Greetings Bears!

As Arielle said recently, I will now be writing weekly articles having to do with 25 man raiding, and more specifically how guardians fit into it. Even if you don’t raid 25 mans, this will probably still be relevant to you in some way, shape or form (loldruidpun), so keep reading!

In this first episode of the newly named “25 Man WENSdays”, I will be talking about 25 man tanking in general, sort of a “this is probably really obvious, but you should know it anyways” quick and dirty guide. There are a lot of really simple things you can do as a tank in a 25 man to help your group kill more dragons.

Organization

One of the long-maligned aspects of 25 man raiding is the increased amount of organization required to run a raid. Whether you like it or not, getting 25 people to show up, follow mechanics, and generally work as a team is a lot of work. Ideally, your guild has a GM and Officers to take charge of these tasks, but as a tank you can still do your bit to make the raid run smoother. Here are some tips:

  1. Make a pull timer macro. As a tank you are almost always the one doing the pull. While a countdown in vent/mumble is helpful, it is not nearly as accurate as a timer or countdown in the game itself. Personally I use /dbm pull for an easy 10 second timer, but add-ons like OptiTaunt and RSA work as well. Being on top of ready checking and pulling will save your raid valuable time.
  2. Always talk with your hunters about MDs. Don’t waste your officer’s time with this. Talk to your hunters ahead of time about who needs MD on the pull or for spawning adds.
  3. If you know you will need externals at some point in time, tell your healers. Don’t wait until 5 seconds before you need them to call it out. Whisper your healers and those with external CDs far in advance so you have one less thing to worry about during the fight.
  4. Review strategy with your co-tank. When a dps makes a mistake, often it just means a dead dps. But when you mess up a tank swap it often means a wipe. ALWAYS ALWAYS be crystal clear about what exact duties you and your co-tank have, so that during the fight you don’t have to think about it, you can just do it. Bosses like Feng and Stone Guard are perfect examples of this. Take the extra minute before a boss to make sure you won’t have problems down the road.
  5. If the fight allows for it, let your raid leader know when you are available to Tranq. It doesn’t always heal much, but when combined with other raid CDs, every bit helps. The same applies to Innervates. Talk to your tank healers and ask them if they want your Vate. They probably do.
  6. If the raid leader calls a wipe, then wipe. Shift out of bear and sit there. Every second you spend wiping is a second wasted.

Communication

One of the hallmarks of a good tank is somebody who can communicate efficiently and clearly. In 25 mans where a lot is happening at the same time, you often don’t have much time to make the calls you need to. Focus on conveying as much information in as few words as possible, or if you don’t need to vocally call something out, then have another way of telling the raid.

  1. This probably goes without saying, but you really need a mic to tank. Your job is too important for you to be silent. Trying to type in the middle of an encounter is usually incredibly inefficient. You don’t have to say much to be effective, but you do need to talk a little.
  2. ALWAYS ALWAYS call out tank swaps. If you raid 25 mans, you will have noticed how hard some of the bosses hit. If you taunt the boss and don’t let your healers know, you can be in some serious trouble if they aren’t paying attention. What I always do is just say “Wens taunting in 3, 2, 1, taunting”. That way healers have time to get HoTs up on you and get ready to heal you.
  3. Either macro in or find an add-on to announce your CD usage. Even in 25 mans with a plethora of raid and single-target CDs, you always want to let your healers know when you use your Survival Instincts. For them, that could mean the difference between wasting an external on you, or even just the mana from casting a more efficient heal. Either way, you are helping your raid.
  4. If you are in charge of making encounter specific calls, keep them brief and to the point. An example: instead of saying “that jasper dude is empowered now, you can break chains if you get them”, say “jasper empowered, break chains now”. This is obviously a really small difference, but i can guarantee the clearer your vent/mumble is, the better your raiders will perform.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for an emergency CD. Between 5 healers and any number of dps, you will almost always have something available. If you think you need it, ask for it. Much better to waste a CD than die because you didn’t bother to ask.

Playing to Your Strengths

Everything I said up there is all nice and good, but it means nothing if you can’t physically perform. Here’s a little catch-phase of mine: “Always set yourself up to succeed. If you don’t think you can win, you probably won’t.” Preparation is half the battle. For raiding in general, not just 25 mans, there is so much you ca do before the raid even starts to help out your raid.

  1. Know the fights. Know the fights. Know the fights. Know the fights. See how I said that 4 times? Know the fights. Just know them. And not just your jobs. Know when the shadow pools on Spirit Kings are respawning so you can correctly position the boss. Know when the Rages on Will are spawning so you can throw an emergency Mass Root if needed. Know that on Stone Guard you can soak a Cobalt Mine with SI to clear space for your melee. The more you know, the better chance you have. There are so many sources of information, it is pretty stupid to not take advantage of them.
  2. Have a functional UI. There are four things every tank UI pretty much needs.
    a) Health/Resource tracking. You need to be super aware of your health/rage/SD status. Personally I think WeakAuras is the best for this, but it’s up to you.
    b) Raid Frames. Always know the health status of your raid and more importantly your co-tank.
    c) CD availability. Always know what you have up for when the bear poop hits the fan.
    d) Enough clear space to see the fight. If your UI is too crammed and you can’t see what is happening in the fight, you have a problem. You always have to know what is going on.
  3. Have a rudimentary knowledge of other classes, and more specifically the other tanking classes. Know how their AM works, and know their strengths and weaknesses as well as you know your own. Some tanks are better at some things than others. Prot pallies are really strong on Feng. Druids are wicked good at Will of the Emperor. If at all possible, try to build your strategy around those strengths and give yourself the best shot of succeeding.

All of these tips are relatively minor, but if you fit them all in, you can go from being the tank who gets brought to most of the raids to the tank who your RL will actively try to get in every single time. Our job is undeniably filled with stresses, but if you work to overcome them it is also undeniably rewarding. Always remember that the time and energy of 24 other people sometimes reside on your shoulders, so be confident and trust in yourself and your abilities and you will come out on top and hopefully enjoy yourself.

Hello Guardians!

I know we haven’t been doing that much in the way of blog posting in the past couple of months. I’d like to attribute this to a couple of things:

  • Guide Writing
  • World of Dailycraft
  • Many other awesome games to play
  • RL

However, now that most of that is out of the way, it’s time to settle down with some regular updates. I’ve talked this over with Wens, and we think we’ve come up with a schedule that will be pretty awesome for you as the readers.

  1. Mondays: Mondays are going to be your “News This Week” posts. I should usually have at least something to talk about, whether it’s news related or just fluff. This will usually be posted after my raid time, late at night (10pm+ PST).
  2. Wednesdays: With Reesi’s retirement from tanking (she main-switched to a Spriest), Wens will be taking up the 25m content. Every Wednesday he’ll be talking about something related to 25m raiding content for Guardians. I don’t know what his topics will be, but I’m confident he can think of something :)
  3. Fridays: Since I still raid 10m, I will be talking about 10m content on Fridays. On weeks that I record the Team Waffle Podcast this will probably go up later as opposed to earlier.
  4. Low Level Guardians: Reesi has kind of adopted low-level Guardian tanking as her pet-project, so I suspect we will see more from her in this regard as time goes on.
  5. Emergency Posts: This is mostly for patch notes, or something that is so drastic that you need to know about it RIGHT FUCKING NOW. These will happen ASAP when I determine it is necessary. Probably not that often though.

So since it is Monday, what is our news?

Windsong Enchant Hotfix

The Windsong weapon enchant (and Elemental Force, but who cares about that) has been hotfixed to, well, be better. The stat buff gained is still random, however the proc rate has been drastically changed. I’ve included a mathematical description from the post made by Daxxarri earlier today:

For example, if you have 22% Haste, it was 1.4sec since the last chance to proc, and you’ve got Windsong, then the chance to proc is 2(ppm) * 1.22(haste) * 1.4(time since last chance) / 60 (sec per min) = 5.693%.

Note the phrase “since the last chance to proc“. This means that the proc rate is dependant on the amount of time that has elapsed since eligible events have occured. No hard info yet whether or not this includes things like Frenzied Regeneration or a Nature’s Vigil heal – which could yield multiple proc events per second – or not. In any case this ends up being a net buff. Windsong is easily the best enchant now for RPS. Dancing steel is still better for overall TDR, but from my experience thus far – especially on Elegon – TDR doesn’t actually mean anything except against purely melee bosses.

This means that Windsong is likely to end up being your weapon enchant of choice for most of the expansion. I’ll be updating the guide to reflect this.

Heart of the Wild

So the thing that practically everyone had been saying would happen (including myself, Hamlet, Alaron, Tinderhoof, Lissanna etc.) will finally happen tomorrow. The gains you receive for switching to a DPS form while under Heart of the Wild will be cut substantially.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, since it’s been public knowledge what their efficiency targets were for months now. After the round of changes late in the beta when HotW was significantly over-buffed it was only a matter of time until it got brought back down again.

As a Guardian, this should have little-to-no impact on whether or not you pick this talent. NV is better for survival and DPS anyway if timed correctly. Not only that, but the only fight with any significant downtime that I’ve done thus far is Gara’jal, and even that isn’t 45 seconds long. Full text of the nerf below:

The spell damage bonus that Heart of the Wild provides to Feral and Guardian Druids will soon be reduced from +500% to +320%.

The agility bonus that Heart of the Wild provides to Balance, Restoration, and Guardian Druids in Cat Form will soon be changed to +110%. It was previously +50% for Guardian Druids, and +200% for Balance and Restoration Druids.

DMF Ox Deck Buff

After being woefully useless for a couple of weeks, the DMF Ox (ie. tanking) deck is suddenly substantially more attractive. A bundle of Stamina was added to it, making it a very useful survival trinket on top of the on-use effect. While you will still replace it as a survival trinket with a VP or raid item, if you have the capability to pick it up now it would definitely help you in the short term.

Vengeance Hotfix

Vengeance was changed to now stack on avoided basic melee attacks. This means you no longer have to purposely not press Savage Defense in order to gain Vegeance. Full text below:

Vengeance should now ramp up more quickly. Avoidance will now grant Vengeance based on the average damage of the avoided NPC auto-attack, instead of just refreshing existing Vengeance. This does not apply to enemy special attacks.

Introductions!

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.

Except…

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: http://theincbear.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=697.

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 ^.^