Postcards from WoW, Part 5

By Shamus
on Aug 16, 2010
Filed under:
Pictures

My favorite NPC in World of Warcraft is this guy:

wow_lost_guard.jpg

It’s very hard to take a picture of this guy and even harder to give it the proper context, but what you’re seeing is me riding a gryphon up the almost sheer vertical face of a mountain. I don’t know of any way you could reach this spot on foot, and even if you could the ground would be too steep for you to hold on. You’d slide right off the mountain.

Yet there’s this dwarven guard always milling around up here. I still chuckle when I see him. What must he have done to get assigned guard duty on the barren backside of the mountain where no other creature can tread?

I’ll be very disappointed if I manage to click on him someday and see he’s just named “Ironforge Guard”. I like to think he’s a named NPC with some scandalous mistake in his past. Perhaps his name is Brawler Ironliver. Six years ago the king returned from a difficult military campaign to find a vat of Kingly Ale had gone missing, his ceremonial mount was wedged in the door of his majesty’s bedchamber, his teenage daughters were both pregnant, his scepter had been affixed to the front of a statue in a profane manner, and Brawler Ironliver was passed out on his throne wearing nothing but the royal crown, which was not on his head.

wow_horse.jpg

I’m on a horse.

A horse is the mount for humans. Normally you can only buy your race-specific mount. (Which means an elephantine Elykk for a Draenei like my character.) The exception is if you can raise your reputation with another race to exalted, they will sell you one of their mounts. In the past I’ve read stories about the mind-shattering tedium involved in such a task. It was reportedly some of the slowest, most painful grinding in the game. Days or weeks of extremely repetitive and dull questing for no loot or XP just to slowly improve the relationship with the desired faction.

So imagine my surprise when I hit exalted with the humans more or less on accident. I assume this is one of the parts of the game where they sped things up.

I prefer the horse simply because being lower to the ground makes it feel faster. Kind of like how tiny gnomes feel like they move so quickly compared to (say) a male Draenei, even though they have exactly the same running speed.

wow_damage.jpg

The random dungeon finder is indeed a great feature. You click the button, it puts you in the queue, and once it assembles a group for you you’re whisked away to the dungeon. Being in a group is really the only time you get to use your big powerful area-damage abilities. Any other time, and you’ll just piss off more foes than you can handle at once. But in a group one player will act as a tank and gather up all the foes into one spot and hold their attention while you call down ludicrous punishment and see delightful clouds of yellow damage numbers tick away.

The group needs 1 person to tank, 1 person to heal, and 3 people to deal damage. On my server, we are always, always, always starved for tanks. When I jump in the queue we’ll have 3 damage-dealers in under two minutes. A healer in five. But it will usually take twenty minutes for the server to find us a tank.

I rolled a tank (a warrior) myself to alleviate this problem, but then realized just how much of a challenge the role is. You need to be at the front of the group, which means you need to know the layout of any random dungeon you might land in. And some of these places are incomprehensibly huge. The city of the Dark Iron Dwarves has so many routes, so many branches, so many bosses, so many doors that require quest items to enter, and so much vertical travel that even after running through it a dozen times I still don’t feel like I could lead a group through there without getting stuck or lost.

On top of this, the tank is the one character who absolutely must know his or her job. If your healer performs poorly, you might have to take a potion now and again and it will get dangerous when things go wrong. If your DPS people are lacking in skill or under-equipped then progress will be slow and you’ll probably need to rest more often. But if your tank can’t do the job right your group is screwed. The role of the tank is to attract and command the attention of enemies. (Called “holding aggro”.) If enemies don’t stay on the tank they’ll run off and start pounding on the DPS or the healers, and those folks have to stop doing their jobs. The entire group dynamic unravels and if the tank can’t recover aggro the party will be wiped out.

I’ve been in groups with inept tanks, and it’s always a painful experience. You’ve just waited 20 minutes to get a dungeon, and you find yourself with some tank who can’t hold any aggro, or who can only hold aggro on one foe at a time. No matter how gently I attack, any damage dealt to an enemy will cause them to forsake the tank and make a beeline for me. It’s obvious this player simply does not have any idea how to play their class, which is sort of alarming when everyone is in their mid-50’s.

Sadly, I don’t know how the tank classes work so I can’t even offer advice. And not all players are open to teaching.

Once you realize you’re with a bad tank there’s nothing you can do. If you leave the group the game will penalize you for abandoning the group and you won’t be able to use the dungeon finder for half an hour. Or you can stick with the tank until the party gets wiped out, the group disbands, and then you can wait out your ten minutes of resurrection sickness and another twenty minutes in the dungeon finder queue. But no matter what you do, the moment you’re thrown into a dungeon with a bad tank your forward progress is going to stop for the better part of an hour.

wow_dead.jpg

And speaking of death, this is where the random dungeon really falls apart. The way death works in a random dungeon is beyond stupid. If you have to make a corpse run, you will appear outside of the dungeon and must do a long walk just to reach the front door. Note that if you’re new to the game at all this means you’ll be marching for several minutes through unfamiliar territory where everything looks the same because in death the world is rendered in back and white with thick fog. And then when you reach the map arker to enter the dungeon you’ll be in the open. The dungeon entrance is somewhere directly under your feet, but you have no way of knowing which way to go to find the cave that leads underground.

And if you do reach the dungeon, you still have to make it back to your body, somewhere inside of this sprawling three dimensional maze. Have fun!

This generally means that a party wipe will result in the group disbanding. You’ll spend twenty minutes waiting in the queue, followed by ten minutes of bad grouping, followed by ten more minutes of resurrection sickness and a trip to the smith for a hefty repair bill. This is a really frustrating way to waste forty minutes. About one in eight trips seem to end this way, which really degrades the value of the dungeon finder for me.

These dungeons were designed for groups of friends who know the quests and who are working together specifically to overcome these challenges. But now they’re being used by groups of random strangers for leveling. You can get into groups where nobody knows where to go or where the bosses are.

If I were designing the game today, I would make the dungeons for random players into linear places with a boss fight every ten minutes. So groups could decide if they wanted to stop at the ten, twenty, or thirty minute mark and call the place done. I would have the corpse run begin at the front door or (if you really, really feel that a timesink punishment is a required aspect of death) make it a straightforward route to get back to the action.

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  1. Florin-Vlad says:

    If you get teamed with a bad tank you still have some skills that are helpfull to keep aggro off you.

    Being a hunter, you can control your pet in tanking for you if the tank looses one mob.

    Similarly you should realy get used to crowd control, because it helps, especially in the situation when the tank can’t cope with more than 1-2 mobs.

    Moreover, you should realy keep an eye on the healer and try to get mobs off him using the pet or even drawing them to yourself he has more than 1 mob on him (one on the pet and one on you should be manageable).

    Use freezing traps and Distrcting Shot to get mobs to step on them and try to alert the group that youre going to trap.

    Ofcourse if you get teamed with a group of veterans any and all attempts at croud control are going to be foiled by the mass AOE.

    • Heh, hunters can do some amusing things with aggro in WoW, particularly with misdirect. My housemate was tanking a 10-man raid where the off-tank had to go afk right prior to them pulling a boss. So he’s sitting there waiting, and all the sudden the hunter in the group (who happens to be the guild leader) pulls the boss. So my housemate charges in to tank, he’s getting damage stacks and about to die, and suddenly the boss switches to the off-tank and the dps cleans it up. Then the PLAYER of the off-tank comes back and says, “what the hell happened?!”

      Misdirect, that’s what happened. Nothing like tanking a boss when you’re not even there.

      • Adeon says:

        Oh yeah as a hunter I LOVE MD. I also find that a hunter’s CC abilities are useful if the healer starts pulling aggro, especially with a Survival Hunter since Wyrvern Sting gives a little extra CC.

      • BaCoN says:

        It’s too bad that 80% of all hunters are BAD.

        It used to be 90%, but I guess some good players got tired of bad hunters and re-rolled.

        • Shamus says:

          I think the game has always been TERRIBLE at teaching hunters how to play. You spend the first 10 levels being a completely useless archer, and then get your pet and the game is transformed into something completely different. So you don’t even start learning to use your class until level 10. In the old days there was all that mucking about with the pet trainer where you had to learn a skill from a pet so you could teach it to other pets and the game never even let you know that stuff was THERE, so you had “huntards” who didn’t use growl and were just really crappy melee character who could pull and had a cute buddy. Having a pet hold aggro while you DPS it is the core of the hunter class, and the game didn’t teach you how to do this!

          I’m still angry at how stupid that old setup was. Any class that requires you to read the wiki in order to use it well is going to have a lot of “idiot players”. This is sad, since it’s actually the game designers that are the idiots. People can’t learn if they aren’t even aware of the gaps in their knowledge.

          Now it’s a lot better. All pets have growl without all that mucking about with the pet trainers, and by default growl is set to auto-cast. In Cataclysm, you begin the game with your pet, so that will solve the problem of the first 10 levels being a waste of time instead of an introduction to your class.

          Still, I didn’t know how to do the hunter stuff well until I saw a talented hunter in action. If she pulled aggro she had this whole chain of contingencies – trap, disengage, sic pet, feign death. Wyvern anything that goes for the healer. Watching her perform in a group with a horrible tank was actually the most educational hour I’ve ever spent with the game.

          • Jack says:

            You’re meant to Feign Death BEFORE pulling aggro; get a threat meter, and FD just after overtaking the tank but before pulling the mob, otherwise it goes for the next player on its threat list, which could be a healer.

            I agree that the game sucks at teaching hunters to play, particularly soloing. I was level 40 before I found the old “Train Pet” ability hidden away in my general spells tab, and it wasn’t until then that I learned I could use my pet as a tank; I had been using Freezing Traps to shoot things to death before then.

          • Steve C says:

            Speaking of Growl and tanks that can’t hold aggro… those 2 issues are related. When you are doing a dungeon you absolutely must turn off auto-cast growl. You can still use it when it needs using but turn the damn thing off.

          • Dys says:

            There’s also the fact that a hunter, more easily than any other class, can level all the way to max just by using auto-attacks.

            I’m pretty sure a hunter could level without ever using any other ability. Not so sure that’s true for other classes.

      • Kalil says:

        One of the best players I know is a hunter, and via clever aggro management, he was able of some utterly ridiculous stunts – like soloing most of Ramparts at level. I’ve been on several runs that he and his pet have ‘main tanked’. Another friend of mine was able to solo Durn the Hungerer to 50% as a Warlock, by trading aggro with his imp.

        For normal mortals, however, a good solid plate-wearing character is necessary for instant-running success.

    • DancePuppets says:

      Yes, keeping mobs off the healer, what a novel idea! I do wish more people realised this in the random dungeon finder, it’s so annoying as a priest healing people, attracting aggro from some angry mobs because the tank is inept, then having to try and keep yourself alive as despite informing the group that things have gone a bit pear shaped no-one bothers to assist. This is invariably followed by “What a noob healer, I need heals, why aren’t you healing me?” and such like.

  2. Shiro_ax says:

    I fell the tank role is easier for me because you can hardly tell the average apart from the good, unlike the dps where there are specific numbers. It’s pretty easy to learn once you get the idea. Paladins are even easier, on low levels just spam Consecration and everything sticks to you, on higher just spam Consecration and Hammer of the Righteous and everything sticks to you.

    I agree on the death bit completelly, back when you started from summoning stone and had to run in the instance this was as tolerable as the rest of it, but with the dungeon finder you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no idea where to go.

    On your last point, Blizz agrees. See Pit of Saron, however if done right it’s close to 20 minutes with bosses at 7-14-20. Hardly anything takes longer than 30 minutes unless you suck very hard at lv 80.

    • Trix says:

      Almost any dungeon past lvl 60 is designed to be fairly linear and quick as well, with some exceptions in the 60-70 range (and old kingdom used to be pretty long), making for much more enjoyable experiences. You might also notice with the better designs/balancing that the trash/bosses more fun as well (particularly post-70).

    • I’ve always just had to run to the dungeon entrance to come back to life, never have had to find my body.

      And if you do reach the dungeon, you still have to make it back to your body, somewhere inside of this sprawling three dimensional maze. Have fun!

      Is that some change that happened this week while I have been busy and not playing?

      • Shamus says:

        Nope. I was wrong. You don’t have to make it back to your body. You just have to make it back to the rest of the group while alone and one wrong turn could bring you too close to a cluster of elites, which is 100% guaranteed death. (They’ll never stop chasing you.) And then you’ll have to do another corpse run because it’s still faster than everyone else hunting around for your body.

        So I was incorrect. It’s actually WORSE than I stated.

        • Hmm, I have only run the low level dungeons, a few in Outlands and all the Northend ones numerous times. Seems like I am in for a “treat” as my alt gets higher levels.

          In Vanilla WoW one thing I have done is portal out and then portal back in when someone dies so everyone is at the entrance, then we all went forward again — when someone died and we could not rez them.

          Sorry you’ve had such a bad time. I’ve been playing since before BCC and had not had that sort of problem — though it seems to have really left a mark on you.

  3. Malkara says:

    In case you didn’t know- The dungeons in the expansions are infinitely simpler than the old-world ones. No more getting lost, yaaay. ;p

    So you have that to look forward to, at least.

    • Jarenth says:

      Now if they’d only fix the entrances a bit.

      The door to Hellfire Citadel is on a cliff — the first time after I died in there, I spent a good fifteen minutes finding the path back. The door to the Coilfang Reservoir is underwater (in a way). Auchindoun is down in a death-drop pit. Gun’drak has two separate doors, one entry and one exit, which I always confuse during a death run.

      At least they dispensed with that key nonsense — it added flavour to the game, sure, but it was also a major time-sink and a horrible drag to find out that, after an hour of grouping, one of your party members didn’t have key X or Y yet.

      Good times.

  4. superKP says:

    I am relatively new to the game, and I have to say, the first time I died in Deadmines (where the entrance is in an anonymous building, up the stairs, down into the third sub-basement and down a long tunnel, and the ACTUAL entrance is directly below an alliance graveyard [yeah, that was confusing]) it took me nearly an hour to just find the entrance again WITH help from my guild, which I was lucky enough to sign up for a day before.

    But I have to say, if you have a friend, or even a guildmate, online at the same or similar level, never do a random without them. Just having a friendly toon around makes the entire experience so much better, if nothing else than for the fact that two out of five know each other and won’t be total asses to each other or even in front of each other.

    And if you or this friend are somewhat good at tanking, then you get a group very quickly, every time.

    If you can tank, please tank. But please learn it organically [yes, that means questing], rather than assuming you will be able to ‘figure it out when you get there’.

    • Tesh says:

      Except, learning by questing doesn’t give you a good feel for how it works with a group in the pressure of a dungeon with elite mobs everywhere. Solo questing teaches you even less about tanking than group questing.

      I’ve argued before for very specific quests that teach you tanking, healing or DPSing in dungeon-like groups, preferably taught with NPCs in the other roles and some very explicit instructions to you in how to play your role. If it’s going to be the bakcbone of the game’s combat, the trinity needs to be very clear as soon as possible in the game. You just can’t rely on the players to teach each other.

  5. Nathon says:

    I’ve leveled 2 tanks to 80, (the first to hit 80 was started on the day the dungeon finder came out) and I can tell you that warrior tanking is hard. If you want easy mode, make a paladin. The problem with being a warrior is that your AoE threat potential is craptastic even in the end game. It’s great fun, but you need a group that knows how to use crowd control and focus fire. That is, until you outgear all the dungeons and they become a mindless grind.

    The dungeons in Outland and Northrend are a good deal less labyrinthian than the original dungeons. Blackrock depths is also like doing 2 different dungeons (at level 50, the dungeon finder drops you in and you only have to kill 1 boss; then a bit later you can skip the easy bits but have to kill the very last boss).

    I found that tanking and telling people when I was new to a dungeon worked out. You learn the layouts pretty quickly, particularly with Atlas or similar to give you a nice map for pre-Wrath content. You’ll have to try hard to hold aggro now that everyone’s rocking the heirlooms, but having a mature tank makes groups better and you’ll never have to wait for a random dungeon.

    • Shamus says:

      Thank you very much for this warning. I leveled a warrior all the way to 14 specifically for the purpose of being an aggro-holding tank. I’ve been with good tanks before, and it is a joy to be able to drop the big spells without fear of pulling aggro.

      Seems like a Warrior gets a raw deal. It’s not as good at holding aggro compared to a pally, which can also heal? Man, if a warrior is good for ANYTHING it should be the best dang tank in the game.

      I’ve got a 9-ish pally sitting around. Maybe I’ll level him.

      • glassdirigible says:

        There are lots of people who think exactly that (that warriors should be able to hold aggro better than anyone else). It used to be true, in fact, it used to be that warrior were the only ones respected as tanks. Think about how much worse finding a tank would be if that were the case.

        Warriors can hold aggro fine, AoE or single target, but it is a steeper learning curve to be able to do it. Being protection helps make the learning curve a bit less steep, as you get a few abilities that make things a bit easier.

        If you’re rolling a character to be a tank, I would recommend a druid, at least in your case. For leveling, speccing as a bear won’t diminish your effectiveness as a cat too much. You can act as a tank in dungeons with a much easier time than a warrior (it still won’t be as easy as a paladin or death knight, but it won’t be as hard as a warrior).

        You can also AoE while not in dungeons as a bear. 5 or 6 guys isn’t a problem, as long as you know your abilities and watch out for archers.

        At max level the tanks are roughly equivalent in terms of usefulness.

        • Nathon says:

          That’s good advice. I leveled my druid as a healer (because I’m nuts and cat is boring and I already had 2 tanks) but bears do a pretty good job of holding aggro in randoms.

        • Tesh says:

          I specced into Feral for my Druid, and played as a Cat in most places, but I was able to step up and offtank or even be the main tank when necessary, at least through the midgame. I adore that flexibility; I queue as DPS (since I’m not fully specced for bearishness), but I can and do tank adequately if needed.

      • Nathon says:

        It’s true, warriors are actually the worst tanks (in terms of effectiveness for a given gear level) at level 80 right now. They’re good, but still the worst. That said, I’d much rather heal a warrior than a DK in a random heroic. Jerks without shields.

        However, my pally tank is boring (now that he’s geared) and my warrior’s great fun. I get to charge all over the place dropping stuns and paying attention to S&B procs and doing massive single target threat. I just won’t group with random strangers on the warrior.

        • Trix says:

          I will hotly debate this, as warriors have a lot of good tools at their disposal and don’t perform horribly in most departments (even aoe threat IS manageable). Back at the beginning of WoLK I might agree, but prot warriors have gotten some significant buffs since then.

      • Ben says:

        Unfortunately most of the talents are balanced around the endgame. Things are definitely a lot better at 80 for warriors. The main issue is that the two biggest bonuses to aoe tanking are the deep wounds and shockwave talents, and these are pretty deep in two different talent trees, so you don’t get both until at least level 75 or so. However, I converted my warrior over to a tank at 60, when you get shockwave, and it wasn’t too bad.

        I wouldn’t worry too much about leveling a ton of alts :\ It can be fun but some of the later content is REALLY well done, and doing too many alts can slow you down a lot. I would know! Took me like a year back in vanilla to hit 60, but I had a bunch of other level 30-50 guys.

        • Trix says:

          Up until around level 50ish, thunderclap was most of what was needed to hold threat in 5-mans (least for me). It was only around 40-50 that anything else was really needed, and 50-60 where you had to think about multiple targets. YMMV however.

          • Veloxyll says:

            So far, levelling my warrior I’ve had no problem holding aggro, though I’m only level 39 at the moment. I will say this to any budding warrior tanks though – Thunderclap is your bestest bestest friend. Talent it and Glyph it and hit it whenever it’s on cooldown.

            If you’re going druid on the other hand, just replace all your bear keys with swipe and you’ll be fine.

            • Trix says:

              Don’t rely only on it after 60+, however. Shockwave is invaluable, and I recommend cleave (glyphed even) to help fill gaps towards 80.

              TC will always be your best friend tho :)

      • Greg says:

        Oh, for years warriors were the only end game tank. Then along came Burning Crusade and paladins and druids became viable tanks, although warriors were generally everyone’s go-to tank. Now in Wrath, Death Knights were added to the mix and you have 4 equally viable tanks.

        I levelled a warrior to the low 60s before I got bored with it a few months ago and did some tanking on it until the mid 30s and I never had any AOE threat issues. Although it helps that for much of your time levelling, tanks (not sure about druids here) tended to be doing ~50% off the overall damage in the group, just because of all the AOE they’re putting out. When I switched to DPS I couldn’t keep up except on single targets and I had 7-8 heirlooms on.

        EDIT: Wow, I see a lot of people beat me to the punch while I was writing this.

      • Kdansky says:

        Amusingly, Warriors at 60 were the ONLY tank while also being (one of) the top DPS class.

        And the “you cannot heal” argument only works for the lower levels, due to gear and talents. A fully tank-specced and tank-geared bear druid (or paladin for that matter) can toss out healing spells that pale in comparison to potions. No mana pool to speak off, slow and expensive spells (and few to choose from) and no +1000 spell power gear makes their heals worth shit.

        Also: Imagine you being the tank in that random group. You’re the guy that knows how the dungeon works. And then there are three DPS, which do less damage than you do alone, despite being the tank. And the healer, which actually manages to let you die because he does not toss a single heal in your direction for a full thirty seconds. You’re basically boosting the lazy slackers. Because that is even more frustrating, I would not tank for random people.

      • Steve C says:

        If you are planning on leveling a tank via random dungeons the best thing you can do is focus on damage output (aka threat) and stamina. Don’t worry about stats like defense before level 68. The dungeons before Northrend are not difficult in terms of damage taken. If you can keep the monsters off the healer you will win so make that your priority. Leveling dungeon mechanics are only difficult in terms of controlling aggro and preventing bad pulls by fleeing monsters.

      • Hal says:

        One more note in this vein, and that’s some paladin advice. I’m very pro-paladin (my first and main character is a draenei paladin). Should you choose to level one as a tank, there’s some advice that isn’t readily obvious (though it only applies until Cataclysm is released).

        Before you go down the protection tree, go down the retribution tree far enough to get Seal of Command. This not only boosts your AoE capabilities, but provides you the one thing the protection tree will lack for many, many more levels: Mana regen. The glyph of Seal of Command will net you 20% of your base mana every time you use Judgment. This is much more mana return than protection would have for a while (Blessing of Sanctuary, Spiritual Attunement, and Divine Plea all coming much later on).

        Oh, and don’t try tanking until you get Consecrate at level 20.

      • OEP says:

        I have an ICC geared tank of every tank class and they are all fun and require different skill sets. Here are some of my opinions:

        In order of difficulty from easy to hard.

        1) Druid
        2) Paladin
        3) Death Knight
        4) Warrior

        In order of survivability from worst to best

        1) Death Knight
        2) Warrior
        3) Druid
        4) Paladin

        In order of threat generation from worst to best

        1) Paladin
        2) Druid
        3) Warrior
        4) Death Knight

        DK would be worst if not for Icy Touch spam.

    • kmc says:

      I agree with the others here; warriors used to be THE tanks just like priests used to be THE healers, but warriors are some of the worst at holding aggro (or so I’ve seen in randoms at level 80). I don’t know if it’s that warrior tanking is complicated and difficult to learn or if they don’t have the same abilities; my warrior is straight dps still. One other thing that can get in the way is if your healer is a discipline priest, as my priest is. Disc priests rage-starve warrior (and, I suppose, bear) tanks, whereas pallies and dks don’t have the same problem. Of course, when I rolled my priest I was apparently assigned the “always get warrior tank” stat, so it’s been problematic. Pallies seem to be easysauce tanks, and death knights are so overpowered most of the way until 80 that, once you hit 55, you could try that too. (Go blood, it lives forever and is more fun than frost tanking.) ;.)

      • Josh says:

        Disc priests rage-starve warrior

        This was changed in patch 3.1, released in April 2009. Rage is generated, even while the tank is shielded.

        • lazlo says:

          So now instead of rage-starving warriors and druids, disc priests mana-starve pallys. Just can’t win.

          My priest is holy, but I still like to front-load some healing on the tank with PW:S and PoM (because spells cast before entering combat don’t generate any threat, even if their effect comes after combat starts)

          The problem is, lots of warriors and druids don’t *know* about that change in 3.1, which isn’t surprising since it doesn’t appear in the patch notes or any documentation that I’ve been able to find (outside of one blue post in the forums that basically said “maybe we’ll do this next patch…”), so I had to go by experiment (group with a warrior friend, shield her with zero rage, and have her walk up to a mob and not attack it. Sure enough, there’s rage.)

          • spiralofhope says:

            > So now instead of rage-starving warriors and druids, disc priests mana-starve pallys. Just can’t win.

            When the bubble pops, the paladin is given mana. It’s not a big deal, and any decent disc knows how to manage their paladin tank’s mana.

      • Trix says:

        Warriors are plenty decent at aoe threat. The problem is it requires some positioning (shockwave), timing (thunderclapping on CD), on top of tab-targetting. Cleave helps a bunch, however.

        So I guess you could say warrior tanking is harder, but then I like it because that makes it more interesting :)

  6. Duffy says:

    Apologizing ahead of time for what is probably going to be rampant attempts at corrections and suggestions:

    First up, you can kick people from a random and re-queue the remaining group to fill the hole if so desired. It will only help your re-queue time by small margin at low levels (in progress dungeons are thrown to the front of the queue), but if you’ve cleared any bosses new people may reject your groups from the queue menu.

    Second, simply entering the dungeon’s instance restores your body. If your group does disband you can just use the dungeon finder icon on your map to teleport back out. Technically you can use this at any time to leave and return, however it always ports you to the entrance when going into a dungeon. Resurrection sickness is something you should pretty much never have a reason to experience.

    As to your opinions on random dungeons I pretty much agree. The system is ideal for old-timers, not new people. However, it’s nice not having to spend lots of traveling time to string along several dungeon runs and being able to get a group for a dungeon without having to sit in a city spamming chat. You can spend that 20mins questing.

    And Blizzard did learn their lessons about dungeon design, they are much shorter and way more linear in the expansions. This is especially true of Wrath’s dungeons.

    • Steve C says:

      Resurrection sickness is something you should pretty much never have a reason to experience.

      There is one great way to use res sickness. After a dungeon is over, purposely get yourself killed. Then when you appear at the graveyard, spirit rez. You are now in a new zone and can get the flight path. Also if your party shared any quests odds are that they need to be turned-in in this zone.

      Re-queue for a dungeon and while you wait, run around, empty your bags and explore. Get new quests, turn in existing ones. About the time you are done doing that your next dungeon will be ready and your rez sickness will be gone.

  7. The S Ninja says:

    No one has mentioned this so far but if you wipe, you just have to return to the dungeon. You don’t have to go looking for your corpse inside of it.

    • Nathon says:

      You can only return to the dungeon once you’re alive. So either you take the sickness or you find the entrance.

      • kmc says:

        Well, yes, but that’s what he’s saying–you just have to corpse run to the entrance of the dungeon, not inside it, since once you enter the dungeon portal you get your body back. It can still be a little tough to get there; I’ve certainly gotten lost from time to time.

        • Nathon says:

          Ah, right. I was thinking of the “teleport to dungeon” button they added. It doesn’t make deadmines wipes (or stockades as horde) any easier.

          • lazlo says:

            Or Blackrock. How many times have I seen people saying “Where’s the entrance? I’m lost… and I think I’m swimming in lava, but I’m not sure since it’s all gray….”

            Good reason to always make sure that your party has a warlock that can soulstone someone who can resurrect. Or a shaman with reincarnation. Or a hunter with Feign Death and some jumper cables. Or all of the above.

            Be interesting to see how hard it’d be to single-class some dungeons. Sure, going in with 2 boomkin, a cat a bear and a tree should be cake, or a plate-fest of pallys. But how far could you get with 4 shadow priests and one discipline? Or a bunch of hunters going through a cycle of misdirect, growl, mend pet, cower, with some freezing traps and concussive shots thrown in for good measure. And if WoW actually made any sense, then DK’s *should* be able to heal each other with Death Coil. I mean really, how can you be more undead than a forsaken death knight?

            • Ian says:

              But how far could you get with 4 shadow priests and one discipline?

              I dunno, but if you were to go back in time and get 40 priests together they could kill Onyxia.

              And if WoW actually made any sense, then DK’s *should* be able to heal each other with Death Coil. I mean really, how can you be more undead than a forsaken death knight?

              It’s the way that it is due to the game mechanics. If death knights (of the Forsaken in general, for that matter) were marked undead they wouldn’t have a chance against pallies.

            • I’d sure like to be able to heal other DKs with death coil. ;)

            • Druids were the original 5 man team. But 5 man paladin teams come close. 5 Warlocks can have the demons replace the tank as a group and 5 hunters could probably pet tank most content as long as they were suitably overgeared.

              But 5 druids or 5 paladins …

              I keep wanting Warlocks to have a tanking spec (make demonology warlocks merge with their demons and become tanks).

              • WarlockofOz says:

                Many instances have been soloed by Hunters, albeit using their array of threat tricks to maximum effect. I imagine five well coordinated ones would be able to chew through pretty much everything (though I never did manage. Mend Pet with a tanking Pet isn’t as tough as a full healer and a real tank but you get at least five of them.

  8. MichaelG says:

    Back when I first played (before Burning Crusade), I learned to hate all the dungeons. You get in there with a random groups of guys with bad attitudes. If you do anything wrong, they piss all over you, or even kick you out. No one wants to stop and explore, just grind, grind, grind. Yuck!

    And if you do it right, it’s pretty much the same each time after that. So no fun at all.

    I was always an explorer type in the game though. Pick my herbs, make my potions, and poke into all the odd corners.

    • Ian says:

      Eh, nothing’s really changed. It’s just much easier to get a random group together thanks to the Dungeon Finder. I swear, with some groups you’re lucky if the tank stops long enough for the healer to mana up.

      I’ve been working on soloing all of the dungeons with my 80 lately. I took care of the old world and Outland dungeons, and now I’ve been pushing through the WotLK regulars. It’s amazing how many little details you miss when you blow through them.

  9. Hal says:

    I leveled my paladin as a tank, so I can attest to the difficulties faced. The only thing I could really contribute is that it’s worth it for someone to try each role, although I also advocate doing so via leveling and not taking a dual-spec at 80 and jumping into raiding/heroic dungeons in a role you’ve never played before.

    As I said, my first character was a tank. The game became much different for me when I started leveling a healer (priest) and a few DPS (shaman, warlock, and death knight). If nothing else, it helps you appreciate the nuances in gameplay.

  10. Wolfwood says:

    You know y there are never any Tanks? They suck to play alone. Around the mid lvl range, every mob you encounter takes an age to kill. While your smacking away at this one mob, you see other players with their DPS classes kill 4-5 mobs at the same time…

    When they figure out a way for a Tank to have good DPS solo is when more ppl are willing to play them. (some extra DPS skills that work when your not in a group?)

    All the more reason I tend to play Off Tanks. High DPS units that aren’t too squishy. Downside, no one wants an off tank in Groups ::Sad Face::

    • Nathon says:

      That’s not strictly true. My paladin could solo about a dozen baddies in the time it took a hunter to take down the same number. The trick is to kill them all at once with reactive damage.

      Hop on mount, run around grabbing aggro, pop up holy shield and ret aura, use judgement of light on the toughest one and after about 20 seconds you’ll have a huge pile of corpses to loot.

      • Trix says:

        My prot warrior has never…ever…respecced (not counting dual-spec) 1-80 and beyond. It really wasn’t that difficult (and was even fun, especially when you get warbringer at level 50), and the random dungeon finder didn’t even exist at the time.

    • Florin-Vlad says:

      Nobody forces you to speck Protection on any tank that is not doing Heroic dungeons or Raids. Probably at lvl 80 normal dungeons it’s allright to go protection, but 0-60 and even 0-70, going protection is a waste of precious time.

      Besides, even if you are protection nobody stops you from equiping a 2 hander and switching to Battle or Berzerker stance.

      • acronix says:

        The problem I see with rolling a tank but leveling it up with another talent tree is that, if you are new to the game, you won´t have experience for when you switch talents. Of course that, to learn to tank, you need to do group activities.

        It is as you say, however, that leveling up tanks on those ranges is a waster of leveling time. And if you are not going to do instances, then it is a waste of pure time since you aren´t learning anything.

        • Hal says:

          They’re changing that for Cataclysm; most tanking is viable due to tanks having reduced chance to be critically hit. This is currently achieved with gear. When the expansion hits, it will be baked into talents in the tanking tree of the given classes.

    • kmc says:

      I don’t know when you were leveling tanks but I think they’ve made them a lot better now. I leveled my pally to about 50 as prot back before BC and it sucked super hard. I seem to remember that ret was kind of a joke back then, though. Eventually, I got back on her and switched to ret and leveled the rest of the way up, but I think they’ve made enough changes that it’s actually possible and even enjoyable now. I also hear reports that warrior tanks aren’t too bad for soloing and, of course, you can level almost entirely through instances if that’s your bag.

    • Wolfwood says:

      To be fair i was speaking in general MMORPG terms. I’ve played a lot of them and it just always seems that way that a Pure Tank sux at soloing and an Off Tank sux at grouping. Can’t have your cake and eat it too it seems :( (Still think the saying makes no sense)

      also i realized that i want a super IMBA class at this point XD but still stands that its great fun at low lvls and at high lvls, Tanks are just no fun when you’re in the middle.

      Btw I’ve only played WoW for 10 out of the 14 day free trial so i can’t comment for realz. But i do appreciate yall enlightening me on different specs for a class. Lets you know the game is Deep enough for that to happen, and that just means its a great game ^-^

    • Jarenth says:

      I will never forgot the time I was levelling in Nagrand with a protection Warrior buddy (me: Warlock). We had to do a quest for that Nesingwary fellow, kill ten exotic deer or something. We go find a patch of them. He picks one, attacks, starts smacking it around for a bit, and eventually it dies. And then the quest was completed.

      Because I killed the other 9 in the same time span.

  11. BarGamer says:

    The obscenity that WoW calls dungeon design is one of the reasons why I quit it forever and play Guild Wars instead.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      So you went to a game with absolutely no dungeons or really very few interior spaces at all?

      Seriously, though, I love Guild Wars but I hated that there were no indoor spaces — especially in Prophecies, where the only one I remember off the top of my head was the catacombs in the Pre-Searing area, which post-searing gets blocked off.

      • Pickly says:

        He’s probably comparing missions, or instances in general, to the warcraft instances, since they are, gameplay wise, the more useful comparison. (unlike the art/setting comparison done in your comment.)

  12. Mirthlani says:

    There are really only two good classes for tanks. Frost DKs and Palys. Palys are by far the best agro holders and damage mitigators. DKs do well with a good healer since they just don’t have the damage mitigation of the Paly. DKs are nice to have in Raids since they are usually DPS/Tank duel spec’d and can swap roles mid-dungeon. Warriors are some of the worst main tanks that I see. They can be really good as off-tanks or boss-tanks but if you get more then three mobs in a pull they’re screwed.

    As a DPS’er the first trick you should learn is the target-my-target’s-target. Target the tank and press the ‘r’ key. This will automatically target the mob that the tank is targeting. Even the most incompetent tank can keep agro on their primary target. Also be very careful with your big AOE stuff until you have an idea of the tanks skill and always give them 3-4 seconds to grab agro before attacking with AOE.

    Tanking can be tough. You are expected to know the dungeon and the boss fights. You set the pace and have the biggest influence on the success of the dungeon. You really shouldn’t try it until you’ve DPS or healed for a while and have some experience in the dungeons. And if you duel-spec remember you gear! You’re gear should be dedicated to tanking otherwise you aren’t a tank. I recommend the gear set feature that lets you swap out all of your equipment with a single button.

    Also, get the DeadlyBossMods plugin! I don’t know how I ever tanked without it.

    • glassdirigible says:

      Warriors do fine. Just give the warrior a few seconds to round everything up and thunderclap before you start DPS. Once they’ve done that once (maybe twice, depending on gear) they’re fine. It seems pretty simple to wait until things get into melee to start attacking them.

    • Ben says:

      “There are really only two good classes for tanks. Frost DKs and Palys.”

      Go back to trolling in the wow forums plz.

      • kmc says:

        Seriously, after our blood tank soloed just under 1M of Loatheb’s health after the rest of us wiped… sounds to me like frost is the only good spec. ;.) (And yes, it took forever, but Loatheb doesn’t have an enrage timer, so it’s all good.)

        • Trix says:

          Doubt this could be done now with DK changes, but I wouldn’t know.

          Also, I’ll give +1 for warriors too :)

          • Veloxyll says:

            You’d be surprised, Loatheb hits like a baby and blood DKs have obnoxious HP regen powers (still).

            And I <3 my fuzzy bear tanks, they're probably my favourite classto tank with (my main is a pally). Warriors do have a habit of going splut though.

            • Trix says:

              The problem is both that DKs have had some nerfs on the health regen department (although perhaps still enough) and also that loatheb prevents healing for 17 out of every 20 seconds.

              The problem isn’t with his melee damage, but rather the debuff he applies. Eventually it hits the point where its up constantly, and I doubt anything could survive that long.

        • Ian says:

          Blood DKs rock (I use blood for soloing and tanking and unholy for DPS). There’s just something very rewarding about being able to solo kill Chillmaw (or many of the entry level WotLK dungeon bosses, for that matter) in DPS gear with more health remaining than what I started with. :)

    • OEP says:

      There are really only two good classes for tanks. Frost DKs and Palys. Palys are by far the best agro holders and damage mitigators.

      As someone who has tanked Naxx/Ulduar/TOC/ICC with all 4 tank classes, I disagree. What constitutes a “good class for tanks”? Are your criteria just what you enjoy? From your examples, it sounds like you don’t raid and only PUG 5 mans.

      Every tank class/spec can tank anything in the game without much ado. Paladins also start to have significantly more trouble holding single target threat than the other classes once you reach ICC25 gear or higher. The scaling for single target threat for paladins is a bit lower than it is for the other classes.

      As far as damage mitigation, paladins have a significant advantage when tanking 5-mans since they block a lot. And for the most part, the mobs don’t hit that hard. There is no question that a geared paladin tank will take a lot less damage in a 5 man than most tanks. Once you are raid-tanking, the differences aren’t particularly noticeable. Paladins shine with a lousy healer in a 5 man with 5 mobs hitting for less than 1k. In ICC when the bosses hit for 25k, all tanks do pretty much the same.

      Warriors are some of the worst main tanks that I see. They can be really good as off-tanks or boss-tanks but if you get more then three mobs in a pull they’re screwed.

      A main tank is the tank you use on a boss. And warriors have absolutely no problems with AOE tanking (area of effect). I have tanked every heroic, and every raid in Wrath of the Lich King with my warrior without any trouble. Between Thunderclap and Shockwave (an AOE stun) you can hold any AOE packs. It does require more competence and better positioning skills since Shockwave is a frontal cone. I routinely tank packs of 8 or more on my warrior.

      DKs are nice to have in Raids since they are usually DPS/Tank duel spec’d and can swap roles mid-dungeon.

      Almost all tank classes are DPS/Tank DUAL spec’d. So I don’t know why DK’s are particularly advantaged in this area. DK’s tend to take a bit more damage than the other classes but not enough to matter. Also nowadays the main endgame tanking spec is blood.

      Overall, all the tanks are perfectly capable of doing the job.

  13. Giggity says:

    The dual specialization system helps the tank shortage a little bit, though one does need an extra one thousand gold laying around.

    Even without dual specs, one can level as a feral druid be fairly effective at tanking and playing solo as well. I’ve also had some success leveling solo as a protection warrior, but only 70-73 so I have no idea how it is before or after that level range.

    And after 4 years, I still get lost each and every time I try to enter Sunken Temple.

  14. Paronomasiac says:

    Alright, I need to jump in here because I’m marginally offended. Yes, I managed to quell my addiction many months ago, but until that time I played a tank. A druid tank.

    I don’t claim to know what happened to the game before 1.6 or after patch 2.3 (which just dropped before I did), but during that time, I loved tanking and I loved leveling. Druids had the unique ability to specialize into “Feral,” in which nearly every talent increased tanking ability in bear form and DPS ability in cat form.

    Once bears learn swipe, they can hold AoE threat almost as good as a paladin. Once they learn Mangle, absolutely nothing can remove aggro in a single-target fight. I fondly remember asking mages and warlocks to actively try to pull aggro from me, and only needing to growl once every 20-30 seconds. (I remember less fondly being one of two tanks in the larger boss fights, and being forced to be completely inactive, because the other tank couldn’t pull aggro when he needed to.)

    All that to say, I am a druid, and I am a tank. I can do above average DPS if necessary, but cat form is boring and repetitive. Bear tank is exciting, and completely viable as a tanking option.

    Please don’t forget the druid tanks.

  15. Skip says:

    Raising your rep with the allied factions has definitely been sped up. In vanilla, original WoW, when you gained rep with one city, that was it. Now, say, if you’re raising rep with the Dwarves, you get 25% of that amount applied to all of the cities.

    Before then, you basically just got the quest XP for each city and that was it, and the only real way to raise the rep was to do the cloth turnins at each faction’s cloth quartermaster. Horde was a lot worse than Alliance here, as Horde in vanilla WoW only has about 75% of the quests that Alliance does, when you discount the shared quests.

  16. Falco Rusticula says:

    I recently realized that several of my formerly-pure-DPS characters (the druid, the baby DK) could in fact operate as tanks. The druid was mostly specced right (slight emphasis on DPS, but enough of the tank talents to work), and I signed up for a random as a tank.

    It didn’t go very well. The druid was just starting TBC content, so at least I wasn’t slowing up a level 80 group, though.

    I made a point of warning people, on the early dungeons, that I was new to tanking, needed them to go easy, and could use any tips for the role. It worked out OK. Fortunately, druids just have the one AoE tank button, though holding aggro in orange dungeons is still pretty tricky.

    On the whole, I quite like tanking, at least with a good group, though I’d rather DPS -it’s easier.

  17. Rosseloh says:

    If I remember correctly, the dungeon finder is cross-server. So it’s a game-wide epidemic, not just your server.

  18. Thom says:

    Exactly the reason why a RL friend of mine and me decided to make a tank/healer couple. Two Taurens… he’s a Warrior and I’m a Restoration Druid. Works like a blast!
    We usually have a group in the dungeon finder in less than one minute, often even within 10 seconds. We’re lvl 35 at the moment, and he never has any problems keeping aggro. That is, after he learned what skills to use and which ones to avoid. The only classes that do more damage than him in a group are mages, and not even all of them. He’s always the top damage dealer in any dungeon. So besides tanking, he’s also the main DPS.
    And all I do is keep him alive ;)

    • Trix says:

      At least at lower levels, the tank will have significantly more damage just by virtue of hitting all the targets immediately and throughout combat. Still, it always feels good to be on the top of the meter as a tank (unless its a heroic, in which case I cry).

    • My DPS DK has ended up playing as a tank due to pressure from guildies. I’ve been doing Frost for tanking and Unholy for DPS. If I’d only have realized I was going to do this sooner I’d have focused more on other gear.

      Two sets of gear is really more work than I expected (compared to my mage who has some slight shifts for fire or arcane depending on how much Hit is needed).

  19. lazlo says:

    I’ve played as a Hunter, a DK (yes, I’ve learned how to accept abuse) and a holy priest. My priest started out as a bank, but I’d quest around with him now and then. It was kinda painful (one of the reasons for that, that they’ve fixed now, is that the “auto-cast self” interface choice was turned off by default. It’s very handy to have on, if you’re a healer). I played my hunter badly, and still hardly ever died while questing. I had trouble with some green quests on my priest (eventually, after figuring out the right way to play him, I could quest fairly normally, but killing stuff still took *forever*, and orange quests still had a fair chance of involving a corpse run). I did a few dungeons, and they were wicked fun with a good group, but groups were rare and good groups were even rarer. Then dungeon finder came out and I could level forever without questing. It was awesome. Tanks can get by on their own, and DPS usually solo pretty well, but a healer *really needs* a group. (maybe pally healers are different, what with all that plate, but I don’t know)

    The thing I find interesting about tanking is that it’s the only role where you just turn everything up to 11. A healer should heal as much damage as there is incoming, and no more, or else they’re just wasting mana. A DPS should do as much damage as possible, without pulling aggro off the tank, and no more, else they’ll pull aggro, split the healer’s attention, die, the mob’ll aggro on the healer who’ll die, and then you’re most of the way to a wipe. But a tank simply can’t do too much of what he does (except pull. A tank can definitely pull too much.)

    Really, the job of a DPS is to do damage, but that’s not the most important job. The most important job is to not out-threat the tank. That can be hard to do at low levels, and and it sucks when you look at recount and see a dismal number, but no matter what your DPS ends up being, if you keep all the mobs at 99% threat to you, you’re doing your job perfectly

    As a healer, I’ve got to say that pally tanks rock. Holding aggro is one thing, and they do it well, but the other half of tanking is damage avoidance/mitigation. One of the cool priest heals is Prayer of Mending. It acts as a 30 second buff and any damage the target takes makes that spell heal them (and jump to someone else). You’ve probably heard it gonging its way around in instances. Pretty often on trash fights with a pally tank, the buff will wear off without firing. That means he’s been fighting for 30 seconds without getting hit a single time

    As a DPS, do what you can to manage your own aggro and survivability. As a hunter, don’t lead off with Volley. Drop a frost trap at your feet in case you do pull aggro. Fire at the tank’s target for a bit until his AoE aggro’s built up, then start volleying. Use Feign Death when you need to. At 70, you’ll get misdirection, which will help. If all else fails (too many mobs to trap, FD’s on cooldown), remember to run *to* the tank, so that he’ll have an easier time pulling aggro off of you.

    And the (already mentioned) awesome thing about the Northrend dungeons is, maps work inside them!

    The one thing I would love to see now is for them to allow groups to quest above their level. A single player who understands how to play his toon will be able to complete just about every quest he can accept. A group of 5 should be able to accept quests (not just group quests) that are a few levels higher than what they can solo.

    Also, understand that the paucity of tanks is a self-correcting problem. You noted it, and what did you do? You rolled a tank. So did I. So do a lot of people. Many of those people will suck at tanking, but some who wouldn’t have done it will find they like it. And so tanks will become less rare.

    The other thing that would make it much simpler would be to have “instance tanking” as an object you can post in the Auction House. :)

  20. Danath says:

    Hate to say it Shamus, you are the hunter I hate. The hunter who spams Volley instead of focusing the dangerous target!

    I kid, but really, spamming volley hunters are generally the ones I like least, especially when warrior tanking, due to the limited AoE threat mechanics warriors have. There’s also the fact that most volley spamming hunters tend to be lowest on the dps meter for me, sometimes even ranking below my tank. Low dps is fine, but below the tank, when you are a dpser is generally considered “poor”. Although there’s always the joyous blast wave spamming mages and typhoon spamming moonkins and thunderstorm spamming elemental shamans and and and…

    It’s no wonder it’s so hard to find a tank. DPS often goes out of it’s way to antagonize the tank because they think “I HAVE A TANK! TIME TO LET LOOSE!” And the tank just sits there struggling to deal with insane dpsers.

    I usually deal with it, I am an uncommon tank though, I KNOW every dungeon layout, every ability, how best to hold agro and abuse my stuns just when I’m about to lose agro. All from lots, and lots of practice. Something a newbie tank will not have available to them, and AE threat is generally the most difficult kind of threat to generate properly for tanks. Unless you’re a paladin… /shakes fist.

    Ironically this difficulty with grouping scenarios, and your own concern that people don’t know how to play their classes in groups is something I brought up a long… long time ago.

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=6449

    • Josh says:

      Maybe he pulled aggro and screwed up the fight for everyone. Or maybe he helped end it by doing more damage. You can’t tell from the screenshot.

      If he didn’t pull aggro, he was doing a good job by taking down a bunch of beetles. Area damage will do that better than targeting each one individually.

      • Trix says:

        Except in some cases of serious raiding (or a need not to kill certain targets), aoeing on 3+ mobs is usually fine (and will probably be better than single-target). Gone are the days where focus-fire was really necessary for 5-mans, although it doesn’t hurt either.

        • Danath says:

          Derp did you notice the second paragraph?

          There’s also the fact that most volley spamming hunters tend to be lowest on the dps meter for me, sometimes even ranking below my tank.

          I have raided ICC and tank 10-15 mobs at a time, especially at the start, I am FULLY aware of spam AE’s. Newbie tanks don’t know how to deal with that however.

          • Trix says:

            I was more referring to pulls that might ONLY be 3 or 4 mobs, where aoe might actually be questionable. Most aoes are balanced with 3+ targets in mind, but obviously the numbers vary.

            TBH I’m hoping Cata will change the damage/healing game enough to warrant needing focus-fire and crowd control again, because while spamming aoe on large packs works…its just not as strategically interesting. I am a little sad when my 65 mage in greens can outdps most of the competition by far on packs of 3+….with one spell…without even thinking about it much.

    • Richard says:

      I’m currently leveling a hunter, and I assure you, using volley will do more damage than anything else on packs of enemies (especially if you supplement it with explosive trap). If you’re about to pull aggro, all you have to do is feign death. And if you STILL manage to pull off after that, the tank is doing something very, very wrong.

      Also, there are very few enemies that require focus-fire in 5-mans. There’s a few cases where it makes things marginally easier, but it’s more efficient to just AoE them down, unless the group is actually having trouble.

      My hunter (currently level 52) is consistently at the top of the damage meters, often by a large margin. Granted, I’m sure that part of that has to do with my heirloom gear, but still…

      A smart hunter can deal with pulling aggro. They have a slowing shot, a slowing melee attack, a slowing trap, a crowd-control trap, a pet to pull the enemy off of them, an ability that lets them leap back a fair distance to get more room, and a way to drop all aggro. And at higher levels, you get the ability to transfer your threat to the tank.

  21. Hitch says:

    On the matter of corpse runs through unfamiliar territory… Blizzard is working on that problem in Cataclysm. Apparently (I’m not in the beta) in order to remotely queue for a dungeon you have to have previously “discovered” it. I’m not sure what “discovery” entails, but hopefully you’ve seen the area around the entrance and might recognize some landmarks. Personally, I think the discovery should be a three part affair, you’d need to find the meeting stone (The most likely thing they’ll use, although not always (see Deadmines) the most useful.), the entrance, and the associated graveyard.

  22. Skip says:

    As far as DPSers go, grabbing agro from the tanks, in the groups I heal for I have a very simple solution – I don’t heal them. It’s a rare fight these days that you can’t 4-man, and it usually doesn’t take too many deaths before the idiot mage or huntard figures things out.

    • Shamus says:

      Yeah. Don’t make any effort to teach them. Just refuse to heal and then when they die they’ll think, “Man, that healer is an idiot.”

      • Adeon says:

        I agree with Shamus here, if a DPS is pulling aggro from a good tank then the most likely problem is that the no one has tried to educate them as to what they should be doing. Yes there are incompetent players out there but there are also plenty of players who just need someone to offer advice.

      • Skip says:

        Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that I didn’t tell them – I almost always lay out the ground rules up front, with reinforcement. “This is why we don’t draw agro off of the tank”. But then again, I almost never, ever PUG. Friends don’t let Friends PUG WoW.

        • Shamus says:

          Ah. Whew. Ok then.

          Yeah, the PUG experience is… sub-optimal.

          • Ian says:

            I partially disagree. Some of my most rewarding WoW moments have been in PUGs. If you find a good group, it’s awesome to be able to chat about life, games, or whatever while farming for emblems.

            Granted, some of my very worse WoW experiences have been a result of them, too, but you have to take the good with the bad.

            • Trix says:

              Back in Vanilla, groups were 10/90 good/bad. BC brought this to about 30/70. Now, with dungeon-finder and more people running instances, its more 70/30 in my experience.

              I compare it to my first instance experience ever….a stockades run with 3 warriors, a hunter (me), and a rogue. Yes, we had no actual healer. Yes, it sucked. Small wonder my next instance wasn’t until level 40.

            • RTBones says:

              I rarely run instances, primarily because of the PUG-factor. As a solo “occasional” player, my characters are rarely (if ever) spec’d with the latest/greatest gear for dungeon crawling. I likely don’t have the “optimal” talent build. I don’t know every nook and cranny of every dungeon known to man. I _do_ understand the respective roles of folks in a party, though. What happens is I end up getting tired of the attitudes, and not playing the game for months.

              Still haven’t used the Dungeon Finder. PUG-factor trepidation is high. (EDIT: read this as I am enjoying the game right now, and don’t really want to ruin that experience with a bad group.)

              Having said all of the above, some of the most rewarding WoW gaming I have ever done is working with two to four folks who are working the same levels/quest lines I am. Not guildmates (I’m not in a guild, as my Wow playing is, well, occasional), just random folks out questing, not in an instance.

              • Ian says:

                I was kind of Dungeon Finder shy when it first came around, but after actually running with some random groups I came to realize that its method of picking players from a battlegroup is far better than picking them from a single realm. All in all, my experiences with the finder have been far better than pugging on my old realm. You still get fail groups from time to time, but it’s more good than bad in my experience.

                If you’re DPS (i.e. you’re under almost zero pressure) I’d give it a shot. The beauty of it is that you’re not confined to waiting in a city for things to happen, you can go out and do your normal routine, and if you have a bad experience with a group, odds are you won’t have to deal with those people ever again.

                Even when I was fairly clueless about how to play a class effectively in a dungeon (most notably when I’m leveling my feral druid) I can’t recall ever having anyone complain about my damage output so long as it was reasonable.

                I dunno. Give it a shot, you might like it.

    • Vekni says:

      There is an old saying:

      If the tank dies, it is the healers fault.

      If the healer dies, it is the tanks fault.

      If the DPS dies, it is the DPSs fault.

    • Ian says:

      I agree with what you’re saying, but I disagree with the actions that you’re taking. I certainly don’t prioritize them, but I don’t outright refuse to heal them. All that does is waste mana in the long run and slow the party down. It’s far better to just smack them on the snout and tell them that they screwed up after the pull. If they continue to do it, vote to kick them. As long as he and his buddies don’t “own” the group it’ll surely pass.

  23. Josh says:

    Thanks, Shamus, for pointing out exactly why tanking is so challenging. It really does require more than any other role, and I have played all three extensively.

    However, the thing that really dampens the excitement of tanking is that you become a target for criticism. When things go wrong, even if it’s the fault of a DPS, the tank is often blamed. Being in a leadership position opens you up to that sort of thing.

    (Healers are also often blamed, but oddly enough, this is usually done by players who also heal.)

  24. Robyrt says:

    This whole thread is a dispatch from an alternate universe where the MMO combat system makes sense. It reads like this:

    Q. How many MMO players does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A. Five. One to change the bulb, three to turn the ladder, and one to monitor their heart rate. But if the bulb notices it’s being changed by five people, it’ll explode and kill everyone!

    There are good ideas contained in there – defined roles for team members, archers in back, etc. – but when you take the positional element out of a warfare model, you’re left with the wacky notion that you should convince enemies to fight your front-line guys, rather than the real threat.

    • Felblood says:

      Yes, but it’s easier to explain than Attack of Oppourtunity, and easier to implement (technologically) than making characters block enemy movement.

      You’re going to see more of this, both online and on the table-top.

      It’s just so much easier to reduce everything to a “hate” or “aggro” score or a “marked target” status, than to code an AI or convince the DM to think tactically.

      Of course, just imagine trying to teach formation tactics to a PUG or your brother’s friend who thinks hes a really great DM, but can’t grasp why his encounters are never a worthwhile challenge.

      • Khizan says:

        Did you ever play 3.0 as far as D&D went?

        The reason 4e went to the “mark” style system was because fighters and similiar characters were pretty much completely obsoleted in min/maxed “tactical” combat.

        Fourth Edition combat is much more tactical because every character has a mix of situational use powers and every character can be threatening. Playing a sword-and-board warrior, I find the the new system much much more enjoyable.

        Old Style Combat: Please, god, somebody stop zerging down the casters and HIT ME. I have this shield so I can protect the party! *flails at enemy for 1d8 damage and is ignored*”

        New Style Combat: “Ok, charge in and Threatening Rush to mark everybody. Ok, now that guy’s going for the Mage and he’s marked, so I AoO him and he can’t move, and then I push him HERE so he’s grouped in range of the Cleric’s blast and then I shift here so I’m flanking this guy for the rogue. Ok, next turn? I Tide of Iron to shove this guy into the alleyway and then I shift into his spot so that he’s bottled up.”

        I know which one seems more tactical to me, at least. 4E has made formation tactics and positioning much more important than it ever was in previous incarnations.

  25. Amarsir says:

    Isn’t there something to be said for the adventure of discovery? Rather than having teammates tell you what to do because they had someone tell them what to do because…

    That’s one of my biggest disappointments with MMOs, that you need to schedule in advance with other newbies if you want to be in the position of figuring stuff out. Otherwise you’re just being told what to do and enacting a routine, which sounds more like work than gaming to me.

  26. Vekni says:

    Rep with Stormwind is actually (proven!) the easiest and most plentiful rep among the playable factions, and with each quest providing some “spillover” rep to the other factions no matter what it’s pretty easy to accidentally earn the human’s respect without ever focusing on them! I don’t recall if you ended up questing in Elwynn or Westfall or Darkshire or Redridge but those zones would definitely push you pretty highly into their respectometers.

    Gnomes, THERE is a bitch of a rep to raise.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I remember soloing the level 60 instances all day when they anounced tha race-restrction on Mechanostriders would be removed, I had put all my cloth into the Night elf reputation before that without reaching exalted, but nope, I did not want a tiger anymore, I wanted a robot ostrich.

    • Adeon says:

      Yeah I recently got mine to Exalted specifically because I wanted the Turbostrider (red onez go fasta). Admittedly I took the lazy route and got a lot of the rep through the Tournament dailies.

  27. Drue says:

    I don’t know if this was mentioned by anyone else but they added reputation to (almost) all quests to make the reputation grind easier. You should get ALOT of rep with all of the races in your faction just doing normal leveling now.

  28. Adamantyr says:

    I play WoW, but I stick to DPS classes most of the time. (And no, I don’t pull aggro off the main tank.)

    I’m leveling up a warrior right now, but all this talk about tanking just scares me off from running ANY instances at all. I’m playing this game for FUN. I don’t need this kind of stress.

    And no, I don’t need that mod. I hate plug-ins, I never use them. If they are absolutely critical to playing the game, they should be part of the main client.

    The problem with WoW instances is that the roles are really imbalanced in the game. The tanking job is so heavy on responsibility compared to the others. There has to be a way to expand the number of roles AND make it less dependent on ONE player whether or not the group wipes.

    • lazlo says:

      I’m leveling up a warrior right now, but all this talk about tanking just scares me off from running ANY instances at all. I’m playing this game for FUN. I don’t need this kind of stress.

      And that’s one of the things that’s awesome about the game. It takes all sorts. I had my holy priest at 80 for a while before dual-spec’ing as shadow. And I found out that DPSing is way fun! And stress-free (mostly)! But not really as rewarding. Part of the fun (for me at least) of most games is the ability to do something difficult, and do it well. Healing, for me, has been hitting the sweet spot of difficulty. But I’m getting better faster than the game’s getting harder… so I rolled a tank, which I’m now having fun leveling. (though I did roll a pally… didn’t want it to be *too* hard yet…)

    • Ian says:

      The tanking job is so heavy on responsibility compared to the others.

      I assure you, that’s not always true. It definitely was, but not so much anymore.

      Some instances, most notably Trial of the Champion, are far, far worse to heal than they are to tank (ToC has you pull three mobs on average, the the first set of bosses dealing moderate tank damage and party damage). Many of the newer ones share the burden of responsibility between the tank and the healer. The ICC dungeons are pretty unforgiving, but you need to have a good, well-geared tank and healer for heroic Halls of Reflection or you simply cannot finish the initial waves. Many tanks and healers drop when they get HoR as their daily random heroic simply because of that.

      Even the DPS in HoR is taxed on the escape run at the end, though admittedly less so, especially given the availability of tier 10 and ICC/RS gear.

    • Trix says:

      Funny story, some of the more popular mods ARE being integrated into the base interface (and some already are, like the equipment manager, quest tracker, and threat displays). There’s a reason Bliz likes people to write and use mods.

      This is not to say that playing without is bad, however. One of our best dps warriors uses only a threat meter and boss mods (if even that). Its a matter of preference, although I will vouch that a personalized interface is quite nice to work with.

  29. Eidolon says:

    Part of the reason you see so many bad tanks is that they’re not tanks. They’re DPS who join the queue as a tank because as DPS they sit for 20-30 minutes before getting a group, but as a tank it’s close to instant.

    I see this all the time with my lower-level characters, and it drives me crazy (because my main is a tank). It’s so bad that I’ve run several dungeons where I ended up tanking on my retribution paladin, because the person who signed on as tank couldn’t hold aggro on more than one enemy.

    This happens with healers too, but that’s less important; in fact, if you’ve got a little practice healing, it’s possible to heal any dungeon up to and including early Outlands as a DPS spec. Provided, of course, you have a tank who knows what he’s doing.

    • Veloxyll says:

      I levelled my priest all the way to 80 as a smite build. I missed some of the big moves at around 75, but still managed to keep everyone up. Plus I got to cast HOLY FIRE when the tank was being invincible.

      Even though I’m now disc, I still spam holy nova whenever the opportunity presents itself.

      actually, now I think of it, I might’ve tanked as ret from 70-80 too (this was before dual spec and all that)

  30. Jeff says:

    Unfortunately, your girl can’t be like Shadowless, but she can smell like Shadowless.

    She’s on a horse.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE

  31. Sornas says:

    Hey Shamus, I forget the actual command (I think it’s called “Death effects?), but you can turn off that whole black and white fog effect for when you’re dead. It should be in the video options.

  32. Steve C says:

    On my server, we are always, always, always starved for tanks.

    That’s true everywhere on every server. The biggest pre-requisite for tanking is knowing how to tank and being confident enough to act on it. With only 5 out of 30 specs being tanking specs a good tank is naturally going to be rare.

    The trick is to find some people on your server you like playing with and play with them often. Then you can do a random dungeon with non-random people and know what you are going to get.

  33. HeadHunter says:

    The problem I had as a Tank is the people who forget that the only way to learn how to be a good Tank is to do it. You’re not going to learn effective tanking by doing dungeons as DPS or Healer.

    The problem with random groups is that everyone assumes you’ve been playing for 80 hours a week like they do and are geared up in all the top-tier stuff. The only reason I can think of for such a person to keep playing is because they have nothing else to do in life – no job, no mate, no real-life friends… and these people have the gall to exclude anyone who’s not like them. That’s why I group so infrequently in MMOs – because grouping with strangers is guaranteed to bring you into contact with the no-life elitists more often than not.

    So the only way to get in a group is to know the dungeons and have the best gear. And the only way to get the best gear is to do the dungeons. And the only way to do the dungeons is to be part of a group.

    Is it any wonder it’s so hard to find a good Tank? Who’d WANT such a thankless job? People scorn you if you don’t keep their delicate little asses alive while they hide behind your shield and poke at the bad guys… but damned if they’ll help you learn how to better serve in that role. I gave it my best effort but called it quits on tanking for PUGs when I realized how many PUGs won’t lift a finger to help their tank to learn how to do his job more effectively.

    Those groups that gave me a rundown on where we were supposed to go, what the best strategy was, what I could expect to fight (and in what order), found that I could handle the rest pretty well. I know my abilities and spells and how to use them – all I need is the extra knowledge of how to apply that to the particular environment. And you don’t get that by getting kicked by a bunch of people who decide you’re “not purple enough” after they’ve gorged on your Fish Feasts.

    I’m sure there are exceptions – there are always exceptions. But that’s all they are.

    • Trix says:

      Try finding a nice guild you can settle with. Nothing serious – a leveling or social guild will work perfectly fine – just a group of players you can mingle with and perhaps go on runs with. Its certainly better that pugging.

      It might also help to explain ahead of time that you are not familiar with stuff. Admittedly, there are people who will call “noob” and such, but at the very least you can show your mistakes are due to inexperience, and not being a bad player. Everyone’s gotta learn sometime, and at least a decent number of people recognize that.

  34. Mrsnugglesworth says:

    Blackrock Caverns is the worse dungeon in existence.

    Back in Vanilla it was fine because everyone had the quests/items to get through, but now (Or my last romp in WoW about 3 months ago) it was just a lesson in smashing your face into a wall.

    But one really cool thing that came out of it is that at level 60 a rogue friend of mine kited a boss and killed him with Throwing Knives.

    It was that boss next to the big ass anvil. The fire elemental.

    • Alastair says:

      I ran a friend through Blackrock Depths the other week. (I was an 80 Boomkin, he was 52ish). It took about 3 hours to kill everything in there, and this was when I was one-shotting everything but bosses. He did gain 2 levels though.

      3 hours though. I can’t imagine how long it would take to fully clear the place as a group of level 50’s.

      • Mrsnugglesworth says:

        Damn, so it is Depths.

        I can’t remember the name for the life of me.

      • Ian says:

        It took me forever to solo it on my 80 DK because the layout is just friggin’ nuts. I think I clocked two hours in there, mostly wandering around and occasionally bugging my guild for directions.

      • Trix says:

        I had one amazing group in there recently. Took us about 3 hours as well, but we were all soooo determined to see and kill emperor that we just couldn’t stop. One of the funnest runs I’ve had.

        Of course, this was after a couple runs where we got a bit lost…

      • Adeon says:

        I went there recently with my Hunter to learn the Field Repair bot schematic (for Jeeves) it was horribly confusing and I don’t think I’d like to run it at level, but I will say the overall appearance of the instance was great.

  35. Tony says:

    If you were playing D&D you would go adventuring with a party of 1 figther and 3 wizards would you? No, it would be more like 3 fighters and 1 wizard. Maybe you need to change the party composition. Seems like a perfectly valid tactic for your enemy to run around the tank and start hammering on the healers and wizards, and from all reports a tactic that seems to be working well.

    • Felblood says:

      Does one of the arcane spellcasters specialize in the Creation or Conjuration schools?

      If so, you’ve got plenty of replacement HPs. Buy an extra potion and go for it!

      If not, fast-talk your friend into rolling a cleric, for a five man team (1 tank,1 heal and 3 DPS).

      ————–
      Explanation:

      The “standard” DnD party is 1 tank(fighter or Paladin), 1 healer(cleric, druid or bard) and 2 DPS (rogue, monk, warlock, or ranger, and wizard, warlock or sorcerer).

      The only difference is that the expected party size is 4 rather than 5. Oh, and sometimes the DPSers are focused on single target (mage killers)OR AoE(crowd control), to the near exclusion of the other.

      What’s the best thing to add to a party that has all the core roles filled? A hybrid class with good DPS or (de)Buff functions (Barbarian, Bard, Druid, (Buff) Cleric, or most old psionic classes and two-handed weapon tanks). Depending on your edition, you could add an off healer, to make the Cleric’s life suck less (Bard or druid).

      The old dichotomy of Damage Reduction versus Spell Resistance, made having a variety of DPS classes important in 3.0 & 3.5, but in 4.0 Tank, heal, and a battery of cannons is a nigh optimal party. DPS and non-damage roles STILL have the best non-combat utility, even with all the changes.

  36. Chad says:

    But what about the dwarf on the mountain?

  37. WarlockofOz says:

    Blizzard changed dungeon design dramatically with the expansions. It’s hard to get lost when the dungeon layout is hallway – boss – hallway – boss – hallway – boss. Some are more blatant about it than others.

    While agreeing in general with the change I think they overdid it. Not having even a single big instance to do hurts those that do have a few friends they play with and want a challenge. BRD (BlackRock Depths) attracts a lot of scorn, I’ll even agree it’s not a good instance for a random group and that it’s level range is borked but some of my best memories of the game come from it. Every time my group of friends restarted to level together it was something we looked forward to.

  38. Mephane says:

    I actually miss the times of dungeons like Blackrock Depths, Stratholme etc. with their multiple pathways, sometimes almost maze-like qualities, and a size that really feels like a deep dungeon or an enemy fortress. The newer dungeons aare all mostly totally linear, and you just mindlessly rush forward bombing away anything that might happen to stand there, loot, repeat.

    That fact that people can get lost in BRT is a big plus, if you ask me… ;)

  39. John says:

    Wow! (the word, not the abbreviation for a popular massive multiplayer online game)

    I have to say:

    1. This post got a lot of replies very quickly.

    2. The discussion reminds me of the worst rampant munchkinism of D&D.

    3. I have absolutely no idea what anyone is talking about. Could someone please tell me what a DPS is?

    4. Is there any story to World of Warcraft? If there is, does anyone care?

    5. The way you described the perfect setup for a group just turned me cold. Is there really only one way of doing that? Couldn’t you have a group with other variations? It seemed from how you were describing the process of getting a group that the group makeup is actually built into the game, is that right?

    6. What do you get out of the game?

    • Shamus says:

      2. Well, we’re discussing PUG (pick up groups) in WoW, which is playing with random people. So we’re not exctly seeing the game at its best.

      3. DPS is “damage per second”, which internet people have turned into a verb. So, “I’m DPSing” means “I’m fulfilling the group role of dealing damage”.

      4. Quite a bit of story. Most of it comes from the Warcraft RTS games. Each WoW expansion nudges the story forward a bit. I couldn’t begin to sum up. Some people care. Some don’t. I still get a kick out of bumping into the iconic NPCs in-game.

      5. When you’re doing random dungeons, yes the group makeup is fixed. Which is a GOOD thing. I wouldn’t want to join a group of strangers where everyone was all healers. The dungeon finder formalizes group makeup and organizes players so they don’t waste time setting it up via chat. There’s nothing to stop you from getting together with friends and making whatever kind of group you want. (Although, as with D&D, some makeups will be better than others.)

      6. Depends on who you ask. Exploration. Roleplaying. Character building. Player versus player. Social stuff. “Treasure hunting”. (Loot grinding.) Crafting. There are a lot of different players and reasons to play in a game this big. You can go through the whole game and never use the random dungeon finder.

      • Amarsir says:

        The basic dynamics that group combat requires, universally speaking, are:

        1) Dictating who the enemy is targeting
        2) Ensuring that the incoming damage doesn’t defeat the target(s)
        3) Dealing enough damage to defeat the enemies

        So the WoW answer to this, common in many MMORPGs, is Tank/Healer/DPS. It’s a pretty straightforward and workable approach. But other structures could potentially exist and in other games sometimes do. For example, you could use crowd control (aka “mezzing” aka sleep/stun/etc effects) to incapacitate the enemy and debuffs to increase their vulnerability. Or a distributed-aggro approach with buffs to assist teammates survivability and damage output, then everyone absorbs a few attacks but no more than they can handle.

        So one gripe MMOers (myself included) sometimes have about WoW refugees (and Everquest vets before it to be fair) is that they never vary their approaches. It worked in their old game so they never consider other approaches might be as good or better in a new one. Because as Abraham Maslow said, a man with a hammer tends to view every problem as a nail.

        • Adeon says:

          I agree with the last bit. I’ve seen a lot of it in both City Of Heroes (with people who think Empathy is the best Defender set EVAR) and Star Trek Online (where people have a built in assumption that you must play a matched ship and captain).

        • TSED says:

          I am an EQ vet. I played a bard.

          I always believe there is an alternative, usually-better way to do things. I did kite groups. I did vxed with pooka tanks. In D&D, I think a cleric is a better tank than a fighter or barbarian – that said classes are ‘dps’ classes with decent hit points (have you ever SEEN the numbers an ubercharger, for example, can pull off?).

          I love seeing new takes and new strategies. I hate regrinding content again and again, because once I get content down it quickly bores me.

          On the other hand, I didn’t leave EQ for WoW (a vast minority these days), so who knows? Maybe it’s just a certain kind of player that flits where ever the hype has gone to.

    • WarlockofOz says:

      1. WoW discussion here generally does that, probably because more of Shamus’s fans have played it than any one of the other games he speaks about. It’s also a game that many people have played for a great many hours/days/years, leading to strong opinions about it.

      2. I don’t see the sort of optimisation talk that we’ve seen here as munchkinism – to me munchkinism starts where you go past what the game was intended to do (coin throwing character builds in D&D are munchkin, since they exploit a broken rule; selecting a synergistic set of feats is optimisation). Note that as with most computer games WOW is more combat focused than a typical D&D game (let alone story-heavy RP campaigns) and doesn’t have a always-on GM able to catch player excesses on the fly.

      3. DPS = damage per second = jargon for any character whose primary role is dealing damage.

      4. Yes, quite a lot, with quality varying from poor to pretty good. Many players more or less ignore them though, since playing to finish storylines is less efficient and/or harder than starting another series of quests.

      5. Many games similar to WOW break character classes into several roles, the core being Tank (a character designed to be attacked by enemies), Damage (fragile characters with high damage output) and Healer (one that keeps the others alive while taking damage). Doing this allows the dungeon designers to assume a lot about the parties attempting them. D&D has this too to some extent – if going dungeon crawling, you probably want a mix of roles covered. A live GM can adapt to unusual group compositions better than a script, though.

      6. Virtual accomplishment, imaginary fame, distant friends :)

    • Trix says:

      1) Some of us stop lurking :P

      2) I blame the numbers. People like high numbers.

      3) Already explained…I like calling it “deeps” though.

      4) Story is something Blizzard focuses a lot on, and if you actually delve into things you’ll find a LOT of it. It has much improved in this aspect since original WoW, although it has always been a strong point of the game in my opinion.

      5) Before the dungeon-finder, most groups worked with what they could get, but the best way to succeed was generally tank/heal/3dps for consistency. However, it was not too uncommon for groups with 2 tanks or 2 healers (or even a bunch of dps pseudo-tanking) because they couldn’t get anyone else. The setup of tank/healer/3dps convention was more born from the relative lack of tanks or healers as opposed to dps, and going without some way to keep people alive is silly.

      6) Murlocs. Murlocs make everything awesome.

    • Adeon says:

      Regarding group makeup I agree that it is irritating in that is lacks flexibility. However over time I have come to the conclusion that it virtually impossible to make an MMO with a teaming dynamic that is:
      1. Easy to form a playable team without needing vast experience or very specific combinations
      2. Flexibility in character roles and builds
      3. Balanced

      WoW does a good job with 1 and 3 while neglecting 2. The upside is that everyone in a PUG theoretically knows what they should do, the content difficulty is balanced. The downside is that there’s no room for creativity and flexibility.

      City of Heroes took a different route and neglected number 3. You can make a functional team with pretty much any 8 random characters (and a person has to specifically TRY to make a bad character) but any semblance of balance is pointless. Buffing and Debuffing characters (i.e. Controllers, Defenders, Corruptors and Masterminds) are so ludicrously overpowered in a team environment that for most content there is technically no reason to take anything else (people do take other things anyway because you don’t actually need that level of overkill). Not to mention that at the high end of character optimization a lot of characters (particularly Masterminds, Scrappers and Brutes) can solo content meant for a group of 8. The Hamidon Raid is a fascinating example of an attempt by the developers to make a piece of balanced group content. They did it by making the vast majority of buffs and debuffs absolutely useless and requiring a player count of 50 to even out the individual contributions.

      Star Trek Online has a variant of the WoW model. The difference is that while the three ship types (Escort, Cruiser and Science Vessel) are loosely setup to resemble the classic Tank/Support/DPS trinity in practice all three are Tank/Support/DPS hybrids shifted towards one aspect or the other based on ship type, setup and captain (for example an Escort piloted by an Engineer is a lot tougher than the same ship piloted by a Tactical Officer). The downside is that group tactics are very hard to organize without a mike, there isn’t a lot of flexibility in builds (about 50% of all available powers are useless) and there is a general lack of abilities that would make tactical group play actually meaningful.

      I would like, one day, to see a game that has a grouping dynamic that incorporates all three aspects in equal measure but I think trying to do so is basically impossible.

  40. Moriarty says:

    I’m hoping this hasn’t been adressed yet, but you can actually visit that wandering dwarf on foot.

    You can explore the whole mountain, with the dwarfen airport to the east, the sign at the mountaintop and the dwarfen village at the north.
    (that is, you were able to, the last time I tried at least)

    There are some NPC’s wich are intended to be looked at by people taking the flightpaths, so they don’t have names, but there are some very odd waysigns in the dwarfen village..

    What you need to get there is:
    -a 100% mount and
    -a way of getting slowfall. This could be a friendly mage, a noggenfogger elixir or the engineering cape.

    When you leave IF through the front gates, head to the left immediately, don’t take the mountain path down. At the end of the little plateau you should be able to jump off it while mounted and slowfall active and you land on a spot of land from where the rest of the mountain is reachable. (On the mountain itself, the terrain never gets steep enough to be unreachable).

    Last time I tried this was before wotlk though, so they might have changed this.

    • HeadHunter says:

      I went up there a few years back – none of the NPCs would interact but lots to explore.
      Slid down the Wetlands side to a small farm on the slope – with a tunnel that literally ends in open space. I wasn’t about to risk jumping off into that, who knows what would happen?

      • Moriarty says:

        actually, if you jump at the exact right angle, with mount and slowfall you can land and “swim” in the air right below where the magma pits of ironforge should be. If you swim correctly then, you can even drop into old ironforge.

        altough the precise actions required to do that is way beyond my ability to describe in text-form

  41. kasper says:

    Well, tanking is hard sometimes, thats true. However I usually find that when a 5-man group fails, it’s more often because of the physical dps not knowing how to position themselves than anything else. An ashe or a jax just going in and being at the front of the group has ruined more team battles than I can count.

    The second worst thing that can happen is misgearing. Many players still work with a certain item build, not even looking at the opposition to figure out what items to buy. Let alone take in the flow of the game, the other members of their party, etc. etc.
    As for which tank is best. I used to say rammus and shen, but after the recent patch I’m not so sure anymore. Magic damage keeps getting more and more prevalent so galio might be better than rammus at the moment. He hasn’t been hit with the nerfhammer yet however, so that leaves the whole thing up in the air a bit.

    My apologies for a long and confusing read, but i don’t play wow, yet still this discussion left me wanting to post something insightful. So I decided to just post something insightful about a different game to stir things up a bit. Since Guildwars has already been mentioned on this site often enough, i thought why not draw some attention to League of Legends. If there’s anyone in this community playing the game on EU servers who wants to add a friend who does not flame in any game he joins (I wish this was less of a problem in LoL), my nick is Brilliant. As of now I’ll accept any random friends ;)

    Have fun with the WoW Shamus. I think I speak for all your visitors when saying I’m glad to see you can enjoy it without depriving us of our entertainment.

  42. (LK) says:

    You should offer him a ride next time. He’d probably appreciate it.

  43. Witteafval says:

    I got an awesome start on the game by leveling a protection paladin while my wife played a fire mage. I set the targets up, she knocks them down. She’s had years of experience with the game too (her main is a hunter with a devilsaur for a pet), so if I did something wrong she lets me know it. Now we’re at the point where I scold her for attacking stuff first because she doesn’t want to waste her “hot streak” ability.

    I’ve been rolling a bunch of alts now, so I can see as much of the old world before it all changes in Cataclysm. That includes all the dungeons (plus, I love earning achievements). My DPS characters have some pretty long waits for dungeons, usually around 30 minutes. And the experiences have been all over the place. I swear, when my other pallies reach level 40 I’m dual-speccing them for tanking, forget the cost!

    There was the time I reminded everyone to let the tank pull stuff first, and the tank whispered me, asking if I (a ret pally) would like to tank instead. I only went along because at level 20 there’s hardly any difference between pally specializations. Or one time the healer wandered into some mobs while I (the tank) was looking for a quest item in my bags, got herself and the rest of us killed, then blamed me for not following her around. Maybe the most satisfying was when my wife’s baby hunter, my hunter, and another friend’s hunter ran the Stormwind Stockade by ourselves at the appropriate level without a single scary moment.

    The groups that suck the most are the ones where the tank or healer leave early, and the rest of us have to sit around and wait for new ones to show up.

  44. spiralofhope says:

    I ran a paladin tank from 15 to 80 only through LFG. I have to say that it’s amazingly fun.

    A druid tank.. not so much. Actually not at all. One taunt, nasty cooldown, rage starvation. If your group pulls things off of you because they attack the wrong thing or too early.. they have to eat the mob until your cooldowns are up. With two people doing that, or the healer (resto druids I’m looking at you).. and a wipe becomes a serious possibility.

    What’s unfortunate is people are good and maybe even great on their own, but somehow things break down in a group. Everyone forgets their bag of tricks.

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