption comes from our 3rd Mastery stat.