Friday, January 30, 2009

HEY!!! This aint no soup kitchen!

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


...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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


...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.


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



...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!!!!!"


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?


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.



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.


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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Queu Blues


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.


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 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....


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.


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.


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. 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, 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.