Sunday, April 26

(World of) Warcraft: Snarks vs Trolls

Awhile back I publicly berated Daniel Whitcomb of WoW Insider for being a troll. More specifically one of his posts about PvP in the Wrath beta, and the associated video, was an unnecessary troll. He tends to lean toward the controversial style of posting. At the very least, he seems to like putting up posts that make people think, or failing that, pushes their buttons and gets them riled up. Usually, that's awesome because it gets people more involved in the game. Occasionally, it's a pain in the ass.

But like a lot of things, there's two different kinds of trolls; there's your kind of troll and then there's my kind of troll. Today's he's my kind. :P

His latest post on WoW Insider is a firestorm amoung some of the uber-Wow players. It's titled "Varian Wrynn is Right" and is a response, of sorts, to Leslie Smith's post, on the same blog, titled "The State of the Horde and the Alliance." G'head and read 'em both. I'll wait. Don't hit the comments, though. I don't have all day here. Go back and read those later.

I don't usually like to get involved in this sort of stuff. What's become clearer over the last year, or so, particular in regards to Wrath, is that there is a rather vocal minority of WoW players that pretty much say everything there is out there to read. They tend to be hardcore, or at least very dedicated players. This makes sense, of course. The vast majority of players barely have time to play enough (to their liking) much less write in blogs and respond to forum posts. I find myself in that position frequently. Do I wanna play or write? Guess which one wins more often.

That leaves most of the "opinion" and perception of the state of things in WoW in the hands of a few people who, to be perfectly honest, tend to lemming through their views of certain matters. I do it. Frequently. Most of the time, it's great. It builds a sense of community and common shared experience. Sometimes it's not so great.

Yes, there's a point here. Sheesh!

K, G'head and read the comments to those posts 'cause I'm not writing here about the posts themselves so much as I'm addressing those comments. This'll take you awhile, so I'm gonna get a snack.

After reading those, and discounting the asinine QQ, you may have noticed three things about some of the comments.

Comment Type #1 - You read the comment and discover, after flipping back to the original post, that the commenter didn't actually address what was said. They simply restate the original argument to which Daniel had already stated and responded. No counter argument. These basically prove his point, intentionally or not. We can safely throw those out.

Comment Type #2 - These ones try to answer the general theme of the original post by either a) name calling, or b) pointing out something completely unrelated. In most cases both. The most common was to say Wrynn is a dull and cardboard cutout character with no originality and the Horde (and a few Alliance characters) are way better as far as back story and motivation. Yah, cause the "Noble Savage" concept is terribly original. How original is it to post the exact same thing over and over again in the same thread that's already been said exactly the same way by a couple of dozen other people!?! This is a standard and typical move in politics. It's also ignorant and cowardly (See? Name calling is EASY!).

Aside: "The Noble Savage" and the "Mistreated Warmonger Hero" are called archetypes. It's how you handle them that makes them special. Stories about a haunted house are pretty much as standard fare as you can get in horror writing, but Stephen King's The Shining still sold millions of copies and is one of the best horror novels ever written. For a video game, both the Horde/Thrall and the Alliance/Wrynn motivations in WoW are pretty good. They certainly fit and serve the game world archetypes quite well and drive certain aspects of game play in an enjoyable manner. I'm not saying it's Pulitzer material, but it's at bare minimum serviceable, and in many cases, leads to some wonderfully creative play.

Comment #3 - Our final category is the people who actually call Wrynn (a fictional character) a racist and a bigot. A couple even go out of their way to compare him to Hitler! I can't decide if these posts are funny, sad, or disturbing. The political tactic, however, is quite common. Say something outrageous enough, say it often enough, and it'll detract from the fact that you don't really have anything say at all, that your counter point is weak, and you have a mind like a steel sieve. "Cupcakes are delicious!" "Yeah, well you're a bigot cause you only eat cupcakes and not pie! Hitler ate cupcakes, too!" To these people, everyone they disagree with is a bigot, a racist, a hypocrite, or all of the above.

To these last group of people I'll only say: Please meet me in the BGs this weekend. You will, of course, come complete unarmed and naked. Yes, I'll gank you repeatedly for HKs, but at least you won't be a bigot, racist, or hypocrite.

Snarkiness aside, these three types are the most ludicrous of arguments. There are a couple of responses that are well thought out. For example, yes Wrynn may be "justified" in his motivations, but there's plenty of characters on the Horde side that are just as "justified." This, of course, is the real point here. Blizzard is pushing Azeroth, through it's main character's motivations, to war.

I'm probably too much of a Carebear to embrace that idea fully. I actually like the idea presented by several comments where players might have the option of actually joining the Argent Dawn/Crusade or Cenarian Circle as an inclusive faction. Some of my best memories of in-game moments are cooperation with the opposite faction! Probably wouldn't work in game, but it is a neat idea.

That's me personally, though. Friday?

Several commentors pointed out that the Forsaken, for instance, have a right to Lordearon because they were the original inhabitants. They just got killed and raised from the dead, broke free of the Lich King and set up in their new homes. And now their former loved ones want to destroy them and treat them as monsters!

Who can see the fallacy in that argument? :)

Yah. "Former loved ones." Put aside the stated Forsaken goal of destroying all life and making "them" like "us." (Remember, I rolled a Forsaken Warlock as my very first character *because* I wanted to play an evil character for a change. I've played those quests, and it's not some whoa is us oh we're so misunderstood motivation there. They really do want to kill you.)

Wh0 are all these "loved ones?"

They're the original inhabitants of Strom, Arathi, Alterac and Lordearon. The ones that were pushed out by Orc invasions, slaughtered and pushed out by the plagued legions of undead, watched their kingdoms, ancestral lands and height of their civilizations fall apart under political turmoil in the aftermath of war, and finally usurped by their now undead "loved ones" who want nothing more than to murder them mercilessly so that they can all enjoy being undead together.

Haven't these people ever seen a zombie movie?!? Have none of them read The Zombie Survival Guide? For cryin' out loud! When your loved ones turn into flesh-eating brain munchers, you buck up and put 'em down! That's the way it works. Sheesh!

:P

These displaced people don't have a claim that is, technically, even more valid than the Forsaken? I don't RP much, but the back story for Friday is that she is definitely one of these people. Why wouldn't she be fed up with the "peace" between the Horde and the Alliance that has, thus far, not gotten one tiny step toward resolution? Why wouldn't she follow a new, strong leader who wants to take down the groups who have piled indignity upon indignity on her people and people like her? Why wouldn't she want to jump in and take back what she and most of her kind think is rightfully theirs?

I am not my toon. I'm one of those people that doesn't project m'self into the game world with my toon as my avatar. I'm one of those people that sees my toons as companions, separate from m'self. And occasionally as dress up dolls, as well, but that's another post entirely. Friday's motivations are not necessarily mine. Friday and I would probably have a pretty good argument regarding the benefits of peace versus the morality of war with the Horde. Then she'd kick the crap out of me because, unfortunately, I am not my toon. :P

But it makes a great story motivation. And that's where Daniel Whitcomb's post excels. It points out the obvious story driving what Blizzard is doing for the Alliance. It's a story that, if you look at it from the perspective of characters, and not players, it makes perfect sense. Our characters probably have a greater awareness of what goes on in the world than the common citizen of the Horde or the Alliance. We *can* work together when necessary. But those prejudices and, most importantly, perceptions and motivation would still be there for those characters.

I think a lot of people who project themselves into the game, take the motivations of the fictional characters in the game a bit too seriously. I do, to an extent, or I wouldn't have written this WAY too long post. I also think some people bring their own real politics and beliefs into a fictional environment. That's a bit silly. But it doesn't change that fact that the characters, player and non-player, in WoW DO have certain perceptions and derive their motivations from those. Blizzard is using that with the Wrynn/Grom/Thrall/Jaina story lines to drive a story. Will it be war? Peace? Tragedy? A whole reworking of the games political dynamics?

Dunno. But I bet it'll be pretty good to play.

-Fri

Campers vs Sprinters and Bunny Love!

At 12:01 this morning, the festivities began! It's Noblegarden! I was finishing off Argent Tournament dailies, so I arrived in Goldshire fashionably late.

Total Chaos!

After picking up the quests, and running through the forest like fools from previous years, Vi and I decide we'd try Azure Watch instead. If you need to jump locations for this one, bring a mage. They handy. :)

Once there, I sprinted around and grabbed eggs. Vi found a camp spot. And the fights started. Not between me and Vi, mind ya, but in General Chat.

The Campers start getting upset because Sprinters are rushing in and "ninja'ing" "their" eggs. The Sprinters start getting upset because the Campers aren't really "getting into the spirit" of an egg *hunt*. Much drama ensues. At least two of the three words that have no place in game are flying about with disturbing frequency. I don't pay attention to General much, so I was kinda shocked to see "fag/gay" and "retarded" thrown about so casually as insults. My guildies and the people I hang out in game just don't use those words like that. I mean I know they are used that way fequently... but they shouldn't. Over virtual eggs? That's just sad. Maybe I'm getting old. Ouch. I still listen to really loud Punk Rock while egg hunting. :D Maybe not too old yet.

Anyhow, when we first arrived at Azure Watch, much fun was being had. It was mostly Sprinters with a few disgruntled Campers. It started with the Sprinters using every manner of goofiness to trip each other up. Very much in fun, of course. Vi and I used Baby Spice on Campers quite a bit. :) The race for the eggs, though, was quite good natured, for the most part. Lots of, "Aw, you beat me" and "Race ya to the next one" and so on. The guy who sincerely apologized for his bunny mating mine, REPEATEDLY, was funny. Even if the rotten bunny boffer was better at grabbing eggs than I was. :)

This is definitely the most "adult" event Blizz has put on. I'm sure there will be some objections, but it's all in good grown-up fun. At one point, a Dranei Priest and I stood in front of the inn in Kronos. She bunny ear'd me and I bunny ear'd her with our Spring Flowers for the Shake Your Bunny Maker achievement. (Still gotta hunt over 18 Horde girls in Dal and a female Dorf is surprisingly hard to find at 3 AM. Huh.) Then we made flowers with our Spring Robes and alternated Lifeblood while an orgy of six bunnies cavorted and made piles of cute little baby bunnies in the flower beds. Hysterical!

The only strategy thing I can add is what we'll call Critical Camper Mass. :) Okay, in the grand argument over Campers vs Sprinters, I prolly lean to the Sprinters side. It's WAY more fun to race for the eggs than sit still staring at a bush for a couple of hours. On the other hand, I got way more eggs with the bush staring method. /shrug

When we first arrived in Azure Watch, there weren't that many people and most were Sprinters. As the night (morning, I suppose) went on, the Campers took over. By the time we decided to move on, there were no eggs for Sprinters, alas. Each spawn point had a least two or three people standing around it, clicking madly when the egg spawned. This was the same at each other location we went to. Critical Camper mass had been reached. I finally went to bed, but Vi stayed on and apparently pushed some people out of their camp spots through sheer determination and sleep deprivation.

During the day time, at least this early in the event, it's not even worth going unless you're willing to fight another Camper. That'll change, of course, so no worries. It was the same with the Invasion Points during the Scourge Invasion, for example. Lots of big, hardcore guild titles in the camp spots. As the week goes on, they'll finish their achievements and forget about it. That'll free up plenty of eggs. For now, I'm sticking with late night egg raiding. That's right. I've finally gone hardcore and am raiding all the week. Gonna pwn me some eggs. The benefits of being a grown up. I may pay for it in the morning, but I can set my own bed time. :)

I said earlier that Friday's luck has changed. It has! In one shot I got the Elegant Dress (do you know how long I've been trying to get THAT?!?), The Spring Dress, the pet and everything except the Spring Flowers (which I bought) and the Tux stuff. In about 3 hours or so. Don't think it's terribly easy, though. Vi looted close to 200 eggs and got the tux shirt. That's it. The good news is that if the RNG Goddess is cruel to you, at least you'll be getting the chocolates you'll need to buy the items. You do have to get the Elegant Dress as a drop for the Achievement, though. :/

For more strategy, hop over to Letters from Birdfall. She's got the best and most concise strats and tips I've read. Also, WoW Insider's Allison Roberts has an excellent guide to Noblegarden. They've more than covered the stuff you'll need to get The Noble title.

To me, though, Blizzard has really gone a lot further to making these holiday events loads more fun. I'll do the Achievement stuffs today, so I'll hafta letcha know how that goes. I'll take photos. Only a few vanity photos so far. :) Starting with the Fire Festival last year and followed up with a new an improved (and fun!) Brewfest, Noblegarden is loads of fun and the changes add a lot of flavor to the event.

Happy Egg Huntin' and Bunny Maker Shakin'!

-Fri

PS To the Dranei male wearing the Elegant Dress last night: Thanks a lot. I'll carry that image to my grave. Ouch. :P

Wednesday, April 22

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! :)

All in one night!


Is this just the cutest little guy ever?!? Squire, title, t-shirt... horse, griffen, banner...
Stormwind fans rejoice!

I swear , if Blizzard doesn't make this mount and lance gettable I'll quit this stinkin' game!
The Black Knight fight is WAY too easy, but the achievement is funny.
Monty Python FTW!

Then I turned in the daily reg dungeon and DING!
I know, I know everyone has one...
but it took me a really, really long time, so shush!

So sleepy... gotta go... zonk!

-Fri

Monday, April 20

I <3 The Argent Tournament

About four and half seconds before I hit Publish, this post was called "I love being mounted." Luckily, I realized that there might, just might, be a couple of freaks on the interwebs out there that might get the wrong idea. So, we get the less catchy title instead. :P

If you've followed this blog a bit, you prolly know that I'm an Argent Dawn fan. If you haven't then let me reiterate: I'm an Argent Dawn fan. I like the whole concept of the Argent Dawn. Pretty much all of it, 'cept it seems a little off that they let undead in. /shrug

Maybe it's just Alchemist Finklestein that ticks me off. Yah, I still hate that guy.

I first encountered the Argent Dawn way back when I started playing. How's that, you ask? Friday, you silly, you don't meet the Argent Dawn until you get to the Plaguelands! You can't meet them until you hit your mid-50s.

Well, when I hit level 21, I decided to go see Uther's Tomb. I started in Iron Forge and spent most of a day running and exploring. I didn't die once until I got within sight of the tomb. Thinking I'd made it that far I ran straight for it... and agrro'd about half of the Western Plaguelands.

So, after a quick bone run, I snuck in carefully when I saw a group of 60s clearing out the undead. Made it. Then in general chatter it starts...

"Why is there a 21 here?"
"lol some 21 over here!"
"Why she lost?"
"there's a 21 here looking for candles?!?"

And so on. No one spoke directly to me, of course, even when I asked for help. Just about me being there. :D Anyhoo, I had to get out. So I skirted around the mobs as best I could and when I reached the graveyard gates I ran for it. And aggro'd the other half of WPL.

So here I am running for my life down the road, passing 50-somethings and 60s with an undead choo choo right behind me. I come flying over the little rise and land right in the middle of the Chillwind Camp. (I didn't know it at the time, but those undead probably leashed long before I got to the camp. I wasn't turning around to check, though. Nope.)

I get the flight point and poke around a little. There's this nice, but kinda snotty, lady telling me I'm not good enough to join their little undead killing club. I decided right then and there that I would be good enough.

I've been fascinated with the Argent Dawn ever since.

Jump forward 59 levels, hard won exalted rep (pre-nerf mind you!), and a LOT of dead undead...

So... When the Argent Tournament was announced, needless to say I was, hmmm... how should we say? Giddy? Oh yah.

How is it? Freakin' awesome.

There's really not anything I don't like about it. I haven't cursed like a sailor at the computer screen since I played PvP heavily. Those Argent Valiants cheat like... cheaters!

Okay, it's probably glitched, but when they can charge and toss when they're standing right on top of you, it's just not right. I love that, because beatin' 'em is that much more fun.

Some quick tips (probably better out there):

* Bring your defense up to full before you start the fight. Being the rotten cheaters they are, they start the fight with two shields up. You might as well go three up.

* Stand and fight. Don't try to get distance and charge/toss at 'em. Let them do that. Just stand and wail on 'em until they turn to open some distance.

* When they DO open the distance, started pounding charge. You can usually get it in long before they do.

* As you finish the charge, turn in an arc, and toss at 'em to bring down another shield. If they get the toss off on you (usually) hit your shield right away and then close and start bashing 'em again. You'll have three up and they'll have either one or two.

It takes a while, but rinse and repeat until you win. Unless they cheat, of course. Dirty cheaters. Sometimes, when you charge, suddenly all your shields go down and their shield goes to full! Wut? Aw well, a come from behind is great. If not, grab another pony and stomp 'em hard the next time.

The quest chains are fun, but WAY too short. The "Lady of the Lake" quests are cute, but there's only three of them and they take awhile to do because of the traveling. I'd recommend doing two things at once on these. I herb along the way.

I do hope they add more quests. With regular mount combat. Yah! And longer chains to get rewards.

I won't hit Champion until a'morrow. But I'm likin' the Argent Tourny so far. The music and setting are classic knights and ladies-in-waiting style. They just really, really need to add more themed outfits....

Yah, I bought the Stormwind souvenir t-shirt.

:D

-Fri

Sunday, April 19

Gaaaaah! WIPE! /facepalm

Gah! It's been of week of freakin' errors! Errorserrrorserrors! Then I'm messing with the blog this morning and WHAM! I deleted all three of the What Kinda Warrior posts.

@#$%@#$!@!#!!!!

Luckily, google had 'em cached, so I was able to at least snag most of the text, sans the editing I'd done and the wonderful comments people had been leaving. Sigh.

So, super thanks to everyone that did comment. I am working quickly to incorporate the suggestions, changes, and corrections everyone made. Arms is updated as I write this and the other two will follow shortly. My apologies for the wipe. :/

Also, thank you to Pix at The Pixelated Executioner and Adam and WoW Insider for the linkage (and anyone else I didn't catch!). With additional apologies for the broken linkage.

I will try to have a NEW post up by tomorrow.

-Fri

Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place

Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place
Revisited for WoW 3.x

Intro: What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?
Part 1. Arms, Lords and Ladies of the Battlefield
Part 2. Fury, The Fast and the Furyious
Part 3. Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place


[Note: After rereading this for billionth time, they still need a ton of work. So much has changed and I've only really put a lot of time in Wrath on Protection spec. I can't wait to get back to Arms, but now that Dual specs are in I'm giving Fury a whirl first. So much more for me to learn. However, I've been sitting on these for, oh, ever and it's time to set 'em free. With reservations and promises to revise as much as possible. ;) What I hope is that I've got the flavor down and the specifics I can add in more as I go.]

Are you rough and tough and like to being up front, the point girl for the whole adventure? Dark dank places full of evil make you feel all squishy and excited inside? Do you just like to smash things in the face? Do you thrive on getting whispers every 30 seconds, begging you for assistance with some big bad baddie? Are you truly the original go-to-guy/girl? Do you just like armor with really big glowy shoulders?

Well... who doesn't?

Our final look at "What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?" is at Protection. In many ways, these Warriors are The Warriors. The pure, front line soldiers. They're the ones that carry a big stick in one hand and a massive shield in the other, and stand toe-to-toe with the bad guy (or the bad guy's crotch, as the case may be).

Everyone is standing around the glowing stone. Excitement buzzes in the air. The adventure is about to begin! The gnome rogue tries to get nekkid and dance with the night elf hunter, who is ignoring him and who's cat is thinking "tasty treat." She's halfway flirting with the gorgeous paladin healer, who removes his helm long enough to straighten a single stray piece from his otherwise perfect hair. The frost mage is jumping up and down and running in circles. No one is exactly sure why. With the summoning done, they wait. The stone flares bright, blinding them momentarily. And out steps the biggest hunk of meat and metal any of them have ever seen.

The Warrior squints and takes in his surroundings and fellow adventurers in one glance. Every one shifts uncomfortably under his scrutinizing gaze. In less time than it takes to blink, he's already assessed and cataloged every strength, and every single weakness, of each person there. What can you do? What can't you do? Will you be a liability or an asset? You're not sure. He knows.

Everyone is still now, waiting for the Warrior to speak. Even a simple greeting would be good. His shield alone weighs more than you. The massive, magically enchanted weapon at his side glows menacingly. He holds his hefty helm under one arm like it's a loaf of bread. There's bits of gore from his last battle with the minions of the Lich King still splattered on his expansive shoulder guards. He's completely encased in Titansteel and has been fighting non-stop for three days. He smells a little off.

Not to worry. A little Old Spices thrown his way isn't going to offend this monster.

He trudges over to the night elf and looks straight at her chest. "Great," he says. "Can you hit anything with those." The night elf crosses her arms over her chest and glares. The warrior pats her giant cat on the head. "You'll do, though." The kitty purrs and the night elf, if possible, looks even more offended.

He moves on to the the gnome and says, "Disappear on me little man and I'll hunt you down and eat you myself." The gnome grins and salutes.

To the mage he says, "Try not to blow your load too soon." The mage just giggles.

He then stands toe to toe with the Pally. The Paladin crinkles his nose a little, but manages to hold his ground. "Just stay at the back, heal, and keep your yap shut. We'll be fine." The Paladin starts to retort... and then thinks better of it.

The warrior hefts his shield, pulls his sword and plods toward the evil lair. "Let's do this," he says softly.

This is the guy that has no fear. He walks into the scary place without batting an eye. He makes sure everyone is set. Then he charges into the group of vicious monsters. Suddenly dust and lightning explodes from around him and the mobs are standing there stunned out of their pants. With a mighty blow from his shield he smashes one in the face and the fight is on. He's very skilled at pissing off bad guys.

Think 300 with more armor. Protection warriors use their shield, sword and even their entire body to dish out death and destruction to their foes. These are the guys and girls that really are ten feet tall and bullet proof and can, literally, shoot lightning bolts out of their arse.

They come in all shapes and sizes, from the lithe Blood Elf to the hulking Orc. They have a wide variety of temperaments. Many are the calm, cool and collected type. Situational awareness is key to their success and survivability. They go with the flow and take care of business, magically appearing in the right spot and the right time when all seems lost. Others are hot heads or control freaks. Expectations are high and to impress this leader you have to be perfect. To this guy, precision and accuracy in a fight are simply what's expected. "Everyone does their job, no one quits, or I'll kill you myself."

These guys and girls are tanks, and if Warriors had a hero class, Protection Warriors would be it. They stand up to the bad guy and take the shots that would kill any other character. They get burned by fire, frozen solid, shot with arrows, pummeled with giant maces, stabbed with all manner of terrible implements, and tossed around like rag dolls by the biggest and baddest monsters in Azeroth and beyond. Then they get up, dust off and go back for more. Getting beaten up is what tanks live for.

They aren't just aggro dummies, though. To hold a group of nasties requires tremendous skill. They can dish out as much as they take. They know precisely where to strike and when to smash to completely obliterate an opponent. There's a huge difference between a good Protection Warrior and an Awesome Protection Warrior. The great ones can get the job done and lead their fellows to victory at the same time. In many ways, this is most trying Warrior type to play. If you want to test your mettle and skill, this is the spec to choose.


Are you a Protection Warrior?

The job is to be as bad ass and threatening as possible. Every enemy you encounter has to see you as the greatest threat to their personal well being. You have to leak "Danger" from your pores. You're the one other players will unconsciously scooch over a bit when you sit down at a table. Protection talents focus, to a large extent, on being threatening. Threat is a Protection Warrior's DPS. Knowing a few choice curses and creative insults about a monster's mother and a group of ogres, a gnome, and some sticky spider silk is handy as well.

Protection Warriors can take massive amounts of damage. Hits that would one-shot most classes are nothing to a Prot tank. This kind of Warrior is fast and agile, as well. Despite the impossibly heavy armor they wear, they can dodge, parry and block, using everything they have - sword, shield, arms, legs, toenails - to avoid damage. They know how to turn, how to position and how to roll with a fight to take less while dishing out more.

They're also incredibly strong. If there's a Superman or Wonder Woman of this game, it's Protection Warriors. Lifting a Mechanostrider over their head and tossing it would be child's play for these warriors. When they hit something, it generates all kinds of attention. These guys and girls dish out hurt in all kinds of interesting ways.

That sound like you? You're a Protection Warrior.

The Good Stuff

* I'm not afraid to say it, even with my obvious bias: Protection Warriors are the best tanks in the game. Always have been. Period. Argue if you like, but it won't change the fact. :) /trolloff

* You're invincible. Pretty much, anyhow. With a competent healer, a Protection Warrior can stay on their feet longer than any other class. Even without healing, if you're planning on taking down a Prot, you'll wanna bring a lunch. And maybe dinner, too. And a snack.

* Some of the best and most wicked Warrior abilities are in the Protection tree. Shield Slam is awesome. Sword & Board makes it better. Improved Thunderclap rocks. Spell Reflect is the ultimate "Ha!" Strip your enemies nekkid with Sunder/Devastate and then beat them stupid with Revenge. And what instrument of destruction wouldn't love Shockwave? Wargasm!

* High mobility. You can move around a fight quickly with abilities like Charge, Warbringer and Intervene. Taunt and Challenging shout, combined with Area of Effect abilities like Improved Thunderclap, Damage Shield and Shockwave, give you control of the flow of the battle and ensure all bad guy eyes are on you (and not your friends!).

* In most cases, you get first pick on loot. :) Everyone wants a well dressed tank.

The Bad Stuff

* These days? Not Much.

* If thrown into a DPS role, you will most like under-perform. You need to be front and center, hitting and getting hit to generate Rage, which allows you to use all those nifty abilities. You can't do that from behind the mob. This is very much the sort of spec you'll choose to be hitting things face first.

* To offset the "Best tank" comment above, I'll also throw in this: Protection Warrior is probably the hardest kind of tank to play. There's a wide variety of abilities that you have to learn to use at exactly the right time. It is somewhat unforgiving as a spec. Miss a sunder and someone could die very easily. Thunderclap too soon and your healer will pull aggro from the caster you missed. It's not really a class/spec you can play on auto pilot. Ya gotta be on top of it, all the time.

Leveling

Traditionally, leveling a Protection Warrior was . . . how shall we say? A pain in the ass? It was slow and took forever. Protection Warriors in the past were all about absorbing or mitigating damage while generating Threat. That's changed recently.

In many respects, Protection may (arguably) be the BEST leveling spec for a Warrior. Prots have great damage output now. Blizzard recently made a shift to Threat generation being more dependent on DPS. To make Prot tanks viable, they up'd the amount of DPS they can do. Poof! Leveling is easy-sauce now.

Simply round up a pile of mobs and beat them silly while you watch your health bar remain relatively unchanged. If you want to level or grind quickly and without a lot of down time, you won't go wrong with a Protection Warrior.

You should complete the quest for Defensive Stance (at Level 10) as soon as possible. For the most part, you'll just stay in Defensive Stance. You may switch to Battle Stance on occasion to boost DPS a bit, but you loose a lot of your abilities. Stance-wise, Protection Warriors are a bit limited because most of their best abilities are only available in that stance. No matter. They work fine in Def and the others are there for those situations where you'll need them.

Talent-wise, many leveling Prot Warriors will go to the Arms tree first, even if just for Deflection. You can start right in the Protection tree, though, and do fine. By the time you're hitting levels 30-40, you really start seeing the power and survivability of this tree.

Solo

Solo'ing is really nothing to a Prot Warrior. For a specialization that's designed to be group oriented, these days they do astonishingly well on their own.

Early on, if you go into the DEF tree at the start, you're just wicked tough and hard to kill. It won't take long for you to be rounding up two or three mobs at a time. By the mid levels, you've got all sorts of tricks up your sleeve to stay in the fight longer. You're killing mobs in groups and then going straight to the next batch without bothering to stop and heal. By the top levels, there's not a lot left that can touch you and you'll be solo'ing wild quest bosses that would crush other classes.

Groups (Questing/5-Mans)

Not a whole lot to say here. You're perfect for groups. In instances, you're required. If you prefer to play in a group, going Protection is the way to do it. You'll never be wanting for friends. :)

In groups your job is to keep all the nasties off the other players, and thus keep the other players alive. Grouping requires mastering skills and concepts such as pulling, holding aggro, threat rotations, and situational awareness.

For the most part, you get the hang of these concepts as you level, but practice makes a huge difference. No one likes a lazy tank.

Raiding

You'd think, by the same token, there would be people falling over themselves to get you into raids! Not so, unfortunately.

In raids, Prot Warriors are the best of the best. And to get into raids, you'd better be the best. If there's two slots open for a 10-man, there's going to be Druids, Death Knights, and Paladins all competing for those slots along side you. Of all the Warrior types, raiding as a Protection Warrior is probably the most challenging and competitive slot available. It requires a huge amount of skill, ability and even leadership to be a raid tank. Main Tank in a 25-man raid group is the top of the ladder for the Warrior class.

Just be the best and you'll be fine. :)

PvP

This part will probably change considerably as WoW continues to develop. It always does. As I write this, Protection is probably the best way to go if you're going to PvP with a Warrior. The simple explanation is survivability. With most other classes doing massive amounts of burst damage, Prot warriors are the only ones that can survive long enough to get anything done.

And killing DKs who are overzealous with Death Grip is all kinds of funny. :) Getting up close and personal in a fight with a Prot Warrior is a Very Bad Idea.

Your main tools are your mobility and ability to stun an opponent in quick succession. Many times this is just giving your burst happy teammates time to take the enemy down, but it works. The longer you stay on your feet, the better your chances. Prot Warriors have a wide variety of skills to defend against just about any sort of attack.

The "Types" of Protection Warriors

I'm a big believer in "the spec how you want" way of playing WoW, though you'll want to read the first post in this series about how I qualify that belief. Shop around for some of the "top" specs and study them when you're ready to get serious. All I'm going to talk about here are some general themes for Protection. I'll leave the math and perfect specs for those more qualified. No matter what spec you choose, you DO have to practice it. You have to use what talents you've taken to best advantage.

Each of the two spec's here are just demonstrations to show the idea, as well as give a general feel for what playing a Protection Warrior is like, and not necessarily optimal builds! Big. Grain. Of. Salt. Yum.

Your Basic Prot Warrior (15/3/51) - This is pretty much your standard, generic, does the job Protection spec. It's primary concern is loading the 51 points to the Protection tree and getting the big items. Then it takes Armored to the Teeth for a bit more punch and Deep Wounds, both of which help increase threat. This is also called the Deep Wounds Tank, or a Bleed Tank. You won't have many threat problems with this build.

The Balanced Protector (5/8/58) - This is probably the most popular Warrior tank build, and for good reason. It has an excellent balance of defensive and offensive capabilities. It takes all the major goodies from the Protection tree and adds on nice damage boosters from the Fury tree. This one offers up a few more survivability options to keep you on your feet longer.

The PvP Damage Tank (12/8/51) - This build offers up more damage, but maintains some of the situational and panic button survivability of the other two specs. It is often used in PvP builds. It is, of course, perfectly acceptable for basic tanking duties, as well.

More than any other Warrior class, though, I think tanks tweak and customize their builds to their play style. One tank may love the extra rage from Improved Charge, while another could care less and would much rather have more damage from Cruelty. Some tanks never bother with Last Stand, preferring to panic button with trinkets and such, while others swear it's saved their asses more times than they can count. And so on...

In addition, raid level tanks often spec specifically for certain encounters. So which bosses you'll be MT on and which you'll be OT on come into consideration. Which abilities better fit the mobs and bosses you'll be fighting? Raid tanks have a tough job because they'll often need to respec, re-glyph, and put on new cloths to fight in certain situations. While way outside the scope of this guide, careful study of both the encounters you'll be going into and the various specs, abilities, and techniques used to conquer those encounters, will be required.

To Protect and Defend!

Deciding to play a Protection Warrior is a big step. You're literally stepping into the leadership position, whether you intend to or not. No other Warrior type is more dependent on being tuned into the ebb and flow of a fight. While DPS Warriors may rely on situational awareness to kill stuff, it does tend to focus on what they're killing. A Protection Warrior has to have an expanded awareness, to be able to take in not only what's getting killed, but also keeping track of every other player at the same time. The up and down applies to a Prots game-life, as well. I've literally had nights where nothing went right and went to bed completely deflated and depressed. I've had just as many nights where everything went perfect and couldn't sleep because the whole experience was so full of awesome. Tanks are a passionate lot and they like it that way. This is the specialization for those Warriors that revel in the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory!

-Fri

Fury, The Fast and the Furyous

Fury, The Fast and the Furyous
Revisited for WoW 3.x (Wrath of the Lich King)

Intro: What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?
Part 1. Arms, Lord and Ladies of the Battlefield
Part 2. Fury, The Fast and the Furyous
Part 3. Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place

[Note: After rereading this for billionth time, they still need a ton of work. So much has changed and I've only really put a lot of time in Wrath on Protection spec. I can't wait to get back to Arms, but now that Dual specs are in I'm giving Fury a whirl first. So much more for me to learn. However, I've been sitting on these for, oh, ever and it's time to set 'em free. With reservations and promises to revise as much as possible. ;) What I hope is that I've got the flavor down and the specifics I can add in more as I go.]

You? You're mad, bad and dangerous. You're all kinds of contained wrath. Ya like it hard? Ya like it fast? Then maybe you're a Fury Warrior! But... you ask... Is it any good for PvE? What about the stigma of sucking for PvP? Will you ever get to raid? Why is that twinky gnome mage laughing at me???? Can I eat him for that?

Yes.

Our second look at "What kind of Warrior Should I Be?" is going to be at Fury and what you can expect if you go the way of the Zerker. This is the specialization that I've played the least so, as always, take it with a large does of skepticism until you've had a run at it yourself.

You know That Guy. The one who just stands there after the tank pulls the mobs in a dungeon. He is probably jumping up and down and spinning in place. Then, finally, he goes zooming off! And for the next few minutes, it seems like he's all over the place. The giant two-handed weapons are flying like crazy, an angry dwarf keeps materializing above his head, and he seems to be shouting an awful lot.

And then, just as you're getting into the swing of the fight... everything is dead. And That Guy is standing over a big pile of bodies, jumping up and down and spinning in place again. Usually he's laughing in a disturbing manner, or eating a sandwich. That's a Fury Warrior.

They aren't ADHD, they're just practicing restrained enthusiasm. They can dish out such high and consistent DPS that they have to put a pause in occasionally to keep from pulling aggro. They wield two blades at a time, and past level 60, they're very large two-handed blades thanks to Titan's Grip. They zoom and twirl around the fight using Intercept and Whirlwind. Bloodthirst chops enemies to itty bitty pieces and Rampage just adds the icing to the oops-you're-dead cake. All the screaming is the Warrior popping some pretty devastating SFX. But they aren't just wailing around in there being a spaz.

It may look chaotic but a good Fury Warrior is a shining example of precision. Everything he does is aimed at systematically building his capabilities to kill stuff. Every strike is timed and short-term buffed to perfection. The more the Fury Warrior swings, the more deadly he gets. It's probably true of any Warrior, but this is the one they're talking about when they say "Get too close and he'll pwn your face." Hard.

Are You A Fury Warrior?

Fury Warriors love to deal damage. They're very good at it, too. Fury talents tend to be oriented toward making weapon strikes faster and more potent. Fury Talents feature dual wielding specialization and buffs to enhance damage as they fight. In addition, all that screaming Fury Warriors do is because all the improvements to a Warrior's shouts are in this tree. If you like to kill mobs fast, and look good doing it, this is the spec!

The Fury Warrior an awesome adventurer. For going on epic quests, braving the wilds of Azeroth alone, or exploring a dank recess of Lower Blackrock with a party, the Fury Warrior is there, always ready to meet the next deadly challenge.

This Warrior isn't crazy, though. (Okay, some of them are...) They make tearing enemies into shreds an art form. It may look easy, but it requires a great deal of timing and precision. And, yes, for the truly great ones, a nice heap of talent as well.

Those whirling blades of death, spinning and whirling through a fight with a gleam in your eye, cheerfully and methodically cutting down anything that gets in your way...

Sound like fun? You're a Fury Warrior.

The Good Stuff

* Fury Warriors are all about dealing damage. And then they get serious about dealing damage. And once they're properly serious, then they get to work and do some damage. With the right gear and the right rotation, Fury Warriors ARE the DPS of the Warrior Class.

* Some of the best Warrior abilities and enhancements are in the Fury tree. From Cruelty to Rampage there aren't really any "bad" Fury Talents. Might be some that are better than others, but they're all good.

* Fury Warriors are the toughest DPS class in the game, sans self-healing abilities (and yah, they have a little bit of that, too!). They wear plate, and they usually gear at least some Stamina. They're often jokingly referred to as Rogues In Plate (RIP), but when you look at the way WoW has progressed, it's really the other way around. This is the original tough-guy.

* Two words: Titan's Grip. Two two-handed bad ass blades of destruction. What's not to like?

The Bad Stuff

* Tough they may be, but they aren't as tough as Arms or Protection Warriors. Fury Warriors tend to gear Haste (to swing faster), Hit (for accurancy), and Attack Power (for raw hitting power) rather than Resilience or Defense. The Fury Warrior isn't there to soak up damage, she's there to give it. She can take hit... but she's better at giving.

* Fury Warriors can tank, but they tend to be at the very bottom of the wish-list for that role. Building aggro will be very slow and the healing will have to be HoT and heavy. Sympathy is often given to the healer who has to keep a Fury Tank upright. :)

* Like all Warriors, Fury Warriors have limited crowd control. Fury Warriors do DPS. That's what they do. Kill it before it becomes a problem is the Fury Warrior way. That's appropriate sometimes... but many times, not so much.

Leveling

Many people consider Fury to be the choice for leveling a Warrior (regardless of what the final spec will be). Fury Warrior may spend more down time healing, but a solid amount of pots and high First Aid skill can help that along nicely. You do have to be pretty careful about taking on too much in one bite. Regardless, killing mobs fast is the way Fury Warriors do things and that makes leveling up a bit faster than the other two types of Warriors.

To start with, you'll want to go with a one-handed sword, axe, or mace and a shield. Most Fury Warriors duel wield. So your one-hand skill will need to be your top priority. At level 20 you can drop the shield and go with another shiny instrument of death in your other paw. At level 60, you can do it with two-handers. :D

There's two lines of thought to leveling, and I'm not particular to either myself. I've tried it both ways and it works both ways.

Way #1. You start in Arms. You're going to be taking some of these talents eventually anyhow. Improved Heroic Strike is just terribly handy when it's the only main attack you have. So you start by filling it in.

Way #2. You go straight into Fury and start with Cruelty. This gives you a better chance to crit, but it's still low enough, and your damage output is low enough, that it will only make a difference every once and while. On the other hand, it also gets you on the path to some of the great stuff further down the tree. AND when your damage output does improve and you've got gear that helps your crit chance, you've already got Cruelty stacking on there and it's all kinds of win win win.

I really don't think you can go wrong either way. If your first ten levels were mostly in black and white, and you want to hit things harder, fill in IHS first. You'll be able to get that HS off a little sooner. If you're doing fine and eager to get into the spec, start right in with Fury. Easy enough.

Solo

As mentioned, Fury is considered by many to be the "best" solo leveling spec, though there's plenty of Arms and Protection Warrior that would argue that. The ability to take most mobs down quickly, and to react to situations fast, helps a lot. Like all Warriors, Fury is still very much a stand, fight and either win or die class. With Fury it's mostly about "I get you, before you get me." Because of the talents you take in Fury, this actually works quite well.

When you solo, you'll discover very quickly that you need to pull with a ranged weapon, so start leveling the weapon of your choice early. When you've got multiple targets you'll fight very differently than when you fight against one. You may need to Sweeping Strike, Cleave and Piercing Howl multiple mobs while at the same time keeping Thunderclap and Demoralizing Shout on them to limit damage. In this respect, Fury Warriors get more complex. Doing all this while keep Bloodthirst and Rampage up can wear your fingers out. This is where a great deal of the fun comes in for most Fury Warriors.

I've said it before... no Warrior is "Easy Mode."

Using a Fury spec is easy. Being really good at it is extremely challenging.

Groups (Questing/5-Mans)

In a group, the Fury Warrior is a support role. Your main job is chop everything up into itty bitty pieces as quickly as possible. In group questing, you'll get in there and DPS. You make a good puller too, because you can hit back AND survive aggro for more than a few a seconds.

For running instances, Fury Warriors make great Main Assist (MA). This is where everyone sets their assist macro (or manually uses /assist [player]) to one player and then unloads everything on that player's target. Because the Fury Warrior is right there in the thick of it, all you have to do is hit the Tab key to cycle through the targets, while everyone else hits their assist key, and burns mobs down in a nice systematic order. Of course, you make great DPS working with someone else being MA as well!

And yes, in a pinch, you can quickly switch to off tank. So keep that shield handy and updated, because eventually it'll happen. :)

Raiding

Honestly, I've seen and read both ways on this one. On my Realm, raid guilds only want Fury Warriors. Others? Only want Arms. So, your mileage may vary somewhat. I think most raids want Fury Warriors for melee DPS. They're just better at it. Sometimes only slightly, but for top end raiders, slightly counts. Only the best make it. Fury is the best for that. So, yah, as a Fury Warrior, you've probably got as a good a shot as anyone to get a raid slot as any DPS Warrior.

PvP

Fury is no good for PvP. That's what you'll hear. Meadow muffins. Fury is fine for PvP. It's fun and quite functional and can add a lot to World PvP and Battlegrounds. The main thing to remember is that, in PvP, Fury is a support role, just like in a group. You're there to push as much DPS as you can, shout, slow, and generally wreck havok. If you get focused, you're toast. Rez and get back to work. It's a blast. :)

The "Types" of Fury


[Fury specs in testing. I'll letcha know. ;)]

Some to browse. These'll getcha started.

-Fri

Arms, Lords and Ladies of the Battlefield

Arms, Lords and Ladies of the Battlefield
Revisited for WoW 3.x (Wrath of the Lich King)

Revised: 4/16/09, 4/19/09


Intro: What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?
Part 1. Arms, Lords and Ladies of the Battlefield
Part 2. Fury, The Fast and the Furyious
Part 3. Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place

[Note: A special thanks to Pix and everyone else who has commented on these posts. I love the interactive nature of blogging and hope comments and suggestions of this series keep coming. My goal is to improve and update these entries continuously. Suggestions are always welcome. That, and well, I get it wrong a lot. :)]

So you wanna be an Arms Warrior? Need to know what roles they play in a party? What spec should you choose? Is it good for soloing? Can you raid? Can you PvP? Can I get through the game without people spitting on me???

The only time you'll get spit on is when you gank three enemy players in a row, or kill every mob in the area all at once. That's livable. :)

In part one of this "What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?" series, we're going to take a look at Arms Warriors in World of Warcraft 3.x. Please take what I say here with a large grain of salt. I'm definitely not an expert, so all this is based on my experience, what I've read, and what I've talked about with other Warriors. There's plenty more to it than what's written here. I recommend reading the introduction to this series, first.

Anyone who's ever played a little PvP in World of Warcraft knows there's nothing more intimidating that seeing that HUGE Tauren Warrior with the giant glow-in-the-dark sword and massive shoulders come rushing out of the bushes. It's an imposing sight. Intentionally. What's worse, it's not just looks. Suddenly this beast is looming over you, you're stunned, he swings and a quarter of your health bar disappears. That's white damage from a powerful and enchanted 2-hander. It's the warm-up. He's just building up a bit more Rage.

The stun from his Charge ends and you turn to run as the second swing comes down and he starts spinning around like some demented top . . . and find yourself in black and white and staring at the Spirit Guide. Yah, you just got ganked hard. That second swing was the main event, also known as Improved Mortal Strike, followed up by a devastating Bladestorm. That's an MS Warrior.

And he's spec'd Arms.

Are You An Arms Warrior?

Arms warriors have a reputation for being top-end damage dealers. They are also the most versatile style of Warrior. All the weapon specializations are in the Arms talent tree. So you can get bonuses for wielding a two-hander AND get a bonus for sword, mace, axe or polearm, depending on what strikes your fancy. Anyone can "Grab a sword and fight the Horde" but Arms Warriors do it particularly well and, I like to think, with a certain amount of style. I might be a little biased. :)

In a fight the Arms Warrior is often center stage. Everyone on your side is relying on you to dish out death and take heaping spoonfuls of every type of damage. Every enemy is studiously figuring out how to take you down.

But it's not a rock star position.

In and out of the fight you're the calm, cool, unassuming master. You know what's going on around you all the time. You never let them see you sweat. Taunts, insults, spitting and the occasional tea-bag don't bother you in the least. A pile of mobs that would make a clothie wet themselves is nothing to you. You're cool. You're in control. You take everything in stride and do your job quietly and unassuming. And you're a killing machine because of it. You are truly a Zen master of death and, in your disciplined paws, your weapon is a living instrument of destruction.

That you? You're an Arms Warrior.

The Good Stuff

* Arms is, obviously, an excellent damage spec. Massive top-end damage and survivability are the keys. The ability to take focus and live through it, while doing something useful at the same time, are the hallmarks of an Arms talent build.

* Arms is all about enhancing a Warrior's ability to fight head-to-head and at close range. You can do damage, you can take damage (with the right gear), and you can debuff or slow opponents when necessary.

* Arms Warriors can fill multiple roles in a party and switch roles in the middle of battle very effectively. In a dungeon, you might be DPSing a mob, then suddenly need to slow one down, then switch into a temporary off-tank role, then quickly back to DPSing. This is child's play for an Arms Warrior and they're very effective at it.

* Arms warriors are the best multiple target melee dps class in the game right now. You can heap damage on 2-4 mobs at a time with awesome abilities like Sweeping Strikes, Cleave, Whirlwind and Bladestorm. You can slow and debuff multiple targets at once, as well.

* Arms Warriors are masters of their chosen weapon and know just where to strike for maximum effect. As such, they have the choice to apply a huge bleed debuff. While you're killing those multiple mobs at once you're also bleeding them out. Gruesome, but effective.
The Bad Stuff

* Arms does not do sustained DPS as effectively as Fury. The DPS is strong and consistent, but it's not quite as much and takes a little longer to get it going. This takes effect particularly at higher levels and with proper gearing. Under 60 there's not a huge difference. Some but not terrible. Over 70, and properly geared, the difference is definitely there. While Wrath has certainly fixed this somewhat, it could be a contributing factor in some fights, specially where you have to move a lot.

(Aside: At the start of Patch 3.1, Arms warriors are definitely closing this gap. It'll be difficult to tell for a bit, at the writing. It will scale up with gear. Whether it will scale down, as well, is unknown at the moment.)

* Arms can tank most mobs, but not all. They just don't have the damage mitigation and threat generation tools like a proper Protection Warrior. Resilience (protection against critical hits) is great for taking spell fire from multiple casters at once, and for staying upright while you Overpower some ADHD Rogue, but it's not as effective against mobs that'll squash you like a tin can on the first shot. Carry a good shield and some +DEF/+STAM Armor and tank when necessary, but you'll need to respec for the big fights.

* Arms Warriors are almost constantly in flux as Blizzard tweaks their abilities. This is probably true of most classes, but for Warriors, Arms and Fury get the most. This leads to many different tweaks you have to make to specific rotations and abilities, but also opens up plenty of new opportunities. For example, as I write this there's a bit of excitement about and Arms tanking build going around. Fun! Regardless, the basic flavor stays the same. Versatile and tough!

* Like all Warriors, you have limited crowd control. You can upgrade your crowd control abilities through Arms talents. But they are not really an effective form of cc because of the short duration. They can certainly help a fight when used properly, though. An Arms Warrior's best form of cc is their body and their ability to put damage up on multiple targets.

Leveling

Leveling an Arms Warrior is pretty easy. No, it's not nearly as fast or easy as some other classes. You want effortless leveling? Then Warrior isn't for you, anyway. We work for a living, soldier! You have to pick your fights somewhat. Or at least approach them with some thought. Mostly you can go in there and smack things around, but you'll need to use your brain a bit, too.

Early on you'll want to switch to a 2-hander (if you don't start with one) and start leveling that skill as soon as possible. You have to keep up with your 1-hand skill as well, because you'll want to be able to switch to sword and board when needed. At this point it won't matter which 2-hand weapon. If you like Axes, get an axe. Swords, Polearms, and Maces are available, so choose something you groove on. Many times it'll be whatever you can afford or drops first. You can change later, so no worries.

So, you're running through the forest and you see the lovely Night Elf girl, jumping and traipsing her way among the trees. She looks a little odd, she's lithe and agile but she has a huge sword strapped to her back. Suddenly, a pack of ugly dog men jump out and attack. You run to help, but before you get a few steps the elf shifts slightly and two of the mobs fall over dead. Another three seconds and two more are dead. Then she starts spinning around in a circle, that huge blade held before her, chopping through the dog boys like butter. When she stops, there's a nice, neat semi-circle of bodies laying at her feet. There's still two of the dog men left, but the elf continues on her happy little way. A few seconds later the remaining monsters clutch their throats and fall over dead, while you stand there gaping.

That's multiple target dps and those nasty bleed effects doing their work.

The most useful abilities you will use while leveling are the ones that let you increase damage against multiple targets. It's much easier to level when you can round up two or three mobs, mow them down and move on to the next batch.

I do recommend skipping the bleed effects at early levels. To me, the first priority is getting, enhancing and learning to use those base skills, including the multi-target abilities. You can always spec down to Bladestorm and then go back and enhance your specializations with bleed debuffs.

As, research and learn more about Arms, however, your mileage may vary. At some point, after level 60, you definitely want to take the bleeds unless there's a specific reason not too.

Solo

Arms is a great solo spec. Nice damage output, solid survivability. Like all Warriors, once you're in the fight your chances of escape are pretty low. It's stand and win, or stand and die. Arms has many tools to help the former. And occasionally, even offers the opportunity for some creative escapes. For example, slap Hamstring on 'em, pop into Defensive Stance, and run like hell!

Okay, so that's not terribly creative... but it'll save ya a repair bill and a bone run. :)

To solo well you'll want to take a ranged weapon as early as possible. Guns, crossbows and thrown weapons are available to Warriors. I like guns. Big guns. :) Engineers may want to take guns because you can make your own weapon and the ammunition for it. Blacksmith's will probably like thrown weapons early on because you can a) make some nice ones, and b) they don't run out of ammo.

Beyond Level 50 the Arms Warrior becomes a wicked solo killing machine. At 70, it's about improving your stats to be an even better killing machine. At some point (probably around 1000 AP and 75 Hit) you start mowing down any regular mob you come across while looking around for more. You start chain pulling the mobs, just to move things along.

Groups (Questing/5-Mans)

Arms is excellent if you group a lot. The ability to DPS and tank is a nice balance. If you like the balance, then this spec is better than the other two. If you prefer one or the other, then you'll want to look at Fury or Protection. Arms Warriors, however, offer many advantages to groups, so don't be afraid to offer up your services for dungeon runs and group questing.

For questing, there's not much an Arms Warrior can't do in a group. Slap on a shield and dance into Def if you need to hold aggro a bit. Break out the 2-hander if you need some extra DPS. Stay flexible and practice switching roles in combat. Use a stance macro or add-on to switch weapons/shield in mid-fight.

In a dungeon, you'll usually be tasked as DPS. OT (Off Tank) roles for warriors in 5-mans isn't used much any more, but MA (Main Assist) is and this is a great role for an Arms Warrior. If you're MT (Main Tank) you'll need a very good Healer. A good healer is one that understands threat and how to time their heals for best effect. Spam healing won't work with a Protection Warrior or Feral Druid bear, it certainly won't work with an Arms Warrior, so avoid healers that do that. You'll also have to have DPS that understands threat and how to fight with a Warrior Tank. (That's a whole other post.) Basically, your threat generation is going to be slower than a Prot Warrior, Prot Pally or Bear, and the party needs to understand how to deal with that.

Raiding

For raiding, it's really a toss up for Arms Warriors. You bring a lot of utility to a raid. The bleed debuffs alone can significantly increase the entire raid's dps on a boss, for example. You can also pump out respectably high dps. Whether you get into your raid group or not will largely depend on what your raid leader needs and what other classes are available. Which is pretty much true for any class/spec outside of dedicated healers and tanks.

The downside is that an Arms Warrior's main abilities can be handled by other classes. For example, it's true that an Arms Warrior is the best muti-mob dps'er available. But why bother with a melee dps'er that will need another raid member to heal them, when you can just tank those mobs and have ranged dps burn them down without taking any damage at all. Both techniques work, but the former is (as of this writing) easier to pull off than the latter. (The answer is that the Arms Warrior tanks and does dps at the same time. But that concept isn't quite there yet.)

That said, since Wrath of the Lich King, Arms Warriors are slowly gaining acceptance as a vital and important component in a raid. It's not a confidence thing. If you're chosen to go into a 10 or 25 man raid, get in there and show off. I think most raids will appreciate how useful an Arms Warrior is these days. :)

PvP

While Wrath changed PvP significantly, Arms is still a very powerful PvP spec. While it was terribly important back pre-Wrath, it's even more important now: You. Must. Dance. Being able to switch stances and weapons quickly and at the right time is now no longer optional for Arms Warriors (if it ever was). To be good in PvP, you'll have to work hard for it.

This is just commentary, of course, but I also think that Arms Warriors have been forced to think outside the box a bit now. You can't just run up to another player and smack 'em until they're dead. (I know - over simplification, but you get the idea.) You really have to set up situations to your advantage, which means being an even better player. For example, you can't just pop Bladestorm and expect to win. Your opponent will just step out of it. You have to get your opponent to burn cooldowns, stun 'em, and keep them from running first. Then Don't Panic! When everything's right, push the "I Win!" button.

While that sort of thing has always been true, and distinguishes the good from the truly great players, it really is forced on Arms Warriors. It requires brains and brawn. This is a thinking girl's kind of Warrior.

The "Types" of Arms

I'm a big believer in "the spec how you want" way of playing WoW, though you'll want to read the first post in this series about how I qualify that belief. Shop around for some of the "top" specs and study them when you're ready to get serious. All I'm going to talk about here are some general themes for Arms. I'll leave the math and perfect specs for those more qualified. No matter what spec you choose, you DO have to practice it. You have to use what talents you've taken to best advantage.

Each of the two spec's here are just demonstrations to show the idea, as well as give a general feel for what playing an Arms Warrior is like, and not optimal builds! Big. Grain. Of. Salt. Yum.

I'll add that, as of WoW 3.1, these build are slightly out of date. Again, just getting the flavor. Research for what's more current. And then research again, cause it'll change. Because of this, I've removed the build links to the post temporarily until things stabilize a bit and just throwing out some general theory.

The Swiss Army Knife with Teeth - This one focuses on utility first. The main focus is getting to Mortal Strike, Sudden Death, and Bladestorm as quickly as possible and then pick up enhancements to the core abilities. Take your Overpower enhancements. Go back, after hitting the big stuff, and pick up Rend, Impale and Deep Wounds. You might even pop a little in Defense if you find yourself in the GY a lot, though you sacrifice a lot to get to Anticipation, Last Stand, and Toughness. Probably too much unless you're tanking a lot. It makes a good all around leveling concept. You'll gear for Strength (AP), Hit and Crit, but you won't completely ignore Armor Penetration and Stamina.

Blood and Guts - This buildis a kind of a staple of Arms Warriors. The focus is on damage, primarily. It sacrifices survivability, but when you can bleed a target to death and chop 'em into little pieces before they barely get started, who cares? :) The main idea, though is to use Arms and Fury talents to increase Deep Wounds, Overpower, straight damage (STR, AP, Expertise, Hit, Armor Pen, anything that makes you hit better), and Crit.

You will notice that the main components of any Arms build are Improved Mortal Strike, Sudden Death, and Bladestorm. I'll also throw in Rend (though not necessarily Improved Rend), Improved Overpower, and Taste for Blood. Overpower is just too yummy to ignore, so grab it and enhance it early.

To Arms!

To be blunt about it, Arms is not particularly easy to play well. Yes, you can use the Arms abilities by just pushing buttons randomly (/faceroll) and do fairly well. To be truly good at it, though, requires a huge amount of practice and awareness. Playing an Arms Warrior will force you to be a much better player. The reason is, more than any other Warrior specialization, an Arms Warrior is played in a situational mode. You use the abilities that best suit the situation. I can't say enough that Arms is about utility.

Being able to calmly assess the situation and react accordingly is what Arms Warriors are all about, and they can adapt to just about any situation. On the Battlefield, in the Dungeon, or in the field, and Arms warrior is literally a master of each situation. No other melee class can switch roles and do it very well like an Arms Warrior. This is the specialization for the player that not only likes to do it all, but can do it all.

-Fri

Monday, April 13

What Kind of Warrior Shall I be? (3.0)

What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?
for WoW 3.x (Wrath of the Lich King)

Revised 4/16/09, 5/2/09

Intro: What Kind of Warrior Shall I Be?
Part 1. Arms, Lord and Ladies of the Battlefield
Part 2. Fury, The Fast and the Furyious
Part 3. Protection, The Rock and the Hard Place


I don't know why, but I get asked this question a lot. Usually by newer players, of course, so maybe that says something. We won't go there. It probably has to do with my hot and frequently changing hair style choices. Yup.

I do get asked "What kind of warrior should I be," or "What warrior spec is best," frequently enough that, awhile back, I started a post on the subject that turned into an unintentional series, with the Protection Warrior version never getting published. (It was Blizzards fault for changing everything in 3.0, I swear!) Now that I've been a-warriorin' in Wrath for a bit, I felt it was time to update it. Mainly because I still can't walk through Stormwind without the "can i ask u a ?" tell at least once or twice.

I still get a lot of "whar u get blak hors?" as well, but that's a totally different post.

Anyhoo, while a lot of the information in those original posts still works, what follows is the updated versions, including this introduction. I hope someone finds it useful, and welcome comments, corrections and enhancements on these thoughts.

Picking your Talent Specialization is very important for any class. You'll even get familiar with several different specs. I'll letcha in on a little secret... /whisper If you're just playin' WoW and having fun, with specific exceptions aside, it really doesn't matter. ;)

Of course it matters for those specific exceptions. If you're gonna do one thing primarily, then yes, you need to spec for that one thing. If you're going to tank raids, you need to spec Protection and you need to do it properly. If you're going to DPS instances you need to spec Fury or Arms. If you're going to fight in PvP then you'll probably seriously consider a spec that optimizes survivability and fast, hard damage.

That's what you'll read about most when you go to research "Warrior Theory." It's called min/max'ing. Which means minimizing bad stuff that can happen to your toon, while maximizing the bad stuff you can do to other toons. If you're creating a Warrior for one of those things, then you really need to read the spec guides and practice, practice, practice. The very high end of the game is unforgiving of mistakes in these roles. Perhaps a little less so in Wrath, but that will change as the expansion grows. So get that practice in now while you can.

The number of players that actually need one of the optimized specs and gear lists, however, are in the minority. Heavy, hardcore raiders need to spec appropriately. Arena fighters need to spec and gear to min/max. That's, what? Probably less than 10% of WoW's 11 million plus player-base?

In one play session I do a quest or two, farm for mats, run dailies, make a quick instance run, help guildies, play a few BGs, do a little world PvP, tank a wild boss, etc. Most players are like that and most players will have neither the resources nor patience to respec every other night. even with dual specs. You don't have to do that. When to respec is another discussion entirely, but for the time being, pick a Warrior spec that appeals to you and enjoy.

That's what this guide is about. It's not a How-To Warrior guide. This is intended to give you a rough idea of what to expect when you choose a particular Warrior talent specialization. The goal here is to give you a feel for each spec, rather than tell you which spec you need to take. Then you can make your own decision, based on what appeals to you as a player!

With the release of World of Warcraft 3.0, and Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard made Warriors fun again. By the end of The Burning Crusade, being a "good" warrior revolved around having precisely the right spec, exactly the same gear as every other Warrior, and using the correct and same ability rotation. While that is certainly emerging again, the gap between being a Good Player and a Rock Star has narrowed a little. You can literally now play whichever type of Warrior you like, how you like, and get good results . . . as long as you play well. There's still plenty of room to be a "bad" player. But it does come down to the player and (slightly) less about gear and talent spec.

That does not mean the gear and talents aren't important! You do need to carefully consider your talent build, and work hard to acquire good items that enhance that build. You can not spend your talent points willy-nilly on stuff that just looks good, crossing multiple trees on a whim. The talent trees are intentionally built to create a certain flavor of Warrior, with each Talent enhancing previous talents or trainable skills that type of Warrior is most likely to use. Without those talent trees, all Warriors would be bland carbon copies of each other. Blah!

There is a certain amount of "less about what you have and more about how you use it" in WoW these days. I think a lot of players, many Warriors included, got a shock when they entered WoW 3 and suddenly their gear no longer compensated for their inadequacies as players. They got mad about it, too. Fury Warriors who didn't understand threat and aggro. Arms Warriors who relied on their resilience and couldn't fight multiple targets at once effectively (guilty here, learned fast). Protection Warriors who thought all they needed was a little more AoE threat to be great.

Doesn't work that way. Just cause ya got it, doesn't mean you're good. There's still plenty of room for Blizzard to improve that concept, but the game is definitely heading that way. Getting great gear and sexy new items should be a reward because it's fun. It should not be a task, something you have to plod through to get to the fun part.

If you keep that mentality, you'll enjoy your play time as a Warrior regardless of what talent spec you're playing and what gear you're toting around. On the other hand, if you're only interested in toting around imaginary armor to enhance an imaginary epeen, this guide probably isn't for you. If you're interested in playing a Warrior and want to know what it's like, read on.

Of course, study and practice are the cornerstones of becoming truly great at any profession! With that in mind, take a look at the links on the right. These are starting places, but they'll lead you to all sort of information about being a Warrior in WoW. More importantly, though, as you browse through some of the sites (specially the blogs), you'll discover there are many different types of Warriors. Even if they have the same talents, in many respects they are very different from each other. Read what these players have to say about playing a Warrior. Take what works for you and leave what doesn't. You'll get the idea.

Most importantly, make being a Warrior fun... for YOU!


-Fri

Sunday, April 12

Fun with Warriors: Heroic Strike


In the Warrior world of late, there's been a lot of chattin' about Heroic Strike. Namely, that's it is a necessary pain in the ass. It is.

So, for our occasional look at Warrior abilities and how to use 'em (from a "casual" perspective?), I figured that it was a timely and useful topic to hit tonight.

I also retitled this "series" to Fun with Warriors . . . There's an excellent blog that now uses the Dummies moniker, so jump over there and check it out. My prattle will wait.

K.

The very first ability a Warrior gets to hit stuffs with is Heroic Strike. I remember my first time playing Friday, my pinky finger hovering over the HS key like I was drinking tea from a posh China cup, and waiting and waiting for the perfect time to smash it. Oh look, my rage bar is full now! I should be safe to sneak in at least one HS. Smack. Better wait for the next one, though. Might need it in an emergency! Them kobalds look nasty!

Nope. Once you've got the Rage, go nuts on it.

This is one of the things that made me love the way Friday fights. Smack it and she jumps up in the air, spins around, and brings her sword down on some poor freak's head. Whap! Love it!

This is an ability you'll use from Level 1 to Level 80 pretty much FOR.EV.ER. Once your rage gets up, just tap HS every swing.

What it does is something every Warrior already knows, since we grow up with it. It hits the bad guy really, really hard. It scales up to Rank 13. Tanks love it because it also piles on a respectable amount of Threat. At Rank 10 (Level 66) it also does extra damage to dazed targets.

Wait? Every Swing?

Yup.

'Spose I should explain a little better than that, eh?

First, in low Rage situations, you won't be using HS much. It overrides the normal damage from your swing (the stuff that shows up white, AKA a "white hit") and converts it into a special attack (the yellow damage). White = more rage. Yellow = no rage.

So when you use HS, you're burning rage and you're burning off your normal regular swing and converting it to a special attack. Hitting HS at the wrong time is the fastest way to Rage Starve yourself.

Example.

You have 20 Rage. You HS, which takes 15 (you can lower this but it's just an example.... sheesh!). You now have 5 Rage, your swing meter has reset and your Global Cooldown is ready. You can't Shield Slam! It needs 20 rage. So you have to wait for that next white hit to come in and give you more rage. Ooops. It only gave you 10 Rage. 'Nother wait. You're now 3 or more seconds in and you still haven't hit with your biggest shot. Your dps and threat are dropping like a stone as everyone around you is smashing bad guys with big hitting instant attacks! Threat WARNING! You look like a twit on Recount! Oh noes!

Rage starvation sucks. Misuse of HS is one of the ways to get there fast.

In my experience, I don't even start until around 50. Probably too conservative, but I despise it when Friday QQs "Not enough Rage!" She'll be bitchin' about being outta mana next... sheesh!

After you've hit your Rage sweet spot, though, you can't hit HS frequently enough. Watch your swing timer and keep HS lit at all times.

Won't that wear out my fingers?

Yes, it will. If you're not replacing your keyboard every few months because you've worn out your HS key, YNDIR. A warrior will usually come out of a dungeon physically exhausted. Or at the very least, with a hand cramp. It's one of the joys and pains of playing this class. :)

It's also the point of contention running among the WoW Warrior community at the moment. Namely that HS is a clunky mechanic that needs some Blizzard love. I disagree that HS is the problem, but the issue itself is certainly valid. One of the things that makes playing a warrior so interesting and entertaining is that you're managing a ton of abilities that have to be executed at just the right time to get good results. The problem is that, of late, it's a bit much. Adding in Heroic Strike makes it a lot much.

To manage it better, most Warriors use macros. You can find many useful ones at Tankspot and WoWwiki's Warrior macros pages.

A simple way is to either hot key HS conveniently, which is a lot of work hitting it every time, or macro it in combo with your basic rotation. For example, most Warriors tanks use Glyph of Revenge, which gives ya a Rage free HS after each Revenge strike. So we use a macro like this:

#showtooltip HeroicRevenge
/cast Heroic Strike
/cast Revenge

As long as you have 15+ rage (sans Improved Heroic Strike), you'll do Revenge and then Heroic Strike back-to-back. Nice and simple, lots of threat, lots of damages. Fun!

Well, because I hate doing macros on account I'm kinda lazy that way...

When I need to start the HS spam I just keep taping Revenge.

The trick is that when Revenge is not up, the macro just lights up HS. When Revenge is up, it does both. Since I'm hitting that key on my swing timer every 1.6 seconds, I don't even have to monitor Revenge. It's gonna go if it's up, it won't if it's not. Either way I get my HS in.

It simplifies things a bit. You do have to put up with your toon whining "That's not ready yet!" constantly, but you can turn that off. :)

There's probably more efficient ways to do it, of course. With this one simple trick, though, I literally more than doubled the number of Heroic Strikes I get in during a fight. I'm sure there's ways to do even better. (See macro sites above.)

Regardless of how you go about it, learn to use HS in high Rage situations. It's your Heroic friend!

-Fri

Friday, April 3

Casual Friday: Wrong!

K, everyone who hates being wrong, raise your hand?

I see two of ya that didn't raise your hands... oh, okay, you play Paladins. Carry on.

I 'spect the rest of us actually are wrong occasionally and pretty much hate it.

I'm wrong fairly frequently, but I'm also pretty big on learning. It is, after all, one more method to drag my sorry self out of the wallowing cesspool of ignorance and into the glorious light of not-quite-as ignorant.

Settle down you two, I wasn't talking about that Light.

I got it wrong twice this week.

First, I had convinced m'self through f@!kidy maths that Hit was what I needed to continue my tankish journey of self improvement. WRONG!

Thanks to Darraxus the Warrior for pointing that one out. I did the maths again, this time while mostly awake, and read some stuff from some actual, well, you know... tanks. Sure enough, Expertise is better than Hit. In most cases, way better for a Warrior tank.

So, then I tried to rationalize it that I was whiffing too much and needed the Hit to connect. Well, yah, but after watching my actual combat performance, I'm getting dodged or parried more than I'm whiffing. And guess what solves that problem? Yup. And then after looking at gear for ages, I got it into my little noggin' that there wasn't any decent way for me to GET Expertise at my gear level, so I might as well gear for Hit. Wrong. I biased m'self when I settled on Hit being what I needed, so I automagically focused on that gear and ignored too much else.

All is well, though. Mine eyes hath seen the Glory. I shalt walk the straight and narrow of Expertise and I shalt not question those that doest know better.

K, not really, but pretend with me. I'm having an epiphe... epiffian... epiph... enlightened moment. :)

I also decided it was time to get to healing again, so I got Neveron when some guildies wanted to run their under-80 toons through UK. We had a Pally tank (Tilano), a DK (Violetfury), and a Fury Warrior (Natharan). We also pugged in another Pally.

So, I'm thinking that's just perfect. A little melee heavy, but that won't be much of a problem. I can heal this easy.

Cept our Pally decided to defer to the higher level Pally and let him tank. NP. Prot Pallys punch out more than enough DPS for this instance, and a higher level Pally will be easy peasy to heal. I've healed Prots before. You can sleep through most of the instance.

Ooops. He's not Prot. He's not Ret. He's Holy.

Ah well, plate is plate, right?

WRONG!

I've healed a Fury Warrior as tank and it's exciting. It's pretty much non-stop action from the heals end of things. A Holy Paly tanking is... even more exciting? :) Well, if having a coronary every time he gets crit is exciting, I s'pose.

Anyone who thinks Wrath is too easy just isn't trying hard enough. Try leveling a Holy Priest (with no gear) through Outland and Northrend. Try healing a Fury Warrior, and then go for hard mode with a Holy Pally taking Dark Smash. And both of 'em pulling aggro like a ping-pong ball. I was practically spamming the Holy Frisbee. Sounded like a freakin' pinball machine in there. BING! BING! BING! Easy, my ass.

No, not easy peasy. I was definitely wrong about that.

I learned that Prayer of Mending is your friend. I learned you can spam flash heal very fast if stand up at the keyboard while you yell at the GCD. I learned that the healer, when actually doing their job, doesn't really get to see much of anything except their heal bars. I learned that Pally's don't understand the concept of side run and keeping the bad guy's back to the healer (Gah!) and they don't ever take advice from Holy Priests. Okay, maybe that wasn't actually my bad. :D

Doesn't hurt to be wrong sometimes. Makes us better players. But only if we pull out our heads and fix it. Sometimes a skewed and skewered perspective is just what's needed. Here's to being wrong.

Doesn't mean I have to like it. Or that I wanna be a Pally sometimes. :)

-Fri