Friday, May 30, 2008

Teron Gorefiend

After my night off of WoW, I got going again Thursday night. The evening started with a big all hands Guild meeting. These things generally bode ill for a guild. This particular meeting was centered around your humble author and our recent kill of Azgalor.
Apparently, some people were less than completely excited about the fact that I had received the T6 gloves and had expressed their displeasure to the officers.
I felt in somewhat of an awkward spot. I'm relatively new to the guild, and I don't have relationships with hardly anyone. They weren't really upset with me, but with the system. I listened as the Guild Leader and the officers explained why they had chosen to distribute the loot the way they had. Dominion uses a "Gear the Tanks/Healers" system that gives priority on Tier tokens to a group of documented Main Tanks and Main Healers. There are 4 Main Tanks and 6 Main Healers. I was chosen as one of the Main Tanks, and thusly received my Tier 6 token from our Azgalor kill. It was also explained that T5 content would no longer be a focus, and would likely be run on off nights. Raid nights were going to be exclusively for T6 (BT and MH).
A couple of the people in vent (I don't recognize voices yet) made some very humbling and flattering comments about my ability and performance thus far in the guild. "He's the tank we were looking for" particularly stuck in my head. After the meeting I thanked everyone for their comments. I resolved in my head to run Hyjal until every person in that chat room had their T6 gloves.
Vlad started invites for the raid. She said over vent that she had the tanks and was working on the rest of the raid. I was disappointed because I hadn't gotten an invite yet, but she had said she would need to rotate people through. I started thinking about what I should do with my evening.
I've taken the approach of being very careful what I verbalize. I can't tell you how many times I've said 'I wish I hadn't said that'. It's not very often that I say 'I wish I HAD said that'.
It's like the old adage of which my Father was found. 'It is better people think you might be a a fool with your mouth shut than to open it and remove any doubt.'
As I flew out of Shadow Moon Valley, I got an invite. I pulled back on the stick of my Gyrocopter and turned back towards Black Temple.
I discovered a portal near the entrance to Black Temple, similar to the portal that takes you to Shade's room in Kara. Apparently after you kill Supremus, this guy spawns and will port you up to the next level where Shade of Akama and Teron Gorefiend are. Conveniently, there is a reagent vendor and repair vendor right there.
We took some time to learn the trash. There were a couple of AoE pulls that I tanked and a couple of pulls that needed 3 tanks. Other than that, I kept an eye on sheeps, made sure Judgement of Light was up on the mobs. I was also charged with watching for skeletons that the Deathshaper mobs could summon.
I really don't think it has much to do with my class. I came to an established guild with established tanks. Currently, I'm the 4th tank in the guild. I'm fortunate the #1 tank has decided to play his Resto Shaman.
Most of the night I was really concerned as I kept my eye on Omen. I just wasn't producing the TPS I'm used to producing. The other two tanks were spiking up to 1100 or 1200 TPS, while I never saw mine over 900. I checked all the usual suspects, Righteous Fury on, Salv off, etc.
I run about 550 Spell Damage, so I should be producing good threat.
I wonder how Omen knows whether I've got Improved Righteous Fury (50% more aggro) or Fanaticism (60% less aggro). I wonder if it's calculating the TPS accurately for Paladins.
I was really concerned because the one advantage a Paladin tank gives you on Gorefiend is fast aggro. Because he's undead we can open up with Avenger's Shield, Exorcism, and Judgment. That's a truckload of threat right out of the gate.
Gorefiend is something of a DPS race. He slowly marks one person for death in the raid, they die and spawn constructs, which the dead player, now a ghost must kill. Only ghosts can kill constructs. I had practiced my ghost skills on a simulator and watched a couple of different videos on them.
It turned out it wasn't going to be an issue because the #2 tank was going to tank him. This guys is at least, if not a little better geared than I am. One advantage I had in my previous guild was that with all the Badge gear I had purchased, I actually out geared some of the content, and most if not all of the Warriors and Druids. Now that I'm in a Tier 6 guild, those advantages have disappeared.
I miss being that #1 tank more than I thought I would. I'm just going to have to be patient, show I'm a good player, regardless of my particular assignment, and wait for my opportunities.
I volunteered to help dispel the Immolate that Gorefiend puts on people. I was one of two people on dispel duty. The Immolate ticks hard. The first person to get it was a mage and we nearly lost him, but after the 2nd Immolate I got much faster. It became something of a mini-game to me. Would I beat out the other Paladin who was on dispel duty?
I got smoked that first attempt 4 to 2, but I came back strong winning the next attempt, 5 to 2, and the 3rd attempt 4 to 2. Last attempt, he got me. I lost 9 to 7. So we split the attempts. Not bad.
We made 4 attempts at Gorefiend before the trash respawned on us. Each attempt got better. Even with me in the raid we had enough DPS to defeat him. The fight is going to be won or lost by the people who get turned into Ghosts. If their constructs reach the raid, we will wipe.
There are a couple of fights in Burning Crusade like this. You can't control who will be the pivotal player in the raid. It's sort of like baseball. In most of the other major sports, when you get to a tight spot, you look for your 'go to' players. You want the ball in their hands. In baseball, you don't have that control. Bottom of the 9th and 2 out, your 8th placed hitter maybe the one up in the batting order. Sure, you can pinch hit for him, but if your pinch hitter was your 'go to' guy why was he on the bench the whole game?
In much the same way, you can't control who the game picks to control the Ghosts. You've got to hope that it's a solid player. I can't see Gorefiend taking more than 1 more night. We can blast through the trash and get more attempts on him.

One Year Ago

I was in Heroes Inc and we were struggling to get through Black Morass.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Azgalor No More





Tuesday was reset day, so we opted to go back to Mount Hyjal. Everything was pretty fresh in our minds from the previous evening. Our target was a progression kill on Azgalor, and the first pieces of Tier 6 for our guild.

I'm getting better at handling the trash waves, though I still need to get better on judging when it's safe to call for AoE. Some waves I would wait too long and the Raid Leader would call it for me, and other waves I call to early, and someone (usually a Warlock) would pull off of me.

I'm also getting better timing my Holy Wrath so it hits the targets I'm after, though here as well, I could still use some improvement. At least twice, I hit nothing with my Holy Wrath which made the pickups very hectic.

We managed to one shot all the farm bosses, and do so much more cleanly than we had Monday night.

I know Dominion's former Prot Paladin would rip Rage Winterchill off the tank 'accidentally'. I'm not sure why he was doing this. I know I could do that, but I don't see the point, unless he was trying to show then he could handle a boss. I feel like I'm helping more on Rage by keeping an eye on people who get frost bolted and cleansing Frost Nova off the melee.

One thing that really concerns me is that a lot of what I do is not going to jump out at you on a Recount or WWS report. I throw a heal, debuff the boss, swing a couple of times, cleanse the melee. I'm not going to top any damage/healing meter, and my numbers are never going to impress you. My concern is that since my contributions are not visible, they are not recognized. I realize I justify my raid spot just from what I bring to clearing the trash waves, but I want to justify my spot on bosses as well.

I'm still working on my Infernal pickup on Antheron. Our guys are doing a great job of running towards the tank spot. My problem is that I don't know where everyone is standing so I'm kind of looking all around and trying to get a fix on the Infernal. Most of the time Vlad (Fire Tank) was already in position, since she tends to know where everyone is.

We had a nice piece of Hunter Mail drop off Antheron, which I linked to one of my former guild's hunters. When I had left Mal Katai, he had asked that I link him some T6 level stuff. I wasn't sure if he meant me getting Tier 6 level stuff or hunter Tier 6 level stuff.

I one uped my performance on Kaz'Rogal. Not only did I manage to stay alive, but I was able to keep my mana above 4k the entire fight. My Judgement of Wisdom returned nearly 40k mana to the raid. I gave each Hunter about half a mana bar's worth of mana to turn into pure MQoSRDPS.

Despite me being about 30 minutes late, we finished him up with a little more than an hour to go.

We had done Azgalor's trash one time and it got messy around Wave 5. I felt like I had a better grasp of what I was supposed to be doing. One of the mobs in these waves are Gargolyes which are flying around. The strat we use is to aggro the Gargolyes and then run under this structure (I'll try to screen shot next week) to line of sight them. Once they are gathered under there, I start Consecrating. While Consecrate is ticking, I run out and grab another one. Meanwhile the raid is working on a Frost Wyrm. It looks tight. (Gotta screen shot that too).

I have to try to keep from chuckling every time the Raid Leader asks over vent "Whose got the Worm?"

I can't say enough about the healers. How they kept my sorry dwarf butt alive during some of those waves was amazing. I know it's blue, but for the later trash waves in Mount Hyjal, Figurine of the Colossus is absolutely amazing.

One trick we use to great success in Mount Hyjal is to station 2 or 3 Rogues near the entrance as the final trash wave is dispatched. Their job is to distract the boss, basically holding him in place for a short period of time. While they are doing that, we all get into positions and prepare for the boss.

After a couple of distracts, he is Misdirected onto the tank (Kee - Warrior).

Hello Azgalor.

(I'm wearing a Shield of Impenetrable Darkness in this pic because my Aldori Legacy Defender broke on the final trash pull of Azgalor, and that's with me not dying the entire time.)
Apparently, he's some long lost brother of Magtheridon and Mannoroth. Seeing how hard Magtheridon, and Azgalor hit, I have even more respect for Grom Hellscream. Can you imagine he soloed one of these guys with a Gorehowl? 2 handed tanking for the win I guess.

I was one of the Doom tanks. My job would be to pickup the Doomguard that spawns. See Azgalor puts a debuff on one of your raid members which causes them to die after a short time. When they die a Doomguard is spawned from their corpse. He does this once a minute. The doomed person would run over to our Doom group. We would have a Warlock come with them to Soulstone them, and then we would pickup the Doomguard and the melee group would help take them down.

This sounds so simple in concept, but my execution left a lot of room for improvement.

We tank the Doomguards back by the Tauren Warriors. The first Doomguard is picked up and dragged to the back to get some additional NPCs involved. I was standing on top of the hill waiting for the second Doomguard to spawn. It was already on a full run for the healers as it spawned, and was out of range for Exorcism before I could see it. Luckily, Vlad caught it with an Intercept. She had left the first Doomguard with the NPCs. I tried to run back to grab it but it was already dead.

So far I was 0 for 2 on Doomguards. I figured out that I was supposed to be standing in between the healers and the Doom spot. I was in the wrong place. Now that I had my position down, I picked up the next one briefly before Vlad overtook me. The other problem I was dealing with is that Azgalor does an zone wide silence. I got silenced just as a I need to Exorcism to pick up a Doomguard.

I think I got maybe 1 Doomguard 'clean' the whole fight. It occured to me later that what I should have done was stand on the Doomed person and drop a Consecrate. I'm looking forward to killing him again so I can really nail it.

The good thing was we hadn't lost anyone to a Doomguard running amok. We blew 3 Soulstones and a Battlerez. We were out of tricks, but Azgalor was nearly out of health.

As one of our mages ran toward us with Doom, Azgalor died! Note to self: Azgalor dying does NOT stop the Doomguard from spawning. We picked it up and killed it quickly.

Dominion had now achieved 4/5 Mount Hyjal.

All through Tier 4 and Tier 5 my token was called Champion, and I shared it with Rogues, and Shamans. I knew these guys had been waiting for Tier 6 for a long time. Two Rogues (Aga and Raz) have had a friendly competition for farming up DKP turnins with the guild bank. I know it's going to be a little while before I get Tier 6, and that's okay.

Then Vlad reminded us that Tier tokens go to Tanks and Healers first. At least two of our main healers are Shamans. So I'm ready to congratulate them.

Oh, but Blizzard decided to change the tokens for Tier 6. In Tier 6, my token is called Conqueror, and it's shared with Priests and Warlocks. So I'm all set to congratulate one of the Priests.

Then the Conqueror token is looted to me.

I had been wondering what Vlad and the rest of the officers thought about my skill with playing a Protection Paladin, but I didn't want to go fishing for compliments. I guess they feel like I'm doing okay, or they wouldn't have looted the token to me. Later, Aga sent me a tell telling me I was doing great and that he was ecstatic to have me in the guild. I owe him a debt of thanks as well, as he was the person who recommended me to Dominion.

Apparently, what Vlad had meant was Tanks first, then Healers, then DPS. The other two tokens went Vlad and Kee. So in one night, every tank but 1 was taken care of.

There were some people who complained about the system. Apparently, Dominion had used the same system in SSC/TK but no one remembered or was there during that time. Some of that ire was directed my way. I wanted the token, but I never asked for the token, never even bid on it. It was simply looted to me. There issue was not with me, but with the system.

Aga, a Rogue, and an officer in the guild, is also on the top of the DKP leader board. He offered his own DKP to purchase the tokens that had been given to the tanks.

With the loot concluded, I take the portal to Shattrah. I grab the Gyrocopter and head up to the Aldor Rise. Only one, small, tiny problem. The Tier 6 vendor isn't in Shat. He's in the Caverns of Time. I grab my handy, dandy Ultrasafe Transporter Gadgetzan, and head back to the Caverns, and pick up my gloves.

I almost couldn't believe it. I had Tier 6 Prot Paladin Gloves.

I compared them to my recently aquired Tier 5s. It's a straight upgrade in all areas except for Block Value and Block Rating. I'll take it, thank you very much. Vlad put the 2% threat enchant on it, and gave me a Runed Crimson Spaniel (+12 Spell Damage). Normally, I would have gone for a +15 stam, but I can feel the threat issues building.

Our crosshairs are now squarely on Teron Gorefiend. Just 5 bosses stand between me and Illidan Stormrage!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Void Reaver

With the Holiday weekend coming not much was going on. I was playing on my Warrior when I got a tell from Aga asking me to go to Tempest Keep. At first I thought we were going to do Al'ar, but instead we tried Void Reaver.
It didn't takes up long to figure out that our mods were not calling out incoming Arcane Orbs. We wiped on Void Reaver at about 50%. Vlad changed the location of the melee groups healers, and we went at him again.
The great thing about Void Reaver is that your TPS determines whose tanking him. He does a periodic knockback on the current tank, reducing his threat by 25%, and then proceeds to the person on his aggro list if that knocked the current tank out of first place. The idea is to have another tank be #2 so he goes from tank to tank.
I did very well on generating threat and soon found myself as the center of Void Reaver's attention. I was having to nearly chain chug mana potions as the gear I need to have on to be uncrushable is a little too heavy on armor, and avoidance. There were a couple of moments where Void Reaver would switch targets (usually to me) and I'd get quite low before the healers switched over. Vlad had been calling out the changes, and I had waited for her to do so, but she was also watching the rest of the raid, so a couple of times I called it out. I hate talking over people in vent (especially a Raid Leader), but she never said anything to me, so I guess it was okay.
We had a Warlock pull aggro and lost nearly the entire melee group to an orb Void Reaver lobbed at them as he went after the lock. We continued fighting him, but we had lost too much DPS to beat his enrage timer. We wiped at 1%.
Now we knew we could do it. We got back and pulled again. Vlad made a little discovery during this attempt. She was going to hit Revenge, but misclicked on Taunt. Suddenly Omen reported her aggro right up there with the Tank at the time. She then called for each tank to taunt everytime the cooldown was up, and called for DPS to open up full bore.
I've got to think that this is either a bug in Omen, or in Void Reaver. He doesn't change targets when you taunt him, but you get the aggro boost just the same. I'm leaning to the explanation that there is a bug in Omen.
On our 3rd try we got him down. He dropped 2 Hero Tokens and Champion Token. I went for the Champion token, but a Shaman, who apparently had been waiting a while for shoulders had more DKP than I did. I am the FNG, and trying to build my DKP up. Plus, this guy had been waiting a while. You could sense the raid wanted to see him rewarded. I was disappointed because I wanted my shoulders too, but I was happy for him. I'll get them next time (I hope).

3 Hour Kara

After Void Reaver, I got an invite to run Kara with a group of raiders, alts, and some friends from another guild. At first, I declined. Kara just doesn't get the blood pumping the way it once did. Eventually Vlad asked me to tank the group after they asked her. I relented and got the invite. I kept thinking about Ciderhelm's Speed and Efficiency speech. It might have cost me a repair bill but I was going to keep pulling until someone yelled at me. If this is a culture I want to adapt in the guild, or even in my own guild one day, then I need to start practicing it.
There was a Prot Warrior also on the run (Bmann). We each tanked different bosses on the night. I was talking to him about tanking Nightbane, when the Raid Leader (Thunder) put me on him. I healed for Curator, Maiden, and Shade. We shared the tanking duty on Netherspite.
Everything was going along really well when we got to Prince. In our only wipe of the night, a PVP spec Shadow Priest pulled aggro, and got me enfeebled. This got me killed which ended our attempt. We cleaned that up and killed him the next pull. Again, the ire of the group was directly at the Shadow Priest and not the tank.
Just over 3 hours later, every living (and undead) thing in Kara was gone. Thunderbolt commented that it was the fastest he'd ever seen Kara run.

The Problem With Healing

It was during this Kara run that I had a revelation about why I don't like healing. I had always thought it was because Paladin healing is not that interactive. We have only 2 heal spells. Holy Light is a 'big' heal and it great for throughput, but no so good for longevity. We also have a 'small' heal, Flash of Light. It doesn't have the raw power of Holy Light, but it is fantastic for mana conservation over long fights. Mostly Paladin healing is throwing Flash of Light after Flash of Light, with the occasional Holy Light thrown in to cover a bust.
I looked around as Bmann tanked Curator and our DPS destroyed flares. The fight was happening 'over there' with Bmann and the melee dps and Curator. I was over near the wall, healing. I felt very disconnected from the actual fight. Yes, I was involved and I had a relatively important contribution to make. It's not hard to figure out how DPS a DPS class is doing when they are dead. But despite that, I felt disconnected from the combat. Healers are the only ones who have no contact with the boss. We are connected to the tanks and the DPS.
I know healing is important, and absolutely necessary, but for me, it just doesn't feel like we are part of the battle, even though we are. So it's not Paladin healing, but healing in general that I don't like.
I love the lore and the idea behind the Paladin, but I find the pure healer aspect that the majority of Paladins play a bit incongruous from that lore and idea.

Mount Hyjal

We finished up the weekend by doing a clear of farm bosses in Mount Hyjal. This was my first time in Mount Hyjal with Dominion without their original Tankadin, Taypion.
Rage's trash went pretty well. It's the set I've done the most often, and I'm most familiar with it. I did mess up the transition from Wave 7 to Wave 8 which led to a somewhat sloppy boss kill.
Antheron's trash didn't pose too many problems. I'm still learning it though. Sometimes, I'd get too focused and forget to call for AoE. I'll get it down with a little more practice.
We got to Antheron himself. My job was to pick up the Infernals that dropped and drag them over to Vlad who was in Fire Resist gear. The hardest part was finding the person who was targeted, and picking up the Infernal before it aggroed to a DPS, Healer or NPC. I waited until he was casting and chose his target, but I don't know the raid well enough to know without thinking where everyone is going to be. Again not the cleanest kill, but still a one shot.
Kaz'Rogal is not my favorite boss. His mana drain makes me less than useless, it makes me a hazard to my melee group. After the 8th and final wave of trash was down, I slipped into my healing gear, mostly for maximum mana. I had nearly 11k mana when the fight started. I judged the boss with Wisdom, and sealed up Wisdom and started hacking away. My main goal was to keep Judgement of Wisdom up. Over the course of the fight, my judgement returned over 36,000 mana to the raid. Hunters were the biggest benefactors of it.
I kept a close eye on my mana throughout the fight. As soon as I hit 4k, I was going to get out of there. I was able to stay in nearly the entire fight, even making Vlad a little nervous. I was ready to bubble out of his stun (he does something like a Warstomp). Finally, I couldn't keep my mana up any longer and I had to get out of there. BUT! He was dead before I died. I actually managed to live through Kaz'Rogal! I was quite pleased.
He dropped the Hardened Heart shield. I knew I was way down on DKP from the other tanks. I was glad it dropped because that is one less person that needs it next time. By my rough calculations, I won't have a decent shot until the 3rd one drops.
I want that shield, but I have to be patient.

The Warrior

Most of the weekend I spent leveling up my new Warrior. I have to say the guy is a lot of fun. I managed to get him up to about level 20. The really cool thing was my buddy Aoesrus made a Shaman so we were able to quest together. He used his mage to port my Warrior over to Exodar so I'm leveling him there.
It reminded me that this was why we had gotten started in WoW in the first place. Aoes moved away about 7 years ago, and we've only seen each other a couple of times in the intervening years. WoW is one way we hang out, have fun and stay in touch. Unfortunately, he's on West Coast time so we don't get to raid much together, which is a bummer.
I had a 34 Warrior before my account got hacked and he was deleted. I made this Warrior human, while my old Warrior was Draenai. I am finding my understanding of the differences between Warriors and Paladins to be very helpful as a level him.
For example, I had to kill a same level named mob (Deathclaw) for a quest. I charged in and made sure to get Thunderclap and Demo Shout up as quickly as I could.
Based on some research I did at Tankspot, I'm going to level him Dual Wield Fury. They found that DW Fury is just as good (if not a little better) than either Two Handed Fury or Two Handed Arms. If you are interested in the article itself, you can find it here.

Retribution is at hand

Cathmor has put down his shield and picked up a big ole Hammer of Pain for the Burning Legion. Check out his new blog: Eye For An Eye

One Year Ago

5-25-2007
I created this blog to chronicle my thoughts and experiences as a player in Blizzard's wildly popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.
This blog will follow my main, Honorshammer, a level 70 Dwarf Paladin on Altar of Storms. It will also include thoughts on my other characters, Honorshummer, a level 30ish Draenai Hunter, also on Altar of Storms.
I don't know if many, or frankly anyone will read this blog, but here it is.
That was one year and 347 posts ago. Today, my Blog gets roughly 300-500 hits per day. My Draenai Hunter is level 66, but has been currently shelved while I work on my Warrior.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone is enjoying your Memorial Day!! It's back to the grill for ole Honors.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Raiding in Wrath of the Lich King

I don't know how many of you saw this interview with Jeff Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan is the lead game designer for World of Warcraft.
You can see the interview in its entirety here: http://www.gamevideos.com/video/id/18754

Here's a couple of highlights.

Jeff Kaplan: In 10 man raiding, we declare and say without a doubt, we expect you to have 1 tank there. 1 tank, and two healers. Some groups might bring 2 tanks and 3 healers, or 1 tank and an offtank. And then in 25, we've pretty much come out and said we expect you to have 3 tanks, and more healers than just two obviously.

So you 10 man group in WotLK will be 1 tank, 2 healers and 7 DPS. I'd imagine in 25 mans it will work out to 3 tanks, 6 healers, and 16 DPS. This to me is an acknowledgement by Blizzard of something the players seem to have known for a long time, most people want to play a DPS.

As you progress from 5 to 10 to 25 man look at how each role is represented.

TanksHealersDPS
5 Man1 (20%)1 (20%)3 (60%)
10 man1 (10%)2 (20%)7 (70%)
25 man3 (12%)6 (25%)16 (64%)

Lets say you've two groups of 5 people who are happily banging their way through 5 mans as they level from 70 to 80. Now they hit 80 and join together and start running 10 mans. 1 of those tanks needs to go DPS.

Now 2 of these 10 man groups get together. What do they need to find for the other 5 spots. 1 tank, 2 healers, and 2 DPS.

So someone who has happily tanked their way through all the level up content suddenly finds themselves unneeded. The good thing is 3 of the 4 major tank classes are Tank/DPS hybrids and can make the switch from Tanking to DPS. But now these toons who are DPS are no longer available (without a respec) to tank for 5 mans.

Did you still run 5 mans as you were beginning Karazhan. I know my guild did. The one poor schlep who has to respec not only for PVP versus PVE but also based on different levels of PVE content is the tank. How exactly is this encouraging people to be tanks?

Look at the percentages. You need more tanks as a percentage of the population for leveling than you do for endgame.

Kalbear on Maintankadin summed it up well.

"What that actually means is that either tanks will be in very short supply for 5-man groups (because the ratios are simply not there) or that tanks in 5-mans will need to be offspec by design. That's not so bad, I suppose, but it's hardly encouraging the amount of tanks to be brought to an instance."

Where will 5 man groups find their tanks? Isn't that the EXACT problem Blizzard is trying to solve with the introduction of Death Knights? Yet, now these tanks find themselves superfluous at the level cap.

He was specifically asked: So you think people are going to get to 10 man Arthas and then feel like they didn't really finish the game if they didn't 25 man him?

Jeff Kaplan: That's a good question. That's one of the first things we thought of too. It starts with the whole debate like "10 people can't kill Arthas" and then someone counters with "Well, can 25?" because last year we were saying 25 couldn't kill him but 40 can. So what's that magic number. The jury is stil out on this one. we might just say, "That's what cool about 10 and 25 person raids. It's cool with a 10 person raid you can face the End Boss another thing that's under consideration is that the 25 person raid would unlock the 10 version of the same content. Some other suggestions, although I'm not sure we are going to pursue this one is that the End boss simply isn't there in the 10 person mode. But to be honest, I really embrace the fact that its less about whose right or wrong about how many people they have and more about getting people to experience the content, and then rewarding them for whatever difficulty level they beat it on and however many people they have with them.

I have to be honest with you, if they go the route of not having Arthas in the 10 man version, I'd be very very disappointed. It sounds like they don't want to go that route, but the 'jury is still out'. I really like the way he wraps up the statement talking about people experiencing the content and rewarding them for the difficulty level and the number of people in the raid. I hope that's the direction they go in.

If they decide to make Arthas 25 man only, I believe they are doing a disservice to what they are trying to create by having 10 and 25 man versions of each instance.

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead


Wednesday night, Dominion went after Lady Vashj once more.

I logged in long enough to get sub credit and decided to go play on my Warrior. I kept listening in on Vent. My plan was to log into Honorshammer as soon as they got her down, so I could celebrate with them. After my misstep after our first night on Vashj, I was trying to be as good a soldier as I possibly could be. As much as possible I want to show my guild that my outburst was a learning experience from which I hoped to rebound with grace.

As start time approached, Vlad determined she only had 6 healers in the Raid, and was debating between asking me to come, or asking a Resto Druid to come. She decided she wanted a 3rd Paladin Blessing and a 3rd Blessing of Freedom in case she lost one of the other two Paladins in Phase 1 or Phase 2. Their best attempt Tuesday had been at least in part foiled when the Paladins went down and they didn't have a Blessing of Freedom for Phase 3.

She offered to pay for my respec to Holy, so I logged into Honorshammer, changed him to Holy and got an invite. I owe a debt of thanks to Tyaus who helped me with my spec. The first time I had gone Holy, my spec was something of mess.

My responsibility in Phase 2 was changed from the last time I had been to Vashj. I was to go with a Warlock and a Hunter to the East side and keep them alive while they prevented Elementals from reaching Lady Vashj and making her stronger. Every Elemental that gets through to Vashj makes her stronger. It's something a combination of Grandmaster Vorpil in Shadow Labs, and Gruul.

The challenge in this particular assignment was the Warlock and the Hunter didn't stay close together. They sort of patrolled, so I would have to run back and forth to make sure each stayed healed. There are also a ton of line of sight issues with those stairs.

I was also responsible for the Hunter's pet. I am very inexperienced as a healer. The pet doesn't show up in Healbot (I love that mod), so I lost the Pet on the first attempt.

I pulled the Hunter and the Pet out of my raid frames so I could keep an eye on them.

As a "Stair Healer" it would my job to pass the Tainted Core up to the top platform where the generators were. I would get the core from either the Hunter or the Warlock, and then I was to pass it to either a specific Priest or a Shaman up top.

The one time we got the Core on our side, I tried to pass it to the Priest. The macro you use to pass the core doesn't give you any indication if the person you are targeting is in range or let you know if the pass failed. So, I hit the macro, thinking the core is passed. But the Priest was out of range.

"Honors, you've still got the Core!"

I looked around as quickly as I could and saw a Warlock between me and the Healer.

I hit my Push To Talk key. "Coming to you, Thunder!" I passed the Core to Thunderbolt and got back to to healing.

We got all 4 Generators down, but just as the last Generator went down a Strider spawned. The tanks picked up Vashj, and the DPS split between the Strider and the Boss.

I had thought Phase 2 was chaotic (and it is), Phase 3 kicks it up a notch.

In theory, Phase 3 is the same as Phase 1, just with some bats dropping poison all over the ground. It sounds fairly mundane. The experience is anything but mundane. One thing no video can convey to you is how hectic the Phase really is.

The entire area of the fight slowly becomes covered with poison which ticks hard. At one point, someone yelled out on Vent that I was standing in the poison. I wasn't. I was in between two patches, but I decided to not argue the point over vent. I am concerned it makes me look like not a very good player, but I decided that it wasn't the time to argue the point.

We began to slowly lose the raid, and people started dropping to the poison. My mana reserves were becoming absolutely strained. I popped a mana pot, but I was almost out again before the cooldown was up. Luckily I had some Dark Runes on me that I use when I am tanking for mana. I used one of those as well. I had to bubble to move over a patch of poison as the tanks moved Vashj around as best they could.

We had her at 1%, but people were dropping left and right. My mana was about spent, and the entire area was covered in poison. There was no where to run to, no where to hide, (no where to run to, ba-by).

And then, after what seemed like an eternity, she fell.

We had done it. We had downed Lady Vashj.

Did I make the 'right' choice to go Holy for this raid? Did I somehow betray the Protection Paladin community by making this choice. I don't think so. I know at points, that other Protection Paladins that I've looked up to as examples like Lore, Psiven and others have gone Holy for a night or two.

Can a Prot Paladin tank Vashj. You bet your Dwarvish Beard they can. Had I stayed in Mal Katai, I have no doubt I would have tanked her when and if we got to her.

I am a firm believer that life is a series of choices. Sometimes, one choice you make will make other choices for you, but ultimately they are choices.

You never HAVE to do anything. Not to be morbid, but the only thing you HAVE to do is die, everything else is a choice, and even in that moment you will come to grips with the most important choice you made in your entire life.

I could have stood my ground and not respeced to Holy. There was no threat nor coercion, simply a choice. Spec Holy and raid Vashj, or stay Prot and not raid Vashj. The tanks for the night were Kee (who had killed Vashj with another guild) and Vlad (who was leading the raid).

It's sort of hard to argue her choices, and if I had been in her shoes, I may very well have made the same decisions myself. I'm still very new to the guild, to take me over a more established tank would have caused no end of drama.

At the heart of it, I'm a raider. I love to raid. As long as Dominion doesn't ask me to go Holy full time, I don't see any problem with going Holy for the occasional Boss. Ultimately, it's about contributing to the team, right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Name The Warrior Contest

My guild, Dominion, made some very good progress on Lady Vashj last night. Twice, they got her into Phase 3. The best attempt was a 5% wipe when they lost the Main Tank (Kee), then the offtank (Vlad) got static charged, and rooted at the same time.

My night started out kind of rough. We had a hail storm in my city. We hardly ever get weather like that. Our close proximity to the coast usually protects us from tornadic thunderstorms. My daughter was a little freaked out by the hail hitting on our roof, so I sat up with her until the storm passed. Nothing like wrapping your arms around Daddy to make you feel safe.

I emailed my RL (from my cell) and let her know I would be late and to please replace me with someone else. It was a courtesy because I had already been told I wouldn't be in for Vashj, but in case she had been counting on me for Lurker, I wanted to let her know I would be delayed.

I finally logged in and they were working on Lurker. I respec Honors back to Prot (yeah!) and did some housekeeping (Auctions, a daily or two). Then I decided to go try a new alt. I had stumbled across an Alpha leak site with information on Warriors in Lich King. It sounded pretty cool. I really want to give "the" tank class a spin.

I lost my 34 warrior, Rabbitslayer to the account hackers. Apparently, each character Blizzard restores costs you a Restoration, and you only have so many. That Warrior had been a Draenai, so I decided to make this guy human. (#I'm only human.......of flesh and blood......I'm made.....#)

So I need to come up with a name. He's already level 10, but I can rename him later. By the way, low level greens have skyrocketed in price to the point that no one could afford them without a 'sugar daddy' Level 70.

I want to keep with the Honors______ convention. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

Urban Myths In WoW

The Tank Shortage

Let's take 3 Guilds and see how the players in that guild would perceive the reality of the tank shortage.

Guild A is in Tier 4 content. Their Main Tank just took a month long vacation from the game. They are a small guild and really didn't have anyone ready to fill in the gaps. Perhaps they had capable players, but the toons were a bit undergeared or lacked experience. This Guild sees and believes in a severe tank shortage and hopes Blizzard does something quickly to get more people to roll tanks.

Guild B is in Tier 5 content. They have several players with experienced and geared tanks. One of their tanks just got ninja'ed by a Tier 6 guild. They may be a week or two bump where they get a tank up to speed on fights he hasn't tanked, but for the most part, they keep right on chugging. This Guild doesn't see a severe tank shortage, but a more mild one. While action on Blizzard's part to get more people to roll tanks would be welcome, they probably don't see a pressing need.

Guild C is in Tier 6 content. They have more tanks than they can possibly ever use. They have tanks sitting at the stone waiting to sub in. One of their tanks leaves the game to go place Hello Kitty Adventure World. They miss their old raiding comrade, but their raids hardly miss a beat. This Guild doesn't see a tank shortage, in fact, they probably feel like there are too many tanks.

My belief? Good tanks slowly migrate to the more progressed guilds leaving a gap in the lesser progressed guilds, and for 5 mans/Heroics. Warriors are the most played class in WoW, having surpassed Hunters. Yes, some are PVP devoted, but not all. Druids are plentiful (though most are Resto), and you can't walk 5 feet in Shattrah without tripping over a Protection Paladin. Boy has that has changed over the last 6 months or so.

Since Blizzard wants to answer this 'pressing' need for tanks, they have introduced a new tank class into the expansion.

World PVP

Blizzard continues to believe the player base is just dying for more World PVP. I don't think that's the case. Sure, you'll read about it often on the forum boards, but every time a World PVP objective is actually added to the game, it tends to be under utilized. The things that I think players truly want like seiging Capital Cities, Blizzard has already said no to multiple times. Now, in the expansion, they have put an entire zone dedicated to World PVP. I tend to believe the zone will not see a whole lot of action.

What do you think are some other Urban Myths in WoW?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Probably Just Being Paranoid

Kaz (can I call you Kaz) has done a great post on the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King info. You can read it here.


Personally I'm very concerned over how Blizzard will handle the tank balance issue.


If you'll remember, Druids went on this crazy roller coaster ride in early Burning Crusade. They came out of 2.0 (the patch that started our migration to Burning Crusade) very strong (some might even argue they were overpowered), then got reduced (nerfed) and slowly brought up to about right.


Warriors were always pretty good but early in tBC they had some rough times, especially with all the multi-target tanking needed in 5 mans and early Heroics. The foil to their scaling was that they started off a little weak.


Paladins were something akin to a baby giraffe. They were the new tanks, and their legs were pretty wobbly at first. They were consistently behind Warriors and Druids in Hit Points (the most visible 'tank' stat), and they had a huge inertia of preconceived notions to dispel. Even the most Ardent Defenders of the Paladin tank saw clear weaknesses as the Raid game began. The thought of a Paladin tanking even something like Gruul or Hydross was fodder for April Fool's jokes (yes, I still remember that one) in early 2007.


Even now, at the end of Burning Crusade, with all 3 tanks nearly equal, in the most challenging encounters like Brutalus, Paladins have been found wanting.


Now, Blizzard adds another 10 levels, 10 more Talent points, new spells, and new talents. As an added bonus, we have a 4th entrant to this seesaw balancing act.


Paladins seem like such an oddball compared to all other tanks (including Death Knights). They are the only Tank/Heal hybrid, while the other 3 are all Tank/DPS hybrids. Druids and seemingly Death Knights switching between the two a little more fluidly than Warriors.


Paladins are the only tank to start will a full resource bar and slowly deplete it over time. Warriors and Druids are Rage based and Death Knights work on a strange combination of Rage and Rogue energy.


Paladins are the only tank to be mana based, and the only tank crippled by Mana Burns (thank you Kaz'Rogal), and Silences (Hello Maiden, Gruul, Bear Avatar).


The Paladin niche seems to be fairly narrow as well. Warriors are setup for physical mitigation. Easy to see a Boss like that. Death Knights for Magic Mitigation. They basically replace Warlock tanks and may eliminate the need for a Warrior or Paladin to ever need resistance gear again. Druids are your fluid tank for places like Lurker where you have a temporary add that needs to be tanked, then go DPS the boss.


Paladins are your AoE tank, and in every occurrence of this 'niche' in Burning Crusade it could be done with either a Holy Paladin or a combination of Warriors and Druids.


I'm really concerned Paladins are going to be 4th string tanks in Wrath, and that would be really sad. It took Blizzard over a year to fix Paladin tanks (we weren't really up to nuff til about 2.3), I'm not holding my breath they get everything right from the get go this time around.


For me personally, the Death Knight doesn't hold much appeal. Much like the Warlock, the Death Knight is just too dark for my taste. I don't want to play a class with abilities with names like Death Coil, and Death and Decay. But over the course of Burning Crusade, I've come to enjoy tanking. It's fun for me and I don't mind the drawbacks that come with it (slower solo experience, repair bills, etc). I'm just concerned over where my class will be when the dust settles from 3.0.

Just For The Night

Dominion is a guild that followed the advice given by Ciderhelm and others to kill the first 3 bosses in Black Temple and Mt. Hyjal, and then go back and kill Lady Vashj and Kael'thalas.
So Monday night, Dominion set it's sites on Lady Vashj. Vlad (GM) had told us that she would only be taking 2 tanks to the encounter. It didn't take me long to figure out I wasn't going to be one. I went ahead and made the macro you need for passing Tainted Cores, but just to show you my frame of mind, the macro was named 'Useless'.
First of all, I'm the newest tank in the entire guild. I can't imagine the drama that would have been caused if I had been chosen over a tank who had been in the guild longer. Another factor, and one I wouldn't learn about until after the raid, was that one of our Warriors, Kee, had already been in on a successful kill and knew the fight. I had never been in a group to even seriously attempt her.
It's not in any way unusual for a guild to take only two tanks when going for a first kill on Vashj.
I was talking to a friend of mine (Raydz) about the situation, explaining to him that I really wanted to see the fight. I have a feeling that we will only kill Vashj once or twice and return our focus to Tier 6 progression.
Raydz made the crazy suggestion that I offer to spec Holy for the night, just to see the fight.
The moment came and Vlad whispered me to ask how I felt about not going. She could have just said "I'm the Raid Leader, this is what's going down", but no she whispered me and said "You going to be okay with this?"
I thought that was pretty cool of her to do.
So I offered to spec Holy, and she took me up on it.
Now my Holy gear is no great shakes, even properly spec'ed I have about 1600+healing. But that didn't matter. I was going to go kill Lady Vashj.
My goodness this was a crazy fight. The first phase wasn't very difficult at all. I was one of two Paladins in the raid. Our main contribution to Phase 1 is keeping the Warrior tanks with Blessing of Freedom when they get rooted.
Then there is that odd pause when she transitions to Phase 2. The Elementals start spawning, but up top, it's pretty quiet. You sit there watching your timers and waiting. It's like a calm before the hurricane.
Then all hell breaks loose. Naga coming from all directions. Fen Striders lumbering through the raid. Locations being called.
"Naga from the south!" "Tainted in the East"
Lightning ripped through the raid as Vashj tried to be Emperor Palapatine.
The point of Phase 2 is to shut down the 4 Shield Generators that are protecting Vashj.
"Han will have that shield down, we have to give him more time!"
It what became a predictable sequence. The Fen Strider would get pulled away from it's designated kiter. Then we'd start leaking elementals into Vashj from somewhere.
We improved through the night, generally handling the first Fen Strider well but losing the second. It seemed we were waiting too long to call for DPS on the Fen Strider. One Fen Strider would go down, but the next had already spawned.
We went from getting no Generators shut down to getting almost 3 shut down by the end of the night, but that was as far as our progress would take us. If we can get through Phase 2, I think we can get her.
After the raid, I asked Vlad if I should go back to Prot or stay Holy to try Vashj again the next night. She let me know that they would only be taking 7 healers the next time (we had 8 this time), to try to squeeze in one more DPS. She went into more detail on why she picked herself and Kee for the tanks for tonight. She was leading the raid, doing assignments, etc. and Kee had successfully tanked Vashj for another guild so he knew what to do, not only from theory, but from actual practice. She told me that if I could make a case for a 3rd tank, she'd listen, but it would have to be a good case.
Instead my mind started working forward to all the fights in Black Temple. There aren't many (any?) fights were you need more than 2 tanks. I was getting very concerned.
Every guild I've ever joined, I've had to convince them, not only of my own skill, but also of the viability of Paladin tanks. I had to do it with Heroes. I had to do it with Mal Katai. I'm thinking I'll have to do it here. This idea was further solidified in my mind when I wasn't used to tank much in the SSC run earlier.
I've heard of just about every way guilds can use and abuse Prot Paladin. What I was seeing in my head was that I was going to be a 'hired gun' to get them through Mt. Hyjal and not used for much else.
This was all swirling through my head as I voiced my concerns to Vlad. She did her best to explain herself to me. She was calm and rational, and frankly pretty gracious.
I was not.
Vlad explained that she thought I was capable of any tank role. "I know you could tank Vashj" were her exact words. Then she added "I'd love to put a Prot Paladin on Gorefiend". I just needed to be patient.
I was feeling a bit sheepish.
She explained she saw me as something of a kindered spirit, a raider who loved to raid, and didn't want to be left on the sidelines. "I hate sitting too, that's why I lead the raids".
At this point the predominant thought in my head was "Let's see Honors, it's taken you just about a week for you to make a total @$$ of yourself to your new guild leader, and officer corps. Good job! That's got to be a record or something."
She left it out there that she really didn't have anyone else she was comfortable with leading raids, but she'd be open for someone to "step up". The hint was not lost on me.
I did what damage control I could manage and headed off for the night.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Threatened

I returned to the 10 man scene this weekend doing Zu'lAman on Friday night and Karazhan on Sunday.
Friday night, I ran with a group from Heroes Inc that included Wichita, Bacon, Lakini, Origami, Sweatyz along with a couple of new faces like Bluetide, Desirabela, Dario, and Tonkadonk. We were going to try to get as many chests as we could.
The run went really well. We got to Bear and killed him with no major issues. I didn't have a single taunt resisted the whole fight. We had me on the human form and Tonkadonk doing a little Bear on Bear action. /ParisHilton: "That's hot!"
We went on to Eagle. I ran the gauntlet trash with me up front tanking the two elites and all the little eagles. Wichita suggested I try tanking Eagle Boss himself. We were very heavy on melee DPS and I was concerned. We had the attempt rocking pretty good when we lost two people. Shortly thereafter I went splat. I went back and looked at my combat log, but I didn't see a crush.
The next attempt we put Tonkadonk on Eagle and I threw on my healing gear, which is getting better. Right now, I sit at about 1300+ healing. I don't mind healing, especially on something like Eagle which is pretty heal intensive. I just don't want to do it full time.
We downed the Eagle boss and started pulling towards Lynx. The trash was pretty easy, though the mind control was interesting. One pull I got mind controlled right off the bat and the mobs got loose. We one shot Lynx with me and Tonkadonk tanking. I was picking up the Spirit Lynx. He got away from me one time, but I got him back before he killed anyone. It seems he has something like a secondary attack where he will change targets for just a moment and do something, then turned back to me.
As we moved from Boss to Boss, Desirabela would ask me about mages in MK and Dominion, mostly looking for information about how they were spec'ed. She told me she wanted to be the mage she could be. That's an admirable quality and the kind of attitude I like to see in people. I told her to try to find Raistlan. He's been every spec of mage known to man (or gnome).
We finished up there and moved onto the Dragonhawk. I gathered up the adds and we were ready for him to pop them all after just 3 hatchers. It got a little crazy because he teleported just before he hatched all the remaining eggs, but I was able to get the adds under control and we killed him as well. Neither shield that I could use dropped, instead some caster dagger.
I really wanted to continue onto Hex Lord, but it was midnight and I was driving to Charlotte for Code Camp the next day and had to be awake at 5am. I left the group.
Sunday, I was in WPL working on my fishing skill. Currently Honorshammer fishing skill is at around 275. I'm trying to get him to 375 so I can fish up my own food for raids, but I have one small problem.
I hate fishing.
While I was there, I was invited to go a Karazhan run by Thunderbolt, who I had raided with in SSC. They were doing Shade on up, including a shot at Nightbane. The group ended up being a mix of Dominion and another guild on our server called Manus Domini. I was really happy when the last DPS slot was filled with my old buddy Agamegnome.
We started with Nightbane. I was a little nervous because we only had one Priest to give me Fear Ward to handle Nightbane's fears. We had enough DPS that we never had more than 1 fear a phase. During the final phase, one of the Warlocks pulled aggro and got killed.
It was an odd moment for me. I haven't had a DPS pull aggro off me in months and months. I made a comment that I'd see what I could do to ramp up the TPS and switched into some high threat gear for trash.
I checked the Cfchief, who was healing/OT for the run. He thought I was doing a good job. I received a complement at Shade when I switched the DPS from Salvation to an appropiate DPS buff. Usually, they would have to remind a Paladin to switch the Blessings.
Our first hiccup of the run came at Netherspite when we lost control of the green beam. Netherspite got healed and we wiped. We fixed it our next go around and got him.
Then came the Prince.
Our first wipe on Prince was because one of the Warlocks passed me on threat and I got Enfeebled. He was right on my tail the second go and someone in the raid basically had to yell at him to either Soulshatter or stop casting.
This was really an odd occurrence to me. It's been a long time since I've had someone give me so much trouble to stay ahead of them on threat. I remember stories of Brekke/Joanadark talking about a mass of purple and yellow bars above his pink bar in Omen, when he was maintanking. I started watching Omen. The numbers would hover around 600-700 TPS, then drop to 200 TPS then rocket up to 1100 TPS. I'm going to see if there is another update to Omen tonight, maybe mine is bugged.
I know Dominion likes to use Misdirects almost constantly on their tanks, and we didn't have a Hunter in this group. I run nearly 500 spell damage in my tanking gear. I don't see a way to improve that dramatically without some of the upgrades I need from Black Temple (Najentus' Boots, Shade's Bracers), but I hate the thought of threat capping my DPS.
I checked some threads on Maintankadin and found a statement from someone who played a Destruction Warlock. He basically stated he was threat capped nearly constantly regardless of the class of the tank. I wonder if this Warlock in our Kara run was also Destruction spec. I know he would sacrifice his Succubus almost as soon as he summoned her. That's cold.
I really know very little about Warlocks. They have never appealed to me as a class.
After the Lock soulshattered I was able to stay on top of threat pretty well. I'm not sure if he throttled back or I was able to get into my rotation better or what. I was relieved that the group seem to be directing their ire at the Warlock and not their tank (me). I'm really trying to show I'm a good player, and build the trust people have in me tanking.
I wound up picking up a Jade Ring of the Everliving off of Prince. Now the only blue left in my regular healing set is A'dal's Recovery Necklace. If I can put my Hunter (just hit 67!) on the backburner for a couple of nights, I should be able to grind up some honor to buy the PVP neck.
My badge count is back up over 100. I'm holding onto badges at the moment, but I'm thinking about getting some Fire Resist gear off the Badge vendor for Anetheron and hopefully, one day, for Illidan.
My next alt project is going to be a Resto Druid who I am hoping to have around level 55 right before Lich King drops. I'll never lack for a group for anything! (Deathknigths are Tank/DPS, but they are going to need healers). I really hope I enjoy Resto Druid healing better than I did Holy Paladin.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Familiar Territory

Dominion's raid was slow in forming last night, as it seemed quite a few of their regular 'core' people were no where to be seen. About 8:30 Vlad made the call to farm SSC instead of going to either MH or BT. You could feel a sense of urgency the entire raid.
I'm very familiar with SSC, but not at all familiar with how Dominion does the pulls and bosses.
One of the running jokes in MK was for someone to say in vent 'I think you can outrange the spore quake' after losing a couple of people to the Collusus after he did a Spore Quake. Dominion takes no such chance and has everyone stay at max range except for melee DPS.
We had filled the raid with 5 tanks. 3 Prot Warriors, 1 Feral Druid and 1 Prot Paladin. That was way more tanks than you need for the majority of the instance, so often times, Vlad would run out of tank targets before she ran out of tanks.
I was put on add duty for Hydross. This was a slight issue because since I had been the Frost Tank for MK, I only had Frost resist gear, and didn't have any Nature gear. I had read on MainTankadin that many of those guys did adds in straight stamina gear, so that's the route I went as well. Due to the number of tanks we had, each of us only needed to worry about 1 add. I didn't have any issue either picking my add up or staying alive. I whispered the Shaman who was healing me to ask if he had had any problem keeping me up and he told me it wasn't an issue.
We plowed on through Lurker's trash, which is executing the same pull 6 times over. Dominion puts Rogues on the Technicians, and pulls the Honor Guard far back. I kept an eye out for any loose mobs, and cleansed some Holy Fires, but for the most part, I was pretty extraneous on this trash.
We moseyed on down to the Lurker and set everything up. I assisted one of the Warriors in picking up a Guardian, but again I wasn't really needed. At this point in the evening, I was feeling pretty down. It's one thing to know you don't need to MT all the time, it's another to not be needed at all. I was feeling almost mercenary.
Then there was the moment she expressed concern over putting me on a Coilfang Serpentguard. These are the Naga in the first pull on your way to either Morogrim or Leo. They have a spell reflect, and an aura which reduces armor. I got the impression that Dominion thinks Paladins are somewhat more fragile than Warriors or Druids, which could have explained some of what had transpired.
I assured her I had tanked them all the time in MK and it wouldn't be a problem. This was the only comment I had made all night. I realize I'm still in the stage of needing to prove myself and earn the trust of the raid. Once I've earned their trust I can ask to take on more, but during this initial period, I simply need to show I can do the job I'm tasked with.
We pulled the two Serpentguards well back and away from the other mobs. Since we were well away from other mobs, I used Consecrate in my threat rotation. I was most surprised then when I saw an additional mob in my Consecrate, which was promptly blamed for breaking the CC. What was overlooked was that I was tanking the formerly CC'ed mob and the Serpentguard without issue. Nevertheless, I didn't renew Consecrate once it ended and allowed the mob to be resheeped.
We turned towards Leo's room instead of Morogrim's. We went through the trash to Leo. It was interesting that the same pull that had given MK trouble, was also one that had given Dominion trouble in the past. Players were reminded to watch their tab targeting and to be aware of their surroundings. We made it through the trash without any major problems, some players died, but we never wiped.
I was back in the familiar position of playing Frisbee with Leo. We lost two people to the Channelers AoE Mind Blast. We recovered enough to get the attempt moving. I was tanking him where MK tanked him, which wasn't where Dominion tanked him. I moved him down, but we lost a little DPS time in the process. It seemed like every other time I'd shield toss, the bloody thing would miss. I have about 6% To Hit with my gear and talents. I never got Inner Demon. We managed to get him to the split. Then somehow (I was too focused on my own task to see) we lost a couple of healers, and slowly began losing the raid.
I'm not sure if the Lock Tank went down, but I started getting hit by Chaos Blast. Chaos Blast plus Leo's melee was enough to make me go splat. Leo enraged and finished off our raid.
We regrouped and got back to him quickly. Nothing changed in our strat, but our execution was better, except that we lost one of the Prot Warriors to Inner Demon.
"I'm terribly sorry, but we must kill you now."
That last 15% is still very chaotic, and intense. We killed him and he dropped triple Champion! This must have been some sort of anomaly in the space time continuum because as we all know the only time a boss drops triple tokens, it's triple Defender.
I threw in a bid, and watched 3 other bids go down. I know I'm the FNG so I'm thinking my chance at a token is about zero. Turns out that one of the guys who bid was in negative DKP, and I was not, so I'm now the proud owner of my T5 gloves!
Yes, we are on the brink of Azgalor and T6 gloves, but those puppies are going to go for mucho DKP, and I'll have my T5 from now til then, whenever then might be.
I could have had these gloves after MK's progression kill, but I opted to not bid since I knew my departure was imminent.
We started pulling to Fathom Lord whose trash consists of about 6 single pull Colossi. Vlad (Guild Master and Raid Leader) started rotating the tanks through, each of us taking a pull.
I was determined to put my threat through the roof. I hit the wings, threw my shield and began to run back to the hallway where we were tanking them.
Shield Miss!
Ugh. Just not my night. I had a little trouble getting him turned away from the raid and ended up putting him in a wall, thereby line of sighting the casters and hunters.
Just batting a 1000 here.
We get him down, but I wasn't at all pleased with my performance.
For FLK, I get put on the Hunter, while the Feral is tasked with picking up the pet. I had always heard Ferals were excellent choices for the Shaman, but since this was farm content I wasn't going to question it.
I grabbed the Hunter and dragged him back to the tank spot. The mana drain was rough but between heals and a mana pot, I was fine. FLK was a one shot, and wouldnt' you know it, he dropped a Frayed Tether of the Drowned. I'm thinking there is no way I'm going to get this since I just go my T5 gloves.
It turned out that I was the only one in the raid who wanted it. 
So I managed to come away with two pretty good upgrades and completely wipe out whatever DKP I had earned Tuesday and Thursday.
After the Raid, Vlad explained she is in the process of trying to figure out who the tanks for Dominion are going to be. I've pretty much got the Paladin Tank position locked down, but there has been some shuffling of the Warriors.
By the end of the night, I was having fun, and while the names are still pretty unfamiliar I don't feel quite as out of place anymore.
I hope we don't take quite as many tanks in future, as it's going to be tough on whichever tank is left without a target. It's probably easiest on the Feral since he can bust out some decent DPS in Cat. I do hope that I can convince Vlad that she can stick me on any target where she'd stick a Warrior (except maybe those stupid Robots on the way to Void Reaver that have that big blast that needs to be spell reflected). Yes, I excel at AoE tanking, but it's not all I'm capable of. It's fine now, but if it's still this way in a month or two, that is going to start getting to me. Vlad gets most of her information on the ElitestJerks forums. I haven't been on there much, so I'm not sure what the prevailing view of Prot Paladins is there.
It's still really tough when I see the MK guys in Shat, sort of like seeing an ex-girlfriend you dumped. I hope that after some time passes, I can reestablish some friendships over there like I did with Heroes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wrath Release Date

I took the night off of WoW. Dominion was going for progression on Azgalor, but I haven't heard if they were successful.

In the meantime, I wanted to highlight a couple of sites that I think you'll find very helpful.

Jewelcrafting

BananaShoulders has updated his Jewelcrafting Quick Reference Guide with all the new recipes added in 2.4.2. The post contains a PDF version showing every gem and it's bonus in a quick and easy to read format. You'll find his post here. This is an incredible tool for both Jewelcrafters and non Jewelcrafters. I plan to print out his PDF and keep it near the computer at all times.

Siha, if I don't know if you read my blog, but let me say a big 'Thank You' for this.

Stoic Guardian

And speaking of blogs, I've recently added another to my lists of blogs I regularly read. Allow me to introduce The Stoic Guardian. It's written by a fellow Protection Paladin (and a Dwarf, pass the Stout!) I find it really well written and enjoyable.

Wrath Of The Lich King

Also, WoWfix is reporting a release date for Wrath of the Lich King. Okay, it's not an exact release date, but more of a promise to have it out by years end.

What they saw was a press release from Vivendi, which is the company that owns Blizzard. The statement was explaining to investors why Vivendi's made less money in the first quarter (first 3 months of the year) of 2008 than it did in the first quarter of 2007. Basically it says that in first part of 2007 was higher than it normally would have been because of the release of The Burning Crusade. It goes on to say that the 2nd Expansion (Wrath) is scheduled to release the 2nd half of 2008 which could mean anywhere from June 1st to December 31st.

If you've never worked in a publicly traded company, I don't know if you can appreciate how important these press releases are. Every quarter (that is every 3 months), a publicly traded company must report on how it's doing. The major news item it reports is how much money it made or lost, and compares that to the same time frame last year.

The big investment firms then decide if the company should get a "buy", "sell" or "hold" recommendation, and they start either buying, selling or holding stock in that company accordingly. If many people are buying your stock, your stock price goes up. If many people start selling your stock, you stock price goes down. Vivendi's Board of Directors (the big bosses) are paid handsomely (millllllllllions of dollars), and they are paid to do one thing - increase the stock price for their stockholders.

It was very important for Vivendi to explain just why it made almost 25% less money in the first 3 months of 2008 than it did in the first 3 months of 2007. That kind of decline in revenue could indicate a company is weakening causing investment firms to put a "sell" recommendation on it.

Having worked for public companies in the past, I think it will be VERY difficult for Blizzard to hold off a release of Wrath of the Lich King, regardless of what state it may be in. Executives in publicly traded companies can be very short sited, especially around the time the reports must go out. There are often big big bonuses at the end of the year for the Executives based on how much the stock price has increased.

If Vivendi's Board of Director's orders Blizzard CEO to release Wrath, Blizzard has no choice but to release it, EVEN if they know it's unstable/buggy/unbalanced/not ready.

The good new for WoW players is that Blizzard is ahead of schedule. I was part of the Friends and Family Alpha for the Burning Crusade. I would have been in the Beta as well, but my friend who worked at Blizzard was terminated.

We started the Friend and Family Alpha for Burning Crusade around the June/July time frame. At the time, Blizzard was planning a November launch, which as you might know, got pushed back to January. Blizzard has already started the Friends and Family Alpha. We can deduce that they are anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks ahead of where they were with Burning Crusade. If we extrapolate that out, it puts Wrath with an expected completion date of September. It will likely get moved back and end up dropping sometime between mid November and mid December.

Which means Dominion has anywhere from 4 to 7 months to get to Illidan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

3/5 MH

My job for the night would be to shadow their outgoing Protection Paladin, Taypion, and try to learn how they handled each boss in Mount Hyjal.
Taypion started drilling me on my gear and stats. I sat there kind of dumbfounded as he questioned why I "only" had 492 defense. 490 is ALL you need to be uncrittable, and while Defense over 490 is not wasted, it certainly isn't need. I was also concerned when he suggested wearing a pure threat cloak (INT, STAM, SPL DMG) over a tanking cloak.
We inspected each other and found we had similar gear, though he had gotten the Commendation of Kael'thalas from Heroic Magister's Terraces. /jealous
He ran a bit more threat heavy than I do with about 600 unbuffed spell damage.
I found it most curious looking at his talents, that he had taken Divine Intellect (increases your Intellect by 5%).
There are only two situations a Protection Paladin will find himself* him, either you are taking enough damage to replenish your mana through Spiritual Attunement or you are not. In the first case, the amount of mana you start the fight with is inmaterial outside of your initial threat burst. Once you start actually tanking and taking damage, your mana bar is constantly refilled. The only positive to a deeper mana pool is that it allows you to go through a longer 'lucky streak' where you are dodging or parrying a bunch of attacks in a row and temporarily not taking enough damage to refuel your mana.
Which brings us to the second case where the Prot Paladin finds himself, that of not taking enough damage to keep your mana replenished. The only question in this case, is will you have enough mana to finish the fight before you run empty. The amount of time the fight can last is dependant upon the size of your mana pool, and more intellect makes that pool larger, but ultimately, you are in a situation where you are going to run dry.
Mana potions or Dark/Demonic Runes can help, but at that point you are only buying time.
So for these reasons, I feel that Divine Intellect is not the best use of Talent Points, especially when I saw he had given up points in One Handed Specialization. One Handed Specialization increases the damage of everything you do by up to 5% when you have a One Handed weapon equipped, which as a Prot Paladin is just slightly less than all that time. When I read One Handed Specialization, what my brain sees is "Increase your threat generated by 5%".
But tonight was not a night to argue the finer points of Protection Paladin theorycraft. I needed to show I could walk the walk before I could talk the talk.

Rage Winterchill

I had done Rage Winterchill with Mal Katai, so I knew something of what to expect. What I found most amusing was Vlad (GM of Dominion) explaining that sometimes Taypion accidently pull threat on the boss.
We managed the trash waves well. One trick I learned was to use Holy Wrath as the Ghouls approached to get some quick initial aggro. I pulled an Abomination off Taypion during the 6 & 6 wave (6 Abom and 6 Ghouls). Necros were decimated by the Warriors, Shamans, and Rogues.
When Winterchill showed up, I popped on some healing gear and watched as Taypion yanked
Rage Winterchill right off of Vlad. I began to suspect that this was no 'accident', and kind of chuckled to myself.
That was the end of Rage and the beginning of whole new experience.

Anetheron

You fight Anetheron in the same Alliance camp where you fight Rage. The trash is similar except for the addition of Banshees. They have the same Anti-Magic shell ability they had in Warcraft 3. The casters would go for the Necros, the melee Dps would attack the Banshees and Taypion and I gathered up any Ghouls. The trash was a little harder but you could tell these guys were pretty familiar with it. Antheron is a Dreadlord, one or the Hero Units from Warcraft 3 and all of his abilities are straight from the game: Carrion Swarm, which reduces the healing you do by 75%, Sleep, which puts a target to sleep, and Vampiric Touch which heals him for a percentage of the damage he does. He also had Summon Infernal, which as you might guess, summons an Infernal to rain on your parade.
Taypion's job was to grab Infernals and bring them back Vlad, who was dressed in full Fire Resist gear. A Warrior named Kee would be tanking Antheron himself. A couple of Warlocks would kill the Infernal. When that proved to not be enough DPS, she added a couple of Hunters to Infernal duty as well. I stayed in tank gear to watch Taypion and try to learn how to pull this off. Next week, there would be no Taypion, only Honorshammer.
At one point during the fight, Anetheron puts Taypion to Sleep just as an Infernal lands. I scan the battlefield and pivot my camera around until I can see the Inferal. I smack him down with an Exorcism and begin to walk to Vlad. I start taking hits from the Infernal and his Aura. He pulses out a Fire damage aura every second or so. The aura hits for a ton, and I began to drop like a rock.
Vlad taunted him off just in time and lived with just about 2000 hit points. One more hit, I'd have been a goner. It's been a long time since I felt so vulnerable tanking anything.

Kaz'Rogal

With Anetheron and Rage dead, we mounted up and rode to the Horde Camp. The units were again straight out of the Warcraft 3: Troll Headhunters, Orc Grunts, Tauren Warriors with Cabers. Mount Hyjal is really like playing Warcraft 3, except you only control the Hero Unit, you.
Kaz is another Dreadlord, looking like Anetheron's long lost cousin or something. Kaz is a DPS race and one that is very punishing to Protection Paladins who are not Main Tanking.
The trick to Kaz is that he casts a little thing called Mark of Kaz'Rogal. What this Mark does is drain 3000 mana. If you don't have 3000 mana to drain you blow up, and cause Shadow Damage to all around you. He starts off casting the Mark slowly, but by the end of the fight, he's spamming it constantly.
I switched into Healing gear with about 10k mana. I would run in, Judge Wisdom and run out. Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn't maintain my mana anymore and I ran away to make sure I wasn't close to anyone, and blew up. Next week, I'm going to try not only Judging Wisdom, but Sealing up Wisdom as well and see how long I can stick around. Taypion just stayed away from the fight, but I'm going to see if I can help out a bit without risking blowing up the melee. Wish me luck.
When I did finally blow up, I had expected a single BOOM kind of even like Baron Geddon or even Solarion. Instead, it was a much slower affair. The Mark drains your mana slowly like a DoT and it isn't until the tick that puts you below zero that you actually blow up. Like Solarian, it seems you do more damage to those around you, than you do to yourself.
We hit about Mark #15 when we lost our Main Tank with Kaz at 8%. Thrall himself took over and he and Tauren Warriors finished off Kaz for us at Mark #18.
Kaz didn't drop his tanking shield, which I was hoping he would. I know I wouldn't have had the DKP to win it, but the more people in the guild who have it, the less competition for it the next time it drops.
After the raid, I discovered all my alts had been removed from Mal Katai. Dora had said that I could leave them in if I wanted, but one of the officers decided to remove them anyway. While this officer's action saddens me, I can certainly understand how he felt.
(*My Protection Paladin is male, so I'm using the male possessor in this post)

Dominion

Tuesday night, I received my formal invitation to join Dominion, followed immediately by a raid invite. My screen filled with green and orange text full of unfamiliar names. Thank goodness for Agamegnome, one familiar name was nice to see. I also recognized Ferg who had run some 5 man PuGs with me during my early 70 days.

I had originally thought that Dominon was 4/5 Hyjal and 3/9 Black Temple. I found out they are only 3/5 Mount Hyjal and 3/9 Black Temple, having gotten their 3rd boss kill in both instances just in the past two weeks. So they are 2 bosses ahead of MK in Hyjal and 3 Bosses ahead in BT. The biggest reason I saw that they are ahead of MK is they put in 4 or 5 nights of Raiding a week to MK's 2 or 3. That's it. These guys are not amazingly more skilled or geared than the MK core.

I ended up going to Mount Hyjal and learning the 2 bosses I hadn't done with Mal Katai. I've got a much longer posts I'm working on about the first raid with them, but it's not ready for publishing yet.

I didn't say much either in chat or in vent.

Part of me doesn't want to make many friends in Dominion. I haven't talked about it much (since it was self inflicted) but I was pained to leave my last two guilds. I deeply miss the friends I had made in both Heroes and Mal Katai. I feel a bit gunshy about making more friends right now in Dominion.

I went through something similar when I joined Mal Katai. I remember that very first night in Raydz Karazhan, being surprised by their vent, which was very different and a bit more 'colorful' than Heroes vent had been. I distinctly remember thinking 'What have you gotten yourself into here, Honors?'

I was a member of Mal Katai nearly two weeks before I ever even ran with Dora, Ryken, Raist, and Celoria.

It wasn't exactly a great start. My very first run with them, they replace me as MT with Ryken's Warrior, Brindall.

But someway, somehow, in the months that followed we downed Gruul with me offtanking Hurtful Strikes and downed pre-nerf Magtheridon with me at the helm as the Main Tank. Then we proceeded to go 5/6 SSC and 3/4 TK, and I came to think of the people behind those pixels as friends, as real to me as any friend I have out here in 'real life'.

Recently Blizzared annouced that every raid in Wrath of the Lich King will be both a 10 man and 25 man. You won't have the 'best' gear unless you do the 25 mans, but you can do every zone, and fight every boss as a 10 man. What I think you will see is a proliferation of micro guilds made up of as little as 10 to 25 people, that will progress through the game on the 10 man track together. That's a kind of guild that would be very very appealing to me.

Edit: You will also see more Guild Alliance type things where two or more of these microguilds bands together to try the 25 man version of whatever 10 mans they are doing.

I've thought more than once about starting a guild just like that. I've already given up on the possibility of the 'best' gear which drops in Sunwell. It doesn't bother me that much. What bothers me is that I'll never set foot in Sunwell 25, never cross swords with Kil'Jaden, never find out what happens to that girl in the crystal above the Sunwell (the one you see in the cut scene in Magister's Terrace).

Right now, my focus is on finishing the original Burning Crusade content and at least getting to ole Illidan before Wrath hits. Illidan was the focus of the whole expansion and the thing is going to come and go and I'll have never even seen him.

Of course, the irony of my first night in Dominion was at the very end of the raid as Vlad (GM of Dominion) pleaded with her raiders not to jump ship to the next more progressed guild on our server.

"Really, guys, I know we went out with you while you were dating that less attractive girl, but please don't leave us for the new hottie that just transferred to our town!"

What I find most interesting is this cross guild recruitment is almost expected at this level of content.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Split Personality

I was once again invited to raid with Mal Katai Monday night. Our target was Leo the Blind. The information about my imminent departure was slowly beginning to make it's way through Mal Katai.

The night was something a microcosm of my entire experience with Mal Katai. The only bosses alive were Vashj and Leo.

We started clearing Leo trash from Fathom Lord's room. We got to one pull that has given us trouble in the past. You have to pull a group around a corner close to another group and Leo himself. Somehow, someone in the raid would pull the second group. It happened again last night.

Then as we were running back, someone aggroed a group a mobs that we hadn't killed by water walking under them. They proceeded to pwn a good chunk of the raid.

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good about my decision.

We finally got back to Leo's room (that is a LONG walk), and decided to try to pull the mobs a little further back. The bad news was this left us in a very small area. One of the mobs in the pull is an elemental who summons these mushrooms which put a nasty debuff and DoT on you. We were too confined and we wiped again.

We regroup one more time, and go back to the first way we did the pull. Dora and Ryken (co-GMs) encourage everyone to be careful and not pull the 2nd group.

We finally get the trash group down and finish clearing Leo's room.

We get ready to engage Leo and realize that one of our DPS Warriors is afk. Apparently, an emergency came up in real life that he had to deal with. That is understandable, real life stuff can happen.

Instead of replacing him, we decided to try to do Leo, on a progression kill, with 24 people.

I tank the first Channeler, and then move up to Leo. I put a Consecrate under his feet and start whacking at him, waiting for him to become unbanished. Leo comes out the banish, runs through the Consecrate and straight towards Dora.

I smacked him with Judgement of Righteousness but he continues to focus on Dora. Once she is dead, he comes to me.

I didn't have time to try to figure out had happened. I just went into the threat rotation and prepared for Whirlwind.

The attempt went well until he split. I'm not sure if we lost Dotslover (Warlock tank) or what, but I started to get hit by Chaos Blast. I eventually died and Leo took out the raid. We wiped with Leo at 2%. Ugh!

We regroup again, and get ready to pull again. Our wayward DPS Warrior had returned.

This time my pick up goes flawlessly. I did the EXACT same thing I did the first time, but there was no time to complain.

The attempt was hetic, especially after we got him to 15% where you have to fight both Leo and the Demon. We were well ahead of the enrage timer and by some miracle had 22 of 25 people alive.

Leo seems to hit harder after the split than he does before. I have no idea is this is true but it sure felt that way. I almost feel sorry for Leo. According to the WWS, he missed me a whopping 62% of the time. Dual wield for the lose I guess.

After a couple of crazy, chaotic moments, I was tracking Leo through a Whirlwind, waiting to launch my Hammer of Wrath.

And then he fell!

5/6 SSC!!!

There was much rejoicing to see this guy finally go down.

He dropped a Champion token. I was closed to capped for MKP, which would be useless to me if I followed through on changing guilds. It was my MKP, I had earned it, and I had every right to spend it.

And I didn't.

This token would go to a Mal Katai raider who would be in a future Mal Katai raid. I feel it would have been wrong to spend my MKP when I knew I was leaving the guild.

These guys in MK are more than just my fellow raiders, they are my friends. I don't treat friends that way.

We still had nearly an hour before the raid was supposed to end. Dora and the officers talked about what we should do.

People started leaving the raid. We were down to about 16 or 17 people, so they decided to just end the raid, an hour before the end time, with 30+ people online.

I started whispering people in MK, thanking them for the times they had helped me and relating to them how much I respected them and enjoyed raiding with them.

The responses I received were varied. Most were sad or disappointed I was leaving, a few were downright mad, and others felt betrayed. I apologized to the ones I had hurt, it's really all I could do.

One thing I've discovered is that Dominion doesn't have the best reputation on the server and no one really knows how it got that way. I asked those that may have had a bad experience not to share names with me. I want to go into my new situation 'blind' and allow myself to form whatever opinions about the people that I will.

Given the number of past guildies who have wanted to come back to MK after leaving, I'm sure there is some wager on how long it'll be before I'm knocking on MK's door again.

Dora had asked me to wait until there were as few people on as possible to leave. Neither of us wanted to make a 'scene'.

I waited until about 2am. There were only about 10 people online. I left the guild and immediately logged.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thank You Conan

I had an interesting tell come to me from Agamegnome, a former Guildmate of mine from my Heroes Inc days.

These days, Aga, as he is called, is in the guild called Dominion on Altar of Storms. They happen to be the second most progressed guild Alliance side on Altar of Storms.

It seems that Dominion's Protection Paladin has left WoW to purse a career in a game called Age of Conan.

I had always worried about losing my own guildies to another game, but I never considered it could lead to opportunities for me.

What was strange was that Aga had not seen my post on Tankspot where I advertised that I was looking for a guild. So far as I knew he doesn't read the blog. i had bloged a month or so ago about blowing him off for a Kara run to go with Heroes Inc, and he never commented on it.

The huge advantage to Aga's offer was that it meant I could stay on Altar of Storms. I was nearly certain that I was going to have to transfer servers.

I am a man of my word. Dora asked me to give her until reset, and I will do that, but I think her job just got a lot harder.

If I leave Mal Katai and show up in Dominion the next day, no one in Mal Katai is going to believe that the offer to join Dominion came to me AFTER I had already decided to leave Mal Katai. Really, guys, that's they way it happened! I put the Tankspot ad up on Friday afternoon. Aga didn't contact me until Friday night. I held off putting the blog post up until I could talk to Dora. I had the blog post written and set to delayed publish. I wanted to tell her before I told my readers.

I jumped on to Dominion's vent and talked with Aga and Dominion's GM/Raid Leader, Vladimer. I hadn't seen Vlad since I helped her do the Ring of Blood quests back when we were both leveling in Nagrand. Back then, she never really struck me as the Raid Leader type.

We talked about their Raid Times, their loot system, and how they felt about Protection Paladins.

What struck me most about the conversation was their stated goal of downing Illidan before the Xpac. They aren't too worried about Sunwell, but they'd like to have finished the original Burning Crusader content.

This is a goal I share.

I talked to them about my 'night off' which is usually Wednesday, and Vlad didn't feel it would be a problem. We also talked about what would happen if their Protection Paladin suddenly decided to return to WoW.

Basically, what they would tell him is "Sorry, your position has been filled. How is your availability on Wednesdays?"

Now, I have no delusions that I'll be Main Tanking anything for Dominion in the short term. My main goal right now is to prove myself to them and begin to earn their trust. I have to show first that I'm a "Raider", then a Tank. I know it's very hard to "try out" a tank, especially when the life of the raid can very well depend on their actions.

Once I've established myself as a good tank, I can think about asking for a MT spot on a Paladin friendly fight. I've heard from others that Gorefiend might be a good spot. I'm not someone who needs to be Main Tank. I never felt I was contributing less to our success just because I was tanking Hurtful Strikes on Gruul rather than tanking his melee, or when I was gathering a dozen Murlocs instead of standing in front of Morogrim, or even when I donned healing gear to keep the "real" healers alive during Eagle Avatar in ZA.'

What's important to me is to make a real contribution to the success of the raid, and not have that contribution be healing 100% of the time.

Further complicating my move is that Dominion has done 4 bosses in Mount Hyjal and 4 in Black Temple. I've seen one boss in each place. That means I'm going to be learning these fights and the trash on the fly as it were.

I've watched some videos, so hopefully I'll be able to keep from doing anything completely noobish and wiping them on a farm boss.

Almost There

I was quite surprised when I logged in last night and received an invite to the SSC Raid. I whispered my GM and ask her if she was sure she wanted me to go. She did, so I went and grabbed my supplies and got ready to raid.
It seems most of MK doesn't read my blog as no one said anything to me about being in the raid despite the post I had made about leaving.
I did not go by the Guild bank, instead I went down to the Iron Forge Auction House and dropped about 100g in Consumables and enchant mats for my Pepe's Cloak of Pacification.
I was really struggling to figure out where I'd use Pepe's over Slikk's Cloak of Placation. I get 5 more Dodge Rating from Pepe's but I lose the Armor and Defense on Slikk's. I could see using Pepe's when I do Bear Avatar in ZA to try to make sure I don't get a taunt resist, but last night helped me see another use for Pepe's.
First up on the docket for MK Sunday night was Fathom Lord. Since we had two Feral Druids (Trelic and Trigog) in the raid, we put a Warrior (Lanorah) on the Priestess, the Druids took the Hunter and the Shaman, and I took Fathom Lord himself.
Like Hydross earlier in the week, Fathom Lord was fairly easy one shot. I was being healed by a new Holy Paladin that MK had picked up during this weekend Mount Hyjal trash run. He was mostly Kara/Badge geared (I recognized the Dragon-Quake Shoulderguards, and Tier 4 helm). There were a couple of close calls and I burned all my short cooldowns (Pocketwatch, Healthstones, Health Pots).
He dropped a Sextant of Unstable Currents, two Hero tokens and a Champion. I was questioned by one of our Holy Paladins when I didn't bid on the token, but I linked my Inscribed Legplates of the Aldor and explained they were much better (which they are, natch). So I helped Mal Katai get 3 more people Teir 5 Leggings. I'm not sure how I would have explained not rolling on the Frayed Tether if it had dropped again. I would have had to hope that one of the Ferals outbid me.
We had a couple of people bail out on the raid and got them replaced. Lanorah (Prot Warrior) asked to be replaced since he didn't feel like he could contribute to a progression kill on Leo.
We started pulling towards Leo and wiped twice on the trash. Both times it was from accidentally pulling two groups at once. Those dang mushrooms the Elemental drops really hurt and you can't Stoneform the stupid debuff (/shakes fist in anger).
I could tell Ryken (Paladin, co-GM) and Dora (Priest, co-GM) were really pushing the raid, trying to keep the pace up and get some solid time on Leo. I have a suspicion that they believed a progression kill on Leo could be used as evidence that the guild is moving forward and convince me to stay.
I was back tanking Leo's human form and Raistilan was on his Lock (Dotslover) tanking care of the Demon.
We had a couple of people who had trouble with Inner Demons, however, I was very pleased when our Afflication Lock (Deeslock) was able to kill her Demon. She had always struggled in previous attempts. I was stunned when Cryak (DPS Warrior) didn't get his down in tome. Cryak is a really skillful player whether he specs for tanking or DPS. Maybe he just had some bad luck, like an untimely miss, I don't know.
We needed to use at least 1 battle rez on Dotslover, so I know he died at least once.
There were a couple of transitions where I just couldn't seem to get him under control. I would nail him with a Judgement and he'd go running off for a DPS. I didn't want to throw my shield because I was going to need it to grab him after the Whirlwind. A couple of times, I did go ahead and toss the shield, just to try to get him back. The only conclusion I can draw is DPS didn't stop in time.
A couple of times, I tossed my sheild and it missed! So I switched cloaks over to Pepe's for this fight.
We got two attempts in on Leo. Our first was ended by Dotslover going down when Leo was at 10%. Ryken DI'ed me. See that's another advantage to a Paladin Main Tank, you really can DI The Main Tank!
Our second attempt, we got him to 5%, but we hit the enrage timer, and he one shot me, and proceeded to decimate the raid in short order. Once you hit the 15% split, it feels so chaotic. The Demon is up blasting away at Dots, Leo is whirlwinding all over the room. It's really, really intense.
I'd love to be there when MK finally kills this overgrown spinning top, but I don't think it would have any impact on my decision.