To All The Blades I’ve Loved Before…

Most players develop some kind of emotional attachment to the various baubles that we pick up along the way in azeroth.  I’ve known players who sacrifice storage room for sets of gear, roleplaying clothing, various doodads from quests.  As a warrior, my fetish has always been the weapons I used to tank.  For some reason I have always developed a bond with them, and above any other piece of gear I aquire it is the one I am most likely to keep.

In fact my vault is littered with weapons that have long become outmoded and useless.  Looking back through it you can see a history of sorts of the progression I made as an “aggronaut”.

 

The Old World Era

During the old world, I was relegated to the role of a tanking alt.  Back then raided actively as a hunter, and a pretty piss poor one at that.  Lodin was the character I played for business, and Belghast the character I played for fun.  As a result I whored myself out to any group that would take me as a tank.  I managed to get experience tanking Ony, MC, BWL, ZG, AQ20, AQ40, and a little bit of Naxx.  I never had the best gear available, but I managed to accumulate enough to make me a viable tank in most situations.

 Ancient Hakkari Manslayer – This was my first real epic mainhand.  I remember how proud of I was of this weapon.  Back then House Stalwart was a mostly casual guild, and I was one of our few players that had an epic anything, let along an epic “tanking” weapon.  I used this thing with pride for months.  I still think it was one of the coolest weapons I have ever had the luck to swing.

 Bloodlord’s Defender – This was my first true tanking weapon.  I had been waiting for months to see one of these drop and when it finally did I beat out a few other tanks for it.  I swung this with pride all the way until Burning Crusade was released.  I never did manage to get an Aegis of the Blood God to drop in the time we were actively running Zul’gurub but I have since picked one up to use as a set.

 

The Burning Crusade Era

Burning crusade was the great equalizer.  Most players sat around and bellyached about replacing hard fought epic gear with quested greens, but for me I looked at it as an opportunity to catch up to those bulletproof tanks I admired so much.  It was in BC that I shifted my focus to be the best damned tank I could be.  In truth it was a good thing, most of the old guard of tanks had gotten disillusioned and moved on to dpsing so the voids were all too neatly filled by me who was more than willing to do the leg work.  While the expansion ultimately killed the Late Night Raiders, I was able to keep my contacts and keep raiding.

 Latro’s Shifting Sword – This was the first weapon that I used with any frequency in the outland.  While not technically designed by blizzard as a tanking weapon, it did an amazing job at generating aggro.  I’ve kept it all this time because of the graphic.  I still think this was the best looking sword of the BC era.  It has this whole futuristic swashbuckler appeal.  It only became cooler after sunwell when they introduced it as part of a new weapon set.

 The Sun Eater – I ran heroic Mechanar every day for 2 weeks before I finally saw this beauty drop.  After getting mine it started dropping every single time we went in.  Our mages, warlocks, rogues…  basically every player that could wield it had one for cosmetic purposes.  Still one of the best looking tanking weapons especially when enchanted with mongoose.

 King’s Defender – Yet another weapon that was hard to acquire for me.  I think we ran Kharazhan for 3 months before I saw a King’s Defender drop out of the chest.  This weapon was such the archetypal burning crusade tank weapon.  You weren’t a serious tank until you had this thing or better.

 Mallet of the Tides – This weapon and I have a love/hate relationship.  It was the be all end all tanking weapon of the day, but without a doubt the ugliest piece of shit the blizzard artists have ever thrust upon us.  I am pretty sure this was designed by a summer intern…  and simply never got replaced with a real graphic.  I keep it as a reminder of how awful the blizteam’s sense of style can be.

 The Unbreakable Will – The night this weapon dropped was one of my happiest moments in WoW.  If I did not clearly state it above, I hated the Mallet soooo badly that I was jumping out of my skin at the prospect of replacing it.  The side benefit was the fact that was hands down the best weapon a human warrior could wield.  It served as my best friend all of the way leveling through Northrend content.

 

Northrend – The Modern Era

While I am not sure you can really count these as classics yet, they are still adding to my armory of tanking history.  I am hoping to keep replacing them with better and better main hands all the way through the northrend dungeons.

 Red Sword of Courage – This is the defacto first Northrend tanking weapon.  While Utgarde Pinnacle is not the easiest of heroics, it takes the place of Sun Eater as your first farmable epic tanking weapon that can carry you onward.  Due to shitty luck, our secondary tank has been using this weapon all of the way through 25 man content only to be recently replaced by Last Laugh.

 Broken Promise – I picked this weapon up, wanting to test out tanking with a slow hard hitting mainhand.  It wasn’t for me, so this one hands out in my bag for fights where I am needing to conserve rage.  Not exacty the best looking weapon, but it is certainly unique.  There are many tanks out there using this one with pride.

 Slayer of the Lifeless – This was the one weapon I HAD to have before moving out of Naxx.  I wanted it back in the oldworld when it was called the Hungering Cold, and I like it all the same under its new name as well. For a human warrior I still believe this is the best pre-Ulduar tanking weapon, and as a result I still use this with pride.  I am however ready to replace it with a Titanguard as soon as I can.  I wanted this weapon for stupid reasons as well.  There is a DC Comics action figure that looks almost exactly like Belghast, and this is the badboy he is swinging.

 

A Weapon Out of Time

Every so often I get something stuck in my head and I have to acquire it out of all costs.  Towards the end of BC one of these mad quests hit me.  I had to track down Foror’s Compendium of Dragon Slaying at all costs.  After much farming of Dire Maul with no luck, I finally located the book on the horde auction house and traded it across in Booty Bay.

 Quel’serrar – In the classic game, I wanted this weapon more than almost anything.  I had no luck getting the book to drop, nor could I have ever afforded the 1500g price tag attached to it on my server.  So I stood at afar lusting over its awesomeness.  During the pre-Wrath boredom that sat in, this became my obsession and after lucking across the book for 200g I pulled together a spur of the moment Onyxia run late one night and forged the badboy.  Since then I have tanked all manner of content with it.  I find it a challenge trying to hold aggro with this old of a weapon. but damned does it look sexy.

 

The Naked truth

Now you all know what my personal obsession is in this game.  Everyone has one.  I know plenty of pet and mount collectors out there.  What are your obsessions?  What are the doodads you have littering your vault that you will never be able to bring yourself to part with?

The Dark Art of the Raid Invite

confused_bush Tonight is yet another Duranub raid night… something that I both look forward to and dread at the same time.  There is one aspect of being a raid leader that I will never get used to; the raid invite.  In lean times I hate trying to magically pull a workable raid group out of my ass, and in good times I hate trying to decide who is going to make the cut and who is going to have to twiddle their thumbs that evening.  No matter what decisions myself and the other officers make, it is always at great personal cost to my digestive tract.

Lately it’s come to my attention that many of the players who are late to the party simply think that I in some way do not like them, and that is the reason why they are not receiving regular invites.  While this came out in part on the empyreal forums this morning, I thought I would take some time to type up a post on my blog about it.  Maybe as a way to explain the thought process that goes into invites and some of the things that our players do that drive me up a wall.

The first concept players have to get into their heads is a confusing one.  Raid Leader Belghast, Guild Leader Belghast, and Friend Belghast are three completely different entities.  It’s like the triumvirate… and even less understandable.  When I am wearing my Raid Leader hat, my only concern is about the success of the raid and dealing with any issues that are in the way of us going in and clearing content quickly and efficiently.  We try our damnedest to leave our feelings out of it.  This doesn’t always work, but in general is a benchmark we try and work from.

 

7 Habits of Annoying Players (well just 2)

Please sir can I have some more?

domoPumpkin On any given raid night during the course of the evening I will have received a tell from 20 or so players each wanting some form of special “care and handling”.  There are two behaviors that just drive me up a wall.  The first one is the players, and this is a LARGE group who start messaging me the moment I log on during a raid night, and in some cases days before trying to “reserve” their space for the next raid.  Unfortunately the Duranub invite system is not a car rental company. 

The most common question myself and the other officers receive is…  “Is there room tonight for me?”.  In 99% of all cases the answer will always be “I won’t really know until we do invites.”.  Which is the gods honest truth.  Unless I know up front that one of our regular “core class” players is missing, then I do not know ahead of time whether or not there will be “Room in the Inn”.  Pressing the point only serves to make me either annoyed or feel like complete shit that I can’t give you a straight answer.

We Built this City… err Raid…

The next trait that just drives me up a freaking wall is…  the player that EXPECTS a raid invite.  It does not matter who you are, or how long you have been with a raid…  we are all expendable for the good of the raid.  This includes myself and any of the other raid officers.  The good of the group is our driving focus, and every night we try and assemble out of what we are given the group with the highest likelihood of success.  From time to time this means that one of the “regular” members is going to get asked to ride the bench.  When this happens please take it gracefully and understand that there were more factors in play than you will realize.

 

How The Invites Work

m12troop There is in fact a dark science as the topic states to all our invites.  Essentially starting somewhere between 8:30 pm -9:00 pm the Duranub officers begin evaluating who is available in the Duranub channel.  If you are NOT in the channel, then that is the first critical mistake you can make.  Being in the channel is part of your responsibility.  This is not a House Stalwart raid, and as a result we do ALL our invites from those who are sitting in the Duranub channel at invite time.  We take this as your signal that you are available and ready to raid that night.  Please do not expect us to track you down from guild, our friends list, other social channels… we have a million things going on every raid night and the surest way to get left behind is to not be where you are supposed to be on time.

We officially start invites at 9:00 server or shortly thereafter.  Please be available for an invite at this time.  This time has been announced publically for going on 2 years now, so you should expect to start receiving invites at this time.  It is disrespectful to the members and officers to be unavailable at this time.  There are many annoying behaviors that end up digging under my skin.

  • Not taking raid invite because you are furiously working on daily quests
  • Being in another group at the time invites start going out
  • Pushing your luck and trying to finish and instance run prior to the raid
  • Being afk – There are mods that auto accept group invites from people on your friends list.  If you have to habitually go afk FIND one and use it. (example)
  • Spamming officers as to if invites have gone out yet, or as to why you haven’t gotten one yet

We approach invites in multiple phases.  Basically we weigh a number of factors when we attempt to do a raid invite.  This is not an exact science but basically this is the theory that is applied.

  • Core Classes/Class Balance – We invite players first who play a unique role that is vital to the success of the raid.  This is not limited to but includes tanks, healers, players with uniquely needed specs
  • High Performers – we invite the players next who have habitually shown the ability to always perform above and beyond the curve of the raid.  These are the players who carry the raid on their backs every single night and without whom we would have a harder time succeeding.
  • Players Who Got Left Out – This filter is to catch players from that would have normally gotten an invite but for some reason got left out for the good of the raid the previous week.
  • Senority/Dedication – We invite the players who have always been there for the raid, have always done whatever was asked of them, be it change classes, be it change specs, be it take a particularly annoying but needed role. 

Throughout this entire process as many officers as are available are sifting through all of these decisions verbally.  If there are still openings to fill we begin to look towards new applicants and other folks that are currently available and willing to go.  We take into account melee vs caster dps balance, healer diversity, buff diversity, and all other manner of subtle issues that can’t be directly quantified.  The basic point that needs to be taken away, is that if for some reason you get skipped over for an invite there were dozens of other points that went into making that decision.

 

The Money Shot

explosion Now we get down to the crux of this point.  Running a raid is hard work.  The officers and raid elders spend countless hours each week doing various things we would probably rather not be doing.  All of this to bring everyone the relaxed but successful environment that I hope we all enjoy.  We do in 2.5 hours 2 nights a week what other raids do in 4 hours per night 3-5 nights a week.  We start at a huge disadvantage already, so in order to be successful we have to pull out all the breaks we can and remain focused. 

When you disagree with a decision that has been made or for some reason feel wronged please let your first reaction be to take a step back and evaluate the situation.  We are making decisions every night for the good of the raid, not for your benefit and not for the benefit of ourselves.  Nothing kills the morale of the officers than receiving nothing but complaints, but it is human nature for players to ONLY speak up when something is wrong.  We are going to do our best to handle things in a manner that makes everyone happy, but at the end of the day please be gentle.

 

That in a nutshell is the Dark Science of Raid Invites.

Can no longer exorcise pvp “demons”

Exorcism can no longer be used on players
We made a change in the 3.1.1 patch to prevent Exorcism from being used on players. We didn’t announce this change ahead of time because we were trying to get the tooltip changed at the same time to reduce confusion. We still plan on getting the tooltip updated ASAP. Exorcism’s use in PvE has not changed at this time.
Going with a “not on players” solution is not ideal and we will be re-designing how the ability works in a future patch (the plan is sooner rather than later). We don’t like for PvE and PvP mechanics to work differently when we can avoid it. We also don’t like for a major damaging ability to be excluded from the PvP game. However, we thought this had become a balance issue serious enough to address at this time.
We shifted around paladin damage for 3.1 trying to increase sustained damage while reducing burst damage. Unfortunately, the Exorcism change did the opposite. Instead of stealing a GCD from a paladin, it actually gave them an extra one. A Retribution paladin could use Exorcism to cause damage while closing to melee and then be ready to go with their melee damage attacks. (Exorcism of course is not limited to Ret paladins either.) We changed the way paladins do damage for Lich King, so while it is unfortunate (and we accept full blame), it also isn’t too surprising that it is taking some effort to get their damage in the right place.
In the same patch where we remove the “not on players” limitation for Exorcism, we are going to change the way paladins do damage so that their normal combat moves have more depth to them instead of just using abilities every time they finish their cooldown. This should make causing damage as a paladin more interesting and also less bursty. While we have some ideas on how to accomplish that, if you have suggestions or your own ideas about how this could work, this would be a good time to share them. (As examples of abilities you don’t just use whenever their cooldown has finished, you might look at Conflagrate, Brain Freeze, Rip, Overpower or Arcane Blast.) We do request that you don’t fill the forums with posts of limited content or insight about how you don’t like to be nerfed. Nobody does.
It is always a judgment call about when a fix (a buff or a nerf) can’t wait. Some things we can’t change easily in hotfixes or small patches, and some things we consider too risky for technical reasons or for their potential effects on the game.

Ghostcrawler
Lead Systems Designer

 

Panic Well I guess this means the end of my not sucking in PVP.  When 3.1 was first released I did a bit of PVPing with a friend of mine Zea and for some reason I was able to roll through 5-6 players as a retribution paladin.  I am guessing this is because I have always used exorcism as part of my rotation and it accounted for my bonus damage.  Oh well, back to me sucking horribly in pvp 🙂

Unbridled Wrath

Spell_Nature_StoneClawTotem Last night I bucked some of the conventional wisdom and tried another one of my “bel” builds for tanking.  For some reason I have never had much luck with the canned builds. They have never really produced the results I would have expected, because I guess in many ways they don’t fit my play style.  Many in Duranub can remember the colossal failure that a deep wounds build was for me.

I have heard for years that unbridled wrath has no place in a tanking build, let alone a tanking build of a main tank.  This morning I did some investigating by looking at last nights WWS parses.  Over the course of the night I gained nearly 3 times the rage from Unbridled Wrath that I did from Shield Specialization.  To me that is pretty phenomenal. 

I think primarily what is happening here is that roughly 60% of all attacks are avoided completely.  So more attacks are missing me completely than are being blocked.  So what this is allowing me to do is have a constant font of rage coming in from my attacks.  Thanks to the revenge glyph I am getting a ton of free heroic strikes, which in turn increase my number of attacks spinning the random generator for firing unbridled wrath…  which is turned into rage that I can use for shield slam, cleave, thunderclap, shockwave etc.

So far I am digging the build quite a bit.  While it is not optimal based on the math presented by Tankspot/Elitist Jerks it fits my play style.  So far it works equally well for 5/10/25 man content.  Now we have yet to poke our heads into ulduar, so I might be retracting my praise shortly, but for now I am rather happy.

Dual Specs – Unexpected Consequence

Yesterday brought us the 3.1.1 patch and with it a spec reset.  I can only guess that this was to help clear out some of the disappearing talent issues players had been having.  Always in the past a free respec was a welcome thing.  However in the world of dual speccing this turns out to be a pain in the ass.

I spent a good chunk of my evening reapplying 2 specs each for 3 different characters, for a total of 6 rapid fire respecs.  Luckily for me I had all of my specs saved in my email box.  Inside of gmail I have a label called “Notes to Myself” which I use to email things I might find useful later.  Habitually this has been the storage bin for all my spec ideas.

The only thing that kept me from pulling my hair out is that Talented has been fixed to apply imports from WoWhead.  So For the most part I could just cut and paste my spec urls into the Talented UI and then hit apply.  Granted in the case of my Boomkin spec this caused me to reapply the spec I had missing typhoon.  I had a “where the hell is typhoon” while in the middle of fighting a mob, only to remember that my earlier spec design had starfall not typhoon.

More betterer

Okay I think for the most part that the blog is in it’s mostly final state.  I added the amazing Chibi Belghast to the header.  This was drawn for me by my good friend Audrae who is just awesome at chibi-dom.  I figured it was fitting since I am not exactly a “hardcore srsbzns” tank.

On the top we have some nav options, home button, House Stalwart website, Duranub Raiding company website, and the still unfinished about page.  On the side we have a spiffy armory plug-in I found, as well as links divided into several categories.

Now the hard part.  I have to think of something useful 🙂

Main Specs – what happens now?

Starting to encounter an interesting problem brought on by the 3.1 dual spec changes.  There are many raids right now running on my server that use the practice of rolling 200 for main spec, and 100 for off spec.  However more and more we are asking players to switch hit for the raid.  In our “Alt-ramas” run we have already had a Retribution Paladin go Tanky, an Elemental Shaman go Resto, and a Resto Druid go Feral in order to better fit certain fights.  So I am starting to wonder exactly how someone determines what your main focus is these days.

Belghast  my warrior for example is definitely a tank by heart, but when it comes to a run like Alt-ramas…  I was only there tanking it to help stabilize the group.  The only gear that I could actually use comes from the DPS trees.  So for stability of the raid, do we agree to let me roll on DPS items just so that I don’t feel like a pack mule?  I think 3.1 and the ability to switch specs on the fly is going to chip away at the foundation of “class roles”.

I can already see amongst our tanks the ability to alternate the main tank hat from fight to fight so the others of us can don our dps gear and kick some ass.  Doing this will help  to break up the monotony by a wide margin, since most boss fights only need 1-2 tanks.  Are we going to start seeing this same thing happening for healers and hybrids?

What are your thoughts on how best to manage this whole Main/Off spec issue?

The Aggronaut

Still pulling the site together at this point but I thought it was proper to finally replace the initial “hello world” post with something that made sense.  The basic theory behind this blog is the ramblings of me, otherwise known as Belghast in the World of Warcraft. 

I’m the leader of the guild House Stalwart, a raid leader in Duranub Raiding Company and a longtime tank.  I have a certain take on the world from that perspective, and this is my blog to rant, rave and ramble on.