Author Archive for Josh Makal

13
Aug
10

Dear Ghostcrawler, I love gear sets

Ghostcrawler had a post a few days ago talking about tanking, vengeance, and his thoughts on the the new skill and tanks lack of desire to put out dps. He said the following (source):

Now, it would be awesome if tanks did consider dps stats more seriously, and maybe outside of the instagib environment of Lich King, they will. Back in the day, tanks at least have say swords and rings for +threat fights even if they didn’t use them all the time.

Ghostcrawler seems to be under the impression that tanks don’t want to do lots of dps, and that we do not carry around an extra sword and ring for threat sensitive fights. I would love for him to fall upon Meloree’s bleeding edge of TPS thread on Maintankadin, Anafielle’s post on Rhidach’s blog about her threat set, or even just some of the blogs that I have done here regarding itemization, gear sets, and knowing how to gear for any encounter. There are plenty of people out there who love gear sets, have multiple ones, and wear them every week. And sadly, while I am sure he was trying to simplify his statement by saying that rings and swords are what we swap out, we can do so much more than that.

Gear Sets and their purpose

Currently the newest encounter in the expansion employs a fire breathing, parry haste enabled, dragon. One of the common theories as to why parry haste is turned on for dragons is because the breath is suppose to be the instant gib, threatening attack which healers and tanks should plan for. However as many of use have seen, the breath is the nice part of Halion hard mode. The evil part is the 30-35k swings that he employs in concert with breaths, cleaves, adds, and laser beams of death. This brought up a discussion on MainTankadin at one point, and more recently in my guild forums. A few of our more outspoken dps (some of whom happen to have tanks as alts), Brought up the fact that the tanks should just gear for expertise.

This movement to gear towards expertise came off of a night of wiping on Halion to parry hasting gibs. The theory, based off of the facts at hand, from the point of view of a dps player, was sound and obvious. If parry haste is killing the tank, eliminate the threat by gearing or even gemming for expertise. However the deeper seeded issue with this theory is that it is not taking into account all of the facts. When you look at the fight there are a few things that stick out in my mind as the essential moments to gear for. First and foremost, Halion hits like a truck so stamina and armor is key to survival. A very high level of effective health will help with a tanks survival. However on hard mode there are multiple other things to consider.

Depending on the tank role you are assigned, there are three gearing philosophies which should be employed, and this will transition perfectly into a discussion on gear sets. There are two “main tanks” and one “off tank” in this fight. Firstly, you have the tank who is assigned to Halion in the physical realm. This tank has two different end objectives of his or her gearing strategy. First and foremost, you need to survive. Health and defensive statistics which will help mitigate and avoid damage will be key. However there is a second component to the gearing philosophy which should not be completely overlooked. You need snap threat for the add pick up and sustained threat to ensure that you can tank both the boss and the add. From my perspective, this is a perfect situation to maximize survival while maintaining hit cap and threat statistics. I would personally wear my Max HP set, which has a nice balance of 253 hit and 26 expertise, while boosting my HP raid buffed to 60k.

The second tanking role in the encounter is the add tank in the physical realm. The most important thing for the add tank is to be able to maintain threat on as many adds as possible, while pumping out a good amount of dps in the process. The adds need to die as fast as possible, and with the number of raiders going all out on dps because of the tight timer in between meteors, a threat set is essential. There are of course caveats to this, but for the most part, a tanking set which focuses on threat and dps output would be ideal for this situation. The tank should easily be putting out 8-9k dps because of all the adds that they are responsible for holding off of your melee who are cranking out 16-17k dps.

Finally the Twilight Realm tank needs to focus on one thing, and only one thing, and that is survival. They will need to be able to produce the best effective health set possible, in concert with a cool down heavy spec , because the challenge in the twilight realm for the tank is to stay alive taking 30k hits while the healers are moving for about 10 seconds. The major key to success in the twilight realm is cool down usage, but this is only good if the gear on your back can withstand the beating. You want a full effective health set, which is focused on pure survival. Threat should not be that much of an issue, as you will have a good head start on your dps due to your early entry into the twilight realm, as well as the fact that you should have some tricks and MDs when your dps get down there.

Threat Matters, Gear Solves the Issues

Back when the buff in ICC was pushing from 15-20% I noticed a trend in my tps output. I was starting to lose the large gap I had between myself and the dps when it came to threat. I blogged a few times about it, and even went as far as posting some screen shots from World of Logs to illustrate why my threat was not as good as it could be. My threat was hindered by the lack of hit and expertise on my gear, however the gap in threat between myself and the dps was caused by the gradual increase of 277 gear in the raid and the zone buff increasing every month. As our dps started putting out larger and larger numbers due to gear and buffing, my threat did not follow suit. I knew that something had to be done, and it was not something that would be solved by swapping out a ring and a sword.

After pouring over parses, and looking at the gear I had available to me, I went ahead and constructed a high health threat set, not the one that I use to smash faces with on Festergut, but the one that I would use for pumping out threat when I knew that my healers could not keep me up in my threat set. While we have seen amazing things from tanks, that also comes with an amazing raid. The more talented the healers, the less you have to bring, the more dps you can bring and the quicker the fight ends. Because the fight is quicker, your cool down and bloodlust / Heroism buff is a larger percentage of your over all dps. I did not have the luxury of other tanks, so I needed to keep my survival, but up my threat. This set consisted of not only a swap in rings and weapon, but also trinkets, pants, cloak, glove, belt, boots, and libram. This is not a small undertaking as Ghostcrawler suggested in his post, this is a methodical and premeditated swap of an entire gear set to achieve the maximum desired result.

Finally, I wanted to share something with the rest of you who dont read Rhidach’s blog, or saw Meloree’s comment on that. I am working on it myself, but unfortunately I have quite a few holy paladins who soak up all the ret gear, so I do my best with tank gear and originally had a top 20 spot, which has now dropped down to a top 70 spot. Alas, I digress. This directly shows evidence of one of the best examples in the world of why Ghostcrawlers comment above is outdated and out of touch.  I give you Meloree on festergut!

My set:
http://chardev.org/?profile=424400

How well it works:
http://worldoflogs.com/guilds/17108/rankings/players/

Maintankadin post on doing truly absurd tank dps:
http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/forum/index.php?f=6&t=29208&rb_v=viewtopic

10
Aug
10

Avenging Wrathy is one year old!

Its crazy to think that I have been doing this for a year! Anyways, I just wanted to thank everyone that has been around and reading my blog for what ever reason. It started as more of a mental dump for when I wanted to talk about gearing, gear sets, and venting, and turned into what I have been told is a great resource for people to understand about gearing and tanking hard modes. While I have had my days over at MainTankadin where i spent hours debating things with Theck and Meloree, This was my true outlet for thoughts on gear sets and tanking. Ghostcrawler said that most tanks dont care about threat stats, or have multiple gear sets, well I say you guys are wrong, because here i am and here you are! More on that tomorrow, I have a rant ready to be written to Ghostcrawler about his statements…

10
Aug
10

Tanking the Twilight Realm

You spin me right round baby right round, Like a record baby right round round round

Phase two of the Halion hard mode encounter has provided tanks with a nice twist to the Wrath of the Lich King’s typical tank and spank mechanics. While most of the fights that we have come across over the past few instances have been as dry as a day in the sahara, this provides a little more interesting movement mechanics. The phase starts as soon as Hailon reaches 75% and will continue until 50%. To engage the boss you have to be the first one in the portal, and the first one to be with in melee to whack the boss and establish aggro, as there is a complete aggro drop as you enter the twilight realm.

What I have done to ensure that both of the above qualifications are met is that I will position myself in such a way that I have to look through halion to see the middle of the room. If you all positioned the boss the same way it would be much simpler to describe, but since there are many different positioning strategies, the most important thing to remember is that as you click the portal to the twilight realm, you want to appear with Halion in front of you. This will allow you to run straight to him and hit him with some snap threat. I personally start off with a hammer, judge, then shield to ensure that I have a good deal of threat. As soon as I have a 5 stack of vengeance, then I blow Avenging Wrath. This will ensure that your cool downs will be up by the time you enter your first spin. It is important to understand that cooldown usage will be different for hard modes, this is only a suggestion for normal mode.

I like to rotate the boss 90 degrees so that as the rest of the raid exits, they are in the perfect position to start dpsing. By rotating him 90 degrees, the side of the dragon will be at the portal’s exit point. It is essential that you create as much of a threat buffer as possible between you and your dps, because unless you have gotten comfortable with spinning and dpsing at the same time, it will be more important for you to focus on directing the raid and spinning the boss. After a few attempts you should get into a groove where you are used to the spin mechanics and you can continue to perform your 969 with out any hiccups. The first spin comes approximately 30 seconds after you have entered the twilight realm and it is important that you have your bearings set so that you can do your job perfectly.

The role of the Main Tank in this phase is essential to the survival of the raid, as you will be the conductor to this symphony of side stepping. What I found was most effective was to set my camera at max distance by using the macro:

/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 9

This macro allows you to see the playing field, the boss, your raid and the two Shadow Pulsars or purple orbs which rotate around the room. While you have plenty of time to get everything in order before the first spinning cutter, it is important that you acclimate yourself with the room to ensure that you can see everything from a comfortable vantage point.

You can dance if you want to, you can leave your friends behind…

Do the Safety Dance! After you have established sufficent threat, and the beams are about to appear it is important that you line them up appropriately in order to ensure that the beams are no where near you. The idea is that you as the tank will be riding the left beam while you spin the boss on a dime, this allows your melee to be dpsing from his hind leg and eliminates any chance of them being in the 180 degree parry haste arc. You line yourself up so that you can see two orbs (on hard mode) or one orb (on normal mode) and the boss. For all intensive purposes, I am going to describe hard mode because it makes it easier to understand the positioning and movement. The orbs will be 90 degrees appart from each other on the circle which surrounds the room. it is important to see where they are when you have about 6 seconds left on the cutter cooldown.

When the cool down has come up and your boss mods tell you that the beams are coming, you want to line the orbs up in a specific manner. As you are looking down the back of the boss, the tail would be noon on a clock, you want to place the orbs at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions. This will ensure that you are directly in the middle of the void between two cutters. You want to start moving when you see this positioning, and not stop  even if the beams do not appear when the mod predicted. It is also helpful if you call out in vent that you are moving. This should give your healers adequate time to prepare for healing on the run.

It is important to remember that it is your responsibility to direct the raid in the twilight realm, and as such if you feel that you need to move early, by all means do so. The rest of the raid will be depending on you to direct them, most of the raid will just try to position themselves on the side of the boss.

Once you have this dance down, the rest is academic. A few more things to think about when it comes to tanking this phase and what you need to do. If you have a sufficient threat ceiling when the first beams appear, and you are not comfortable using your abilities and rotating, just rotate until you get comfortable. The number one thing to focus on is rotating the boss on his current position. This is very important because the Shadow Pulsars do not move relative to the boss, they move relative to the room, so if you move the boss from the center of the room you will be faced with rotating into a beam and dying. The rotation of the boss is very important to the success of phase 2 and phase 3.

Some more things to think about when it comes to tanking in the shadow realm is understanding physical markers which you can use to help manage the Shadow Pulsars, the beams, and the boss. What I do to ensure that my rotation does not move the boss off of his spot, and as a result have him pivot on the spot, is stand on the very outside of his hit box. When  you target mobs, there is a red circle on the ground that appears (simple i know, but just to make sure we are all on the same page) which you want to walk along. You just walk the line of the hit box and you will be rotating him on a dime. All you have to do to execute this is hit the strafe left button then the forward button, strafe left, move forward, rinse and repeat. You should use your mouse at the same time to ensure that you are always looking right down the back of Halion with the two orbs at 10 and 2. The coordination of using your mouse to change your camera angle to ensure that you are always on track with your movement, and using the keyboard to rotate independently is all that it takes to get the rotation on a dime movement.

Aside: I am working on fixing some bugs in my video recording software associated with wow so that I can take a movie of this to post, but im getting errors, so it may take some time. However, when I fix it, I will put up an informational video to see how I do it!

07
Aug
10

Discussions on Halion Tanking

WoW Versus my Job

My job has been getting in the way of my ability to main tank all of our progression runs for the past few months. My transition to a new (old) role in my company has hindered my attendance and my concentration when it comes to raiding, preparing for raids, blogging about raids, and everything else that had to do with my obsession with WoW. I have gotten to the point where I get my WoW fix only three days a week, the rest of the time, baring a huge guild scandal (which has been known to happen and require me to log on early in the morning to talk to our other Co-GM) I am away from the game and away from my ability to talk and think about it.

As a result, we have had some new tanks working on halion hard mode, and more specifically being the shadow realm tank. From my understanding, as I have never tanked outside in phase 3, it is a fairly trivial tank and spank job for one of the tanks, and add duty for the other. As for the inside, and the shadow realm, there are all sorts of fun things that you have to deal with. Over the few weeks our guild spent on Monday nights wiping in 10 man learning the fight, I got a good look at the fight from all aspects, and learned what gear to wear, how to use it, and when to use your cool downs.

It was interesting to hear that quite a few of our tanks, dps posing as tanks, and everyone in the raid in general had a hard time with the cutters. The laser beams of death are a simple mechanic which is only muddied by two factors: your tanks ability to rotate on a dime, and your raids ability to react quickly when they get the mark. From my perspective, the only difficult time a tank should face is when one of your tank healers gets the mark and has to run when trying to heal you. This is intuitively the best time to use cool downs, health stones, trinkets, etc.

Back to our tanks trouble though. I have been hearing that most of our stand in’s have been having issues with confidence when it comes to rotating the boss. I guess I have to explain all of the different tanks we field and when we use them to understand how this is such a broad based problem. I have been the main tank of the guild for quite some time, and have been part of the tanking rotation for the entire expansion. As tanks have come and gone, I have done my best to replace them. We currently have a talented tanking roster of two protection paladins and a protection warrior. This is bolstered by a trial druid tank, and three dps capable of tanking (DK, Warrior, and Druid).

Each of these players has been asked to step up at one time or another on this fight, and each of them have had an issue with either wanting to tank or being an effective tank. We have had issues with single target threat, being able to execute the rotation in the shadow realm, lack of gear to handle hard mode 25 man hits, in ability to pick up the adds, and general sub par play by some. In the end our other main spec tanks are doing their job well, and a few of our very talented players can sub in from a skill stand point but their gear is not up to snuff. This brings me to the topic at hand that I wanted to discuss. If you thought that was a long winded intro, I have apparently been away too long!

Gearing for Hard Mode Halion

A discussion has broken out on our class forums between myself and one of our best players (a shadowmourne wielding death knight who used to MT back when his guild was a top 100 progression guild in the TOTGC days). The discussion centered around his concern that he was getting gibbed by halion on phase 2 inside the portal. He saw that there was some parry hasting leading to his demise, but overall he was not geared enough to take back to back hits.

This lead to an evaluation of his gear, and a personal reflection on what I would wear to the party when I get a chance to walk in there and tank. For me, armor has always been an attractive stat, and should not be discounted, however with the impending breaths that the boss pumps out, you want to consider stamina a great option as well. The gear set that I am leaning towards will put armor in the forefront of my mind, however at a certain point, the DR will become too steep and I will rather use stamina to bolster my survival and effective health.

If you look to combine the priority of stamina and armor, and in addition try to increase your expertise to respectable levels so that you have the threat to not threat cap your dps and prevent a good percentage of parry hasting, you can create a fairly well rounded gear set. Most of the gear that we will wear for the encounter will be best in slot gear from an effective health perspective. The areas where we can manipulate gear to achieve an elegant solution to threat, expertise, and survival, are few and far between, however important to understand. Legs, trinkets, weapon, cloak, and rings are slots which will give us the opportunity to modify gear to achieve a desired outcome.

What I was looking for when it came to assembling a set was to trade up some of the armor pieces for large chunks in stamina. With the issues that our guild has been seeing, trickle down deaths are not as prevalent, it is the burst damage you need to sustain when a healer is preoccupied with saving themselves. While armor is still very powerful, there is a balance which needs to be considered before going for all of one or all of the other. If I can manage it, I will work on putting together some testing on Halion hard mode, where I will wear full armor for a few fights and break down the damage, and threat out put, and then swap over to a more balanced set with more stamina, hit and expertise to see how that shapes up.

More to come!

06
Aug
10

The upward climb to progression

Random thoughts after a break from blogging

I’m BAAAAAAACK! It was a long and busy month away from my blog. From the last post you could see that we were having trouble in paradise, and it was going to take a little more than a good week of raiding to right the ship. Over the past month, I sat down with a few of the other officers to write and execute a plan to pull ourselves out of the slump we were in. This entailed writing detailed descriptions and responsibilities for each officer, creating a new position in the guild to help with performance evaluation, some very key recruitment, and an overall attitude shift of the guild which I believe came from the efforts which were put in place to fix the issues we had.

A month ago, we were wiping for hours on Hard Mode Putricide, struggling to get the kills which were once on farm, and teaching a good number of the raid how to do the hard modes, since we recruited to fill the void of many of our core players leaving after summer burn out. In addition to difficult progression and frustrating raids, our leadership core was not what it should have been, and we were dealing with a multitude of issues which forced us to re-evaluate our roles, and our need for new blood in our leadership core. Two weeks ago, we had a plan in place, we had two shot Putricide this time, and we were clearing ICC 25 hard modes up to the Lich King in under 2.5 hours. We were back on track, however it was only an upward swing. I wanted to ensure that we keep the momentum going up and not fall right back down to where we were a few weeks before.

After our first stellar week of raiding in months, we identified and elected players to join the leadership core of our guild. While we did not promote them to officer, we gave them increased responsibility, and the opportunity to see what we as officers did on a daily basis. Some of them were approached, and some of them volunteered for this position, but across the board it was evident that this move was a great one for the guild. The jumped right into helping us make decisions, evaluating players, and providing suggestions for issues which we were facing.

New Blood

At the same time that we restructured the guild, and laid down a plan to fix some of the glaring issues which were troubling our guild, we picked up some old friends to bolster our raiding corps. Our main competition on the Alliance side for as long as this blog has been in existence decided to call it quits, and their best players faction transferred over to horde in order to form an elite 10 man guild for Cataclysm. Fortunately for us, they missed the casual progression of hard mode 25 man raids, and were willing to join us to raid for a day or two a week. We added an additional shadowmourne, bringing our total up to 4, and a skilled healer to the mix. They brought new eyes and fresh ideas from the alliance side.

Pushing forward

For now, I am sure I will be able to have some fuel for the blog, even though the main source of joy i got from writing here was sharing progression and gearing advice (and as that is non existent in the current version of 3.3.5) I can rest assured that there will be some progression in our guild to talk about. Sharing stories of shadow trap follies, dps on valks, eye beam cutters which proceed to nuke an entire group of our raid, etc. We have taken back up the progression banner as our guild has stabilized and have walked into both LK’s throne and Halion’s sanctum to face them on hard mode in 25 man. Here is to many new posts over the next few weeks regarding gearing theory of the shadow realm tank, a possible video of my oh so leet turning skills (with out clicking my abilities), and some talks about whether or not LK needs a hug.

08
Jul
10

What motivates you?

Finding motivation…

I wanted to digress from theorycrafting and paladin tanking for another short blurb on something that comes with the territory when you decide to become a tank for a guild or even more so a leader for a guild. I wanted to talk about motivation and what keeps you going when the end is in sight. I am currently having a crisis of commitment when it comes to my guild, it’s overall mission statement, and what we are trying to achieve as a collective group.

About a month ago, one of our officers came to us with the suggestion to recruit a player from TBC who left the guild and later the game for a while. We are currently in need of a few good players and he seemed to think that bringing back his friend to the guild would help bolster our ranks and reinvigorate the raiding corps with a skilled player. What transpired as a result was a less than pleasant discussion between old raiders on whether or not they wanted him in the guild. One of our officers was persistent to the point of frustration, a few of our oldest members thought it was a good idea, while one of our long time members was completely and whole heartedly against it. After weeks of people talking to all the involved parties, a picture of what people thought came to light, and his application was posted for comments from the rest of the guild.

To provide you with a bit of history regarding this person, he was a skilled player who was one of our better rogues during Sunwell. However, he had issues, which he has admitted since then. He created a rift in the officer corps between people who wanted to keep him because he was a good player and people who couldn’t stand some of the things he pulled at the expense of the guild. Fast forward two years. He has been away from the game for some time, is more of an adult, and has admitted his faults. His friends are adamant that he is a better person and would be a quality player for our raiding roster. Some of the current officer corps still is against it, some is for it. Many of the old and crusty raiders are against him coming back, few of whom still raid with us but have stuck around and always have had the best interests of the guild in mind. In contrast, most of the new raiders, who have shaped what the guild direction has become over the past year are in favor of inviting him.

What this has to do with my motivations…

I just wanted to provide you with some context as to what is going on so that you understand where this is coming from. I have over the past month acted as a mediator to this painful and stubborn debate on whether or not this player will be accepted into our guild. There are multiple threads in the officer forums about it, and there is a three page application in our guild forums which contains all positive or all negative perspectives. I personally am conflicted from a different perspective. In Sunwell I was a healer, and I was not an officer. I logged on, played, and logged off. It was a beautiful time where no one was bothering you with issues, and you did not have to worry about drama, raiding logistics, or member turn around. From this stand point, I really dont have any strong opinion of this applicant one way or another.

I remember that he made a fuss when someone else got the first glaive, I remember the fact that he complained so much he got the next two, and I remember when he stopped showing up because it suited him. But, I have also heard countless stories about how he has grown up, changed, and is a better person from trusted sources. This is why I am in the middle when it comes to his application. What pushed me over the edge, and has brought me to the point where I have little motivation to log on any more is the persistance from both sides to either get him in the guild or keep him out. From one side, there is a raider who has been a member of our guild for close to three years, and more than that, a fellow guild member of mine for 5 years, who is adamant about the fact that he will quit or step down if this person is let into our guild. From the other end is the applicants best friend, and current officer of our guild. My fellow officer has pushed this application to the point of no return, making idle threats, talking to each and every one of the other officers about it, and confronting the opposition on multiple occasions.

I personally think that this issue has stressed the officer corps enough that it has taken weeks if not months off of the longevity of the guild in WoTLK. Most of our officers are on our last legs as it is, and this has just made the problems of leading this guild even more pronounced.  I am having a very hard time motivating myself to continue to lead the guild and play the game in its current iteration. There are multiple escapes to this. I can quit the game, but I still enjoy it when I play and when I talk about theorycraft. I could server transfer and join another guild. Or, I could just stick it out. The type of person I am makes me want to stick it out, as I am very loyal and do not leave at the first sign of a problem. However, this has illustrated a glaring gap in our leadership and our guild as a whole, which forces me to want to hang my hat up. I also fear that if the guild has their way, this applicant is allowed in, and a long time member or two quit the guild or the game, that I have failed as a leader. While our guild is on its last legs, failing at encounters which should be one shots, it is still our guild. We are a shadow of the top 200 guild we were at the beginning of ICC, but we are still just as good as any other horde guild on our server.

A way out

In the end it is just a game, and if the game is causing this much undue stress, then its not worth playing, however when I am not dealing with guild issues, it is still fun. I will really have to begin to reflect on what I want out of this game to see if it is worth continuing on. If i could go back to just being a tank for a top guild, worrying about my strategy, gearing, encounter mechanics, and cooldown usage, I would be much happier. However, I have made a commitment to my guild, and I fear that if I break that commitment, I will break the guild.

/end rant

07
Jul
10

Halion Hard Mode

The ruby sanctum has come!

I wanted to talk about our strategy for the Ruby Sanctum. This past weekend, we took a 10 man into ruby sanctum to kill Halion. We started off on hard mode and gave it quite a few shots for learning. After about four hours, we concceded and killed him on normal, but I have a feel for the fight, and am confident that there is nothing more I need to do to set our guild up for success. The fight is fairly simple in concept, but quite difficult to execute in practice. For those of you who have not seen the hard mode, enjoy my first thoughts on the fight. After I take our guild back in for the kill on hard mode, I will come back with a full breakdown, pictures, and maybe even some videos.

The most difficult part of this fight is that everyone has to have exceptional situational and environmental awareness. We unfortuantely did not have that and the same people kept dying to the same things every attempt.

Phase 1, yawn…

The first phase of the encounter starts when you pull the boss. we pull the boss and put him tangental to the outside of the circle. If you can get the boss up against the flame ring, your doing it right. We basically start the encounter pulling him to the outer ring and then twisting his body and walking him along the ring. The entire raid stands at the back hind leg closer to the middle of the circle. Periodically someone will get a debuf called Firey Combustion, which needs to be dispelled as soon as possible. The trick is that once it is dispelled it drops it unleashes a patch of fire proportional in size to the number of charges present at the time. This means that they need to be placed somewhere other than the raid.

A bug or an issue: When positioning him, it is possible for you to walk outside of the circle on the ground and lock yourself out of the room when the encounter gets going. I did this, and our other tank did this. Do not panic, as the off tank be ready to pick up the boss if this happens and dont panic. You only need one tank for Phase 1, and in Phase 2 the person who is outside will get ported in…

Now that you have him situated, and no one is locked out, you can begin the encounter in earnest. Since the raid is standing on his hind leg, the person with firey combustion should run parallel to his tail and drop the patch of fire at the very edge of the playable area. This fire ring will persist for two more firey combustion casts. This means that you should only have two circles on the ground at once if executed properly. The other mechanic in phase 1 is a meteor which is very easy to avoid. About 5 seconds before the meteor collides with the ground it will have an aura pulsing on the ground which looks like a flame strike or a paladin consecrate. If you do not avoid this, you will die from the impact.

Phase 1 lasts from 100% to 75%, at which time halion will phase and a portal will appear in his place. As the tank you must spam click this and get into the shadow realm first. Once in the realm, you will see Halion standing in the middle of the room, just as he did before you pulled for the start of the encounter. He does not aggro instantly, however it would be prudent for you to run and hit him with a SoR as soon as possible. I usually flip him 180 degrees and have his tail facing the entrance to the instance. This allows for your raid to run directly from where they zone in to his side where they will start dpsing.

Phase 2, and the LASERBEAMS OF DEATH

One of our officers said it best, this phase is completely controlled by the tank. This is because during the shadow realm phase, you will be tanking him while laser beams circle the room. In hard mode, there are four purple orbs that rotate around the outside of the circle. they are 90 degrees appart from each other and will periodically, on a timer, activate and create laser beams which form a cross and continue to rotate. If any member of the raid is hit by one of these they are dead.

In order to get out of this phase unscathed, the tank needs to execute properly. What this means is that you must watch your cooldown timers as well as the orbs in the room. When the beams activate, you want the purple balls to be at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, and the dragon’s tail should be at noon. If this is the case, all you have to do is rotate slowly with circular strafing motions to stay in between the beams.  If you have executed this perfectly, no one is dead, and the boss was spun on a dime, still standing in the exact middle of the room.

PRO TIP: at the end of the clockwise rotation, when the beams dissipate, take one or two steps back from the direction you came (counter-clockwise). This will align the orbs perfectly for the next beam and you wont have to move until the beams appear.

The other mechanic which is employed during this fight is one similar to Firey Combustion. It also needs to be dispelled ASAP and will drop a shadow patch on the ground. These need to be dropped as close to the outside of the circle as possible, with time being an important consideration. If you can successfully complete this, you should be into phase 3 at 50%.

Phase 3, fire and shadow!

The physical and the magical realm, the fire and the shadow, are in existance in this phase, and there is a catch. You have to balance your dps inside the shadow realm  and outside in the physical realm. If one of the realms gets too far ahead the dragon will take 0 damage, and the other one will hit like a mack truck. The key is to ensure that you are with in a few percent of each other. Sounds easy doesnt it?

Well thats because it is, the hard part is that the fire patches which are present in phase 1 and the shadow patches which are present in phase 2 are in both realms. So if you drop a shadow patch in the shadow realm, it also shows up in the same place in the fire realm. Managing these patches, and controlling dps is the key to successfully completing this encounter. All of the mechanics of phase 1 and phase two are still in effect, the only difference is that there are more patches to avoid and to drop, and you have half the healers in each realm so your tanks will be harder to heal, as they are taking more damage and you have less healers.

You should save your cooldowns for when your healer gets the Firey Combustion, or Similar shadow debuf, as they will be running out and dispellign themselves, leaving a gap in their ability to heal you. I will come back in a few days and give you the run down on the fight with screen shots, more pro tips, and possibly a video!

Good luck everyone!

25
Jun
10

Tanking Caps and You

Gearing Philosophy and Necessities…

I received a tweet this morning regarding hit and expertise caps and what one should focus on first, and I thought that the 140 character limit of twitter was just not going to cut it for a proper response, so here is a more detailed and informational (hopefully) response to the question:

AndrewAnderson5 Wrote: @AvengingWrathy I got a question in regards to pally tanking. is it better to be hit capped, exp capped or both?

Well the short and simple answer is Neither. It depends on your gearing philosophy and goal of the gear set. Hit capping will help with your threat, and ensuring that your taunts land every time (if glyphed and melee hit capped). Expertise is a threat stat first, and on bosses where parry haste is enabled, a defensive stat as well.

Hit rating

With a hard melee cap of 263 hit rating or 8% hit, you will never miss a hit which you attempt. In addition, if you are glyphed for Righteous Defense, then you will never miss a taunt either, as your taunts are spells and the glyph will give you an extra 8% hit to get to the spell hit cap. With the advent of 3.3, we have new threat stats which sit at the top of the charts, and your question has some merit for the changes we have seen. First and foremost, it is important to understand that if you cap hit, you will remove the chance to miss from the attack table. What this means is that your swing is left with three options, land (hit or crit), dodge, or parry. In order to eliminate dodge from the attack table, you have to get to the soft cap of expertise, or 26 rating. This will leave only parry on the attack table. Parry is quite a bit more expensive to remove from the attack table because of its added threat of parry hasting.

While we have proven that all but two of the bosses in ICC have parry haste turned off, and the two that do are for the most part more threatening with their frost spells, it is still worthy of note to understand that there is a defensive characteristic to the stat. Theck has proven that Expertise is 83% as good as Dodge when it comes to pure avoidance. This only is applicable for bosses which parry haste. However there is always the added bonus of removing dodge and parry from the attack table. Once you have reached 56 expertise, you will land every hit you attempt on a boss.

Now on to the pretty pictures, because that is really what helps me understand things. Hit rating is something that will obviously help us with our threat, however it has no effect on our ability to mitigate damage. Hit is something that you want to start stacking if you are having problems with threat capping your dps . Hit has a great relationship with threat, and is the second best threat stat out there, and  is illustrated by this lovely graph I ninjaed from Theck over in the 3.3 Stat Threat Analysis thread at MainTankadin. If you observe the graph you will find the following:

No surprises here. Hit drops off when you reach the melee and spell hit caps. Everything else is pretty much the same, with slight scaling of damage-increasing stats until you reach the appropriate caps.

The interesting thing to note is that after about 50 hit rating, STR increases enough to equalize the two stats. Note that this is with 0 expertise rating from gear; at the expertise soft cap this number will go up. What this means is that if you’re really optimizing for threat on a limited budget, you’d want to balance hit, expertise, and STR. On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with a rule of thumb for this, since it will depend on your current STR, hit, and expertise values. In practice it will be more common to just gem STR if you want sustained TPS, and hit if you want snap threat. The difference in sustained will be small enough (~2-3 TPS per 10 points of rating or stat) that hit is probably the better choice. – Theck

Expertise Rating

As you can see, This graph is a great example of how hit is one of your best threat stats out there, and even better, a great seg-way into how great expertise is for threat! Expertise has long been established as a threat stat, and all of your melee have been soft capping since day one of Wrath of the Lich King. Why haven’t we really concerned ourselves with it as much though, is because until 3.3 ShoR was not able to be missed, parried, or dodged. And as it is one of our best snap threat generators, it was something we didn’t have to worry about. Now that it can be dodged, parried, and missed, expertise has shot up into the best threat stat out there. As you can see below, expertise is by far the best threat per second stat that we have out there.

…Expertise has risen to top dog status with the change to ShoR. As always, expertise loses effectiveness when you hit the soft and hard caps (82 and 328 rating or 26 and 56 skill after talents, respectively), and damage-increasing stats scale differently above and below those caps (see the different slopes on the STR and BV lines in the three regions).

Past the soft cap, expertise drops back down to be roughly equivalent to AP for threat purposes. That would put it at a “don’t gem” level as far as threat is concerned, though there are also avoidance benefits to consider. – Theck

So as you can see, both of these stats are valuable but the question still remains, which one first?

Hit or Expertise First?

This question has to only be answered after you have asked yourself another question, what am I trying to achieve? What I mean by this is that you have to ask yourself if you want to just increase your threat generation, do you want to ensure that your taunts never miss because you are tanking adds on LK or doing DBS, or is it that you are concerned about the stats from a survival stand point. Because the two stats bring two different benefits to your character, and remove specific things from the attack table, they have a situational purpose, and they are both powerful when employed properly. Hit capping your tank will ensure that you never miss a taunt. This would be something that is essential when taunt swapping is very, very important (such as Deathbring Saurfang), or if you need to pull adds off your main tank (as you would in the OT role of the first phase of the Lich King encounter).

If you are strictly trying to produce more threat because you are threat capping your dps, then it has been proven above by Theck that Expertise is now the number one threat stat for paladins until they reach the soft cap of 26 expertise rating. After that you would want to focus on Hit Rating to the 263 mark. If you take a look at the graph below, you will see that each of these is increasingly important as your strength gets higher.

The amazing news here is that STR has finally been un-seated from the top spot [with respect to TPS increase]. Above 1942 unbuffed character sheet STR, both Expertise (up to the soft-cap at 26) and Hit (up to the a few %, see hit graph) give better TPS per point of rating.
We had already expected this would occur for hit, but the real news is expertise. The ShoR change has drastically changed our reliance on expertise. Soft-capping expertise at 26 becomes highly recommended.- Theck

So, Theck has taught us that Expertise is now the most valuable threat stat up to the 26 rating soft cap. But it is also important to note that the more strength you have the more valuable your hit and expertise are. From a gearing stand point, you should probably try to get to the expertise and hit caps via gear itemization, and gem pure stamina if you want a kick butt threat set.

The third, and for the most part irrelevant (because parry hasting is turned off in most of ICC) option: if you are looking to increase your survival via one of these two stats, then you want to focus on hard capping your Expertise. This is possible in current gear levels, and is quite easy as a matter of fact. However, you will be sacrificing overall mitigation and effective health to reach the plateau of 56 expertise rating. I have two different options of gear sets when it comes to hard capping, however both of them sacrifice a lot of armor and health to get there. If you are looking for plain survival, I would stick to the effective health gearing philosophy of stamina and armor stacking.

Hope this helped!

18
Jun
10

That time of year again

Why raid when you content is on farm?

As summer gets into full swing, we have come upon that time of the year, the time that happens every year, the time of exodus. Now I am not talking about that guild that does a great job at slaying monsters, but the inevitable defeat of a raid via attrition. It is my experience that most of the people that play this game in the upper eschelons of raiding success are younger. They have more time on their hands, less responsibilities, and have grown up in the gaming culture.

This doesnt mean that all hard core raiders are 17-19 year old kids. Our raid is chock full of adults with carreers, families, and lives. However as a generality, most of the hard core raiders are in school and have the time to devote to raiding many days a week for hours on end. Because of this fact, we have a very real issue that crops up around the time school gets out. People go home, they get jobs, they have things to do, or they just enjoy traveling in their free time. Any way you slice it, your raiding corps decreases in size considerablly this time of the year.

As officers, we are forced to deal with this attrition on a yearly basis, and I for one feel that it neve gets any easier. Every year you can prepare a little, hedge your bets a little, or down right recruit too many people so that attrition doesnt hurt you. While there are top end guilds who never have this problem because there is always someone hungry for that raid spot in a guild who has the “Light of Dawn” title, the rest of us are the feeder guilds, the ones who suffer, and the ones who should be planning ahead of time to bolster your rosters to counteract the summer attrition.

How can we fight this phenomenon?

The simplistic answer is ususally the right one, have more people than you need, and when your raiding corps thins out, you can still field raids. Well this is easier said than done, because of the fact that if you maintain a roster which is larger than your raid by a significant ammount, you are going to lose people to lack of play time, feelings of exclusion, and overall dissatisfaction with the guild. The way in which you juggle 30-32 people for 25 spots is an art that few people do well. In order to make everyone feel like they are part of the team, you have to sit people periodically, rotate people in and out, and do a lot more work throughout the day in order to keep people happy.

Wait, you dont do those things? It’s ok, neither do I. If I had to grade myself as a guild manager, I would say that I have earned an A in leadership, an A in communication, a B in decision making, and a D in successorships. Thats right, we at crypt friends are horrible at planning for vacancies. We like things to be normal, consistent, and predictable. What we dont like is rocking the boat, having to make those hard decisions and have those hard conversations which are required to maintain a hard core raid group which will not feel attrition.

What we do is fight fires, we see people leave, and we look for new guildies. What we should do is constantly field new applicants, bring them to the “alt” raid, which should be more of a main raid with some alts in it, and ensure that we never have a night where we sit in the instance and dont have enough people online to play the game we love. Instead, because of the nature of our guild, the casual atmosphere that we promote while providing end game raiding, and the fact that all of our officers dont have every day of the week to dedicate to guild management, raid management, and time online, we have to fight fires.

We recently opened recruiting for all ranged dps, as we lost three hunters, a lock, our boomkin, and a few melee dps. We also lost a tank, but that is another story in and of itself. Because of these losses, and the fact that we were not properly perpared for attrition, we need to fill spots quickly with what we can from the pool of willing players who are looking for a new home.

What can you do to help with the situation?

When you are faced with something like this, a new influx of people if you are lucky enough to have the applicants you are looknig for, you must manage them properly to ensure integration and retention. The biggest problems that you will encounter are one that you can solve and one that you can not. First and foremost, you have to teach them the encounters, what to do, and how you execute fights so that you do not wipe too much. Most of this can be done with mentoring, with class leads so to speak, and a bit of vent communication mid fight. If they are talented and of the caliber which you are looking for to fill your guild, there will be little impact on your clear times, and lack of wipes.

The second and harder thing to do is integrate them into your dkp system. While all dkp systems are flawed in one way or another, some have bigger issues than others. Ours has an inflation issue, Loot councils have issues if the officers are not intelligent, fair, and reasonable, and bidding systems have problems with competition, back handed deals, and artifical inflation. If there was a great system, we would all use it, but there is not.

Gearing up your new recruits is essential to your cause of progression. If you do not gear up your new recruits, then they will not be able to contribute to the raid as much as they should be, and as a result will get carried through an instance. How you do this is the difficult part. In an ideal world, all of your raiders are selfless, not looking for loot as their primary goal, and ensure that the raid as a whole does better. However there is also a loot and scoot worry that one of your new recruits will take three or four pieces of 277 gear and run.

Proper leadership and preparation

All of these issues can not be eliminated, however they can be addressed with the proper preparation, and essential leadership when the time calls. Clear expectations of your new recruits should be set upon entry into your guild. You must tell them what your loot policies, what type of dps you expect them to hold (based off of their current gear), and what type of up front preparation, in game execution, and post game research they should be doing.

If the proper expectations are clear and set at the beginning of their tenure with your guild, they are more likely to perform, or understand when they are not allowed to raid. Set bench marks for your players, and expect them to deliver on said goals. If you can communicate effectively and often with your new players, pretty soon they will be old veterans, and your problems will seem like they were in the distant past….

16
Jun
10

Feedback and Personal Introspection

Performance Evaluation

At work today I was forced to take a good long look at my performance evaluation and my development plan. It was an interesting exercise because it made me reflect on all of the work that I did last year and if I could go back again and do it all over, what I would do differently. The short and sweet answer to that question is not much, but I would tweak a few things here and there for a larger shift in outcome. Why am I talking about my job when I should be talking about tanking? Well, in WoW, as in the real world, you should always look to do better and periodically evaluate yourself to see how you can improve.

This day of introspection at work came a day after I had a long conversation with someone from one of the best alliance guilds on the server, and his explanation of their LK HM wipes. He was talking about their tanks, and when and why they were dying, so I took a look at their armory and noticed that their specs were less than ideal and their gearing was probably a bit off as well. While we discussed their specs, what they should be doing, and why they were probably having issues, I was reminded that these tanks do not like constructive criticism, and that they thought they had it under control (we will come back to this part)….

Get to the point Wrathy!

What I mean by all of this is to ask you all the following question:

When was the last time you evaluated yourself as a player, as a tank, and as a member of your guild?

This is something that most of us do to infrequently. Introspection is a powerful tool in your arsenal, and is something that you should consider employing more often. If you can give yourself mini performance reviews every now and then, you can see where your areas for growth are and bolster said skills to be a better player. While your eyes are probably not as perceptive as a third party viewer, they are probably more critical than your fellow raiders, at least I know mine are.

Introspection is something that will help you improve as a player. While you will more than likely not have the answer to the problem or area for growth you find, you can get that answer from a wealth of knowledge on theory crafting sites and blogs. If you have made it here, you are already well versed enough in the resources that you have at your disposal to look for answers to your specific issues. I know what you are thinking, and I have met plenty of players who think this way, “I am already a great player, I don’t have any room for improvement!”

That is the biggest lie you can ever tell yourself. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. I learn something new every raid, and I try my best to remember it and employ the new found knowledge in order to retain it later on. I have tanked with other players who were too cocky, too naïve, or too sensitive to be able to improve beyond their current limited skill level. The true alpha dogs of the tanking community are always looking to learn something new, and they usually have to butt heads with other big name tanks to get there, however they are trying, looking, and perceiving how they can get better.

So I ask you again

When was the last time you evaluated yourself? For me personally, It was a few months ago (but weeks in play time because of my break). Sometimes you have fallen off the horse and not strove to be better every week and something like threat issues centers you again. I have watched countless videos of tanks from every class and how they approach encounters. You have to see all the angles, and if you can, then you can figure out where you need to improve. I have learned about movement, positioning, camera angle, key bindings, cooldown usage, gear choices, tactics, user interface, preparation, management of other tanks, management of a guild and raid, vent communication, instructing others on strategy, and the list goes on.

Most of this was from looking with in myself to understand how I can be a better player. When I take a look at my last performance in ICC 25 man hard mode, I noticed that there were some areas I was sluggish. Now whether my guild noticed or not is another issue, but I knew, so I had to figure out how to fix it. Some of it was knocking off the dust of a month of absence from raiding, and some of it was tweaking in the way I did things.

As we acquire new members in our guild, I am faced with teaching new people the ins and outs of tanking, paladins, raiding with CF, and our strategies. This forces me to re-evaluate why we do things they way we do, and is a powerful method of finding flaws in design and subsequently correcting them. Teaching others forces us to not only know how to do something, but why we do it. Introspection is basically teaching yourself. As a new member of your guild asks questions as to why you do something a certain way, so should you on a periodic basis. Your explanations will either re-enforce the power of the idea or bring a more critical eye to a flaw.

What should I look at?

So I have convinced you that you should take a closer look at your ability, performance, ideas, and execution, now where do you start looking? Honestly, this is a list that is always changing and always tailored specifically to the person. Different expectations are set for different skill levels, and each skill level will probably want to look at different things. Someone who is new to tanking is not going to want to scrutinize why their guild’s strategy for Professor Putricide is a certain way, that comes later. Conversely, a main tank of an end game guild should probably not have to look at their rotation to ensure that they are using a 969 rotation (I stress the SHOULD). Here are some questions that I have asked myself over my career of tanking. There are many more that I have asked and many more you can, but this is a sample:

  • Is my rotation correct, and are my ability usages optimized?
  • Are my cooldowns being used properly?
  • Am I Keybinding the correct abilities to the right keys?
  • Is my camera angle appropriate for this boss?
  • Do I let my teammates die too often because I didnt taunt?
  • Is my threat good enough for our dps?
  • Am I taking too much damage?
  • Am I using the correct gear make up, enchants, and gems?
  • Am I planned and predictable (aka does your dps know what you are doing, does your healing corps know what you are doing?)
  • Are my abilities and spec right for this boss?
  • Do I employ both predictive and reactive pathing?
  • Have I handed out the correct assignments to my tanks?
  • Am I standing in the correct position for this fight?
  • Is there a better way to (INSERT ANYTHING HERE)?

These are just some of the examples of questions that you can ask yourself to see if you are doing your job right. However there is even more that you can do to improve yourself with in the game. You can ask yourself how you are interacting with your raid members and guild mates. This is a team game, and one that takes 25 people (or 10 people) to play when it comes to raiding. And as such, your interactions, interpersonal skills, communication, team building, and personal and raid wide development are all things that you can work on. But one thing at a time. Start with yourself!

Being receptive to feedback

The nature of feedback cycles is that you do something, you receive feedback and you either do it again or make corrections to obtain the desired outcome. In simpler terms, if you do something good you will like it and do it again, if you do something bad there are consequences and you will not do it again. Feedback is essential to development. I have, too many times, heard of players who are not receptive to feedback, or just plain think they don’t need it. On both accounts, it is their loss, and they are worse in the long run as a result.

Constructive criticism is the most important thing you can receive in a game or in real life. This feedback is some times very hard to accept, and even harder to figure out a solution to, but it is essential to healthy and profitable development. As a tank, if someone tells you that you need to work on something, it is more than likely not because they just want to hurt your feelings, its because you have an area for growth that they are trying to help fix. Now there are those few people, I know my guild has some, who just like to push peoples buttons. Even these people have good ideas, you just have to learn to filter the bantering from the feed back.

The worst thing you can do is ignore it, or think that it is a personal attack when someone gives you feedback. Sure it may not be what you want to hear, but in the end having that tough conversation will help you out and make you a better raider. I have met my fair share of tanks who get annoyed, frustrated, or down right defensive when you provide them with feedback, and in the end they were beat by someone who was not so stubborn, received and interpreted the feedback, and in turn improved beyond the tank who now sits on the bench or is deferred to another guild.

So, with my parting words, there is very real power in incremental improvements which are derived from feedback and introspection. Take some time this week or next week during your raid and ask a few questions of yourself, to make sure that you are really doing the best you can to perform.




Tweet-adins

  • What is this nonsense? HoPo and a total overhaul. It's going to be a long weekend of playing around.. 3 years ago

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