Last night, while Tony Romo tried his best to give Buffalo a win over Dallas, Mal Katai was in a battle of its own with Gruul the Dragonkiller.This was the group of Mal Katai players who were in the raid to take him on. We had a little trouble getting up to 25 people. Strangely enough, what we needed was a Range DPSer, but eventually, we got everyone together and buffed up.
My mission, and I chose to accept it, was to be the Hurtful Strike tank. This required me to be 2nd highest aggro in melee range. I've known for a while that my role for Gruul would either be Hurtful Strike Tank or Healer. Because of this, I've been preparing a special set of gear for the encounter. In this set of gear, which I refer to as my Offtank or Threat set, I'm running 362 spell damage. That is totally buffed with Superior Wizard Oil, Unstable Flask of the Sorcerer, and Blackened Basilisk. When you add in the 190 spell damage that Judgement of the Crusader gives you, its the equivalent to 552 spell damage.
The first two attempts did not go well. On the first attempt, I was having a hard time seeing what was going on. Gruul's ankles took up a large part of my screen and it was hard to tell what angle I was at (in front, behind, etc). I had studied a picture of where I was supposed to be but Gruul wasn't where he was in that picture so I was a little off. So this first attempt, I was just getting my bearings and getting a feel for the fight.
The next attempt, I felt I had a better feel for what was going on, but my threat generation was terrible. I wasn't cycling my cooldowns very well and I was not having any luck keeping up a stack of Vengence on him.
At this point, Tralic, who is an incredible Feral Druid, whispered me about him taking over the Offtank spot. He had done it before and thought he did pretty good. This guy really knows how to play his class and he is better geared than I am. I admitted that my threat gen was too low on that attempt and asked him for another chance. He agreed.
I steadied myself as Brindall, our Main Tank prepared to pull. I ran in after him and exploded in a shower of Light energy.
Judgement of Crusader, GO!
Seal of Righteousness, Power up!
Avenger's Shield, FLY!
Power Up, Seal of Vengence!
I did much better this time with my threat generation. Unfortunately, I did a little too good. On three occasions, I passed Brindall and took #1 threat. Now, in my way of thinking, that should have put Brindall #2 so he would have taken the Hurtful, but as my WWS Log bears out, the Hurtfuls went to our DPS Warriors. It's such a fine line trying to walk between doing more threat than the DPS, but staying under the Main Tank. And while you try to pull off that little balancing act, you've got to be mindful of silences, Cave Ins, and Ground Slams.
I took almost every Hurtful Strike at attempt. I'm not sure how, but we lost Brindall, our main tank. So Gruul turns his attention to me! [Edit: Gruul was at 45%, and 3 seconds from Growth#11. I tanked him from 45% to 38% before I died]
I'm wearing a threat set. Uncrittable (490+ defense), but not uncrushable, or at least I didn't think so. Yet, WWS (WoW Web Stats) does not indicate that any of Gruul's hits were Crushes. I held him as long as I could before I went down. My thinking behind the threat set was that if Brindall couldn't stay up against him, I wouldn't be able to either. So I geared to do the best job at the task asked of me.
I really appreciate that Tralic gave me a 2nd (well actually 3rd) chance to off tank Gruul. [Edit: Mana was not really an issue. I had to drink one Super Mana Pot during the early stages, but I always had mana to perform whatever attack I need to.]
I think for our next attempt, I'm going to tweak my threat set just a bit. A little less spell damage, but more survivability. At the end, the Hurtfuls were hitting me for 13k. If they continued to ramp up, I was going to get one shot eventually.
After it was over, I went to Ironforge to sell some stuff on the Auction House. I ran into Stonegrad. Stonegrad is the most advanced Protection Paladin on the server. I actually had the pleasure to raid with him during my brief stint in Bloodsky. Maybe one day, I'll look like that, maybe not. I said hello, and asked how he'd been doing. They had just downed Leothras in Serpent Shrine Cavern where he picked up the Fang of the Leviathan. I'd say he was doing pretty good.