Sunday, December 19

Emergency Tank!: Or, When Things Go Really Wrong

I've always been enamored with the idea of an Arms tank, not because I want to do it but because I think Arms Warrior is the best class/spec in all of WoW and we should be able to do everything and anything and be completely OP all the time. I still don't understand why we can't run up behind a tank and heal them. Really? I make an wicked good band-aid!

Ah well, you can't have everything . . .

So, three times so far in Cataclysm, I've had to take over the tank roll mid-fight. In one case, the healer went nuts and tried to top everyone off in Blackrock Caverns and promptly went OOM. One time in Stone Core when the tank pulled without any cc. And then last night the tank missed running into the 'lectric triangle in on the last boss in Vortex Pinnacle.

er... um.... yah... k.... Might would be good. Yah. And a freakin' nuke if ya got one.

In each case it was a good healer and good tanks. First time for all over them in those dungeons and after the initial mistake they learned and didn't repeat the error.  In fact, everyone of those runs was freakin' awesome fun! 

Things go all f#$ckity more often in Cata dungeons, so if you find yourself suddenly without a tank and the ball is passed to you, here's some thoughts for how be a backup quarterback.

The most important things to take care of, in order, are: Staying alive (Def Stance), getting everything under control (Challenging Shout, or Taunt), and then start hitting stuff to generate threat (Thunderclap and Sunder Armor being your initial priorities). 

After that you can start getting fancy.

Well . . . That's not good.
#1. Pay Attention.  The days of ignoring what's happening with the tank and the healer and just flailing away on bad guys are gone. Fugitaboutit.  Two things you need to know all times: healer's mana and the tank's health.  You need to combine these two things with what the healer is doing and what's going to happen to the tank next (for example:  is she at quarter health and about to take a 40K shot in the noggin?).

You absolutely must know when the tank goes down.  You have only a few seconds to react before everyone is dead. Anticipation is the first trick to pulling this off.

#2. Get into Defensive Stance. That's F2 normally. Do not tank from Battle Stance. You will die.

#3. You need a sword & board swap macro. In many cases you can tank with a 2-Hander, but it's not pleasant for the healer. So swap out for a shield and a one-Hander.  You're gonna have trouble with making cute little threats quickly, so make it a fast weapon if possible, because you want to stack Sunder Armor (and hit Revenge whenever it comes up) as quickly as possible. 

Here's an easy-peasy weapon swap macro, though there are all-in-one solutions out there. Type /macro into your chat to open the macro maker thingie.

/equip [nomodifier] Vir'naal Guardsman's Axe
/equip [nomodifier] Catapult Loading Scoop
/equip [modifier:shift] Axe of Earthly Sundering

Change the names of the items to whatever you have. (Just open your bag and shift click them to copy the name right into the macro and don't forget to update the macro when you get better gears.)  Now when you click this button, it'll swap in your one-handed weapon and shield. Holding shift and clicking the button will bring back your 2 handed weapon.
No really! It's epic enough! It is! Really! AAAAAAAHHHH FUUUUUU . . .

#4. Keybind your basics. You need Challenging Shout, Taunt, Intimidating Shout, and Demoralizing Shout to get things under control.  To keep them under control you'll need Thunderclap, Sunder Armor, RevengeShield Block, and Rend (particularly handy if you're using Blood & Thunder). Maybe Bladestorm will work but I've never gotten to the point where I could try it. Theoretically . . .

#5. Screw everyone, you first priority is to pry any mobs off your healer. You need to know which mobs are on your healer so that when you peel them off with Challenging Shout you can lock them down fast. Everyone else can wait.

#6. A warning macro is handy. Something like "/yell Friday is TANK. Heals on me! Shouting in 3... 2... 1..."  I bind something like this to Shift-F2, so that when the bad stuff hits the fan I hit F2, Shift-F2, Challenging Shout (or Taunt on a boss fight), Weapon Swap.

All of this happens incredibly fast!  Don't be surprised if it doesn't work, at all, the first few times you try it. Mainly, get into defensive stance and shout. Worry about staying alive and holding everything long enough for your healer to figure out what's happening.
Turtle, turtle, turtle, lalala!

Things to think about from an Arms Warrior what is not a tank (proper tanks already know this stuff):

Challenging Shout only lasts for 6 seconds and has a ten yard range. After that the mobs will go back to whatever devious plans they had before you scolded them. So, if you use it to pull multiple mobs, you need to stack threat on each target to continue to hold them. It also has a 3 minute cool down, so you won't get another shot at it. As an Arms warrior you might be able to stack threat using Sunder Armor on two or three targets at best.  So prioritize quickly. Anything going after your healer, that is.

Taunt is better but only effects one target at a time. You can yank the target to you, smack it, and lock it down pretty effectively. Use this on boss fights, particularly.  It also has an 8-second cool down, so after your initial shout, you can pick a high priority mob and lock him down quickly.

You have very little in the way of threat generation other than raw strength. Thunderclap works, but it's very easy for DPS to pull them off you if that's all you've hit the mobs with. If you're feeling fancy, macro or use an add-on to slap a raid marker on the one you want DPS to hit. Hopefully they see it before they die. Better, they figure out you're suddenly tanking and use target-of-target. Fingers crossed.

Thunderclap is also useful because you don't have the Dodge, Parry, and Block mitigation of a proper Protection Warrior.  Thunderclap slows all the mobs down, making it easier to get a handle on them. It also decreases their attack speed, which can really help your healer out.  If the opportunity presents itself, use Demoralizing Shout, as well. Popping Shield Wall is pretty much a must ASAP. It gives everyone a few seconds to change their underwear and figure out what's going on.

After running a dungeon, go back through and look around. Beautiful!
If you need a few moments to get your head around the issue, so to speak, Intimidating Shout can scatter 'em for a few seconds.  Just be carefully not to send them running into another pack and make the situation worse. (You can glyph to fix this, but since you're not a proper tank that glyph is not really one an Arms warrior goes around packing for PvE stuff.)  I'd really only use this on Boss-With-Adds type fights where there's no chance of bringing friends. Yelling for everyone to CC the crap out of everything is not a bad idea, though, just to buy time.

There's plenty more such as Spell Reflect and interrupting with Shield Bash. . . but those are super fancy moves that you probably aren't going to get a chance to use anyhow. If you PvP as Arms you're at an advantage here because you probably use all of this stuff already. If not, just practice a bit while you quest. Maybe jump in some PvP and just practice staying alive as long as possible in Defensive Stance.  You'll get it.

There's no chance you're ever gonna be a proper tank playing Arms. You can however, use your wide variety of abilities and versatility to be the hero of the day in a pinch.  Pay attention, practice using those abilities you rarely even think about, and stay calm.  What's the worse thing that could happen? So you die a little. :)


Yo' Mama!
Bonus Section: Selected Taunts from the old Tank days

"I can see your ass crack you worthless son/daughter of a Trogg!"

"I'm rubber you're glue, your frostbolt bounces off me and sticks on YOU!" /cast spell reflect

"Your Mama is SO FAT they call her Therazane, Part 2!"

Saturday, October 23

The NEW Arms Warrior

Stronger. Faster. More Experienced. Better.

The new Arms Warrior post Patch 4.01 is just a joy to play. Two years ago I though Blizzard made Arms even more fun to play when Wrath released, and now they've gone and done it again!  But there will be plenty of time to rave about how freakin' awesome we are (again) later. Let's get into the juicy stuff...

A Spec is a Spec

Frist up we gotta look at Talent trees. With only 31 points per tree, I'm thinking this is the worse thing about 4.01/Cataclysm. With a few (mostly insignificant) variations, Blizz just basically said "Here's your spec... no picking any more."

No real big, honestly. Everybody wore the same spec before, so it wasn't like variety was in abundance. Sure you could choose something other than the optimal spec, but no one ever did. Now you'd have to work pretty hard to mess up your spec. Click randomly and you'll get something decent. I'm just a little disappointed that the designers couldn't come up with something better than "we give up, you get one spec and here it is."

So we'll all have the same basic spec, same basic gear, same basic glyphs, same basic enchants, with the same basic gems. I suppose you could say that it takes out the guesswork and lets you focus on playing more.

That little QQ aside, though, Arms got some wicked good talents. The little bit of customization you can do is pretty neat and adds a little flavor. Which is technically a lot more flavor than we had in Wrath, so we'll be happy about it.

All my awesome stuffs no good after Cata launches. Which means NEW stuffs!
Opening a Can of ...

Here's what I'm using pre-Cataclysm and why. It's working out pretty good. (This is going to be a long one, so settle in.)

I've removed Slam from my priorities list and replaced it with Heroic Strike and the occasional Cleave. Side by side, I'm not seeing the benefit of Slam at the moment.  Spamming on a target dummy, I'm getting better numbers with Heroic Strike, and since it's instant cast now (thank God!), it's the perfect filler.

Opener: Battle Shout, Charge, Rend, Mortal Strike, and then Overpower. Demoralizing Shout if called for.

Priorities: Execute, Mortal Strike, Overpower, Heroic Strike. If Mortal Strike, then Overpower or Execute thanks to Lambs to the Slaughter. Keep Rend up with Thunderclap via Blood and Thunder.  Follow Heroic Strike with another ASAP to take advantage of Incite. Rage burn or fill with Cleave on multimobs or Slam on single target.  Keep Sweeping Strikes up on multiple mobs, but let it drop on single target. Bladestorm as soon as it's safe to do so and pop it as soon as it cools down.

Fun, eh? :)

Being Talented

So we have to put 31 points in Arms before we can go to the other trees. Easy enough. Spec straight to Bladestorm and you're good.

Starting on the first row, War Academy and Blitz. Field Dressing is an optional talent you can decide on later. War Academy for the 10% buff to Heroic Strike and Cleave. Blitz because it's initial Rage, and it's fun to stun that crap out of multiple targets at once.  Just make sure your tank has them where he wants them BEFORE you Charge. K? kk.

Second row: Deep Wound and Drums of War. Deep Wounds because it's a super hot DoT!  Drums of War because you're gonna be shouting a lot.  No Second Wind or Tactical Mastery. Maybe Second Wind for a PvP build, but it doesn't look like it'll help much if you're stunned and getting stabby stabby in the butt from some over-caffeinated Rogue. Tactical Mastery is just a filler spot in the tree now and kinda disappointed Blizz didn't give some utility.

Now that Battle Stance has a component that decreases damage, the additional 5% you get from switching to Defensive stance isn't going to be needed much.  If you need that little bit, something has gone seriously wrong.  Berserker Stance same thing. The 5% increase in damage isn't worth the abilities you loose by swapping stances.  Again, Blizz just kinda said "We give up, here ya go" and didn't really make Stance dancing sexy or even needed.  Ah well.

Third row: Taste for Blood to get Overpower, Overpower, Overpower and more Overpower! Sweeping Strikes for those multi-mob pulls. Impale straight up buffing Mortal Strike and Overpower (and Slam if you're into that sort of thing).  Imrpoved Hamstring if you want it. It's one of the "I like that" talents that's only necessary so you can get enough points to get to Bladestorm. If you PvP some, it's worth it. If not, you might pick something else.

Forth row: Deadly Calm and Blood Frenzy. Again, if you use Slam then this is an obvious one. If you don't, it frees up two points to play with somewhere else.  Deadly calm is neat if you're running low on Rage, but I haven't had that problem yet. Maybe when Cata hits. Blood Frenzy for the bleed buff (and a wee bit of extra physical damage). Plus the little proc bonus of extra Rage from auto-attacks.

Fifth row: Lambs to the Slaughter and Juggernaut.  LttS is an obvious one and affects your priorities. After you Mortal Strike, you definitely want to smash Overpower or Execute. This makes Mortal Strike coming before Overpower every chance you get, and it takes a little practice with Overpower proc'ing repeatedly thanks to Taste for Blood.  Alas, Sudden Death isn't going to do anything until Colossus Smash becomes available, so skip it for now and pull in two points from your optional stuff after Cata launches.

Sixth Row: Wrecking Crew is a Duh one. Yes, have that please. Throwdown is just plain fun. Arms Warriors went from no interrupts to TWO interrupts in one patch?!?  Yes, please and thank you!

And of course, Bladestorm, I love thy whirly goodness.

Other Trees

In Fury, I only took Cruelty because Friday is one mean bi... um, I mean it's a straight damage buff. The other two choices, Battle Trance and Blood Craze, just didn't do anything for me.  Battle Trance if you're running low on Rage, I suppose. Blood Craze if you were trying to build a self repairing Warrior. Not so sure how that will work out, though, so we'll wait until Cata to entertain those two selections.

In Protection, I chose Incite because I'm using Heroic Strike so much. HS is doing so well right now, I just don't see any reason not to give it everything we can, even if I do start using Slam more.  Blood and Thunder is just wicked. Being able to pop Rend up on multiple mobs with one button and keep it refreshed non-stop? That's blood rushing to your head and a thunderous Warrior-gasm!


Blizz didn't leave us entirely without options, and I suppose that's the point.  In the Arms Tree you're basically left with decisions to make about Field Dressing, Tactical Mastery, Second Wind, and Sudden Death. I took Field Dressing just because, as a Herbalist and Alchemist, I have several self heal abilities I pop all the time, and I'll take the free boost to healing effects as a bonus. Not necessary, at the moment, but it is a nice customization to tie in with my professions.

I also took Improved Slam because I do hit it occasionally and nothing in the the other two trees looked better.  I took Improved Hamstring just for grins in the battle grounds.  I'll more than likely be pulling four to six points from these optional ones when Cata arrives, but we'll jump off that troll bridge when we get there.

Wake up Friday! Fight! Wait... oh it's just the Headless Horseman. Dead in 49 seconds.
We'll talk about Glyphs some other time, but my current choices are on the linked Talent spec page at Wowhead.

For gems I'm sticking with straight Strength for now. No changes to Enchants. My gear has an aweful lot of Haste on it, which is fine, but I'm switching a lot of it, and a chunk of excess Hit, over to Mastery to see how good Strikes of Opportunity is going to be. So far, I like.

Like I said at the beginning, being an Arms Warrior is just too much fun.  The priority rotation may look a little daunting, but it's quite easy when you get some practice with it.  Having those options in combat is way more fun than some set rotation where you punch the same buttons over and over again in sequence.

Welcome to the New Arms Warrior. It's wicked good! :D


Sunday, October 10

Anatomy of a Wipe in 10 Easy Steps

Following up on the last post . . .

Yes, another PoS wipe with one angry player going all nerd ragey and quitting the group.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone should be wiping a lot in PoS. Seriously. It's not a terribly difficult dungeon run.  My issue is with the person who causes the wipe in the first place, nerd rages, and still doesn't understand how the wipe happened.

The Story

Our random consisted of a DK tank, a Druid healer, a hunter (no idea what flavor), a mage (frost judging by all the ice being thrown around), and me in Arms.

Over all, a pretty solid group.  The gear levels are pretty wide, so it's not going to be a walk through, but as long as everyone doesn't SIS*, we're good.

The wipe occurs on the hill.  We set up for the first pull and the tank kindly marks the two fire guys that like to kill everyone instantly and suck the healer dry.  Me and Hunter beeline for the skull, mage-boy hits the X first. I figure at least he hit a marked target, so we're good.  The tank has to pull a mob off the mage and heath bars start dropping, but by then hunter and I can start aoe, so we mow the bad guys down.  Easy enough.

So we pull the second group, and again Hunter and I are on the skull, but mage-boy is pounding away on random mob #4. He yanks aggro. The tank can't see him. Bam, down goes the Mage while the healer tries frantically to keep him and the tank up at the same time. The healer pulls aggro, and Bam down he goes. DK frantically tries to get it under control, hoping me and Hunter can just burn them down, but five mobs pounding away with no heals isn't gonna work. Down he goes.

Now hunter and I are popping cooldowns, I'm in Def trying to tank and half a second after the tank eats it, Hunter FDs. At this point I'm scrambling around for the Vanish key. Oh, wait, I don't have Vanish. I have... oh @#$! it.

WTF Happened

So why did this happen? Let's break it down.

On that particular pull it is absolutely essential to obliterate the two fire casting guys. Unless you have an ICC geared healer and/or tank, the damage output from that group of mobs will kill your tank fast and the healer just can only just barely keep him up. Thus, the tank marks the kill order and DPS follows the kill order.

Mage boy hit a mob the tank wasn't going to worry about. The tank had enough AoE threat on that target to hold him through normal healing, but not enough to keep aggro if someone started pounding the mob.  The tank is concerned with holding the mobs that DPS is suppose to be hitting.

Mage boy is also standing practically on top of the mob he's unloading on, which increases his threat significantly!  So naturally he pulled.

Now the tank is taking a massive amounts of damage, and the mage has joined him on the hit parade. As the tank turns to try to pull the mob off the mage, he starts taking shots in the ass, with no chance to Dodge or Perry, thus taking even more damage.

The healer, meantime, has gone from steady measured heals to panic spam heal mode.  As he pours heal after heal into the mage and the tank at the same time, HoTs stacking up the longer the mage stays alive, he's dramatically increasing his threat.  At this point, the healer is number two on the threat meter.  Guess where that mob is going to go?

Now the healer is in a no-win situation. He can protect and heal himself. Or he can keep the tank up. Or he can try to do both.  I can think of a few PvP healers that could pull this off. But most PvE healers are dead meat.

Now the tank has virtually no time to recover the stray mob. The healer takes a couple of shots, chooses to heal the tank, and down goes the healer.  Probably faster than he thought possible. The tank is desperately trying to get everything under control when suddenly none of his buttons are working and his toon has decided to take a dirt nap.

This is how most wipes occur. They almost always start with DPS doing something they shouldn't be doing. Almost Every Single Time.

10 Step Program

Step 1. DPS pulls aggo.
Step 2. Healer heals DPS (increasing threat).
Step 3. Healer tosses massive panic heal to Tank (increasing threat).
Step 4. Healer has to decide to heal tank or DPS.
Step 5. Healer chooses to heal tank, chucking in some AoE heals (increasing threat).
Step 6. DPS dies.
Step 7. Healer is now tops on threat for that mob (and possibly others).
Step 8. Healer dies.
Step 9. Tank dies.
Step 10. Rest of the DPS dies.

Run back and try again.

In Wrath, in this senario, either the tank is expected to pick up the stray mob, or the healer is expected to drop threat or heal through the whole mess.  DPS basically has no responsibility except to pour as much damage into the mobs as possible.

Prior to Wrath this wasn't the case. It started getting that way toward the end of BC. Now with Cataclysm changing everything back to the way it was, DPS is simply going to have to adjust.

Turn off your DPS meter.  Turn on your Threat meter.  Be prepared to survive.

No more free rides DPSers.  Time to L2P.

Since we've been over proper DPSing a bajillion times, next time we're going to look at an old form of crowd control that hasn't been used in 5-mans since the early BC-era; it's called Off Tanking. In particular, Arms Warriors are looking like they might be pretty darn good at it!


*Stand in S#&!

Wednesday, September 15

The Approahcing Train Wreck

There's one coming. It's called Cataclysm 5-Man Dungeons. And we are all going to die. A lot.

The other night in Guild Chat we were discussing what we were going to do first when Cataclysm launches. Pretty basic stuff.  "Imma start a Worgan!" "I'm going to make a Human Hunter!" "I'm going blast to 85 and check out the new zones!" and so on. 

Me? I'm gonna barge, bully, bash and bone run my way to the dungeon entrances and start running the 5-mans.

I love them.

Solo'ing VC at 38 for Mount money!
Ever since Friday and I spent three hours in Deadmines at level 16 and didn't even get half way through. I'm not even sure we had a "tank."  It was the brute force approach to dungeon running. Attack (not pull) one thing at a time and kill it, then go on to the next.  Which of course didn't work.  We'd get a multi-mob pull and all hell would break loose. Someone would yell "pat!" and the rest of us would look around going "who the hell is Pat?!?"  We'd die, but we took two of the bastards with us!  Run back and try again!

And yes, that was fun! By 20 Friday had tanked VC as DW Arms by stacking Agility. I didn't know what avoidance was, but not getting hit sounded like a great plan.  She solo'd the instance at 30. In fact, that's how I made enough gold to buy my first mount!

So it doesn't matter how hard the dungeon is, it's just fun to run them.  I don't mind wiping as long as everyone is getting along and having a good time.  Who cares, right?

For the Pony!
I've been leveling up Rowen the Rogue a bit and enjoying the random dungeon finder. Old world instances need a LOT of love.  Rowen basically tanked VC at 18. Most of the rest are a breeze with an even half-way competent crew. With the plethora of Wrath Babies running through them, they were pretty much like Northrend Dungeons. Pull, faceroll, pull, faceroll, stop for loot, repeat. 

It's kind of funny to watch some newer players that are use to free T10 gear and small AoE pulls go all nerd rage when they suddenly pull 20 mobs in BRD and wipe.  I LOL'd a lot. I didn't LOL so much when that tactic actually worked! Wha?!?

Then Rowen started this weekend on Outland Dungeons.  Even nerfed as they are, they aren't easy to faceroll unless everybody does their job properly. You can't AoE the room full of mobs in Shattered Hells. You do and you die. Nerd rage ensues. It's not pretty.

On one run through Ramps we went through 4 dps and 2 healers and 2 tanks.  On Ramps!  SRS?!?

These people would quit the group after one wipe!  I'm sorry but I don't have time to re-queue for 30 minutes just because some twit doesn't understand basic concepts of threat and aggro.  Gah!  Luckily, the groups tend to fill fast, but really.

I don't even have a problem with them not understand basic play mechanics.  I love noobs.  What I can't stand is the people that get all shitty about a wipe and then quit the group with no desire to understand why it happened in the first place!  There's a difference between being ignorant and being an idiot.  One is curable.

Enter Cataclysm. The devs have said that 5-mans in Cat will be between BC and Wrath in difficulty. If that works out, there's going to be quite a few players that are in for a rude shock.  Commence the train wreck.

Wrath Babies I get. They might have picked up some basic dungeon group concepts if they ran heroics in greens and blues. They probably had a few experienced players to guide them through that.  For the most part though, they quickly get to a place where they can slap on decent gear and run through Wrath dungeons with barely a breath. (Does anyone remember having to call for a bio in 5-mans?)

Learning about threat the hard way in SM Cath.
Don't get me wrong, I liked most of Wrath's 5-mans. But at a certain, early point, they just became badge runs. Nothing terribly wrong with that, I suppose, but at some point all you're doing is the same dailies and the same badge runs over and over again.  That's less entertainment and more like a task.  Blah.

I don't get the experienced players that have just gotten lazy. I see the Warrior tank that doesn't know what an LOS pull is and has no idea what I mean when I offer to cc the bomb dropping Technician. I get that. I see the Pally tank that DOES know what an LOS pull is and then charges in anyway, rounds up the whole room, and then stands there in the ooze and dies, all the while screaming "WHY IS NO ONE ATTACKING?!?" 

Sorry, I don't want to get green ooze on my pretty new purple boots.  Maybe you could scooch them over just a bit? Please? Thanks.

I just have a bad feeling that when (if?) they up the difficulty factor a notch or two in Cataclysm, there's going to be a lot more of this.  The Outland dungeons have been nerfed to hell and in about two dozen runs I have yet to see a group make it all the way through intact, or I've come into the group as a filler.

L2P Fri! Be prepared! No Outland in your underwear!
I'm guilty of it, too. For the first time in years I got called to task by a tank in PoS for pulling aggro! Wha?!? He even had the gall to suggest I use the target of target feature!!! My first reaction was "Quit being such a lame ass tank, bitch!"

But he was right. We were never in any danger and I took a few shots to the melon and an heal or two. Yes, the tank was way below my gear level.  I should have been adjusting my DPS to match his threat output. He was doing fine.  (Controlling your DPS when spec'd Fury is not easy, but that's another post entirely.)

Guys, if you can't handle a wipe or two (or five), you need to get into some of the Outland dungeons and L2P. Serious. If you don't understand threat, aggro, when to use cc, when not to use AoE, what LOS is, etc. you're gonna be hurting come Cataclysm.

I know I'm taking Rowen's adventures as refresher course.

I suspect, though, that with the right group, Cat dungeons are gonna be monster fun, wipes and all. Bring on the train! :)


Sunday, August 29

For the.... Horde?!?

I have a confession to make.

I'm leveling a toon Horde-side.

I know, right?!?

Let me 'splain. . .

I've always liked PvP.  Maybe more like a love/hate relationship would be a better description than "like." Playing a Warrior in PvP is tough. It takes patience and a lot of dying over and over to gear up before you're even remotely effective. It also takes a lot of calm, cool, methodical planning and maneuvering to be good at it.

Yah, that's not really me.

Neveron, Violet, and Shortbella pay a visit.
I can do it, but sometimes in PvP ya just wanna mash some  heads and create mayhem in a "kill 'em all" induced frenzy.

So when I started leveling a Rogue, I naturally slipped into PvP with her. Hey, there's some good leveling gear available from honor that works well with the BoA stuff too!  And OMG, a rogue is WAY more fun to play in PvP. Way! I use to hate rogues, but now I realize why.  It's 'cause they have so much damn fun in Battlegrounds!  Jealous!

The whole rogue thing was great.  Then they turned on XP gains for Battlegrounds and I figured I'd heal my way to 80 on the Priest.  Which was even MOAR fun than playing a rogue.  Here we have the calm, cool of a Warrior combined with the HaHa-Gotcha of a Rogue and the intense challenge of keeping everyone around you upright and breathing while being focused 99.9% of the time.

New Title: Spike-killer Fridaymacfay.
So, some people at work started up the office guild again and I agreed to play.  Unfortunately, they all play Horde. Gah!  I mean, nothing wrong with the Horde, except you know... they're Horde!

I picked a Tauren cause they seemed the less Horde-like, to me. (Wow, they move slow. Feels like it, anywho.) And since I never tried one before, and I liked healing so much on the priest, I decided to try a Resto Druid.

The verdict:  Fun. Way fun. Huge, mondo, Tauren-sized fun!

K, I still don't care for the whole Horde-experience thing. Nothing wrong with it, just not my bag of doughnuts. Playing through some areas from the other side, though, is very interesting.  Now that leveling is fairly easy, I can pick and choose what quest lines to follow and then just random dungeon or PvP my way past those I don't care for.

In the face!
In the BGs, though, a druid is just four different kinds of WICKED!  Literally.  Focused? Bear! Not focused? Heal!  Need to tear some ass? Kittah!  Need to haul ass? Lil' Kittah! Druid in PvP is like a Swiss Army Knife with teeth!

In WSG, for example, I've flag carried as Prot before. That's like being an armored truck. Grab the flag and keep trudging along with Shield Wall and Shield Block and hope to hell you get heal or two as you trundle your way all the way home.

FC as a druid is just grins. Room full of defenders?  HoT, HoT, HoT, Bear, grab the flag, get outside, little kitty all the way home, cap!  There's a very good reason why you hate Druid FCs. :)

On D, just root the FC in place and you'll have "Not in My House" on your first battle!

I know that all this is something Druids have known for years.  But if you've never even considered playing a Druid, give it a shot.  Even if it's only for the fun in BGs. Definitely a quintessential WoW experience!

The proper attire for herbing.
If you switch factions, though, just remember which side you're playing for. Running along-side the human pally FC trying to figure out why you can't attack that stinkin' undead mage can be a bit embarrassing. Not that I've done that, of course, I'm just saying . . .


Saturday, July 17

Cata-Warriory Things I'm Excited About

So I spent a month researching and writing the whole Arms Quirks thing and Blizzard goes and changes the whole damn thing!  You would think I'd know better.  So, scrap that...

That little frustration aside, though, I'm pretty excited about the changes they've shown so far for Arms Warriors in Cataclysm!  All still very beta, subject to massive change, and spoiler warnings for the remaining of this post, blah blah blah.

In some respects (you might have to use a little biased imagination here), Arms Warriors are becoming the model for most other specs and class.  What?  Sure!  Think of it this way:

Arms Warrior abilities have always been very proc-based. Because of this, you never really have a set, repeated rotation.  You might have an opening that sets you up for a better chance of getting those procs, but mostly it's a set of priorities that change pretty radically when something does proc.

This way of playing makes an Arms Warrior feel more like actually fighting. You maneuver for advantage and when it shows itself, you shove your pointy stick right up it's wazoo. Taking  advantage of split second opportunities (by chance or design) is what being a warrior in a fight is all about.

So far, it looks like Cataclysm is gonna bring that to a lot of classes.  Arms Warriors don't look like they'll change that much, in that regard, and seem to be getting a little fun love from the developers, as well!  Let's have a look where we're at so far.

Sunday, June 6

Arms Quirks: Introduction

Is there really anything "bad" about being an Arms Warrior?!?

Of course not!

However, looking at those minor dings of imperfection couldn't hurt (much) and might just make us better Warriors. So, this isn't so much a QQ as it is a self improvement series.

As I'm sure is apparent by now, I'm not much of a gear-head. In fact, if the entire way gear was handled in WoW was changed to "what looks awesomesauce!" I'd be perfectly happy. I love my current armor, even if the pants have saddle bags (really?) and the shoulders and hat are a little too poky for my liking. Best looking set since the Grand Marshall stuff way back at 60. The Undead Slayer armor comes close, too, of course.

Anyhoo, I'm gonna focus mainly on abilities and how-to fighting for Arms in these posts. There's a few things about Arms that are tricky to pull off, and situations where you really, really need to be able to compensate for the dings in your armor.

We're gonna look at:

The Pretty Ballerina Bladestorm Nerf - Bladestorm can now be Disarmed. Really? I mean, really?

Stance Dancing - You still need macros to dance. Why? Good question but you still need them.

The Specialization Penalty - Why Arms Warriors are the only spec that gets "srprz! buttsecks!" every time you pick up a new shiny pointy stick.

Retaliation - The "Ha Ha right!" of Warrior abilities.

Interrupting - You don't have one, but you can get one for only $9.99 plus shipping and handling.

Gearing - Why is it so @$#%$ing hard to find a Trinket?!?

It takes a lot of work to be a good Arms Warrior. Let's get to it!


Arms Quirks: A Night At the Ballet

I suppose we have to start with what Adam Holinksy, the Warrior guru at WoW Insider, calls "The Pretty Balarina Nerf." As of Patch 3.3.3, Bladestorm is now be subject to disarm effects. So if anyone/everyone Disarms you, you'll just be "spinnin' like a fool with our sword on the ground."

Problem: Bladestorm can be disarmed.

Solution: Don't use it. Maybe Retaliation will make a comeback in level cap PvP? :)

This is one of those where someone at Blizzard found the nerf bat laying in a closet somewhere and said "Ooooo, we haven't smacked Arms Warriors in a long while... C'mere."

In PvE...

Doesn't really make much difference. Worse thing that can happen is a mob will disarm you and you'll drop a bit of DPS. Cliiiick it off and start over.
If you're really, really concerned about it, just memorize which mobs will randomly drop aggro off the tank and disarm a random party member. Then don't use Bladestorm around those mobs, or wait until the use the ability and then use Bladestorm. There's can't be more than a handful of mobs with that ability.

In PvP...

Not sure why Blizz decided to nerf Arms warriors in PvP, but this change was clearly directed that way. I wonder if we still get to use our fists? Did Somebody Order a Knuckle Sandwich!

Bladestorm wasn't that great in PvP to begin with since as soon as you used it everyone would focus you, run out of the way, and you'd have no way to defend yourself. It was a quick and dirty cc break if you needed it. It was good situationally, at best.

 I've seen warriors, though, that just pop Bladestorm over and over again every time it pops. Bad!

So, Bladestorm was already a situational ability in PvP to begin with. You really can't just go all spinny whenever you want. If you're focused, you'll get smeared. And some form of cc on your targets is ideal. Waiting until that mage hits freezy feet and THEN Bladestorming is wonderful.

The nerf adds another level of awareness to using the ability. Now ya gots to watch out for any class that can disarm you. Other warriors and rogues being the main culprits.

For example, a Rogue can now just disarm you, follow along beside you slapping Sinister Strike, build up an ungodly number of combo points, and then face plant you in seconds. Not fun.

The only counter we have at this point is to use the ability when it's safe to do so:

* Only use when there's no one around that can Disarm you.

* Only use AFTER the bad guy has already used Disarm.

* Weapon Mastery might be something to consider for PvP, but since Bladestorm is only 6 seconds, it's unlikely to help as far as this situation goes. (An unmodified Disarm will drop to, what? Something like 5 seconds? Meh.)

* I"m completely shocked how many people don't KNOW that you can Disarm a Warrior in the midst of a Bladestorm!  Shhhhh.  Don't tell. ;)

That's about it.

So be smart about it.


Tip: Ever get blown off a bridge or cliff by a Shammy? I hate that. As you go over, target the Shammy (or any nearby enemy) and start pounding Charge. As long as you don't go out of range, as soon as the blowback effect wears off (a couple of seconds), you'll charge right back on to solid ground AND stun the bastard at the same time! :) SPRZ!

Thursday, June 3

Cat Prep? Sounds Painful

So five months later here's another post. LOLblog!  Sheesh.

Two things going on here with the lack of posties.  One, of course, is the "real life."  The other is a sad lack of anything inspiring to write about.  I keep thinking "Yah, but there's still plenty of Arms Warrior stuff to write about!" And then realize ... not so much.

So I was poking around Blog Azeroth and they had their Friday 5 topic as "What you're doing to prepare for Cataclysm."  And I said.... hmmmm.... What are I doing?

Well, first, freakin' waiting!   I'm thinking not until November, though. Maybe October, but I bet November.  Yeah, I hope I'm wrong and it's earlier...

Other than the waiting thing, this post turned into a what I'm doing UNTIL cataclysm:

1. I decided to see if I could gold cap.  Something like 214,000 and change. So, Nev and Fri are churning out potions and lotions and glyphs and scrolls and such like crazy.  It's a nice side project and, for the first time for me, going into an expansion with plenty of jingle will be kinda nice. (Started both of the last two completely broke!)  The AH playing is kinda relaxing and beats the heck outta Farmville.

2. Toon leveling. Still slowly leveling up Rowan the Rogue. Not sure what this has to do with Cat 'cept that playing a Rogue in any new battlegrounds Blizz comes up with will be wicked fun. Cause playing a Rogue in battlegrounds is the most wicked fun you can have in a battleground except for...

3. Neveron hit 80, went Shadow for dungeon running and heals for battlegrounds. Healing battlegrounds is more fun than playing a Rogue. No really!  Anyhoo, that was definitely a Cat prep so that we'll have a healer ready to go when the new 5-mans open up.  Healing 5-mans in Wrath is like watching golf on the radio. Blah!  And I'm not tanking any more.  I'm done with it. Pthooey!  (Right.  Expect "Woe is the Tank" posts shortly after Cat hits.)

4. I have two open character slots.  So one will be a Human Hunter.  And the other will be a Worgen.  But.... what shall the Worgen be?!?  So, on a few other servers I'm trying some different classes and seeing what I like best.  (Okay, we know she'll probably end up a Warrior, but it doesn't hurt to shop around.  Maybe a Fury Fury Warrior... hmmmm....)

5. Raiding!  What?!? Fri is raiding?!?  Say it ain't so!  Okay, not technically raiding. I do VoA once a week. Ony occasionally.  The daily once in awhile. And every once in a blue moon I hitch a ride into TotC.  So it's not really, really raiding.  But if it gets me better shinnies to start Cat with it works for me.

Prep for Cat really won't start until we know more.  Like what kinds of concrete changes will be there for Arms Warriors?  What are the new Alchemy stuffs?  What mats will we need?  And so on and so forth.  Just not a lot of details, so really preparing comes down to the basics.  Have plenty of stuffs for the new toons and make it as easy as possible to focus on *playing* with the old toons.

Easy enough.

A nice patch would be nice while we wait, though.


Saturday, January 23

Friday's Super Quick Guide to Arms

To get back in the spirit of things, here's a summery of what you need to Arms Warrior the easy way.  This should suffice for the more casual or beginner Arms Warrior.

Arms is all about using a great big sharp pointy to poke lots of bad guys really hard and all at once. Yah, it's really, really fun. For true.


  • Gear with Srength and Stamina. Hit and Crit if you should stumble across it. If you have the means, heirloom gear rocks.  Get 'em.
  • Stick with the basic 57/14 Arms build as you level.
  • You can tank as Arms below 60 without much difficulty. 
  • Use Dungeon Finder and Battlegrounds as much as you can stand. Both will keep you sexy all the way to 80. 
  • Rep: Sons of Hodir, Knights of the Ebon Blade and do Argent Tournament as much as you can stand.
  • Random heroics until you're blue in the face and wearing the purdy armor.
The Stats
  • Hit Rating? 264 at Level 80.
  • Strength? Your main stat after you Hit Cap. All the Crit in the world won't do any good if you hit like a wet noodle.
  • Crit? As much as possible.  Poleaxe spec helps.  You'll be getting this from gear.
  • Armor Penetration? Is good if you're swords, but (and this is just me), I wouldn't give up Strength, Hit, Crit or Expertise for it.
  • Expertise? I wouldn't go out of my way. Gear up using a site like MaxDPS or GearWishList and it'll just magically be there.
  • Profession? Whatever you like. Blacksmithing, Alchemy, Engineering and Jewelcrafting are Warrior favs.
What to Wear
  • Sword or Poleaxe Specialization?  Whichever you like.  Use whatever is best and available. So, if that yummy sword drops and you're spec'd to Poleaxe, then roll your butt off on it and respec.
  • Gems? Hit until cap, then replace as soon as possible with Strength.  If your gears Hit cap you, pretty red Strength rocks only, please.  
  • Enchants? Berserking on your pokey stick. Arcanum of Torment on your noggin. Greater Inscription of the Axe on your shoulders.  Major Agility on your rug.  Powerful Stats on your bewbs.  Greater Assault on your wrists and feets. Crusher on your hands. Thigh-high Icescale Leg Armor on your gams. Eternal Belt Buckle on your belt.
  • Glyphs? Majors: Mortal Strike, Execution, Rending. Minors: Battle, Bloodrage, Charge.
  • DSIS = Don't Stand In Shit.  If it's on the ground and hurty, get out of it.
  • Ass first. You should only hit things from behind the mob.  If you see crotch, you're doing it wrong. Stand on the pet if it helps you get oriented.
  • Beware the ass pull. If you move behind the mob, watch out for ones that are close by. Your big butt will probably pull them over.
  • Proper Rotation?  There isn't one. Arms Warriors have priorities instead of a rotation.  Your priorities will change slightly depending on what kind of fight it is.
  • For trash, pop Sweeping Strikes as often as possible. Bladestorm whenever it's safe to do so. Preferably both at the same time.
  • In order of priority it's:  Rend, Mortal Strike, Execute, Overpower, then Slam.  
  • Reapply Rend ASAP after it falls off, but not before.
  • Stance? Battle. By the time you need the other two, you'll be way beyond this guide.
That's it. Fighting as an Arms Warrior takes some practice. There's lots of options. But that's kinda what makes it so fun. That and whirling around killing bunches of stuff with Bladestorm.  Yah, that.

Now off with you! Go forth and Bladestorm mightily!


BAK Happy Blog Day to Me!

Really? Since august? /epicblogfail

Two years ago today Our Girl Friday started. Wow! I don't think I've ever done ANYHTING except play WoW for more than two years! Okay, it's not a consistent two years, but still...

What happen to bring me back was that lately I've been playing on the rogue, Friday's sister, Rowen.  Rowen has been a bank alt for a long, long time and it's her turn.  Fair is fair.

Oh, that and playing a combat rogue is so much fun it's freaky!  Yes, playing the Shaman is so much fun it's freaky too. It's a lot of freaky fun going on here.

Anyhow, we're just about officially between xpacs, and the lure of the alt starts calling again. Fri's skills are all leveled, she's got absolutely gorgeous hot armor again (finally... WotK will be forever known as the xpac of the BORING leveling armor... almost miss the clown suits of BC... not quite, but almost), she's all quested out, and if she has to PuG more than one heroic a day anymore she might puke.  She's still got a few more pieces of gearisms to grab, of course, and there's a few reps to grind, but mostly (unless she starts raiding regularly) she's coasting.

So Rowen's there and I start rogue'in it a bit, and turns out rogues aren't as bad as I thought.  They're wicked fun in dungeons and PvP, and with the Dungeon Finder, gearing and leveling isn't the quest grind it use to be.  In fact, she did ten level entirely in dungeons. Ha!

While I'll probably still be mean to people who play rogues... now I won't be as mean. :P

Anyhoo, we're random PuGing in SFK and someone in the group whispers "I love your blog."  And I'm thinking, "Oh yah, I have a blog. Ooops."  Which was kinda cool cause it's the first time in 2 years anyone's ever said anything in game about the blog. Ha!

Then like, the next day, someone whispers me on Fenris (again while I was playing on Rowen) and asks for some Arms Warrior advice and mentions the blog again. Granted, I'm probably not the best person to ask, but still it's kinda cool.  And there is a horrible lack of Arms Warrior stuff on the web (though, what is there is fabulous).

So, it's the blog's birthday and I figured it would be a good time to start posting again.  Nice to see ya and if you see a silly rogue named Rowen that needs to LTP in the lowbie randoms, give a wave. :)