Shadow Priest ruminations

Scattered thoughts;

I have been loving playing my Shadow Priest, got to level 56 last night, and I spent a few minutes making a list of level 70 Shadow Priest gear to be getting mats for.

I’m a Tailor, so of course I’ll be making the Frozen Shadow Weave set. I’ve already been making my cloth every time my transmute is up.

But I also have a good friend, Nawat, whom I’ve mentioned before on da blog, who will make me the two pieces of Spellstrike gear once I get him the mats.

Now, that’s all awesome, no question. But there are also a few other items I can get crafted or make myself.

I think I can make the Bracers already, no worries. The Girdle, however, I’ll have to find someone that can craft for me.

But wait, I’m a Jewelcrafter. What can I make? Besides the BOP trinkets, anyway. How about…

And as a JC, I need to keep an eye out for three gem cutting patterns…

Of course, the only reason for patterns other than +9 Spell Damage is for hitting Meta Gem requirements. lolzers.

So thats cool, but what about stuff that I could look for at the Auction House?

Well, I’m looking at…

Okay, but what about stuff from PvP? That stuff is great, right? So what do I want? Well, how about something before I hit 60…

Okay, but surely I’ll get something while leveling…

Yep, that’s a whole bunch of stuff to be looking for and farming for while on my big daddy main. But at least when I hit 70, I’ll be able to step right into a nice new fresh set of clothes, knowutImean?

And once I’m at 70, the fun can begin as I start running Heroics for gear and Badge rewards…

Yep, the future is sure looking shady.

 Okay, so I made a list of what I’m looking for as I level my Shadow Priest. A ‘shopping list’, for what to do with my main’s extra cash.

Does anyone have any knowledge of a similar shopping list somewhere for a Combat Swords Rogue? Cassieann is a stones throw from hitting 68, and I’ll be damned if I can find a list similar to this of what to look for in farmable, craftable, non BOP goodies. Not top of tier stuff, just good solid 68-70 non-Karazhan gear.


Shout out to a fun tool, Be Imba!

I meant to mention this last weekend, but what the heck. It was a busy time.

There is a website that I’ve seen mentioned around, that I WISH I could remember where I heard of it first to give credit. Damn it.

The website is Be Imba.

What they do is let you plug in your character info, much like the WoW Reputation Calculator, and then it checks your current Armory gear and build and provides analysis on your gear.

It highlights what it believes are incorrectly gemmed or enchanted items, and provides links to look for upgrades.

Also, it ranks your build and tells you where they think you are ready to raid.

My current results are here for Windshadow. At the time of my posting this, it has my raiding tank gear, but since I usually log out in cat gear from farming, it might not work tomorrow.

It’s still being finished, I understand some talent builds haven’t been completed yet, but it’s still pretty useful. I know that I ran it Saturday, and it reminded me I forgot to get my catform Chest piece enchanted. Nice catch!


Kara – it’s not just for 10 anymore

The last week, we had our ups and downs in the guild, but I think we ended on a strong note.

We have some great new people, and I’ll get to that soon.

We are also still having a little bit of adjustment period going on.

Let me ‘splain.

(Digression: How many other people grew up with I Love Lucy being one of the only choices on the TV, in black and white, as a kid? I can still remember Ricky Ricardo pronouncing explain as ‘splain’, and hearing the laugh track that tells me I’m supposed to think it’s funny. Our generation sucked for TV. When I think of the shows you get to grow up with now, I want to destroy all cable and satellite broadcasting, melt your VCR tapes and DVDs, and force you to watch Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy for a month straight to make you understand my generations’ bitterness better. Oh, and another word for nostalgia? CRAP. Damn you. Damn you all. And get off my lawn!)

Okay, so at the start of the game week, we took a look at the sign-ups on the guild website for Karazhan, and Gerolan and I started inviting people. We got our ten, and in we went. We were timely, and we were going to go straight in and clear everything up to and including Curator.

The group was a mix of seasoned regulars and new guild members, with two of the folks entirely new to Karazhan.

Begin soapbox:

A word of advice, folks. If someone says they haven’t been to Karazhan before… don’t assume they are going to either suck, or be undergeared. I’ve said it before, and I reserve the right to say it again… there are many ways of getting gear upgrades, and raiding is not the only one. And having ten or more friends to play with does not mean you are a good player any more than having 4 friends or less makes you a bad player.

That’s a point I think that gets lost, a lot, in talking about the game.

Just because someone is in a largely populated guild that always has enough people online for 10 man, or even 25 or 40 man raids, does not mean that every person in that guild is a good player.

I have seen, oh so many times, someone ask “Is that [insert class here] a good player?” and see the reply be something along the lines of “He was in OOB and raided The Eye, so he’s really good.”

Oh, bullshit. I have seen from personal experience that folks with end game raid experience can suck, and then some. Sure, their gear may be great. But great gear will carry an idiot only so far, and no farther. Even worse, because they were in a guild that raided the Eye or higher, they often have a massive chip on their shoulder and talk down to others in less progressed guilds. Yeah, if you are so awesome, why not go solo the Eye? If you can’t then shut the hell up and acknowledge the part teamwork played in your progression. Asshat.

Anyways, just as there are poor players in high end raiding guilds, likewise, there are plenty of folks I know that never get to do group activities, or if they do, it’s very infrequently. And yet, when I do see them in a group environment, I get blown away by how on top of their game they are.

My friend Melpo is one such player. He has a ton of personal responsibilites, his work and his family life pretty much preclude him from ever coming online earlier than 10:30 at night, even on weekends. And he has a vicious early start time for getting the kids ready for school.

But on those times when there are still lots of folks in the guild on late at night, and I’ve been able to get into a heroic 5 man with him, it’s always the same. He plays a Rogue, and he kicks ass; he manuevers and saps and stunlocks and generally plays havoc with our targets, and he puts out ungodly DPS without ever pulling too much aggro, and his gear is damn good, without being able to go on Kara runs.

He wanted gear upgrades, he knew he wouldn’t be going into Kara anytime in the future, so he went and found one way Rogues can get great stuff solo… he ran Battlegrounds until he could get his Season 1 Arena swords. He knows he won’t be getting rolls on void crystals off Kara D/E, so he does his dailies, makes his Alchemy transmutes, and is saving for his dual mongoose enchants. In fact, he may have them by now.

When we chat, he has smart advice to give Cassie on setting up macros for pickpocketing on the Sap, and positioning for distraction prior to Sapping, and generally has spent a great deal of time thinking about, analyzing and playing his character. And he never gets to raid. It’s a damn crime, is what it is.

Soapbox temporarily off.

Sorry for the mini-rant, but it is pertinent to todays’ discussion.

We had ten people for Karazhan last Tuesday, and two of them had never been in Karazhan before, and a third, as far as I know, had only ever gone on our raids on his shadow priest, not his bear tank. So I would have a new bear tank as my off tank.

Others in the run may remember things differently, but during Tuesday’s run, we kicked everythings’ butt really good, and had no wipes that I can remember. The only times we had some excitement was a few times where I body pulled on the walk to Attumen, and some problems with our bear off-tank acting like who was tanking a mob was a  competition instead of a team effort. You know, the whole “Are you taunting them off me? WTF?” kind of thing. There was one really cool moment, when as we approached the corridor leading to Maiden, someone pulled the 4 Elites near the last AOE group. Usually that would mean wipe, but the team pulled through awesome. Whatever, it went okay, and we blasted through Kara until we reached Curator.

At Curator, we ran into a problem where one set of Arcane Anomoly and Worms were bugged, they were stuck in a wall in Curators’ room. We cleared everything else, but had problems with the last set Evading.

We decided to take on Curator anyway, and about 3/4 of the way through, he bugged, focused on the off tank to the exclusion of everything else, even though it showed me at the top of the Threat list by 200,000 points, and then after the off tank died, came after me… and healed himself to full. We wiped in disgust to reset, and came in and wiped again just getting that damn trash mob dead despite the Evade. But our last fight on Curator went off without a hitch. All in all, a good if undistinguished run.

Begin discussion of the problems the rest of the week.

Our group, the one full of people that signed up, went off as planned. But there were other people in the guild that wanted to get their own Kara run going also. So they worked on it for a while, and eventually got enough people together to get in and get going. And although they skipped a few things, they did get through to Curator and cleared him also.

And for the rest of the week, we were screwed.

First, our bear off tank had an issue the very next day, where he violated our Guild Charter, and passed the bounds of decency by being unbelievably rude and crude to a guildie. Just, way, way over the line. It was not the first time he’d done that kind of thing, but this time was just amazingly bad. So the officers, including myself, decided it was time to boot him. And we acted on it immediately.

This left our group without a second tank. That’s cool, no big deal, right?

Well, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal except that, with a second group forged, almost everyone in the guild that is active was saved to one of the two teams. And each night for the rest of the week, we could only get 7 people on. And every night I got to field the questions of “Are we going to Kara tonight?”

Having two teams just really screwed the week. Instead of knowing what night to come back to finish, and being able to grab someone if one person wasn’t able to make it, everyone had to come back every night in the hopes that we’d be able to go, but the guild just doesn’t have enough active players to keep two full teams, with alternates, going. A fact that most of us knew full well from prior attempts, but whatever.

Anyway, things came to a head Saturday night, when the questions about Kara were surfacing, and one of the guys in the other Kara team was telling people that my team wasn’t gonna be able to go because we didn’t have enough people, but their team was going in to finish, so hop on alts and join them. I offered my help to their team on my Hunter, and then did a quick look at the guild roster, and thought, “Wait a fucking minute… we have enough to get going. What the hell is he talking about?”

I compared notes with Gerolan, and as close as we could figure, we had 7 people ready and able to go into Karazhan… two of those being the guys that were in for the first time. Well, maybe we couldn’t do any bosses, but could we get to the Chess event? And make damn sure that the guy we booted couldn’t ninja the event? Let’s give it a try.

We started with 7 people, on the trash after Curator. We had;

  • Windshadow (me) – Tanking Feral Druid
  • Gerolan – Healing Paladin
  • Kellas – Healing Priest
  • Caladorn – Healing Paladin
  • Solarae – Mage
  • Malkil – Mage (and first time in Kara)
  • Jimboton – Survival hunter (and first time in Kara)

We went in, and I’ll be perfectly honest with you. It was one of the smoothest Kara runs on trash I’ve ever seen. We went in, we took it nice and easy, one pull at a time, not slow and not rushed. We cleared one pull at a time with no issues or even confusion that I saw all the way to the first big chamber with all the Magical Horrors and Mana Warps. 

Now, we were just looking over the chamber, deciding how best to control the pulls, since you get one Magical Horror and two Mana Warps per pull, and three Mana Warps on the middle pull, when Occulus logged into game.

I bullied him unmercifully to get on his Warlock and come help us. After that, Kara was a bullies’ lunch, and we were hungry. And just like a pack of outcasts looking at a bully, we ganged up on it, beat the hell out if it, and stole it’s lunch.

What, didn’t you guys do that in High School? 

Anyway, with our team bolstered by Doc Occ, we were just too overpowered for the trash. Eight man team in Karazhan? Pffft. Too easy. lol.

We cleared the trash, we moved on in, and not only did we have no wipes on the way to the Chess event, but we only had one death… Occulus. Poor guy.

It was just smooth, baby. Mark, pull, tank, trap/shackle/banish, heals, next. Like clockwork. Extremely good individual playing on everyone’s part.

We got to Chess, we explained the battle, and boom! We won. Kinda hard to build that one up. 🙂

I did have fun playing the Caster in Chess for the first time. AOE and direct blasts in Chess are fun!

After we finished Chess, we looked around, and decided to at least give Shade of Aran a shot. If we could take him down, we wouldn’t have to clear the trash on Monday when we came in to finish it. Were we feeling cocky? Yeah, a bit. Especially since we were running low on DPS.

We managed to get a ninth person into the team, a Mage named Darrez, so now we really were close to having a full group.

Sadly, we did not succeed in taking down Shade. And we only got one shot at it before Occulus had to go back to studying for an exam and writing an essay paper.

On that one shot, with new people and short one, and only me for melee DPS, we got Shade down to 12% health.

It was pretty obvious we weren’t going to get ‘er done on the first whack, though. We never did get his health under his mana, his health stayed 10% – 12% above his mana the whole fight. Well, with three powerful healers, and short one person, it was pretty clear where the team was lacking, and even without DPS, I think we came amazingly close. If we’d had Rynadur, our resident Rogue who was gone all weekend, it would’ve been doable even with our original eight and him, I think.

I am very proud of everyone that went on that run. We could have sat back, and said “We don’t have ten, so we can’t go”.

Instead, we said “We have seven people here, we can see how far we get. Let’s go for it.”

And the moral of the story, for me, is don’t be scared to take people into a freaking raid just because it’s their ‘first time there’. Everyone has a first time everywhere, and that has no bearing on their skill at playing their character.

It just means that raid leaders need to step up and do a solid job of explaining what to expect on the next pull.

Grats guys, you all rock!

Bear Video of the Week #6 – Illhoof, less powerful than a locomotive!
This week I have another boss battle video, of Legatum Ignavis taking down Terestian Illhoof.

We once again have two bear tanks, courtesy of Windshadow on Illhoof and Fandamn on his pesky sidekick, Kil’rek.

The music this week was going to be another Cruxshadow song, Sophia, but that will have to wait for another time. Likewise, my use of Dragonforces’ Through the Fire and the Flames, which was my second choice for this fight.


Because when you’re using a boss fight as your video, you have little control over the length. And the fight just doesn’t last long enough for either of those songs.

But please don’t think any the less of my choice number three, Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull.

I have LONG been a Tull fan, since the first time I was roaring down I-95 in South Florida, the wind ripping through my crew cut as I drove my mom’s 280 ZX while home on leave. Locomotive Breath came on the radio, and I cranked the sound and the speed simulataneously. As soon as the song was over, I whipped on into a record store (you might have heard of those, we had them in the 80s… they sold music on these vinyl record thingies… they looked like Laserdiscs… oh wait, you probably don’t remember laser discs. They looked like CDs, but made out of black runner and 10 times bigger) and bought a greatest hits tape… plugged that sucker back intop the car and roared off. I didn’t stop until the car was damn near out of gas.

These days, it may seem to be tamer than hell compared to what you listen to… compared to Dragonforce, for example. But I still get swept away by the Tull.

Now, yes, I’ve done Jethro Tull here before, I played Heavy Horses for a Raid Song of the week.

But Locomotive Breath really does take me back, and I love it mixed with Illhoofs’ hordes o’ Imps.

I certainly hope you enjoy it! 

P.S. If you are interested in an entire album, I strongly recommend Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. It’s a concept album that is all one piece, much like what The Who did with Tommy or Quadraphrenia. And because it is all of a piece, it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear the entire thing in it’s wonder unless you find a disc somewhere. Radio stations used to play Thick as a Brick as a single, but it’s just not the same.

I’m all buzzed out

BuzzedoutPatch 2.4 news is everywhere. The patch will be massive, and literally every day brings more info mined out of the latest patch ‘dump’.

I’m sure many of you are expecting me to chase the buzz, grab the bees within my reach, and gush words like flowing honey all about how great this or that or whatever will be in the new Patch. 

And while it looked like the initial patch release on the PTR was mostly finished in concept, I was doing that.

Well, my apologies to you, but I’m all buzzed out.

Things are changing so fast on the PTR, with new things being added, existing things being changed radically, and hints being dropped at still more massive changes being considered, that I am no longer going to try to follow every little nuance of the patch.

If you want to stay as up to date as possible on the latest findings, I highly recommend you go to MMO Champion or World of Raids and follow their breaking Patch news and discoveries. They are working their butts off to stay on top of things.

So, nope, I’m not going to just buzz about every little thing that they find out, and then when that changes go rush to give you the new scoop.

Instead, I am going to wait until something actually goes live, and analyze that.

But I’m not going to just leave you out in the cold. I think there are a few things that are going to stay constant in the Patch, things you can prepare for right now.

The first thing is, no matter what your class, there will be new rewards available for Badges of Justice that are comparable to Tier 5 or Tier 6 end game gear. The key phrase there is comparable.  I do NOT believe that the items, as they are now listed, will remain unchanged. The Fist Weapons, Vanir’s Right Fist of Brutality and Vanir’s Left Fist of Brutality especially, are comparable to the Warglaives (Main and Off hand) in my personal opinion, and I just cannot see Blizzard leaving a pair of Fist weapons available for Badges unchanged, that are comparable to the very best hard to earn raiding weapons in the game.

Oh yeah, since I’m linking new Badge reward stuff, here is the Feral Druid stuff so far… what the heck.

Feral Dr00d Badge stuff in 2.4;

But no matter what form they do end up in when the Patch goes live, there will be damn good gear for almost every class and spec, and it looks like, just as I surmised on one of my WoW Insider podcasts, Balance Druids are finally seeing some good loving… so far.

And you can prepare yourself by saving up your Badges of Justice.

As you can see above, there are leather Leggings and Chest pieces that would be amazing upgrades for Feral Druids for tanking, and there is a two handed staff and other pieces for Ferals that are just amazing. Again, I don’t expect it to go live unchanged. But there is plenty to look forward to. 

So if you are not immediately needing to use Badges of justice for upgrades, if you are exchanging them for Primal Nethers for crafting stuff you sell, I advise you to hold off on using them, store them up, and be closer to buying the goodies when it goes live.

Also, this is a good time to go ahead and change your play habits.

If you’re bored with Karazhan, and I know many of you are, or if you have what you want from heroics and are spending time you used to spend doing those to farm or dance naked in Ironforge or spam the Trade channel about Chuck Norris (and if you do spam the Trade channel, btw, I hate you), go run the daily Heroic instead.

Try and get a group of friends that will reliably join you, every day you can, to do either the daily Heroic, or something quick and easy like Heroic Slave Pens.

If you’re past Kara, go ahead and go back in there once a week on Badge runs. You can get 22 Badges for a full clear, and if you do 2 or 3 Heroics a week, they all add up fast. 

If you are interested in PvP, and you’ve been saving your points for specific pieces of Arena gear, don’t rush to spend them just yet. It’s been said by at least one Blue that the new Arena Season may start when the patch goes live, or one week after, even though Season 3 just kicked off a little while ago. And you know what that means; current Season gear becomes available for purchase with honor, and new Season gear becomes available for Arena points. Hold onto those points, unless you really need that upgrade you’ve been drooling over.

If you have been stockpiling Black Lotus, you might want to make whatever Flasks you can now, because one of the changes is supposed to be replacing Black Lotus with Fel Lotus in recipes, adn increasing the drop rate of Fel Lotus. If you’ve been slow in making your Flasks, go ahead and get it done before a patch comes along that may render your Black Lotus unusable for the Flasks you sell. This is nowhere close to being certain, but just in case, why hold onto those Black Lotus forever?

And if you have been using Primal Nether or Nether Vortex for BOE recipes just to make money, hold off. In the patch, they will both become Bind on Equip, so you will be able to sell them to people that want to desperately upgrade Blacksmithing weapons (just as an example) or make their Engineering Goggles and could never get a good group for Heroics before.

Plus, there will be tons of people, just like you, saving their Badges instead of exchanging them for Primal Nether. So the availability of folks selling crafting with Nether included can be expected to go way down,a nd if you don’t need those Nethers for much anyway, why not wait until the price of them rises?

I’ll give you one example of how I’m planning ahead.

I have a friend, Nawat, who can make the Spellstrike Set. The Spellstrike Hood and Spellstrike Pants are great for Shadow Priests, and I have already been doing my cloth transmutes on my 52 Priest to save up the mats.

Yes, that’s right, my Priest is level 52, with 367 Jewelcrafting and 355 Tailoring, and I have all the flight points in Outlands and have made two full transmutes of the cloth already. I’m sad. Corpse run through all of Outlands FTW! (Oh, and Cassie is sad that my level 52 Priest has more flight points in Outlands than she does at 66, since she hasn’t been to Shadowmoon Valley, Blades Edge or Netherstorm yet. We’ll have to fix that.)

The point is, each one of those recipes requires 5 Primal Might and 1 Primal Nether. I have two Primal Might already, but I’ll need Nawat to have 2 Primal Nether…

I talked with Nawat, and he offered to run with me on heroics until we got the Primal Nethers to drop so he could make them for me… or to use Badges to get the Nether.

But I happen to have two Primal Nether in my bank on Windshadow, sitting there waiting for me to decide what to do with them. I had been thinking of saving them for a Goggle upgrade, or of making a couple of tanking guns for the guild… but if I can mail them to Nawat in the patch, then I can provide him with 100% of the mats he’ll need to make my epics, and I won’t have to worry about having him waste precious game time farming some damn Nethers for me or wasting good Badges.

So, in conclusion, go have fun, by all means keep an eye on the changing news coming out of the Public Test Realms, but expect things to change without notice, and plan ahead for what you want to get out of it when it goes live.

And please, don’t worry about tomorrows changes until they happen. For now, go out there and enjoy the game as it is!

I’m not a theorycrafter

This comes out of a discussion I had with Cassie yesterday.

After my WoW Insider article on Threat came out, she read it, as she always does, to be supportive and let me know when I mispelled words or used the wrong phraseology. (I kid! I kid! Love you honey!)

So she read it, and then emailed me at work to let me know that she liked it, and that, even though she doesn’t raid, she understood most of what I was talking about and almost 75% of it made sense.

Which, for me, is a lot.

But it got me to thinking, because I know a lot of folks use the phrase ‘theorycrafter’ to describe what they do. SuraBear calls himself one right on his front page. And it’s a title that is well deserved.

Blizzard rarely, if ever, shares what math they are using internally to do things. Like, almost never. Their revelation of some of the math behind the new skills they announced for the Burning Crusade over a year ago was a marked departure for them.

So a new breed of adventurous investigator was born. A new kind of detective for a new kind of crime; those who test results in game using Combat Logs and repeatable situations to determine on their own the theory behind the math that Blizzard uses, and then share those theories with the rest of us.

Without the Adventurous Theorycrafter, our lives in game would be hell. Even now, people cling to old ideas that what loot drops from a boss is determined by arcane conjunctions of effects, such as what class the raid leader is when the first person zones into the instance, or what classes make up the raid, or other even more esoteric concepts.

I keep waiting for someone to tell me that his Black Swashbucklers’ Shirt is what made the Warrior Tier 4 Helm drop from Prince Malchazaar.

Anyway, the theorycrafters are awesome, and deserve the legends they carve out for themselves.

Me, I don’t think of what I do as theorycrafting. I don’t start off with a clean slate. I research the work of others first. I make assumptions. I hunt out countervailing arguments. I try to see what the thought amongst others is first, and then I lay out things to do in game to test, for myself, whether what I am being told matches what I myself see in game. That ain’t theorycrafting, it’s at best verification.

The special sauce I bring to my approach on these things isn’t a special love of math. I have to use it at work, but that doesn’t mean I want it in my home. Icky maths!

My approach comes from a life long love of playing pen and paper role playing games, and moving around frequently. Often, you are thrown together with new people in the service, and while there are certainly going to be two or three gamers, there will always be two or three folks that have ‘always wanted to play, but never knew anyone that did to get started’.

And it would fall on me, repeatedly, to take a vastly complicated rule system that I knew by heart, and break it down in such a way that I could get the rules across as a cohesive whole that could be comprehended and remembered after about one hour of explanation.

And that is all that I’m doing, except this system I don’t know by heart. So I’m going to a dozen different locations, I’m gathering tons of different opinions, I’m putting it all together to get an idea of how things are supposed to work, and then I go test things out in game. And then I try to write it up as one cohesive little article bringing it all together.

So the actual work is done by theorycrafters. I feel like I am contributing somewhat, in bringing a lot of different published theories and facts together into one place and giving it my testing and then my interpretation. But the hard work has been done before by others, and as has been said by those smarter than I…

I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Rambling Bear and Swipe vs Lacerate

Felkan and Rhoelyn brought up some great points and questions in the post comments yesterday, and as I started writing a 5 paragraph long reply, I realized the discussion deserved it’s own post. Also, it made me aware that somehow, I’ve never read Rambling Bear before, and I don’t understand why. 

SuraBear, what the heck? I asked for blogs to check out, I know I did, and I carefully visited and read every blog mentioned. I swear you never beat me over the head with your greatness. Your blog kicks ass. If anyone else hasn’t been reading Rambling Bear, get your butts over there now. You don’t have to look far, SuraBear is on my sidebar now where he belongs. Just, what a great blog.

The comments I’m talking about are discussing my old post from October 17th of last year about Bear Tanking Multiple targets, and comparing some of my results at that time with the analysis of SuraBear.

The whole timing of this is fascinating, because I’m revisiting that old article and updating it for Wow Insider, and applying my own opinions of Bear Tanking as they’ve grown and changed since I originally wrote that piece.

As far as Lacerate vs Swipe, my take on the issue comes down to the difference between a main target and your maintenance targets.

When you are tanking, as I mentioned yesterday in my WI article about Threat, you have two goals;

  • Build up a large pile of Threat on your main target, to allow the DPS to blast away without pulling aggro from you with their Direct Threat.
  • Slam any other mobs nearby with enough Threat generation to keep them from attacking anybody creating Global Threat, such as the cherished healers.

So to that end, it comes down to how many mobs you are tanking, and the environment in which you are tanking them.

I have always personally advocated using a macro such as Lacerate on Mouseover, because it allows me to choose my main target and spam Mangle on him, while using Lacerates to surgically pick and choose where they will land on the maintenance targets.

In most raid situations, I find myself fighting no more than two mobs in close quarters right next to CC. And there is always CC, whether it’s a Shackle or an Ice Trap. So I have trained myself so my natural tendency is to Lacerate, not Swipe, unless I know I am not going to have to worry about breaking CC.

SuraBear mentioned in his great article on tab-targeting that, in situations where he would normally not Swipe because of CC, he prefers to move his own positioning around so he can Swipe safely rather than switch to Lacerate.

And I’m here to tell you that is a perfectly fine thing to do when you can. I do it myself, often, because I do love Swipe. When I can safely position myself to use it, I do, always.

But I plan on the positioning ahead of time. I make my pull, and I back away and even turn and backwaddle around a corner and position myself so the CC will be drawn away from where I am, whenever possible. This prevents my having to reposition myself later.

There are two reasons why I try not to reposition myself to use Swipe instead. First, quite often like I said I am in tight quarters, and while I’m screwing around moving I’m not micromanaging my Threat output. The second reason is, I hate to move once melee DPS has positioned themselves properly.

As tanks, we are only one part of the team. The melee DPS, to maximise their own abilities, and to prevent their attacks being Parried or Blocked, move behind the target. If I am moving around a lot, they have to reposition too. And that reduces their effectiveness.

I have personally played with bear tanks as offtanks that hop around while tanking worse than a frog, and I watch in disbelief as the Rogue constantly tries to stay behind the mob, and while hes doing that he ain’t attacking right.

To be fair, I think part of the problem may be that it can be hard to see what’s going on around you, that big bear butt gets in the way, but that is why I move my viewpoint around instead of physically moving my character.

But seriously, I agree that Swipe is the most effective tool we have for maintaining aggro on multiple mobs. I believe that my old article says that, too. If not, it damn well should. I like having Lacerate on Mouseover as a tool to add boosts of threat to specific targets, especially when the real world situation is too tight for Swipe due to Crowd Control.

But I’ll be honest, there are plenty of times I say “Screw it” and intentionally break CC with Swipe and grab the broken mob, to build up threat on it and not have to worry about when the Ice Trapped mob may break trap and run away, since I’m too lazy to chase it into the casters… and I don’t need to remind you that keeping mobs out of the casters is a good thing. 

SuraBear mentioned something I haven’t ever implemented before, which is creating a Swipe on Mouseover macro. I did think about it, but I was too lazy to figure out what to shuffle to force the room on my bars. It’s a great idea, when suddenly taking on large groups, to be able to mouseover a group to your left and Swipe, and then a  group to your right and Swipe.

I’ve personally done it by changing my targeting, which is damn inefficient and dangerous. I’ll try, somehow, to find the room on my bar and practise with it. Sigh.

Anyway, I think I’ve said my piece on this.

Swipe = awesome, but has dangers around CC, and while you can move to avoid CC, that makes melee DPS readjust, and in close quarters may be difficult to entirely avoid CC anyway. but it is damn good and a critical ability.

Lacerate = pretty darn good, and has no risk of unintended consequences.

I have intentionally not mentioned using Swipe on single targets instead of Lacerate, because I have not yet, this week, worked on the math for what AP value Swipe cause more individual Threat. When I do, you can be sure I’ll talk about it more.