Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The odd thing about in game relationships

And by relationships I mean friendships / acquaintances etc... not the romantic kind.

It's really quite strange when you think about it. With the launch of Mists of Pandaria I have just spent most of the last 36 hours (while I was awake - I'm not that dedicated) with a group of people who I most certainly consider friends, but at the same time could knock on my door and I would not know them from Adam.

Some I might recognise from photos but even the more extroverted have only posted a few (a handful at most) and so I would need to go back and check to be sure.

Some I might recognize if I heard them speaking. But even then I have never heard any of their voices that haven't been digitally encoded, sent hundreds of miles, decoded and reproduced by my speakers or headphones, and people never really sound the same in person as they do on the phone. Plus if they have something distinctive about their voice (like a strong accent) anyone with the same characteristics will sound the same at first. Case in point I raid with a Dutch guy, and I used to work with a Dutch guy with a similar strength accent. In my head they sounded the same, although objectively I know if I ever talked to them together they would sound completely different. Not all x group sound / look / act the same, but it's a natural memory short hand to only store the most distinctive information. - no scientific basis whatsoever for that statement.

And then their are those that are more security conscious people who I only know through an Avatar and a nickname. Over my time online I have spent many hours communicating, playing and raiding with people who could live next door for all I know. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this - in fact I respect the discipline of those who manage to maintain the integrity of their online privacy. But it does lead to some odd results I my crazy brain.

In the absence of certain information my brain just makes s#1t up. Completely unconsciously I find myself picturing and (what's the auditory equivalent of picturing?) dubbing these people over as real life analogues. So online friends with similar names to real life acquaintances suddenly look and sound like them in my mind's eye. If someone is unique and distinctive enough personality / name wise but the play a tall blonde human male warrior, take on the build and facial structure in my mind's eye. Young ladies who have a similar sense of humour to a real life relative become a cousin in one's mind.

And now that I really think about, I think I'm OK with my illusions. It would be great to know many of these people more / better even IRL, but I suspect in many case the mental image would be over written. In a sense my friends would cease to exist, and even though a real life interaction could well be more meaningful, I think I would mourn the loss of the person I got to know in the first place regardless.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Goblin starting area

So with the arrival of the sproglet, I've been needing to find things to do other than group related content. Killing myself to deal with a screaming baby is no problem, wiping a raid or even a 5-man seems a bit d1ckish. I don't mind DPSing in a 5-man, but I prefer my tank and healer play.

One of the things to do in this situation is level some alts. The little one kipped so nicely the other evening while the missus was doing catch-up that I used up all my rested XP on all three alliance sub 85s I'm currently working on. Last night I figured, it's been almost a year and a half, maybe I should check out the goblin starting area.

Man what an experience. You get a hot rod to play carmaggedon with, get to play a bit of mech-warrior football (ok that's a stretch I know), rob a bank, party hard, rob the boss, kill some stuff... and all with a fun story going on and a good feel for seedy goblin life. And this whole area only lasts 5 levels. That's like 20 minutes of play time, even savouring the experience and ready quest text (well skim reading it - still more than I usually do).

I feel a bit short changed for my Worgen chars. Sure the Gilneas thing felt pretty epic, and was well done. The Goblin city is FUN. I've only just washed up in Azhara and I've really enjoyed it so far. Looking forward to exploring the rest of the starter area.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The little things

Wow, it's been a while. The main reason being, I've been on paternity leave. Just under three weeks ago my lovely wife gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy. So all my online time has been devoted primarily to uploading photos and showing him off on Skype.

I have managed to push my rogue and priest through Cataclysm content and top out at 85, bringing my 85s count to 5 - crikey. But it does mean that raiding is off the table for at least a little while as we readjust to having the sprog around.

I've also been keeping an eye on the MoP news, and the pet battle music set off a massive bout of Blizzard nostalgia. One of the first games I played on a PC was Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. It also reminded me of sommething that impressed me about Blizzard games very early on, and that was the little bits of humour they stuck in their games. If you click on a peasant he says "more work?" Or something like that. If you click on him again he'll pick one of his other responses. If you repeatedly click on him he eventually gets annoyed and says "stop touching me." My friends and I quickly made it a mission to find out what the various characters said as soon as we'd unlock a new unit type.

One of the my favourites was the siege tank in Starcraft. Mostly because all their responses where shouted as if they had a bit of hearing damage from all the close proximity to artillery. I had a link to a bunch of StarCraft quotes but my Blogger app lost it, sorry.

I did try clicking on a WoW NPC, but alas they didn't seem to have any hidden responses. But there are other little things in WoW to keep one smiling. I was thrilled to stumble across a foal named Bambino walking around Grizzly Hhills with her two friends, a rabbit and a skunk. I loved finding the Goblin prince's pleasure palace North of Orgrimmar complete with swimming pool and diving board. I read about and subsiquently hunted down the scary weapon wielding critters near Thunder Bluff. There are many, many more fun little bits about, but I'll leave them to you to go hunt down.

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Did I miss something? When did X stop meaning kill straight after Skull, cause I think the whole of Azeroth may be trolling me... well I KNOW my raid team IS trolling me because I whinged about it and now they go out of there way to kill X last. But complete strangers seem to be trying hard to NOT kill X anymore.

And on that note, if you HAVE CC (I'm looking at you hunters and mages - others too but they seem to be the most reluctant these days) then USE it. Even if your tank doesn't ask for it you're allowed to sheep / trap / sap / sleep / mind control stuff. And NO knockbacks are NOT CC - save that s#1t for questing. Don't snare unasked but proper CC, go for it. And if your tank MARKS something with ANYTHING other than skull or X, then CC that bad boy. Don't stand around saying, we don't need CC. You don't have to be terribly skilled to do it. Your casting range is much further than aggro range and since Blizzard nerfed CC pulling there not much skill needed at all.

And assuming that your tank has some skill, don't CC the skull or the X. If (s)he's taken the time to mark the adds, he probably has a pulling plan in mind that may need a shield to bounce or a line of sight that you aren't necessarily aware of. You may like to argue the toss over whether or not the tank SHOULD lead the group, but the de facto situation at the moment is that they are EXPECTED to in most cases. And they ALWAYS have to be in charge of the pull.

It takes longer to wipe and run back than to just CC and kill a mob on its own.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Happy Noblegarden

I was going to mention some useful tips for the noblegarden holiday, but I was way too slow, maybe next year. Sorry.

Hope you all achieved your Easter goals. I myself got my spring Strider on Monday and didn't look back. Along the way I got the last two random drop achievements so unless they add more next year I'm done with that holiday.

On to other news. Still no helm token for Ironshield, but if that thing ever drops on Normal my EPGP is so high now there is no question it's mine. But RNG gods seem to have it out for me so we'll just wait and see. I suspect I'll get heroic tier shoulders or something at about the same time just to rub it in. Bit of background, I'm using LFR tier shoulders right now instead of the Heroic off set to keep the 4pc bonus. Naturally the tank off piece shoulders are BiS.

Speaking of LFR, there has been a lot of venom around the blogosphere lately about LFR griefers. And some of those are sounding like absolute world class d-bags. People have been asking... what can we do? Well not much really.


There are a few things. First off remember that even if there are 5/6 absolute asshats in your group, 80% of the group is fine. It's important to remember that the bad people are memorable because they are bad. And usually because they are vocal or conspicuous in some way. But the good people quietly get on with things. Don't forget the decent people, it will improve your stress levels.

Now what can we do about the bad? Healers, you have a Lot of power here. Even on low damage fights everyone is getting something. Don't waste your mana on the idjits who can't click the heroic will button or move out of morchoks slime. Tanks, don't taunt off the guy which breaks CC on Hagara trash. But other than that, manage the bad as best you can. The off tank on spine should pick up the bonus hideous amalgamations and keep them out of blood pools. Preferably go stand them on top of the moron DPSing tentacles just to scare him a bit. And take note of griefers and call them out in /s (or /rw if you're assist). That way you can possibly get a votekick in before the next boss.

But the most important thing to do, is not stoop to their level. Don't be a BAD. If someone is doing the wrong thing, start with polite correction, don't go straight to insults - although this is sometimes a big ask. The best way to improve the community is by being a decent member of it.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Is this the coolest world boss of all time?

I am thinking so... Darkmoon Rabbits on Wowinsider
With the baby on the way I don't know how much WoW time I'm going to be able to squeeze in by the time Pandaria rolls around, but this boss is tipping the scales in favour of continued subbing and upgrading.
I wonder if you have to bring up the holy hand grenade and count to 5 - NO 3! - In order to kill it? Maybe do some strategic "RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY"ing before you make it that far.
It's these little random acts of awesome that make world of Warcraft so fantastic in my book.

Innovative ignorance.

Not so long ago there was a bit of noise in the blogosphere over Blizzard's somewhat confused censorship policy. In a nutshell people were confused as to why Blizzard had chosen to censor some words while not censoring others. One of the words was transgender. I remember thinking at the time that this didn't make sense. (Bit if background) I am a white male who grew up in South Africa and have spent a lot of time in various all male institutions, as such I have heard a significant quantity of derogatory language in my time. Discrimination of pretty much every group imaginable and across a broad spectrum of maliciousness. And while I have heard many words used in a negative context transgender was never one of them. Maybe it's just a bit to weighty or long or benign sounding to work as an insult. It's a word that I would be much more likely to expect to hear from an LGBT advocate than detractor. As such I think it should probably not be censored. However a couple nights ago I witnessed something that might at least explain Blizzard's heavy handed approach. Please note I'm just playing devil's advocate a bit and I don't have all the details of all the language filter furore. But I was in an LFR where a player started berating people for not targeting properly by asking if they had AIDS. Now leaving aside the idiocy of the comment it was fundamentally clear from the context that this was intended as an insult along the lines of "moron" or "retard" and to the WoW player base's credit he was immediately challenged and accused of inappropriate behaviour, to which he offered the defense of "AIDS isn't a swear word, if it was it would be stopped by the language filter!" I was flabbergasted. I was overwhelmed with a desire to drive home to thjs individual the ignorance and downright illogic of this comment, but i couldnt even think where to start. Although in retrospect I suppose this was foolish, I mean I've SEEN /trade chat. All I could think to do was hit report and ignore him (or her - I have no idea - but as generalizations go I doubt the feminist community will be too upset with me for claiming this particular ). Now I accept that the language policy is disjointed at best and downright discriminatory at worst, but in the interest of hoping that it is at least well intentioned, I can understand the reasoning that leads to people making mistakes when it comes to designing a language filter to combat this kind of twisted logic.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

BBB random post generator challenge

Ironshield slumped down against the boulder on the side of the road, exhausted. He'd been trudging along this stretch of dusty road for what felt like weeks. His armour was chafing at his neck and ribs and his pack seemed to grow heavier with every step despite the dwindling supplies. He pulled a half an apple from his pocket and bit down. It was browned and withered and far from Juicy, but it served to take a bit of an edge off the gnawing hunger. He needed to reach civilization soon.

Two months earlier he had been sitting in a dingy corner of Stonefire Tavern in Ironforge when a Slender stranger had sidled up to him and basically barged into his quite conversation with a fellow veteran of the third war. He should have sent him packing right then, with a boot in the seat of his skinny human britches for good measure, but he hadn't. The stranger had spoken of untold riches, hidden in the southern deserts of Kalimdor, just waiting for someone brave enough, strong enough and wise enough to bring them home. With the little'un on the way and the lack of funds after all the devastation wrought recently by Deathwing, a bit of nest egg would be a welcome boon. If only he hadn't been so darn Vain! He knew it was a fools errand, but he thought he could handle it.

He'd stocked up on supplies and set out forthwith. The map the stranger had supplied was rather vague, but just accurate enough for him to find the quiet cove. He hunted around, following the various clues, until he finally found the cave. It was a narrow gap in the rocks really, little more than a crack, but once he'd made his way through he discovered the Shaft beyond. With a makeshift Torch, and a coil of rope he had made his way down into the depths of the earth. He was lucky to not encounter anything more dangerous than a couple of foot long centipedes but eventually he found it. A massive trove of treasure. Coins and plate and Jewellery of gold and mithril and silver. And lord of all the riches, a mighty diamond which shone with a light of its own like a glorious Star. He couldn't believe his luck, he could live off of this one find for the rest of his days.

He packed what he could into his bag, abandoning half of his food and water in the process. He would take what he could back home and return at a later date to retrieve the rest. The grapefruit sized diamond he wrapped in a cloth and hid in a bag under his tunic. It was uncomfortable but safe. He made the treacherous journey back into daylight just before his torch flickered out.

That was five days ago now. He had trudged through the desert for three days before he had run out of food in his small bag and gone into his main pack for more. At first he had thought it was heatstroke playing tricks on his mind, but he had spent the best part of a day confirming it. All the treasure he had found was trash. The coins were some kind of cheap soft grey metal. The plate was painted, rusted steel, and the pearls and ivory clearly poor wooden imitations. Worst of all the massive diamond was plainly a lump of common quartz. He was positive of what he had seen in the cave, but now outside in the desert sun all the glorious riches had turned to dross. Whatever the value of the items in the cave, it was clear they were enchanted to ensure they would forever remain Hidden.

Is that Gadgetzan on the horizon? There is certainly a line of smoke rising from a spot where it should be. He set off for home, he'd even be pleased to see a goblin right now.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

N00b Tanking LFR in Dragon Soul - Part 2

So you've lifted the Siege, and it's time to make your assault on the Destroyer himself. As you head up to the top of Dragonrest Temple, you'll meet Thrall and the Aspects charging up the Dragon Soul to attack Deathwing. After some RP dialogue Deathwing will unleash his ultimate weapon, Ultraxion. First there will be waves of twilight drakes, pick up as many as you can and be especially wary of the ones blasting swathes of blue flame across the platform. These guys must be taunted or interrupted ASAP. Avenger's Shield is brilliant for this. Once the trash are down Ultraxion will arrive and suck the raid into the realm of twilight. You'll also get a special button on your screen called Heroic Will. This button will shift you OUT of the twilight realm for 5 seconds or until Hour of Twilight or Fading Light complete. Your co-tank will likely tank Ultraxion from the start, but be ready with your taunt in case some trigger happy DPS jumps the gun. Thrall gives you a buff which halves the cooldown and doubles the duration of all your defensive abilities. This means you can and should have Holy shield up 100% of the time (at least the time you're actually tanking). It also means that you can soak every one of the Hour's of Twilight (which are 45s apart) by alternating Guardian of Ancient Kings and Ardent Defender. You can increase your survivability with Divine Protection regularly and throw a few Divine Guardians out there to help out the healers. All of this stuff isn't terribly dangerous on LFR but the one thing you REALLY need to concentrate on is Fading Light. It is a debuff of varying duration that is cast on Ultraxion's current target. If your co-tank gets it, taunt ASAP. If you get it, wait until there is <5s remaining on the debuff and press your Heroic Will button. You don't need to cut it fine or anything just wait until there are 3-4 seconds remaining and click. If you are still in the twilight realm when it expires you WILL DIE, not bubbling or damage reduction can save you.

Once Ultraxion is dead, there'll be a little video of Thrall shooting DW with the Dragon Soul. Deathwing is injured and flies off, hop on the Skyfire and chase him down. On the boat there'll be a bit of RP and then some Twilight Elites will drop down on the deck. Pick up the one that your co-tank doesn't and tank it over on one side near where the dragons get pulled in to the harpoons. The Dreadblade elite does a cleave so make sure you point it away, and if you have a choice, pick up the slayer. The slayer spawns on the Starboard side (the right hand side, facing the front of the boat). Once the elites and dragons are dead Warmaster Blackhorn will jump down. If your co-tank doesn't pick him up, taunt him and tank in the middle of the boat. Watch your co-tanks stacks of Sunder Armor and taunt off at 2/3 stacks, and then as soon as your stacks fall off there after.

With the Warmaster Dead (and hopefully giving up his nice shield) it's time to parachute onto DW's back. You'll either have to tank a Hideous Amalgamation or collect up bloods. If you are on Amalgamation duty, tank it right near the front of the area (it can be a bit confusing at first, zoom right out and look for DW's head). Wait until it has about 20-30% health and then run around dragging it through pools of corrupted blood until it has 9 stacks. Once it has 9 stacks, pop a defensive CD and tank it near the front edge. When it starts casting Nuclear blast, leg it to the far side. Help kill the tendon and then repeat. If your co-tank picks up the Hideous amalgamtion, run around picking up the bloods (look like the slimes from Yor'sahj) and stack them up just back from Amalgamation so that the main tank doesn't have to run far to get stacks. This is a very easy fight on LFR, you just have to be careful of people accidentally killing an extra tentacle and spawning an extra Hideous Amalgamation. If this does happen, pick it up and go tank it in a corner away from the pools and just let the bloods go where they will go. Avoid getting aggro on them as if the HA gets stacks it hits much harder. Once you've removed 3 plates DW crashes into the Maelstrom and it's time for the final fight.

This fight consists of 4 platforms which each correspond with a dragon aspect. You start on the green platform (Ysera) and this is usually where most groups will start on LFR. You'll notice you have a bonus button, this is a nice little damage reduction button, but it is only available on the first platform. Next you'll usually go to the Yellow/Bronze (Nozdormu) platform, which reduces the speed of the Elementium Bolt. Then Red (Alexstraza) which burns down the blistering tentacles. And finally Blue (Kalecgos) which is a DPS boost. On each platform there will be a limb of DW at the start. 5-15s after you start on the platform a Corrupted Mutation tentacle will spawn at the back of the platform. This must be tanked. If you start on it you need to pop some defensive cooldowns when it start casting Impale, if your co-tank starts, you must taunt it just before Impale is finished casting, don't worry it will still hit the original target, but you need to tank swap for the impale debuff which will kill the tank if you take two impales in a row without massive damage reduction cooldowns. When the tentacle is down, switch to the limb and help DPS. Pick up the bloods when DW casts Hemorage. Once the Red platform is dead you'll need to single target attack the small blistering tentacles that spawn as they are immune to AoE, but the DPS should be taking care of that. Once the 4 platforms are down you go back to the Green platform and Focus down DW's head. Little tentacles will spawn that need to be killed ASAP. They cast Shrapnel on various raid members. If you are one you can use the green button to handle it (although as a tank you should be able to just soak it). The thing you REALLY need to look out for is the two Elementium Terrors that spawn. Pick one up (your co-tank will take the other one) and drag them into the big yellow swirly. This will slow them down and help you survive. You might want to pop a couple CDs as the stacks of Tetanus climb. Use them from weakest to strongest, and use Emerald Dream and Holy Shield and Trinkets etc... to keep the damage down.

Congratulations. Do this all a few more weeks and pick up some good 384 quality gear and you can find yourself a proper raid to try :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stepping into LFR as a n00b tank

So you've put in the time and effort and grinded (ground?) rep and gear to the point where you have the 372 average iLevel gear. Said gear is all genuine tank, PvE gear (ie it doesn't have intellect, agility, haste or crit on it, it DOES have dodge, parry or Mastery on it, is Strength / Stamina and it's all Plate). You've put (at least) blue quality gems in all the slots and maximised your Combat Table Coverage and Stamina as much as human(oid)ly possible. You visited your friendly neighbourhood Enchanter, Leatherworker and Blacksmith to get all your enhancements, including a trip to Deepholm and Vashj'ir to visit the Therazane and Earthern Ring Quartmasters for the shoulder and Helm enchantments. And you're ready to Look For Raid. What do you need to know about tanking in Dragon Soul on LFR?

Ctrl-i and queue. The Siege of Dragonrest Temple is easier than the Madness of Deathwing, so I would suggest starting there.

First thing you need to do once you zone in is find out who the other tank is. This is pretty important information as you don't want to be wasting taunts on your fellow tank rather than the healers getting pasted. The easiest way to find out is to hit O to bring up the S(o)cial pane, and select the Raid tab. Now look for the little shield logos next to the players. There should be two, one coloured in and one outline. One of these will be next to your name, and the other person is the other tank. Don't worry about the Main / Assist designations as these are random. Once you've established who the other tank is, I like to mark myself and him to make it nice and clear who should have monsters pounding on them for eveyone involved. While everyone is still buffing up, zoning in, take the time to quickly inspect the other tank. If he's sporting a lot of 397 or greater gear, especially tier pieces, it is fairly safe to say that he is an experienced raider. Look especially for 403 weapon / trinket as this will mean that he's killed Deathwing. You can skip this step if you see a "Destroyer's End" title. If he's sporting a range of PvP gear / 346s you're going to be in a bit of trouble and you'll need to step up a bit more.

Anyway, you've got into a LFR group and you've lucked into a tank who seems to know what he's doing, let's get killing stuff. Almost all the trash is in groups of 2 or 3, see what your co-tank pulls and pick up 1 or 2 of what's left. After no time at all, you'll reach Morchok. This is one of the easiest raid bosses in the game to tank. Just go and stand right on top of your co-tank and DPS to your hearts content. If your co-tank get's 3 stacks of Crushed Armor you can taunt off and tank for a bit. When he starts channelling black blood, leg it behind one of the rocks that falls down around the edge and wait till he's done. Rinse and repeat.

Once Morchok is dead, head into the temple itself and hop on one of the dragons. Just follow everyone else. You'll either end up at Warlord Zon'ozz or Yor'sahj the Unsleeping (see below). Warlord Zon'ozz is also known as the Ping Pong boss, but it's a pretty rubbish game of ping pong on LFR mode. For the trash before the boss, pick up the Biggest mob and tank it. It's a massive tentacle. The rest of the raid should burn down the eye first and then the other smaller adds and finally your tentacle. For the boss, your co-tank will likely tank the boss and there is nothing for you to do, so just DPS as best you can. If you are tanking the boss, just tank him where he stands, on normal you have to point him at the raid and then away, but on LFR it doesn't matter much at all. I have heard it said that if the ball doesn't point at the raid it doesn't gain stacks which might mean that you don't do quite as much damage in P2 but I can't confirm or deny this. To play it safe it might be worth pointing the boss towards the raid until he spawns his Orb and then turning him around after it is out.

The next boss is Yor'sahj the Unsleeping (or the blobby boss as my raid calls him). Just kill the trash, you should group up and spread out and kill things in certain orders, but on LFR you either have a strong leader or you just muddle on. This boss is almost a 1 tank fight, so if you have strong co-tank, let him handle most of it. But watch is stacks of Void Bolt. If he gets 3, taunt the boss. Be especially wary of this if you are letting a Yellow slime through as the stacks will rise much quicker. If there is a black slime and you aren't currently tanking, pick up as many adds as possible to take them off you're squishier members.

After Zon'ozz and Yor'sahj are dead you will head up to the top of the temple and from there into the Eye of Eternity. Be wary of mass summons to the EoE, these are likely from jokers pulling you into the WotLK version of the raid. The trash for this boss is actually a bit trickier than most of the stuff we've seen so far. I always whisper my co-tank and say I'll take right, he can take left. Just pick up the group on the right and try and drag it towards the middle to help your healers get range on both of you. I say "try" and drag it, as there are a few casters around who will need silencing with something like Avenger's Shield in order to get them moving. Don't just stand in Blizzards and AoE. The last trash mob will be a big guy on his own, head for the edge ahead of the boss fight. If your co-tank is tanking this fight, there isn't a whole lot for you to do, but you can still be very useful if you keep a close eye on the DBM cooldown for Focused Anger and stand off a bit when it's almost ready, as soon as she starts casting it taunt from outside of melee range and she will immediately stop casting. Your co-tank will likely pull back immediately, just crack on with the DPS. In P2, be very wary of the ice walls (assuming you've just killed a pylon, rather than being electrocuted). She's dead, collect 250 Valor Points and hopefully go Gem and Enchant all the tasty new gear you just got. Coming soon, Madness of Deathwing half of the LFR.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Dear DPS, from the meat shield.

Dear DPS,

We appreciate your contribution, no really we do. Pew spewing really speeds up those dungeons for the Healer and I, and we like that. However, there are a few things you could do to make our lives a bit less frustrating.

By all means use all those abilities to Max out your numbers and I appreciate that you may be learning what they all do, but please please please, don't press that knockback button. Seriously, I realize it comes in handy while you're leveling your squishy moonkin or shaman, but when I've just used all my cooldowns to get those casters all standing in range of my cleaves, your knockback just screws everything up. You see if a caster isn't silenced he'll just stand where he is and fire off armour ignoring spells at will at the person on top of his threat table. And if he's out of range of my melee AoE, then that top threat person will quickly cease to be me, the high stamina, damage reducing tank, and rather be the significantly more vulnerable healer. And that's not even mentioning the knockback into the next group.

In a similar vein, if you see a caster or a hunter standing off to one side shooting at the tank, it's probably not wise to attack it. As instead of the usual competing with the tank's 500% threat generation, you will competing with a bit of residual threat. Much better to attack one of those enemies your tank is pounding on - preferably the one with the skull above it.

I won't harp on about pulling for the tank, you should know better. Or about those 3 repetitions of g and o that you love so much. Trust me, it really makes me want to slow down - and possibly - take a smoke break (I don't even smoke). But just generally, if you make my game feel like work, and not the good challenge type of work, but the annoying disciplining preschoolers kind of work, then I'm not going to go out of my way to keep you alive. And I may just throw it in for now, after all my next queue will very likely be as quick as my last one.

And a very special mention goes to the moron retribution paladin who thought it was a good idea to cast Hand of Protection on the tank on every cooldown, completely cancelling his threat and sending mobs everywhere. You are a schmuck.

Your tank.

Monday, 13 February 2012

PuG rants

First off let me say that I am actually a firm supporter of the LFD and lately the LFR mechanisms. For a long time I was a guildless, friendless adventurer with limited play time available. Being able to queue up and jump into a dungeon kept me playing the game. I do however have to acknowledge that it did have some negative consequences. Not least of which it seems to empower the worst among us to behave poorly.

I recently had the "pleasure" of healing a paladin tank who was tanking BRD with no shield. This would possibly be OK if he was using a two hander in ret spec, but no, he was using a intellect off hand?? What?

A little later I was in a dungeon with my hunter, 2 DKs and a holy paladin. The DK tank died or came close to dying quite a few times. The DK DPS was ranting at the healer for consistantly calling for mana breaks, and then running off and pulling. The tank wasn't holding aggro at all. At this point I thought I'd have a look at what was going on. Both DKs were unholy specced. And the "tank" wasn't even in blood presence. There were so many easy to fix issues, but rather than stop for 2 minutes and sort them out everyone was trying to gogogo regardless. Take a breath people and try and improve... even slightly.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Heroic Raiding begins

So with big DW down a couple resets ago, and one reset to change from the Monday night raid to the Thursday night raid, Heroic mode can begin for Ironshield. The rest of the team tried it last week, but gave up in favour of the full clear.

After a brief hiccup where we realised we hadn't selected heroic mode until after we'd pulled Morchok, leading to our first ever Morchok wipe and a second round of trash, I stepped into heroic raiding.

Pull one went pretty smoothly although I wasted some cooldowns early on as I expected a bit more damage to start. And then underestimated the enrage damage and took a massive hit from mid health as the boss hit 20% and we were wiped. We rebuffed and had a bite to eat and had another crack. This time I hung onto cooldowns until stomp 3 / 4 when the healers were having a harder time keeping up with crystals. I also managed to remember to move towards the crystals when they formed to help the soakers maintain range while soaking. Every time it started to look a bit hairy we got a black blood phase and the healers could casually top us off while regenning some mana to boot. The next thing we knew he's down in single figures and our health is all green. He toppled with a bit of an anticlimax considering the amount of strategizing we'd been doing leading up to it.

Just to rub it in a bit he dropped plate healing boots, which means that my best item is a pair of boots for a spec I don't even have yet. I'm going to have to learn to heal soon at this rate. I've got LFR 2pc, assorted 397s and 410 feet now for holy. At least our hunter got some useful loot, though I assume it's going to cost her a fortune to gem them now. Another reason to prefer tanking, my gems are yellow and increasingly blue. Everyone else has to fight over Reds.

Our attempt at going 2/8H was somewhat less successful. It seems jumping into heroic Yor'sahj with no planning and almost as little knowledge is not really a great idea. We made to to the second bloods one time, but that was the best we managed. To the strategy table! We finished off the evening with a few Firelands bosses to get some more Legendary components. Beth'tilac in particular feels really easy now.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Death of Deathwing

As the title implies, the 42nd downed Deathwing this Monday. On the second night that we had seen him, and with almost an hour left of raid time. Ironshield and 7 other team members got wasted with the last pulse of his blood AoE, but the DK tank, and a healer - (I think) managed to shield / survive it and he keeled over. Next week, HARD MODES. I managed to witness our raid's first kill of about half of the Dragon Soul bosses so I feel quite involved this tier.

This leads me to wonder, are these nerfs coming too fast? I know this topic has been done to death, but hey this is my blog, I can flog a dead zhevra if I want to. The 42nd is a pretty casual outfit. We started with the philosophy of not forcing people to join the guild in order to join the community, and as far as I know the recruiting has been done much more on a social and attitude related bias than performance (or God forbid, gear). We raid two nights a week for 3 hours. I personally only usually do one of those, but 2 usually happen every week. We fairly regularly pick up a stray from one of the teams other guilds to make up our ten, but there is usually a core of at least 8 who regularly raid. With this setup, is +-8 resets really too many to be killing the tier end boss? Especially when you consider Christmas and New Year were in that slot. I acknowledge that Blizzard sees more data than we could ever hope to, but I personally expected to spend more time than this on progressing this far.

Blizzard have told us that some guilds have hit a wall. And I can believe that, but only really because they progressed too far and far too quickly. As far as I know, all the hard mode raiders on my server went 7/8 on the very first reset, and most killed Deathwing the next week. This isn't a hard core progression type realm by any stretch of the imagination. So my conclusion is, are these nerfs coming early because ultimately the raids were under tuned? At least the first part? But even the last few, this DW kill didn't feel nearly as epic as the Ragnaros post 30% nerf kill. Yes Ragnaros was a massive amount of dance, and the seemingly unrelated phases felt disjointed, but killing him felt EPIC.

DISCLAIMER : the only "data" I base any of my conclusions on is my own experience so conclusions may vary :)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Carrying the flag

One of our main roles as a protection paladin is carrying the flag. We're pretty hard to kill, have a range of defensive cooldowns and can even help the healers out with self heals. I'm going to be talking about this from a random BG perspective so it might not all be applicable to rated BGs. This is also all from am Alliance perspective as I haven't played much horde side.

1) getting the flag. If you're in a random group, you're going to want to get across the map and nab that flag ASAP. I find the quickest way for both flag carrying maps is on the right hand side as you come out of your base. For Warsong head straight across the map and up the outdoor ramp, then through the first door you come to and drop down on the flag. This has the advantage of sometimes not dismounting you until you are right at the flag, and even if you are dismounted as you go inside, you should still easily beat anyone coming up the tunnel as you are mounted for much longer. On twin peaks I like to stick to the right and then cut across the rocks to head for the front door. While this route is longer than the direct route I find I very rarely encounter any resistance. If you have a DK with you, you can stay right and go straight through the water.

2) Flag picked up. The most important thing from now until you cap is keep your healers in LoS! Some healers are good at sticking with you and anticipating, but don't expect them to off the bat. It is better to take combat with your healers than get completely isolated and then get hijacked by a couple rogues and slaughtered.

3) Abilities. Hand of Freedom is brilliant defense against druids and mages snaring you the whole time, make sure its key is near to hand. Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Protection and Ardent Defender are all good for reducing incoming damage, and AD even base a free life attached, but if it's triggered you're probably in trouble anyway unless you get a lucky Lay on Hands. Avenger's shield and Hammer of Justice are great for slowing down attackers (I assuming you're glyphing dazing shield). And try get your CS / HotR hits in on anything, even pets. You want you HoPo for Words of Glory.

4) Healing. Word of Glory is a great asset. Pop wings if you can to increase the heal. Lay on Hands is the greatest free reset spell you could possibly hope for. The only thing that would make it better would be I you could cast it while incapacitated. Get the glyph and pop it if you're in trouble and isolated.

5) Beware. Don't get panicked and bubble. This will drop the flag. LoSing enemy casters is a good thing, but make sure you don't leave your healers out of sight as well.

6) Keep an eye on the enemy flag carrier. The default UI will tell you who is carrying your flag. Try target or focus them or watch your raid frames (you do have raid frames that show targets right) and when you see the EFC going down start heading for the flag spawn spot. There is nothing worse than going to all that trouble of returning a flag, only to have it recaptured because your own FC wasn't paying attention and didn't cap.

Finally when you can cap, CAP. Don't be that Guy that stands in the flag room prolonging the battle unnecessarily so that you can "farm kills". Win and requeue, the queues don't take that long, and also it's just rude.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Paladin Tank Resources

World of Warcraft is a complex game. There are necessarily a lot of abilities and nuances associated with each class and spec. If we only had three abilities it would be a pretty dull game. The downside of this is that it takes a significant amount of (at least) playtime and probably a lot of extra research to play well.

All this means that a comprehensive guide would end up being more like a user manual. I've been looking into playing a few alts / alt specs recently and it got me thinking of how I first learnt to play my tankadin, and it really wasn't one guide or resource but several. So I thought I'd share a few of my favourites.
This is quite a small community but very friendly and helpful, and usually happy to give helpful answers to even the most specific questions.
This is a much larger tankadin community, with lots of useful information. Probably the best source for theory craft and numbers. This is the home of the Theck after all. The only reason I wouldn't put this as my number one resource is that there is a LOT of information and most of it is aimed at cutting edge progression raiders meaning it can be pretty overwhelming for a beginner.

There are the more general resources of Elitist Jerks, Tank Spot, Wowwiki and wowpedia. These are full of gems of knowledge. But the wikis are a bit out of date, the playerbase is in a bit of a Cataclysm funk I think. And the other two are again quite overwhelming for beginners.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The value of a team

First a bit of background. I'm a social member of a fairly serious raiding guild (at the time of this story - start of 4.3 patch - the main team was 6/7 HM in Firelands) but I raid with a much more casual raid team. We only raid 2 nights a week and we downed Ragnaros on normal mode the final reset of patch 4.2.
Now shortly after 4.3 started I had an opportunity to go on an Alt run with the majority of the people from the main team. The thing I found though, was that even though these guys were almost all better geared than my usual team, and unquestionably more skilled, for me it felt significantly more chaotic. I didn't understand all the strategies admittedly as there were slightly different from what my usual team used but even straightforward fights, when I had very impressive healers on my back, it felt like my health yo - yo 'ed a lot more. This was farm content so we didn't have any major hiccups but still it felt like something was missing.
What does this mean in practice? Was the main team slacking as this was just an Alt run? Is my casual team secretly super bad a$$?
Possibly, but I think it is something more simple than this. When you do something with the same people week after week, you get to know them. Know how they play. Know what the other person is going to do. You almost certainly couldn't list it, or repeat what you know but you know. When a tank moves, the healer anticipates where he'll go. When the boss gets shifted the DPSers know where he'll end up. You couldn't learn it from a video or a strategy guide but you'll learn it fundamentally by doing it. And doing it the same with the same people.
A good stable team is worth more than gear and "skill". Once the gear and skill gets good enough you can "power" through, but you won't be as efficient or clean as with a well established team.

Class professions

No not which professions are best for which classes but rather which classes are best for leveling which professions.

I'm only interested in the gathering professions as crafting is the same no matter what.

Druids have a fantastically easy time of herbalism, especially when you get flight form. Swoop in, pick a flower and swoop out again, don't even need to shift out. Got aggro? Don't fight that mob, just fly up and wait for him to be on his way, and if he really won't leave your favourite flower alone, root him just out of range, switch to flight form, and go pick.

Skinning, herbalism and I would guess mining are all much easier with pet classes (Warlocks & Hunters) as you can stick a DoT on the mob, send your pet in to kill it (wait until it is close if you're wanting to skin) and get on with your gathering.

Skinning is also a lot easier if you're a tank, round up a ton of mobs and AoE them down, then skin at leisure.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever PuG 'ed into LFR or LFD or even just watched /trade channel for a while that there are some very rude people who play this game.

In case you haven't done any of the above, allow me to give an example from today. I jumped into LFR to see if I could pick up some healing gear to give healing a try, and I won the gloves token. Well we get to the next boss's trash and another paladin whispers me something in another language. I reply "huh? " assuming that he's wrong channeled me, but I get on with pulling slimes and the next thing I know I'm being sworn at. I look back through my whispers and see he's asking if he can have the hand token. That in and of itself is fine, some people roll on things they don't REALLY need, but in the space of 2 minutes to switch to swearing and questioning sexuality ... doesn't really sell your case of getting the token handed over.

Oh well now that's off my chest :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Been doing a bit of crafting on alts to try and get some utility.

My hunter is a herbalist / scribe and I must say these professions compliment each other very well. I'm being gated much more by actual leveling than by the profession difficulties.

My priest is a tailor / enchanter and while these to do naturally compliment each other as well, it is much more of a slog to level them. I keep hitting places where I need to buy silly extra mats or send something over from another alt. Not to mention never having enough cloth. Except Neatherweave of which I had in excess of 2.5k of. Even after flying through to 350 I still have over 1.5k cloth left.

My rogue is a Skinner / leatherworker and as obvious as these two are, LW needs an overhaul. Going back to AoE down low level mobs to farm cloth has got absolutely nothing on the grind of farming leather!

My DK is a miner / engineer, which works well as a combo but engineering is a pain to level as you often have to go hunting for rather obscure mats.

My main leveled miner / blacksmith which was a great combo although I did spend a long time farming Thorium (but that was more because I was determined to get myself an Imperial plate set) . I recently switched the mining out for Jewelcrafting, which was also quite an effort, but it does make tweaking gear sets much easier :)

Had a good experience today with crafting the Dragon Soul tanking Bracers. Had to wait around for a little bit for him to gather the mats but when I had made them I was thrilled to receive a 1400g tip! If I could just craft 9 more for the same price I could get my money back from the Travelling Tundra Mammoth I finally picked up this evening.

Starting up

To be perfectly honest I only created this account to comment on Dwarven Battle Medic, but now I think I might try doing some short phone based blogging, just to get the occassional world of Warcraft rant off my chest. Anyway lets see how it goes.