Archive for May, 2010


The Death of 25 mans? Nah, just the death of kewl lootz.

I’m a few weeks late getting to this issue.

After Blizzard announced the fact that 10 and 25 man raids will share a lockout in Cataclysm, all over the internet you read about Cataclysm being the death of 25 man raiding.

I’ve read a lot of reactions on a lot of blogs and WoW-related web sites.  There is common theme in a lot of these discussions.  Lots of bloggers and commenters are saying that they prefer 25 man raids because they are “epic” and that its not just because they drop better loot.  Many say that bigger raids are more fun.  Some even cite the 40-man raids as a model.

If there are so many people that feel that 25-man raiding is more fun, then why would it die?  All it takes is 25 people who all agree that big raids are more fun, and there you go.  You’ve got a raid group.

If that is the case, then I don’t see why there won’t be 25 man raids.


I think that some (if not many) of the people lamenting the demise of 25 man raids are being dishonest with themselves.  They make claim that 25-man raiding is more fun because its more “epic,”  but really that’s a false front to justify that they want the better loot.  That’s it.  End of story.  Whatever claims they make about their “love” of 25-man raids go back to loot and e-peening.

I’m not saying that about everyone.  But I suspect that its quite a lot of people.

If fans truly love the large raids because of their size, then they will still do 25-mans in Cataclysm, because they will find others that share their love of large raids. Yes, guilds may reorganize over this as players move around to group with others of like mind.  But 25-man raiding will continue.

The 25-man raids might be guilds that are more casual, and based around friendship and camaraderie rather than progression.  Progression-focused guilds may tend toward 10-man raids because their intensity causes the difficulties in running 25-man raids.  When the raid group is more casual and laid back and forgiving, then the larger number of raid spots seems less of a problem.

I might be wrong.  Its possible that 25-man raids will die a quick and grisly death.  If that happens, though, then it does support my suspicion that it was all about the lewts after all.


Tyranny of the Spreadsheets

I’m a hardcore spreadsheet fiend.  After each gear upgrade, I plug it into one of the EJ spreadsheets and flip around many possible gear choices until I have found the best gear arrangement possible, and I have also planned out future upgrades.  Its something I enjoy.  In general, I don’t question the results of the spreadsheets.  If they say something is a dps improvement, then I assume that its correct.

I recently got a few upgrades (Cultist’s Bloodsoaked Spaulders, Heartpierce, and Shadowvault Slayer’s Cloak).  I put them into the spreadsheets and found that they combined to make a nice upgrade to my overall dps.  So I enchanted, gemmed, and equipped them before our foray into ICC this week.

On Festergut (a great ICC fight for rogues) I’m watching my combo points… 3… 5.. ENVENOM!  And there are still 5 combo points there.  Envenom again and they are gone.  Was it dodged?  Has my expertise dropped?  After the fight, looking back at my combat logs, I saw that my Envenoms had been resisted 19 times in one boss fight!!  Open the character page and see that my expertise is… WHAT?!? Seven?  My expertise is seven?  And look at my hit rating! Its down to 245!

Turns out that those three upgrades had dropped my hit rating by 80 and my expertise rating by over 100!  I hadn’t bothered to check because the spreadsheet told me they were upgrades.  Most of the really high-end gear is low on hit and expertise, which is an odd trend for rogue gear.

Looking thoroughly through my combat log I see that my attacks are being dodged and my poisons are being resisted.  Yet my dps is at an all-time high (12.5k on Festergut).  Very curious.

The spreadsheet crunches numbers.  That’s all.  Yes, it does notice when you drop below certain crucial hit caps and will then recommend gemming for +hit, and I hadn’t gotten that low yet.  However, the spreadsheet doesn’t “feel bad” if you are missing a lot, or feel the annoyance of missing, as long as your overall damage output is bigger.

For rogues, the general advice has always been to get above the Poison Hit Cap and also try to get Expertise up to 26.  However, with current mechanics and itemization, it looks like that is not always the case.  I tested it on a combat dummy and then saw it in action on Festergut.  Despite the low hit and expertise, my dps output is higher now than if I had them both capped.

What does that mean for gearing?  Does the age-old advice about hit and expertise caps still apply?  I’d say… sometimes.  The math of WoW has gotten very complicated.  If you’re using spreadsheets to compare gear, then you can safely take the advice of the spreadsheet, even if it goes against your own instincts.  However, if you’re just eyeballing the gear and making choices based on your gut, then the safe play is to keep your hit and expertise up near the relevant caps.

Tip:  if you use the spreadsheets, remember to set up the raid buffs properly based on your raid composition.  If your hit is low, and the spreadsheet thinks its still OK, it won’t recommend for gemming hit.  But then in your actual raid if you don’t have the proper debuffs on the boss or buffs on yourself, the results could be quite different than expected.


School of Hard Knocks

This week I finally got my Violet Proto-Drake for completing the meta-achievement What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been.

I would have had it earlier, but last May I petulantly boycotted the Children’s Week achievements because I hated the idea that I was forced to PvP in order to get the School of Hard Knocks achievement.

For those of you who are like me, and you do very little (if any) PvP, but want this done, here’s what I did.

First thing to remember – in all of these, don’t forget to bring your orphan out at the start of the battleground and again after every death

Warsong Gulch was the easiest for me.  Stealth in your flag room.  Make sure all your cooldowns are available.  I did this in combat spec for the burst damage.  Wait until someone grabs the flag.  Stun him and blow every cooldown you have to burn him down.  Then click furiously on the flag to return it.  This one only took me 10 minutes to do.

Arathi Basin was also not hard.  If you’re patient you can usually find an unguarded resource node that you can claim.  The mine and lumber mill are the likely candidates.  Just stay in stealth until its claimed by the other faction but they abandon it to fight elsewhere.  Then click the flag and wait until it is capped.  Actually, when I was in Arathi Basin I found there were a lot of cooperative horde who were willing to peacefully trade nodes back and forth for the achievement.  Its the only battleground where I saw that.

Alterac Valley was purely a race.  If you’re not the first one to get to a tower, then you have to pray for some helpful opponents.

The way I did this was to stand at the gate, holding my run key down.  When the gate opened I popped Sprint to quickly get to the place where I could mount.  Then I mounted and ran as fast as I could directly to Iceblood Tower.  I was the first one up the tower and clicked the flag.

If you’re not first, then look on the map for towers that are switching back and forth.  Go there and hope that you get a turn to click.

While I was clicking, a horde player came in, saw a bunch of alliance trying to cap the tower, and started dropping AoE damage in the room.  I popped Cloak of Shadows to avoid the damage so I could click.  I’m not sure if Cloak made the difference, but I was luckily able to complete the cap without getting interrupted.

Eye of the Storm was by far the hardest for me because its not something I could do solo.  To cap a flag you need your side to control a tower, then you need to actually get the flag despite the opponents trying to get it as well, and finally you need to run it back to the tower without dying.

For this one, I needed my guild to help.  We had a full guild premade go into the battleground.  They would make a concerted push to hold the flag spawn spot, pushing the horde back.  Then someone, anyone would grab the flag and run, with the whole guild as an escort.  Whoever had the flag would drop it so that I could pick it up, and they protected me as I brought it to the tower.  There’s little chance I would have been able to do this one without their help.  (note that you cannot mount when you have the flag!)

Note about EotS – the orphan won’t make the jump off the starting point.  You need to summon it after the jump.

I’m very thankful to my guild for helping me with that last part.  They were very tolerant of my lack of PvP skills as they carried me through Eye of the Storm.


A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Blood Princes

As with all of my guides, this is not intended to be a strategy for the whole raid.  It is only intended for rogues and other melee dps classes.  For a full strategy guide check WoWWiki .

Blood Princes is a fight that seems like a bad one for rogues – target switching, running around, and trying to avoid raid-wide damage.  Once you get the hang of it, the fight isn’t too bad.

When you start, you’re going to see the three Princes at the back of the room.  Make sure to pay attention to the design of the pull.  If you’re using Tricks to give threat to the tank, be sure you’ve got the right one.  In my guild, we have two tanks do the initial pull, but then our main tank taunts and holds both of the melee bosses for the rest of the fight.  I set my Tricks for the main tank, and wait until he taunts so I can help establish threat on his new target.  Other guilds do the pull and tanking differently, so pay attention.

The Princes share a health pool.  All three of the Princes are active, and all have abilities going on throughout the fight.  However, only one is susceptible to damage at a time.  He’s the one with a health pool.  The other two will have 1 Health and be immune to attack.   The one who is susceptible is also Empowered, and his abilities are stronger.  Every 30 seconds the Empowered boss changes, and you have to switch to the new target.

At all times, the most obvious thing to watch for is the Shock Vortex.  This happens all throughout the fight.  Valanar casts it frequently on random players.  If you see a Shock Vortex on anyone (swirly white area) then get away because it does damage and knockback to everyone within 12 yards.

You’ll see other things going on throughout the fight – flame spheres and shadow bolts and floating Kinetic Bombs.  These are not a rogue’s concern, generally, so you can ignore them unless your raid leader says otherwise.  Focus on your dps on the active boss.

The first boss to become active will be Valanar, the one in the middle (also seen in the Borean Tundra at Naxxanar).  You’ll start attacking him, but don’t get comfortable.  He will cast Empowered Shock Vortex.  When that goes off, any two players in the entire raid that are within 12 yards of each other will do damage and knockback to each other.  When you see him start to cast, you have about 4 seconds to run so you are more than 12 yards away from anyone else.  I always run to the back of the stage area.  Get away, and when the Vortex goes off get back in and get back to damage.

After 30 seconds, a different boss will become active.  Its random, so keep your eyes open.

The boss on the right is Taldaram (from Old Kingdom).  When he becomes Empowered get to him quickly and go to work.  He’s been throwing flame spheres around for the whole fight, but the healers have been healing through it.  When he’s Empowered, though, the fireballs do much more damage to their targets.  Here’s how you can help… as the fireballs move, they do damage to anyone they get near on the way to their targets.  While I’m attacking Taldaram, if I see him casting Empowered Flame I pop Cloak of Shadows and Sprint and try to run along with the fireball, leeching away its energy.  By doing that, I take damage, but the fireball does less to its eventual target.  I’ll even do that when Cloak is on cooldown if the healers know I need some heals.  When the fireball is out of your range, get back to the boss

The one on the left is Keleseth.  You might remember him as the first boss in Utgarde Keep.  Now he does a heck of a lot of shadow damage.  Tanking him properly is the key to success on this fight, but that is the responsibility of the ranged tank.  Since that’s not a rogue’s job, I won’t write about it here.  When he is active, you’ll run to him and start kicking his butt. He doesn’t do anything when Empowered other than cast bigger shadow bolts, so just attack him without worry.

According to WoWWiki, Keleseth doesn’t dodge when he casts Shadow Lance.  Therefore, you’ll get the best bang for your buck by using your cooldowns when attacking Keleseth.

You’ll switch targets every 30 seconds, avoiding Shock Vortex the entire time, running when Valanar is active and casting Empowered Shock Vortex, and helping with Empowered Flames when Taldaram is active.  Repeat until they die.  The Princes have low armor, so you can put up pretty good dps numbers even though you are switching targets.

The 10-man fight drops Soulbreaker, which is a pretty good 2.6 speed sword.  The other drop you might want are Taldaram’s Soft Slippers (not much of a name for dps footwear, IMO).

In the 25-man version the only rogue drop is the oddly-named head slot item Geistlord’s Punishment Sack, which is nice because a lot of high end gear lacks hit rating.  It may be the best head slot item for mutilate rogues until you get into heroic ICC.


Thinking on Raid Bosses in Cataclysm

I was thinking about raiding with the new raid lockout rules.  There are some interesting aspects of this that deserve some thought.

(As an aside, I’m sure that there are much smarter people than me who have already done this and come to better conclusions than I did.  I’m equally sure that someone in the comments will point this out to me.)

First – we have been told that both 10- and 25-man raids will drop the same gear.  Thus, a main tank in a 10-man raiding guild will have access to the same gear as a main tank in a 25-man raiding guild.

If that change makes it to live, then a main tank in a 25-man guild will not have dramatically higher health or mitigation than a main tank in a 10-man guild,  unless Blizzard re-does the raid buff system so that the extra buffs make a huge difference, which I doubt.

So a 25-man raid main tank has only slightly higher raid-buffed health than a 10-man raid main tank.  That means that a 25-man raid boss cannot hit significantly harder than a 10-man raid boss, otherwise the tank gets one or two-shot. That in itself is a big change in raid design.

The problem is that a 25-man main tank has access to anywhere from 5-7 healers, where the 10-man main tank only has 2-3 healers.  We know that Blizzard doesn’t want 7 healers just spamming heals on the tank.

Hmm… interesting.

If the 25-man boss doesn’t hit any harder than the 10-man boss, the extra healers make the tanking trivial.  If the 25-man boss hits much harder than the 10-man boss to account for the extra healing, then the lack of better 25-man gear makes the 25-man tank squishy.

How does Blizzard design around this?


We’ve been told that health pools will be made much larger.  I think that this implies that they will be much much larger, large enough that a tank at 10-man level can take many hits from a boss without dying.  If that is true, then a 25-man raid boss can be tuned to hit harder, because even with the harder hits the tank can take several without dying.  For that to work the health pools will have to be surprisingly big.

Alternately, this change could reflect a different raid design philosophy.  If a 25-man raid has 6-7 healers all focused on the two or three tanks, then the fight may be trivial.  But if you give all those healers something else to worry about…

Maybe raids in Cataclysm will have a lot more unavoidable raid damage.  I don’t mean more pools of fire/slime/lava/shadow on the floor.  Maybe more adds spawning or multiple mobs requiring dps to control/kite/evasion-tank/pet-tank/etc…  Remember that all classes are getting larger health pools.  It might not be out of the question for a rogue or shaman to have to pick up an add and off-tank for a few seconds.

If that is the case, then even in a 25-man raid most of the healers are needed to handle the raid damage, so they can still only spare 2 or 3 healers to focus on the tanks.  Then the 25-man boss doesn’t have to hit any harder than the 10-man boss.  In the 25-man encounter, maybe there is more chaos going on around the raid that requires the attention of the healers.

I’m just speculating.

I think that the tank gear is going to be a main influence on raid encounter design.  What are some other ways that Blizzard might handle the fact that 10- and 25-man tanks will have the same gear?


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
May 2010
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