Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Outlands ho!

My monk made it to outlands last night and I'm up to lvl 64. Things finally feel like they're starting to come together with the class.

As usual, I'm doing a great deal of grinding in instances. The level of dumbassery has decreased slightly. Other monks tend to no longer be too much of a problem. As long as I get a hit or two on something, the threat is high enough that I don't worry about them pulling threat.

The class that does tend to cause me the most problems is death knights. They still aren't terribly well balanced in terms of DPS. While most classes will be doing 800ish DPS, DKs will be pulling 1,700. Keeping aggro against that is tricky. At least they're plate wearers and can typically kill something before they are hurting too badly.

Another headache that's cropped up has been a bit more of people not understanding itemization of drops. I've had an appreciable number of tanking items ninja'd from me by DPS. While I can understand something that isn't properly itemized in its stats being an upgrade (I've had several instances where a healing head was just way better than what I was wearing presently), it's always polite to ask the person in your group that could actually use the item if they need it. In the end, it doesn't matter too much since I'll run through every instance 4-5 times and will likely see the drop again, but it's still annoying that there's a lack of altruism in the game.

When I have been questing, I still feel my single target dps is somewhat lacking. I don't mind doing the quests where I just have to pull a bunch of things and kill them, but if they're too spread out and I can't pull 4-5 at a time, it seems to take forever. But I ventured into Nagrand last night and started on the Hemet Nesingwary hunting quests which all start off with killing 20 of various types of animals. I could pull 5 at a time and DPS them down with little trouble. The exception was the the Clefthoofs which have a stun attack. Getting a few of those untimely chained becomes a bit scary.

In that case, I'd typically end up below 30% health after a pull and lacking a good healing ability, this was annoying but finally at 64, I got the Healing Sphere ability which serves for a pretty good out of combat heal. Technically, I suppose I could use it in combat, but it takes a lot of energy (60 to be precise). It also helps that there's been some ability I got (not sure exactly when) that makes me create little green healing spheres during combat. I'm not sure what's driving that (perhaps when I crit?), but they heal pretty well. Unfortunately, it means I have to be able to see them and on large enemies, or large groups, they're often inside them which means I have to run around aimlessly to happen upon them.

I have a strong suspicion that this is an intentional sort of annoyance however. As I noted in a previous post, the cone on Breath of Fire is annoyingly narrow. To use it effectively means having to do a lot of movement anyway to clump up enemies and get them in its effect. As such, the class as a whole seems to be centered on lots of minor movements, which fits the feel of a squirrely monk, flowing like a river or some such nonsense.

I did run another instance on my paladin last night. I still feel like their tanking is far superior, both from being able to get threat, but also their survivablity. I think the hope is that the Stagger ability will continue to mitigate more damage, making it easier to survive, and that the ability to shrug off that stagger DOT will effectively make monks have an active 20%+ mitigation. However, that skill to dump the damage doesn't come for another 10 levels. As such, it means I'm still taking the damage in the long haul.

The bigger problem I see is that the stagger DOT never gets to the level where the shrug off would really be important. There's three levels of Stagger: Green isn't bad. Yellow is like a real DOT from a strong enemy, and red is just pain. Well, supposedly. I've never gotten it to red and only on a few occasions has it gotten to yellow. As such, it's just not picking up that much of the damage.

There's ways to improve that. At level 80, it looks like I'll be getting a mastery which picks up a percentage, and Fortifying Brew dumps a big extra 20% in while active. I'm not sure how those will factor in just yet since I haven't gotten there, but I'm hoping those small bits will add up. My impression is that big bosses at endgame will push through enough damage to make Stagger pretty impressive, but right now, I just don't feel it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Closing in on 50

Tonight I hit lvl 48. For whatever reason, I feel like leveling has slowed down a lot compared to my paladin I just took through this level range and is now lvl 65. I'm still doing the majority of my leveling through instances which may be part of the problem. As I pointed out in my last post, there's a lot of idiots out right now and I think that's slowing down the instances. My biggest gripe is people being completely oblivious of their aggro range.

On my paladin, if someone pulled, I could run over, drop a consecrate on the healer, and walk away. The residual ground effect would get light aggro on everything enough that they'd come to me and I could hit them with Hammer of the Righteous and all's good. But with a monk tank, I'm pretty light on what AOE effects I have. I have the Keg Smash, which is actually pretty good. It deals a good amount of damage and thus, gets strong aggro, but it doesn't leave a lasting effect and has a fairly long cooldown, so if I miss one (which happens), it's hard to pick that one up before it mushes the healer.

Breath of Fire is another decent one, but it has a frontal cone. The trouble is that it's a very hard cone to manage. It dies out in a short distance, and at the near end, is very narrow. It also blows through your chi, so you don't get too many chances.

Meanwhile, I reiterate my position on Monks feeling pretty squishy as compared to paladins. My paladin is in Nagrand and I just with through the Nesingwary quests. I was able to pull 5-6 mobs on level or 1 higher than me and AOE them down without fearing for my health at all. If I dropped below 50%, I could always hit Word of Glory and was healed completely. My Holy Power would be back in no time flat.

That same skill proved amazingly useful in many instances. Healers afk'd, disconnected, or otherwise stopped healing for a time, and quite often, I was so busy chain pulling everything I could find, that I didn't notice until several pulls later and I never worried about my health!

So what is the monk equivalent? A Paltry Expel Harm. As of right now, it seems to heal for < 10% of my overall health. Pretty measly. We have a self shield that costs 2 chi and absorbs a pretty impressive amount of damage, but given the weak AOE, weak leather armor, and lack of a smooth rotation (at least at this level), AOE grinding is looking pretty impossible.

My other gripe has to do with Blackout Kick which procs Shuffle. This is a super important buff to have up pretty much all the time. It's a huge boost to your mitigation (which is what monks are all about as tanks) both through not being hit, and shrugging off the damage with Stagger. At least, at present, I don't have the skill to drop all Stagger damage yet, but come time, that's going to be huge, dumping that much damage into it only to make it disappear. But that can't happen unless the Shuffle effect is up. But it only lasts 6 seconds.

Given that the global cooldown on most spells is 1 second, once Blackout Kick is cast, it takes at least one more GCD to get enough chi to use it again, but typically two. So four left. If you use it on another important skill (like Breath of Fire to keep that AOE DOT up), then that's another down. Two seconds left. Typically, you now need to get two more chi building attacks in, but what has happened by now is you're out of energy to be able to use those chi builders.

So the methodology seems to stall there. Either monks will need to have a skill to build energy a bit faster to get in more chi building, attacks will need to generate more chi outright (which Power Strikes helps considerably), or the chi requirement of one of these spells needs to be reduced. Until then, the rotation has a lot of bottlenecks.

This is not to say the class isn't rather fun to play. Being able to use Roll as a way to jump into a pack of mobs on a pull is pretty great.