Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pulling Brick Tank Search Result Ratings Out of the Toilet

Warning: This is a meta-post. It's about the blog itself, not about the art of the tank. Feel free to ignore, or read on for some toilet humor.

I decided to flush my old URL down the toilet, and give the blog a renovation, and while this has been good for morale here at Brick Tank central, my search result ratings have been in the toilet since said flushing.

I'd rather be flush with readers, and need good search engine placement for that.

It seems that bricks and tanks often have something to do with toilet flushing, plumbing, and cost savings, so I thought I'd make a post incorporating all of those words to speed up the process of namespace convergence in Page Rank. I also did a little tweaking to the base templates and especially the header widget. This maintenance should put the lid on the problem and get more flow into the brick tank blog.

Basically, some of the site's internal links were plugged up, and I'd rather have an overflow of visitors from search results, so had to do some site template plumbing. Now I can get back to plumbing for blue posts related to tanking.

Thank you (seriously) for putting up with this inane namespace poisoning post and with my renovation, in general. I won't do it again--I promise.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More thoughts on threat scaling and the threat game

Speaking purely from a game-play perspective here, and explicitly trying to stay away from the game design process, I think that one of the game play elements that directly contributes to the difficulty of managing threat during AE pulls has to do with the User Interface. It is presently difficult to see how much threat, or what proportion of overall threat, we have over groups of multiple mobs.

I'm speaking here from the perspective of a Bear Tank and also from that of a former Fury Warrior. DPS can do certain things with macros to reduce the likelihood that they'll pull from a tank, but some classes don't have threat wiping skills, and it can be difficult to see which of the 8 mobs you might be attacking at a given moment is about to switch their aggro.

Perhaps a built-in threat bar on nameplates similar to the one provided by Aloft would help in cooperative play.

Blue Review: 03/05/10

The wife made a good point last night about the high volume of dev posts on the forums lately. If they keep feeding us blue posts, people are bound to develop delusions of entitlement about it. It would probably not be a terrible idea for GC and the crew to lay off their responses for a while, and let the community simmer a bit.

But, if they're going to post, I'm going to parse. Here's what I've been able to find from recent days that's relevant to the future of our ursine alter egos. (I'll include relevant bits of the OP for the sake of context)

Cataclysm: Druids and the Parry/Block Problem

Based on the just-released information, not being able to parry or block is going to be a huge handicap for raiding Druids in Cataclysm.

This isn't because it will inherently make us weaker; even with the changes to parry and block, it's probably possible to balance a theoretical Druid with only dodge with a theoretical plate tank with dodge, parry, and block.

The problem is itemization. Any item with parry, block, or both is likely to be very undesirable to Druid tanks, and will likely be a downgrade from items 1-2 tiers lower.

Why will this problem likely be worse than it is now?

  1. There will be 2 wasted stats which will be common on tank gear, instead of just one. (You don't see block on much tank gear currently).
  2. With our Stamina multipliers reduced (and EH probably less important), the increased Stamina on the higher-tier item will be less likely to make up for the avoidance/threat loss, as sometimes happens now.

Why is this a huge problem?

Bears will gear up more slowly than plate tanks, since they have fewer gear choices. This means that when a guild starts doing the hard content, the Bear will likely be weaker as it will be less geared.

What are some solutions?

  1. Allow Bears to parry and block. The argument that this breaks flavor is nonsensical; with low-level NPC bears able to parry, not being able to parry breaks flavor.
  2. Let Bears use block and parry rating on gear. These stats would be translated to stats we can use.
  3. Design Bears to not share tanking jewelry with plate tanks.

I disagree with a lot of the sentiments in this post. For starters, at least on my server, the Druid population outnumbers Hunters and Rogues combined. There are more opportunities for 10-person progression than ever before, and with the coming changes to guild design, we might just see an uptick in small raiding guilds, so I'm not sure that we'll be backbenched by the game design.

I don't know that I've ever seen leather items with block or parry on them. Besides, this post seems to forget the importance of damage negation resulting from Savage Defense on combined probability crits when using Swipe. Druids do more than dodge and absorb damage. Crit IS block for Bear tanks, it's just a lot harder to work combined probability crit strikes into our effective health calculations.

Let's see what GC has to say:

Ghostcrawler: If druids have lower avoidance (assuming you call the new parry and block avoidance), then they'll have higher armor and health to compensate. There is no reason druids must have block and parry to be competitive. They really haven't missed it much in WotLK.

I think the only real risk to druids from a design paradigm perspective is the risk of being a mana sponge. Druids were worried about that coming into this expansion, but as we've seen, it wasn't an issue. With mana mattering more, it could be, but high armor will still help with that.

The comment about leather was just that if leather provides as much health as plate, then the Bear multiplier doesn't need to be as high for druids still to have higher health than other tanks.

We can conclude the following points:
  1. Bears will continue to have higher health than other tanks as an element of their core class design.
  2. Bears will not be getting block or parry (with Savage Defense, who needs block anyway?)
  3. We could see armor and heath buffs if our avoidance is seen to suffer. This seems like a slight clawback from last year's nerfs.

@Cataclysm stat change preview

Parry - Parry no longer provides 100% avoidance and no longer speeds up attacks. Instead, when you parry an attack, it and the next attack will each hit for 50% damage (assuming they hit at all). In other words, Dodge is a chance to avoid 100% of the damage from one attack, Parry is a chance to avoid 50% of the damage from two attacks, and Block is a chance to avoid 30% of the damage from one attack.

Let's not forget that Dodge also feeds Rage to a Bear, indirectly giving us more ways to mitigate damage. Currently, I don't know how well our dodge chance is expected to scale with gear in Cataclysm, but if, as some people fear, we lose a little competitive edge on other tanks whose avoidance stats scale better than ours, it seems from the posts above (merely reiterated by GC in this topic thread) that Blizzard will buff our health and armor.

My concern is that this could pull us back from one of our strong roles, which is magic avoidance. Considering that we can expect to be fighting large dragons in Cataclysm, buffing our armor might not be the way to proceed.

For the record, here's GC's pithy response:

Ghostcrawler: Tanks will still be required to tank raids and I expect most heroics. You're not in any danger of being upstaged by a dps spec who has slightly more armor and health than they do now.

Do Warriors really need another Cleave?

Buried in this post was a nice little nugget for Bears.


The actual problem, in our minds, is threat scaling. Warriors (and all tanks) could AE tank just fine in Naxxramas.* It only became a problem over time when the dps of the dps classes grew so much more quickly than the tanks, largely because the dps classes have so many dps stats on their gear while plate tanks have Strength. Tank damage was pretty close to 50% of dps damage in the first tier of content, which was our goal, but has slipped to 25 to 30% of dps (your mileage may vary) in Icecrown.

We need a system that keeps tank damage scaling at the same rate as dps damage. However, that system can't be dependent on gear stats (unless you're willing to see tank gear go away) and can't be as ridiculous as deep talents that say "You get 5 AP per point of Strength."

I think you just notice threat issues more on AE pulls because things like Tricks and Misdirect mask any problems on single target pulls. Separate problem.

And yes Paladin tank AE damage and threat generation is still too high, largely because of Seals and HoR, but long-term we're going to nerf that instead of making all tanks able to trivially maintain threat in all situations. Referencing the other thread on threat a little, why as a tank would you even care what buttons you push if maintaining threat is a foregone conclusion?

* - AE tanking was fine in Naxxramas. AE damage was, and has remained, over the top. We prefer a model where the risk of tanking too many mobs is that the tank dies, not that you can't maintain threat on them all (within reasonable limits of course). We also prefer a model where the dps do AE damage on some pulls and switch to single target dps on others.

This is a refrain on his previous posts from February on threat scaling, and trying to determine how to make the threat game more fun for tanks. There seems to be a growing concern that the threat game is inhibiting the development of new tanks, because the Journeyman tank queues up with an ICC geared DPS and cannot for the life of them keep agg during trash pulls.

So, with the subject focusing on threat scaling, GC continues:


Dude pulled aggro does not represent a failure of class design any more than you sometimes dying represents a failure of class design. Both are going to happen sometimes unless you're absolutely at the top of your game. That's part of the challenge of playing your role. For our part, we'll make sure you have the tools to do your job, and for the most part you do. I don't think the tools are the issue, as I said above.

I'm talking philosophy here, because I assume that's usually more interesting to a wider audience. Philosophically, tank threat generation is working correctly (i.e. as we intend) with perhaps 4-5 exceptions that we would like to fix:

1) Paladins can do a little too much AE tanking "splash" damage, often without even setting out to do so.
2) Tricks and MD take too much of a burden off of the tank / hide issue #3.
3) Damage and therefore threat generation aren't scaling well at very high levels of gear. <-- this is the big one. 4) There is too much incentive to AE every pull, which puts a burden on the tank to AE tank every pull. 5) You could probably add that bears need a button to hit besides Swipe.

That last little nugget is what made me smile. It might be cool if they'd work toward a system that rewards combinations and rotations with extra threat, similar to the damage of rogues and cat Druids. It would seem to come naturally for Druids, considering how we already use combo points while leveling in Cat form.

Plate wearers have things like Armored to the Teeth which helps them scale up their damage commensurate to their armor.

Generating massive threat might be more fun if we had to pay closer attention to the order in which we mash buttons, and this would also reward skills like target cycling and stacking bleeds, thus providing us with incentives not to just spam Swipe. It would also preserve current PvP mechanics, since threat has no affect on other players.

Interesting things coming from the blue posts these days. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more, but don't be too surprised if they get quiet for a bit and let us all fester.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Feral Tank Q&A with Ghostcrawler: Then, Now, and Soon™

Ghostcrawler's comments from last July as part of the Class Q&A Series on Druids probably still represent, overall, the most current and accurate window into Blizzard's current design goals for the class. Although, at the time of writing, there have been a glut of blue posts pertaining to Druid tanking in the first week of March 2010, I'll reserve my commentary on the new posts for a future date.

This post is intended to bring newcomers up to speed with where the class and, more specifically, our role as Bear Tanks stands.

I know this post of his is from last July--I was not actively playing during that time, but it seems that the overall design goals are still relevant today and will probably remain relevant as we move into Cataclysm. I will only focus on the parts of the Q&A session with Ghostcrawler (lead game designer for World of Warcraft) that affect feral tanks.

The biggest surprise is the hinting toward completely eliminating the cost of changing forms. This could really spice up the class and open up very interesting new play styles. It would also harmonize with the stated intention of continuing convergence for Druid melee itemization.

Note, all italic emphasis on the following text is mine, to draw attention to certain parts.

Form Flow Play Style

Q: What is it that makes them unique compared to all other classes?

Ghostcrawler: Forms is the big answer. The druid versions are more meaningful than other class equivalents in the game, such as Stances or Presences. One could argue they are too meaningful, because players sometimes don’t want to use any other form but “theirs." Perhaps the most unusual facet of the druid forms is that they use three different resource systems depending on the form, and these are not reset when they shift. A leveling druid can shift out of cat form to heal themselves, then shift into bear form while their mana regenerates.

Here there seems to be a renewal of focus on the shifting of forms.

Q: What do we think about making spells like Warstomp and Innervate usable while in forms?

Ghostcrawler: We like the fact that Innervate requires shifting. We want druids to shift more. [Emphasis mine --Ed.] Warstomp I could see an argument to allow in forms since it’s nice (but not mandatory) that racial benefits are useful to a variety of classes.

Q: Can you describe for us what the intended identity and versatilities of the Tree of Life druids are supposed to be?

Ghostcrawler: This is a pretty philosophical answer here. If you only read one answer in this Q&A, you might want to check out this one.

. . .

In addition to having to give up utility in order to heal as a Tree of Life, we have become less enamored with druids locking themselves into one form.
[Emphasis mine --Ed.] In fact, you really never see the basic tauren or night elf druid form (you know, the one that actually shows off the awesome armor art) because all druids are in cat, bear, tree, or moonkin form nearly 100% of the time. I’m not saying we would just cut Tree of Life from the game. It’s been around awhile and for better or worse, it’s part of World of Warcraft now. However, we could see taking the druid in a direction where shifting was much more common and easy to do. . . .

Q: Do we plans to alter how the GCD works for form changing so that shifting into a form is as easy as shifting out of one?

Ghostcrawler: As I mentioned, long-term we’d love to get druids shifting more often, which means shifting has to be less painful. I don’t know for sure that changing the GCD needs to be a part of that, but it could be.

I was very happy to read this. I think the important thing to take away from this is that Blizzard clearly wants Druids to change forms more, and are investigating removing transformation costs. I've recently argued in favor of reducing the costs and increasing the incentives for form shifting, and believe it would allow an interesting style of dynamic play (especially for solo play such as in world PvP or leveling).

I'd like to think I've been an advocate of the "form flow" play style since I was making my flying bear maneuver videos. I tend toward this style now at the cost of constantly sitting down to renew my mana pool.

When I'm not tanking (leveling, for example), I find myself starting pulls on large clusters of humanoid mobs (think Dark Iron Dwarves in Eastern Wetlands) with a Wrath or Starfire on Mob A followed by an immediate Entangling Roots / Moonfire combo, then switch to Cat form to stack DoTs on Mob B, then dropping Nature's Grasp on myself, rooting Mob B, backing up to get a little breathing room, blow my Enrage cooldown, Maul Mobs C and D until the rage runs out, drop an FFF on Mob A which is now root-free and incoming, maybe Bash Mob C, switch back to Cat form to Rake Mob A, hit Mob B with a Rip, then back to Bear form for another FFF on A and Maul to finish up B and A, blow Lifeblood and cycle Mauls then back to Cat form to finish dismantling the remaining mobs.

When I don't run out of mana, this dance can be quite fun. It's a mess, but it's a lot of fun to play. I should make a video of this.

By trying to squeeze every last drop of utility from all of my various forms I can usually take on groups of 4-5 mobs that are 2-3 levels higher than I am.

Basically, as a feral druid, I am always trying to push past my level for combat effectiveness, and removing the form changing cost entirely would allow me to play even more effectively in this "Form Flow" style whenever I'm not tanking.

Clearly we have not yet seen the changes to the cost of form shifting indicated by GC last summer, but hopefully we can look forward to them in Cataclysm.

Feral Talent Tree

Community Team: We are going to switch gears from the ranged caster damaging druids to the up close and personal Feral talent tree.

A number of players have brought up questions regarding the over-arching goal of the feral talent tree. In the past they were able to change forms regularly and cast spells and then go back into a Feral form to continue playing. Once we merged their gear with rogues this playstyle was significantly reduced in effectiveness. As it currently stands, even with the low mana pool, they feel their mana regeneration is very poor in comparison to other hybrid classes like Shaman and Paladins which in turn continues to minimize feral druids’ ability to cast spells which they feel is pushing them further and further away from the hybrid playstyle.

Q: What are our intended goals for the playstyle of feral druids?

Ghostcrawler: The druid class overall is intended to be flexible, and we feel that it is. What we don’t want is a class that can do all things with a single spec -- do damage like a rogue, then tank if the MT falls down, then battle rez the MT and heal her back up, etc. That might sound like a lot of fun, but that’s because you’re fulfilling the role of half the raid all on your own (which means it’s less fun for everyone else watching you be a superstar). Every cat worth their salt will shift out to cast Rebirth or Innervate. But in order to justify cats doing credible melee damage, we felt like they had to give up some of their ability to tank, cast, and heal. Note than you can still take a more hybrid-focused build. Players don’t often do that though because they’d rather do one thing really well. Now I will say that long term something we’d love to do is get rid of shifting costs altogether. We want to see druids in lots of different forms -- more on this in a minute.

I think it's worth pointing out here that GC's comments specifically pertain to the raid / dungeon experience, and not to solo play such as when leveling. It strikes me that being able to be very self-sufficient is the principle advantage of playing a hybrid class, when it comes to leveling.

Bear Tanking

Community Team: Bear tanks have often felt inferior compared to the other tanks.

Q: How do we feel druid tanks are doing and do we have any immediate changes planned?

Ghostcrawler: We think bears have felt inferior because for a long time we basically said “You are designed to be inferior.” Sometimes old perceptions die hard. Bears are not inferior tanks in Ulduar and it’s possible their survivability is too high in 3.2.

Community Team: Savage Defense has been the source of a number of debates as players feel it is somewhat lackluster and doesn’t provide enough of a benefit, especially in PvP.

Q: Do we have any plans to change and/or improve Savage Defense?

Ghostcrawler: We’re pretty happy with Savage Defense for now. It accomplishes its goals, which were to make dps stats more useful on leather and to keep bears from hitting the armor cap so easily. You might consider it lackluster if you’re counting on it saving your life, but it does account for a lot of damage over the course of a boss fight.

Here again we see reiterated commitment to itemization convergence for feral Druids and Rogues. I wonder what their thoughts are with respect to how useless these stats are for low level tanks who don't have Savage Defense. The mid-20s was a nightmare for me in terms of tanking as there were so few Bear skills introduced and almost no tanking leather. I'm still wearing legs from Deadmines. Ugh.


Q: Do we have any plans to improve how players obtain relic items such as a relic token?

Ghostcrawler: The alternative to “clutter to loot tables” is that they go on vendors. We view vendors as an absolute last resort. They are there as a hedge against being very unlucky with drops and to give players motivation to do bosses even when that boss no longer drops any upgrades for them. When the best relics are available on vendors, then every druid will have those relics quickly. They essentially just become part of the core identity of the class rather than an upgrade that you get at some point along your progression. The best solution is probably something where a boss has a 10% (or whatever) chance to drop a relic in addition to its normal loot table.

The difficulty of getting relics appears to remain baked into the game design for the foreseeable future.

Community Team: Tanking druids have regularly expressed complaints on how their tanking gear was homogenized but statistics like Block and Parry do not help them and defense provides a very marginal benefit.

Q: Do we have plans to make these statistics more helpful for them since they are on a wide variety of tanking gear?

Ghostcrawler: We think it’s interesting that a bear and a warrior tank might look at the same piece of gear and place different values on it. That’s one of the elements that makes looting interesting and rewards players who understand their class. You shouldn’t take a ring because it says “TANK” on it. You should take it because it benefits you. And really, when players say “wide variety of tanking gear” they really mean rings, neck, cloak, and possibly trinkets. Currently we’re in a world where tanks emphasize Stamina and Armor as much as they possibly can, which makes other stats feel lame by comparison. But that will likely not always be the case, and we kind of doubt it will be as much of an extreme in the Coliseum.

The last statement follows from their announced intention to further blur the boundaries between (and ultimately seek convergence for) DPS and tanking leathers. No surprise here, but it's good to see it reiterated.

Q: Have we considered providing more tanking leather and to prevent extra loot clutter possibly finding ways for Balance and Restoration druids to use solely cloth item since they often use them already?

Ghostcrawler: No. Druids are a leather-using class. We are just going to have to make three types of leather (melee, ranged and healing). You have to understand that even though we have pushed bears and cats farther apart, we still consider them to be part of the same spec. We can’t get into the business of itemizing for niches within a particular spec or we’re just going to have too many items per tier. I can see the argument for having tanking and dps leather and making the casters use cloth. That’s just a different design and we currently like for certain classes to be associated with certain types of armor. We like that druids look different from say priests or mages (even ignoring the forms thing). We like that we can kit druid tier piece armor to look a certain way.

Also note that if we buffed bear mitigation through more tanking-oriented leather that we’d just have to nerf them in other ways. In my experience, most bears end up with “tanking leather” anyway because they want to gem and enchant their bear gear differently. Having one set of gear that you wear as cat or bear isn’t really feasible in Ulduar.

This follows from previous posts GC has made regarding Druid itemization, so is not much of a surprise. I'm very glad that they're holding firm on the block / parry stats and keeping the distinctions between various tanking classes more architectural than aesthetic. However, the explicitly expressed notion that there will be melee, ranged, and healing leathers, and that they'll be distinguishable for people who know their class, is noteworthy. Expect more unity in the itemization for Tanking and DPS items (sorry, Rogues).

There have been very recent discussions on the forums about the anticipated removal of current parry mechanics, and the impact of this change on tanking, but I'll reserve my commentary about that for a future post.

Quality of Life / Aesthetics

Q: For the official word, do we have plans to update more druid form models at some point in the future?

Ghostcrawler: I know for a fact that the current Travel Form and Aquatic Form are loathed by the artist who redid bear and cat. We do have plans to update additional forms at some point in the future.

New Aquatic and Travel Forms? Yummy.

I will post a follow-up to this, which will incorporate recent developer commentary from the last month. Hopefully this will help ground some of the players who are new to Druid Tanking or are currently leveling a feral druid with the intention of end-game tanking get a sense of where the class direction is currently heading.

Cutting My Losses on L29 Weaponry

There is a good, clear successor to Rhahk-Zor's Hammer from the Deadmines, and that's Slaghammer from Razorfen Kraul.

But it's dropped by trash mobs.

RFK is a long instance, and one where your party members are likely to be either impatient lolret geezers in heirloom gear, or noobly huntards lost in an epic fog of auto attacks and overeager pets, oblivious to the scary blue bar next to their portrait.  Neither breed will help you clear the gutters of Razorfen at the end, looking for that awe inspiring trash-drop of lore.

Therefore, if you get the Plains Ring or Slaghammer from a dungeon finder pick-up group, consider yourself the official target of my ursine envy.

It seems that the 20s really have it in for a Bear's self image, pushing us relentlessly toward the feline angels of our nature.  Resist it, I say.  Ignore the laughable absence of a clear blue leg-armor tanking successor to your tattered Smelting Pants, put the drool-inducing Slaghammer out of your feral minds, and take your tank points where you can get them.

There are worse fates than to wear the Barbaric Leggings and the Acrobatic Staff of Stamina. We'll make it up in the Scarlet Monastery.




Keeping Aggro at Low Levels

One of the old complaints about Bear Tanks, which (lucky for us!) is just a myth, is that Bears have an innate difficulty in getting snap aggro at the beginning of a fight, and in keeping their threat high throughout the fight.

There are some things that we can do to overcome the challenge of keeping aggro during fights at low levels. The first, clearly, is to be know how much threat you're actually dealing out.

  1. Install the Omen Threat Meter add-on.  This is the most important tanking add-on you will use.
  2. Install the Aloft add-on.  This surrounds the name plates of all mobs that you have aggro on with a highly visible red bar.  When you get close to losing aggro for a mob, the nameplate border turns yellow, warning you so that you can change to that target for your next FFF-Maul combo.
  3. Use the Glyph of Maul.  In the end game, you might have good reason to remove this glyph, but while leveling, it's your bread and butter.
  4. Always always always show name plates for mobs when you are tanking.  Do this by pressing "v".
  5. Cycle your targets by clicking on the nameplates of the mobs you are attacking.  Make sure to spread out your Maul, so that every Maul attack hits a new primary target.
  6. If things start to go badly, jam Enrage and lay down a Swipe to remind all the mobs within 5 yards of you who's in charge.
  7. Fight with your back to the wall.  This lets you keep the mobs in an arc in front of you, further ensuring that you are able to distribute your Maul damage across the crowd.
  8. Backstrafe, never run away.  You can't dodge attacks that come from mobs behind you, and you sure as shootin' can't auto-attack or Maul them back.  Backstrafing will eventually add up to faster rage gain.
  9. Keep Thorns up all the time, but don't be lazy about it--skip the Glyph of Thorns.
  10. Always keep Faerie Fire (Feral) on cooldown.  Start your pulls with it.  Then, every six seconds, pick a new target and hit them with FFF.  Consider this a permanent part of your tanking rotation, from now until forever.

Assume that most players ignore raid targets--the end game has spoiled a lot of players into expecting every trash pull to fall to AoE damage.  You can try using raid targets, but will probably catch flack for it.

If you try to establish threat dominance over a crowd of 4+ mobs using only damage superiority, you'll probably fail.  Particularly if you are new and grouped with a bunch of fire-hardened raider alts in bind-to-account gear.  The truth is, it's pretty easy for dealers to pull a mob out of your threat-well if you are trying to spread white damage out over a large group.  In the early game, Swipe doesn't really give a good return on the Rage investment per use--it's a great tool for establishing a fast burst of threat at the beginning of a fight, but you'll be experiencing relativity directly, as time seems to slow down when you have no Rage, Enrage is on cooldown, and you're losing aggro to multiple dealers.

Your only real chance of keeping high threat (and thus aggro) on multiple mobs is to target cycle Maul, and keep Faerie Fire (Feral) on cooldown.  If you're dealing with a mix of caster and melee targets, catch the melee with a Maul and FFF, then drag those bastards over to the caster.  If he tries to root you and run away, power shift and punish him.  Let the melee mobs fall to your Maul splash-damage, the caster's attacks ignore your armor anyway.

Keep an eye on your healer, too.  If you body pull a mob and catch a heal, you might inadvertently transfer aggro to your healer.  FFF comes in handy for these situations.

In many ways, tanking is like fighting with your own party members.  The threat game is a tight rope, but can be quite a bit of fun.  If you think one of them is really trying to pull a mob off of you, drop an FFF-Maul-Maul combo on it to discourage them.  If one of the mobs you're fighting breaks and runs to get help and your ranged dealers let him run, and you aren't ready for adds, if you decide that the situation warrants it, shift to Cat form, punish the bastard with Shred for showing his back, then back to Bear form before your healer can complain.  If nothing else is attacking you, why not?  If the mob gets a head start, you can hit him with an FFF-Moonfire combo the same way.  If you look at your threat bar on Omen and see that you've got 5x as much threat as the next contender on a mob, cycle to the next one.

It's like boxing.  Stay on your toes.  Cycle your mobs, watch for incoming and pull them with FFF before your dealers body-pull.  Spread out that Maul damage and save your Swipes for when you've got Rage to burn.  Keep an eye on the nameplates.  And you will see, when you bring your A-game, there'll be nothing that your dealers can do, at least while you're leveling, to take your aggro away from you and keep it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Good Advice from PuG Members

Yesterday I set aside some time to run Razorfen Kraul. There are a number of items I want from that instance, including two rings and a weapon upgrade.

Many of the items that I'm looking for drop off of trash mobs, so of course I took the first left turn to hit that optional part of the instance. Predictably, some of the members of the party told me that I was going the wrong way. I explained about the trash drops, and most of them were very understanding.

While crossing the chasm bridge, I lightheartedly said "no falling". The Warrior DPS got hostile at that point, and the rest of the group precipitously did the same.

"Don't tell me what to do, just keep pulling mobs" (Warrior)
"Absolutely, no problem." (Me)
"Pull very large groups so we can AoE" (Warlock)
"And trust my healing" (Paladin)

And just like that, I ate my humble pie and, throwing caution to the wind, decided to get really aggressive with my pulls, hauling in groups of 6-8 mobs at a time, strafing forward like a train, pulling the assembly along behind me and making frequent stops for Rain of Fire. Everyone seemed to enjoy the fight quite a bit more. The healer had more to worry about, I had a more challenging time keeping aggro off of the warrior in B2A gear, so kept FFF on cooldown, but the overall rate of completion was much faster and I only had to pop Lifeblood once. There were no more complaints, or talking for that matter.

So, in the balance of things, it was great advice, and a very good group. And in the final boss fight, I fell off the edge and into the pit. Epic fail. The warrior tanked. Chalk this up as an "experience" post.