Posts Tagged ‘Progression

10
Aug
10

Tanking the Twilight Realm

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

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

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

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

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

/console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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07
Aug
10

Discussions on Halion Tanking

WoW Versus my Job

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

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

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

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

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

Gearing for Hard Mode Halion

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

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

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

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

More to come!

07
Jul
10

Halion Hard Mode

The ruby sanctum has come!

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

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

Phase 1, yawn…

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

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

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

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

Phase 2, and the LASERBEAMS OF DEATH

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

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

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

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

Phase 3, fire and shadow!

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

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

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

Good luck everyone!

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.

22
Mar
10

Post ICC buff gearing philosophies

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

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

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

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

Prelude to the Hellscream Warsong

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

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

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

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

A glimpse into the future

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

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

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

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

I’m Back! Holistic Theory Gemming

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

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

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

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

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

19
Mar
10

How many hard modes?

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

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

What do you do when you fall off the horse?

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

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

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

Deathbringer Saurfang, Beacon, and You

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

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

The Upper Spire and some Friendly Guild Competition

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

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

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

Modified strategies

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

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

On to rotface and *gulp* festergut!

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

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

We were 8 of 12 hard modes!

11
Mar
10

Expectations and Shortcomings

The Prologue to Frustration

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

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

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

Festergut…

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

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

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

Why does Personal Accountability matter?

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

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

My expectiations and Shortcomings

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

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

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

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

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

/end very long rant




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