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Tips for Newbie Tanks

I’ll get to the subject in a second, but first I’d like to play a little catch-up as far as what I’ve been up to in the past… well… ever.

  • Work. Yeah, blah blah RL sucks. Pros and cons of course. I work twelve-hour shifts, so when I’m done I’m pretty much ready to either sleep or go to the gym/go for a walk. Active, get the blood moving.
  • However, I’ve also been making gold. I’m not online often, so I’m using the tips from my last post and slowly but surely get another WoW token. Or two.
  • I’ve also been leveling my Horde Warrior alt. I spent the gold to upgrade the plate heirloom gear, but I’ve only been using him when Invasions have been active.

Which brings me to Ding 110!

I did all my leveling as a Prot Warrior. After reaching 110, I wanted to complete his Warrior Campaign. Part of my OCD when it comes to leveling alts, I suppose. So when I had to run Maw of Souls, I did what I usually did. I queued up as DPS.

“What? Why?” you might ask. Why queue up as damage when I’ve leveled to cap as a tank? Actually, most of you might not ask that. I did it for the same reason most people don’t, despite leveling as a tank themselves.

Criticism.

When you’re tanking in a pug, you’re arguably the second-most important role behind the healer. It’s your job to pull, keep the mobs from attacking the squishy other characters, and keep the group progressing at a rate that’s fast enough for the DPS, slow enough for the healer to keep up, and just the right pace to be able to handle the adds.  If you fail at any of those duties, in the eyes of others in the group, you’ll hear about it (and it won’t be in a format that most would consider “constructive”). Or you won’t hear about it at all and just find yourself kicked from the group.

So I took the easy way out. Wait time, 35 minutes.

“Screw it,” I sighed. I swallowed my fear/pride, braced myself for insults, and queued as Tank.

Boom. Right in the group.

Anyone who’s pugged knows that it’s usually very quiet. People just want to get through it. It’s not social. It’s a necessary evil that must be tolerated. So I looked for any kind of chat that popped up while I tanked.  We went from start to finish without a single character death. We went at a decent pace. I finished the dungeon, got my drop for the Campaign, and didn’t get kicked.

It also gave me a bit of confidence. I didn’t need a pat on the head. I just didn’t want a kick in the ass. All in all, it was a successful experience. More importantly, I learned a few things that helped the experience. Maybe they can help you too, should you want to take the plunge yourself as a newbie tank.

  • Know the dungeon. I had run the dungeon, most of them actually, as DPS. So I knew where to go, and what was coming. When I went through as a tank, I didn’t need someone to show me. I used past experience, as well as the map, to get through without a bunch of waiting around and trying the patience of the rest of the group.
  • Know your limits. Maybe you’re twinked out a bit. Perhaps you have some crafted gear waiting for you at level cap. Even if you can jack up your iLevel to the point where you qualify for Heroics, stay in the shallow end of the pool. Run Normals. You’ll find them more forgiving for your first or second time as a tank. Even if you out gear the dungeon, you can still run it for the experience and confidence-building exercise of it.
  • Know your add-ons. Deadly Boss Mods are great when you’re tanking because when the boss is about to do something, it’ll let you know so you can react to it. If adds spawn, it’ll tell you so you can deal with them. GTFO is good for letting you know that the crap you’re standing it is killing you, and you should GTFO of it before the healer smacks you.
  • Be Honest. First, I’ll be honest. When I tanked, I didn’t tell the group it was my first time. I’d run the dungeon enough times that I made a judgment call. If I could navigate it, I didn’t feel the need to let others know it was my first time tanking in a group. However, if you aren’t overly familiar with a dungeon, be upfront about it with the group. They might be understanding. Or they might kick you. In either case, at least you’ll keep the criticism to a minimum.

I’ve got another DK that I’m considering taking some time to level. He’s only 60 or so, but I may strictly tank with him to get him leveled a bit quicker. Have you had any luck as a new tank? Let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for someone who is taking the tanking plunge.

 

Weekly Wrapup – Deathrokk Steps Up

The Grind is Real.

The Grind is Real.

Patch 6.2 – Okay, I don’t mind it so much. I haven’t done a damn thing with the shipyard, so screw that noise. Let’s get to it.

Counting Coins

I said I wasn’t sure how the garrison nerfs were going to affect the passive gold making routine I had going. I’d heard bad things, and I wasn’t sure if last week’s numbers were an indication of said nerf. I had a few more days off during the week, so I made sure to log in at least three times a day. This gave me more shots at rewards, from scrapyard bags to crates to straight up gold. Turns out that it was a good move on my part, since my seven day total was 29,288g!

Objectives

Busy week. I started off working on the Tanaan Jungle rep on my monk, but ended up switching over to Deathrokk who wrecked shop on everything. Between Blood Death Knight awesomeness and Custom premade groups, Deathrokk has done quite well for himself. He’s Honored with the Headhunters, and Friendly with the Awakened and the Saberstalkers (due mostly to grinding groups.

How did that reflect on last week’s list?

  • Continue with the rep grind. (Still at it. I even started using Zygor’s Daily Guides to help this move along quicker. It had definitely been a great assist in getting this done in short order.)
  • Harrison Jones damn your eyes. (All Horde characters on Earthen Ring now have Harrison in their garrison. I’m working on this on an Alliance Warrior on another server, and he’s only one mission away.)
  • Get more characters into Tanaan Jungle. (Has not happened yet. Just haven’t had the time or desire. Not until flying is unlocked.)
  • Using PVP gear for upgrades. (Turns out that most of my characters don’t have any honor points to buy gear, and I just haven’t been overly motivated to get into PVP. I’ve had enough of that during regular questing – see below.)
  • Using Apexis crystal gear for upgrades. (Oh this I’ve done to death. See below.)

Lessons Learned

This has been a very educational week both for good and for bad.

  • Tanaan Jungle is a great way to gear up characters. Baleful tokens drop quite frequently, and Apexis crystals are plentiful. I offer as proof, the Warrior that I mentioned in a previous post.  In only a few days, his iLevel went from an average of 583 to…
Damn.

Damn.

  • Premade custom groups are a blessing and a curse. They’re great for knocking out quests and grinding rep. But I’ve had two occasions where I’ve beamed over to a PVP realm without realizing it. Next thing I knew, I had an Alliance raid running a train on my corpse. That has a tendency to end an evening early.
  • The garrison gold is still there for the taking, and I plan on taking as much as I can.
  • Flying. It feels more like an excuse for me to have something to do. It’ll lose some luster once Apexis crystals aren’t that helpful, or once I’m done with the rep and have to go back for the other goodies.

We’ll see how the garrison holds up, not to mention my patience with the rep work. I’ve already switched the character focus once. However, Death Knights are beasts so I think I’ll be sticking with Deathrokk for the duration of the grind.

Not So Serious Leveling

Smile! We're leveling again!

Smile! We’re leveling again!

Oops I did it again. I started leveling another character. Another Death Knight, no less.

And I’m thoroughly enjoying myself so far.

I decided to take a few different approaches this time. First, I wasn’t going to do anything with his garrison. By that I mean I wasn’t going to maximize it, optimize it, or do any -izing of that nature. No, let the chips fall where they may. Even though I “accidentally” leveled it up to Garrison Rank 2, I put down a Blacksmithing hut (to get the recipes without having to quest for it) and a Storage hut (so I could though all the things in my bank). No medium huts, nothing else. This time around, the garrison would exist only to provide me with garrison resources so I could buy XP potions.

Second, and this idea came to me “accidentally” as well (I’m beginning to question the validity of your accidents — Editor), was leveling without engaging in the storyline (re: questing). I figured since Blizzard wasn’t that interested in engaging in their current content, why should I?

Well then, you might think to yourself, how does one advance without questing? Impossible, yes?

To that I say nay.

Technically I guess I did follow the questline – to a point. Once I was level-appropriate, I’d get the quest from my garrison to visit the new zone. I’d then follow the two or three quests to unlock my stronghold in that zone. After that, I’d stop with the storyline questing and start with alternate XP gathering.

So what would I do?

Blizzard’s infatuation with their treasures and the placing of them, was something I took advantage of. They were scattered all over the zone, and at 20-30k XP a pop they were worth more than a quest turnin. Snatching up these freebies also forced me to cover more of the zone than I had previously when I was focused on speed leveling.

Bonus objectives became a thing, and I was all over them. As a Blood DK, I could complete the bonus objectives faster than I could finish many of the quests, and I’d get a decent chunk of change in the process. I’d also get a much decenter slab of XP (110k worth of tasty XP) in the process. Oh, and achievement points.

It's like giving XP away!

It’s like giving XP away!

My plan wasn’t to do much with the garrison. Partly out of protest, but mostly to prove a point to myself. Still, out in the wilds of Draenor there were garrison followers with short quests attached to them. They weren’t storyline related, so I figured it’d be worth using them to pad my XP bar as well. Some of these recruiting quests were quite simple.

The interview couldn't get any easier.

Doesn’t get much easier than that.

So far, things are going just as quickly as they were when I was focused on speed leveling. My DK is already at 96, and is about to journey to Spires of Arak. There are definite drawbacks to leveling this way – lack of gear upgrades via quest rewards being a big one – but so far, the process has been painless. It has much more of a casual feel to it. There’s no big worrying about keeping up with garrison stuff, or making sure I don’t miss any steps in the questline.

Will this work all the way to 100? After all, there are only so many XP alternatives available per zone, and the leveling requirements keep increasing. I may eventually have to cave, or get creative, but I’m planning to ride this hobbled pony as far as I can. Make your own fun, is what I say.

Why So Serious?

Why So Serious?

Patch 6.0 Death Knight Changes

warlords-of-draenor-DK

Patch Day today, and brother it’s a game changer.

Sentry Totem posted the Patch 6.0.2 Blue Notes that outlined all the changes. It was a big patch, and there was much to say. Here are the changes for Death Knights.

A number of changes were made for Death Knights. Several cooldowns were made spec-specific. Frost and Unholy’s rotations remain unchanged for the most part. Blood received revisions to their Active Mitigation design to bring them up to par with changes to other Tanking specializations. Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced.

Ability Pruning
See the Ability Pruning section above for a discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Death Knights, this focused on removing abilities that were redundant, cooldown reduction, or abilities that were not used often.

– Blood Parasites has been removed.
– Blood Strike has been removed.
– Dark Command is now only available to Blood Death Knights.
– Dual Wield is now only available to Frost Death Knights.
– Frost Strike replaces Death Coil for Frost Death Knights.
– Obliterate replaces Blood Strike for Frost Death Knights.
– Necrotic Strike has been removed.
– Raise Dead is now only available to Unholy Death Knights.
– Rune of Cinderglacier has been removed.
– Rune of the Nerubian Carapace has been removed.
– Unholy Frenzy has been removed.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
The biggest change here is the merger of Blood Boil into Pestilence. This change effectively turned Roiling Blood into a passive ability; which we replaced with a new talent, Plaguebearer. For Blood specialization, we removed Rune Strike and are adjusting the cost of Death Coil so that it can be used in Rune Strike’s place.

Another change was to polish up the effect of diseases on the damage of other abilities. Diseases now do enough damage on their own to warrant using them. Having diseases act as multipliers on the damage of other abilities became extraneous and cluttered up the tooltips of those abilities. Those multipliers have been removed, and consolidated their benefits into the corresponding base spell. These changes also results in a slight reduction to ramp-up time.

– Horn of Winter no longer generates Runic Power, has no cooldown, and lasts 1 hour.
– Blood Boil has been removed and its effects have been merged into Pestilence.
– Pestilence now deals damage to all enemies within 10 yards, and spreads any diseases on targets hit to the other targets hit.
– Army of the Dead now deals 75% less damage.
– Master of Ghouls has been removed and its effects have been merged into the baseline Raise Dead ability for Unholy Death Knights.
– Threat of Thassarian has been removed and its effects have been merged into Might of the Frozen Wastes.
– Rune Strike has been removed. Blood Death Knights should now use Death Coil in its place.
– Dancing Rune Weapon now lasts 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds).
– Death Coil now costs 30 Runic Power (down from 40 Runic Power), and has a 40 yard range for both hostiles and allies.
– Sudden Doom no longer reduces the cost of Death Coil.
– Icebound Fortitude now lasts 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds).
– Boiling Blood has been removed and replaced with Plaguebearer, a new Level-56 talent for Death Knights.
– Plaguebearer causes Death Coil and Frost Strike to extend the duration of Frost Fever and Blood Plague, or add a stack of Necrotic Plague.
– Pestilence now deals 50% more damage, but no longer deals additional damage for diseases being present on the target.
– Pillar of Frost now increases Strength by 15% (down from 20%).
– Obliterate now deals 25% more damage on both main and off-hand weapons, but no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target.
– Rune of the Fallen Crusader now increases Strength by 20% (up from 15%).
– Scourge Strike no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target. The ability now deals 100% Physical weapon damage, and 50% Shadow weapon damage. These two effects can independently critically hit.
– Vampiric Blood now increases the amount of healing received by 15% (down from 25%).
– Glyph of Vampiric Blood now increases the amount of healing received by an additional 10% (down from 15%).

Frost Changes
In Mists of Pandaria, Frost Death Knights suffered from rotations that were designed to allow flexibility in ability usage, so that you could pool some resources in order to make decisions about which ones you spent and in which order. Dual Wield vs Two-Handed had different rotational priorities, with different strengths and weaknesses. However, tuning ended up such that you reached a point where you just had to spend all of your resources as fast as possible to avoid wasting any, and all of that depth went out the window. For Warlords, we’ve adjusted the tuning of several abilities and passives, to ensure that that doesn’t happen again, and the rotational decisions and skill are maintained.

The goal is that Two-Handed Frost Death Knights favor their physical damage, slicing through their enemies with heavy Obliterates, whereas Dual- Wielders favor blasting their foes with frost damage, but both overlap considerably to maintain a cohesive specialization.

– Frost Strike’s damage has been increased by 100%, but its Runic Power cost has been increased by 5 (up to 25 Runic Power in Frost Presence, and 40 Runic Power in other Presences).
– Icy Talons now increases attack speed by 20% (down from 45%), and haste by 5% (up from 0%).
– Might of the Frozen Wastes now increases the damage of Obliterate by 50% (up from 40%) and melee damage by 35% (up from 30%) while wielding a two-handed weapon, and increases the damage of Frost Strike by 50% (up from 35%) while dual-wielding.
– Razorice now deals 4% additional weapon damage (up from 2%), and increases Frost damage by 2% per stack (down from 3%).
– Obliterate’s damage has been increased by 30%.

Unholy Changes
In order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Unholy Death Knights, we reduced the power of their passive Unholy Might ability, and added a new passive ability to make Multistrike more effective.

– Necrosis is a new passive ability for Unholy Death Knights.
– Necrosis causes Multistrikes from Festering Strike, Pestilence, Plague Strike, Scourge Strike, and Soul Reaper to also deal a burst of Shadow damage. The amount of burst damage is based on Attack Power, not the damage from the triggering Multistrike.
– Unholy Might now increases Strength by 10% (down from 35%).

Blood Changes
Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights’ tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolve above), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button.

Additionally, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Blood Death Knights to value Haste and Crit as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to Critical Strikes, and Scent of Blood give defensive value to Multistrike. To solve GCD- capping issues and increase the value of Haste, we also removed the passive rune regeneration increase from Improved Blood Presence. Finally, we tweaked the targeting AI of Dancing Rune Weapon, and fixed it up to properly copy most Talents that you know.

– Blood Rites now also causes auto attack Multistrikes to generate 15 Runic Power. The Death Strike damage increase it provided has been moved to Veteran of the Third War.
– Blood Presence now increases Stamina by 20% (down from 25%), and armor by 30% (down from 55%).
– Bone Shield charges can now be consumed at a rate of once per second (up from once every 2 seconds).
Crimson Scourge now increases the damage of Pestilence by 50% (up from 10%) and now also increases the damage of diseases by 30%.
– Dancing Rune Weapon’s summoned Rune Weapon now remains fixated on the Death Knight’s target at the time of summoning, and copies the effects of Talents that are tied to the Death Knight, such as Blood Boil, Frost Fever, or Asphyxiate. Should the original target be dead or otherwise unavailable, the Rune Weapon will switch to assist with the Death Knight’s current target.
– Death Strike now causes healing that scales in effectiveness with attack power, instead of based on damage taken in the last 5 seconds. This healing is affected by Resolve.
– Heart Strike has been removed. Blood Death Knights should use Pestilence in its place.
– Improved Blood Presence now increases all damage dealt by 15%, instead of increasing rune regeneration rate.
– Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces all damage taken by 40% for 3 seconds. It also now has 2 charges, with a 40-second recharge time.
– Will of the Necropolis has been redesigned. It now automatically triggers an immediate, free Rune Tap when you take damage that reduces you below 30% health. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 30 seconds.
– Glyph of Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces Rune Tap’s recharge time by 10 seconds, but reduces the damage reduction it provides by 20%.
– Scarlet Fever has been removed. Its effects have been merged into Scent of Blood.
– Scent of Blood has been changed. It now causes Pestilence to refresh diseases, and increase the healing of your next Death Strike by 20%, stacking up to 5 times.
– Veteran of the Third War now increases Multistrike chance, and haste by 10% (instead of 9% to Stamina), reduces the chance for attacks to be parried by 3%, increases the damage of Death Strike by 100%, and grants 1 Runic Power per second while in combat.

Death Pact
Since the Ghoul pet is now Unholy only, that presents a problem for Death Pact. We revised Death Pact to not require an undead minion, but work a little differently. We left it at 50% heal, which is effectively a 33% buff to it from before (see Retuning Healing Spells and Player Health and Resilience above), and added a healing absorption shield for 50% of the amount healed instead. It should now be a more effective heal for staying alive immediately, but with the downside of needing to heal through the healing absorption shield before being healed any further.

Death Pact no longer requires an undead minion, and instead places a healing absorption shield on the Death Knight for 50% of the amount healed.

Miscellaneous
There were also a few other miscellaneous changes. The Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced. Level-60 and Level-75 talent rows have swapped places, so the important rune regeneration talents could be acquired earlier. Conversion was changed to cost different amounts by specialization, instead of reducing Runic Power generation differently by specialization. This way, Runic Power beyond what you spend on Conversion is not penalized.

– Anti-Magic Shell now restores 2 Runic Power per 1% of max health absorbed.
– Desecrated Ground now also makes the Death Knight immune to Roots and Snares.
– Conversion no longer has an initial tick, and now costs 30 Runic Power/second for Blood, 10 Runic Power/second for Frost, and 20 Runic Power/second for Unholy.
– Level-60 and Level-75 talent rows have swapped places.
– Level-60 rune regeneration talents can now be triggered by all Runic Power spenders
– Blood Tap now generates one charge for every 15 Runic Power spent.
– Runic Empowerment now has a 1.5% chance to trigger per Runic Power spent.
– Runic Corruption now has a 1.5% chance to trigger per Runic Power spent.

Good thing we’ve got a month before Warlords of Draenor is released. There’s a bit of a re-learning curve that needs to be addressed.

Unholy Death Knight in WoD Beta

This may come as a shock, but I have a few Death Knights on my roster. Actually, I play a few on my server. I have two Frost (2H and DW) and a Blood DK for farming and all-around indestructibility. I think having to deal with a pet has kept me from playing an Unholy Death Knight. That may be the reason my Hunter hasn’t moved past level 85. Spreading my focus between a man and his pet doesn’t feel like fun, especially since my “focus” is an abstract construct at best. I’m the same guy who went from playing an army of plate-wearing killers in PVE to a PVP abuse-sponge wrapped in leather.

Not normally how I roll, is what I'm saying here.

Not normally how I roll, is what I’m saying here.

Unholy DK’s seem to be a favorite in PVP, and plenty of PVE end-gamers rave about them. Then Preach comes along and gives some feedback on his Unholy DK experience in the Warlords of Draenor beta. I may be thawing a Frost DK and letting him get crazy.