Archive for March, 2010


Last night I took my new pally tank on a badge farming  run with two other  newly 80 alts in the guild; a mage whose main is a priest and a priest whose main is a prot pally. None of us were very geared (well, mine is getting there) and we had a blast, ran about 8 instances and had a ball.

Toward the end, the priest who is a prot pally go in Vent and started chatting with me. He remarked how easy I was to heal and that he was trying hard not to bubble me since I get mana back from direct heals, and then we chatted about prot pally spec and techniques. He looked over my talents, said that they were not quite cookie-cutter but he could see why I’d used the build I did, and then suggested a few changes and exactly why I’d benefit. We ended up talking for a while. Reversion got into the action when we started comparing pally and druid tanking, and it was a great conversation. I ended up re-speccing slightly, changing some of my gearing priorities, and coming away with an even better understanding of paladins.

Mentoring discussions like that are great helps to those of us with alts, who know how to play WoW but are new to a class. And they’re fun when we’re on the teaching end too. It can be hard to give advice to a guildie or random pugger, but when you find someone who wants to learn, give them the benefit of your experience.  My paladin is pulling over 2k dps in most heroics right now, and my gear score is still “low” for today’s standards. I’m hoping to find a group that will let me off-tank Patchwerk for this week’s raid quest and thanks to my guildmate, I’m even more prepared now.

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As mentioned in this post leveling as a duo is a lot of fun. But not all duos are created equal. I am going to talk for the next few posts about each class and what they bring (or don’t bring) to a leveling pair.

Warriors are one of the two classes, with death knights, that every race can be. This makes them a sort of default or baseline. It is not too complicated a class for a new player to learn, hence it is one certainly worth considering in a duo.

As we all no doubt know a Warrior is a melee mail/plate wearer. They are also one of the four tank classes. I mean of course end game tank classes. Several other classes are viable for leveling tanking.
The warrior brings several things to a duo.

Solid Sustained DPS
The Warrior runs off of rage. Because of these they never have to stop to drink and recharge. In fact, since rage drains away over time, they do better by simply charging fight to fight with reckless abandon. This helps a duo by keeping your dps from dropping to zero (as might happen when a dual caster pair goes OOM).

Even if not tank specced a warrior is pretty rugged. By changing to their defensive stance and equipping a shield they can trade dps for durability. Also, as a tanking class, they have several ‘oh crap’ cooldowns that make them even more durable for a short period of time. These features bring to a duo the ability to survive situations that might kill a softer pair.

Taunts & threat control
Even when not specced as a pure tank, warriors have abilities to generate extra threat on command. They can also perform taunts which instantly put them at the top of a mob’s threat list. This is very handy in a duo to pull beasties off the softer classes.

Moderate stuns

Warriors have no real crowd control but they do have a few abilities that that can stun or slow a target. This is sometimes handy for stopping a runner, or lowering the incoming damage.

Charge and light duty pulling
Warriors have several abilities that charge at a target at high speed. They also have the ability to shoot ranged weapons. This gives them a few options for starting fights or getting into them fast. Many classes have similar things but this is something that they add to a leveling pair so it is worth mentioning.

So what do all those things mean when combined with specific other classes? Let’s run down them.

Rogue + Warrior
The rogue warrior combo puts out plenty of damage. The pair has very high DPS on singles targets but is very limited on AOE. They have good ability to control when and where a fight takes place and a moderate ability to survive an ‘oh crap’ situation. ‘Oh Crap’ can be anything from someone getting aggro who did not plan to, someone going OOM, someone dying suddenly, or accidentally aggroing extra mobs.
Because this pair IS going to take some damage and has no healing at all it is highly recommended that one or both partners level their cooking and first aid. Having one be an alchemist might be a good idea too.

Hunter + Warrior
This group also has high damage. They also have two options for tanking. There are other things the hunter brings but I will cover those in a ‘hunter pairs’ post later. This group will have moderate AOE and very high single target damage. This group has a lot of aggro control and very good ability to survive ‘oh crap’ situations.
They still have no healing, unless the pet is doing all the tanking, which is viable. But it is still recommended that one or both do cooking or first aid.

Mage + Warrior

Very high damage until the mage is out of mana. The warrior’s presence, if they know how to tank, allows the mage to go hog wild with dps. This means this group has good burst damage but their sustained damage is a bit less. This is a very complimentary pair as the mage brings a lot of tricks and the warrior lets him survive (hopefully) using those tricks. This group has a lot of good options in ‘of crap’ situations.
Still no healing but the mage brings magic food so that helps offset the damage the warrior is tanking and keeps  you grinding longer. The mage has to drink a lot so the warrior might get bored but the Warrior can protect a mage that is OOM.

Warlock + Warrior

This combo is similar to the mage and hunter combos. Good DPS, other tanking options, and extra tricks for certain situations. There is also decent AOE at higher levels. I know less about ‘locks than other classes so I can’t elaborate much here.
Food/healing is still a problem so one of you needs to take cooking or first aid.

Priest + Warrior

Heals! A healer + warrior combo can outlast a lot of situations. Durability with this pair is very high. Bubbles and dual fears also mean it can survive a lot of ‘oh crap’ situations. However, based on spec the better the heals and tanking the lower the dps, and mana eventually runs out. So, while this pair can survive a lot, when they over reach and go down, they go down hard. This pair will have to die a few times to learn their limitations. The warrior will have to learn to pace things so they don’t die when the priest runs dry.
This group will have lower DPS than other groups. Offsetting this drawback will be instance running. Having a dedicated tank and healer means this pair can get into an instance any time and be almost guaranteed a successful run (once the two players learn effective tanking and healing).

Shaman + Warrior

This is a pretty solid combo. The Shammy brings a nice spread of buffs, many that are good for melee combat, and totems that can be adapted for the situation at hand. This  plus healing gives the pair very good ability to survive unexpected situations. This is a pair that can be either specced for extreme durability or solid damage output, depending on play style.

Druid + Warrior

This pair is much like the Shaman/Warrior one. Very good damage, high adaptability, and some nice buffs. Differences in spec can also make this group range from a dual dps pair to a tank/healer pair, or some hybrid in between.

Pally + Warrior

This pair is again, like the previous two. Lots of tankability with some heals. Many options, especially at 40 with dual spec. Nice buffs and the potential for either aoe or burst damage.

NOTE: for all three of these pairs you should consider if you want the warrior or the pally/druid/sham to ‘tank’. Also with all three pairs figuring out how much you plan to level through LFG will play a big role in how you want to spec them out.

Warrior + Warrior

This pair is somewhat more limited. Specced right this can be a very high single, or few, target dps pair. Very high single dps, and with dual charges you could go mob to mob at an insane rate. However with no healing this group can’t do the ‘round them up and kill them 10 at a time’ tactics that groups with a lot of AOE can. However, since a warrior is not that great with AOE threat you might not want to do that with any warrior pairing anyway.

If one of you specs tanking you could level with a lot of LFG. Alternately, quest grinding, once you get your pacing down, will go pretty fast. Bring a lot of food, and learn First Aid!

In later installments I will go through each of the other classes and what they bring to a pairing. Naturally I have not tried most of these pairs! Please chime in with your own experiences.

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I don’t role play in WoW, we’re not on a role-playing server, but now that I have my third level 80, each of whom specializes in a different role, I suddenly see why people are drawn to it.

Somehow unconsciously, my play style changes depending on which alt I’m on. There’s Analogue, who has a sort of nurturing/protective view of her party, always making sure everyone is buffed and doing her best to keep them alive, monitoring peoples’ mana and tossing out an innervate if she can, decursing, depoisoning…. Invariant is completely the opposite, my little gnomish suicide bomber, always taking on more than she can handle and trying to get ice block off before she drops. And Divergent, the upstanding, trying-her-heart out young tank, putting herself and her shield between her friends and the big baddies.

My other alts don’t seem to have as much personality because I haven’t really played them much. I’m not sure where it is that they start feeling so “alive” to me. Sometime above level 70, I think, when I’m getting really comfy with them. Actually this makes it easier for me to switch between tanking, healing, and dps; most of the time I’m switching characters entirely, not just spec.

Does this multiple-personality phenomenon happen to anyone else?

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Gearing Up

Saturday, Divergent dinged 80. I grabbed a couple pieces off the auction house and convinced Reversion to heal me through regular ToC and the three new dungeons on regular. Got some really solid drops too. After gemming and enhancements to get me to the defense cap, I decided to try a couple heroics. Reversion switched to his hunter and we got sent to Halls of Lightning.

It went well; only one wipe and that was when we got four mobs in the hall with the statues that come to life.. The shaman healer was excellent and I played it safe. Very satisfying. But while there I noticed the least effective dpser was a warrior with a gear score roughly equal to mine (a little over 3k). I was putting out 1300 dps; he was barely cracking 800. I asked if he was having trouble with a rotation. “Just need gear”, he said. And he did, true, but he could have got a lot more out of what he had.

Yeah, we’ve heard that story before, but my real point is this: I’d just run regular ToC and the Icecrown instances and the gear they dropped was better than what drops in HoL. If you’re going for badges, you need heroics, it’s true, but I ran ToC until I’d got most of the drops I wanted there. And the folks I encountered running those instances with me were generally better geared and more competent than the “bad dps” we run into in heroics all the time.

I am formulating a theory that good players gear their alts with the new high end instance, while bad players may not even know that they’d get better gear that way. Instead they ding 80 and instantly queue for heroics. So you’ll actually find few bad players in regular ToC than in H Nexus. Thoughts?

Funny story; queued Divergent to tank a random early Sunday morning before church. I get VH and start buffing people when I realize – I know that hunter. And that mage. And the dps pally too – they’re all guildmates who queued separately from me. We had a good time, even though they pulled off me from sheer dps constantly.

Even funnier story: later Sunday got into a HOK run. The druid healer, 5200 gear score first asks “Can we just do the two-bosses-and-out strategy” and then says “Oh god never mind” and drops group. I noticed one dpser had even lower gear score than mine so I’m assuming he just decided this group would be too hard to heal. Our replacement healer is a shaman with 3200 gear score (about what mine was at the time). We get through the place in close to record time, nobody dies, and we all have a blast.

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Playing Together

In our last house, Reversion and I had our computer rigs side-by-side. Our current setup is back-to-back. Either way, it’s really handy for us to be able to instantly communicate with each other. We’ve prevented a lot of wipes in 5 man instances by being able to say “I’m silenced” or “pulled the pat” without having to push a button to toggle Vent. It’s really handy to be able to jump up and grab water and know that the tank isn’t going to pull while you’re gone because he’s sitting right there.

Sometimes though when one of us gets frustrated – by the other players, the random number generator, or even an error that one of us just made – we have to be careful not to take it out on each other. Especially if our baby girl, The Nomster, is sitting in her playpen watching us…

There are a number of reasons why our druids – my tree, his bear – have become our mains. It’s been easier to get groups with a tank and healer than with two random dps. More than that, though, the synergy we have makes them a more fun combo than the mage and hunter most of the time. Rev can pull three groups and know that I’ll heal him – or we can laugh about it on the run back from the graveyard. I don’t have to wonder if the tank is undergeared. (It’s gotten harder for me to just sit back and DPS, too, but that’s another story).

If you have a WOW partner – spouse, SO, sibling, old friend – do your classes compliment each other? You can have a great time as a pair of rogues or dks, but it’s great to have a tank on tap, or a healer you can really trust. I know WOW is a massively multiplayer game, but sometimes it’s just as fun to feel like it’s a pair of you against the might of the Lich King.

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