I would rant, but the letter Q is on backorder

There has been quite enough screaming and yelling about the escapades of various bloggers (myself included) in the new looking for group feature. Face it, fail pugs make more interesting writing that the ones that go incredibly smooth.

In fact there has been so much QQ that they had to ramp up Q production. I guess if nothing else it created a few jobs at the Q factory. Anyhow, in the interest of Q rationing this will not be a rant.

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I have been running the lower end instances lots lately. I actually find them quite fun, especially those that I have never actually run at level.

I have run as a healer on my baby Resto Shaman and as a tank on my Paladin.  The things I have seen make me want to write out a macro for my healer, I think it might get a bit long though.

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The Healer macro would go something like this:

Hello, I will be your healer for todays dungeon run. As you familiarize yourself with your surroundings please take a moment to glance at the health bars to the left of your screen.  familiarize yourself with their location, you will need to glance up there occasionally throughout the run.

Under the green bar representing my health there is a blue bar. That is my mana, and it represents your health. If it falls to zero while bad things are trying to eat your face off you will die. Kindly pause a moment in between pulls to allow me to drink it back full.

If you want you can just think of it as my water gauge, it is blue afterall.

As you are pounding on the bad things so that we can go through their pockets and look for loot please glance occasionally at the health bars. ideally you will see the tanks slowly rise and fall and that is about it.

If you are not the tank yet yours is falling you have attracted the attention of something that is now beating on you. I suggest locating the tank and running in his direction so he can peel it off you before it finishes digging out your spleen. He will be easy to locate, look for a large skull floating over a monster and you will find him beating on that one.

If mine is falling something has gotten loose and has proceeded to start gnawing on my knickers. This makes me grumpy, as getting blood stains out of this resto gear is a royal pain. Should this happen I will run up to the tank and flail about like someone who just won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.

Think of it as a delivery service with a floor show.

So long as we all work together to keep all the bad things that the tank pulls beating on just the tank you may rest assured that  I will be doing my utmost to keep us all alive. That is what I’m here for after all.

Alrighty, buffs are passed out and my pre-dungeon snack looks like it got  my water gauge to full again.

If you would please buckle your seatbelts and return your tray tables to their original upright positions we can get this party started.

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Maybe I’ll sit down and write one up for my tank too, but thats a tale for another day.

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Just remember to push in the clutch first

I was busily poking the keys trying to put down what I think Blizzards next generation MMO will be like, and why. Low and behold there comes a ding in my mailbox… apparently a post from a few days ago had received a comment.

Needing a bit of a break from the thinking I was doing I wandered over to check it out.

It appears the Guthammer  has made a rather thoughtful comment in my post about gear I am setting aside for my Caclysm alts.

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I might grab an heirloom weapon or two, and the trinkets, for leveling, but you won’t find any of my Cataclysm alts in the XP gear.

There was enough content in Azeroth to hit 60 twice per faction without too much overlap in content…why would I want to consume less of the reworked stuff that I just paid $40 for.

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That got me thinking, which oddly enough was what I was avoiding in the first place, but I digress.

He really does have a great point there.

The new content I am so looking forward to is not going to be tuned for new alts with a ton of heirlooms, it will be tuned for new players in general.

I am really looking forward to this new content and don’t simply want to level past it at top speed. I want to see it all, even if it means seeing it slower. There are a few ways I can see that would help this out, and they all involve changes in the way I have leveled for years.

A paradigm shift as it were.

Ever since my first character, an Undead Warrior named Dechion,  made it to Brill I have been logging out from places that gave me rest.  Inns, cities, any place that I can set my hearth will let me rest.

Rest is good right? After all my little cartoon friends need some time off after a busy day of killing 8,467 boars looking for twenty that actually came equipped with livers. As an added bonus next time I log in I get double experience for a time, depending on how long I parked there resting.

Did I carry that too far? Possibly.

I actually got to the point with some of my characters that I would only play them one day a week, thus ensuring I could get double experience the whole time from that first town to the level cap.

For my new characters that will stop, at least until they hit Outlands.

It only takes a second to walk two paces outside the inn. I don’t want to outlevel any of the new zones as I quest my way through, and never resting should go a long way towards that.

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I suppose I could simply not use the heirlooms that grant bonus experience, and in fact that is an option that I will keep open. In the case of the new content I would happily use ones that had no XP bonus if it was an option.

Then again, if the quests and mobs start turning green in a given zone I can always go turn off XP gains until I am done. I can always turn it back on when I move to the next zone.

You might think I am mad for not dashing to 85 as fast as I possibly can.

After all, once I get there I can start running 5 mans to gear for heroics.

Then run heroics to gear for raids.

Then grind for consumables and enchants and faction rep and ……

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Screw that.

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I don’t raid anymore anyway, I got off that hamster wheel.

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Why in the hell would I hurry up and fly past the stuff I actually like to get to something that seems more like a job?

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Sometimes as I am sitting around thinking things like “hey what all can I have in place for my new alts” I can get a little carried away. I blame it on having an early start and a quiet office.

Anyhow, thanks for the kick back to the reality of why I am looking forward to this in the first place.

To the list of things I am saving up for my future alts I’ll be adding a paradigm shift.

When the time comes, I am going to need it.

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Looking forward to the end of the world

Thinking about the future is one thing, actively planning for the unknown is another.

That has been taking up a good chunk of my time lately. Planning, plotting, and gathering has been on my list of things to do for a while now.

Like a squirrel putting away nuts for the winter, or the ant in the famous story stocking up for a rainy day I have been gathering.

Gathering up things that I will need for my new characters when the Cataclysm comes later this year.

In a way that is a shame.

It’s not that I am not enjoying the game that I am playing now, far from it. It’s more along the lines of looking forward to the content to come.

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People who like to raid are getting their fix of new content now, as Icecrown opens its doors to their not so tender advances.

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People who prefer PvP are getting a new arena season. (Or so I have been told, I don’t participate.)

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People like me who actually enjoy the leveling process are still running the same content we have for the last four years. Soon though, that will change.

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I for one am looking forward to it.

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New places to explore, new quests to do, new lore to see, it will be great.

Ok, it will be great unless I am required to swim everywhere. I prefer my gaming environment to be rather two-dimensional. Thats probably why I don’t care for Eye of Eternity or Oculus, but I digress.

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What does any of this have to do with gathering stuff towards the Cataclysm?

Well, it turns out that looking at it I am not gathering like it’s the end of the world.

I am gathering like I am going on vacation.

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I want enough cash in the bank that I don’t have to worry about grinding dailies or working the auction house to support the characters I will be leveling. That sounds an awful lot like vacation to me. I just want to have fun and not “work” to support it.

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I want basic starter gear for both of the ones I plan to start. I am not talking about having a complete changout of gear I can swap to every ten levels sitting, already gemmed and enchanted, in the bank.

I am just talking about a few heirlooms and other odds and ends.

That leads me (as such things often do) to making a list of what I want to have set aside for my new characters. Since I am writing it down anyhow, and need to put it somewhere where it won’t get lost, it’s going to go here.

  • Cash. 8K gold should be enough to cover money sinks all the way through cold weather flight, so I’ll likely go with an even 10K to be safe.
  • Bind to Account chest(s) appropriate to the class.
  • Bind to Account shoulder(s) appropriate to the class.
  • Bind to account weapon(s) appropriate to the class.
  • Inventory bags. I figure four Frostweave Bags at 20 slots each will do fine.
  • Bank bags. Seven Travelers Backpacks will do well here. 16 slots each, and non-binding so I lose nothing by updating them later. 

Is that perhaps going a little overboard?

I don’t think so.

Going overboard would also include things like this:

  • All the cloth to level first aid to 450.
  • All the meats to level cooking to 450.
  • All the raw materials to level both chosen professions to 450.
  • A well stocked personal guild bank full of consumables and recipes.
  • A second tab in that bank with complete gear sets (minus the heirloom slots) to carry you all the way to 80. Bonus points if there are sets for multiple specs.

When the Wrath of the Litch King was still on the horizon I was planning and gathering as well. The difference is I was a raider back then. Everything revolved around getting to 80 as quick as possible so I could get back into the raid group.

Leveling those ten levels from 70 to 80 was a chore to be done, an obstacle in my path. Work I had to do before I could play the game I wanted to. Everything I stockpiled was with that in mind.

Now it’s the leveling I am looking forward to, and raiding is just distant smoke on the horizon.

This time instead of having ten levels of work before I could start to have fun, I am looking forward to 85 levels of fun before I start having to work.

It’s actually kind of refreshing.

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CC means Consecrate, Consecrate right?

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at tanking.

Low level Pally tanking to be exact.

So I rolled myself a baby Pally and threw her some heirlooms.

Thus began my adventures in tanking my way to 80.

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So far the biggest thing I can say for it is the difference in the players from level 80 heroic groups boils down to this.

Heroic pug = “OMFG GOGOGOGO!!11!!!  NEED MOAR BADGES FASTER!!!!1!!”

Low level pug = “OMFG That was FUN! Want to stay grouped and run another?”

Now it might just be my well documented horrid luck with pug heroics, but I am having an absolute blast running the low level stuff.

Five instances so far and not a single problem. All the folks I have run with have been decent and polite. Truly a joy to run with. So much so that Dechion the patient has not run a single out of guild heroic since the day I rolled my little Pally.

The most fun though had to have been a Stockades run from a few days ago. I zone in and look at my party frames to see what buffs to put up and what do my wondering eyes behold?

Paladins.

One Holy, one Prot, and three Ret.

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Much joking ensued as we buffed up. One of the others passed out vent info as we were getting ready to roll .

By roll, I mean steamroll.

We were pulling two rooms plus the pats in  the hallway on purpose just to see how far we could take it.

The chatter on vent was a welcome change from the “silent pug” that I usually see in heroics. Much laughter and joking about was had. In short I had a blast. 

We went on to run two back to back stockades runs, I think all of us leveled during one or the other. Not a wipe was had, in fact not a single death.

The only thing bad I have to say about the whole experience is I cannot add cross server folks to a friends list.

Based on my luck with most pugs thats saying something.

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Upon further consideration…

Yesterday I put up a rather long post about what I see as some of the reasons for the disparity in the amount of tanks and/or healers available in the game. The post did not draw a huge amount comments, but it did draw some pretty insightful ones.

After reading those and doing a bit more thinking on the subject some of my opinions are somewhat changed. I thought of simply putting this all in the comments, but it actually deserves its own post.

Remember when I said I might hijack some of your comments for further posting?

I wasn’t kidding :)

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In yesterday’s post I broke it down into four categories, mostly to help me keep my thoughts in order. I did, after all, write that before I finished my morning coffee.

Today I am going to go about it just a bit differently..

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TheReaper brought up a few good points last night.

In my opinion tanks are far easier to gear than any other archetype in the game.
Are you defcapped? Yes? Stack stamina. No? Get more def rating.


Avoidance automatically increases with gear and unless you went really wrong somewhere threat generation isn’t much of a problem either these days.


There are certain encounters where a specialized set of gear comes in handy, but those are usually hardmodes that I don’t worry about on my twink (even though I have successfully tanked all raid instances in the game and my paladin is currently sitting just shy of 5400 gs).
On my rogue however, gearing is a nightmare. What stats do I look for?
Expertise
Agility
Critrating
Hitrating
Attackpower
Haste
Sounds complicated? Well, it gets worse…
Expertise pretty much trumps everything until you hit the dodgecap (26 expertise).
Hitrating is imperative up to the poison hit cap, which differs depending on: specc, group composition, available debuffs, race and weapon. If you wanted to really squeeze every last drop of dps you might need up to 5 different sets to hit the different hitcaps.
Hitrating raises your soft crit cap, its great if you reached the cap, pretty bad if you didn’t.
Agility/critrating are good until you hit the soft crit cap, but fall behind AP/haste above it.
So every time I could get a new piece of gear I have to pull up my spreadsheet, see if equipping it would bump me over my soft crit cap, regem/reequip hitrating accordingly, figure out if the upgrade is still worth it at that point and so on.
 
 
 
 Sorry for the wall of text, but gearing a dps class is by no means “easier” than gearing a tank or healer.
Gearing becomes difficult when you try to maximize your effectiveness, I want to do that on my rogue, so its hard, I don’t want to do that on my paladin, so it appears easier to me.
Someone with a pally tank main and a rogue alt would probably react in the exact opposite way.

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I will admit that when I look back at it with a more critical eye I see that I may have filtered my perceptions of the complexity of gearing through the lens of my experience. Then again, I think we all would.

Today I am both properly caffeinated and looking at this from a wider perspective. The relative difficulty of gearing any character for a specific role will be different for different people. It will also to a large degree depend on who is doing the gearing and why.  

First, how familiar are you with the class and role?

If you are gearing a character class you are familiar with for a role you are familiar with it will be a lot easier. Like any other task, it will be easier with experience. The more you do something the easier it seems.

Secondly, What are you gearing for? The reasons you are gearing up will also influence not only your gear choices, but how in depth you need to go into “perfecting” your gear, spec, and play style.

For instance, I enjoy battlegrounds on occasion, but have no desire to do arena. My gearing for PvP would be simplistic in comparison to someone who was playing on a top rated arena team. Someone who levels up and decides just to stay in 5 mans will have less of a need to min-max their character than someone who plans to see Arthas fall in Icecrown 25.

As TheReaper said, Gearing becomes difficult when you try to maximize your effectiveness.

There are the absolute basics like he mentioned about gearing a tank, and I mentioned about gearing a hunter at one end of the spectrum. At the other there are calculators, spreadsheets, stat weighted gear sorters, and just about any other thing you can think of to help min-max. I suppose it’s really about how far you want to go down that particular rabbit hole.

Fortunately (in my opinion) the stats are planned to be streamlined in Cataclysm which should make the learning curve a bit less steep when deciding to change how much you choose to focus on a given role.

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A few people touched on the social aspect.

Isa wrote (in part)

… While a different game design could make tanks and healers less obvious points of failure, and thus less scary, I think it’s this social mechanism you’ve mentioned that drives the shortage, and not the design. In other words, I believe game design can be a solution but it’s not the real problem.

Greysmoke wrote (in part)

… There does seem to be a pervasive idea that once you hit 80, you should know perfectly whatever role you’re playing, so if you’re wanting to switch from dps to heals or tanking, you’re either going to take a lot of abuse OR you’re going to have to rely on friends and guildies to see you through the learning curve. And it seems to be much worse for tanks than healers, in my experience. …

Humans are for the most part social creatures. That is one of the big reasons Wow is so damn popular. If I got this level of enjoyment out of a solo console game I would have saved a bloody fortune over the last four years. Hell, if I were not a social creature I would not be writing about it and you folks would not be here commenting.

One of the things many people fear in a social situation is rejection by ones peers. They may not admit it, or even consciously know it, but it will influence their decisions.

The steeper the learning curve would be to achieve success the fewer will be willing to climb that learning curve. The greater the cost, or more visible the failure would be, the less likely people are to take the risk.

This can be lessened somewhat by being able to practice alone. Target dummies and random critters out in the world do a good job of that for Dps classes. Battlegrounds (especially AV) can be a good training ground for healers.

I have yet to find a way to “practice” tanking in a way that does not involve running a five man.  Of course, having said that someone will come by and tell me how to do it now.

The only ways to eliminate that would be for Blizzard to somehow put in the ability to practice tanking into the game, or to eliminate the distinctions between tanks, heals, and dps. Somehow I think that the simulator is more likely in Wow, and eliminating the distinctions is more likely to happen in the next generation MMO, but that is a whole other post.

As Isa said, game design can be a solution but it’s not the real problem.

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The more I think about this the more I think it boils down to two major reasons for the disparity.

The first is the fear of failure, particularly of public failure and the ridicule that can go with it.

That goes a long way to explaining not only why people tend to not play the single point of failure roles, but why many that do will have periods of “burnout” where they drop that role in favor of Dps. Whether actually performing the tasks to play the role well is more difficult or not, the perceived stress coming from the fear of failure will get to some people after a while.

I know there was a time when I took six months or more off healing and went shadow on my priest, just because I was tired of getting blamed for choosing to throw my heals on the tank who is holding the boss and letting some idiot that was standing in the bad die.

*note to all:  if your feet are on fire… please move.*

The second is the ability to practice and improve ones performance outside of a group setting.

How much “soloable” content that can be practiced on may not be a factor, but I do see a direct relation to role choice. It may be coincidence, but then again it might not.

  • Dps

Training opportunities include everything from “kill ten rats” quests, to target dummies. There are lower level instances to run solo or in a group, battlegrounds to fight in, mobs wandering the countryside, in short it’s a Dps paradise.

By the time people leave their starting zone they have the beginnings of a grasp on Dps. Unless you heal or tank instances as you level every character is a Dps’r all the way to the level cap.

Most training opportunities, most common role.

  • Healing

Training for healing is a good bit harder to come by. Since the only way to learn group healing is to heal groups your choices pretty much boil down to healing instances, healing raids, or healing in PvP. I suppose we could throw in the odd group quest while leveling that requires a bit of healing, but honestly most can be solo’d by a Dps class.

That’s pretty much it for healing. Sure there are a few times here and there where you can learn healing outside of running instances and raids, but not much at all.

Much leaner training opportunities, much fewer players in the role.

  • Tanking

Training for tanking is simple. Run five mans, or run raids. That pretty much covers it. Perhaps a few group quests would count here as well. I can think of no ways to practice holding threat and managing cooldowns as a tank in a group other than being the tank in one.

Could you go practice your rotation of a target dummy, or random mobs out in the world? Sure.

Will that show you whether you would actually be holding aggro against high output Dps? No.

Will that get you practice in using your “oh crap” buttons at the proper time? No.

There are a very few skills you could actually practice, such as line of sight pulling of casters, but there is really not much you can do without a group.

Least amount of training available, fewest people willing to step into the role.

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I don’t see these things so much as a reason people will not roll a tank or a healer. I see them more of a reason that tanks and healers both will tend to find groups of friends while learning their trade. Friends that will help them out and not give them a bunch of grief as they learn the ropes of that role.

Once a person has done that why would they want to run with strangers? Why take a further chance of getting crap from people you will never see again in favor of rolling with folks you know you can depend on? Why put yourself out there in a spotlight ready to be criticized if someone pulls aggro or stands in the fire?

In the bigger picture I don’t really think that there exists a disproportionate number of Dps. I simply think it much more likely that people choosing the tanking and healing roles are less apt to run with strangers. The are a lot more likely to run with those they have had good luck with before.

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The next time you are in a pug 5 man and one of the players says “Hey guys, My gearscore is low and I am new to this role. How about you help me learn the ropes?”

Are you going to be one of those that just bail and leave that person hanging, or will you be one of those that says “Thanks for the heads up, we can do this.”

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Think about it.

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It’s about class, in more ways than one

Lately there have been a ton of posts about the differences between the three major roles (tanking, healing, and Dps).

It all started with a guest post over at World of Matticus. As that slowly simmered in peoples heads I suddenly started to see my feed reader positively explode with posts on the subject.

Over the course of a few days it has spawned posts from Blessing of Kings, Spinksville, forbearance, The Pink Pigtail Inn, Azure Shadows, and the  Big Bear Butt to name a few. Actually I suppose I could include myself in that, but you are already here.

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Now, I am not going to get deeply into whether I think tanks and healers deserve a greater reward than Dps for running the same content. I will simply say no.

Same content, same reward.

The party is a 5 player team, and should be rewarded as such.

Now that I got that out of the way, moving on…

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The defining point of this topic seems to be the fact that there is nearly always a lack of healers and/or tanks. That is what I am going to look at.

No, I am not arguing whether there is a shortage or not. There is, and I think I know a bit of why.

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  • Fear

Simply put, both of these roles are single point of failure roles. Generally if one of them goes down it’s a wipe.

Fear of failure keeps many from ever trying.

Peer pressure can be a bitch. Just look at how Kaylynn started off planning to learn tanking as she leveled, and after getting treated like crap by her peers gave up on it.

Yes there will occasionally be a second character in a Dps role that can take over if needed. I have seen a cat Druid go bear when the tank went down. I have seen an elemental Shaman pick up heals when the Priest pops angel form. I have seen Rogues evasion tank that last few percent, and Hunters that pet tanked.

I have seen a lot. However I would say at least 90% of the time that either the tank or the healer goes down we will be running back.

There is a good amount of stress involved in knowing that if you screw up the whole group dies. Lots of people I know play the game as a way to burn off the stress of their daily lives. They don’t want stress where they have their fun.

Barring a complete redesign of the games mechanics I don’t really see a solution for this one. It simply is what it is.

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  • Gear

In my opinion gearing up as a Dps is simply easier. The vast majority of quest rewards are geared towards exactly that.

Dps gear.

Now that makes a good deal of sense on the part of the designers. At the point you are leveling up the vast majority of players do so in a Dps spec. It simply makes sense to do it that way, as the questing is generally more easily managed and faster as Dps.

I know I have always always gone that route, at least until yesterday. (I am going to attempt to level a Pally as Prot. She is all of level 10 right now. More on that in later posts.)

Gearing as Dps is also generally simpler. Lets assume my Hunter just made 80. A little bit of reading shows me that I need to gear for the hit cap of 8%. Once that is done I simply stack agility, int, and perhaps a bit of  stamina and I will be fine.

Not perfect maybe, but fine.

There is also a decent amount of  crafted blue quality gear that will make decent Dps gear. Hell, that same hunter could put on most of the Swiftarrow PvP set with a few other crafted odds and ends and be geared enough to do his job in heroics about 3 seconds after hitting level 80.

From my experience at least there is simply a lot more number juggling that goes on with gearing a tank or a healer.

Take as an example my Priest. As a healer he needs Spellpower, Int, Spirit, crit, haste, MP-5, and Stamina, not necessarily in that order. He needs to balance throughput with mana regen in addition to everything else. Stacking one thing will simply shortchange him somewhere else, it needs to be a balance.

Trying to use my DK tank as an example is pretty shaky for me since I have yet to actually tank with her. I do recall spending quite a bit of time working on which gear to get from what source to achieve all the numbers that were on the notepad I had to write them all down on.

Off the top of my head I can think of Defense rating, Stamina, Strength, hit rating, Dodge, Parry, and Expertise. I am sure there is more that I am forgetting, my notebook with all the math in it is at home. Actually my head hurts just thinking about it.

Simply put, when gearing my character turns from “oh, cool this is an improvement!” to “Hell, I don’t know. Lets do some calculus to figure out if it’s an upgrade.” that is no longer fun for me.

Fortunately most of the solutions that I could think of for this are already being worked on, and are planned for Cataclysm. They have already announced a streamlining of stats to make them a bit simpler when figuring out what to wear.

An example would be all tanking classes getting their defense capped through talents, similar to the talent Survival of the Fittest which Druids already have. At least that will be one fewer number to juggle.

Not only do I think that will help with designing the entry level crafted gear, but should lessen the need for dual-specced characters to carry multiple sets of gear. A player that can simply re-talent and use most of the same gear is more likely to try out a role than one that has to drop a sizable chunk of change on an “offspec” set of gear.

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  • Skill

There is much to be said for being skilled at what you do.

Running as Dps, Heals, and Tanking require very different skill sets than each other. Yes, that is pretty obvious, but it bears repeating.

Every character that comes into the game starts as Dps. Depending on which race you picked you might be killing anything from wolves to pigs, possibly even walking flowers or glowing worms. The simple fact is you will be killing something, at least for a while.

Could you level up purely through LFG? Sure thing.

Actually I am planning to try it with the Pally I mentioned earlier. My failures should be blogworthy at very least.  

For now though, she is a Dps prot Pally questing her way towards level 15 or so before I start pugging.

With Dps I can (and have) simply solo leveled my way to the cap, learning as I went how to do it. There used to still be a difference in skill however. If you made the level cap as a Dps there was still more to learn. Crowd control, threat management, and  mana management were things that soloing did not teach.

It still doesn’t, but we no longer really use them. The second half of WotLK has been Aoe the trash, blow cooldowns on the boss, balls to the wall and don’t worry about mana or aggro for the most part. If something goes wrong its the tank/healers fault.

Both tanking and healing require a completely different set of skills, skills that will only be learned by practicing them. Unfortunately there is no place to practice them other than in a group. A group generally composed of extremely judgmental strangers. No one likes to be called out as a failure.

Here is a secret. We all start out failing.

Some learn faster than others, some never do. The fact remains that no one simply installs the game one day and magically knows how to do everything.

Another quick example.

I made a party chat macro that goes something like this:

Hiyas folks. Just a heads up, I am new to tanking. I may move a bit slower than you are used to as I am learning the pulls. Please give me a few seconds to get everything really pissed off at me before starting Dps, it will make our lives a lot easier. I will mark the kill target with a skull, please concentrate Dps on that one.

I have so far used that macro three times.

Both times I used it on my lowbie Druid I got a wall of “kk, ok, can do, or thanks for the heads up”, and my favorite “my main is a bear tank, mind if I offer a few tips”? I ran Wailing Caverns twice on that character and had a blast both times.

When I tried that on my level 80 DK it did not go nearly as well.

I decided to forgo the two Emblems of Triumph in favor of going to an instance that I know fairly well. I qued up as a tank for the first time, choosing normal Nexus to cut my teeth on. I que up, zone in, and as we are buffing up hit my macro.

One by one the other four dropped group.

The only one who so much as whispered me was the healer, and all he had to say was “Sorry mate, I just want a quick badge run.”

Four people would rather take a 15 minute debuff than give me that 15 minutes to show that I had a clue which button to push. Three out of the four likely lost a solid half hour between the debuff and the re-que time. 

I wonder if any of them bitched about there being so few tanks while they waited.

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Thats just a single example of how learning the needed skills can be a bit harder for the tanking and healing roles. 

How do we solve this?

I think the new LFG tool will actually go a long way towards helping to even things out given enough time. Other than that I can’t really see a way to get practice in for group roles without a group to heal/tank for.

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  • Design

Just a quick note on design. Since every class has to be able to level solo, and that was set up as a Dps task. Every class has to have at least one spec that can Dps.

Look at that for a second.

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Ten classes, all of which can Dps.

Four can only Dps.

Four can tank.

Four can heal.

Two can do all three.

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There are thirty talent trees.

Six are tanking trees.

Five are healing trees.

Twenty-three are Dps trees.

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The game is designed to favor the creation of Dps characters. Without completely re-inventing how characters work that is not going to change. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Do I have some ideas for how it could be done differently? Oh, I most certainly do, but now is not their time. They will be coming up in another post on what I think Blizzards next generation MMO might be like.

This wall is long enough without me opening that can of worms.

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Comment Policy

Once upon a time I started blogging about Warcraft. It was not so very long ago really, just under two years.

In the beginning I only saw a very few visitors each day, sometimes none at all. Most of those who did wander past were friends or guild mates who essentially treated stopping in, reading, and the commentary that went with it the same as they would if I had invited them over to the house.

Actually, more like sitting around the fire pit in my back yard having a few drinks and swapping stories at the end of a long day.

Over time that has changed.

The vast majority of those who stop by still treat the place like they are over visiting a friend, however not everyone does anymore.

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With that in mind I have decided to lay down some ground rules for commenting. Not because I don’t want your comments, I do, but there will come times when certain things are simply inappropriate. When that happens, the comment will simply never see the light of day.

Censorship? To a small degree yes.

Then again, it is my house. Or at least the online version of the fire pit out behind it.

Like I tell my twenty year old daughter who still lives at home. “My house, my rules.”

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  1. Don’t try to sell anything in the comments. If I don’t make a dime off this site no one else should either.
  2. Try to keep the comments to the topic at hand. If it’s not on topic but you still feel it needs to be said drop it in an email. Who knows, it might become a post of it’s own.
  3. Refrain from personal attacks directed against myself or the other commentors. Disagreeing is fine, so is discussion, but keep it civil.
  4. Don’t advocate things which would be against the law or the terms of service.
  5. Don’t threaten anyone. They won’t get posted, and depending on the nature of the threat will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
  6. If your comment is really good (and there have been quite a few over the years) It may just become  its own post. (with an intro giving credit where it’s due of course)

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Do I feel like a bit of a jerk coming out and posting rules like this? You betcha.

This should all be as simple as just saying “Don’t be a dick”. Actually that would pretty much cover it, but such is life.

Why do it then? Because it needed to be written. In the future it will simply be a link in my sidebar that I can refer to if needed.

I went shopping like a kid with a stack of gift cards

First of all, thanks to all who those that gave me input yesterday on new alts for next expansion. I have (finally) made up my mind, and figured I would share. Of course, that does not mean I won’t change it. Simply that I have a place to start planning from.

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Normally this is the point where I would go into great detail about why I chose what I did. I won’t bore you with that today. I’ll make this quick.

Since I prefer classes that can use both ranged Dps and healing abilities I had really narrowed it down to three before I even got started. The Priest, Shaman, and Druid to be exact. Since I already have a Priest at the level cap I figured giving the other two a whirl seemed like my best choice.

On the choice of race, well for me that was an easy one. Horde side my preference for Trolls is well known amongst my friends. Alliance side, on the other hand, I really want to give the Worgen a shot. Everything I have seen of them so far is quite impressive.  Since Worgen can’t be Shaman it just got real easy.

I will be rolling a Troll Shaman and a Worgen Druid.

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Then things got fun, I got to go shopping.

Remember all those Stone Keeper Shards I  was sitting on?

You guessed it, they are pretty much gone now. Account wide I had over a thousand of the silly things. Now I have maybe 300 left across 3 level 80′s.

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Along with some of the heirlooms I have laying about from various other projects (most notably my failed attempt at leveling a Rogue) I think I have quite the package for these two. Granted there is a piece or two that may need to be mailed back and forth occasionally. Then again, I can only play one at a time anyhow.

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For our Shaman we have:

Shoulders

For the most part I will go with the Aged Pauldrons of the Five Thunders that I picked up for 200 Stone Keeper Shards. On the off chance I decide to go the melee route at some point I will switch over to the Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders that I have left over from the Rogue project. Less armor, but better stat allocation for the job.

Chest

If I am casting armor does not matter all that much I will use the Preened Ironfeather Breastplate even though it is leather. Once again if I decide later to do the melee thing I will slap on the Champions Deathdealer Breastplate that my Troll Hunter is using right now.

Weapons

For weapons I picked up a Blessed Hammer of Grace for another 250 Stone Keeper Shards.  I plan to pick up another some time in the next few days, once again on the off chance that I decide to go melee.

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Our Druid benefitted quite a bit from the failed Rogue’s gear.

Shoulders

Depending on what he is doing at any given time He will be equipped with either the Lasting Feralheart Spaulders or the Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders. I already had the Shadowcraft ones laying about, so I just picked up the Fearalheart for another 200 Stone Keeper Shards.

Chest

Doing pretty good here too, since I already had the Stained Shadowcraft Tunic in the bank it was just a matter of picking up the Preened Ironfeather Breastplate using 40 assorted emblems that were sitting on my Death Knight. Now he is set for any occasion.

Weapons

With these I was really up in the air about simply using the Blessed Hammer of Grace here as well. In the end I figured I had the 325 Stone Keeper Shards to spare so I picked up a Grand Staff of Jordan. It may not be the best thing I could be running with, but it will do.

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Looking at all of what is available there is not really much left to buy with shards. I could (and likely will) pick up another Blessed Hammer of Grace at some point. I will probably grab up a Prized Beastmasters Mantle for the Shaman as well as the shards keep falling into my bags.

Are there other odds and ends I could pick up?

Most certainly.

When there comes  time when I simply have no upgrades left to me from Emblems of Triumph I might look into them.

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Add all the heirlooms in with both of these new characters being issued four 16 slot bags and a couple gold to pay for food and training and I think they are more than ready.

If anything it’s too much.

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Random thoughts

In the pre-dawn quiet of my office I often let the head of cauliflower that doubles as my brain go running amok.

I might give it a topic, I might not, sometimes I just down a couple cups of coffee and let it go.

Today is one of those days. 

One of those days where questions pop into my mind. For instance exactly what is “amok” and why is it always running. Seriously, have you ever heard of an “amok” that was not running?

Me neither.

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Anyhow, this morning I have been sitting around thinking of what might be in store for me in game. Not so much what am I going to do this evening, thats easy. I might perhaps run one random heroic, if I get on at all. Wednesdays are pretty booked with things out in the real world.

I am more talking about what I am going to do when the expansion hits.

Yes, I realize the last of the WotLK content has not even been released yet. Then again for me it basically has. Since I am not a raider any more the last new content I am likely to see was the new 5 man instances released with patch 3.3.

I am ok with that.

Then several thoughts crossed in my brain, possibly as a direct result of the number of long island iced teas that I consumed last night. Thats what brought this whole chain of thought on.

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Between my three level 80 characters I am sitting on damn near 900 stone keeper shards. More come in nearly every day as I run more and more heroics.  I am positively swimming in the things.

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When the expansion comes * it is going to completely revamp the world. Most importantly it is going to redo the entire leveling process. A lot of work is going into that, and I plan to experience it first hand by leveling up a character from scratch to at least level 60.  I might stall once I look at Hellfire again, but thats far in the future.

For right now I am stuck thinking what I might want to level up.

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Yes I know it’s not like I can roll the character now. Actually if it is one of the current race/class combos I could, but that’s not the point. What I am getting at is figuring out how to spend all those yummy shards I have, and perhaps some extra badges that I might end up with after gearing up Dechion.

After all, it won’t be long before I get to the point where the next upgrades that I can simply buy are Emblem of Frost upgrades. ** Once that happens I start buying heirlooms and banking them for later.

So here is the point of the whole post.

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We are going to pick new alts for me to level in Cataclysm. There are a few things to think about though.

  • Keep in mind that I don’t care much for melee Dps.
  • I also don’t know whether I would like tanking or not.
  • Ranged Dps is a lot of fun, I enjoy it.
  • Healing is also quite a good time. Actually I prefer it over anything ease when grouped.
  • This character has to be able to solo well, since the whole point is to level through the new quests.
  • Oh, and last but not least I plan to run up one each Alliance and Horde side.

So what would it be friends?

What race/class would you suggest?

What heirlooms would you get for them?

What else would you pack in their bags as you sent them on their way?

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* I still say we are looking at a late Feb/early Mar start to the Beta with a release date in early summer, probably late June.

** The two piece T-9 and two piece T-10 set bonuses for a holy priest are better (in my opinion) than the 4 piece of either set. I am currently planning on having the T-9 chest and legs, the T-10 shoulders and gloves, and I’ll round it out with the 75 badge non tier helm. 

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Has another year gone by already?

Thinking about the new year to come, well, that will unfold in its own time.

As I stand here looking back towards the year that was I smile.

It has certainly had some moments, both good and bad. Taking my que from such esteemed bloggers (and friends) as KestrelTamiLarisa,  Matticus, and Pike, amongst others that populate my feed reader I will give a bit of a look back.

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A glance, as it were, at the year that was.

January saw the death of my old gaming machine, and the arrival of it’s replacement. My hunter finally quit trying to make a broken spec work and I finally figured out a good use for DKP. Overall it was a good, if cold, month.

Early February bore witness to a one of the few pieces of fan fiction that I have made public with the (very) short story Blood in the Water. Towards the end of the month there was call to be happy as my Priest Morham (now renamed Dechion) became my second level 80, and the lights grew dimmer in the blogosphere as we said goodbye to one of my favorite blogs, Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick.

March was a very melancholy month for me, and it showed in my posts. I had to leave town for an unexpected funeral, those are never really a pleasant thing. The month also saw one of the first posts about an asshat, one I was guilded with no less.

As April dawned I reexamined my priorities, not just with WoW but with life as a whole. I lamented about always how we always seem to be waiting for the next big change, instead of playing the game as it exists.  Patch 3.1 blew up the servers and I nearly deleted my Priest in anger.

In May life was much busier outside game than in, causing me to spend a lot of time AFK. What I had going on in-game was not too pleasant either. I simply did not post about a lot of it. It did see my blogs first birthday and oddly enough me discussing PvP in a way that shows that I actually like it when it’s done right.

June was a time for family, particularly towards the end as my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I did manage to squeeze in a short post about welfare epics, and a few looks at the upcoming 3.2 changes. Overall it was a quiet month.

In July real life critted again right before the fourth of July weekend.  Not for the first time, and surely not the last, I noticed WoW becoming more like a job than hobby and took a step back. I also wondered what people would ask if given a chance to talk to one of the game designers one on one.

August was a frustrating month, and most of my posts show it. I enjoy instancing, and I simply could not get in. I ended up so damn frustrated that I canceled my subscription. On the plus side, the problem was fixed before the time I had already paid for ran out.

September was a really lean month as far as the blog goes. I answered a few questions about why it is that I have so many Hunters, and why I have a priest at all. I also tried (in vain as it turned out) to change the direction of the blog. It is what it is, and shall stay that way.

October was an interesting month around here as I wrote about how Wow was for me more like an emotional vacation  from the stresses of life than a mountain to be conquered. I wrote of a way to level alchemy from nothing to 450 on the cheap, and then answering a question I received I put my money where my keyboard is and proved it could work by doing it.

As November arrived it brought with it the first of the microtransactions that I think will one day change the very nature of Warcraft. I pondered this as I asked folks to wake up and smell the future. I looked forward to the future of Warcraft in Cataclysm in the great retcon. I said thanks to veterans around the globe and ran with a ton of wonderful folks in Raid for the Cure.

December. We will just call December “The Month of Pugging Dangerously”. Thats putting it mildly. It was a whirlwind of pugging heroics. Right now the new tool is shiny and new, I am pugging my way along and for the most part having a grand old time. Pretty soon though, the shiny will wear thin and groups might be a little harder to come by.

I had a few problems with elitist prima donna’s  thinking the world revolves around them, and experienced a shiny and new (to me at least) exploit. On the plus side some of the comments got me to looking at ways I might be able to improve my own performance, and I am having fun trying out a few new things.

I also mentioned getting into tanking on my Death Knight. I even went so far as to set up a gear plan, but still have not actually run anything as a tank. Something about not wanting to be horrible at it.

Looking back at 2009 I am pretty happy with where things sit right now, both in game and out.

I wonder what the next year will bring.

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