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
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.
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…