Archive for April, 2010

29
Apr
10

The demise of the not so good doctor

Finally!

Tuesday night was less than eventful for our guild, walking into ICC with the new 15% ICC buff and plowing through 9/12 hard modes in about 3 hours. We had ended the raid early after clearing most of the instance with the intent of leaving Putricide and Sindragosa for Wednesday. Last night when I logged on, we had our full main raid online, and we were ready to rock. After about 7 wipes last week, we had made some major modifications to our positioning and strategy when it came to Putricide. for the first few nights of attempts, we were following the strat of most of the top end guilds in the world, however after a handful of wipes, it was evident that their strategy was not what we needed to beat the encounter.

We ended up modifying the entire fight from a strategy and positioning stand point and it immediately paid off. Our first pull of Wednesday night was a 50% wipe. That was very good for us, considering that we had seen phase 3 a few times and were normally wiping on phase 2. A few attempts later, after tweaking a few more things regarding disease management, we were looking at consistent phase three. Everything seemed to be working out and people were learning the final things they needed to to beat the encounter. We were working on a tight timeline, as two of our healers had to leave early yesterday, and we did not want to lose the progress which we made to another week of attendance issues.

With about 40 minutes to go, we pulled the boss, and were seeing phase three in the type of time which you would expect with the 15% buff, a full 4 minutes to spare on the enrage timer we were getting into Phase 3. We transitioned and I was at the door. Putricide ran all the way across the room and phase three had begun. We were three tanking it, and the stacks were piling up fast and furious. The boss was sub 10% but all our tanks were at 3 stacks already. The disease had won, and we wiped with 4% left. At this point in the night we knew we had a kill on our hands. The dps and healers had their jobs down, and it was time to add the fourth tank so that we could extend the duration of Phase 3. To clarify, it had been the officers intentions since the start to use four tanks, but we wanted to keep it to three until Phase 1 and 2 were smooth and efficient, as the increased dps during learning the encounter would help with mistakes.

We had our fury warrior go prot, and were ready to rock. After a few stupid mistakes, we were in the middle of a great attempt, down to 35% with three minutes to spare, the enrage timer was not going to be an issue. The real issue was going to be the raid dps, raid heals, and tank transitions. Off I went to the other side of the room, and slowly but surely our tanks worked through their rotation, moving the boss only for goo’s and flasks on the ground. With about 8% left, the raid damage was getting unmanageable. With about 4% left, we had lost about half our raid. and at 2% it was healers, tanks, and lingering dots ticking away.

I had run across the room with my finger over my Lay on Hands button, targeting our fourth tank and getting ready to taunt if it got too close when it happened, Heroic Plagueworks done! With the heroic plagueworks achievement and a few others out of the way, we are that much closer to our drakes!

Thoughts on the fight

When all was said and done, I really enjoyed this fight and found that there were a few things I did incorrectly at the beginning of our learning attempts, which when rectified, made a big difference. As the main tank on this encounter, you choose where the flasks go and as a result you can control where the explosion of these flasks go as well. For clarification what I meant by flasks is the choking gas:

Choking Gas – Inflicts 6,825 to 7,175 Shadow damage to players around the bombs, and reduces their chance to hit by 100% for 20 seconds.

Choking Gas Explosion – Inflicts 29,250 to 30,750 Shadow damage to players within 10 yards of the bombs, and reduces their chance to hit by 100%. Used by the Gas Bombs 20 seconds after they are thrown.

Once I created predictable places in which these flasks were going to be dropped, as well as a pattern to when and how I was going to move the boss, the damage on the melee dropped considerably, due to the fact that movement and areas to avoid were always the same. At the same time, melee was getting hit by goo a lot. Because of the fact that it was known that when I move the boss, there was a reason, when I saw a goo coming into the melee, I just prematurely moved him to a flask spot so that the melee would follow, resulting in much less overall raid damage taken.

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29
Apr
10

Increasing threat while maintaining survival

The next tier of instance nerf has arrived!

It was announced Monday that the 15% buff has been activated. While I am sure that most people will be talking at length about this, and what it means to them, I wanted to touch briefly on our gearing strategies as a result of this development. What this means to us, primarily, is that we have gained 5% more health. To some this means that they can finally push over the effective health minimums for some bosses. For other, myself included, this means that we can shed some effective health gear for more threat, or mitigation, or even avoidance. While most people will lean towards the first option, that is not to say that there are instances where more mitigation will benefit a tank. Avoidance has pretty much gone to the graveyard from a gearing perspective.

My personal preference, as some of you have read in the past few blogs, is to lean towards more threat. I was having threat issues as it was because some of our dps are very geared, however with 5% more dps out put, they will be even closer to my threat ceiling. This means that we can take a look at what gear we wear for hard modes and how we can tweak it to help with threat issues. Each tanks situation is different, as you will be at different points on the progression curve. A tank who is pushing Lich King Hard mode will welcome the extra health and keep on going with his effective health gearing. This will help paladins get closer and closer to 70k buffed hp. A tank who is working on hard modes with in ICC 25, will want to gear for what they have issues with. And finally, a tank who is looking to get those normal mode kills will have yet another perspective on the necessary gearing philosophy to attain their goals.

When Survival Doesn’t Matter

I have observed over the past few weeks that my survival is no longer an issue with in 11 of the 12 ICC hard modes. Because of this, and the fact that I have been given 5% more health, I can work on dropping some more stamina for threat. There are many ways we can achieve this, however we have to be mindful of a few things. Your healers have been used to the way you take hits over the past month, and as such you do not want to drastically alter your gear set for maximum threat and then try to tank Festergut at three inhales. What you can do is alter your gear set slightly to ensure that you are not losing any of your health based off of the 10% buff while bolstering your stats at the same time.

My EH gear health pool fully raid buffed was around 62k. This means that with another 5% increase in my health, I can confidently shed a little over 3k hp for threat stats, and maintain the same level of relative health. In order for me to effectively increase my threat, I need to drop some stamina for hit and expertise so that I can do more damage, all while swapping out my weapon for a slow threat weapon. In the end, I swapped a few pieces of gear and bumped up to 240 hit and 32 expertise, while buffing my strength marginally. It made a significant difference in my threat out put and my ability to continue to be well ahead of my dps on threat.

While everyone’s situation is a little bit different, based off of the available gear that you have in your bags, the theory on what you want to do is the same. You want to trade off some effective health for threat stats. The major thing that you want to consider is that you need to be aware of the pieces you are replacing so that you can see if you have dropped both armor and stamina, or if you are using pure dps gear, if you have lost too much defense. In the end, with 15% increase in your health, you can tank most things in the game right now with out effective health gear.

23
Apr
10

Hard Mode Lady Deathwhisper

Lightknight: You ask and you Shall Recieve

Hey Wrathy, i am a german Paladin Tank from Cologne. I enjoy reading your Blog and your Tips for the ICC25 Hard Mode Bosses. I am very interested in your Guilds Lady Deathwhisper Strat. We are at 7/12 Hardmodes. Can you write about it?

So, as promised I am going to have a double post today. Since Lightknight asked for some strategy regarding Lady Deathwhisper, I figured what better time than now to write a post about that specific encounter. I am going to assume that anyone who is reading this is deep into ICC hard modes and has the basic understanding of the encounter mechanics. I figure that since I am a tank, and I write a tank blog, I will touch specifically on the things that I do during the fight. I can comment on almost every aspect of the fight. The only thing that I do not have any experience on is tanking the adds in Phase 2, because our other tank does that. However, I have tanked both sides in phase 1, and since i’m not on adds in phase 2, obviously I have tanked the boss.

One more important thing of note is that because the most threatening attack to the MT during this fight is a frost bolt, Frost Resist gear is suggested. For this fight I use my progression gear set (double Stam trinkets) with three pieces of frost resist gear, the Belt, Chest, and Boots from the Naxx crafted set. This brings me up to 485 frost resist. Our other tank wears high health threat gear because he is dealing with snap threat on 3-4 adds at any time. It is also important to remember (because blizzard made us forget about it) that Lady Deathwhisper is one of the two bosses in Icecrown Citadel who has parry haste enabled.

Phase 1 positioning

For our guild we had to change up our positioning from normal mode. In normal mode, we all just stand in the middle section of the room, split up the melee and tanks to the right and left sides, and tank the adds by the cubbies. This is the first major change in hard mode. We place the whole raid behind the boss, as most guilds do. You can get behind the boss and stand there prior to the pull if you hug the wall, so positioning and raid placement is easily done with out worry of pulling the boss. We place all of our melee on the 2 caster side (right side looking at her from the front of the room), and spread our ranged out  along the middle to left side. This creates seperation between the melee and the ranged for mind controls, and ensures that we have a very nice area designated to cleave all the adds down near the boss.

We basically use the pillars as markers and line of sight for caster mobs. We tank all the adds in between the right hand pillar and the boss, so that cleaves and 8 yard AoE can hit all adds and the boss, while at the same time creating a LoS issue for NPC casters which will force them to run to you and join the pile. In order to get all the adds there, we employ the following tactics. The Tank on the two caster side picks up the melee add and positions himself in the correct place. One of the casters is gripped into the melee, and the other is MD / LoS’ed into position. Truthfully, as our dps got better, our hunters just killed the other caster before it ever got into position.

As for the left side (or the one caster side), There are two melee which you have to pick up and move into the AoE area. I can provide a bit more insight into this since this is the side that I tank. The caster that spawns on the left side is burst down by all of our ranged, and is usually dead before I can pick up and move both the melee adds. I hit the closer melee add (the cubby nearest LDW) with a HoR then SoR and use AS and Judgement to pick up the melee that spawns nearest the stairwell. Before they can hit me I have already begun to run back to the AoE area, and get a few more attacks on them. I swap between the two adds for the first 5 to 10 seconds to establish aggro on both and then allow the cleave damage to kill them.

If there is a melee add which spawns from the back of the room, our other tank just taunts it and pulls it into the pack, if there is a caster add, we have to get quick taunts and LoS on it so that it will run into the pack. Once the caster’s shield goes up its much harder to move them around. Finally the other thing which needs to happen very quickly is identifying when one of the adds gets empowered and focusing it down. If it is the caster add, you do not have to worry so much about moving around, but if you get a Deformed Fanatic, it is imperative that you move IMMEDIATELY because they will hit you for 40k. Begin to kite them away from the melee, as the deformed adds cleave.

Avoid killing your own

The first major problem we encountered was the fact that we were killing our own melee when the mind controls go out. This is combated by a few things. First and foremost people have to be cognizant of the boss timers, and their surroundings and stop any AoE abilities when the MCs go out. However the other thing that we can do as tanks is move the adds away from the group. I usually back them up another 10 yards towards the cubbies so that the melee can be closer to their CC’s when they get MCed. Lost dps because you wait for people to be cc’ed is less than lost dps because you killed your fellow raiders.

From here, it is basically rinse and repeat until about 10% mana. You want to bring the shield down when the adds that are out are at about 50% hp. This will allow for all of your dps (except rogues and hunters) to be on the adds when your MT establishes initial aggro on the boss. She is not tauntable in hard mode, and it provides for some sticky situations if there are a lot of dots and aoe from the melee on her. I usually swap over to her at 5% and start to attack her with the adds that I am tanking just beating on me. I use this time to swap my seal from Seal of Command to Seal of Vengance/Corruption to get a 5 stack up before she is released. Once her shield is depleted, she wipes aggro and starts moving. This is when you need to be getting some serious threat on her, from both your own abilities, as well as MD and tricks.

I usually hit her with a SoR, HotR and AS as I run away. We place her in the middle of the room, but I know there are guilds who put her on the stairs. Either place is fine but you have to place her in such a manner where people have room to move when the ghosts spawn.

Phase 2 Logistics

This has been said in many places and in many ways, but the frost bolts she does are much less threatening than ghosts blowing up. Any rogues who are on the boss for interrupts (and dps) should be aware of this fact. You can easily eat a frost bolt when wearing your frost resist gear, but a ghost blowing up has the ability to kill everyone around it. Phase two from the MT’s perspective is a tank and spank, where your only job is to avoid ghosts. You dont even have to produce threat, because after you hit 5 stacks you wont be. You will be doing marginal dps on the boss and helping her life go down, but you are in a great situation to call ghosts out around the melee and move accordingly to help them.

Other than that, the whole fight in phase two is a balance of avoiding ghosts, and ensuring that the adds are killed fast enough that your ranged can get some time on the boss. A few other things I do when I am tanking the boss that can help are throw hammers out on MCed people so that they dont kill your raid, or run into the AoE and get killed themselves, call out ghosts, move accordingly, and establish excellent initial aggro. If your dps is getting close to your threat, and they do not have a threat reducing ability, you can bubble /cancelaura macro off your stacks and establish some more threat, but threat should not be an issue because you should be getting tricks and misdirects on cooldown. I usually wait until I get to 5 stacks at the beginning of  phase 2, then bubble them off and get some more initial threat while I still can. But once into phase 2, as long as your dps can avoid ghosts, and your healers can keep people alive from the frost bolt volleys, you have a kill.

Good luck!

23
Apr
10

A new issue arises, Threat Deficiencies

Generally Slacking

It only occurred to me today that I have been less that diligent about my blog over the past few months. I have seriously been so swamped with work because of a project which has deadlines looming on the horizon, that I have not had any time between work and Raiding to write down anything. I have a few things I wanted to talk about, and will more than likely rock a double post today because I have a little window of opportunity to do so. The first thing I wanted to talk about was an issue that has cropped up in the past few weeks for me. If you read a lot of MainTankadin, you may have already read about it, but since I can post pretty screen shots and show you my world of logs parses here, it will be a bit more complete.

Issues with Threat

WHAT?!?! I know what you are thinking, I am a prot paladin, I don’t have threat issues, I have a face roll class which produces enough threat to walk away from the computer to get a drink mid trash pack (by the way, I have done this before). Well sadly, I have been running into some major issues with my threat production lately, specifically I am threat capping some of my dps. This frustrates me more than almost anything, because it means I am not doing my job.

At first, I thought it was because of the lack of tricks and misdirects that I was having so many issues, because they are a significant amount of threat when you break it down. But alas, that was not the case. After the second week in a row of threat issues, I went to world of logs and took a look at the parses which highlighted some of the issues which I was having. There were a few things that I wanted to do to solve this problem, before I found out the root cause, and they were pretty spot on when it came to solving the issues.

After examining two boss fight parses, it was clear what the issue was. I needed more chance to land attacks. My expertise is below 26 in my end game progression set, and my hit is extremely low as well. If you take a look at the log, you can see that there was a significant amount of dodges, parries, and misses.

I apologize that we can not line up the abilities with the statistics, but I could not maximize my window enough to get both the abilities and the misses on the screen (side note, WOL should have a freeze panes function). The top picture is a summary of my missed abilities on 25 man hard mode fester gut on the 13th of this month. The bottom picture is a breakdown of my Hammer of the Righteous ability. As you can see, I have some major issues with landing my attacks. While hit alone, or expertise alone can probably mitigate the issue, to solve it, I needed to gain a good deal of both. Part of my issue is I was thinking in the past. My gearing philosophy for almost all of the fights in ICC is stuck in the past.

A change of perspective

One of the things that I had not taken into consideration regarding the solution to my problems was the 10% buff, both from an increase in dps and an increase in health. The fact of the matter is that our dps are pumping out quite a bit more than they were a month ago. We have been showered with 277 dps gear, and painfully short on healing and tank gear. While this has proven to be beneficial to fast clears of the instance, it does not help with our looming progression of heroic Lich King, or the fact that I am out geared by my dps counterparts. In addition to my dps doing more damage, and increasing their throughput, I have been getting more health from the zone wide buff.

I know what you are thinking, “well duh dummy.” With the increase in health, I have been quitely enjoying the massive health pool that I have and thinking about all of the increased effective health I have gained over the past few months. However, at the same time, I have not been taking into consideration the fact that my increases in effective health have not translated into increased threat as well. I am not  gaining any new gear, so I am not gaining marginal increases in strength, hit and expertise on my gear. This has been part of the problem that has blindsided me.

To counter this, I had to convince myself that I was no longer in danger of causing a wipe by tank death. I successfully did that after forgetting to swap out my threat gear, which places me painfully low in terms of effective health gear, during one of the encounters later that week. After tanking a hard mode boss with less than 40k hp unbuffed and 30k armor, I guess I had proven that my healers can handle some small sacrifices in survival for threat purposes on the farmed content.

Changes in gear and changes in threat

After my abysmal showing that week, and my analysis of the parses that came out of it, I decided to modify my gearing philosophy for all but a few bosses. For the bosses in the lower spire, Rotface, Festergut, Blood Princes, and Dreamwalker, I was going to wear a more threat centric gear set. Now, I am not talking about my pure threat set which sacrifices all effective health for pure strength, crit, hit, and expertise, but a set that trades a bit of armor for hit and expertise. To do this, I only switched three pieces of gear. I dropped out the Pillars of Might, My Winter Cloak, and my weapon, to pick up a significant amount of hit and expertise. In place of those three items, I used the heroic version of the  Legguards of Lost Hope, The heroic Version of the hit Cloak  and the Heroic Facelifter from ICC 10. This put me comfortably at 243 hit and a bit over the expertise soft cap.

While this may have not been the ideal decision if I was looking to maximize my effective health, it has become clear that my survival is no longer in question for most bosses in the instance on hard mode. As soon as I made the switch, I noticed a marketable increase in my threat production and my ability to stay ahead of the dps. As you can see below, there was a drastic change in my total miss rate by just swapping out two pieces  of gear. Now while there may have been a bit of luck in this comparison (as there are not enough data points to make this a statistically relevant evaluation), it shows generally that a few pieces of gear will make the difference, and increasing your expertise and hit will help with threat.

Other thoughts on the matter

When I first started to notice that I had issues with threat, my mind immediately thought of all of the threads on MainTankadin where people say they have threat issues. More specifically, it went to the replies that tanks like Meloree and I make to them explaining that it is more than likely an issue with their rotation and that a WoL parse would show us that. I was worried for the first time that I was not as good with my rotation as I had previously thought. I was worried that I was selling something I couldn’t do myself.  That was the first thing that drove me to scrutinize the parses, and I was relived to see that it was not the case. However, for anyone who is having threat issues, I would suggest that you try and find out the root cause of the issues on your own at first. If you can not figure out how to solve said root cause, then there is a wealth of knowledge to help out with that, but nothing can beat you solving your own problems because you learn so much and grow from the experiences.

16
Apr
10

Suffer, mortals, as your pathetic magic betrays you!

Distractions, Obligations, and Absence

As some of you have noticed, I have been very bad at posting as of late. It has been a long month, with Elayn getting Married, work getting very busy, and progression in full swing. I honestly do not know where to begin with all of the things that have happened in the past month or so. After some contemplation, and the help of one of the hottest search engine topics that bring people here, as well as my fun instant gibs which have been happening as of late, I have settled on my first topic of discussion on my return from extended writers block!

Apparently my soul was consumed, multiple times

I think I have heard the following quote way too many times in the past few weeks, but all things considered this is one of the most fun fights I have had from a gear tweaking perspective in a long time…

You are fools who have come to this place! The icy winds of Northrend will consume your souls!

After looking back on the recent posts regarding content, I have been slacking quite a bit. It has been a few weeks since we hit 10/12 hard modes, and had killed both lady deathwhisper and sindragosa. However, that doesn’t mean that our guild doesn’t still find some difficulty in these attempts. We have gotten to the point where we can basically clear the entire instance on hard mode, save one or two bosses in a single day, however that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our issues with a certain angry female frostwyrm.

I wanted to take some time to discuss the 25 man version of  Sindragosa Hard Mode, including my thoughts on gearing, tanking, and some of the things that I have done to help make this encounter a bit easier. We probably spent two nights on this encounter in order to get it down, however for us it was not an issue of learning, but an issue of survival. After about 5 attempts we had gotten down the ice block positioning, line of sight issues, and overall strategy for phase 1/2. We were doing well but people were dying, including the tanks. I would say that about one in three wipes was due to my death.

This is the first time in a very, very, VERY long time that I have been a consistent cause of a wipe. I went into the encounter with the same philosophy as the 10 man when it came to survival. The frost breath was the major threat to my survival due to burst damage death, so I geared to combat that. I wore my full frost resist set, which had me sacrifice health and armor for 524 frost resistance.

A change in plans

It was apparent quite early on that this gear set was not going to cut it for this encounter. While the frost breaths hit very hard, the problem during the hard mode attempts is that her melee hit even harder. This was due to the lack of armor and mitigation that I had. As I slowly began to understand, something needed to be done. I initially swapped from a resistance flask to a health flask. This made a bit of a difference and I found that while I was still tap dancing the AD line frequently, I wasn’t dying as often. Who said 2,000 health wasn’t a make or break? (I’m an elixir spec’ed alchemist).

After swapping out one more pice of frost resist for my T10 277 chest, I was down to 370 frost resist and significantly more armor and health. This made quite the difference, and tank deaths dropped considerably in P1. In comes phase 3, out goes Wrathy. I was back to square one, and with the increased coordination and issues which present themselves in phase three, it was back to the drawing board, to squeeze a bit more survival out of my gear. I swapped a few things around and got to the point where I felt there was nothing else I could do to increase my survival. I was still at about 370 frost resist, and I now was trading some expertise on my weapon for blood draining and the Last Word proc.

After a few more attempts wearing said gear, we pulled, we executed, we conquered. Sindragosa was dead, and we were a 10/12 guild. It was a good feeling to get this boss down. The attempts which we did on sindragosa were for the first time, something to be proud of. Every boss which we have encountered has required a few hours of attempts and a handful of wipes in order to learn the execution and fine tune it enough to get a kill. This boss was a bit different. It was the first time where some of our newer (read non sunwell raider) members started to complain about how “hard” this was.

I for one welcomed the challenge and enjoyed the small step up in difficulty. It was the first time where we spent a significant amount of time on a boss in order to kill it since Anub’arak. And even then, anub was a special case because of holiday absences, and attendance issues. We ended up going very healing conservative with 8 healers, and 15 dps. It was something which stabilized the raid and allowed for the healers with Unchained magic to stop casting and just wait it out.

The second coming of Sindragosa

After the raid reset, we were hell bent on spending lots of time on putricide and getting that encounter in the books, but we wanted to clear the instance first in order to maximize the gear upgrades we could get before pulling the good doctor. We blazed through the instance, on shotting the lower spire, crimson hall, and Dreamwalker. In comes Sindragosa. While I was no where near as optimistic to say that we would one shot her, I was not prepared for what was about to take place.

With a new week, new challenges presented themselves. I was aware that frost resist was not as powerful on hard mode as it is on normal mode, simply because of the size of her melee and cleave swings, so I geared accordingly. I dropped all the way down to 270 or so frost resist, meaning that I was only wearing one piece of frost resist and the FR aura. I was sitting at about 61k hp, 39k armor, and 45 expertise, and we were running with 7 healers since we were missing one of our main healers for the day. That is when a long lost friend reached out and slapped me across the face…

PARRY HASTE… and…. DEAD!

I took a 32k hit, a little more than a second later a 29k hit, then less than a second later a 35k hit. 96k in two seconds. I was floored. I thought to myself, well that is what parry haste does, it is something I am going to have to deal with but I am doing my best with 45 expertise, its far more than my off tank has about 30 expertise, and I thought that it was going to be a little wake up call from the RNG gods. Boy I was wrong!

Two of the next three attempts were a result of parry haste gibs. It was time to do a bit more juggling of the gear set. I ended up with 52 expertise, trading about 1000 effective health for that extra little assurance that parry hasting was going to be a non issue. Although I have a few more points to go, it was enough to only see one more the rest of the night. After about 10 attempts, the boss was dead, and we were on to putricide with about an hour and a half left in the raid night.

Good News, Everyone!

NOT, well sort of…. We pulled putricide after discussing some strategy and as soon as the first plague went out, the entire melee bounced it around. We recovered from it and made it to the transition phase. It was sloppy, painful and over all our first major issue of the encounter. After a long but constructive discussion regarding positioning for the transition phase, we pulled again, and did much, much better! The good news was that we had made it to 50%, the bad news was that we had less than 2 minutes on the enrage timer.

The sustainability was there, but the dps was not. It was getting late and we had a few people that were not going to be able to make a Sunday raid, so we decided to do one last attempt on putricide, and then swap it to normal and clear the instance. On our last attempt, we tweaked yet a few more things, and got him to the second phase transition at 35% with 3 minutes to spare on the enrage timer. Unfortunately, our green ooze dps was lacking, people started blowing up and eventually we died. However, the silver lining to this is that after three attempts on hard mode putricide, we are already at Phase 3!

In the end we swapped the instance back to normal mode and cleared it in short order. Once again, a two day raiding week with 10/12 hard modes in the book….

07
Apr
10

My Not So Brief History, Part 4

Wrathy with an -ie…

When I renewed my account, I decided that I wanted to play casually and not jump right back into the same level of commitment that I had been in. I had a level 39 twink hunter which was geared with all the best pieces for that pvp bracket which was in a different guild, and very few people knew of. I logged back on for the first time in months, and selected my hunter. When the loading bar was full, and I was in the game, I gquit the guild I was in and headed off on my next adventure. Leveling as a hunter was almost fun, as it was nothing like the other classes I had played. My pet did all the work, and at the time BM was overpowered. I was in a hurry to level, as I only had three weeks to get to level 70, and level up my leather working, skinning, fishing and cooking, before the expansion came out.

I was on pace, and plowing through levels because of the twink gear that I had acquired before I started the leveling process. I had successfully leveled from 39 to about 62 with no issues what so ever. I was in Hellfire Peninsula and the clock was ticking. As I was quietly minding my own business, and questing when a mage killed me. Since I was raised on a PvP server, I was well aware of the risks, and used to the occasional higher level toon ganking me. The problem with this is when the person thinks it is funny to continually camp and kill you, and this is just what this mage had in mind for me. It was the first few weeks of 3.0, and everyone was bored, and trying out new specs, and talents, and for some that meant ganking.

Since I was on a tight deadline, I lost my patience after about the fourth corpse run and logged off in search of some “retribution.” While I had long since said my goodbyes to Crypt Friends, I was still in the guild and an “alt” of one of my old roommates. He was using my toon for my professions. I logged onto my paladin, who just happened to be in a mixture of Season 3 and Season 4 gear, and at the time, tremendously over powered. I flew from Shat to Hellfire on my netherdrake and proceeded to search for this mage who was very adamant about ruining my night of questing. Soon enough I spotted him below me

Nerf Paladins!

I double checked all of my buffs, ensured that I had everything on my bars that was needed, and proceeded to swoop down on the unsuspecting mage. With one quick flury of attacks, all of my hunters rage was released upon said mage, killing him in less than two seconds with a nice, White attack, judge, seal,CS seal combo for his entire life. Nerf pallies they say, well it was the most fun I had had in a long time. After camping the mage for about 20 minutes, I went back to leveling, with my pally never far behind me. For the rest of the time it took me to get to level 70, I would park my paladin in the major city of the zone and be prepared for the gank fest which never came.

I hit level 70 three days before the expansion and spent all three of those days leveling up fishing and cooking. Also during that time, I was 70 and guildless, and figured it was time to rejoin Crypt Friends with my hunter. Most people were very surprised to see me back, and even more surprised to see me as a hunter. I had committed to have my hunter be my main, and as the xpac dropped, I started feverishly leveling her. This was the first time since I started playing the game where I truly enjoyed leveling, because it was relatively easy, quick, and the gear reset made it very easy for me to start over.

After a short time, I was level 80, and working on my leather working and feverishly running instances to get gear good enough to raid casually in a 10 man when the guild needed it. After about a week of being at 80, the guild had gotten enough people to 80 and ready to raid in Naxx. As I had not intended on raiding with the main raid, I got on the wait list just in case during the guilds first clear of naxx. One of the things I remember from this time in the game was how amazed I was that we could clear the first instance on the first week of having a full raid. The last experience I had with raiding was wiping for three days on Mu’ru, so it was a very large contrast from my previous raid experience.

Blessing of Sanctuary

During the first few weeks of Naxx, our guild was doing well, clearing the instance and enjoying the spoils. We had a few death knights and most of our raiding corps back from the burning crusade. It was early December, and one night I was approached by one of the officers with a request. This would be the second time in my WoW career where a foundational and pivotal change would occur. Cookiecat, our main tank from all of vanilla and half of the burning crusade, was back to tanking after a stint as fury in BT, Hyjal, and Sunwell, and he was frothing at the mouth over Blessing of Sanctuary.

He approached me and asked me if I would be willing to raid again, with the caveat that it would be on my paladin and it would be as protection. At the time, the officer corps was very different than it is now, and two of the members of the corps were my old roommates, who raided with me when I was a warrior, a tank, and a main tank, so they were well aware of my abilities as a tank. With that in mind, Cat approached me and asked me to tank for the guild. It was an interesting dilemma from my perspective, because I already had a level 80 character, who I was quite enjoying, and It would require me to not only level, but completely gear up as a tank.

While most end game raiders just walked into Naxx in their sunwell gear, there was no way that I was going to be able to tank Naxx in my level 70 healing gear. After some contemplation on the offer, I decided that tanking sounded fun again and something that I was interested in doing, so I logged off of my hunter and onto my paladin for the long journey from 70 to 80. The entire time I was leveling, the guild was farming Naxx, and getting dkp, experience, and gear. The tanking situation was a bit sticky because while I was leveling with every intention of being a main raider and an off tank, there was already a surplus of tanks in the guild. We had five warriors who were tanks at one point or another, and two of them had decided to go Arms and Fury, however we were still left with three  warriors.

Transition time

After a few weeks I had finally reached 80 and 540 defense. I was ready to go into Naxx and soak up some gear to catch up to our other tanks. At this point, I had spent all my time leveling and gearing up and did not really know anything about the specifics of the paladin tank mechanics. This is when I found MainTankadin, the blog community, and my love of theorycraft. I spent hours reading MT and our beloved blogs learning as much about the class as I could, including gemming, enchanting, gearing, and skill usage philosophies. I walked into Naxx for the first time quite prepared from the perspective of playing my character, and very green from the stand point of knowing the instance.

At the same time that I began raiding, there was another paladin and a few warriors vying for the off tank position which I would eventually claim as my own. It was interesting to see the dynamic which was created by having a surplus of players for each position as we did at the beginning of the expansion. Quickly, I claimed my spot in the tanking group and began to gear up. The gear came quickly as the other tanks had been getting it for weeks while I was leveling and getting to the defense minimum. As time passed, and naxx was just a farmed instance where you could get off spec gear, we had a petition for our MT to switch his main to his hunter, as we had too many tanks and not enough competent hunters.

Right around the same time, I was promoted to officer after we had one of our long time officers step down and go casual. There were a lot of new things for me in a short amount of time, but luckily there was one thing that was constant, easy instances. We had the entire game on farm, and we were patiently awaiting Ulduar to come out so that we could get the chance to tackle some challenging content for once.

Musical Tank Chairs

As time passed, I became a better and better tank, understanding more about gear, strategy, and the overall mechanics of paladin tanking. My roommate was a deathknight tank in our guild and our third tank was a warrior. We had a little bit of everything and brought a lot to the raid. The one thing that seemed to be a curse over my head was my ability to have mediocre warrior tanks in the tanking corps. Throughout Ulduar, we had a warrior in our tanking corps, and while Elayn and I understood that there was no longer truly a Main Tank due to the variety of encounters and tools which each class brought to the table, our warrior at the time seemed to need that title over his head to feel special.

Threat was a problem, gearing was a problem, and attitude was a problem for the tanks that we went through over the course of Ulduar and ToTGC. As one warrior tank departed in a whirl of emo, another one transitioned into his spot. At first he was a competent tank, holding better threat than his predecessor, and being a bit more level headed. But, as the weeks and months passed, it became increasingly evident that he was not much better. At one point in the middle of his time with us, I logged onto my dusty Warrior and specced prot. I ran to the training dummy and in less than 30 minutes had a better rotation than he did. His skill usage was horrible, and his knowledge of his class was not much better.

Maybe it is because I am such an advocate for gearing to an encounter and understanding the relationship between gear, statistics and a tanks role, that I expect more of my tanks, but I think personally that I was just unlucky with every player which we brought in to fill the warrior tank role. While this was all going on, Elayn and I were on the same page, and held the fort down, but the third tank was always mediocre at best. Well the time came where Elayn had to step down from main raider, due to school, wedding planning, and lack of time. This is when the true search for tanks began.

I had run out two warrior tanks who did not belong in a guild of our caliber, and recruited another warrior and another dk to fill the void of Elayn’s departure. While both of these tanks were far better than the last warrior I had, they had some minor attendance issues, and some major gearing philosophy comprehension issues. While they may not have known what type of resource I was for them, they did not make the concerted effort to find out. While they were both good players, once they modified their concept of gearing, they were fine, but their availability was not sufficient for our requirements of Main Tanks.

Two Paladins is better than one?

In my search for a tank who could dedicate the time and effort to raid with us, we had a paladin apply to the guild. While I saw some pros and cons to carrying two paladins, in the end he could make every raid, had the skills and the desire to tank for us, so we picked him up. Two DS/DGs, two Hand of Sacrifices, two Ardent Defenders, etc were powerful raid tools which we brought to the raid. The downsides of having two of the same class come from gearing each player up and the inevitable paladin nerf bat that may hinder the raid quite a bit.

In the end, our tanking core now consists of two main paladin tanks, with a warrior and death knight tank who can make some of the raids, and help out with 10 mans and two of our main raiders, a fury warrior and a unholy dk, with their dual spec as tanking. With this core of tanks, we have been able to plow through ICC 25 man hard modes in quite a fast pace.

As you can see, there is not much about my time in ToTGC and ICC and the story surrounding my progress there, but I figure that that is because if you have ventured here to read my blog, you have heard first hand the stories of those instances.

After almost five years and hundreds of days played, I hope you enjoyed the story of my time in WoW…

02
Apr
10

My Not So Brief History, Part 3

Stirring the pot

I spent about 6 months at level 70 in Souls of FxC, raiding what I would not consider casually, trying to kill some bosses and succeeding, but not pushing the envelope of progression. About half way through my last days in that guild, my roommate applied and got accepted to a guild called Crypt Friends. At the time he was an officer, and his departure set more than a few things in motion. It forced some of the better raiders in our guild to re-evaluate what they wanted out of the game, and if they wanted to stick with what was a more than slightly corrupted guild master. The guild had been run by a group of people who also happened to be a family. They controlled the guild money, mats and loot rules. They were also mediocre at best when it came to talent.

It was time for a shift in power, and it was time for drastic measures to allow for that shift in power. With the departure of our resident feral druid to CF, we were left with 5 officers in the guild. Three of them and a good number of the core raid started to discuss leaving for a new guild. After all the whispers had died down, 3 officers, and 20 main raiders, departed the guild to form a new guild, free of corruption and formed with the purpose of successfully killing bosses through and instituting a democratic leadership. And so, Exigent was formed, with a level 1 guild master who had no powers, and no executive vote. We had 5 council members which ended up being the leadership of the guild.

In retrospect, it was still just an officer corps, we just didn’t have someone actively controlling guild permissions. Exigent quickly made their way through Kara, Mag, and Grull, and started in on SSC and TK with the help of a few non guildes, as we had attendance problems. Honestly I do not have many memories of this time, because it was short, but it was sweet.

Healing a Pug Kara

One night, I got home from work and my roommate was sitting at his computer trying to get a kara run together. He was only short a healer, and I offered to help them if they wanted to bring someone from outside the guild to help. I had been invited to what would turn out to be my first Crypt Friends raid. We went out to Kara, and started killing things. The first thing that I noticed is that the dps that was in the group was significantly better than what I was used to, and threat seemed to be an issue most of the time. I think my salvation was permanently on cool down. We went out to nightbane’s ledge and got ready to pull.

From my perspective, the encounter which was about to start was one of the most significant events in my wow career, although not one of those two most important turning points in the game for me (the first being my re-roll to paladin and my second has yet to happen). We pulled nightbane and everything was going as expected. After the first air phase, some random orc lock with Tier 5 pulled off of our MT. Being a former main tank, this frustrated me on the inside, but none the less, I did what any paladin healer would do, I BoP’ed him before the dragon even had a chance to move. It was, by all intensive purposes, a great save on my part. As soon as the BoP wore off, I threw him a salvation, and a subsequent rebuff of kings.

I received some small but welcomed complements about my reaction time and use of spells and we kept going. The bosses all died, and they died in a quicker fashion than I had ever seen. We were out of Kara in no time, and I was headed back to shat to do what ever it was that I thought was important at the time when I received a whisper from the warlock who I saved. He gave me a very nice complement on my skills as a holy paladin, my ability to react quickly and effectively, and then asked me a very simple question.

Why didn’t you apply to CF when Rojan did?

This question was kind of puzzling to me at the time, but I politely answered that at the time I worked during half of their raid week and did not think that it would benefit them to have a holy paladin who was only there half the time. My perception of CF was one of a hard core guild who would expect nothing less than 90% attendance from their raiders. He replied to me that he would rather have me in the guild 50% of the time, than not at all if I was willing to heal like I did in the kara run for them all the time. I honestly did not know who this guy was, and I had never heard of him. The guild leader at the time was their MT, and the guy right underneath him was a priest named Thatpriest (TP). What I didn’t know was that this random warlock who I had impressed so much, was actually TP, a very high ranking officer, and soon to be guild leader of CF.

My Last Guild Ever

After weighing my options and discussing it over with my roommates, one of which was in CF and one of which was an officer in my current guild, I ultimately decided that I wanted to raid more, see more content, and see it at an end game pace and level. I explained my situation to the officers of Exigent, said my good byes to my guild and the raiders who I had been playing with for two and a half years, and /gquit for CF. I felt like a very small fish in a very big pond. CF was quite a bit above what I was used to, and they currently had four paladin healers, so I was not sure if I was ever going to get to raid. However, I had told myself, I can go to CF and possibly earn a raid spot which would give me the opportunity to see new and exciting things, or I could stay and do nothing but farm content.

My first week in CF was similar to most peoples in a new guild. I was learning new names, roles, rules, and offering to help with anything I could to get my name out there and let them know who I was. My whole first raid week was spent on the wait list, fishing in Terrokar forest. I had been getting my raid food from one of the hunters in my old guild and thought that it would be rude to ask for free raid food from an ex guildy. So, I did what I had to and leveled up fishing and cooking. By the end of the raid week, I had earned all the dkp for the week, and I had leveled up my fishing and cooking enough to be prepared for raids.

The second week in the guild, one of the four paladins who was in the guild quit, and another did not show up for the raid, so I was invited and taken into my very first SSC. I was a full tier of gear behind the other healers, but I was prepared to push them and show them that I can do the same thing they can, but with less gear. For the most part I was right. I did my job, all while having my roommate explain the fights and where to stand in the background, since I had never been there and did not have very much information on how to do the fights. I walked out of SSC with a few new pieces of gear, including a Tier piece after my very first raid. Although I never asked, I am pretty sure I had impressed a few more people in the guild, and had earned a raid spot in the process.

Becoming part of the healing corps

Over the next few months CF was plowing through SSC and TK and getting prepared for Hyjal and BT. I was a purple power ranger and had caught up in gear with the rest of the guild. I had guaranteed 50% attendance rate, which was actually 100% since I worked two nights that they raided, and I was there every night I could be. I was one of our best paladins, and our guild was doing well from my perspective. However, there were quite a few raiders from CF who thought otherwise. The guild fissured in half. We lost a lot of raiders to a similar situation to what I had done to FxC earlier in the year. CF was left with about 14 core raiders, however this time it was a bit different we still had our Main Tank, and all of the officers.

The officers at the time did a great job of reaching out and figuring out what we could do to save the guild. The guild ended up, after what I assume took a lot of discussion, absorbing two guilds. One guild was a very small server transfer guild of 7 people who would bring us our elemental shaman and one of our best rogues. The other guild which we absorbed was none other than Exigent, my former guild. Between my room mate and I, we convinced the CF leadership at the time that they were skilled raiders and all of them were mature enough to handle our environment.

With the exodus of a lot of players, I was now one of the indispensable healers of the guild. I had, in a few short months, transitioned from a back up to the back up who was on the wait list, to a main raider with Crypt Friends. As we rebuilt the guild, we had to also teach all of these players how to do all of the encounters. We had the knowledge and the foundation, but the learning curves of the raiders was what mattered. In a few short weeks we had plowed through SSC and TK, killing all of the bosses and gearing up what was soon to be our new MT, an the MT who would carry us all the way through sunwell. A few weeks after that we were plowing through BT and Hyjal. There was a week in there where we killed 6 new bosses in BT. That was not something that happened often back in TBC. We had shown who got the better side of the split. The group of CF raiders who gquit to start their own guild were far behind us in progression, leadership, and ability to form raids.

The final test, and hard core raiding

I was a light-bringer, a 5/5 T6 paladin, and one of the better geared paladins on the server as a whole. I was pvping in arena as a holy pally and part of a 5v5 team which broke 2k very early on. There were only two paladins on the server who got their shoulders before me. As we farmed BT and Hyjal for the glaives and the last few pieces of gear which our raid needed to be prepared for the next tier of content, Sunwell came out. Sunwell was like no other instance I had ever been in, and as we got ready to pull the first trash mob, we were very excited. Then it happened… we wiped, and we wiped A LOT! We learned the encounter which was the trash before Kaelcgos, and started getting epic trash drops, fairly quickly.

While I know that our sunwell progression was over the course of many months, it all melts together for me. Long gone are the days where it takes weeks of raiding four days a week to kill the first boss of an instance or any subsequent boss after that. But in sunwell, we were wiping and we were wiping for a long time before seeing progress. But in the true fashion of Crypt Friends, once we killed those bosses they were on farm. Slowly but surely we made our way through sunwell killing Kalegos, where I was an MT healer who would readily stay out of the portal to keep the tank up, having to bubble to mitigate the damage which was flying around. I then transitioned to burn healer and judgement of wisdom bitch on Brutallus, which was one of the hardest fights I have ever had to heal.

Felmyst and twins went down fairly quickly and we were on a roll. I do not recall how far up the progression ladder we were, and from a recent discussion with one of our officers, he seems to think we are ranked higher now, but we were an elite guild. I was standing in Shat with lots of sunwell gear, and enjoying the elite level of play which our guild had created. But as with almost every guild in the world who was in Sunwell, Mu’ru made us his bitch. After wiping on Mu’ru for over a month, I was burnt out. I was spending more time at work researching wow than working, I was playing wow way too much, and I was overweight and in need of some serious time management.

I decided to take a break from WoW. At the time I had every intention of quitting and never coming back. I posted in our guild forums that I was quitting the game and I wished everyone the best of luck. I came to find out later that most of the officers had asked one of our holy paladins if that was going to hurt them, and she said yes, very much. However from my understanding, I was only the first of many who would take a break from wow between Mu’ru and Wrath of the Lich King. I was free of WoW, working out every day and back in Shape, hanging out with the opposite sex, and having a very good time. About two months before Wrath of the Lich King dropped, I started dating my girfriend, and everything was right with the world. Then she went to graveyards and life changed a bit. She slept all day, and was gone all night. There were only so many movies that I could watch, so I decided that I would casually play wow as a hunter, but we all know where this is going…

To Be Continued, AGAIN….




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