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#&!