I had originally planned to do a tank DPS analysis of HoF, but we didn’t get to Empress. So I should be able to do it next week. Instead I’m going to talk about Symbiosis.

I’ll be the first to admit that for a very long time I was firmly of the “I don’t care what you get, I only care what I get” belief when it came to Symbiosis. This continued through all of MSV as well. Retrospectively I think it was because those fights were actually pretty damn easy. Even from a tank perspective. However after getting into Heart of Fear I’ve totally changed my mind.

I now almost always put it on our Holy Paladin.

To see why let’s take a quick look at my raid composition:

  • Guardian
  • Blood DK
  • Holy Priest
  • Resto Shaman
  • Holy Paladin
  • Rogue
  • Ret Paladin
  • Mage
  • Hunter
  • Moonkin

Of my available options only a Blood DK will give me anything to help stay alive. However I’m having literally 0 problems doing so assuming correct play, so that’s pretty much a waste. Holy Priest, Rogue, Ret Paladin, Mage, and Hunter are all literally quite worthless. So that just leaves a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin.

The problem with a Resto Shaman is that Lightning Shield requires you to get hit in order for it to do damage. Since Savage Defense should literally always be on cooldown when tanking (except certain fights), Lightning Shield loses its attractiveness. Plus it also gives the Shaman something completely worthless. So that just leaves the Holy Paladin.

When using Symbiosis on a Holy Paladin you get Consecration. I’ve actually come to really like it. It’s extra DPS, especially on AoE fights like Wind Lord. But the most attractive part of this is that the Paladin gets Rebirth. One of the things that Blizzard has changed significantly in MoP is in making sure Tanks are almost always doing something. Despite the fact that we now have Nature’s Swiftness getting a Rebirth off is actually a lot more problematic than it sounds. Consider the things that tanks do in MoP nowadays:

  • Generate resources to stay alive.
  • Constant movement.
  • Dump out as much DPS as possible (especially true in HoF) – even when not tanking

You can’t do any of these things if you’re running around trying to find the dude who died on the other side of the room. Especially not with a boss chasing you. It’s much, MUCH easier to simply pop a cooldown while a healer scoots over to grab them really quick. Not only that but the chance of a wipe is typically drastically reduced as well.

What about you guys? How have you been using Symbiosis?

Greetings Bears!

Due to a huge amount of work piled on me last week, I was unable to get anything written, but I am back this week with a bunch more info for you guys! This week we will be talking about SD vs. FR in the two latter instances of the tier: Heart of Fear and Terrace of the Endless Spring. So without further ado let’s get to it!

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok

Which ability you use largely depends on what job you currently have. As the Exhale tank, you take lots of undodgeable physical damage, which means FR is the best way to deal with it. Simply build up a full rage bar, wait til your health gets low, then pop 2 back to back FRs to top yourself off and you should survive the whole thing.

If you are tanking the boss, then the only damage he does to you is melee swings, which means SD all the way.

Blade Lord Ta’yak

Here’s my damage taken breakdown from this week’s kill:

41.3% Melee
28.5% Storm Unleashed
24.1% Overwhelming Assault
6.1% Unseen Strike

The important thing to remember is that this fight has two distinct phases. In the first phase where you tank the boss, you are taking mostly melee damage with predictable spikes of huge damage (the Assaults). Thus, the best way to use your abilities is to maintain SD and make sure to at least have 40 rage banked for a heal after an Overwhelming Assault.

During the second phase, spam FR to help out your healers since you will not be taking any direct melee swings.

Garalon

Here is my damage taken breakdown from my most recent kill:

46.6% Pheromones
44.0% Furious Swipe
6.9% Pheromone Trail
2.4% Crush

A few important things to know: Furious Swipe CAN be dodged. This makes SD pretty good on this fight, but in my experiences, you never take enough damage to really get a lot of benefit of timing SD for every Swipe. I had no problems just spamming FR to keep myself alive since the tank damage is pretty low on this fight.

Wind Lord Mel’jarak

Damage breakdown:

82.9% Melee
9.9% Rain of Blades
5.5% Whirling Blade
1.5% Wind Bomb

SD fight. No doubts about it. There is way too much incoming damage (especially on 25 man) to rely solely on FR to keep yourself. Learn to love SD on this fight.

Amber Shaper Un’sok

Due to WoL picking up damage taken while you are in Abom form, we can’t get an accurate picture of damage taken from logs.

However, a quick look at the fight mechanics reveals that there is no significant tank damage that isn’t melee swings. Ergo, we have yet another SD dominant fight. Keep it up, no buts about it.

Grand Empress Shek’zeer

Damage taken breakdown:

53.9% Melee
13.3% Poison-Drenched Armor
10.9% Cry of Terror
8.1% Calamity
5.2% Sonic Discharge
8.6% Assorted other damage

As you can see from the breakdown, your damage taken will mostly be melee swings, so keeping up SD is of the utmost importance. However there are several places where FR will come in handy. Make sure to bank some rage for an FR after one of the Zones explodes and you take a Sonic Discharge. Similarly, after you take a Calamity in the last phase, use whatever rage you have on an FR so you don’t get instantly gibbed by a melee swing.

Protectors of the Endless

Damage breakdown from this week’s kill:

67.2% Melee
15.4%Touch of Sha
15.0% Defiled Ground
1.9% Expelled Corruption

Look! Another SD fight! It doesn’t actually matter which bosses you are tanking in this fight, they all do primarily melee damage. If you end up killing Kaolan second or third, then make sure to keep some rage banked for an FR every time he does Defiled Ground, once you get to high stacks it can hit pretty hard.

Tsulong

Damage breakdown:

54.4% Dread Shadows
32.6% Melee
6.8% Unstable Bolt
4.9% Shadow Breath

This is a perfect fight for balancing out SD and FR use. In the night phase try to keep up SD as much as possible, but once your Dread Shadows stacks get high then FR becomes much stronger. As usual, try to save a big FR for after each breath so you don’t get gibbed by a melee swing directly after.

In the day phase, keep up SD against the big Terror adds, but they are also stunnable so make sure to use that as your primary damage mitigation tool against them. If you take the Sun Breath your heals become supercharged, so any FRs you do for those 5 seconds will be super powerful, but you really don’t take enough damage to warrant it anyways.

Lei Shi

Damage breakdown:

93.9% Spray
6.1% Get Away!

Lei Shi is like Stone Guards 2.0. FR is your best friend here. Spam it to your hearts desire. However, if you are the tank assigned to picking up adds then you are going to want to have SD up. They melee pretty hard. If you are tanking her when she puts that shield up, be prepared to pop CDs because you cannot gain rage by attacking her (instead melee a nearby add for some rage).

Sha of Fear

Damage taken breakdown (logs are a bit buggy for this fight due to the platforms):

66.9% Melee
13.5% Shoot
19.6% Random damage

Another SD dominant fight, however there is a very important new mechanic at play here. Every 4th attack, Sha will attack 3 times instead of just once. The only way you will realistically die is if you take all 3 melees and you aren’t topped off. Therefore, the best way to counter this ability is to always have SD up when he casts Thrash. Just like Chimaeron’s Double Attack, Sha will gain a buff called Thrash. Whenever you see that, get SD up ASAP if it isn’t up already. If you spike low, then hit a quick FR to top yourself off.

When you get transported to the outer platforms, your primary job is going to be soaking all the orbs that spawn. This means that you will basically have permanently increased rage gen. On these platforms, spam FR like nobody’s business. Especially during the Death Blossom, make sure to keep healing yourself and help your healer out.

That’s it! If you have any questions ask away in the comments!

Hello Guardians!

In lieu of a news post today (since there isn’t any news) I wanted to discuss a topic that can be almost universally applied to any game: How to Provide Feedback to Developers.

Unfortunately this is something that apparently a lot of people on the official forums don’t understand. While they may have an important point to make or topic to discuss, quite frequently what actually ends up in a forum post is almost worthless. To help other people understand how to provide good feedback – and thus improve the game as a whole – I’ve decided to write this little “guide”. For the past year and a half or so I’ve actually been kind of “cheating” in the sense that writing requirements documents for developers is my actual job. So theorycrafting and providing feedback to game developers is essentially the same as what I do for $$ – except for games. In this case WoW.

Basically I know what I’m doing.
 

Types of Feedback

There are two basic types of feedback a user (or player in this case) can offer: Subjective and Objective. Objective feeback will always be determined using the Scientific Method. That is anyone should be able to replicate the same results that you arrived at using the same variables. Some examples include:

  • Derivation of AP/SP forumlae
  • Combat Logs to show raids with DKs getting obliterated in heroic Gara’Jal
  • Calculation of the effectiveness of different abilities (Savage Defense, Frenzied Regeneration)

When providing objective feedback – “OMG GUARDIANS SUCK” – you must provide supporting evidence. This (for most people) will typically be in the form of combat logs. If you don’t know how to record or parse combat logs, head over to World of Logs to find out how. Without this evidence it is extremely likely that your arguments – however otherwise sound they may be – will be dismissed out of hand, not only by the player base but more importantly by the developers.

Subjective feedback is quite different. By its nature it is expected that not everyone will share the same point of view that you do. However that doesn’t mean you can’t still provide valuable feedback about how something “feels” to you in-game. Some examples are:

  • User Interface
  • Theme or Feel of a character/item/place/thing
  • What you as a player do or do not like about something

The most important note about this kind of feedback is that the efficiency or “math” is never in question. It’s all about how something in the game makes you feel as a player. Note that it is possible to have an objective analysis of something that then implies a subjective response. However you must remember that the reverse is never true. Just because something “feels bad” in terms of efficiency (usually in terms of “X”-per-second) does not mean that you can say so in an objective manner without performing some sort of actual data analysis.
 

Feedback Tips

So what should you do when providing feedback of any kind? I’ve put together a short list below:

  • Use proper spelling and grammar. Nobody is going to read your post if you can’t articulate your arguments in a way people can actually read.
  • Be as descriptive as possible. Explain to your audience why are right using supporting evidence like combat logs, math, or how you think something should work.
  • Whenever possible, don’t try to build your own models. For WoW specifically there are very, very few people qualified to do so as it requires a combination of calculus level math and intimate knowledge of game mechanics. For Guardians specifically there is already a wealth of options available to do analysis.
  • Doublecheck Everything. This is extremely important. Nothing will get your feedback dismissed faster than using information that is completely incorrect. If you’re not sure, double-check with someone else first to confirm. I cannot count the number of times I’ve dismissed posts or discussion out of hand because it was based on incorrect assumptions, knowledge of game mechanics, or just plain wrong. I’ll admit that I’ve made this mistake a few times over my career ;)
  • Don’t take criticism personally. If someone points out mistakes in your feedback most of the time they are just trying to help you.
  • Ignore trolls. They are a waste of your time.

What about you? Do you have any tips on how to provide feedback to game developers?

Hello Guardians!

I wanted to take a few minutes and do a quick review of MSV 10man. A lot of you will probably know this stuff already, but whether you are just starting MSV or you’re stuck on a particular boss, you should find this useful. You’ll notice that I covered a lot of this content on the Team Waffle Podcast yesteday, but some of it should be new.

Please note that if I don’t specifically mention a talent, glyph, etc. then you should assume that usage of such things is up to your discretion based on group/personal preference/full moon.
 

Stone Guardians

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Make sure you (or your other tank) pulls the big dog out of the group so you can actually kill the trash. Don’t pull the two big patrolling dogs together.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul. Stampeding Roar can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • If you start off by tanking 2 dogs, remember to pre-pot (Virmen’s Bite) and use Berserk on the pull for maximum threat and burst Rage.
  • Decide between you and your co-tank who will be calling swaps. Remember you want to swap the dog that is currently petrifying, because that is how you have to do it on heroic.
  • Don’t bother using Savage Defense at all. Use Frenzied Regeneration to heal yourself when you get down to around 50-60%.
  • You likely won’t have any excess Rage, but if you do dump it into Maul when tanking more than 1 dog for the extra cleave damage.
  • I found it helpful to have taunt macros for switching dogs. You may or may not feel the same way.

 

Feng

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Nothing special. Feel free to AoE tank it.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Use Savage Defense when tanking, Maul when not.
  • I found Shroud of Reversal really hard to use, especially with a DK co-tank when they don’t take damage from Lightning Fist. Probably easier for everyone if you just take Nullification Barrier.
  • There’s no burn phase or DPS buff, so feel free to use Incarnation / NV at the start of the fight.
  • Since Nullificaiton Barrier is a channel, you cannot attack while using it without cancelling the spell. So don’t do that.
  • Use Stampeding Roar to help your raid run from Epicenter and into Arcane Velocity if necessary.
  • You can use Tranquility during Epicenter or Arcane Velocity to help your healers out. Switch in a caster weapon for extra healzzz.

 

Gara’jal

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Trolls! Don’t stand in bombs.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV/HotW.
  • Glyphs: Anything you want.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Pop your cooldown(s) at the start of the fight. If you go with Heart of the Wild you can get a full duration use off at the start of the fight.
  • Keep Savage Defense up as much as possible while tanking.
  • The Severer of Souls dies stupid easy, so don’t be afraid to hit a couple other spirits while you’re in the spirit realm.
  • Make sure you have Incarnation available for the burn phase since it’s incredibly important to keep SD up as much as possible.

 

Spirit Kings

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Make sure your raid stacks for the lizards.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Anything you want.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Pop your cooldown(s) at the start of the fight. Don’t bother using Savage Defense for Qiang since you will be getting AoE heals anyway. Just dump all of your Rage into Maul.
  • DO NOT EVER USE THRASH DURING MADDENING SHOUT.
  • As a Guardian you don’t care about Cowardice. Just keep attacking the boss.
  • Make liberal use of Skull Bash.
  • Use Savage Defense for Meng, Subetai, and Zian.

 

Elegon

The Rundown:

  • Trash: You can wipe the raid to the trash if you don’t tank it properly. Face the guys that throw stone slabs away from the raid so they don’t get smushed. You can powershift the debuff if necessary. Kite the Wardens by letting them punt you away, and then running until their buff falls off. Turn around, repeat until dead.
  • Talents: WC, Typhoon, Incarnation, UV, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar. Survival Instincts can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Use Barkskin and/or Survival Instincts during a Total Annihilation when you’re at high stacks.
  • Make damn sure you reset your stacks when dragging the Guardian outside the ring.
  • Try and land a Thrash on everything during Draw Power.
  • Wild Charge back to the boss after your spark is dead for maximum uptime/dps.
  • Use Savage Defense when tanking the boss, but use Frenzied Regeneration to recover from a Breath/TA.
  • Spam FR during Draw Power so you don’t have to drop stacks.
  • Get aggro on the Sparks but don’t let them hit you. Use Typhoon / UV to keep them at a distance.
  • Use Tranquility as soon as you can in Phase 3.
  • Make sure you have NV, Incarnation, Potion, and Trinkets available for the burn. There’s no reason to reset your stacks.

 

Will

The Rundown:

  • Trash: You can wipe the raid to the trash if you don’t tank it properly. Face the guys that throw stone slabs away from the raid so they don’t get smushed.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar. Survival Instincts can be useful as well.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • It might be tempting to try and help your raid out with Typhoon and UV. Don’t. You’ll just end up hurting or killing yourself.
  • Dancing is incredibly easy as long as you have Feline Swiftness. Don’t over-run any of them and don’t be afraid to take a second to make sure you’re travelling the right way.
  • Keep Savage Defense up 100% of the time when the boss is meleeing you.
  • Save cooldowns for Titan Gas. Alternate Incarnation and Berserk on Titan Gas phases.
  • Make sure you bind the “extra action button” to something or else you’ll miss Opportunistic Strike every time.
  • If you get caught in a stomp, use Stampeding Roar to give yourself enough speed to not get caught in a slash right afterwards.
  • Get aggro on the Sparks but don’t let them hit you. Use Typhoon / UV to keep them at a distance.
  • Make sure you zoom your camera out pretty far so you can see the boss during DDR phases.

 
What about you? Do you have any tips to share?

Introduction

I know it’s not Friday. I had planned initially to write this post on Friday, but then I went out and got drunk with some co-workers. Then I planned to write this yesterday, but I spent the whole day watching MLG Dallas. Now it’s Sunday night.

That’s what I get for being such a big e-sports fan I guess.

In any case what I wanted to do was take a look at how Guardians stack up against other tanks in terms of DPS in 10m normal MSV. Tank DPS is incredibly important in 10 mans on fights with DPS checks, so making sure Guardians are competitive with other classes in this regard is very important. Unfortunately there a number of things that can affect tank DPS which aren’t really under the player’s control:

  • Vengeance: Since Vengeance is gained via unmitigated damage, the encounter itself will overwhelmingly dictate how much damage you do.
  • Encounter Strategy: Things like deciding who gets Shroud of Reversal greatly influence the damage done.
  • Encounter RNG: Randomness in the encounter.
  • Gear: The better your gear gets, the more you can ignore your AM buttons in favour of extra damage.

However all of these things should in theory be negated by the sample size. It’s highly unlikely that no Guardians would be given Shroud of Reversal on Feng for example. So how does one achieve this comparison? By using a site called Raidbots. Raidbots is a tool that was written to aggregate World of Logs data into something that could be used for trend analysis. Like with any tool, you need to make sure you use it correctly in order to get accurate data. For reference these are the settings I used:

  • Data Set: All Parses
  • Timespan: 1 Month (I would have like to make it smaller, but this is the shortest it goes)
  • Sample Period: 1 Week (This is important)
  • Measure: Median

With regards to the sample period, I only looked a data that did not include any parses from before October 20th. If you follow patch notes at all, you’ll remember that Vengeance was hotfixed to prevent abuse of spike damage from boss abilities on October 19th. Since this was artificially inflating Tank DPS, it’s important to completely ignore any parses from that period.

But enough of the tehcnical nonsense.

The Stone Guards

Raidbots – 10m Normal Stone Guard

This may look bad at first glance, but the difference isn’t that significant. That being said, Guardians don’t have great cleave damage. The only ability that’s in a 2-target rotation that actually hits more than one target is Thrash. While Thrash actually does some pretty decent damage, it doesn’t compare with what Brewmasters or Death Knights can do. It is interesting that Warriors are so low though.

Feng the Accursed

Raidbots – 10m Normal Feng

We can clearly see here that Guardians are much closer to the top two (Brewmasters and Blood DKs again). So it’s clear Guardian’s single target DPS is pretty much in the right ballpark – or at least within an acceptable variance given the variables at hand.

Gara’jal the Spiritbinder

Raidbots – 10m Normal Gara’Jal

Again Guardians turn out to be pretty much smack in the middle, vithin variance. Monks are really high for some reason that completely escapes me. Then again I don’t follow Monks so it’s entirely possible there’s a completely valid reason for this.

Spirit Kings

Raidbots – 10m Normal Spirit Kings

We’re beginning to see a trend here. Guardians are definitely very much competitive with the other tank classes, although for some reason Monks are still way high.

Elegon

Raidbots – 10m Normal Elegon

Blood DKs move up a bit compared to Guardians on Elegon. This could be of their superior ability to handle the incoming damage as their debuff increases (ergo they stay in for longer). In any case, the margin is still not big enough to make or break the encounter assuming correct play. The trend of shield tanks being on the bottom also appears to continue.

Will of the Emperor

Raidbots – 10m Normal Will

Will is easily the best encounter to evaluate tank DPS. Both tanks have essentially identical mobs attacking them for identical amounts of time. This means that assuming proper execution all DPS should be extremely close. And, it is. Monks again are significantly higher.

Conclusions

After looking at the data after the Vengeance hotfixes it’s pretty clear that most tanks are mostly within an acceptable variance for DPS. Shield Tanks seem to be a bit low on swap or 1 tank fights, but on encounters where both tanks are exactly equal everyone within a very small range.

Throughout the analysis above I was noting that Brewmaster’s are consistently trending higher than other tanks – and then I realized a possible cause. World of Logs treats Stagger damage (Brewmaster’s primary mitigation mechanic), as damage the Monk actually deals and therefore counts it towards their DPS. I emailed the author of Raidbots, and they only receive the total damage done so it isn’t possible to strip out Stagger damage. If WoL eventually removes it then the numbers will make more sense.

Our only real problem is when we have to damage two targets at the same time. However that’s such a rare encounter mechanic that I’m not going to raise a fuss about it unless it becomes a major issue in the future.

What about you? Are you seeing different things? Let me know!