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Tips for new Death Knights from a fellow tank, part 2


Dear corpsified bundles of beautifully-armored joy (but more particularly those who tank Azjol Nerub while wearing Expedition Bracers of the Bandit),

We had a little bit of controversy in the first installment, so I'm just going to state this as baldly as possible; if you hated what I wrote last time, there's a good chance you'll walk away from this one thinking I eat babies. Delicious, delicious babies. While I never mean to offend people, I reserve the right to tell them the truth, or at the very least a highly entertaining and plausible lie.

Truth, she be at times an ugly mistress. And she ain't gettin' any prettier as we move from DPS to tanking.

Tanks have significantly more responsibility, both in groups and raids, and they face the competing directives of maximizing mitigation (to keep their healers happy) and maximizing threat production (to keep their DPS happy). I've healed dozens of Death Knight tanks at this point, and while the average pugged DK tank has gotten noticeably better, there are still a few trends you'd want to be aware of as a healer. The problems in beta right now are made worse by Blizzard unintentionally overselling the ease of tanking on a Death Knight in 5-man runs. Many people seem to have interpreted the statement that they should be able to tank well with Blood, Frost, or Unholy specs as being tantamount to saying they can tank well regardless of how their talent points are spent in those trees.

Any experienced tank can tell you right now that this is not true, but people believing that it is is how you wind up with 11K-life Death Knights taking 7-8K enraged hits from Keristasza in the Nexus. If you've never tanked before but you're interested in tanking on a Death Knight -- or pragmatic enough to know you'll probably wind up tanking a certain number of 5-mans on your DPS Death Knight -- I hope this article helps you avoid what I went through in May 2007 when I started tanking and sucked at it.

I came to the beta to slowly lose my mind trying to heal insane tank damage and gulp Extra Strength Tylenol. And I'm all out of Extra Strength Tylenol.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Instances, Expansions, Features, Humor, Raiding, Guides, Classes, Talents, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Demonology 101: the Felhunter


I thought I'd do a Blood Pact on a Warlock's demons and how they'll be changing somewhat in Wrath of the Lich King, but considering there are two other trees to worry about, I've got the next two weeks loaded. Instead, we'll take a short look at one demon each day and see how the new talents and inherent demon abilities change the way you'll be playing with your pet.

For today, we'll take a look at my personal favorite, the Felhunter. I love the Felhunter because its cute, scaly, and eats my opponent's buffs and locks them out of magical schools. Out of all the demons -- with the exception of the Succubus -- Warlocks get the most benefit from micromanaging a Felhunter. This demon changes the most significantly in Wrath owing to a few things. The bad news first: currently in Beta, Felhunters no longer confer Paranoia, so in Wrath you'll actually get stun-locked by surprise instead of seeing it coming and not being able to do anything about it anyway. It also loses Tainted Blood, which won't be missed because a Felhunter with a Rogue or Warrior on it is going to die, -475 attack power notwithstanding.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Scattered Shots: Pet talent trees in the Wrath Beta

Welcome to another edition of Scattered Shots, the other WoW Insider weekly Hunter column. Daniel Whitcomb is your guest host again this week.

So, we theorized about talented pets a bit quite a few installments of Scattered Shots ago, but now we have the actual trees live and testable on the Wrath Beta, and they seem to be firming up nicely. There's a few promised changes yet to come, such as the removal or lowering of focus costs on many major abilities and talents, and it's still very possible that Blizzard may make changes here and there before live, but I think they're solid enough at this point that we can look at each tree and make some solid predictions about how people will use them and how various talent builds might look.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Expansions, Raiding, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Crushing blows (mostly) removed in Wrath as raiding changes

I'd be smiling in glee if I could figure out how to close my mouth. We've known for a while that the developers have wanted to remove crushing blows, but now it looks like they're starting the process for good: Ghostcrawler has confirmed that crushing blows will now occur only when a mob is 4 levels above you, rather than 3. Since "Boss" mobs are automatically 3 levels above the max level, that means that if you're running level appropriate content, you should no longer have to worry about crushing blows at all.

As Ghostcrawler explains it, crushing blows were originally meant to discourage you from attacking high level mobs and to make bosses more challenging. Now, they serve only the former purpose, and Blizzard is working on other ways to make bosses challenging without making them so random.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Expansions, Raiding, Bosses, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath Beta Patch Notes: Hunter

By now, I am sure you've heard that the Wrath of the Lich King Beta is going live and the patch notes are up. There's a rather extensive section devoted to Hunters on this iteration. We have a few more insights into the pet talent trees that were announced at the Worldwide Invitational, as well as a few changes to existing talents and a nice Steady Shot buff.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Pimp My Profile: Pre-Heroic Protection Paladin


Welcome to the first edition of our new twice-monthly column, Pimp My Profile. Readers submit their Armory profile to us and every two weeks we pick one to review. We provide a Gear Check, Talent Tune Up, AddOn/Macro recommendations and more to help you reach your goals in the game.

For the inaugural column, I asked my long time friend Jon to submit his new Paladin for da pimpage. He had recently shelved his Warrior in favor or leveling a new Paladin to 70 to be the main tank for our casual group. Having played the class for only two months, he had a few questions and concerns. Here is what he had to say:

"I'm highly aware of needing to obtain the "uncrittable" defense numbers so far in order to get a defense anywhere near 490 I've found that I have to sacrifice too much spell damage which eats into my ability to hold agro. I abandoned a 63 warrior in favor of my Pally tank and the teary eyed joy that comes with being able generate lots of agro quickly on multiple mobs. Big spell damage is essential to my ability to tank for my trigger happy friends whose 5 man instance approach is more akin to "Who's Line Is It Anyway" rather than the production of Shakespeare most people reading this think their guild regularly produces."

Jon's goals as a new level 70 Protection Paladin on the verge of tanking Heroics are:
  1. To attain uncrushability by equipping more avoidance gear (+Dodge,+Parry or +Block equipment)
  2. Regain his threat generation through +Spell damage
  3. Retaining his uncrittable status by keeping his Defense at least at 490
Let's look at Jon's current set up and what he, or any pre-Heroic L70 Protection Paladin, can do to achieve those goals.

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Filed under: Paladin, Items, Add-Ons, Guides, Pimp My Profile

A small defense skill change in 2.4 could herald larger things

Bear tank approves of no more crushing blows.It seems like a small change, but it could be the herald of something larger. It's a change to the way the defense skill is described in-game in patch 2.4, as reported by World of Raids. I'll let them describe it:

* Old value: Higher defense makes you harder to hit and makes monsters less likely to land a crushing blow.

* New value: Higher defense improves your chance to dodge, parry, and block attacks, makes you harder to hit, and makes monsters less likely to land a critical strike against you.

So what does this mean? They've added things that have always been part of the skill, but have not been explicitly mentioned on the defense tab before, but what's most intriguing is what they've taken away.

I'll explain after the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Buffs, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Avoidance: do you have enough?

By way of Blessing of Kings (why are all the good blogs about paladins?), here's a nifty macro to tell you if you have enough avoidance, as a paladin tank. How much is "enough"? Basically, enough to ensure that you avoid all crushing blows. If you pump up your dodge, block, and parry, you can push crushing blows entirely off the attack table, which goes a long way towards reducing the spikiness of incoming damage. More predictable damage = easier healing = fewer deaths. So let's see that macro:

/script DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Need 102.4 combined avoidance. Currently at:",0.8,0.8,1)
/script DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage(GetDodgeChance()+GetBlockChance() + GetParryChance() +5+(GetCombatRatingBonus(CR_DEFENSE_SKILL) + 20)*0.04,1,0.5,0)


A couple caveats: in "(CR_DEFENSE_SKILL) + 20)", the "20" represents your defense from the Anticipation talent. Adjust accordingly. Also, if you want Holy Shield to be taken into account, you have to turn it on first. This macro was made by Raymond of Nazjatar, so all props to him. I love math.

Filed under: Paladin, Tricks

An overview of 2.1 Hunter pet changes

Just in time for the impending release of 2.1 on the live realms. Petopia has created a page with everything hunters need to know about pet changes in the new patch.

We already reported about a few of the new pets to be found, including a cool purple tallstrider, but there's at least one more out there called the Skettis Kaliri, probably found in the Arrakoa capital, a new quest area. In addition, there's those two new pet skills, Avoidance (which should help with DPS pets in raids and instances), and Cobra Reflexes, which increases attack speed at the cost of damage per attack. In tests, Petopia says it does increase DPS overall, but it remains to be seen how it will work on the live realms. Both skills should be trainable at the pet trainer (although that may be only for the test realm, again not sure).

If you're a hunter (or just want to know what you might be facing in the high level battlegrounds-- I would hate to get beat up by a purple dodo), Petopia's page is definitely worth a look before the patch drops as a great overall view of what's happening in petland.

Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Guides

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