Tanking New Content

I have only tanked an instance that I knew nothing about and did not get any advice one, Drak Theron Keep. Because of it, it is still my favorite instance. I discovered little things and ways of doing it along the way, and it is now something that I can do with most groups in about 20 minutes even on Heroic.

Most raids I have either watched a video online, read a guide or gone with an experienced tank and played OT. While it makes progression easier that way, it also feels like I am cheating myself a little.

As a video game player I have rarely needed a walkthrough. I have been playing Prince of Persia on the Xbox and I am amazed at how easy games have become. There are safety nets everywhere and help along the way. Wow Add ons like questhelper and DBM do the same thing. Maybe I should get burned by the fire more often so I learn where not to stand… maybe the poison should kill me quicker so I don’t stand on it in the first place.

I am amazed at the number of people that still get hit by the wall of lava in OS, and it makes me think that maybe calling the walls out in raid warning might be a bad thing rather than a good thing. The dance in Naxx is probably the best example of this mechanic, because different computers will paint that room at different intervals and there is a definite lag. If you are following someone blindly and don’t know where to stand or stop, you will get hit by a poison shower.

The more I play this game, the more I see how it mirrors real life in many ways. Managing a guild is a lot like managing a department at work. Teaching people to do things has the same parallels. Some people can learn from theory, some can learn from watching a video, most will only learn by doing.

We have people at all stages of the raiding curve at the moment and doing very well in Naxx and Ulduar but still not there with the full clears and still stumble in some bosses. Some of it is tiredness, some of these raids take long time, but most of it is knowing the content that is new to most. These is where the dancing beings.

Here is where tanking gets tricky and where I made my first mistake as a tank. If you have a DPS spec you will see content a lot sooner than as a tank or a healer.

Even though everyone says that DPS are a dime a dozen, this is not true. Sure, there are DPS out there that can do some serious damage, but DPS that can listen and help out in fights are hard to find. If a DPS warrior can cut a mob off while it is running towards a healer and take a hit and survive, you just saved a wipe. Also you get to see the fights live and see how the other tanks are doing it.

If you are lucky, the tanks on the fights you are seeing for the first time are already geared and you might end up with a new piece out of the whole experience.

You have to walk before you run, specially as a tank. Brute forcing everything by overgearing everyone and heading to the greatest and latest content will leave you scratching your head when you start paying tons on repairs on fights that seem simple. Have patience, let everyone around you learn at their pace and you will have stronger and stronger groups.

Our guild has done this and we have a very good 10 man group, bring in only a handful of friends to our 25s. It takes patience and time, but it has made progression a lot more fun. Its all about the journey, not the destination right?

The Patch 3.2 and the Guild

One of the most interesting aspects of WoW is that at least since I have been playing it (I heard rumor of old school WoW being truly for the L337) is that the company has managed to maintain the balance between access and playability. While most hardcore raiders that burn through content and add rusty dragons to the stable still mantain that raiding is now too easy, Ulduar 25 is still not a slamdunk for most guilds. I would even go as far as saying that Ulduar 10 requires more than just gear to complete.

Now the game has been changed dramatically with the emblem system revamped. We will now be able to farm heroics to obtain gear rather than having to deal with a 25 man raid full of immature people more worried about t-bagging each other than actually running something smoothly. This changes the game completely for our guild. It will make progression that much easier since it is not dependent only on drop rates and we can gear as a group at a better pace. While we’ve had several players being able to join 25 naxx groups and 10 man ulduars to get gear, only some lucky night have proven fruitful in our pursuit of better gear. While skill still plays the biggest role in raiding, it takes a heck of a lot of skill to do things grossly under-geared. The new system makes 5 mans; which has been one of my favorite parts of the game since there is not as much sitting around waiting for people as there is on 10 and 25 man, not just fun to run but very fruitful. Last night I ran 3 heroics a little over an hour and was able to put my remaining emblems of valor to good use on a tanking ring.

Also very exciting is our JewelCrafter extraordinaire Moondust who has been saving tokens to get the new patterns. She was gracious enough to use all of her tonkens evenly throughout classes and outfitted our tanks already with awesome new gems. My survivability is pretty awesome right now with almost 28K unbuffed health as a warrior not being too shabby, specially since I don’t really have many 24stam gems in sockets anymore… lets deal some damage!

My wife was gracious enough to put my vision into reality and created some graphics for our guild site. It is still being constructed but you can now go take a look http://bds.logtar.com. There is also more being built in another site, but we will have to keep that a surprise for now.

Some of the coolest things about the patch so far that impressed me have been,

The Gear Manager is a lot easier to use, they fixed the clunky old way to save the profiles.
Being able to queue up for WG from all mayor cities.
Faster mount cast time makes grinding even less of a hassle.
Quest log being double panned is a huge interface improvement.
Character name auto completion will help with the funny character names during invitation time.
Item comparison is awesome. (I already had something similar with an addon, but happy they did it to the main UI)
My lifeblood from herbalism (which I use quite often) and toughness from mining both got a nice buff!

So what things have you liked from the new patch? Looking forward to the new content?

Azjol-Nerub & Old Kingdom

Besides hopefully getting on a 25 man Naxx as a tank my to get a hold of the Bracers of the Unholy Knight my tanking set is ready to take on Ulduar 10. That will put me officially beyond needing anything from Naxx even though a full clear still seems to be weeks away for our guild. Its actually exciting to know that there is still all that content to enjoy as a group, and so far it has been fun having a very balanced group.

There are still some good pieces of gear stuck in places I rather not visit. Oculus has to be by far my least favorite dungeon. I went there with our regular group, and we had fun figuring out the encounters until we wiped, and wiped and wiped some more on that last boss. It left a bad taste on all of our mouths that made it even worse because we were not able to finish it. I am not in any hurry to go there again, however I do want to get both Azjol-Nerub & Old Kingdom on farm status.

I have done both instances before, and even completed A-N which a lot of people like because its quick. I have not been able to do it without an overgeared healer or a totem dropper. Even with those two elements it is not a slam dunk, and it is still a tanking challenge for me because most of it is poor crowd control. Its very frustrating when you lose control of your character and you know it is going to cause the whole group to perish.

The Essence of Gossamer is probably one of the must have tanking items in your tanking set. I see it as not just the gap bridging item that the Seal of Pantheon is while you get your tanking set over the cap, but a necessary tool to build your survivability. This item along with some of the pieces that are missing for some of our healers is stuck in those instances and I cannot hide behind the fact that they “suck.”

So in the coming week or so I am going to buckle up and just get these instances done. I think the way to tackle them is to do them in normal mode first and get everyone used to the encounter and then just go and get it done. I am really looking forward to being able to put them both in farm status to include them in our upcoming Heroic Chain List.

Heroics and Gear

Big Bear Butt put together a nice post listing how emblems will work after the 3.2 patch. The rumors I have been hearing is that it will be as early as next week and this makes me extremely happy. The guild has a new batch of 80 alts as well as a couple of friends that transferred toons to levels or created DKs. We have people that already have skills but are in dire need of gear and they were left behind the curve when everyone started to farm Naxx. I am excited to be able to farm emblems soon in the most exciting content in the game for me: Heroics.

Logtar is all geared to tank Naxx and up to regular Ulduar now except for his bracers. He also has all his reps maxed so daily dungeons for me have meant nothing but gold for a while. This patch will make the emblem drops a nice addition to me being able to farm a dungeon for the people that are gearing up and still working on rep. I have also got the first level of Hodir rep for shoulder enchants and will have to work on grinding rep day probably on Sunday morning.

Our heals are getting better and better with every run, and I am sure that soon we will not require a third healer on 10 mans and our druid and shaman can have a little rest. Our DPS is crazy, and that is even not having our 4K dps log in for the past couple of runs. Its nice to have everyone over 2K.

It will be nice to have 4 tanks that can be doing heroic chains to get everyone geared. I will be putting together a little guide on what to run for maximun results in soon.

1337 Raiding

I have been taking a break from WoW because I was out of town and then had friends from out of town come visit.  The weeks before that have been tough because there is really nothing very challenging to do in the game anymore… that is until I played with some hardcore raiders.  I thought I had already seen people that were at this level of play because many people claim to be “elite.”   However, I was pretty wrong.

I had never seen someone on blues and green outheal someone purpled out.  I had also never seen someone two man a heroic dungeon boss.  It was amazing to hear someone talk about healing as being too easy and actually being able to back it up.  I’m an OK tank, but playing the game at that kind of level really opened up my eyes to why it is that I play.

These guys were both raiders and PvPers at the top of other servers and the mechanics of the game were almost second nature to them.  To have them compliment me felt pretty good because they recognize how hard it is to tank.  Its actually funny that everyone in the group pretty much refused to tank because they were so burned out on doing it.  I guess they all that that in common also, they had been a tank at one point or another.

It also made me realize that I don’t want to be in a hardcore guild.  They are burning through content too quickly for me.  I want to remember how hard that troll in DTK was to get down.  I want to remember how tough it was to get Loken down without having everyone die in the party.

I hear that they just moved on from our guild but want to keep in contact, and I will def want them to fill spots on our raids if we ever need it.  However, what I love about the people I play with is that I like raiding with them, that I like them as people.  That we will probably go at snail speed through the content, but in the end we will have enjoyed that kill so much more than if some other group too us there and got us the gear.

When To Call It Quits

Our guild is close, really close to being able to 10 man Naxx.  We have been missing one or two key players the last couple of weeks, but we are very close to having two new healers and a couple of other tanks join the ranks.  Actually if anyone knows a Shammy in Azshara’s Alliance side looking for a casual raiding guild, send them my way.  Most of our raid ready players have been pugging 10 and 25 man Naxx with a couple of other guilds.  While they are all nice people, the raids still have a pug feel to them.

One of the biggest issues with my group leadership is that I know exactly when to call it quits, but I fall pray of the what ifs.  What if we can do it with this DPS (even if we are lacking proper tanks and heals) or what if this is a great learning experience for the people that have not been here?

Some people DC and don’t come back, some others start talking down to people and start looking for someone to blame, some people (me included) start talking about their repair bill.  The thing is that I have developed a good spidie sense for when something is not going to work.  The exception again is if everyone is in for just giving it a try, but most people don’t know how to say no sometimes.  In the end we are all left depleated of consumables, huge repair bills and in some cases very frustrated players.

Last night in Naxx I knew we did not have the right raid composition for the bosses we were about to face.  If we had taken another route earlier and headed down a different wing (we were DPS heavy, and tank light, heals were good) we would have saved tons of money and time.  Not my raid, and not my decision.  I am not a main tank for Naxx just yet having only two tanking pieces that are newly acquired (trinket and ring).  Flasked and bugged I can get to 33K health, but I am still a better OT than a main tank when it comes to raids.  Last night we also had a lot of lag issues and disconnects, the server seemed to be buggy for whatever reason.  All of those things combined spelled problems that I saw coming and should have just politley told the organizers thank you but ask my guildies to step back from this raid.  I like the guild we were raiding a lot, they seem like great mature players, and except for the one moron vent screaming something dumb (which they vowed to curve in the future).

The problem is just the same as when someone I know invites me to tank a pug heroic.  I like the pople and I want to help, but I know when someting is not going to work after the very first pull.  I need to improve in this aread by just letting people know it is not going to happen and then offer one on one advice if I know what the issue is.  I think it will save both money and agravation, and if I am the one inviting people to a raid, I should also be the one giving them an out before the repair bill mounts and the frustration starts to set in.