Monday, November 30, 2009

If I were recruiting

I'd probably just kill myself. Thank goodness the days of a large guild are past me, though I must admit even looking for one person in a 10 man guild can be a challenge. Right now though, I suspect that many guilds (like ) are facing the slump between content right now.

I would be surprised if many guilds that are still working on ToGC 25H aren't faltering some, simply because 3.3 is right around the corner, and who wants to spend all night wiping when new content is coming out soon? OK, besides me and a few others I know anyway.

My guess is the average guild has killed one or two bosses in ToGC 25H at most, and if the blogsphere is any indication (it's as good a sampling as I can come up with in 2 seconds) many guilds are recruiting to try and keep up the attempts. This leads to the wonderful cycle of guild hopping, burnout, and frustration as you bring on new members to try harder content. You also then get to handle the folks that needed a 'break' for a while, and conveniently return just as the new content is released.

But really - what would you do?

At this stage in the game, I'd have to sit down and have a good hard look at what my guild priorities really were, and if they were achievable at all. This is what we did with S-a-S prior to the release of ToC - and here's the short and sweet version (without the gory details).

  • Examine your goals, and realisticaly weigh your chances of success.
  • Take a hard look at your roster - do you have the team needed, or is it time to start recruiting for the next tier of content?
  • How important are your goals to you? Are you willing to make the tough calls to reach those goals?
  • Are your goals defined, and published for your guild to see? Does your guild have those same goals?

My guess is, the answer to most of these questions - at least for ToC - aren't positive in nature. You will probably be hard pressed to find raiders this late in the patch who are at your gear/experience level, but that want to continue pushing the difficult encounters. From what I've seen, most groups are content to sit back and wait for 3.3 - where they'll fail to meet the end goals again.

How to get around it

Let's assume that you've bitten the bullet and acknowledged that your're not going to make that end game goal any time soon. You don't want to curl up and die however, so it's time to start looking at what you can do to get ready for ICC. Matt over at World of Matticus had some similar thoughts a while ago, though I can't find his post for the life of me (no really, I looked, not trying to just steal a post).

First things first - communicate with your guild. Changing directions mid-stream won't go over well, especially if you don't have open communications with your team. Yes, it's your guild, but you won't be raiding ZA, much less ToC, if everyone decides to jump ship on you because they don't like the way the wind is blowing.

Second - get your new goals out there early. Regardless of what your goals are, get them out and get feedback on them. Not everyone wants to work on every little achievment in the game - even though I think that's some of the only challenge left. Not everyone likes wiping over and over for no tangible reward - so make sure everyone is on the same page.

Next - start recruiting, but not in the way you think. You have to change the way you look at applicants, and stop recruiting for current content. Recruit for 3.3 and beyond. Accept that you're going to have to spend time clearing and running old content - both for gear and to build cohesion between your raiders.

It's also important that you use tools outside of /trade (please don't be that guild) and the realm forums if you want to attract the type of players you're looking for. Hit the blogsphere, the guild recruitment forums, and many other guild recruitment websites that are out there. Invite members to a guild PUG run, treat them fairly, and cultivate your leads there.

Most important, be honest with those you talk to, and keep everything above board. Accept that your new goals involve 3.3 and focus on being ready for the challenges ahead - not the ones you failed to conquer.


Sometimes you have to step backwards to move forwards - and other times you can just push through an obstacle. Accept when you've lost, and maximize your time preparing to move through new content, instead of just beating your head against the old (obviously not true if you're not hemmoraging people).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Hiatus - OT

I've been gone for a whole week (ok, 5 days) and it's been a nice vacation. I've enjoyed the sun of Arizona, the time with my family, and have even managed to get in a few rounds of golf. I was going to try raiding on my little netbook this week, but 10 fps in empty zones, and 4 fps in Dalaran, just wasn't going to cut it for an Insanity run. Plus W-crusher and I were furthering our bromance over a couple pitchers of beer and an amazing pizza.

For those that have never had it, Jimmy Jons was worth the 5 hour round trip to get it. The pickle was amazing. The chips are just chips though.

W-crusher and the Boomkin introduced me to Dragon Age and the PS3 version of Assasin's Creed 2. I may have to get a PS3 for Christmas.

I'll be back to the regularly scheduled blog next week when I return to WoW. Hopefully I don't log in and find myself guildless.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rambling Friday

No, this isn't a loot post, unless you count real life loot. This week I picked up a new Netbook - it's pretty slick, even if it does run Windows 7. I'll be taking it on holiday with me this week as I travel to someplace warm. My only 'gripe' is that it won't run WoW. I'm not surprised, though it would have been a nice perk. Raiding on a 10" screen would have been a challenge though.

I also picked up the Razer Naga. I have a real review in the works, but my initial impressions are good. I really like the feel of the mouse, and the button placement is getting more ingrained. I'm definately having to retrain my fingers though. I've seen a slight dip in TPS, but fortunately our DPS is pretty sharp, and a liberal application of ToT from our rogue helps keep things sealed.

3.3 incoming

If it wasn't for a blue post I stumbled on today, I'd guess that 3.3 is coming next week - simply because I probably won't be able to raid while I'm out of town. The blue post I saw indicates that 3.3 is still a few weeks away however, so it remains to be seen. Based on that, and the intentional delay of raid bosses from ICC, I'd say we're looking at a June/July timeframe for Cataclsym release. It seems a long ways off, but given the drastic changes being implemented, it's really very close. I certainly think it will be here before the next Blizzcon.

I'm also very excited about the Frost Wyrms. I'm guessing now that Invincible will be akin to the Gnome head mount - something very very rare - but I'll hold out hope for a few more weeks while the PTR gets polished out.

A tasty snack

I've been promised Jimmy Johns next week. I don't care that it's a two hour drive.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Forced progression slowdown

I'm going to assume that anyone reading this blog is probably up to date on the latest patch notes. That being said, I'll give the five cent recap.

  • All of ICC won't be open at the start, it will be phased over several months.
  • You can't do hard modes/heroic until you kill Arthas in regular.
  • Like KT in Naxx, and Yogg in Ulduar - you can't access Arthas until you kill the end boss in each wing.
  • The hardest bosses will have limited attempts every week.
These are the big points for ICC and 3.3, though there are a few others that will be helpful for casual guilds and PUGs.

Is ICC ToC 2.0?

I'll admit I've never done the Sunwell. I never encountered Brutallis's super hits, never killed KJ, and have never had to stack heroism for trash. I only mention this, because to date only the Sunwell and ToC have been gated specifically to slow progression. Yes, you could (and should) argue that TKE and MH/BT were 'gated' because of the insane attunements you had to achieve to enter them.

Back on point though - Sunwell and ToC specifically restricted your ability to move through the bosses quickly, due to a limited number of them being available any one week. This wasn't a huge issue for Sunwell, as the content was so difficult that very few guilds were pushing against the progression wall every week. Even after the M'uru nerf, Sunwell wasn't heavily assaulted.

The opposite is true in ToC, where each week the boss was generally cleared with relitive ease. The first week Heroic became available, we defeated Anub with 5 or so attempts remaining. By the 2nd week we had our 25 attempt kill, and Insanity followed shortly thereafter. My point here is that even with the gated encounters, we were still sitting around on our hands every week.

If ICC follows this same pattern, we will blow through the first wing on Tuesday night, and be back in ToC on Thursday. By the time Arthas is released, we will have been doing the first wing for several months - and it will have lost its shine. The fact that we cannot even attempt heroic/hard modes until Arthas is downed only adds to the frustration.

Why the slowdown?

I can understand Blizzard wanting to stretch out the content for several months. I have no doubts that if Arthas was available week one (and if the bosses were ToC difficulty) we would knock him over by Thursday night. Top end guilds would be bored by January, and we'd see a bunch of suspended accounts until Cataclysm's release.

Having a forced slowdown will allow the less agressive guilds to have a chance at being near the same progression point as those that clear each wing the night it is opened - giving everyone a shot at the title of being the first to topple Arthas (timezones permitting). It also will prevent the best guilds from beating Heroic ICC in the first week of availability, thus sending cries across the realm that the content is too easy. Never mind that those cries will come from players that have yet to complete Ulduar or ToGC(in either mode).

This will hurt more

I gaurntee that if the content is as easy as TOC, ICC will be a morale killer for us. As it stands now we already have people asking if we're a PvP guild, simply because we're finished with the PvE content by Tuesday night. Keeping the raid force motivated will be a challenge, that's for sure. I suppose that will be the time we'll go back and work on the last few TOC achievments we have.

Maybe we can get a solid raid alliance for a normal raid night and do 25s.


The gated method is great from casual or bad guilds - it sucks for folks from the progression guilds. It will force us to spend more weeks doing older content. Guess it's time to pick up Dragon Age and work on my Arena team.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting upset over strange things

One of my favorite things in WoW, and this is right up there with killing someone in WSG and watching them get the Flag of Ownership dumped on them by Mongrr, is reading the complaints and and gripes of the WoW community.

Now I know that the posters on the official forums, and even those that read WoW related Blogs, are a very small minority of the player base. Even the idiots in Trade chat are tiny fraction (oh how I can't wait for the new LFG tool - goodbye Trade), but where is all the hate coming from?

Are players experiencing such a level of entitlement that any change to the game causes them to froth at the mouth like rabid dogs?

We all have priorities

Everyone who plays has something they are after. Be it achievements, PVE raids, PVP, Arenas, or RP - we all play for a reason. Personally, I'm a PVEer. I do PVP because right now I'm bored with the lack of new raid content, but ICC is right around the corner and I can satisfy my WoW needs with some other activities in game.

I'm not a fan of holiday events in game, but then again, I'm not a fan of holiday events in real life. I'm glad that some folks enjoy them, and while I don't like being hit with a costume wand or something - I can simply click it off. I deal with a few days of extra lag, or streams of "LFG Holiday dungeon of the month", but it's really not a big deal. The only time I get a little upset is when it interferes with my ability to raid. "Summon me back to Kara, I need to trick or treat for my toothpick".

The same is true for the Micro-Transactions that were introduced in game. From name change to faction change, gender switch to mini-pet - these are all cosmetic changes in the game. They have no real impact on my ability to raid, and they provide an additional level of enjoyment for many folks.

Why you mad bro?

So what causes the anger? Is it just internet anonymity coming out to play? Is there any real meat behind these gripes and complaints?

Something tells me that there's just no logical explanation for any of this. Regardless of what happens, someone - somewhere - will need to get riled over it. Be it Ony's return, flying in Azeroth, no flying in Azeroth, etc, etc.

I think these folks need to relax a little and take a deep breath. This games is supposed to be fun after all. Isn't it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Keeping your head on a swivel

I used to hear that a lot when playing football, usually moments after I'd lost focus and gotten blindsided by some down-field lineman. I also heard it while I was in the Army, but that was usually in reference to being on watch or patrol.

Basically, we're talking situational awareness.

Situational Awareness, or SA, is the perception of environmental elements within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future (Wikipedia - yeah, not the best source, but I don't have an OED on my desk

It should be fairly obvious how this applies to WoW, but I think it get's missed a lot. Many players have problems anticipating the events of an encounter, or the actions of their teammates. SA is, for lack of a better term, also situational. For example I can react quickly to a changing PvE environment, but I'm not the fastest in reacting during PvP.

SA in practice

Nearly every boss encounter, especially in raids, has some form of AoE or add component that requires a player to be on top of their game if they want to excel. Perhaps the most glaring aspect of this can be seen in our Guild Alliance (PUG?) 25m ToC raids. Every week the same 20+ players come together for ToC, and every week I hear the same comments (from different people).

"Big add came right to me, where's the tank"
"Someone kited Anub right through the raid"
"There's no ice where I'm going!"
"Someone put waterwalking on me :( "
"I need to repair" (generally one or two pulls after a repair bot has been dropped)

Now I will agree, that some of these problems can be avoided by smart positioning, movement, or strategy. I will not agree however, that the infraction is not the fault of the player making the comment.

So why is this happening? Why are we seeing players fail to basic mechanics of the game? Raid leaders have been asking this question since the beginning of time, ever since the first "Don't stand in the fire" encounter occurred. It makes you wonder why anyone thought that Sarth's fire wasn't something to avoid

Breaking down Anub

Just looking at the examples above, let's break down where the issue really lies.

"Big add came right to me, where's the tank?" - as a tank, this one always bothers me. From the tank's side of things, they should be moving off the ice as soon as their adds are down. The problem is, there are times (especially after a burrow phase) where they aren't quite in the right spot. You look, and all the healers are clumped to the south, while Anub is in the north. I've got my face in Anub's crotch and I can see them coming from across the room. I'm fairly certain this is the real reason W-crusher learned to heal with his screen facing away from the boss.

"Someone kited Anub right through the raid" and "There's no ice where I'm running!" - I put these together since they involve kiting, although one is a raid problem, and one is a kiter problem. I will concede that a 'solid' strat that involves the whole raid moving in opposite directions (kiter goes south while the raid goes north) will prevent this from happening. Seeing as I can't get everyone to avoid Deep Breaths though - I'm not putting faith in it.

When I'm not being chased, I'm constantly looking around the room. Where are the spikes, where's the ice, are there any adds with low HP I can hit with a hammer. I might have this flexibility because I'm a tank and have no real responsibility during this phase, but come on. A little heads up goes a long ways.

"Someone put waterwalking on me :( " - this is just funny. Every week at least two or three people die from this, and I'm fairly sure it's because they ninja afk'd during loot/Arthas's speech. I know more than one person that carries a Skyguard Cape around just for this fall. This goes into personal awareness, and knowing what buffs you have. I've noticed that these are the folks who are the first to bug you about a Might/Kings rebuff - so you know they can keep track of it.

"I need to repair." - This is in my top 10 list of things that raiders say which piss me off. Short of a series of wipes, there is no reason whatsoever that you should be needing a repair bot by the time you get to FC. Even if you get soulstoned, battle rez, and still die again - you should be at 30% or so. If a bot does go down, used it even if you don't think you need to. My grandpa used to say "It costs the same to fill it up twice from half as it does once from empty. Why risk it?". Of course he said it with one of those voice boxes, so it sounded creepy.

I just don't understand the mentality that goes with not repairing. I make a point of repairing when I vendor if possible, simply to keep my gear in one piece. I even try to repair before dropping my gear off in the bank, so I know it's ready for me to use later.

The bigger issue

SA is key when the cart comes off the horse. Tank in Holy gear? Half the raid dead going into P3 of Ony? Warrior AoE taunted Anub's adds and got Anub in the process? If you're not paying attention, or have poor SA, these things will be unrecoverable. I know that with an average guild or PUG, our Twins fight would have been a wipe.

So what's the fix?

Unfortunately, I don't know what the fix is for the average player. Top guilds solve this problem by aggressive culling - if you die to dumb stuff regularly, odds are you're going to find yourself replaced quickly. I don't know anyone in Premonition or Ensidia - but I don't see Kungen putting up with the guy who stands in fire for too long.

Average guilds have a bigger problem. If they're too aggressive, they risk losing all their players, to the point where they can no longer field an effective team. Too passive, and you get the bear druid who is standing on the table during Moroes when he's supposed to be picking up adds.

Ideally you want to either train your raid force, or, simply reform as a smaller group of members with like mindsets. If everyone shares the same goals and ambitions, the odds are you'll have less players with poor SA, and more players who show up ready to go every time.


Clint Eastwood had it right in the movie Heartbreak Ridge - and following his motto is what separates the great players from the average.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

You can't do that if you've got you're sporting a Plexiglas stomach.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The moments that last

And I'm not talking about that STD you got as a freshman either.

No, what I'm talking about is the moments in game (generally a monumental screwup) that seem to last and follow you forever. Of course some of these are things like first kills, a Crush of the Week, or the day you won that awesome pet/gear. Generally though, the ones your friends remember are the screwups.

After nearly five years of playing together, we certainly have our share of moments in guild. The most recent one's tend to be held over your head - until someone else steps in it. For example one of our shaman kept dying on Twins to ball strikes. We finally moved him to stand in the middle of the melee. Every once in a while he'd leave that protective zone and die - so it became a harp point - until the day our hunter couldn't shoot down a frozen orb (costing us an Insanity run). After last Tuesday's incident - I'm sure I'll be double checked for a while.

Here's a few of our most interesting moments from the years.

  • First Nef kill ever. Much screaming and cheering - and then calling the phone of the Master Looter. Turns out he was drunk and passed out during the picture taking.
  • First Fyrre emo-quit. I think this happened during my first week of raiding - ever. Some hunter (cough, Rage) looked over the bridge and wondered "I wonder if you can pull Golemagg" seconds before popping him in the head. Sixty seconds later, Golemagg and his buddies arrived. The GM/Raid Lead was not amused. Much hilarity ensued.
  • You're the bomb! Same hunter, different raid. During a fit of yelling about moving when you've got the debuff from Baron Gheddon - he blew up half the raid. Slightly better was time someone got the tell "You're the bomb" and they replied with "Thanks, I know!" - seconds before they wiped the raid.
  • I DE'd it. One of our members when asked where his guild provided Onyxia scale cloak was while we were learning BWL. He'd gotten a cloak with more Fire Resist, so naturally he didn't need the Ony one any more.
  • Guy's I'm stunned. Tree druid on his (at least) 5th Maiden kill in Kara.
  • Stand in the fire, the healers need the practice. Me to a super causal (but want to be HC) guild in SSC - clearing trash to Leo. Someone actually asked if I was serious.
  • OH !*$&!. Me - when I realized I was tanking Twin Valks in Holy PvP gear.
  • I got an Eclipse proc! Seconds before our Moonkin started tanking Stalagg on Thadidus. Fortunately she had experience from tanking Moroes - as Moonkin.
  • I never go insane! DK, 45 sec after a wipe on Yogg - in which he went insane.
  • I didn't level lockpicking or I don't have those poisons. Fail rogue is fail.
  • I'm not spec'd for kick. Rogue on Shade of Aran - when told to interrupt.
There are many more, especially from the day's of No Dice - but these are some that stand out in my mind.

Tomorrow - a look at how I'm actually part of the problem with Paladins.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My healers are OP

or "How I almost cost us a 2nd Inanity run"

How it began

I should have known something was up, the night was running too smooth. Beasts was a walk, nobody died, and nobody got frozen by poison. We lost a healer on Jaraxsus, but our DPS was so high we burned him down before we got a second set of infernals.

Then it went sideways.

Now normally, on regular ToC(10) we run with two healers - the same two who heal us all night long. Tonight however, was different. My offspec was still set to PvP healing, so I switched to that instead of staying Prot. I haven't found being Prot to be overly helpful, and the extra healing can't hurt. On ToGC(10) we actually had four healers - so it was a little slow, but nobody died.

Enter the Twins

Quick spec change, rebuff, and away we go. No wipes, few deaths, and we're looking at heading into Anub with a full 50 attempt slate. I did however notice that I was taking a bit more damage than usual, so I zoomed in a little to get a better image of my toon.

I should have stayed ignorant.

Instead of sporting my near 50k and tank gear of awesome, I was instead (you guessed it) in my Holy PVP gear. Sporting about 32k health, and zero defense (I do have over 1k resilience though - so I'm crit immune), panic started setting in. Here we were, going for a 2nd week of flawlessness, and I was one bad hit string away from ruining it. I couldn't even use my defensive trinkets, as I had my PvP trinkets equipped instead.

Fortunately as soon as I said something over vent (it was colorful to say the least), Unbearabull (our druid tank) immediately realized what was going on. I popped an armor pot, and concentrated on keeping SS and HS up. I switched to SoL for the healing, and I saw some CDs come my way. He will probably never admit it, but I'm pretty sure that W-crusher tossed Sacrifice on me.

My luck ran out around 10%, and our rogue died in the transition - but the Bull picked her up, and we finished with just a few scratches. I'm willing to bet that Monger loved every second of it too - probably the hardest he's had to work on that fight in a while.

The moral

Check your gear before pulling. It was a brain dead mistake that could have cost me this baby. Of course our Anub kill was a skin of the teeth as well. It's amazing how quickly the fights can go from steady to out of control.

I have to salute the guys (and gal) that make up Parabola. Smart play, covering some dumb mistakes, and high output let us get through some stupid moves.

Of course now the question is - how many heroics can I tank while healing?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gear, glorious gear

It's been a slow raid week - what with knocking out all the 'progression' content on Tuesday and Thursday, leaving me plenty of time to work on what has been an amazing quest line - namely Icecrown. Yeah, I know - Wrath has been out for a year, and I'm just now doing IC quests? That's the beauty of being a tank/healer I suppose. I spent most of my time leveling in dungeons.

And Mal'Ganis? For real? No wonder everyone laughed when I mentioned (quite recently) that it'd be cool to see him show up again.

House Cleaning

The other thing I did this weekend was go through my bags and bank to clear out some old stuff. I fully embrace the hybrid aspect of the Paladin class, so I currently maintain five, yes five, full sets of gear. This of course doesn't include special stat pieces like BV, hit, etc - or some mp5/crit trinkets I keep around.

Here's my bank before it started.

Yes, that's right, I had 11 sets of legs in the bank - and I was wearing my full tank set while I was doing this. In my defense though, one of those sets turned out to be a vendor blue...

Something worth noting - If you look at my first 2 columns in my backpack, you'll see things I carry regardless of what I'm doing. Full consumables. Flasks, symbols, etc - all ready to go. Granted with Jeeves around I don't really have to worry about it, but you never know when he might have to be somewhere pressing.

Here's the finished product. The only thing that makes me 'sad' is that I'll have to redo it when I get 24 slot bags.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lowering your ping in one easy step

The bloke over at Last Rogue posted a great article about lowering your ping with a paid proxy server, and also mentioned a quick registry fix that you can use to drastically lower your ping. Several of us tried this trick earlier this week, and we saw our ping times drop drastically (from 250 to 50 in my case).

Note: I have no idea what this fix will do to your torrenting, but I haven't noticed any negative effects so far. This fix is also for XP only - Vista and Windows 7 users are on their own, just do a search for TCP ACK Frequency and you should find the answer.

The Fix

Open your registry editor (Start > Run > regedit).
Open your HKEY_LocalMachine\System\Current ControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Interfaces

You then need to find the interface that has all your IP address settings. Once you find the right interface, create a new Dword Value called "TcpAckFrequency" (caps are important, skip the ""). Set the value to a Decimal 1, and reboot your machine.


You should see a great reduction in your ping time at this point. Note, you should always backup your registry before you try editing it, and if you don't know what you're doing - I'd avoid it all together.

Good luck!

Note: The one drawback I've found is that I'm actually suffering from playing 'too fast'. I'm used to playing at 1/4 sec lag, so things seem really fast. It's awesome!

It didn't make me an instant God in Arenas though - still working on that hack.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stop the Insanity!

Image courtesy of Monger over at Save The Lightwell, I think he has some kind of graphic's design background. Personally, I'm happy when I can get SnagIT to do a screenshot properly.

After two disheartening 49 attempt weeks, we finally got this bad boy down. We had a couple of close calls on Beasts - at one point the bear tank went down and I was holding both worms, and we lost our tree druid twice on FC. We even lost Monger on Anub, but fortunately that was right around 1%, so we pulled it off.

The necessary sacrifice

One of our shaman pulled this old link out of the interwebs, defining the people in your raid. It's a general consensus that Twerp is this guy.

The Gnomish Sacrifice

This guy plays a Gnome mage, warlock, or rogue. He plays it really well, but has threat issues. Often enough he forgets to watch the threat meter and pulls aggro. The Raid doesn't wipe, but he sure does. He laughs about it and gets back on with the raid, and has since become a running gag for the guild. The raid now doesn't believe they will do well without his sacrifice early on in the night. If nothing else, he's good to laugh at.

Getting our pound of flesh

After two failed Tribute to Insanity runs, I wasn't taking any chances. I think Twerp may have had a heads up as to what was happening, but I had him marked for dead on Ony. I waited for her to land in Phase 3, and then worked on getting him cleaved.

Point of note: He's slippery. He used a fine combination of Ice Block, Blink, and Invis to try and avoid it, but I eventually got him smoked. I also managed to kill a shaman, and get the tree booted into a whelp cave at the same time.

Obviously it worked. It had nothing to do with over-gearing the instance, being IMBA, or using a new strat for beasts. No, I'm sure it had to do with making the proper offering - even if he isn't a gnome any more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tanking questionaire

I swear I just did this for healing......

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Amathalanea, Paladin, Protection
What is your usual tanking environment?

Raids baby, raids. 10 anything, and some 25 PUGs from time to time. And PUG heroics. I love running PUGs. It keeps me sharp, and gives me something to gripe about later. I've met a lot of great players PUGing, but it definitely makes me appreciate my guild more.

What is your favorite encounter to tank, and why?

So many Vanilla it was probably Broodlord. Having to stack so much stam and juggling threat was great. In BC it was solo tanking Hydross as a warrior - though that was more about the mini-game of getting enough resistance gear while staying alive. For Wrath...hard mode Jaraxxas I think. There's adds, there's cleanses and interrupts, movement...this fight really has it all. A close second is Firefighter.

What is your least favorite encounter to tank, and why?

Kologarn - hands down. So boring. At least with Patchwerk I can Salv the OT to get a melee killed if I get bored.

What do you think is the biggest strength of your class, and why?

I have a bag of tricks for me and the raid. Threat reduction, immunities, AoE threat, damage redirection...The biggest thing though is the instant AoE agro. If I can get a shield out, a quick HotR and takes a lot to pull a target off.

What do you think is the biggest weakness of your class, and why?

No closer. I have no way of covering (or moving a mob in the case of the DK) a lot of distance in a hurry if I need to get to a mob. I have Nitro Boosts on a set of tank boots, but that is a poor fix.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is the best tanking assignment for you?

Right now it would be MT on anything. I've done every aspect of tanking, but as the MT on the boss I can also raid lead much more effectively than if I'm running around looking for adds. I can do any of those jobs though, but given the free life of AD, MT duty is kind of a given.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the most?

If you mean playing, then I'd say my Paladin right now. If it wasn't my favorite, I'd be playing my warrior. If you mean to be partnered with, my current tank partner is a feral druid. This works really well because he's DPS at heart, and does a great job of switching to DPS as needed.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the least?

If you mean playing, I'd say a druid. So boring. And I totally sympathize that they look the same in T9.5 as they do in starter gear. If you mean as a partner, I'd say a warrior, but that's just because they want my block gear.

What is your worst habit as a tank?

Getting over eager or cocky. I've had great healers my entire WoW carrer, and by great healers - I mean phenomenal. Between Tobias, Monger, Sebi, and a handfull of others - I've been able to pull of some tanking stuff that seems to boggle folks. Because of this I'm always looking for ways to single tank as much as possible, or to speed things up as fast as possible - sometimes wiping the raid.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

I need 5 seconds - 3 GCD. If you give me that, the mob is mine. I respect the guy that can do 18k DPS, but you're useless if instead of doing 17.99 you pushed for that extra bit, and caused your (or worse, someone else's) death. In a party (5 man) if we're taking the time to mark a target, please - with sugar on top - kill the marked target first..

Do you feel your class/spec is balanced with respect to the other tanking classes?

Other than AD - yes - and I think AD fits in lines with the Paladin tank. Rhidach mentioned that we're a face-rolling 9/6/9 class - our rotation is set in stone. GC has stated that they like having classes with lots of options/buttons (Priests or Warrior tanks) and those that have fewer - say smaller, but more powerful, toolboxes (Paladins in general).

I really wish I had some sort of interrupt on a shorter CD though. A talented 40 sec HoJ, 30 sec on AS, and (because I'm a delicious Belfadin) 2 min CD on Arcane Torrent.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

World of Logs, TankadinTPS, Recount’s Deaths tab - and most recently - Fraps. Mongrr records them, and then posts them up. I've managed to pick up a few things that we (and I) can do differently, just by watching the fight from another viewpoint.

What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with your tanking class?

There's no ability use decision - which often times is true. On a single tank fight I run a 969, and substitute in additional abilities on a Judgement rotation if I need to do something like refresh my SS, or Avenger's Shield again for more threat.

Of course that's on a fight like Patchwerk. For everything else you're constantly looking around, checking Omen, dropping abilities from the rotation if mana is becoming an issue (never on bosses, but still), etc.

What do you think is the toughest thing for new players of your class to learn about tanking?

Situational awareness. It's not enough for me to know what the boss is doing, I need to know where the Bad Stuff(TM) is, who's got a debuff or buff I might need, where the light pillars are. Back when Hodir 3min kill was tough, something as simple as moving Hodir 3 steps to put your melee in a better position could significantly boost your DPS output. As soon as I settle in to a fight, I know the raid is moments from wiping.

If someone were to evaluate your tanking ability via tools like fraps, recount, and World of Logs, what tendencies would they notice?

Probably very little, other than I use my Hands a lot. If the change to LoH goes through, I'll be using that on the raid a lot more.

Stamina or Avoidance, and why?

I stacked Stamina when Stamina wasn't cool. I've always been a Stam tank, and back in BC avoidance was just bad for a protadin until a certain level of gear. When you're depending on Redoubt to make you uncrushable, and you have to get hit for Redoubt to proc...yeah, that's a problem. I salute the the tanks that can build unhittable sets, and who can get the 15k Shield Slams - but I'm a lover of the blue gems. Between plate armor and a deep HP pool, I can take a lot of hits.

Plus, you can't dodge a fireball - even if you can dodge a wrench.

Which tanking class do you understand the least?

DKs, or maybe druids. Druids at least use rage, which is a mechanic I'm familiar with. I know our bear tank has expertise issues, and his reliance on dodge as his only avoidance stat almost cost us a Tribute run. GG Rage. DKs confuse the hell out of me, only because the runic power/rune thing. From what I understand they are a cross between a Paladin (specific rotation) and a warrior (on proc abilities like Rune Strike).

What addons or macros do you currently use to aid you in tanking?

Oh man...I'm using Ice Hud again to keep my screen clear, BT for some keybinds, Grid, recount omen, FCFS, Beacon Tracker, Big Brother, DBM....the more info I can get the better..

Do you strive for a balance in tanking stats, or do you stack some higher than others, and why?

Stam > Str > Agil....Hit > Expertise Parry > Dodge > Block. .

Stamina is still king, Str gives block value and parry, and Agility gives Dodge.

Hit capping has to happen with the level of DPS my guild pumps out, same for Expertise.

I like Parry over Dodge, simply because it looks good and shortens my swing timer (hey, that 1.5 is slow). Dodge is also nice, as it's 100% avoidance. Block is a good backup to lessen the hit, and with Holy Shield is some nice threat on multiple mobs.

Next Stop - Insanity

It's only Wednesday - and I've got more stuff on my Paladin plate than I can think about. I suppose that makes up for the days when I look at my blog and wonder what I'm going to write about.

Latest Patch Notes

Let the caterwalling, cheering, and "Blizzard caves to the QQers" commence. Sacred Shield is back to normal, with the HOT component being moved to the Holy Tree. Lay on Hands applies Forbearance now, and works like our bubbles in that regard. DI is down to a 10 minute CD, and Aura Mastery is down to six seconds.

Sacred Shield/Flash of Light

Let's cut to the big boy first and get it out of the way. Blizzard is 'this close' to getting this right I think. It's not the HoT that is saving folks. In an arena or healing situation that HOT is often overwritten. Although when you drop a 10k FoL crit on someone in an arena as holprot, that HoT does buy you some breathing room. As ret it's slightly better, as you're generally only hitting it when Art of War procs, and exorcism is on CD. The overall damage absorbed by the SS, and health applied by the HoT balances fairly well with the "well everything is on CD, now what" that occurs in ret PvP.

The real problem is the crit. A 50% additional chance to Crit while SS is up (the shield, not the buff), which in PvP is nearly always (at least every 6sec with the inner CD). Now we're looking at some real healing burst. If this part of the SS was moved to the Holy tree, you'd keep the shield/heal part of ret PvP, shield of Prot PvE, and move the healing more into the Holy tree. I think we'll probably see this in the next round of patch notes - but I'm not going to put money on it.

Lay on Hands

I'm mixed on this one. Sure, I use LoH as part of my tank CD set - and it probably saved our Tribute to Insanity run last night (more on that later) - but then again, maybe it didn't. Blizzard has already tried to increase the Holy nature of this spell by adding a damage reduction to the talent. Unfortunately, it doesn't measure up well when you stack it against 3/3 Imp Concentration Aura, or Imp BoW. The 11 min CD still means it's a once a fight shot, though still a nice bump.

So now in an attempt to remove the issue of a 'double reset' - wherein a Paladin can essentially reset a fight twice by using Divine Shield and/or Lay on Hands, LoH causes Forbearance. This is a clunky fix IMO, we saw this before with Avenger's Wrath and DS/DP/HoP. I don't think this will go live, unless we also see a CD on the LoH ability (yeah, that'll go over well).

This is also really only an issue for Paladin tanks, which pushes more healing into the Holy tree (see the pattern?). No other tank will be affected by Forbearance, unless it's one of those instances where I HoP our druid tank to drop a bleed or something.

Paladin tanks already have what is arguably the single most OP tank save ever. I love it though, and I love that so many of the saves are different yet the same.

Do I hate this change for what it will do to me in PvP? Sure. It means I can't buy those extra few seconds of time while my pocket healers get to me in WSG. Of course no other flag runner can do this - so it works out in the end. Besides, in my experience if they are tapping on me hard enough that I need LoH, odds are I'm in real trouble anyway.


The change to LoH is clunky at best, and I don't think it will go live. I'm waiting to hit the forums until I get this post out though. I think SS will get tweaked a little more before live, though I think Blizzard is on the right track with moving more of the healing to Holy, and leaving the base mitigation on us. To be honest though, even on our Tribute to Insanity run last night - I use SS on our Arcane mage more than I use it on myself now. The bump to his DPS outweighs the slight damage reduction I receive, considering the heals that are dumping my way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stop the QQ Train

Another week, another round of patch notes, and another week of sobs and tears. The crying is overflowing on the official forums, and I'm sad to say, out in the blogsphere as well.

Look, I understand it's slow right now. ToC is a snore fest, 3D zergs take 8 minutes, and I just posted a video on us killing Twins and Anub in under 4 minutes (on regular). We're shooting for achievements like Earth, Wind, and Fire just to stay focused - and then seeing how many PUGs we can pull through hard mode achievements.

But seriously, can't we find something else to write about?

A different view

I mentioned the other day that sometimes I feel like I'm playing a different game than other Paladins or players. After five(?) years of playing, I just can't get excited about changes to the class mid patch. Granted, I haven't been playing a Paladin the whole time, so I didn't go through the days of being pigeon-holed as a cleansebot in MC - or the loret days of BC. I started my Paladin towards the end of BC, and I can honestly say that we have three very viable specs and trees right now.

Up to this point, nothing that Blizzard has posted about Paladin changes has struck me as an overall nerf. The LoH screaming right now is a pure case of Chicken Little, as nothing has been officially said about it's existence in 3.3. We may see it change, or go away entirely by Cataclysm, but today - right now - there's no changes posted.

Sacred Shield is taking a slight hit. I look forward to fewer healprots in arenas, and this will reduce our retadin's survivability by a teeny amount. We might see more of a hit in Arenas, but as long as we're getting immolated for 14k while having 1k resilience, that SS isn't really what's saving us.

Even if Rhidach's doomsday prediction is right, Paladins will still be powerful, and (gasp) possibly in line with everyone else.

Yes, Paladins could use a few tricks. I'd love to have an interrupt with a shorter CD like warriors - but I'll take AD. A charge/deathgrip would be cool - but instant agro on 3 targets (plus I can be Captain America) kinda passes that.

I can change seals to up my mana, health, or DPS - change judgements - all on the GCD.

Oh - and take the crying about "Icewell Radiance" and pitch it out the window. I'll take smoother damage tyvm.

We may not be perfect, but we're doing alright.

Speed Kills

ToC 10 might as well be a five man at this point. We had an alt war in on these kills so he can get some tanking gear. W-crusher probably has enough tank gear to set him up as a top 10 geared pally tank horde side, but that guy doesn't know Holy Shield from Avenger's Shield. At least he knows the difference between Divine Protection and Divine Shield though - unlike a Pally tank I was doing Ulduar with....

Seriously - learn your class abilities before you head off to OT a raid.

With that though, I give you our speed kills of the Twins and Anub. Films recorded and edited by Mongrr of Save the Lightwell - our resident Disc/Holy priest. Remember to watch it in HD.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Loading the dice and raid loot has run a couple of posts regarding loot shenanigans - and there seems to be a lot of discussion over what's "fair" in any given run.

Now obviously in a guild only run, you're going to have specific rules - be it DKP, Loot Council, Free Roll, etc. I've tried quite a few systems in my day, and I can't really support one over the other. No method is perfect, it's up to the guild (and its officers) to police the looting.

Defining the system

Loot Council systems use the opinions of a council (generally the officers) to determine where each drop should be awarded. In a good guild officers will look at existing gear, performance, attendance, attitude, etc., and then make a 'just' award. If the system works right, then players who can benefit from the upgrade the most - and aren't necessarily the newest or oldest player - will receive the loot.

Pros: The player who has been there for the entire duration of the guild, and has just had shoddy luck seeing an item drop, may not get beaten out by the guy who joined the guild two weeks ago. Newer members have a reasonable shot at loot as they aren't competing against stockpiles of DKP.

Cons: This system is easily abused at worst, and even in the best of situations the sense of abuse can run high. It is too easy to say that Tim got an item because he's an officer, or in the right clique, and it can be impossible to defend - even if it was the right decision.

My Opinion: I hate this system more than any other. There's too much time involved in deciding loot, the opportunity for drama is excessive, and you can't plan upgrades. Also, and this is especially true in the first and 2nd raid encounter of an expansion, you have players getting big upgrades over the player who wants it but it's a smaller upgrade. It would take a pretty exceptional guild for me to accept this type of loot policy.

For example: I prep my toons with the best I can get my hands on before entering a raid. I grind rep, get crafted epics, etc. Seeing someone get a loot upgrade that is a big upgrade in gear wise, when they haven't put in the time/effort to get the best gear available to them at that level just encourages laziness.

DKP Systems are more varied than the clouds. At the very base of the system DKP is awarded for downing bosses, spending time on wipes, or contributing to the guild in some way. Loot can have fixed prices or biding can be used. Handling DKP generally requires the use of an addon, some spreadsheets, and a lot of patience. I must say I really don't miss those players who would complain five days after a raid, and 10 minutes before a pull, to complain about one missing DKP point.

Pros: Players are rewarded for active participation, and can easily schedule upgrades based upon DKP within the guild. Depending on the system players can save up for that one big purchase, or spend their lives in the minus DKP column (like I do).

Cons: An administrative headache, players manipulate the system, and you run into DKP hoarding (Shroud DKP helps this, and is my favorite of the DKP systems) by players who don't need new gear. This can lead to players having an excessive amount of DKP, and basically walking off with every first upgrade in the next raid encounter.

My Opinion: I like DKP better than Loot Council, and it seems to be better in 25s than the /roll system. Careful monitoring has to be done, and there is always the issue of DKP =/= currency.

DKP is your place in line, that's it. Also, if someone wants to blow their DKP on a few items and then gquit - technically they've earned the right to do so by earning the DKP. It's a fairly cheap move, but you can't hold it against them IMO

Roll System is where all interested parties simply /roll or use the need/greed buttons. This is typically used is PUG runs, and often has the stipulation of one piece of Main Spec Loot first, with Off Sets coming after.

Pros: Fast, efficient, and minimal down time. With the ability to trade loot it's even possible to hand that item off once you realize you don't need it any more.

Cons: Too easy to get a ninja roller or someone taking a piece that is offset for them, mainset for anyone else. Will get players trying to take pieces as offset, or wanting an item - but for it to not count as their piece of loot as it's a tiny upgrade. Players with hot dice can win often if no checks are in place.

My Opinion: This is what we use in Parabola, and it works very well in our 10 man guild. Of course we're all fairly close pals, and we all have the same base goal - kill everything in the least amount of time possible, while getting as many achievements as possible. Our classes are also balanced, so we have few competitors for standard pieces - and minimal contention for rings/trinkets etc. Now that we're getting the 4+ Idols a week as well, there's less competition for main spec rolls as well.

I don't think this system works as well in 25 man runs, especially when some folks just have lousy dice.


Most folks reading this blog are well enough into the game to know what system they like/don't like, and don't need this writeup. There's a few lurkers though, and maybe this will help them out some.

End the end, stick with something - regardless of the system - make the rules public, and stick to them. As long as you're consistent, you should be in the clear.