Monday, December 22, 2008

Signs of Quality

Back in Classic there was an adage, if it’s good enough to raid in, it’s good enough to enchant. At least I’m told that was an adage in classic since I didn’t get my WoW start until BC. Speaking of BC, we added, not only should the gear be enchanted you better gem them, with a minimum of blue gems. This combined with the revered requirement for Heroics and the daunting at first Kara key chain ensured that random strangers in your pug or raid probably knew what they were doing.

Now comes wrath and no keys or attunements to speak of. (Violet Hold doesn’t count, all you do is talk to a guy). You can brag all you want in trade and display your epeen to the world, but actions speak louder than words.

So what are the little things you can do to show you’re serious about raiding? Start with the adage. If you plan on raiding or doing heroics, make sure every item is enchanted and armor kits don’t count. Put the good chants on, even if you expect to replace the item soon. Remember every wipe costs the entire group gold. So a little extra gold up front on everyone’s part will save repair bills in the long run. Gem your gear appropriately including activating your meta gem. Now I’m the first to admit my DPS boots I got Saturday only have a green gem in them. I haven’t found a Balanced or Sovereign Twilights Opal yet to slot in them.

Speaking of Rep, or the lack of needing it. You should still be chasing it down for better gear. That means wearing a tabard when you run a dungeon. Since your collecting rep for gear, make sure you have halfway decent gear to begin with. Starting at level 78 there is some great BoE craftables for all classes not to mention you should be getting some nice quest chain and dungeon blues. After all, if you can’t even make the effort to complete some full chains or run a regular dungeon, why should someone expect you’ll make the effort to perform on their raid?

Lastly, speaking of performance, you want to demonstrate that in your achievements. If you want someone to pug you in on their Heroic Naxx and you don’t even have any dungeon achievements under your belt it’s not going to happen.

In a way this sort of turned into a reverse PuG survival guide. All of these actions indicate you are a quality player that is worth taking on a run and separate you from the scrubs, wannabes, and ebayers. Like Momma always said, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Take some pride and demonstrate some quality.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Talent Spec Discussion post Heroic Naxx

Since I scored a Naxx 25 run last night I’ve been doing some critical reviews of my talent spec. Overall I am very happy with it, but I think I can do better in the DPS department without sacrificing my ability to tank and especially AOE tank. The second aim of this post is to discuss some talents I did not take and why I didn’t think their value weighed enough to drop something else.

Keep in mind I am not looking for a pure DPS build. In no way do I want to sacrifice my ability to tank. In a small guild like Chaos Brewing where there is only two tanks, we can’t afford to lose either one of them. Plus I do prefer tanking.

I may also contradict some of my earlier statements here and on various forums. I am OK with that, as I have had the opportunity to observe and test things in more situations. Learnings are never static.

I will break the remainder down into three sections. One, talents I want to pick up and why. Two, talents I will sacrifice to get what I want and why. Three, other talents considered and why I still haven’t taken them.

In last nights run the other two DKs both had Gargoyles and those added up to 6-10% of their overall damage, much higher on boss fights where it counts. Therefore this is probably one of the largest bang for your buck talents at 1 point.

I have seen enough fights where the magic damage is insane and therefore 1 point in Anti-Magic Zone will definitely pay dividends.

The other talent I want to pick up is 2 points in Unholy Aura. So many of the fights require lots of movement, providing yourself and the raid a 15% movement bonus will allow more melee dps time, and less overall damage as people are able to move out of the shit that kills them even faster.

And for fun, I took one point in corpse explosion. So many of the boss fights have adds that there will always be corpses laying around for some additional AOE output. Not to mention this is being buffed in 3.08.

So I need to come up with 5 talent points from somewhere else. I identified Impurity as my sacrificial target. Impurity impacts your spells, which are Icy Touch and Deathcoil. The only reason I cast Icy Touch is to get frost fever so lowering its damage isn’t a big sacrifice. Recount shows DC as 6.3% of my damage output in heroic naxx, why nerf it? Simple, the only reason I was tossing so many Deathcoils is I needed someway to burn off my Runic Power. Unholy Blight was over 10% of my damage and I had it up almost all the time and still had tons of left over RP. That’s where the gargoyle comes in. While on DPS duty I can’t dump RP into runestrikes and on bosses I know that the Gargoyle will add more overall damage than I’ll lose with deathcoils. Not to mention I will still be able to toss a few when the garg is on cooldown.

That leaves talents I haven’t taken that might have value.

The first one is Butchery, 2 rp per 5 seconds in a fight adds up to a lot of runic power, but the fact is I’m having trouble burning it fast enough as it is, so I have ignored this talent.

Two-Handed weapon Specialization still looks nice but I still think the additional 2% crit that I would lose from dark conviction to get this outweighs the 4% increase in weapon damage. I’ll continue to monitor EJ to see if there is a definitive statement on this.

Improved Icy Touch has a mitigation benefit of reducing boss attack speed. So far I just haven’t tanked an encounter where I needed this additional mitigation. Perhaps if I were main tanking Patchwerk 25 this would be required. But I’m not. I tank him in normal mode eventually.

Along those same lines I can’t justify the three additional points in frost to get Lichborne for the additional oh shit button that it provides.

Virulence increases the hit on Icy Touch and deathcoil. I’ve already said I don’t expect to use DC much so not a lot of help there and even with my 194 hit I only missed 5.4% of my Icy touches over the course of the entire night. I can’t justify spending points here.

Ravenous dead would be nice for the additional strength and ghoul survivability but necrosis and blood caked blade are just too valuable to scale back on.

Outbreak pumps the damage on three attacks that just don’t do a lot of damage to begin with. 3 points in here would increase my overall DPS by 1.4%. I can’t find 3 points I’d be willing to lose mitigation on or that already do less than 1.4% of DPS to move into here.

Desecration is also a great talent on paper and the other Unholy DK we brought in for Noth had this. But the fact is we were running all over the place. There were very few boss fights that did not require a lot of movement and frankly I’d rather have the magic mitigation from magic suppression than a part time 5% damage increase.

Night of the dead has been getting some love in the EJ Unholy DPS thread. When stupid dies, just pop another, why sacrifice 250 dps for 5 minutes? It’s a good question but I’d either lose the utility of Unholy Aura or lose mitigation. Therefore no NoD for me.

The last talent I am missing out on is Wandering Plague. Ostensibly this will increase the AOE damage I put out. But I am still concerned from a DPS perspective of being able to control my AOE damage. There are fights such as Faerlinna where you don’t want to damage the adds and this talent might cause you to do that.

So here is my new talent spec I’ll be running with. I pick up more utility, mitigation, and damage overall. As I continue to run heroics and raids I’ll keep a critical eye out on the performance of this spec and modify it accordingly.

Naxx 25

So I log in for some unexpected saturday night play and get an invite to DPS Naxx 25. Would you say no? Neither did I. What an opportunity to test whether my tanking/dps spec hybrid could actually dish out the pain. I slapped my DPS gear on and went to work.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I knocked out a couple of achievements.

Yup, three bosses down. Picked up my first emblem of Valor in the process.

We also made some progress on the Plague Quarter which made for a 4 badge night.

The holy pally from my guild made the run as well and was the only one in there. All the other pallies were ret and prot. Needless to say she did well when two pally healing plate drops happened. I didn't do too bad myself. As you can see, I picked up some nice DPS boots that I probably won't replace until blizzard releases more content. These fell off the first boss we took on which was Anub'Rekhan.

There were a few other drops that I would have liked but I had to pass since I already won something. C'est la vie. Loot is nice but at the end of the day it is the ability to perform and clear content that I'm interested in.

So how did I perform? I'd say pretty damn well since this was the first raid I've taken this toon on. I know there are DK's out there who claim 3.5k to 4.k dps and good for them. I'm still mostly in dungeon blues and a couple heroic epics. That said, overall I rocked the 25 man charts for a first run. There I am in number 4 position with 2250 DPS. However, it was very clear to me there are two things from a DPS perspective that would have really helped increase what I was capable of.

The first is obviously more hit. I'm somewhere in the 160 range in my DPS gear and that led to 24% glancing blows on the last Arachnid quarter boss Maexxna. That said, I was still 3rd on the meter on that fight and I was webbed against the wall once.

The second, as DPS on 5 minute plus fights I know the Gargoyle would have really rocketed me up the charts. On the last fight we brought in another DK who had the gargoyle and even though I'm better geared his overall damage on the fight calling in the gargoyle twice was greater than mine. Perhaps I might drop one point in Dark Conviction to pick one up for nights like this.

We only had 2 wipes, one on Faerlina and one on Noth. On Faerlina, its a good idea to put your ghoul away. Midway through the fight it decided to go attack the adds instead of staying on the boss which is a no no in that battle.

Heroic Naxx was a lot of fun and I can't wait until my guild finishes leveling everyone for 10 man Naxx. Its easy to enjoy the big runs when you don't have to plan them and deal with all the headaches.