Raiding and the Great Tank Problem

One of the most difficult things to do in WoW (and probably any game with similar class/ endgame design) is to get a regular spot as a tank in a raiding group.

The reasons for this are basically a pure numbers game. There isn’t room for very many tanks in a typical raid encounter. Often only one main tank. By comparison, every instance or small group needs someone to tank for it. So by the time you get to end game, you need lots of tanks to work the small group content but there’s no room for most of them in raids. Something’s gotta give.

If you have few enough tanks for everyone to get a raid spot then groups will be sitting around for hours waiting for their tank spots to be filled. If there are enough tanks for the groups to form quickly then most of them will never get to tank in raids.

There are other reasons too. Because the main tank is such a singular position, it makes sense for them to need the best gear, the most practice, and be among the most reliable in attendance. Raids are really far too dependent on their tanks, which makes it tough for more casual players to break in.

Add to this the fact that tanks tend to stick with their raid groups. They all know how difficult it is to find a spot as a raid tank so they hang on when they have achieved one. Mature raid groups rarely seek tanks. So as well as struggling to find a spot at all, it’s also not a very mobile role. In a game where you can argue that it’s sensible to move around until you find a group that suits your needs, being a tank is a real detriment. The group you want may not want you (and probably won’t.)

Unsurprisingly, a lot of endgame tanks quit once they give up on getting raid spots. They may respec and try out a different role, but they mostly stop tanking. After all, what’s the point in gathering gear that is intended for content where you’ll never be able to use it? So there is a shortage of non-raid tanks, and then new people roll alts and the cycle starts again.

I’m quite sure that this is why so many people have unplayed warriors and that as soon as the class gets buffed they’ll quite likely switch back to them. There’s an underlying demand from people who want to play the role but can’t, due to numbers.

If you think WoW is bad, EQ2 is worse

This is a post from the EQ2 boards where Nutznichts looked at the class balance in some of their top raid guilds. Four out of the least common eight classes are tanks. It’s worse than it sounds because the most common classes are significantly more common than the least (23 times more common in this sample!)

This is like saying, “If you think you might ever even vaguely consider raiding, don’t roll class X.” And to add insult to injury, the most common classes in raids are not the worst soloers. It is absolutely possible in that game to pick a good soloing class that is also needed in raids. Just make sure it isn’t a tank.

EQ2 is working on the class balance in the next patch, making some of the same decisions that the WoW designers made at the beginning of Wrath and letting buffing classes buff the whole raid. That should even some of the imbalances out. But it won’t help the tanks.

How WoW is trying to help

In Wrath, the situation is better than it has been since vanilla WoW. Ten man raids really do help a lot, because they require tanks in the same ratios as 5 man instances. i.e. a 5 man instance needs one tank, a 10 man raid needs two. So that works. I’d recommend anyone who want to try end game tanking to get into some ten man raids. It’s a good way to learn the encounters, the more geared tanks are probably bored of them, and they do need tanks.

Dual specs helps a lot also. It’s easier than it has ever been to play a character that is dps or healing in 25 man raids and switching to tank in 10 mans and instances. There’s still a lot of work involved, you need to gather two sets of gear, but the game caters much better to that playing style than it ever did before.

But still, tanking for a 25 man group is pretty much the premier tanking content in the game. And it is an experience reserved for very few people, excluding casual players by the intensely competitive nature of getting a spot.

Sure, you can tank for a casual raid group (like I do). But the process of getting that spot is connected with the fact I’ve been playing with them for the last two years. It’s hardly easy.

Is the tank/heals/dps model the problem? Or is it the raids themselves?

It’s the combination of raiding and the standard PvE class model that raises the issues. There are very few games which allow tanking to be a coordinated and shared role in the same way that healing or dps can be. DaoC allowed a tank to block for someone else as long as they were nearby. So raid tanking always involved two people. One main tank and one specialist shield tank who was blocking for them. The shield tank job wasn’t especially exciting but it did let another person have a role in the raid.

You could imagine a game where tanks (or anyone who can pick up a shield) could execute complex roman army-style formations with actual shield walls, wedges, tortoises, and squares.

You could imagine games where tanks have to swap aggro a lot because they can only tank for limited amounts of time.

But I wonder increasingly if tanks are the real problem in the tank/heal/dps model. I enjoy the role, but I also know that I get the lion’s share of the complexity in most encounters. It’s fun, but is it fair that I do all that while dps are getting bored at the back?

The best designed raid encounters keep everyone busy on useful tasks. But I think current class design makes that a tougher challenge than it needs to be. If we got rid of the idea of the main tank and the main tanking classes altogether, it might be that games would become more fun all round.

Otherwise, the majority of tanks are doomed to never see a raid spot.

How’s dual specs working out for you?

I’ve been looking forwards to dual specs for a long time.

Perhaps it’s chronic indecision or just liking to explore different options for my characters. Perhaps it’s  the lure of saving gold on something that I was doing anyway (ie. switching specs a lot). Or perhaps it’s just that I hate being locked into a single role the whole time, especially when it gets in the way of something else that I wanted to do.

And Ulduar has been cool and all, but the dual specs is hands down my favourite part of 3.1.

This really came home to me the other night, when we were able to get a 10 man run together. Dual specs gave us some options in the raid to have people switch specs for one boss encounter or other so that we could try different tactics.

I switched to Fury so that we could fight XT-002 with one less tank and one more dps. We had a shadow priest switch to Holy for one fight where we felt that we needed an extra healer. We had the retribution paladin switch to Holy for a different fight where we needed an extra healer but wanted the priest helping to nuke adds.

I didn’t specifically look for a paladin and priest when lining up the dps section. But since we had them, and they had dual specs and were happy to heal occasionally, we used them.

As far as I can tell, everyone was happy. We killed a couple of new bosses. The dual specced guys got to feel that their investment was immediately and actively useful. No pure dps were shut out to make room for hybrids, it just happened that I invited anyone who wanted to come as long as their dps was up to scratch.

And yes, in future, I’d be comfortable running Ulduar (10) with two full time healers and one hybrid who had a healing spec and knew how to use it, rather than three healers.

Is it unfair to hybrids?

One of the issues people foresaw with dual specs is that it would put pressure on hybrids to gear up and learn to play an extra role, whether they wanted to or not.

In a casual guild and alliance like mine, that really isn’t an issue. Obviously if we are short on healers, it is a bonus if a hybrid offers that option, but then again, if we’re short on healers we’ll be recruiting more healers.

This may change later when people are less enthused about the new raid instance and signups dry up. When you can only just make the numbers, it’s a huge bonus to be able to assign people to multiple roles as needed.

For a more hardcore guild, this is likely to be an issue. If, for example, you are recruiting a new boomkin and one applicant has great resto gear and experience and the other doesn’t, it’s going to be a factor.

But how much of a factor really does depend on the guild. It’s probably no worse than the pressure that already existed for hybrids to zip off and respec as needed.

Playing a hybrid now in WoW probably does involve being able to fill more than one role. Maybe those classes were always bad design decisions, maybe it’s unfair that some classes have access to more roles than others, maybe it isn’t fair on the players who really did want to just specialise.There will always be some players who buck the trend and stick to one role anyway. And not everyone needs to play and gear both specs to raid level. I think it will work itself out in time. But expectations have changed and when experienced players reroll hybrids, they should figure on learning more than one role. (Probably they did anyway.)

But at least we now have an answer to: Why should I play a hybrid in WoW?

A: Because you want to play more than one role in game and are willing to spend extra time gathering gear and learning your different specs.

It still doesn’t answer the question: what if you don’t know what you might want to do at endgame when you create your character? It does give more options, but there’s extra pressure too.

Is it unfair to pure dps classes?

I honestly have not seen any situation where a pure dps class was benched to make room for a dual spec hybrid. The game simply doesn’t require that level of role switching.

I know there was some concern that a dual specced hybrid could enter a raid as either dps or healing and therefore had more raid spots available, but no one has equally good gear and practice in playing two specs.And in the case of people with PvP specs, the other spec may not be raid relevant anyway.

So in practice, everyone has a preferred spec and one which they can switch to if needed. No one would take a dps hybrid as a healer if they could take someone who specialised and geared for healing as their priority instead. It’s there as a backup.

The most difference it might make is that 1/2 dps slots might be reserved for hybrids if the raid leader likes the extra flexibility. And frankly, if you weren’t already taking at least two hybrids in your 25 man dps team then you’re running an unbalanced raid anyway.

The future for dual specs

To me, dual specs raises at least as many questions as it answers. I know that I enjoy the flexibility of playing more than one spec to raiding levels. It will be hard for me to go back to another game where you’re fixed in a role.

I also feel bad for all the hybrid players who face increased pressure to dual spec when they really didn’t want to. It may not have been the devs intention but the game is now making it easier and easier to do this.

But what does that say about the whole core design features that players should pick a role when they first create a character and never deviate from it?

Character classes in MMOs have tended to specialise. Games have rewarded specialisation and players who try to make jack-of-all-trade characters are mocked as noobs. This isn’t just true in WoW, but in pretty much most of the MMOs I’ve played.

This is also true in pen and paper games, but a large part of pen and paper games involves talking to NPCs, investigating mysteries, and … basically doing non-class specific activities. Fighting is a small part of the game. Also, a human GM can tailor the game to the players. If one player really wants a jack-0f-all-trade character then the GM can make sure that they encounter situations where being average at a wide range of skills really pays off.

I think that if we’re ever going to really escape the tyranny of class specialisation, MMOs need to provide more non-fighting things to do. It doesn’t matter what class you are when you are crafting or making your fortune on the auction house, after all.

How’s dual specs working out for you? Does it make you want to try a multi-role class if you aren’t already playing one?

Protection for Beginners

As with the Fury Guide, this is not a guide to levelling as a protection specced warrior. It is also not a beginner’s guide to tanking.

Instead it assumes that you have a level 80 warrior and want to either try Protection as one of your dual specs, or are coming back to tanking after a break and want to know what has changed and how things work these days.

Here’s how to set up dual specs.

If you want a more detailed and theorycraft oriented guide, check Ciderhelm’s Wrath of the Lich King Reference Guide.

The Role of a Protection Warrior

As a Protection Warrior you have two jobs:

  1. Control mobs by keeping threat/ aggro on them
  2. Take as much damage as possible without dying

You have to do both of these at the same time. That means all your choices of talents, gear, glyphs, etc have to balance both survivability/ mitigation and threat.

The most common mistake new protection warriors make is to focus too much on the mitigation side. It doesn’t make you a better or more hardcore tank to put 61 points into the protection tree and gear purely for stamina.

Threat output in Wrath/3.1 is more closely tied to your damage output than used to be the case. So threat stats, abilities, and gear will also mean that you do more damage. Although people don’t typically take tanks for their damage, if you have more threat you’ll find it easier and more fun to control mobs.

Talent Spec

This is the 15/5/51 spec that I use at the moment. It’s THE most popular tanking spec, it works fine, and it’s a good place to start.

It’s a good balanced PvE spec which takes all the important mitigation talents from Protection, and adds in Deep Wounds from the Arms tree for extra threat. A lot of the new Protection talents in Wrath give extra crit chances to key abilities such as Shield Slam and Heroic Strike, which is why Deep Wounds/ Impale offers more threat/damage than maxing out Cruelty (which doesn’t apply to Shield Slam).

Sword and Board: This is the key to Protection Warriors in Wrath. Shield Slam has become baseline and keeping an eye on the Shield Slam procs is the most important part of your tanking ‘rotation’.

Gag Order: This is how you pull casters. The extra damage to Shield Slam makes it a must have.

Vigilance: Quirky and not well understood ability. Put it on whichever dps in your group is likely to generate most threat.

Warbringer: Once you’ve gotten used to having Charge available in combat, you’ll never want to go back. Since the last patch, Intercept can be used in defensive stance also if you have this talent. If you are ever tempted to think that Blizzard hates protection warriors (they don’t), look at this talent and smile.

Shockwave: Shockwave and Thunderclap make AE tanking more fun and less of a chore than it used to be. Note that mobs need to be in front of you for the Shockwave to affect them. Veneretio has a great article on tankingtips.com about how to cluster mobs and move them around.

Talents I didn’t take

Improved Spell Reflect: It looks like a good talent but in PvE is very situational. A lot of bosses are coded to be immune to Spell Reflect.

Improved Disciplines: Combined with the new Shield Wall Glyph (see below) you can take this talent to lower the cooldown on Shield Wall from 5 mins to 3 mins. Again, in practice this is very situational. Because usually once  every 5 mins is plenty.

Puncture: Used to be key in TBC when Devastate was our main tanking ability. This is no longer the case, and now Devastate is only used to apply and renew Sunder Armour.

Improved Disarm/ Intercept: These are more PvP oriented talents. In PvE both of them are very situational.

Glyphs

  • Major Glyphs: Blocking, Revenge, Heroic Strike
  • Minor Glyphs: Thunderclap, Charge, (*coff* I realise I haven’t filled the third minor glyph, but Bloodrage is as good as any)

This is what I use for both 5 man and raid tanking so again, a good place to start, but by no means the only options.

Blocking: The only glyph that provides extra mitigation. Also more damage to Shield Slam if you can use it within those 10s, which is likely. Ideally this glyph will have 100% uptime.

Cleaving: Can be useful if lots of AE tanking. Heroic Strike is a  better choice than Cleave otherwise.

Devastate: Lets you stack Sunder more quickly.

Enraged Regen: More healing is always good. But again, bit situational. Think about how often you use this ability before deciding whether to glyph for it.

Heroic Strike/ Revenge: Good for threat in low rage situations. Also will be used a lot because Revenge and Heroic Strike will feature strongly in your usual ‘rotation’.

Last Stand/ Shield Wall: Both of these reduce cooldowns on emergency recovery abilities. You’ll have to decide whether you would use them enough to need the reduced cooldown.

Sunder Armour: Useful for AE tanking.

Taunt: Unmissable taunts. The glyph is a bit situational (ie. for a situation where taunt absolutely must not miss), because we already have an AE taunt and mocking blow available as backup if a taunt is missed.

Vigilance: A pure threat talent, but unlike Heroic Strike/ Revenge, it doesn’t add any extra damage. Might be useful later on in raids as dps gear up more highly but not necessary right now.

How to play as protection/ ability rotation

Protection warriors don’t use a fixed rotation, instead it’s a priority system. So you will always be checking which abilities are available and picking one. Usually this will mean picking the one which does most threat, but you may need to weave in debuffs, interrupts/ spell reflects, and AE.

Shield Slam will do significantly more damage if Shield Block is also up. So if you don’t need SB for extra mitigation, aim to weave it in just before a Shield Slam when it is up.

Single Target Priorities

  1. Shield Slam
  2. Revenge
  3. Shockwave/ Concussive Blow
  4. Devastate

If you have a lot of rage (ie. 40+), use Heroic Strike on any spare cooldowns.

Technically, Devastate has priority over Shockwave/ Concussive blow if Shield Slam is not about to come up on the next cooldown (because Devastate can proc a Shield Slam via Sword and Board, and Shockwave can’t), but Shockwave does more threat.

AE Target Priorities

  1. Shockwave
  2. Thunder Clap
  3. Shield Slam
  4. Revenge

If you have a lot of rage (ie. 40+) use Cleave on any spare cooldowns, or Heroic Strike after a Revenge if you have the Revenge glyph

Initial Priorities

At the beginning of a pull, you want to get the mobs safely under control as quickly as possible, and to stack up 5 sunders (via Devastate) on whichever dps are going to kill first.

So usually, aim to pull with heroic throw. Hit bloodrage while the mob/s is heading towards you. If it is an AE pull, get in a Thunderclap as soon as possible, then Shield Slam the first mob and switch to your usual priorities, weaving in Devastate where possible.

Useful Macros

Charge/ Intercept (this will use charge if it is off cooldown, if not it will use intercept):

/castsequence reset=15 Charge, Intercept

Revenge/ Heroic Strike (if glyphed). You can actually single target tank effectively by spamming this macro whenever Shield Slam isn’t up:

/cast revenge
/cast !heroic strike

(note: Thanks to Jacob for the amendment to this macro)

Stats for Protection Warriors

Remember I was saying earlier that prot warriors need to balance mitigation with threat? This is where a lot of the balancing happens because they both use different stats.

In addition, there are two different ways to take less damage. One is to be better at soaking damage (mitigation) and the other is not to be hit in the first place (avoidance).

Although hardcore tanks often have several specialist sets of gear, in practice you’ll usually be using a mixed set. You will need a minimal amount of health in any case, and after that it’s more down to personal choice (plus what is available).

Tanking gear will usually come with plenty of stamina, strength and armour, regardless of what other stats it has to offer. And you can use the same criteria when deciding on gems and enchants (don’t forget to pick up a belt buckle for an extra belt gem).

Mitigation/ Avoidance Stats

Defence: You need 540 defence to be uncrittable by raid bosses, 535 defence to be uncrittable by bosses in heroic instances. Your first goal as a level 80 protection warrior is to achieve these levels of defence. Defence is still useful after this (it adds extra avoidance) but not as big a bang for the buck as dodge or parry would be.

Stamina: As much as possible. Stamina is one of the few mitigation stats that helps you survive magical damage as well as physical.

Armour: Helps soak physical damage.

Dodge/ Parry: Dodge provides more avoidance per point than parry. However your next attack immediately following a Parry will be faster so effectively you get more threat from a parry (yes this is weird, yes it does also apply to monsters). Both apply only to physical attacks.

Spell Resist: Only used for specialist raid encounters where all the damage is going to be of one spelltype. It is a great way to mitigate spell damage but you need to know exactly what type of damage to expect and you need to stack a lot of resist to really see much of a difference. In practice, when you stack that much spell resist there just isn’t room on your gear for many other tanking stats.

Threat Stats

Expertise: This ability makes it less likely for mobs to parry or dodge your attacks. Since almost all your tanking abilities need you to hit the target (unlike a paladin, for example, who has a lot of attacks which do spelldamage), this is your most important threat ability. Veneretio has a great explanation of expertise here. Assuming you have Vitality, with 20 expertise skill, you will not be dodged and with 58 expertise you won’t be parried.

Unlike defence, it’s not necessary to cap expertise before doing anything else. But it is your primary threat stat.

Hit: Assuming your attack is neither dodged or parried, it also has to hit the target.

Block Value: Affects the damage/ threat done by Shield Slam.

Strength: Will affect the damage/ threat done by Heroic Strike and also affects your Block Value.

Block Value/ Rating

There are two stats which apply to shield block.

  1. Shield Block Rating, which affects your percentage chance to block.
  2. Shield Block Value, which affects how much you will block for. Your Shield Slam will also hit harder if you have more SBV.

You won’t prioritise these stats in a standard tanking setup.

To understand why, you need to know how shield block works. When you block a physical attack, you take less damage by the amount of your shield block value. e.g.. if an attack would normally hit for 10k but you block it and have 2k SBV, it will actually hit for 8k. So the damage is reduced by a fixed and non-scaling amount.

This means that it is comparatively more useful when you aren’t being hit very hard, and less useful (blocks a lower percentage of damage) when you are. As a mitigation stat, dodge and parry both DO offer scaling stats (ie. a percentage change to block or parry physical attacks, regardless of how much damage is incoming) and are better bang for your buck.

It may be worth collecting shield block gear for a specialist set, in case you need to tank lots of mobs which each do little damage (e.g.. adds on Sartharion) but Shield Block Value has become more of a threat stat these days, because of the effect on Shield Slam.

Gear

There are about a zillion and one gear lists for tanks on the internet, or addons to help with working out if a new bit of gear is an upgrade or not. There are also lots of different ways to ‘rank’ available gear in terms of desirability. Some lists separate threat gear, mitigation gear, and block value gear.

These are the gear lists from tankspot.

Rawr is a popular standalone program which helps with gear comparisons and figuring out good upgrades.

Ratingbuster is an addon to help you compare gear easily in game.

Gearing up as a new 80 is easier than it has ever been. There’s plenty of good crafted, rep, and quest rewards out there. In particular:

Tempered titansteel helm and titansteel shieldwall. Tempered saronite belt, bracers, and legs. These all have plenty of defence on them, which is important when you are gearing for heroics.

Reputation wise, the head enchant comes from being Revered with the Argent Crusade. Wyrmrest Accord rep provides a good cloak and chestpiece.

There is also a tanking axe available as a reward from the argent tournament. It’s Axe of the Sen’Jin Protector for Horde, Teldrassil Protector for Alliance.

(note: thanks to KiwiRed for looking up the argent tournament rewards).

Addons

You will need a threatmeter. When dps come too near to your threat, activate your special tank ability ‘Shout at DPS’ (or just TYPE IN CAPS if you aren’t on voice chat).

I don’t use many addons for tanking. You will need to see the Shield Slam procs, so either powerauras or whichever scrolling combat text addon of your choice.

You do need to be able to see what’s going on, so however you arrange your UI, try not to let it get too cluttered.

More References

There are plenty of good blogs and websites about tanking in general, and protection warriors in particular. (If you are wondering which of these to read, read all of them cos they’re all good :P)

tankspot.com. They have awesome instructional videos for tanking pretty much every raid boss.

Ciderhelm has also put out some amazing video tutorials for tanks. I love how he always sounds so laid back on the soundtrack (yeah, here’s another 17 unexpected mobs, we’ll just pick them up after I’ve finished my beer,  etc etc)

tankingtips.com. Veneretio writes well thought out and authoritative guides and tips for protwarriors here. He’s recently been discussing mitigation vs avoidance gear.

mirrorshield – Yakra’s reflections on tanking.

Tank like a Girl

Tanking for Dummies – Tarsus blogs about his experiences as a prot warrior but also throws in some useful guides and tips on what works for him.

Darraxus the Warrior

The Wordy Warrior

I haven’t specifically linked to Elitist Jerks, because although it’s a great place to go to stay up with the latest discussions, I don’t find it such a good reference as tankspot.

Remember, this is just the beginning. The only way to learn to tank well is to go out and do it. Take some friends, hit some heroics. For all of us, there is a point where you have to just pull the boss and see what happens.

And good luck!

Weekend Update: Getting ready for Ulduar

If I have been lax with WoW updates lately it is because I have dialled back my time in game. At the moment, I am mostly just logging in for raids and to do auction-housing at weekends. I’ve stopped running weekly 10 man Naxx sessions, because even with alts, the interest dried up.

This is not especially a bad thing. It’s important not to feel forced to play any game when you’d rather not  — that’s a cornerstone of my casual ethos! And since my 10 man runs were always meant to be optional fun-runs, I’ll take the lack of interest as a sign to slow down. So, playing much less but not burned out and I still enjoy our raid nights.

The raids have been more unfocussed lately. The general feel is that this is because dps are now pretty darn geared. Tank threat was dialled so high at the beginning of the expansion that no one really had to think about it. Now, they do, and some people aren’t as quick to adjust as others. Tanks also are adjusting to the world in which threat is important.

I noticed this early enough to pick up a good threat set and really try to work on it. For which I owe many thanks to the other more experienced protwarrior bloggers, theorycrafters, and forum posters who generously described the hows and whys of threat and how they went about maximising it. And also all the guys who manage to put out insane dps while tanking Patchwerk and were happy to talk about how they did it. I’m not up with the stars but I was happy to hit 2k dps when tanking him last week.

Short form: The keys are lots of expertise, using dps trinkets when you are defence capped and have ‘enough’ heath, and hammering Heroic Strike.

I expect this to be an issue through Ulduar also. In a way, it would be sad if it wasn’t and it’ll make the fights more interesting. Also it’s a way to separate out the great dps players from the merely good :)

Getting ready for Ulduar

The next patch brings a new focus on raiding. A new, harder raid instance, and lots of progression raids to accompany it. Also, there will be a new arena season, and more solo content so a big upturn in activity in game.

The main two ways to prepare for this are:

  1. Lay in stocks of what you might need for your own use
  2. What can you stock up now that might sell for more gold after the patch?

So as a raider, I want to be able to lay my hands on a few week’s worth of consumables. Mostly flasks, since we’ll (probably) be dying a lot and the Stoneblood Flask is also getting a boost. Gems, enchants, and other enhancements like leg armour and belt buckles may be worth stocking up if you really want to make a virtue of being prepared.

In my case, I can farm saronite and swap it with our jewelcrafters for gems  and I can make my own belt buckles so I’m not really sweating it. It isn’t as if I’m really short of gold. With the help of guildies, we donated a stack of buckles to the guild bank which should keep people in buckles for awhile.

Dual speccing also means needing more glyphs. I don’t know whether I’d advise buying pre-patch. Prices might go up, but then again every inscriptor  on the server might suddenly get really active in competing with each other on the AH, so who knows?

The other intriguing loot area is the new recipes that will be dropping in Ulduar for blacksmithing/ leatherworking/ tailoring gear. If they are like the SSC patterns, then they may be rare drops. On the other hand, everyone and his dog will be in Ulduar as soon as it goes live. I figure titansteel bars/ arctic fur, and whichever cloth the tailors will need are probably safe to stock. Also elemental earth for the blacksmithing pieces.

Ideally, the pattern will be really rare but I’ll get one in our first Ulduar excursion ;P I think this is unlikely.

The main thing with making money from patch 3.1 is that there has been a lot of time for anyone who is interested to stock up items to sell and plenty of publicity about what the patch will contain. So there could be many many people with titansteel, glyphs, etc. stocked up. It’s hard to really know before the patch hits.

Safest bets are probably raid consumables. Frost Lotuses get used in large amounts. People will always want gems and enchants. There’s a new arena season coming also so that means a lot of people will be getting new gear.

But don’t go overboard on stacking blue quality gems. Bear in mind that people can turn in their heroic badges for blue gems and a lot of people have a lot of spare badges.

Anyone who can be bothered to collect stacks of raid food (or meat that can be turned into raid food) is probably also onto a good thing. Many people have plenty of gold and will happily spend it in order to avoid the duller side of raid preparation. Put it up on the auction house on maintenance day because that’s when most guilds start their raid week. (That’s my big money making tip, by the way.)

The other thing I’ve done is play my warlock some more. He’s just my fun dps alt, but he’s now exalted with the Kirin Tor which means that he can make Sapphire Spellthread. I’m stocking this to sell, partly for the cash and partly because he gets skill points from making it anyway.

Practicing that off-spec

I’ve also been dusting off my Fury gear and spending some of my excess badges on dps upgrades.

Tanks seem to be becoming rarer — I think people saw the glut and aren’t levelling their alts as tanks any more. Certainly I’ve been in more demand to tank heroics for people, so not as much chance to practice dps as I would have liked. I think I’m pretty much done with heroics now, even with friends I’m struggling to stay focussed these days.

Are you getting ready for Ulduar, or just take things as they come?