Hello Guardians!

I would’ve written this earlier, but I hadn’t received confirmation until now that 5.1 would actually be coming out tomorrow. Actually I got confirmation while I was still at work. Which is a bummer. Then I had to raid. But now I can tell you what you need to care about in 5.1 (and start updating the Guardian Guide and Guardian Gear Guide accordingly). In any case, here we go!

Tooth & Claw

The most important change in Patch 5.1 for Guardians is easily a new ability called Tooth & Claw. I’ve previously done an extensive writeup on this new ability based on research Wens and I conducted during PTR. It’s basically ridiculously overpowered for what it does. I’ve included a small summary below:

  • Your primary AM button will not change on a fight-by-fight basis. Both SD and FR are still more powerful-per-Rage than Tooth and Claw.
  • Haste becomes more valuable than Crit (imo) for encounters where Tooth & Claw prevents damage. Not only does it affect you, but it also reduces damage to your co tank on applicable bosses with taunt swaps.
  • Since Maul has a hard RPS cap of 10 (or 15 during Incarnation) Rage generation stats in general suddenly become more valuable for those fights.
  • Tooth & Claw applications stack on top of each other (in terms of value), but are used up on the first melee attack that hits the target.

For more details, check out the post linked above.

Symbiosis

In 5.1 Symbiosis will now grant your co-tank a small cooldown. For some *coughProtWarriorscough* it is still useless, but for others (practically everyone else) it’s really good. Back on your co-tank Symbiosis goes.

New Reputation & Gear

With the new patch also comes a new reputation to grind. This isn’t a problem for me, since I’ve already ground everything else to Exalted. As with any new reputation the only reason you actually care about it is the items. I’ve prepared a list of the ones you should care about.

Out of those, I’m expecting everyone will gun for the trinket as quickly as humanly possible. It’s an incredible item. The ring and belt also provide a Crit/Mastery alternative if that’s your thing. All-in-all some interesting choices, and you should be out there grinding to Revered as soon as possible.

Valor Upgrade System

I don’t really know much about this beyond being able to use Valor to upgrade pretty much any item. Perc did a quick writeup over at Wowhead about how it works. I suggest you check that out (seems pretty simple to me). As for when to do it? If you’re going to otherwise waste VP, obviously go ahead and upgrade something. Things that have Armor always go first over ones that don’t.

That’s pretty much it in terms of the vital stuff. I’ll be updating the Guardian Guide (likely tomorrow since no raid) with the new changes soon.

And yes, I did predict November 27th as 5.1 launch like a month ago.

Hello Guardians!

And happy Thanksgiving weekend to those of you from the US. :D

Since we killed Empress on Wednesday I figured today would be a good time to provide those of you who haven’t gotten through it yet with some notes on the various encounters. This will be much like what I did for MSV (which people seemed to find helpful). Next week I’ll do Terroace of Endless Spring. Anyways onto the HoF!
 

Imperial Vizier Zor’Lok

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Trash consists of packs of big and little bugs. Many of the big bugs can be CC’ed and should be in order to make life easier. The little bugs will randomly fixate on people, so just make sure you stack to AoE them down. You must pull all of the trash in Vizier’s room itself. Make sure you pull the last pack back as Vizier will spawn immediately after it is dead and you can accidentally pull if you’re too close to the middle.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: SI, Stampeding Roar.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • This is a 1 tank fight.
  • The boss will start at one of the three platforms randomly.
  • Save Stampeding Roar for when moving cross-platform.
  • He will melee for a decent amount, so make sure you keep up SD when he is attacking you.
  • Attenuation: Stay at max melee range. It will rotate randomly either clockwise or counterclockwise. You will know which way it’s going after you dodge the first 2 waves. There’s a wierd glitch where the wave behind you will hit you even if you’re not quite touching it, but the wave ahead of you will not. So when in doubt, stay closer to the wave in front of you. As long as you’re still in melee range you won’t have to worry about the bounces.
  • Mind Control: DO NOT USE THRASH.
  • Force and Verve: This used to be an absolute pain in the ass, and then they nerfed it to lolville. This is when you want to first use your NV + Incarnation though. You won’t really take much damage, but you can still help out your healers. Tranq if you want, but it’s not really worth it.
  • Exhale: This can be a huge pain in the ass if your melee are stupid and stack on top of the boss. Otherwise you need to identify which way to move and block the beam ASAP. Don’t be afraid to CD it if a healer is the one being stunned or MC’ed.

 

Blade Lord Ta’Yak

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Make sure you wait for each named elite to run to their alcove before pulling them. I learned this the hard way :(
  • Talents: FS/WC, Incarnation, NV or HoTW.
  • Glyphs: Stampeding Roar.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • We had good success by simply pulling the boss to the middle of the room and then slowly moving him down one side.
  • Yell at your ranged / healers if they insist on standing behind you. The last thing you want is to have to worry about tornadoes when moving the boss.
  • It’s pretty difficult to predict the angle during Unseen Strike. Do your best to not get knocked into Tornadoes because that’ll pretty much fuck you.
  • Keep SD up when tanking. Dump extra Rage into FR/Maul as normal.
  • Ask your healers when to Tranq during P2.
  • I like to Stampeding Roar for the 1st Run since you can catch Tornadoes for the 2nd.
  • I burn Incarnation/NV after the first run to make sure people are topped off.
  • Nature’s Swiftness is pretty amazing on this fight.

 

Garalon

The Rundown:

  • Trash: LoL? We just pull the entire room at once for funzies. You probably don’t want to do that, but basically it’s pretty harmless.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul, Survival Instincts, Stampeding Roar.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • Figure out who is doing pheremones. We don’t have tanks doing them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. I guess what I’m trying to say is I have no advice to offer for kiting pheremones.
  • On the pull make sure whoever is kiting pheremones is the closest person to Garalon. He doesn’t have a melee attack or aggro table so you don’t have to worry about them getting smushed.
  • Don’t bother with SD. You can dodge the cleave attack, but then you don’t gain any Vengeance (I don’t think). Since this boss has a pretty steep DPS check it’s important that you deal as much damage as possible. Heal with FR instead.
  • Use Berserk when attacking one of the front legs so it cleaves to the body.
  • You can keep the damage bonus on a front leg and soak the cleave. It takes some practice to maintain the positioning.
  • You basically have to be able to mouse-turn to soak the cleave properly. I have no idea how you would do it if you turn using the keyboard.
  • Save Stampeding Roar for when Garalon flips quickly.
  • Garalon gaining a stack of Fury isn’t the end of the world, but don’t make a habit of it.
  • In the unlikely event that you get Pheremones when you aren’t supposed to SPLIT FROM YOUR CO-TANK IMMEDIATELY until people figure out wtf to do.
  • Don’t get hit by Crush when standing in a puddle.

 

Wind Lord Mel’jarak

The Rundown:

  • Trash: None.
  • Talents: Incarnation, NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • This is can easily one-tanked on normal.
  • Spam teh SD all the time!.
  • Make sure Thrash has a 100% uptime. It does crazy damage.
  • Use Berserk once you have everything ontop of you to cleave the first group down as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to move to pop someone out of amber if required.
  • Make sure you dodge the boomerang blade once all of the adds are dead.
  • Try and move him as close to the middle as possible once all the adds are dead to give the rest of your raid as much room as possible for wind bombs.
  • For the love of fucking god do not step in a wind bomb.
  • Rain of Blades can be dodged. Try and have SD up for it.
  • Enjoy being top DPS.

 

Amber-Shaper Un’sok

The Rundown:

  • Trash: The big guys will put a debuff on you, but meh. The slimes will constantly spawn until all 4 of the alcoves have been cleared.
  • Talents: FS, Incarnation, HotW/NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • We think the first target for Shape Life is random.
  • MAKE DAMN FUCKING SURE YOU ARE NOT IN BEAR FORM DURING SHAPE LIFE IN PHASE 1.
  • Abomination is pretty easy. Spam 1. Use 2 when exploding. You should never have to use 3 in P1. If you do, your DPS is fucking terrible or you were in Bear Form during Shape Life like a noob.
  • Amber Shaper himself hits like a panzy during P1. Dump Rage into Maul during this phase. Use Berserk when your co-tank gets transformed.
  • Phase 2 is pretty boring. Swap tanks on the abomination when one of you gets flung. You will want to use SD during this part as the abomination actually has a decent melee attack.
  • Definitely use NV/Incarnation as late as you can in P3. Work backwards from there for when you can use it otherwise.

 

Grand Empress Shek’zeer

The Rundown:

  • Trash: Meh? Just pull the packs one at a time and AoE them down. They will get a buff from standing near each other but it’s not that big a deal. Interrupt the wind guys..
  • Talents: FS, Typhoon, Incarnation, Ursol’s Vortex, NV.
  • Glyphs: Maul.
  • Gear: Consistent RPS (Hit/Exp > Crit > Haste).

Encounter Notes:

  • P1 is pretty boring. We found it easiest to tank the boss closer to the side that the last tank will have her on. This will be the tank that goes 2nd in the taunt rotation.
  • It’s pretty much a wipe if you get a swirly thing in melee during P1. If that happens yell at your ranged / healers.
  • You want to do as much damage as you can in P1 without burning cooldowns.
  • I really liked having NS to pick people up when they get low after an explosion.
  • Empress hits decently hard. Keep SD up when tanking, and FR after explosions.
  • P2 is a huge clusterfuck. Grab aggro on all of your adds, but try to do it as close to your co-tank as possible. They’re really hard to move afterwards. Once you have aggro immediately Typhoon/Vortex the wind guys away to give yourself some breathing/thinking room. Once they get back to you again blow Berserk and start chaining cooldowns (SI, MoU, BS, Incarnation, NV). Kill one of the wind guys ASAP. Keep SD up as much as possible and heal with FR if you get super low.
  • It’s pretty likely that you’ll need to trap both Reavers, so get the rest of your raid to make 2 traps so you can trap them and kill the last wind guy. Empress comes back when all the wind guys are dead
  • Don’t forget to run around and give the DPS the Poison Drenched Armor buff.
  • Work out with your healers when to Tranq in P3. Use NV/Incarnation again afterwards for further healer relief.

Some of these seem a lot more complicated than they are. As with all encounters they’re pretty easy with practice. Do you have anything to share?

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?