Archive for the ‘Wrath of the Lich King’ Category

The idea of shaman tanking in Cataclysm doesn’t seem to be popular at MMO-Champion, or on the official boards.

But some people are asking: Why the hell is Blizzard giving us taunts and threat-generating abilities in some of our revamped skills and talents?

Here’s the tooltip for Rockbiter Weapon:

Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with the fury of the earth, increasing all threat generation by 30% and reducing damage taken by 5%. Lasts 30 minutes.
( Unleash Weapon : Unleashing this enchantment forces the target enemy to attack you for 5 sec. )

Aside from the fact that few people are going to be doing any serious content with Rockbiter as their weapon imbue, why bother giving a DPS spec a threat-generating ability?

Some point to nebulous rumors about a return to mandatory crowd control and kiting in heroic dungeons, and they argue that with the re-balanced Stamina pools, Shamans might be viable tanks or off-tanks. But that line of thinking got shot down pretty quickly:
“Shaman are not tanks. They are balancing out health pools between dps and healers and casters with *plate dps*, but not tanks’ health pools. Tanks will still have a higher health pool and more tools to mitigate damage than plate dps will.”

Of course, with re-adjusted health pools, forging, gems and careful use of talents, some players are guaranteed to try Shaman tanking, out of boredom if anything else. I tried it a few times myself, including a short-lived and hilarious – but semi-successful – stint as an off-tank on a Karazhan run a few years ago.

But one thing’s for sure – Shaman players don’t want to be tanks, and they’d rather have Blizzard’s designers use development time to fine-tune Enhancement as a DPS spec, rather than make a half-hearted stab at situational tank viability.

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What’s the first thing you’d do after a five-month hiatus?

I headed out for a test drive. After picking up the Black Bruise and Keleseth’s Seducer in April, a new job and new time constraints meant I had no more time for raiding, and I decided to take a break.

When I logged in last night and checked the character pane, I saw the icons and remembered: Hey, I’ve got a pair of bad-ass fist weapons here!

Some old-school friends were starting up a late 10-man ICC run, and we ran a quick six-boss gauntlet. Here are the numbers:

Gear Score: 5784

DPS: 9772.3

Buffs: Improved Might, Kings, MotW (scroll), Fish Feast, Intellect, no flask.

For half the raid, it was an alt run, so the context may be a bit skewed. The 9777 DPS was good for second on the meter, behind a very solid Elemental Shaman friend who has a heroic weapon and the four-piece set bonus.

Which I still don’t have. But, hey, Cataclysm might be here in less than two months, so what’s the worry?

In this week’s Totem Talk, Rich Malloy points out using Shock and Awe’s priority system as a guide for our DPS rotation “is a net DPS loss for experienced Enhancement players.”

I’ll take it one step further and point out it’s a net loss for everybody.

Shaman priority system

Windfury: The ultimate priority.

We’ve had quite a few posts on this subject, and I’ve repeated it like a mantra — there is no DPS rotation. While the guys over at Elitist Jerks take math to the extremes (bless their hearts) and tweak on down to the fraction level, it’s been established since early in the expansion that the beautiful new synergy between melee and casting gave us a unique system that couldn’t be simplified in terms of macros or “rotations.”

Simply put, you can’t be lazy when playing this spec, and macros are only going to hurt your DPS contribution to your raid. While that’s fine for heroics and older tiers, DPS spots for current tiers are almost always competitive, especially at the 10-man level. In a 25-man there are always a few spots for people to get “carried” through content…but do you really want to be that guy?

For my own set-up, I use Shock-and-Awe for one thing: to flash a small bar bright red and give me an audio cue when Maelstrom Weapon reaches five stacks.

That’s really all the help I need for rotation-specific, real time information. I stick to the standard priority system otherwise, and DBM takes care of my other split-second information needs. Everything else is purely cosmetic, and my personal preference has always been a clean UI — I find clutter only increases my chances of missing something critical and letting the raid down.

If Enhancement players were the type of people who are bothered by having to do extra work, we wouldn’t have rolled Shamans. After all, easy as it is to forget, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we had to set up each individual totem on every pull. Hunters, Warlocks and Mages don’t have to do that, and they can open up as soon as the threat numbers look favorable.

Maybe we’re spoiled by the revamped totem system. Or maybe — and this is my suspicion — the awesomeness of the Enhancement spec in Wrath has lured in players who might otherwise have specced Elemental or Resto, or rolled a different class altogether.

But I try to look at it this way — the more control over DPS abilities we have, the bigger the upside if we work hard. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

Who will benefit most from Cataclysm’s revamped Stamina system? Some say casters will dominate, others say healers stand to gain the most, but one poster put it best: “Anyone who’s not a Warrior, DK or Paladin.”

In other words, if your class doesn’t wear plate, you’ll see a marked improvement in Stamina balance. And that includes Enhancement Shamans.

Enhancement Shaman Stamina: Improved in Cataclysm?

Stamina Man runs, like Enhancement Shamans do when they see splash damage!

It’s still early, and many questions remain about the overall statistical rehaul, but Eyonix offered the most comprehensive information to date when he detailed the changes back in March.

And while Eyonix was quick to point out special considerations will be made for Balance Druids and Elemental Shamans, who often share gear with healers, curiously absent was any mention of Enhancement’s unique situation: It is the only melee spec in the game forced to share gear with a ranged class.

Along with Enhancement’s other itemization woes — which typically involve using gear made-to-order for Hunters — the melee-spec-with-ranged-gear problem has been a big one in this expansion. Every semi-serious Enhancement player has dealt with it: Some boss abilities, especially in heroic modes, can one-shot Enhancement Shamans, while leaving other melee still standing. This is a particularly frustrating issue for players because it has nothing to do with the much-discussed “skill” involved in raiding.

It’s simple math: If you have 30k raid-buffed HP, and the other melee have 10k more than you, you are going to die more easily and more frequently.

Not only does that effect player perception (a death is a death, and players of other classes aren’t thinking about our criminally low HP pools), it also creates some absurd situations: In my guild, there are ranged classes and healers who have higher unbuffed HP than my Tauren Shaman.

Blizzard hasn’t addressed those concerns in Wrath of the Lich King, let alone Cataclysm. It seems unfathomable that an entire expansion can pass by with such a glaring imbalance left intact, but it’s less surprising when you consider the dev team’s track record when it comes things like this — it’s been obvious for a very long time that class designers do not play the Enhancement spec.

So while there will be a complete rehaul of the stat system and Stamina balance in Cataclysm, there’s been nothing to suggest Enhancement won’t again share gear with Hunters. If that remains the case — and we should assume it will — what does that mean for Enhancement’s health pool relative to other melee classes? Will our joy at a more balanced Stamina system be tempered with disappointment because we’re, once again, limited by stat weights optimized for Hunters?

Stomstrike — and Enhancement players — will be watching Blizzard closely in the coming weeks and months.

What’s up with Stormstrike?

After a nearly six-month hiatus from the game, it’s back to Northrend — to finish out the storyline, to see the expansion through and to relive the Old World one last time before the much-anticipated sundering throws everything in upheaval.

And while we’ve still got a lot to discuss before the new expansion drops — the Ruby Sanctum, ICC heroic modes and other great content — now seems like a good time to discuss how Cataclysm will change the class and spec we all love.

Stay tuned for a fresh round of commentary, interviews and discussion on the end of Wrath and the beginning of the Cataclysm.

Hostess: Dean, Amy, I just sat you.Waiter: Oh, sh!t. What do we got?
Hostess: Well, yours are cool. They look like business people.
Waiter: All right.
Waitress: What about mine?
Hostess: I don’t know. They don’t speak English.
Waitress: Foreigners!
Hostess: I’m sorry.
Waitess: Are you mad at me?
Hostess: No, I swear! I’m just going by the rotation.
Waitress: I f*cking hate foreigners! It’s such bullsh!t!
Hostess: Like they don’t know how to tip?
Waitress: Oh, they know.
Waiter: Aw, yeah, they f*cking know!

Waiting: WoW's Bad Tippers

"100g tip for a couple gem cuts? Sweet."

The above quote is from the movie Waiting, a comedy about a TGI Fridays-esque chain restaurant called Shenaniganz. As expected, the waiters and waitresses spend a lot of time bitching about tips, but there’s one group in particular they dread most — foreigners.

In the film, five or six Europeans sit down at a booth and pretend they don’t speak a word of English, presenting themselves as tourists who aren’t familiar with the American custom of tipping for service.

As crafters on every server can attest, some World of Warcraft players aren’t much different when it comes to tipping the people who make or enhance their gear. In one way, WoW’s bad tippers are worse than the foreigners in Waiting — you can see the Europeans coming, but Azeroth’s bad tippers don’t look any different from their better-tipping brethren.

Although real money is not at stake when it comes to in-game tipping, bad tips can influence player behavior — why would a crafter keep a BoE pattern if they’re getting paltry tips on big-ticket items? If they know from past experience they’re not going to recoup the going price of the pattern by crafting an item, why not just sell off the pattern?

Those were questions I asked myself a few months back, when I accumulated four Trial of the Crusader patterns for iLevel 245 gear and hadn’t ‘learned’ them yet. If I can get upwards of 5k for each of these patterns, I thought, is it really worth it to keep them for crafting?

As it turned out, it hasn’t been worth it. That’s a lesson I should have learned back in The Burning Crusade.

An example: Recently a Hunter had me craft a Crusader’s Dragonscale Breastplate. He had me travel to Undercity to meet him, kept me waiting for about 10 minutes as he finished buying off the materials, stood there eagerly while I hit the ‘create’ button, and ended the transaction by tipping a whopping 5g. Five gold is cool if I’m converting some Borean Leather into Heavy Borean for you, or if your level 50-something alt wants a Blue Dragonscale Breastplate. But if you’re asking a crafter to make you a near best-in-slot item that requires thousands of gold in mats, and you make that person travel to — and then wait for — you to gather up mats, you should tip them well.

"I like to swim in my guild bank's second tab."

I can’t help but notice how, on my server, there are a handful of people Horde-side who I’d consider completists when it comes to patterns and plans, while the rest seem content to max their crafting skill, make a few items for themselves and call it a day.

Around the same time as the above example, I had a player craft Crusader’s Dragonscale Bracers for me. I bought two of the Crusader Orbs with emblems, paid up the nose for the other two, and presented the mats with a 150g tip, which I still felt was kinda low despite my depleted in-game finances. Likewise, if I bring three epic gems to a jewelcrafter, I usually tip around 60g, or a little more than 20g per cut. I haven’t gotten any complaints, and I hope the crafters I deal with are happy.

Should we, as players, be tipping 15% or 20% on crafted items, as if we were settling the tab at a diner? No. A tip of 1k gold on an item that costs less than 6k to craft is problably excessive for most people, although if you’re one of those players sitting on more gold than Scrooge McDuck, you could make a crafter very, very happy that way. (I know one guy who was the GM of a large raid guild, and he claims he’s got more than 100k.)

Tips should reflect the value of the item being crafted, its rarity, its power, and the good faith of the crafter who learned it instead of selling it off at the Auction House. If a crafter makes a grand total of 15 Bracers of Swift Death, and she receives an average 10g tip for each of those bracers, the fact that she could have earned thousands more gold by selling the pattern will not elude her.

And while it’s true that every pattern sold through the Auction House finds its way into the possession of another crafter, those might not be the same folks who hang around in Dalaran or Orgrimmar for hours, offering their services in trade chat. Some people view crafting as a minigame itself, and it’s much better to have a reliable, frequently-available crafter on your friend’s list than it is to chase down a player who’s always in an instance or out farming somewhere away from civilization.

Of course, as in the real world, if you receive bad service you can choose to reduce your tip, or not tip at all. In the service industry, customers use their wallets to provide feedback. But if you’re happy with the transaction? Next time you excitedly gather up the mats for a big-ticket item and bring them to a friendly crafter for a key enchant or piece of gear, put yourself in their shoes and show your appreciation in gold. Like a bartender, they won’t forget you, and next time you need something they’re more likely to go out of their way to help you.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer