Archive for the 'General WoW' Category

06
Aug
10

The upward climb to progression

Random thoughts after a break from blogging

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

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

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

New Blood

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

Pushing forward

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

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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.

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….

01
Apr
10

Blizzard’s April Fools!

Wrathy the Tuskar Pally!

I am a walrus and a Ninja, oh and I cheese my way to achievements!

01
Apr
10

my not so brief history, part 2

Developing a Passion for PvP

After the first week of PvP as a prot warrior, I started to think that it would be fun to be one of those guys that runs into the pack of 5 players and just destroys all of them. Unfortunately, I did not really have the gear for said activity, so I set out to get it, at first by getting the ranks to get the rare quality pvp gear, and later to start getting stuff in BWL and MC which would help my cause. As the PvP addiction grew, so did my time in game, and I started to see how people had so much time /played.

Our guild was running tons of instances including MC, BWL and ZG every week, and we were clearing them in a relatively quick fashion. As the gear showered down on the 40 man raids (and 20 mans when referring to ZG), more and more loot dropped for my PvP quest. After a few weeks of being Farm flag lackey, I decided to start smashing face. I never thought that some of my experiences in PvP would make me a better PvE player, but they did for both my warrior at this point in my career, and my paladin later on in WoW. I was learning the fine art of warrior stun locking and kiting.

As the weeks progressed, I was guarenteed a spot in the High Warlord (rank 14) grind group. For those of you who did not play in Vanilla WoW, pvp gear was achieved by attaining a certain rank. Each rank brought new rewards, and with those rewards, a title. The ranks were fluid and were modified every Tuesday during the realm restart. Each week the person with the most Honor gained got the most movement and ranking, and it decayed rapidly from there. It has been a very long time so I am not sure exactly how it worked, but I was well aware of it at the time and payed close attention. Our grind group was there to ensure that there was some order in the way that people made it to Rank 14. Since the 20 or so people who ran in the group were PvPing more than anyone else, we could ensure that the person with the most honor got first on the Realm when it came to honor.

The grind became a complicated process because of the fact that I was raiding every night but still had to get in my pre-requisite 100-400k honor depending on what rank I was. I was honing my skills as a warrior in BWL every week, working on trash pack pulls, line of sight techniques, and learning the in’s and out’s of my class. More importantly, I learned about one of my favorite aspects of being a tank during this time, the fact that I know everything that every mob in an instance does. This was a skill set which was lost when I was a healer, and it was something which I missed during that period, but for now, I knew how to pull every mob in BWL, what they did, and how the reacted to specific situations. I was also becoming more spatially and environmentally aware as I became one of the best tanks in our raid at picking up stray adds, aggro pulls, inadvertent pulls, etc.

Leading the Grind Group

After about a month and a half of PvPing every week, the bulk of our officers had reached rank 14, gotten their titles and their shiny new weapons, and they stepped down from the grind group. This was right about the time where I apparently got my first sole leadership position in a game. I logged on one Tuesday after our GM got high warlord and immediately got a ton of whispers asking me when I was going to start the group. I found it funny that I was no where near high warlord, and was not intending on going that far, however I was the one people turned to to lead the group.

Around the same time, something amazing happened during those Alt MC runs I spoke about earlier. I had been running these raids for a few months now, and everyone was quite geared. We were farming the place and getting those last few pieces before AQ opened up and we would no longer go back to MC. For months, I had passed every piece of gear that had dropped to alts and friends who didn’t raid that much, because of the fact that I was a full tier above them in gear, and already had all of my MC gear. There was one thing that alluded me, and it was a Thunderfury. Our Main tank and one of our off tanks had gotten their bindings and completed the quests to get their weapons, and I was up next.

About the same time that I was in line for a legendary, I started the alt run. That was my one caveat to the raid, the guild, and the people who I helped. I wanted the bindings if they dropped, since it would help our main raid in BWL and later AQ. Well the night that started off as routine and ended in an amazing fashion was not what I thought it would be. I walked up to Garr and killed him, but no binding droped. We destroyed Baron Geddon, and still no binding. I was giving up on my dreams of a legendary. All that work in the alt run, and we had yet to see a binding, while the main run had seen three more left ones. Then it happened, we killed ragnaros and I went to pass out the T2 legs and other shinnies, and there was a pink orb on the boss!

The Hand of Ragnaros

I was amazed. In the months and months that our guild had run MC, we had never seen an Eye of Ragnaros, and yet here I was, the only main in an alt run which had cost me lots and lots of repair bills, thousands of DKP above the next person, and ready to take my reward for all my hard work. I got the eye, and I got the shaft from our GM. He would not give me the mats needed to craft the mace, so I leaned on my friends and borrowed 5,000g (which back then was an enormous sum of money) to purchase the Sulfuron Ingots to craft the mace. Two hours later I had a 2 handed legendary mace in my hands!

By this time, I was probably around rank 10 and had a good deal of PvE dps gear which I used during the grind groups time. There was no such thing as resilience, there was no such thing as arena, and there was no such thing as arena points. There was only honor, rank, and with rank the ability to purchase gear for gold. The day after I got my Hand of Ragnaros, I logged on and started the grind group, with my shiny new weapon. Something had changed, as if over night, alliance were running AWAY from me, not towards me. I had pocket healers, and was on top of the scoreboard every week.

The bug instance and the rise of a Main Tank

Around the same time as I reached rank 12 (General), with no less than 700k honor, we were starting to clear AQ20 and some of AQ40. We were doing fairly well, getting our bug mounts in AQ, and trying to raise our rep with those damn hated Brood. As the weeks past, our main tank got less and less interested in the game, due to the burn out that comes from MTing a guild for a long time. He just disappeared one week and left me in charge. With a vacant hole in the MT position I stepped up and took the reins, and we started to progress again. Soon enough we were face to face with Huhuran.

While AQ is a faceroll instance in level 80 gear with 5 people, it was quite the opposite at level 60. Huhu was one of the more challenging bosses ever, and in my opinion showed who deserved to be a tank and who just went through the motions. She was immune to taunt, and required tanks swaps at specific times. This means that you had to ride the threat of the current tank and pass him up in a crescendo of heroic strikes and shield slams. After a lot of effort, and a specific bind in vent for the tanks, we got the mechanics down and subsequently the boss (On a completely random aside, my off tank for this fight just happens to be sitting a few feet away from me at work).

I was now a Main Tank, with all the responsibilities that came with it. I was also an officer, and a leader in our guild. As the days past, and The Burning Crusade’s release date loomed, we started raiding a bit less, pvping a bit more for fun, and taking a well deserved break from the long raid week. With the advent of 2.0, everything changed, people were overpowered, and warriors were gods. It was an extremely fun time, and although I did not know it at the time, the last time I would have fun on my warrior. The burning crusade was upon us, and it was time to level.

TBC, Auchindoun, and a transformation

On the first day of The Burning Crusade, I was excited and ready to level, I had specced Arms, wearing my Hand of Ragnaros and pvp gear and ventured through the dark portal. I did a few quests and it seemed as though the mobs out there had a lot more life and were taking a long time to kill with my very very good gear. An aside:

I wanted to mention that I HATE, HATE, HATE leveling with a passion, so this time in my WoW career was not looked upon with fond memories….

Anyways, after about an hour of questing in Hellfire, a few friends logged on and they wanted to try the new instances, as there was less ganking, less lag, and over all less problems. Couple that with the new gear which was better than some of our tier gear, we saw a win win situation. Ironically two of people who ventured into this instance are still playing and raiding in Crypt Friends, although one of them is me, and everyone else has since departed from this game. We took two prot warriors, a newly re-speced feral druid, warlock and resto druid. Not what you would call a balanced group, but it was fun, and we killed things fast. After a long day of running instances and resetting them, I was at level 62, and one of the highest in the guild.

A few days and a few levels past, and I was asked to tank an instance in Auchindoun by a few guildies. I was level 66, still in full T2, and ready and willing. Little did I know that this would be one of the two most important days in my WoW career, and a transformational change was about to happen. We were starting to clear the instance when the final straw hit the camels back. I had pulled a three pack of trash mobs, and started to establish aggro on them using my normal rotation, and I noticed that two of the rouges in the group had aggro on two different mobs. While the days of 5 sunders are far gone, and I had established long before that day that I knew how to tank multiple mobs as a warrior, this just did not sit well for me. I asked the rogues to wait a few seconds for me to get aggro before they attack and to attach my target.

After a few more trash packs with similar results, I was getting frustrated and reminded the rogues to wait, and their response was “its ok, we can just tank these ourselves.” I was done. I politely finished the rest of the instance and logged off. That was the last time I ever considered my warrior my main, and he would rot at level 66 for a very long time.

I will call her Wrathy!

Shortly after the burning crusade was released, I created a level 1 blood elf female paladin to see the starting zone. As I told you earlier, I hate to level and never had any intentions of that alt getting above level 5, I just wanted to see the area. Up to this point in my WoW career, I had leveled my warrior all the way up to 60 and then started TBC, I had a warlock who was in the 40s, and I had twink 19 mage. Now I had a level 1 paladin.

The same week that I quit playing my warrior, I was approached by a co-worker who had stepped away from the game for a little while. He wanted to level a shadow priest and I offered to help, and play casually. I had heard that paladins and shadow priests work well together in the leveling process, and so off I went leveling a new toon and leaving General Wrathizol with the Hand of Ragnaros on the shelf, gathering dust. The journey had begun, my paladin was very fun to level and I was not having issues with it.

I had decided that the paladin was the correct class for me to level for a few reasons. First, there were not many of them and so I could fill a vacant role in the guild, seeing as I stepped down from the Main Tank position. And secondly, I had very little confidence in the healing corps of our guild, they complained that healing was much harder and that they were doing their best. I set out to prove to them that healing was not harder than tanking, and that they just needed to put forth the effort. About a month later, I had a level 70 paladin, with blue healing gear who was as ready to raid as possible.

I stepped into a Kara raid in my blues, when others had weeks and weeks of epics, and out played every healer we had. A similar pattern started to emerge in gruul’s lair, magtheridon’s lair, and any instance I stepped foot into. I was our guilds best healer, and I was starting to understand that Souls of FxC was not going to provide me with the raiding experience I wanted. As one of the more long standing officers, and one of the best healers we had, I was faced with a tough decision. Do I leave FxC for greener pastures, or stick it out. About the same time, my roommate had similar feelings about our guild, and applied to one of the best guilds on the server, Crypt Friends, and was accepted. Losing an officer from FxC was a wake up call to the guild, and it set the wheels in motion for the next few chapters of my WoW career.

Once again, To Be Continued…

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….




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