Wrath of the raid nerd, redux

19 January 2010 § 3 Comments

This is a difficult post, because I will have to criticise people I like and respect. So I want to preface it with a big warning: if I’m linking to your blog in this post, and I’m actually criticising what you’re saying, it is mostly because I was surprised and you elicited a reaction. I still think you’re awesome and all. Now that that’s out of the way…

If you know a Protection Warrior, chances are he or she is full of RAGE – and not in the sense of the nice red bar that lets them do stuff like tanking and dps’ing. No, I’m talking about foam-from-the-mouth, KHAAAAAAN! sort of behaviour. The reason? Why, a disgrace! Quite simply, Protection Warrior tanks do less dps than the other classes (DKs, druids and paladins).

No, really – you read well, and I haven’t mistyped it or anything. TANKS are complaining about their DPS. I think next in line we will have warlocks complaining that they cannot compete with ret paladins for healing. I mean, seriously: if a raid leader had to choose between a warlock and a ret paladin, and they both did the same dps, they will CLEARLY choose the paladin because the pally has a much higher healing through JoL, Art of War and what have you, right?

I’m gonna try to split this post in two. I will first offer some thoughts about the current issue – admittedly, an outsider’s perspective given I only played my warrior until lvl 3o and not even as Prot. I will then become more ambitious and mumble about nerd rages in general – and why they seem so frequent in the WoW community.

The Prot Wars

(Har har har! See what I did there?)

Warriors are getting hit with the nerf bat because, quite frankly, they are off the scale in PvP. Their toolbox of silences, stuns, snare escapes, and sheer survivability makes killing a warrior almost impossible. This is not “unauthorised pwnings of their better – y’know mages, hunters, etc – in arenas”, as Linedan writes. This is in BGs (which are much more lenient in regards to class balance) and against just about everyone, so much so that even a PvP noob like me noticed. To address this, Blizzard is reducing their Shield Slam damage and taking away from them a snare-escape tool. The snare escape seems relatively uncontroversial – most of the negative reaction comes from the Shield Slam change.

Ghostcrawler and the other blues have said they aim to keep threat generation unchanged, so what they take away from sheer damage, they will add back as threat coefficients. This is still on the PTR, of course, so I’d expect the numbers to be massaged and changed still, to make sure they reach this goal.

The negative reaction has two parts:

1. Prot warriors already have the lowest dps of the tanking classes: they risk their raid slots in tight dps races (like Festergut) if that dps dips any further. Honestly, I really, really cannot see this happening at all. I will accept the “warriors have the lowest tanking dps”, although a guildie who tanks on paladin, warrior and DK tells me that his warrior dps is higher than his paladin – but again, I don’t have hard data to back this hunch up, so I’ll accept the data Warwench compiled and Linedan comments. So, warriors are behind by 500 to 1000 dps to other tanks. Let’s say we’re in a 25-man raiding situation, with 3 warrior tanks: our raid is thus 3k dps behind a raid with DK tanks. That’s huge, right? Well, it sounds huge, until you realise that the same top guilds are producing in excess of 120k dps on Marrowgar, 140 on Saurfang, 115 on Deathstrike. Festergut, the famous dps race, has data recorded for more than 160k damage. In fights that last between 300 and 500 secs, the lack of 3k dps is adding about 10 secs to the fight. Will there be cases where those 10 secs will make the difference? Yes, of course – which is why all good raiders try to get even minimal increases to their dps. Will it be often? No, I don’t think so. Will it make anyone bench a warrior tank? Well, human stupidity has no limit – really. So I won’t say it won’t happen. I will also say that tanks were benched (or tank players rerolled to a different class) before, during Wrath – but because their tanking was more appropriate/more effective, especially on some encounters (Vezax and Sarth 3D being the two obvious cases, with Anub adds counterbalancing that). I find it hard to believe that guilds are going to bench their ICC-capable tanks, because of a 2% raid DPS difference. All raiders are investments for a guild – and tanks more so than most. I’d like to meet a raid leader who is happy to throw that investment away for a 10 sec gain.

2. Threat modifiers are a thing of the past: they scale badly, and most importantly, we were promised threat-through-damage in Wrath. Honestly, the promise part of this is not something I hold in much weight. Even assuming that Blizzard “promised” anything (and they are very cautious about that, because they know the fanbase will hold them to anything they *do* promise), I think their first job is to deliver a game that functions. Part of that functionality is, according to the current paradigm, some semblance of class balance which makes PvP viable and ensures enough variety in classes played to make PvE viable. So, if to deliver their main promise they have to break a lesser one, so be it – Asimov’s laws of robotics teach us that lesser laws can be broken in the name of higher ones.

The scaling issue is, potentially, more serious. Both in Vanilla and in BC, tanks had some trouble towards the end of the expansion cycle because their threat was not keeping up with dps. This was because threat came as fixed threat values associated with moves – and they were scaled to the starting gear for the expansion, not for the last tier of gear. The change towards “threat as damage” was supposed to solve this particular problem (which is, afaik, one of the reasons druids and paladins started winning out over warriors in BT and Sunwell – their threat scaled a bit better than warriors’). However, I don’t think we should worry too much about this issue either, simply because we are on the last patch of the expansion, so there will be very little (if any) further scaling before the major overhaul that is Cataclysm. Thus, assuming Blizzard does its job right and properly assigns threat modifiers to the various moves, we will see very little change because there will be little gear variation for dps to take into account.

So, in conclusion, I really don’t think we need to worry about scaling (because the next expansion is not too far off, and thus scaling cannot); I don’t really care about minor promises Blizzard needs to break to deliver a good game; and if anyone benches a warrior tank because a DK does more damage… well… let’s just say that doesn’t sound like a raid I’d like to join – and it’s also a bit premature to think about consequences that may happen in the future in reaction to a change, especially if that change actually solves a clear problem. Note that a) I’m not saying that the changes proposed will solve the “Prot are OP” problem of PvP (I don’t know enough about the mechanics of the class to judge that); b) I cannot in clear conscience exclude that some idiots will not force their tanks to reroll – but then again, some people were forcing Disc priests to gem spirit because “that’s what priests gem”, so….

Nerd rages!

This is the second time I find myself writing a blog post in reaction to another blogger, because their virulence surprised me (the first time was a reaction to Seri’s post about ICC gating). So, am I too much of a brown-noser, Panglossian type, always thinking that what Blizzard does is the best action in the best game there could be? I doubt that, and I think I’ve criticised Blizzard’s more than once in my blog, most often about their handling of 10-man raiding (great idea, needs to go deeper). I do however frown on extreme reaction – which is kind of ironic, because IRL I tend to have a true Mediterranean character, getting very involved in discussions with friends and heating up whenever I need to argue a point (which has brought me, more than once, into some embarassing situations when my discussion partners were not hailing from my neck of the woods and mistook my particular discussion style with animosity towards them).

I doubt Blizzard reads more than a few of the blogs out there – and I’m pretty sure no-one at Irvine reads my blog, for that matter (not that I can be compared to either Panzercow or Snarkcraft, of course). But I really don’t think we do the community any service by getting so caught up in our love for the game and our avatars to become irrational in our argumentations. Blizzard has shown before the ability to change their decisions, when faced with arguments and data that showed unintended consequences of their decisions. In fact, thanks mostly to Ghostcrawler’s efforts, we, the fans, have been much more part of the development cycle throughout Wrath than ever before. The result? A game that has gotten a lot better – and we’re not talking incremental improvements here, we’re talking orders of magnitude. Simply the idea of having 4 equally viable tank classes, and to have hybrid specs be competitive, is mindboggling to someone who went into Molten Core and was told to heal, even though I was, at the time, specced deep shadow. But hey, I was a priest, right? And priests cannot do anything but healing….

So, consider this my modest plea: let’s not give in to the temptation of the forum troll, who threatens and yells. If we have something to say, let’s use reason and arguments – my suspicion is, we will have a much higher chance to be heard.

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Where’s the healing?

23 September 2009 § 3 Comments

Two things started to bug me today:

  1. It’s been a week since I last posted on the blog – that won’t really meet my project of posting frequently (though I guess one week is ok – there’s some great blogs around that I follow where posts happen a lot LESS than once a week)
  2. The blog is titled The Mediocre Priest – and yet, not one of my posts has been about healing so far.

That got me thinking. I play several alts, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Tsark, my priest, is my main. Also, I love healing – so much so that I now have a paladin, druid and shaman, all 80, all with a healing spec. And yet, I haven’t felt the need or urge to blog about healing – I seem to focus mostly on issues of raid leading, and on issues of raid instance design. I believe I can find two reasons of my lack of healing talk.

The first one is – I *am* a mediocre priest. This requires some explanation. I’ve played Tsark for four years and a half now, and he’s the first character I got to 60. He leveled up as shadow, but of course, at the end game, I was healing (I even healed MC shadow-specced, for a while, before moving to the tri-spec that was all the rage back when the top talent in Holy was Holy Nova and the top talent in Disc was Divine Spirit). The moniker of mediocre priest comes from a joke by the leader of the guild I was in while levelling up, who advertised our group as “mediocre priest and superb tank looking for 3 dps” – it stuck since then, and I revel a bit in it. Mostly, I like it because it prevents me from taking up airs: I know I’m not the best healer I can be, nor the best player I can be (as my raid group noticed today, with me dying to Val’kyr blobbies…). So, while I know I have experience in priest healing, I also know that there’s lots about priest healing I don’t realise. Case in point: the MT of my raid recently pointed out to me that Holy Nova isn’t AoE-capped. While he does play a priest, I found it slightly shameful that he knew something I didn’t – admittedly something not necessarily linked to healing, but still. While I think this “knowing I don’t know” attitude is good in general, it also makes me unsure about taking definite stands about healing issues.

This leads me to the second issue – my knowledge on priest healing really comes from other sources on the internet. Elitist Jerks, Penance Priest, World of Snarkcraft, Plus Heal, Matticus’ work both on his site and on wow.com… These should really be the bread and butter of most priests out there, and I don’t have the time or patience to do serious number crunching to come up with alternative theories about the most effective stats, or the most useful piece of gear. So I would feel like a fraud just recycling their ideas in here, and my research background really prevents me from publishing unoriginal research (and plagiarised blogs).

All that said, I think I’ll need to come up with some healing posts. Or change the name of the blog. But see? That’s just it: I like the name of the blog too much, so I just have to come up with some healing posts.

You’ve been warned…

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