Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lessons Learned

Last night was truly interesting on many fronts. It started with a tell from my Raid Leader/Guild Master and an invitation to come to vent. Some of the comments I had made in this blog had her concerned over my state of mind, and how I truly felt about the guild.

I try to be true to the events and how I'm feeling and reacting. I will not censor myself or allow the knowledge of an audience to color my content. I never write with the intention of embarrassing anyone or trying to make someone look bad. But sometimes people can interpret my posts to have bothered them. I may look at something I said in the blog rather innocuously, but someone else might view it as slam/attack.

If I ever make a post that bothers or upsets you, feel free to contact me. Email, IM, In game whatever. I'm not adverse to editing posts, if I unintentionally hurt someone.

The truth of the matter was I did have an issue with my guild, and my raid leader. What I should have done was to go to my raid leader and tell her what my issues were. Instead, she had to come to me. I didn't because I was concerned that it would make my situation go from bad to worse. If I blew it, and got myself kicked from the raid or even kicked from Dominion, it would be the end of Honorshammer on Altar of Storms.

I sat there for a moment in a private channel with just me and my Raid Leader, trying to decide if I should risk telling her everything that had been bothering me about the guild, the raid, and herself.

My wife has always told me I'm a lousy liar. My raid leader already knew something was wrong. I wasn't going to be able to avoid it any longer. So I told her everything that had been bothering me.

I feel like we left the encounter with a much better understanding of each other. I was pretty off base on most of what I thought was going on, but until I talked to her about it, I had no way to know I was off base.

Lesson Learned: If you have an issue with your raid/raid leader/guild master, the very best thing you can do is go to them, ask for a time when you can talk out your issue and see what they say. Don't allow concern over their reaction stop you. Be respectful. Explain yourself in terms of the situation that is bothering you and avoid personal attacks.

I was feeling much better as I headed into the Caverns of Time. This will be Dominion's home away from home until we can kill Archimonde (if we had a home, say... like..., oh, I don't know..., Guild Housing? *hint* Blizzard, *hint*). But before we could face him, we had one more of his lackeys to deal with in the form of Azgalor.

Like most of the bosses in Mount Hyjal, the real test is getting to Azgalor. His trash is the most difficult in Mount Hyjal. The wave that will get you is usually Wave 6 which is composed of 6 Banshees and 6 Necromancers. 100% casters, all the time. Casters are the bane of the Protection Paladin. Where we excel at dealing with melee foes, Casters ignore all our beautiful armor and avoidance and go right for our hit point pool.

Dominion uses an inventive strategy for dealing with this Wave. The Wave immediately preceding it has a number of Fel Stalkers. They are like Fel Hunters on steroids. What we do is banish one of the Fel Stalkers. That keeps the NPCs, and especially the Tauren Warriors up at the front banging away at it. Then when they casters show up, the Chick-Fil-A patrol goes to town. The casters are stunned, sheeped and feared.

So how can you, the Protection Paladin help your guild defeat this wave?

First, target one Banshee as they are coming in and hit Exorcism. You are still a tank have one of the deeper hit point pools going, plus you already have a healer (or two) watching you. It's better for you to be absorbing that damage than say a Mage. Once you get the banshees attention, target a different banshee, and cast Turn Evil. You've now feared one mob that your Warlocks couldn't.

Now your job gets a little more difficult. Those Necros are going to have summoned Skeletal Invaders and Skeletal Mages, just like the Necromancer unit could in Warcraft 3. They can spawn just about anywhere. It's up to you to find them and get them under control so they can be killed. They don't hit really hard, and they don't have many hit points, but if they have free reign they will decimate your raid, and you won't even know why.

Our first time through the trash and the plan went off without a hitch. The next thing you know, Azgalor is lumbering into the camp.

There are two jobs that need to be done to defeat Azgalor that are best suited to tank types. The first is obviously Azgalor himself. Paladins shouldn't have threat issues. Azgalor is a demon after all, so we get an extra nuke with Exorcism. Most of our spells have long cooldowns (Holy Shield and Judgement specifically). Azgalor is a stand there and tank kind of fight which lends itself to using Seal of Vengeance. Vengeance leaves a DoT on the boss which will keep ticking for threat even if I'm silenced.

We do get locked out from refreshing Holy Shield (the Paladin version of Shield Block) when we are silenced. Much like the problems I had with Gruul, if I get a silence when I need to refresh Holy Shield, I'm going to be crushable until I get out of the Silence. Lucky for us, Azgalor can't crush. We have our Warrior stop attacking during the silence, but Warriors throw a lot more attacks that can be parried than Paladins do. Basically only my white hits can be parried. All the rest of my threat moves (Consecration, Holy Shield, Judgement) can not trigger a parry. Nearly every move a Warrior has can be parried (Sunder, Devastate, Shield Slam, etc.). People don't take that into account when they say Paladins take more damage than Warriors.

If you get put on Azgalor, keep one thing in mind, he hits like a freaking runaway train.

The other tank spot for Azgalor is Doomguards. Every minute, someone in your raid is going to get Doom. They have 10 or 15 seconds to run to the Doomguard group which for our guild consists of 2 tanks and melee DPS passing the peace pipe with the Tauren Warriors. After the timer is up, they die, and a Doomguard spawns. Generally, he'll make a beeline for your healers.

The advantage of Tankadin gives you with Doomguards is we can provide the raid with a larger margin of error than any other Tank class. Basically, if the Doomed person does not do their job and get their happy little self into melee range of the tank, it can be difficult for the Warrior/Druid to pick them up. Also, the Warrior or Druid is sitting there with an empty tank (no rage). The timer on Doom is such that they should be able to Bloodrage (and whatever the Druid equivalent is), however this will put them on a Global Cooldown.

Meanwhile, your Tankadin is sitting with a full blue rage bar, and a host of abilities (Exorcism, Righteous Defense, Avenger's Shield) that work from well beyond melee range.

While I have little doubt I could tank Azgalor, I'm more of an asset on the Doomguards. Healers have to adjust to the "rhythm" of each Main Tank. What I mean by rhythm is the way the tank takes damage. Each tank will take damage differently and I'd rather our healers get used to me on a fight with that's a little more forgiving.

With Azgalor defeated, we turned our sites to Archimonde. My Raid Leader gave me the option to stay or to sub out for a Priest healer. Allowing me to make the choice to sub me out or not was an interesting twist. If I sat out, the only person I could be mad at was myself.

There are few things in game that can compare to a progression kill on a boss that has been kicking your butt. Many people think its about the gear, and it's true, I do want my helm off of him. But for me it's not about the gear. It's about seeing the story unfold. This is Archimonde. This is the end of the 3rd War.

The Priest healer had not seen the fight before and would be needed on Thursday while I was going on vacation, and could provide the raid with an additional decurser. Sometimes, the truest act to something you love is to give it away.

So I benched myself. Archimonde will be there to kill next week.

What happened next I had not anticipated. The entire raid held a big cheer for me on vent to tell me they really valued me and respected my ability. It was very cool, and I really appreciated them doing that.

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