Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goodbye for now

I've been pretty much absent lately. I wanted to make one last post to thank the great folks in the tanking community. It's definitely the cream of the crop in my opinion. You've influenced me and made me a better tank for sure.

My problem was fairly quickly to 80. I had a plan for gear and spec. I got the gear. I pwned the heroics with my friends and some great pug buddies. Then I hit a wall.

My play style and time do not allow me to raid. I really want to, because raiding gives you opportunities to become a better tank as well as improve your gear. To date, I have still only seen 2 wings of Nax on 10 man, as well as a handful of forays into 10 man OS and Vault, and one Vault 25 man.

I was already feeling left behind before patch 3.1, but with the arrival of Ulduar, I'm even further behind the curve. I'm also seeing much more elitist BS on the servers like requiring ridiculous gear and achievement standards for Nax runs, when several people going already sport some Ulduar gear amidst their 25 man loot.

I don't blame Blizzard. I think they're doing good stuff and providing some diverse opportunities in game, but atm I cannot raid, and heroics hold little for me, and dailies bore me; consequently, Billy has been semi-abandoned. I'm leveling a priest as well as a DK in my horde guild.

(As a side not, the guild I have my horde toons in was found due to The Instance podcast. If you're not familiar with it and you enjoy WoW, you REALLY need to check them out. Scott and Randy are fantastic guys who are very talented and entertaining. Find them at theinstance.net.)

Back to the matter at hand. Now that Billy is not progressing, I lack any inspiration for the blog. It's kind of funny, because looking back, a lot of my posts weren't really progressive tank oriented anyway.

I may be back at some point, but who knows. The game has been somewhat depressing for me, and that in itself is ridiculous. Why do something with your discretionary time that you don't enjoy, right?

So forgive me while I pursue other avenues in the game in hopes of finding the excitement and enjoyment that I felt in great measure from 3.0 until fairly recently. I'll keep checking on your blogs and such, but mine is dead for now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Soy NOOB, y Tú?

Patch 3.1 LIVE!!!....kinda

For once I considered myself lucky to have been required to work late. It gave me the chance to avoid the patch day drama.

I'm not one to qq about the inability to log in....um, yeah I am, but I try not to. This choice was much easier when playing wasn't an option anyway.

I could qq about the instance servers being down most of the night, but it took me at least that long to respec/dual spec, and I still screwed it up.

I also hadn't saved, so all my alts sent their money over to Billy. I specced deep wounds tanking and what I'm now coining fubar fury. See, I listened to the BRK podcast a while back that talked about a confirmation button or some such to finalize your spec. I thought it was in place for this patch and I was a little careless with the clicking.

Anyhoo, I got me some dual specs, but don't actually have a second 2h weapon, couldn't afford glyphs, etc.

Very shortsighted on my part, but I'm still excited to figure out the changes and how they will effect me.

DUAL TANKING SPECS

I'm not gonna hash this out in it's own dedicated post, because Darraxus beat me to it and probably did it better than I would have.

Suffice it to say that with a small friends and family guild with 3 decently geared tanks, I'll get a lot more mileage out of a dps spec as my secondary spec. I'll also get a lot more time with my guildies as we can swap roles and keep things fresh.

PS, I'd post my fury spec, but I'm just too embarrassed, lol.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I may be immature, but you’re a huntard.

At times I am brash and react to situations while under the effects of strong emotion. The result oft provides me with great amusement, however, frequently under self scrutiny my hot-tempered moments prove to be a source of regret.

I had an experience last night that had me quite agitated. I responded maliciously. I somewhat feel sorry for doing so, but a laugh continues to slip from my mouth whenever I recall my vindictive act.

SIDENOTE:

I have seen a recent return in the number of huntards present in game. Delirious with chasing the top spot on Recount, they fail to notice the negative shadow their stupidity casts over their group and the instance.

My observations and consequent opinions: I tire of tanking pets. We already have a tank. I do not need an OT, bring a dps pet. Also, turn growl off!

If you really need to pull, at least use misdirect.

No, you do not get to roll need on the leather item dropped by boss X. Why!? Because it is an immediate and appropriate upgrade for our druid/rogue.

Consider for a moment that you are not the only skinner.

The previously mentioned tidbits are important. If a hunter exhibits these faults singularly or even two or three of them, I may be forgiving….if they can adjust after constructive criticism.

…however, DO NOT ARGUE WITH ME!!!

HUNTARD: EXHIBIT A

My friend, a DK, was tanking. He is a skinner. He politely asked the hunter in our group to alternate skinning mobs. Said hunter continued to skin as soon as possible. My friend repeated his request, to which the huntard respons, “Only if you only take every third one.”

On top of this he was pulling aggro and running toward the healer, ignoring the kill order, etc.

By this point I’m begging my friend to boot the huntard from the group, but he’s a nice DK and puts up with the jerk. Then after the huntard skinned the next group without sharing, and my friend’s request was repeated a third time, the huntard says, “Let’s roll for them.”

Now if I had lead, I would have kicked the self-serving piece of trash as soon as the boss hit phase 2 so he would be ghetto hearthed before the loot dropped.

…and I wouldn’t have felt bad about it.

HUNTARD: EXHIBIT B

Last night I must have been grouped with the identical twin of the huntard I just identified. He did all of the annoying things that huntards do to distinguish themselves from their enjoyable and useful cousins – hunters. For a time, I gritted my teeth and put up with it. It was around 2 AM and had taken a long time to get a group together – so I was barely tolerating the jerk.

We got to the second boss fight in Utgarde Keep, and I type out my strategy. The hunter puts his mark on the warrior, even though I had raid marked the caster with a skull to reinforce my explained strategy that we burn him first. The huntard then proceeds to argue semantics.

Huntard: it’s not random aggro it’s just a random charge

Me: whatever, it’s not based on the threat of individual players, so it is random aggro

Huntard: not really if it was random aggro he would stay on that player not just charge him and leave

Me: that doesn’t change the fact that I would appreciate everyone staying close to me so I don’t have to chase the boss

Huntard: whatever dude, just pull

Me: ppl still have abilities on cd

Huntard: let them die, pull already

Me: /sit actually the a-hole arguing with the tank is gonna be the first to die…especially since the healer is the tank’s good friend

This shut him up for a little while, but he argued some more throughout trash and continued to speed skin everything so the others skinners had a hard time getting leather.

So we drop the final boss, and the hunter goes running off toward the short-cut out after we loot. I see him leaving and get a terrific idea. I chase after him to make sure he’s in range, and as soon as he jumps off the ledge toward the pool below, I pop path of frost.

He splats, dies, cusses me out. I turn off path of frost so nobody else dies, hearth out, log off, and laugh myself to sleep.

After typing this out I realize that although it was an extremely immature move on my part, I no longer feel any regret, only amusement. I may be a jerk but if nothing else I am a self-amused jerk.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I've Had An Epiphany

I took a few days off of playing WoW this week in an attempt to improve the balance between the different areas of my life. The third night had me jonesin' big time.

I logged onto Billy and was chatting with some friends. They were doing regular Halls of Lightning to go for the tanking trinket off of Loken. It was going badly, and a dps dropped group. I got an invite to come dps.

I've been saving dps gear just in case I decide to dual spec come 3.1. I threw it on and suffered through rage starvation and control issues. I was doing around 1000 dps, which I'm not completely unhappy with, although, I do prefer the +/- 1600 I do while tanking.

It was a rough go, and the tank went afk after the second boss. The pally healer asked if I thought I could take a group by myself, so I slapped on my tank gear and charged in. We destroyed them, and although the tank was back, I stayed in my tanking gear and we screamed through the rest of the instance.

When we got to Loken, there was talk of how to avoid his abilities. I kind of took charge and told everyone to soak the damage. We had mark of the wild because of the druid. We one shot him without much difficulty.

Then people had to go to bed, so I started working on my level 72 DK. Another friend hopped on his 68 DK and put us in a group for UK. He asked if I wanted to tank, and I said no. I tank on my warrior. My DK is for DPS.

He tanked, and since it was his first time to tank anything it was a bit rough. After a third wipe on the pull before the first boss, I threw on some tanking gear and took over. We finished up there and headed to Nexus.

I tried to get someone else to take over as tank, but nobody had gear or desire...so I tanked that too. It was a little rough. My spec is not in any shape or form a tanking spec. The DK abilities are still foreign to me. I kept finding myself using Billy's keybinds when things got stressful, and this was not helpful in the least. We wiped at least a half-dozen times.

But at the end of the night, I found myself feeling very satisfied with the night. I had a lot of fun!

Part of that was the fact that we were all around the appropriate level and had to perform decently to succeed. Part of that was the stress, attention required, and activity of tanking. I wasn't good at it with my DK, but it has become my niche in the game.

Then last night found me on Billy again. We did three or four heroics. It started a bit rough, because I was somewhat out of practice. But each instance was a little smoother.

One pull in particular was ugly. It was Halls of Stone right after the first batch of elementals. There are three groups of caster types that have short paths they follow. I didn't set up the pull well, and we ended up with all three groups spread out and hammering my healer and my dps. I ran around like a maniac trying to pick them up. It was poor performance on my part that we ever found ourselves in that situation, but I feel that I did a decent job on recovery. The heals were epic too, and without a great healer, we would have died for sure, but I think we only lost one dps and killed all the mobs.

I wish I could say that my healer never got hit again, but that would be a lie. I wish I could say that I was on top of my game, but I wasn't. I wish I could say that I wasn't extremely frustrated with myself more than once, but that's not true.

What I can say is that I HAD A FREAKING BLAST!!! There's just something about Tanking that has gotten into my blood! I love what it demands of me. I love being the main barrier between the mobs and my group. I love feeling like the Hero.

One of my favorite in game ego-boosts is when the dps all dies, but I keep wailing on the boss. Eventually the healer drops, but I use my cool downs and rotations effectively. Right before I'm going to die, my shield slam crit drops the boss. The group all starts cheering for me and my epic last stand against a mighty foe.

Kind of silly, I know, but I love it. I also love when nobody dies and the boss goes down in record time. I love bad pulls that I can recover. I love life saving taunts and intervenes.

I LOVE TANKING!

That is all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

5 Reasons I Fail at Tanking - AKA: WTB Skillz

Also, I can't count, sorry.

I’m pretty hard on myself. If my group wipes, I usually blame myself – sometimes rightly so, other times not so much…but I can’t seem to help it. While this is a character flaw that I am not so fond of, it does present me with that acute sting of remorse that spurs me to take a closer look at what I’m not doing so well.
I’m taking this moment to address 5 reasons that I’m not a great tank. These are not the only 5 and may not even be the top 5 issues with my performance. I think writing them down will help me review and plan for improvement as well as invite you to take a moment to do a self evaluation to identify your own.

PS – If you’re scoffing at this because you’re a great tank, go ahead and put that as number one on your list. No matter how good you are, there is room for improvement. If you cease to find something you could do better, you’re either in denial or it may be time to hang up the shield for the benefit of those behind you.

AWARENESS

I could have sworn that Ciderhelm had a video about the three types of awareness up at Tankspot.com, but I couldn’t find it tonight to link it. If someone else did it, and I’m just crediting Cider for your hard work, I apologize. Let me know so I can give credit where it’s due.

It was a great video. I’ve long wished I had better situational awareness. I cringe when my healer’s voice over vent informs me that a mob is pounding his pretty little face. He shouldn’t have to tell me that. That mob shouldn’t have gotten there in the first place.

I admit that I am improving in this area since switching to keybinds, but there is still much left to be desired.

The video also talks about encounter awareness – being the knowledge of who is in your group/raid as well as an understanding of their abilities and how they can be used in the encounter to come out on top. I am extremely weak in this regard. Shammies can do that thingy, and mages make tables. Yeah…I don’t belong at the helm of a raid anytime soon.

MOBILE! AGILE! HOSTILE!

Check out Veneratio’s post about movement here.

Keybinding freed me up to mouse turn. That is something I can do well now, and I love it. When the dragonkin in Heroic Violet Hold “blinks” behind me thinking he’s all sneaky rogue-like, I almost immediately smash his face with my shield now. It’s gratifying, that…smashing faces is good times!

Now when movement is required while keeping some semblance of a threat rotation going, Billy fails. I have not yet figured out how to strafe and whack away at the cooldowns. I can’t figure out how you awesome tanks use w,a,s,d to move while also utilizing your keybinds. +25 agility to fingers ftw! WTB that enchant plz.

I’m thinking about picking up a new mouse with more buttons to bind strafe left and right to it so I can have all movement possible available to my right hand, so my left hand can dish out punishment in rage fueled outbursts.

I’m doing my group no favors when I turn my back on a mob instead of strafing and get myself pwned and cause a wipe.

EXPERIENCE

OK – this one gets the numero uno. First place. Grand Prize.

Why? Because everything else on this list improves at least a little with more experience. I have no Vanilla WoW or TBC raid encounters under my belt. Those epic battles I read about where the most precise execution was required to succeed…I can only read about.

Last weekend I did Kara for the first time. We five manned most of it, and three of the five were low 70’s. I remember thinking many times, “Holy Crap! This must have been a bear at 70!” I didn’t have many thoughts as to how I would have had to approach it at the appropriate gear and level, but I’m pretty sure that if I was wiping time after time as a 70, the ideas would have started flowing, and I would have obsessed until we got the kills.

One can learn a lot from failure. My first time in OS, I was tanking the adds on Sarth. His health was low and there were tons of adds popping up. I was losing control and panicked. I popped challenging shout, and to my horror, Sarth turned and sprayed the raid with fire. I recovered quickly and ran to where the MT was standing to protect the raid. I stopped attacking so the MT could pick him back up quickly. I charged back into the adds, and we avoided the wipe and got the kill.

Two valuable things I learned from that encounter: Lesson number one...don't taunt the boss off the MT and into the rest of the raid. Lesson number two...if you are the MT, and someone pulls the boss off of you, don't just stand there spamming shield slam and heroic strike - taunt him back!

I hunger for those opportunities. I feel that they mostly come from raids. So many of the heroic 5-man encounters can be muscled through without much consideration of the boss’s abilities. Not so in raids. Two left feet in Heigan? Wipe. You can’t ignore the dance. That’s not even a very good example, but I hope it makes the point.

To date, as far as raids, all I have under my belt are 10-man OS without drakes twice, VOA 10 and 25 twice (and I hardly count this one due to ease), and 2 wings of Naxx 10-man. That’s it.

QUICK AND COOL

I lose my cool. I get really pissed at the Failknight death-gripping mobs off me and stressing my healer. When someone face pulls a group when I have no rage, or we get a pat when my aoe abilities are unavailable, I sometimes freeze. I just stand there autoattacking like a gibbering buffoon while my group gets splattered. Not very flattering as a tank, I assure you.

A huge part of this is situational awareness. I’m trying to always move my camera to spot pats and additional groups, which is extremely helpful. Speed pulling can actually help as well, because it forces me to look and plan ahead. A quick, controlled instance run is great because it is a proactive run. I know that when the mobs are low on HP, I have enough threat built that nobody is going to pull them unless they “taunt,” therefore, I am free to jump into the next group and build very solid aggro before the group can catch up.

THEORYCRAFTER I AM NOT

…not in the least. Math makes my brain revolt, generates large amounts of painful heat, and emits smoke from my ears. My eyes cross, and I drool on my keyboard. It’s ugly. I tried posting something on Elitist Jerks one time, and a hand reached out of the screen, mashed my delete key repeatedly, and gave me a fat lip. It hurt.

That’s why I started reading blogs. If it weren’t for Veneratio first and foremost (his being the first warrior blog I found), Yakra, Ciderhelm, Kadomi, etc. I would be worse than lost. So thank you professionals, I bow to your greatness.

I do have a cursory understanding of stats. I’m smart enough to avoid raid bosses when crittable. I planned in advance my gear acquisition so I was uncrittable almost immediately after my 80th Ding. I try to have enough of each stat but struggle very much with the ideas of min-maxing and establishing different gear sets. I wish I understood it better, but atm theorycrafting and I have a relationship very similar to Homer Simpson’s relationship with his brain. “Now brain, I don’t like you, and you don’t like me, but lets just try to get along.”

THE COWARD AND THE CLOCK

I frequently qq about not being able to raid, but if I’m being honest with you and myself I have to confess that I have turned down opportunities. I have excuses at the time that seem decent. Sometimes I legitimately do not have the time or am unimpressed with the group. Farming repair bills blows by anybody’s standard. But there have been the times where I was afraid.

This might tie for Number One. I am working on finding a balance with my time to open up raiding opportunities. I am confronting my fears and performance anxiety, because if I don’t, I will never get better. I will never get the experience I need to improve. I will never see content. I will lose out on great opportunities to hang out with like-minded peeps.

CONCLUSION

So there's my 5 (+1...it's like leaving a drake up on Sarth. If you read all six you get bonus loot. RTU [Billywallace's Love Sack])

I have good nights and bad. I want to have more good nights. I want to be a better tank.

I continue to put forth my best effort to become more aware of my situation, personal and group abilities, encounters, etc.

I need to figure out how to move better while fighting simultaneously.

I need to keep my cool and react quickly to the unexpected. No more will I drop my hands in exasperation, but will mash something on my keyboard. Usually doing something is better than doing nothing. And if it was worse than doing nothing, I will learn from it and not do it again. But at least I will be establishing the habit of reacting quickly rather than freezing.

I will man up and schedule time to raid, so that I can be building the experience I need to develop my skills as a tank.

I will spend a little more time looking into the more technical aspects of my role (including the math stuff *cringe*) and make a plan for in-game implementation of what I learn.

Summary: I will do what it takes to be a better tank!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mad props for the OT!

EGOS ASIDE...

There is a certain pride with being the Main Tank of a guild or even a pugged raid - rightly so. The Main Tank is an esteemed position of leadership, solidarity, strength, and skill.

It takes a certain mentality to tank in any capacity, let alone stand tall as THE tank. The one who stands face to face with a mighty dragon, ensuring that the beast's destructive breath does not harm his friends. The one that trades blows with enormous hard hitting foes without balking at the onslaught.

It is a job that takes a steady mind, quick reflexes, and confidence. Often that confidence spills over into the egotistical.

Back in TBC days, the MT of a raiding guild leading the server's progression into Black Temple stood out like a sore thumb while proudly carrying one of the more distinctive shields that I've seen. If I were in a situation that allowed me to raid back in BC and were lucky enough to have gear earned from tanking the biggest baddest meanest bosses at the time, I think I would probably feel pretty good about myself, and the confidence necessary to be a good tank might become something more.

Please note that I am not inferring that all MT's are egomaniacs. I am saying that the role of OT deserves much more respect that it gets.

Been here before?

Consider the following. You're tanking a boss who is hitting you quickly. Your rage bar is full. You're mashing out your top tps "rotation" while wondering if you're keeping Heroic Strike up enough and cursing Blizzard for not improving it's mechanics yet. You're watching your hp and your DBM warnings and using your CD's accordingly. The healers are focused on you and things are fairly cozy.

vs.

The MT pulls the boss and turns him from the group. Most of the dps focuses on the boss and starts to burn. Suddenly a couple of mobs pop up and bee-line for the healers. You charge in and engage. A few dps assigned to help on adds start to burn. Pretty simple so far.

Then another group pops up. Charge is still on CD, and you ate up most of your rage on establishing aggro with the first group. You run toward the new mobs to keep them off the squishies. Meanwhile, the crit happy mage pulled on of the original mobs (said mob has enough hp that the mage isn't going to finish him off in time), so you taunt him back and pick up the new adds.

You throw down a TC and Shockwave and wait for sufficient rage to build to use another ability. Omen is telling you that the dps is on the brink of pulling off you again. All this while another group of adds shows up (at least charge is off CD), the boss triggers a hard hitting ability and the healers forget about you for a sec, or your charge pulls you out of range. You're taking a beating and having to think more about balancing mitigation/OS cool downs vs. tps abilities.

You're moving to avoid gooey stuff on the ground, while looking for the next wave of mobs, while trying to get closer to your healer, while keeping up threat on the group of mobs you're kiting.

Oh yeah...and you're watching the boss and the MT, because you guessed it, the MT's down and you better taunt quick-like, or the boss is gonna one-shot his way through the raid for the wipe.

Meh, make him the OT...

This is why it drives me nuts that the "MT" role is almost always attributed to the guy or gal who's gonna go mano a mano with the boss, and this person is by default the tank with the most HP or experience in raids. In reality, the "OT" role often requires more skill, more situational awareness, quicker reflexes, tighter management of CD's, etc. It is a hectic and often stressful job.

Many a blog or forum entry scoffs at talents or glyphs that save or produce rage. I often hear, "Rage starvation is a non-issue." This is frequently true as the traditional MT, but when you're not getting beat on constantly, it's easy to burn through the rage bar. Trying to tank without enough rage to use your abilities is frustrating to say the least.

Obviously the decision as to who will tank what is very situational. You may need the guy with the largest health pool or experience on the boss. You may find also, and I believe more often than not, that your raid would be better served by having the leet tank on the busier, tougher job.

Case in point...

Think I'm off my rocker? Is your ego bruised? Maybe I am, and good if it was.

I was talking with a buddy of mine that has tanked everything in game to date. We were talking about this subject. He agreed with me.

I personally have only off tanked Sarth. The whelps and fire elementals can get crazy thick in a hurry. I was relating to my friend how frantic this encounter is for me. He laughed and said that's why he prefers to MT Sarth. He says, "It's so easy. You just watch your cool downs and strafe to avoid lava walls." I can't personally validate or refute that statement, but OT is busy busy on Sarth.

I don't have any major revelations to post with this entry. I'm not telling anyone to necessarily do anything different. I am saying to at the very least give your OT a pat on the back for doing a tough and often thankless job. And if they're struggling, "reward" them with a shot at the boss while the more experienced meat shield cleans up the trash.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All I Needed To Know I Learned By Rolling A Death Knight

Aeglys, my DK just dinged 70. I've learned a lot from playing him and leveling his professions. Here are a few points I've picked up along the way.

IT TAKES A LOT OF WORK TO LOOK THIS GOOD!

Melee DPS is much more engaged than the pew pew from range that I experienced with my mage. To be courteous to the tank (as well as increase my own dps) it is important to not attack the boss/mobs from the front.

I really try to help my tank out because I understand the nuances of that role. I probably give the tank a little more time than he needs to have solid aggro, but the ability to go all out without worrying about aggro is nice. And I always try to stay to the back or side to avoid parry gibbing my tank.

But dang! Some tanks just can't stop moving! Some mechanics make constant movement or frequent changes necessary, but some tanks just never stop moving around, making it hard to stay where I should be.

This experience brought with it the realization that I could do a much better job (while tanking with Billy) positioning mobs so my melee dps can do their job better.

SUPPORT THE LEADER AND CULTIVATE COMPETENCE

In many (most) cases, I am the group leader when tanking. This is rarely the case when I'm on my DK, and I've found it hard in some instances to not try to take charge. Usually the tank is capable but may just have a different style or approach...sometimes they aren't. I try to take advantage of this situation to explain my main is a tank and offer some advice. I always do this in /w to avoid embarrassing the tank. More often than not, they express gratitude and step up and get us through. I feel good that I helped someone do a tough job a little better.

MARKY MARK THAT FUNKY BUNCH!

As a blood spec DK, I do primarily single target dps. Wrath has brought to the game a heavy aoe mentality. Rarely are mobs marked. I rarely mark when I tank, however, on Aeglys I can pull aggro off the tank on a single target. I try to attack the target of my tank, but he may be hopping (tabbing) through the mobs to get solid aoe threat built. I can't hop with him, as my abilities rely on establishing diseases to unleash my big hitting combos.

Marking a kill order does not signify a weak tank! I've been made fun of a few times when I marked with Billy. If it bothers you, kiss off. Marking targets makes everyone's job easier. Just because there's a kill order doesn't mean that you can't aoe, but it does mean that single target dps can do their job without frantically trying to find the target the tank is focusing on.

THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING...

My mom always said that if you're angry or irritated with someone, try to put yourself in their shoes. You just might find you understand where they're coming from.

I haven't been upset with dk's per se, but I now have much more respect for DK tanks. It's so foreign to me that I don't get it very well and therefore don't do it very well. Yeah, I could put the time into researching DK tanking like I have with my warrior, but I'd really like a change of pace. I can get tired of the responsibility of tanking and look forward to having an alt that can just dps.

So thanks tanks! Druids, Pallies, DK's, Warriors, Mages (lol, I threw that one in because of a steamvaults run that I did on my Mage back in the BC days. I was with a priest and three druids. I grabbed all the little leper gnomes before the robot boss and aoe'd like mad while my 4 group mates spam healed me. It was good times.) I will no longer scoff at your concerns in tanking forums regarding class mechanics. I will no longer think that warriors are the only ones that matter. They're still the best, or coolest, in my opinion, but you guys are all right too. And you have my respect.

DEATH GRIP: PORTENT OF DOOM!

OK, not always...BUT you can really gauge a DK by his or her use of death grip. The DK that pulls mobs off the tank is fail and should be deleted. The DK that pulls a range/caster to the tank is full of win!

I find that the brief experiences I've had tanking on my DK were made much more difficult by the other DK's in the group. I think it spawns an unhealthy competitive attitude. I'm not looked at as the tank, so much as another DK, and suddenly there's an undeniable need for these failknights to want to put as much turf between their name and mine on recount - with complete disregard to consequences.

Because of this, one of the DK's in my group will deathgrip my primary target, and I've already called for deaths in these instances via a /w to my healer. I ask them to stop, but if they ignore me, then I ask the healer to let them die. Is it bad that as a tank, I relish in the opportunity to assassinate one of my group members? Or is it simply not intervening on another retarded suicide attempt?

Well, this wall of text is enough to make China jealous, so I will stop now. I decided to not talk about professions, because it wouldn't be interesting. But JC/BS combo is a bear!

I have enjoyed rolling my DK. It's been a great experience full of learning and fun shenanigans due to being OP. Group quests mean you'll use your ghoul and maybe a health pot! :) If you have resisted the DK, give it a try. The opening quest line is EPIC! And just because there's so many bad DK's out there should not be a reason for you to miss out on great fun.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blogosphere Rampant with Taggers! Full Story at 5 PM MST.

To get things started...if you haven't paid Tarsus a visit, do it now. Go ahead! I'll wait...

Now that you've done yourself a favor, back to me. My name is Billy and I can dance, baby!

Umm, no idea where that came from. (It's still true though.)

And now to the meat of the show (completely stolen from the wowinsider podcast, I know)...

Tarsus tagged me for the RP meme (What the hell is a meme? And what's up with all the freaking parenthesis!? Seriously! It's spooky!) I gotta say, he's been a real pal and a great supporter of my efforts here. (Some will thank him, and some will send him hate mail. Some will say WTF!? ENOUGH PARENTHESIS ALREADY!!!) OK, I agree. (kinda) ROFL!

Apparently I'm a touch slap happy from some long hours at work...on to the meme!

What is your name and where did it come from?

My name is Billy Wallace. I know little of my youth. I was found in a basket as an infant on the steps of Northshire Abbey. My "father" was a monk who resided at the abbey. He was the one to find me and decided to help raise me. He told me that it never felt right to name me. I had been carried to him by the winds of fate, and that meant that my destiny, was not his to carry, but mine. He told me that I could only do so after I grasped it with all my faith and strength with determination to follow it's uncertain paths.

My first step was one of self realization. I had to choose my name. I new this from a very early season but was admonished not to rush the process. It would come to me in it's own due time.

I am a dreamer. My adult dreams are filled with the screams of my opponents, the battle cries of my allies, the heat of spilt blood and gore, the pain of self doubt and fear of failure, the price of victory. My youthful dreams were very different. The themes were the same as they are now, but they were still full of innocence and idealism. There was no blood or screams back then, but there was heroism, fighting to protect those you love, and fighting for freedom.

I dreamed of magnificent individuals. Warriors who may never have existed. Soldiers who stood for right. Heroes who bested monsters that threatened their way of life. Gladiators who rose against all odds to overthrow the oppression of evil tyrants.

The name of one of these whispered itself to me in my dream and in my waking moments. It tickled my ear with an odd familiarity as I wrestled with my friends in the apple orchard. It itched my mind with insistence while I completed my chores. It began to bore into my conscience with persistence until I claimed it for my own.

I put my spoon down during dinner one evening and said, "Father, my name is Billy. Billy Wallace. That is who I am."

"It is a good name," he said, and often I was reminded that it was a name with an important future.

How old are you and what is your birthday?

The certainty of knowing one's day of birth and age is not mine to carry. I do know that I am somewhat past my 30th season, maybe in my 32nd. I am old enough to feel the effects throughout most of the day of having slept on the snowy ground. However, I am young enough to ignore all discomfort as I charge with bloodlust into any battle.

I have chosen to honor my entrance into the world in the summer. This is the time of my fondest memories of the Abbey. This is the time that I am certain to visit home and the resting place of my father.

Are you in love and with whom?

Ah. That. Love. My travels have not permitted long-term relationships. I have had certain feelings of attraction for a kindred spirit. She is of my race and she bears a shield. Unfortunately, she has sworn herself to a dwarf, who in all honesty is a better man than I and better equipped to give her what she deserves.

Another female for whom I have felt great affinity is not of my race. Nay, she is not even of my faction and so is labelled my enemy. Our union would not be understood and so shall not be.

What is your favorite mount and why?


Well it certainly is not the Black War Mammoth that I wasted my Stone Keeper Shards on! The woolly beast was much to large to navigate through many arches, so now I keep it in the stables at all times.



For ground travel, I love the sleek power of the Night Elves' cats. They are quiet but deadly.



I am certain that I will soon own a handful of the Gnomish chicken-like contraptions simply to increase my vast collection of mounts, but they will not be ridden, because I cannot stand their infernal racket.



I am fond of the Gryphon for air travel, because to me it is an honorable creature full of dignity and freedom, but one day I shall ride on a drake. A drake of any color strikes fear into lesser men, and so I shall ride one into battle for that very effect.

Do you have a preferred type of Azerothian meal and where do you get it from?


I will eat anything. I enjoy eating any dish that is spicy or grants me strength. I sometimes try to unwind by fishing for dragonfin in Dragonblight. They can be made into great meals. At times, however, this is more exciting than relaxing due to the fact that some of the Horde are also looking for this fish, or for unsuspecting Alliance more likely. They tend to usually travel in groups to avoid fair fights, and I must constantly watch my back.



I have been known to take my meals or warm my journeys with the wide variety of potent beverages available. Rarity somehow makes them more desirable, but isn't that true with most things?

You know those giant mushrooms in Zangermarsh? What is your theory on how they came to be and why they are so huge?

Large fertilizer. Maybe Gruul took his boys camping? I'll ask him if I ever get to meet the ugly brute!

If you saw the Lich King walking toward you, what would you do?


I can imagine this encounter vividly. Through my quests around Northrend, I have seen visions of the transformation of Arthas into the monstrosity he has become. At one point, I felt some amount of sympathy for him, but no longer.

I would bring my shield to bear, grip my sword with my might, allow my rage to build and smolder within me. I would look to that anger to fuel my abilities as I rely on my friends around me for the boon of their support.

I would charge to meet the cursed king, putting myself between him and my allies. I will fight as I have never fought before to protect those dear to me. Surely, the coward will summon minions to aid him, and these too shall be kept from those who support me in my battle.

We will fight until one of us is dead.

I will not fail.

The land will be freed from the curse of the Lich King. Cleansed of his wrath. Relieved of the tainted oppressive haunting caused by his evil workings.

And then we will celebrate our freedom!


Thanks again to Tarsus. This was fun. I now unconventionally tag my buddies Kyne and Thogrim, who have not yet joined us in our blogging endeavors, but should do so as they are both quite capable at spinning a tale to be remembered.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A week or so of DoubleYaTeeEffs!?

In case you didn't get my retarded spelling there...that's WTF's!?

I've had this weird phase in game over the last couple of weeks that has me saying, thinking, or screaming WTF!?!? quite often. Let me share a few of them with you.


WTF #1

So I'm tooling along, working on the exploration achievements, when my Carbonite suddenly informs me that a quest is completed. (See my beautiful arrow #1) I immediately thought to my self, "Self...WTF was that!?" So I opened my quest log, and saw that the quest was from Grizzly Hills. (See gorgeous arrow #2) The odd thing about this all was that I was in Silverpine Forest! (Handsome arrow #3) I hadn't interacted with any mobs or anything like that. I had just travelled past a small horde village.


WTF #2

This one isn't new, but I had forgotten, so it got a WTF!? I was still working on the exploration achievement, this time in Wetlands, and I came across Dragonmaw. It is found on the far Eastern portion of the Wetlands. It seems like a really cool staging area for an instance or raid, with low level 60's elite dragonkin all over the place. The level 62 elites made me think that if it was present in Vanilla Wow, it had to be raid status, as the level cap back then was 60. I guess I should google it.

There's also a named elite level 62 dragon named Axtroz. Named mobs must die....it's one of Billy's rules. I secretly hoped for a quest item to start a raid atunement or something like that, but all that dropped was some silver coinage. Very disappointing IMHO.



WTF #3

Very similar to dragonmaw - This time, I had traveled West into Hillsbrad Foothills. The only area that I hadn't unlocked yet was Purgation Island. I found the only island on the map and headed that way. When I got there, the place was loaded with level 59ish elite mobs. They also had nothing to offer by way of exciting loot, quests, etc. Another in game dead end or never developed region? I'll be spending some time on google after this post it seems.

WTF #4

I was in Old Kingdom helping some guildies level and gear. A couple of them were passing out on their keyboards, because it was around 3am. This gave me time to look around. Like any other tall and muscular hero, I was primarily looking at myself. That's when I noticed that my gun has a face!

LOL and WTF!? I've been carrying this badboy around since a couple days after dinging 80 but never noticed this detail! Too fun.




WTF's #5, 6, and 7
FREEDOM OF THE ALLIANCE - I was helping some buddies who were a bit tired of getting ganked in Hellfire Peninsula by all the level 80 hordies that hang out there. (I was about to go on a rant, but I'll save it for another post.) Anyway, we went ahead and did the pvp daily to cap the towers. They shared it with me, and when I turned it in I got the pvp trinket and this achievement!

MEDIUM RARE - I got invited to a raid into Gruul's Lair. It was a horrific experience akin to most of my raiding attempts made of 99% pure fail. However, while we were waiting for the pugtastic members of the raid to get ready for summons, I starting killing stuff. One of the mobs was evidently medium rare. (He tasted well done to me.)

BESTING THE BLACK DRAGONFLIGHT - WTF!?!? Billy has actually completed a raid!? It's a freaking miracle. Really it was. This group had no business completing anything. They would probably struggle with Deadmines. This one will be further explained in an upcoming raid post.

The biggest WTF, however, was the priest who face pulled trash because we were all noobs. He literally said that..."Somebody pull or I will. You're all a bunch of [insert various vulgarities]N00Bs!"

Somehow pulling the mobs while the Main Tank was afk made us less noobish....somehow....um, can someone explain that to me? I saved his squishy butt mainly to save the rest of the group. How does he thank me? Yup, he pulls a drake. It just happened to be the one that goes immune until the mob in the portal is burned. And yes, the MT was still AFK. (apparently he just had to have a sandwich, so he gets a WTF and a /facepalm too)

The priest left group (thank goodness) and the tank got booted. We pulled in another guy to MT Sarth. We downed him easily. The BoE tank ring dropped, and they said to roll greed due to it being BoE. I was retarded and rolled greed. Then the ones that said to roll greed Needed. WTF!? Yeah....I hope to someday share a story about a raiding experience that doesn't suck.

Anyway, sorry for the extra long post, but I actually enjoyed many of these unexpected experiences. Thanks for letting me share.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The long promised post on my UI setup

Promises Promises...

I've been saying I'd get this post out for a while but I've been dropping the ball. I should wait to take a cleaner screenshot, but if this post doesn't get done now it may never happen. So as a warning...this screenshot may very well be recycled in a future post.



So there you have it. The addons I'm rolling with are as follows:

CT Viewport - I like the fact that the top and bottom aren't chopped off of the picture, but you actually get a wider view. I'm spinning my camera like a spaz while tanking to look at my groups position and watch for adds, etc., and this gives me a wider view. It also gets most of my buttons out of the viewing area.


Ice HUD - This one is nice because I hate looking all the way up to the top left to see my hp, then back down to look for a cd button, pot, etc. I turned off all options except for the bars themselves, so I have the unobtrusive semicircles on either side of my character for quick viewing of my hp and rage without a bunch of extra clutter. I tried pitbull for this, and they have some sexy features, but I couldn't seem to get it configured in a way that I liked, so I got rid of it. I found the pitbull raid frames especially difficult.

Bartender 4 - This one has been great. I can easily configure action bars, xp or rep bars, buttons, keybinds, etc. I really like this mod.

Carbonite - Love it, Love it, Love it! I was using Questhelper before, but QH was such a memory hog, and I got a ton of error messages from it. I love the minimap that carbonite has because I can zoom in or out without toggling to the world map. I also really like the shaded areas on the minimap that show me where a quest mob or item could be rather than a single waypoint or dot on the map. It has been much less demanding on my machine while providing so much more in my opinion. I also like the battleground timers and such that it displays for me.

Omen - If you don't have it, you're a tool. And if you want to give me that "threat is dead" load of crap, you're an even bigger tool.

Recount - I linked this one to the wowinsider review rather than the download site because of the detailed explanation it provides. I used to hate damage meters due to the epeen abuse of them, but as I've learned the additional features (such as viewing your top damaging abilities, or the events leading up to deaths) I've learned to evaluate the group's and my own performance. I can easily answer questions like, "Am I heroic striking enough?" or "What kind of damage just killed us?" Another must have in my opinion.

Squeenix - Gives me the square minimap. Not so important, but I keep it. I'm not really sure why.

Behind the scene addons:

Lightheaded - This gives me a double wide quest window. The right side has WoWHead comment. It's helpful for those quests that you can't seem to figure out without having to alt-tab.

Deadly Boss Mods - This is extremely helpful for heroics, and near necessary for raids. It makes life much easier to know what abilities are coming up from the boss and mobs.

Atlas Loot - This lets you look up any instance or raid to see what quests are available and what loot the bosses drop. You can also look up any profession and what they can make, all the faction items you can get at each level of rep with them, etc. I love this mod as well for the reduced alt-tabbing. It's also a great tool for deciding what instance to run to gear up yourself or a buddy.

What didn't make the cut:

As mentioned above, I couldn't seem to get PitBull to work like I wanted. Elkano buff bars also got dropped, probably due more to my limitations than those of the mod itself.

Well there you have it. You may like it, you may hate it. To each his own. It's working for me right now, but it's also opened the door to me being more comfortable with change. So if I find something around the corner that sounds helpful, I'll probably give it a try.

I hope this was somewhat helpful for anybody thinking about moving away from the default UI.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Screen Shot: Take 6

Tarsus made my day by tagging me in his blog. I guess that means it's my turn to post a screen shot. Without further ado:



This is my fire spec mage, Twichy, on Azjol Nerub. He's rockin' out with the Chieftans. Good times, that.

This was a great walk down memory lane, so thanks for inspiring me to dig back into that folder.

Incidentally, picture number 7 was Billy dinging 70! And I think it was turning in the quest that gave me Dabiri's Enigma - my first tanking trinket ever. :)



I in turn choose to tag:

Veneratio - It's not the usual thing you'd see in his blog, but it would make my day.

Talldar

Nairi

Skeleton Jack

Khol Drake

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I shouldn’t have to use Last Stand though

I stole the title from Vene's post about the Glyph of Last Stand. Right off the bat, please take into consideration that it is taken out of context, and this post is just my idea triggered by reading Vene's post. It is not a commentary or editorial on his work.

IT COULD ALL CHANGE LIKE THAT!

This post is also strongly influenced by the fact that I am not a raider. (yet) And I'm sure when we get around to the harder content, this will change.

But for now... I frequently find myself in 5 man heroic content with all my "panic" CD's unused. The sole exception is when running with a noobish or undergeared healer. In that case I try to take the edge off for them while they get their feet wet or pray to the RNG gods.

Well, I lied. The other sole exception is when I'm bored. Yup, I sometimes use Last Stand or Shield Wall just 'cuz.

From time to time I find it fun to use my dusty abilities in entertaining ways like popping enraged regen on each CD just to see how much healing you can do. Then at the end of the run, spam the healing done on recount and count the "WTF's". That's good times right there. To augment this one, bandage the crap out of anybody you can if there's any down time.

YOUR HEALER IS BORED!!!

If you don't believe me...just ask him or her. If you're on 5 man content, the healer is decently geared, and you (or your gear) don't suck, your groups damage output is decent, and your healer isn't bored, then slap me silly and call me Susy.

Personally, when I don't suck, and consequently my healer is bored (that happened once on a Tuesday back in January) and we've got a boss around 35% with my health bar topped off, I'll tell my healer that I still have SW, LS, and ER available so they should see how much dps they can do.

You're doing them a favor in the long run. And if you paid attention to my self heals trick above, it gets you a few more % of total healing done :)

This post was brought to you by the Foundation for Rediculous Compound Sentences.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine Woes?

Not Really

My introduction to raiding was scheduled for Saturday 8PM - 10 man Nax. Yes, this happens to be Valentine's Day, but my wife and I have never celebrated it. I have moral issues with the price hiking that goes on, as well as the unrealistic expectations some people have regarding the holiday, but that's a topic for another time.

So I went ahead and got the spousal OK to dedicate time for raiding on Saturday. Other members of our casual guild have family ties to a serious progression raiding guild on our server, and the plan was to fill the gaps with some kind folks from over there. We've been going about our week seeking gear upgrades through heroics, farming mats for consumables, and researching the fights.

Enter the Mother-in-Law

..and no, this is not a bad thing. She's an incredible lady, and the in-laws are fun to hang out with. She called with an offer to take us to the NHL game Saturday night. I would have turned it down, but the tickets are second row behind the Coyotes bench, and there's free food involved.

Billy never turns down free food!

It's bitter-sweet for sure, but my raiding intro will have to be postponed. Honestly though, spending time with my wife away from the kids is a novelty at times and far outweighs WoW moments.

I may try to PUG into an off-tank position this week to get a look and be reset for our guild's next week attempt.

Note: I still owe you an update of my UI and keybinding adjustment. I'll get to it. I chuckled when reading Kadomi's last post. Misery loves company and all that...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Growing Pains

Addons and UI's and Keybinds, OH MY!

Last week I messed around with my UI. I like the look and feel of it for the most part. I'll post a screen shot when I get home. Pitbull caused me issues with huge raid frames. I also didn't like the poor choices for visibility of elite vs. regular mobs. So it's deactivated.

I also switched to keybinds. At first I had almost everything bound, but it was just too overwhelming. Now I have the core abilities bound, with an "OS bar" just below my toon with trinkets, shield wall, pots, etc. It's been rough. I'm tired of passing up invites to raid and run heroics. I'm having a hard time being as mobile as I was before and I thought increased mobility was one of the major reasons to keybind.

I do like the benefit of situational awareness. I like being able to use my keys to keep up my rotation while easily spinning the camera to look for adds, etc.

I've been running Stratholme a bit to adjust and develop the muscle memory as well as hope for the mount to drop, but before binding, I could do that run in about 12 min, now I'm closer to 20 with occasional near death moments when a lot of mobs are pulled on accident.

Overall, I'm extremely frustrated and ready to scrap it. I guess I'm looking for advice on how long to expect the adjustment to take, and if I'm doing something wrong.

These are my binds:
F1 = Thunderclap
F2 = Shock wave
F3 = concussive blow
F4 = Cleave
F5 = Heroic throw
1 = Shield slam
2 = Revenge
3 = Devastate
4 = Heroic strike
5 = Shield block
Q = charge
E = taunt
Movement is W and S for forward/back and A and D for strafing left and right.

I cannot comprehend how many of you use shift and alt modifiers. It's just way to much to do with one hand, and I want to limit how much my hand is off the mouse.

Let me know what you think along with any advice. Praise would help to, but only if it's sincere, lol.

I'll make another post soon with a screen shot of my UI with a list of my addons with links.

Friday, January 30, 2009

HEY!!! This aint no soup kitchen!


To my dedicated reader - this two post Friday is for you.

BYOB

...that's bring your own buffs. When you get to a certain level in the game, I feel that you should be responsible to bring a certain level of commitment. Now I'm not an elitist raider. Heck, I'm not even a raider yet, but if you choose to participate in heroic level content and above, you should be prepared with the materials you need to be successful for yourself and your group.

This would include having gems slotted in your gear. Don't show up with empty gem slots unless you got the piece in a run you just finished. Even then, I don't think that it would be inappropriate to jump to the bank or AH to get what you need before continuing on with your group.

Another similar issue is enchants. Get your gear enchanted! Ok, so maybe you're thinking how casual you are, and therefore your gold reserves are a bit meager. Get a TBC enchant then. They're pretty darn cheap, and at least it's something.

The one I really want to talk about, because it's probably the easiest to get, is food. And no mages, I ain't talkin' no biscuits neither! Well, biscuits... yeah, for my healer. But I'm talking about food that will give you buffs to bump your survivability and/or performance.

Seriously, how hard is it to kill a damn rhino and cook his flesh? NOT VERY! I don't even care if it's not the stuff that requires the northern spice, but please bring and use something.

I've noticed a trend in the pugs that go ugly. Maybe it happens just as much in good pugs where you one shot every boss and tear through trash, but it's very noticeable when you run back from wipes and see that you're the only one eating. Everyone else is standing around waiting for the healer to heal each of them. Waiting for buffs. Waiting to fail again.

Sometimes I'll hand my healer some spell power or haste food if I have any, but come on, I'm a warrior. I shouldn't have to carry that crap around. You should know your class well enough to know if haste, crit, ap, or whatever is best for you. There's also the fact that there's some significant aoe damage from time to time. The +30 or 40 to stamina surely isn't hurting you either.

So please, bring your own
Because only the mobs (not you) should see me like this:

Toes on the Precipice

...and I'm afraid to jump!

I'm referring to two things. The aesthetic issue is my UI. I would like to get a customizable UI that frees up some screen space. I'm curious about Spartan UI for this aspect. I also want one that makes it easier to track certain important aspects, such as my health and rage. I've seen some screen shots where there was a semicircle on either side of the character - HP on left, and rage on right. I love this concept because I don't have to take time to look top-left to see how my health is to decide if I need to blow a cooldown, pot, or stone. I have no idea where to find that though.

I have noticed a deficiency in my performance as a tank. I feel that my reaction time isn't quick enough. One example is in Violet Hold, when one of the dragonflight "blinks" behind you. It takes me forever to turn around and reengage. (This is due to the dreaded keyboard turning.)

This brings me to my second point. I need to keybind! I've known for awhile that I need to, but finally I'm running heroics every day and saving up and spending marks. After such a long time of being the wannabe tank, feeling the need to leave my guild to seek more opportunities, and spending time out of game to research class mechanics or instance strategy and form gear lists to prepare me for game time - I am finally an active tank!

I know that adjusting to keybinds and mouse movement and developing the muscle memory will take time, and I'm reluctant to take a break from heroic instances to invest the necessary time to readjust. I also still have questions regarding fights where you have to move a lot while continuing to try to keep up a solid dps/tps rotation. I can't fathom strafing with A or D while trying to mash on my F1, F2, F3, F4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

So here I stand at the edge. I want to jump. I really really do, but the fear is just strong enough to keep me where I am.

Somebody please push me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Security!!!

In the virtual world that we spend so much time in there aren't any gun toting, jelly donut snarfing, servant of the public to keep us safe. There aren't even rent-a-cops with iron on patches to kinda pretend to keep you safe. You have to protect yourself...

So I finally ordered my Blizzard Authenticator. I really have no good excuse for waiting so long. If you don't have one yet you don't have a good excuse either.

There have been reports of a massive increase in hacked accounts lately. I just got my first tiered piece of armor last night, and if some gold selling piece of trash took that from me I would be pissed. Many of you have bank alts sitting on a large amount of gold and assets. Those of you who manage guild banks have a huge responsibility. This is one easy way to keep that stuff so much safer.

So if you don't have one, get one now. They're only $6.50, and Blizzard isn't even charging for shipping on this!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Loken - The newest pushover on the block.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When I first met Loken, I was probably level 77 or 78. He was big, mean, ugly, mean, hit hard, mean, and he wiped the floor with us several times. We finally gave up.

When I was 80 and had a little better gear, Konoha went back for a crack at him. We wiped several times. The mechanics were a bit tricky, and he was hitting hard! We decided to look at the combat logs a bit and figure out why exactly we were struggling so bad. (Gevlon wrote a post about taking time mid run to assess why failure has occurred. Check out his great advice here.) It turns out it was the huge amounts of essentially unmitigated nature damage.


MY TURN, NANCY!

Once we realized it was all nature damage causing our problems, our shammy dropped a nature resist totem. We proceeded to mop the floor with the big sissy.

Last night the hunter in our group used Aspect of the Wild. Which was equally successful. The resisted portion of damage probably averaged around 1000 per hit on each player.

Basically my approach to Loken now is that I just tank him on the circle in front of his throne. Dps stays close, but spread out around the circle. If they feel inclined to dance away from his cast aoe and back, that's their prerogative, but I find it unnecessary with a good healer. Suddenly another fight requiring a sharp group who can understand/follow the mechanics became another easy tank and spank.

Oh, and I was lucky enough that Loken dropped the trinket for me!

Two Questions

PAY IT FORWARD

So we ran Halls of Lightning on regular last night with my good buddy Kyne. He's about to ding 78. Another 80 and I summoned the group, and as we flew to the entrance, I notice Kyne's pally horse marching up the stairs.

"Kyne, do you not have enough for cold weather flying?" I asked.
"What gave you that idea?" was his response.

We destroyed HoL in short order. I told Kyne to meet me in Dalaran. My bank alt transferred some funds, and I was able to buy Kyne his Cold Weather Flying.

At first, Kyne was pretty hesitant to take my money. He pointed out that I had almost enough for my epic flying. This was true enough, and the idea crossed my mind to keep the gold for myself, but then I remembered being in the same boat as Kyne, and my good buddy Kauka bought my cold weather flying.

It felt great to pay it forward, so this is my question:

Do you have a cool story about something you did to pay a favor forward in game? You could also include a story of being the recipient of a "pay it forward" moment.

COOL GRAPHIC

I really like the model for the Titansteel Shield Wall.

Second question:

What in game item model or skin do you really like?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Violet Hold - Xevozz

(Edited: 01-27-09. Yup, Blizzard changed it so the orbs now can enter the water. I almost got my group wiped tonight:( Oh well, guess we gotta actually have skill to tank!)

Easy Peasy
I've heard several people complain that Xevozz is the hardest boss in Violet Hold. If this is your opinion - read on!

Xevozz is actually the easiest boss in Violet Hold. Sure, if you hang out and try to kite him, etc., it gets a bit tricky, but there is a secret to make it a walk in the park. This was explained to me by a dps in one of my groups one night. Unfortunately I didn't note his name to give due credit, but it was great advice, and he was leet! So thank you unnamed dps guy!

The Trick
This is the most simply strategy, and makes the fight a breeze. Just have everyone stand in the water that is right in front of Ichoron's cell. Xevozz's ethereal spheres cannot enter the water, so simply standing in the water turns it into a basic tank and spank. He doesn't even hit hard, so it is really a very easy fight.

If anyone has struggled with this encounter, give this strategy a try. You will not be disappointed - that is until Blizzard changes this in the next patch, lol.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FANBOY

...I mean myself, not the movie.

I read a blog recently in which the writer described why they blogged. I wish I could remember where I stumbled across it so I could link it here. The gist of the blog was that one blogs mostly for himself or herself. When others read what you put out there, that's gravy...thick, creamy, scrumptious gravy.

I connected with that blog. This project is for me. I'm learning a lot of that "computer stuff" that I had previously avoided. It's a place for me to vent, kid around, and whatever else I want to do.

Even so...I have installed SiteMeter. The numbers aren't impressive, but then again I don't expect them to be. My writing isn't impressive. I don't really have anything new to say, and the things I could say have already been said, better, by the likes of Veneratio, Kadomi, Tankette, the TankHard team, Tankspot folks, etc., etc. These sites form the staple of my blog reading and research about tanking as a warrior in WoW.

NOW THE GRAVY

While checking up on my site, I noticed that my last post had a comment. A RL friend has commented on my posts, and I thought it was him. He usually has great feedback, so I excitedly checked it out. The comment was actually from Kadomi.

Something I should note about myself is that I have met prestigious physicians, professional athletes, actors, etc. I cannot remember ever having feelings of awe around them. They're just people. Gifted people, certainly, but just people.

Therefore, I was a bit surprised at how excited I was that Kadomi visited my site...AND ACTUALLY POSTED A COMMENT! I called my wife (who wishes WoW had never been invented) and even she was excited for me.

I guess the reason for the fanboy moment is that I really respect Kadomi's writing and point of view. I never feel that elitist attitude from her writing like I see with some of the raider/theorycrafter types. At the same time, she is serious about being good at what she does and acknowledges the importance of knowing what you're doing.

She is also real. What I mean by that is that she will point out where she has struggled, but then uses that to explore what could be done different or better. This was shown clearly in her response to my last post.

So Kadomi...thanks again for your support. This fanboy moment is all for you!

Monday, January 19, 2009

IMPROVEMENT

UNDER ALL THAT PLATE...

...Billy really is self-conscious. And by Billy, I mean ME. So, we hide under his tough looking plate. We hide in there because we're a little bit scared.

I worry that I'm not a very good tank. I try my best to get great gear, and that helps, but I feel that I fall quite short on the execution. I get flustered easily. Sometimes I get so worried about multi-target threat, that I stand there like an idiot waiting for TC or SW to come off cooldown, rather than use what's ready. (My first attempt at the gauntlet in UP reduced me to a slobbering, blithering fool.) Then the realization that anyone reviewing a combat log and seeing all that white damage would /ROFLMAO while pointing at Billy and screaming, "NOOB!!!!!"

A GLINT OF HOPE?

My worries aside, I have to say that overall my runs have gone fairly well. I attribute a lot of that to the great people I've ended up pugging with lately. I had a LEET Shammy healer last night that made the runs laughable. And finally ALL the dps actually did more dps than me.

I sent a PST to the healer to thank him, and he said that I was really easy to heal. That felt nice, but then again this seems to me a reference to my gear more than anything.

But the last three times I've logged I've received almost instant requests to tank something. So somebody notices that Billy is around, and hasn't been too disappointed with his performance in the past.

All told, I have to remind myself that I really only have been tanking regularly since the expansion came out. I just need to keep sticking my neck out to work out any kinks. I also plan to continue reading up on gear, specs, etc. to be as prepared as possible.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What!? An Actual Tanking Post?

OR SHOULD I SAY ANOTHER TANK QQ SESSION?


Yeah, I know, tanks qq a lot about the dps in their groups. Many valid points have been made, and I'm sure mine has been made before too, but I really need to get this one off my chest.

Billy grew up in a guild that ended up being saturated with tanks. Mostly warrior and pally types. We would end up with 5 man runs with two toons with tank specs. One would slap on the dps gear and make do with terrible dps, but at least it was a group of buddies, and we usually got through it.

One thing I noticed lately though is the fact that pally and dk tanky types that step back to do dps can cause a problem. The problem is that they keep their threat modifying abilities active. It's probably habit, but if you're a dk on dps duty, it seems you should be in your blood or unholy "form". I think the pally ability is Righteous Fury? Well, it's not helping your tank.

If it's not by accident, but stems from a desire to be THE tank, then don't take the dps spot. It's usually easy enough to pick up a group as a tank. It's certainly easy enough to pug another dd.

Has anybody else noticed that you don't really see "huntard" conversations anymore? They seem to be replaced with "failknight" conversations. I hate to over-generalize, because there are AWESOME dk's out there, but there is some merit to the negative sentiments toward our not quite dead, not quite alive allies.

ROFLMAO!!!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK!

Amava at AMAVA KNOWS AGGRO said this:

"I'm wondering who's colon is stronger: the meatloaf guy or the cheese platter guy?"

That was a good laugh! As for myself...I have always loved meatloaf in real life and as a cooking daily. It is by far the easiest and quickest for me. My other favorite is gathering cheese and wine as it requires no ingredient that you would have to travel to acquire or buy.

OH, AND JUST TO CLARIFY...

I meant this meatloaf... Not this one...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Queu Blues



PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Patients are fun. If they make you mad, you can stick needles in them or prescribe them nasty medicines.

Patience is not fun. It's right up there with getting stuck with needles or having to take nasty medicines.

There's free transfers off of Skullcrusher, but it seems it's not enough. The times are better, but it still sucks having to wait 20 minutes to play...especially if you have time restrictions placed on you by a parent/spouse/rl issue.

I'M NO COMMIE! GIVE ME MY BREAD!

Seriously...I don't want to wait in a line.

So what needs to happen to free me from these long waits? Ciderhelm posted about raid performance issues due to server funk along with some ideas of how to remedy the problem here.

My 2 cents is to allow more freedom with the free character transfers. For example, when I was burned out on trying to level while constantly getting ganked I looked into the free transfer available at the time. What I found out was that I had only ONE server I could transfer to...and it was a PVP server. No thanks.

If I could have chosen from another CareBear server, Billy probably would be over there now throwing out all the /taunt, /spit, /etc he could to alleviate his hatred of the horde without fear of repercussion. Thankfully, they've fixed prot to where I can hold my own in pvp...so now Billy /taunt, /insult you hairy mother, and /spits just to get things started.

My point is this. (Yes I had one at one time) Allow people to go to whichever server they want that has a lower population. Then Billy can smash face with shield rather than search around for one of these...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Have a sitdown and catch up....


DEATH KNIGHTS - THE ULTIMATE REVOLUTIONISTS

So I finally started a DK. I really toyed with the idea of rolling a Gnomish DK - just because of how much some people hate gnomes, but instead Aeglys, a Draenei, joined my list of alts. The Draenei just looked the toughest in my opinion.



FRIENDS - WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD


Billy partied like it was 1999 with a couple of buddies this week and had the most epic encounter of all time with them.

It all started when we logged on to see the lovely mail icon. Billy loves mail! Billy especially loves mail when the tooltip says it's mail from Danjur.

See...Danjur is a Blacksmith. Billy wears plate mail. It's a match made in heaven.

Furthermore, Billy is a miner and enchanter, consequently, he cannot use the ore he mines on his own. He loves to make money by selling ore and gems but tends to spend it as quickly as it is made, so travels rather modestly across the various continents scraping up a living as a meatshield and hired hand.

This economic arrangement is comfortable enough for the burly warrior - if just barely.

A dilemma arose then, when Billy and Danjur became friends. Now this is the type of friendship that can only form between two individuals who time and time again face death in the face and repeatedly come out the victors by the slightest of margin, knowing that without the other person at your back, you would have been reduced to a pile of flesh and bones. This is the mutually indebted, stronger than titanium, when it comes to it - I WILL die to save you kind of friendship.

So when Billy saw Danjur struggling to increase his skill at crafting armor and weapons primarily due to a shortage of ore, he decided to help. Billy was seen less and less at the Ironforge Auction House, and more and more near a mailbox in the streets of Dalaran.

Now before you attribute him more generosity than he actually has, or try to make Billy into more of a hero than he is, you need to realize that there was a rather selfish motivation for these donations. The highest of which was the much coveted Titansteel Shield Wall. (My next blogging goal is to learn how to link wowhead items.)

So Billy FINALLY got his shiny new shield, and absolutely could NOT wait to try slamming it into somebody or some thing's face.



THE MOST EPIC BATTLE OF ALL TIME


About the time that the usually reserved, somber (yet sarcastically humorous)Billy could be seen jumping and screaming joy-filled "WOOTS!" through the streets of the floating city, Danjur and another friend Kyne were talking about doing a dungeon to level up.

Danjur was a level 77 Retribution Paladin, and Kyne a level 72 or 73 Holy Paladin at the time.

Like I said, they were inquiring if Billy would like to seek adventure in a dungeon to aid them in their attempt to level. Billy asked himself who could be better to celebrate the glory of new plate mail armor with than two of his truest friends who also depend on plate mail to keep them alive on a daily basis. And to boot - one of them the creator of Billy's new shield that he was dying to try to dent on a dragon's head spike.

So Billy's response was, "You guys wanna try to 3-Man Violet Hold? A somewhat uncertain, "OK" was good enough for Billy, who was activating the dungeon as soon as (or probably before) asking if his friends were ready.

Wave after wave of dragonkin prisoners were slaughtered as they attempted to break out of the prison. Time and time again, the heroes faced certain death, only to be brought back to prime health by a well cast heal from one of the Paladins. Billy relied on his newly perfected skill of using his bursts of rage to fuel a self healing ability.

As the battle wore on, the human combatants began to tire. Their ability to sustain damage was lower than ideal, and the mobs of enemies grew around them. From time to time, one of the dragonkin would attempt to distract Kyne to slow heals. Billy put extra relish into those particular shield slams. Bone crunched when meeting the Shield Wall, and Billy had never felt more alive.

The first boss was an elemental. When he was hurt, he burst into smaller bits that he then summoned back to himself, gaining power with each piece that returned. Billy tried to lure him away from the following globs, but over and over he dispersed and returned to a more powerful version of himself.

Before he was dead, additional waves of Dragonkin attacked the door to break out. Billy took the fight to the stairs so he could destroy the beast and it's smaller allies where they could not access the exit without facing the ferocious warrior.

The elemental was slain, but there was no time to rest. Billy charged into the next group of enemies while the Pallies drank to replenish mana. Mob after mob was sent to the Twisting Nether, but the next challenge had arrived.

A master of the arcane laughed at the group mockingly. Billy does not like to be laughed at or mocked. His response was as physically violent as his mood. The enemy caster realized that the warrior was no pushover, and summoned orbs to strengthen himself. Billy tried to distract him and draw him away from the arcane masses, but the fight drew on. Every ability available to the combatants was used, and reused as soon as available. Billy discovered combinations of his abilities that he had never thought to employ - mainly because he had never been in constant battle long enough for those skills to be ready in time to use on the same enemy.

They fought valiantly, but soon the healer was overwhelmed. When Billy saw Kyne's knees buckle, he screamed a war cry to bolster his remaining compatriot. Danjur and Billy continued to wear away the boss's defenses, until he was reduced to a lifeless heap.

There was no time to grieve the fallen healer, for another group was already attacking. Billy gripped his shield and charged into the fray. Danjur was able to revive his Paladin brother, and the two bolstered their strength and resumed the epic struggle. So efficient they were in their renewed effort, that the latest wave of dragonkin fell with enough time to allow the heroes a brief respite.

The final wave was dispatched, and a dragon attacked. She wasn't nearly as ferocious as the men had worried, and she quickly fell dead at their feet.

Billy, Danjur, and Kyne slapped each other on the back and hooted and hollered in disbelief at what they had accomplished.

If their friendship was strong before, it is now beyond ability to define. Kyne. Danjur...you guys rock!



I don't like to swear. I really try to avoid profanity, but I have to say that 3-Manning VH was BAD ASS!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Damn you, Ciderhelm!!!

If you're not aware of Ciderhelm, his site Tankspot.com, and the community found there, and you are a tank in World of Warcraft, you must be living under a rock. That said, check it out!

The Project Marmot videos are great. They cover raid boss strategy as well as certain Heroic Achievement walkthroughs. The video and sound quality is superb.

I had watched the one about Utgarde Pinnacle, and although I don't feel ready for Heroic UP, I did feel prepared for regular. I had my guild buddies with me, an 80 Enh Shammy and 80 Holy Priest. We pugged a 78 rogue and a 79 shaman. It was a cake-walk up until the gauntlet and Skadi fight. Then we wiped repeatedly. I was really frustrated.

There were several contributing factors to our failure. One was the rogue who said he could pull 2500 dps. At 77, that seemed high, but he seemed pretty sure of himself. Recount had him in the 580 range most of the instance. The pugged Shammy was putting out around 890. My buddy shaman started over 1150, but was having to backup heal, so he dropped to around 950. I think I ended up around 1200.

Another problem was how fast the harpoons would despawn after dropping. We couldn't even pick up the stupid things. When we did get them, Skadi would wipe us with his whirlwind. It was brutal.

The majority of the blame for our wipeage I attribute to my lack of skill. My gear is getting pretty decent for just starting heroics, but I lack the reflexes and experience. The gauntlet was brutal to try to get aggro and hold it, especially when getting netted, and the casters staying back drilling my healer. At least I have a few awesome friends in my guild that like to learn instances, class particulars, mechanics, etc. So I'm sure this weekend will find us back in UP seeking redemption.

This brings me to the title of the post. Damn Cider for making it look so freaking easy! I say that facetiously. He's good, really good. He's also been doing it a lot longer than I have, and while I doubt I will ever be as good as him, I have to hope I will get decent with more experience. I mean, I didn't even really start tanking until WOTLK came out, so I'm still a noob.

While I singled out Cider in the title, I have to say (and you'll probably see me write this a lot) that there is an incredible tanking community! It has been so easy to find information about how to be better, get better gear, get feedback, etc. I see a lot of links to each other's blogs and references to podcasts. I love how tight-knit this group is.

So thank you all, and I hope one day, Billy can exhibit a shadow of your skill and knowledge!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Epic Gear = Epic Fail

I've seen a pattern emerge when running instances. Often when I'm in an instance with people who have all epics or especially a fair amount of raid gear, it ends up being a wipe-fest.

I have a theory that raiding, at times, changes a player's attitude. Some raiders become elitist in their approach to the game. I think the process goes something like this. "Dude, I cleared Sunwell and got my new sword! This is just a heroic 5 man - no problem." The next thing you know, the dps is pulling before the tank gets the chance, or pulling mobs of the tank because they think they can handle it. It may even be epeen thinking that they're better than the other players in the group, because they can always pull aggro. The result is that bedlam ensues followed by wipe after wipe.

Now this isn't to say that all raiders are like this. As a matter of fact, I think raiding in itself demands top performance. Especially from what I've read about pre-wrath raiding. I have had excellent runs with hard-core raiders who provided an excellent source of knowledge regarding class and game play mechanics as well as gear itemization and talent speccing. I suspect that the problematic raiders I mentioned previously are the minority, however, I have crossed paths with them on several occasions.

On the other hand, I have had incredible experiences with undergeared, lower level toons who know how to play their class well. My best example of this is my experiences in Shadow Labs. I lost count of how many failures I've had in there with level capped, well geared players. My first clear was with a group including only 2 70's. One other toon dinged 70 mid run. When inspecting their gear, green dominated. But we made it through without a single wipe. Why? Because everyone worked together and filled their particular role well.

It was satisfying for me to accomplish something that we were undergeared for...especially when we accomplished it so well.

The moral of this story (at least for me) is to play your class. Regardless of your gear or level, perform your role in the party. One example is to continue marking mobs even if you don't really have to - just to practice discipline and order. The result is worth it in my opinion.


...nobody ever liked the ball-hog on the court, even if he did get 53 points.