I’m No Sissy, You’re Just OP

March 19, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

If you’re a regular here at I’m Tanking What?!, a wowinsider.com patron, or just a drunk college student surfin’ the net, you may have noticed my recent opus, The Saga of Normalization Does Not Balance Make.

(And if you are an I’m Tanking What?! regular, please cover your face with a dark cloth… you wouldn’t want your incredible good looks to blind anyone, would you?)

Anyway, that saga of mine sparked a lot of lively discussion, rapid back-and-forths, and a bit of napalm on wildflowers. Today I would like to recreate if you will, a discussion of Tanks vs. Death Knights with the incorrigible — or is it incomparable? — Billy Wallace of the blog Casual Tank.

So join me in a big cheer for Billy Wallace – Warrior Tank

BillyWallace Says:
I admit that your description of warriors as “sissies” ruffled my feathers a bit. I promise you that I can “live on the edge”,in fact to the dismay of my healers, I often do just that! You all just feel cooler doing it because you’re so OP!

I rotate my cooldowns from the very beginning of a raid encounter as to not make my healers feel that I’m living on the edge. My use of “edgy” is only to reflect that Death Knights do not have access to shields and the block mechanic, a defining trait of both Paladin and Warrior tanks.

Seriously though, I agree a lot with what you’re saying here. I love the distinct flavor of each class of tank. I’m bothered a bit by the homogenization of them. And I tire of people whining about other classes being “OP”.

But even Ciderhelm, who I have always gotten the impression that he feels warriors have been able to tank just about everything in game as good as the other classes, has recently been vocal on the official forums about the large advantage DK’s have over all other tanking classes in fights like Sarth.

Rather than answer this with another clone of “it’s a poorly designed encounter,” or “players can’t escape the thought of unilateral thought,” I’ll simply point readers here to either my response to Ancro or Hatch.

I kind of feel like Blizzard painted themselves into the corner with the “Take the player not the class” idea. Ideally it’s nice, but how does that work in reality?

Ideally, it functions with the Dual Talent system. If you bring a professional grade player in the shoes of a hybrid then you get much more flexibility in what your raid is able to adapt and shape itself to; however, if you bring a average player who shines in a specific specialization then you’re going to have a problem when you no longer need his shining function.

Players who are exceptional at all facets of the game (or their class) will be the ones asked to swap talent specializations the most and incidentally, they will be the ones who morph the raid into a new composition which makes a group of players capable of clearing content that would otherwise be above their level because of optimization.

The “Take the Player not the Class” mentality would actually disapprove of the new shield glyph for warriors because it enforces the idea of taking the role and not the player. A good player should have the option of not taking the glyph and using another method to avoid the damage that this glyph exists for.

Currently no such option exists and this is why people are saying that the change is needed TO THE SKILLS AND THE GLYPHS but NOT THE ENCOUNTERS THEMSELVES.

In the words of our GM Prometheuss:
“Bosses down… good job everyone, let’s move on to the next room and we’ll see how we have to adapt to the new content.”

Once again a round of applause for Billy Wallace – Warrior Tank!


What’s a Tank to do with Dual Spec?

March 13, 2009

TGAPGeorge – Warrior Tank

Okay, so I’ve found a flaw in the upcoming Dual Spec extravaganza for Tanks… actually there are two.

The first flaw has been talked about already. And that is the fact that Tanks are very gear dependent. Being so, we spend a lot of time and trouble — a LOT of time and trouble — in getting that gear. So much so, the typical Tank only has a few pieces of DPS gear.

So the flaw, at least for us Tanks, is that when Dual Specs comes out, Raid Leaders across WoW will say, “Hey, Tank. You’re a superstar threat grabber and aggro holder, but we don’t need you for this fight. Flip over to DPS will ya?”

The results will be less than spectacular.

But we’ve all known about this DPS gear problem since 3.1.0 was announced. So what’s the second flaw? The DPS setup.

Dual Specs allow us to have two sets of talents, glyphs, spells, and action bars. I believe Blizzard kicked ass on designing a fun, easy, and not-a-pain-in-the-ass way to do this. So when you do switch from Prot to DPS, everything is set for ya.

And therein lies the problem. Not with the mechanics, but with what it allows you to do. You can be DPS almost instantly. But what have you been doing all this time? What have you striven to learn and perfect?

That’s right! You’ve been a Tank.

So — shazaam! — in three seconds you’re DPS. What do you do now? What’s the best spell progression? Where should you be? What should you be doing? What key are you going to be stabbing — in a limp futile panicked manner — when a mob breaks away to go munch on some healers? (Your Taunt key, of course)

Now for some Tanks — and all I’m Tanking What?! readers — this won’t be much of a problem. We will have researched our new spec, gone out into the boonies for some one-on-one practice, and generally done our best to be our best. For the rest of the Tanks out there… well, I’m sure “Tanktard” will be a phrase that’ll quickly gain popularity.

Here’s where it gets really tricky. We’ve worked so hard to become good Tanks, it’s gonna be very difficult to switch gears to a completely different role. I’m not talking about waiting for threat, getting behind the boss, and letting fly. I’m talking about all our carefully honed skills kicking in during the heat of battle. dualspecoopsIt’s going to be tough remembering that you’re not supposed to be at the top of the threat meter. It’ll be weird hitting buttons normally used for tanking and getting different results.

It’s gonna be hilarious the first few times you switch spec and rush to tank, but forgetting to first put on the heavy plate.

Well, I’m not one to pose a problem without at least taking a stab at the solution.

So here’s my suggestion. Get as much DPS gear as you can. Try to put spells that do similar things in the same slots as their tanking counterparts. And practice.

Lots and lots of practice.

My New Warrior Tanking UI

March 7, 2009

TGAPGeorge – Warrior Tank

I’ve been fascinated with addons ever since my little brother showed me how to load up a much better map interface. And now, about a year later, I took a day or two off from playing World of Warcraft to update my addons and User Interface. Well, update isn’t the right word. It was more like blasting away and rebuilding from scratch. At least, it was supposed to be.

I was tired of lag and slow loading screens, and I even thought about deleting and reloading WoW. But then I looked line by line at my addons and saw that I needed most of them. So I deleted what I didn’t need and started surfin’ the net.

After a long time, I pieced together a mosic of the UI I wanted from about ten screenshots of other people’s UIs. My goals were simple and tanking minded. I wanted to:

  • Have a clear field of view up, down, left, and right to spot trouble coming.
  • Have Omen, my target, its debuffs — and a cool addon, “TellMeWhen” — center-screen for maximum visibility.
  • Have my spells in clear-view, organized, and laid out like how they are on my G13 controller.

That may seem like a simple list, but it’s undoable without addon help. Here is what I came up with:


Pretty nice, eh?

I decided to leave my buffs up in the upper left hand corner because they would take up too much real estate down below and not be too distracting above. You can’t see it in the pic, but the party and raid will be in the upper right, but smaller than usual; left there for the same reasons as the buffs.

In the middle is TellMeWhen with Omen right below. Just to the right is my target. It’s obvious, and any buffs I have on him will be larger than other player’s. The minimap is far off to the right out of the way, and the same for chat and other non-combat buttons on the left. My player window is below and obvious, but doesn’t block my eye path.g13

My reasoning for all this careful placement is that when I’m fighting, quick looks down need to see target and threat first, reactive spells and abilities next, spells and cooldowns after, and finally my health and rage. I think I’ve got it set up to do that.

A word on spells and my organization. Take a look at the button layout of my awesome G13 Logitech controller:

You’ll notice that I’ve got my action buttons set at two rows of seven, an “alt” row of seven, and a “shift” row of seven. Closer to the minimap on the right hand side is three rows of four buttons to match the third row on my controller (I use the fifth button on the left for tab targeting). It’s a lot of buttons and a lot to keep track of, but since they are arranged like my controller, a glance down helps me hit the right button.

So, TGAPGeorge, how do you do all of these wonderful things? I’ll tell ya. Addons. Take a look at these two screenshots showing what addons were used to do what:

In Combat

Out of Combat

Here is a list of the addons that contributed to this UI awesomeness:

Even if you load up all these addons, your UI won’t magically look like mine. It will be jumbled and crazy. But with patience, you can move, resize, and adjust it all to look just like you want it to. Don’t forget to look at the options!

Addons can be finicky, so if you have any quesitons or problems working with these, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do to help!


The Saga of DK Normalization Does not Balance Make

March 6, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

The complete 8-part saga of normalizations and balances is right here for you to enjoy.

So… enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

Death Knight Normalization Does not Balance Make – Part 8

March 6, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

Recap: Normalization Doesn’t Create Balance
Because it was TL and you DR’d

I know that was a LOT of posts to read, and to anyone who actually plowed through that behemoth of a saga, I congratulate and thank you.

Allow me to list, in order, the summarizations of each section and what they mean when tied together:

  1. For a game to be successful, the players of that game must be happy or they will not pay for the game. Ergo, game companies must keep their players happy to keep making money.
  2. Listening to the community of players who play your game is essential to maintaining a working game. Players are the ones paying for your game.
  3. The more players you have, the more restrictive your rules must be. Players are greedy and you can’t keep everyone happy.

The main focus of these three points is simply that a game must make its players happy and make them want to keep playing if the game will generate revenue for the company that runs it. Games that do not accept community input are ignoring the will of the community and are more prone to failing than their counterparts. It also touches on the idea that players are greedy and you can’t keep everyone happy all the time.

  1. The D&D warrior is NOT the D&D fighter because of HOW they put points in their class to determine what they do.
  2. Warriors are NOT Death Knights and should NEVER work like them, as it is against the initial design concept of the Warrior.
  3. Balancing classes according to their role is BAD GAME DESIGN
  4. Blizzard has balanced the Warrior class tanking role by changing shield wall — a defining protection warrior skill/talent — into a Death Knight skill.
  5. The misuse of a skill given to Death Knights has led to warriors finding it desirable. Blizzard has chosen to, in essence, give warriors a death knight ability.
  6. SoE removed the individuality of the classes by balancing them to roles centered around ONE class. As a result, they lost 85% of their players. The remaining 15% would slowly leave over the next 10 weeks.

This saga has focused more on what Blizzard is doing with the warrior class as a result of uneducated trolling on the WoW forums, as compared to a game that did EXACTLY the same thing. Mind, SoE w/ SWG was a game-wide change and blizzard is — so far — only adjusting DKs and Warriors.

Expect more mind-numbing changes and individuality sapping alterations in the next couple of patches.

Click here for the Normalization Does not Balance Make saga in its entirety.

Death Knight Normalization Does not Balance Make – Part 7

March 5, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

A Last Glance Behind: Star Wars Galaxies in Retrospect
Yes, it is important. Read it.

Unlike a lot of WoW players, I played SWG before the “Jump to Lightspeed” patch was even conceived. I was playing SWG on the Tarquinnis server before the first combat “upgrade,” and it was one of the most fun MMOs I’ve ever played.

For me it was the crafting system that made the game fun. However, others found more joy in the PvP aspect of the game — silly as it was. There was virtually no threat mechanic, and endgame PvE content just plain didn’t exist as we think of it today (think back to EQ1).

Still, for a long time, SWG was fun. Immersing oneself in the lore of Star Wars and choosing a side (Rebel v. Imperial) were some of the best game ideas to hit the MMO market. Unfortunately it also came with one of the worst ideas to hit the MMO market: Jedi.

Jedi were, at the release of the class, over-powered. They were designed to exist in very small numbers and required a complicated, lore-filled series of quests — HIDDEN QUESTS MIND YOU! — to become one. Jedi had abilities that blew other classes out of the water. They were what a hero class is supposed to be.

The justification for Jedi was that a world full of Star Wars lore would not be complete without them, and they should exist in some fashion. Fair enough.

The problems arose when some idiot actually figured out how to unlock Jedi and made a forum post detailing how to do it. Wonderful. Now you have a balance issue. This, of course, leads to what is referred to publicly as The Worst Game Decision Ever Made in the History of MMORPGs to date.

Yeah. It was that bad.

SoE decided that they were going to balance the entire combat system around ONE class: The Jedi. This yielded the “Combat Upgrade” content patch along with a new looking UI and an overhaul of the Jedi class all rolled up into one miserable ball. Within weeks, SWG lost 85% of its player subscriptions. The remaining 15% would slowly leave over the next 10 weeks.

SoE removed the individuality of the classes by balancing them to roles centered around ONE class. Refer to Part 6

Up next in Part 8: Recap: Normalization Doesn’t Create Balance

Death Knight Normalization Does not Balance Make – Part 6

March 4, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

I’m a Warrior… No, Really, I am.
It just LOOKS like I’m a Death Knight. But see, I got a shield!

As of patch 3.1.0, I wonder why Death Knights will volunteer to tank at all.

Druids get more health; Warriors now have our #1 tanking cooldown as a direct copy of Icebound Fortitude; Paladins deal more damage…

So what do we do? Take less damage from magic? Have DoTs? What makes a DK tank unique from every other class?

One word: Cooldown.

Death Knights are, from their inception, edgy mofo’s. They’ve already been killed once, raised in service to Arthas, and then sent to die AGAIN.   Then, after coming close to death two more times, they traded their life for killing countless thousands of their own kin and countrymen in the name of the Lich King.  Death Knights are fearless.

Unlike those sissy warriors, we live on the edge. A Death Knight with the two best DK tanking trinkets in the game (Repelling Charge and Valor Medal of the Third War) has access to: Icebound Fortitude, a talent-based damage reduction mechanic, Bone Armor or Will of the Necropolis or Lichborne / Unbreakable Armor, ghetto Last Stand, and Super Dodge. That is anywhere from 3 to 5 cooldowns that can, and should be, cycled at all times.

Why then are warriors getting a 1 minute CD shield wall? They don’t live on the edge OR tank with a 2H sword — or, god forbid, Duel-Wield tank. Warriors tank with a shield, they have talents specifically designed around a shield.  Warriors are the masters of shields.

In fact, IBF exists primarily to mitigate the effects of getting parry-gibed on bosses when you are DW tanking, not as an “Oh SHIT” button. Suck on that Trebeck.

The misuse of a skill given to Death Knights has led to warriors finding it desirable.

Blizzard has chosen to, in essence, give warriors a death knight ability. See Part 5.

Up next in Part 7: A Last Glance Behind: Star Wars Galaxies in Retrospect