September 22, 2012

Hey Guardians!

For those who haven’t noticed the green text next to my name on the forums, I am now one of the writers for TiB! I will primarily be contributing my opinions and observations regarding guardian’s performance in heroic raiding, and probably just my thoughts on guardians in general. I dunno, I guess we will find out later.

A little about me. I have only ever played a bear tank, and hopefully always will. I have played since BC, but only started seriously raiding for parts of WotLK and Cataclysm, and now I am pushing full strength ahead into T14 with my guild Post-Mortem (H – Kilrogg). Hopefully I can pass on my experiences to all of you and help you kill more dragons.

In real life, I am a college student in Boston, which is pretty freaking awesome.

So yeah, I think I hit all the bases. If you want to get in contact with me or ask my anything (seriously, I love answering questions, ask away!) you can reach me my PMing me here at TiB, ingame (battletag is Wenselaas#1611), or at my twitter (@AlbrechtClayton).

Hey, everyone.  Long time, no post.  I started leveling another Druid so I could pick up writing a Guardian leveling guide for LFD junkies.  Instead I was quickly sidetracked with how nearly unplayable it felt when first entering dungeons at 15.  As in, worse-than-swipe-at-32, unplayable.

This is my feedback and my rant.

Weird rage quirks – I spoke with someone on this, and they suggested it was akin to low level spells having smaller cast times and/or cooldowns because of the limited amount of abilities provided in total.  But, Rage per Auto Attack (RpAA) will go down as you gain levels until it plateaus at level 21.  That is, when we gain bear form at level 8, we get 27 rage per auto.  At level 9, 24 RpAA.  Level 10, 21 RpAA.  Level 11, 20 RpAA.  It then goes down 1 rage per level until 21 when we get the 10 RpAA that we are supposed to.  This is problematic for various reasons and I will describe most of them below.

Abilities – At level 15, we have two damaging abilities.  One with a 6 second cooldown (mangle), and one with a 3 second cooldown and a hefty cost of 30 rage(maul).  Both of them hit pretty soft.  Maul hardly hits for more than an auto attack.  Savage Defense has its large 60 rage cost, making it largely unusable, and Growl is just Growl.  At level 18, we gain Bear Hug – which is mostly useless and only mildly useful in certain situations.  At level 22 we gain Swipe.

That’s 7 levels without an AoE.  I’m not alone when I say that I believe all tanks, not just Guardians, all tanks, should have at least 1 AoE button to use upon entering LFD at 15.  It just makes life easier.

Instead for 7 levels, this is what we experience: Mangle, wait, wait, wait, Maul, Mangle, wait, wait, maul, wait mangle, wait wait wait, mangle, maul, wait, wait, maul.  That’s the sugar coated version.  What’s really happening during those waits is: Growl, no wait, chase that one down, no wait, mangle missed (EXPLETIVE), oh, maul missed too?  Word.  Lost threat here, don’t have enough rage there… Why does my face hurt?  Oh god oh god oh god, 60 Rage for Savage Defense, WHERE ARE YOU.  Get 60 rage – oh, look, mobs are at 10% health or there’s 1 left and it’s a caster, GREAT.  *thumbs up*

. . .

To be quite honest, at 15, rage isn’t too much of a problem.  Why?  Because you’re getting 14 RpAA.  Two autos and a Mangle gives you enough for a Maul, and it’s not that bad of a wait to be able to hit SD if you plan (way, way) ahead.  As you go forward, however, you’re getting less and less rage.  It is 100% noticeable.  You may not know that you’re getting less RpAA at higher levels, but you certainly notice being unable to hit Maul or SD as much as you started out being able to.  That is massively frustrating.  We go from having a certain amount of rage generation to less rage generation with the same amount of abilities, and getting and keeping AoE threat actually gets worse the closer you get to 22.

This was my typical rotation for a pack of 3 or more.  Run in and Growl #1 on the way in, auto attack #2, Mangle #3, Maul #1 if I lost it, whirl back around and auto attack #4, mangle #2 before I lose it again, maul #4…  For 7 levels.  For 7 levels I frantically switched targets, mashing Maul, mashing mangle, tab auto attacking, keeping growl almost on CD, praying neither of my physical abilities got parried, dodged, or missed, and bemoaning my inability to hit SD as my health seesaws back and forth because I need to use my rage on Maul.  Occasionally I’d be able to shift out and Moonfire 2 or 3 mobs on the pull, but if I had any amount of rage I’d stick in bear form because I know I’d need it sooner rather than later.

It’s also quite ironic that the one scenario where Thorns would actually have been helpful… and it was removed from the game.

And Bear Hug?  1 minute CD.  We can hit it and switch targets as a form of AoE opener, but it is really nothing special.  At level 18, we don’t want a stun on a 1 minute CD that we can kind of use for threat or kind of use for an interrupt.  At level 18 we want our AoE abilities because 3 levels of hell just happened.  Bear Hug just adds insult to injury at that point.

18-22 was the same rotation as above with Bear Hug sprinkled in out of complete necessity, not out of wanting to use the ability.  I only used it because I needed to, not because I wanted to.  It is a very lackluster ability and to be quite honest, we can do without getting it so early on.

Level 22 and we finally get swipe.  Oh my god, a breather from the hectic need to grab AoE threat with limited abilities and resources.


Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait…. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….

We just went from frantically running around to: “oh… my-god… this is so painfully boring.  What… I can’t even…”

Why not add in Maul for a bit more flavor?  Well… Because Maul is a trap.

See… I know I should be saving my rage for Savage Defense.  Say what you will about low level dungeons but it’s still easily possible to drop dead if your healer is only half paying attention.  Especially if you have those swell DPS that like to run ahead of you and “accidentally” pull more packs of mobs as though the large pack you have now is beneath them to kill first.  DPS must flow…

Maul… hardly does more damage than an auto attack with a cost that’s too great for the damage it does.  And, I’m sorry, since when did MAUL go from “OH GOD MY FACE” to “heh heh… hey, that tickles… ^.^”?  Not cool.  Not.  Cool.

The average new Guardian isn’t going to know that, however.  They will have just spent 7 levels (perhaps more if they quested in Bear form) using Rage on Maul and probably ignoring Savage Defense because it wasn’t damage.  And they needed damage because the damage output is woefully slow and small that every bit was necessary.  It’s also teaching Guardians how to play incorrectly.  It’s teaching them the wrong priorities.  It can’t be helped because of the poor ability spread (I’ll get into that too, don’t you worry), but nevertheless, it’s teaching them to do it wrong.  They will get to higher levels, still be hitting maul, get asked why they’re not using SD and answer “lol, because I need rage for damage and SD costs too much”. (note: I am not saying that SD’s rage cost is too high)

Well… life gets a bit better at level 28 when we finally receive abilities that reset the CD on Mangle: Thrash and Faerie Fire.  In addition to that, Thrash will buff the damage of Swipe.  AoE ceases to be an issue and Rage flows a bit more freely – getting even better at 30 with the addition of Primal Fury.

But, that’s 15 levels of suffering in order to get the point to where it’s comfortable to tank and not feel awful about it.  Is that really necessary?  We’re back to the days of “just don’t tank until level 32 when you get swipe.”  There’s nothing fun about Guardian LFD leveling 15-28.  Nothing.  It’s awful, it’s mundane, it’s painful, there’s no synergy between abilities, there’s hardly anything to press, it’s frustrating, and if I was a new player I’d be completely turned off from Guardian until much later, if not forever.

That’s not Okay.  It was not Okay to tell Bears to wait until 32 to tank in Wrath, and it’s certainly not Okay to tell bears to wait until 28 or 30 to tank again.  Wrath was doable – we had thorns, maul hit really hard and rage was not in short supply.  This?  MoP?  It’s almost unbearable (no pun intended).  It nearly made me give up on it.  Never enough rage, abilities hitting for very small amounts because of the low base damage which was caused by unlimited Vengeance – which you don’t see very much of in low level dungeons.  I get, maybe, 50 extra AP?  That’s not enough to make a difference, even with chain pulling.


Moving on to the ability spread.  It’s… terrible.  Again.

  • AoE at 22, when it should be at level 14, 15, or 16
  • Bear Hug at 18, when it should be much later, allowing for something else to be moved down
  • Thrash and FFF at level 28.  2 abilities that reset Mangle, when 1 of them should be moved down (FFF to 18?) much earlier to get used to the synergy.
  • Ranged pull ability at level 28.  Compared to 20 for Warriors, 10 for Paladins and 10 for Monks.  Again, FFF to 18.
  • Lacerate is fine as is, though moving it lower wouldn’t hurt.
  • Barkskin: level 44. Availability feels a bit high still.  The SM dungeons hurt a bit more and the lack of cooldown is no fun.  It’s an improvement from getting it at 58, however.
  • Enrage: Level. Seventy. Six.  Is this for real?  Seventy-six?  Warriors get theirs at level 18 and they certainly have an easier time tanking – and do more damage.  What the hell?  What?  Oh, no.  No, no, no… I don’t want my resource generating ability until WELL AFTER I have very few problems generating it.  You must have me confused for someone that NEEDS it.  I can’t even talk about this without wanting to swear, so I’m just going to say: Lower the level we get Enrage.  By a lot.  Soon.  In 5.1.  Please.  Do it for Baby Cenarius.  Move like… Bear hug to 76.  I can live without Bear Hug until that point.  Really, I can.  I can live without Bear Hug until 90.
  • Seriously, take Bear Hug out of the level 18 slot.
  • … no really.


Low Level Guardians need a ton of help.  I took no enjoyment away from leveling my new one.  It wasn’t fun, it was tedious.  I did it because I had to, and the only “wanting” to was for the purpose of experience in order to give this feedback.

All I can do is provide this feedback and hope that they will be looked at, else we will be telling other guardians not to bother with tanking until 30 levels in again.

Hello Guardians!

I finally got the patch 5.0.4 Survival Guide written. You can find it over on the TiB forums.

Or I could just give you this link:

I’ll be reposting it on both the official forums and MMOC once 5.0.4 goes live, so I can include actual WowHead / WoWDB links.

You should probably read it ^.^

Hello Guardians,

Something I’ve been meaning to post for a while (omg 2 posts in 1 day?) is a comparison of profession bonuses for Guardians in Mists of Pandaria. I finally got around to looking at it last night. Thankfully my GM Kalette helped me out with confirming the Alchemy numbers. So here’s what each profession can give you in Mists of Pandaria:

  1. Blacksmithing: 2 extra gem sockets. This totals to 640 secondary stats (Crit, Dodge, etc.), 320 Agility, or 480 Stamina. Value increases with epic gems.
  2. Herbalism: Lifeblood gives 2880 Haste Rating for 20 seconds. Lifeblood has a 2 minute cooldown. This averages around 480 Haste Rating – give or take depending on encounter length.
  3. Skinning: Master of Anatomy grants 480 Critical Strike Rating.
  4. Leatherworking: The Leatherworking only bracer enhancements grant an additional 330 Agility or 750 Stamina over the existing options.
  5. Jewelcrafting: The special Jewelcrafter gems grant 320 Primary or Secondary Stats, or 480 Stamina.
  6. Inscription: The Scriptionist (I made a word!) only shoulder enchant grants 320 Agility.
  7. Enchanting: Ring enchants grant 320 Agility or Stamina.
  8. Alchemy: Since you will be using Armor + Crit or Mastery Elixirs, you will gain 480 Bonus Armor and 240 Mastery or Crit.
  9. Engineering: Synapse Springs grant 2940 of your highest primary stat (Agility/Str/Int) for 10 seconds. This averages to 490 – give or take depending on the encounter. Phase Fingers currently grant 20520 Dodge Rating, but this appears to be a typo.
  10. Mining: Toughness grants 480 Stamina.

Just from looking at the above, you can immediately see that Blacksmithing is by far the biggest contributor at 640 stats, adding even more when epic gems come out. After that Skinning, Engineering, and Alchemy all look to be so close that there’s no real disadvantage to taking one over the other. The rest of the professions kind of lag behind.

So if you’re a total min-maxing kind of a player, you better start levelling Blacksmithing now. After that you can pick whatever suits your needs the best. For the rest of the Guardians out there, it won’t really matter what professions you pick, but I’d stay away from Herbalism.

Hello Guardians,

Just a quick update this week.

The first (and really only) major change is how Vengeance works. There’s been a series of blue posts about it, and I won’t block copy the entire thing. So if you’re interested the original post from GC is here. There’s some follow up posts afterwards but basically it boils down to implementing a new form of Vengeance caluclated thusly:

0.02 * UnmitigatedDamage + OldVengeance * OldVengeanceSecondsRemaining / 20

The important thing to note here is this formula is actually recursive. Each piece of damage (I’m assuming) is treated individually with its own timestamp. As that piece of Vengeance ages, it also decays becoming worth less and less as time goes on. If you dodge an attack (ie. UnmitigatedDamage = 0) then no aging occurs. They’ve also since added other forms of damage that normally bypass armor (such as Bleeds and Magic Damage) to this calculation.

Basically this means 2 things:

  1. Your damage dealt will now depend more on what kind of content you are doing as opposed to what your gear is.
  2. Frenzied Regeneration will now properly scale with content.

The first point seems to be a casualty of making the second possible. Other people like Theck aren’t particularly thrilled with this idea, but I can understand why it was done. In order to split out DPS from survivability for Tanks, some other stat has to be invented to scale existing abilities (Frenzied Regen, Shield Barrier, Word of Glory, Guard). Not only that, but that stat has to be visible and intuitive to the player. Obviously Blizzard decided the costs of doing so far outweighed the benefits. I kind of agree with them.

For those wondering, the resulting formula for Frenzied Regeneration looks like this:

Frenzied Regeneration at 60 rage: max(2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5)

As a result of the new form of Vengeance, and the new Frenzied Regeneration formula both Agility and Stamina took a gigantic hit in terms of value for our AM abilities. The only benefit Agility gives is now is the 10% from the AP raid buff. Stamina does nothing other than provide a floor value. Of course Agility still provides Crit and Dodge, so nothing changes in terms of modelling Savage Defense. However the drastic DPS increase also suddenly increases the value of Nature’s Vigil. Whether or not Nature’s Vigil has returned to the top of the food chain remains to be seen.

Other than that the only news to report is that I’ve finally started working on Rawr with Hinalover. Stay tuned for more news on that front.