Archive for February, 2009

Dual speccing

Wowinsider reported about some changes with the dual spec feature that is coming with patch 3.1. Apparently players can use it starting at level 40 and there will be no need to have a reagent. In the previous incarnation it was said that you would have to have an item crafted by an inscriber but that seems to have been dropped. Now you only have to cast something which will take about five seconds and after that your talents, glyphs and action bars will have changed. And so you will be able to change your specc in the middle of an instance or raid.

Since I do play a restoration druid as well as a protection paladin, I am excited about this new feature. There are times when I would not fit into a group for a heroic instance because we would have had two healers and soon I will be able to go along as a damage dealer. Sure, I will have to collect some gear and actually have to learn how to do damage as a druid but I will at least have the option. I however doubt that this feature will be the solution to the tank and healer shortage. There are plenty of viable healers and tanks available right now and being able to respec will not raise that number. The problem in my opinion is that some people just do not want to tank for various reasons.

1. Responsibility
As a tank you are the one person in the group who has the most responsibility. You set the pace and you decide which mob to take care of first. If there is crowd crontrol available, the tank usualy decides which mob will be controlled. And if something goes wrong and another group member manages to grab aggro the tank has to react quickly and get the situation back under control. Aside from that, the tank has to know his own class and know how to minimize the incoming damage while generating enough aggro so that the damage dealers can do their job as well. So, generally it is easier to play a damage dealer since you only have to know your class and most of the time are told what target to hit.

2. Equipment
Getting to a point where one can really tank heroics and raid instances takes some time. It is not that easy to hit that magic at which when you become uncrittable. It takes some planning to learn in which instance the next piece of gear dropps or which faction will yield the next gear improvement. Sure, that is basically the same for other classes as well but when I look at most of the people I have grouped with it does not seem like many players really do that.

3. Conflict
When you are the one who is supposed to be the one who is setting the pace and there is a problem within the group most players will look at the tank to be the one solving it. This is something that some player shirk away from.

Undoubtedly, the new feature is a very good one and maybe I am wrong in my accessement. It might very well be that the option to have a tanking spec will lead to people getting interesting in giving tanking a try. If that happens there might be a few new tanks and that really would be a relief.

Twinking in Naxxramas

In our 25 man Naxxramas raid we are thinking about allowing players to come along with their twinks. Since it seems that most items are going into second equips or to our enchanter, this decision does not come as a big suprise. But as always there are some problems with taking twinks along. We tried to solve these problem by giving some minimums that the twinks have to bring. This way we want to make sure that the nessesary equipment and dps is there so the raid does not loose too much speed on our Naxx runs. But that does not solve the problem with the key classes. I guess our main tanks are not willing to take a great risk since the raid leaders declared that no twink tanks will be taken along. For me as a healer I guess that is not the worst thing since healing someone who is a bit underequipped can be challenging. But I wonder if the tanks should not have the chance to take their twinks along. But with the stats that are required so that a twink can go along, it will take some time before I could even think about taking one of my twinks to Naxx.

Good think my druid still needs some stuff from there for both his healing and feral gear … And for my protection paladin, I am still hoping that our small guild will manage to get a ten-man group going.  In BC we ran Kara and Zul Aman and really had fun there so I guess it will happen again.

Deathknight tanking

I am currently leveling a priest through Northend and since I am in a very small guild I did some instance runs with pick up groups.

On our server finding a tank for a pickup group is quite hard. There are just not that many tanks around. We had the same problem even though we had two paladins and a deathknight in the group. After some discussion the deathknight decided that he would try to give tanking Utgarde Keep a try. So a few minutes later he had respecced frost and we had easily found another damage dealer.

Well, I guess the player was a bit young and inexperienced but after loosing aggro with every group and very nearly dying a couple of times the deathknight randomly had a disconnect and did not come on again. Luckily for us, one of the paladins stepped up and respecced. With most gear from Karazhan that player was very easy to heal and the instance sailed by very smoothly.

Two days later I was invited into a group for Ahn’Kahet and suddenly the same Deathknight was invited into the group as a tank. I raised my eyebrows when he immediately apologized to another member of the group for having a disconnect earlier that day but I guess that is a story for another day …

To make a long story short, he tried to tank the instance at level 71 without really having defence gear and without much experience as a tank. Suffice to say that we could not get the first boss down. This time, the deathknight left the group but we were very lucky to find a warrior who did an excellent job at holding aggro.

Despite these two experiences I have to say that Deathknight can make very strong and very good tanks. The problem is not with the class but rather with the players who pick the class and do not really look into what has to be done to be able to tank. There are some talents that are very helpful for tanking and that really should be used to mitigate the incoming damage. And as a tank one should try to get a decent set of tanking gear. I am not saying that you have to be at the defence cap to be able to tank but as a tank one should at least try to get as close as possible to that magic number. It makes tanking easier and it really makes the healer’s job a lot more enjoyable.

Personally I do not think that the class will solve the problem with the tanking shortage. Sure, in theory every Deathknight has the potential to be a viable tank. But that does not make the player be suitable to be a tank. One problem is that in general, the tank is the one member of the group deciding the pace at which the group goes through the instance. He decides the order in which the mobs are taken down and mostly when and how to use crowd control. When a damage dealer or the healer grabbs aggro, the tank has to react and get the mob back under control. And last but not least he has to know the instance and the bosses. All in all, it is a position with more responsibility as the rest. It is easier to play a damage dealer where you basically can focus on your own skills and your own rotaion. So it is no suprise that most of the Deathknights on our server are played as damage dealers.

Asking for healing and looking at feet

Zach at WoW Insider writes about people yelling for heals.   Their reader Ambrosyne made it a point that the healers, whose job it is to keep the raid alive already know when someone is dying. Since I do play a restoration druid I can attest to that. I watch the raid in my healbot and do my best to keep everyone alive as do the other healers in the raid. If someone dies, there usually is a very good reason why there was not enough healing going on.

In my opinion yelling for heals does no good for several reasons. On one hand, it is simply to slow. When a dps pulls aggro and starts yelling in vent to be healed it almost certainly is to late to react because of the delay ingame. The player will certainly die if a healer has not already started the heal before he heard it in vent.  On the other hand I personaly find it a tad bit annoying. It is like a reminder that the one yelling thinks that I do not do my job within the raid well enough. Don’t get me wrong, if the raid leader or our healing officer tells me to heal someone or to apply me hots to a certain group thats something different.

For me as a healer, it is important to have all the small health bars in my sight and to react quickly once I see someone grab aggro. So, as Zach writes, going through Naxx sometimes really feels like only seeing feet. When I first ran Karazhan with my twink hunter I got to see most of the instance for the first time. At least it felt like that to me. I would not go as far as not to heal people who grab aggro repeatedly and yell for heals but I guess I would try to talk to them peronaly after the raid is done.  I guess I am a bit on the lucky side since the people I happen to raid with know what they are doing and for the most part avoid grabbing aggro from the tanks.

What to do

Yesterday our raid was canceled. Not because there were not enough people online but rather because everything was done for the week. Naxx was clear, the sanctum was cleared and even Malygos was down for the count.

So, I was wondering what to do. I settled on playing one of my many twinks who I am trying to get ready for the heroic instances and ultimately for raiding. But if I only had my main character I think it might be somewhat of a problem. There are not that many raiding instances around and if you have cleared all the 25 Man content there is not that much need for the heroic instances anymore. And since the gear get better as the raids go on it becomes more and more likely that the raid will clear naxx in a quick run and even sartharion and malygos on the same night.

There still is the arena and pvp but some people do not find that all that enjoyable anymore so the question what to do becomes more important. I myself have always enjoyed twinking so I have options and I am not completely through with all factions on my main so the heroic instances are still a must for me. But I guess Blizzard will have to come up with something to keep players busy. And I doubt that one new raid instance will do the trick …

Malygos cleared

Yesterday the raid I am with managed to down Malygos for the first time. That means that we have cleared the available raid contend that Wrath provides thus far. Sure, there still is that Sartharion thing with the adds but I guess that it won’t take long to get that done as well, since already most of the gear from Naxx is going towards the enchanter.

I really hope that the raid keeps going and that there soon will be some new raid instances that we can explore. With all the blogs and sites being full with comments about the lack of things to do ingame, Blizzard should really consider giving some more content to their players.