Monday, November 9, 2009

Hello Hunters!

My name is Mordaan, I'm a friend of Gweryc's and I've been under his Hunter/Tank tutelage for some time now. Unlike Gweryc, I use ranged weapons, but primarily use melee weapons during the actual tanking. My master tells me my gun makes me weak, but all I can hear in my head is “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side." This gives me some a slightly different perspective than his, because I can pull with a powerful shot, and use distracting shot and other shots to pull back those pesky mobs that notice other party members.

At this point, I’ve only tanked a few heroics with my very patient guild-members and I’m currently waiting for the changes in 3.3 to more seriously pursue my tanking.
My tanking style at this point is likely not optimal, I use myself as the tank but I’m having a hard time holding enough aggro on pulls with over 3 mobs.
With the next patch I plan to utilize myself and my pet as pet=MT and myself=OT in a 5 man. This probably sounds a bit odd, but I believe I will be able to pull aggro back by standing near my pet and using distracting shot.

I have found that survivability isn’t the problem I encounter, my healers have even said I’m ‘easy’ to heal, but when aggro starts getting spread around I can lose the mobs near me while I’m trying to ‘distract’ the one that got away. Hopefully with a trusty bear growling at my side this wont be as much of a problem in 3.3.
In 3.3, I’m most excited about resilience being transferred to pets so my pet too will be uncrittable.

My plan going into 3.3 is to wear enough PvP gear to become uncrittable through resilience, and gem for stamina primarily. I also plan on changing from Blood elf to Tauren to get more health and thunderstomp for additional aggro. This should get me to about 30K health. I’m a flower child and Alchemist by profession, I like my tiny HoT and I'm always sipping off a flask.

Gweryc has asked me to post some of my successes and pitfalls in Hunter/Tanking as we go into the new patch.
I look forward to this opportunity to share my experiences with you all.


Monday, August 17, 2009

So I'm impatient. Sue me.

I just couldn't resist getting started on my new orc melee hunter. Ghorrek and pet raptor Kavath, now level 20, have a familiar feel to them, but the experience is wildly different and much, much easier the second time around.

I am not tanking as I level. I know that my best dps -- and thus, fastest leveling -- comes from letting my pet run rabid and dropping Raptor Strikes in his wake, not from unlocking Counterattack by having aggro. I know that I need to maintain a skill in Thrown weapons to keep my pet's dps optimal. Pet choice is dictated by type -- cunning, ferocity, tenacity -- rather than by species.

This phase of Project: Melee Hunter, like Gweryc's youth, is being spent on a roleplaying server. Sentinels (US), this time, if any of you would like to drop in and say hello. The always faithful Auden has joined up, this time as an undead warlock, Gehirne. (You haven't lived until you've watched a warlock handily defeat three mobs while feeding a newborn baby and not watching the screen.)

Ghorrek, like any good orc, loves a fight, the chance to test his mettle. In fact, he loves fighting so much that he looks down on anyone that fights at range, whether hunter or spellcaster. No maimed hands here, just the brash attitude of a youthful fighter.

I gave a lot of thought to professions this time around, and concluded that, on the whole, it really doesn't matter what primary profession you take. Engineering aside, they all give about 64 AP at level 80. So I decided to forget about min/maxing for once and went with Blacksmithing for the roleplaying aspect. Ghorrek will be a master axesmith, as befits a pugilistic orc.

I gave some thought to the idea that Ghorrek had been inspired by the sight of a crazy dwarf locked in melee combat with something, wolf baying at his side. In the end that seemed like too much of a stretch. The one nod to Gweryc that Ghorrek carries is a habit of flexing his hands in a way that's hard to tell if he's just restless, or if he's making sure his fingers are all still there.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For the Horde!

In the Long Ago, when Gweryc was but a wee lad of 24 and preoccupied with transforming the crocolisks of the Wetlands into boots, I held that I had made a poor choice in race. Dwarves get bonuses to maces and guns; a dwarven melee hunter cannot use maces or guns. That was some real forward thinking, I tell you.

Another of my early observations was that the most challenging aspect of playing a melee-only hunter was my status as a pariah. When assisted by an open-minded group, I could tank, dps, or even PvP with reasonable facility. His role-played mangled hand aside, Gweryc's biggest handicap has always been discrimination. I could play solo, but the real joy of the game is in the shared experiences and the friendships realized in Azeroth.

When a group of friends extended to me (actually, to Gweryc specifically) an invitation to join them on the Lightning's Blade server, I was happy to again have the chance to play my pet project. Unfortunately, it wasn't long after I hit 80 that our guild hit the infamous summer slump, as guildmates turned from raiding and instancing to instead fritter their time away on such frivolous pursuits as "family" and so-called "real lives". Hmph. Our collective response was to reroll horde on the PvE-RP server Sentinels. And so Gweryc, with the smell of naphthalene not yet fully aired out of his ancient Fine Cloth Shirt, was put into storage once more.

My newly-minted orc warrior boasted everything Gweryc could have wished for: Blood Fury, Command, Axe Specialization. It's too bad I couldn't just bring Gweryc over to the Horde to continue playing with my guild. It would be great to be on an RP server again, to have the chance to rectify my race selection, to not have to level to freaking 80 one more time just to stick with my friends.

Enter Blizzard poster Nethaera:
We wanted to give everyone a very early heads-up that, in response to player requests, we’re developing a new service for World of Warcraft that will allow players to change their faction from Alliance to Horde or Horde to Alliance. There’s still much work to do and many details to iron out, but the basic idea is that players will be able to use the service to transform an existing character into a roughly equivalent character of the opposing faction on the same realm. Players who ended up creating and leveling up characters on the opposite factions from their friends have been asking for this type of functionality for some time, and we’re pleased to be getting closer to being able to deliver it.
That's it, then. The moment this becomes available, I will have no compelling reason to remain a member of the Alliance. If at all possible, Gweryc ...Gho'ric?... will literally shed his skin, revealing a healthy green sustained by the beating of an Orcish heart.

Lok'tar ogar! For the Horde!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is the end(game) -- Ding 80

Eagle-eyed reader Treseck beat me to my own announcement -- ding 80! (Und ja, ich verstehe -- dein Englisch ist viel besser als mein Deutsch.)

Treseck also caught me doing something strange. Why am I currently specced for Careful Aim instead of Catlike Reflexes? Originally it was because I wanted more dps than my tank spec afforded me, so I could concentrate on leveling faster and just getting to 80. Careful Aim may not help me directly, but the RAP increase does help my pet, so it was worth it for the dps gain.

Then there's the lesson I learned while attempting to tank Halls of Lightning. When I'm wearing a full set of tanking gear, my pet can soak up tons of damage, but doesn't generate nearly enough threat. To boost his Growls, I need a balance of tanking gear and regular RAP gear. So I've remained in a dps spec, farming money to buy some quick BoE dps epics to mix in with my tanking pieces.

I have no idea if my dps is competitive for my gear level or not. At 77, I was doing around 1000 dps. I'm not sure where I am right now, since I just traded out dps pets for a devilsaur I have to level up to 80. The benchmarks my guild offered me for a dps role is 1500 for heroics, 2000 for Naxx. And it makes me wonder, if I level up the devilsaur, finish collecting some solid dps gear, work on my mana problems so I can stay in Aspect of the Beast instead of Viper... am I actually in a position to deal viable dps? If so, the dual-spec feature suddenly becomes attractive, as I could MT/OT or deal damage, depending on what the group needs. It's not all about damage meters, and if I can be of use in both roles, that's some serious group utility. I want to finish collecting a dps set of gear anyway, so I might as well see how far I can push it before I go back to tanking full-time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Post 83, in which Gweryc grows up and gets a job.

I asked guildmates to talk me out of it. Before then, I was talking myself out of it. Although I'm on a regular PvP server now, I even considered the roleplaying implications. But it's time to face reality: Engineering really is not a viable PvE profession.

This +300-page monster thread on the official forums covers a gamut of opinions regarding Engineering. Some engineers doggedly persist in their profession, to cries of "Tinker Pride!" Others decry the whole profession as an unmitigated failure. Blue poster Bornakk insists that Blizzard feels Engineering "work[s] out compared to what other classes have for the time being." Meaning if you're not happy with engineering now, you should hold no hope of things improving for you.

WoW Insider wondered why, if this profession is inferior to every other, so many engineers are specifically threatening to take up Jewelcrafting. I think the biggest reason is because many engineers are also miners, and would prefer to level up one new trade skill that pairs with mining instead of a new production skill in addition to a new gathering skill. Another part of it may be that Jewelcrafting, with its rich array of BoP trinkets, feels more like what Engineering should have been in the first place.

For my part -- and especially as a tank -- I can no longer pretend that the myriad stamina gains from being a jewelcrafter begin to compare to being able to toss a frag bomb. Aside from Hyjal Summit, I can't remember the last time I'd have preferred a parachute cloak to a +225 armor enchant. (And even then, the goal was not to suck with your Tears of the Goddess, not to have Engineering save you.) I can't even use the Reticulated Armor Webbing, because it's limited to plate.

I loved Engineering, mostly because it was fun, and in part because it enabled me to do things I couldn't have done otherwise, like ranged pulls and powerful misdirects. But the hard truth is, the profitability and utility of jewelcrafting far exceed what I can presently eke out of Engineering.

And so begins another grind. Sigh. 269 JC and rising...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

PvP happened. (And ding 73)

It's rather peaceful in Howling Fjord compared to Borean Tundra. Fewer players around means fewer gankers. Even so, it's not uncommon to find a level 80 death knight ready to kill you for fun.

Why is it always a death knight?

At any rate, every death knight ganker seems to have the same boring strategy: find a lowbie that won't pose a threat, cast Death Grip from max range, and faceroll the keyboard to victory. But predictability lends itself to exploitation. The instant I saw an 80 dk hovering where he should not have been I knew what was coming, and poised one finger over my Freezing Trap button. With my enemy temporarily immobilized, I hit Aspect of the Cheetah and sprinted into the middle of the Alliance NPC cannoneers outside Westguard Keep, who were more than happy to help me out. Last I saw of the valiant Ebon Knight "Iraqicrmpie", he was running half-dead towards a cliff. Thanks, Ely, I owe you one.


Even Auden has gone over to the dark side, rolling a DK on Gweryc's new server. Her death knight, however, likes squirrels and children and pretty flowers, so I agreed to help her out in Scholomance. Pet tanking is so very, very different from tanking in first-person. I actually did better when I stood back and watched the fight, treating my bear Artuir like a remote-controlled toy rather than trying to engage enemies concurrently. I came away from the experience with a short shopping list:
  • Patch 3.1. I need Thunderstomp on my bear. Now.
  • Level 80, so I have all my neat tanking talents.
  • Something to assign raid markers easily and quickly.
  • Something better than Omen to alert me when a raid member is stealing aggro, possibly...
  • Grid, configured for Intervene/Taunt instead of healing.
I'm seriously thinking about using a different hotbar for main tanking than soloing, with just my pet attacks macroed to it. I remain surprised by just how much easier it is to coordinate pet tanking when you're 30 yards away, versus all up in some boss crotch.

I'm going to browse the tanking sections of a couple addon sites and see if there's anything I can abuse for my own ends. I'll let you know if I find anything indispensible.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wrath of the Lusty Kodiak?

Since I'm still leveling to 80, I'm focused more on how I'll be tanking endgame content in patch 3.1. As you've likely heard, gorillas will be losing their signature ability Thunderstomp. Instead it will be merged into the Tenacity tree, where any tanking pet can pick it up. As bears already have Swipe, it seems to me that bears are going to be the overall best choice for multi-target tanking, as well as being a nice tank pet in general. So that's what I've gone with, a brown bear named Artuir.

Hm, says you. A tanking pet? Wasn't Gweryc the one tanking before? Yes, but sadly, that was before. The Lich King took the survival tree out back and beat it with the ugly stick to the point that there's no hope of looking to it for melee. There's entirely too many wasted points over there to get to the good stuff. All I'm left with is Beast Mastery. That's the point where I had to ask myself, what can I do as a beast master that still offers value? I can't dps competitively, I can't heal, I can't CC or decurse or anything niche. But hey, I can still tank. I just have to serve as an intermediary for the pet, I guess, as he fills the role of tank instead of Gweryc himself.

That said, I've got to gear different and think different. (Yes, I own a Mac.) Where I was using TankPoints before to increase my personal survivability, I'm now looking at gear in terms of Effective Health. EH is calculated using armor and stamina, both of which -- unlike defense, parry, etc -- are stats that scale toward my pet. The greater my own EH, the more damage Artuir will be able to soak up.

I'm a little worried about his threat generation, though. If I gear exclusively for survivability I won't raise my RAP, meaning I won't be contributing to Artuir's own AP, which in turn boosts the threat from his Growls. The TankPoints implementation of EH also includes Agility, so I may follow a rule of thumb that I itemize according to the gear with the highest level of EH that also includes Agility.

As I set about my new life as beast master, I can at least say I'm in good company. Big Red Rhino has been covering tenacity pets as tanks for quite a while now. Hopefully I'll have a new accomplishment to add to their Feats page one day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Did you think... we had forgotten?

Hail, fellow adventurers.

My apologies for the months-long absence. As some of you may have deduced from my last (and now deleted) blog post -- the one with the emo German poetry -- real life got a little hairy for a while there. I do prefer that this space be about Gweryc the character more than Gweryc's player, but since I've gotten a number of emails and blog comments wondering if I had died, I'll fill you all in on some of the major highlights before finally getting back to business.

Relationship Stuff:
  • I was in a very serious relationship for a while. Then I wasn't. Epic fail. Believe me, you don't want to know the details. Suffice to say, it was a lot weirder than playing a melee hunter.
  • However, I am now happily engaged to a different and superior woman. Epic win!
  • Some of you might know of my fiancee. She used to run a little webcomic called "Hammer of Grammar." I love you, Auden.
  • We are expecting our first child.
  • The child is anticipated to emerge a human female. Her character class is still unknown, but I'm hoping for a tank.
  • We are not naming her after anything in Warcraft. ...Probably.
Personal Stuff:
  • I thought I was going to be fired. But I wasn't.
  • I thought I was going to be fired. But I wasn't.
  • I thought I was going to be fired. But I wasn't. (God, that's stressful.)
  • In other words, I had a major attack of crazy. After years of suffering depression and anxiety, I finally reached a breaking point where I was willing to take medication. I'm doing a lot better now, both personally and professionally.
Warcraft Stuff:
  • My paladin friend Lochrann from my old raiding guild on Anvilmar -- the one where I tanked Kara, TK, etc -- no longer plays his paladin. This is in part because he no longer works with me at our old job, and instead bought a bar.
  • With Lochrann gone from our raiding guild, my "Friends and Family" rank wasn't really true anymore, so I resigned from the guild.
  • Lacking a guild to support Gweryc, I had little drive to play him. This was about the point where he went into deep storage.
  • Instead, because I can't resist Doin It Rong, I rolled a smite priest and power-leveled him to 80 in a mere couple of weeks. This was the point where I finally burned out on Warcraft.
  • Months went by, and unexpectedly, I -- specifically, Gweryc -- was invited to join a new guild as a Naxx tank. This guild is comprised largely of people I know in real-life, from where I work. A day or two ago, Gweryc made the transfer from Anvilmar to Lightning's Blade, beginning the long climb to 80. Why long? Well, in part because Lightning's Blade is a PvP server. Ouch.
  • Then it turns out that there's a Horde guild that frequents Lochrann's bar. No joke. Guess what server they play on? And guess where Lochrann's rerolled Horde? Yes, it's Lightning's Blade. So his old office is the Alliance and his bar is the Horde, packed onto the same PvP server. Ultimate lulz.

Random Stuff:

  • I'm about to launch another blog, TradeQuarter, containing computer-generated daily stock tips, whose origins can be traced directly back to my love of the WoW auction house. I'd never have imagined a video game having that much of an impact on my life.

Well, then! With all the drama out of the way, this blog is ready to get back on track. Gweryc is again alive and well, as am I. The landscape of hunter tanking has changed completely since I was in Karazhan, but I'm prepared. More on that in the next post.