Tag Archives: Level 19 Twinks

Lucky Fishing Hat

Ready to fish!

The Lucky Fishing Hat is the best helm you can get for your level 19 twink, no matter what class you play.  With a whopping +15 Stamina, it’s almost double the health bonus of the Green Tinted Goggles, and casters should use it over Shadow Goggles.  150 Health vs +5 Int/+6 Spirit?  No contest for PvP.

The Lucky Fishing Hat can only be obtained by fishing in the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza and catching a rare fish, Keefer’s Angelfish, from one of the pools of Tastyfish that spawn all over the zone for the duration of the contest.  You turn in the fish to the Fishbot 5000 in Booty Bay and it gives you the hat.  You aren’t in the competition to win, just to catch a rare fish.  Sounds easy, right?

Well, it is, if you prepare for it.

  • You will need to be able to fish in STV, so train your Fishing to 125 -150.  While you should be able to fish from pools with Fishing 1, you’re better off fishing efficiently and not wasting casts on junk.
  • The safest way to level up your fishing is at the Dalaran fountain.  You can get to 100+ pretty quickly there.  Check with Marcia Chase periodically and grab a Strong Fishing Pole if she has one in stock, it gives you a bonus to your Fishing skill.
  • While the pools spawn all over STV, the mobs there will eat you alive if you don’t have protection.  There’s only one place you can fish without being molested: Yojamba island off the northwest coast (at 15,16), home of the Zandalar tribe of trolls.  These trolls are neutral and will not attack you.
  • Get your twink into position the night before the contest.  The easiest way for Alliance to get to Yojamba island is to go to Westfall and swim south from Longshore.  Horde can take the boat from Ratchet to Booty Bay, or the zeppelin from Orgrimmar to Grom’gol, and then swim north.
  • Setting your hearthstone in Booty Bay makes it easier to turn the fish in when you catch it, but is hardly necessary.  The contest runs from 2-4 pm Sunday afternoon (server time), but you can turn your catches in to the Fishbot 5000 until 5pm.  So you can swim south to Booty Bay in plenty of time.

Practice makes perfect.

I’ll admit, I was nervous about my first STV fishing tournament.  In hindsight, it was really pretty easy.

  • I logged in around 2:30, right around the time that the winner was announced.  The zone emptied out at that point, and I had no competition on the island.  I have no doubts that the island could be crowded with other twinks, and on a PvP server that could get exciting.  But I had the island to myself each time I fished there.
  • The pools spawn around the island and up the coast towards ZG.  There are crocodiles up and down the coast that can be troublesome for some of the pools, but I found that parking my DK nearby allowed me to switch to him, clear out the mobs, and then go back to my warrior to fish.
  • You’re fishing from a limited set of pools around the island.  Sometimes I’d be running laps waiting for one to respawn.  A better strategy was to hop over to my main and fish out some other pools I couldn’t get to with my twink, then come back for the respawns.
  • It took me about 3 hours fishing total to get my hat, over two separate days.  The drop rate is low, so you may have to fish a lot more than that to get it.  Or you might get it right away!  Random chance is random.

Finally, a fashionable hat for the jungle!

I’m glad I went ahead and upgraded my Green Tinted Goggles.  It’s a little strange looking at Cynderblock’s eyes again, but for both tanking and PvP the hat really is awesome.  My only complaint is that it gives her hat hair in the back – her long spinny braid has been tucked up neatly into the hat.

One side effect I hadn’t considered is that getting the Lucky Fishing Hat obsoletes your Engineering.  Twinks get Engineering because it’s the easiest way to get a good helm; the bombs are an extra bonus!  But with the LFH, you no longer need it as a profession and you have to evaluate your options all over again.  Should you go with Herbalism’s powerful HoT, Mining’s stamina boost, or the crit bonus from Skinning?  Or should you keep it around for the bombs?

Given how big a fan I am of Engineering in game, I’m really loath to drop it for something else.  But the benefits of other professions do outweigh the benefits of bombs, no matter how much fun they are to throw.

But for now, I’ll enjoy my additional 70 health and natty fishing hat.

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The Twink Tank

The Dungeon Finder tool is really great for twinking. Instances with their great loot are readily available, the Satchel of Helpful Goods contains great loot for a 19 twink, and you don’t have to walk to get there.

The problem, usually, is finding a group that can run the dungeon without falling apart. Cynwyn, my Mage twink, has yet to run Wailing Caverns all the way through.

Cynderblock, my twink Warrior tank, however, has no such problems.

I didn’t expect to turn Cynderblock into a full-time tank. My original goal was to make a PvP warrior for WSG. But after running several dungeons with Psynister, the value of having an at-level Protection Warrior optimized for tanking became clear.

And man, is she awesome fun to play.

The early instances – RFC, VC, WC, SFK – are fairly forgiving on new tanks. There are some difficult pulls in each, especially WC’s caster mobs, but a decent tank can manage.

A twink tank, though? A twink tank can chain pull like you see in heroics.

Warriors have the best time of it at level 19 because of their AoE threat generation through Thunderclap and deep tanking toolkit. Paladin tanks suffer without Consecrate, and Druids don’t have much beyond Swipe and taunt, though at least they have Swipe and Taunt!

Let’s look at how Cynderblock is set up.

TALENTS

I’m still experimenting a lot with Cynderblock’s talents. Right now she’s got 10 points in the Protection tree:

  • 5/5 Shield Specialization
  • 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap
  • 1/3 Incite
  • 1/3 Anticipation

I’m considering moving the point of Incite over to Anticipation to get more Dodge, and from more Dodge more Revenge. I’m also considering putting two points in Armored to the Teeth, just because she’s so loaded with armor… but for now I’ll stay 0/0/10.

PLAYSTYLE

If you look at Cynderblock’s glyphs, you’ll see I set her up with the Glyph of Resonating Power and Glyph of Thunder Clap. That should give you a clue what her primary weapon is when tanking — Thunder Claps, and lots of them.

Low-level warrior tanking is somewhat straightforward.

  1. Trigger Bloodrage to build up some Rage.
  2. Run (don’t Charge, you’ll lose your Rage) over to the mobs.
  3. Thunder Clap ‘em, and their friends too!
  4. Yell a bit with your Demoralizing Shout if you’re dealing with melee.
  5. Tab-target Sunder Armor on everyone in range.
  6. Thunder Clap on every CD.
  7. Hit Revenge every time it’s up.

To do #7 I use the relatively straightforward expedient of binding Revenge to my Thunder Clap and Sunder Armor keys, like so:

#showtooltip

/startattack

/cast Thunder Clap

/cast [stance:1] Overpower; [stance:2] Revenge

This lets me use the same macro in both Battle and Defensive stances and trigger the appropriate ability.

The constant AoE threat generated by Thunder Clap helps keeps mobs focused on you. (You’ll also do a huge amount of damage, because not many classes have AoE skills at 19.) Keep the Sunders flowing out, and hit Revenge when you need. Keep Taunt and Mocking Blow ready if someone gets uppity, and Heroic Strike in those rare cases Revenge is not available.

One note about Revenge — it is only available after you Dodge, Parry, or Block an attack, making it the perfect counterattack since you’ll be avoiding a lot of attacks. It holds a mob’s attention as well as Sunder Armor, if not a little better, and it dishes out the pain.

There are things I miss about playing a DPS warrior — Charge, Heroic Strike, Victory Rush, Overpower. But the Prot style is a lot of fun, and the more mobs you pull, the more buttons you get to push.

GEAR

Gearing a twink tank is pretty straightforward. You want Stamina for a big health pool, Armor and Agility for damage mitigation/avoidance, and Strength for threat production. You can get Defense from the Satchel with …of the Champion gear, and while you’ll never be Defense-capped, it helps out a lot.

Keep in mind that Dodge and Parry are important not only to lessen damage taken, but also to proc Revenge. Revenge is very important as your Rage dump. Use it instead of Heroic Strike. Seriously.

Here’s a quick rundown of the gear I think you should get.

HEAD

Lucky Fishing Hat (+15 Stam) is still the best you can get. 150 health from your hat is awesome, but you will need to fish in STV to get this. Otherwise, the Green Tinted Goggles (+8 Stam, +7 Spirit) should be considered standard equipment.

NECK

The Agility on the WSG Sentinel’s/Scout’s Medallion (+2 Stam, +6 Agi) edges it over the Thick Bronze Necklace (+3 Stam), even though you lose 10 health in the trade. The additional Dodge makes up for it while tanking, though I’d keep the crafted necklace around for when you want to Stamina stack and impress your friends.

SHOULDERS

I prefer the BoA Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons (+5 Str, +7 Stam, +5 Resilience) from Wintergrasp for tanking. The PvE BoA Polished Spaulders of Valor (+6 Str, +6 Stam, +6 Crit) give you Crit instead of reducing your chance to be critted, and are slightly weaker for tanking.

If you don’t have access to BoA equipment, I’d go with Serpent’s Shoulders (+9 Agi), Rough Bronze Shoulders (+3 Str, +4 Stam), or Double-Stitched Woolen Shoulders (+5 Stam). Have something there, at least!

BACK

The new Tumultuous Cloaks dropping from the Satchel of Helpful Things are great. You may need to run a lot of dungeons to get the ones you want, but hey, you’re the tank, right?

For tanks, I’d go with … of the Champion (+4 Str, +4 Stam, +4 Defense) if at all possible. The Defense contributes to your Parry and Dodge chances and offsets the lower Stamina and Strength contributions of this cloak.

Other great satchel cloaks include … of Stamina (+8 Stam), … of the Monkey (+5 Stam, +5 Agi) or …of the Bear ( +5 Str, +5 Stam).

The previous BiS cloak, the Sentry Cloak (+5 Agi, +4 Stam) isn’t really worth the money you’ll have to spend to get it, given that the Monkey cloak is superior. The Subterranean Cape (+4 Str, +4 Agi) and Glowing Lizardscale Cloak (+6 Agi, +2 Stam) are good drops, but not your end goal as a warrior tank.

Enchant it with +70 Armor or +3 Agi. I prefer Armor, personally.

CHEST

I’m torn here. I think the Blackened Defias Armor (+4 Str, +3 Agi, +11 Stam) is probably the best tanking chestpiece, even though it’s leather and lower armor than some of the other options.

But it looks so UGLY on my dwarf!

Armor of the Fang (+8 Str, +8 Stam) and the BoA Polished Breastplate of Valor (+7 Str, +7 Stam, +6 Crit) are both good options for PvP and for looks. The BoA brings the most Armor of any piece listed here, 197. That’s more than 100 more Armor than the BDA and AotF.

I’ve seen the Tunic of Westfall (+8 Agi, +3 Stam) listed on some Warrior gear lists, but you should never get it. It’s a quest reward from the same Alliance quest as the one that gives you the Chausses of Westfall, which you should definitely take instead. More on that later.

The only other piece to consider is Toughened Leather Armor (+13 Stam), but those extra 20 health will cost you 4 Strength and 3 Agility. These are better for druid tanks or if you’re trying to win a health pool contest. Otherwise, skip ‘em.

For tanking you’ll want the +100 health enchant. The +4 All Stats one is a decent secondary option – possibly better for PvP, but probably not for tanking.

WRISTS

While the Cavedweller Bracers (+3 Str, +4 Stam, 71 Armor) are good all-purpose bracers that drop in RFC and will serve you well in both tanking and PvP, two quest rewards – the Beetle Clasps (+5 Stam, +2 Agi, 83 Armor, Alliance) and Steel-clasped Bracers (+6 Stam, +1 Spirit, 85 Armor, Horde) – surpass them as tanking bracers. I think the Beetle Clasps edge out the Steel-Clasped Bracers by a very narrow margin.

The +9 Stamina enchant is the tanking enchant to use here; the +9 Strength is very good for PvP, but it’s hard to justify the loss of 90 health.

HANDS

Thorbia’s Gauntlets (+8 Str, +3 Stam) are the clear winner here. These are great gauntlets that are a random world drop and often sold on the AH. There are some quest rewards (Hulking Gauntlets, Sandspire Gloves, Corin’s Handguards) that are adequate replacements while leveling but don’t come close to Thorbia’s attack power.

I think the +15 Agility enchantment is okay if you’re low on Dodge; otherwise, I prefer the +7 Strength enchant due to the attack power and Block bonuses.

WAIST

The belts out of the Satchel of Helpful Things again are excellent items for this slot. Warrior tanks should get Earthbound Girdle of the Champion (+5 Str, +5 Stam, +5 Defense), … of the Bear (+6 Str, +6 Stam), or … of Stamina (+10 Stamina).

The previous best in slot item, the Deviate Scale Belt (+5 Agi, +6 Stam) is still excellent (and can be crafted for you), but as a leather item it lacks the armor of the Earthbound Girdles. Cobrahn’s Grasp (+8 Str, +3 Agi) is a great mail belt but the lack of Stamina makes it less attractive than many of the other options for either PvP or tanking.

LEGS

The Chausses of Westfall (+5 Stam, +11 Str, 173 Armor, Alliance) are the best you can get, but they’re a quest reward on the Alliance side. They are superior to the leather Leggings of the Fang (+5 Str, +9 Agi, +4 Stam, 79 Armor) in due to the Strength and Armor bonuses offsetting the Agility of the Leggings.

This is the first slot where I’d say it’s worth faction changing your tank to get gear. They’re that good.

A less attractive, but still good option, are the Mighty Chain Pants (+5 Str, +5 Stam) or any of the green mail leggings … of the Bear (+5 Str, +5 Stam). All of these are BoEs and can handle a better armor enchant (Heavy Armor Kit, +24 Armor) than the BoPs (Medium Armor Kit, +16 Armor).

FEET

The Savage Trodders (+9 Stam, 134 Armor) have the edge on two key stats over the Silver-linked Footguards (+7 Stam, +3 Str, 129 Armor), but I’m not convinced that they’re better tanking boots. I don’t know, maybe I just like how they look?

Fine. I’ll go switch to the Savage Trodders. /brb.

For tanking the +7 Stamina enchant is superior to the speed enchant I’d normally recommend for PvP. Speed boosts aren’t needed in low-level instances.

FINGERS

The best tanking ring you can equip is the Seal of Sylvanas (+8 Stam, +3 Str, Horde), followed by the Seal of Wrynn (+3 Str, +3 Agility, +4 Stam, +4 Int, +3 Spi, Alliance).

Unfortunately, to get them both, you have to faction change. The Seal of Sylvanas is so good you should seriously consider it. The Seal of Wrynn is less attractive, but if you faction change for the Chausses of Westfall, you should pick this up too while you’re over there.

The next best rings you can get are the WSG PvP awards, Protector’s Band / Legionnaire’s Band (+4 Str, +4 Agi, +2 Stam). They’re identical and a good second ring if you don’t want to faction change.

The Blood Ring (+5 Stam) is an acceptable ring to use while gearing up.

TRINKETS

It’s a bit of a grind, but the Arena Grand Master (+12 Stam, on-use absorption bubble) is the best trinket at the level, bar none. But it’s admittedly not the easiest trinket to get, so here are some other options.

The BoA Inherited Insignia of the Alliance/Horde and regular Insignia of the Alliance/Horde is great for breaking out of stuns, which don’t happen very often but can be disastrous to the group if you lose aggro. The Inherited version has 6 Resilience at level 19, which is about 1% crit reduction.

The other BoA trinket option, the Swift Hand of Justice (+6 Haste, heal on killing blow) is very attractive for tanking, especially if you run with two of them. They provide a slight boost to your DPS and a small stream of healing while fighting packs of trash. They’re not nearly as impressive on a warrior as they are on a caster, but they’re still good options.

Finally, the Minor Recombobulator is an acceptable option for swapping out with your PvP trinket if you need to help out your healer or other party member. There aren’t any polymorphing mobs in these dungeons (though the Druids of the Fang and their sleep spells can bite me), so that use effect is wasted, but the health/mana restoration can be helpful. Think of it as a minor Innervate!

RANGED

You’re not going to be using your ranged weapon very often as a twink tank — occasional pulls at best — so stats should determine your choice here. The Hand of Argus Crossfire (+1 Agi, +1 Stam, Alliance) is the best to get for a tank, beating out the Thick Bronze Darts (+2 Str) and Throat Piercers (+2 Agi). Those two have definite value in PvP, but the defensive value of the Crossfire trumps them here. If you’re Horde and not willing to faction change, it’s a tossup between the other two. The Thick Bronze Darts will help your AP and Block value, while the Throat Piercers will help your Dodge. I’d give the edge slightly to the Darts.

The BoA ranged weapons don’t help us much here. The Charmed Ancient Bone Bow (+1 Hit, +1 Crit, +5 AP) and Upgraded Dwarven Hand Cannon (+1 Resil, +2 Crit, +3 AP) just don’t give us the tanking stats we need.

You should still put a +2 damage scope on your ranged weapon, if it can take it.

MAIN HAND


Choosing your main hand weapon can be tricky because some races will have Expertise bonuses for specific weapon types.

My dwarf uses the BoA Venerable Mass of McGowan (+4 Stam, +3 Agi, +4 AP, +2 Crit) in her main hand, increasing her Dodge while letting her benefit from her racial bonus.

Before the Mass she used Butcher’s Slicer (+4 Str, +3 Stam), which I think was little bit better than the Night Watch Shortsword (+4 Stam) because of the added strength. The Night Watch Shortsword looks so good though, that were I playing a human I’d probably prefer it over the Slicer for tanking. These two swords are better than the WSG rewards, the Protector’s/Legionnaire’s Sword (+4 Str, +2 Stam).

Another BoA worth mentioning is the Sharpened Scarlet Kris (+4 Stam, +6 AP, +3 Resil). I know, warriors tanking with daggers? If we’re going to go down that road, we might should also look at the Horde-only Dawnblade (+5 Stamina), normally used as a caster MH.  I can’t recommend this (though I’ve seen it in the wild) because of the effects of Normalization on your DPS.

Good tanking axes are hard to find at this level. I’d go with Smite’s Reaver (+2 Str, +3 Stam, +2 Hit) or the crafted Bronze Axe (+3 Stam) if I was set on using an axe to capture the Orc racial bonus. But that bonus won’t overcome the lack of stats on these weapons.

The debate about the best twink enchant for your weapon rages on, but the contenders for tanking are: Crusader, Lifestealing, Fiery Weapon, and +15 Agility. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. I prefer Crusader on my weapons because of the massive damage bonus it gives to all of my abilities when it procs. Lifestealing can lessen the load on your healer. Fiery Weapon generates a lot of threat, and +15 Agility can push your Dodge rating nice and high.

I’ll leave it at: I recommend Crusader, but can see the point of all the other enchants, too.

SHIELD

The PvP shield of choice is the Redbeard Crest (+6 Str, +3 Stam, 547 Armor, 11 Block). It’s the only shield under consideration with Strength on it, which makes it appealing for the boost to Block in addition to attack power. Because Warriors convert 2 points of Strength to 1 point of Block Value, the Redbeard Crest has an effective Block of 14.

However, the Armor on the Crest is low compared to the Arctic Buckler (+3 Stam, +8 Spirit, +5 Frost Resistance, 642 Armor, 13 Block). And that Armor is critical. From a tank’s perspective, you’re looking at exchanging 95 Armor for 1 Block and 12 AP. For Cynderblock, 95 Armor about 2.15% damage reduction from armor or — assuming she gets hit by mobs doing 50 damage with each swing — about 1.4 Block.

So the Arctic Buckler is a better shield for damage mitigation, though not for threat generation — the 12 AP is not trivial at this level. But if your threat gen is okay, it’s definitely the better shield.

The final contender is the Horde-only Deadskull Shield (+1 Str, +7 Stam, 611 Armor, 12 Block). This is the Stamina-stacker’s shield, with good armor and block and a boatload of Stamina. The Arctic Buckler gives about 1% more damage reduction for the cost of 40 health.

I think the Buckler edges out the Deadskull Shield just barely here, but just barely, and only because Armor is so damn good. If you’re Horde, you should get both — just to be safe.

DON’T FORGET THE DRINKS
Just like in PvP, the one buff you should make sure you always have active is the food buff from Rumsey Rum Black Label. Tanking while mildly intoxicated gives you a +15 Stamina bonus.

The fact that Cynderblock is a Dwarf has nothing to do with this. Honest.

*whistles innocently*

IT’S OKAY TO OVERGEAR THE INSTANCE

You know, I really expected the gear section to be a lot shorter than it turned out to be. I don’t know why; gear decisions at any level are difficult, and there are very few cues at level 19 as to what constitutes a tanking item versus a DPS item.

But once you build up your tank set, you’ll find that the lowbie instances become a heck of a lot of fun to run. (Yes, even Wailing Caverns.) You can be as aggressive with your pulls as your healer can handle. You’ve done your job properly in gearing for damage avoidance and mitigation. You’ve given yourself an insane health pool for the level — Cynderblock is at 1600, with buffs she’s usually around 1750-1850. Even a bad healer can keep her up and running with relative ease.

And best of all, you know that you will never have a fail tank in your group.

That’s really the best feeling of all.

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Twink Essentials

As I’m going through building my army of level 19 twinks, it’s clear that there are some things every twink needs, regardless of class.

First, there are certain skills everyone takes:

Expert First Aid (skill level 225) allows you to use Heavy Runecloth Bandages, which heal an insane 2000 health over 8 seconds. Even for twinks, this means gaining a heal-to-full ability once a minute. You need to have a higher level medic actually make the bandages, but your twink isn’t your main.

Engineering or Fishing at 150 are required to gain the two universal head slot items: Green Tinted Goggles or the Lucky Fishing Hat. The Lucky Fishing Hat is a bit more difficult to get, as it requires you to fish in (but not win) the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza, but the Goggles are an acceptable alternative until you can win it.

It goes without saying that both professions should be chosen and maxed out as early as possible. You can get started at level 5 and reach 150 at level 10. The gathering professions all convey excellent bonuses at this level, which they do not in the endgame. Amusingly enough, the professions that are worst for endgame raiders are best for twinks, which just goes to show balance is a tricky thing to achieve.

In addition to those skills, you will also want several stacks of the following consumables:

The Heavy Runecloth Bandages require someone with First Aid 280 to make, but the healing they return is awesome.

Rumsey Rum Black Label is the twink food buff of choice. The +15 Stamina boost translates into +150 health, or 10-15% increase. That’s insanely good. Consider that to have that kind of effectiveness on my level 80 Warlock, food buffs would have to grant at least +200 Stamina. So yes, this rum has quite a kick.

It costs 2s at the Southshore Inn in the Escape From Durnholde Keep instance in the Caverns of Time, and you should fill your bags with this drink.  If you don’t have this up at all times I don’t know what to tell you.

Healing Potions should be a staple of every adventurer’s kit, twink or not. These aren’t as good as a bandage but can help out in a tight spot.

Because the Rumsey Rum overwrites any cooked food buff you might obtain, you don’t need anything but the standard vendor food and drink. I prefer Melon Juice and Dwarven Mild cheese, but it really doesn’t matter what you eat — you could have Tigule and Foror’s Strawberry Ice Cream, if that’s what your twinks like.  If you find yourself in a position where you have the luxury to eat and drink in WSG, do so.

And yes, it’s good to have both available even if you don’t need mana. You will get a pug healer who forgets to bring something to drink.

There are plenty of consumables which are a good idea to have, but are hardly essential. Lesser Mana Potions, Big Bronze Bombs, and Explosive Sheep all have their places in my bags, but not everyone needs or wants them.

(Who am I kidding? Explosive Sheep are like the best thing, EVER! Blow up sneaking rogues with sheep!)

I count a lot of the low level elixirs and potions, like the Elixirs of Minor Accuracy, Firepower, Strong Troll’s Blood, Defense, and Lesser Agility, in this category. They are all very good buffs, but which one you should stack depends on your class, role, and if you have a close personal relationship with an alchemist. Even then, because potions and elixrs don’t persist after death, keeping these buffs up can get expensive, fast.

One final type of consumables bear mention: temporary item enhancements, like Heavy Sharpening Stones, Heavy Weightstones, and Minor Wizard Oil. These add an additional enchantment (called an imbue) to your weapon that either increases your weapon damage or spellpower. This imbue lasts through death, so is worth keeping up throughout a match. The catch is that they can’t be used on heirloom weapons, some of which are really great weapons for twinks.  If you aren’t using an heirloom weapon, you should have a few stacks of these items and macro their application into your buff sequence to make sure you don’t forget to apply it.

The final essental element to twinking is a good attitude, but that’s a post unto itself.

What about you? What items do you consider essential? Please let me know if I’ve missed something below in the comments.

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Warrior Twink Introduction: Cynderblock

I was surprised at how fun Warriors are to play. I mean, they have no spells per se, no healing, are entirely dependant on gear – but they can also be completely disruptive, formidable opponents on the battlefield.  And the joys of Charge are visceral and deep; rushing across the field to stun your opponent, closing the gap in the blink of an eye, is a heck of a lot of fun.

I rolled a Warrior a bit on a lark; I knew I had the heirlooms for one, having outfitted a DK and Paladin earlier. I was a little bored with rolling humans, so I picked a dwarven lass with red braids and a long ponytail. And because I was feeling especially whimsical, I named her Cynderblock. Obviously not her dwarven name, Cynderblock had all the right connotations for an unstoppable tank while following my Durotan naming convention.  I don’t go with non-realistic names very often, but for a twink I can usually justify it to myself.  In this case, it’s a custom from her clan to not reveal their true names to non-dwarves.

Hey, that works, right?

So I’ve had an absolute blast playing Cynderblock in both the leveling bracket of WSG, where she has topped some damage charts since level 12, and PuG tanking some instances for gear, which is OMG SCARY for a DPS/PVPer like me.  I have tanked on my Druid before, but it was always with friends and guildmates.  Tanking with a PuG is an entirely different ballgame.  In some ways I’m glad that I’ve frozen my experience, so that I can really get to understand how to use the abilities I have in some detail.  I saw this on my DK, Cynwulf, who was an awesome tank at level 59 because I knew exactly what abilities did what and how to use them to keep the group alive.  Frozen XP gives you time to really learn the abilities you have.

I’m really glad I’m on Twitter, because all you have to do is admit your own cluelessness about a class and you can have experienced experts give you advice right away.  I like playing my Warrior, but I don’t know a lot about tanking, so I asked and got the following advice:

  1. Charge
  2. Thunder Clap
  3. Demo Shout for AOE threat
  4. Stack Sunder Armor (tab-sunder-tab-sunder)
  5. Heroic Strike when you have > 30 Rage
  6. Thunder Clap liberally
  7. Taunt when needed
  8. Mocking Blow for the OH SHIT moments
  9. Shield Bash for spellcaster interrupts

I was pointed to the excellent So You Want To Be A Prot Warrior guide over at Panzercow’s blog, which is going into my bookmarks now.  Yessss… a clue, I have it!  I cannot wait to get into the DF queue tonight and start running for some gear!  (First up, Deadmines, because I need the Chausses of Westfall.)

Right.  I know that I started off saying I was going to be twinking for WSG, but … c’mon!  Dungeon Finder!  Tanking Deadmines and SFK!  It’s fun too!

You’re not buying it, are you?

Oh well.  Yes, I like tanking.  I enjoy setting the pace of the group and being the one in the center of attention.  Twinking isn’t just about PvP, though it is often about it — it’s about playing as best as you can at a certain level of play, and that includes PvE too.  There’s no reason I can’t have the best of both worlds.

So I will.  :-)

Right.  Where was I?  Oh, Cynderblock.  Her gear is coming along nicely — I’ve switched out the Reforged Truesilver Champion for the Night Watch Shortsword / Redbeard Crest sword-and-board combo, with Crusader and Stamina enchants.  I’ve got the Blackened Defias Armor, which has awesome stats even if it is leather, and Thorbia’s Gauntlets.

A nice surprise was in the Satchel of Helpful Things: the Earthbound Girdle of the Champion, with +5 Strength, +5 Stamina, and +5 Defense Rating.  I think the …of the Bear might be better for WSG (+6 Strength, +6 Stamina).  One of the reasons I want to run a lot of instances is for the great cloak and belt options available with the random dungeon, so I can try out different stat combinations.

Anyhow.

This is my Warrior.  There are many like her, but this one is mine.

And I have a lot of fun playing her.

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Fire vs Frost is the Wrong Question

So Cynwyn is in Shadowfang Keep, right? She’s spamming Frostbolts and her DPS is really sucking. I mean, say what you will about DPSers looking at Recount in the middle of a fight, but really, the tank shouldn’t be out-DPSing me here. I’m like, listen, little Frost Mage, have some Mage pride and do some damage, and she’s all, I’m casting them as fast as I can, STOP JUDGING ME. And I’m all, cast faster! And she’s all, you didn’t give me Improved Frostbolt, so unless someone pops Heroism, this is as good as it gets.

No, really. Don’t you have these conversations with your characters? No?

Hmmm. Likely story.

So I start searching around for something to make up for Frostbolt’s dismal performance. Arcane Missles are there, but they suck mana like blood elves at a mana picnic. Fire Blast has too much of a CD, but wait… didn’t I use to have something that hurled big balls of fire… I’ve got that mapped somewhere, right? On the … T key? Odd. Why is it over there? Let’s give it a try.

Woah. Boom! Heh.

Suddenly, the worgen were dying a LOT faster. Wow. Those Fireballs might have been slow, but they sure packed a wallop. Cynwyn’s DPS soared along with her renewed Mage pride, and she was gracious enough to not call me a noob.

There was an important lesson in that episode for me, and it wasn’t just that Fire burns. It was that I’d brought a concept from later in the game — talent tree specialization — and applied it waaay to early. Level 19 is too soon to have invested enough points in any tree to have picked up their defining features.

Furthermore, a leveling character is working towards a specialization and doesn’t want to respec every few levels to optimize for this set of abilities. A twink, however, has her full set of abilities right now, and will never get past the second level of talents.

In other words, a leveling character is looking down the talent tree, picking some goals and working towards them. A twink needs to look across the trees at just the first two rows and take those talents that suit their current roles. The view must be horizontal, not vertical.

So my real mistake was thinking Cynwyn was a Frost Mage. She’s not. She’s a Mage. Period. Frostbolts, Fireballs, Arcane Explosions — I have to start using all the tools available to me and not get stuck in an endgame mindset. Just as there are no Destruction or Demonology Warlocks at this level, the Frost, Fire, and Arcane labels do not apply yet.

I started experimenting on that SFK run with spells I didn’t use that often. For AoE mobs, hitting them with Arcane Explosion until my mana ran low, followed by a Frost Nova and hasty retreat, gave me huge DPS numbers on trash mobs. (It also left me /oom, but it was worth it.) Arcane Missles or Fire Blast worked well on mobs who were dying quickly, and Fireballs were the way to go on bosses. Frostbolts – especially level 1 Frostbolts – were great for stopping runners.

When I teleported out of that dungeon, my first stop was to the Mage trainer to unlearn my current talent build and look at the trees, sideways. I’m not sure if I’m happy with the build I have right now (2/2 Improved Fire Blast, 3/3 Frostbite, 2/3 Ice Floes, 3/3 Permafrost) but I’ll take her back in to the Gulch and let you know how it works out. I want to see if Permafrost is as potent as I think it is.

And as for Fireballs?

Expect to see a lot more of them in the future.

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Warlock Twink Introduction: Cynwine

It’s not really a secret that I don’t like WSG on my level 80 Warlock main. I started playing it a few months into Wrath, when it was dominated by pre-nerf Death Knights. While I found I could do tremendous amounts of damage, I died so often that felt like I really wasn’t contributing much, and we tended to lose. I got very frustrated by the whole battleground, and pretty much spent my time in Alterac Valley instead.

It was actually surprising to me when I took my Death Knight into the Gulch. Yes, you could totally own the battlefield as a DK. I got achievements on Cynwulf that I never thought I’d see on Cynwise, sometimes with ridiculous ease. And I won. A lot.

This kind of lopsided experience led me to consider two possibilities; either Warlocks just sucked in Warsong Gulch, or I sucked at playing one there. I mostly believed the latter.

(You may ask why I didn’t consider that DKs were so overpowered that using them as a comparison was foolish. I did consider it, but since they were dominating PvP I thought it a moot point. Either you were able to handle the hordes of DKs running around, or you couldn’t. I’ve mellowed since then.)

So when I started making twinks, I thought a lot about my past experiences and said, here’s a bugaboo that I can’t seem to get past on my main. Maybe if I can roll back to a simpler time I can learn to master this battleground.

I don’t know how to play other classes nearly as well as I play a Warlock. But this is the one place where I just don’t play well. The challenge is not learning a new class, it’s learning an old class a different way to avoid mistakes you made the first time.

So that challenge to myself is why I rolled Cynwine.

Her name uses another Anglo-Saxon suffix (-wine), one comfortably close in spelling and sound to Cynwise, so as to make the class apparent. Oddly, it is really more similar in meaning to -wyn, but I figured that worked, too.  I considered a joking, fun name — yes, I do do that, as you’ll see — but it just didn’t seem right. Warlocking is serious business. I have a score to settle with Warsong Gulch, and this is my instrument.

(She also has the same face and hairstyle of my main, just in case someone missed what I’m doing here.)

The first ten levels breezed by, and not just because of the heirlooms. While there are plenty of low-level spells that I haven’t used in months, they’re familiar old friends. (Hello, Curse of Agony! I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s the wife and kids?)

While the spells are familiar, the playstyle is decidedly NOT. Deep Destruction plays at range, with huge combos that destroy the opponent before they get close. Deep Affliction plays very nimbly, drain-tanking, constantly moving while the DoTs take life from others and give it to you.

At level 10-19 you aren’t really anything but a Warlock. You have some dots, some weak nukes, some drains.  You do a lot of pet tanking, some fearing, and lots and lots of dotting.  You’re not quite yet strong enough for serious drain-tanking, you can’t chain nuke for very long, and your pets lack the punch they’ll develop later.  But all the elements are there, in a strange mishmash of the later styles.

PvE is easy: send in the Voidwalker, dot ‘em up (CoA, Corruption, Immolate if you like), and wand ‘em down, drain ‘em if you’re low.  PvP is a bit more interesting because Fear is more potent due to your opponents lacking the defenses of later levels, but it’s still a similar strategy.  You probably should flip your CoA/Corruption cast rotation and put Corruption on first in PvP to start front-loading damage. (You’re not worried about threat, after all.)

All of this sounds good, doesn’t it?

Yeah.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m struggling with it, a bit.

It’s not the execution, or that I’m fumbling around trying to figure out what I should do.  Each spell I learn gets placed into a familiar spot on my keyboard, each ability gets macroed in the appropriate sequence.  It’s not that leveling is hard: multiple mobs are a breeze.  DPSing instances with the new LFG is great — I handle it much better than I ever did on Cynwise.  PvP in the leveling bracket is predictable, though some nights are better than others.

No, instead I struggle with motivation and enjoyment.  There are times that I’ve had a lot of fun on Cynwine, but they’re few and far between compared to any of the other twinks I’m leveling now.  The grim efficiency with which I play her lacks the delight I’ve had freezing things in place with my mage, or charging with my warrior, or sneaking about on my rogue.

In some ways this reflects my recent attitude towards my main.  After months of playing her almost exclusively, it’s just not as much fun as it was before.  It’s now a matter of execution, of doing the right things at the right time.  And to be honest?  Ruthless efficiency can get kinda boring.

I debated whether I should talk about my motivation behind rolling each twink. I think in this case it’s definitely the right thing to do, because it will explain a lot of my future behavior towards this toon.  I am conflicted about this warlock, this grim girl with the green goggles who exists solely to settle a score with a battleground.

I play to have fun.  And I think I can have fun playing her.

But we also have a job to do together.

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Mage Gear: Spidersilk Drape

I’m about 2/3s of the way complete gearing up Cynwyn in BiS or near-BiS gear. The great thing about building a twink is that the gear grind ends, eventually. There is a finite amount of gear available for your level, and it changes very infrequently.

(It will be interesting to see what Cataclysm does to current twinking equipment. Kinda exciting, actually!)

There are three recent changes to gear that mages will be interested in: new Spidersilk tailoring patterns, heirloom items, and rewards from the daily random dungeon satchel. Any guide that doesn’t take these into account is outdated.

I’ve noticed as I look at various twinking gear lists that though there are some slots with clear BiS items, there are others where it’s not so clear. Just because someone puts together a list and puts it on the internet doesn’t mean you’re excused from using your grey matter.

I’m just saying!

So, instead of throwing up a gear list at the start, I’m going to talk about why I’m choosing certain items, and then see how the gear list looks at the end.

I talk a lot about stat priority on CBM, but gear at level 19 is much more simply (and poorly) itemized than at level 80. Just because something has worthless stats doesn’t mean it’s not BiS for a lot of classes, and Spidersilk Drape is definitely one of those items. It’s long, it’s blue, it has Stamina, and it has Hit. Sexy, sexy Hit, which is so very rare at this level. This easily-available crafted cloak is good for offensive casters, rogues, hunters… Well, I can say that it’s good for them, but I don’t really know.

I worry sometimes about my devotion to the Church of Hit. The chance to miss someone of equal level in WoW is 4%, or about the same as rolling a 1 on a 20-sided die. To be safe in PvP you should have a little extra to counter elven racials and class abilities. I don’t think any if those class abilities are even available at level 19, so Alliance casters and Horde melée classes need 6%, while everyone else just needs 4%. And this one cloak supplies about half of what you need.

So, if you’re like me and subscribe to the philosophy that Hit outweighs every other stat until you reach the cap, then Spidersilk Drape is clearly BiS. If there were enough items in other slots with Hit, you might be able to swap this out for the cloak that comes as a reward for the new LFG random dungeon Satchel of Helpful Things, which swaps out Hit for Intellect.

But since there’s not a lot of Hit to go around, I feel pretty comfortable going with Spidersilk Drape for my mage’s cloak.

Holy moly. I hope I don’t have a post to write about every. single. piece. of gear. We’ll never finish if I do!

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