Monday, 20 August 2007

The perceived lack of tanks

Following the early break up of Karazhan run on Friday night, the other current issue with WoW highlighted itself nicely. That is, for the PvE endgame - whether you're just after better gear, want to see the content, or whatever - you need to group, and for a group you nearly always need a tank and a healer. And at the moment there's a perceived shortage of tanks. On Thursday our guild had a four man group looking for a tank to go to Shadow Labs. And at the same time there were 3 other groups on the Horde side of the server, all doing a "LF1M: need tank for SL".

Of the three tanking classes, the Horde are very short of level 70 paladins (most of which are holy anyway), there are a fair few feral druids, and very few tanking warriors.

The issue seems to be two fold:

Firstly, tanking for a bad group is a nightmare - hence why I (and say a "perceived lack" - it's hard to find a tank for a PUG, less hard for guild groups and easy for raids.

Secondly, while there are plenty of warriors around (who after all are the main tanking class) they're predominantly arms. Not only is arms the best spec for PvP / arena, but questing / grinding / doing anything other than instancing is horrible when prot spec'd. So although arms warriors are able to tank if they feel like it, they don't feel like it. Which isn't really surprising: by now they've been 70 long enough to get the instance gear they want, and without a tanking build a PUG just doesn't appeal. Instead arms warriors will PvP, or perhaps tank for a guild group, and prot warriors will level a warlock (or other solo-friendly class) until their next scheduled raid.

I'm wondering if the Death Knight class is Blizzard's response to the lack of tanks. And if so, I'm wondering if it'll work - which part of the tanking / dps hybrid will players prefer do you think...?

Anyway, in response to all of this my alt-ism kicked in again. I've deleted the orc hunter I've decided had a dopey face and a name I wasn't totally happy with, and I've started levelling a BElf paladin. There will come a time that I'm going have to settle on one of my alts and only (or nearly only) play him. So I think one that can either tank or heal (with the proper gear and talent build) might suit me best. I quite like the idea of a character who can tank or heal and also stealth, so there's also my Alliance druid under consideration, but I'm a bit to attached to my guild to switch factions permenantly. And our guild's awash with druids already.

Friday, 17 August 2007


Yet again I'm wondering whether I should re-roll, but more on that later.

Last night highlighted a couple of the main issues with WoW at the end game, at least one of which is deeply embedded in the game design.

Our Kara team two had 9 people signed up for last night's run. We like to take 3 healers, and at least 1 priest (shadow or healer) - we didn't have one. We managed to find a non-guild priest, who unfortunately turned out to be a complete disaster, and after wiping 3 times on Moroes we called it a night. Given that we usually clear the place in 2 or 3 nights, this was rather frustrating.

Problem number 1: Karazhan - in particular the Moroes and Maiden fights - can't be done without a priest. Why design an instance for that small a group that needs one specific class? Why can't you just take 3 healing classes? OK, it might be harder without the right class balance, but it shouldn't be near-impossible (OK, it's almost certainly possible without one for the right over-powered team, but then why are they there in the first place?).

Supplements to problem 1: If Karazhan didn't need attunement we could have brought another guild priest. If Kara wasn't a raid on a long timer we could have borrowed a priest from team one. Given that we're trying to gear up to 25 man raids, it's a pain to be rigidly stuck into those 2 sub-groups in the meantime.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Wrath of the Lich King: Talents

It's still months (years?) before release, but I'm already unhappy about what I read about talents in the next expansion - Wrath of the Lich King. That is, that there are new ones (not too surprising really). Presumably this means that the top talent in a tree will be a 51 pointer. I was hoping they'd raise the talent limit every second expansion, but apparently not.

As a shaman I need to spec deeply into one tree to be viable in the PvE endgame, but at the moment some classes can manage a more rounded spec. Surely that will change when the best you can do is 20 points in a secondary tree?

On the other hand, I'm probably wrong. I didn't like the idea of dual wielding shamans when I first saw it, but it was nice as a levelling spec.

As an aside, the press release announcing the Burning Crusade came out on 28 October 2005, the game was released on 16 Feb 2007. WotLK was announced on 3 Aug 2007, any bets on a December 2008 release? The news on it so far makes it sound like the release date will be closer than that - there's even rumours of a May release - but we'll see it when it's ready...

Win some, lose some

Had a guild run in Shattered Halls last night, and got my first piece of dungeon set 3 when the Tidefury Shoulderguards dropped from Warbringer O'mrogg. However my enduring memory will be of having the Major Mageblood elixir recipe drop in a group with three alchemists. Ah well, at least there's now someone in the guild who can make them. Really want that recipe..!

I'm progressing nicely through Honoured with Thrallmar and Lower City, less so with the Sha'tar. I'll get there eventually though.

I'm in Karazhan again tonight following the reset. Tuesday's run went very well from a rep point of view - we killed Nightbane and the Prince, which meant I could complete the New Directive quest line. No luck on my rolls for a nice healing mace or neck, but as they went to raid regulars I can't really complain. I did get the Scaled Breastplate of Carnage though, which was otherwise unwanted, as we had no sharder.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Into Karazhan

Just a quick update ahead of my first Karazhan run with Grulnak tonight.

I logged on to WoW early on Sunday and asked in guild if anyone wanted to do Black Morass, and pretty much instantly had a full group. Our druid tank was the off-tank for our most advanced Karazhan group (although his prediction that he'd basically not need healing turned out to be untrue), and a rogue, warlock and hunter rounded out the group nicely.

We cleared the place fairly easily, netting me my Kara key in the process, then went back in to do it again as three of us needed drops from the place. Unfortunately nothing useful appeared, although the warlock got a nice staff for her off-spec set.

I'd previously netted the Stormsong Kilt from a heroic Underbog run, which resolved my worries over getting enough int together. With some appropriate gems and spellthread they're now my main healing legs, and my previous pair go into my stamina set for fights like Aran and Illhoof.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


Finally got a successful run through Shadow Labs last night, so I've now got my Auchenai Boots. A bit of a strange run - it was all good up to the warlock boss, where we wiped 3 or 4 times. But once we had him down we got Murmur first time.

That leaves me with just a sub-par trinklet and bracers to replace, although the bracers do give nice mp5, and OK int and +healing. I'm now up to our guild minimum stats for Karazhan (although I don't have the last key fragment yet) for health, mp5 and +healing, but well short in mana. With some top range enchants I can just squeeze up to the limit, but it's going to be close. It's also going to be expensive, which is a shame as I'm rather skint at the moment.

I'm also up to Honoured with Lower City and the Scryers, and 5999/6000 through Friendly with the Sha'tar.

And then comes the dilemma. Just as I'm about to log out for the night I get a whisper from our Kara team 2 leader - can I bring Tukkillen my shadowpriest to replace a rogue that's had to log out? The run's gone on pretty late, but they just have Netherspite and Illhoof to kill for a full clear.

Of course I go, and we down Netherspite on about the third attempt (a first kill for that team), and then finish off with Illhoof. And I had a great time. There are good things about being a healer - being able to help out when someone asks in the guild chat, and a good sense of achievement from keeping people alive, but DPS (when it's not become too routine) is a blast. Whether it's burning through trash we used to have to take slowly and carefully, or those last few seconds of a tight boss fight: he has 8k health left, one mage is a squishy mess on the floor, you're pretty much out of mana and then the tank dies! Will it be you or the boss?

There were also some nice comments in Ventrilo from my group about having a mana battery around, which was nice too.

So what now do I do?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Nearly ready for Kara

It's been a hectic week at work, so I've not really had the time nor inclination to spend time with this blog, but I have managed to squeeze in the odd bit of WoW.

The drive for better gear is going quite well, with neck, chest and leg pieces from group quests and a new cloak crafted by my priest. I also got two upgrades to my main hand in a single day, the second of which came from a ridiculously lucky Botanica run where I got 6 drops in all. As well as the healing main hand I received enhancement drops for my off-hand, chest, back, waist and feet. We sharded 2 blues in all, one of which was a nice 2 handed axe that I thought I'd better pass on, mainly because when enhancement I duel wield, but also because by this time the group's sense of humour was failing them. They didn't mind too much, as we had 3 cloth-wearing DPS they couldn't use any of the items that I received, but I think they might have liked at least 1 cloth drop (the other sharded blue was a piece of plate that the tank didn't need...).

"All" I need now is the key fragment from Arcatraz, a successful BM run, and upgrades to my wrists and feet.

Just to keep tab of my goals, I should also note that I've got hold of the Shadow Lab and Shattered Halls keys. The Sethekk run for the former started at midnight - my wife thinks I'm mad for some reason...