July 15, 2008

Tanking: Protection Paladins

Protection [Prot] Paladins tank through reactive damage.

That's a pretty interesting sentence, so let me explain what it means.

Prot Paladins cause aggro and threat by essentially taking damage. Yes, that's right. By taking damage.

Whilst other tanks have a rage bar that allows them to use abilities that cause monsters to single them out and beat on them, paladins have a mana bar that they use to cause holy damage to gain the attention of monsters and then shield spells that reflect damage when they are hit.

It's pretty fun to tank as a Protection Paladin because you can be surrounded by monsters and know you will kill them not because of anything you are doing but because you know that every time they hit you they will be damaged. Ergo, all you have to do is keep yourself healed and keep those shield spells up and the monsters will both be captivated by your damaging them AND by the threat of the damage that is being caused by them hitting you.

The problem comes when you are playing with a group of people that have no idea how a Protection Paladin functions (and let me tell you - this accounts for 4 in 5 WoW players).

I was doing a dungeon a few days ago with B-I-L who is geared for heroic instances (they're a
harder level of the same maps) so I knew the chances of my dying was fairly remote. But what irked me was when the DPS (yes them again) attacked straight away, casting spells, firing arrows, using pets - without giving me the chance to gain the acquaintance of the monsters.

Politely warning them that they need to give me a few seconds extra to pick up the slack got me a polite "sure". That particular group worked well, and apart from a few silly deaths, we managed to get through the whole thing fairly quickly.

But, of course, MY understanding of how Prot Paladins operate has only come about because I'm now playing one, which means that essentially until players try playing a tank, they will never learn what a tank is used for, or how to function around one.

July 10, 2008

And Me

I'm seeing this phrase used more and more.

When I was at school, my teachers made a point of highlighting that this was lazy English, and that the correct phrase was "and I", but it all really depends on the context of the sentence.

For example:

"My friend and I went to a party last night" is correct.
"My friend and me went to a party last night" is wrong.

On the other hand:

"John invited my wife and me to the party" is correct.
"John invited my wife and I to the party" is wrong.

The basic rule that applies to this form of grammatical correctness is this:

I am the subject of the sentence, but the object of the sentence is me.

July 02, 2008

Tanking: A Basic Explanation

There are generally 3 main archetypes of characters in World of Warcraft; the Tank, the Healer and the DPSer.

Tanks are invariably heavily armoured, high health characters with the ability to dodge, block or resilient in some form or another to incoming melee attacks. This allows them to stand at the front and be a shield for the group whilst everyone else can safely attack. Tanks are normally paired up with a healer so they can last for as long as the healer has mana.

Healers are usually low armoured, low health, high mana characters with the ability to heal others over time or in one-shots. They normally stand at the back and are paired up with a tank.

DPSers are those classes that are rated for their Damage Per Second (hence DPS). Most classes fit into this category in form or another. DPSing is insanely easy. You pick a target, you use an ability and you cause damage.

For most of WoW, there is a very singular course of gameplay. As a player is trying to kill the opponent as fast as possible, there is an onus to cause as much damage as possible so that the monster can be killed before it can do its damage. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to Instances, Dungeons or Raids, and here's the reason:

Inflicting as much damage in as short a time as possible will cause the monster in the dungeon to come after you. Unless you are over-geared against the monster, you will die.

I cannot stress this highly enough.

DPSers are generally people wearing anything up to Mail armour and usually they've sacrificed the ability to shrug off damage to gain the ability to inflict as much damage as possible. They cannot tank, and if they try to, they will die. Usually, this starts a chain reaction in which everyone tries to speed up damage rather than let the tank take over, and inevitably one by one, they die too.

Equally, but rarely, healers sometimes commit themselves to healing everyone in the team rather than just the main tank. And this also causes the team to die because healing more than one person generally means they're going to attract the attention of the monster. Healing the Tank is both health-efficient and mana-efficient; the Tank can take damage, he can block, dodge, etc.

Other players are not designed to take damage so their health will drop quicker, and that will cost more mana in the long run.

I've said all this because in my runs to dungeons, players invariably try and do as much damage as possible and when the team dies because they've attracted too much attention, the Tank is generally blamed.