Archive for March, 2010

30
Mar
10

My Not So Brief History, Part 1

I wanted to start this post off with the preface that you are more than welcome to skip it if you only want to read about tanking theorycraft. This post was inspired by the return of one of my oldest tanking buddies. Yesterday I was sitting online when one of the warriors I tanked MC with back in vanilla logged on and asked if he could get an invite to our guild if he server transfered back. Of course I told him he could have an invite as a friend, and we started talking about those “good ole days” where we had to walk up hill in the snow both ways, the days where sunder armor had its own button, the days where all you could get was your Tier gear, and defense minimum was something that was unknown.

In response to my deep feelings of nostolgia, I wanted to take some time away from the theorycrafting and write about my history with in world of warcraft. This will be a LONG post, and it will more than likely take at least three or four entries, but fear not, the theorycrafting will return post haste.

The Beginning

I am not sure how many people started out like I did. I was a high school and college athlete, and an All American in college (for those of you that do not reside in the United States, that means that I placed in the top 8 spots at NCAA championships, the collegiate national championships). Video games were something I did in between work outs to calm my mind since I didn’t want to do anything else. I played nintendo, sega, and play station. I had only sparingly played one PC game before WoW and it was Diablo II. When I graduated from college and moved into my carreer, I was told that I would have to work a graveyard shift, from 10pm to 8:30am. I wanted to stay on that schedule on my weekend but did not really have anything that would keep me awake when the rest of the world was sleeping. That is when one of my co-workers suggested WoW.

I was skeptical that a video game would keep me entertained in the dead of the night, and that it would provide enough new “content” to allow me to play every night when people went to bed (was I wrong or what). On a whim, I picked up the game, and on the weekend before I went to graveyards, I loaded it on my computer at about 2 in the morning. At the time, I had just moved into a new home, so I was covering the windows to preapre for sleeping during the day, setting up my room, moving furnature, and unpacking boxes. By the time the game had loaded that fateful June night, I was mostly unpacked and had little to do. My first challenge in this game proved to be one of the harder ones, what should I call myself.

Since my only other experience with a game of this nature was Diablo II, I leaned on that experience. I had a Barbarian in DII which I aptly named Roid Rage. I liked that theme and I wanted to carry it over to my character in WoW. Since I liked the barbarian play style I selected a warrior, and then selected the meanest looking race, the orc. As the cursor blinked on the screen, I wracked my brain for a name. At the time that this was taking place, the major league baseball steroids scandal was in full swing. At some point, there was a sports center anchor talking about one of the ball players and their alledged offenses, then it hit me. I was going to be named the Wrath of Stanizol, or Wrathizol for short.

Early Play

I logged in for the first time and loved the graphics, but hated how the starting zone for orcs and trolls looked. It was barren, brown, and depressing. I slowly started killing things and learning about questing. I had never played a game like this before, which was so dynamic, and offered so many options. As most of my co-workers who played were already 60, I wanted to catch up to see what all the fuss was about surrounding this game. As I leveled, I realized that I knew nothing about this game and how to play it. I also did not know where to go when I had questions, so leveling was a painful and laborious task. Around level 20, I was invited to my very first guild, <The Iron Cross>. It was one of those things where I was in a dungeon, and apparently did something right because the person with me was an officer in their guild and offered to invite me. Since I didn’t know what guilds were but said sure, and the green wall of text which has occupied me every day since appeared.

Around the same time, I had my first experience on a PvP server, and it was one that I would soon not forget. I was running from the barrens to Ashenvale when someone popped out and started killing me. PvP! My heart was racing and I was mashing any button I could to try and kill this other player. In the end I was dead, and they were mocking me. Let the games begin! I had a new found bloodlust for PvP, which would re-appear later in my wow carreer.

I was in the iron cross for a few weeks, until I asked one of my co-workers to help me with my Whirlwind axe quest, at which point I was invited to my first real home, <Lambda Lambda Lambda>. At this point, I was in my 40s, poor, and the leveling got slow. I was getting bored with the game, and considered quitting it as it did not seem as fun as everyone I knew said it was. My friends kept telling me that it gets much better once you hit 60, so I struggled through it. I am not sure if this is normal but I remember the mob that I dingged 60 and 70 on, although my rise to 80 illudes me. After a lot of painful play,  I found myself in southern Winterspring battling a white polar bear and then it happened, my last DING EVER! (or so I thought).

Gearing up to raid

While I enjoyed my time PvPing during my leveling process, including a few weeks of level 30-39 WSG which set my progression back quite a bit, I knew that I wanted to raid too. I wanted some purple shinies that some of the more veteran players in my guild had. And so it began, I realized that as a warrior my one shot at getting into raids like UBRS was to learn to tank. I threw myself at the task of learning how to tank head on, with one singluar purpse: to be a great tank who people wanted to group with. I started gearing up, and researching thottbot for items that I wanted. As soon as I figured out what I needed to be geared enough to tank for our guild, I started grinding instances. I became extreemly good at tanking 15 man UBRS, with my goal of holding every mob that was aggroed on me like white on rice.

As I got better, I learned of Onyxia and Molten Core. At the time they were new and broken instances, but a few of the end game guilds on our server were going in there and slaying dragons. I had gotten a compendium of the dragonslayer and was excited to know that a co-worker in an end game guild was willing to take my to onyxia to get my Quel’serar! I did the very long quest chain and got attuned to Onyxia, and soon enough I had my very first tanking epic, and one that would stay with me till the bitter end. My guild was starting to clear instances, and we even went as far as setting raid times for the harder ones, although we were not really killing anything.

One night, I was sitting online and I was offered a spot in a full clear of Molten Core by one of the best guilds on the server. A co-worker of mine was an officer in the guild and he knew that I was interested in seeing the content, and as it just happened on that night, they were short a tank. I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as I stepped in the instance and saw the vast array of trash and bosses, I was hooked. It was the beginning of the end of my tenure in Lambda Lambda Lambda. It was a difficult decision for me, because I was an officer and one of the Main Tanks of the guild (however, just an off tank). It is very important for those of you who did not play in Vanilla that there was 1 main tank, and a bunch of off tanks. It was the nature of the content.

Leaving Home for the first time

One of my friends had left Lambdas for another guild who was running Molten Core every week and said that he may be able to get me into the guild. It was an exciting time, because I wanted to raid, and after a few days of discussion I recieved a whisper from the guild leader. I was told that they would consider inviting me to the guild, however I was not guarenteed a raid spot. In fact they straight up told me their raids were full but after a few months if I had proven myself, I could get into their raids and work my way up. I accepted those terms and said my goodbyes to my lambda guild mades and joined my new guild, Souls of FxC.

Souls was known for their PvP and were, in retrospect, a mediocre PvE guild. However, this was now my home, and would be for quite some time. In my first week in the guild, there was an opening in the MC raid, and I walked right into the raid. At the time the guild had four warrior tanks who were part of the core raid, and they had been there for a while. They asked me to dps since they had tanks and I gladly oblidged. By the second boss, I had my first MC epic, an Obsidian Edged Blade. Weeks passed and an absence in the tanking corps prompted me to step up and tank a MC raid. I put on my tank gear and set out to show these guys I meant business. At the end of the raid I got a whisper from the MT of the guild, complementing me on my skill and asking me if I wanted to tank full time.

Less than a month into my tenure, I had displaced a long standing tank and started moving up the totem pole in FxC. As we started to farm Molten Core, I started getting more and more Tier 1. I saw the shredder shoulders and I wanted some. The instance was like clock work for us, and the tanking core worked very well together. Since I was months behind the rest of the guild, I geared up quite fast as we transitioned from molten core to black wing lair. BWL was a whole different beast with respect to tanking. While Molten Core offered many instances of tank this add, tank that add, do it here, do it there, BWL incorporated all new mechanics, including kiting, threat staggering, taunt rotations, line of sight, and steeper learning curves.

A skilled and geared tank

We progressed and progressed quickly through BWL. After learning how to kite the adds on razorgore, and how to stagger my threat with the other four tanks on Vael, we plowed through Broodlord and the drakes and were at chromaggus. We had killed five new bosses in one week and had cattapulted ourselves from mediocre guild to one of the better guilds on the server, however still far behind the top three. As we started clearing BWL, and getting geared up for the next patch, the opening of the AQ40 gates, the guild decided that we should run an alt MC. At the time, I was the go to raider for strategy and teaching new tanks, and was a newly appointed officer, so I volunteered to take the alts into MC, and forgo the main run. There really wasnt anything I needed from MC, and I felt that taking a tank in Full Wrath (T2) into MC would help speed up the learning process.

I had written detailed guides on tanking in BWL, including every boss, all the trash pulls, and pictures highlighting pulls, LoS, and positioning. I was the recruitment officer and the person who cleaned up the mess when our colorful and vocal main tank pissed someone off. And, I was in full Tier 2 in MC with green machines, one main, 39 alts and non raiders. Months went by, we were farming BWL, and some of our officers had started the High Warlord (rank 14) Grind. Things were going well, and I was enjoying myself as one of the better tanks on the server. Then, about five weeks into out guilds high warlord grind, there was a flame thread one the wow forum boards calling one of our officers a bad mother.

At this point, I was still on graves, I had all the time in the world on my weekends late at night, and I was pissed off at some pre-pubescent scumbag calling someone they didnt know a bad mother. As you can see, I was naieve in the ways of the interwebs at this point in my wow career. I offered to help the HWL grind group with AB weekend, and seeing as I was in full Tier 2 with almost 8000 hp raid buffed and defense and resist stats, I was a solid brick wall at farm. I was patient, not greedy for honor, and wanted to help, so I sat at farm for hours on end, guarding the flag and calling out enemy movement. After the first weekend of helping them, chatting on vent, and having a pretty good time, I had moved up in the PvP rankings two places, from First Sergeant (rank 5) to Blood Guard (rank 7), just by helping them out, and I was hooked!

To be continued….

29
Mar
10

Frostwyrms Around!

It has been a very busy week on and off the computer, so I have been neglecting my blog. However I wanted to drop in, and let everyone know that I am working on a post regarding the movement to holistic gemming as we begin to out gear Icecrown Citadel. On an exciting note, I got my Frostwyrm last night. While it is far from a new thing, and I know that many guilds have gotten the 25 man one, We were the first group on the horde side of our server to get the drakes!

Cheers…

22
Mar
10

Post ICC buff gearing philosophies

EDIT: I want to clarify that this discussion holds merit for every boss in ICC 25 man Hard Mode, save three: Hard Mode Lady Deathwhisper and Sindragosa (because you will be wearing frost resist gear), and Hard Mode Lich King (because he hits Significantly harder than anything else in the instance).

In response to a discussion that has started to brew in my comments, as well as a nice long discussion I had last week with Meloree, I wanted to take some time to discuss the current and future gearing philosophies in ICC as well as what the breaking points are. This is something that is quite difficult to define in pure numerical values with out a lot of math (which I unfortunately do not have the time to do yet), so we will have to settle for hand waving, theory, and overall general statements.

Disclaimer – This is a discussion regarding tanks who are in full swing in ICC25 man Hard Modes, where the normal buffed health pool is sitting in the 60k plus range while buffed armor is in the 44k plus range. These tanks make up less than 0.5% of the population. However as the Buff in ICC grows, so does the population where this philosophy is applicable.

If you do not have these types of statistics, or you have not started to progress deep into ICC hard modes, you probably do not have the gear to start gemming for anything but stamina, as your EH minimums are not high enough.

Prelude to the Hellscream Warsong

With the advent of Strength of Wrynn (5%)Hellscream’s Warsong (5%), we have the opportunity to re-evaluate our gearing philosophies, however prior to this buff there was one general philosophy when it came to tank gearing. With the advent of Chill of the Throne, we saw a very large decrease in our ability to avoid damage. This prompted the theroy crafting community to understand what we could do to combat this. Generally speaking, an end game tank in full 258 gear had about 65% avoidance in ToTGC. This meant that they were deep into the diminsihing returns on dodge and parry, and as such, they were not getting as much out of said stats when gemming for them.

The relative damage reduction which one could gain from boosting their avoidance form 65% to 66% was quite a bit more powerful than if you raised your avoidance from 45% to 46%. Simply put, with Chill of the throne, the relative damage reduction went from good to bad because of the fact that you were still suffering from the diminishing returns of a tank in the high 60s even though you only had an avoidance percentage in the mid 40s. This made every point of avoidance harder to get, and relatively speaking, a weaker stat when we are talking about Time To Live (TTL).

This prompted most end game tanks to lean on the one stat which did not suffer diminishing returns, Stamina. With the focus on stamina, we lost some avoidance in the process, leading to a net increase in overall damage taken, however that damage taken was much more predictable, leading to healing throughput which was manageable and predictable. To combat this increase in damage taken, we were rewarded with a significant number of bonus armor pieces. While Naxx gave us a Cloak, Ulduar gave us legs, and ToT(G)C 1o gave us a weapon / 25 gave us a neck, we were only seeing a few pieces every  patch. This changed in 3.3. We saw a myriad of pieces which would allow us to get near the armor cap!

This is the current state of end game tanks, Stam and armor stacking mana sponges. The reason for this is two fold. It provides for a foolproof and manageable tank health pool for hard hitting bosses, and healing in Wrath of The Lich King has deviated from a mana management game to a healing throughput game. Healers do not run out of mana at this point of WoW, and if they are, they are managing their healing poorly, or the raid is taking too much unnecessary damage.

A glimpse into the future

With the increase in raid wide buffs from 5% to the Strength of Wrynn (10%)Hellscream’s Warsong (10%), end game tanks have the opportunity to re-evaluate their gearing philosophies, as the buff itself is compensating for the stamina stacking that we have been doing to compensate for hard hitting special attacks such as Soul Reaper, Full Runic Power DBS, and 3 inhale Festergut. While most cutting edge tanks have surpassed the EH minimum for two hits, they are quite a large amount of health away from a three hit EH minimum. As a result, we can lean on the 10% buff to keep us above that threshold where we can confidently take two hits back to back with out a heal, and start to move towards other gearing options.

What I mean by that is that we can start matching socket bonuses again, staring using more Agility/Stam gems (to a point) and more Defense/Stam Gems so that we can boost our avoidance, armor, and move more towards a preventative gearing philosophy. To show you what I mean by the two hit effective health threshold, let’s take a look at the best example of spike damage in the game, Soul reaper. The mechanics of soul reaper alone are not that threatening. It hits hard, however it is not to the magnitude (on normal) where it is a one shot to the tank with out a cool down. The problem is when soul reaper and a melee hit line up at the same time.

You have to understand that these numbers are based off of my gearing and cool down usage, so they will be different from your tanks numbers but they will serve their purpose. At the time I had approximately 38,000 armor and 58,000 health, and I always had a cool down up for it, whether it be bubble wall, DS/DG, or Hand of Sacrifice. As you can see, his average melee was about 14,000 damage and his average Soul Reaper hit was 22,500 (while the tick at the end was close to 35.5k). So the worst case scenario, which we should be gearing for, is a melee swing for 14k and a soul reaper tick for 35.5k. This is an overall chain which nets a 49.5k damage taken. This is the absolute minimum stamina which would be required to survive said hid, however you will have a problem with tank death’s if you send your tank in there with 50k hp. The three hit scenario for this (considering that a defile or a valk call could line up with this) is Soul Reaper Tick, Melee x 2. This is the conservative gearing health pool, and equates to a tank with 49.5k + (14 * 0.7)= 59.3k hp. This is the magic number which I have geared to for Lich King. (it is important to understand that this is one scenario, with one boss. Do not assume that 59.3k is the magic number for ICC 25. There are Hard Modes to consider, and different bosses which prove to hit harder).

After this number, the only thing you gain is a larger health pool, as you will need another 14,000 health to overcome the next swing and have an EH threshold for a 4 hit scenario. Also, a 4 hit scenario should be complete unlikely as you should be getting heals more frequently than every 5 seconds, and you can also take into account the heal that you get from JoL, HoTs, imp LoTP, and a Spriest if you have one. This means that Stamina is no longer the best statistic for survival after this, as it is wasted until you can reach that next hit threshold.

I’m Back! Holistic Theory Gemming

As we pass this threshold based off of encounter progression and maximum effective health needed to survive that arbitrary number of hits with out a heal, we can start considering our gemming and enchanting philosophy to further mitigate and completely avoid damage. There are some other breaking points when it comes to gemming theory which are worth mentioning, but the general rule of thumb should be that for a red socket, you should put a 10 agility / 15 stamina gem, and a yellow socket should contain a 10 defense / 15 stamina gem. There are still relative priorities and net gains and losses from gemming every socket per its color, and it is up to you to make that decision as to the breaking point of benefit. What I mean by that is that some tanks will consider a +6 stamina socket bonus worth it, while some will not. More will consider the +9 Stamina bonus worth it, and everyone should consider your helm’s +12 worth it.

In order to understand your relative priority, Digren over at MainTankdin has a great stickied post about it, where Meloree, Theck and Digren put the work in so that you don’t have to. The basic principals are as such, each gem and relative trade off for a net increase in stamina has a value. The more you value stamina and the less you value the other statistics, the lower the relative gain number you are willing to take. Most end game progression tanks are willing to drop that number down as low as possible, as we socket one red gem in our helm and the rest are stamina, as are our enchants. However, as we reach that stamina threshold with the aid of the 10% buff, we can start considering a higher value for avoidance. While avoidance has always been powerful, if we could not guarantee TTL, then we did not want to take that chance of a random string of attacks killing us.

There are a few other numbers which you want to concern yourself with when you start to trade stamina for other statistics. While Defense will never go out of style, and you can stack that to your hearts content, there is a point at which Agility is no longer as attractive to us as Dodge is, and that point is:

Theckhd wrote:Agility gets weaker as you gain armor, finally dropping below 100% at around 42.6k armor (fully-buffed). Note that once we hit the armor cap (49905 armor fully-buffed), the armor contribution of agility is no longer giving us any benefit, so the value of agility drops back to the 83.1% value expected based on our agi->dodge conversion ratio.

This is important to consider because of the fact that if you are going to be doing this, you are a Min/Max’er and you will start to gain more out of the dodge gem than you will out of the agility gem. After I finish some number crunching, I will put up a follow up post detailing the relative gains and losses from regemming a tank which is sitting on a hand full of 277 pieces and has past the EH threshold. For now, I hope this has satisfied your craving for the return to a holistic gearing philosophy.

19
Mar
10

OMG! WoW.com

I wanted to put up a quick second post to say that I just noticed I am part of the references section at WOW.com! What an honor. Thank you to everyone who has been showing up to listen to my rants, thoughts on gear, tanking, raiding, and helping to run a great guild! To all of you who are just stopping by for the first time, welcome!

19
Mar
10

How many hard modes?

Don’t you just hate it when your job gets in the way of your blog?!?!

I told everyone in the guild, after they asked, that I would be putting up a post about our week in raiding, how we managed to react to the poor showing we had last week, and what we encountered on the first two days of raiding. However, I have been swamped at work the past few days and have no time in between work and raiding to post. Well, now you get the week in review all in one post!

What do you do when you fall off the horse?

Back in College (University to those of you from outside the shelter of America), that was our mantra when it came to having fun, you got RIGHT BACK ON IT. Well, in raiding it seems that that is what we did. Blizzard seemed to have pity on us, and one of them must have read my rant regarding our poor performance, the new patch (aka the lag boss), and my overall discontent.

We are happy to inform Crypt Friends that we will be implementing an emergency patch on the Rampage Battlegroup, patch 3.3.LOL, which has temporarily added a larger wheel to the CPU and a generous upgrade from the hamster model to the common tabby cat model. Hopefully this will eliminate the excuse that it is our fault that you suck!

Now that we had the awesome Pentium III Tabby in the instance server, we found that the lag subsided substantially. We pulled the trash as usual and got ready for Marrowgar Hard Mode. Flasked, well fed, pre-potted, and ready to go, I pulled and low and behold I was still having response. My abilities were going off when I hit the key, and i was getting a descent fps. The first bone whirl came and went, and everyone was alive. This was a good sign. Soon enough, Marrowgar was dead, and we had our first “Farm Status” hard mode. Loot went out and deathwhisper went down on normal mode. LOLShip was its usual free epics, and we were even still lag free.

Deathbringer Saurfang, Beacon, and You

After a long night of wipes last Tuesday on deathbringer saurfang, we had a healthy discussion in the officer forums about how we could make this fight more manageable. Everything that I knew pointed to putting our two holy paladins on Marks 1-4, however with the amount of tank damage going around when his rune power got over 50%, the paladins, and all our healers, were not comfortable with this, so we did what we could, brought another holy paladin. When in doubt, more paladins are better than less paladins! We had our ret pally spec holy and he was in charge of two Marks, nothing more, nothing less. This allowed our two main pally healers to heal the tanks and one mark a piece.

With this strategy in place, we had one of our healers go dps, and with three holy paladins, we started the encounter. We pulled, we fought, we one shot. As many people around the blogosphere, and the wow community in general, have voiced, paladins make this encounter and the mechanics behind Mark of the Fallen Champion easy. I was skeptical about that until we brought three to the encounter which we had wiped on repeatedly for hours and hours the week before and turned around and one shot him. I picked up my new shiny T10 277 badge and skipped along happy to know that I was that much closer to BiS gear. We now had 3 of 12 of the hard mode bosses down!

The Upper Spire and some Friendly Guild Competition

The previous week of raiding, we had stumbled, killing only two hard mode bosses, and a guild which has never been ahead of us in Wrath of the Lich King succeeded in passing us to get 5 of the 12 hard modes down. This was something which most of our guildies were not happy about. As much as I play this game for myself, my own challenge, and the fun that i derive from that, I am still fiercely competitive and will not stand for a guild who I know we can beat passing us in the server rankings. I think a lot of our guild shares my passion. Now while they went and killed what are coined as the “Easier” hard modes to get their rankings and get their loot, we wiped for four hours on one of the harder ones. This was something that was fresh in our minds when we teleported up to the upper spire.

We went straight to blood princes. While the mechanics of this fight are not much different in hard mode than they are in normal mode, the added pressure of people not being able to move with out taking damage was something of a hurdle for our guild. We run with quite a few melee, it is just the nature of our guild. After quite a few attempts where our melee were a bit too conservative in their distancing during empowered shock vortex, we settled on a strategy that was conservative yet effective when it came to said shock vortexes. We found that the only problems we were having were that the melee just didn’t have enough room to run, so with an enrage timer which was non existent, we decided to mitigate this risk by having the melee simply not dps during Valanar’s empowerment. They were only tasked with dpsing during the other two bosses. This immediately solved our biggest issue, and the boss died. We were now 4 of 12.

On to blood queen, where we had a few stumbles, however for the most part this fight is the same on hard mode as it is on normal. Proper execution will get you a kill, poor bite management and deaths will get you a wipe. Needless to say, Blood Queen went down and we were sitting at 5 of 12, we have caught up to the guild which passed us. And better yet, we had killed two end wing bosses, so in my eyes we were ahead. It was late, we had a great raid night, and we called the raid, knowing that we had frost wing, plague wing and Arathas left for the week. I was hoping for the best, a solid 8 of 12 hard modes.

Modified strategies

With a new raid night came new challenges. First things first, after a great night of raiding where we killed three new bosses, we had a horrid turn out. At 7pm, a whole 30 minutes after we should have started, we only had 24 in the raid, with no one else to supplement it. In a guild where casuals and friends are allowed, it skews the numbers and makes nights like this one frustrating. We had 37 people online, and only 24 raid capable. One of our other tanks logged on, and we decided that we should bring him in, and he could help with add control on dreamwaker. We knew that the other guild had already killed dreamwalker, and as such we knew we could as well. On our first pull we immediately ran into some issues with add control, interrupts, and dps, even though we had three tanks. The adds came fast, they had tons of health, and they hit quite hard.

After a few wipes with three tanks, we decided to do a bit more, and swap up to 4 tanks, one for each door. Once we did this, the add control was much better and we were making marketed progress, wiping multiple times with dreamwalkers health above 98%. One last tweak, or clarification rather, was made to tank positioning and we had it. Each tank was to stand at the partition in between both gates and pull thier adds back to said partition. This helped our two healers with knowing where the raid was going to be, and prevented LoS and range issues. We pulled, we started tanking, and all of a sudden Dreamwalker emoted, I looked, and the boss was already at 75%. I went back to my task at hand, and apparently everyone else did, because a short while later, the encounter was over, and everyone was shocked at how quickly it went! We are now 6 of 12 hard modes!

On to rotface and *gulp* festergut!

On rotface we used three tanks, to be safe with oozes both from an initial control aspect because of the fact that the kiting tank can get vile ooze, as well as the fact that the oozes get a bit overwhelming towards the end. After a few attempts for everyone to get their legs under them, this boss fell in a lack luster fashion, once again coughing up purples. Then, after reaching 7 of 12, we moved to the other side of the wing to face what was our nemesis last week. We modified our positioning and the way that we approached the encounter to ensure that we put our best foot forward. Festergut was tanked near the balcony on the side of the room where Putricide appears. On the opposite side of the room we placed warlock teleporters where the collapse points would be so that spores were always in the same place. Each of our ranged spread out equidistant from each other and the portal. When the spores went out, everyone collapsed, two ranged groups on the teleporters, and one melee group on the boss.

Even with this hightened bit of coordination, we still had one hell of a time keeping people alive from vile gas, getting the healers in the right spots where they could reach all of their targets, and keeping everyone alive for long enough to kill the boss. Finally, as we usually do, he dropped in true CF fashion on our last attempt of the night. We had everyone up with 10% to go and plenty of time remaining. Then something happened, and people started dying. Bodies were dropping right and left and we had hit the enrage timer with less than 1% on his health bar. Our OT Bubbled, and hit him with everything he had as the dots were ticking down. With precious few seconds left on his bubble, and the enrage timer already passed, Festergut fell over, with one man standing. An epic end to an epic night.

We were 8 of 12 hard modes!

16
Mar
10

Thoughts on the All You Can Eat achievement

Close down the Buffet, I’m Full!

Last night our 10 man went back into ICC 10 with the intention of cleaning up all the achievements necessary to get our drakes. What we did not count on is the fact that we filled up on RNG and were not able to make a dent in the buffet, so to speak. Sindragosa is now the bane of my existence. The night started out great, we one shot full house, swapped people in and out for gear and achievements, and got everyone everything in their meta save All You Can Eat and Neck Deep in Vile. It was around 8pm server, three hours till the raid was to be called, and we were face to face with Sindragosa. No problem, the drake was so close I could feel the nasty frost breath on my skin.

Problem.

The randomness of the fight was painful and reminded me why it is hard to get a drake such as this one. Our off tank got blocked, and blocked often, we had people breaking the blocks to early, we had problems with everything you could think of when it comes to dumb stupid luck, including the tank who was tanking her getting blocked. We brought in our Feral Druid to have a safety net with respect to the off tank getting blocked. This helped a little, and with the option to Bear Up when necessary we got her sub 10% a few times. But in the end, the RNG was the end of us. Tanks blocked, blocks dying, taunt immunity, and all that comes with this achievement sent us home empty handed after three hours of wipes.

Now while I am no stranger to wiping, and for the most part had an enjoyable night, the problem with this fight is that the real difficult and stressful part does not come until 5 minutes into the fight. So you sit there on auto pilot during P1 and P2, mashing away at buttons, waiting for 35%, so that you can do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Some helpful Suggestions

We found certain things controllable, and the last problem we ran into was taunt immunity. If we can fix that problem, we will have the fight, before they nerf it. This achievement is truly left to the RNG gods though, as one wrong move and its over, wipe it, start over, and wait another 5 minutes of 100% to 35% to try again.

Three tanks:

We used two tanks and a feral druid who was mostly kitty, sometimes oh crap bear for when the OT gets blocked. This gave us a bit of wiggle room when it came to the RNG, because the OT will get blocked, and he may even get blocked while tanking the boss. This provides for an instant wipe, because the block is too close to the boss and the raid will still get hit by the pulse of Mystic Buffet.

Divine Shield over Hand of Protection:

While some people have suggested using BoP to drop aggro when you have the taunt immunity, we found that if she was in the process of queueing up a frost breath (aka magical damage), then you will not drop aggro as you are not immune from the Breath. We tried bubble/salv combos and it seemed to work a bit better. This is the second hardest part of this fight. Because of the fact that you can only have 4 stacks, and a stack happens every 6 seconds, you have very little time to tank the boss. Essentially the time between taunts is running time to and from the block plus less than 6 seconds to clear the stack. This means that you are taunting every 10-12 seconds, placing a DR on taunt till it hits immunity.

We found that we pre-bubble / salvation so that we avoid immunity all together. At approximately 20% health, we used a bubble / salv on the current tank to have him drop below the off tank and had the tank run out to get 10 yards distance. This made Sindragosa snap to the non bubbled tank. Taunt DR reset. Unfortunately, about 40 seconds later it will come back to the point where taunt immunity is a factor. At this point, because we have to use all the tools in our toolbox to be able to kill him, if our other paladin has forbearance or you do not have the luxury of two pally tanks, we Soul Stoned our Pally tank and he DIed one of our dps, and popped back up after the all clear.

Block Positioning and running in and out:

A few things which we found necessary from the stand point of clearing the tanks debufs had to do with positioning and movement. Because of the fact that frost breath slows you down considerably, we had a priest spec into body and soul (the run fast bubble). Freedom was usually up, and I used it liberally on our attempts when trying to get to the blocks, but you only have about 5 seconds to move from the boss to behind the block, and the sonic bubble helps.

We placed the blocks at the 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock position (if you consider Sindragosa’s head 12), rotating back and forth. Additionally the tanks communicated in vent which one they were going to and when it was clear to break them. A problem that we ran into is the fact that the melee assigned to break the blocks out are not aware of the tanks stacks and when they will be falling off. As a result, when I got behind a block I would say near block (or 1 o’clock block) 4 seconds till clear. This let our  ret pally know that he could not break the block for 4 seconds. We had quite a few times when a lucky crit would break the block and I would get the 5th stack.

Back to the Buffet Next Week…

After about three and a half hours of wiping on this achievement, we called it for the night. We had quite a few progressive attempts where we pushed her to sub 10%, and I can confidently say that unless we are doing something completely wrong, all the stars have to line up for this achievement. We were at the mercy of RNG last night, and it pounded us hard. We are going to go back next week and give it another shot, but this will be one of those fights which will haunt our raid for weeks to come as more and more people need the achievement. I personally can not wait until blizzard fixes this achievement.

You have to love that they do not test this stuff on their internal servers, because they would have seen that these issues would happen. That, or they are ok with making a very hard achievement in which you NEED paladins because of the taunt immunity. Hopefully I have some good news for you guys next week, but as for now I am at least 6 days away from my shiny frostwyrm mount.

11
Mar
10

Expectations and Shortcomings

The Prologue to Frustration

I have been battling back and forth in my head about posting this blog entry, because of the fact that so many of my guildies read this blog, but in the end, everything I will talk about was something which happened, and what good is a blog if I can’t record my thoughts on it. I want to discuss our raid night last night, and more importantly the concept of personal accountability. This is a subject that is very important to me, as both a person in real life, my job, in WoW, and as a Leader in a guild. Personal accountability in combination with respect for your peers is something that is called a “soft skill” in the corporate world, and is something that is essential to career development. Most people in our guild are not to the point where they need to worry about this yet, however when the real world calls, the rose colored glasses of University are removed, and the brutal and painful truth of the real world hits, they are going to have a very hard time adapting.

I want to provide you with a brief overview of the past two nights (past marrowgar) and follow that up with my opinions on our raiding corps, and some issues that are bothering me. Tuesday night, after a nice successful kill on marrowgar (even with the Lag), we did Lady Deathwhisper on normal, Loot Ship on heroic and then we got to Saurfang. We wiped on Deathbringer Saurfang for three hours. We had add control issues at first. The adds were killing the dps because they were not all getting slowed and would kill our ranged dps as the slowing debuf made it too difficult to kite. We countered this with asking one of our Locks to go Destruction. We had a shadowfury queued for the spawn, and a typhoon as soon as SF wore off. This eliminated our problems with the adds.

After this was addressed, we ran into what I assume was the real intended challenge of the fight. The dps race and healing demand of the Marks. Our dps was acceptable, hitting 5 marks in the 30% range. The adds were dying for the most part, with a few slip ups and on all of our optimal attempts, we wiped in the sub 10% range to a marked target dying and healing saurfang. Our healing corps just could not keep up with the damage. We had two holy paladins, two priests, a shaman and a druid. The way that our healers spread out the healing, from what I understand was that the paladins took the first two Marks, and the tanks and the four other healers had the rest of the raid and the rest of the marks. In the end, we could not kill the boss, someone died of mark every time. We eventually switched him back to normal mode and killed him with the first mark going out at 32%. The disparity between normal and hard mode is enormous.

Festergut…

Last night we set out to get back in the groove of things. From all the sources I normally use for encounter mechanics, strategies, and changes, the non counter bosses in the upper spire ranged from loot pinatas to marginally difficult (but nothing special). For our guild this was far from the truth. We cleared to festergut, detailed the changes, our positioning and strat, and pulled. We wiped, and we wiped in the first minute of the fight, to poor play, raid damage, ooze, and lack of awareness. This would turn into the theme for the night. Four and a half hours later, and close to 20 attempts later, Festergut was still alive, and we were done with the night. We wiped and we wiped a lot.

The source of the wipes was plentiful. We wiped to people being out of range of their healers, of people eating goo, of people standing too close together and vile gassing each other, to ranged gassing the tanks, by poor management of the spores, and from overall raid damage (people dying to straight tick downs from the pungent blight). To be quite honest, and some times it is not pretty, this was the first time I have been purely disappointed in our raiding corps. The fight is simple, the mechanics are the same, and if everyone stays alive for 5 minutes, you have a kill. That just didnt happen for our guild. We had a few attempts where we saw sub 10% at the enrage timer, but in the end, people were playing poorly and they were not ensuring they get the spore debuf, getting out of the way of goo, or just checking their range finder to ensure they were far enough away from each other.

This fight was far from predictable, easy, and simplistic. The view from the balcony of Putricide makes the differentiation of melee oozes to tank oozes nearly impossible. The coordination of 25 people understanding what to do with the Spores seemed to be more than our guild could handle, spreading out caused its own problems, and our resto druid was dying every attempt to something, leaving the burden of healing the raid on a few priests and a shaman. I will be the first to say that you should never criticize healers, their job is very difficult and blizzard has continued to challenge them as they did in sunwell. But at some point deficiencies have to be filled, and people have to take accountability for their actions. We have a few stellar healers in our guild, and a few mediocre ones. The difference is make or break on fights like this, and while the blame is as much on our dps as it is on our healers, the raid as a whole sees one side of the story.

Why does Personal Accountability matter?

Really what it came down to last night, is a bunch of people either pointing fingers at others when it came to their short comings, being completely quiet and not sharing their mistake with the raid so we could all learn, or straight up hindering the raid environment with what they consider (but really is no where near) constructive criticism. In order for a person to grow, and to learn and improve, they must have the ability to become introspective and see short comings or errors and fix them. Accountibility is something that is highly valued and an expectation in the real world, however when it comes to WoW, the younger crowd has not learned this skill at all. They will laugh at other shortcomings, and then make a similar mistake themselves.

The more you can see what you have done wrong, share your learning experience, and grow from your mistakes in a collaborative and non condescending way, the faster a group can achieve success by ensuring that the mistake is not repeated. Well, last night we repeated mistakes over and over again, and it was the reason for which we were so unsuccessful.

My expectiations and Shortcomings

When I started to prepare for this weeks raid, early last weekend, and did all the write ups in the officer forums on each boss, the differences in the encounters, the strats, the tips, and my gear sets for each fight, I prepared to take our guild to 8/12 hard modes. It was all there, I was ready, I had my pots, my food, my flasks, and the knowledge. After about 9 hours of raiding, we are 2/12. I would be lying if I said I was ok with that. I am embarrassed, disappointed, and down right pissed that we are where we are. The first thing I can do is look to myself and see what I can do better, so I will talk out loud about my roles, how I did my job, and what I can do better.

I was the second tank, so my first responsibilities, and the one which I did poorly was calling out the oozes that came towards the tank. with out the ability to position the boss, i was unable to affect my viewpoint of the balcony where putricide stands. It was hard for me to make those calls and i screwed up a few times. On top of that, I missed a few calls because I was busy using my raid utility. I need to be able to do more. I missed calls when DS/DGing, I missed calls when I was HoSac’ing my tank at the second Inhale, and I missed calls when I was watching my own cool downs on the third inhale.

My cool downs, and defensive mitigating skills were always on cool down. I used everything I could think of, DS/DG, Sac, LoH, DP, armor pots, health stones, and still I feel like there is something else i could have done to make this easier. In the end, I know that I can not make up for the mistakes of the many, but I still try. We had melee constantly eating the goo, we had raiders miss the spores, we had people standing too close to one another. As a tank there is absolutely nothing you can do about these things, other than hit your DS/DG during the pungent blight and hope for the best. I even sac’ed a healer who only had two spore debufs once, but sometimes they are out of my range. Yes the MT while tanking saced a healer.

I don’t know what else to do, and I don’t know what else to say. I am extremely disappointed in our performance. I don’t know what we could do to make it better, because this encounter, like most other hard modes, requires every raider in the group to do their best to succeed. Our raid lacks a few essential buffs/roles and it shows on fights like this. We do not have a shadow priest, and I can not tell if the healing that said priest would put out is enough to make the difference, we have one resto druid, and I don’t know if rolling hots from two would help. At this point, aside from perfection from 25 people for 5 minutes, I don’t know if there is anything else we can do to improve. One thing is clear though, Our dps is not high enough to brute force these attempts to give our healers a bit of breathing room. At the same token, our healing is not good enough to compensate and handle the raid damage which is a result of the the dps. Both of these observations are not independent of my own roles shortcomings, if I could find a way to mitigate more damage, take less spike damage, and better utilize my cool downs, my healers could help the raid out.

In the end, what is done is done and we cannot change the past, what I have to figure out is what I can do to effect our chances in the future, if we have the attendance for a Sunday raid.

/end very long rant




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