There have been a couple Guardian oriented replies over the last two days. I wanted to take an opportunity to talk about them.

“If this is the prefered design why do Guardians have to spend rage for Maul? It has been stated a few times that Maul would never be used except to solo things (an only if the damage comes up).”

Maul is still a DPS button. It may not be one you use often, but there will be times when you don’t care about surviving (when the boss needs to die NOW, or even when you’re solo or running a scenario perhaps). We may eventually end up adding a proc or something (hopefully not exactly like Ultimatum), but we’re not sure it’s needed. At the moment Guardian damage is too high, so encouraging more Mauls isn’t super high priority. :).

?

Your logic failure betraaayyyyssssss you!

I understand that they may have more pressing matters to attend to than making something that is 100% functional simply more fun to play. That is a perfectly valid answer. However repeating the claim that Maul is fine as a DPS button that you never push (something we have actually proven is the case) doesn’t make any sense. What makes this even more confusing is that GC has said exactly the opposite thing about Heroic Strike earlier in the thread:

The idea is that we can’t ask Prot warriors to spend Rage on offensive attacks if we are also asking them to spend resources on defensive abilities — the defenses will just always win. The Ultimatum proc is there to let you use Heroic Strike and Cleave for free sometimes. When you aren’t tanking (like you are solo or off-tanking) or when survival isn’t a question (you’re running an easier dungeon perhaps) then you can Heroic Strike instead of Shield Block or Barrier. As you point out, you can use Heroic Strike and Devastate at the same moment since they aren’t on the same cooldown.

The two abilities fill exactly the same role for both class. They’re a Rage->Damage dump. His description of how Heroic Strike/Cleave would be used is actually bang on. That’s identical to how Guardians are going to use Maul. Only once we reach some insane number of RPS (rage-per-second) which isn’t actually practically obtainable do we start having excess Rage for Maul. So it only makes sense to give us some sort of mechanic to let us press it when we would rather spend our Rage on survival.

Wenselaas got an answer about Guardian DPS as well:

“Issue #1. Guardian dps seems to be EXTREMELY skewed towards mangle.

Issue #2. Guardian dps is pretty overpowered.”

You are probably right on both counts. We’ll look into it.

This means that most of the evaluations I’ve done thus far on Heart of the Wild and Guardian Cat DPS are likely wildly inaccurate. I’m not surprised. I’ve long maintained that Guardian DPS was too high so this is not news to me. Once the Mangle nerf comes in I’ll re-evaluate all of them and see where we stand.

Tinderhoof has long believed that Feral DPS is just terrible right now, so that probably isn’t helping things either.

One last bit of news. The Team Waffle Podcast: Guardian Round Table #2 is going to be broadcasting live this Friday the 13th of July at 7pm PST. If you have any questions feel free to go to the TWP website and post them for us to answer!

Nomnomnom.

TLDR:

  1. There are tens of thousands of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players.
  2. Only 4 of them were banned.
  3. Whatever they were banned for is completely unrelated to Linux or Wine
  4. They were either cheaters or ran something else that turned up false positive by Warden.
  5. If they were innocent, then they are pretty much screwed without possible help.

I’ve been wondering what the fuss is all about since I’ve been playing Diablo 3 everyday on Linux using Wine (except for a 3 day vacation break in Phuket), and I have not yet been banned.

There’s been forum posts going around alleging that Blizzard has been banning Linux users using Wine to play Diablo 3. Since it’s posted in the Diablo 3 General forums and a Blue has responded to it, the thread has naturally became filled with trolls and retards. Amongst all the rubbish there are some accurate information which I will summarize here together with my experience and analysis as a Linux user that has been using Wine to play World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.

The forum post had links to various new sites that alleges that Blizzard has been banning Linux users, and pointed to the Diablo 3 Winehq appdb page as their source. Winehq appdb is a database of Windows application which have been tested against Wine. Users user appdb collaboratively to report if their Windows application work with wine, issues they faced, solutions to work around the issues. Developers also use appdb (and the associated issue tracker) to debug issues with Wine and to fix the issues for future versions of Wine.

The appdb page for Diablo has a thread where the Blizzard ban has been discussed, and 3 users have reported that they were banned. They are william, Marcus Meng and Mitch. I looked around for other cases of Linux users being banned and the only other one I’ve found was a PlayOnLinux user on this thread where fabioshot (and Mitch, presumably the same one from winehq appdb) claims to also have been banned.

PlayOnLinux is a software that includes Wine and automatically configures Wine to work with specific games that need tweaking to work well with Wine. For Diablo 3, this will presumably mean PlayOnLinux will include a version of Wine with the AcceptEx and the Direct3D modechange bugfixes as well as the setarch workaround the Warden issue with >4GB RAM and the taskset workaround for microstutters.

Now we need to look into context of the number of Linux users playing Diablo 3 on Wine. PlayOnLinux claims that there are at least 30000 users using PlayOnLinux to play Diablo 3. PlayOnLinux users are of course only a subset of Wine users use PlayOnLinux, so we can safely assume that the number of Linux users playing Diablo 3 on wine should number in the TENS OF THOUSANDS. This is only a small percentage of the millions of Diablo 3 players, but still a significant number of players.

Only 4 confirmed cases of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players being banned out of tens of thousands of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players should pretty much make it obvious that not only are Linux/Wine users are not being targetted for bans, there is no false positive issues where Linux/Wine gets falsely identified as a cheat. These 4 cases are definitely isolated cases unrelated to Linux/Wine, which can only mean 2 things:

1. These players were cheaters, and were either lying about using Linux/Wine or were running a cheat program on Linux/Wine
2. These players were running some other application/services/processes on Linux/Wine which has been falsely identified by Warden as a cheat

I’m not going to judge which of the above is true, it’s really Blizzard’s word against the players, and it could go either way. If the first one is true, then the players got what they deserve, and I wish all the worst for them for stirring up all these crap in the first place. Unfortunately, if the second is true, there is probably nothing that can be done to save these players.

Several years ago, World of Warcraft players using the Cedega variant of Wine to play the game in Linux all found themselves banned.  Blizzard initially claimed that they were cheats, but after being contacted by Transgaming (the company that made Cedega) and doing further investigation, they found that they were actually false positive, and reversed the ban and crediting the banned accounts with 20 days of game time.

In this case, there were thousands of banned users that were backed by a company. What chance would 4 isolated individuals have? It doesn’t help that he can’t really find out more about why these 4 were banned. Bashiok writes:

“It’s company policy not to discuss account actions with anyone but the account holder, or their legal guardian if applicable. It’s an issue between us and them. Trust me, it’d be much easier on me to just post exactly what they did, but we feel it’s important to honor the privacy of our customers, and that’s a policy I personally agree with.”

Now, I agree with this privacy policy, but the truth is the affected customers themselves do not have access to the reasons why they were banned beyond being accused of using a cheat. What would definitely help against false positive is Blizzard providing the customers with the name of the process that was detected and what cheat program Warden thinks that process was. This would allow innocent players to find correlation with other falsely banned players to identify the particular software that has been falsely identified as a cheat, possibly allowing the owner of the software to contact Blizzard (like Transgaming did) to help right the wrongs.

Of course, from Blizzard’s point of view, doing this will likely give the cheat writers an advantage against Warden that can and will be exploited. So really, if these players were innocent, I’m pretty confident that they are totally screwed.

I’ve decided to do this on a daily basis as new information comes out. It’s just easier on everyone (but mostly me) that way.

What happened today?

“How committed is the development team to having all tanks perform within an “acceptable variance” on all encounters? In Cataclysm we saw several “niches” become severe problems for tank balance on certain heroic encounters. For example:

  • Deathknights on Yor’Sahj
  • “Bearcatting” on Madness, Spine, Ultra, and Blackhorn
  • Deathknight and Druid compared to Paladin and Warrior for Impales on Madness
  • Warriors for Blood tanking on Spine
  • Paladins for most of heroic T12 due to Divine Guardian
  • Warrior/Druid/Deathknight vs Paladin on Al’Akir”

We don’t think any of those cross the line. If it were the same class showing up for all of those bullet points, that would be a problem. Our tanks all have strengths and weaknesses and unusual encounter mechanics may synergize or clash with them, but that’s more interesting than extreme homogeneity, which would be the alternative. We like the puzzle aspect of “solving” boss encounters according to the comp and strengths of individual groups. We think it has helped contribute to the fun of killing bosses having such extraordinary legs (meaning that we’re on tier 14 now and have made hundreds of dungeon bosses).

If memory serves the first Spine kill was Blood DK / Prot paladin and the second was a pair of druids. Now granted, world firsts sometimes have to resort to unusual strategies since they undergear the fights because they haven’t had weeks to farm up better gear. Your mileage may vary.

As a counter-example, paladins on Heroic Major Domo initially were able to solo-soak the scorpion cleave, letting guilds with paladin tanks keep him in scorpion form longer than those without. We thought that crossed the line and we changed the boss mechanics to disincentivize that particular strategy. I fully admit that these calls are subjective.

Um. What?

At Blizzcon 2011 another Feral Druid was in line ahead of me and asked specifically about Bearcatting. The response he got was at 28:50 of this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhRch8Smsaw

The answer is distinctly:

You are definitely going to be losing that DPS. The other tanks can’t do that.

That is directly contrary to GC’s answer above. Obviously people (especially designers) are allowed to change their minds. I do it all the time. I just wish there was some insight into the process behind the change.

Both Slash and Muspel had follow up posts:

“A lot of these problems are by and large, problems which a little bit of modification in the encounter’s design could be solved, if they were picked up early on. Death Knights on Yor’sahj makes a difference because the fight’s mechanics cater to them in every way. Simple changes could have allowed them to retain DK flavour and advantage, without making the difference anywhere near as large as it was.

If picked up by the encounter team, these simple adjustments could mitigate the potential for things to go out of control. This doesn’t apply just to tanks, but if encounter design had picked up, say, that Spine’s initial burst requirement was simply impossible for many classes and specs, that Anub was being broken by block being block, or that DK’s fed into this superclass for Yor’sahj, these situations would limit themselves to “nice to have” instead of “this feels broken”.

A lot of the problem for tank balance is that trends have tended to carry across entire tiers. Maybe this wasn’t intentional, but it’s like a person decided that a way to compensate DK’s for being weaker last tier was to cater many mechanics to them this tier. MoP could lend itself to more of the same, if it continues the same feeling where encounter designers do whatever, and class balance never seems to enter the picture even when the encounter’s very design breaks it, especially since Active Mitigation can work on these things now (hit ShoR, laugh at Impale)”

“It’s an issue for the same reason that fights like Spine of Deathwing are a problem for DPS balance.

It’s fine if there’s a “best” tank and a “worst” tank for an encounter. It’s less fine when the gap becomes too wide, as was the case on Yor’sajh.

By comparison, fights like Rhyolith, Shannox, Omnotron, Sinestra, and post-fix Domo still had a best and a worst choice, but the differences were minor enough that there wasn’t a strong incentive to switch.

In Dragon Soul, that hasn’t really been the case. DKs were insanely good on Yor’sajh, while warriors were at an incredibly disadvantage. Warriors were the best blood tanks, and DKs/Druids just plain couldn’t do it pre-nerf. Warriors needed tons of externals for fights like H Madness and H Hagara. DKs (and sometimes bears) would get wrecked by Blackhorn.”

We’ll have to see if there is more information forthcoming.

Nature’s Vigil is currently affecting Frenzied Regeneration. That doesn’t seem intentional.

I believe the intention is that the healing amount is increased, but that it does not deal damage based on that healing.

Muspel first pointed me in this direction, so I went to test Nature’s Vigil with Frenzied Regeneration. Turns out it does actually increase the amount healed by Frenzied Regeneration. This turns into an interesting choice analagous to what we had with T11 gearing – pick the 4pc bonus for burst or offset pieces for average survivability. Obviously we’ll have to take a look at how big the difference between Nature’s Vigil and Heart of the Wild is large enough to justify using NV every once in a while.

That’s all we’ve got for today.

Oh, and by the way Episode 34 of the Team Waffle Podcast is now available for you to listen to.

Shameless plug ^.^

I probably could’ve posted this a few days ago, but I wanted to wait until the Beta Class Balance Analysis thread had run its course before doing so. It’s probably not over (or at least not close to being over), but since its the weekend I felt I should summarize all of the Guardian related information that came out of it. Don’t worry Bears, Fasc, Hinalover, and I are working hard to make sure we aren’t broken or useless at launch ^.^

So what have we learned thus far?

“I did make a bug report out of this though I am re-posting this here just for future reference. there is currently a bug with Faerie Swarms’ damage.”

This is fixed in a future build.

Hinalover had found a bug where if a Guardian cast FFF while having the Faerie Swarm talent, it would do the amount of damage that it currently does on live (10.8% AP) instead of the amount of damage it’s supposed to do. GC sez it will be fixed in a future build.

“Also what is the status of crit suppression? Is it totally gone? Just gone for spells? Or still there? It’s something that is extremely painful to test in-game.”

Crit chances of players against mobs that are higher level than you are reduced by 1% per level difference, in Mists.

This won’t mean anything to you unless you’re in the business of modeling things (like us). Basically when you attack a higher level thing than you the chance you have to critically hit that target is reduced by 1% per 1 level difference. So for a level 90 attacking a boss level mob, your critical strike chance is actually 3% less than what your character sheet says.

“I’m still in the early stages for Guardian but as of this point bears will only need to gear for dodge > crit > hit/exp > haste > Mastery up to 6 rage per second. This allows for at least 1 stack of Savage Defense will be available at all time. Beyond 6 Rage Per Second you will get to 0 stacks at some point during the fight. Beyond 6 RPS, uptime on SD only grows minisculely beyond 60% (6.66 RPS – 61.16% uptime; 7.5 RPS – 61.33% uptime; 10 RPS – 61.6% uptime) For example, with 6.666 RPS, we can use Savage Defense every 9 seconds up to 3 minutes into the fight. Afterwards we can use it every 10 seconds.”

While there is effectively a ‘cap’ on converting rage to Savage Defenses uptime (as you describe, that’s effectively 6.666 RPS to use it on charge cooldown), that should translate to a very ‘soft’ cap on hit/exp/crit, as streaks of rage gain and rage drought may occur. And, more importantly, Frenzied Regeneration should provide a very attractive value in bleeding off excess rage, which is effectively uncapped. Our current design is that against difficult content, Savage Defense provides more average damage mitigation than Frenzied Regeneration heals, but given that it is avoidance (and thus not necessarily reliable), you will sometimes resort to using Frenzied Regeneration to smooth over spikes when you feel you need to. The goal in terms of feeling is that you should ‘want’ to use Savage Defense as much as possible, but sometimes you ‘need’ to Frenzied Regeneration to respond to unexpected spikes in damage.

Here GC talks about the intended usage of our “active mitigation” buttons (I know that Frenzied Regeneration isn’t actually mitigation, but it still “handles” damage). I assume that most Guardians in beta already knew all of this, but for everyone out there that has basically tuned out until launch it will be good to know. Even though you may reach the “very soft” cap of 6.66~ RPS, you’re still going to want as much Rage as you can get because any excess can be bled off into Frenzied Regeneration.

“2) Overlapping Mangle procs.
3) Thrash 6 second CD.
4) Dead GCDs.”

The proc to reset the cooldown on Mangle from Thrash, Lacerate, and Faerie Fire now all occur on initial hit, instead of on bleed ticks. It should no longer be possible to get multiple procs within the same GCD, or to have any benefit from purposely leaving GCDs empty. Can you offer any further details about how the rotation can be gamed in these sort of ways?

This was a direct reply to my complaint that having Mangle reset off of bleed ticks basically meant you performed upkeep on bleeds while mashing Mangle. Thankfully they’ve changed the model to where Mangle resets off of your attacks that hit a target instead. I hope they take it a bit farther and add some more spice to Thrash and Lacerate, but this is a MASSIVE step forwards in terms of fun for the Guardian “rotation”. I use “rotation” in quotes because again it’s actually a priority system, but hey.

“Currently Cenarion Ward will not consume the healing bonus from Dream of Cenarius. This makes Dream of Cenarius completely and totally undesirable for Guardians. That may be intentional, but some clarification would be appreciated.”

This is a bug; all three level 30 talents will benefit from the increased healing buff from Dream of Cenarius. For example, a Guardian druid in Bear Form, with Dream of Cenarius and Renewal, who has recently Mangled a target so they have the Dream of Cenarius buff up, can hit Renewal to instantly restore 51% of their max health. We just fixed it to apply to Renewal and Cenarion Ward a few minutes ago, though, so you won’t see that for a build or two.

This is something I noticed right when I hit 90, and first reported in the Guardian feedback thread. Apparently it’s a bug and Dream of Cenarius is supposed to interact with Cenarion Ward – which is kinda what I suspected from the beginning. So if the Stamina buff is removed from Heart of the Wild, Dream of Cenarius could actually see some interesting use. Or even Renewal.

“Glyph of Fae Silence, I keep asking this and never get a response I hope I can get one here. Is it intentional that Fae Silence does not work on targets already affected by Faerie Fire or is it a bug?”

Bug.

If FFF was already on a target and you have the glyph of Fae Silence, you couldn’t cast it again on that target. This was potentially very detrimental to Guardians and I’m glad it’s getting fixed.

Additionally, Shield Slam and Revenge will only generate rage in Defensive Stance in a future build. We want to leave some room for Prot warriors to go into Battle Stance when OT’ing or perhaps when solo, and we want to leave some room for Arms and Fury to use Defensive Stance when emergency tanking.

I realize that this is not directly related to Guardians, but let me explain why its here. I posted in the past asking similar questions about Guardian Bear and Guardian Cat, but never received a response (other than a lot of trolling from Saulsilver). If this is expected – and even encouraged – of Warriors, I’d imagine there is a similar desire for Guardians. I asked as much, but have not yet received a response. As it stands now Guardian Cat is ~20% under 0 Vengeance Guardian Bear, so stay tuned for more developments in this area.

“Lastly, I think there needs to be some change to the guardian cooldowns so that we can actually use them on most attempts in raid PvE without having to worry if it will be wasted on a wipe. I won’t rehash all of the proposed solutions because that’s been done enough, but with DS tier being replaced by new gear I am worried about going back to the way things used to be.”

We have new tech to reset certain long cooldowns that you’re sometimes tempted to wait around for before each pull (such as Summon Doomguard), when you wipe on an encounter. This tech hasn’t been hooked up to every encounter yet, but you should be able to see this work on some encounters (such as Stone Guard on this Friday). This won’t apply to every long cooldown. Our current rule of thumb is that it applies to cooldowns longer than 5min, but no longer than 10min, but there will be some exceptions to that. It is going to be very subjective which cooldowns are included, but again our rule of thumb is: would reasonable groups kill time waiting for this cooldown to finish before starting an encounter? Please don’t lobby for every cooldown you have to be included. :)

In case you didn’t read that whole response, it basically boils down to: “We’re looking at implementing automatic CD resets for long cooldowns.” You should read that as: “Rebirth.” FUCK YEAH!

Unfortunately there hasn’t yet been anything about the multitude of problems with Heart of the Wild, but given the amount of information we’ve received over the past couple of days I’m confident they are looking at it.

Nomnomnom.

This build had a few changes, but all they server to accomplish is further confuse us as to what the goal is.

I levelled to 90 today, and in my ~405 gear I already have 55.92% damage reduction vs. a level 90. That’s a lot, and light years ahead of where it was at the same time in Cataclysm. I’ve long suspected that Bears were just plain overpowered compared to other tanks, but I wanted to wait until I was level 90 to be sure. Do any other tanks even approach that level of armor?

I was also extremely surprised to see no Mangle (Bear) nerf yet. I still expect this will be coming.

Bear Form Crit/Haste Buff: I don’t for the life of me know why this was done. The obvious answer is to increase our Rage generation, but I don’t know why. Both FR and SD are incredibly powerful compared to analogous abilities on other tanks. That on top of our already massive Physical and Magical EH makes me think that there are some impending nerfs we don’t know about yet. It feels like Guardians are the only tank class Blizzard has yet to have any dialogue on. I would hope that we would want to avoid repeating what happened with the last expansion where we were nerfed to the ground at the very end, only to have outstanding problems ignored because they ran out of time. I would really appreciate some sort of idea what the vision and/or goal is for Guardians.

Heart of the Wild: Unfortunately this talent does in fact continue to have similar problems to what we have theorized before. I like the idea don’t get me wrong, but there are still problems with it that should be addressed.

  • Weapon Swapping: Weapon swapping is required to make Melee -> Caster and Caster -> Melee transitions worthwhile. A talent (especially a Level 90 one) should not require you to switch your weapon to actually use it. As it stands now Guardian -> Moonkin actually does less damage than 0 Vengeance Bear without a weapon swap. Throughput on Guardian -> Resto without a weapon swap is also pretty pitiful. I can only imagine what it would be like for a caster to swap to melee.
  • Bear -> Cat: We are also stuck with one of the only transitions that actually doesn’t give us a useful secondary stat boost. Increasing our Hit and Expertise is not effective for a Guardian since we will be capping Hit and Expertise if possible anyway. The only way to fix this is to give per-spec bonus, instead of “if you’re not X you get Y”. The Agility bonus works though. Unfortunately as you can see in the logs below, HotW Cat is worse than 0 Vengeance Bear. That’s obviously not intended.
  • Lack of + Arcane Damage: This really only hurts Guardian -> Moonkin. We have Moonfire, but since we lack bonus Arcane spell damage (NI only affects Nature) it deals basically no damage. Even when HotW is up.

For argument’s sake I took logs of the DPS transitions to see how they stacked up against 0 Vengeance Bear:

0 Vengeance Bear: http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/9f6xwtdgozlxz8w5/details/9/
Guardian -> Moonkin: http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/20jdfc3atf8oo3h2/details/12/
Guardian -> Cat: http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/m5rhdsir6w5endje/details/9/

Dream of Cenarius: The buff value on DoC is pretty darn good actually. The problem with it is Guardians don’t actually have an opportunity to use it. We only have 2 spells that can be used off of it right now – Rejuv and HT. Neither of those can be cast in form natively though. Since powershifting for tanks is effectively dead thanks to the 1.5s boss swing timer, you can’t really take advantage of it unless you’re really not getting hit with anything.

All they have to do to fix this is make DoC synergize with CW. That’s it. Problem solved. Suddenly Bears have a compelling reason to take DoC. Otherwise it’ll be completely ignored. For the record it does work off of an NS+HT, and the bonuses stack.

Nature’s Vigil: NV is incredibly powerful. It’s light years ahead of both HotW and DoC in its current state. The heal is a “smart heal”, so it’ll target the person who needs it most. Not only that, but it can target yourself as well. At high Vengeance stacks this could get really insane for Guardians. It also works with Berserk so if you’re hitting more than one target with Berserk you will trigger more than one heal. I gotta say, I really like NV.

The disparity with the L90 talents isn’t so much that NV is too good, it’s that HotW and DoC are too bad. One basically can’t be used at all, and the other is just terribly broken. These really need another look.

For reference, here’s the short video I made of the level 90 talents:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHhbfDDoQsY&list=HL1338778403&feature=mh_lolz