We cleared BT in one night, and we wiped ... once ... on Illidan.

The fight went down so fast, he hit the demon phase with me at 90% or so mana in my healing gear (I went healing again, I figured staying DPS I only add 800 or so, and if I put on Righteous fury for the damage reduction I can pull off the other tanks which would be bad), and it went really well, then the fire tank died (100% -> 0% in less time than I can drop a flash of light), no idea why, and it kindof just fell apart with the flame getting picked up and leaving a trail of dead people. Despite the nerfs, the main principle of raiding is still "don't stand in the fire"*.

Its really odd seeing us wipe here, no one was treating this seriously, it was more like a Karazhan run than a BT run, and so odd, the attitude of it being too easy in itself lead to the near wipe because people have no interest in maintaining discipline.

I wish it was still hard.

On a side note I nearly tanked mother, She is normally quite a horrible boss, however I kept track of the MTs threat for the duration of the fight, and an emergency hand of salvation on myself when I popped over the MT (not a good plan when healers aren't focus healing). Seemed a lot of fun to just try and nearly pull, testing yourself against another tank to see how far you can go.

* Note: Fire can be sludge, fire, raindrops or roses, but the running theme is that mobility is important and if you can't respond to environmental effects you will just die.


I think the link speaks for itself, blogging is dead (like Cobol), its old school (like Cobol), its way to professional (like Cobol), and its being surpassed by new upstart things (like Cobol) that don't fill the same niche (as Cobol), oh and we all blog for the same reasons.



Blogging isn't dead, in fact its different, while from a professional news point of view the amateur blogger might be dead as the professionals move into that sphere, however from the perspective of gaming, news, politics, relationships, and practically any other topic you can think of blogging isn't dead because people's opinions and thoughts count. I don't read a blog because it gives me the same information as Elitist Jerks, I read it because its interesting and I like the style. Blogging in most spheres isn't so much about the raw content its about the presentation and analysis of the content, the blogsphere gives a balanced view on things if you read widely enough because you see these different views, look at the Greedy Goblin on treating people with respect, he believes that (or I believe that he believes) people should be treated reasonably but that respect and suchlike are an earned concept, respecting someone simply because of their attributes is devaluing the respect, others disagree.

So lets not all disappear, lets actually get on with it and throw out the thoughts and analysis we want to do.

Blogging is dead, long live blogging.

I healed a Heroic. Ok it wasn't very heroic, and the tank died a few times (they didn't stun the Stewards that whirlwind melee + arcane bolts), I sucked at dealing with 4 different people taking damage, but overall I actually healed a Heroic.

The last time I healed anything serious it was normal Shattered Halls with a full badge Tankadin (read as: I went afk and occasionally pressed flash of light), lets say I haven't improved much, my raid healing (since I am prot) is basically always Flash of Light spam, and I can do it for hours. The question is how do you actually learn to heal at this stage, what are the tricks to Paladin healing, and can I be bothered to find them out, with the Heroic nerf its a good way to run along and grab badges since most of the instances don't really need a healer (I tanked UB in < 25 minutes, SP in < 15). Its getting silly, but with the dual spec nature of the game soon, my alt spec will likely be as a Healer (unless I can get DPS loot, but then people expect hybrids to heal).

So I shall continue to play the game, lets see how this works, a Protection Healer :P.

"You are not prepared"

He said it only once, and it rings true. I am not prepared, no addons updated in advance (yeah the EU Beta lagged that much :P), only a basic understanding of my new class, and yet I will log in tonight, and I will gather my party and venture forth to find what I need.

It is the start of a new expansion, the classes got flip turned upside down, and I'd like to take a minute, yeah just stop right there to tell you what I think is going to happen. At this stage people are still stuck, wondering what to do, how their class works and what it is going to be like, and to be honest I would expect not a lot to change, good players should be back to raiding tonight or tomorrow. It might not be a first kill on Kalecgos, or farming Illidan, however I think its a good time to go and explore some older content, to go kill Kael'thas and Lady Vashj, nice easy fights about coordination rather than simple raw DPS, TPS and HPS. It is a chance to get these things done and a chance to actually get to spend the time to do what you want and need to.

Yesterday, people were running around headlessly, and heedlessly, yet we successfully pugged Magtheridon (so far, that is an achievement on this realm, finding 5 clickers is actually hard), we earned about 5 people the Champion of the Naaru title for their first character and it felt good to actually be doing something. That is the key at this stage in the game, go and have fun, Sunwell will wait, Illidan isn't going anywhere, the next month is going to be continual updates and planning ready for the release, which will be a fast rush to 80 to raid again, this is the last chance to really do what we want to do just for fun, because the slowdown won't last long.

Larisa pointed out recently that she rolled a DPS Mage to specialise in DPS, and expected the hybrid classes to sacrifice the raw DPS power to be afforded their hybrid status. I would like to really talk about his from a different perspective though, firstly from a Raiding perspective, then from a Utility perspective, and finally from a Balance perspective. Whats more important though is probably to define what a hybrid is, and what the choices within a hybrid are.

What is a hybrid
A hybrid class is one in which two or more in game functions are performed by a member of the same class. That is to say that a hybrid class can move between the Healing, DPS and Tanking roles without a re-roll"
Ok, now that I have cleared up what I mean, lets identify the classes by their types:

Pure DPS Specs
Mages - a pure elemental DPS class, focusing on elemental damage in three schools with very high raid utility offered through Sheep, Decursing, Spell Interruption, Intellect buffing, and Resource Provision. Mages take on the role of "Spell Steal" Tank where needed, that is removing beneficial buffs from a target, this role is often the hardest to replace as the damage income assumes the stolen buff.

Warlocks - a pure elemental DPS class, focuses on very situational control through Banish and Enslave Demon, effective use of Pets to improve health or damage and raid-wide damage increases in specific elemental schools. Warlocks are a highly situational control class, and typically take on the role of Fire / Shadow ranged Tank where needed, all fights Warlocks have Tanked have been done by other Tanking classes as well.

Rogue - a pure melee DPS class, very high white-type damage with a focus on poisons and utility through sap, mortal strike effects, and damage evasion. Rogues bring very little raid utility at current, however bring a misdirection effect, and a threat wipe in Wrath.

Hunters - a ranged DPS class focusing on either self DPS improvement, or damage through an associated pet. Provides the fastest and most effective threat wipe, the ability to transfer threat at range, reliable control through trapping and an effective second damage source through their pet.

Healer - DPS Specs
Priests - Priests are a primary healing spec with an AoE healing tree and a single target healing tree (often used for PvP). Priests are the most flexible healers having abilities for all situations. Priest damage specs are very limited due to the raid utility provided through Mana and Health Regeneration linked to damage which would scale too well if damage was set at the level of a pure DPS. Priests provide the only reliable Undead crowd control, and use of mind control to control Humanoid type opponents.

Shamans - Shamans are a dual DPS single healer spec (melee and elemental [nature]). Their specs are very powerful due to baseline buffs brought by the class in Heroism/Bloodlust, Windfury, and Mana / Threat totems. Their healing spec is very sought after as it can provide the utility of the DPS specs while providing automated healing of the most needed targets in a short range. In Wrath Shamans will bring a Sheep like effect.

Tank - DPS Specs
Warriors - Warriors are the main tanking class of World of Warcraft having 100% utility in any situation, and encounters designed to make use of these. Their DPS spec suffers from a lack of threat reduction abilities however in a threat free environment provides the third highest DPS in the game. Warriors provide very high utility (having encounters designed for their abilities) and effective buffs in Thunderclap, Demoralising Shout, Commanding Shout. Warriors have AoE melee capability unlike rogues.

Death Knights - 3 Tanking trees, 3 DPS trees, this Hero class cannot realistically be confined to a single role in any tree. Death Knights I won't realistically cover as they are a new paradigm of hybrid, closest current equivalent would be a Druid.

Healer - DPS - Tank Specs
Paladins - The defined AoE tank in WoW, and the only single target healer. The spec suffers from a lack of baseline abilities and effectiveness gaining utility baseline however a specialisation deep within its tree. Paladins have no control abilities, however bring many utility buffs considered essential to raids.

Druids - Druids are the off-tank class of WoW, coupled with a fluid movement into a reasonable DPS spec and a good healing spec. They provide the 2nd decursing class in the game. Druids provide the main HoT healing class to the game, however the current implementation of Boomkin suffers from high threat and mana problems.

Fluidity of Transition
Of the Hybrids, Druids can move between Tanking/DPS and Healing/Ooming with relative ease, a Shadow Priest can perform as a clutch Healer when needed due to reasonable baseline abilities. Warriors cannot move into a DPS role as a Tank without a change of gear, Paladins cannot move into the other roles without a respec and regearing. So realistically, while hybrids offer flexibility it is primarily in the planning stage, while a truly heroic effort by a hybrid may provide the saving heal or blow the chances of them providing it out of gear or spec is small.

Hybrids essentially cannot move between two disparate roles in a raid without at least a gear change, and if not a full talent change. This is to say that it doesn't matter typically what role you could play, a Tank specced player in Tank gear is not going to be an effective Healer, they may perform reasonably in Healing gear, however they cannot switch in combat. There is a slightly higher overlap between Caster DPS / Healing, and Melee DPS / Tanking options, however typically the effectiveness of these transitions could be placed in the 50-75% effectiveness category, meaning ok as an emergency role, but you wouldn't want to rely on them.

Taking a real example, I fought Illidan recently, specced as protection however geared towards a 4/9-5/9 capable healing gear. Through the fight I kept up a near continuous flash of light spam on the tanks (I don't heal often enough or know the tanks and fight well enough to trust myself to cast cancel), and through a 15 minute fight I had no mana issues. So my ability to perform a 2nd role was useful however I would likely not have left the raid even without this, the fight isn't tight enough to replace me. If I had to be replaced though it would be for a near top dps (even with good retribution gear I cannot sustain 1500 dos) so my ability to fill any role only bought me a slot because the other raid members could keep it up without me. In a fight like Brutallus I would still be swapped out for the small dos gain a pure dps would bring.

The fight was interesting though, the hybrid classes took on one role, and stayed in it throughout, the pure dos classes however were required to provide utility (ranged tanking, parasite control etc) so what did the hybrid status buy any of us other than lower dps, it sure seems like the raid time utility is actually in the hands of the pure classes, since pre-wotlk no non pure has reliable indoor cc. So while it looks at first that we hold the cards, it's much more balanced than it first appears.

Hybrids in vanilla and TBC WoW offered typically less utility than their pure brethren, or so it's believed. Looking at the classes though we see that the pure DPS classes have higher DPS typically (and will in Wrath), but also the majority of active utility. Active utility is typically what counts in a raid, while its possible to provide buffs outside of the raid group, it is not possible to provide control or utility from outside. Hybrids often complain about the lack of control abilities (ever done MgT Heroic with Hybrids, the third fight is officially a nightmare).

Moving into Wrath we will see the DPS and utility grow closer together, that means that the pure DPS classes will still be on top of the DPS charts, however the hybrid classes will not be far behind. This is a vital change really, if its not, with the consolidation of raid buffs your raid starts to look like on of these (assuming TBC damage rankings stay the same):

3 Tanks
7 Healers
5 Buffs slots (minimal spanning set if you can't get it in your Tanks / Healers)
10 Warlocks

3 Tanks
7 Healers
5 Buffs slots (minimal spanning set if you can't get it in your Tanks / Healers)
10 Rogues

Yup, there is one token Mage (who could stand outside and buff really), no Hunters (Rogues can MD, all Tanks have some form of ranged pickup), etc. In short raids would be optimised for their DPS on progression kills. There are arguments against this, primarily towards gearing (you would be behind in the gearing curve if you stack all of a particular gear type, however assuming thats a non-issue higher DPS > other).

To allow for variation you really need to allow people to be similar enough that player skill has an effect, in TBC the best mages don't stand a chance against a good Warlock because of the DPS difference (10-30% in some cases), the innate difference is too high for player skill to make a difference in close cases. By making the pure classes 100%, and the hybrids 95% its a lot tighter and you get more balanced raids.

Hybrids and Raiding
Hybrids are currently essential to raiding, and will remain so, simply all the Healers are hybrids and so are your Tanks. What changes though typically is the raid composition over an instance, moving between 6 Healers and 10, 1 Tank and 4. By making hybrids effective in these roles, the raid you enter with can be the raid you leave with because of the ability of hybrids to fulfil moving roles. There are still more DPS spaces in a raid than any other role, and the majority of control, threat management and highest damage will still lie with the pure classes, you won't lose the pure DPS slots to a hybrid, what you will lose is the set of slots that would be in danger of being kicked from the raid to let in another Healer.

Hybrids and Utility
They don't have it.

Hybrids will get more in Wrath, however at current raid time utility is essentially held by the pure classes, no hybrid Sheeps (Shackle is a rarely used ability, and like Banish very situational), no hybrid can Misdirect, or provide the reliable threat wipes of a Hunter, Mage or Rogue. Simply the utility most people look at, that of changing your role, or buffing isn't what makes or breaks a raid, its what you can do inside the raid that counts. While its nice to say "but you can bring salvation", a level 30 buff bot sitting outside can do the same role.

Hybrids and Balance
There are issues with giving hybrids good dps, good roles, good everything, but typically its a matter of flavour. What we need to make sure is that classes are taken and that trees are viable. How often have you seen a Retribution Paladin taken to a raid as a first choice DPS on a fight other than Brutallus? The answer is likely never (or the Paladin gave favours to someone), their DPS isn't competitive, their raid utility can be replaced by non-DPS Paladins, they have nothing to really sell themselves to make up that 400+ DPS difference between themselves and the Warlock you could have brought.

Looking purely at damage as the indicator of worth is pointless, into the future we are likely to see more fights where its not just a DPS race, but a control, Healing, and even survival fight combined, we can't just rely on being really high on damage to win, we need to make use of all the abilities on our toolbars, and yes pure classes still have a lot of unique functionality.

Taking this leads to my next point, if hybrids can't do their roles, hybrids have been lied to.

Hybrids and Being Lied Too
Lets face it, most Paladins level to 60, maybe 70 as Retribution (you can get into Protection at 40 for Holy shield, or go the painful route as Holy, but Ret/Ret->Prot are the fastest routes). You do good damage, you Tank as DPS (no one builds much threat at those levels), you perform like it says on the box, three talent trees, 1 way of DPSing, 1 Tanking and 1 Healing, and you chose to DPS. You turned down the variety of the Warlock, the stylistic choice of DoTs and drain Tanking, the power of the Felguard and pets, and the raw destructive crits, you turned down the bond with your newly trained Pet, the infinite trapping cycle and the buffs of the Hunter, you have that 1 way to DPS.

Then your reached the max level, your gear was good, but only in your DPS tree, you did competitive damage and learned your class well... and then your went to Karazhan, and the pure classes out DPS'd you, the utility you brought was non-existent beyond the buffs, and people told you to go Holy or stop raiding. Yes you could become a Healer, but you wanted to be a DPS, you wanted to have a big two handed sword, to hit stuff with Holy Fury and be the scourge of the Undead... but by having access to a Healing tree you can't do the DPS of a DPS class, and your Healing is restricted to a single target less your DPS spec take it...

Hybrids have to be viable in all their roles, and they need the talents to encourage them to stay in a single tree for the most part, in Wrath we will likely see many different builds, but all viable or focusing on a strange combination. We will see many complaints from people about a DPS spec Healing, but that is what is needed, WoW is a rather flat game at the moment, a single Healer change for a Boss requires you to remove another class or respec, if instead we had roles like the Warrior Priest of W:AoR we might see that need to force someone out reduced, instead of a raid being:

3 Tank classes
7 Healing classes
15 DPS classes

it might be:

3 Tank classes (harder to trade out, and lower representation than expected)
5 Healing classes
4 Replenishment / DPS Healer builds
13 DPS slots

So now we reduced the effective DPS roles, but there are more overall DPS slots because we can share the Healing and DPS roles more effectively.

QQ: You can Respec, I Reroll
This is really the only complaint that I can see that actually holds water, however by going a hybrid spec I lose the ability to change my type of DPS role, I can't get the difference in my Paladin that I can on my Warlock, I don't get the same feeling on my Priest that I do on my Mage, the classes all feel different and play differently, Hybrids lose some of the options that others take for granted by being a hybrid. It is really hard to explain it, my Warlock has three different DPS specs, my Paladin has one, of course my Warlock can't Tank or Heal, but then I didn't roll her to Tank or Heal, when I am on my Warlock people want me to DPS, and I do it well. When I am on my Paladin people expect me to be able and have the gear to fulfil other roles, and to be there to let them play what they want.

If nothing I have said has made sense, then for no other reason than the grief of "Are you Holy?", "No, Protection", "Wanna Heal Heroic Shattered Halls?", equality should be given. Being a pure class means people don't have the same expectations of you that a non-traditional hybrid role does.

So I finally did it, ok not as a Tank (I flashed my little heart out for 16minutes), 2 wipes and a kill (unlucky Tank death in phase 5, flame Tank death in phase 2) and he was down. The Betrayer, the Demon that even Arthas could not defeat, was slain.

However being honest the fight doesn't feel that epic, it has a large scale, but for the most part its trivial, and scarily so.

Phase 1: Hit tank with heals, run to mages
Phase 2: Tanks have to have graphics turned on and not step in the beams
Phase 3: Run to mages, remember to heal the tanks
Phase 4: Run to mages, remember to heal the tanks, minor raid wide damage
Phase 5: Run to mages, remember to heal the tanks, minor raid wide damage

I was expecting a lot more really, the raid damage on Naj'entus is far more threatening than the fire or parasites, the Tank damage from Archimonde is far higher, and the Demon phase tank was pretty laughable, correctly timed Flash of Lights after the bolt pretty much keep the Tank out of harms way, being honest I am not sure if I should attribute the Tank death to myself since I was nicely landing a 1.5-2k heal (Protection specced in Holy gear) after each bolt, so when I got the parasites and had to run the Tank was left in the danger zone, I don't know if real healers actually pay attention to that sort of thing, since I have no real options as Protection pretending to heal I just go for the small/big spam route.

I know its perhaps harsh to ask for more, and the raid had killed him before, its likely much more hectic in a progression kill, however I felt a lot more stressed in Supremus or Naj'entus (and closer to death as the Tank) than I did here, the full progression of Mother -> Illidan feels quite weak in reality, yes there is a degree of raid co-ordination, but it didn't feel very threatening, the Tank only ever risked death when the raid slacked, and the raid-wide threats were minimal, Gruul's shatter is more threatening than the Parasites or Flames because you cannot control where you land, its a snap decision. Having a truly controllable raid damage means its no longer threatening but rather point in the right direction and don't forget to move. The Demonic flames would have been far cooler to hit the raid for 70-80% of your health, actually putting you at risk rather than 1-3k and thinking "if he hits me 3 more times, I might flash heal myself".

Being the culmination of the game I was expecting more, from what I have heard of Kil'jaden he is far more what I expected, co-ordination, DPS, and risk at dying, our kill had 5 people dead, and at one point parasites in the raid, we didn't push more than 19.5k raid DPS on him, and that feels low, the step up in Sunwell on Brutallus is 29k, thats so much harder to achieve and so much more effective in forcing a highly coordinated raid group.

Looking at Black Temple as a whole, I can say that so much of it is simple tests, Mother Sharaz seems more like a loot boss than Bloodboil, so long I wondered why she was locked off rather than a gate-keeper like Curator, but it seems that she fills the same role that Void Reaver does, a Tiered loot boss as a reward for other content. Perhaps people like this, a hard ramp then a soft easy farm boss for loot, but I prefer to actually be rewarded for achievements, making her a real threat would have been awesome, something more like 3 tanking groups of 3 people with a MT and 2 people that get hit for %ages of their life total, so 3 solid groups to take the blows, and more raid involvement than remembering to run.

Well its cleared anyway, time to think about Wrath and the fight with Arthas.

Lore said a while ago that the easiest way to balance Tanking classes was to have us doing DPS as our off-role. Fundamentally this goes against the way the Paladin class is currently constructed, in that in TBC we were basically forced into off-healing due to the very low DPS we could put out in Tank gear. With the change to strength based Tanking then we have to reconsider this role. For the purposes of this comparison I am taking only Warriors and Paladins, Bears and Death Knights are far different beasts for a simple analysis since their combat resource is much more easily regained in combat and have mixed DPS/Tank trees while the Paladins and Warriors have deep pure Tanking trees.

The issue with this is the scalars on our threat modifiers:

Threat = (Holy Damage * 1.9 * 1.43) + (White Damamge * 1.43) = 2.7*Holy + 1.43*White
[the 1.43 on white I am not sure of]

Threat = Damamge * 1.45 * 1.43 = 2.07

Neglecting Paladin white damage because it is typically < 10% of our actual threat the threat comparison is thus:

Warrior Damage * 2.07 ~ = Paladin Damage * 2.7

Thus in an off-tanking situation Paladins should always Tank, because not doing so is detrimental to raid DPS. Following the maths through:

Paladin Damage = Warrior Damage * 2.07/2.7 ~= 0.76
Warrior Damage = Paladin Damage * 1.3

Thus to improve Paladins to the extent where we are not Tanking because not doing so is detrimental we need to consider deep protection (upping Retribution's damage by 30% would be a no-go) as adding this kind of talent, something akin to:
Guarded by the Light:
Self: Passive, Ranks:1,2,3
Increases your spell power by [10/20/30]% of your stamina. In addition increases your Holy Damage by [10/20/30]%

Thats a little overpowered though, considering that ups our threat by effectively 30%, thus it needs to be tied to a trigger. My thought would be Righteous Fury, thus giving us a toggle like Shadow Form or Bear Forms, becoming:
Guarded by the Light:
Self: Passive, Ranks:1,2,3
Increases your spell power by [10/20/30]% of your stamina. In addition increases your Holy Damage by [10/20/30]% while Righteous Fury is not active

Taking into account the Blizzard desire to allow Paladins to be healers, and the current secondary benefit of this talent not being beneficial to Protection Paladins (we don't really crit), I would suggest as a compromise (and completing the trigger effect on Righteous Fury):
Guarded by the Light:
Self: Passive, Ranks:1,2,3
Increases your spell power by [10/20/30]% of your stamina. Increases your healing done by Holy Light and Flash of Light by [6/12/18]||[10/20/30]% while Righteous Fury is active, increases your Holy Damage by [10/20/30]% while Righteous Fury is not active.

Thus you have the start of a true Hybrid with the functionality while not Tanking to actually fill a useful raid role. Detractors will state that this is a lot of bonus healing / damage, why take any other class. The answer is of course that yes its powerful, but the Healing aspect is realistically a niche role only useful on a few fights such as Naj'entus, in most other cases more DPS is always better than more Healing (because if you turn up with fewer Healers than are needed you won't succeed), thus giving a secondary option to those that want to take it or have the raid to support it without actually penalising the true off-spec role we need to fulfil for an easily balanced raid.

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, I have been having a hectic time at work, and WoW hasn't really been going well.

I plan to get back to posting this week, so please stay tuned.

Thank you.