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Traitors, car doors, the end of threat, &c.

Sorry for the huge gap between this post and my last. I went on vacation last week, to New Hampshire, for my annual retreat to the mountains. I love that state. (And not just because the booze is that much cheaper than in Massachusetts.)

But I digress. A lot has happened since my last posting!

Bye-bye birdie and hello Domo

Last week ES managed it’s first kill of Alysrazor, which apparently was hardscrabble and required a whole night to make it happen. Then Tuesday night this week for our follow up we four shot her. I guess that makes it farm now, haha.

The fight did feel a lot easier when we did it this week. Then again, so did much of Firelands. It felt like the place was hotfixed (and it was, as we later found out) when we plowed through Shannox, Rhyolith, and Beth with nary a peep of resistance. Especially Rhyolith, which was so obviously nerfed with the amount of armor melted away per volcano shooting up to 16. The trash also seemed to be nerfed as well, I kept wearily looking for those two packs of Surgers that shoot around and usually catch me flatfooted. They seem to have run off.

The common refrain was “that was nered, right?” and one of the shamans would reply “nah, we just got better.” I admire his optimism!

For Alysrazor though, we totally did get better. People were so much better about tornadoes — it finally clicked — and we easily killed her before she lifted off the second time. My hatchling dps was better than usual, as well. Though I chalk that up to having my 2pc t12 now.

Anyway, once the bird was plucked from the sky, we marched off for some early shots at Majordomo Staghelm. The trash was something of a nightmare at first, because people couldn’t conceive the logic behind the leaping cats. Once we got past that, and got three licks on Domo we called it a night. Best attempt, 51%. And it was abundantly obvious we needed to work on raid cooldown coordination and seed management.

Last night we went back to Domo and had a fantastic night of progression. Better than I can remember in a while. The flow was steadily towards a kill, and though it didn’t happen, we got so freaking close. 8% on our best shot. He’s as good as dead next time.

Tanking the fight is fairly boring, though there is some excitement when orbs go up and you need to find a nice place to shuffle to if the orbs are too close. (At least, that might be just me. I don’t like them close by.) And cat phase in general is basically spinning around the center of the room trying to keep your front to the felines.

The cooldown management, I guess, is fairly engaging.


I’m stupidly excited about this. One of my deep, dark impulses is to favor gear based on looks before much else. I suppress this pretty effectively in Wrath, which was really hard for the past few weeks when I was half-blue and half-brown due to the competing aesthetics of t11 and t12. In single player, however, I feel no such compunction. I usually run around in games like Fallout with the best looking — and often flimsiest — armoring. It’s not my fault that a Regulator Duster looks so much better than t-51b Power Armor. I’m a victim of fashion.

Ok, I took a weird turn there. In any case, the first thing that hit me about the new system is the overwhelming, endorphic joy that I can ran from then until the end of my days with the Bulwark of Azzinoth as my shield. That alone is worth $15 a month. My next thought was no more wrestler belts! Finally I can dispose of that abomination from my avatar. And, hell, if the boots model sucks as well (looking at you, Mirrored Boots — Vanilla WoW called and they want their style back) I can fix that.

It’s a silly change, but the best silly change to WoW in a while!

When I logged on last night, the first thing I did was check out my bank and look over my collection. I have a ton of tier pieces accumulated: tier 4 (my very first tier), tier 6, tier 7.5, tier 8, tier 9, tier 10.5. I also have a complete set of the DK-style tanking gear from heroic Icecrown that I loved because it screamed “Blood Knight”. I love that aesthetic!

I think for weapons, I’ll be rocking Quel’Serrar (the original, level 60 version) for swords. I need to figure out which mace and axe I like. For shields, there’s no contest.

For armor, I’ll be making several sets and swap around depending on my mood. One will definitely be the Icecrown Blood Knight look, though I need Taldaram’s Plated Fists to complete the set. Another will probably be the Lightforge look-alike set, with Tabard of the Lightbringer covering up the Alliance deal on the chest piece. Then of course the tier 2 set, because how can I not?! Lastly, a t6 set, though I need a lot of the off-pieces to complete the look.

The end of threat

I’m really not happy about this, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to get very worked up about it. Threat is one of the few quantifiable measurements of tanking (aside from “is he standing?” and “why is he taking so much more damage than that warrior?”) and the removal of it, for all intents and purposes, feels so horribly wrong. I know why they’re doing it, they feel that tanking is hard enough and don’t want us to have to worry ourselves with threat generation. Moreover, it’s assuredly a move to boost the tanking population in LFD.

Still, I always used to pride myself on providing a more than adequate threat ceiling for my fellow raiders. It was fun to do my rotation as best I could and jump ahead of the pack on threat, and stay there, and hold there for the duration of the fight, never giving an inch. A threat ceiling was a mark of a good tank, and now, with the whisk of a pen (so to speak) that metric is gone.

Nonetheless, they broke threat at the launch of 4.0 with the introduction of Vengeance. Now they’re just finishing it off. It’s a shame, a damn shame.

On the flip side, the announcement also bore the news that tanks will be migrating to a system of more active mitigation. To which I say: YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES. I love active mitigation. The introduction of the new Holy Shield is one of the best changes to the prot paladin ever, because it gave us that short-cooldown ability with a huge amount of control over our survivability. If we continue down that road to a model where we’re spending a lot more of our GCDs buffing our mitigation rather than just dishing out damage, I could absolutely plant my flag there. So to speak.

In any case, I’m awaiting 4.3 with bated breath now.

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You’d think the latest 4.1 Sacred Duty change was a big deal, but…

It really isn’t.

First, the change from the latest PTR build is as follows:

Sacred Duty now also procs from Avenger’s Shield. Now lasts 10 sec, down from 15 sec.

On its face, it looks like an awesome change. Avenger’s Shield is sorta a holy power generator now, Grand Crusader becomes a much more useful talent, we get more Holy Power–all together, a great package deal!

So Theck runs the numbers over at Maintankadin and from his various simulations it seems like going from a priority of ShoR>CS>J>AS (our current priority system) to ShoR>CS>AS>J is worth an additional 119 dps at 2% hit/10 expertise, after this change. Basically, that means prioritizing AS over J.

Likewise, moving to a priority where you use AS from a Grand Crusader proc to generate an HP before using CS is worth 160 more dps than ShoR>CS>J>AS. (With 8% hit and 26 expertise, though, putting CS before AS comes ahead, again.)

If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re talking about ludicrously small numbers here. Blizzard obviously intended this change to make Grand Crusader much more attractive as a talent, to needle the legions of tankadins who have forsaken what was assumed to be a great talent by the designers (hell, they designed an official power aura for it). And the best they can do is add another 160 dps to the rotation–a rotation that sims for 14406 dps (using that latter priority system example)–when we use the abilities and talents they cajole us into using.

The root of all evil, of course, is that our rotation is so stupidly simplistic and rigid that we’re really only ever talking about changing what goes in that filler spot. Rather than rant more on the subject though, I’d like to point you to Theck’s comments on the matter. He says it much better than I could.

RIP Block Rating

One last build 13793 change that’ll affect us is Enchant Shield – Blocking is being changed from giving 40 block rating to 50 mastery rating. The enchant is currently worth .45% block chance, while 50 mastery rating is worth .63% block chance. So the change is a minor buff of .18% block chance.

More importantly, this marks the last vestige of block rating being removed from the game. Much like Tarkin announcing that the last remnants of the Old Republic being swept away, so too this shall pass. Farewell, old friend.

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The best time to use Divine Plea

A quick tip based on something I saw on this thread at Maintankadin that’s definitely worth sharing: you shouldn’t be using Divine Plea in the middle of a fight to chain two Shields of the Righteous, because that’s generally a threat loss. There are two times when DP is most effectively used.

One is right off the pull to open with a ShoR. Pop DP to load the chamber with Holy Power, pull from a distance with Exorcism while counting down for the raid, then toss in an AS as you run in, and once in melee ran use ShoR. That’s a powerful, front-loaded pull that’ll give you some excellent breathing space to jump ahead of the pack on threat and maintain an easy lead for the rest of the fight.

(Don’t worry about popping DP at full mana, that doesn’t really factor into the equation for us since generally mana is infinite.)

The other choice is (at least until 4.1), use DP to chain two Words of Glory together in a particularly tight spot. At full Vengeance you can theoretically heal yourself for 60,000 health over the course of 4.5 seconds.

Now, the reason mid-fight double-ShoRing is a threat loss because of the GCDs required to make it happen. You’re spending at least 3.0 seconds to do a non-crit ShoR, which is weaker than the threat you’d gain from using those two GCDs to cast Judgement and Crusader Strike, or AS and Crusader Strike, or what have you. You can get some delicious Theckmath in that thread I linked I above for more.

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The maybe-so, feasible, possible new single target rotation for 4.0.1

Before you read this, please note a huge disclaimer: this is not final. This rotation has been posted in the last 30 or so pages of this thread in Maintankadin as a result of Theck’s first jaunts into theorycrafting the 4.0 rules set, but it’s not yet authoritative in that so much can change. If 4.0.1 drops Tuesday like rumored, and we have the 3 second Crusader Strike, and nothing else changes, this is valid.

Ifs aside, this rotation has been dubbed 939–as opposed to the 3X I was bandying about, thus marking the third time this blog has lost a naming crusade (Zeal, Ana’s desire to call it HoPo, and now 3X)–and is ridiculously simplistic. Here’s how it goes:

Pull with AS > CS > J > CS > HW > CS > ShoR > CS > J > CS > AS > CS > Shor > CS > J > CS > HW > CS > ShoR > CS > AS > CS > J > CS > ShoR > etc.

(Be careful not to judge when running in, second cast should be Crusade Strike, lest you throw the whole rotation off.)

Basically, CS every other ability, and in the “9s” slots weave in Judgements,  ShoR as Holy Power allows, and alternate Holy Wrath and Avenger’s Shield. There is no room for Consecrate, and Grand Crusader is only a dps gain when used to replace a Holy Wrath cast. If you hit AS when the proc lights up, you will suffer a big dps loss by pushing the whole rotation back.

Edit: Like Meloree suggests in the comments, if ShoR misses you want to hit it again on your next GCD. You don’t lose any Holy Power from a dodged/parried/missed ShoR.

939 is, as currently theorycrafted, currently the maximum threat possible to put out on a single target.

As for AOE, just Hammer of the Righteous on cooldown, and spam Consecrate and Holy Wrath away from CC. Use any other attacks when available. Grand Crusader is still useful for AOE. We don’t have Inquisition until 81, so spend Holy Power on ShoRs.

Again, just to reiterate: not final. I recommend keeping some grains of salt handy, just in case.

I do not think I could have fit more equivocation into this post if I tried. And believe me, I did.

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October 7, 2010
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First insight to the dps value of our talents

I quickly mentioned this on Twitter, but it merits a quick post. Delicious theorycrafts inc.

Theck, Bringer of Numbers and Pounding Headaches, did his first pass through our talents to gauge the relative worth of each in terms of damage (and thus threat). I’m not going to copy-paste his findings, but to summarize:

  • Our top three must-have threat talents are Wrath of the Lightbringer > Reckoning > Crusade.
  • His sim placed Reckoning at second with around 50 dps per point. However, his sim was run on a 264/277 gear set without anything reforged for Mastery. Therefore with additional Mastery/block Reckoning will get much more beastly.
  • Grand Crusader is really weak right now. To the point where there’s murmurs of not even speccing into it. That’s with current numbers though, things can obviously change.

Read the whole post to get the straight dope. A lot of these numbers aren’t yet final, so don’t them as gospel, but they’re heading in the direction we’re going.

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October 5, 2010
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From the Mailbag: Many mobs, handling them

Something I’ve never really done–post an email–but this was a really good question I received a little while ago, and I thought it be worth sharing (especially on such a slow news day!) for any other prospective tanks that might be lurking.

I have been reading your blog for awhile now and it pushed me into making my first tank, thank you by the way! I’ve played the last 4 years as a healer and dps, but I’m really starting to enjoy paladin tanking. I was hoping you could tell me how I know what mob to select if i see someone grabbed aggro. One target is easy enough, but what happens if you are all grouped up on 10 different things, and suddenly someone is taking damage, how do go about selecting the correct mob to start whacking/taunting. My char is only 43 at the moment, but i really want to start hammering in the correct concepts sooner rather than later. Are there certain mods I must have, i.e. if you saw someone without them you would laugh at them?

The Eager Student


Do you play with Name Plates turned on? If not, I definitely recommend doing that (it’s in the interface options). Then get two addons:

  • Tidy Plates
  • Tidy Plates: Threat Plates

With both installed and name plates on, the names above each mob’s head will turn green and small when you have control over them, and then red and large when you’re losing aggro. Easiest way to keep tabs on all the mobs for sure!

Happy tanking!

- Rhidach

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September 29, 2010
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Two interesting facts about ShoR in Cata

I was perusing this thread over at Maintankadin, attempting to contain my excitement that Theck is beginning to start up his theorycrafting apparatus for Cataclysm, and noticed two pretty interesting asides about Shield of the Righteous that are worth sharing.

The first is that when the Sacred Duty proc is active, ShoR will apparently not be missed, dodged, or parried. This may change in future builds, but something to keep in mind when making judgements about what buttons to press when. Do remember that if ShoR misses, you lose the three HoPo stacks that you patiently built up.

The second is that, to maximize threat, there are certain circumstances where hitting a 2HP ShoR is better than waiting for a third stack of Holy Power. Specifically, if you have a Sacred Duty buff that will expire before you can accumulate a third Holy Power, you should hit ShoR. The reasoning behind this is a 2HP ShoR+Sacred Duty does the same damage as a non-Sacred Duty 3HP ShoR. And, by waiting for Sacred Duty to fall off and for you collect that third stack of Holy Power, you’re pushing a future ShoR back by 4.5 seconds, thus a threat loss in the long-term.

Very interesting stuff. I can’t wait for the number crunching to begin over there so we can start to get a better picture of our rotation and threat talents, as we move closer to Cataclysm’s launch and patch 4.0.

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September 21, 2010
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Threat tip of the day: Don’t Hammer of Wrath!

Just a dopey little tip, but one that seems counterintuitive. One of the more fun parts of a fight is when you break past the 20% mark and the button for Hammer of Wrath lights up. If you ever dabble in Ret you know that’s a time you can seriously pull ahead on a boss fight, but for Prot the use of that spell is much more nuanced. Namely, you should probably avoid using HoW altogether.

If you’re running a standard 969 rotation, it was previously suggested to throw HoW in whenever because it was generally a pretty hard-hitting, high-threat attack. These days, thanks to superior gear scaling with our other attacks, this is no longer the case.

According to Theck, the only spell of ours that Hammer of Wrath does more damage than is Holy Shield. And, when fighting an AOE pack or a boss, you probably want the block boost more than an instant execute attack.

The skinny is this: the only time you should be using Hammer of Wrath in end-game is when on the move, or off-tanking, and you need an instant attack. And only to substitute Holy Shield or maybe Consecrate in your 969 rotation, if you’re even dropping Consecrates. Don’t substitute Judgement, as that will do more threat than HoW.

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May 10, 2010
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How to spice up tankadin threat in Cataclysm

So it goes without saying that Paladin threat generation as it stands now is, shall we say, fairly straightforward. Unassuming. Non-pretentious. Some might go so far as to describe it as faceroll.

Indeed, some of us might treat the ease of the Paladin rotation the same way we treat that no-good uncle of ours who’s had one too many run-ins with the local constabulary. Around the family dinner table you might joke about what an idiot he is, but you’ll invariably flip out on a neighbor that’s gossiping about him like some clucking hen. No one makes fun of family except for family, right?

Well, let’s pretend this is the familial dinner table. We need to talk about Uncle Faceroll.

One of the biggest problems with Paladin tanking in general is how automated and streamlined it is. The whole process requires minimal input compared to other classes. Oh sure, we have a wide range of buttons to press, but there’s something version wrong when you can bind that whole rotation to two macros. Our second “cooldown” kicks in automatically, our AP debuff is applied automatically, our attack speed debuff is tacked on to an ability we already use. In short, our tanking style requires significantly less input than other classes.

Take warriors (please! har har har) for example. They have a “counterattack” ability, a proc that can change the priority of their rotation, an “on next swing” attack, and have to actively keep up both debuffs. Druids have a dot they have to stack and actively keep up on a boss and an on-next-swing, among other things. DKs have two diseases they need to keep up on a target at all times and a counterattack. Conversely, we have a straight rotation, as immutable and immovable as a glacier.

Here’s what I think should change:

1. Change Holy Vengeance to a separate ability that applies the dot, independent of what Seal you have up. The attack applying the dot will be low threat, and having five stacks will be mandatory to maintaining proper threat on a boss. Because the ability applying a stack will be so low threat, you will be discouraged from allowing clipping your stacks. Seal of Vengeance can still do damage as a proc based on how many stacks you have up.

2. Redoubt is undoubtedly changing in Cataclysm with the shuffle being given to block. Perhaps retool the talent to be a clone of Sword and Board. When you block an attack you have a x% change to proc a free, immediate Shield of Righteousness.

3. Holy Shield is also probably getting an overhaul as well, and with much less consistent blocking probably would be as tps-heavy as it is right now. As such, retool the ability so that when you dodge/parry/miss an attack, you can hit Holy Shield and you’ll immediately respond with a “holy bitch slap with my shield” ala Revenge or Rune Strike. This might be a tad redundant with ShoR already existing, so maybe just make a new counterattack ability for Paladins.

Yes, I’m advocating homogeneity

I know that’s such a dirty word in the community, but honestly it’s the only way I can see to fix this impasse. The 4 kinds of attacks tanks in this game have (generally) are instant, on next swing, counterattack, and a dot application. Certain tanks have abilities that fall under those categories, or maybe dance on the border between them.

All our attacks are instant, with one leaving a puddle of dots on the floor, and one adding a dot to our attacks… automatically.

This is what heterogeneity has gotten us? We’re the “faceroll” tank class, for good or ill, and if that’s our special flavor, I’d rather them make us a little more vanilla.

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March 26, 2010
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How do you solve a problem like Paladin AOE threat?

Ominously, Ghostcrawler declared last week in a post:

The threat-related goals still remain:

2) Paladin — Nerf the threat capacity of HoR and SoC.

Now, I may have played the chicken little several times in the past and yet we still made out pretty well, generally. Despite two or three dire predictions of imminent nerfs, the worst we got was the Sacred Duty retuning. As for threat, well, that’s a horse of a different color.

Is Paladin threat too good? Generally yes, although not for the reasons that GC and others on the tanking forums would describe. For one, in the one case that Ghostcrawler is correct, Seal of Command was poorly designed and executed, and gave us an easily obtained threat boost that really should have been restricted to Ret Pallies.

SoComm has really only been useful since ShoR was perhaps unintentionally moved to being a melee attack in the early days of 3.3. Before then we procced the effect much less, to the point where it was useless for tanking. Post-ShoR change and suddenly the fastest and easiest way to pumped out the AOE teeps (like deeps, but moar threatnin’) was to switch to Seal of Command and go nuts on any clumbs of mobs in your path.

As for Hammer of the Righteous, is it really that overpowered? Really?

I would say no, but perhaps I’m biased. I see little difference between it and the Warrior cleave aside from the fact that ours hits an additional target (but has a cooldown) and automatically pierces armor thanks to the damage being of the Holy school.

Side thought: if HotR was so overpowered (and this is something GC has been hinting that he feels for some time) then why, oh why, does the Paladin t10 2pc bonus increase its damage by 20%?

They tried to tinker with HotR in the past, around the time of the 3.2 ptr, briefly shifting its damage to physical. This made HotR not only hit for less (now being mitigated by armor) but also do less threat thanks to not gaining the Righteous Fury +threat to Holy spells. They played around with changing how much damage the attack did, and then baking in a +threat modfier, but eventually decided to just revert the change and leave it as is. Kicking the ball down the road, I suppose.

I wonder if this change is now on the table again.

In the end what it comes to down is, yes, we are gods of AOE threat, and that must be changed with us being adjusted down. How would I prefer this be done? For starters, make SoComm require a 2H weapon and make it the exclusive domain of Ret Pallies. Otherwise, if the intention is to let Prot keep it, adjust down how much damage the cleave does (though this will disproportionately hurt the Rets).

… Although, I do enjoy the irony of Rets taking a nerf on the chin because of us. Usually it’s the other way around!

Er, but I digress. The other recommendation is: wait and see how our AOE threat is outside of Icecrown. I strongly suspect that our AOE threat is being exaggerated, so to say, but the added damage of the Glyph of Sense Undead, Crusade’s 3% bonus, and the addition of Holy Wrath to our arsenal.

I suppose I could live with Hammer of the Righteous getting pared down, but I’d prefer that be last resort. I love that skill as is. And I’ve finally gotten over that awful CLANG noise it makes.

The only remaining question is this: is the nerf going to come pre-Cataclysm (and if so, why is it not on the PTR yet?) or will they just roll it into 4.0?

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