Here is a guest post courtesy of Seb, who is both scarily tall and able to speak Japanese. And he’s Swedish and stuff. I uh… look, I don’t know how to introduce him when he does it himself in the next paragraph, OK?
Hello! I’m Clavicus and I’m here to talk about fragility. But first, some semblance of an introduction.
I play an Arcane Mage in the Fancy Hat Club, and I’ve been raiding with Chayah since a bit into the Burning Crusade, first as a Paladin tank, then as a Mage, and since a few weeks after the realease of Ulduar, I’ve been arcane and loving it. That’s why I humbly asked C if he’d like me to write something for this excellent piece of internet publishing and he sounded enthusiastic. Then came the process of finding something to write about that would actually be of some sort of interest to Shamans, since they are the primary target audience for this Blog.
That’s when I thought of fragility, because if there’s one thing I bring to raids (beyond buffing intellect and begrudgingly summoning tables) it’s death. My death, to be more exact. (Although our resident Warlock does give me a good run for most-deaths-per-raid) But why is this? Why do I die more than our other raiders?
To start at the beginning, Mages wear cloth. Cloth is comfortable, it sweeps very well in the wind and if you wear a robe, you instantly look like a caster-y person (No, I will never forgive Blizzard for the atrocity that is Mage tier 8). The problem with cloth is that it is, well, paper-thin and is rarely statted in any way to help keep it’s wearer alive. A quick armory-check gives Clavicus 12.66% melee damage reduction, my alt rogue in decent enough heroic gear weighs in on 29.77% and 39% combined dodge and parry chance. Chayah sits on a massive 49.05% reduction. Even at this stage you notice that some of the heavier-equipped classes have a substantial chance of surviving a blow that would make my poor mage no more than a stain on the flagstone.
But that is simply melee, and if you get hit in melee in any sort of boss fight, unless you’re a big bad tank, you’re doing something wrong. What else can be the cause of a player suddenly taking a dirt nap? One of the more obvious reasons is the player in question standing in fire and the healers having something more important to heal. Survivability takes a large part in this, and most classes and specs have at least one trick up their sleeve to help avoid that last fatal attack. Ice Block has saved my skin so many times I don’t even know where to start, Blink is a great way of getting somewhere fast (notable places include Sindragosa and possibly Blood Queen) and invisibility is a great tool for avoiding repair bills, and I haven’t even mentioned Magic Absorption yet. Other classes that are less.. gifted in the areas of direct avoidance can either heal themselves, lose all aggro or wears plate.
Then there is the crux of actually using these abilities. Most of the activated abilities have a cooldown of a few minutes. Divine Shield has a 5 minute cooldown, Ice Block’s is 4 minutes (assuming it is talented). Soulshatter has a 3 minute cooldown and Nature’s Swiftness, although most often used to keep other people alive, has a 2 minute cooldown, the same as Dispersion. This means that they can only be used a few times per fight, although some are only needed once, if at all. (Soulshatter, Vanish and Invisibility come to mind, possibly Feign Death aswell) For the ones that don’t modify threat, however, the cooldown adds an element of risk to the party. If you use your ability now, will it be ready by the next time you find yourself in a pinch? If you don’t use it, will you die? This is the reason why my level 34 troll shaman still has 9 of his super sticky glues left, why I almost never use my healthstone and why I always carry 20 portal and teleport runes. Because some day they might come in really handy.
So my point is this; with raiding as it is now, with most bosses having some way of bringing the pain big time, surviving is at least as important as dpsing. Or healing. Or tanking, although that’s basically their job anyway. The game has moved away from what it was earlier, in legacy and to some extent BC, where it largely was the tank that took the damage and the dpsers that, well, you all see my point. Looking at mainly the healthpools of raiders through the three expansions, my old MT in BWL managed to hit 12k for a short while, and this was considered a Big Thing, at least worthy of mention. In BT my Paladin, the worst of the raid alliance’s four tanks, had around 20k, Clavicus has 26k, our tank regularly breaks 60k, or some insane amount like that. In other words, healthpools will grow larger, we will take even more damage, and raiders, especially raiders doing the harder parts of whatever content is on the ”edge” at the time.
To summarise, most classes have at least one way of preventing their own demise, and as our collective healthbars will elongate and as they do, the damage we take and the importance of using the tools presented to us will increase aswell. But what about the classes that lack ways of removing one’s self from harms way, either by way of encasing yourself in a solid block of ice, getting the light to do you a solid or simply by healing yourself, how can you even begin to read a boss strategy and see all the ways they can kill you? (Yes, this is what I look for while reading a boss strategy, things that can kill me unless I IB and things I can spellsteal)
So, tl;dr, as the hip internet lingo goes. While playing WoW you will end up against odds of your survival that aren’t all too favourable. This is when fragility and survivability come in, and where using the tools that Blizzard gave your class become important. You just have to have the guts to do it.
My name is Clavicus, you stay alive, Azeroth.