Let’s Talk About Ban-Draft Looting

The last few years have seen World of Warcraft’s loot system getting worse, and worse, and worse. The oversized, bloated loot tables that started years ago continue to plague raids with horrible droughts and drops that they don’t need. In Firelands my raid went 8 full weeks without seeing a single melee item. Our experience was not exceptional or unheard of. I am friends with a guild that experienced a similar 6-week loot drought this tier. There are several reasons the antiquated loot system should be changed, as well as several possible solutions to the problem.

The Other Guys Already Solved This

Other MMOs, including some games that are far older than 2004, already have measures to solve the problem. When a class is not present in a raid, the loot system is smart enough not to drop items for that particular class. “Smart Loot” as it’s called, works quite well in a number of games currently on the market, but is not necessarily the best solution. Warcraft doesn’t really have class-restricted loot anymore, and the commonality of offspecs means that raids might actually want pieces that aren’t suited for anyone currently in the raid. Especially when a raid is mostly finished with a zone and people have mostly just offspec items left to get, this kind of smart looting system would not be ideal for Warcraft. Smart Loot traditionally works in games where each class only has one possible role, even though it would reduce some of the extra bloat Warcraft’s loot tables have.

We’re Getting Less Drops

A big reason why Warcraft’s loot system has been so problematic this tier is that we, as raiders, are getting less loot over time. Many Dragon Soul bosses drop only one piece of gear from their loot table now instead of two, making it more than three times as likely that a specific item drop won’t be seen over the course of 4 months (30% chance vs 9% chance). It’s actually worse than the drop rate being cut in half. This is apparently due to 25man groups getting too much loot, and I can agree that it was a bit excessive that they were getting 9 items per Shannox kill, but the current system where 10mans get only one item plus a tier token, with the loot tables continuing to be large and bloated, simply doesn’t work. If this reduced rate of loot is going to continue, which it could, the current system absolutely must be changed.

Random Drops Proven To Not Work

Random loot drops in raids have been attempted in all three tiers this expansion. In Tier 11, Throne of the Four Winds dropped only set-pieces that contained random stats. This actually worked the best out of all three tiers, and some of these items were actually good, however the drops were focused mostly on very restrictive belts and legs rather than the preferred non-restrictive, more inclusive rings that dropped from Conclave. In Tier 12, random drops consisted of non-best-in-slot weapons, which served as a decent stopgap until the best weapons dropped, but soon into the tier these drops became a waste of a drop. Also, this random-from-any-boss concept introduced the problem of unpredictability, meaning that a guild with a bench can have problems with people not wanting to sit even on bosses they don’t need loot from, due to the chance of a random drop instead. This unpredictability is very bad. In Tier 13 this unpredictability continued, except now many of the random drops actually are best-in-slot, causing people to be even less inclined to sit even when they don’t need any regular drops. It also means that a non-useful random drop takes the place of what may have been a useful regular drop, and completely wastes that boss’ loot for the week. The 30% chance to never see a specific item over the course of 4 months actually goes even higher than that.

Furor Has Become The Dinosaur He Hated

Regular drops aren’t the only problem. Another problem that has received even more complaints during Cataclysm is the issue of tier tokens. While tier token drops often resolve themselves over time, for many groups they do not, and the fact that the probability of it happening is so low really doesn’t excuse the fact that it does happen for many groups. If 50000 raid groups clear Dragon Soul every single week, 512 of those raid groups are going to see 5-out-of-5 Vanquisher tokens. Some may argue that that’s a small number but it’s really not; lots of groups complain all the time that they got a specific type of token 4 or 5 or 8 or more times consecutively. The small chance does not excuse the fact that it does happen to real people on a regular basis. 512 raid groups is anywhere from 5 to 15 thousand people, it isn’t a small amount.

Back in 2001, when Furor was just a regular player, he popularized the call for MMOs to adopt a tier token system in the first place, and they did because of his campaign. That was 11 years ago though, when the raid size was anywhere from 72 to 300 (yes, really); the loot system today is just as antiquated and unsuitable as the loot systems were back then. The current style of tier tokens does not function properly for small raid sizes, because of the way 1-drop-per-week often causes problems. You might feel that the low probability makes this a blip in the system, but the people who actually experience these problems every week don’t enjoy being called a blip in the system, and they especially don’t like being ignored. For some guilds the tier token issues have been going on for four consecutive tiers now; those people don’t feel like it’s a blip. Now Furor personally keeps the antiquated status quo in place, and I’m not sure if he’s aware of the irony.

Let’s Talk About Solutions

Having already established that Everquest-style Smart Loot systems aren’t really suitable for Warcraft due to the popularity of offspecs and keeping options open, there are however still ways to innovate. The first, simplerĀ  solution is to widen tier tokens. If you aren’t going to bring back all-class, trophy-style tokens (though you should, Essence of the Forlorn worked wonderfully), then widening the tokens beyond just 3-4 classes would still go a long ways towards solving the problem. A token for only 3 classes has a 16.8% chance of not dropping over the course of 5 weeks; that’s outrageously high. A token for 6 classes has only a 1.5% chance over the course of 5 weeks that a class will not see their token. 6 classes able to use a token sounds high, but this can be remedied by adding a fourth token type, and allowing each class to use two.

Current system of 3 tokens and 10 classes, with each class able to use 1 token – 3 classes (30% chance), 3 classes (30% chance), 4 classes (40% chance)

Proposed system of 4 tokens and 11 classes, with each class able to use 2 tokens – 6 classes (27% chance), 6 classes (27% chance), 5 classes (23% chance), 5 classes (23% chance)

This sort of widening is imperative with how small raid sizes have become over the years. Tokens (or molds, as they used to be called a decade ago) were okay for 25-man raids, or 40-man raids, or 54-man raids, or 72-man raids, or even more, but when the size drops down to ten the probability becomes a problem.

Let’s Get Even Crazier

The last suggestion I want to make as far as changing the current loot process is even less conventional. It involves giving a small degree of choice when it comes to raid drops by shrinking the loot table, introducing a ban-draft not unlike what you’d see in League of Legends or other, similar games. Through a UI feature (the encounter journal works well for this), a raidleader would be allowed to choose a certain number of items before a boss fight that the boss will not drop when killed. If Morchok’s loot table is 16 items, allowing us to ban-draft four of those items brings the loot table down to a more manageable twelve, which is still a little bit bloated for 10-man raids but not outrageously so. It also gives the raid a little bit of choice without going so overboard as to let the raid choose which items drop; it simply narrows the table down by excluding things the raid doesn’t want.

The table becomes narrower and more reasonable.

This sort of narrowing, combined with the removal of important items randomly dropping from a multitude of bosses, would make loot much more predictable and rewarding, without requiring much of a framework change from Blizzard. If loot is going to continue to be one-per-boss, it’s absolutely important that something is done about the overly large tables. Even if loot doesn’t continue to be one-per-boss, this method still reduces waste raid loot substantially, which was a major complaint even before Blizzard amplified it terribly by reducing the amount of loot drops. The current 30%+ chance to never see a specific, non-random item after 4 months cannot be allowed to continue, and by allowing raids to ban-draft 15-25% of the available loot table, this “never-drop” chance is reduced to 22%. That’s still unfortunately probably too high, but allowing the proposed ban-draft plus increasing drops back to two-per-boss reduces the “never-drop” chance to 5.6%. That number looks a lot better.

Ban-Draft Fixes The Token Problem, Too

Additionally, many casual raiders would be very relieved to see tokens eligible for banning. The large number of raids that see 4 or 5 or more of the same token in a row would be able to actually do something about it, and would receive less waste loot overall. It’s easy to sit back and say that only a small percentage of raids see this problem occur, but 1-2% of all raids is not a small number of real people that get to be frustrated by loot problems all the time. Waste loot has been a huge problem in all three tiers this expansion, and has only gotten worse over the course of it. Ban-Drafting attempts to solve part of that problem without being game-able, a criticism Blizzard has made about other suggested solutions to reduce waste loot.

Please Do Something

Loot has been a contentious issue throughout all of Cataclysm. It was announced at the end of Firelands that the loot system would be changing in Dragon Soul, and it did, but this new system is simply not reasonable to anyone who wants to raid 10-man and actually be fully-geared by the end of the tier. Even on non-random items, the chance that a certain drop will never be seen is simply too high, and that discounts the actual random items that may very well also never be seen by a raid. Changes to the system need to occur before we move to tier 14, and I hope this suggestion for innovation at least creates some thought about the problem.

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Casual Cupcakes: A World First

This is definitely something that we never, ever thought would happen.

Friday night, October 14th 2011, Marshmallows entered Firelands to do its usual one-day Heroic clear. We’d known for a while that our mage would be finishing the third part of the legendary grind that night, and after 5 bosses she hit 250/250 Essences and just needed the Heart of Flame. We’d also known for a while that Laetitiia would be the first person on Moonrunner to finish – since Moonrunner has no 25man guilds whatsoever our 10man group was about 2-3 weeks ahead of the nearest person. We moved on to Heroic Ragnaros and killed it in less than an hour, scoring a Heart of Flame for our mage and a firehawk for myself. With the quest finished, we returned to Stormwind and Laetitiia completed the 4-month journey. Marshmallows obtained a legendary staff.

A giant draenei in the sky.

There’s more to this story, however. When Marshmallows first entered Firelands at the end of June, we knew that eventually we would get a legendary. We knew that it would take a long time, that our mage would need to attend just about every raid, and that lots of other people would also be getting an orange weapon too. As we started murdering bosses and collecting quest pieces, Marshmallows progressed at a pretty good pace. We cleared 7/7N during week 1 with less than half of our normal raid time, and we scored some very solid rankings on some heroic bosses for the casual guild that we are. We didn’t really notice it at the time, when we notched US-11th Heroic Alysrazor and US-18th Heroic Baleroc, but we were having fantastic luck with those quest pieces. Eternal Embers, which only have an 80% chance to drop on 10man, dropped for us 25 times in a row. We had perfect luck on Embers, we finished collecting 25 of them by the end of week 4.

When we moved on to the next step, it was dedication more than luck that got us through quickly. Laetitiia has had 100% attendance going back all the way to December, she has never missed a raid, and as a result she has never missed any of our quest pieces. For the Cinders, the longest portion of the quest on 10man, all we could do was clear the zone each week and keep trying to get a little better at heroic modes. We reached 6/7 Heroic during week 7, and steadily the Cinders came in. There was nothing luck could do to help us on this part, and we didn’t mind.

At this point, the high-end strict-10 groups were all progressing along at the same pace. Our luck with Embers may have given us a tiny bit of a lead, but since we don’t raid Tuesday we were also at a major disadvantage. On the week that all the high-end 10mans were due to start the third portion of the quest though, luck struck again, in the form of Ghostcrawler.

The droprate of Smoldering Essences required for the Heart of the Flame quest has been considerably lowered, you will now get about 50% less essences than before the nerf.

  • For example, you will now get 9 or 10 essences from bosses in 25-Man Heroic mode instead of 17-19.
  • Players in 10-Man Heroic mode will only get 3 or 4 instead of an average of 7.

On the very week 10mans reached the Smoldering Essences portion of the quest, their droprate was cut in half. The playerbase reacted about as angrily as one would expect, with 10man raiders in particular leading the various threadnaughts all over the Blizzard forums. I myself notched at least a hundred posts there over the course of three days, hoping that something would be done about the issue. High-end 10mans continued with their usual Tuesday raids, and they lost a substantial number of Essences to the nerf.

Then on Thursday, just one day before we too were scheduled to raid Firelands and have the nerf hinder our progress, something happened:

No more nerf.

Once again, we got lucky. While the guilds we were competing with lost 20-25 Essences that week, we lost none. Our weekend-raiding disadvantage completely turned into a positive, and as a result we were able to finish our staff on October 14th. After asking around and armorying guilds and checking out the progress of guilds that cleared Heroic Firelands way faster than we did, we believe that we are the first guild in the world to finish a Dragonwrath while strictly raiding only 10-man. It wasn’t something we really went out of our way to try for, and it involved quite a bit of luck, but it also involved a lot of dedication too. We played through that four-month journey just about perfectly. While we don’t know for sure if this is indeed the first, we’ve spent the last two days trying to find another strict-10 guild with a completed staff and found nothing.

Ehwa Women’s University from Korea is the best strict-10 group in the world and they don’t have a staff. Non-Combat Pet is the best strict-10 in the US and they don’t have a staff. Hordlinge is the best strict-10 in Europe, Crimson Blade the best in Australia, WhosProblem the best in Taiwan, none of them have a staff. Angered is a really excellent guild from Europe that does have a staff, but the person who has it is a recent server transfer and isn’t even in their main 10-man group. We asked on the Blizzard forums, we asked on the MMO-Champion forums, we went to various servers to ask other guilds about their progress, we went to the armory (even the KR and TW armories that aren’t in English) and looked up a lot of people. We found none, none except ours. I wouldn’t even mind all that much if it turns out we weren’t the first, but after going to all this effort to try to confirm that we aren’t first, we could not. This is the first time in its entire history the medium-sized Moonrunner-US realm has ever had a world-first, and as a casual guild we were certainly surprised to get it.

Well done, friends.

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Stamina for Some, Miniature American Flags for Others

There’s quite a bit of discussion going around this tier, on private forums and public forums and blogs and all that sort of thing, about Stamina. Paladins don’t really know where to go after getting blockcapped and some are going there, Warriors don’t really know where to go after getting blockcapped and some are going there, and it’s even an interesting stat for the other two tanks too. We all need Stam to live. Gemming Stam is an idea that does come up from time to time, even on the serious business-est of private forums.

This isn’t a new thing

Some serious, top-end tanks have been heavily stamina-biased, and successful with it, all the way back to December. Paragon’s druid is the example most people use, but there’s lots of others. Even though people have been saying Stamina shouldn’t be stacked for pretty much all of Cataclysm, there are some tanks of all classes (yes, all four, even Paladins) that have been doing it and still stick by full-Stamina builds in heroic raids.

When the first guilds started cleaving their way through heroic tier 11, they found that tank damage was pretty high. Magmaw hit quite hard, but with his slow swing timer it wasn’t really a problem. Chimaeron was similar, but Chim didn’t really have much burst. Maloriak had heavy spellburst, but if you were doing Heroic-25 you could load your tank up with plenty of CDs and externals and absorbs to get away with not having a lot of Stam. Once guilds got through the early bosses, they found ones beyond that where the tank damage gets absolutely frightening, where tanks getting straight up bursted became a real possibility. Heroic Cho, Nef, Sinestra, and Al’akir with a certain strat all have tremendous tank burst, often with high raid damage at the same time. When you have very solid, reliable (sometimes infinite) tank healing, survival on those fights can become less about reducing damage and more about making it through bad bursts of damage. Welcome back to Wrath.

Don’t try this at home

Going heavy Stam is not in itself a bad idea. It has a legitimate use and that use continues to be valid in heroic t12. It’s important, however, to understand the point where enough Stamina is enough. For some tanks in some situations that point is “never”, but those situations are pretty rare. Maybe you’re a druid who wants to go full Stam. Maybe you’re a paladin or warrior who wants to blockcap first, then go Stam. Maybe you don’t want Stam at all, or maybe you’d rather have Stam than blockcap. All of these have specific situations where they’re valid and situations where they aren’t ideal. Doing your homework to figure out what works for what kind of content you tank is important.

My raid is different from yours

Different fights are different. Some of them call for more Stamina than others. The bigger difference, however, is your raid setting. If you’re like me and raid the more popular format (10-mans), your needs are going to be different from someone who tanks 25s. Heroic versions of both raid sizes call for more Stamina than normal modes, but the most important difference between the raid sizes is your healing throughput. I don’t have 6 healers watching my raid, with 2-3 healers assigned to watching me at all times. Bosses typically hit about as hard on Heroic-10 as they do on Normal-25, but 10-man raiders have to find a way to make it work with half (or less) as much healing. That solid, super-reliable tank healing just doesn’t exist on 10, and as a result we have to gear a little differently.

That said, Heroic-25 tanking brings with it slightly different challenges than tanking Heroic-10s. When encounters are balanced around the idea that you’re going to have 2-3 healers on you at all times, damage gets pretty fierce. Getting bursted from full-to-dead in just a few seconds, even outside of high-damage phases where you’d cooldown appropriately, becomes a much more common possibility. Adding Stamina becomes quite useful, to the point where some serious tanks of all stripes go full Stam, shouldering the burden of taking more total damage on their healers in favor of being able to survive the baddest spikes around.

I can’t do that. Fortunately Heroic-10s don’t quite hit that hard, even though they do hit plenty hard when you consider that I only have 1 healer on me, and it’s rare that I have more than that. Heroic Baleroc Decimation? I have one healer. Heroic Rhyo? One healer. Sinestra p3, even after Red wears off? One healer. Heroic Chogall? Not only do I only have one healer, that healer also has to heal the raid at the same time. Reducing the damage I take and eliminating spikes becomes a lot more important. I can still get bursted from full-to-dead, if the RNG goes catastrophically wrong or I make a mistake, but it’s not quite as likely. At the same time, if I mana-sponge and take an unreasonably large amount of total damage, I’m going to die that way too. My healer’s going to fall behind or he’s going to just flat out oom, even if that large amount of total damage is perfectly smooth.

Be flexible

For Heroic-25, Method advocates having one tank go full Stamina (theirs is a paladin, Paragon’s is a druid) and one tank go full damage reduction (theirs is a warrior, Paragon’s is a paladin). That works pretty well most of the time for the content those kind of guilds face, and when it didn’t work for Paragon on a boss in tier 11, the fact that they have a sizeable bench of raid-ready alts made up the difference. Most guilds don’t have a bench even a tenth as deep as Paragon, if they even have a bench at all. Getting swapped out is no fun anyway, and you can avoid the need for a bench tank by gauging how much Stamina you want for the encounters you fight, and then being able to switch to that amount when you need to. Trinkets are good for this, if you don’t want to carry swap-gear or you raid 10-mans and the slower gearing means you don’t have swap-gear available.

Being able to shift the amount of Stamina you have based on the fight is quite useful. It takes a little bit of experience tanking though to be able to recognize where you want more Stam and where you don’t. Even if you don’t want more Stam, now that we’re in the second tier of the expansion there’s another wealth of items out there to tank with, so gear-swapping for specific fights in this tier is a fair bit more common. Last tier we only had 346/359/372 items to choose from, this tier we’ve got 353/359/372/378/379/384/391, and in Paragon’s case that cool 346 trinket. More items to choose from naturally means you can optimize differently for specific fights, whereas last tier the one set of gear you put together was largely it. I don’t use a lot of Stamina very often when I tank these days, but I still do make a lot of adjustments to my gear in between bosses. These adjustments generally help deal with the challenges of Heroic Firelands, and helps my raid move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards progression.

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Warriors Rule II: Rule Harder

It’s been a while since my last post, which was about how freakin’ awesome prot warriors are. This one’s going to be about how awesome prot warriors are again, because we’re that good right now. Yes. We are. We’re not as OP in Firelands as one specific, non-tank spec happens to be, but wooo-ooah we’re in a good place. Warriors were fantastic tanks in tier 11. Warriors are even better in tier 12. My most common catchphrase of “well done, friends” is seriously, someday going to be overtaken by the battlecry “Warriors Rule” at this rate. There is literally no stopping me in Heroic Firelands right now.

My last post listed a lot of special tricks Warriors can pull off. We can do pretty much everything and it’s pretty sweet. We’re the only tank class in the game that has the tools to pull off both sides of the raid tanking game without being at a disadvantage in either one. We went from having the best block in t11 to having the best block in t12. We went from being the tanks with the worst singletarget threat to unstoppable hatchling murdering machines, without losing our AE threat advantage, thanks to cool buffs in 4.2. I broke 100k burst tps on Heroic Staghelm-10 tonight. In heroic tier 11 I’d top out at about 40k, and I’d consider that pretty amazing. I went from being the guy who takes the least damage but oh, our paladin tank should open to get a threat lead, to being the guy who takes the least damage and cannot be outthreated by dps, at the same time. My one weakness is no more. Warriors rule.

I promise the next post won’t be about Warriors Rule, unless we get buffed again, which could very well be possible! I certainly didn’t expect to get buffed in 4.2.

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Warriors Rule

In addition to talking on my blog about raiding, I often talk with my friends about raiding. So it happened last week that I was talking with my friend Millya about raid tanking. She mentioned that her guild has been doing pretty well (and they are, grats on 7/13), but she added the caveat “for having a warrior tank.”

Those are fightin’ words.

I reacted about as well as one could expect, for someone who plays the best class in the game and was just told Your Class Sucks. If Millya played a tank seriously and was passionate about a tank class, this could’ve ended bad. Instead it was mostly just me rattling on about how much Warriors rule. I could rattle on for a long time about just how much warriors rule (and I probably will later in this post), but it really boils down to one sentence – one sentence that should strike literal fear in the hearts of mortals and raid bosses everywhere.

We’re a block tank with DK cooldowns. How in the goddamn hell do you stop that?

It gets better (here comes the rattling). Warrior block is the best block. Warrior Shield Wall is the best Shield Wall. We can fly. We can chilblains. We have an external. We have a raid cooldown. We have two different Paladin Hands. We can block-cap on demand. We have lots of weird, goofball tricks that end up being pretty awesome (Charge on Alakir, Warrior leap on Cho’gall, Spell Reflect on Cho’gall before they broke it, Chilblains on Maloriak, Shockwave on Nefarian, Pain Suppression on Tron Council, as well as even more secret tricks). I got so much utility the Electric Company is giving out free shades. Yeah.

Warriors didn’t always have it so good. I was around for the Dark Ages of warrior tanking, both the first one in late BC where Warriors were subpar for 5-mans, as well as the second, far worse one during Ulduar, where you brought as many Death Knights as you could, and if you wanted to kill certain hardmodes you were actually sabotaging your chances by bringing a Warrior tank. Those were bad times. Tier 11 is not bad times. Warriors are legit tanks, all tanks are legit tanks, and while I don’t agree that all tanks are equal, there is no clearcut “worst tank” like there usually is every tier (and Warriors were during tiers 7/8). Paladins held the crown of “best tank” for months early on, but now that more than 3 specs in the game have raid cooldowns, they aren’t as required as they used to be. The idea that Warriors are weak though, compared to how weak we used to be? No way.

Like every tank though, Warriors have weaknesses. I’m not going to go into them all in a post called Warriors Rule, but I will say that our biggest weakness is single target threat. We have the lowest single threat and it’s really noticeable. All things considered, when your class’ biggest weakness has to do with threat, you’re in a pretty good place. I’ve tanked everything in the game on Heroic-10, and there is no fight where I feel weak. What I feel is that warriors rule, and I’ve said this so often to my guild that it’s been a catchphrase since way before I ever thought of posting this.

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Is the 4.2 Battle Shout nerf intentional?

Occasionally, a tanking issue comes up that I feel like I have to speak out about. I did it when Rallying Cry was on the 4.1 PTR, and Rallying Cry ended up getting changed. Now there’s an issue on the 4.2 PTR that I’m speaking out about, because one of the changes to plate tank gearing is also going to affect an important raid buff.

This is the change -

Death knights, paladins, and warriors no longer receive any bonus to their chance to dodge from Agility. Their base chance to dodge is now a fixed 5%.

 

Death knights, paladins, and warriors now receive 27% of their Strength bonuses as parry rating, up from 25%. This conversion still only applies to Strength above and beyond their base Strength.

The problem that Blizzard is trying to solve is that some plate tanks have been using a piece or two of Agility gear, in slots where there isn’t really a good Mastery alternative or where there isn’t a 372 tanking item at all. Blizzard does not want plate tanks to use Agility gear and I’m fine with that. What I think they overlooked though, is the fact that plate tanks get a large chunk of Agility from a legitimate source – Battle Shout – and we’re going to be losing the dodge from it. That’s a substantial nerf. Here’s what I posted (it’s long) -

I want to preface this by saying that I am in complete agreement with the idea that plate tanks should not desire Agility on actual gear. I think it was unfortunate that that’s what some top-end tanks did this tier, even though it had more to do with the lack of 372 tanking itemization than it had to do with Agility being good.

 

There’s a significant side effect of the Agility change for plate tanks, however, and even though it’s possible that the increase in Parry from Strength (to 27%) was intended to offset the damage, this will remain a substantial nerf as-is.

 

In Cataclysm, Battle Shout (Horn of Winter, Strength of Earth Totem) went from being a completely terrible buff that no one cared about, to a very significant buff for both tanks and dps. Currently on Live, it provides a variable buff of about 1.7 to 2.5 percent avoidance, depending on diminishing returns and the class of the tank. It is one of the rare few buffs that actually matter to tanks, and it is nice having a buff from someone else actually be important (the only other external buff that substantially reduces physical damage taken is Inspiration/AF).

 

The 4.2 change, while serving the legitimate purpose of making Agility gear undesirable to plate tanks, also brings with it a significant nerf – plate tanks will be losing the dodge portion of Battle Shout avoidance. The harm that this nerf will cause will vary – Druids will be completely unscathed, Paladins will be hit the worst since Paladins currently get more benefit from Agi than other tanks. In addition, lesser-geared and newly-85 tanks will be hurt moreso than high-end tanks due to Battle Shout being a flat buff.

 

I realize that not everyone might understand just how important Cataclysm Battle Shout is to a tank. So here are some numbers -

 

My warrior (368 equipped, 13/13H and fully heroic raid geared)
– 33.43% total avoidance unbuffed, 35.25% with Battle Shout + Mark, a gain of 1.82% (1.02% dodge, 0.80% parry)

 

My druid (353 equipped, does not raid)
– 40.17% total avoidance unbuffed, 42.42% with Battle Shout + Mark, a gain of 2.25% (2.25% dodge)

 

My paladin (341 equipped, new 85)
– 26.84% total avoidance unbuffed, 29.27% with Battle Shout + Mark, a gain of 2.43% (1.56% dodge, 0.87% parry)

 

The current version of Battle Shout gives a roughly equal amount of avoidance to all three tanks once diminishing returns are accounted for. Unfortunately, the 4.2 change will take away the dodge contributions of Battle Shout from the Warrior and Paladin, making it a 0.80% and 0.87% avoidance buff instead of 1.82% and 2.43% respectively. At the same time, the druid continues to retain a full 2.25% avoidance. The 4.2 patch is already providing a fairly-large, separate buff to Druid tanking, as well as a nerf to Paladin tanking, so I don’t feel like a disparity in avoidance from buffs is warranted on top of that.

 

The change in Parry from Strength does very little to make up for this. It hurts lesser-geared tanks progressively worse, as they don’t have gigantic amounts of Strength to make up for such a large loss. My Paladin stands to gain 53 Parry rating, a paltry 0.20% avoidance. My heroic raid-geared Warrior will gain 81 Parry rating, about 0.32% avoidance. Both of them lose a considerable sum of avoidance, while the Druid loses nothing. While I understand and respect that different tanks are different (and should have differing amounts of total avoidance), I don’t feel like Battle Shout of all things is the place to differentiate them. There currently isn’t a disparity, so I don’t feel like there suddenly should be one.

 

There are several ways to solve this disparity, while still keeping the desired outcome of Agility gear being undesirable to plate tanks. One method is to make it so that Agility from sources that are not gear (Battle Shout, Mark, flasks, Tol’vir pots) will still contribute to dodge for plate tanks. This seems like it might be complicated and difficult to hotfix in time for 4.2, though that doesn’t rule it out as a future solution. Another method is to give Battle Shout/Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth Totem a flat, undiminished 1% parry chance, to make up for the avoidance that plate tanks are going to be lacking. There is a precedent for this (Rune of Swordshattering), and the only side effect of this change is a meaningless, very minor avoidance buff for rogues, hunters, and enhancement shaman. Such a change would mean Battle Shout gives my Warrior, Druid, and Paladin tanks 1.80%, 2.25%, and 1.87% avoidance respectively (instead of 1.82%, 2.25%, 2.43%), which combined with the Parry conversion change would mean the Paladin only loses a tiny sliver of avoidance, instead of a very harsh drop. It doesn’t quite eliminate the disparity between Druids and non-Druids at the new-85 level, but it does reduce it to the point where it won’t be a big, confusing hole. This change seems like it might be easier to hotfix in before 4.2, to do something about the problem before it occurs.

 

It’s my hope that something is done about this before 4.2 actually drops. Battle Shout is an excellent buff for tanks, and I don’t feel like plate tanks should be punished this severely just because a few top-end tanks decided to go for Agility gear. Thank you.

Even though I agree that plate tanks shouldn’t be encouraged to use Agility gear, it’s my opinion that the nerf is being done too broadly, and that Blizzard didn’t even consider the effect this would have on Battle Shout and total avoidance in general. Rallying Cry ended up getting changed after I posted a big thread about it, maybe this will too.

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Filed under Tanking, Theory

Marshmallows Are High In Irony

By beating Heroic Ascendant Council last week, Marshmallows rose to 12/13 heroic-10. That left only one more dude remaining – the Elemental Lord of Wind, Al’Akir – standing between the casual cupcakes and beating the game before 4.2. We were definitely a little bit concerned in the beginning. The casual cupcakes do not like Throne. We are not good at Throne, and we stayed the hell away from it on heroic for a lot longer than we should’ve because of it. Even after we killed Heroic Conclave in our very first night of attempts, we were still wary of going to that middle platform and challenging that lightning-hell itself.

So he challenged us instead.

I’m sure it was tough for a guy who can’t move to challenge a group of baked goods to a fight. Us baked goods were 12/13H though, and Al-Akir is an Arabic phrase that translates to “The Last”. That kind of irony is something we couldn’t ignore, so we decided to oblige the lightning-hell and go murder Air Man. I brushed up on my Megaman 2 to prepare and then rolled a couple pug heroics with Millya to stay sharp. Breaking from our usual Korean pop music, this video became a required watch before our first raid of the week.

Our intense preparation paid off quickly. Air Man died in a day and a half, and the Pink Cupcakes have officially run out of internet dragons to fight. Even though we started four weeks late, this rollercoaster ride is now over. You were a good run, tier 11.

Bonus log snippet: A hilarious run of luck gives us a zero-death Heroic Chimaeron -

[17:33:00.198] Arazu afflicted by Break from Chimaeron
[17:33:04.947] Chimaeron hits Arazu 46851 (A: 4734, B: 23176)
[17:33:04.968] Chimaeron hits Arazu 39809 (B: 64953)
[17:33:08.977] Chimaeron casts Mortality
[17:33:09.023] Arazu afflicted by Mortality from Chimaeron
[17:33:09.739] Chimaeron hits Arazu 44361 (A: 4929, B: 22145)
[17:33:14.547] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:14.600] Arazu afflicted by Break (2) from Chimaeron
[17:33:19.350] Chimaeron hits Arazu Miss
[17:33:19.433] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:24.142] Chimaeron hits Arazu Parry
[17:33:28.947] Chimaeron hits Arazu 83509 (B: 136253)
[17:33:29.082] Arazu afflicted by Break (3) from Chimaeron
[17:33:33.751] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:33.866] Chimaeron hits Arazu Miss
[17:33:38.541] Chimaeron hits Arazu Parry
[17:33:43.356] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:43.515] Arazu afflicted by Break (4) from Chimaeron
[17:33:46.296] Chimaeron dies
[17:33:46.313] Chimaeron’s Mortality fades from Arazu
[17:33:46.347] Chimaeron’s Break fades from Arazu

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Filed under Marshmallows, Raiding